I did a lot of really fun things on my whirlwind tour of the Port Elizabeth area last weekend: game drives, horseback riding, amazing meals, etc. I loved all of it, but there is no question what the highlight was.

Rachel in wool

Fellow blogger Rachel in a mountain of wool. Have you ever jumped into a mountain of wool? I thought not.

On our first day in PE, we drove half an hour to the town of Uitenhage and took a tour of a mohair factory called the Hinterveld Mill. Sounds like a strange thing to do, right? Well yes, it was strange. Strange and ridiculously awesome.

Jackie Gant, the Hinterveld marketing manager who took us around the factory (actually it’s three factories in one but I won’t go into the details), did a great job showing us each stage of the process and explaining how the wool goes from raw, “greasy” (Jackie’s word, not mine) angora goat hair to soft mohair blankets.

But to be frank, I can’t recount Jackie’s wonderful explanation because I wasn’t paying close enough attention. I was too busy running around like a headless chicken, snapping photos. I’ve never taken photos in a factory before and I was unprepared for how much I would love it.

So anyway, I’ll just show you the photos and hopefully you’ll get the idea.

Greasy wool

This is how the angora wool looks when it first arrives. Now that I’m writing the post, I do regret not asking how the goats are sheared. (Jackie, forgive me if you actually did tell us this and I didn’t hear you. See excuse above.)

Cleaning wool1

Cleaning the wool. 

Cleaning wool2

More cleaning. Considering how the raw wool looks, I understand why it takes a while to clean.

Packed wool

Packed wool. Lots and lots of it. This wool is worth a lot of money.

Hanging wool

At this point we had moved to another stage of the process.

Wool in red bin

So pretty.

Wool rolls

Rolled up wool. Hey look, there’s Theresa.

Smiling guy

Sorry, smiling man, I forgot to find out your name or ask anything about what you’re doing. It was great meeting you, though. See excuse above.

Thread

Machines making yarn.

Colored yarn

Yarn ready to be woven. I seem to have missed the part when the yarn gets dyed. Sorry. I guess I’ll have to go back to Uitenhage sometime and do the tour again.

Blanket weaving

It’s almost a blanket now.

Finished product

Finished product in the Hinterveld shop. The products in the shop are beautiful and extremely affordable, especially the scarves and blankets that are made from a blend of mohair and acrylic. (I bought a couple of the blended items.) The more mohair in the product, the more it costs.

I know this post is more fun than informative. But I think that’s fine because now you all have to go to Uitenhage yourselves and do the Hinterveld tour (the details are here). Do it!

Me in wool

Enough said. (Photo: Jonker Fourie)

Note: The factory processes merino wool as well as mohair. Jackie has politely pointed out that I jumped into a mountain of merino, not mohair. Also, Jackie says the animals are shorn with electric clippers or hand shears and are not harmed at all during the process. Thanks again, Jackie.

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