Mizette Nielsen moved from Holland to Portugal and got into the production of textiles. In 1976, she received a large order and started looking for a factory to execute it.
She traveled to Reguengos de Monsaraz to visit the Fábrica Alentejana de Lanifícios (Wool Factory of Alentejo). Entering the factory was like stepping into the 19th century. Inside, she found the last manual looms of the Iberian peninsula. Old weavers operated these looms with confidence and grace to make wool blankets traditionally used by shepherds to keep warm during Winter.
In the early 20th century, these blankets were often included in the trousseaux of Alentejo brides. But they had since fallen out of fashion.
Realizing that the factory might close soon, Mizette decided to buy it. “I could not stand the idea that the knowledge of these master weavers would be lost forever,” she said with quiet intensity. “I got them to teach the next generation of weavers. And this generation will teach the next, so that this chain that goes back centuries will be unbroken.”
The blankets produced in the factory are too heavy to be used in houses with modern heating and insulation. But they are sturdy, so they became popular as rugs. Mizette started by producing the traditional designs inspired by the colors of the Alentejo landscape. Then, in collaboration with Gil Kalisvaart, she added new designs that combine well with contemporary furniture.
Mizette’s rugs are one of the most beautiful thing you can buy in Portugal. They are works of art that link past, present, and future.
Mizette has a store in Monsaraz at Rua do Celeiro, tel. 266-557-159, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also buy her rugs at A Vida Portuguesa. Click here for their website.