The Silk Road to Birmingham from China

    March 2018

    We were delighted to welcome Teresinha Roberts from Wildfibres who delivered one of her new talks in the morning and tutored a workshop in the afternoon.

    Teresinha explained the uniqueness of silk in the fibre world with its prismatic shape reflecting light and the structure (lacking cells) lending itself to the drape of the finished fabric.  We enjoyed some fascinating diversions into the different types of  silk from spiders which, with the aid of genetic engineering is now being extracted from the milk of goats.  Spider silk is among the strongest substances in existence (bio-steel) and its medical uses are being explored.

    You can read much more about silk on Teresinha's website but the most memorable image was probably the graphic re-enactment (by Teresinha) of a silk worm shedding its skin which it does five times before entering the pupal stage.  It is at this point that the worm establishes anchor points in a suitable crevice then spins the cocoon from which the silk will later be reeled.

    The pupae are killed in the reeling process but the remains form a source of protein (sold in tins in China) which may prove invaluable in future years as agricultural land becomes more and more scarce.  Recipes available (Google!) but not recommended!











    In the afternoon workshop participants learned how to draft silk hankies and mawata caps to spin and or knit/crochet directly from them.  The hankies and caps are made by stretching a cocoon over a frame or a bell shaped mould.




    The silk shown being skeined has been plyed but 'thickish' singles can be knitted if the fibre is lightly felted, this should prevent the bias associated with working with single fibre.  To make the most of a silk mixture the fibre needs to be 30% silk and to really demonstrate the lustre of the silk the proportion needs to be 50%.











    knitted directly from drafted fibre


    Silk in a variety of forms (cocoons, throwsters waste, carrier rods, hankies, tops etc.) is available from Wildfibres website.

    Click here for the full post

    Saori Weaving

    We were delighted to welcome Rosie Green from SaoriMor in Bangor, North Wales who introduced us to the concept and technique of Saori Weaving.

    The 'sa' syllable means the same as the zen word 'sai' meaning everything has its own dignity and 'ori' is the Japanese word for weaving.  It was developed almost fifty years ago in Japan by Misao Jo who, sadly, has recently passed away aged 105.

    Rosie took us on her journey first experiencing  handweaving on a textile course at West Surrey College through a variety of jobs but always returning to weaving. She discovered saori from a book describing the making of clothes from strips of fabric and eventually had enough funds to visit Japan and study with Misao Jo.  This led to the setting up of Rosie's Saorimor studio in Bangor in 2014.

    Having discovered that a mistake becomes a design feature Rosie embraced the philosophy behind saori:    'No rules, no mistakes, just self expression through freestyle weaving' and went on to produce simple garments from lengths of cloth without the need to cut the fabric.  Simple seaming and clever positioning of armholes can make shrugs and wraps.  More complex garments can be made with a minimum of cutting and sewing.

    simple yet beautiful fabrics created on the saori loom
    simple yet beautiful fabrics created on the saori loom













    Click here for the full post

    Getting Better At

    January 2018

    The first of our 'Getting Better At' sessions, designed to enhance members' days, the topic for this month was spinning.  A number of members had indicated they would like some instruction on the differences between woollen, long draw and worsted, short draw spinning.

    GB Jan1


    Ann demonstrates long draw






    Long draw woollen spinning from carded rolags was demonstrated which produces an airy, lofty yarn suitable for warm jumpers.  Worsted spinning was achieved from combed fibres which become parallel and are then spun short draw.  This gives a smooth, shiny yarn more suitable for weaving or for harder wearing garments.

    GB Jan2


    perfecting carding






    GB Jan3


    samples of the different methods of spinning

    (always label your samples!)









    Thank you so much Ann for all the preparation and for expertly sharing your Association Summer School experiences with us.

    If you feel you could share your expertise with us in future sessions please let Ann (Martin) know.










    Click here for the full post

    Woodland Turnery

    May 27th 2017

    In May we were pleased to welcome Joan and Clive (not forgetting Star) from Woodland Turnery.  Joan gave a most interesting talk about their work and afterwards Clive carried out a surgery for folks to discuss their wheel problems and have them rectified.  Joan and Clive had brought their shop with many beautiful hand turned accessories as well as new and reconditioned wheels.















    Woodland Turnery is the new home of the Timbertops  with James & Anne Williamson retaining an advisory and supervisory capacity to ensure that the quality of Timbertops wheels is upheld as closely as possible.

    Since their visit Clive has undergone major surgery (recovered well) but Joan and Clive will not be attending as many shows as they have done in the past.  See their website for details.

    Joan & Clive Jones
    Woodland Turnery
    35 Lodgewood,
    New Inn, Pontypool, Gwent NP4 8EQ

    Telephone/Fax +44(0)1495-757140
    Mobile +44(0)7901-790543
    Web :
    Email: .

    Click here for the full post

    Spinning through Time with Val Bryant

    March 2017

    Spinning through Time with Val Bryant

    We were very pleased to welcome one of our members as our speaker for March 2017. Val Bryant and her husband David are recognised nationally as experts on spinning wheels, David as a member of the Regional Furniture Society, Cheshire Woodturners and as a maker of wheels. Val shared with us their experiences recording and restoring wheels the length and breadth of the country.

    Click here for the full post