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Part of study to assess future viability
A PIECE of silk has been woven at Whitchurch Silk Mill – the first for more than a year.
‘Celebration Silk’ was woven at the mill in Winchester Street as part of a feasibility study to assess the viability of a permanent return of weaving at the historic attraction.
The mill stopped producing silk after 200 years in December 2011, because it was costing too much money.
But a new board of trustees, appointed to turn the mill around, said the study has proved that “weaving can be carried out in a cost-effective way” and a part-time weaver will be hired for the next year.
The striped taffeta was designed by Julia Trinder and woven by Marie Page, with the assistance of mill engineer Marek Woznica.
Sue Tapliss, the mill’s new manager, said: “Traditional hand-knotting was used in the making of the ‘Celebration Silk’ to attach the warp to the loom, so ensuring the skill is not lost.
“This meant each of the 7,280 threads in the warp had to be individually hand twisted – a painstaking and time-consuming task.
“Visitors to the mill have been able to see different parts of the process throughout the trial, and will continue to be able to do as new projects are started.”
Keith Watts, chair of the Whitchurch Silk Trust, said: “With the looms out of action for so long, some people had started to refer to the mill as ‘troubled’ but now the future looks bright.
“Our new study has demonstrated that it will be economically possible to employ a weaver on a part-time basis for the next year to make silk for the shop. It’s entirely fitting that we have called our first new silk ‘Celebration Silk’. It’s as beautiful as it is important to the mill’s future as a site of national importance.”
He added: “Now we are confident that Whitchurch will again be able to pride itself on being home to the oldest working silk mill in the country.”
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