For the second instalment of behind the scenes at the mill I wanted to show you some of the machinery we use. Our production is a mix of hand skills and also high tech Shima Seiki machines, the two combined mean we incorporate skills passed down from generations in the Scottish Borders with modern day technologies. Using modern and traditional techniques allows us to create the most unique designs whilst also ensuring they are built to last.
We have so many pictures of the mill so I’m going to split the blog posts into two with this post focussing on the modern Shima Seiki machines. It might not be up everyone’s street, and perhaps I’m just a total dork, but I really get excited when I can see hear all the machines knitting away. I think it comes from when I was little and I used to walk round the mill with my Father. He used to pick me up after school and then we’d go and check things at the mill where he worked. He always liked to check in with everyone in every department – dyeing, spinning, carding, weaving, knitting, finishing and of course the warehouse. I think by a process of osmosis I’ve just absorbed his passion for it. I can’t really explain it any better than that but I just love the process of things being made and I think a factory is a really exciting place.
I read an interview recently with Emma Bridgewater where she said “You instinctively think of a factory as a dark, dirty oppressive place” but infact she goes on “a factory is one of the most positive things and hugely inspiring” and I couldn’t agree more with her, I think factories in the UK whether they make cashmere, biscuits, or tyres are fascinating. I love to see raw fibres or elements start at one end of the process and then come out the other end a finished product. So for example seeing raw cashmere fibre go through all the processes that it takes to become yarn and then go through the next stage and be either knitted or woven into beautiful garments, fabric or home furnishings. For me that is just enthralling, in fact when we went to the Isle of Lewis last year we visited the Harris Gin Distillery and did the tour there. Seeing all the ingredients that go into the gin, then seeing how they distill it and then onto the bottling machines (my favourite part!) was really interesting and it gives you an appreciation for a product if you understand how much work has gone into making it. Sidenote – if you do ever visit the outer Hebrides definitely stop by this distillery the gin is delicious and sea kelp is one their ingredients..Yum!
I’ve possibly gone slightly overboard on the pictures of the machines but actually I think there is something so beautiful about these machines as they are big and clunky, and yet they are made up of such delicate parts. I also have huge admiration for our Head Technician Dave as he has worked so hard to learn how to use these machines and has practically taught himself from scratch how to set them up and also master all the programming aspects. It’s very impressive and it makes my job so much easier because if I have some crazy idea I know I can always run it by him and he’ll always try to make it work.
I hope you enjoy the following pictures…I find them totally mesmerising especially all the threads and the carriage movings across the knitting machine. Shout out to Ciara for taking such stunning images!
Here I am below in my happy place! Just checking what this machine is knitting, turns out it was one of our new styles for AW17 – the chevron beanie. I can’t wait to get my hands on one, there are two colour-ways and my favourite it the light grey with white so perfect for Winter. Can’t wait for you to see it later on this year!
Stay tuned for more updates from the mill next week. I’ll be sharing images of some of our older machinery and also hand skills.
Thanks for stopping by!
All photography Ciara Menzies