Ever wondered how blankets are made? Most South Australian’s would have heard of Onkaparinga blankets – good quality pure wool made in Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills until 1993.
At the Onkaparinga Woollen Mill Museum a knowledgeable group of volunteers can explain the production process, from the spinning and weaving to sizing and finishing. The Mill produced a huge range of products besides blankets, including fabrics for the fashion industry, car seat upholstery, and wartime service uniforms. The museum has a vast collection of fabric samples, all beautifully catalogued and cared for. It is very interesting to see machines used at the Mill set-up as if ready to operate. The introductory DVD too gives an idea of the complexity and skill involved in both designing and producing woven fabrics. Those shuttlecocks sure move fast, whizzing the yarn from one side to the other.
I recently visited the Museum to help them do risk assessments in preparation for developing a disaster preparedness and response plan. The museum has some particular potential disaster issues, not least of which is the susceptibility to insect attack of much of the textile collection. The museum is also located near a creek and the Mill site has a history of flooding. But the museum already takes lots of steps to avoid potential disasters such as by maintaining the buildings to best of available resources, keeping machinery raised off the floor and storing documents and fabric samples in the largest number of Albox crates I have seen concentrated in the one museum!