Episode #15: Weaving Special! The Oriole Mill

Wide Jacquard loom at The Oriole Mill. Barry, one of the mill’s experts, mans the controls. All photographs by Peak Definition

For someone who loves textiles, few experiences compare to actually seeing beautiful fibers woven together. I’ve had this feeling watching old ladies hand-weaving rugs in Turkey, and even watching my best friend weave art projects back in our college days. And so I felt very lucky last week to be able to visit The Oriole Mill, a small Jacquard mill based in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Part art studio, part industrial factory, the mill produces some of the most beautiful fabrics you’ll likely see made in this country. Bethanne Knudson, co-founder of the mill, showed my friend Lesley and I around, and sat down for an in-depth discussion about starting a high-quality mill in an era of outsourcing and cheap consumer goods.

Bethanne, who is also a fine textile artist, not only helps run the mill, but  she’s also helping to keep the art of Jacquard weaving alive here in the United States. In 2000, Bethanne started The Jacquard Center, which offers retreats in Jacquard studies for both industry professionals and artists interested in integrating this kind of weaving into their practice. Bethanne designs all of the fabrics for the mill, which are used to make heirloom-quality linens, scarves, aprons, and other products.

I’ll leave you with some eye candy of some of Bethanne’s creations.

Happy listening (and viewing!)!

This is a close up of one of the mill’s matelasse coverlets. Although it looks quilted, the fabric is actually woven in this design. The top and bottom layers of fabric are made of Egyptian cotton, with New Zealand wool inside; once the fabric is washed (the finishing process) the wool shrinks slightly, causing this puckered look that resembles a quilt. The coverlet is fully reversible.

Oh, how I love this design! Made of 100 percent Egyptian and American cotton, this multi-layer gauze fabric will be offered as a summer throw.

This damask coverlet (the image above is a detail shot) is made of 100 percent Egyptian cotton. The full repeat of the fabric’s design measures over 100 inches.

Close up of one of the mill’s throws, made from New Zealand wool and Egyptian cotton.

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* All photographs by Peak Definition

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