Tag Archives: woolly crafts!

Mapuche Weaving


A couple of weeks ago we saw Liz Beasley of Ananuca visiting us at the Guild to show us how to do Mapuche weaving. Quite a few of us do weave but this was something quite different.


She started by giving us a brief background to her involvement with it and the people of S. Chile


Some of you might have seen them in action last year at Wonderwool:


I particularly like the handmade looms- they just pop into the forest and cut down suitable branches! Spindles are handmade often with clay, potatoes as the weight as strong yarn is needed for weaving their blankets, rugs and ponchos. They spin sheep’s wool and use plant dyes.



We first warped up our looms- an old picture frame-


Plastic tubing-


Another picture frame-


Two small willow wands were cut to divide the shed-


String heddles were made-



Then the weaving began-




Those of us used to working on rigid heddle looms found that with Mapuche, the weft needed to be pulled tight across the warp in order to create a good pattern. Some of us rigid heddlers started a new weave to achieve a better pattern.  Mapuche weaving patterns are warp based. Most of us worked on a simple pattern like the last photo. Some were more adventurous like the first few. Liz showed us some source books with the most intricate designs and like a lot of indigenous peoples, many communities have their own designs. They often tell a story and spiders (natural spinners and weavers!) feature strongly.

Liz gave us a comprehensive set of notes on  all the processes of mapuche weaving she had covered in this workshop- warping up,dividing sheds, creating string heddles, preparing the weft, creating a shuttle, weaving using the sheds, creating a fringe and for those who might be more adventurous, How to Build a Mapuche Loom!

Below are just a few pics of Liz’s weaving.


We want to thank Liz for a great session and would recommend anyone to take one of her workshops.


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!


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.


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:


In complete contrast was this cushion from another member,


(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!

All-Wales Gathering…

We do have a busy time in September – October: there are normal guild meetings, a Sunday spin, the Worldwide Spinning in Public Day and, every other year, the All-Wales Guild Event in Llanidloes. This was an every other year.

The Welsh Guilds get together, and each guild puts up a display of its work. This necessitates a lot of hammering and finding ladders, but we’d rehearsed what went where, so constructing ours was quite straightforward.


Our display included a felted coat:


which seemed to be the largest felted garment there, as well as handwoven (and handspun, but of course) items like this rug, and a couple of delicate Shetland shawls:

rug and shawl

There were also some cute felted bootees – we love our bootees.


There is also a Guild challenge, for which our Guild created an autumnal Green Man (mentioned a couple of posts ago), but the displays from the individual guilds are really inspirational. Oh, and there are also various traders selling everything from fleeces to dyes, books to batts, wheels and all sorts of spinning and weaving kit. But none of us went anywhere near that (much).  There is a great raffle, a trading area where items are sold to raise money to support the event and, in the afternoon, a speaker.

This year’s talk was wonderful – from Jim Gaffney of Textile Traders on collecting along the silk route – well, in Uzbekistan, Khirgizstan and into western China. Not only was Jim a fascinating speaker, he also had a superb collection of slides and some marvellous examples for us to pass round and examine. And these were not just the classic ikats of Central Asia, but beautiful embroideries and marvellous Khirgiz felting.

It was a lovely day out with like-minded people, so here’s a montage of some of the work from other guilds which attracted our attention. Lighting wasn’t brilliant for photography, so many images we’d have liked to include didn’t come out well (and apologies if something isn’t assigned to the right guild). This is a taster – the next one is in a couple of years time, so start getting ready now. Just click on an image for a slideshow (and click on the cross, top left on most browsers, to come back to the blog when you’re done).

Showing and telling

Our Thursday meeting recently was a show and tell session – we had one a while ago when a speaker couldn’t attend and it was a huge success, so we thought we’d have another. The first ‘show and tell’ was actually more of a problem-solving exercise following a natural dyeing disaster, but we soon settled into looking at people’s work. First up was this tea cosy,


knitted in the early days of this branch of the Guild, when we had a cold room and a giant teapot. The panels cover all the stages from a sheep to a dye plant to a dye pot to a peg loom – and eventually back to a spinning wheel. It’s topped by a Dorset button, which gave us the idea for a workshop…

Then Mary showed us some adult slippers she had felted, following on from suggestions made at her very successful felted baby bootees workshop,


There are some refinements she wants to make, but they are already lovely.

We had weaving – from a floor rug and a peg-loom rug made from handspun local fleece,

peg loom

to a couple of fine scarves, one turquoise –


and one a deeper blue. The weaver was marooned in her remote old family cottage, and without a car or most of her equipment for five days. She’d put a warp on her loom and wove the turquoise scarf in a day – but then what? She’d no warping frame, nothing she needed, but she did have a little four-shaft table loom. So she searched about and found some wool and used a big stool, turned upside down, to do the warp. She cut it up, laboriously threaded the loom and wove another scarf. As she said later, ‘the fun I had doing it!’ – sometimes improvising can be just as enjoyable.

Next came an impressive Nuno-felted long jacket in shades of red,

jacket detail

and it had also been adapted and altered to make it work, though this time the improvising wasn’t down to a lack of resources but a ‘pattern’ which didn’t work that well in practice. It certainly does now.

There were a couple of knitted sweaters, both so beautifully spun that they looked like commercial yarn – except they had mcuh more life in them, of course. And one member brought a couple of gorgeous knitted shawls, one in plain undyed handspun Shetland (from her own sheep) and one


in some dye sample colours, bought from a supplier at the All Wales GWSD Event a couple of years ago. On the subject of which, the All Wales Event is coming round again – on October 5.

green manWe’ve been making a autumnal green man for the inter-guild competition, and now he’s assembled he is really impressive.

Here he is – let’s keep him nice and small in case of idea thieves – and most of us have added something. There are crocheted flowers in hand-dyed handspun, needle-felted leaves, knitted brambles, little acorns, a scatter of tatted leaves – even some fruit made out of small balls of handspun yarn. Details?

detailed man

That doesn’t give too much away!

Events and meetings…

We put brief details of our meetings in the margins of the blog, but there’s not a lot of room. So we’ve created a new page which gives much more information about what we, as a Guild, are getting up to. Click on the ‘events and meetings’ tab on the black bar at the top (which is where we’ll be putting updated information – for example, about what workshop tutors like participants to bring along), or here.

Just to whet your appetite, here’s something from the last dyeing picnic…


Keep your fingers crossed for sunshine this time!

Summer spinning

Our August meeting is often – er – select. People do things like go away on holidays (the cheek of it), but we always have a good meeting anyway. And sometimes there are lovely things to take home,

like these bunches of lavender from a member who has an excess. (Check out the delicious fibre tying the bunches together, too.)

This year there seemed to be more of us than usual, and there were loads of spinning wheels.

These are just a few of the wheels that put in an appearance.

We had a new spinner who was being taught,

and who got the hang of it very quickly considering she’d never tried before – but her mother was a very accomplished spinner, so maybe heredity plays a part. She’s using her mother’s wheel, so it could be that the influence has lingered…

As usual people were doing things other than spinning, and there was plenty of evidence of the range of wooly crafts that people excel at. Here are a couple.

First, knitting (but of course).

This is a test for a top-down sweater, and it’s really working well. It fits perfectly (the best reason for knitting top-down you could wish for) and the colour is lovely – darker than this in reality. But that’s just for the test; the final colour will be different.

Then there was a lovely naturally coloured rug in progress,

with beautiful texture from the rather gorgeous yarn. Can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s complete.

And then there were the spinners. It wasn’t just spinning, though. At one end of the process fibre was being prepared (this was so soft you could hardly feel it when you put your hand onto it, and you just had to put your hand on it),

and at the other end, plying was happening. These are normal bobbins:

But these are BOBBINS:

Beat those (purchased from Wonderwool Wales – ideal for roving).

One of the nicest things about our Guild is how friendly it is, and the craic is just as important as the spinning / weaving / dyeing / knitting / split-ply braiding / felting / rug-making / whatever is happening.

And this time we were treated to a visit from our very youngest member, though admittedly being two months old is a little early to be enrolled in a fibre guild. He was very good, but didn’t seem all that interested in spinning quite yet… plenty of time!

As part of World-Wide Spinning in Public Day, some of us we will be at Fron Goch Garden Centre near Caernarfon on Saturday 15 September, from 10.30. Do come and see what we’re up to (and stop us from buying too many plants / slices of cake)!