The Oriole Mill is a sturdy brick and concrete building supporting thirteen multi-ton Jacquard looms along with other ancillary machinery for warping, weaving, washing, cutting, and sewing. But beyond the massive industrial facade is a vibrant, creative, intimate community of makers who call The Oriole Mill home.
Bethanne Knudson, a co-founder of The Oriole Mill along with her partner Stephan Michelson, is the mill’s Creative Director. Her lifelong relationship with textiles has led her down many diverse paths, providing us with a plethora of stories to share. “Warped Stories” debunks the myth of industry being dull and lifeless through anecdotes of our personal inspirations, aspirations, passions, and perseverance.
For example, one of our favorite designs comes from a very early connection Bethanne made with textiles. It’s a fabric we call “Tatting” because the motif is just that – a piece of antique tatting. Tatting is a way of making lace with a needle or shuttle by forming a series of loops or knots of thread around a corded thread.
[This design] started with a fragment of tatting made by my mother’s maternal grandmother, who died before I was born. This humble piece of tatting is the only object I have from her. It is all the more meaningful because she did not merely own the tatting, she made the piece of lace with her own hands as part of her daily life.
The fragment of tatting is a small, delicate, aging textile. As inspiration for a Jacquard design, the scale changed dramatically – one quarter of an inch becoming nearly sixty inches.
Nimble and meticulous hands made this tiny remnant connecting Bethanne to her heritage of textile traditions. Weaving this impressionable image at a large scale, on powerful industrial looms articulates her immense respect for legacy and the handmade through her modern process of making.