Hiiumaa is the second largest of the Estonian islands in the Baltic and has a complex political history. When part of the USSR it was a restricted area, but a local industrial combine was able to establish a wool manufacturing enterprise in the 1950s using wool from the distinctive breed of sheep which feed on the island’s juniper-covered hills. The enterprise closed in 1847 but was revived in 1992 by Tiiu and Jüri Valdma and their family.
The museum, in a limestone building of 1841 that was originally the hay barn of Vaernla manor, displays a range of textile machines, the oldest made by Anton Wieczorek in Bialystok, Poland, in the 1860s. Spinning machines were made in Tashkent in the Soviet era. There are also carding, roving, doubling and reeling machines. Visitors are able to see the production of high quality knitwear, from undyed yarns, whose appearance is determined by mixtures of light and dark wools. Products include sweaters, cardigans, socks, mitts and cardigans.