Thursday, 26 November 2009

"Ancestor Bags" by Sue Hiley Harris at MOMA Wales

Hilary, Lynn and Alison travelled through the storms to Machynlleth yesterday to hear Sue Hiley Harris talk about her work, and to see her installation "Ancestor Bags" at MOMAWales.  Fortunately most of the flood water has subsided in North Wales, but the river was almost up to the top of the arches of the bridge just outside Machynlleth.  Generally, it is still very wet and there is standing water on most of the roads.  However, the exhibition and the talk were well worth the journey.
Sue weaves in three dimensions, producing uniquely sculptural work underpinned by a strong conceptual sense.  "Ancestor Bags" investigates her own family history with its' roots in the UK and in Australia: the installation comprises a series of suspended woven pieces turning slowly in the air & casting complex shadows on the gallery walls.  Each piece represents an individual ancestor with encoded biographical information woven into the texture of the fabric.  Sue talked in fascinating detail about her work and her research into the family history, and explained the mathematically-derived code hidden within each piece.  As in all the best art, this code enhances the work but the exhibition can be enjoyed without understanding how to decipher the hidden messages.  The exhibition is both intensely personal to the artist and immediately accessible to the audience.  A real success, and we enjoyed the experience very much.  The exhibition continues until the end of the week, after which it will travel to Australia, and possibly also to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford - well worth a visit.
The lecture took place in the very grand Tabernacl (Chapel) which gives the gallery its' other name.  Unfortunately the gallery "café" didn't sell food of any description apart from a couple of small cakes and some shortbread.  Rather a shame, as we were intending to treat ourselves to a nice lunch out!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Tales from the Riverbank

After nearly a week of continual rain, the Elwy Valley at LlanfairTalhaearn is doing its' job as a flood plain.  The roads are blocked from here to everywhere, and not even the ambulance can get through.  Fire Brigade, Police and Highways men (N.B. not Highwaymen) have been out all morning, and now the main road is officially closed.  Several houses and the village carparks are under feet of water despite the best efforts of four Fire Appliances, and, although the Community Centre is protected by a good stone wall, the water is beginning to percolate up through the earth into the enclosure.  So, unsurprisingly, our afternoon meeting has been cancelled.  AC.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

We met yesterday afternoon, and were very glad to be inside as it was raining stair-rods outside (or, translated from the Welsh:  raining old ladies with walking sticks).  Despite the rain we had a near record attendance for a week day, which was really great even if it did make it difficult to speak to everyone.  We were also glad to welcome Helen Melvin as a guest (with her posh Lendrum spinning wheel).

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Wednesday afternoon

Another Wednesday, and another opportunity for spinning and chat.  It's half term here, so June's grandson came and did a bit of plying; he also served up some delicious small cakes he'd made - he's doing a catering course at College, so we reaped (ate) the benefits.
What else? well, we were knitting, spinning, plying - and in my case un-plying and then adding extra twist to some yarn spun by the long draw method.
And we've received an invitation to Sue Hiley Harris's next exhibition in MOMA Machynlleth - click on her name for the link.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Evening meeting, October 14th.

We held an informal swapping session on Wednesday evening, bringing in long-hoarded stuff - fibres, yarns, fabrics - to exchange with someone else's unwanted stuff - fibres, yarns, fabrics. 
Truly is it said that one woman's rubbish is another woman's treasure:  the haul included carded fleece, fabric samples, and novelty mixed fibre.  Nearly all of us went home with something really useful and interesting, and have resolved to do something exciting with our trophies (just as we did when we originally acquired the stuff we have now got rid of.....).
Alison has agreed to take on some more squares for Ty Hafan's dragon blanket - white ones this time.  Contributions of 10" squares welcome - please contact Alison for more details.

Monday, 5 October 2009

The All Wales Event, Llanidloes, October 3rd.

Pat, Krithia and Alison travelled down to mid-Wales to attend this biennial gathering of the Welsh Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers. As it's such a long way, we all set off the day before and stayed overnight: Pat in her trusty Romahome, and Krithia and Alison in the Corris Hostel - a tale in itself: we were the only guests, and rattled around like the proverbial peas in a pod.  However, we did have the advantage of not having to rise at first light to get to the Minerva Centre in time to put up our display.
The results of the "Challenge" on the theme of recycling (we made teacosies out of recycled fibre) were rather variable this year, but the best-looking board was from the Meirioneth Guild - all black, gold and reds.  The best individual item was undoubtedly a spinning wheel made of old wood and a bicycle wheel.
Krithia mounted our display of general work, assisted by Pat:  Krithia's great idea was to bring the branch of a Twisted Willow tree on which to hang things - it looked great, and attracted a lot of admiring comments.  Whoever puts up the display next time will have to work hard to come up with an even better idea!
The trade stands and the Guild secondhand stall provided us with great browsing opportunities, and we were relatively good about not spending all our money - just a little fibre, a pair of secondhand carders and one extremely nice book (on Ecodying, by India Flint). 
The highlight of the day was the very entertaining talk by Cefyn Burgess, who described his odyssey through the chapels & textiles of Wales and of the Welsh diaspora in Liverpool and Pennsylvia.  He conveyed vividly his memories of Chapel life and his passion for the culture of Wales.  While some aspects of this culture are fading - communities lost, and only an occasional teacup in a junk shop to show for decades of Chapel Teas; textile mills closing  - others are surviving in the face of heavy odds.   (Look at links to Trefriw Woollen Mills, in the family of one of our own Guild members for 150 years, & Melin Tregwynt).  Cefyn showed us his architectural embroideries of chapels and his glorious woven breadspreads with reverse appliqué in colourful Welsh flannel, and his "work in progress" quilt in shades of grey.  His commitment and dedication to the hands-on approach to domestic textiles shone through his whole lecture.  The travelling exhibition of his work is due to open shortly in Bangor, and his new shop is open in Ruthin Craft Centre.
All in all, we had an excellent day in Llanidloes, and returned home tired but happy!  Thanks to all of you for providing such lovely examples of work for display - many compliments were overheard. We enjoyed meeting old friends, and seeing the work of other Guilds, and we're looking forward to the next event in 2011.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Our next venture into the public domain will be at the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers' All Wales Event in Llanidloes, Mid Wales on Saturday, October 3rd.  This is a biennial event, held in the Minerva Centre in Llanidloes, and is generally a good get-together and catch-up session for all the Welsh Guilds.  We will have work on display (we hope! - Krithia and Alison have to get there to put it up before the hordes arrive at 10o'clock), both general "What we've done in the last 24 months" stuff and our efforts for the All Wales Guild Challenge on the theme of recycling.  We are looking forward to hearing a lecture by Cefyn Burgess in the afternoon, and - of course - we are not going to spend any money on any more fleece/fibre/equipment at the Suppliers' Show (are we?!)

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Weaving Day, Friday September 25th

We held our first "Weaving Day" on Friday - we've been talking about it for years, but have finally got round to it.  None of us is an expert, but between us we have enough expertise and equipment to get going.  Having a whole day in the Community Centre meant that we could actually get a lot done, and do it without falling over the furniture as we do at home.  Getting a loom ready for weaving ("warping up") takes a fair amount of time for several reasons, boiling down to the fact that an awful lot of yarn has to be wound on to the loom and then threaded through raddles/heddles/reeds or all three to form the "warp" on which the weaving is done.  Only after this is done, and done properly, can we get on and do the interesting bit which is the actual weaving.
We shared warping frames and pegs, inspected each others' looms, helped with winding on the warps and generally learnt a lot from each other.  And of course there was plenty of time for cups of tea and coffee, and general chat, and a good lunch with delicious soup made by J.M.
courtesy of I.C.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Helen Melvin at the Abergele Guild

Helen Melvin came to our meeting this evening to give an inspiring talk entitled "A Passionate Journey". She told us about her love of colour, dating back to her early childhood, and described the development of her interest (obsession?) with natural dyeing. We were all fascinated by her account, and we loved the glorious colours she showed us on the silk and wool she brought with her. Helen dyes with natural dye extracts - super-concentrated colour in powder form - and with dyeplants from her own garden. At the last count there were 60 different dyeplants, grown by Helen and her friend & gardener Enys. Helen demonstrated her method of painting with dye extracts directly onto fleece/felt, but we will have to visit her studio to see the results as the dye must be left overnight to percolate through the fibre before steaming to set the colour! She described her methods for dyeing 16 micron merino without felting the fibre, environmental dyeing using the heat and light of the sun, and natural fermentation vats for madder and indigo. Those of us who have some experience of dyeing have been inspired to start again, and those who have never dyed anything are itching to get started!
Thank you very much indeed, Helen.
Helen's work can be seen on her blog "Growing colour" (which is also in our "other blogs" link, to the right of the posts.) Her studio is open at weekends in September as part of "Helfa Gelf Open Studios", an event taking place across 4 counties in North Wales and involving 112 artists.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Wednesday afternoon again

Pat brought her finished rag "rug" to the meeting today - done in recycled fabric on hessian. Some of the fabric is hand-dyed. We were all very impressed, particularly as she has finished it so quickly. I should also have photographed the amazing blanket Pauline is working on, but forgot.
And thanks very much to June's grandson for the cakes.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Scottish Games

Here are a couple of photos from the Long Island Scottish Games. It was very hot and we had to keep moving around the gazebo. They were impressed by our banner in our gazebo and hope to do something similar. Rosie

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Fancy yarn spinning workshop

On Saturday 15 May 2010 we are running
 a workshop led by Alison Daykin, a published
creative yarn spinner. The event will run from
10.0 am - 4.0 pm at Llanfair Talhaiarn
Community Hall. Members of other spinning
guilds are cordially invited to join us (£12.0
per head for the day).
email:  abergelewsd at

Alison Daykin's website

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

LLanasa Scarecrows

That sounds fun, pity you couldn't hang up the banner etc though

Llanasa Scarecrow Fest

Two of us demonstrated wheel and drop spindle
spinning last Saturday. The village had put on an
impressive show of scarecrows, in gardens, along
walkways, and leaning against fence posts. They
were eye-catching and very creatively made.
Children, as usual, were full of questions about
our spinning. Ashley found he could master the basic
techniques of drop spindle and stayed to practise.
His interest was rewarded with a gift of a Peruvian
spindle and some rollags.
We had to improvise somewhat with our display
as we had no walls to hang the banners and board.
A communal tent has advantages though: good
company and a good neighbour, Rod, who mended
my spinning wheel.
Thanks, Llanasa for inviting us.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

An ordinary evening meeting (?)

We had our regular evening meeting yesterday - just a few of us this time as it's bang in the middle of the summer holidays. Entirely normal and not a bit out of the ordinary.....apart from the fact that I spent all day under the impression that it was Tuesday and therefore failed to turn up to open the hall. I had to be fetched......
Very, very sorry and apologies to everyone. To make up, I have spent this afternoon making Guild business cards for Bryn & Pam to take to the Llanasa Scarecrow Festival on Saturday.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

A Letter from America

Rosie is staying with her daughter in the USA for the Summer

I am going to demonstrate with the local guild at a Highland Games (!) here on Long Island on August 22nd., so will take some pics. there.

The Sunday afternoon knitting group I go to has several spinners, and in fact it is just like our Wendesday afternoon except that it is in a cafe so we get lots of onlookers. The other week we went to someone's garden and were all spinning under the trees in the sunshine and then went in th pool afterwards - slightly different from Wales at the moment I gather. Quite a few of the guilds post notices on Ravelry (see link) about happenings (like workshops etc. we want people to come to).

Need to take the new dog to the park and then bowling this afternoon.


An ordinary Wednesday afternoon

- a slightly confusing image of spinning wheels (actually an excuse for me to try out Picasa collage maker, as recommended yesterday by Kath).

There is a huge variety of wheels around, from top-of-the-range foldaway portable wheels to dead ordinary, shove-them-in-the-boot-of-the-car-on-top-of-the-old-feed-sacks wheels. Not to mention the lovingly home made wheels, constructed by keen woodworkers. So here is a selection of our wheels, plus hands and feet at work spinning (and knitting).

(anything to fill the space on the blog......)AC
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Ty Hafan Children's Hospice Blanket

We were invited to help raise money for Ty Hafan, the children's hospice, and have been busy making textile squares. Ty Hafan are planning a giant dragon blanket, made of smaller blankets each made of 10inch squares; the blanket is so huge that the squares are of one colour only (ours are green - other groups will presumably be red or black). This is some of our work so far: some spinning & knitting, some patchwork.

(and apologies to Welsh speakers: I haven't worked out how to add the "to bach" to the text)

Friday, 17 July 2009

Rag-rugging in Reeth

Posted on behalf of Pat & Trudi E (who don't have access to the Internet)
Pat & Trudi travelled to Yorkshire for an inspirational two-day course with Heather Ritchie. Taking a photograph as a starting point, they made a fine start on a hooked/prodded rag rug. Pat has produced a very handsome cockerel, and Trudi is working on an image of Bolsover Castle for her daughter's wedding there in the autumn. Trudi thinks it may by finished in time for the tenth wedding anniversary! They found Heather an inspirational teacher, and a warm and generous personality. She is also involved in setting up a charity to help women and children in Africa through rug-making.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Wednesday, July 8th

Our regular evening meeting. Please add your own post or comment!
J-M taught us how to use a Lucet hook - a very simple old tool which makes a surprising variety of cords. Thanks to her expert tuition everyone mastered the technique in a short time (even the self-confessedly cack-handed)(is that English?). I discovered why I hadn't previously got the hang of it on my own - you really need someone to show you what to do! I meant to take some photographs for the blog, but was so engrossed that I completely forgot. Anyway, here's one I took later.
And I was very, very disciplined and didn't buy any of the beautiful fleece that Trudi E. brought along.

Monday, 6 July 2009


Hullo to all Guild Members, and welcome to our new blog. This site is for all of us to use for any textile related matters, Guild events, etc. etc. Please use it as much as possible, even if you're not used to "blogging" - it isn't necessary to produce a stream of consciousness: a blog can be about anything you like. For example:
The Llanasa Scarecrow Festival have invited us to spin in their Craft Tent in August (see the link on the right hand side of the page)
We were invited to this via Woodfest North Wales last month - perhaps one of us who went to Woodfest could compose a paragraph and post it on the blog?