During the past two weeks I’ve been taking you on a Tuesday Tour of the DMC Factory in Mulhouse, France. We’ve taken a look at the location and its history, and have toured the steps taken to get from raw cotton to thread.
You can click on the links in the paragraph above if you missed the first two sections.
It’s been such an interesting journey, and today we’re going to see what happens next. It involves a spa-like bath and COLOR!
To get you caught-up in a nutshell, we have followed raw cotton through the spinning process through to the gassing, which removes unwanted fuzzies, and on through to twisting plies and making a huge hank of thread.
Mercerizing increases the yarn’s mechanical strength, improves its dyeing affinity, and gives the yarn brightness.
The large hanks are placed under tension and dipped in a concentrated solution of caustic soda and maintained at cold temperatures. It is then rinsed with hot water and then again in cold water.
If you look closely at the image above left, you can see that the hanks on the left are under tension, while the hank closest to you on the right has not yet been placed under tension and is still loose.
The yarns are then bleached using oxygenated water (not chlorine) before being placed in the huge dye vats. Vat dyes or naphthol dyes are used for colorfastness.
After dyeing, a special softening process is used that will help ensure easy rewinding of the skein, and gives the thread a slippery finish, allowing it to pass through the needlework fabric without any hangups or tugging.
The hanks are also expressed to make sure they have as little moisture in them as possible before being put through the drying tunnel. It’s a bit like the spin cycle of your home washing machine, only on a much larger scale.
After expressing, the hanks are hung on a rack to prepare them for drying.
Drying is accomplished using a large air drying tunnel. It takes several days to dry a single rack of thread, and is must be completely dry before it can be wound into hanks and skeins and packaged for shipment.
Next week we’ll explore the processes used to create the hanks, skeins and balls of DMC Needlework Thread, packaging and shipping to all corners of the globe!