Would you like to see around a really old woollen mill? Step this way.
And yes I know; there’s been a wee bloggy hiatus, caused by us spending a week scrambling through the forests and mountains of Snowdonia*…
…plus taking the twinnage down to Pinewood Studios to get fitted for costumes for a small non-speaking part in a major feature film. The film thing is something of a surprise because amongst the things that we Twisteds do each day – step over casually abandoned piles of yarn and lose our shoes, for example – we rarely get to include ‘appear in a major movie’ in our day’s activities. But sometimes life throws random things at you when you’re least expecting them. Filming will take place over the summer. 🙂 Meanwhile, let’s get back up that mountain:-
I missed our chats, Blog (though I could, thankfully, still read your comments whenever we found a phone signal). You were very much in my mind, especially when the Stoic Spouse told me that he’d found an old woollen mill where they’re quite chilled out about visitors having a nosey around. Welcome to Trefriw Mill. It felt a little different from the Stylecraft woollen mill. Shall we go inside?
Trefriw takes in sheep-fluff and turns it into traditional Welsh tapestry fabrics, such as this:-
They’re woven on machines that are well over half a century old:-
And the whole shebang is powered by water because if there’s one thing you can rely on in the Welsh mountains, it’s the presence of water that’s on the move:-
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take it from the top.
When the sheep-fluff arrives at the mill, it’s first carded, so that all the fibres are lined up.
The carding machines look a little as though they’re slowly munching the wool. Nom nom nom. Nom nom nom nom nom:-
Then the wool is worked into a thread and wound onto spools, but there’s no twist in the thread yet, so you wouldn’t want to knit with it:-
Look at this!
So how do they put the twist into the yarn? Watch this (old, old, old) machine in action!
This turns the twistless tape into proper yarn:-
It must be wound onto bobbins before it can be used:-
Ah, the colours!
And then the weaving happens:-
And boy do these weaving machines devour the yarn:-
And that, my friends, is how they end up with beautiful traditional woven Welsh fabrics such as these:-
Not bad, huh?
∗ A quick intro to Snowdonia, because I know that most of you lovely folk are non-UK. In short, it’s a gorgeous, mountainous area in the top left corner of Wales, carved long ago by glaciers, and excitingly up-and-down-y to a geology/outdoors-lover like me. If you’d been with us on our trip (and I sincerely wish that you had), then the first thing you’d have noticed was how magically, vibrantly, green the landscape is. Because it rains up there. A lot. I lived in Wales – albeit the other end of Wales – for a few years, and there really is a special kind of Welsh rain that’s very fine, yet very persistent and soaking.