HARMONY, Maine — The phone rings bright and early one Monday morning in July at the iconic Maine business, Bartlettyarns, Inc. in Harmony, ME. With an area code of Washington, D.C. on the caller ID, perhaps this really is the White House. A few minutes later it is confirmed, Bartlettyarns has been selected to represent the State of Maine at the Made in America Showcase to be held on July 23!
Bartlettyarns is almost as old as the State of Maine and is fast approaching its 200th birthday. Started in 1821 by Ozias Bartlett, it continues today with the Rice family.
One may ask, what makes Bartlettyarns so special? Bartlettyarns is the last mule spinning mill in the United States, producing a woolen spun yarn with more loft and softer twist than its counterpart, a worsted spun yarn. The “mule”, invented by Samuel Crompton in the 1800’s mimics the motion of handspinning on a great wheel times 240. What this means is that Bartlettyarns spins 240 bobbins at a time, duplicating the motion of a great wheel.
Susan and Lindsey Rice of Rochester, NH own and operate the mill. Originally customers of Bartlettyarns, over ten years ago they had the opportunity to purchase the business and equipment and continue its traditions. As customers of Bartlettyarns for over 25 years at the time, they jumped at the opportunity to own a piece of Maine history and continue its traditions.
Both Rices along with their children were actively involved in 4-H and FFA. The love of sheep and wool stems from Lindsey’s 4-H projects of raising registered Hampshires and showing at local fairs and Eastern States. Their children, equally involved, assist at special events and functions.
Bartlettyarns is committed to only using wool and other natural fibers which are raised in the United States. The Rices have formulated many partnerships with fiber producers in the US and has worked hard to strengthen this bond. From custom processing to purchasing, from wholesale to retail-Bartlettyarns has a program to fit these needs.
Each year, the Rices hold an annual Open House, this year’s dates are August 3-4 from 10 am – 4 pm and offer free narrated tours of the mill. This allows the public to view one of Maine’s gems and the store is also open both days. Tours generally start on the hour.
The Rices are excited to represent Maine at the White House. After all, George Washington raised sheep at Mount Vernon, the wool in James Madison’s inaugural coat was raised by his sheep and Woodrow Wilson grazed sheep on the White House Lawn.
Owner of Bartlettyarns
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