By Jo Wierzbicki – Snowdonia Attractions
Today, I’m visiting Trefriw Woolen Mills just between Conwy And Llanrwst.
The Mills have been producing woollen products on site, starting with raw wool since 1859, and it’s still owned and run by the same family. I was lucky enough to have Elaine Williams showing me around. Elaine has worked in the family business since the 70’s, so her knowledge is vast!
Elaine 1st showed me round the Weaver’s Garden where Trefriw grow their own plants, providing natural dyes, fibres, soaps and textile tools. Interesting how it’s the roots of some of the plants that provide the dye not just the leaves and flowers.
I was next introduced to Christine – who makes Rag Rugs. Christine is at Trefriw every Tuesday between May-Oct demonstrating the process. The Rag Rug process uses old clothes to make new fabric pieces, turning them into lovely original wall hangings, book markers & decorative pieces. They are lovely – what a great way to recycle!
On Weds and Thurs there are hand spinning demonstrations and visitors can also have a go themselves. :)
Of course, I had to have a go – it was lovely to be able to use a traditional machine to weave material. I can see how it can be very relaxing. So, yes, I was incredibly slow – it would have taken days, weeks even to get to a finished article…but, hey it was my 1st go! Christine told me to wait until I went through to the production rooms and see how fast that shuttle can really go!!
Which is where we went next…
Little fact: some of the machines they use are the original machines, some over 50 years – relatively new compared to 159 years!
What I learnt from here was that producing threads from raw wool is a very long and intricate process when done in the traditional way. The wool is brushed and cleaned numerous times and pulled out and stretched and pulled into different types of thread.
Thank goodness for today’s Health & Safety!
I also learnt that it’s a very noisy! Many years ago, it was also very dangerous work for young boys. They were sent underneath the machines you’ll see in this video to clean them while they were running! Some boys got their hair caught in the machine and were killed.
To break from the noise – Elaine took me back to the shop to show me how all their hard work turns out the most stunning products. Their fabrics are made into such a beautiful array of products, from ladies’ clothes, to dinner sets, bags and throws.
So many different patterns to choose from, using different wools.
The shop is bigger than I imagined, with other stock such as sheepskin rugs, and pure wool knitwear.
(By the way, they’ve also got an online shop – if you want to have a gander or purchase before you visit the attraction)
A cake and cup of tea in the Trefriw tea rooms was the perfect way to finish my visit to this very different attraction. And lovely it was too!
I hope you enjoy your day out as much as I did 😊