Machine for spinning wool

Wendelstein wool: a trip to Litzldorf

To… where? Litzldorf is a small village in Bavaria on the foothills of the alps near Miesbach – and of course I went there because of wool, more precisely because of the “Wendelstein Schafwolle” of Schafwollspinnerei Höfer. I had been looking for a yarn for a nice and hardwearing jacket to wear out of doors for quite some time, but hadn’t been able to find a suitable traditional yarn yet …

The yarn should be just right for the warm and dense traditional Bavarian jackets knitted in garter stitch. When I came across Wendelstein sheep’s wool – and after I had read that they do tours through their mill it was clear: I had to go there! Knitting a traditional jacket with regional wool has a special charm. The yarn fits perfectly with the style and purpose of the garment, and at the same time it supports local sheperds who contribute to landscape conservation, especially in the alpine region. When buying wool from an international company one usually can only guess where the fleeces come from – merino wool is often imported from Australia or South America. At the same time sheep farmers here have a hard time finding buyers for their raw wool here. Of course it doesn’t make sense to use only local yarn – that would be quite difficult when it comes to fibres like cotton …), but I am very much in favour of supporting regional sheperds and mills whenever possible.

shade card wendelstein wool

Such as the spinning mill from the Höfer family, for example, which processes 30 tons of raw wool every year from merino and mountain sheep from Bavaria and turns it into knitting yarn, felt wool, bedding and carpets in its premises. Matthias Höfer kindly gave me a tour through their mill and explained how they work. Before the wool can be spun in Litzldorf, however, it has to be scoured, which is done by a company in Belgium. Then the wool is first roughly combed by machine and then the preparation for the spinning process begins. On a Saturday, of course, the machines were not working, but this had the advantage that I could see everything close up to take photos. Here you can see how the finely combed wool fleece is divided into individual small strands, the roving.

Machine for spinning wool

The roving is then spun into yarn in a different machine and in the next step twisted into two- or three-ply knitting wool. Knitting wool that has to be dyed is further processed in a GOTS-certified dyeing plant in Austria. For my jacket I have chosen grey, undyed yarn, but I have already decided that for next winter I absolutely need a sweater dress from this particularly beautiful dark red. And a hat in raspberry pink and dark blue. Or do you prefer grey blue and sunny yellow? Ok, I’ll decide that when I’ve knitted 800 grams of grey wool into a jacket …

Wool spinning machine

In Litzldorf they do not only produce merino knitting wool, but also thick, robust yarns from mountain sheep to make carpets. These spinning machines for these yarns are operated by hand, and the carpets are also made by hand on large looms. In the shop in Litzldorf you can find wonderful hand knitted jackets, pullovers and scarves, and hand woven carpets besides the knitting wool and above all lots of expert tips about knitting.

weaving loom

Back home I swatched with Wendelstein wool and tested garter stitch on a fine needle to see how it would turn out: promising!

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