Sunday, May 4, 2008

Texere Mills

(All images can be clicked for enlargement.)

Before going to England, I had written a blog post asking about great places for textiles. Shirley Anne Sherris wrote a comment suggesting Texere Mills in Bradford. She included a link. I didn't need to click further than the website's homepage to know that I wanted to go...and the second day in England, I boarded a train from Victoria Station. I forgot the map and address I'd printed from the computer...but it didn't matter. I knew I'd find the place...somehow.

Once there, a nice man in a copy shop looked up the website on his desk top computer. He pointed me in the correct direction. I knew I'd find it.

On the top of a hill...

...the sign beckoning....

...the company name in full view... an exterior blue doorway....

..that led to an interior red doorway....

...with a sign requesting a "ring" for admission.... where Joanna greeted customers.

At this point, I'm going to type out the entry I wrote later in the day....

"It's a good thing that I couldn't figure out many of the signs at Texere Mills. How much thread wound around a cardboard cone is 250 grams? 100 grams? I hadn't the slightest idea.

I was nicely left to my own...gaping around every awe. The floor was littered with merchandise and crowded with unopened corrugated boxes full of thousands of spun yarns. There was a system...but not everything fit into it and much simply wasn't put away. Texere Mills is a fantastic jumble of texture...old and new...floor to ceiling...tightly packed away and out in the open...spilling into the aisles and overflowing from the shelves.

I was nicely warned, "Watch your step!"...."lest you fall." I assuredly replied that any accident would just bring about a new point of view."

(Above: The first hallway past the main entrance door.)

(Above and below: Aisles of thread on the first floor.)

(Above and below: More views taken on the first floor.)

(Continuing from my notebook)
"A few clients mingled in and out. There was a young girl with long red and hot pink dreadlocks accompanied by two pierced boys. An old lady sorted through the one pound sale bin. Joanna walked briskly through a first floor aisle with a customer looking for a specific yarn, chatting. The sun shone in long rays through the wavy, antique glass windows. I felt like I'd entered heaven."

(Above: Grab bags of thread.)

(Above: A basket full of bobbins found on the landing between the first and second floor.)

(Above: The "knitting" room on the first floor.)

(Above and below: The embroidery section.)

(Continuing from my notebook)
"Two employees ran machines that wound yarn from large cones onto many smaller cones. Nothing is actually milled on the premise and hasn't been for years...maybe never. An outgoing, happy man was filling mail orders in another section of the building. He's been working at Texere Mills for over fifteen years...and loves it. He explained that most of the customers were "individuals, students, and schools"..."especially since the Internet". He'd never actually seen the website...all the wonderful pages of threads and fibers....but he obviously didn't need to see it; he knew where everything to fill the orders going to places all over the world. "

(Above and below: Machines used on the second floor.)

(Above: Another machine. Below: An aisle on the second floor.)

(Above and below: The "web" book which I found on a desk.)

(Continuing from my notebook) "Newspaper articles, complimentary letters from clients, and fabulous stitching examples were hung all over the walls in the stairway. This didn't surprise me. The place is utterly fantastic. After exploring for over an hour, I finally grabbed one of the large, plastic bags and began loading it with wool rovings, alpaca fibers, exotic twists of yarn, linen, a grab bag of miscellaneous thread, and yarns of very type and description. I hoped I could afford what I'd selected...because I still had no idea how much most of the items were. One larger cone was so beautiful that I figured it didn't matter how much it cost...I had to have it. When Joanna tallied up the prices, this cone cost one pound ten cents. I was floored...and glad I didn't know just how affordable it had been...I would have bought even more. As it was, I had two enormous bags to haul down the street to the Cathedral. I looked like a "bag lady" or some homeless person carrying around all the textiles of ones life. I didn't care. It was grand....really grand."

Several days later I was on my way home, airline flights to luggage claim carousels; passport checks to U.S. Customs...where I was randomly selected for a more "hands on" inspection. All the security and customs officials were very, very nice and polite.

"What are you bringing into the USA?" asked an inspector?

"Thread!" I said happily. The man eyed my two-sided form and noticed the word "thread" in the appropriate box under purchases made while abroad.

He carefully unzipped my suitcase. Cones of thread started rolling out....and down the table...and onto the floor...more escaping with every few inches of the zipper. He rummaged through my dirty clothes. More thread. Lots of thread. I simply smiled broadly. I knew I had over five hours before my next flight. I was in no hurry and had nothing to hide...just thread.

Sheepishly, the customs official said, "I'm much better at the unpacking than the packing. Can you put all this back inside?"

"Of course!" I smiled...thread...lots of thread...a wonderful day at Texere Mills spilling out into the "declaration of goods" area in the airport! Perfect!


Guzzisue said...

lucky you, I never seem to be in Bradford when this place is open. :) Have fun with your purchases.

indigocarole said...

Susan, I'm so glad you loved Texere. When I lived in Bradford it sold mainly knitting wool and I didn't knit! In the last 30 years it has become a mecca for quilters, embroiderers, spinners, weavers and braid makers. Last year they had a competition to celebrate their 30th anniversary, with 30 prizes of £100 to spend. I was a very lucky winner and spent ages choosing stuff to buy. In the end I went for silk threads and natural fibres to dye. You can see the winning entries here.
Can I send a link to your post to Texere? I'm sure they'd love to read it.

Julie said...

Thank you for sharing your visit Susan. I so want to go up there now! I'm off to check out the website. :)

Shirley Anne Sherris said...

I knew you would love it. It is one of my favourite places. I have been going there for years and it just gets better. My brother-in-law lives not too far from there and whenever we go to visit him we combine it with a trip to Texere. The only downside is I always spend a lot and then have to find storage for it all. At least I don't have to go through customs!
Nice to see how you enjoyed it,.

Wanda said...

OH MY GOSH....I'm sure you had the exact feeling that I had when we were in Orlando at the national seminar when I saw the messe!!!! I want to go to this store!!! I'd definitely have to plan to spend the whole day though!! I've got 32 squares done now. I can't tell you how addicted I am to this new project! What have you created in me??? ha ha ha Love you and see you soon!

Anonymous said...

I knew Wanda would be jealous! As always, susan thank you for the blog and for sharing. See you soon. Love Mom

sharon young said...

What a great place, and your pics are brilliant. I went to Bradford last March and never knew of it's existence so another visit will have to be made :-)