Visiting Lanas del Rio is a bit like dropping in on friends for a cuppa: relaxed, welcoming and cosy.
Originally looking for a roadside property, the derelict mill stole Paul’s heart over 20 years ago despite the three kilometre drive along a dust track to reach it. After years of hard work and (sometimes) frustration, the mill has now been restored to its full glory and from it artisan couple Paul and Dawn run Lanas del Rio, a thriving woollen mill – www.lanasdelrio.com.
What makes Lanas del Rio so unique is its combination of passion, quality and individuality. When you buy one of their 100% wool blankets, pashminas or capes you are buying a little bit of history.
A history woven from an age-old industry of spinning, weaving and finishing wool; a global community of like-minded people passionate about producing high quality, fine wool in all its stages and forms, and a simple, sustainable lifestyle here in a mill that battles flooding and marauding pigs and dates back nearly three hundred years. Originally there were four working flour mills along the river and a dwelling has sat here at the bottom of the Valle Genal since Roman times.
Paul weaves where his imagination takes him. Sometimes he blends yarns to create a new colour; sometimes he will add a touch of sparkle or an unusual texture. He’s not keen on bulk orders saying…
“If the order fits with the yarn on my loom, then I’ll take it but if you want 100 identical throws, that’s another matter”.
Some items are simply unique but none are runs of hundreds. The message here is take two or three, as you can’t go back for replicas!
An engineer by trade, Paul brought the 19th century design Hobcross looms out from Yorkshire in containers and reassembled them on site. When Howard, his original partner, wanted to retire, part of the deal was that he taught Paul how to weave and it was then that Dawn came on board. Dawn is involved in the weaving, runs the back office and showroom, helps oversee the finishing and carries out hand finishing – such as knotting – herself.
Together they visit wool suppliers to choose new yarns. They are not swayed by colour trends but are purely drawn to the quality of the yarn. Although most of this is sourced through the UK, it originated all over the world – alpaca from South America, cashmere from Tibet. Globally, the wool industry was in decline and hundreds of looms were scrapped but the last few years have seen a resurgence of interest and those weavers that have survived are once again working at capacity.
Visitors are usually lucky enough to get a tour of the loom shed but when that is not possible a video plays on loop in the showroom. As well as selling from their showroom, Lanas del Rio also attend local markets and Christmas events. They sell through select local shops and online, although this is usually repeat business from customers who have visited and know the quality – it’s difficult to sell a product that relies on softness and texture online!
If you are looking for a truly inimitable experience – from travelling the dusty track to sinking your hands into the softest of cashmere blankets – a visit to Lanas de Rio is unforgettable…
All images © Pip Art