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A Mallorcan Mill

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Last month whilst walking past the Andrew Martin Store in London’s Walton street a bright window caught my eye. This array of colour was the work of the US designer Madeline Weinrib. Clashing pinks, lime greens and bold yellows sat together as oversized cushions.

The running of colour though the pattern is the definition of an Ikat fabric. This colour run is created by taping off the section of the yarn in a hugely time consuming process.  Accuracy is key here and 1 mm out can affect the outcome and ruin the result.

Inspired by this and looking for some fun summer fabrics I set out to explore Ikat further.

I came across a small family mill in the medieval port town of Pollanca in Mallorca. ‘Teixits Vicens’ has been producing the wonderful ‘cloth of tongues’ since 1854. Bartomeu, the factory’s proprietor and his brother proudly showed me the ropes. Situated off a roundabout in a nondescript building, this mill is a treasure trove of Ikat.

Rolls and rolls of the cheery fabric line the walls with lots of Mediterranean blues and purples amongst other sunny fruit bowl colours.

A weaving machine from the 1860’s sits in a white washed room with terracotta tiles. Further into the building is the vast yarn room. Cotton yarn is taken apart, dyed in huge baths rewoven and dried in the roof void of the building. On the particular day we visit it’s a beautiful deep blue.

Bartomeu tells me that little has changed since the late 1890’s. The patterns are then intricately set into a spooling machine.The final piece of machinery is in fact the only modern piece of equipment in the mill. This means the process only takes 48 hours wereas previously it would have taken several days. It is at this stage that linen is woven in creating the 70% cotton 30 % linen mix.

We fall in love with a green and cream fabric that will look so elegant with a bright red or fuchsia lining and bound buttonholes. This gem of a mill run with old fashioned Mallorcan positivity is creating some truly wonderful fabrics. We look forward to creating some wonderful tailoring together.

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