We had one final stop on the Fibre Trail that I really wanted to make, and it was to Belfast Mini Mills. Again, this was on the Fibre Trail pamphlet, but was also touted as a “must stop” for anyone interested in yarn visiting Prince Edward Island. This time the whole group of us went (my husband and kid included) and I felt a bit of pressure, like if it wasn’t awesome/fun it would be my fault since I’m the one who wanted to go there. Thankfully, it was pretty awesome.
Belfast Mini Mills is exactly what the name says and yet still not what I expected.
It is, as the name indicates, a place where you can purchase all the machines you would need to start up your own mini mill! This I was not expecting, which in retrospect is pretty stupid of me. It is sort of like going to a place called “Fish and Chips” and then being surprised when they serve fish and chips. Clearly I lack a certain amount of logic. Regardless, it was a very welcome surprise. They gave us a tour through their whole operation, and from what I can gather their machines are a pretty big deal. By “mini” it means not huge industrial size, but they are far from small. Not at all your hobby level machines. It was really fascinating having them walk us through the entire process, how they go from raw fleece to finished yarn, the entire process facilitated by the various machines they have constructed and designed. They so clearly took a lot of pride in their machines and the quality of the product they produced.
After the walkthrough of the whole process we went into their shop that was full of yarns, almost all of which had been produced right there in their mill. Oh man, the yarn… THE YARN! It was beautiful!!! The first thing I saw when I walked in the door were these gorgeous knitted hats that were rainbow and white, the white yarn having a fluffy halo. I thought it was angora but found out it was samoyed (dog)!! Crazy crazy crazy soft and beautiful looking. After that it was just a big room of beautiful yarns, including a whole set of qiviut yarns. So pricey but so soft and amazing looking. Someday… someday…
There was an additional room behind the “yarn room” where there was just a ton of fibre and roving, as well as a woman working away at a loom. My mother had a chat with her, having done some weaving herself back in the day, but I was totally taken by all the fiber. By this point I had purchased my drop spindle so all I was seeing was future spinning materials! In the end I settled on a bag of merino of a bunch of different colours so that I’d have plenty to practice with and that would allow me to combine and maybe make gradients should I ever wish to attempt that.
As for the yarn, I suffered greatly trying to decide on what to buy. The obvious and most tempting option was “Everything”, but sadly my budget didn’t allow for that. In the end I decided on a skein of the gorgeous rainbow yarn they used in the pretty hats they had up front. I didn’t buy the samoyed to go with it and regret it, but I’m sure I’ll still make good use of my rainbow yarn even without it.
So that was my experience visiting some spots on the Fibre Trail in Prince Edward Island. Was it worth it? Hell yes. I learned a ton, I saw some really interesting things, I saw the entire lifecycle of yarn (from the animal all the way to the mill and store), talked to some pretty interesting people, and frankly have taken away a deeper appreciation for yarn and everything that goes into QUALITY yarn now. I am still really surprised at how great PEI is for knit tourism (if that is a thing) and I would absolutely recommend it for any knitter (or crocheter or weaver etc) as a great vacation spot if they want both a great beach time AND some yarny activities as well.