'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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    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.

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    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













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