April 2022


    Today was a Members' Day. We made this arrangement some years ago when our meetings coincided with big national events like Wonderwool Wales and Woolfest which may attract potential tutors/speakers and indeed our members. These days give members a good chance to socialise and circulate, compare notes and ideas and help one another with techniques, projects or problems.

    One of our members may offer to do some in-house tutoring and today we thank Ann who was demonstrating long and short draw spinning.   Ann is AKA Northern Area link for the GPC of our national association, (The Association of Guilds of Weavers Spinners and Dyers)

    We were then very pleased to welcome Marjorie, almost a founder member, past president and now an honorary member.  Marjorie has very kindly donated a beautiful antique spinning wheel which she wishes to be sold to generate funds for the guild.  More details about the wheel and arrangements for the sale will be circulated later. We are most grateful to Marjorie for this very kind donation.  Marjorie brought a cutting about the Guild from the Warrington Guardian of March 1993 captioned ‘Being in a Spin can be the Nineties Answer to Stress’…still relevant?

    Later Janice showed the group pieces of beautiful Japanese Ikat weaving in silk she had made some time ago whilst on a course at the Snail Trail Handweavers in Pembrokeshire. The proprietor of the business Martin Weatherhead, who has now retired from teaching, has produced a most wonderful tapestry inspired by the romance of Peredur from the White Book of Rhydderch.  A huge project that has taken four years.

    For more information about the White Book and pronunciation consult our own Welsh speaker Carol.

    Folk sitting near Miriam  were astonished to see her working away on a little gadget we (the ‘baby boomers’) recognized from childhood:  a Speed Weaver Darning Loom, price 2/6!  Now that a darn is a fashion statement rather than a necessity the clever little loom has become increasingly popular…try Ebay.










    Most welcome were the three new members, Helen, Jo and Maya who have increased our total membership to fifty-one, quite a milestone for North Cheshire, the most members since its foundation in 1984.



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    Ikat March 2022


    This Saturday, we spent a pleasant morning catching up with news and working on various projects, and then we were entertained by Erica Just who was talking about Ikat weaving.

    Ikat (meaning “Binding”) is a dye and resist technique involving carefully wrapping a series of very narrow warps (sometimes only four or five threads) with cotton threads, plastic tape or plastic strips which will act as a resist when dyeing. These are built up to make the required width of cloth. The design of the overall cloth has to be carefully planned in advance to decide exactly which section needs to be protected, otherwise precise shapes can become blurred.

    Erica trained at Loughborough College of Art where she got hooked on weaving. She’s also a painter and sometimes uses her naturalistic plant studies to inspire her weaving designs.  She had some lovely pieces inspired by shells and butterflies, and other pieces with narrow stripes of Ikat separated by plainer stripes. Most of her commissions are for interior design, so she produces a varied range of items from very small mounted pieces to large wall hangings.

    After a slide show with lots of examples of Erica’s work we were treated to a look at Ikat fabrics from the different countries that Erica has visited.  We saw intricate weaving from Indonesia (woven on a wide backstrap loom needing two weavers to pass the shuttle to and fro), which had probably taken two years to produce, a double Ikat from Bali, a striking pictorial design from Sumba with a distinctive red, a beautiful silk sari piece from India, fabric from the Ivory Coast woven in narrow strips sewn together (kente cloth), a dramatic design on burnished chintz from Uzbekistan and stunning chequer designs in deep indigo and cream from Japan. It was fascinating to see the contrast of fabrics from the different countries.

    The following link is worth looking at-



    words: Liz Carrington

    pictures: Janet Gleave, courtesy of Erica Just





















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    February 2022



    The Discrete Unicorn!


    Our February meeting was well attended with over thirty members and visitors present and everybody had an enjoyable time. I was very pleased that Miriam was able to step in at the last minute to give us a very entertaining talk on her business “Discrete Unicorn”. Discrete in the corporate world refers to a unique piece of data and adding the unicorn as well makes it doubly unique!

    Miriam owns a Hattersley Domestic Loom which is currently in her garage. She liaised with a company in Colne who dyed rainbow warps in twelve colourways so that she could weave two metre lengths for wraps, but struggled to sell her products as a weaver; so she now sells her own hand-dyed yarns and tops as well. She concentrates on colours that she would wear herself, so we were treated to a feast of colour, with a bit of sparkle added here and there.

    During March 2020, she was furloughed from The Black Sheep and found solace in knitting. She did test knitting for the Black Sheep and now test-knits for designers, with perhaps the most bizarre piece being a “shrug” with a neck band and two sleeves attached which is supposed to be worn with a boob tube!

    Miriam’s yarns have evocative names such as Knobbly Bobbly (a lovely textured yarn) Starfish, Sea Dragon, Magic Potion and Pixelated Unicorn to name a few. Her dyeing is done under a barbecue pagoda, but she’s looking forward to moving into a studio in Leigh Spinners Mill, which she signed up for in November 2020. She and her very supportive husband, Richard, have been working as volunteers to piece together textile machinery which has been donated to the mill, and Miriam also volunteers at Quarry Bank Mill where she used to work. Her main focus there will be on restoring a machine to produce coloured bobbins for stripes in tea towels.

    She spoke about the steep learning curve of setting up a business and the support that she has from the community of knitting folk and Indie dyers, and about collaborating with Lily Kate Makes- have a look at the following links.

    words and picture: Liz Carrington

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    January 2022

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Well, what a lovely start to the year! It was a treat to start the year on a positive note with at least twenty seven people present. Our skill share day was very successful with more experienced members giving advice to new recruits.

    We’re fortunate to be able to hire a large hall, so, with a bit of extra ventilation, it feels a safe environment in these uncertain times.

    February meeting (26th)

    John Parkinson’s talk about his recycling business iinouiio has had to be postponed until next year due to problems in finding a new host mill, but I’m very pleased to let you know that Miriam Ward is going to give us a talk and bring some of her yarns for sale. If you follow the link below you’ll have an idea of how tempting they are! Miriam last gave us a talk two years ago on our February meeting just before Lockdown, and I’m sure we’ll be in for an entertaining hour or so.

    March meeting (26th)

    There’s a change of plan for this meeting. Having realised that many of our members know very little about Ikat, Erica Just  will come and give us a talk with slides and the workshop will be postponed. The workshop could be booked for next year after she’s given us an idea of what to expect.

    Advance notice:

    Association of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers


    The theme for the juried section is COAL, COTTON, CANALS. Every Guild member is invited to submit up to two pieces of work which will be selected from photos by three experts, so not every piece will be displayed at the exhibition. Each entry must include one or more of our three disciplines.

    There is also an un-juried section entitled STILL WATERS. This is to be a textile piece within a 6inch/15cm ring, and every piece submitted will be accepted to go on show.

    We will need volunteers to steward the exhibition, so any time you can spare over the two weeks will be much appreciated.


    North Cheshire Annual Competition November (26th)– 'GO FOR IT!'

    Enter anything within our three disciplines of spinning, weaving and dyeing.

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    October 2021: Must Farm

    We were, at last, able to welcome, from Glasgow, Dr Susanna Harris to speak about the ten years of work by the Archaeology Department of Glasgow University on the Must Farm textiles.  The Must Farm site is located on the Fens not far from Peterborough but is now closed.

    The settlement was built on stilts over a waterway, log boats and fishing hurdles have been discovered in the silt which has preserved the remains.  The houses had burned down but the roof timbers arranged in a circular fashion were discovered.





    Dendrochronology on the timbers reveals the date of the settlement to be about 850 BC recognised as late Bronze/early Iron Age.  Nests of pots, unfired ceramics, beads, weapons, tools, whorls for spindles and weaving weights were discovered.  The most significant textile finds, preserved by the acidic nature of the silt were plant based examples of bast such as flax and lime tree fibres.  These appeared as spools and balls of yarn and textiles created buy knotting, weaving and twining.

    With the aid of electron microscopy and CAT scanning archaeologists were able to determine, as well as the nature of the material, the thread count of the fine quality fabrics, (16-25 threads/cm) and the diameter of the threads (0.1-0.3mm) and the internal structure of bundles and parcels of thread.

    Although the site is now permanently closed there is a reconstruction of the houses at Flag Fen Archaeological Park, artefacts in Peterborough Museum and plentiful information to be reached via Google.  Good illustrations here:

    Many thanks to Dr. Harris for her most interesting account and for taking the trouble to travel from Glasgow to talk to us.  The event was planned for last year but…so many thanks also to Ann for her perseverance in ensuring that the talk eventually took place!

    Liz has sent links for Susanna’s on-line talks in the Guild Notes, reproduced here:  - Must Farm Bronze Age Textiles - Introduction Part 1 Part 2 Part 3  Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7



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