Antique Weaving Traditions: Our Week at The Marshfield School of Weaving September 9, 2019 13:12
The Marshfield School of Weaving
The Marshfield School of Weaving is situated in the gorgeous, mountainous town of Marshfield, Vermont. Founded in 1974 by Norman Kennedy, the school predominantly specializes in teaching the time-tested textile methods of 18th century Britain and early America. They proudly house a large collection of antique four-post looms and other equipment, which the students learn to use during their instruction.
Our designer was able to spend the last week in August there, surrounded by breath-taking hills, mooing cows, and the sound of clacking looms. We hope you enjoy this photo collection as much as she enjoyed her stay there!
1| Location + School:
Directly outside the school, the surrounding view is spectacular and inspiring!
One of the main weaving rooms is located within a beautifully remodeled barn. This photo shows only three of the many barn frame looms at the school, along with a small table top loom used for smaller projects.
On the opposite side of the main room are two antique dobby looms. The dobby mechanism, which allows for more complex patterning, is the iron contraption which sits on top of the loom frame. If you've ever been to our mill in Monmouth, Maine, you'll notice some interesting similarities and differences in machinery! Even though time has changed the technology, so much of the process remains the same.
Our designer set out to make a small set of towels using the traditional methods taught at Marshfield. The first step was to make the warp. To do so, she used a free-standing warping board and a spool rack, which allows multiple threads to be warped at once.
Here is the finished chained warp, ready to be moved to the loom. Crisper weather inspired the autumn-like color scheme. But there's still lots of green there, though, so don't fret - we're not rushing winter or anything!
At Marshfield, bobbins for adding filling (also called the weft) are wound on large wheels, like the ones pictured here.
Finally time to weave towels! A flexible measuring tape is pinned to the side to keep track of how much fabric is woven per towel. This warp is long enough to make four towels.
Our designer usually uses table looms for development projects at the mill, so weaving with a floor loom was completely new to her! Sometimes notes taped where they're visible is a must. Pictured here are also two end-delivery shuttles, one filled with green yarn and one with orange. These are used to pass the weft threads through the shed.
This photo shows the underside of the loom and the treadles. On a floor loom, the weaver controls the lifting of the harnesses (and thus, the pattern produced on the fabric) by pushing down select treadles with their feet.
3| Finished Material:
It's very satisfying to complete a weaving project! Here are the final towels we ended up with. Our designer was able to practice different techniques on each one. It's amazing the variety of color and pattern that can be produced on a single warp.
Bates Mill Today: Baxter Brewing Company August 16, 2019 13:41
When you visit the Bates Mill in Lewiston today, you can still hear the falls that powered the original textile machines that called the mill home for over a century. The booming sound of hundreds of looms may have disappeared, but the mill is still alive with the sounds of another kind of production, beer brewing!
Photos: The entry to the Baxter Brewpub tucked behind the mill next to the canal. if the weather permits, be sure to enjoy a beverage on the patio where you can hear the falls of the canal that powered the mill for over a century.
Started in 2010, the Baxter Brewing Company has grown from a small production brewery to one of the largest craft breweries in Maine. Baxter is an innovative leader in its industry as the first New England brewery to can all of its beer (a more sustainable and also easier to drink choice!).
Photos: Housed in the original powerhouse of the Bates Mill, Baxter embraced the history in the design of its new brewpub, "The Pub." Rather than remove or hide the old equipment, Baxter features them throughout the pub as a subtle nod to mill's past.
Recently, we had the opportunity to visit our original home in the Bates Mill to tour Baxter’s production facility and new brewpub located in the original mill powerhouse. We had a great time visiting with Baxter’s Marketing Director, Adam, and sharing stories of the mill back when the powerhouse was still operating and the millworkers were still toiling away around the clock crafting America’s finest bedspreads.
Photos: Behind the scenes of the brewery.
While we may have moved our weaving operation up the road to Monmouth, we’re proud to see the old Bates Mill has not lost its innovative manufacturing soul as Baxter carries on the tradition proudly. If you’re making your way up to visit us, we encourage you to stop by Baxter for a tour of the original mill and to sample another of Maine’s finest creations, Baxter Beer.
Update: We also recently learned that Baxter's founder, Luke Livingston, is retiring from the brewery. He will retire on Sept. 13 on the day that Baxter brew's its 100th barrel of its signature Stowaway IPA. Congratulations, Luke!
Barn Frame Loom Reconstruction Adventure | Part II: Making String Heddles July 24, 2019 17:00
Part II: Making String Heddles
It's been a crazy spring and busy summer, but don't fret-- we haven't forgotten about our Barn Frame Loom Reconstruction Project! While we wait on getting some parts, our designer has been slowly making replacement string heddles for the loom (read more about heddles and their function in Part 1 of our Barn Loom Reconstruction series). If you are a hand weaver and are interested in making your own string heddles, or if you're just interested in general (because it's neat!) we've created a small tutorial for how we've been creating ours.
1| Gathering Supplies
The first step is to create a small jig to make the heddles on. A narrow piece of wood, 6 nails, a hammer, and a ruler is all you need! There is a good description of how to construct a jig here. Once you have your jig, you'll need some thin but strong cotton twine and a pair of scissors.
2| Making Square Knots
Square knots are used to make heddles! If you're not sure what type of knot a square knot is, follow this tutorial on how to make a square knot here.
To begin the heddle, first cut a piece of twine - 3 times the length of your jig should be enough. Fold the piece of twine evenly in half, and drape it around the top-most nail, as pictured in diagram 1. Next, tie your first square knot around the bottom of the second nail. A close up of this knot is shown in diagram 2.
4| Making the Middle Eyelet
The 3rd and 4th nails are what make the heddle's eyelet. This is what holds a warp thread on a loom. To create the eyelet, tie a second square knot under the third nail (just like you did under the second nail), as shown by the red arrow in diagram 3. Make sure the twine is kept taught. Next, tie another square knot under the 4th nail, creating a small circular opening with the twine (diagram 4).
5| Finishing the Heddle
To finish the heddle, we're going to tie two more square knots! Tie one underneath the 5th nail (location shown by the red arrow in diagram 5) and a final one under the 6th nail (diagram 6). Trim off the excess twine when finished - we like to leave a small tail, just in case.
6| Counting Strings and Finished Bundles
As you make more and more heddles, it can be useful to keep track of how many you have. Using a contrasting color string, tie off the heddles in bundles as you make them (we like to do bundles of 10 to keep it simple). We've found that about 40 heddles fit on our jig, so 4 bundles of 10. We'll need a lot more than 40 heddles for our Barn Frame Loom, so until we get enough we're storing them in tied off groups, using safety pins to keep the ends in order.
We hope you enjoyed this string heddle tying tutorial! Stay tuned over the next couple months and we'll share how it goes installing the heddles we've made onto the barn frame loom.
Monmouth Community Garden: Open for a 5th Season! June 25, 2019 11:43
After a very wet, rainy, and chilly spring, the Monmouth Community Garden is finally ready for planting!
This summer marks the 5th season that the Bates Mill has hosted the garden by providing the physical space and supplying the water on-site. Although it's already mid-June, things are just beginning to get going - Mother Nature has not been too cooperative this year. Thank goodness for the sun we've been having recently.
If you'd like more information on the MCG, please visit our brand new webpage, Monmouth Community Garden.
Many of our meetings and garden events are open to the community, and we encourage anyone interested to get involved! Any special dates will be posted in our "NEWS, UPDATES, & EVENTS" section, so please check back.
One such event will be an on-site Walk n' Talk with UMaine Extension Associate Professor Caragh Fitzgerald on Wednesday, July 17th from 6:00 - 7:30PM. Join us to discuss current and upcoming vegetable garden challenges (such as pests!) and what to do about them. Even if you don't have a plot in our garden but have your own elsewhere or just a general interest in gardening, we welcome you to attend. There's lots to learn, so mark your calendars and bring your questions!
We still have 2 plots available if you (or someone you know) is interested in renting a 10' x 20' plot for the 2019 season. It's not too late to hop on board! If you'd like to join us this summer in growing your own vegetables, contact us here.
Bed Blankets vs Throw Blankets June 18, 2019 10:03
We get lots of questions regarding the difference between bed blankets versus throw blankets and thought a guide would be a helpful resource as you're shopping for blankets for your home. There are two major differences between bed blankets and throw blankets - size & use. Below, learn more about each area to help you decide what you're looking for as you're shopping for a blanket.
1. Bed Blankets vs Throw Blankets: Size
Perhaps the most obvious difference you'll notice when you begin shopping for a bed blanket or a throw blanket is the size of the blanket.
For bed blankets, the sizes typically come based on standard bed sizes - twin, full, queen, and king. It's important to note that it's much more common to find the full and queen combined as a "full/queen" option for blankets versus simply a full and queen. You can be confident that the "full/queen" size will fit your full or queen size bed comfortably and appropriately. Standard measurements are listed below. It's important to note that the width tends to be consistent throughout the industry but length can vary slightly based on the style.
- Twin: 66" x 96"
- Full/Queen: 90" x 96"
- King: 108" x 96"
- Note: Width is listed first followed by the length in the dimensions.
Photo: The Kineo Bed Blanket is a great as an extra layer to keep warm or as a simple modern top of bed option as shown in the photo above.
For throw blankets, these are smaller than your standard bed blankets and will not cover a regular size bed as a bed blanket would. The standard range of dimensions for throws are listed below. It's relevant to note that there is often a wider range in throws based on style and the flexibility of their use (more on this in the section below):
- Throw: 48" - 54" x 64" - 74"
- Note: Width is listed first followed by the length.
Photo: The Cable Weave Throw Blanket is a great lightweight option for the warm season.
2. Bed Blankets vs Throw Blankets: End Use
Beyond size, the end use of bed blankets versus throw blankets will probably be the most important part of your decision process.
The larger size of the bed blankets makes them most appropriate for use either as an extra layer on your bed or even a modern simple top of bed option. Picking the blanket that matches your bed size is the most straightforward way to find what you're looking for.
Photo: The Lattice Blanket makes for a great extra layer in between a sheet and bedspread or a nicely textured top of bed layer.
Throws are a lot more versatile from both a decorative standpoint and a practical standpoint. If you're looking for a blanket that you can add as a decorative piece on the end of your bed or couch, the throw is going to be your top pick. From a more practical standpoint, a throw blanket is also a great option if you're looking for an extra layer to have available to snuggle with on the couch or outside by the bonfire on a cool summer night.
Photo: Available in a range of colors, the George Washington's Choice Throw Blanket (left) and the Kineo Throw Blanket (right) make both great decorative and practical throw blanket options for any season.
3. Bates Bed Blankets vs Bates Throw Blankets
While we may be most known for our traditional bedspreads, our cotton blankets are great options for simpler styles or for added layers on your bed. To see all our bed blanket and throw blanket options, please visit our Blanket Collection.
A Look at “Loom”: A Merrymeeting Arts Center Exhibit May 29, 2019 07:49
Textiles surround us in our everyday life. In fact, many of us are using a textile right now simply by being dressed. The towel you dried off with this morning? A textile. The sheets you slept under last night? Textiles. Maybe even the chair you’re sitting on at this very moment has a textile covering. Whatever role they play in your life today, know that textiles have been a part of human culture for centuries.
In Maine, textiles have played an integral part in shaping our states demographic, culture and even landscape. This was mostly due to the large scale manufacturing of textiles, but Merrymeeting Arts Center in Bowdoinham also appreciates textiles as one of the many forms of art that can enlighten and enrich our lives everyday.
This summer (May 5th - August 15th) they will be hosting a new exhibit called “Loom”. The exhibit features the textile works of the late Luke MacFadyen and Delaney Bullock. Luke and Delaney both learned to weave at the Putney School in Vermont, some thirty years apart. They met last summer and were planning on working together to help Delaney continue her weaving while attending Bowdoin College, where Luke worked as a chef. Sadly, their partnership was cut short by Luke’s sudden death. This exhibit brings together examples of their work.
We attended the opening reception on May 5th and will provide a sneak peak in the pictures below:
Blankets designed by Claudia Brahms and Luke for Brahm Mount Textiles, a Maine-based textile manufacturer.
A textile designed by Delaney, a student at Bowdoin College.
Vests designed by Luke while studying at Boston University Program in Artisanry.
Visitors enjoying the music, food and company at the opening reception for "Loom".
We encourage you to visit the Merrymeeting Arts Center this summer and experience this exhibit for yourselves. If you've already visited, share your favorite part in the comments below!
Behind the Blanket: Maine Cabin Masters Makes a Bedspread May 1, 2019 10:31 3 Comments
Recently, we had the wonderful opportunity to welcome the designer from Maine Cabin Masters, Ashley, into our facility to find a bedspread for one of their historical cabin renovations.
For those of you not familiar with the show, Maine Cabin Masters (airs on DIY Network on Mondays at 9pm EST) features cabin renovation projects that are led from start to finish by brother-sister duo, Chase & Ashley. They travel throughout the state with their local team of builders breathing life back into cabins in need of some fixing up.
For a recent local renovation in Gardiner, they were tasked with renovating a historical cabin back to its original state in the episode, "A Legacy Preserved" that featured one of our most historic bedspreads, Martha Washington's Choice. Ashley not only came to us to find the perfect period-bedspread to feature in the cabin, but she also wanted to dive in to make it herself. We had a blast showing Ashley our process, and it was a great opportunity for viewers to see the work that goes into every cabin renovation that they do.
We hope you enjoy taking a tour "behind the blanket" through the photos below.
These first two images show our warp tender, Rene, demonstrating to Ashley how we prep the yarn for the looms. When we first receive yarn, it is on small cones which we must prepare for weaving by winding it onto large steel spools, called warps.
The next step is to actually weave the bedspreads on the looms. Below, you'll see a few images of our lead weaver, Dot, showing Ashley how the looms work.
Once the material has been woven, it is then cut and stitched. Below, one of our stitchers, Diane, shows Ashley how we finish the bedspreads with fringe.
Once the bedspreads are stitched, they are sent to the washroom and then onto inspection where they are folded and packaged.
To see the rest of how the bedspread was made, be sure to tune into one of the upcoming airings of this episode: A Legacy Preserved
Thanks again to the MCM team for visiting us!
Barn Frame Loom Reconstruction Adventure | Part 1: Welcome, Loom April 22, 2019 17:07
Part 1: Welcome, Loom
Last October, an antique barn frame loom came into our possession at the Bates Mill. These large, historic looms got their name from the mortise and tenon joints used in their construction - one of the same types of joinery used in post and beam barn framing. From what our research turns up, it seems as though many of these looms were built some time between the late 1700's and early 1900's. Because of their size, these looms were too large to be used indoors and were often set up in barns. This point gives us another possible reason behind their name. Every part of a barn frame loom was constructed by hand, making each loom completely unique. Pegs and beams are hand carved, so every joint has an individualized fit, and the string heddles on the harnesses were hand knotted out of a strong cotton twine. It's very impressive.
A barn frame loom fully set up (above). This beautiful loom is a result of Boothbay Railway Village's Barn Frame Loom Restoration Project.
Our beloved "new" loom arrived disassembled, after being in storage for quite a few years. In the coming months, our designer hopes to get it back up and running in a cleared out corner of her office (lucky for her, her office is one of the biggest in the mill...because this thing is huge! And we don't have a barn to store it in.)
The first step in the slightly daunting task of reconstruction was to do some research and to go through the parts pile (because of course, there are no assembly instructions included!). Most everything looks in good shape, however, we do have a few things to clean up and possibly replace before getting started. The most important piece that we're missing is the cloth beam. This part helps lock the frame into place and is what the finished cloth rolls onto during the weaving process. We have several leads for obtaining this long-lost part, but we're not sure how it will play out just yet.
Of course, there is plenty that can be done to work toward our goal while figuring out the best route to take with the cloth beam. One fairly monotonous task will be remaking some of the heddles, which we plan to do in the traditional fashion. To get into a little loom anatomy, the heddles serve to separate warp threads as the harnesses (or shafts) go up and down. This up and down motion creates the shed, which is what the weft yarn must pass through during the weaving process. Each warp thread is threaded through one heddle eye. All of the heddles are located on the harness frames, as shown in the photo below. Stay tuned for Part II of our "Barn Frame Loom Reconstruction Adventure" blog series, which will include our process of making the heddle jig as well as the heddles themselves!
The string heddles on our loom harnesses.
We'd like to recognize and thank the Marshfield School of Weaving, which has been an incredible resource for us as we've been getting our bearings. Pictured above is a book written by Kate Smith of Marshfield on warping and dressing barn frame looms, which should come in handy! We'd also like to thank Boothbay Railway Village for taking the time to meet with our designer last fall and allowing her to take photos of their barn frame loom all set up - the pictures will be a great reference of what-goes-where.
If these historical looms and their use in New England is something that interests you, please follow our summer/fall blog series documenting the adventure of reconstructing and setting up our loom - if you haven't already guessed, we're kicking the blog series off with this post! Additionally, here's another similar blog post series from 2016 on the subject, which we found very inspiring.
Spring in Maine: It's More than Mud! March 22, 2019 07:40
Today marks the official start of Spring, although it may not look like it just yet in Maine. Still, the days are getting longer and the weather is slowly warming up. Mainer’s like to joke that we have a fifth season that falls between Winter and Spring… mud season! The melting snow and rain makes our back roads and hiking trails a bit soft and mucky, but there’s still plenty to love about this time of year in Maine!
1 | Free Admission to Acadia National Park
On the first day of National Park Week (April 20th), admission is free to all national parks, including our very own Acadia National Park. This natural gem is an absolute must-see when visiting Maine. Make sure to drive, bike or hike up Cadillac Mountain for panoramic views of the surrounding area. When you’re done, catch a bite to eat and do some shopping in the popular town right outside of the park, Bar Harbor.
2 | Maine Maple Sunday
Held on the fourth Sunday in March (this Sunday!), Maine Maple Sunday is a true celebration of Spring! Over 100 sugarhouses throughout the state open their doors to the public, offering an opportunity for us to see how that sugary sweet liquid gold is produced. Oh, and did we mention the free samples?
3 | Greenhouses Galore
Spring is also when we all start thinking about decorating our yards and homes with fresh flowers. Maine has numerous greenhouses, big and small, where you can find just what you need to give your home that colorful Spring curb appeal. If you visit Stevens Farm & Greenhouse in Monmouth, we’re just up the road - so stop by our factory at the same time and make a day of it!
4 | Coastal Boutiques
Who doesn’t love a little shopping trip now and then? There’s something special about shopping the small boutiques of coastal Maine towns - brick buildings, ocean air, friendly faces. On a warm, sunny Spring day take a pleasant stroll through the shops of downtown Belfast, Rockland or Boothbay Harbor (to name a few!).
What is your favorite Maine springtime activity? Let us know in the comments below!
Winter Wonderland on Main Street in Monmouth, Maine February 18, 2019 21:15 2 Comments
Winters in Maine can be long and cold, but when the snow blankets our small town, it can turn into a beautiful winter wonderland. We hope you enjoy taking a winter walk through our small town with our designer, Adrienne, who walks Main Street just about every day regardless of the weather.
Our first stop is our front yard. Freshly plowed after one of the many snow storms we've received this year. Now, out to Main Street we go!
Our next stop takes us to the most famous building in our town, Cumston Hall. Built in 1900, Cumston Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Today, it houses the local library and a beautiful theater in which local companies perform a variety of plays throughout the year.
Right next to Cumston, we find the Monmouth Center Cemetery. Like many small towns in New England, cemeteries dot the countryside reminding those who pass by of the folks who came before them that shaped the communities of today.
A few more steps down the road, we'll find the Monmouth Museum (Adrienne's daily turnaround spot!). The Museum comprises several buildings that walk you not just through the town's history but also through life in rural Maine throughout the past few centuries.
On the way back to the mill, Adrienne always stops for a fresh hot cup of coffee at the Monmouth General Store. General stores are common fixtures in communities throughout New England including our own.
We hope you enjoyed a walk through our winter wonderland, but if it made you miss the warmer months, be sure to take a look back at our blog post featuring the community garden we host each growing season here. Spring will be here before we know it!
Pineland Farms | 5,000 Acres of Year-Round Activities in Southern Maine January 28, 2019 11:12
Tucked away in the hills of rural Maine is a 5,000 acre campus and working farm that offers a public venue for recreation, education, business, special occasion celebrations and more. If you live in Maine, you may have seen their cheeses and natural meats at your local grocery store (we highly recommend the smoked cheddar), but Pineland Farms has so much more to offer than delicious cheeses and meats (as if we could ask for more than that!).
Source: Pineland Farms
Perhaps one of the most alluring aspects of the Pineland Farms campus is its' 30 kilometer trail system. The trails are open to visitors year-round for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing with equipment rentals available at their Outdoor Center.
Source: Pineland Farms
In addition to the extensive trail system, Pineland Farms also offers three tennis courts available on a first-come, first-serve basis, an olympic-size bocce ball court, and two disc golf courses (one pro-level and the other more geared toward intermediate competition). In the winter, visitors can enjoy ice skating on the farm pond and kids will absolutely love sledding on the groomed sledding hill.
Source: Pineland Farms
One of the major goals of Pineland Farms is to foster an appreciation for agriculture and our natural surroundings through hands-on education. As part of this goal, they offer classes through their family programs and adult programs such as wild mushroom identification, butter-making and maple-sugaring, to name a few. Pineland Farms is also a great destination for school field trips, accommodating all ages from pre-k to adults.
Source: Pineland Farms
Instead of the standard bowling alley birthday party, why not create a memorable and educational experience with Pineland Farms? Kids will have the opportunity to get up close with farm animals, collect hen eggs and possibly even milk a cow. How fun is that?! But you don’t necessarily have to wait for your birthday for this experience, the educational Farmyard is open to the public year round from 10AM-4PM.
Source: Pineland Farms
Through their VAST program (Veterans Adaptive Sports & Training), Pineland Farms hopes to promote the health and well-being of our disabled veterans through physical activity and camaraderie. VAST offers free, year-round activities to our veterans including rifle shooting, archery targeting, fly tying and much more. The program is funded in part by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, but if you’d like to help support the program and our veterans, donations are always welcome.
Source: Pineland Farms
With everything you could possibly need for an unforgettable event, from lodging to catering and everything in-between, Pineland Farms is a great choice for your next family or company gathering. With the rural, peaceful setting, it won’t feel like you’re only minutes away from two of Maine’s biggest cities, and their experienced staff knows how to make your event run smoothly.
Source: Pineland Farms
The state-of-the-art Equestrian Center at Pineland Farms boasts indoor and outdoor arenas, housing for athletes and stabling for up to 30 horses. They train, breed and promote Morgan horses, which happen to be the first true American breed of horse. Riding lessons are available and the center hosts livestock shows throughout the year. The facility is also available for events, and offers a banquet hall and conference room in addition to the arenas.
Source: Pineland Farms
Before you leave, make sure to stop at the market! Bring home delicious local food, beverages and gifts. You can also eat in-house at their kitchen & deli.
Source: Pineland Farms
Do you have an experience at Pineland Farms that you’d like to share? Did we forget one of your favorite parts? Tell us in the comments below!
Love & Toasters: 5 Vintage Christmas Advertisements that'll Give you a Laugh December 16, 2018 13:30
We had so much fun looking at vintage Christmas decorations last week that we wanted to dive into the world of vintage Christmas advertisements this week! From an edgy Bates ad from our archive to the helpful advice of a little crying, we hope you enjoy these festive blasts from the past.
1. Bates Manufacturing Company
We love the look and sass of this vintage Bates ad from the 1960s. This was actually one of several ads that featured beautiful women donning bold bedspreads that were popular in the flower power years.
2. Ouija Board featuring the Pressing Questions of 1962
We love this ad featuring the classic board game, Ouija, and the pressing questions of the 1960s. From flying saucers to the everyday concerns of teenagers, it's amazing how some themes hold through the years.
3. Cry a Little for Appliances
We were torn between featuring this ad with the advice to cry a little but not too much, and this other ad that features miniature versions of gifts you could slip into his pocket. We think the advice of a little crying may be more productive and like that no purchases are required... We'll ignore the constant reminder of women's place in the home though. By the way, Bates is a proudly women-owned and -operated company - thought it may be a good time to mention this. ;)
4. Please a Lady... With a Toaster
Another vintage ad, another appliance for us ladies. Who knew such a simple appliance could bring us such joy? We do have to admit, that is a good looking toaster, and we do wish our husbands would appreciate all our appliances like that man in the ad appreciates that toaster.
5. Hoover, 1959
While this image does say it all, the magic is really in the text in this one: "She cares about her home, you know, so if you really care about her..." Nothing says love like a new vacuum! That being said, we have been eyeing those new robot vacuums the last few years so maybe these vintage ads aren't so off...
Have your own favorite ad from the past? Share in the comments.
5 Vintage Christmas Decorations & Where to Find Them Today December 9, 2018 14:30
We love looking to the past for design inspiration - especially around the holidays! In this blog post, we round up five of our favorite vintage holiday decorations, and the best part, we found where you can get them again (new or vintage!). Whether these items bring you back to your childhood or you love the feel of a vintage holiday, we hope you enjoy checking out these festive blasts from the past.
1. Aluminum Christmas Tree Illuminated with Color Wheel
The Aluminum Christmas Tree was first introduced in the 1950s (during World War II, all metal was used for the war so even the hanging part of traditional ornaments was made from paper versus metal!). Illuminated by a color wheel, these festive trees were quite popular until 1965 when A Charlie Brown Christmas depicted them as the symbol of the commercialization of Christmas. They've since made a comeback as a fun vintage throwback holiday decoration.
Where to buy?
Vintage Aluminum Christmas Trees (Tip: There are also some vintage color wheels, but you're probably better off buying one of these new as the electronic components seem to not stand the test of time as well as the actual trees!)
2. Ceramic Christmas Tree
Ceramic Christmas Trees became popular in the 1960s and 1970s when ceramics was a popular hobby. During that time, there were lots of local pottery shops across the country where folks would go for classes (like paint night today!) and as molds became bigger and most sophisticated, the Ceramic Christmas Tree became possible. Now, these vintage decorations are some of the most cherished of Grandma's holiday hand me downs.
Where to buy?
3. Indented Bauble Ornaments
Indented Bauble Ornaments first came to be during the Victorian Times as they were created to reflect the candlelight of the Christmas Tree (hard to fathom actual candles on a tree these days!). They became popular again in the 1950s before less ornate decorations became more on trend.
Where to buy?
4. German Smoker Incense Burners
German smokers are actually incense burners and became popular in the 19th century when smoking started to become socially acceptable. They were made by the same toymakers that made their more famous Nutcracker counterparts. For the smokers, the craftsmen made everyday figures like hunters, peddlers with toys (see photo above), chimney sweeps and bakers. Typically, Nutcrackers depicted officials versus folks from everyday life. Today, you can find many smokers that are more traditional Christmas themes like Santas and Snowmen.
Where to buy?
5. Finial Topper
Finial Tree Toppers were especially popular in the 1960s. These are often simple glass tree toppers with ornate features that replaced more traditional tree toppers like stars and angels. Collectors often like to feature them not on just the top of the tree but as sets on mantles and other surfaces.
Where to buy?
Have your own favorite vintage Christmas decorations? Be sure to share in the comments!
Bates Annual Holiday Sale on Small Business Saturday - 2018 November 27, 2018 12:20
Another year, another holiday sale! This year was one of our busiest and most festive sales that we've ever had, and we can't thank all our wonderful customers enough for making it such a success. It's amazing to think that it's been 5 years since we moved to our new home in Monmouth and that this is already our 6th sale. If you didn't make it this year, we hope these photos will inspire you to make the trip next year for our 7th! Happy holidays.
Our mechanical whiz, Dan, surprises us with his costumes each year. This year's "Santa Claws" costume was a team and customer favorite.
Diane has decades of experience stitching for Bates, and she loves to get to show customers her craft when they visit for the holiday sale.
Customers peruse the many different items we have for sale - from factory samples to factory seconds, this is your only chance to find the many unique items we produce throughout the year at great prices in one place. It's a great opportunity to find something special for everyone on your holiday list.
Our store manager, Katie, and technician, Steve, are ready first thing to welcome the crowds bright and early on Saturday morning.
Inspectors Sue & Silvia are on hand to help customers take a look at the items they are interested in purchasing.
Our free walking tours are a great way to learn about the entire production process from start to finish. The first station is raw materials, and our warp tender, Rene, loves showing visitors how we are able take 2-8 lb cones of yarn and prepare them to weave on our looms.
Everyone's favorite part of the tour is the looms! Our lead weaver, Dot, loves getting to show visitors how the looms work.
Our mechanical whiz, Dan, is available on the tour to answer any of your tough questions about the machines we run.
Our whole team really enjoys getting to meet the customers who love our products so much. In this picture, you see inspectors Sue and Sylvia again and also our shipping manager, Ray, helping package some bedspreads up for eager customers.
Mill owners and sisters, Lee & Linda, work together to help a customer find the perfect throws for her holiday list. Did you know that Bates is family-owned and -operated? Learn more about our story here.
Inspector Josh can't help but love our seasonal throws! If you're still looking for the perfect gift for everyone on your list, be sure to check out the 2018 Bates Holiday Gift Guide. You (and they!) won't be disappointed.
Happy holidays from Bates!
5 Fun Turkey Facts to Share at the Thanksgiving Table November 19, 2018 19:30
Whether you find yourself entertaining the kids or your husband's grandparents, these fun facts to share at the Thanksgiving table will give you something interesting to talk about with guests of all ages.
1. World's Largest Turkey: 86 lbs
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's largest turkey weighed in at 86 lbs in London in 1989. With the average turkey at Thanksgiving weighing in at 15 pounds, it's quite hard to imagine just how large this 86 pound bird was!
2. Wild Turkeys Can Run 25 MPH
Wild turkeys are fast! According to the Smithsonian, wild turkeys can run up to 25 MPH and fly up to 55 MPH. To put this in perspective, the world's fastest human - Usain Bolt - can run up to 28 MPH. Not bad, turkeys!
3. Every State has a Wild Turkey Population Except One
There is just one state without a turkey population and that is Alaska! Hawaii was also on this no turkey list until the 1960s when domesticated turkeys were released on the island, and the population have since thrived (there is even a hunting season!).
4. Turkeys Almost Went Extinct in Early 20th Century
Due to overhunting, wild turkeys almost went extinct in the early 20th century in America. Thanks to focused conservation efforts, the turkey population was able to come back and thrive as we can see across the US today (except Alaska!). There are nearly 7 million wild turkeys in America today.
5. Turkeys are Named after the Country
When Europeans came to America, they remarked that turkeys looked like African Guinea Fowls which had come to Europe through Turkey (from the Audobon Society). Now we know - the country was not named after America's favorite bird.
Have your own fun facts about turkeys or Thanksgiving? Share in the comments!
Treat Yourself: 5 Adult-Friendly Halloween DIY Activities October 22, 2018 10:51
Kids' costumes ready? Candy bags hidden away for trick or treaters? Sounds like it's time to treat yourself! Whether you're looking for your own little escape this Halloween or want to surprise some friends with some adult-friendly fun, the five projects below are a great place to start for a festive afternoon of DIY.
1. Halloween Bath Bombs
As the weather is getting cooler and the craziness of the holidays starts to build, who doesn't love a relaxing bath at the end of the day? Bath bombs are easy to make and the options are endless when it comes to creativity. We love these adorable miniature Pumpkin Bath Bombs and can't help but smile when we see these spooky Jack Skellington Bath Bombs.
2. Halloween Cocktails
Martha Stewart put together an incredible list of festive Halloween cocktails that features 22 options from the simple & easy to mix to the more complex craft cocktail. Our favorites? We love the Pina Ghoulada that brings us to the beach or the Blood-Red Hot Chocolate that can be served with or without alcohol.
3. Halloween Muddy Buddies
Sitting down for a scary movie marathon? Up your snack game with some Halloween Muddy Buddies! Easy to make and with a little something that everyone will deem their favorite part, these snacks will be a welcomed treat that will keep you and your friends fueled for all those movies. Bonus: Easy to make in bulk, this is a great option if you want to bring a festive treat to the office.
4. Leftover Pumpkin Candle
Ready to get rid of your jack-o-lanterns and move onto the next holiday? We love the idea of repurposing our pumpkins into a festive candle for the Thanksgiving season. Learn how to make this easy Leftover Pumpkin Candle here.
5. "You've Been Boozed"
Bring some smiles to your friends this Halloween with a bottle of wine (or put together a little gift basket featuring the mixers from one of the cocktails on Martha's list above!) and add the tag "You've been boozed!" They'll appreciate the gesture and you'll get to enjoy some festive cheer together. We encourage you to make your own tags or you can simply print the bottle tags here.
Have your own favorite adult-friendly way to celebrate Halloween? Share in the comments!
5 Fun Fall Crafts for a Festive Autumn Home October 10, 2018 17:47
Fall is a nostalgic time of year for many of us, filled with traditions and celebrations. Crafting is a great way to bring a seasonal touch into your home - after all, you'll be spending more time inside as the weather cools down. Get your creative juices flowing with one of these 5 Fun Fall Fabric Crafts!
These acorn pot holders are as functional as they are festive. They are sure to add a subtle splash of fall to your kitchen decor.
These adorable fabric pumpkins are great because you can personalize the look with your fabric selection. For example, the remnant fabric at our factory store would give your pumpkin a chic, country fall look, or you could go with a classic Halloween print for a fun, spooky vibe.
These fabric pumpkins are the same idea as above but geared towards those of us who haven’t quite mastered the art of needle and thread. No excuses here, these precious fabric pumpkins can still adorn your home.
Okay, maybe these ghost lamps aren't technically a craft, but they were too cute not to include. This makes us want to put up light posts for this specific purpose!
This craft will provide a festive but classy addition to your seasonal decor - and it’s super easy! The hardest part will be finding a cool old frame to upcycle.
Have you tried one of these crafts before and some helpful hints? Do you have a suggestion for another fun fall fabric craft? Share your ideas in the comments below!
5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Apple Season in Maine August 30, 2018 12:04
In Maine, the apple picking season begins in August and runs through late October. For many Mainers, the opening of the apple orchards is a sure sign that Summer is coming to a close. But that’s okay - we’ve compiled a list of apple season activities to keep you distracted from the inevitable onslaught of winter.
1 | Pick-Your-Own Apples
The number one activity during apple season is (of course!) apple picking. Maine has apple orchards speckled throughout the state, so no matter where you are, there is a pick-your-own option relatively close-by. Check out this map of apple orchards in Maine to find one near you.
2 | Eat Fresh Apple Cider Doughnuts
It’s possible that there is nothing better than a warm apple cider doughnut on a brisk fall day. We hear that the doughnut shack at McDougal Orchards is the place to get fresh cider doughnuts - but if this location isn’t convenient for you, don’t worry - lots of other orchards have farm stands/stores where you can purchase these sweet treats as well. You could even try to make your own with this recipe from Downeast Magazine.
3 | Solve a Corn Maze
Corn mazes are great fun for the whole family and there are several to choose from throughout the state. Most folks are able to finish the maze unscathed, but in case you’re worried about your fate, check out these corn maze survival tips beforehand.
4 | Visit an Agricultural Fair
Maine has 25 licensed agricultural fairs with a handful operating during the apple season. Agricultural fairs are more than just rides, games and food - they are a great source for fun and education. Check out this list of agricultural fairs in Maine to find one that works for your schedule or trip.
5 | Schedule a Family Photo Shoot
That’s right! Apple orchards make a great seasonal backdrop for family photos. You can snap your own shots, or hire a photographer who is willing to travel to your desired location. Treworgy’s Orchard in Levant even has a photographer on hand for mini-sessions, but they do recommend making reservations.
Do you have a favorite activity for the apple picking season in Maine? Share it in the comments below!
Made in USA Bedding Checklist for the College Dorm Room August 15, 2018 11:31
Whether it's you or your child's first year away at college or fourth, making sure you have all your bedding covered is important to guarantee a good night's rest. Use this list of Made in USA bedding options to help make this part of your to do list extra easy during this busy time.
Before we dive in, be sure to check with the school to confirm if their dorm rooms are outfitted with regular twin size or XL twin size beds.
1. The Base - Made in USA Sheets
Bedding always starts with the sheets! We recommend getting two sets of sheets to help you or your student make sure they keep theirs fresh. Be sure each set consist of the following, and you should be all set for the school year:
- 1 Fitted Sheet
- 1 Top Flat Sheet
- 1 Pillow Case (typical for a twin size set vs other sizes)
Our Made in USA recommendations are all great quality but vary based on the design preferences of your student:
- Made in USA Sheets with Color Options: Authenticity 50
- Made in USA Sheets in Natural (leave the personality for the top of bed!): Bates Mill Store
2. The Comfort - Made in USA Pillows
You'll want to make sure to find the perfect pillow for yourself or your student to get a great night's sleep. With a twin bed, one standard size pillow should be more than enough to keep their bed comfortable. Our Made in USA Pillow picks:
3. The Top of the Bed Style - Made in USA Coverlet or Comforter
The top of the bed is really where you or your student can show off their personality. One top of bed layer should be plenty for your student as these don't need to be washed as often as your sheets.
We recommend coverlets over comforters since they can be washed in a regular washer or dryer and don't need a separate duvet cover, but it's really a choice to be made based on comfort and style preferences:
- Made in USA Cotton Coverlet: Bates Mill Store Coverlets
- Made in USA Cotton Blanket: Bates Mill Store Blankets
- Made in USA Comforters: Pure Living Space
- Made in USA Duvet Covers for your Comforter: Authenticity 50
4. Optional Extra Layer - Made in USA Blanket
If you or your student is heading somewhere that has a cold season, we recommend adding an extra layer to their bedding list to ensure they can stay warm when the temperature drops. Our Made in USA Blanket picks:
- Made in USA Cotton Blanket: Bates Mill Store Blankets
- Made in USA Wool Blankets: LL Bean Washable Wool Blankets
5. Optional Accent - Made in USA Throw Pillow & Throw Pillow Covers
The last part of the bedding puzzle is of course, a throw pillow. This is another way for you or your student to express their personality. We recommend starting with an insert so you or your student can switch out their throw pillow covers from season to season (a pillow cover may also make a great holiday gift when they return after their first term!):
We wish you and your student a fantastic school year! Let us know if you have your own bedding favorites that work well in the dorm room in the comments below.
What's Growing in the Monmouth Community Garden? August 9, 2018 15:50
Wow! August already?! How did that happen?
The Monmouth Community Garden is about ready to burst for it's 4th consecutive year. Located on the fertile lawn of the Bates Mill Store, the MCG consists of twenty 10' x 20' plots that are planted and maintained by a crew of enthusiastic local gardeners during the summer months. It's around this point in the season that everything starts to go wild! We're excited to share photos of just a small portion of what's growing in the garden this year.
The garden isn't only for vegetables. We've got some beautiful flowers going this season, including a bright patch of sunflowers for all those driving by to enjoy.
It's been a hot and humid summer in Maine, perfect for growing bell and hot peppers alike!
No garden is complete without some of these beasts. At this time in the season, most are easily 4-5 feet tall (or more!) and spilling out of their cages. Not many red fruits yet, but soon there will be more than anyone knows what to do with!
Many people know about canning salsa or like to make it fresh, but if you're looking to try something new and perhaps learn a new kitchen skill, you can also ferment the spicy stuff. Sound gross? A cool recipe might change your mind. We're excited about giving this fermented salsa recipe from Cultures for Health a shot.
Of course, you've got to have zucchini. And more zucchini. Oh, and what's that I see? Another zucchini...
6. Winter Squash
For all those long, cold months when a mouthful of roasted squash or warm squash soup is pure heaven. These babies have a long way to "grow" (ha ha ha...bad pun alert) but they're coming along nicely!
7. Herbs and Spices
Perfect to use fresh, or to dry to use all winter long.
Some beautiful crowns of broccoli are just starting to look ready to harvest.
We hope you enjoyed seeing what's growing as much as we enjoy hosting the garden and watching its progress throughout the season! If you are interested in being involved in the Monmouth Community Garden next year (2019, yikes!) please feel free to stop in the Bates Mill Store to enquire.
If you have any favorite recipes incorporating fresh garden produce, please share them in the comments below!
Planning a Visit to the Bates Mill Store in Maine? Consider adding these 7 local spots to your itinerary. July 23, 2018 12:00
We love welcoming our many visitors that make the trip to Maine during the summer! If you're planning on making the trip up to our small town of Monmouth, we encourage you to add one (or all!) of the following places to you itinerary.
1. Apple Valley Bakery - 829 Main Street ~ Monmouth, ME 04259
The Apple Valley Bakery is just a few minutes from our mill and is a great place to stop for a delicious pastry, donut or cup of coffee. We recommend anything that catch your eye - you'll be pleased with your choice. There are a few tables to enjoy your pick inside. To check their hours (closed Mondays) and to see some photos of their creations, visit the Apple Valley Bakery Facebook Page.
Source: Theater at Monmouth
2. Cumston Hall | The Shakespearean Theater of Maine - 796 Main Street ~
Monmouth, ME 04259
One of Monmouth's architectural and cultural icons is Cumston Hall. The building was constructed in 1899 and was added to the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1976. Throughout each summer, a collection of classic Shakespearean plays are performed by local and visiting actors. Tickets are available on the Theater at Monmouth website.
If you enjoying hiking or have your pup with you, we encourage you to take a trip up Mount Pisgah. We recommend the shorter Tower Hike (0.7 miles one way) to get to the top where you can climb up the Fire Tower (no longer in use) for incredible panoramic views of the area. For a map and details on how to get to the trailhead, visit the Mount Pisgah Fire Trail website.
4. Jack Traps 151 Ridge Road ~ Monmouth, ME 04259
If you love fishing, you may recognize the name "Jack Traps." Jack Traps is America's premier manufacturer of ice fishing traps and happen to also be located in Monmouth. We encourage you to check out their factory store where all their traps are made and to also get the best local fishing advice if you plan to get some time on the water. For store hours, visit the Jack Traps website.
5. Grateful Grain Brewing Company - 26 Rt. 126 ~ Monmouth, ME 04259
The best way to wrap up a day of visiting is a nice cold locally-brewed beer at the Grateful Grain Brewing Company. Recently opened in 2018, the brewery has become one of Monmouth's most popular places to visit. Be sure to check out the Grateful Grain Brewing Company Facebook page for their operating hours (Friday-Sunday) and to see events they may be having (live music, food trucks, etc).
6. Chalky & Company Headquarters - 1111 Main Street ~ Monmouth, ME 04259
Another wonderful family-owned business whose doors are open for visitors is Chalky & Company. Located just a minute down the road from us, Chalky & Company is a great place to visit if you love crafting and getting creative. For hours and to learn about their newest releases, be sure to visit them on the Chalky & Company Facebook Page before planning your trip.
7. Monmouth Museum - 749 Main Street ~ Monmouth, ME 04259
If you love history, you'll love visiting the Monmouth Museum. Located right on Main Street nearby Cumston Hall, the Monmouth Museum houses artifacts from throughout our town's long history. There are 8 buildings that do an amazing job of taking you back in time to learn about life in rural Maine in the 19th century. For hours and events, be sure to visit the Monmouth Museum Facebook Page.
Have a recommendation to the list? Be sure to share in the comments below.
Bates Bedspreads at French's Point June 18, 2018 13:22
We love catering to the hospitality industry and, dare we say, our fans in the hospitality industry love working with us too. The design, durability and generous sizing of our bedspreads seems to be the perfect fit for many inns, retreats and bed & breakfasts throughout the country.
French’s Point on Penobscot Bay, right in our own home state of Maine, is one of those places.
Nestled on 14 acres of oceanfront property with two beautiful homes surrounded by 100 acres of State Preserve, French’s Point offers a private and peaceful seaside setting for visitors and guests to enjoy.
The property has a long and rich history dating back to the mid 1700’s. The Farm House shown above was established in 1764 and the neighboring Retreat House established in 1885 serve jointly as a large vacation rental property for families and weddings, accommodating up to 50 guests overnight with 20 guest suites (wow!).
The Brooks family purchased the property in 2002 and have since restored and transformed the estate into a setting for milestone gatherings and events. French’s Point hosts only one group of guests a weekend, affording each group privacy and exclusive enjoyment of the estate. French’s Point is not just a place to stay - it’s an experience.
Needless to say, we were very excited when French’s Point reached out to us during their search for new bedding - and they were proud to be able to work with fellow family-owned Maine business for this need.
We love how their team incorporated the Colonial Rose Bedspread into their guest room decor, adding a splash of color with harmonized throw pillows and duvet.
The light shining in on the picture above shows the subtle, puffed texture that our Matelasse Bedspreads are known for.
If you or someone you know is planning a wedding or other milestone event, you may want to consider this unique property. You and your guests are sure to have a wonderful, memorable experience.
Have you stayed at French's Point? Do you own a Colonial Rose Bedspread? Let us know about it in the comments below!
Bates at the Maine Innovation Expo 2018 May 31, 2018 11:52
We were recently invited to participate in the Maine Innovation Expo hosted by Museum LA at our original home, the Bates Mill in Lewiston. The expo was a fantastic event that offered families the opportunity to learn about all the innovative work companies are doing throughout Maine.
Our booth focused on teaching visitors about weaving and how innovations in weaving helped build the city of Lewiston through the Bates Manufacturing Company.
During the industrial revolution, entrepreneurs sought to harness the power of rivers in order to build their factories. In 1850, Benjamin Bates found that power in the mighty Androscoggin River of Lewiston. Innovations in weaving from mechanized looms to specialized types of weaving (like the Bates patented "terry weave") helped build Bates into one of the textile industry's most recognizable names.
To keep things fun for the children visiting our booth, we brought in lots of colorful yarn. While we no longer dye our own yarn, Bates used to not only just dye the yarn, but actually make the yarn from raw cotton. Today, we rely on a network of partners for these more specialized parts of yarn production.
Be sure to check out photos from the expo below, and if you were able to attend, be sure to share what you learned in the comments. Thanks again to Museum LA for inviting us to attend and share our craft with the community.
Store Manager, Katie, at our booth at the Maine Innovation Expo.
Left: Colorful yarn. Right: Bates Designer, Adrienne, show attendees how the table loom works.
The view from our booth at the expo early in the day. It was amazing to get to be back in the old mill, and if I'm sure the walls could talk - they would be pleased to see a loom again.
Celebrate the Unofficial Start of Summer: 5 Fun Activities for Memorial Day Weekend in Maine May 10, 2018 03:00
Memorial Day is just around the corner and that means the unofficial start of summer in Maine! The snow is gone (finally!), and we're ready for some fun in the sunshine. We gathered up our five favorite activities to do in Maine on Memorial Day weekend below.
1. Memorial Day Parades & Celebrations
Just about every town in Maine will be hosting a parade sometime over the weekend to celebrate the lives of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during their military service. If you're in our area, consider attending the Memorial Day Parade in Lewiston on Saturday, May 26th. All are welcome.
The unofficial start of summer often means opening weekend for the many campgrounds throughout Maine. Luckily, there are lots of great options throughout the state of Maine including in our local area. Our favorites? The Birches Campground on Cobbosee Lake and Beaver Brook Campground on Wilson Pond. Most campgrounds have planned activities ready to keep your whole family entertained for the weekend - the hardest part for you will just be getting there.
3. Ice Cream
Summer in Maine means our seasonal ice cream shops throughout the state will be un-boarded and open for business! Just about every town has a local shop, but one shop that has becoming especially popular in our area in recent years is Fielder's Choice. This family-owned shop started in nearby Sabattus and has since expanded to other locations throughout the state including Old Orchard Beach, Auburn, Manchester and Brunswick. With a large menu (including dairy-free options!) and great prices, your whole family will be thrilled with this activity.
For some, a long weekend means time to shop! Maine has two great cities that are known for their outlet shopping - Kittery and Freeport. Both towns are great places to spend a day of shopping and exploring. If you're more interested in a variety of stores, we recommend making the trip down to the Kittery Outlets. If you're bringing your family, you may want to consider Freeport which is also home to one of Maine's most famous places - LL Bean. Featuring an indoor trout pond and other wildlife scenes, LL Bean brings the outdoors inside making it a great stop fo keeping your entire family entertained while you shop.
5. Explore the Great Outdoors
With the snow gone and the warm weather finally here (fingers crossed!), there's no better time to get outdoors, and we're lucky to live in a place that has so many options for outdoor fun! If your family loves animals, we recommend visiting DEW Haven - a fantastic place full of both local and exotic wildlife. More into plants and flowers? Consider checking out the Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay. And lastly, if you prefer to explore your own backyard - nothing beats a hike through the forest or long walk on the beach. To find out great walks in your area, check out Maine Trail Finder.
Did we miss anything? Be sure to share your own favorites in the comments!
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