In the blur of working to complete my first full randonneuring brevet series (200, 300, 400 in the bag, now focusing on the 600 and 1000), I’ve fully neglected my duties as the Archival Clothing shopkeep. A Memorial Day side trip to Seattle by way of Centralia, WA, reawakened my sense of duty and dedication to all things knit and wool. During our trip, Sara and I made an unplanned visit the Centralia Knitting Mills, a company specializing in top quality, hard-to-believe-it’s-still-made, machine knit woolens, varsity jackets and “award sweaters.” I first found out about CKM, of all places, on the Japanese “import select” web shop Explorer (the same site which taunts me by selling amazing, customized versions of venerable US brands–Duluth Pack, Woolrich and Filson–not availabe for sale to US customers).
Since it was Saturday, and Memorial Day weekend to boot, we assumed that we’d just be able to take in the front window display and check hours for our next trip up to Seattle. As it were, the Mill’s kind owner, who was overseeing a rush production run of Chenille letters, saw us peering into the window and offered to show us around.
Sara reports that the owner thought I might be a corporate competitor since I asked so many questions and took so many pictures! Highlight of the tour was a visit to the back sewing room where a woman was working on custom designs for a Japanese client. One project involved cutting down large, Pendleton blankets into coats, another involved remaking a basic cotton Muji peacoat out of vibrant orange Centralia wool.
I’m now trying to figure out how I might endear myself to the owner so that she would consider training me to take over for her once she’s ready to retire. Some people want to make it in Hollywood, I just want to make it into the knitting mill biz.
Complete flickr set can be found here.