Archive for the ‘Diary & News’ Category

Learning to weave on a rigid heddle loom

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

 

Last year I bought a second-hand spinning wheel from a local charity shop and with it came a rather ancient rigid heddle table loom. Eventually I decided it was time to start learning how to weave. With the help of a U-tube video clip, my husband and I managed to warp up the loom and so we embarked on our first weaving project.

 

As I never want to spend time making something for which I may have no practical use, I rejected the advice to start with something small, like a table mat, and decided we would weave a scarf. Rather ambitiously, we decided to use several colours in both the warp and the weft and to aim for a checked pattern. We also started off using cotton, as we had inherited a large quantity of mercerised cotton in a variety of attractive colours.

 

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My husband is holding our first scarf as it came off the loom, with the rows of waste yarn still in place. Of course the edges are not completely straight and the colour changes not made perfectly, but I have to say we were quite pleased with our first efforts and felt inspired to continue weaving.

The photo below shows our latest efforts, this time using naturally-dyed wool, some of it handspun. The colours are from woad, madder and fungi.

 

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The garden in late spring

Friday, June 21st, 2013

 

We have had some lovely sunny days recently and so I took the opportunity to take some photos of my little garden. I do miss my old garden but I have tried to make the most of the small space we have here. I have concentrated on dye plants and plants to attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. I have tried to grow mainly native plants, except for some summer plants, such as fuchsias and dahlias, for pots and the plants that were already here, such as wisteria, and of course roses, which I could not be without for their perfume.

 

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Woad in flower in the tiny dye garden in front of my summer house

 

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Wisteria in flower

 

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General garden view with angelica in the foreground

 

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A detail of the angelica plant which the bees love

 

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The roses are just beginning to come into bloom

 

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Centaurea montana which the bees love

 

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The grass is full of daisies which are popular with insects and with my granddaughter for making daisy-chain necklaces

 

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The native red campion (Silene dioica) which is often full of bees

 

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This photo shows on the left the native Geranium pratense and on the right Pilosella aurantiaca or Orange Hawkweed, also called Fox and Cubs

 

 

 

 

Learning new skills

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

 

I’m afraid I’m just showing off but I’m so pleased to have learned two new skills from workshops at the West Sussex Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, of which I am a member. The West Sussex Guild is very small and friendly and one of its features is the willingness of members to share their skills. So, although we can’t always afford the more expensive tutors, we have opportunities for learning new techniques from one another.

The first workshop, led by Martine Woodvine, was on spinning fancy yarns and this is something I have wanted to learn for many years. In fact, I find it hard to believe that I have been a handspinner for over 30 years and have only just begun to learn how to spin fancy yarns.   The photos below show some of the yarns I have spun.

 

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The other workshop, led by Jane Rodgers, was on simple braiding techniques. I must admit that braiding is not something that has ever really attracted me, mainly because I prefer crafts that enable me to produce items for which I have a use and I couldn’t see that I would have much use for braids. However, now that I have been introduced to the delights of braiding, I realise that braids can be made into many things, including necklaces and bracelets, and I am now about to start my fourth braid. I love watching the pattern emerge as the braid begins to grow and I can see that braiding can become quite addictive! The photo below shows two of my braids made into necklaces and a third braid waiting to be finished off.

 

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I am grateful to Martine and Jane for enabling me to discover the pleasures of two new skills.   P.S. No natural dyes this time, I’m afraid

Jill Goodwin 1917 – 2013

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

 

This week I was saddened to learn from her daughter that Jill Goodwin, author of “A Dyer’s Manual”, died on March 23rd at the age of 95.

 

“A Dyer’s Manual” is a classic in the natural dyeing field and was a vital source of inspiration and information for me and so many dyers of my generation and also for the generation of dyers that followed. Without  this book, which is full of Jill’s knowledge and experience presented in a clear and direct manner, I would certainly not have had the information or motivation to experiment with dyes from plants.

 

I corresponded with Jill at regular intervals over many years and cherish the letters she wrote me.  One of my most prized possessions is a hat she crocheted for me from her handspun walnut-dyed wool and each time I wear it I am reminded of her generosity of spirit and warmth of personality. Jill was a spinner and weaver as well as a natural dyer and she always kept abreast of developments in the textile world generally and in the field of natural dyeing in particular. She never lost her interest in everything new and was often the first to tell me about the latest new fibre or dyeing technique. Every now and then she would telephone me and she usually started by asking “Have you heard about….?” or “Did you know that….?”

 

Whenever I visited Jill – and I wasn’t able to do so very often – she had more dyed samples and hand-made treasures to show me and she was always keen to hear about my latest experiments. She was in contact with dyers from all over the world and shared her knowledge readily and enthusiastically. The breadth of her experience was vast and her advice was always useful and to the point.

 

I will miss Jill and I feel privileged to have known her. I am grateful for all that I was able to learn from her over the decades and I am sure that “A Dyer’s Manual” will continue to inspire dyers for many years to come.

Hacked again

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

 

I’m afraid my website has yet again been hacked into, so Colin, my website manager, has suggested I make it more difficult for people to make comments, at least for the time being. I apologise if this causes any inconvenience.

However, I can still be contacted by clicking on to  “Contact Jenny” at the right-hand side of the home page.

 

On a more positive note, I’m pleased to report that the first draft of the new book is ready to be sent to the publishers. Oh, and the sun is shining here today, although it is cold; the primroses and hellebores are brightening up the garden and the daffodils are beginning to come into flower. Perhaps spring will come before too long and I will be able to take the few remaining photos for my book.

 

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Images of the garden

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

I’m afraid my dyeing activities have been curtailed during recent weeks because I have dislocated my hip for the second time since Easter and this means that sadly I am now even more limited in what I can manage physically.  However, I hope to be able to embark on some more dyeing experiments soon, with the help of two kind friends who have generously offered to help with lifting and carrying etc.

In the meantime, here are some photos of my garden as it looks at present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The photo below was taken a few weeks ago and shows woad in flower, with a dyer’s broom bush in the foreground.

Alpaca Scarves

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

My most recent activity has not involved any dyeing. Instead, I have been spinning alpaca fleece from Sussex-bred alpacas and then knitting scarves from the beautifully soft hand-spun yarn.

The alpacas have been bred at Hartfield, East Sussex by Caroline Vickery, who together with her mother, Beverley Vickery, has a prize-winning flock of over 50 alpacas, whose natural fleece colours range from white, tan, dark brown to black. The fleece can be supplied in its raw state, just as it comes off the animal, or as washed and carded fleece. I prefer the washed and carded fleece, which is soft and wonderful to spin, and I have enjoyed experimenting with stripes or plying two different colours together to create a marled effect.

As the photos below show, the alpacas are charming, friendly, curious creatures and clearly thrive in the Sussex Weald. For further information look at the website www.alpacassale.net/ or enter “Alpacas at Wealden Sussex” into your search engine.

 

 

 

The photo below shows some of the scarves I have knitted. Now I just have to sell some before I start making more!

 

2012 World of Threads Festival in Canada

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I have been asked by Dawne Rudman, Chair and Festival Curator of the World of Threads Festival 2012, to bring this event to your attention.

The World of Threads Festival is a leading international showcase for contemporary fibre art and calls for submissions are now being made. The four categories are:

1  Artwork and Interior Gallery Installations

2  Outside Environmental Installations

3  “Fibre Inspired” Exhibition

4  Proposals for Independent Projects

Anyone interested in being involved in this festival should look at the website (www.worldofthreadsfestival.com) for further information.

A new book from Helen Melvin

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

In an earlier post I wrote about some of Helen Melvin’s booklets on different aspects of natural dyeing and I was delighted to notice that she has added another title to her list. This latest one, “Colours of the World – Eco Dyeing”, deals with mordanting and dyeing using methods which include cool mordanting, solar dyeing, patterning with rust, water bath dyeing and fermentation dyeing.

As usual, Helen offers some interesting ideas for experiments and writes in a way which is sure to leave dyers keen to embark on colour discoveries. The photos of the dyed materials add to the impact of the book, which should be of interest to both new and experienced dyers. It has certainly inspired me to experiment with some of her methods.

This is Helen’s new booklet which, like all her others, has a beautiful hand-painted cover.

For more details and to purchase a copy, click on the link to Fiery Felts, under the heading “Useful Websites”.

Findon Sheep Fair

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Findon, the village in West Sussex where I now live, has its own Sheep Fair, which takes place every year on the second Saturday in September. Findon Sheep Fair can be traced back to the 13th century and is run entirely by volunteers, who do an excellent job. After a few bleak years following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, when no sheep were actually allowed at the fair, Findon Sheep Fair has gone from strength to strength and is an important event in the village.

There are many sheep sections and also some other animals and birds of prey. In addition to the animal attractions, there are sideshows, food stalls, a craft marquee and a fun-fair, so there is plenty for all the family. This year I joined other members of the West Sussex Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers and we demonstrated spinning in the craft marquee.

One of the main attractions of the fair is The Sheep Show with its dancing sheep. (Yes, these sheep can really dance in a sheep-like fashion! If you enter “Dancing Sheep” or “The Sheep Show” into your search engine you will be able to see the dancing sheep for yourselves.) The two photos below show the sheep during their performance.

This year children from the local school were invited to show sheep. This photo shows some of the younger competitors leading their sheep around the ring.

Below some more sheep parade round the ring.

Jacob sheep in their pen

Shetland sheep

And last but not least the local Southdown sheep