Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Trip to Filkins

Though I've known about it for a long time, I only just recently made a trip to the Cotswold Woolen Weavers  in Filkins, which is a tiny village about 25 minutes drive from me. CWW is a bit of an anomaly; it's a cluster of buildings comprised of retail shops, artist's workshops and a wool and weaving museum, with a nice little cafe thrown in for good measure. I visited CWW twice, and both times found it oddly empty, yet also unmistakably vibrant and alive. Wandering through the various rooms and buildings felt like I'd stumbled upon some well kept secret. In some of the buildings there were employees, but in many of the rooms I was on my own, occasionally crossing paths with other visitors. No one was ever overly solicitous or hawkish; I felt free to wander and explore everywhere, from the museum with its scattering of textile related bits (baskets of wooden loom bobbins, rams horns and raw, chocolate brown fleece, embroidery samplers and old fashioned looms,) to the rooms upstairs selling a huge selection of old timey games and quirky books. There were open shelves filled with leather bound, swatch filled books. I could peek inside of glassed in rooms that contained huge work tables with tweed swatches and industrial looms. Different bits of the store carried different things; in addition to all sorts of woolen and tweed clothing (jackets, waistcoats, skirts, socks-yawn), there were beautiful blankets, and an assortment of randomly curated, locally produced books and crafts (things made from pewter, things carved from wood, reproduction agricultural posters and spoons and buttons carved from sheep's horns). One shelf leading upstairs was lined with Pantone color chip coffee mugs, which is just the sort of unexpected non sequitur item you'll come across in between sections of the shops. At one end of the building there is a room selling large and very well priced end rolls of woven wool fabric. At another end of the complex of buildings is the sculpture workshop of the artist Simon Brittain, who also offers courses in stone carving and masonry.

CWW is a wonderful place, and really worth a visit if you find yourself in the Cotswolds and have even a marginal interest in wool or textiles. It was the riches from the wool trade that built many a church village in this part of the world. Take a trip to Filkins and soak up a touch of the history behind that period of English life. 

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