Wool and felt from Prince Edward Island from the Belfast Mini Mills
Did you know that the undercoat of musk oxen provides the finest fibers from which wool can be spun? Quiviut is the name of the product, and we met the wonderfully soft wool made from it on our trip through Prince Edward Island in August at Belfast Mini Mills. The small spinning mill in the eastern part of Prince Edward Island also spins wool from sheep, but also from such exotic animals as alpaca, llama, camel, yak, mountain goats, angora goats or hares, buffaloes, huskies, samoyeds, golden retriever dogs and other breeds even Persian cats. Their spinning machines are so fine that they even process plant fibers from bamboo, hemp, flax, silk and synthetic fibers. Wool and felt from Prince Edward Island are made in this small spinning mill.
Wool is spun in Belfast
The tiny town of Belfast and the farm it owns are a little off the Transcanada Highway, just a few miles inland from the line that connects Charlottetown to Woods Island Ferry. This makes it perfect for a short trip on the trip through Prince Edward Island and can be well planned into a tour of the island.
We make this little detour to the farm where Belfast Mini Mills is located. We actually signed up, but nobody seems to be expecting us. And so we wander a little aimlessly across the farm. In an enclosure on the edge of the forest we see sheep and other animals running around. “Aha, the wool suppliers,” I think. And then all of a sudden we see a woman in work clothes dragging feed for the animals in heavy buckets across the yard.
We introduce ourselves and she claps her hands over her head. "Oh, good heavens, nobody told me you were coming." A small, white and fluffy dog scurries around my legs, which he sniffs attentively. We explain to the woman who still doesn't quite know what to do with us, who we are and why we are here. She finally calms down and says: "Usually my sister does this, but she is still asleep. Then I'll take you through our spinning mill, even though I'm not as familiar with it as my sister. The spinning is her job on our farm. "
Colorful wool from musk ox and other animals
She leads us into one of the farm buildings, in which there are various rooms. In one of them there are piles of fleece waiting to be processed. Our guide switches on one of the machines and we are already watching as finely combed strands emerge from a dense tuft of animal hair. Another machine turns these strands around itself, and the result is wonderfully soft woolen threads.
The material that is currently being processed is expensive quiviut that is delivered from the far north of Canada. Unlike sheep and other wool suppliers, musk oxen cannot be sheared. Their undercoat is collected once a year - in places where they scrub their fur or by combed out their fur. Unlike sheep wool, musk ox wool does not shrink when washed at hot temperatures. In any case, it feels wonderfully soft and delicate under the fingers.
Who would like to process this themselves?
On shelves are long strands of finished wool in a variety of shades. from red to orange to yellow, from blue to turquoise to green everything is there. One of the threads is clamped in another machine, which winds the thread on coils in complex patterns, as we finally see them in the sales room in the exhibition shelves. And we see caps, thick gloves with colorful patterns, which were knitted from it.
Sheila shows us her kingdom
In the meantime the door to the sales room opens and the twin sister of our guide comes in, who breathes a sigh of relief and introduces us: “This is Sheila. She can certainly explain more to you than I can. ”Although I think she did an excellent job and, as a layperson, gave me a good insight into how wool is made. I still have one question for Sheila, because there are beautiful felt pictures on the walls. I ask them where these come from and how to make them.
A felt course on Prince Edward Island
She laughs and says: “The next time you come, bring some time for a felting class. These are works that were created during our workshops. Then I can show you how they are made. ”Perhaps you would like to deal with the production of felt pictures while on vacation? This is definitely a good opportunity to take a deeper look behind the scenes of your travel destination. In any case, our visit to the Belfast Mini Mills wool farm on Prince Edward Island was great fun. Wool and felt from Prince Edward Island are nice souvenirs.
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Source: On-site research. We thank Prince Edward Island Tourism for inviting us on this trip.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline