On Friday, August 25th we went to the town of Graignenamanagh, no idea how to pronounce it!, for a tour of the Cushendale Woolen Mills. Our tour guide was the personable Phillip Cushen, the sixth generation of the family to run and own the mill.
There are thirteen steps in processing the raw wool into the skein of yarn we buy. Here are just a few with me wishing I could recall all of them and what they do. This first machine is over 100 years old. The entire thing rolls out the length of the room and back as it processes the woolen yarn.
When a strand of yarn breaks, Phillip shows how to tie so the process can continue.
The bobbins of wool yarn are in the back. This machine spins the strands off and into the skeins consumers purchase in the front.
This is my favorite image. The finished skein of yarn on the left is created from the bits of wool on the right. In between is the midpoint of the process.
Next stop was the Ros Tapestry in New Ross, County Wexford. The Ros Tapestries depict events concerning the Anglo-Norman arrival in the southeast of Ireland, especially the founding of the town of New Ross by the Norman knight, William Marshal and his wife, Isabel de Clare, daughter of Strongbow.
There are fifteen tapestries stitched by over 150 skilled volunteers, with each panel 6 feet by 4 feet. They are dimly lit, so my photos are not as clear as I would like. Nonetheless, you can still appreciate the beauty of the stitching. I was struck by the unexpected use of color in some of the panels. Notice the pink horses.
The group’s next project is a pair of friendship quilts depicting relationships around the world. You can see the strands of Persian wool which have been selected.