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Page 7

Newsletter 100, Spring 2013 © Hampshire Mills Group

What to Know about Hampshire Wool Harvesters and Weavers

Of all the different industries that the mills of Hampshire were once involved in,  we only think in terms of producing flour from working ones these days. Yet our Mills processed fibres of jute, flax, and sheep's wool and these in turn provided industry for many dextrous hands both male and female, whether adult or child, in the matter of spinning and weaving for the cloth trade. We may not be using our watermills for fulling wool any longer, but spinning and weaving of Hampshire-produced wool is still carried on today.

The Guild of Hampshire Weavers Spinners and Dyers has a thriving membership committed to producing good-quality cloth and promoting their age old crafts. Hampshire Mills Group member, Mariana Zoupanos, is  also a member of the Guild who derives great satisfaction in turning fleece to yarn-to cloth. The Guild members meet each month at Shawford Village Hall, regularly holding workshops and exhibitions, and are to be seen at various events throughout Hampshire in the summer showing the public how they too can achieve a satisfying result from a little patience and learning. If you are interested in trying your own hand you will find plenty of people to encourage you and show you how to do it as membership is open to everyone interested in” fibre crafts”.

Hampshire guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyres

     These people can help you get your locally grown alpaca or sheep’s wool from animal …to spinner…to loom

So, if you want to know how many jumpers can be knitted out of a sheep's fleece, where it is possible to buy yarn, how to operate or buy a spindle or loom, or have your fleeces cleansed, carded and spun into spools of yarn ready for weaving, then the Guild will be able to answer all your queries with ease.

The Guild’s website will give you all the information you need to find them and their diary of meetings and events: www.hantsguildwsd.hampshire.org.uk; or contact Secretary, Sandra Combes by email: secretaryhantswsd@yahoo.co.uk.

 A recent query put to your editor by a member of the Guild was asking if any Hampshire mill still processed fleeces. For a couple of years a business was run from a farm work unit called Meon Valley Mill; research showed this to have closed in 2009. It seemed that sending fleeces to the West Country for processing has  been the only answer since then, but now a new fleece processing venture has opened up, just over the border in Dorset, on the outskirts of Wimborne.        

Two Rivers Mill was set up by Phil Allen, a self employed structural engineer and Pete Roissetter, a telecoms engineer who owns the Rosewyn Suri alpaca herd in Devon and who realised a need for a specialist  alpaca fleece processing plant which did not need to exist on large minimum order quantities.

They were awarded funding from the Rural Development Programme for England with the help of Business Link.  To read more about this enterprise go to: http://www.tworiversmill.com/.

 Three Hampshire breeders of alpaca who are no doubt pleased to learn of this processing unit in Dorset must be Oakhanger Alpaca at Bordon , Well Manor Farm near Hook,  and Cole Henley  Farm just north of Whitchurch.  See their websites to learn about the disarming creatures and the properties which make  their fleece so lovely to handle.:

http://www.oakhangeralpacas.co.uk/;      http://www.wellmanorfarm.co.uk/ ; http://www.watershipalpacas.co.uk/

I’ve had fun finding out so much about alpaca, the  WSPGuild and the Two Rivers Mill; I hope you do too.  Sheila.

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