Thursday, 1 September 2011

Serendipity and Spinning

When I returned to volunteering at the "Big House" (Newton House at Dinefwr Park) on Monday I was delighted to discover that the Tawe Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers had a display of textiles which their members had made, as well as offering the public a chance to spin or weave. Visiting children especially loved to try their hands at this.

I got chatting to the ladies and mentioned that "I used to spin" - although there has been so much happening in the last couple of years I haven't touched my wheel and this summer I really didn't have the heart to do ANY crafts. Anyway, I was soon assured that there was no such thing as "used to spin" and I was invited to bring along my wheel the next morning. I said yes before my brain had a chance to back off and think no!

I was SO GLAD that I took up this serendipitous opportunity as I was soon back in the swing of things, though I still need to work on my techniques. As someone said, it is half an hour or so to learn the basic technique and then the next 20 years perfecting it! There's hope for me yet then. Much chatting was done, both between ourselves and the various visitors to the house. One visitor from Sunderland was involved in Anglo-Saxon re-enactments and her speciality was spinning wool on a drop spindle and also Anglo-Saxon embroidery.

I forgot to take my camera on Tuesday so I popped back yesterday to take some photos of the exhibition. There was such a lot to see and all of it absolutely beautiful - be it woven, felted, knitted, hand-spun, hand-dyed or combinations of these.

This is what interests me more than anything. I have always been interested in using natural dyes, although my efforts thus far have only involved the commonest dyestuffs such as onion skins, elderberries, blackberries etc., using alum as a mordant.

You should be able to read what the dyestuffs are if you click on these pictures to enlarge them, and turn your head skew-whiff a few times!

Isn't this gorgeous? I'd love to learn how it was done. Wet-felted?

The narrow strips of weaving were done on an Inkle loom. The colourful piece below the book was made on a peg loom, and made my hands itch to do something on my tiny peg loom, just to see what I can create.

This was the loom set up to show visitors the techniques and they were offered the chance to have a go themselves .

This is Lindsey, who was setting up one of the bigger Inkle-type looms.

Another display of members' work. The light-coloured bedspread just behind the chair was AMAZING. As soft and light as a spider's web, mohair wool had been used to create this heirloom piece.

The Tawe Guild has recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and the Chairman's Challenge this year was items incorporating the themes of Pearls and Sweetpeas. As the following photographs show, members rose to the challenge and created some wonderful items in many different ways. The colours were so beautiful.

Last but not least, this display was along a seaside theme. The stripey bag is made from lengths of Inkle weaving sewn together, with a woven rug behind - lovely sea colours - and needle-felted "pebbles". I'm longing to have a go at one of those. Watch this space.

Needless to say I am keen to become a member of the Guild and very much look forward to the meeting after the AGM this month.

The Exhibition will be at Newton House today and tomorrow, so if you get the chance, go along and visit it. You won't be disappointed.


  1. I'm impressed! I own 2 antique spinning wheels but have no idea how to spin. I love the idea of using natural dyes on the yarn and thread.

  2. The exhibition looks wonderful! They have created so many beautiful colours and fabrics. What a talented group of craftswomen to join. I`m sure you will love working with them and making friends.