The Guild was delighted to welcome Anniken Allis as our guest speaker this month. Anniken is well known as a knitwear designer and teacher and she is the author of 'Beaded Lace Knitting'. Her talk was fun, engaging and informative and she managed to cope with some rather odd off-piste conversations, including a lively debate about Cornish versus Devonshire Cream Teas and the vital "cream-first or jam-first?" question! Entirely Anniken's fault, of course ... she told us that her Cornwall retreats kick off with cream teas!
However, we mostly behaved ourselves and Anniken rewarded us by giving us some practical tips on how to use the patterns in 'Beaded Lace Knitting' and on lace knitting in general ... click here.
An article on Anniken's visit and talk will be published in our next newsletter.
In honour of Anniken's visit, various members of the Guild knitted swatches from some of the lovely designs in 'Beaded Lace Knitting':
Basking in the success of our Guild stands at the Devon County Show and Proper Woolly, we met in June and enjoyed a very sociable meeting. This month our speaker was our very own Norma Sanders (much beloved for all the work she puts into organising refreshments for our meetings!). Norma has a vast amount of experience in selecting and preparing fleeces and this was the subject of her talk.
Edited to add: Louise Selby has written a great report which can be found here.
May is proving to be an exceptionally busy one for our Guild. We had a lively meeting earlier this month when Mary de Sallis gave a fascinating talk on the history of lace making in Devon and how the craft has evolved to include designs that are modern and innovative. Mary brought a multitude of wonderful samples and the non-lace-makers amongst us were hugely impressed with the beautiful designs and exquisite detail.
We are demonstrating, displaying and selling our crafts at both the Devon County Show (21-23 May) and Proper Woolly (30-31 May) and the level of organisation needed for these has been an eye-opener for this first-time participant. My respect for those who have handled these sorts of events in the past is boundless!
As well as the events in which we are participating there was, of course, the open day at John Arbon’s spinning mill in South Molton. It would be interesting to take a headcount of the number of Guild members who went along to see the machinery working and came away with gorgeous fibre, yarn and socks! A delicious variety of fibres somehow sneaked into my car and made their way home with me! Of course this won’t happen at Proper Woolly … ??
Afterwards we were all encouraged to ‘play’ with the small samples of Blue Faced Leicester and silk noils Sara had brought; blending the two fibres on hand carders, blending boards and drum carders. Photographic evidence can be checked out in our Gallery, ‘Talks/Presentations’.
We were delighted to welcome some new members, together with a couple of visitors who were obviously casing the joint before deciding whether it was safe to join our motley crew. We are hoping that the cakes were persuasive!
We have a full year ahead of us with lots of great speakers and workshops. Members of the Guild are also looking forward to demonstrating and sharing their fascination with their craft with the public at various events around the county (see our Events page).
Yet again we managed to entice Amanda Hannaford up to Exeter and she decided to talk to the Guild about “Spindle Spinning with a Passion” … well, it was Valentine’s Day!
Amanda showed us wonderful images of spindles throughout the ages and used many of her own spindles to illustrate the three main types; support, hand-held and suspended or drop spindles. Amanda also explained how the size, weight and design of a spindle affect the speed and duration of spin and, therefore, the type of fibre it is most suited for.
The entertaining (and educational!) talk resulted in resounding applause and was followed by us getting up-close-and-personal with the spindles Amanda had brought along from her own collection. It was fascinating to see the variety of materials used and the amazing workmanship that goes into the making of the spindles and bowls … some are fairly utilitarian but others are works of art:
Amanda then ran an informal workshop where a number of us tried (with varying levels of success!) to spin cotton. A few seemed to get the knack pretty quickly and were soon spinning acceptable singles. As for me … well, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that, after breaking my single more times than I care to remember, I eventually threw in the towel and cast loving looks in the direction of my Lendrum! A few photos of the mini-workshop can be seen on the ‘Gallery – Events’ page of this website (they do not include me or my gritted teeth!).
Amanda returned the next day to hold a workshop on English Longdraw. Sheilagh Robson was one of the lucky attendees and was kind enough to provide the following report:
Nine eager students gathered to learn English woollen longdraw spinning from Amanda Hannaford. We were a mixed bunch of spinners, some with many years of experience, others quite new to the craft.
Amanda began the day with an inspection of our fleece for suitability and an introduction into how different preparation, and different spinning methods, affected the finish of various wool samples. We were then shown how to produce that perfect rolag to make the longdraw an easier technique to master. There was much hilarity over the quality and quantity of rolags produced – thin ones, fat ones, fluffy ones and smooth, but by the end of the morning everyone was able to fashion very presentable rolags with which to proceed to the afternoon of spinning.
After a demonstration by Amanda of ‘how to do it’, we all embarked on trying to emulate the beautiful yarn she produced so effortlessly. Although the air was not quite blue, many of us had some frustrating attempts to get the chewing gum feeling that signalled success! Amanda was a kind and patient teacher, she gave everyone the individual attention they required, and by the end of the afternoon we were all making good progress with our longdraw spinning. I for one will need to do an awful lot more practice before it looks effortless, but it will be fun trying and it will be great to have another method of producing yarn for specific uses. The learning experience amongst a group of friendly faces made for a really enjoyable day.
Our thanks to Amanda (and, of course, Ginge - the ultimate enabler) … and a hint that she should probably start thinking of another subject and/or workshop for next year!
2015 started with a really social Social Day. Our speakers are much anticipated and appreciated but it was lovely to have a long stretch of time when everyone (even those stalwarts who attended the Committee Meeting - see below!) had the opportunity to catch up with the post-Christmas/New Year news and share what fibre-related activities they had been up to over the holiday period.
The Committee met with Jenny Arnold, the new Chairman, at the helm for the first time and with the new Secretary, Amanda Trick, furiously scribbling away. Guild members who hold ex-officio responsibilities were invited to attend and their input, together with that of the longer-standing Committee members, was invaluable as Jenny and Amanda start to get to grips with their new roles. Much Important Stuff was discussed and as a result the planned one-hour meeting stretched to two hours – quick forays to the refreshment bar for restorative caffeine shots were allowed!
Lauren Ferrero is now working in Doncaster so has had to resign from the Committee and her roles of Minutes Secretary and Newsletter Editor. Thank you for all you have done for the Guild, Lauren … we will miss you! Bruce Lowe has rashly agreed to produce the Guild Newsletter again and was also voted into the new post of Events Co-ordinator, as which he will set up and oversee ad hoc Events Working Parties. These will be mainly made up of Guild members who already organise various external events but extra bods are likely to be invited to participate as necessary. We hope to entice two or three more Guild members onto the Committee so keep your eye on the ‘Contact and Committee’ webpage for updates.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, sociable, educational and productive year!
Where did the summer go?
It was memorably warm (just like the summers of my childhood!) and there were several woolly festivals - including the now established Fibre East and the brand new Bristol Wool Fair. The picture shows the very entertaining Michael of the 'Shear Sheep Experience' - with some of his stars of the stage. Aka the 'Mad Kiwi' - what he doesn't know about wool and sheep isn't worth knowing!
September brought a return to Guild and a fascinating talk about Spinning for Weaving from Sarah Wroot - a Canadian permanently living in the UK. Sarah enthused us with description of her experiments and journey from Spinning for knitting to Weaving. She also gave us a very practical demo of sizing handspun singles to use as a warp.
The next meeting is our Challenge meeting when members are invited to show off their handiwork for the chance to win a trophy and to enthuse others.
Sunday May 25th (Bank Holiday Weekend).
Priscilla Lowry, Medieval historian and silk expert, author and lecturer, gave a fascinating talk on the Madonna and knitting/spinning in Medieval art.
Priscilla also led a workshop on spinning silk. We examined silk in all its varieties and preparations, we spun it thick and thin and cut hanks of long tussah into little bits with scissors (gasp!) to make eyelash yarn.
All in all, a satisfying day and thanks are due to Priscilla for much entertainment and elucidation.