The Manufacturing Process

The Manufacturing Process

A peek behind the scenes at our factory in the heart of Bendigo

Bendigo Woollen Mills is Australia’s largest manufacturer of hand-knitting yarn. Located in the historic gold mining town of Bendigo, Victoria, our yarns are made on-site by our dedicated local team.

On this page we will walk you through our manufacturing process step-by-step, explaining how we turn wool and other fibres into our quality signature and limited release yarns.

Step 1. From Aussie Sheep to the Factory Floor


We use Australian-grown wool to make our famous yarns. Sourced from Victoria and Central New South Wales, the raw fleece is then cleaned (scoured and carded) and arrives at our factory in large bales. At this stage, the wool is referred to as ‘tops’.

Step 2. The Gilling Process: Blending & Drawing


To ensure we get as smooth and consistent a yarn as possible, the tops are processed through the gilling machine. These machines blend the different tops together according to the specifications of each yarn, ensuring all fibres are appropriately aligned.

Tops can also be dyed before they are spun. At this stage, the gilling machine is used to blend these dyed tops together creating a heathered effect for shades like Aegean Mix, Charcoal, Mineral Mix, Midnight Mix and Silver.

The drawing part of this process combines the loose assemblage of blended wool by passing it through a series of rollers, straightening the individual fibres and making them more parallel.

The gilling machine can also be used to blend other fibres like silk, alpaca, bamboo, and nylon.

Step 3. Spinning


The drawing process has prepared the fibres for spinning by reducing them in thickness. The spinning machine further reduces the thickness and adds twist to produce a ‘single’ strand or thread that make up the composition of the yarn. To do this, several rows of rollers on the spinning machine guide the fibres making them thinner and thinner and adding twist before winding it onto a bobbin.

At this early stage the yarn is referred to as ‘singles’; very thin strands of wool which are fragile and can be easily broken.

Step 4. Winding


Winding sees the transfer of the yarn from a bobbin onto the cone preparing it for twisting. This process also allows the operator to visually inspect the yarn for objectionable faults in the yarn and clean it of dirt and dust.

Step 5. Twisting


Once all the singles have been wound onto a cone, it's then time to assemble them together. How these singles then go on to be combined is based on the specific yarn we are producing. For example, our 8 Ply Classic yarn is made of six singles. Two singles are twisted together in one direction and then three of these pairs are twisted together in the other (crepe construction), while our 8 Ply Luxury has three singles twisted together in the same direction (fingering construction).

The combining of singles is done in a two-step process – the first step is getting the required singles onto the same cone. The second step is putting the twist into the yarn, which is done on the Volkmann, shown here.

Step 6. Dyeing


Before we dye the yarn, a dedicated machine reels the yarn from the cone into a 2kg ‘hank’. A hank is a looped configuration of yarn that ensures the quality and even colour distribution of the finished product by ensuring the dye can reach all parts of the yarn equally.

We have several vats in our dyehouse. These vats stand upright, and each can hold a different amount of yarn, with the largest taking 288kg (or 1,440 balls of finished yarn). The hanks are loaded into the vats on large metal rods which help hold them in place and ensure that the hanks don’t get tangled. The vats are then closed and sealed for us to add dye according to the recipe of each shade.

It’s here that the specific number of each ‘dye lot’ is recorded against the yarn.

Step 7. Drying


Once the dyeing process is complete, the yarn has transformed into one of the gorgeous shades from our shade card but is still wet. First, we remove the excess water in the hydro extractor, a large machine that acts like the spin cycle of your washing machine. The yarn then goes through the dryer to complete the drying process. This means the yarn is constantly moving through the drying process and it dries more evenly.

Step 8. Balling


The yarn is now much closer to what you will see in our shop or when you open one of our parcels. But we still need to turn it into one of those 200g balls that you know and love! This means putting the dried yarn back on a cone so we can ball it.

Some yarns will go through a large steamer that is attached to the balling machine. This ‘bulks’ the yarn with steam as it is pulled past and into a ball. Some yarns need this to bulk them up a little to make them sit nicely in the ball and feel nicer on the hands when knitting.

Once the yarn has been shaped into a ball, the balling machine will then add the yarn labels to the individual balls, which are then packed into boxes ready for a short drive around the back of the factory to the warehouse.

Step 9. Picking & Shipping


Many of our yarns go directly to our ‘Factory Shop’ on site here at Bendigo Woollen Mills, but most of our products are bought online and shipped directly to our customers.

For those of you who have your order shipped, our warehouse is where the yarn is stored until it’s picked by our warehouse team, packed, and placed in a large crate before being collected by Australia Post and making its way out to you.

Manufacturing Process FAQ


Q: Where does your wool come from and what type is it?

Our wool is grown in Victoria or central New South Wales in Australia. We use Merino and First Cross Merino/Border Leicester wool, ranging from 24 to 29 micron in diameter.

Q: Where is your Yarn manufactured?

Over 90% of the manufacturing processes (listed below) for our Classic and Luxury yarns are undertaken at Bendigo Woollen Mills, and if necessary, Wangaratta Woollen Mills. This is with the exception of the cleaning process, which is completed by our carding and scouring partner of over thirty years, who is based in China.

Manufacturing process locations for Classic & Luxury yarns:

Raw fleece source: Australia (Victoria & Central NSW), scouring & carding: China. Blending, Drawing, Twisting, Spinning: Bendigo, Australia. Dyeing: Bendigo, Australia. Balling: Bendigo, Australia. Packaging, Warehousing, Shipping & Administration: Bendigo, Australia

Q: Why is your wool scoured & carded overseas and not in Australia?

A: The yarn-manufacturing sector changed remarkably in the 90s and 00s. One of the most significant changes to the industry meant we could no longer have our raw fleece scoured in Australia. While our wool is always sourced from New South Wales and Victoria, unfortunately there are no local facilities that can handle the volume of fleece we need to have processed every year.

Once the wool is cleaned, it comes back to our Bendigo factory to be drawn, spun, plied/twisted, dyed, and balled, meaning that apart from cleaning & scouring, our yarn is constructed in Australia.

Q: What micron is your yarn?

A: Our yarns have the following micron counts:
Luxury: 24-25 micron
Classic: 29 micron

Q: Where does your cotton come from & how does the manufacturing process differ from your woollen yarn?

A: While we assemble, dye and ball the cotton at our factory here in Bendigo, we buy our cotton in singles from China. Unfortunately, Australia doesn't spin enough cotton for our needs, and our wool-spinning machines don’t have the capability to process the short cotton fibre into singles.

Once we receive the singles, the process is then very similar to the process for wool yarns: singles are plied together to create 4, 8 or 10 ply yarns, then twisted, dyed, and balled to create the 200g balls we love.

Q: Will the yarn I order be from the same dyelot ?

A: Due to the popularity of our yarns the dyelots change frequently, so even though your most recent order is from the same Dyelot, we cannot guarantee that the same Dyelot will be available when you place your next order. We do try and ensure our shades are consistent however sometimes there will be variations from one dyelot to the next.

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