Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Happy Christmas to all our readers

The title says it all, really.
Our pre-Christmas meeting in Llanfair was busy with spinning and weaving, interrupted only for a delicious meal in the pub across the road.  As usual, my camera gave up at the crucial moment, so no photographs of the festivities I'm afraid.  Our thanks to Jenni for organising the meal.

Bryn warping up her rigid heddle loom under the red electric heaters.   Photographs courtesy Jenni Frost.

Sunday, 9 November 2014


We had a busy day in LlanfairTH on Sunday, 9th. November:  as part of the preparations for our 30th Anniversary next year we have decided to make a new felt banner.  We don't have a definite design yet, but seem to have arrived at the idea of a "Tree of Life" as a basis (this may change!).  So, today we were busy making leaves in felt.  Some of us made traditional "wet" felt pieces while others had a go at needle-felting.  Jenni and Bryn had been on a short course, and passed on their experience to others.  A few needles were broken, and a few fingers were stabbed during the process of repeatedly and rapidly prodding fleece to make felt, but everyone had a very productive time.  Some bolder souls had a go at three-dimensional work and produced some impressive rodents and insects.  Let's hope there will be room on the banner for everything.

Several people took photographs, and I'm hoping they will post them.  In the meantime, here are my poor efforts which were badly affected by the red light from the heaters.
"Wet" felting, with water (yes, really) and soap.

Needle felting on a piece of foam rubber.


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A windy evening in October

Autumn has set in now and the evenings are dark, although it is still surprisingly warm for October.  The wind was roaring along when we met in Abergele on Monday.  Attendance was excellent despite the weather, and we also had three visitors who were intrigued to see what we were all doing.
Plans are afoot for our Friendship Day in April, which inaugurates our 30th anniversary.  We are also thinking about a new felt banner to replace the old one, which is showing signs of wear.  Jenny F. has kindly donated a felted fleece for the background, and Krithia and Helen have been asked to lend their experience in feltmaking to get things going.
Thanks to all who attended, and thanks to Val and Jenny for the cake!  Thanks also to Helen for taking the photographs.

Merino & silk (I think) and drop spindles.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Loom Day, Sunday 19th. October

Peg looming for beginners and experts proved very entertaining.  We tried spun yarn of the chunky variety and unspun rovings. The aim was to produce small mats for stool seats. The soft rovings will need felting to make them serviceable.
The inkle loom did not get used that day, but provoked  interest: it needs a dedicated session another time. Other looms, table top and children's miniature rigid heddle,  were also abandoned in favour of the pegs.
Bryn T.
A brand new peg loom in action:  long threads are attached to the bottom of the pegs to act as a warp.  The weft is wound in and out by hand, and before the pegs get "full" they are taken out one by one and the warp is pushed down along the weft.  (The holes in the block are there to support the pegs.  The warp doesn't go through them.)

Inkle loom

Weaving removed from the peg loom.  The weft has been pushed down tightly and the warp threads have been tied to prevent it unravelling.

Friday, 3 October 2014


Llanfair Talhairarn Community Hall 19 October 10 - 4
Our theme for the 19th is weaving, with as many portable looms as we can manage present in the Hall.
Please bring yours, to showwork on and and tell.
Bring wheels, etc. if you want to vary your day and a packed lunch.
Members £5  

Monday, 25 August 2014

Natural Dyeing in Prion

We assembled at Krithia's house on a cold August Sunday for a day of experimentation with natural dyes, and had an enjoyable time despite the bitter north wind.  We all brought small samples of various fibres (mostly wool, of course, and a little bit of silk) pre-mordanted with alum. Krithia had worked hard to prepare a series of dye vats using unusual plants including "black" elder and berberis berries; other people provided their own contributions, from marigolds to fresh persicaria (Dyers knotweed) leaves.  Our dye kitchen was set up under the tree house - a glorious structure mounted on telegraph poles, with a large paved area underneath.

Despite some setbacks - the wind blew out the gas stove and we blew the fuses in the house when we overloaded the circuits (easily fixed in these days of modern fuseboxes)  - we achieved a goodly number of colourful simmering vats. The use of ammonia as a modifier produced some intensely bright colours, and the aforementioned black elder gave an amazingly vibrant green. Helen kindly demonstrated her cold persicaria vat, which yielded an exquisite turquoise on silk. 

In the foreground:  the cold persicaria vat sitting and incubating.

(demonstrating the differences between unmordanted fibre on the left, and fibre pre-treated with alum mordant on the right)

The list of dyestuffs:  Eucalyptus, Dahlia , Black elder leaves, marigold petals, Walnut, Persian berries and Persicaria tinctoria.
The list of colours, not in order: yellow, green, turquoise, brown......
And of course, we had plenty of  time for lunch, tea and cake.  With assistance from Hattie the Labrador.


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Busy, busy, busy

We were delighted to accept an invitation from our friends in the Clwyd Guild to join them at the Bala Country Fair last weekend.  The weather was glorious, actually perhaps a bit too glorious, and there were lots of visitors to the Fair.  Bala is a popular spot for holidays, and people had travelled from as far away as the south of England.  The locals were also out in force, and there was lots for everyone to see and to do.

The food tent! with handy loo to the left.
Outside, a little demonstration table and some outdoor spinning about to take place..

and inside: happy clutter and lots of spinning.

Then, yesterday evening was our regular Monday spinning session in Abergele.  We were supposed to be having a "show and tell" on the theme of Make Do and Mend, but most of us forgot.  Thanks to Jenni for bringing in some lovely crochet and pegloom work, and to Val and Yvonne who were able to improvise with things they had brought anyway - two felted wool bags (in use) and some thrifty knitting and crochet. 
Next weekend we are at Woodfest, near Caerwys. 
Busy, busy, busy.
Val displaying her bag, made from one of her husband's old jumpers.

indoor spinning.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Fibre blending workshop with Katie Weston

Sunday, June 8th.
Today we had an excellent session with Katie Weston, of "Hilltop Cloud", learning how to use a drum carder to produce vibrantly coloured batts of fibre.  We were pleased to welcome several of our friends from other guilds, some of whom were coming to see Katie for a second time - which shows how good she is!
Katie gave up teaching sciences at a secondary school a few years ago to set up her highly successful company, and now trades worldwide and travels the UK with her wares.  She has recently had to buy a large van to carry her stuff (as well as taking over a static caravan at the family home). 
She started our day by giving us a visual tour of her home-cum-office-cum-workshop, and showing how she uses the surrounding countryside as a source of inspiration for the colour she puts into her work.  She then gave a clear and concise demonstration of how to choose and blend coloured fibres, stressing the importance of making small samples with hand-carder and drop-spindle before progressing to larger scale production using a drum carder.
Then we were let loose on Katie's stash of dyed merino, silk, novelty fibres, and naturally-coloured Shetland and Blue-faced Leicester tops.  Using a favourite photograph as a starting point, we selected our colours to harmonise and contrast, with 50% of natural fleece to meld the whole together, not forgetting a bit of sparkle or silk to add lustre to the finished yarn.  We learned quickly that what you see at the beginning is not what you get at the end:  after three passes through the drum carder, dividing and redividing the batts, we were all surprised and delighted to have produced gorgeous and unique coloured batts for spinning. 
After the first pass:  lurid pink seems to dominate, but....

....after a couple more passes through the drum carder, a pink-purple heather mixture appears.

 Very many thanks to Katie for such an inspiring workshop, for her patience and good humour, and thanks to all our visitors for joining us.

 http://www.hilltopcloud.co.uk/  Katie's website, and a photo of Charles Rennie Mackintosh too!
http://www.worldofwool.co.uk  (for commercially dyed fibre in a wide range of shades)


Monday, 2 June 2014

Troell nyddu newydd Haf!

(Or - Haf's new spinning wheel - I hope. I'm pleased to correct it if it's wrong.)
It's easy, once you've been spinning for some years, to forget how tricky things can be when you take up the craft for the first time.  After solving the first problem - how do I find someone to teach me to spin? - and the second problem - how do I actually do the spinning? - there are the problems of finding the kit.
Take the spinning wheel itself:  buy a second-hand one, and take the risk that it may be worn out or even broken?  or save up for a brand new one, which could take some time?  Our newest members have solved this problem in a variety of ways, renovating old wheels, buying second-hand from a reliable source (the Abergele Guild!) or selling some unwanted items to raise money for a brand new wheel.

Buying a new wheel is a bit nerve-wracking, but very exciting.  After getting the bits out of the box and oiling the wood, you are then faced with the fiddling business of putting them together in the right order.  Armed with a diagram, a selection of simple tools and a trusty helper, you are in for an afternoon of jigsaw puzzlery before ending up with the finished product:  a brand new, fully working shiny spinning wheel.
Here are some action shots of Hilary assembling Haf's new spinning wheel.

To begin at the beginning:  a table-top full of bits.


Nearly there.

And the finished item, ready for many years of faithful service.

Happy spinning!


Monday, 19 May 2014

May meeting - Sunday

Sunday, spinning all day.
A very good turnout again for our now-regular Sunday day out in LlanfairTH.  The new heaters are working a treat, although still tending to trip the fuses;  this is not a major problem now the fuses really do trip rather than melt.  Anyway, we were nice and warm all day and it was great to see a room full of wheels at work. One or two technical problems were solved, and a lot of yarn was produced.

I'm using a computer in Abergele Library to upload these photographs, and for some reason they're jumping about and the captions are re-arranging themselves.  I hope you can make out what's what.  It's not helped by the fact that I can't remember which images belong to which spinner.
Glorious, glorious colours.  Hilltop Cloud fibre, I think.

Add caption

A very enviable handful of dyed silk, also from Hilltop Cloud (I think)

Carding Falklands' fleece

- and this is the silk, spun up to a fine lustrous yarn.

More nice spinning - it's a while since the meeting, and I've forgotten which photos are of whom:  I think this is Jenni's Shetland.

.. and Pauline's worthy efforts with a donated fleece.  She usually knits dog blankets with it!

I do remember that this is going to be one of a pair of felt mittens, made by piecing half-felts and interesting bits and pieces.

The obligatory Photograph  of Cakes- what's left of them.

See you all in Abergele at the end of the month.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Another blog to follow

I have just discovered this blog (via FaceBook), and have added it to our blogs-to-watch bar at the right of this page. There are lots of intriguing web links on the curioushandmade page, and photographs of some spectacular patchwork, knitted shawls and other stuff.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Friendship Day, 2014.

Last Sunday dawned bright and fair, if a little chilly, and we were very pleased to welcome so many members and visitors to Llanfair T.H. for our Friendship Day.  It was lovely to see so many people, although at one point we did wonder whether we could squeeze everybody into the Community Centre.   We managed it, although some of us had to exchange spinning wheels for drop spindles.  No room for the Great Wheel, unfortunately.  As the heating still hasn't been fixed some people were a bit cold (apologies for this), but despite this there was a really good atmosphere in the hall.
The traditional "bring something to share" lunch was a raging success, with so much food we couldn't use it all.  Our thanks to everybody who contributed, and please don't take it personally if your offerings weren't eaten.  Thanks also to the relay of washers-up!
We had three great trade stands:  Mam a Mi (Annie and Kath) with their brightly dyed fibres; Fiery Felts (Helen Melvin) selling all manner of wonderful natural dyes and sundries; and Glenys of Snowdonia Wools with her top-end commercial yarns and high class knitting tackle.  Thanks to all of them and also to Ann Campbell, who brought a selection of dyed luxury fibres to tempt us, and thanks to everyone who brought stuff for the "stash stall". Some nice raffle prizes completed the range of goodies available.
Hilary Whatmough kindly gave us a talk entitled "Waste not, want not" detailing her passion for patchwork from recycled fabrics. She also gave us insights into her life and work, and had plenty of her stitched pieces for sale to help research into macular degeneration.
Unexpected extras included Helen's demonstration of her printing inks - such glorious colours - and a chance to watch SAORI weaving on a very swish portable loom.
With all this going on, and the chatting and catching up with friends from different Guilds, it's surprising that anyone got any spinning done. However, many bobbins were filled, and - as far as I could see - everyone left smiling after a most enjoyable day.
Very many thanks to everyone for coming, and especial thanks to Bryn, our Programme Secretary, for all her hard work in organising such a successful day.
Photographs to follow, I hope.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Abergele Guild Friendship Day, Sunday, April 13th. 2014

A warm welcome is extended to all our friends at our open day this Sunday. We will be back in the Community Centre in LlanfairTH. from 10 till 4.  We are having a talk from Hilary Whatmough at 11 entitled "Waste not, want not", and a variety of trade stands (these will be available for most of the day). £3 entry includes tea and cake. If you're staying for lunch, please bring a contribution for a shared buffet.
For map, please go to the right hand side column of the blog.

Thursday, 13 March 2014


Our main update is in the post below, but Kate has shown me the pattern for her lovely moss-stitch baby bootees.  As it's copyrighted by Sue Goldthorpe, I can't reproduce it here, but I'm happy to provide the link to the Wool Shop Leeds:  http://www.thewoolshopleeds.co.uk
The pattern is dated 2009, and isn't on the website at present, but I'm sure that the Wool Shop will be able to help.  I hope we can have a photograph of the finished boots at some stage. 

... and March

We've had a busy few weeks since our last entry on the blog.  Thanks very much to the Gwynedd Guild for their hospitality on their Friendship Day:  they were very busy in their temporary (?) home in LlanfairPG, and those Abergele members who made the journey had a good time.
Our twice-monthly meetings continue to be well attended, and we have all been spinning away like mad.  More thanks, this time to our Chairlady, for opening up her home on Sunday for us all.  It was a glorious Spring day, and we would have been tempted to sit outside if it hadn't been decidedly chilly despite the sunshine.  No cake pictures this time, as it disappeared too quickly.
The star of the event was undoubtedly Hilary's replica great wheel a.k.a. The Walking Wheel.  It really is too big to fit into one photograph.  It is in beautiful, working order and we have hopes that it may make a guest appearance at our own Friendship Day next month (if there's room!)
A very Great wheel, with two of its' smaller cousins in the background.  Interestingly, it appears to have a form of "Scotch" tension controlling the Sleeping Beauty-type spindle. 

Just to prove that it does work! (with apologies for the poor-quality edit, to remove someone's bottom from the shot).  Spinning on a great wheel requires a knack which is easy to loose when you're used to using both hands on a modern wheel.  Basically, you turn the wheel with one hand while drafting backwards with the other.  The thread "clicks" off the point of the spindle, as you walk slowly away.  When you've run out of arms you walk forwards to wind the thread on to the spindle.  A stick in the left hand, to turn the wheel, would help.

Another beautifully made piece of kit:  Yvonne's Turkish spindle (in pieces).  For some reason, I don't have a picture of it assembled and working.  Next time?   

 Two more images from our last spinning evening in Abergele:  June's very smart blanket squares,

and someone making sure to keep her seat...