WHEN CÉLINE AND I WENT TO RHINEBECK in October, we had made it our mission to find a new “worsted” tweed yarn for the shop.
It is a fun and interesting task to go in search of new suppliers who fit in well with the vocation and philosophy of La Maison Tricotée. It allows us to meet enthusiastic and passionate people and transports us to unexpected places.
That's what happened when we met Nick from Harrisville Designs. Nick was looking for a new retailer for his WATERshed yarn, a heathered and loosely spun worsted yarn.
On the one hand, we were charmed by the splendid colors of the WATERshed and, on the other, Nick was enthusiastic about our shop. Without delay, we created an account and Nick kindly invited us to come and visit his mill.
We were far from imagining the whole story behind this yarn!
Upon my return to Montreal, I surprisingly managed to convince my lover to drive to New Hampshire for a weekend getaway… and to visit the mill!
Harrisville is a historic village whose brick watermill, in operation since 1794, is used for spinning wool. Located in the Mount Monadnock region of southern New Hampshire, Harrisville is the only community in the United States still living today from the same industry as it did in the early 19th century.
The charm of the village under the first snowflakes gave us the impression that time had gone back, transporting us to the early 1800s.
Here is what Nick explained to us during our visit:
“Harrisville Designs has been manufacturing 100% virgin wool yarn for 40 years in the village of Harrisville, New Hampshire. The woolen mill is one of the few still in operation in the United States. Harrisville's textile tradition is rich and dates back to 1794. It was at this time that the first mill was built on the banks of the Nubanusit River, whose current provided the energy to card the fleeces coming from the producers of the neighboring hills.
Members of the Harris family built many of the mill facilities and homes around it for their family and employees. In the mid-19th century, the Colony family bought out many of the Harris family shares to create Cheshire Mills. When this company closed its doors in 1970, a non-profit organization was born from a citizens' initiative to preserve the historic heritage of Harrisville (Historic Harrisville). This organization immediately acquired several of the main buildings in order to restore them and rent them out to businesses.
John J. Colony III played a vital role in this project. Very quickly, he realized that if the mill buildings continued to be emptied and the machinery destroyed to sell the metal, textiles would disappear entirely from the village. In 1971, he founded Harrisville Designs to keep the textile tradition alive and to create jobs in the village to help the economy. The company's premises were leased to the Historic Harrisville organization, which thus enjoyed the income it needed to survive. In 1977, the village of Harrisville was listed as a National Historic Landmark. »
Nick joined the family business in 2009 to continue the tradition that has followed his family for generations, that of textiles. He explained to us that it was while he was canoeing in Harrisville that the inspiration for WATERshed wool came to him. Natural springs carry the water that descends from Spoonwood Pond to Lake Shatutakee. The names given to the different colors come from Nick's observations as he traveled the rivers, lakes and streams. It is this water that led the village to settle in this place. Every day, the current brings water, energy and life to the mill. It is an infinite source of vitality and beauty in its natural state.
I was so amazed after my tour of the mill that I immediately got hold of the WATERshed in three colors (Driftwood, Barn Door and Elm) to make a second STOKKUR PULLOVER . The WATERshed would also be a good choice for the LA BELLE SE REBELLE mitten.
I hope my photo will inspire you to discover this extraordinary yarn that carries with it a bit of Harrisville history and tradition.