By Meghan Urback.
As someone who is always on the lookout for textile makers, equipment, and traditions (I am forever hunting down yarn shops, spinning factories, forgotten thrift-store looms, and small-town weavers), I am thrilled to report that there are several thriving businesses in the United States which champion craft traditions, local labor, and wool.
It is rare to find surviving American textile mills or weaving factories, and it is even more astonishing to find a business devoted to hand-loomed fabric. The success of the companies below are proof of continuing consumer interest in heirloom-quality products produced locally by family-owned businesses. How wonderful!
The Faribault Woolen Mill Co. dates back to 1865, when a horse-powered mill was built on the banks of the Cannon River in Faribault, Minnesota. Five generations later, a group of Minnesota craftsmen still take pride in their work at the mill. A major supplier of wool blankets for troops in the US army during both the First and Second World Wars, Faribault now offers a contemporary line of blankets, throws, and scarves built from start to finish under one roof.
Brahms Mount was founded in Hallowell, Maine over 25 years ago by a husband-and-wife team looking to take part in Maine’s rich textile history. They renovated buildings dating back to the mid-twentieth century, purchased antique shuttle looms, and hired local artisans to staff their fledging company. The business sits along the Kennebec river, near where ships once docked to pick up local textiles for delivery around the world. Business is still thriving today.
Swan’s Island began in 1990 when another Maine-based husband-and-wife team founded a small weaving operation near Acadia National Park. Six years later, their business won a Smithsonian Blue Ribbon for Craft.
Today, the company remains true to the ideals and methods of their founders. All Swan’s Island products are made with organic, naturally-dyed yarn, and all blankets are hand-woven in Northport, Maine. They even source much of their wool from within the United States – an amazing feat!