Woolen yarn has been spun in the water powered, brick mill town of Harrisville since 1794. This small village is nestled in the Monadnock Highlands of southwestern New Hampshire and is the only industrial community of the early 19th Century that still survives in America in its original form.
In 1977, the Department of Interior designated Harrisville a National Historic Landmark.
Harrisville Designs has been spinning 100% Virgin Wool Yarn in Harrisville, New Hampshire for over 40 years. As one of a handful of woolen mills left in this country, Harrisville’s textile tradition is rich and dates back to 1794 when the first of several mills was built across the Nubanusit River to harness the water-power necessary for carding fleeces brought down to the village from local hilltop farms. The Harris family built many of the original mill buildings and houses for their family and workers. In the mid-1800’s, the Colony family bought out the Harris holdings and created Cheshire Mills. When that business closed its doors in 1970, a group of citizens and preservations joined together and formed a non-profit organization calling itself Historic Harrisville, Inc., which immediately purchased several of the core buildings to restore and lease out to businesses. John J. Colony III was instrumental in this endeavor. He quickly realized that as the mill buildings were being cleared out and machinery was being destroyed and sold for scrap metal that textiles would be completely erased from the village. He started Harrisville Designs in 1971 to keep the textile tradition alive and to create jobs in Harrisville for the economic vitality of the town, leasing space from Historic Harrisville to give that organization income to help keep it viable. The village of Harrisville was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. It is recognized as the only 18th century textile village in America that survives in its original form. Harrisville Designs continues to make high quality, natural 100% wool yarns for knitting and weaving along with beautiful carded fleece for felting and spinning. Floor Looms in several sizes and styles are finely hand-crafted in the woodworking shop which also creates their wonderful line of awarding-winning products for children. The Friendly Loom ™ Product line includes weaving, knitting, felting, and metal looms and cotton loops for weaving potholders.
Harrisville Designs is still owned and operated by John and Patricia Colony. They have been joined by two of their three sons, Timothy and Nicholas, who are interested in carrying on the textile tradition that’s been part of their family for generations. “There is a great tradition of textiles in our community and in our culture and we are pleased to share that tradition of quality with our customers.”