Solva Woollen Mill is owned by Tom and Anna Grime and can be found on the banks of the River Solfach, 1 mile inland from the picturesque coastal village of Solva. The mill produces woven fabric on its historic looms as it has done for over 100 years.
Tom over the years has spent many hours learning about weaving, keeping the Dobcross looms working and enjoying the challenge when they go wrong. He organises the weaving, sorts out new designs and sources the wool amongst a myriad of other jobs that need doing to keep a woollen mill running. Anna has spent time carefully transforming the mill shop to display their own woven rugs and runners. She has also chosen other products that reflect the ethos of the mill: that they must be made in the UK and fundamentally of good quality and resilience. Solva Woollen Mill has become a hidden treasure, tucked in a valley in West Wales. People travel from all over the world to visit this special little place and to experience a small piece of Welsh history.
They have a fantastic team of people to help them who are all fiercely proud of the mill's history. There is another Tom and Anna who are both weavers and spend their days working with wool, warping and weaving and chatting to customers. Rachel, Jo and Karen are the team who look after the shop and tearoom, keeping it all looking fabulous. Jo also assists with processing the orders and upkeep of the website. Liz bakes our amazing homemade cakes that she has won prizes for. Finally, we can't forget the mill cat who has the most important job of all - keeping all the wool safe.
When Tom's family bought the mill in 1986, he spent time with the previous owner Eric learning from him how to weave, how to look after the looms and where to source yarn from. Tom and his parents initially ran the mill and it is now in the hands of Tom and Anna.
Over the years Solva Mill has been well known for weaving flat woven flooring and we are now the only mill in Wales to specialise in this. Tom created a collection of stair runners for the mill known as the Island range inspired by the colours and scenery of islands found off the Pembrokeshire coast. More recently Tom and Anna have worked together to design two new stair runners – Penberri and Dyffryn. They also offer customers the opportunity of having bespoke floor runners woven for them.
The other main area of weaving at the mill is the floor rugs. Hundreds of rugs have been woven and sold over the years and now furnish homes around the world. Many customers visit year after year looking for other colours to add to their collection. All of them delight in telling us how good they still look, how easy they are to keep clean and how they never wear out. Over time four key designs have been created that have become synonymous with Solva Woollen Mill. The Tapestry pattern was developed by Eric and has been woven at the mill for over 70 years. This is how most people would describe the “traditional” welsh design. Preseli is a strong geometric pattern created by Tom's father Robert shortly after they bought the mill. Carlton was a friend of the family and also a textile lecturer so he created a floor rug and Pembroke was developed by Tom from the Carlton pattern.
We have had the opportunity of working with a good friend who is a historic flooring consultant. From this collaboration we have woven many stair runners for stately homes, museums and other public buildings in the UK and abroad.
We often work with designers to create flooring for their clients. We have worked for many years with Vanessa Arbuthnott, one of our favourite fabric designers. We have very much enjoyed working together to create a range of runners and rugs that compliment her fabrics beautifully.
We use mainly 100% British Wool. The Campaign for Wool was launched by HRH Prince Charles in 2010 and Solva Mill has been a supporter from the beginning. The campaign has done much to reintroduce wool into our daily lives; help appreciate its versatility and increase the value of raw fleece.
Most of our wool is spun by a family run company in Yorkshire, Millbridge Spinners. We had a very enjoyable visit to meet them, seeing the process first hand and have developed a good working relationship.
We are very proud to continue the long history of weaving at Solva Woollen Mill. We both believe passionately in keeping the traditional skills of weaving that have been passed through the generations alive.
Our aim is to continue to weave fabrics of quality, that are fundamentally good designs and that people will appreciate for years to come. We also enjoy what we do very much as well!