The Border Mill was started in 2011 by John & Juliet Miller, who still run the mill along with a small but growing team here in Duns.
Within months of setting up the mill, we were inundated with orders for fleece processing, so in 2013 we joined forces with Paul and Debbie Rippon from Barnacre Alpacas, just over the border in Northumberland, to expand the mill. With Paul and Debbie’s help, we’ve invested in additional equipment, giving us a second (and soon to be a third) fleece processing line to help us keep up with demand. Paul now keeps an eye on the finances and helps us to make sensible decisions about the future development of the mill. Debbie is mostly kept busy dealing with the vast numbers of alpacas, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, etc. that they keep on their farm in Northumberland, but advises on products and patterns.
Here at the mill, John is the “master of machines”, which seems to require an impressive vocabulary of sweary words. He also makes the coffee because he says that no one else can do it properly. John won’t let Juliet near the spinners, so she does all the crafty stuff, including handweaving very special throws, wraps and scarves for customers and cooking up large pots of dyestuffs on the kitchen stove.
In 2013 we were joined by Kate, initially just part-time, but she rapidly made herself so indispensable that we firstly made her full-time, and then promoted her to be our Production Manager. Kate is particularly pleased that that means she gets to boss around her sister Holly, who joined us in February 2016. Bruce arrived in 2014 as our Apprentice Mill Technician, and rather impressively doesn’t swear at the machines at all!
Oh – and we mustn’t forget the dogs. Our ancient retriever Beastie retired from mill duties in 2015, but our naughty English Setter, Izzy, comes with us to work every day where she is always very excited to see Kate’s Bedlington Terrier, Ava. The old dogs, Beastie, Bean, and Mop now look after things at home for us, and try to keep the teenagers in line.