Stay with your own ones!

Friends, valued customers, fellow textile-workers!

This remains short of a full “Flax Mill News”, we really just wanted to get the one topic through to you, important as we think at this time of the year:

“Stay with your own ones!”

“…Why won’t you stay for a while with your own ones…?”

This question, asked by Van Morrison in one of his unique lyrics is as up-to-date nowadays as ever it has been and in more senses than one.
More than ever “shop local…use local products…” and slogans like that are looking down at people from the “seasonal” bill boards and up at them from head-lines of the countless advertising brochures.

Are we really staying with our own ones when it comes to buying presents for friends and family?

– How local is plastic?

– Where are the locally sold clothes and other textiles being made, by who and under what conditions?

– Who builds the new bikes for the children and where?

We are featuring some crafters/manufacturers here who we personally know. All except for one are textile-master-crafters. You can take my word for it that they are

  • Top of the range in their craft, their products loved and appreciated far beyond these shores.
  • Using only the best of raw-materials which they source here and in tune with nature.
  • When making things operate as carbon-footprint-free as at all possible, as poison-free as they can and caring for their environment.

We know there are many great makers in Northern Ireland, some of them struggling for their existence in those difficult times. And while we generally recommend local sourcing and buying of your presents, we particularly recommend:

Deborah Toner (Belfast): Her architectural embroidery on linen we weave here at Flax Mill is beyond compare. I called her “one of Northern Ireland’s most show-cased textile crafters” in a recent press-interview, this certainly hasn’t changed. Her products – many of them but by far not all cushions are unique.

A pleasure to have a piece made by Deborah and a pleasure to present one to a friend this season! would be a good way to contact her.

Another “one of a kind” is Holywood-based Sinead Black. The completely hand – made quilts (stitching and all) she produces have gone to various corners of the world. The owner of the “Bricolage quilts” label combines world class skills with a great sense for colours. For those who are looking a smaller present, why not check out her bread-bags? is one good contact to Sinead.

Liz Corrigan is from Antrim – the master tailor and dress-maker has been involved in Flax Mill’s annual fashion show for quite a while.
Some of the garments she designed and made have gone “the world over”. If you don’t need a dress (you should give it a thought though…) have a close look at the smaller creations – I particularly like her linen ties. is the contact.

All the crafters we mention can be contacted via Flax Mill, should you want to speak to them rather than send a mail.

For those who want to treat a knitting or weaving friend this season we can recommend spinners Christine Casey and Sarah Foster-Jarden.
Both are members of the Ulster Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers and can spin you a yarn you won’t find the like of it anywhere. They also make finished one-off master pieces from time to time and are well worth checking out. So is Lorna Shannon, the guild-secretary and resident weaver at the Makers House (Designery) in Bushmills. You’ll find many pieces of table-ware, blankets, scarves etc. at our mill which contain yarn made by Christine, Sarah and Lorna.

Lorna’s handwoven scarves in Galway wool. See more at Crann+Caora

Finally, the “non – textile” recommendation. Well, not from cloth should I say but to do with textiles:

Charlie Mallon and Helen Keys own this country’s only Bronze – casting foundry.
One of their many incredible products are – yes you are reading this right – cast napkin rings made of Bronze!

When we eat in style here at the mill, we always have a couple on the table – the beautiful pieces change the ambience of your dinner setting. You will see that if you are taking part in our little Winter Solstice gathering on Dec. 19th this year. If not, just contact Helen and Charlie – they have lots of other treasures in their chest! is one way to get in touch.

“Why won’t you stay for a while with your own ones
You’ve been astray for too long from your own ones
This old world is so cold
Don’t care nothing for you soul….”

(Van Morrison)

A cold world it is indeed – we can’t change that (not immediately anyway) but take my word:
The local master crafters we are recommending are going to do your soul a lot of good.

Hoping to meet up soon (as we said and that isn’t going to change: Our doors are open) at the Flax Mill

Love over Gold


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