Category Archives: Guild

A weaving workshop

As a Guild, many of us weave. We don’t necessarily bring looms to meetings, and we don’t always have weaving workshops – though there have been a few lately. Our most recent meeting was one, and this time looms were not needed. We were weaving bags on boxes.

The boxes had to be quite substantial because – as you can see – they had to withstand the pull on the warp….

Wine boxes – or in this case, a rum box – are ideal!

Then, once warped up, you can begin weaving.

There were quite a variety of approaches:

and everyone had a distinctive take.

There’s a lot to get done in one day, and hopefully some finished examples will be brought along to our next meeting, but here are some which were finished beforehand to demonstrate what can be achieved:

and how about this cutie?

(And apologies for the delay in posting, caused by a perfect storm: a combination of work, illness and computer problems, and huge thanks to Ramona for taking the photographs….)


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,


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:


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


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).


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:


(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.

The wisdom of knitters

Our February meeting, sneaking in at the end of the month, was a knitting one – an ‘open forum’, led by one of our members who is a sensational knitter:

knitted lace

It was full of tips and hints and suggestions. And reminders: like when you are working with handspun, don’t just knit a tension square (we all do, don’t we?) but wash and block it too.

  • For a neater buttonhole, one where you have to cast off stitches on one row and then cast them back on when you come back, use the ‘backward loop‘ cast on. It makes a neater finish. It’s also useful where you have to cast on stitches elsewhere in the body of whatever you’re knitting, too.
  • Are you running out of yarn, want to avoid joining more in the middle of a piece and wonder if you’ve got enough to get to the end of a row? Spread your knitting out, gently put the yarn round the whole thing twice, without pulling. If it reaches, you’ve likely got enough.


  • How about socks? knitting them from the cuff down? Cast on with a larger size needle; it gives a bit of extra stretch on a cuff which could easily be too tight.
  • Also, try casting on one stitch more than the pattern says, and when you come to that point on the next row, k2tog. It gives a smoother edge, or you can knit the tail in with the first stitch of the next round. Both of these help you avoid the ‘little step’ effect.

And then we had a mattress stitch refresher. Our forum leader advised using the half-stitch method; it certainly gives a smoother finish (on both sides – if you follow the link, it’s the second of the two examples). Needle in, up two, then across: someone said that ‘ladder stitch’ would be a better name.

matress stitch

There were so many new ideas, reminders of techniques we had once used but had fallen out of the habit of doing, interesting tips and tricks. Then we were asked when we started knitting, and how. Almost everybody, except one, had learned to knit as a child or a teenager (that was another one only); five to eight was the general age bracket. Four people were even taught at school. One of our longest-serving members knitted socks during the war for sailors, and recalled going to collect the yarn. She remembered it very clearly: the wool they had to use made her hands sore. And her grandmother had knitted for a living.

It seems appropriate to be publishing this post on International Women’s Day, especially in the light of the reminder that so many British women in the past knitted for a livelihood, not for pleasure. We are lucky. And lucky to have had such a lovely day, talking about it.


January (re)solutions

Our January meeting was a spinning and weaving and knitting and chatting one, and these are great for problem solving.

Problems like this:


part of a Teeswater fleece which had been meticulously combed and spun into fairly good singles. Plying was the problem, and soon many members became involved in offering help and suggestions.

It was just uneven:


with some parts barely plied at all, and other parts pretty good. In the end – once it had been established that the wheel (a new one) should have been going in the opposite direction, and once a little bit of fleece had been put under the bobbins on the lazy kate to stop them running away with themselves – a much more consistent result was produced.


It’s all about the rhythm. It really is. Rhythm and counting.

This is a perfect illustration of why the ‘spinning days’, as they are generally known, are such a great idea. They might not be as exciting as a workshop on which you can learn all sorts of new things, but they are every bit as valuable.

The next meeting is on 25 February, and is all about knitting, led by one of our talented members. Check out the events page for more details, including what to bring along.


The end of the year…

Well, that’s it for 2015. We’ve had our last meeting, the AGM, at which we all discussed what we wanted to do next year and came to some conclusions…

There’ll be a big workshop with an outside speaker (hopefully on freeform knitting and crochet, we felt like a bit of a change from the fabulous spinning and weaving ones we’ve had recently). There will also be several with internal experts (as it were – experts from among our membership, not gastroenterlogists), including another of the ever-popular felting workshops with Jean and another on weaving a bag on a box. Then there’s the dyeing picnic in the summer, and our version of Spinning in Public Day, which will be in August instead of the global date of September (September’s just too chancy weather-wise, and there are more people about in August). Details will be firmed up by the next meeting, which is 14 January.

Here are some of the things we got up to in 2015, very briefly…

As usual, there were spinning and weaving days, where we spin, crochet, chat, solve any problems we’re having among ourselves, chat, spin, weave, knit, chat…


One of our talented members led a crochet workshop:


and we learned about inkle loom weaving  (and had such fun choosing the materials, as well as doing the weaving):


We had a show and tell session on bags, which included several that had been knitted and then felted in the washing machine:

felted bag

and, of course, there was the dyeing picnic!

IMG_3095 IMG_3135

Then came a workshop on beret weaving,


and many of went and spun in public at GreenWood Forest Park, a fabulous day which we are hoping to repeat – dates to be confirmed.


Recently, we learned all about spinning to the crimp – fascinating, if daunting – and packed our bags and went down to the biennial All-Wales Guild Event in Llanidloes.

An inspiring and eventful year. Wonder what new things we’ll learn about next year? Watch this space!


The All Wales show, 2015

Saturday 31 October wasn’t just Halloween – it was also the biennial exhibition of the Welsh Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers in the Minerva Centre in Llanidloes.

This is always a really inspiring day out – each Guild participates in a challenge and has a display area to show what they’ve been up to (and there’s a trade fair, ahem, ahem). The challenge was not easy this time – we had to somehow illustrate the 60th, diamond, anniversary of the GWSD. Several Guilds decided to use sheep as their theme, but we settled on a spinning wheel with a sparkly wheel made of diamond shapes in various techniques…

diamond wheeland for our display we used some of the shawls that members brought along to our ‘shawls, shawls, shawls’ show and tell day last year:

IMG_3997The Guild displays are always fascinating, so here are a selection from some of the other Guilds as well. There were more, but it was so busy that photography was not easy!

Here’s a quick gallery. Click on an image for a slideshow, and you’ll also see a caption telling you which Guild they belonged to. Lovely, lovely work.

Our next meeting is the AGM – when we decide as a group what we’re going to do in the meetings next year. Come along with all sorts of exciting ideas! Oh, and a dish for the lunch, and a wrapped present for the raffle…