Birmingham Weavers, Spinners ​and Dyers

Blog for Birmingham & District ​Guild of Weavers, Spinners ​and Dyers


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A Visit from Harcourt Rare Breeds

At the October meeting of the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers we were joined by Harcourt Rare Breeds, whose flock are split between Market Bosworth, in the Midlands, and Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

The Harcourt flock of native traditional and rare breed sheep, come from the Portland, Leicester Longwool, Border Leicester Greyface Dartmoor, Hebridean and Coloured Ryeland sheep breeds.

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Guild members heard from Shaun of Harcourt Rare Breeds about his flock, and took advantage of the opportunity to buy yarn and fleece.

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

There was also lots of spinning, knitting, and a little lacemaking, taking place.

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers November Meeting

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A Trip to Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds

On Bank Holiday Monday, six members of the Guild took the opportunity to visit Harcourt Rare Breeds. The Harcourt flock is split over two sites, with one of those sites relatively local to  Birmingham Guild in Market Bosworth, and the other in Harrogate.

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds

The Midlands flock is housed in fields behind the house of owner Shaun, so it was very kind of Shaun to welcome members of the Guild into his home for a generous lunch, and into his garden to meet the sheep.

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Suitably enough, to reach Harcourt Rare Breeds we traveled through the parish of Sheepy, which contains the villages of Sheepy Magna and Sheepy Parva. As you can guess from their name, Harcourt specialise in rare breed British sheep; Border Leicester, Leicester Longwool, Portland, Hebridean, Coloured Ryland, and Greyface Dartmore.

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds sell both fleeces and prepared yarn. The spinners amongst us purchased fleece, and two Guild members bought skeins of yarn. Shaun also gave each of us a goodie bag of fleece! The photos below shows Leicester Longwool fleece, alongside prepared yarn from the flock.

Harcourt Rare Breeds

There are quite a few lambs in the flock currently, and one came into the house to visit us to our delight.

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Shaun will be attending the October 2016 Guild meeting to talk about Harcourt Rare Breeds, and will be bringing fleece and yarn for sale.


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Dyer’s Picnic

Naturally Dyed Yarn

The Guild’s June 2015 meeting was dedicated to a dyeing day at the home of Sarah, one of the Guild’s members.

During the day we dyed yarn and fleece with both natural and acid dyes. This post contains the results of dyeing with nine different natural dyes, a separate post will cover acid dyeing.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Attendees pre-mordanted fibres for dyeing a few days in advance, with alum and cream of tartar, so that they would take the dyes and be less prone to fading.

In addition to lots of dyeing, everyone that attended the dyeing day brought along something for a shared buffet lunch, so there was endless food, tea and coffee to sustain us.

The dyeing itself took place in Sarah’s garden on three separate camping stoves, and in an assortment of metal bowls.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

There were also some nice things to buy, including vintage knitting patterns and magazines, and hand dyed yarn by Sarah Cage.

Hand dyed yarn by Sarah Cage

The nine natural dyes we tried are listed below, with photos of sample colours obtained.

Dyer’s Coreopsis

Coreopsis typically produces a yellow dye, but we achieved a lovely yellow-brown.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Coreopsis

Walnut

Walnut is a substantive dye and produced a pale brown.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Walnut

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Walnut

Brazilwood

We achieved a lovely range of pinks using Brazilwood, and paler pinks with Woodruff.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Brazilwood

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Brazilwood

Woodruff

Woodruff (the roots are the section used for dye) was one of the plants we used for dyeing which was grown in Sarah’s garden, where the dyeing day was held. The plant was growing right alongside where we were stood.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Woodruff

Privet

We achieved bright yellows with privet. The privet we used had just been trimmed off a hedge in Sarah’s garden, so we put the offcuts to good use.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Privet

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Privet

Feverfew

We achieved a paler yellow with fresh feverfew.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Feverfew

Indigo

We achieved a pale blue using indigo extract, due to the volume of extract used and/or number of projects in the pot. The two aran yarns pictured below achieved slightly different shades of blue, as one spent slightly longer in the dye pot at a higher temperature.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Indigo

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Indigo

Lichen

Lichen produced a pale brown. There are ethical issues around using lichen for dyeing as they grow very slowly and may be protected species, so shouldn’t be foraged. However, the dryed lichen we were using had been in the possession of members of the guild for many years.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Lichen

Logwood

Logwood produced a range of purples.

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Dyer's Picnic, Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Logwood

Yarn Naturally Dyed with Logwood

The dyeing day was a great opportunity to try a range of natural dyes, in good company.

Naturally Dyed Yarn