How Caron One Pound Yarn is Made

How Caron One Pound Yarn is Made

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Have You Wondered How Yarn is Made?

Today, I am going to show you a rare behind the scenes look at how yarn is made. This article is showing the process after the yarn is spun. See detailed pictures. Ivy, pictured to the right, is a youngster who captures our emotions when finding that special yarn on the shelves. How does the yarn get made so that you can find it on the store shelves?

I will add commentary to steps based on what I learned during my plant tour of Caron Yarns in Washington, North Carolina. We were granted rare permission by Spinrite Yarns LLP to show you the process with photos we took during our plant tour. Employees involved in the process have been omitted from our pictures to protect their identities. Now that I have the legal stuff out of the way, let’s show you a rare look behind the scenes.

The Caron One Pound Journey

Caron Yarns, Washington, North Carolina

Caron Yarns, Washington North Carolina.

Caron One Pound is USA made from spinning the fibers to forming the skeins. You may be surprised how automated the process is. You would not believe how many millions of pounds of yarn are produced in the USA each year.

The Caron Yarn Plant, division of Spinrite Yarns, is located in Washington, North Carolina. To say the facility is massive is an understatement. I was proud of my yarn collection but this factory has nothing on me when I examine how much yarn is truly there. It’s where the yarn fairies live before you see it on the shelves on your local store.

There are four major processes of yarn manufacturing.

  1. Raw Fibres
  2. Dyeing
  3. Spinning
  4. Packaging

This facility does not deal with the raw fibres, dyeing or spinning of the yarn. This process is done at another location in the USA. Raw acrylic is created, then dyed to the approved colour. Once the fibres are ready, the yarn is spun into the yarn you see on the shelves. Speaking to experienced workers, the really messy and hot labour intensive element of making yarn is the first three processes. Don’t get me wrong though, the workers in the packaging division are working extremely hard as well.

Let’s Begin Your Caron Yarns Tour

From the plant that does the raw fibres, dyeing and spinning comes in large crates of loosely packaged industrial cones. These cones are wrapped extremely tight and you would not recognize the yarn as Caron One Pound Yarn at this point because the yarn appears thin. These cones are heavy containing approximately 10 – 12 One Pound Skeins Each.

Starting Process

Industrial Yarn Cones

Industrial Yarn Cones

 

Most of the machines to create one colour consists of only three employees:

  1. First employee is constantly loading the industrial cones.
  2. Second employee is part of the actual winding process.
  3. Third employee is part of the packaging as the yarn skeins come down the line.

Loading of The Cones

Cones Loaded to the Machine

Cones Loaded to Machine, Back of Machine

Industrial Cones

Industrial Cones Loaded, Front of Loader

 

The loader contains 3 industrial cones per strand that is feeding the machine. As you can count, there are 19 holding spots allowing 19 skeins to be produced at one time on the machines.

So how long do one of these cones last when being packaged?

Approximately 10 – 12 minutes before the entire cone runs out. The machines move so quickly that there are three cones in place for each winder so that the machine never runs out of yarn. The 1st worker is constantly removing the empty cones and replacing with new cones.

The cones ends are tied together. As the machine pulls the yarn off the cones at a rapid speed, when the cone runs out, the end is tied to the next cone to instantly start the next cone without having to feed the entire machine section where the yarn is being wound.

Have you ever seen knots in the yarn balls? There are two reasons:

  1. The knots are factored between two processes. During the spinning stages, the spinner could have snapped the yarn requiring a worker to tie the yarn together as it was winding onto the industrial cones.
  2. The knot could be the knot from one industrial cone to another. Without having severe industrial waste for producing yarn balls without knots, knots are acceptable in the manufacturing of yarn. To produce a no knot yarn ball can have severe consequences to landfills. As a yarn artist that we are, it’s our job to do our part so the yarn remains economical for everyone.

Steaming the Yarn

Caron Yarn Plant Tour

The yarn travels up and over to the conveyor where it’s laid on the conveyor.

Yarn Steamer

The yarn laid onto the conveyor where it will go through a steamer.

Notice how the yarn is laid down.

Notice how the yarn is laid down onto the conveyor.

 

The industrial cones are wound extremely tight. It has no stretch and is thin in appearance. It is wound thin to make it cheaper to transport and deal with during packaging.

The yarn strands travel up over the machine and a machine lays down the yarn in a circular motion so that the yarn can be exposed to a blast of steam. The steam instantly revives the yarn to puff it up.

The conveyor moves the yarn down to the dryer to dry the steam blasted yarn to finalize the final look of the yarn. The yarn continues to rapidly dry as it heads to the winders.

Final Process before Wrapping

Conveyors Move the Yarn

Conveyors Move the Yarn

Conveyors Move the Yarn

Conveyors Move the Yarn

 

Each conveyor operates independently from each other. You can see the yarn strand behind pulled from the end. The conveyors keep moving in sync with the pulling of the yarn. When the winders stop between the balls, each conveyor keeps moving forward until all conveyor belts for the each winder is at the front of the machine ready to go for the next ball winding cycle.

From here, the yarn is pulled forwards and up over the operator of the 2nd employee where they are part of the labour intensive winding process.

Winding of The Yarn

Yarn Winding, Caron Yarns

There are 3 Sets of Yarn Winders.

Yarn Winders

Yarn Winders at Caron Yarns

 

The yarn winders are divided into three sections. If this one one massive winder, the operator would be too long with too many winders empty waiting for the reset.

With the 3 sections, the first winder section has 6 skein spots of the 19 that are being fed to this entire machine. The operator just has to deal with 6 and then reset the machine to start again. The operator then moves to the next section that stops. They move between the 3 sections constantly throughout their shift. It’s a lot of work and you must be on your feet the entire shift.

Notice the diameter of the interior spools. The yarn is being wound really tight. The operator cannot remove the yarn off this spool on their own. A hydraulic is released to push the yarn forward when the cycle is done. The operator pulls the skein off the spool. With a snipper cuts the yarn and feeds the new end to the empty spool. They then sit the skein down on a conveyor readying for the shaping and ball banding.

The yarn expands on its own once taken off the spool. The puffing up of the yarn a minute earlier before winding has memory in the yarn. It’s not on the winder long enough for it to lose it’s fluffy look and feel.

The interior of the ball where the spool was instantly fills in with the yarn on it’s own.

Shaping of the Yarn

Caron Yarn

Caron Yarn

Shape Caron Yarn

Shape Caron Yarn

Conveyor of One Pound yarn

Shape of Caron One Pound Yarn

 

I couldn’t help but notice that the yarn doesn’t look the same when it comes off the winder. It reminded me of a tin can shape. The yarn on the shelves has a rounded edge look.

When the yarn is taken off the winder, it heads down a mini conveyor and will pass through a compressor. The compressor slightly squishes the ball and causes it to roll at the same time. This creates the rounded off look and squishes the ball down for the ball banding process.

Ball Banding

Caron Yarns

Caron Yarn, Ball Banding. Ball goes through the conveyor and a machine automatically wraps the balls

Ball Band Wrappers

Ball Banding a Yarn Ball, Wrapper just takes a second to wrap and glue the ball band.

One the Other Side of the Ball Binder

On the Other side of the Ball Bander, the yarn is ready for packaging

Plastic Wrapping Yarn

The Worker Helps the Sealing of Yarn into plastic. Some wraps are single balls and others are in doubles.

 

The Warehouse

Yarn Warehouse

Yarn Warehouse

Yarn Warehouse

Yarn Warehouse

 

Pictures will never do the warehousing of the yarn any justice. It is massive. Some workers have bicycles to get through the warehouse as it is so massive. The warehousing distribution is like a hive of ants moving around with a sense of purpose.

Watch out for forklifts and electronic pallet jacks with the workers riding along. Orders need to be picked and shipped out to fulfill the store needs. This entire facility feeds every store in USA with a secondary facility in Canada fulfilling other orders to support this facility.

Orders have to be picked accurately, wrapped and ready for the transport trucks to pick up the yarn. Being a former transport driver having seen my share of warehousing in my day, this facility is fascinating in the way product is handled.

Distribution

The yarn is picked up and either taken to a store directly where you will find it. It could also be taken to the buyer’s distribution facility such as Walmart, Michaels Stores and other places to be shipped on the next truck that is dedicated for the store.

So What Happens to Reject Yarn?

You may notice in certain stores that carry yarn that there is Mill Ends for 1 Pound or something like that. This is yarn where the yarn ball didn’t meet the weight or size requirements to be packaged. The yarn brand is usually not identified inside as it’s classified as seconds.

The yarn could also be an off-shade meaning the standard colour wasn’t achieved during the dying process. It doesn’t allow it to go out as 1st Quality Yarn. Yarn has a long journey and an off-shade isn’t a deal breaker to everyone so it’s sold off as mill ends.

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed my tour. What did you think of this tour? I have pictures for automated winders that are completely hands free. Would you like to see that? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Mikey, aka Michael Sellick, of The Crochet Crowd, started this online journey back in 2008. A mere hobby in trying to reach out to others as he was mentally struggling with his own issues. His goal was simple, find others in the yarn communities, like him, that have a common interest.

The journey and main baby of the whole idea started with a YouTube Channel and then in 2011, an official website was developed. Michael is not only the face of The Crochet Crowd but also the working engine behind the crowd in self-taught programming, social media and so much more.

Enjoy the stitching journey. Life is short, enjoy this wonderful hobby and all of the learning opportunities that come with it.

61 thoughts on “How Caron One Pound Yarn is Made”

  1. Over the last 2-3 years, there has been a noticeable decline in the quality of the Caron 1 pound skeins. I can prove this because I have been notating the wrappers each time I have used a skein. I always use the same crochet needle & the exact same pattern stitch for every blanket. I also do NOT get the SAME number of rows with every skein..sometimes 73 rows & sometimes 90 rows. This does NOT make sense. I have been crocheting almost 40 years so I not because I am not consistent with my work.

    The wrappers have various numbers on them- I do NOT mean color numbers. I believe these numbers designate which factory location is making the skeins. EX: 294010, 294002, 294027, 294009, 294015-all colors are found in all the number labels. So they mean something-I have called Spinrite about this problem & questioned why the yarn quality varies so much..they don’t actually have any good answer for me.

    Do you have any answers for me-if so could you reply directly to my email, because I am really thinking about just stopping crocheting because of the quality problem. Also not all the labels are the same- some have smaller printing & some have the numbers set in a different pattern on the label. Which only bolsters my belief that there are various locations within the US where this yarn is manufactured/produced.

    1. Mikey says:

      Afternoon Ranae, I don’t really have an answer for you about the quality. I know that Caron One Pound has been moved to Georgia last year, instead of North Carolina and new machines are used to make it. The yarn formula has been improved to make it softer as well. I don’t know much about the numbers you are speaking of. I am not in a position to know about the making procedures of the yarn to give you an answer to be honest with you.

      I’m sorry Spinrite doesn’t have an answer for you. I don’t know the answers to your questions. I believe right now, there is stock left over from Yarnspirations North Carolina that has the older labels and the new stuff will have a different print because of the location. The new Caron One Pound Balls are more narrow, still one pound but not as wide in the length. That’s how I can tell the difference.

      1. Thanks for your reply. I am NOT finding the new yarn out of Georgia to actually be softer…on the contrary, it is thinner quality & absolutely NOT as soft (fluffy).

        My comment is driven by the way it works up when I crochet- the yarn has to actually be pulled out of the skein- the original type that I used to buy was waaaay softer & just seemed to drop out of the skein as I needed it. Almost felt like the blanket was making itself.

        I think I may just stop crocheting- it just isn’t any fun using the new style yarn anymore.

      2. Mikey says:

        You’ve said twice now you are probably just going to quit crocheting as the Caron One Pound isn’t to your liking. I have found that people who state they are going to quit end up doing it. I think you should let yourself off the hook, sort of speak, and quit crocheting. It sounds to me like your heart is leaning in that direction and I think you should go with your gut.

        If you haven’t found joy in other brands, then it’s possible you are finished with this hobby. There’s nothing wrong with ending a hobby and finding something else. I cannot speak for Yarnspirations on the manufacturing side. I’m surprised you haven’t tried another brand and threatening to quit the hobby when there are so many other choices. That’s why I think you should follow your heart and just retire from this hobby, you will most likely be happier and won’t need to worry about this.

        Take care, Michael

  2. Denise sweet says:

    I bought Caron yarn at Michaels craft store Torrington Connecticut the yarn had the wrong rappers on it it was a 3-ply 94 ply and I also bought the cure on round bundle of yarn which is too thin to be a 4 ply and I don’t feel as though I should be stuck with this and all the money I spent!

    1. Marina King says:

      I’m not sure how we can help you?

  3. Sandy Shifflett says:

    Hi,
    I am looking for cup cake yarn in Faerie color. We started a project and need more yarn to finish. We live in Baltimore MD. Please e-mail me with any help or suggestions. Love the yarn!
    Thank you!

    1. Mikey says:

      I’m unsure I have seen Caron Cup Cakes in Faerie Colour. I thought that was online in regular Caron Cakes. I think that colour in Caron Cakes has been discontinued as well. I’m unsure where you could find that colour today. I know I don’t have that colour in my stock as well.

  4. Cornelia says:

    Thanks Mikey! Makes me feel a bit better. I did used to think they were seconds, unapproved for top quality sells. Hope that find a way to stop the break or label the skein so we anticipate and don’t have to pull out a nearly finished row to reconnect at the seam though. – Cornelia Wright / Cornelia’s Creative Corner

  5. Loved the text-and-photos tour; too bad you didn’t have a video camera along. (As an attorney’s wife, totally understand the “no employee faces” rule you had to work under.)
    Hmmm . . . my “stash guardian” dog loves watching the “Dirty Jobs” show on Animal Planet . . . maybe I should suggest that Mike Rowe (the host of “Dirty Jobs”) should spend a day in a yarn factory sometime!

    1. You are right… we are not allowed to film employees. It’s not an easy job.

  6. Shirley says:

    That is awesome. I feel bad now. since I have complained about the knots.

  7. Cheri Geo says:

    Thanks for writing and photographing this. It is a wonderful explanation of how it all works. Thanks for being such a genius at this.

  8. Sue R says:

    So cool to know. Now I won’t curse the knots as much, haha!

  9. Alice Sillis says:

    Great article on a fantastic US yarn product. I would like to see some of the Caron Simply Soft colors being made… Wish I could visit their Tent Sale.

  10. Kitty says:

    Where can you find the reject yarns? Do they sell it just there or can you get it on line?

    1. It’s called MILL ENDS and is available through the ETENT http://yarnfactoryoutlet.com. They don’t just throw it out. These are balls that don’t meet the weights or right colour palette.

  11. Cheryl Ann says:

    Bang on Mikey!! Or SPOT ON as I say!! Loved seeing and reading about the process of it and would love to see more!!!
    So plz show us more!!!

  12. Patsy Murphy says:

    This was very interesting, to bad people can’t tour the factory find this a great way to understand more about the product. You have shown the manufacturing of yarn real well. Can’t imagine the size of the warehouse, would be a knitter or crochetsers dream!

  13. Thank you for sharing this article – I found it very interesting and enjoyable (perspective is always so enriching!) I would love to be able to tour a yarn production facility someday, until then, I will just have fun playing with the end product. 😉

  14. Olivia Oneida Albert says:

    Thank you for this. I love seeing how things are made. This was very interesting.

  15. Sherry says:

    Loved this! Fascinating to see how the finished product is made, thanks for sharing.

  16. Joan says:

    I loved finding out about how the yarn was produced and to see pictures too. It was great. That warehouse must be like heaven! Thank you!!!

    1. Yes Iiked your video . Also yes to your question.

  17. Joanne Zednik says:

    I really enjoyed the article. Good job! I have quite a yarn stash, but nothing to compare to the yarn warehouse. I like learning the steps of how the yarn got to that point.

  18. Cookie Miller says:

    I loved this article. It’s like being in yarn heaven.

  19. Kathi korn says:

    Omg! Mikey, what a wonderful, well written article. I felt like I was right there with you. The only thing missing was the noise and the smells. Thank you so much for sharing the experience.

  20. I love to learn new things. Had no idea yarn had such a lengthy journey before finding its way to my hooks and needles!

    And by the way….I’m Ivy’s grandma and we’re going to make sure she’s a yarnie!

  21. Liz Barrow says:

    That is very cool, thank you for sharing!

  22. Janice says:

    That is SO cool! I was there the day you took the tour and was dying to see what the whole process was like…AMAZING! Thank You for sharing!!

  23. Patty says:

    This was awesome.You should suggest to them that a video walk through would be great.I mean not just for us adults but it would be quite informative for young children.Just like learn how crayons are made. ( Oh and by the way how the heck did you keep your calm in all that yarn being around you?)

  24. Laura Ruelas says:

    Yes! A video would be fabulous. (I love to read and watch the video and watch the video and read. It’s what I do with books-on-tape, movies. I dive in and can’t seem to get enough of what I love/enjoy.) Yarn, watchout!

  25. Tracie Condie says:

    Very Cool, I have watched “How It’s Made” before and this is goes right along with it. I loved the pic’s and your explanations. It is so amazing on how fast and machine oriented it is. I adore the warehouse view and the winding. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  26. Katherine says:

    How awesome. My mother was a fiber artist – hand weaver – and I can take wool from raw on the sheep to useable yarn. Don’t do it any longer but know how. So this was very cool to me.

    1. Judy says:

      I would love to learn all of those processes.

  27. Anne says:

    Thank you Mikey, that was great! Would love to see any more pictures you have. Yarn eutopia!!

  28. Denise says:

    I very much enjoyed the behind the scenes look at yarn manufacturing. I particularly found the knots interesting. My grandmother, who was born in 1888 and married at the age of 18, worked in a mill before marrying. As a young girl, I remember her comments whenever she found a knot in the skein of yarn she was using. She wound note that that was a sign of poor quality, saying that ends should have been woven together. Thank you for bringing my grandmother back to me.

  29. Tami says:

    Thank you, Dan and Mikey, for the wonderful inside look. I certainly didn’t know that much went into the packaging of yarn. I’ll look at my yarn skeins a little differently from now on!

  30. Linda Doiron says:

    I loved seeing this! Thank you so much. I would love also to see the yarn winders.

  31. pattyreitz77 says:

    Very interesting! Any on video? That would be super cool!

    1. THanks Patti… I didn’t have my video camera.

  32. Betty Lewis says:

    What a great tour! Definitely would love to see pictures of the hands free automated winder! I recently had the opportunity to tour a sock factory and made the statement that it would be cool to see how yarn was made! Thank you!

  33. inkpattie says:

    more! this was very interesting…

  34. Erica says:

    I enjoyed the tour very much. Thank you Mikey. I would enjoy seeing any photos you have of automated hands free ball winders.

  35. doreen says:

    This was amazing..so glad they allowed you to share would love to see more pictures.

  36. |JoAnne Baker Seiple says:

    How fascinating! Enjoyed it…and yes, it would be interesting to see the other one. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  37. Diane R. says:

    Yes I liked this article, details, pictures, explanation mills ends etc….thanks very much!

  38. Donna says:

    Wow, that’s really interesting. Thank you for sharing. I love knowing how things are made.

  39. Irma M says:

    Interesting! And well written too! I was surprised at the explanation of mill ends, though. I have bought some brands’ ends and they really did appear to be of a lower quality. Thanks!

  40. Laurie says:

    thank you for sharing that with us Mikey and yes!!! we would love to see your picks of the automated winders… your tour was quite interesting!!

  41. Arna Badke says:

    That was very interesting

  42. Linda S. Michaud says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your Caron factory yarn tour. It’s fascinating to learn how it becomes the product with which we ‘play’. Anything else you’d like to share, I for one, would certainly love to see

  43. Didi Pancake says:

    Glad you got to see the process. Thanks for sharing it.

  44. Cynthia Jones says:

    Loved the article and pictures
    Would enjoy seeing more.

  45. Educational,Thank you Mikey.We learn something new every day.

  46. yarnrules says:

    WOW. I have never seen it made before. I think the process of puffing it back up is most interesting. We were at the tent sale and i had no idea so much was going on behind those walls 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing.. One thing I would love to see is how they make the ombre colors. Maybe next year Mikey?? 🙂 Love Caron. Its my favorite

  47. Staci K says:

    would love to see any pictures you have of the process. Very interesting! Would love to see the handsfree automatic winders.

  48. Sandra says:

    Very interesting to see the process of yarn making in a large factory. You had posted y’all were going to have a tour and we’re glad they allowed you to take photos. Bang on! 🙂

  49. Karen says:

    I really enjoyed this article. Thanks for taking the time to put it together for us.

  50. Doris says:

    Very interesting. Thank you Mikey.

  51. Elizabeth Jones says:

    This is great! I’m always fascinated to see how things are produced. It makes me want to live in the warehouse.

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