Showing and telling

Our February meeting was a bit – well, plagued by the weather, and in a different venue to normal due to redecorating. But some intrepid members managed to battle their way through the storms and find the alternative location and bring some lovely things to show us. There was no unifying theme this year, just ‘bring something that has been completed recently, and that fits into our crafts’.

There was a piece of Saori weaving,

Sue's weaving

which the member concerned has just started doing. She’s done some more traditional weaving in the past, and thought she’d have a go at the more relaxed, informal Saori style. On balance, though, she thinks that she prefers the traditional approach.

This is part of a throw – one that you throw over your shoulders rather than over a chair.

throw

It’s a sampler, really, of various stitches and natural colours. The member who made it was also wearing a jumper in a similar style, but in indigo.

Next came two things from the same person, a knitted and felted bag and this beautiful fine lace shawl which was knitted in some fine Shetland wool bought in Lerwick, and dyed back at home:

shawl

In complete contrast was this cushion from another member,

Cushion

(apologies for the slighly fuzzy photo). It’s been made on a peg loom, in natural handspun fleece. You can do some really interesting things with peg looms; it’s worth experimenting.

And taking in yet another textile craft, there was this rag rug.

rag rug

It was made using the hooking technique, rather than prodding, and took about six old jumpers and T-shirts, plus some bits. The fabric for the border was dyed to match the central flower, and a blue T-shirt was overdyed with onion skins to get the green. It was worked freehand – not on a frame.

Apologies if your items didn’t make it onto this blog post – but what a range of textile crafts we covered, and huge respect to the members who braved the storm!

Spinning in the new year

As is traditional now, our first meeting after Christmas is a spinning and weaving session.

ready to go

Of course, it’s also a catch up with friends session too… It’s great to see everyone again after the break, and several of us were delighted to return to spinning after the break too (the more diligent ones had never stopped).

starting out

We had some new faces come along too, which is lovely. This is some first spinning from one of our new members,

starting

which – we all tried to convince her, because it’s true – is a really good start, and it is impressive. She’s not going to have any problems.

Here’s another bobbin, whirling around this time, with an interesting blend on it:

blend

Our externally tutored workshop for this year is on blending – details are on the events page – which should be really exciting. We’ll be using drum carders, like this one

carder

which one of our members had at the meeting. She was using it to prep some of the fleece from her own shetlands, but the workshop will feature all sorts of wonderments!

Do check out the events page. The meetings are on the sidebar, but there’s more detail on the page. And this year sees the All Wales Guild event in Llanidloes (October), plus we’ll be spinning in public at Greenwood Forest Park again in the summer. Possibly with dinosaurs again…

Our AGM is fun!

There’s a common feeling that business, something like an AGM, of any group or club is potentially boring. Well, ours is not. First, we only spend about ten minutes doing the stuff that just has to be done. Then there’s lively debate and discussion about what speakers and activities we’d like for the next year (and we’ve got some great ones lined up; watch this space). There’s a lot of laughter. And of course there’s the plated lunch…

We do something for charity, and this year it was making twiddle muffs for dementia patients.

twiddle muff 1

The idea is to have a double-sided muff which combines texture and colour and three-dimensional objects and which can withstand commercial washing. These were spread out, and they were delightful.

twiddle muff 3

with a real feeling for design (twiddle muffs can sometimes seem madly random and a bit worrying – not these).

twiddle

Then there’s the competition, in memory of  one of our notable members. This year it was for a book cover, and there were some impressive entries across different crafts:

lace panel

We vote for the winner, hence the ‘Q’ label. And here is that winner,

book cover 2

Well, the winning book jacket, obviously. This is our winner:

winner!

(and note the beautiful garments worn by both women. What talent!)

The new schedule for 2017 will go up here, as soon as it’s all finalised. In the meanwhile, our next meeting is 12 January, for a spinning and weaving session.

Being free

The September meeting was a workshop with Bee Weir, and was very well attended: freeform knitting and crochet.

Bee’s own work is inspirational, and after some minutes spent fondling and examining and ooohing and aaahing (and buying things), we soon settled down. We’d been asked to bring along a selection of miscellaneous yarns and needles and hooks:

tools

and soon started work on our ‘scrumbles’. These are small pieces of freeform work which will eventually be pieced together to make something: a garment, perhaps, or a bag, or a cushion. They should be no bigger, apparently, than your hand, and we were all working away very quickly.

We started with a small square, then picked up stitches on one edge in another yarn and knitted a ribbed rectangle. Then, in another yarn, came a crochet triangle or, for those of us who don’t crochet, one in knitting. And then stitches were picked up for another – and so on.

working away

Bee gave us two vital tips: first, and especially if you anticipate making a garment, stay within one colour scheme, mixing and matching textures; second, ‘go as mad as you like’ within a manufacturer’s single range, as the colours generally tone. Yes, you are ‘going mad’, but you are doing so in an intelligent way: it’s not just grabbing anything and incorporating it. Scary!

Bee also pointed out that repeating a couple of the yarn choices with different textures can give a piece a balanced look – and recommended making lots of scrumbles and then piecing them together rather than one at a time.

Here is an assortment of some of our scrumbles at the end of the day:

scrumble central

many with embellishments for added interest (or as a useful covering for anything we weren’t quite happy about).

And here’s a gallery of the work we produced on the day, plus a detail of one of Bee’s bags (the last one, with the curl). Just click on an image for a slideshow:

Huge thanks to Bee for a fabulous day – so enjoyable!

Spinning with a dinosaur

Internationally, Worldwide Spinning in Public Day is in mid-September. We’ve spun in public then, have roasted and/or frozen and/or been blasted by wind, spoken to a few interested people or seen virtually nobody – and so we’ve changed: we spin (and do other woolly things) in public in August. There are more people about during the summer holidays, and there is generally less chance of frostbite. We get all sorts of attention. This year some of it came from a large dinosaur.

Honestly, it did. Evidence:

what????

Admittedly, it wasn’t a real dinosaur – but still, bet that doesn’t happen at many other SIP events. It does at ours, because thanks to one of our members and her very supportive friends, we’ve been spinning in public at the brilliant Greenwood Forest Park near Caernarfon. This is our second year there, and yet again we had good weather: remarkable in a summer noted for storms and flooded-out festivals.

We also had a lot of visitors, trying their hands spinning on a wheel,

having a spin

drop spindling,

drop spindling

finding out about natural dyes,

dyes

and, most successfully with younger visitors, using a peg loom:

pegging away

This was popular throughout the day –

pegging audience

an inspired thought by one of our members gave many children and young people something woolly they could make and take away. Hopefully we’ve got some new addicts out there – and, who knows, maybe next year we’ll get the dinosaur hooked too…

Here are some more images from the day. Just click on an image for a slideshow. Huge thanks to everyone at Greenwood for making us so welcome, to Ramona for organising it, to all the members who participated – and to all our brilliant visitors!

 

Dyeing with leaves (and all sorts of weather)

The dyeing picnic this year was – um – let’s just say that we had every sort of weather possible except snow and thunderstorms. It really didn’t look promising at the start,

weather

as a few intrepid dyers gathered under the gazebo (the slightly less intrepid sheltered in the house for a bit). Our theme this year was dyeing with leaves, and there was a selection of leaves and a few prepared extracts for us to play with:

dye materials

Many had to be chopped, and soon we were all busy either chopping

chop chop

or attempting to shelter the stoves from the wind, which was blowing a hooley and seemed determined to blow out the gas burners. It did not win!

Yarn was soaking and soon the first dyepots were on: gorse with a copper solution, tansy with no mordant (and no picture, either) and fuchsia with vinegar as a modifier:

They were followed by privet with copper, blackberry leaves with alum, dock with copper, birch with alum, birch with copper, and finally, comfrey with copper and iron, from solution. We also had some crack willow in solution.

There were signs that the weather was improving and, dyebaths bubbling nicely, we broke for lunch. Lunch and the meringues from heaven:

yum

They’re traditional, honestly. You can’t dye anything at all without meringues. Really.

So what did we get, apart from sticky hands? The weather had indeed improved enormously; the sun came out, waterproofs could be dscarded, and though the wind hadn’t dropped, it did perform one very useful function: drying our skeins really quickly!

a few skeins

The pink, incidentally, is the fuchsia, and those are handspun skeins. Below are some commercially spun ones, which took the dyes differently (more thoroughly, generally, which is probably down to commercial scouring – but fuchsia here turned out khaki).

browns

It was a lovely day, weather or no weather. Here are some more images.

Thanks to Ann for her hospitality, and to Jean for the workshop, for all the hard work and the inspiration.

Felting the landscape

The felting workshops that we have always get the imagination going, and this year we were doing felted landscapes. People had been asked to find a photograph of a landscape they wished to try and convey in felt, and came along with images from a variety of sources.

felt this!

This astonishing aerial photograph by Yann-Arthus Bertrand fascinated one of our felters, while others had found pictures in magazines or in their own collections.

There were some examples ready to inspire us, with their felted alternatives,

examples

and soon people started building up their felted pictures (after they’d created some prefelt as a base, generally), keeping their chosen images to hand.

building up

(the finished version of this is in the gallery at the end of the post).

Everyone was felting away, sprinkling water around, rubbing their felted surfaces, and checking their images were being reflected in their felting.

in progress

 

And the results? Fantastic.

landscape

No apologies for having few words and lots of images here – check out the gallery for more. Just click on an image for a slideshow – and huge thanks to Jean for an inspiring workshop!