Leeds Wool Festival is happening tomorrow so I thought I'd show you around Armley Mills a little bit, since it's lovely and that's where the festival is held at. The mill is a bit of a maze.. We were last there for Leeds Steampunk Festival, which I'd recommend if that takes your interest. I got a top hat there, so I'm planning on wearing it (if it's not too hot) tomorrow. There are spinning machines galore, and the spinning mule in the main room works. It's noisy as hell, and whilst you're standing there don't forget that small children used to work in that environment.    I'm sure many of you who know me will already know this (you can groan and scroll down), but I'm a descendent of Samuel Crompton, who invented the spinning jenny - well the jenny mule really. His work revolutionised the British spinning industry, however he was recommended to NOT patent it, and although it got commercialised and adapted by other people who then did patent their work, he died relatively little-known. My Mum has all sorts of original books, documents, and family history which talk and document his life and work in great depth. It's incredibly interesting, and causes conflicting feelings for me, since whilst his work had a huge impact on the British economy (he actually worked out how much money this came to in the hopes of some reimbursement but I think he was given a miniscule token amount in the end), it also resulted in the most awful work conditions. Well I suppose that's on the mill owners, but nonetheless, one can't help but think about it. Anyway, moving on.. One day I'll pull together some of the actual information (instead of my own sketchy memory) and write about it properly. I'm pretty sure I have a reputation for all things flowers/floral, but I really love heavy old machinery too. There are loads of really interesting machines scattered around Armley Mill. I'm not going to pretend I remember what they are.. But if you go and visit you can find out for yourself. ;) I think the light in there is terrific too. I don't normally do indoor photography but I really enjoyed faffing about.   Oh there was an owl at the Steampunk festival. Not overly easy to photograph with a 50mm lens but you've got to try, right?! Here you go - this is the enormous (well, a mill room-length) spinning mule.    In one of the lower rooms in the mill, there's a lot of sewing related gubbins (technical term).    This is a display of camera lenses - I've no idea why, but I thought it looked cool. The first photo of this post is a view of the window through one of these camera lenses. There are loads of technical drawings. I'm a bit of a fan - I did do four years of architecture at uni purely because I enjoyed technical drawing (note: not CAD, hence I am not an architect!) so there's a little bit of bias there. I heard that the mills did get flooded during the Yorkshire floods over Christmas 2015, and I was there before that, so knowing that these drawings and a lot of heavy machinery were in the rooms at ground/river level, I don't know what will now be there - I'm not sure what will have survived.   Here's the back of the mill. This isn't even the full expanse of it. When you go in from the front entrance up at the canal level, it all seems quite small and like it just goes back a bit, but once you start going downstairs and exploring, it's like a rabbit warren. Anyway, we hope to see you at the show tomorrow (Saturday the 4th of June). There's a great list of vendors who'll be there,  and I'm going to go and start packing up yarn for it. Opening times are 10-5pm and it's just £3.80 to get in.  LIM wool Page Image_WEB2 (2) LIM wool Page Image_WEB2 (2)

Edited to add: I've just been looking through my event info emails and found some more information about what will be on tomorrow - it's going to be a packed day! "Our programme of activities for the day includes some really interesting stuff, as the Festival is rather different to other festivals.  The Leeds Wool Festival is about celebrating our woolly heritage and also looking to the future.  On the programme we have: - Knitting workshops (two handed colourwork in the morning and Shetland lace in the afternoon), with knitwear designer Karie Westermann.  We have a limited number of tickets for sale on our Eventbrite page: Knitting hap shawls - £20 (sold out) (Apply Shetland lace techniques to make your own hap shawl) - 3 hours duration Buy your ticket here: Knitting hap shawls Two-handed colourwork - £20 (sold out) (Learn to knit with two colours at the same time) - 3 hours duration Buy your ticket here: Two handed colourwork

  • - A carefully curated selection of 20 stall holders in the market place
  • - Living history re-enactors in the mill workers cottages (Luddites!)
  • - Spinning demonstrations
  • - A natural dyeing exhibition
  • - The mill’s spinning mule and steam engines will be working (restoration after the recent floods permitting)
  • - Spring lambs to pet in the gardens
  • - Alpacas to make friends with in the gardens
  • - Two showings of the full length version of the award winning documentary ‘Addicted to Sheep’
  • - Dr Caroline Radcliffe giving a talk on mill workers dancing/clogging followed by a dancing workshop
  • - Opera singer and one half of the knitting podcast duo the SavvyGirls, Melanie Gall (aka Savvy Girl Melanie) performing some of her historic knitting songs
  • - A folk musician performing in a couple of locations
  • - Morris dancers performing in the gardens
  • - A pop-up not for profit café run by the Women’s Institute
  • - A talk from an independent yarn producer and farmer – Alice Elsworth of Whistlebare Yarns – in the mill’s boardroom
[]All of the above – except the knitting workshops and the goods for sale in the café and market place – are included in the entry ticket price to the event.  Also, you might be interested to know that the museum is not running this event to make a profit – merely to raise the profile of their work and to draw new visitors to the mill.  They have also had a very tough time recently – as they were very badly hit by the Boxing Day floods and have only very recently been able to open to the public again.  There is still lots of restoration work to do, mainly to the steam and traction engines, but they are keen to encourage people back and to support their work."


  • ECY - Admin

    I suspect it may well not have changed in 20 years! I love it though; I love how it looks like the people who worked there have just left for lunch, and it isn’t all modernised and then retro-fitted. It’s ace; you should definitely re-visit when you can! :)

    Victoria on

  • I grew up in Leeds, but haven’t been back for more than 20 years. I suspect Armley Mills hasn’t changed much, but I now have a hankering to go and visit again.

    The Snail of Happiness on

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