A virtual visit to Echoview Fiber Mill
Have you ever wrapped up in a blanket or used a product and wondered about how it was made? Now you can find out about your Echoview Knits and Blankets before they entered your home! Echoview Fiber Mill, located in Weaverville, NC, has been on a mission since it’s opening in 2012, to connect makers with the production process of sustainable yarn and goods and shed light on the importance of supporting sustainable, USA made fiber products.
From the Farm
Today, synthetic fibers account for over 65% of global production because they are standardized, relatively cheap and easier to manage on a larger scale than natural fibers. Why should a person spend $100 on a Wool and Alpaca poncho when they can spend $50 on a ‘soft’ rayon one off Amazon or a big box store, which is made for meer dollars overseas? Julie Jensen, the Owner of Echoview Fiber Mill, asked herself those questions and has some pretty convincing answers. Environmentally, synthetic plastics are made in a lab from oil and chemicals and the process releases harmful volatile organic compounds that are a major contributor to smog and health issues. Ethically, most clothing made overseas is still made by children or relative slave labor in deplorable conditions. Economically, these plastics are connected to large corporations and are dependent on fossil fuels. Natural fibers come from a living, breathing animals or plants that are renewable resource and often have a small-scale farm or indigenous community behind them. If you consider the carbon footprint of the raw materials you consume and the power of your dollar, buying USA domestic or Peruvian Alpaca wool/natural fibers is absolutely the best option.
Amalia Fragoso-Eby, Echoview’s Mill Manager, is responsible for seeking out farmers from around the region with the best quality wool. How does she choose what fiber to purchase when there are so many options? Well, to answer that, we have to go back 26,000 years ago when plant fibers were first extracted and spun into cordage and 7,000- 9,000 years ago, when alpaca and sheep were probably domesticated for the first time. Over the millennia, farmers and natural selection encouraged plants and animals with certain characteristics to reproduce, creating an incredible variety of characteristics, often which are very much suited towards a certain climate. There are several different characteristics Amalia looks for in wool when buying fleeces. These include, but are not limited to; cleanliness, beauty, fineness, crimp, luster, elasticity and strength. All of these characteristics are dependent on many factors that happen during the animal husbandry stage of wool production. Genetics, region, nutrition, weather, housing, and age all affect the characteristics of wool. Merino wools, for example, can vary from 11.5 microns to 26 microns (average diameter of wool) at the upper end! Even in one fleece, the micron count and other characteristics can vary, making Amalia’s job one that requires great skill and experience to be able to create the highest quality end product without excessive waste or degradation of the fibers!
Now you have an idea of how important animals and farmers are to your Knit Products, we’ll move on to the creation. First for the Knit Items, the wool thread comes in from a fine thread spinning mill in South Carolina. It’s a high quality Merino Wool and Peruvian Baby Alpaca and Californian Organic Cotton. The wool is sourced from domestic USA farmers and it all goes into a ‘Wool Pool’ so the wool from many different sheep are combined to allow for consistent threads. We support USA Alpaca farmers for our Knitting Yarn, but for the knit machine’s tiny threads, we have found Peruvian threads to be unmatched for softness with strength!
Next, Myra Peters, our Knitting Machine Queen, threads up our Stolle Knitting Machine, which has 2000 needles! Then, she enters the program for whichever product she is making and hits Start on the machine. She watches the progress of each item, as things can always go wrong. Threads or needles can break, the computer can malfunction and holes or runs are always a possibility. If a blanket, poncho or scarf comes out with an issue, Myra either mends it and we sell it as a second, or Fiona in our sew room, will cut it up and turn it into a Blanket Coat or Baby Shorts. Nothing goes to waste at Echoview! If the item comes out without any issues, Myra then weaves in the ends (everything is knit to dimension, so there is no cut/sew or waste) and washes it! Once washed, Myra expertly labels and folds it, ready for shipment to a store or customer!
We are so blessed to work in a space that is any creative maker’s dream, so we try to share our blessings with as many people in our community as possible. We give free tours, but it doesn’t stop there. We host free Craft Nights, Craft Mornings, Young Parents Knit Morning and Knitting help as well as classes and workshops. The Echoview team loves to share their skills and knowledge with anyone who asks. Emilie Gate, who is the Head of Yarn Wholesale, is also an accomplished knitter. She is happy to help fix knitting issues, recommend yarns and has an excellent knowledge of crafting and knitting references. If you visit our Mill and Yarn Shop, more than likely you will be greeted by one of us, all who have been knitting for years and love keeping the store cleaned and the pillows fluffed in our knitting lounge, ready for anyone who wants to plop down and pull out their WIP.
Join Our Community
Now you know more about Echoview Fiber Mill, we’d love for you to become part of our community! Here are some links for our favorite ways to connect with our mill, our staff and our larger community…
Echoview Website.. https://www.echoviewnc.com/
Echoview Instagram.. https://www.instagram.com/echoviewfibermill/
Echoview Pinterest.. https://www.pinterest.com/echoviewfiber/
Echoview Facebook.. https://www.facebook.com/EchoviewFiberMill/
Echoview Ralvery.. https://www.ravelry.com/yarns/brands/echoview-fiber-mill
Echoview Staff.. https://www.echoviewnc.com/our-team
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