Archive | Textile Museums

Embroidery in World War 2

Lynn Openshaw asks for help with her textile student research. She writes:

I am a textile student researching the use of embroidery in WW2 – especially for occupational therapy purposes in hospitals, convalescence homes and POW camps. If any of your blog readers have any reminiscences or piccies which would help my research, please let me know!

If anyone can help Lynn, please email her.

Another Woollen Mill

While we were in North Wales, we went to a second woollen mill, called Brynkir, just north of Porthmadog. 

Brynkir woollen mill 

It had a water wheel to power the machines:

water wheel at Brynkir woollen mill

Here are some of the machines we saw. 

A bobbin winder:

bobbin winder

A machine to wind the wool into skeins for dyeing:

skein winder

And lots of looms:

looms in woollen mill

As usual, it had a factory shop where I bought some yummy tweed fabric…and a poster with pictures of British sheep. Talking of sheep, look at these two, perched on an outcrop of rock up near the summit of Snowdon:

sheep on Snowdon

I will have to consult my poster to see what type these are, but as I’m typing this on holiday in a gite in Normandy, I can’t do it at present….  by the time you read this, I’ll be back.  These holidays are useful for catching up on blog posts but not for publishing them.

Trefriw Woollen Mill

As I type this, we are still on holiday but on my only access to the internet yesterday, Windows Live Writer didn’t want to publish my last post so I doubt if you’ll get to read it until we get back.  But I thought I would write a few posts while what we have seen and visited is still fresh in my mind.

Wales has lots of hills.  Lots of hills with lots of sheep.  So it has – or had in the past – lots of woollen mills to process the wool from those sheep.  We visited one of them near Llanwrst in the first week of our holiday.   

Trefriw had lots of different sections.  I forgot to photograph them all – there was a lady hand spinning on a spinning wheel and several buildings where the different parts of the process such as carding, dyeing and weaving, took place.  I took a photo of this warping mill as I had heard a lot about them and couldn’t quite visualise them.

warping mill at Trefriw woollen mill

And here is a mechanized loom.


We saw this one being operated:


One of my favourite parts at the mill was their Dyer’s Garden. 

dyers' garden

As you can see, it is well labelled and organised.


dyers garden

nasturtiums... dyers garden

madder in dyer's garden

Trefriw woollen mill

Here is a general view from the side of the mill.   It was all powered by hydro electricity using their own generator – we could see the stream of water and the engine which ran it. 

There was also a good sized shop with clothes, woollen bedding, wool, and also woven tweed woollen fabric by the metre.  Definitely well worth a visit!     My haul consisted of a couple of balls of wool spun in the mill, a natural dyeing book and a book on Textile Machines.  

Travels in North Wales

I’m actually back from holiday now but I wrote a series of blog posts on holiday so they’ll be popping up over the next few days! I tried to publish this while I was away but for some reason Windows Live Writer wouldn’t let me publish it via the various wifi connections I managed to find.

I’m on holiday with my family at the moment.  I’m writing this without a wifi connection but if I manage to find one anywhere I shall publish it.   We are staying at a cottage in Porthmadog, which is great for both Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula.   And we shall probably venture into Cardiganshire too …. so far we’ve been watching the weather forecast carefully and trying to avoid any predicted rainfall!

On the way there we stopped for lunch in Llanidloes.  Imagine my delight when I realised that it is the home of the Minerva Arts Centre which houses a quilt museum and at that moment had its summer exhibition which included the Six Group (including Linda and Laura Kemshall).  So I stole 20 minutes to go and see the quilts…

Minerva Arts Centre

We are staying just opposite the harbour station, and terminus, of the steam railway to Blaenau Ffestiniog.  This is a narrow gauge railway which was originally built to carry slate from the slate mines in Blaenau to the coast.  Now it is entirely tourist orientated.  We travelled on it a couple of days ago.

Here’s the station with the train we had just travelled down from Blaenau on, to the left.  Our cottage is just behind those houses in the background.  The actual engine is out of the picture being refuelled.

porthmadog station

We went down a slate mine at Blaenau – it was very chilly!    While I was there I eyed up some rusty machinery …. it would be wonderful for a spot of rust dyeing!  Pity it was too heavy to take home…. and the museum might have missed it….

rusty machinery

The piles of slate make an interesting picture too…

piles of slate 

Back at Porthmadog, the harbour is looking very picturesque:

Porthmadog harbour

I loved this colourful arrangement of boats pulled up on the slipway….

boats lined up in harbour

More travel nuggets to follow….

Some looms

I didn’t find much of textile interest while on holiday (except in terms of inspiration like the manhole covers). There was a silk factory which had a museum attached but I was told by the tourist office in Tours that it was closed all July and August. 🙁

However, I did find a few things, unexpectedly. We went to see a strange motley collection of … basically anything with moving parts, the Musee Maurice Dufresne. I think that M Dufresne couldn’t bear to leave any machines he found rusting in fields or anywhere; he had to rescue them and add them to his collection. Something had been found at the bottom of a lake. It was a huge combine harvester or something like that. Goodness knows how it got to the bottom of the lake or how he knew it was there and managed to get it out again. It was that sort of a collection.

Anyway, in amongst all this stuff were a few looms.


I don’t know much about looms or what type they are but it was lovely to see all that pile of yarn in the midst of machinery! If anyone can enlighten me, I will add the information.



I think this one made braid, or ribbon.

machine for winding bobbins?

Is this a machine for winding shuttles? or warping or something? (can’t you tell I don’t know ANYTHING about weaving?! Still, I do find these kinds of things interesting and I would love to learn, so please enlighten me!)

All these looms were a drop in the ocean in the huge barn-like buildings in which they were stored. I found some sewing machines high up on a shelf later on and I felt so sorry that they were stuck up there so unappreciated.  I wanted to take them all home with me!
old sewing machine

In amongst all these were cars, farm machinery, a London bus(!) and even a guillotine which had travelled around during the French Revolution – it was mounted on a cart. Bikes, printing machines, you name it, it was there. Amazing.

Textile Museums Map update

My Textile Museums map has taken off – thank you to everyone who has sent me more details and to Sharon at In A Minute Ago for giving me a mention on her blog.

There may be a few changes to it in the future because, while perusing the help pages at Google Maps yesterday, I discovered that you can only put 100 saved locations in there – after that they start deleting the first ones! So I may split it into regions but if I do that I will make sure the links are on my sidebar and, if possible, in the Googlemaps page as well.

Odile kindly sent me a link to a Google Map of Textile Museums in France which has been compiled by France Patchwork, who also have a comprehensive list on their website. I won’t add these to mine due to the above constraints but will put the link to their map on my sidebar.

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