Monday, August 27, 2012

Fireworks in Bemidji

... And a Woolen Mill

I had saved a rough draft of this a month ago.  In my effort to catch up from the summer, I post it now.

Monday, the two younger kids and I flew to Bemidji, Minnesota. Hours before we arrived, a storm blew through with straight winds and knocked down a LOT of trees, took out the electricity, and consequently, the water. We're by a lake, so we swim to bathe and haul buckets of water up to the house to flush the toilets. We cook on the gas stove and go to sleep when it's dark.

Except for today! Today is the fourth of July, American Independence Day. We came to town to get a few things (medicine for chiggers), and another storm blew up. It was a solid wall of black, arriving so quickly from the West.

We jumped in the truck making calls and texts to those at home (the resident meteorologist), and, when the tornado sirens went off, made a stop at the Bemidji Woolen Mill.

What a hoot! When my friend mentioned it, i had no idea it was a real woolen mill! They had a complete operation which took raw wool, washed and combed it, and turned it into batting. Throughout the store they had woven examples of their goods -- blankets, jackets and hats, but they also had worsted weight yarn that had been industrially spun off-site. I had such interest that as the storm waned, One lady took me on the behind-the-scenes tour while my daughter cowered in fright from the storm.  By this time, however, it had blown over.

What fun! I had never seen these big woolen machines before!

raw wool

beautiful, washed wool

one of the big carding machines
They washed, carded and made wool batting with the wool, but they also had a complete sewing of knitted goods section.  The only part that made me sad was that all the sewing machines used for making the sweaters, blankets and hats only used acrylic pre-knitted fabric! There were some gorgeous designs they were working with, but despite being in a woolen mill, all the product of that area was acrylic.

a gorgeous baby blanket -- all in acrylic!  What irony!
sewing area.  all for acrylic.  sigh.
some of their finished, woven wool fabric

This finished fabric, as well as their hats, blankets, etc. are available for sale on their website, as well as just purchasing a length of woven wool.  Very intriguing!

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