Today I’m introducing a new series to my blog called “The Rambling Crafter.” As you may have guessed, this will be a series in which I share with you my travels specifically related to fibers, art, and craft.
Though I have a back log of many interesting places that I’ve visited that would fit the above description, I have chosen to share my photos from Avoca, Ireland in County Wicklow, because it is March and I am celebrating all things Irish.
I visited the Avoca Handweavers studio on a rainy July afternoon in 2010 along with my parents and husband, Jon. We didn’t have much time to look around the studio where a single man was weaving because he was about to close up shop for his lunch break.
I was in awe by all the color, looms, and basic machinery crammed into the relatively small space. Since I had studied weaving in college, I am familiar not only with how one operates a loom like the one this man was using, but how one prepares the loom, before the weaving begins. Those of you who are also familiar with this process know that it is indeed a tedious one.
This was my first time visiting a functioning commercial weaving studio, and it seems as though I picked a rather good one, though by accident. From later research of the Avoca Handweavers I learned that;
“It is the oldest working woollen mill in Ireland and one of the world’s oldest manufacturing companies. It is also Ireland’s oldest surviving business.” -Wikipidia
From the official Avoca site, I learned that the mill began in 1723 as a co-operative where farmers could spin and weave their uncolored wool into blankets and tweeds. Later, vivid colors began to be incorporated into their designs by the use of natural vegetable dyes. Today, beautiful apparel and home products are being produced in 100% pure lambswool, mohair, cashmere, angora, cotton and linen. Though powerlooms are now used to keep up with demand, skilled weavers are still needed to prep the yarns and set up the looms.
Though our time in Avoca was short, I throughly enjoyed my visit and hope that if you are interested in weaving and ever visit Ireland you too will visit the Avoca Handweavers.