Spun silk – and a project completed…

We had a wonderful workshop at the end of August – Silk Spinning, with Fiona Nisbet – but before we settled down to work, we had some admiring to do.

We’ve been trying to raise money to go towards the appeal for a new roof on the hall in Penygroes where we meet, and had a ‘fleece to throw’ session a couple of months ago. The pieces have now been finished, washed, blocked and sewn together:

And they’re beautiful:

It was a Lleyn fleece, too; it couldn’t be more appropriate. So now the whole thing needs to be washed and blocked, and then we can raffle it. Sponsorship has already brought in a respectable amount of money, and hopefully we’ll be able to add quite a bit more.

Time for our workshop…

Fiona had brought along an amazing array of materials, and started by giving us an understanding of the silkworms’ life cycle (at which point several of us decided we wanted silkworm eggs). The moths were quite beautiful – but the silk was even lovelier. She took us through the various types and grades of silk, and then gave us silk hankies and caps to try. She’d brought along a load of caps in a silk bell,

and showed us how to pull them out like a silk hankie, and get them as thin as possible before spinning. Very useful, and vital for those of us who were new to spinning with silk. There were some great tips, too – wrapping the pulled-out silk round a card before spinning, for instance, making it much easier to spin – or even knit with directly.

Then we began playing (ahem) spinning. There were fibres to blend on a drum carder (it was a bit like a fibre sweet shop):

with some interesting results,

and we’d also been asked to bring along any silk fibres we might have in our stashes. One member had brought some silk she’d bought at Winghams – it was described as ‘silk noil lap’ and she was a bit dismayed when she opened the bag and discovered she’d bought something the size of a small sheet…

But Fiona showed her how to handle it, and it’s going to be blended with some Black Welsh Mountain.

By the end of the day, we all felt we had learned a lot, whether or not we were spinners, and some of us had spun our very first silk:

It’s a start…

And many, many thanks to Fiona for such a fascinating workshop!

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