Avoca Handweavers, Ireland
Avoca hand weaving mill, situated in the beautiful rural village of Avoca, County Wexford. Established in 1723 Avoca is the oldest working woollen mill in Ireland and apparently Ireland's oldest surviving business.
The mill was originally set up as a co-operative where farmers could spin and weave their wool, before being turned into tweeds and blankets. Initially the wool was collected from the local sheep of the surrounding hills and valleys and through a process of carding, spinning, dyeing and weaving it was transformed into clothing and blankets.
In 1760 a Fly Shuttle Loom, capable of weaving up to 20 metres of cloth a day arrived, and workers concerned about possible unemployment resorted to burning some looms.
It was great to walk through the working mill and view the weaving process first hand. Whilst some of it is now mechanised, there are still several original fly shuttle looms being operated. The mill is surprisingly noisy with all the machinery - but I loved seeing the different processes involved with the weaving, and all the bright coloured wools and yarns being turned into exquisite fabrics.
Avoca has a gorgeous shop selling a range of their beautiful woven textile products - I treated myself to a lovely red woven jacket whilst I was there! You can shop at Avoca online too.