Category Archives: monthly meeting

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!

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.

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.

Workshops work

Our April meeting involved a show and tell, where members brought in some of the things they had either done in the workshops over the previous year, or which they had gone on to create after being in the workshops.

Many people had a go at weaving a beret (it was something a member had been seen doing at the dyeing picnic, and she was inundated with requests to demonstrate, resulting in a workshop). Here’s one, in pinks:

beret

The focus on weaving – a bit unusual for us, but it shouldn’t be – had continued with one of our regular ‘spin and weave’ sessions deliberately focusing on it instead of spinning (well, as well as spinning, of course – details in the previous post). There was lots of inspirational work, and among which was some purple saori-style weaving… well, here it is, off the loom and made into a jacket, incorporating felted panels as well:

wow

There was more weaving, too, of a more classic style:

IMG_4892

Let’s have a closer look:

IMG_4893 IMG_4894

as well as knitting:

IMG_4895 IMG_4898

and felting, reminding us that the next workshop is on felted landscapes. The felting workshops are always very popular, and there’s a list of what to bring along on the Events and Meetings page (click on the menu at the top). So here’s some inspiration:

gorgeous!

That’s 19 May, in case you were wondering how long you had to decide which landscape you were going to immortalise in wool!

 

Bring your looms!

Firstly, apologies for the delay in this post – deadlines, deadlines and work, work, work.

For our March meeting, which was a ‘spinning and weaving’ session, we decided to focus on the weaving. After all, we are the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, and many of us have looms which we barely use, don’t use as much as we’d like, or are unsure of how to use. So we decided that it would be a good idea to encourage people to bring along their looms.

And they did! We had everything from a small, school-style loom,

small loom

to an assortment of planks which, when assembled, turned out to be a ladder loom:

ladder loom 1

One member was doing some almost saori-style weaving,

purple haze

while others were taking a more classical approach,

orange delight

Here are some more pictures from the day, including progress on the ladder loom; just click on an image for a slideshow. oh – don’t forget that the May meeting is an ever-popular felting workshop; there’s a list of things to bring on the ‘events’ page.

 

 

 

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.

socks

  • 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.

patchwork

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:

fleece

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:

ergh

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.

better

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.