Amana Woolen Mill-textiles-blankets-history-Iowa

Historical Quality At Amana Woolen Mill

We all have seen products that we can immediately identify as “high quality”. At the Amana Woolen Mill, we could tell that the textiles were a grade above what we usually see. This type of quality is a hallmark of this small Iowa community.

A loom sits in the showroom at Amana Woolen Mill.

Designed for Durability

The weekend we visited was in between festivals, so the crowds were lighter than usual. This was certainly okay with us, as it gave us more space to wander. We also were able to observe in more detail, than what you would expect during a busy period. When we first entered the Amana Woolen Mill we stepped into the sales room. Here we found an assortment of the items produced at the factory. All were for sale to the public.

A cutting table for textiles.

Tools of the Trade

Here we found a loom set up for demonstrations. No one was working it during our visit, but evidently they do during busier times. A work room is visible through a window, and lets visitors see the cutting tables used by staff. We could imagine past workers determining new designs under the watchful eyes of a village elder. The history of the community was evident everywhere we visited.

Author shopping for blankets.

Quality Products at Amana Woolen Mill

We made our way from the showroom toward the factory section. On the way, we found lots of their blankets displayed. Each one proudly wears the Amana label, and with that comes the decades of dedication to this craft. The colors and patterns are mostly muted, but some are a little more bright than others. With so many options, it is hard to select just one.

The Amana Woolen Mill production facility.

Looms Sit Idle

We knew a Saturday visit meant that the factory would be quiet. The workers operate the looms during the week, as they turn out yards and yards of quality textiles. We were sure that we missed out on a true wonder. It would have been really interesting to watch these huge machines in motion.

Assorted blankets available at Amana Woolen Mill.

Last Look

We made our way back toward the entrance, and found even more blankets hung and stacked along the way. Many of the patterns were ones we have seen for years. Checkerboard, gingham, striped, and plaid were extremely popular. Solid colors were available, but not nearly as prevalent. No matter how many patterns they create, all share in the same high quality that visitors have come to expect at the Amana Colonies. We are hoping to make a return visit at a time when the looms are turning, but in the meantime, we will continue sharing our experiences from the other places we visited in the Amana Colonies. Be sure to sign up for our emails, so you don’t miss any of these articles.

the authors signatures.


6 thoughts on “Historical Quality At Amana Woolen Mill”

  1. The current Woolen mill is just barely a shadow of it’s former self. I remember going in to watch my mom run the spinning machine upstairs. Of course this was in the 1960s when much more of the work was done at Amana. Now they do a bit of weaving just for show. I have lived next to the Amana Colonies for almost all my life. I have seen the ‘old Amana’ diminish and more and more shops for the tourist trade pop up. The winery no longer makes the mulberry and red clover wines from product harvested by the locals. They use concentrated juices from who knows where now. Their wine vats are just for show. If you want to see any of the Old Amana you better hurry up. Things are going modern and they are losing their old ways very rapidly as I see it.

    1. As an Amana resident I need to correct a few statements made by Joyce. The Amana Woolen Mill still makes blankets and throws and the weaving is not just for show. The products they produce are still sold in the Amana Colonies and shipped directly to the consumers around the country. The Amana Woolen Mill is currently undergoing a makeover to include a 65 room upscale hotel but even after the hotel is complete weaving will still take place on the firsst floor.

      The Amana Furniture Shop continues to make handcrafted furniture of the highest quality out of solid wood and the Amana Meat Shop produces hams and sausage including their classic bratwurst and award winning Bockwurst. They ship their products to customers around the country and of course are open daily.

      The wineries offer wine that is locally made, in some cases, the wine is made at the vineyard site which is about 10 miles away and samples are given in the sampling rooms in the village. The wines are no longer just fruit wines but award winning grape wines as well. Not all of the wines are sweet as they have expanded their offerings to include dinner wines. The beers are made on premises at Millstream brewing. Baskets and Brooms are made in West Amana at the Broom and Basket Shop. There are so many items made in Amana it is amazing for 7 villages with a population of 1,500.

      Have the Amana Colonies changed since the 1960s, of course they have. If you are looking to experience the olden days then a trip to the Amana Heritage Society’s museum is in order or take the van tour offered at the Visitor Center or maybe partake in a communal meal. It’s all there to be discovered.

  2. I love the Amana Colonies! Favorite place of all!! I worked at the Mill in the “Salesroom” for 12 years!! Did a mainly Accts. Rec. And Payable. Was there when we got our first computer!! Boy that was something!! Lol Worked with the best of people and loved them all dearly. Anxious to see new Hotel…

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