The Luddites at Armley Mills

On Saturday I went to the Armley Mills wool festival, Armley mills is now a museum but at one point was the largest woollen in the world. Boring and stuffy with no touch signs? not at all.


Although some of the machinery and looms have do not touch signs it’s more for your safety than to protect the machines. Some of the machines have been restored partly thanks to a partnership with Hainsworth – a Leeds based textile company who made Prince Williams military uniform for his wedding. They also do woollen coffins for those die-hard knitters! (hey, don’t mock, am thinking of one myself!)

As well as holding the yearly wool festival they also host the Spinner of Aire every Wednesday. This is a free and very welcoming spinning group that meet to hand spin on various wheels and spindles.

There is even a gardening group who tend a beautiful dyers garden and cottages from the mill owner kept in original style.


It was in the cottage that I found the Luddites, led by textile historian Penelope Hemingway and finally proof that my dream job does exist.

She is spinning on a Timber Tops Chair Wheel which can spin two yarns at once.


This morning I was looking at my list of summer projects and one is to find a research subject and… research. I figured, is for no other reason than the possibility of a future dream job of sitting spinning and dressing up I would research the Luddites.

WordPress description of Luddites

The Luddites were 19th-century English textile workers who protested against newly developed labour-economizing technologies from 1811 to 1816. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.

I like the sound of that already.

Penelope Hemingway –

Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

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