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Harrisville Designs, Harrisville, New Hampshire

John Colony grew
up with a unique
sense of
towards the preservation of the village where he grew up.

Harrisville had been the site of textile manufacturing for over 200 years when the
Cheshire Mills, owned by his father and uncle, was forced by economic pressures
to close in the early 1970’s.

John and the Historic Harrisville organization refused to let the rich textile history
of Harrisville end there and launched a new textile venture called Harrisville
Designs that centered on hand weaving yarns and hardwood floor looms.

The village of Harrisville is now a National Historic Landmark, the oldest
surviving example of an operating 19th century textile village in the United
States, while Harrisville Designs is very much a thriving business and provides
an economic and symbolic link between a rich past and a vibrant future.

Harrisville Designs is known internationally for its classic wool knitting and
weaving yarns, sumptuously colored felting fleece, and its beautiful and
functional hardwood floor looms for hand weavers. More recent additions to
Harrisville Designs’ product line are a traditional and growing selection of
original knitting patterns and the popular Friendly Loom line of weaving,
knitting, crocheting, felting, and other kits for children.

Harrisville Designs works to preserve the
textile mill tradition of spinning wool into
yarn and to pass along traditional fiber
art skills to children. “There’s real
excitement in seeing a child discover
textile traditions that go back 8-9,000
years. Whether the child is weaving
a simple potholder or a scarf on a table top loom, important skills are taught –
and it is fun! We believe that it is important for a child to work with good quality
materials. One of the many rewards of making handcrafts is the pride a child feels
in the end product as they present it to family or friends,” Colony says.

The vast majority of their products – yarn, carded wool, looms, etc. -- are made
right in Harrisville and local visitors can visit the Weaving Center, the year round
retail store of Harrisville Designs. The Weaving Center’s Workshop is a
nationally-known destination for weavers, felters and knitters who flock to classes
held from May through October and who may chose to stay at the historic
Boarding House to complete the experience.

Many thanks to Hannah Grimes Marketplace for providing this profile.
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