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Touring the Linton Tweeds Mill with Carol Walker

As many of our web users and followers will have been, we unfortunately lost our beloved Carole Walker in February. She was the grandmother of our current Managing Directors, Ross and Duncan, and husband to the late Leslie Walker, who was instrumental in saving the mill from near bankruptcy in the 1960’s with his innovative ideas.

For many years, she was renowned for her tours of the mill, which she conducted for customers who visited from around the globe. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to offer these mill tours due to increasing health and safety regulations. However, contributor Clair Shaeffer, was fortunate enough to explore the mill with Carole Walker. We asked her to share her recollection of this experience to our users.

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I was saddened when I saw a small notice on the website last month that Carole Walker had passed away in early February. Known for her interesting Mill tours and for creating the retail store and the Bobbin coffee shop, Mrs. Walker was an integral part of Linton Tweeds.

When I visited Linton several years ago, Mrs. Walker was there to greet me and take me on a delightful tour of the Mill. The design room was an early stop and one of my favourites.

Each of the fabric designers had a collection of all available yarns which could be used to create new fabric designs. The yarns included an assortment of colours and yarn types which the designers could use with a variety of weaves.

A large rack in the centre of the room held samples of the current fabrics. Each sampler featured a large swatch so you could see the weave and several small swatches to show additional design variations and colourways. The design variety was fascinating. Some fabrics featured several yarn types and/or colours while others were more focused on the weaves; and of course, some had intricate combinations of yarns, colours, and weaves.

We continued through the Mill to see the computerized looms producing the current fabrics, the dyeing equipment, and even an antique spinning wheel and the old manual looms which are sometimes used for samples.

Near the end of the tour, we stopped to see the ladies in quality control. They were examining bolts of recently woven fabrics over a light table looking for small imperfections which they would correct.

Like many of you, I particularly enjoyed a Mill tour with Mrs. Walker. She was a delightful tour guide who glowed with pride when she talked about Linton Tweeds and the many processes involved.

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