Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Collector's items from a Scottish Lace Mill

I recently stumbled on a collection of articles found in the buildings of a former lace mill in Scotland. and last week a rather heavy and dusty parcel arrived containing around 50 assorted bobbins and spools.  Some were just the bare bobbins with the vestiges of brightly coloured paint, whilst others still had much of the yarn in place, but the outer surfaces were dusty and dirty from years of storage in a derelict shell of a building.

As I began to unwind the outer layers, the jewel colours were gradually revealed - fabulous shades of gold and tangerine, ivory and emerald, ebony and ruby red as well as tan, mink and cobalt blue. The bobbins,as you would expect, are showing signs of wear, but they will have been in use for over 100 years for the most part. They are really wonderful pieces of Scottish textile history.

Once the outer layers were discarded the yarns beneath are just as vivid as they day they were wound onto the bobbins. There is still plenty of vintage thread which could be used for all sorts of different projects. I think I would prefer to keep them intact and used them as interesting decorative pieces. 

They would also make great additions to the collection of an antique haberdashery lover. These really are gems reflecting the rich textile history of the area.

When Hugenot refugees arrived in Ayrshire at the end of the 16th century they introduced the skill of textile weaving and over the years this steadily progressed from muslin to lace and in the late 1800s the manufacture of machine lace was the main employment in the town of Newmilns. Johnston, Shields and Co operated in Brown Street from 1880 until 2010, when the mill finally closed its doors.

At least it has been possible to rescue just a small part of the contents of the place. The bobbins will be on the website soon, so not too long to wait to be able to own just a little piece of the industrial heritage of Scotland. Granny Black would have loved to help unpack the box!

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