We were lucky to find Mizette seated behind the desk in her factory in Reguengos de Monsaraz. Colourful fabrics lined the walls and floors, weaved clothes glowed in the Portuguese winter sun. A mechanic and repetitive sound was constantly but barely audible, coming from four women seated in the adjacent room, working the big looms with their entire bodies. Although Mizette was very busy completing a large hotel’s weaving commission, she luckily found just enough time to spontaneously speak to us about her life and weaving practice. While conducting our interview, the mail man passed by and greeted us all, we found out that Mizette is not only fluent in Portuguese, but polyglot and seems to be a woman who has already lived many lives. She showed us her factory, demonstrated the looms and introduced us to her weavers, told us stories about Portugal before the revolution and entertained us with anecdotes from her personal and professional life. We were mesmerised by the beauty of the manifold patterns and colours and the light falling into her ground floor factory rooms. It was a trip to another world for us, lasting only a couple of hours, but long enough to make us think back fondly and frequently.
Mizette Nielsen is the former long time owner of Fábrica Alentejana de Lanifícios. After changing her life to buy the factory, she built up a new life in Reguengos de Monsaraz, preserving an old piece of Portuguese cultural history by keeping alive old regional weaver Mantas (patterns) and re-interpreting them in new colours and variations for textile manufacturing. She is known to be the keeper and godmother of the many original patterns and also published a book, Mantas alentejanas. Arte e tradicao, on the subject.