Tag Archives: Guild events

Lichen Dyeing Talk

On the morning before Cathy O’Brien from the Gwynedd Guild of WSD came to talk to us about lichen dyeing, there was some bantering about the pronunciation of the word: was it ‘litchen’ or ‘like-en’. No consensus was reached it has to be said, both sides stuck to their guns!

We had been looking forward to her visit and were not disappointed.

First we were given a brief historical perspective of dyeing including the Romans and the manufacturing of the very secretive Scottish ‘cudbear’, plus the term ‘crottle’ which is a Gaelic name for lichens. Here is a link if you wish for more info about cudbear.

She led us through her own journey in researching lichens and dyeing after a visit to Tenerife  where she learned of the role of that island in exporting lichens for use in dyeing. One of the ones that grows there like a weed is roccella . Unfortunately for us it doesn’t grow here in the UK (unless you know better!)

Lots of examples were on display, both fresh and dried and Cathy  talked us through recognition, collecting and drying before explaining the different methods of extracting the dye: boiling method, ammonia method, together with photo-oxidising dyes. This was accompanied by photos, notes and examples of yarn she had dyed.

Cathy is still on her journey experimenting with lichen dyeing but was happy to let us join in and share her knowledge. If anyone decides  to have a go at this a reference book and magnifying glass are recommended as some lichens look very much alike and others are protected.

You can find out more here

Pamphlet guide info here and here 


Thanks to Cathy for an inspiring talk!

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Wool and Fleece Fair / Ffair Gwlan a Cnu

At the beginning of February a really great day was held in Penygroes celebrating all things woolly.  There was everything from fleeces to felting:

and slippers to Saori weaving:

People were selling, demonstrating and talking about their passions, fleeces were for sale and there were exciting discussions about taking this event into the future.  The Llyn and Gwynedd Guilds were represented and we happily spoke to many visitors. A  lot of the people who came to the Fair had no idea that so much was going on in the area.

Here are some more pictures from the day!


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 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…

Spinning in the green

… well, in GreenWood Forest Park, to be exact. Don’t know quite how to describe it, but let’s just say that if you’ve got kids it’s a wonderful place, and urge anyone who has never been on a people-propelled rollercoaster or done a barefoot trek to check out their website.

They also have crafts for visitors to investigate. Including ours, earlier this week:

starting spinWe were pleased to be invited to go and spin, and were even more pleased that it was a lovely day and that we were very comfortably ensconced in the craft area – we’d have been fine even if the weather had been less than lovely.

No sooner had we started to spread out our examples and set up our wheels than people started stopping and chatting – the first family had angora rabbits and were very keen to know if they could use their combings, and how. Drop spindles were produced, and it went on from there – one family of four took to spindling as though they’d been doing it for years. Wonderful!

natural spinnersThey are all going to take it up when they get home – mind you, we are probably responsible for several unusual present requests this winter too; enthusiasm extended to wheels and looms.

So it wasn’t just the drop spindles:

spinning wheel naturalsQuite a few teenagers instantly got spinning on a wheel (so envious) and were spinning beautifully within minutes of being shown how.

Adults, of course, got a look in too,

the drafting triangleand quite a few of them became proficient very quickly, as well.

Even those who wouldn’t have a try (and there were many who weren’t so brave) were very happy to stop and have a chat. We seized the opportunity to spread the word, and make people think a bit – about, for example, how every single thread in every single piece of fabric, from pants to ships’ sails, would once have been spun by hand.

first spin

That’s another person who’d never spun before. Look how even the thread is. See? Naturals.

We’d laid out a table of samples, everything from locks of different sheep breeds’ fleeces to finished garments and works in progress, and they also proved a great focus for discussion. We talked to everyone from grandmothers knitting for their grandchildren to a crochet-addicted mum and a daughter who had been collecting the bits of fleece that get caught in fence wire. It wasn’t just the women, either: we had men who were fascinated by the history and the simple but effective engineering of a wheel, and though we couldn’t persuade any of the men to have an actual go on a wheel, plenty of boys did. Come on, chaps – we all know male spinners, but they generally spin in relative privacy. Get your wheels out…

By the end of the afternoon, we were all quite tired and hoarse, but very, very pleased with our day, spinning in such an idyllic (and very friendly) setting. As the visitors began to drift away from the Park, we were able to assess the day – fabulous.

end of the dayPhew.

Here are some more photographs from our lovely day, spinning in public if not on the official September SIP day and taken in a few snatched moments, in between chats and demonstrations and setting up wheels and casting on knitting to show that yes, you can knit with handspun yarn, the finish is just a bit different. Hopefully, GreenWood will have us back. Fingers crossed!

A good start to the year

It was a bright but cold day when we gathered for the first time to spin and natter and catch up on everything that had happened since our AGM in November, so working with wool in the warm was highly appropriate. And there were some lovely colours being spun up, too – just the thing to cheer up January:

yum1This is one of the Wingham’s merino / silk blends,

and this is another:

yum2(It’s rather overspun, but your blog writer can be critical in public because it’s her own, and she is still recovering from hand injuries. It’ll sort itself out in the plying. Hopefully. )

Much better spun was some lovely alpaca:

alpacawhich is part of a marathon project. So very, very soft…

Here are two different approaches to some pastels:


And of course we were observed by a variety of stuffed sheep:

sheep 2though tying this one down with a strip of woven braid does seem a little cruel – but then one of the other wheels has a small stuffed sheep hanging from it by its neck. Possibly best not to comment.

The ‘spinning and weaving’ sessions are great places for new spinners to come and get started, to ask questions, receive help,

helpingand get to grips with the almost-unbreakable mechanics of a spinning wheel – here one of the Guild’s very straightforward Ashford traddies.

It’s also a perfect place to learn why you should never throw away old tights:?!It’s not pretty, it leads to odd looks from non-spinning members of the public (but so does carrying a spinning wheel about), but it works.

The details of this year’s programme are now up on the Events and Meetings page (as well as on the sidebar). See you soon!