Tuesday, 13 December 2011

OPEN SUNDAY, December 11th

Another successful Sunday Spinning (and knitting, crocheting and talking).  Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so no photographs, (but I was battling with imminent flooding at the back of the house, so I have an excuse).  We all got through a good deal of fibre in the course of six hours, and produced some gorgeous coloured yarn.  The shared lunch was a great success, with two kinds of delicious soup, pies, cakes, salad, chocolate, mince pies.....
The hall was nice and warm, after a period when the heaters were definitely not working properly,  the weather improved during the day and the River Elwy stayed in its' course despite some early indications to the contrary.  Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 21st., after which we are having a Christmas/New Year break from textile production.
Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i bawb!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

2011-2012 AGWSD Guild Calendar

Oct 12 2011 7.0 – 9.0 EVNG
Rag Rugging, Christine Birch

Oct 19 2.0 – 4.
Oct 26 2.0 – 4.0
Nov 2 2.0 – 4.0

Nov 13 10.0 – 4.0 SUNDAY

Nov 16 2.0 – 4.0
Nov 23 2.0 – 4.0
Nov 30 2.0 – 4.0

Dec 11 10.0 – 4.0 SUNDAY
Bring a plate to share buffet lunch

Dec 14 2.0 – 4.0

Jan 8 2012 10.0 – 4.0 SUNDAY
Olympic Woolsack Cushion Stuffing Day

Jan 11th. no meeting
Jan 18 2.0 - 4.0
Jan 25 2.0 - 4.0

Feb 1 2.0 – 4.0
Feb 12 10.0 – 4.0 SUNDAY
Feb 15 2.0 – 4.0
Feb 22 2.0 – 4.0
Feb 29 2.0 – 4.0

Mar 11 10.0 – 4.0 SUNDAY
Art Yarn Spinning
Workshop with Anne Campbell

Mar 14 7.0 – 9.0 EVNG.

Mar 21 2.0 – 4.0
Mandy Coates workshop: 
Willow pot stand/rush basket

Mar 27 2.0 – 4.0

Apr 4 2.0 – 4.0
Apr 11 7.0 – 9.0 EVNG

Apr 14 10.30 – 12.30 SAT
Spinning Wheels and their Heritage – Val and David Bryant

Apr 18 2.0 – 4.0
Apr 25 2.0 – 4.0
Apr 28-29 Wonderwool Wales

May 2 2.0 – 4.0
May 9 7.0 – 9.0 EVNG.
May 16 2.0 – 4.0

May 19 10.0 – 4.0 SAT
Abergele Guild Friendship Day

May 23 2.0 – 4.0
May 30 2.0 – 4.0

Jun 2,3,4,5 Woodfest Wales, Kinmel Est.
Jun 6 2.0 – 4.0
Jun 9 Knit in Public Day
Jun 13 7.0 – 9.0 EVNG.
Jun 20 2.0 – 4.0
Jun 22-23 Woolfest Cockermouth
Jun 27 2.0 – 4.0

Jul 4 2.0 – 4.0
Jul 11 7.0 – 9.0 EVNG.
Drop Spindling

Jul 18 2.0 – 4.0
Jul 25 2.0 – 4.0

Aug 1 2.0 – 4.0

Aug 8 7.0 – 9.0 EVNG.
(Venue to be confirmed) Kool Aid Dyeing

Aug 15 2.0 – 4.0
Aug 22 2.0 – 4.0
Aug 29 2.0 – 4.0

Sep 5 2.0 – 4.0

Sep 12 7.0 – 9.0 EVNG
AGM and Supper

Oct 10 7.0 – 9.0 EVNG
Weaving Corn Dollies
with Jenny Pritchard

Meetings held in Community Hall, Llanfair Talhaiarn

Monday, 24 October 2011

New Page added

May I draw everyone's attention to our new Page, which will focus on the activities of The Woolsack - British Wool cushions for the London Olympic Games, 2012:  http://abergelewsd.blogspot.com/p/woolsack-for-london-olympic-games.html

Thursday, 13 October 2011

All Wales Meeting of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, 2011

Another great day in Llanidloes, thanks to Hilary Miller and the Team.  Representatives from all the Welsh Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers attended the meeting; contributed to the displays and the raffle; browsed and bought at the trade stands and were fascinated by Laura Thomas' talk about her work as a professional weaver, designer and curator.  (More about Laura on her website http://www.laurathomas.co.uk )
The Guild Challenge was a real highlight - with the Gwynedd Guild's orchids the stand-out contribution.  They truly deserved their "prize" of a presentation shield.
Our contribution to the Guild Challenge.

The Gwynedd Guild's "Orchids" can be seen in the middle of the bottom row - of course, they do meet in a Botanic Garden!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Evening Meeting, August 10th.

Everyone worked very hard, and went away from the evening with a fully functional, fully warped-up, scaled-down, warp-weighted loom.  The basic design is loosely based on reconstructed Iron Age looms, and is open to modification.  The beauty of this sort of loom is that it can be adjusted even when the weaving is in progress, and absolute precision is not necessary.  We didn't have quite enough time to add the top and bottom ties to keep the warp in place, but these can be added later.

Making the basic frame

Warped up

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Preparing for our evening meeting on Wednesday, August 10th.

Alison is going to demonstrate a warp weighted loom of the type used for weaving in the Iron Age.  This will be the "bushcraft" version - scaled down and made with sticks lashed together.  The loom consists of a simple frame with the warp suspended from the top cross-piece.  Bunches of warp threads are tensioned with loom weights - stones will do - and the shed is changed in the same manner as on an inkle loom.  The frame is easy to make, and warping up is dead simple.  The difficult bit (which will sort the weaving sheep from the non-weaving goats) is threading up the warp to the weaving beam.
Advice:  use a smooth warp, and use a different coloured thread to attach the back warp threads to the beam.
Some photographs of what to expect.  Note that this loom has come out "H" shaped, whereas "A" shaped might be more stable - easy to adjust.
A suitable stick for a small loom

The basic frame - refinements would include some corner stays to prevent it twisting

Warped up and almost ready to weave
detail of the "shed"

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Success from the jaws of Disaster - Woodfest 2011

We have had a really successful Woodfest, despite the terrible weather.
JM and Alison put the tent up on Friday, arranged the display and went home with the satisfaction of a job well done.  Jenny and Pauline arrived on Saturday morning to find.....no tent.  The northwesterly gales overnight had funnelled straight onto the Woodfest site, and 20-odd tents had been blown down despite the best efforts of the organisers and exhibitors.  Our flimsy gazebo was reduced to a tangle of twisted struts and torn fabric, even with the heroic efforts of our next-door neighbours, who were up most of the night rescuing stuff from the field.  They kindly looked after our display items, and kept them from harm.  The following night saw further wind damage, but didn't appear to put off the punters who flocked into the site for three days.

Thanks to the sterling work of Jenny & Tom, and Pauline and Fred, the Abergele Guild was accommodated in the Woodcraft marquee, where we were pleased to make lots of new friends among the local woodturners and carvers.  They were interested to see working spinning wheels and drop spindles, and we were grateful to be out of the wind and rain, and to have so many visitors of all ages.  I don't think we've ever had so much interest in our stand.  It truly is an ill wind which blows nobody any good.
Of course, we never have enough time to spend on the field itself (probably just as well, as you can also spend some serious money on gorgeous stuff if you're not careful).  There was more wood related stuff than you can possibly imagine; wildlife information & displays; basket making; brilliant local food and cider; mountain biking, chain-sawing, pole climbing; and the usual amazing variety of people and their dogs.  Yvonne and Betty even managed a really good deal on some Romney fleece from the SheepShow man.
So thank you to all involved - Guild members and families, our jewellery neighbours, the Owl people, the Woodcarvers & Turners, and the show organisers.  Here's to next year.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Woodfest Wales 2011

We will be at Woodfest Wales over the next Bank Holiday weekend (May 28th, 29th and 30th.) and look forward to meeting friends and visitors. Last year we had a good time, and reasonable weather although it was a bit cold when the sun went in.  Whether we will be as lucky this year remains to be seen:  after an unseasonably hot and dry April, May has been unseasonably cold and wet.
For more details about Woodfest, click on the link above.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Guild Day, Sunday 8th. May

This was to be another of our weaving days, but since few of us are weaving at the moment, it turned into a Guild meeting day with the emphasis on spinning.  However, two table looms and a peg loom made an appearance and were in use, and the guild inkle loom has found a new home for a while.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera, so there are no pictures to prove that we did any work at all.
As usual, guild members brought a variety of fibres to spin - dyed and undyed; wool and alpaca.  The weaving projects consisted of a warp-faced woollen rug (on the peg loom), a paper-based piece for a printmakers' project and a gorgeous space-dyed bouclĂ© yarn project, which might turn out to be a stole or a scarf.
Our shared lunch went down very well, and we are hoping to have more full day meetings in the future.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Silk Spinning with Sue Hiley Harris

We had an amazing day yesterday with Sue Hiley Harris, weaver-sculptor extraordinaire and an excellent teacher. ( http://www.suehileyharris.co.uk )Patiently and clearly she explained the entire process of silk yarn manufacture from silkworm to the finished product.  Now we all understand the differences between reeled, thrown and spun silk, and know why tussah silk is coloured (it's the oak leaves the caterpillars feed on, rather than the white mulberry leaves eaten by Bombyx caterpillars) and understand why noil silk is full of bits (the last shed skin of the caterpillar).
Sue showed us how to spin silk fibre in all its' variety - and she even examined our spinning wheels, and advised on how to optimise their performance for fine spinning.  Although there were no real beginners in the group, I think we all valued the chance to get back to basics and revisit the mechanics of "double drive", "Scotch tension", bobbin or flyer brakes.
And then spinning the silk itself!  Sue taught us how to produce a smooth yarn, analagous to the worsted woolen yarn, slub yarns, and the wonderful noil yarn spun by the long draw technique.  She also taught us how to use carders properly, and produce beautiful silk rolags.  A world of spinning in one day.
Our very grateful thanks to Sue for a wonderful day - we learnt such a lot and are determined to practise until we get it right and can produce perfectly spun silk yarn.

Bombyx mori cocoons

Poised for the long draw.....
Beautiful rolags!

Even the rubbishy bits look great!
We were also very pleased to welcome members of the Cheshire and North Cheshire Guilds, and hope to see them again in the future.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Nearly there?

At our evening meeting this week, the Ty Hafan blanket was spread out on the floor - and it's almost finished.  At least, only a couple more squares are required, and quite a lot of the ones we have are sewn together.  Perhaps we will complete it before the All Wales Meeting in Llanidloes in October, two years after we started?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Bookings for Silk Spinning Workshop are under way

Notices have gone out to North Wales Guilds and
beyond with booking details and a list of requirements
to bring on the day. Bookings are still being taken!

A reminder now that payment is requested beforehand
to secure a place. Contact abergelewsatgooglemail.com
or llysfaenbryathotmail.co.uk.   A map of AGWSD location
can be attached to an email reply or posted on request.  

Friday, 25 March 2011


Here are some events you may be interested in attending over the coming months.  Further details are usually available from the relevant organisers:

Wonderwool Wales Royal Welsh Showground, nr. Builth Wells. 9th. & 10th. April
Woodfest Wales: Kinmel Park, Abergele. 28th., 29th., 30th. May.
Woolfest (Cumbria)   Mitchell's Lakeland Livestock Centre, Cockermouth,  24th., 25th. June. http://www.woolfest.co.uk
All Wales Meeting:  Minerva Centre, Llanidloes. 8th. October

Thursday, 10 March 2011

New Zealand Flax weaving with Judith Ferns

...or, The Tale of a Bag.
We had another enjoyable evening meeting last night:  Judith Ferns came to teach us how to weave with New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax).  This useful plant has great spiritual significance for the Maori, but in mountainous North Wales we're lucky if we can get it to grow at all.  It does, however, grow down on the coast in the "banana belt", and supplies can be scrounged from friends.  The leaves are split along the "grain" to yield strong strips for weaving, and fibre can be peeled out of the leaves as well.  Judith brought several bags and vessels made using different weaving and plying techniques and materials.
We learned the basic technique by making a bracelet - once the principles are learned you can, in theory, make anything you fancy...

Phormium tenax (it doesn't actually grow in black bin bags)

A long wide strip wound around itself twice, and secured with a peg, and the outside layer split into 3 along the length of the leaf.
A thinner "weaver" passed round and round, woven between the "weft" strands and secured with another peg.
The finished article, showing the weaving.
Many thanks to Judith for trekking all the way from the other side of Chester.
However..... when it was time to pack up, and after Judith had left (in the pitch dark and high wind), we discovered a handbag at the back of the hall.  It contained all the usual, important things like money, spectacles, mobile phone - and a Co-Op card for Mrs. J. Ferns.....   Eventually we managed to call Mr. J. Ferns and leave a message for Judith, and yours truly went home (in the pitch dark and high wind) promising to take said bag to its' owner in the morning.  However... my lane is being resurfaced, and there was a temporary step down from the road to the slippery verge where I usually park.  To cut a long story short, in the pitch dark, I managed to wedge my car between the step and a grit bin, whence there was no escape.  So Judith and Jim had to come all the way over to pick up the bag, when Judith should have been packing to go to a Basket Makers' Event in Oxford. Judith had to walk the last bit, as the road crew were busy in the middle of the lane, but the bag is now home again.
All's well that ends well, and the resurfacing gang pushed my car free this afternoon (it took four of them -so thank you to Conwy Council Highways Department.)  They have also turned the step into a ramp, so I shall be able to get in and out again soon.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A little late for St. David's Day

Our afternoon meeting this week was the day after Gwyl Dewi Sant (St. David's Day).  No daffodils out yet in LlanfairTH, and a vicious frost overnight.  In fact, not all the snowdrops are in bloom yet...
Snowdrops glowing in the gloom,
daffodils thinking about opening, but perhaps not yet...
and pussy willows on Salix irorata - don't know if it yields a dye, although the bark is a purplish red;
..but Spring is nearly here.

However, JM has already been busy dyeing:  the amazing orange was achieved with eucalyptus leaves (the yellow is from the "exhaust", i.e. the colour left after the first dyebatch).

Friday, 21 January 2011