The May meeting of the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers included a talk by textile and knit designer Alison Ellen ‘Stitch-led design: shaping knitting with stitches and knitting in different directions‘. A few examples of Alison’s designs, which were on display at the meeting, are below.
Cotswold, Coventry, Birmingham, Worcester & Stratford Guilds held a Guilds Together event in Kings Sutton, Banbury on 01 October.
Each of the five Guilds displayed their crafts on an exhibition table on the theme of a season, manned a sales table, and contributed to the organisation of the day.
Attendees heard from two speakers. Betsan Corkhill spoke on the therapeutic benefits of knitting and craft. More information is available on Bethan’s Stitchlinks website. The second speaker, Karen Fanzo, talked about creating art books and exploring new crafts.
During 2015, the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers ran a year-long natural dyeing project with Winterbourne House, a local museum. The Guild regularly collaborates with Winterbourne, including demonstrating our crafts in the house on the forth Tuesday of each month.
Each month during 2015, the gardeners at Winterbourne provided plant material (flower heads, bark, leaves, etc.) which guild members tested for their natural dye properties.
To explore the varied colours that can be achieved through the use of mordants and modifiers, eights small skeins of wool were treated with each dye (the first seven of which were pre-mordanted with alum):
- basic colour;
- light fastness test (kept by a window after dyeing);
- acid modifier (vinegar);
- alkaline modifier (diluted washing soda);
- iron modifier (created by soaking rusty nails in water & distilled vinegar);
- Over-dyed with madder;
- Over-dyed with woad;
- copper mordant (in place of alum)
The results of the project are on display in the Coach House Gallery at Winterbourne until 25th April.
The dedicated project blog provides more information, includes the results of each month’s dyeing day.
Alongside skeins showcasing the colours achieved from each plant material, the exhibition contains a selection of projects created by Guild members. These projects showcase weaving, spinning, dyeing, knitting and felting – and the wool and silk used in the projects was also largely dyed with plants from Winterbourne garden.
Wet Felted Seed Pods by Gill Ambler
Made using shetland sheep fibre dyed with liquidambar styraciflua and chamomile from Winterbourne garden.
Hitofude Cardigan by Wendy Simpson
Made with wool from the Welsh Wool Museum, which had been combed and carded on an old machine. The wool was spun by Wendy and dyed using plants from Winterbourne garden, plied with a metallic thread. The colour scheme was based on a photo of Autumn leaves in a local park. The knitting pattern used is by Hiroko Fukatsu, and the name means ‘single brush stroke’ in Japanese. It was all worked in one piece.
Winterbourne Sunset by Sarah Cage
Weaving, and machine and hand embroidery using naturally dyed yarn and fabrics. The silk for the flowers in the foreground was dyed using plants from Winterbourne garden.
Chamomile Flower Cascade
Winterbourne houses the national collection of anthemis (a genus which includes dyers chamomile). Yarn dyed with chamomile from the garden was used by Guild members to knit and crochet the flower heads below. The knitting and crochet patterns used were also designed by Guild members.
Woven Rug by Kate Batchelor
Rug made with roving, dyed with plants from Winterbourne garden.
Knitted Seed Pods by Carolyn Arber
Wool dyed with plants from Winterbourne garden. Each ‘pod’ is knitted in one piece to form a three-dimensional shape.
Visitors to the exhibition have been leaving some lovely comments in the visitor book. One visitor, Val, even composed a poem about trying spinning on a wheel while visiting the exhibition:
Thoughts on joining a Spinning class ! ..or.. Is this what they do at the Gym ??
I wonder …if I learn to ‘spin’…
Will it help me to get thin?!…
I tried to ‘treadle’ as fast as I could…
on the foot plate made of wood..!!
The wheel whizzed round and round and round…
Then changed direction and slid o’er the ground!!!
And ‘Drafting’ required such concentration…
WHAT happened to my co-ordination???!!!
Is the Gym as cold as that ‘barn’….or…
Were you just spinning me a yarn.
You can visit the exhibition for free in the Coach House Gallery at Winterbourne until 25th April.