One of the things that amazes me, is the fact that most of the East Cost fiber mills are older than the state I live in! The woolen mill in Harrisville, NH has been around since 1794. The Colony family has created beautiful yarns here since the mid 1800’s (longer than New Mexico has been a state!).
In the early 1970’s, John J. Colony III started Harrisville Designs, keeping the textile tradition alive in this little New England town. John, not only has consistently spun beautiful yarns and manufactured wonderful looms, but has also continued to carry out the mission of creating jobs for the locals and maintaining spaces for lease, helping to sustain the economic vitality of Harrisvile. You can read more about the wonderful history of this mill here.
We were able to visit Harrisville Designs last week during our visit to New England. We stayed at the beautiful Harrisville Inn, where we were treated to salmon scramble, coffee, tea and orange juice for breakfast. Then we were off to The Weaving Studio, where we met John and his wonderful wife, Patricia. We took some time to browse through all of their gorgeous yarns and weaving products and peaked in on a class being taught in their expansive studio on the second floor.
John then drove us to the mill to see the spinning in action. What a treat! Almost all of the huge machines were running with one or two people tending each one. We ran into John’s son, Nick, who helps to run the mill. Nick has developed a beautiful new line of yarn, WATERshed, that is definitely worth taking a look at!
Our next stop was the warehouse and woodworking shop. It was beautiful! (I will have a space like this some day!) We were also able to see them preparing some of their weaving kits. Walking away from here, my mind was filled with ideas and inspiration! John proceeded to tour us through the office to meet more of the wonderful staff and through one of the many spaces that are for lease in the beautiful restored mill buildings. One of the spaces there is leased by Walt Siegl, the creator of beautiful custom motorcycles!
Leaving the mill, I joked with John, “If I ever decide to move on from my current life, I would love to come work for you!”. It is an amazing operation they have going in Harrisville! If you ever get a chance, it is well worth the visit. And don’t forget to stop at the Harrisville General Store for an apple cider doughnut… delicious!
Teresa Loveless and The Weaving Southwest Crew
PS Have you ever visited a fiber mill? If so, where? Leave a comment telling us about your experience. We would love to hear about it!