Last Thursday, Mom and I flew to Boston. We drove to Hartford, CT, to see my cousin William, his wife Nikki, and their daughter Mitzi, who is as cute as pie. We stayed the night and when he mom went to wake her up in the morning, she said, "Where's Aunt Kate?" Good girl, Mitzi. We went further west in CT to see another cousin, Lisa, and had a lovely visit. We were headed to southwestern New Hampshire, to a knitting weekend thing, and we finally got there around five on Friday.
On Saturday, we went to Harrisville Designs. They've been in business since 1830 or so, and have weathered many ups and downs. I have an HD loom. Mostly, they spin yarn, and teach crafts these days. Harrisville is a mill town - Mr. Harris built his mill on the river, then built his home nearby, his kids built their houses, and they had to build some boarding house to house the mill workers. They eventually built another mill building, three retention ponds for water control, and now the spinning mill has been re-built about 5 miles away.
This is the second mill building. The water doesn't go to the building, the horizontal line you see is the damn in front of it.
The wool carding set up is about 100 feet long, and goes from larger to finer combs as it goes along. What goes in is chunks of dyed wool:
And what comes out is 2 mm thick roving (unspun wool):
Then the roving spool is taken to the spinning machines. This was a bank of machines about 50 feet long, one on either side of an aisle.
As the wool goes through the machine, twist is added with both the rotating spool and the little wire traveller on the rim of the spool socket, which whips around to wind the yarn onto the spool.
And finally, here is the man himself, telling us how it's all done.
This fellow is the mill owner, Chip. His family bought the mill and other buildings from Mr. Harris after the Civil War and have run it ever since. The mill closed in the seventies when fashion went crazy for doubleknit, and woven fabric couldn't be given away. Chip has managed by hook or by crook to get the business back on its feet, and his son Nick is working there too, getting his training to take over. Chip's views on business management, the history of Harrisville and Harrisville Designs, the relative value of tourism, and his deep and abiding love for his little New Hampshire town were quite inspiring. I bought 13 skeins of yarn after the talk. I have zero need for more yarn, not that it matters, but I want to support this effort. I might have to take a class up there this summer.
On Sunday, I got up with the chickens and drove to the airport to go to Chicago, to see my darling stepdaughter graduate from high school. David was already there, and we went to the graduation ceremony at the Sears Arena. Finding your kid in a crowd is pretty easy when her hair is contruction cone orange.
The child and her besties.
She certainly is a beauty. I
harassed her mercilessly
talked to her about going to college while I was there. She's planning to get trained as a massage therapist. I said she could go to community college for two years, get an AA degree in business, and that would help her run her practice. Failing that, I might kidnap her and make her go to school at gunpoint. (Hi, Aunt Jean. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, did it?)