Monday, 21 August 2017

Gwrych Medieval Fair, August 20th. 2017

(two posts in a week.... very unusual!)

We go to some interesting places in our lives as spinners, weavers and dyers:  Gwrych Castle is one such, and it's getting more interesting all the time.  The castle was built in the early 1800s in "mediaeval" style, but later fell into disuse.  In the 20th century it became increasingly derelict but in 1997 a Trust was formed to preserve the site and as much of the castle as possible.  Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust now has a 25-year lease on 5 acres of the site, and runs several public open days a year.
Their Medieval (no "a" for some reason) Fair is becoming an annual event - we were there last year, on the terrace with Val and Alan and the trusty camper van to which we tether our stand.  Unfortunately Val and Alan were away this year, so we apologised to the Trust and said we could attend only if we had somewhere to hammer in tent pegs to secure the gazebo.  They promised us a nice spot on the main field with the re-enactors.  However, following a freak gust of wind on the Saturday, several traders were forced to leave taking their twisted and wrecked tents with them -  leaving a prime pitch for us, right in the middle of the action next to the mead seller, with the best of the sunlight all day (until it rained, but that was much later).

Jenni and the display in the gazebo.

The "authentic" side of the field, demonstrating living in the early Middle Ages,  armour and clothing from the Wars of the Roses (and knightly children's games).

The other side of the field, with lots of interesting things to buy - and the most futuristic "gazebo" ever?

After seeing some very anachronistic stuff at the recent Conwy Tournament, I suggested that we might just demonstrate things more in keeping with the mediaeval period - one thing led to another, and here are Jenni and I all dressed up:
Photograph courtesy of Noël Carter.
Jenni has her beautiful (expensive?) top-whorl spindle, and I have my handmade clay-weight-on-a-stick.

We had a lot of compliments (Making an Effort is obviously a good thing) and several of the serious re-enactors came for lessons in drop spindling and braid weaving.
As always, there was lots of interest from members of the public. There was also, as there sometimes is, a fair bit of confusion between "spinning" and "weaving", which we were able to put right.  And some folk genuinely do not know that wool comes from a sheep and cotton is from a plant, and that they are not the same thing at all.  We like to think that we were able to explain the differences and send everyone on their way fully enlightened.
Betty joined us in the afternoon, but by this time I had forgotten about my camera - so no more photographs.  Not even of the genuine Viking cat - a grey and white Norwegian Forest Cat sitting in a harness, graciously making friends with all and sundry.  I want one.  But I would need a mortgage. https://www.nfcc.co.uk
The weather was kind until the last hour, when it tipped down and everyone scurried to take down their dripping tents without shooting too much water into their luggage.  Jenni now has the job of drying our gazebo in her barn.  And I have discovered that a) it's easy to work in a long skirt if you hitch it up, and b) linen and ramie dry incredibly quickly.
Many thanks to Mark and Robin for inviting us, to our fellow participants for their interest and welcome, and of course to Jenni and Betty for their sterling work on our stand.
AC
2017

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

up-to-date now?

I'm sorry for the gap in posting - I just haven't got around to it (if anyone has a round tuit, perhaps they could show me how to make one).
Also, I haven't been taking photographs:  we had a great time at Woodfest Wales at the end of July, lots of interest in our stand and so on, but I was too busy on the Saturday to take any pictures.  I did manage this one just before I went home:
Abergele Guild at Woodfest Wales.  It wasn't anything like this miserable during the day,



Last Sunday we met in Betws yn Rhos to spin and weave - on opposing sides of the room. The spinners commented on the lack of chat from the weavers.  Well, we were concentrating.  Hard.
Weaving in the red corner....

...and in the blue corner: spinning!

Jenny's little loom proved a bit of a challenge to warp for the first time:
but after a team effort, she got going and produced her first piece of weaving (and it was enviably even).


Note the smile!
Jenni and Edith were steaming ahead too, but my four shaft table loom took a bit more time.  (Update, Tuesday:  I am still denting the reed, and am about half way across.  It's linen at 12 ends per inch, so I think I'm excused the slow pace?)

Warp, with matching mug.

Look: in the background, Edith has already got her heddle threaded and is tying the warp on the front beam.  Nothing much happening in the foreground.
A good time was had by all - mostly.  We ought to admit to a certain amount of sighing and silent swearing and re-doing from the weavers, but everyone came away in an optimistic frame of mind.  I think.
Especial thanks are due to Paul for the outstanding Victoria sponge.  It was a real prize-winner, despite the alleged mix-up about the ingredients (I can't believe there was no baking powder in it).

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Another busy Monday meeting

The diversity of spinning and weaving was evident at our Monday evening meeting this week:  drop-spindling, spinning on wheels, spinning fancy yarn, weaving - you name it, we were doing it.
Yvonne and her drop spindle.

Val and the mini-pin loom.
Hilary and a midi pin loom.
More glorious colours from Edith.


Bryn's super-coil slub yarn.


The pièce de résistance: Edith's very first weaving.

(and the cake picture)

We were pleased to have a visit from Jules, who had spent the previous few days spinning at the Conwy Tournament, and hope she might join us again in the future.  As usual, Val had excelled herself and produced an amazing cake with fruit from her garden.
Thanks to all who attended - see you again soon.
AC

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Abergele Hospital Fête

Another gig on home territory, this time at the Abergele Hospital League of Friends Summer Fête on Saturday, June 24th.  Jenni and Alison (now experts in Gazebo pitching) spent an enjoyable couple of hours entertaining and being entertained.
The weather was kind - a little breezy and overcast to start with, but turning warm and sunny as the afternoon progressed.  The visitors were plentiful, and interested to watch us turning fibre into yarn.  Lots of intelligent questions, and some possible new members; we gave out lots of business cards and flyers, so we'll see if anyone takes the step of joining us.  They will, of course be very welcome.
There was plenty of good quality musical entertainment - a brass band, a Welsh children's choir and some talented musical sixth formers from the local school.

Thanks to the organisers for inviting us - we hope to be back next year!
Just gearing up for a successful day, and trusting that the weather forecast is correct. 


The band strikes up.


A prime corner plot for the gazebo.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Warping a rigid heddle loom with Clare Minty

Last Sunday we dusted off our rigid heddle looms for an excellent weaving workshop given by Clare Minty.  Clare brought her years of experience as a professional weaver to solve many of the niggly problems of warping up a loom on your own, and showed clearly and concisely how to achieve a balanced, properly tensioned warp "without tears".   She dealt with all aspects of the process, from assessing the sett of the yarns to making a balanced tabby weave.
Along the way, we picked up a host of useful tips - do the warping with loom and warping peg on a long table; always thread through the holes of the reed when winding the warp (if you thread through the slots the warp sags on its' way back to the warping post); use clips as temporary fastenings for groups of thread at the back of the loom while you change colour; use simple but firm ties on the peg end to separate slot and hole threads.   Best tips of all:  don't remove the warp from the peg when you wind on, but simply slide the loom along the table towards the peg as you turn the back beam round.  And don't beat the weft into place - "place" it into position!
At the end of the day, the participants had warped up their looms successfully and were eager to get on with their new weaving projects.  Our many thanks go to Clare for sharing her expertise.


All secure with weights and G-cramp  (to hold the loom) and small clamps (to hold the warp).
Unwinding tidily from the middle of the ball of yarn.

All the ends through the holes (only) at this stage.

The loom trundling along under firm control as Clare winds the warp onto the back beam.


Sleying the reed:  every other thread now passes through a slot.

Threads now tied on, and a couple of pieces of card in position to spread the warp threads parallel to each other.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Abergele Spring Festival

Easter in the Park Day.
Abergele District Action Group Fun Day
What you will.
The Abergele District Action Group run a good event, with efficient organisation and cheerful helpers, so we were pleased to be invited back - this time for their Easter Fun Day.  Jenni and Alison set off bright and early to Pentre Mawr Park in Abergele to show the flag for the Spinners and Weavers in our home town.  We had an excellent position by the walled garden, with lots of space for our new gazebo.  As there was only a light breeze, we put it up without any trouble - but unfortunately the light breeze was a chilly one, and by the end of the day we were seriously thinking of wearing all the hand knitted garments in our display.  Hilary joined us for the afternoon, and many hands certainly made light work for taking down and packing away.

There were lots of visitors (probably because the event was free!) and we had lots of interest in our spinning and weaving.  As usual, the children "cottoned on" to the ideas and one or two even had a go at the drop spindling.  And, as usual, there was one bright spark who immediately worked out exactly what all the bits on the spinning wheel are for.
Jenni all in the Green Grotto
 Our next event:  our usual Monday evening meeting, April 24th in Abergele.