A trip to a silk weaving mill

This weekend I visited the Whitchurch Silk Mill in Hampshire, a working weaving mill whose history goes back to Victorian times. The mill is situated along the River Test, and still has a working water wheel.
Whitchurch water wheel silk weaving mill textiles river test hampshire
In its glory days, the mill used to have over 100 employees. They used to produce the linings for Burberry raincoats, and later judges' gowns, and now they weave cloth to order for clients such as the television program Downton Abbey (which is filmed not far away at Highclere Castle).

We went on a Sunday, so the mill proper was closed, but we got to see the exterior as well as the gift shop, which had a number of things woven at the mill. There was also a lovely pond full of ducks which were thrilled to see us. :)
Duck Pond whitchurch mill gift shop and tea room on Frog Island in the River Test, Hampshire

I got a few souvenirs - I've been keeping an eye out for little keepsakes to pass out to family & friends when I visit the states in a few months.
Silk weaving Berkshire silk pirn bobbin thread holder French knitter and fabric swatch
I think a keychain with a little square of fabric woven at the mill is a pretty neat thing to bring back to my family! I also got a little French Knitting loom (aka, i-cord maker... aka, a tube of wood with nails driven into it).

I think the coolest thing they had at the shop was a display of pirns of silk thread. Pirns are what hold the weft thread or yarn on the shuttle as you weave it, similar to bobbins. I picked out a nearly full one with this brilliant green. It's far too thin to knit with, but I might try plying it with some very fine handspun.


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