Fibre World Stories Series: Meet John Arbon (Part 2)

Recently I introduced you to John Arbon, a man with a fibre-filled life and dreams of creating an impact in the yarn spinning world. If you haven't read my first instalment of John's fascinating story, you may wish to pop over to my previous blog entry and read it now before launching into Part 2 of his journey here.


When we left off, John had just arrived in Devon with a vision, lots of enthusiasm and an open mind. Fortunately he had an affinity with mill machines stemming from his time at University in Leicester. In the University's Spinning Laboratory John was able to work with a full set of miniature spinning machines that were capable of making a wonderful variety of yarns from scratch. In Devon, he had the chance to generalise this knowledge and create his own fully functioning life sized mill - and thus Fibre Harvest Mill was born. 

Of course life adventures wouldn't be adventures without challenges and John's new mill has experienced the odd one or two stumbling blocks. He began with some basic mill machinery including the infamous Kevin the sliver spinner, with whom John had a contentious relationship. In fact John concedes he almost took a sledgehammer to Kevin, due to having no available instructions on assembly and then struggling for almost 12 months to put the machine together. Thereafter the pain continued for quite some time as once assembled, it took some tinkering to get Kevin to co-operate. John assures me that the two are now amicable and have quite a bond.

As in most workplaces there are tough days and hazards and on this account John remembers losing his glasses for months and later finding them inside the comb miraculously unscathed. He also remembers all too clearly spearing his finger with a large gill pin and having to remove it with a pair of pliers. Just another day at the office.

Nineteen years on from those first days the mill runs much more like a well-oiled machine. The 1950's carding engine more affectionately known as Chapman takes a tangled bundle of wool and according to John, miraculously changes it into a relatively neat sliver of wool. This is surely something wonderful to witness. However the combing process is the most impressive of all. Wool mangled with vegetation, short fibres and twine is transformed into beautifully neat woollen tops. A sight to behold.

I asked John "Where to from here?" and after humorously replying "an early grave?" he expressed how he so much appreciates the dedicated young team he and Juliet now have around them. There is a real sense of confidence that John Arbon Textiles can continue to develop and grow well into the future.

John Arbon takes beautiful wool from a mixture of locally raised sheep and is environmentally mindful of how this wool is handled to create impressive yarns for fibre artists all over the world. I am impressed by the spirit of this man and his drive to be knowledgeable and create something truly magical in his corner of of our world.

How lucky we are, all the way over here in Australia, to have a little of that world in the items we knit and crochet from John Arbon yarns. 

Cheers for now,





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