Saturday, 9 December 2017

STOP PRESS : Sunday 10th December meeting cancelled

With great regret, we have cancelled Sunday's pre-Christmas meeting in Betws yn Rhos in advance of the predicted heavy snowfall.  Although the main roads are clear (at the time of writing) the side roads are treacherous with slush and ice, and may be under several inches of snow by the morning.
It's a great shame, as we always have a great time with a shared meal, raffle and quiz - not to speak of spinning, chatting and keeping nice and warm.

So, sorry folks, and I hope to see you all in the New Year - Happy Christmas!


Friday, 13 October 2017

All Wales Event, Llanidloes, 2017

The biennial meeting of all (well, most of) the Welsh Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers is always a great chance to meet up with old friends and catch up with what we have all been doing for the last couple of years.
The meeting is held in the Minerva Centre - an ex-car showroom in Llanidloes.  Over the years, the exhibition space has developed from an echoing cavern, still smelling faintly of motor oil, into a very nice venue indeed.  This year we had the benefit of a new permanent partition dividing the trade area, and a spanking bright new sink and drainer for washing up (and for textile workshops of course).   The Guilds' Challenge this year was on the theme of "Sea and Sky", and as usual the variety and standard of work was excellent.  I am pleased to report that our contribution, co-ordinated by Jenni Frost and based on a piece woven by her on a peg loom, stood out proudly from the others.

Val and our contribution to the Guilds' Challenge.

Bryn and Jenni arrived at the crack of dawn to set up the display of work, and Bryn very nobly put on show the files and folders from her recent Certificate of Achievement in spinning.  Congratulations to her for her excellent work and well-deserved result.

Bryn and Jenni with their display of our work.

In the afternoon, we were treated to a fascinating lecture about historic Welsh textiles from Louise Mumford, Senior Conservator at the National Museum of Wales. Louise had the privilege of conserving the "Llan-gors Textile" - a fragmentary piece found in the sediment of Llangorse lake, near Brecon.  This amazing fabric, based on fine linen at 23 threads/cm., was scrunched into an amorphous lump and dropped into the mud about a thousand years ago.  After it was found in 1990, Louise it was who unravelled it piece by piece, recording every step of the way.  More information at
Back to the present, and a final look around the trade stands (selling all sorts of desirable stuff from dyed fibre to fine fleece and equipment) and a last cup of tea before heading homewards into the setting sun.
Thanks to all who took part, especially Hilary Miller and her team of helpers, and Jenni and Bryn for our display (and Alan for the photographs).

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Another busy weekend, September 17th. & 18th.

This time we were in and around the Conwy Valley spinning and chatting to the public.
On Friday evening Val, Alan and the CamperVan pitched up at Gorjys Music Festival in Caerhûn and were joined on Saturday by Betty and Alison.  We all had a good time, as usual, explaining about textiles in general and spinning in particular.  It was interesting to meet a different set of folk from the norm:  we are often demonstrating at "country" or craft events where many visitors are already interested in spinning or weaving - or sheep.  At Caerhûn, they come for the music and are sometimes surprised to meet handspinners.  We had a great display of handmade items for visitors to look at, thanks to Val and Alan and their pin weaving frames, and Val had brought naturally dyed fibres, equipment and lots of other things all carefully labelled.  Betty and Alison brought themselves, and their spinning kit.
Alison was driven away by the midges in the evening, but everyone else stayed for the music under the stars.

And then on Sunday, many of us joined the joyful throng at Pensychnant Conservation Centre & Nature Reserve, just outside Conwy itself, for their first Wool Sunday.  This was a spectacularly successful event and a chance just to sit, spin and natter to friends.  Tea and cake, talks and walks, stalls and a whole marquee of things.... a butterfly release.... sunshine.... what more could one ask?  Thanks to Jenny Pritchard and her friends at Pensychnant for the organisation.  More details about the Centre at

Monday, 21 August 2017

Gwrych Medieval Fair, August 20th. 2017

(two posts in a week.... very unusual!)

We go to some interesting places in our lives as spinners, weavers and dyers:  Gwrych Castle is one such, and it's getting more interesting all the time.  The castle was built in the early 1800s in "mediaeval" style, but later fell into disuse.  In the 20th century it became increasingly derelict but in 1997 a Trust was formed to preserve the site and as much of the castle as possible.  Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust now has a 25-year lease on 5 acres of the site, and runs several public open days a year.
Their Medieval (no "a" for some reason) Fair is becoming an annual event - we were there last year, on the terrace with Val and Alan and the trusty camper van to which we tether our stand.  Unfortunately Val and Alan were away this year, so we apologised to the Trust and said we could attend only if we had somewhere to hammer in tent pegs to secure the gazebo.  They promised us a nice spot on the main field with the re-enactors.  However, following a freak gust of wind on the Saturday, several traders were forced to leave taking their twisted and wrecked tents with them -  leaving a prime pitch for us, right in the middle of the action next to the mead seller, with the best of the sunlight all day (until it rained, but that was much later).

Jenni and the display in the gazebo.

The "authentic" side of the field, demonstrating living in the early Middle Ages,  armour and clothing from the Wars of the Roses (and knightly children's games).

The other side of the field, with lots of interesting things to buy - and the most futuristic "gazebo" ever?

After seeing some very anachronistic stuff at the recent Conwy Tournament, I suggested that we might just demonstrate things more in keeping with the mediaeval period - one thing led to another, and here are Jenni and I all dressed up:
Photograph courtesy of Noël Carter.
Jenni has her beautiful (expensive?) top-whorl spindle, and I have my handmade clay-weight-on-a-stick.

We had a lot of compliments (Making an Effort is obviously a good thing) and several of the serious re-enactors came for lessons in drop spindling and braid weaving.
As always, there was lots of interest from members of the public. There was also, as there sometimes is, a fair bit of confusion between "spinning" and "weaving", which we were able to put right.  And some folk genuinely do not know that wool comes from a sheep and cotton is from a plant, and that they are not the same thing at all.  We like to think that we were able to explain the differences and send everyone on their way fully enlightened.
Betty joined us in the afternoon, but by this time I had forgotten about my camera - so no more photographs.  Not even of the genuine Viking cat - a grey and white Norwegian Forest Cat sitting in a harness, graciously making friends with all and sundry.  I want one.  But I would need a mortgage.
The weather was kind until the last hour, when it tipped down and everyone scurried to take down their dripping tents without shooting too much water into their luggage.  Jenni now has the job of drying our gazebo in her barn.  And I have discovered that a) it's easy to work in a long skirt if you hitch it up, and b) linen and ramie dry incredibly quickly.
Many thanks to Mark and Robin for inviting us, to our fellow participants for their interest and welcome, and of course to Jenni and Betty for their sterling work on our stand.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

up-to-date now?

I'm sorry for the gap in posting - I just haven't got around to it (if anyone has a round tuit, perhaps they could show me how to make one).
Also, I haven't been taking photographs:  we had a great time at Woodfest Wales at the end of July, lots of interest in our stand and so on, but I was too busy on the Saturday to take any pictures.  I did manage this one just before I went home:
Abergele Guild at Woodfest Wales.  It wasn't anything like this miserable during the day,

Last Sunday we met in Betws yn Rhos to spin and weave - on opposing sides of the room. The spinners commented on the lack of chat from the weavers.  Well, we were concentrating.  Hard.
Weaving in the red corner....

...and in the blue corner: spinning!

Jenny's little loom proved a bit of a challenge to warp for the first time:
but after a team effort, she got going and produced her first piece of weaving (and it was enviably even).

Note the smile!
Jenni and Edith were steaming ahead too, but my four shaft table loom took a bit more time.  (Update, Tuesday:  I am still denting the reed, and am about half way across.  It's linen at 12 ends per inch, so I think I'm excused the slow pace?)

Warp, with matching mug.

Look: in the background, Edith has already got her heddle threaded and is tying the warp on the front beam.  Nothing much happening in the foreground.
A good time was had by all - mostly.  We ought to admit to a certain amount of sighing and silent swearing and re-doing from the weavers, but everyone came away in an optimistic frame of mind.  I think.
Especial thanks are due to Paul for the outstanding Victoria sponge.  It was a real prize-winner, despite the alleged mix-up about the ingredients (I can't believe there was no baking powder in it).

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Another busy Monday meeting

The diversity of spinning and weaving was evident at our Monday evening meeting this week:  drop-spindling, spinning on wheels, spinning fancy yarn, weaving - you name it, we were doing it.
Yvonne and her drop spindle.

Val and the mini-pin loom.
Hilary and a midi pin loom.
More glorious colours from Edith.

Bryn's super-coil slub yarn.

The pièce de résistance: Edith's very first weaving.

(and the cake picture)

We were pleased to have a visit from Jules, who had spent the previous few days spinning at the Conwy Tournament, and hope she might join us again in the future.  As usual, Val had excelled herself and produced an amazing cake with fruit from her garden.
Thanks to all who attended - see you again soon.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Abergele Hospital Fête

Another gig on home territory, this time at the Abergele Hospital League of Friends Summer Fête on Saturday, June 24th.  Jenni and Alison (now experts in Gazebo pitching) spent an enjoyable couple of hours entertaining and being entertained.
The weather was kind - a little breezy and overcast to start with, but turning warm and sunny as the afternoon progressed.  The visitors were plentiful, and interested to watch us turning fibre into yarn.  Lots of intelligent questions, and some possible new members; we gave out lots of business cards and flyers, so we'll see if anyone takes the step of joining us.  They will, of course be very welcome.
There was plenty of good quality musical entertainment - a brass band, a Welsh children's choir and some talented musical sixth formers from the local school.

Thanks to the organisers for inviting us - we hope to be back next year!
Just gearing up for a successful day, and trusting that the weather forecast is correct. 

The band strikes up.

A prime corner plot for the gazebo.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Warping a rigid heddle loom with Clare Minty

Last Sunday we dusted off our rigid heddle looms for an excellent weaving workshop given by Clare Minty.  Clare brought her years of experience as a professional weaver to solve many of the niggly problems of warping up a loom on your own, and showed clearly and concisely how to achieve a balanced, properly tensioned warp "without tears".   She dealt with all aspects of the process, from assessing the sett of the yarns to making a balanced tabby weave.
Along the way, we picked up a host of useful tips - do the warping with loom and warping peg on a long table; always thread through the holes of the reed when winding the warp (if you thread through the slots the warp sags on its' way back to the warping post); use clips as temporary fastenings for groups of thread at the back of the loom while you change colour; use simple but firm ties on the peg end to separate slot and hole threads.   Best tips of all:  don't remove the warp from the peg when you wind on, but simply slide the loom along the table towards the peg as you turn the back beam round.  And don't beat the weft into place - "place" it into position!
At the end of the day, the participants had warped up their looms successfully and were eager to get on with their new weaving projects.  Our many thanks go to Clare for sharing her expertise.

All secure with weights and G-cramp  (to hold the loom) and small clamps (to hold the warp).
Unwinding tidily from the middle of the ball of yarn.

All the ends through the holes (only) at this stage.

The loom trundling along under firm control as Clare winds the warp onto the back beam.

Sleying the reed:  every other thread now passes through a slot.

Threads now tied on, and a couple of pieces of card in position to spread the warp threads parallel to each other.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Abergele Spring Festival

Easter in the Park Day.
Abergele District Action Group Fun Day
What you will.
The Abergele District Action Group run a good event, with efficient organisation and cheerful helpers, so we were pleased to be invited back - this time for their Easter Fun Day.  Jenni and Alison set off bright and early to Pentre Mawr Park in Abergele to show the flag for the Spinners and Weavers in our home town.  We had an excellent position by the walled garden, with lots of space for our new gazebo.  As there was only a light breeze, we put it up without any trouble - but unfortunately the light breeze was a chilly one, and by the end of the day we were seriously thinking of wearing all the hand knitted garments in our display.  Hilary joined us for the afternoon, and many hands certainly made light work for taking down and packing away.

There were lots of visitors (probably because the event was free!) and we had lots of interest in our spinning and weaving.  As usual, the children "cottoned on" to the ideas and one or two even had a go at the drop spindling.  And, as usual, there was one bright spark who immediately worked out exactly what all the bits on the spinning wheel are for.
Jenni all in the Green Grotto
 Our next event:  our usual Monday evening meeting, April 24th in Abergele.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Open Day 2017

The sun shone brightly on our first Open Day in Betws yn Rhos, and we really appreciated the spacious accommodation in the Community Centre.  Thanks to the hard work by Bryn and Jenni (Hilary and Alison being mostly elsewhere) stallholders, Guild members and visitors all had a good time, taking advantage of the free tea and cakes!
As always, we were pleased to welcome friends old and new from other local Guilds - thanks to them for coming.  Following recent (good) publicity we also met several members of the public who came along to see what we do.
We were sorry that our local drop spindle maker was unable to join us, but were able to gaze enviously at Chris Jukes's wonderful collection and marvel at her expertise during her demonstration.  Mandy Coates brought her baskets, Krithia brought wares from the Anvil Pottery and Glenys Snowdonia Wools brought her lovely yarns and knitting sundries.
A quiet moment in the hall

Betty enjoying the sunshine.

On-site advertising - bunting and banner.


...and her collection.

Jenni and Shirley brought fibre from their flocks, and most of us contributed to the stash sale - thanks to Val and Edith for taking the money on our behalf.  We had a really good display of work by Guild members - weaving, spinning and dyeing all on view.  Jenni's tombola was a star attraction with Super Prizes, and it generated a staggering amount of money for our coffers.
All in all, an excellent day out.  Thank you to all who helped, and who attended.  Here's to next year!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Exactly a month late.

Some photographs taken at last month's meeting, with apologies for not getting round to posting them at the proper time.
Lots of colour in evidence on a February day: spinning of course, and also weaving and friendship-bracelet making by our youngest participant.
I hope that today's meeting is as successful!