Harrisville Designs is Celebrating its 50th Year!
Chick and Pat Colony founded our company in 1971, continuing a long textile tradition in the region. Yarn has been produced in the village of Harrisville since 1794 and the Colonys have been part of that industry for six generations. In a time when mills were closing all over the country and manufacturing was moving overseas, they decided to create a new wool-based business to honor this tradition and to keep jobs and production in the region. The company has grown to 40+ employees, and in addition to yarn, it now produces beautifully carded fleece, handmade floor looms, and the award-winning Friendly Loom product line. The retail store and teaching studio also welcome crafters and artisans from all fiber-related disciplines throughout the year.
This anniversary year has been a busy one for our company, and as we celebrate the past and our ongoing successes, we’ve also got an eye to the future. Our spinning mill building has been a short distance from town, but this year the mill is going to return to its original location in the heart of the village. Manufacturing was originally founded in this spot in order to harness the water power of the region.
The development of waterpower in Harrisville began in 1774, when Abel Twitchell established a grist and sawmill. Woolen mills soon followed and from the opening of the Cheshire Mills in 1851 until 1947, when electricity was purchased to provide all motive power, water provided the majority of power for manufacturing on this site. In an effort to use the energy source once again, a 38-kilowatt turbine was installed in 2018 to power the five buildings in the mill complex, where Harrisville Designs' operations are located. Soon we will see the addition of a solar array to our building, which will allow us to run our operation entirely on renewable water and solar power. This process represents years of research and planning, and it is extremely gratifying to see all of the pieces finally coming together. We can't wait to see what the next 50 years has in store!
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