Over the last few days, we had a field trip to Donegal. This is a fairly significant journey as it’s completely at the other end of the country. However, we crammed an awful lot into our few days up there!
I began by joining Laura Nelkin to teach on the tour she was running. It was such a fun group of knitters; everyone was so excited to be travelling and knitting together again! It’s so easy to forget the pure joy of chatting with other knitters and designers who share our passion and love of knitting.
After a fun couple of days with them, we travelled to Donegal Yarns for a tour and some yarn planning. I’ve got many photos and videos from this trip that I will share with you over the coming weeks, but for now, I wanted to give you a taste of our visit to Donegal.
The mill is in the village of Kilcar, deep in Donegal. There are, of course, many sheep keeping a watchful eye on the mill. Our yarns, Blasta and Blasta Light, are both milled in Donegal, part of this visit was to plan a few surprises for the 2023 Celtic Knits Club.
Mill in Action
This is the biggest mill in Ireland, and the amount of yarn they spin every week is astonishing. The process starts with the raw fleece. The difference between the coarser wool and cashmere is astonishing. We may have snuck a little cashmere fleece into our pockets to enjoy on our trip home :-)
The fleece is dyed in a different colour, and then each yarn colour is blended using a ‘recipe’ card with all the fleece colours and burrs that are needed. The blending process is probably the most enjoyable part of the mill. Watching fleece being shot through the ceiling into the blending room never gets old!
Once the fleece is blended, it’s then carded, spun, washed, and finally coned, balled or wound in hanks.
By the time it gets to the mill floor, they have a recipe to create the yarn colour. This wall of fleece and burrs is where the blending magic happens in a quieter part of the mill.
Nora starts with a colour she wants to match and estimates what fleece percentage will combine to give her the desired results. Then she uses the carder to blend her fleece picks and does a quick twisting to test it out.
The final part of the day for us was pouring over shade cards and yarn blends to find the perfect surprise to introduce to you in our 2023 Celtic Knits Club. I think we may have found something very exciting!
For now, please enjoy our current Donegal Yarns; Blasta and Blasta Light are both custom spun for us, but we also stock Soft Donegal and Chunky Donegal!
8 thoughts on “Meet the Mill – A Trip To Donegal Yarns”
I loved this post!! Thank for sharing the pics! I’ve always wondered how the magic happens. Thank you!!
Oh wow! I’d love to visit the mill in person but this is amazing. Thank you for sharing!!!
Oh wow, I had no idea that the color blending is done like this by hand. I think in the future that will make me appreciate colors of different yarns even more. No wonder there are differences between batches.
Thank you so much for posting this especially with the pictures. I really hope one day I will make it back to Ireland and be able to visit the Mills that are still there.
I visited the Avoca mills on my first trip to Ireland. That was quite lovely, but the Donegal Mills looks even more exciting!
I sure hope I’ll get to come back to Ireland some day
Such a fun, informative post. Thank you. What’s the sweater pattern in the first picture, please?
So very interesting! Thanks to Carol and Laura for sharing your adventure
Awesome story and pictures! Thank you! I must come to Ireland soon!
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