February 2019 Freestyle and Wavy Weaving

    Delighted to welcome former Guild member Bee (Beryl) Weir who delivered her talk ‘Freestyle Weaving’ and a ‘Wavy Weaving’ workshop.


    Bee cleverly involved her audience by dressing them in a wrap or providing a piece of weaving to be displayed and then presenting a ‘fashion parade’.  A very varied selection of her woven wraps, ponchos, stoles and scarves was demonstrated and explained.  Bee was anxious that her audience grasped her principle that the loom does not dictate what you are making, you are producing a fabric which can be sewn, folded, cut and shaped like any other.

    A simple rigid heddle loom can be utilised in a variety of ways and narrow weaves can be sewn together.  Using mixed heddle sections enables one to use a variety of thicknesses of yarns, including ‘pom-pom’, in the warp.  Mixing feltable and non feltable yarn can produce a stunning effect when felted.  Additional heddles make the production of double weave or pocket fabric possible.  Clasped weft technique gives very pleasing results and for extra interest a plainish fabric could be dyed after weaving.

    Nothing need be wasted.  Offcuts can be made into hats, bags, placemats etc.











    In the afternoon participants had brought their looms warped up and ready to experiment with wavy weaving.  Bee had designed the shuttle (which is available from her on line shop  new business name is Crafts from the Clink) which creates waves in the weaving later filled in with a contrasting yarn.











    See Bee’s website for details of workshops in her various disciplines or contact 07761788711 if you want to visit her new studio in Mancot, Deeside CH5 2BJ

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    November 2018


    Our programme sec, Ann, had used her networking skills to organise a visit by Amanda Hannaford. Amanda’s travel expenses from Cornwall may be prohibitive for smaller Guilds so Leek, Stratford and North Cheshire had shared the cost and Amanda had made visiting the different Guilds part of her holiday.  We were able to hire the delightful village hall in Dunham on the Hill (a lovely, rural setting but an easy journey from the M56) and with the aid of Judy,Liz, Margaret and Karen for accommodation and victuals all was prepared for an intriguing talk and workshop.

    The day began with ‘Whorls around the World’ featuring Amanda’s immense collection of spindle whorls.  What an enormous variety: some spindles have integrated whorls in various shapes, whorls may be located top, middle or bottom of the spindle with different sizes, shapes and weights depending on the fibre being spun.


    As well an an enormous assortment of shapes the whorls were made from many materials: clay (both glazed and unglazed), lead, copper, bronze,ivory, stone, glass, shells, fossils, wood and iron.  To add even more variety they could be decorated, carved and etched to produce intricate patterns.


    The fact that every centimetre of fibre needed for household items, hunting equipment and clothing had to be produce by the user needs to be considered when attempting to age the craft of spindle spinning.  Amanda cited an example of evidence from 3000 BCE from Bronze Age Anatolia.  This evidence was a drawing thought to represent spinning.  Archaeologists haven’t always recognised whorls when examining ancient burials, they have been thought to be beads.  It is perfectly possible that spindle spinning dates back to Stone Age.  There are many BCE examples of whorls from cultures in Central and South America.

    An examination of the Venus de Milo's musculature has revealed that she may well have been spinning!

    venus de milo


    In the afternoon participants were invited to try various forms of spindle spinning (definitions from Wikipedia)

    Suspended spindles are so named because they are suspended to swing from the yarn after rotation has been started. Drop Spindles are a popular type of suspended spindle and get their name because the spindle is allowed to drop down while the thread is formed, allowing for a greater length of yarn to be spun before winding on. Suspended spindles also permit the spinner to move around while spinning, going about their day.

    Supported spindles continue to rest with the tip on one's thigh, on the ground, on a table, or in a small bowl while rotating. Supported spindles come in a great variety of sizes, such as the very large, ~30" Navajo spindle, the small, extremely fast, metal takli for spinning cotton, and the tiniest Orenburg spindles (~20 cm, 15gm) for spinning gossamer lace yarns.

    Grasped spindles are also known as hand spindles, in hand spindles and twiddled spindles.  Grasped spindles remain held in the hand using finger or wrist movements to turn the spindle. French spindles are "twiddled" between the fingers of one hand while some types of Romanian spindles are grasped in the fist and turned through rotation of the wrist.

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    'In House' Dyeing October 2018

    This was a re-run of the dyeing day in June run by Mandy and Janet with the mysterious addition of 'Quick Dyeing in the Slow Cooker' by Ann M.


    My Method of Quick Dyeing with a Slow Cooker

    (Thanks to Chris Pegler from Stratford Guild)

    1. Take a small loose skein of animal fibre yarn or washed fleece and put it into a bowl of hot water, with a cup of white vinegar or some citric acid crystals. The acidity allows the dye to be taken up into the fibres. Leave for about 15-20 minutes.

    2. (Although this method works on animal fibres it also can work well on NYLON~ Angelina or Firestar. Most rayon based processes also work well i.e. Bamboo or soya. Have no idea why?   Experiment !)

    3. Set up the slow cooker by adding water and more vinegar. Heat cooker on high for a few minutes until water is hot.

    4. Decide on your colour. Will you add one or several together, mixed or separate? Once you have chosen then use a cocktail stick to add ONE drop of Wilton Food Gel into the water in the slow cooker. CARE NEEDED. These dyes are concentrated so add dye carefully.

    5. Drain the acidic yarn and transfer to the slow cooker. Gently push it under water to cover but DON’T STIR.

    6. Wait until the water is clear. Usually it’s only minutes, depends on the temperature. This means that the acid has picked up all the dye from the water and locked it onto your yarn.

    7. Pick out the yarn and wash in water.

    8. Spin in a salad spinner to remove moisture.

    9. Hang up to dry.

    10. Enjoy your specially dyed yarn.

    Ø Note: Black, Violet and Dephinium dyes will split into their constituent colours .This makes it more interesting!

    Ø Green and some blue dyes don’t exhaust quickly so you may have a wait.

    Ø Experiment with greasy fleece as the grease inhibits the dye , a bit like Batik or wax resist. You’ll get blotchy dyeing.

    This method is quick enough to experiment with and rarely gives you repeatable dyeing so it’s very exciting.

    (Pictures from Sylvia)

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    June 23rd 2018 Getting Better at...Dyeing

    Today's meeting turned into an exciting 'dabbling' day with the opportunity to try something new or be experimental with more familiar techniques.

    Ann's flower pounding was a striking success (pun intended).  She had prepared cotton fabric mordanted with alum and participants taped on their chosen flowers or leaves and hammered away.

    Linda Rudkin's book 'Flower Pounding' (A C Black 2011, ISBN 978-1-4081-2746-9) details the process and gives examples of other techniques and the embellishment of the basic outcome.












    Mandy had brought her collection of Wilton Icing Dyes, a very concentrated form of food dye which does not dilute the icing when used for cake decoration.  White vinegar is used as the fixative.  The colours may be mixed and Mandy provided both yarn and tops for people to try...much alchemy and positively 'edible' results!









    Then back to school for a chance to investigate colour mixing with acid dyes on silk hankies.  A limited range of colours, in this case: turquoise, hot pink and yellow, will produce a wide spectrum when mixed. A word of caution, not all colours mix to produce pleasing secondary colours, some experimentation and sampling is needed.  White vinegar is included in the dye mix.

    For this workshop the hankies and the tops/fibres were wrapped in cling-film and microwaved in two minute bursts (longer for larger amounts).  Wrap securely to avoid leaks! When any 'exhaust' liquid is clear the dye has been absorbed.

    Janet went on the demonstrate making silk paper with the dyed hankies and wallpaper paste. She explained about 'throwster's waste' . Available gummed or ungummed it appears coarse but can be teased out, dyed and used to make or embellish silk paper in other ways.

    Recommended is Kath Russon's book: 'Handmade Silk Paper' (Search Press, 1999, ISBN 085532 893 2)







    Looking forward to seeing results at the next meeting or 'show and tell' at the Christmas party in November.







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    April 28th 2018 'Getting Better At' day

    Ann had organised a day for sampling various weaving methods.  Members brought a wide variety of gadgets and examples of their skill.  From tapestry, to toy and tablet there was a wide range of looms and techniques to try.

    When you attempt to list the different methods that may be classified as ‘weaving’ they are many and various.  Simple weaving on cards that we did at school through to Chas’s exquisite tablet weaving with cards.  Weaving on sticks, round pegs or pins from simple inkle and box looms to elegant, portable four and eight shafters.

    Is it weaving or is it braiding?  Are braids, bands, or narrow wares part of the same broad family of interlocking threads?  As well as a traditional Japanese ‘dai’ beautiful braids/bands may be constructed on a simple cards or polyurethane plates and discs.






    We were also pleased to welcome Janet from the General Purposes Committee (GPC) of the Association.  Janet dispelled some popular myths about the inner working of the AWSD as well as encouraging and guiding the 2020 Exhibition Committee.  To clarify, Guilds in our region (C. North West of England) are responsible for jointly organising different Association events, Summer School, the biennial Conference and the exhibition. In 2020 it will be our turn to organise the Exhibition. (Janet’s Guild were involved in the organisation of the 2016 at Killerton House in Devon.)

    North Cheshire are well placed to be involved with the Exhibition as it is to take place at Leigh Spinning Mill, not far from Croft. We also hope to take part in activities with the Mill Heritage Group after the Exhibition

    Welcome also to the Exhibition Committee members who had travelled from the Cheshire, Merseyside, Alsager, Leek and Shropshire Guilds and the Online Guild.


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