Wednesday, 2 September 2009


When I trained as a primary school teacher,
we were taught how to make equipment and teaching materials ourselves.
So that when we were going to do a project about the process of making yarn and fabric,
we started with fleece, and made the spinning tool, loom and shuttle from scratch.
We even had teasels to show the children how the raw wool was cleaned and stretched,
teased - ready for spinning.

so when we found this working mill,

deep in the heart of nowhere,
operating as it had always done when making curtains and blankets
for the three Keating sisters living here at Plas Yn Rhiw in the 1930s,

I half expected to see these dried flower heads attached to teasel frames,
as they were in the olden days.

There was a sense that nothing had changed
and no demonstrations were being put on for our benefit.

There were no slick displays,

no guided tours,

no cafe,

just the deafening clank of the working machinery
being deftly managed by one man, seemingly oblivious to our presence.

There was a small sales floor up a ricketty staircase which I didn't photograph,
because of the rather watchful lady behind the counter.
I did buy a remnant of tweed which was silently parcelled in brown paper for £7.
If I make anything from it, you'll be the first to see it.
I left feeling that its glory days were past
and wondering how much longer it could possibly survive.

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