Spinning Machine


A visit to the Cushendale Woollen Mills is a wonderful experience you feel like you’ve gone back in time.


Such Beautiful Wheels Everywhere


The only things missing would be the clip clop of horses going up the hill outside;

St Bridget's Cross Protects from Fire & Evil



and the smell of turf or wood smoke that would have hung in the air on this chilly April day down in the Barrow River Valley Village of Graig-na-managh, (The Monks Village) in County Kilkenny.


Spinning Machine & Floor Wheels & Track it Rolls out On


In 1204 the Cistercian Monks discovered the pure water quality of the River Duiske, a tributary to the River Barrow, and built their Monastery & Mills. The small village grew up around the Abby thanks the prosperity of the wool industry.


Spinning Counter Weight & Wheel


In the 1600’s immigrant weavers brought with them the Flemish traditions of woollen fabric production to the area


A Woven Fabric Being Brushed


The Millers Assistant "Pip"


Philip Cushen’s family have been milling wool in the area since at least the 1800’s, purchasing one of the original Abbey Mills in 1925.

Philip Cushen at One of the Looms


Checking a Thread


Thus gaining access to the River Duiske and her pure water which improved the washing and dyeing processes


Philip Cushen Spun Yarn Dyeing Preparation


Spun Yarn Dripping




James Lifting the Lid on a Dyeing Vat


Steam Billowing Out


Impressive Pink!


So when the Zwartbles wool that I will be collecting in May from the breeders around Ireland is brought into the mill, it will be cleaned getting Irish field dirt, grass and straw out from its fibres. It then has a day of rest after which its hand fed into what I would call a fluffing machine (not the official name I’m sure.)


Wheels of the Fluffing Machine

 Afterwards it’s moved through a corridor to another room were it is hand fed into the carding Machine.

The Carding Machine


After carding it is brought up to the spinning loft on long bobbins which are then threaded to the spindles of the spinning machine.

The Carded Bobbins on Top with Partly Filled Spindles Below


 This wonderful spinning machine then trundles back and forth across the old wooden floors filling the spools with spun yarn.

The Long Room with Spinning Machines


Once the wool has been spun it must rest for a few months before knitting or weaving, this conditions the spun yarn and helps improve its quality like a fine wine.

The Millers Assistant 'Pip' Controlling the Jumbo Hank Carrier.


Before weaving the different colored spools of yarn are threaded through this narrow slotted reed in its pattern for weaving, it’s then wrapped around a huge reel.

Different Colored Spun Yarn Are Fed through Narrow Slotted Reed

Huge pre Weaving Reel


Once again the yarn is moved, this time lowered through a trap door in the floor into the weaving room below. There are quite a few looms working away, weaving rapiers flying creating wonderfully colorful fabrics.


Strung Warps Hanging on the Walls


Various Colored Yarn at Hand for Repairs


The Many Tools of a Weaver


Wonderful Wheels Hanging Everywhere


There are some modern machines in use but most of all one is left with the sounds of clanking, clicking, banging, rumbling and the swish of the flying rapiers. I hope you have enjoyed my tour in the Cushedale Woollen Mills and now know where the Zwartbles wool you are waiting for will be process in preparation for your felting, spinning, and knitting. We shall also be producing a limited number of pure Zwartbles wool blankets.


Hand Carding Tools


 Visit the  Cushedale Woolen Mills  website



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