Thursday, 21 September 2017

Travelling to Unst- day one to five of the 2017 Textile Experience

I am going to try and keep up with this textile journal of our time in Shetland rather than write it weeks or even months later. I will therefore summarise the last 5 days in one post. As in previous years I will concentrate on textile items but also describe non textile things that are 'special'. 
We arrived at 17.30 this afternoon having travelled 820 miles which includes 3 sea journeys, the longest being 200 miles on the Aberdeen to Lerwick ferry last night. We decided this year to come up from home the west of England route involving the M6 so that we could meet friends in Cheshire for some catching up. The M6 was so busy,  so was local traffic in Cheshire, and we had forgotten what that was like. It is bliss to live in rural Norfolk. 
We are sitting having a cup of tea overlooking a very calm and peaceful sea, the sun is out and the light is wonderful. It is a superb evening. 
Image of uyeasound looking west

 In terms of textile interest it has been action packed! On Thursday morning I visited Metropolitan Machine Knitting to collect 2 garments I had lent for a fashion show for Tony Bennett, a wonderful Machine Knitting designer and tutor from Australia.( One  of these items is described on my website under machine knitting- it is the Grigna Cardigan; I have yet to post about the pink jacket! )  I have been on two of Tony's  courses and learned so much- his finishing is fantastic. I was sorry not to have been  on the course he was running last week but I was able to see him and 6 colleagues from previous years who were doing this new course! I resisted the temptation to buy any yarn and instead chose 10 'old' magazines ! The old ones are far better than the newer ones and if I ration myself to one every other day I will make them last 20 days! Then it was on to Little Moreton Hall to meet a Cheshire WSD friend. We took time to go into the long gallery and reminisce about Alsager WSD exhibitions that we held there. The room is as long as a cricket pitch, if I remember correctly, and we always tried to make sure that each member of the Guild had at least one item in the exhibition, and most people had many more than that. We tried to make it an educative exhibition with information that onlookers would find interesting whatever their knowledge of WSD. Those truly were the days! We enjoyed showing our wares, demonstrating and interacting with the public and feedback was always great to read. That evening we caught up with another WSD  member from the Guild and we were able to discuss ideas for next year's National Exhibition to be held in Glasgow in July. 

As for my textile ' doings' I  have started to knit another shawl by Donna Smith, from Kate Davies' Book of Haps. It is called Houlland and after 2 trial pieces I felt I had the pattern in my head for the edging, which has 63 repeats. I am using a knitting belt for this as the pattern involves garter stitch and am very pleased with the tension. ( see blog post of 30 October 2016 where I discuss tuition with Hazel Tindall with a knitting belt last year during Wool Week) 
Image of knitting the edge

The yarn is from my stash and is Many a Mickle lambswool in laceweight. I guess it is about  30 years old but I still love the colour. As for spinning, I have not brought my wheel this year, but a selection of drop spindles including some medieval ones. On the ferry last night, being National Spin in Public Day, I decided to continue to spin with Boreray (1)as it seemed apt to do so. I am spinning it quite fine and intend to make it into a lace bookmark. A wool week participant from last year who was in the Design  class with Nielanell with me was also in the ferry lounge with us and we naturally got chatting. She was accompanied by a Canadian friend who I tried to convince to have another shot at spinning with a drop spindle. She had had a bad experience ! I hope to see more of her  during Wool Week and help her on her drop spinning journey! 
Image of drop spinning on ferry

Apologies for the quality of this photo, I only had my iPad with me and the lighting was not ideal! 

We are aiming that tomorrow is a rest day, to me that means doing Textile things. I have already been out photographing the tide line as there has been a high tide recently, great for textile inspiration. 

(1) Boreray is the most vulnerable of all the rare breeds. This fleece came from a Norfolk flock which is being kept to help maintain the breed. 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Natural Dyeing with a plant of your choice

This was the third of three workshops that I led at Designer Makers21 this summer. This workshops is really special to me as after it the dyers are well on their Dyeing journey.
In workshop one we had learned how to scour, mordant and dye with different concentrations of a powdered dye. Then this was followed by a workshop where we used the three core dyes that were so important, historically, to local dyeing- Madder, Weld and Woad - and then got their secondary dyes too. (See previous blogs for more details and images.)
For the third workshop each of the participants arrived with scoured and mordanted yarn the along with their soaked plant material. Our aim of this workshop was to get a set of six colours from the basic dyebath using additives and over dyeing so each member went home with their unique set. There was  a choice of 7 plus  treatments for each plant dyed skein so decisions had to be made.
There was much excitement and discussion about which plants had been chosen and which ones might be used at home after the  day. 
While the plants were cooking up and yielding their colour we looked at examples I had taken ' for ideas'  and more importantly learned how to make up the additive solutions, how to use them and how to store them safely at home. 
What a busy action packed day it was. Unfortunately I only took a few photos. 
This is a plant dyed skein, complete with additive and having been heated up. From memory (?!) I think the additive was copper. 

Everyone appeared to be very conscientious taking notes and had leaned from previous sessions that adding yarn  'labels'  was a big help in identification later. 
These are the colours a member obtained from eucalyptus leaves- fantastic. 

All the dyed sets were quite different and it was a real joy for me to see how far each person had got since the start of the workshops. We are keeping in touch and more is planned later - watch this space. You can never stop learning about natural dyeing!