We manufacture Welsh tapestry bedspreads, tweeds and travelling rugs from the raw wool using machinery which is over 50 years old.
The mill was originally a “pandy” (Welsh for fulling mill) where the hand woven cloth was brought to be “finished” before the Industrial Revolution.
It was situated by the fast running river Crafnant in order to use the water to drive the machinery and to wash and shrink the cloth.
The present owners’ great grandfather bought the mill in 1859 when it had already been operating for over 30 years.
Welsh bedspreads have been woven here since the nineteenth century. Welsh “tapestry” is a double weave which is completely reversible. As well as the traditional Welsh bedspreads we also weave smaller repeat Welsh tapestry patterns which are available by the metre and as brushed travelling rugs and tweeds.
Our fabrics, woven here at Trefriw Woollen Mills, are made up into ladies’ garments, hats, caps, bags, purses, dinner mats, cushions and throws which are exclusive to our shop and website.
The water driven turbine which generates our electricity can be viewed all year during shop hours.
Weaving can be viewed from April 1st – mid December: Monday – Friday except Bank Holidays. Additional machinery such as carding engines, spinning mules, doubling machine, warping mill can be viewed Easter – end October: Monday – Friday except Bank Holidays.
In the small Weaver’s Garden we grow plants connected with textiles:- fibre plants (flax, New Zealand flax, nettles), soap plants (soapwort), dye plants (madder, woad, dyer’s greenweed), teasels for brushing the cloth, and various insect repellents (tansy, pyrethrum etc.). The garden is at its best June – September.
Hand spinning is demonstrated in the studio on Wednesdays and Thursdays (Spring Bank Holiday – end September). Rag rug making is demonstrated on Tuesdays (Spring Bank Holiday – end September).
November 2016 Update
New blends for Trefriw Woollen Mills tweeds
For the past few weeks Trefriw Woollen Mills have been making new colours in the yarns which we use to weave our tweeds.
Tweed yarns have a “heathery” appearance because they are made by blending dyed raw wool rather than blending, carding and spinning the natural white colour of the wool and then dyeing the yarn.
We start by designing the blend recipes on a small sample carder, making tiny blends of between 10 and 20 gms. Once we are happy with the colours we work out a larger blend of approx. 250 kilos using the same percentages of the different coloured wools. The different quantities of the coloured raw wool are weighed and then laid on the floor in thin layers to make the blend and spinning oil is added.
The blend is then fed into the first machine as a “sandwich” containing a vertical slice of all the layers. The first two machines (the Fearnought and the Shaker) are large drum fitted with pegs which roughly blend the wools.
The blended wool is then sent up to the carding engines – a series of large rollers covered in metal teeth which continue the process of mixing and straightening the fibres. The wool leaves the carding engines after being rubbed into twistless threads which are collected on steel cylinders.
The cylinders are taken upstairs and fitted onto the spinning mules where the “slubbings” are spun into yarn.
From quite crude colours in the raw wool, the resultant yarns are subtle blends.
We have made five new blends this summer:- Mallard (dark green with turquoise, blue and yellow), Medi (a lighter green with Autumnal tints), Bluebell (purple blue) Pheasant (brown and orange with greens) and Fox (a rich reddish brown).
These yarns will be used to weave our tweeds. We use a herringbone pattern and will make a warp about 150 metres. We weave six pieces per warp and each piece usually has a different weft resulting in six new tweeds. Because we sell all our tweed in our shop we produce limited runs of tweed which are not usually repeated, making our tweeds exclusive and unique.