Saturday, July 4, 2009

Boott Cotton Mill

This probably will be the last of the Beverly trip posts. For those who are in the Boston area or who may be traveling there, the Boott Cotton Mill Museum in Lowell is a must see, especially for those that love textiles.

Lowell has recreated some of it's industrial history under the auspices of a National Park and the Boott Cotton Mill is one such place. Set up as a mill would look and run in the early 1900's ( about 1918 or so) for a small fee you can go in and learn how a textile mill was operated, from roving down to weaving. They have a hundred or so looms, even a couple of dobby looms that all run and weave. Upstairs are displays of fabrics made at the mill and many many exhibits to read and study. Some fun hands on stuff too. The towel was woven on one of the running looms in the exhibit.

During my visit I had an opportunity to watch the dobby loom in action ( had to ask special as I guess it is a bit fussy) and talk to some of the people running the weaving looms. What the book doesn't tell you is that in 1954 when the mill finally shut down, all the equipment was sold, scrapped etc and to recreate it all, they had to purchase every one of their looms from a textile mill closing in TN.  There is some question about how long they can run the looms even today. The large warps now come prewound, ready to put on the looms. The company making them is closing and unless another maker is found, those looms may again fall silent. So if you are going to visit I would do it soon. They only had abut 10 or 12 of the looms running at a time, but believe me, it's enough to give you an idea of the conditions. The noise and the dust must have been overwhelming and these mills ran every day for 12 hours or more.  For some more information on the mill this is a nice

You can also see my completed sock! The second one is underway and looking good.
I've also included some items my Dad wove and gifted me with. The linen towel and napkin is lovely. These were the first items he wove on his Louet Spring and what a great job he did too. The colorful napkins his very first weaving project on his own. He bought a gamp kit from Lunatic Fringe and made about 8 of these, all in different patterns.

 It's likely he will far exceed me as a technical/complex weaver. It makes it all so interesting to exchange ideas with each of us having a different focus and approach to our weaving. I certainly am pleased that I was able to pass the love of creating cloth onto him. 

Of course now we are both working on my Mother! She has been a singer for years, since a small child on radio actually and at 70 something has just given it up. She no longer feels inspired to sing and the standing for hours at long concerts has become an issue. She did mention that when she was young she use to rug hook. My plan is to have a simple rug hooking kit here when they come to visit and we'll learn together and see if it's something she might enjoy again.

On the farm front, Puck is still slinking about. I see him every few days. It's been hot and dry. The horses spending most of their time in the shade, head to tail, swatting flies. The goatie girls are fat and very sassy and have been doing a good job with keeping the browse down. We have two does that we see regularly, one with twins and one with a single who is easy to spot. The fawn is very light in shade, unusual really. It's a small fawn but she is very active and playful. A little later in the season the two does will hook up and graze together which gives us endless entertainment watching all the babies play.  

I hope everyone has a safe and fun Independence Day and weekend!


  1. Newbery Award author, Katherine Paterson, wrote a wonderful book on the conditions in those mills in 1991 called Lyddie. Recommended reading~

  2. What fun to be able to share your art with a family member - in so many ways. It will be interesting to see how your mother combines her singing with the rug making. That will be unique!

  3. I'm glad you made it to Boott Cotton Mill. I remember it as very cool, even though I haven't been in a few years.

    Do you remember any details of what they were weaving on the dobby looms? I probably ought to take a trip down there before the snow flies and check things out again - especially since I haven't been to the Textile History Museum since it re-opened.

    That's cool that you and your father both weave!!


  4. I love that your father caught the weaving bug from you! What a wonderful thing to share. Gosh, if your mom took up rug hooking again.... there's something to do with all those thrums!

    Interesting about the mill. I visited the one at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. Well, it was actually just a museum with only one working loom, but it was interesting to talk to the man who used to work there.