On January 12 of this year our remarkable Elizabeth (Libby) Mills passed on at the age of 94. As one of our original founders, she embodied the love of natural fiber, in all its ancient origins, perennial value, great beauty and endless possibility. This love is a continuous spark of joy and enlightenment for all of us at the Spinnery; and you who have had contact with her know this intimately. Given that her grandmother was daughter of a ship’s captain sailing the world, (writing a diary, now recently transcribed into a book by Libby) it comes as no surprise that she was always a part of ‘think globally, act locally’. Actually, Libby also acted globally, such as asking if anyone had a yarn stash to donate to widows in Bosnia. (yes they did, hundreds of pounds from customers across the country) and leading a group of fiber enthusiasts to Bolivia and Peru.
Libby was engaged in our beginnings, helping us look for advice and examples of a small scale mill that included Sweden, Ireland, Wales, and Canada; then seeking out machinery in New England.
In 1981, our retrofitted, retired Mobil Station was in our hands, and heirloom textile equipment installed. We had an opening on Thanksgiving weekend … but something was still missing…patterns, for this new and full of life product!!!
Libby, joining with Claire also one of our illustrious knitting and weaving founders reached out to the expertise in our own community where there already was a wealth of history knowledge and creativity. What a success! Since that time the Spinnery community has created over 240 patterns.
Libby did not just weave and knit , she and her beloved husband Bob also raised the sheep. She became a fierce advocate for us to offer shepherds a processing service. She knew from the beginning they ought get the chance to own the results of their labor. Today we devote over half of our production to this cause.
Over all these years, Libby has been present for so many ambitious and wild projects, from ‘silk to life’, ‘the wolf with the lamb’ , the power lines yarn, Alaska sled dog fiber yarn and the one from those rams dedicated for buckthorn control.
But, overriding all these accomplishments is Libby’s just plain love for everyone she meets and co creates with. What a joy and a privilege. Thank you, thank you Libby for all these years.