Saturday 1 September 2018

Greenfield Valley Heritage Craft Day

Our last outside gig of the season, and a rather quiet one compared with Gwrych Castle (3,000 visitors there, and we probably spoke to most of them).
The Greenfield Valley between Holywell and Bagillt is chock full of history, from Basingwerk Abbey at the bottom of the hill to St. Winefrede's Well and shrine at the top, with many old industrial sites inbetween.
Greenfield Heritage Craft Day was held in the old farmstead, which has been lovingly restored to include not only the house and barns but the gardens, waterwheel, smithy and piggery.  There are real live animals, including real, live (sleeping) pigs, sheep and a questing duck.
We had a lovely welcome from the organisers, who lent us a gazebo (ours is temporarily out of action) and allowed us to park our cars close to our pitch - always a blessing when you have loads of awkward stuff to carry.  The weather was warm and overcast, but there was no wind - which is also a blessing, considering how floaty and flappy textile things can be.
Sadly, there were not many visitors:  another event was taking place up the road in Holywell, with major attractions including a Beatles tribute band. How could we compete with that?
However, although the quantity of visitors might have been small, the quality was high and we had lots of interest in our display and activities.  Ann demonstrated weaving, and carded colourful rolags with the children for Betty to spin into bracelets and bookmarks.  Some folk were even brave enough to have a go with drop spindles (thank you to our Woodfest Wales friend for these).
The lovely blacksmith on site made yarn threading hooks for the three of us - very kind indeed.  We were even supplied with cups of tea and coffee by the centre staff, and the gardeners gave Betty some seeds of Dyers' Rocket.  Betty also made some impressive nettle string under instruction from the "monk" in the white gazebo (just visible in the photographs below).
A nice little corner for our stand, with a view to the gardens and the monastic gazebo.

Thanks to Ann for loan of her smartphone to take the photographs.


Tuesday 21 August 2018

Gwrych Castle Medieval Weekend, August 18th. & 19th. 2018

Another action-packed weekend for the Guild at Gwrych Castle in Abergele.
Val, Betty and Alison entered into the spirit of the "Medieval" theme, and demonstrated low-tech. spinning for two days with scarcely a break for meals.  Our stand was in an excellent spot up on the terrace, right on the itinerary of the Castle Tour, and hundreds of people stopped to talk to us.  We lost count of the number of times we had our photographs taken, and were very grateful not to be out in the blazing sun.
We had a beautiful variety of naturally dyed fleece and dyeplants for the public to see, courtesy of Val, and we kept to our drop spindles in accordance with the period (no modern spinning wheels with carbon fibre bearings for us this weekend!).  Betty came to join us on the Sunday with the star of the show - a Great (or Walking) wheel.
There was hardly time to look round the rest of the event: re-enactment of medieval living and armed combat, plant sales in the formal garden, birds of prey, horses, traders....
Many thanks to the Gwrych Castle Trust for inviting us.  Have a look at their website and try to support their events if you can - they have just bought the castle and need all the help they can get.

Entering into the spirit of the thing.

An elegant demonstration of long draw spinning!
Perhaps we should make some medieval-style hangings to disguise our gazebo next year.


Woodfest Wales, July 2018

Val writes:
"Woodfest on the 28th and 29th July this year proved to be as popular as ever for both Abergele Guild and the public alike.  On Saturday, Jenni, Kate and Val spent a relaxing day talking to the public, demonstrating peg -looming and spinning. Other Guild members attended on the Sunday. A gentleman from Huddersfield made a generous donation of hand made drop spindles for the Guild to use . The wood turners from The West Riding obliged in turning Val's 4 year old seasoned piece of Sweet chestnut wood into a beautiful and useful spindle whorl and she was very grateful. Jenni left her peg -loom weaving for the Sunday Guild members to continue with. Alison called in to see us, having set up on Friday. Thanks to everyone for a great weekend."

Alison adds:
"Thanks also to Betty and Krithia, and Gill Linskey from Clwyd Guild, who flew the flag for us on Sunday (but didn't take any photographs?)."

Images copyright Alan Hill 2018

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Sunday Wool Combing

We had another excellent meeting on Sunday, August 12th. - lots of attendees and a demonstration, by Bryn, of English wool combs.

The combs themselves, apart from being vicious in appearance and in fact, are beautifully designed for the job.  The accompanying stand is elegant and sturdy - which is obviously important as you don't want the combs shifting unexpectedly when you're using them.
Bryn gave a clear and well organised demonstration of the techniques required to produce a sliver of fine, combed yarn suitable for worsted spinning: starting by separating the locks of clean fleece and spraying with a mixture of olive oil and water; through loading the comb in its' stand, heating the second comb and then transferring the fleece from one comb to another in a series of elegant movements!  The combed fleece is then removed, "planked", returned to the comb and drawn through  the hole of a diz into a long thin strand of fibre.
Fascinating to watch, and - I am sure - very satisfying to do.

Planking the fibre.

Using the diz.

Saturday 28 July 2018

Dyeing with Buddleia

More news from Val:
"Hi .... the picture shows gold dyed wool, alpaca and mohair fibres which were simmered in a slow - cooker with 15 Buddleia flower heads and no mordant for 4 hours.  A mixture of white, purple and magenta flowers were used. All have the same deep yellow center.
Alongside, the same three fibers but with copper sulphate as the mordant, double the previous amount of flower heads, also slow-cooked for 4 hours produced a medium brown on the alpaca and mohair and very dark brown on the wool.
The next experiments will be with alum, iron and also blooms that have 'gone over' (turned brown)."

Thank you very much, Val - what striking colours.
Sadly, my own Buddleia isn't producing many flowers this year so I shall have to leave them for the butterflies.  It will be interesting to see how the 'gone over' flowers perform in the dyebath (and what they'll smell like!).

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Calon Wlan at Hafod y Llan, Saturday July 14th.

Kate writes:

"A beautiful day for a trip to Beddgelert - sun, spinning and just me! For those of you that know me I usually have 3 children in tow. But not today, today it was just me and my wheel. Of course joined at the event by lovely and well organised Edith and lots of other keen wool enthusiasts. 
We set up our little stall and wheels in the cow shed, started spinning and waited for the crowds to find us. A steady flow of people wandered around the different stall which included some gorgeous needle felted creations, saori mor, gull skull designs and lots of fleece for sale. 
Lots of people stopped for a chat and to find out more about what we were doing. Edith sold some hand spun wool and we both enjoyed the day. 
A good opportunity for buying local fleece and sharing ideas with like minded people.
Word of mouth will help spread the word about the aims of Calon Wlan here in north wales and make it grow."

 All photographs copyright