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Becoming Henry Moore Exhibition

June 22, 2017

It’s now June and we’re winding down for the year, only one more meeting to go before our summer break. Over the summer we’ll be at Kimpton Folk Festival on Saturday 1st July, Fibre East on the 29th/30th July, and the Ashwell Show on Monday 28th August. Behind the scenes the committee are feverishly sorting next years programme.

One of our members has recently been out and about and saw the new Becoming Henry Moore Exhibition at the Henry Moore Studio and Gardens at Perry Green. Here’s Madeleine’s review:

“I had an amazing time at the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green recently. To coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Foundation there is a special exhibition there until October. Called Becoming Henry Moore, the exhibition charts the artist’s creative trajectory from 1914 until 1930 and gives an insight into the influences at play in the mind of Britain’s most famous modern sculptor.

Should you decide to spend a few hours exploring at this delightful open-air exhibition and the various barns housing yet more exhibits, the Aisled Barn is must. The 16th century building houses remarkable and unique tapestries – based on original drawings – which the Moore foundation commissioned from West Dean College. The weavers worked with Moore’s original drawings and photographs to dye the wool accurately and achieve the precise colours and effects of his different drawing media. To get an idea of how they created similar tapestries have a look at this Youtube video of the process.”

If you’re inspired to go see the exhibition it runs until 22nd October 2017.


Spinning Wheel Speed Dating

May 12, 2017

Our first meeting in May was a fun evening called Spinning Wheel Speed Dating – essentially a chance for everyone to try everyone else’s spinning wheel.

The guild were under strict instructions that if they had more than one wheel to bring along a wheel no one else had. Thus instead of a roomful of Ashford Traddy’s we ended up with only one – which belongs to the guild anyway!

We had all these lovely wheels to try out:

Ashford e-spinner:


Ashford Joy:


Ashford Kiwi 1:


Ashford Traditional:


Ashford Traveller (double drive)


Ashford Traveller (scotch tension)


Kromski Sonata:


Lendrum DT:


Heavy on the Ashfords! We also had a Haldane Shetland which we were having trouble with (and didn’t get a picture of).

We moved around the room trying the wheels and inviting the non-spinners to have a bit of a lesson at the same time so they could see which wheels suited them.


The e-spinner was interesting, so hard to not move your feet at the same time as spinning, but really good once you got used to that. Certainly one to keep in mind for when the treadling all gets too much!

We all learned something from the experience, some found the height of the Traveller suited them more than the lower wheels, some found that no they still didn’t like single treadle wheels. We all had our favourites (that would be our own wheels of course!) however there was near universal approval of the Kromski Sonata – very smooth to treadle!

Our next meeting is the AGM, we’re probably not going to be conscripting for the committee so it’s safe to come along and eat cake!

Solar Dyeing experiments

April 17, 2017

For our last guild meeting before Easter, we got the mordanting pots bubbling (well simmering on an induction hob) to try out some experiments in solar dyeing with natural dyes.


The plan was to make 10g mini-skeins of yarn, mordant them with alum, place the skeins in jam jars with 20g of dye stuffs and then put the jars on sunny windowsill / greenhouse / conservatory for at least six weeks, but probably some months and watch as the heat of the sun drives the dyeing process.


We set up a production line with half the guild making the mini-skeins of yarn, and the other half weighing out dye ingredients, with Susan as always doing the technical bits with the mordanting pots.

We had ordered a selection of dyestuffs to try. For the non-mordanted skeins we used various barks hoping that the tannin present would act as the mordant and the heat of the sun would help the dye to release from the plant and fix into the fibre. We used cutch (brown), birch bark (pinky tan), buckthorn bark (gold/yellow).


For the mordanted skeins we used elderberry (purple), madder root (red) and persian berry (yellow).

Some members brought along their own dyestuffs: Madeleine had logwood which she used sparingly – only 10g – to try and get a nice purple:


The evening went very quickly and thanks to everyone pitching in we all went away with armfuls of jars to take home and watch change colour


Note the drip tray – required if you don’t want your windowsills to change colour too if there’s some leakage. It’s also suggested you open the jars outside when you choose to end the process in case of pressure build up and possibly mould!

Early results suggest that the mordanted skeins are doing better at dye takeup, and that the skein with the birch bark hasn’t taken up any colour yet despite there being colour in the water. It’s early days however and these ones will be staying put till September. Here’s hoping for a good summer with plenty of sun.

Nuno Felting Workshop

March 12, 2017

This Saturday we hosted Clare Bullock again, this time she led a very interesting workshop on Nuno Felting.


She was very hands -on, easy to communicate with and made the whole day great fun. She showed us many samples of her beautiful felting work and described the various applications it can have, as well as the types of materials that can be incorporated.

She then demonstrated the basic method as follows;

First placing a mat of non-slip plastic on the table, a sheet of bubble wrap on top of that, then layering the Merino tops in pinched wisps of overlapping rows flattened across the bubble wrap leaving no gaps.

Then strips of various cottons, silks, lace materials are placed across the flattened fleece, also overlapping at the edges and leaving no gaps.

A liberal sprinkling of water over this to wet it down, then a sheet of thin plastic (builders plastic sheeting widely available) on top of the fleece, carefully squash this plastic sheet onto the wet fleece.

Apply sprinkled water, smooth over surface with olive oil soap and keep sliding the hands in circular movement over the plastic. This smoothing is continued with the occasional re-watering, re-soaping and peeling of the top plastic sheet to turn it over or check if the fibres of Merino could be seen  coming through the strips of material.


Eventually the ‘cloth’ seems to ruck up and shrink, and when it is felt that it looks finished, it can be rinsed and is completed.

We were all very pleased with the Nuno cloths we produced and it was amazing to see how the look of the textures changed so much with the shrinking reaction of wool combining with cloth, and the beautiful colours that were produced. A great day was had by all.

Nuno felting 003

Four Corners 2017

March 5, 2017

February means it’s Four Corners time once more! This year we offered a range of things to do: learning to spin, weaving taster sessions, acid dyes with a microwave and two types of felting.

The felting table was very active, all that stabbing at bits of wool was very therapeutic!


The weavers were so industrious they ran out of warp and had to put a new one on:


Learning to spin takes intense concentration:


And the dyers produced a rainbow of yarn:


A very successful days crafting! Thanks to all who came along for the day.

New Scarf – New Skills : The Results

February 23, 2017

It’s been a very busy week for us in the Guild. Last Thursday was the showdown of our New Scarf – New Skills competition, swiftly followed on the Saturday by our annual Four Corners workshop – more on that in the next post.

We had nine entries in the scarf competition, which is nearly half the Guild and we would have had more but for unforeseen circumstances.

All the entries were so different, and everyone produced a full sized scarf – no doll sized entries after all!

Helen S learned filet crochet, she made almost 20 samples before starting the scarf to learn the technique and decide on hook size and yarn combination. The pattern is a traditional Baltic narrow band weaving pattern that she turned into a filet pattern.


Kathy is one of our newest members and this time last year hadn’t learned how to spin yet! She entered her knitted scarf from her own hand spun yarn, having done all the fibre prep too.


Madeleine’s entry was her very first nuno felted item, she used dyed merino wool and then added colour with sari silk waste.


Claire’s woven scarf featured decorative needle felting as her new skill.


Sheila’s chenille scarf was another woven entry, this time with pattern added by using pick up sticks on a rigid heddle loom.


Nicky knitted this scarf from her own handspun that she colour blended the fibre for. She was inspired by the four seasons and tried to reflect this in the colour blending. Her new skill was learning to knit cables.


After exclaiming over everyone’s work we all awarded points to choose our winners. As it turned out second and third place were tied so a Judges Decision was required after all to separate them (thanks Brian and Elizabeth for making the difficult decision!)

Third place went to Jan for her felted scarf, her new skill was nuno felting (she’ll be an expert by the time we have our nuno felting workshop in March). Jan enjoyed making the scarf and used needle felt embellishing for the first time.


Second place was Maggie, she set out to improve her drop spindle technique, she wanted to spin laceweight yarn which she then knitted in a lace pattern. We’re all impressed as she said it was tough!


Our undisputed winner was Helen G who managed to squeeze in five techniques. Spinning, weaving, felting, hand sewing and needle felting all in one scarf! Her new skills were colour blending with a drum carder, weaving handspun yarn and felt resist. Also she says she learned the skill of working fast, after all the spinning (long draw for speed) she woven 6′ of cloth in four days! Quite some effort and a well deserved first prize!


Here are our winners modelling their creations!


Thank you to everyone who took part. We’ll let you know about next years challenge in September!

Book now for Four Corners

February 4, 2017