Monday, 22 July 2013

A new venue?

After much searching, we have found a new venue..... back in Abergele as befits our title.  It wasn't easy to find the ideal combination of room size, access, carpark (essential with all that stuff we carry around) and suitable dates.  Despite A Politician's remarks about a broken society, there are an awful lot of community groups around in this part of the country, all busy meeting and doing, and a lot of them do it on our traditional meeting day! 
In the past we met on a Wednesday:  one evening a week, and all the other Wednesday afternoons. Since the Guild was founded in 1985 we have used a variety of meeting places from schools to community halls, not forgetting the hairdressers' training salon at Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan and that Church hall with the hole in the roof! 
In a break with the aforesaid tradition, we will be now be meeting on the fourth Monday evening of each month (unless there are major unforeseen hindrances).  Our new venue is the Hall beside Capel Mynydd Seion in Abergele, on Chapel Street.  I will publish a new link, with a map, shortly. 
Our first meeting is our AGM, so strictly speaking not "public".  However, I hope that we might offer a taster session to potential new members in the second half of the evening.
In the meantime, we are trying to reconstitute our "Summer Tour".  This was a fixture during school holidays, when members invited each other into their homes on Wednesday afternoons.  When we moved our meetings to LlanfairTH we were able to use the Community Centre all year round and so the Summer Tour went into abeyance.  I am very grateful to those members who have volunteered to offer hospitality, particularly as my own house is too small for me to reciprocate!  As the Tour takes place in members' own homes, it is open only to members and their invited guests, and could be on any day of the week:  I will not be publicising it widely on the internet. 
We have had a lot of enquiries from potential new spinners over the summer, so perhaps the Abergele Guild is heading for a new era with a new venue and new members?!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Natural dyeing day.

On Sunday 14th. July we were Bryn's guests for a dyeing day:  the glorious weather allowed us to spend the entire day outside, where Bryn and Krithia set up a table of pots, pans, gas burners and assorted kit.  We brought our own fibre, already mordanted with alum, and Bryn and Krithia provided red onion skins, madder, logwood and rhubarb root (a mordant and a dye).  A lively breeze made for some entertainment with the gas burners, but there were no actual disasters.  After simmering the fibre in the dyepots (and making sure that the madder didn't get above 60deg. C) we tried the effects of "moderating" the dyes with vinegar or ammonia - with some interesting results.
We were surprised to get such a rich brown from the red onion skins - apparently a yellow or a green are more common.  The madder yielded a beautiful light purple, but then we realised that we had used soft water - hard water is recommended if you want the true madder red.

Red onion skins - which gave a deep brown dye on this occasion.

An amazing deep, deep purple from logwood.

Red onion skin dye!

Beautiful natural colours: logwood, madder (a lovely violet on this occasion as we used soft water "by mistake"), rhubarb and red onion skins.
As a bonus, Bryn had taken inspiration from India Flint (link to India's blog on the righthand side of this page) and prepared some mordanted fabric for us to try "bundle dyeing":  we carefully placed rose petals, red Kentish cob leave and fragments of dyed fibre on the fabric and then rolled, sprayed with water, rolled and sprayed until we had bundles of stuff which we secured with rubber bands.  Bryn kindly steamed the bundles and returned them with instructions to leave them for three months before unwrapping!  Can we wait that long?  (My bundle is quietly cooking inside a plastic bag on the dashboard of my car, and the colour is gradually leaching through to the outside of the fabric.)
Many thanks to Bryn and Krithia for making the day such a success, and thanks to Bryn for allowing us to share her lovely garden.  Congratulations to our newest recruit for picking up the techniques of handspinning so quickly!