Spinning in (sunny) public

Saturday 21 September was Worldwide Spinning in Public Day, so we did. We’ve done it before, and when the day started most of us thought this was going to be the wettest one yet and dressed accordingly. But it was fabulous!

In fact, as the day went on and the shade of the wall we were sitting by diminished, many of us moved into the shade.

sunny spinners

We were at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, a wonderful location and one that was really appropriate. Seats had been set out for us near Fron Haul, the terrace of slate-workers cottages from Tanygrisiau which have been rebuilt on site, and which recreate interiors from 1861, 1901 and 1969. Many of the people who lived in them – at least originally – would have been spinners, or would have known spinners…

(Though they wouldn’t have used Lendrums!)

spinning by cottage

Plus visitors to a social history museum are exactly the sort of people who would find what we were doing interesting, and so it proved.

We’d been asked, if possible, to use Welsh wool while we were there – most of us use local fleeces some of the time anyway, so that was no hardship. This is a beautifully deep brown Black Welsh Mountain being spun up:

BWM on bobbin

and here is some BFL (Blue-Faced Leicester, which despite the name, came from a farm near Harlech):


This was being used with a Turkish spindle, something which got lots of attention. Some of us were also preparing the fibre as we went, which also got plenty of questions.

flick carding

The other thing which also generated comments was the differing design of the spinning wheels. Three were modern – two Louets and a Lendrum – and the others were traditional. Yet again the fairytale comparison came up, and the beautiful elm of one made people want to touch…

elm wheel

But it wasn’t just the technology of spinning – if you can call it that, and why shouldn’t you? – that attracted attention. Several of us were wearing handspun sweaters or shawls, though most of these were shed in the heat, but a couple had brought household items, like this gorgeous rug,

Rug pattern

all handspun and natural dyes, and this throw in the wool from various coloured fleeces:


A perfect day, really. Plus it was also a Helfa Gelf weekend (the annual North Wales artists’ open studios event), and there was an artist in residence in one of the cottages, Alison Mercer. Who works with textiles.

But best of all, we were made very welcome (and there was even a cafe serving excellent lemon meringue pie)…


PS: If you haven’t been to the National Slate Museum, do go. It’s absolutely fascinating and, who knows, hopefully we’ll be back there next year – in equally good weather?


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