Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas (only slightly early)

Another Spinning Sunday in Betws yn Rhos, and as it is almost Christmas - but not quite -  we had a suitably celebratory shared lunch.  Amazing soup from Val for starters, which would normally have been a lunch in itself for most of us.  However, we took several deep breaths and pushed on regardless to quiche, beans, salad, humus, sausages, bread etc. etc., and then ....... puddings (scones, fruit....).  I forgot to take a cake photograph as there wasn't any of your actual cake, but here is a post-pudding snap:

Further entertainment was provided with Jenni's Amazing Christmas Quiz with generous prizes.  The questions were decidedly tricky (guess the sheep breed, anyone?) and Bryn had a well deserved first place.
We even managed to get a bit of spinning done - all that treadling must have burned off a few calories, surely?

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i bawb!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Peg looms and cake

Some pictures of our peg loom day at Betws yn Rhos on Sunday:

Jenni F. measuring the warp.

Yvonne's "pot holder" loom.

and a woven square (pot holder?).

(and some cake)

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Gorgeous Gorjys.

A report from Val, who obviously had a good time at the Gorjys Event at Caerhun Hall on Saturday.  Thanks to all the Guild members who took time to attend, and special thanks to Val and Alan for the use of their campervan.

"We had a very enjoyable weekend at Caerhun, and perfect weather for it.
Krithia, Betty and Shirley came along on Saturday. 
The house and grounds were beautiful with the most spectacular enormous Cedar I have ever seen, under which everyone sat for the Friday night entertainment.  All the mature trees were illuminated and there was a harvest moon to add to the atmosphere.  On Saturday, we listened to a good mix of young musicians on the nearby stage as we spun, chatted (and ate cake ).  There was a constant flow of happy relaxed families and festival go'ers, who took an interest in the Guild stall.  Several people said they would be interested in joining, so we shall see.  We were also able to inform people that they can join a Guild nearer to their home."

Monday, 15 August 2016

Another Sunday spinning.

It gets a bit difficult to think of new and scintillating things to write about our "ordinary" spinning meetings.  What do we do? We "just" meet and spin.  But of course it's not "just" that.  Everyone is doing something slightly different, and everyone learns from everyone else.
This time in Betws yn Rhos:
Shirley was spinning some gorgeous coloured mixed tops (with silk?) and fixed the clunk in her wheel with a little oil from Edith.  Edith also fixed Alison's spinning wheel with the gift of a tiny piece of electrical cable to connect the treadle to the conrod - if that's what it's called.  Bryn is soldiering on with her Wensleydale fleece for the Certificate of Achievement, and it looks quite fluffy for a lustre yarn.  It will certainly be warm when it's made into something... or other.
Betty produced a top secret item for the Clwyd Guild challenge (a clue:  it's knitted purl 2, knit 1 on every row and comes out as a really textured rib).  Yvonne demonstrated some fiendishly fast and stretchy knitting on a cast-off, but I still don't know how she did it.  Jenni and Kate enjoyed some peaceful spinning time out of their hectic schedules.
Apart from spinning, we did our usual chatting, but this time there were long spells of complete silence as everyone concentrated on their work.  Even the spinning wheels were fairly quiet most of the time, apart from an occasional clunk/whirr/squeak, and we luxuriated in the peace of a rural North Wales Sunday.  Young Edryd, who is going to be the strong silent type, joined in the quiet on the whole although he did occasionally feel moved to fill the space with some carefully chosen baby splutterings.  Mostly, however, he just kept an eye on us to make sure we behaved.
One side of the room..

...and the other side.
No cake pictures this time, as there wasn't any cake.  

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Woodfest 2016, part II

Saturday and Sunday at Woodfest Wales were bright and busy, until it started to rain on Sunday afternoon when everyone packed up early and went home.  Many thanks to everyone who took part and helped to spread the word about handspinning and weaving.  We all had a good time (I think!), and some of us were quite hoarse from all the talking.  Thank you also to our friends from the Clwyd Guild who came along to help on Sunday - thanks to Gill for the photos.
JuMu's ever popular broom loom. (L-ooooh-m?)

Lizzie from Clwyd Guild with a slightly smaller pegloom.

Sunday's stand full of fascinating things to look at.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Friday at Woodfest Wales

A quiet-ish start to the Woodfest Weekend - hardly a surprise as it was a weekday in term time.  As you might expect, there were a lot of older people and children under school age - and dogs of all shapes and sizes.  In fact, you could rename the event Dogfest.
A steady trickle of people made their way to the Woodcraft marquee, and could hardly miss the Abergele Guild stand right by the door.

As always, people were fascinated by spinning and spinning wheels: by the fact that something as light and fluffy as fleece can be turned into a strong "thread" just by twisting; by the ingenuity of whoever invented the spinning wheel; by the way the thing works with a simple treadle, drive band and braking system.  And, as always, everyone had their own story:  the man who was born in a woollen mill in mid-Wales; the lady who knits for her grandchildren and talks to them on Skype; the two lads (on a school outing?) who knew all about drop spindles - "the Romans used them"; the ladies who always wanted to learn to spin;  the men who remembered their mothers/aunts/grandmothers spinning and knitting many years ago.
Several people were bold enough to have a try at using a drop spindle, with a bit of help.  "Bottom hand pinch, top hand pull, top hand pinch, bottom hand let go and move up to meet top hand, and I'll look after the spindle for you".  Or in the cases of several very tiny children, "You spin the spindle and I'll stretch the wool for you".  In all cases the intrepid spindlers went away with a small length of woad dyed yarn and a sense of achievement.
Bigger crowds are predicted for the weekend, so let's hope the weather remains fine.


Thursday, 9 June 2016

Gwrych Castle Open Day, Sunday June 5th.

A gloriously hot June day - possibly a bit too hot - finds Val, Alan and Alison at Gwrych Castle Open Day.
 Gwrych Castle is a slightly odd place:  a Victorian castle-residence-folly which has been semi derelict for years.  If you look it up in Wikipedia you read that it is a hotel and leisure centre.  It isn't.
I am not entirely sure who actually owns it ("EPM UK"), but the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust is doing stalwart work to maintain and restore the site .
They kindly invited us back after last year's successful gig, and we had a prime site on the upper terrace.  This had the benefit (as the estate agents say) of a spectacular view across Abergele to Liverpool Bay.  There was also some welcome shade as the sun swept round to its' zenith.
Val and Alan came in their camper van, which provided a windbreak and tea-making facilities in one.  Thanks are due to Jenni F. for lending her gazebo; all in all we had a very comfortable, even luxurious, pitch.
Although visitor numbers were perhaps a little lower than expected, we had lots of interest in our spinning.  People came from all over the U.K. -  most were on half term holiday, and many were staying in the campsite at the bottom of the hill.
Our friends of JuMu designs were weaving away behind us; the mediaeval knights and their retainers were battling away below us, and conjuring, fire-eating and stilt-walking were all on display.
Val brought her prized Scandinavian wheel, a present from one of her sons who carried it personally (in his rucksack?) all the way from Denmark.  It isn't in working order yet, but Alan has plans for it.  Val was spinning Jacob's fleece from the farm park at the bottom of the hill - very appropriate to the time and place - and I kept in with the mediaeval flavour by drop spindle spinning woad dyed fleece.


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Katie's Core Spinning Workshop in our new home.

Our first event in our new home in Betws yn Rhos was a great success, with a good turnout and several visitors from other Guilds.
Thanks to Jenni and Gill for the photographs:  no captions required!


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Friendship Day 2016: hello and goodbye

Once again, we had a lovely time at our Friendship Day meeting friends old and new.  Somehow, calling it a "friendship" day seems to guarantee a good atmosphere:  everyone comes to enjoy themselves, have a good natter and possibly do a bit of spinning.

The Committee and our Catering Officer (hello, Val!) arrived bright and early to set up the tables and get the kitchen under control, followed by our stallholders and their wonderful stuff.  Thanks to "Nunoco" for their grand spread of mixed and coloured fibres, Krithia for her pots (including some very desirable spinning bowls), Pea Restall of the Peculiar Gallery for some scrumptious ceramic buttons, and Helen Melvin for her naturally dyed fleece, books and inks.

Setting up...

Nunoco - their little packets of fibre have wonderful names: batt droppings, anyone?!

... and in full swing:


Especial thanks to Chris Jukes for bringing some of her enormous collection of spindles for "supported" spinning, and for giving a fascinating talk and demonstration.  

Chris taught herself to use a supported spindle in ten-minute bursts while watching the Tour de France some years ago, and is now completely addicted.  Her collection of spindles and spindle bowls must be second to none: all kinds from simple whittled wooden sticks to spindles with sophisticated spun glass ends like miniature paper weights.  After keeping us all spellbound by spinning a fine and even yarn, she generously allowed us to pore over the collection and a couple of brave souls had a go.....  the trick is to use a long draw technique, and to have a nice shiny and stable bowl on your knees to keep the spindle safe.

Many, many thanks to Bryn and Jenni for their hard work in organising the stalls, the raffle and the stash table (and thanks to Jenni for "fixing" the raffle so that everyone got a prize!).  Thanks also to those who brought cake and biscuits.  We packed up a little early, tidied and swept up and were out of the hall at four o'clock on the dot.  
As you may remember if you've been following this blog, we have a new venue for our Sunday meetings from next month onwards.  Today we said "goodbye / hwyl fawr"  to the Community Centre in Llanfair T.H., set the burglar alarm and locked up for the last time.  We have had some good times in Llanfair but we are looking forward to moving into our new home in Betws y Rhos for Katie Weston's core spinning workshop on May 8th.  See you there!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Looking to the future.

First of all, we are looking forward to this Sunday, when we are holding our Friendship Day in LlanfairTalhaearn Community Hall.  We will have a number of trade/selling stands, including natural fibres, dyed fibres, pottery and our own stash sale.  With any luck, there will be cake.  There will of course be plenty of spinning going on as well.

Secondly, we are moving!  The future of the Community Centre itself is increasingly uncertain, meaning that we cannot book further events there with any confidence.  We will therefore be holding our Sunday meetings in the village hall in Betws yn Rhos, which is between Llanfair and Abergele (so a bit nearer our official home).  Further details, including start date, will be posted as soon as they are available.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Spring is here -

- the clocks went forward yesterday and Storm Katie has (thank goodness) passed us by.  That isn't to say that the weather here has been completely balmy and Springlike; Easter weekend was pretty nasty, and one of our members has apparently been snowed in at home for over a week.
However,  Bank Holidays don't stop us from enjoying our spinning if we can get out, and we met as usual in Abergele tonight.
Val has made a crochet picot edging for her her pin loom poncho , and it's perfect.

Yvonne also finishes her handspun articles:

And everyone else is working up to being in a position to finish their stuff, too:

Look closely, and note the worsted combs...

Lovely even spinning from Edith.

Natural dyes on tussah silk ready for Helen's drop spindle.

Chunky "heather mixture" from Jenni.

And finally:  The Cake Picture (haven't had one of these for a while).

Our next "gig" is our Friendship Day in LlanfairTH on Sunday, April 10th.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Spinning Sunday

Another beautiful Spring day, and another chance to watch the birdlife from Hilary's living room while doing a bit of spinning.  Today we were treated to several fly-pasts by the sparrowhawk, who settled on the bird feeders long enough for us to get a good look at her striking speckled plumage in the sunlight. (I just looked it up:  females are brown, males are smaller and greyish.)
We also saw a whole descent of woodpeckers - well, three. (I looked that up, too.  Along with charms of goldfinches, parliaments of owls and an unkindness of ravens, you can have a descent of woodpeckers.  What a lot you learn from the internet.)

As always, we had a lovely time spinning, chatting and admiring Val's latest weaving. We also admired our youngest attendee, who has grown a lot since we last met him.

Pin loom weaving continues to be popular, and Val has produced yet another amazing almost-finished piece! This is a poncho with a cosy knitted collar and a pocket, with just a bit of tidying round the edges left to do:


Kate demonstrating a triangular version of the pin loom...

... and Hilary using the square version.

Many Thanks to Hilary for her hospitality - see you all in Abergele on Easter Monday evening.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Razzle dazzle weaving.

Spring is not here yet, but there was a little light left in the sky when we set out to our evening meeting on Monday.  The full moon was rising, which might have had something to do with it, but it's a cheerful thought that the days really are getting longer.
Yvonne is knitting a scarf known as a Quaker Yarn Stretcher (why?) (does anyone know?), which sounds fearfully complicated with decreases and increases at the ends of the rows.  However, she says it's very easy, and a great way to use up bits and pieces of yarn.

Val brought her husband's amazing rug to show us; made with her handspun fibre and woven by him on his giant, home-made pin loom.  It has been beautifully made, properly fulled, and is quite honestly a masterpiece.  Comfortingly heavy, jazzy to look at but soft to the touch.  We were all fearfully impressed, and possibly a bit jealous of such a result on a first attempt at weaving.

Our next meeting is part of our "winter tour", and then we're back again in Abergele on the fourth Monday in March (which is Easter Monday, and it will be Summertime!!)