Harmony yarn mill celebrates 200 years of business

The wool comes to them from farms across the country then they handle the rest.
Bartlett Yarn
Bartlett Yarn(WABI)
Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 4:34 PM EDT
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HARMONY, Maine (WABI) - Bartlett Yarns opened its doors in 1821.

This year they’re celebrating 200 years in business.

“A year after the state became a state Bartlett yarns became a woolen mill and has been on this site doing nothing but manufacturing wool since 1821,” said Lindsey Rice, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

Rice and his wife bought the company in 2008 after spending many years sheering sheep and getting an inside look at the business.

The wool comes to them from farms across the country then they handle the rest.

It’s cleaned, dyed, and mule spun right along the Higgins Stream in Harmony.

“The manufacturing side has stayed very much typical to the way it was probably even in the 1930s or 1940s. With good maintenance and good upkeep we continue making a good, solid yarn,” Rice said.

Rice says the spinning replicates a hand spinner, and it’s the only commercial operating mule in the United States.

“The mule puts a lot more loft into the yarn and produces a softer feel and more even twist than a high speed spinning frame,” Rice said.

Bartlett Yarns has their own shop on site and ships to customers nationwide.

Rice says it’s important to still be processing a 100% American made product.

“It’s not just the farmer or the sheep sheerer, or the person who transported it to the mill, but all the people in the mill that work, it’s the person who even made the cardboard box that we ship the product in eventually later on,” Rice said.

While most of their popularity comes from grandmas knitting hats and mittens, there’s a younger generation casting in on the action.

“A lot of the Waldorf schools teach knitting in the first and second grade and it’s a way of teaching hand-eye coordination, following instructions, and actually making something that you can be proud of that you made yourself,” Rice said. “We really try to keep the roots of Bartlett Yarns active and manufacturing a good, dependable product.”

To celebrate their 200 years they will be doing open house tours of the mill Friday and Saturday from 10 to 4.

They’re free and will start every hour on the hour.

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