Friday, 5 August 2011

New Workshop Dates

I have confirmed dates for two weekends of workshops in Scotland and three in Italy:

24th and 25th September - Blackford Village Hall, Perthshire

12th & 13th November - The Woolshed, Oyne, Aberdeenshire

Both these weekends will follow roughly the same format. All materials and equipment are provided. Numbers of places are limited to ensure small groups

Saturday morning: 10 - 1 Fibres and fibre preparation - good preparation is the key to producing really good handspun yarns, and allows you to create your chosen style of yarn or blend. We will spend most of the time preparing a raw sheep's fleece, using handcarders and combs, and you will be able to take a bag of fibre home for further practice.
The workshop will cover: what makes wool so good to spin? What other kinds of fibres are available for handspinners? choosing fleeces, sorting a whole raw fleece, carding and combing wool, blending colours and fibres, how to use pre-prepared fibres - combed tops or carded batts or sliver, a look at preparing silk for spinning.

Saturday afternoon 2 - 5  Drop spindle spinning - this workshop is for people who have little or no experience of spinning. It gives a good foundation for people who want to learn to spin using a spinning wheel as well as for those who intend to continue to develop their skills using a drop-spindle. A drop-spindle is a simple, inexpensive and very portable tool which can be used to produce a huge variety of yarns. With a spindle we can slow the spinning process right down so the learner can develop a good understanding of what needs to happen during the spinning process, and how to control it to produce good quality yarns. This skill is directly transferable to spinning with a spinning wheel.
The workshop will cover: getting started - spinning a singles yarn; plying - why and how; making a skein.

Sunday 10.30 - 4.30 (5 hours tuition with an hour for lunch) Spinning wheel spinning - this workshop is for people who may have tried spinning with a drop-spindle , but who have little or no experience of using a spinning wheel - or who want to improve their basic skills. If you have already learned the basics of using a drop-spindle you will get on better in this workshop but it is not essential. This workshop will give you the skills for spinning a wide variety of yarns, we will spin wool but the skills you learn will be a good foundation for developing your skills with other fibres.
The workshop will cover: Types of spinning wheels; getting the best from your wheel -care and maintenance; getting started - spinning a singles yarn; controlling thickness and twist; measuring thickness and twist; plying - why and how, balancing the twist; making a skein; finishing yarn - setting the twist; hints for knitting with handspun yarns.

All equipment and materials are supplied for the worshops, but if you bring your own spinning wheel to the Sunday workshop I will give a £10 discount (Please let me know what type it is). If you think your wheel needs some attention try to arrive a bit early and I will have a look at it - I can't guarantee to fix everything but I know a few tricks to make wheels run better!

Cost: (per person)
Blackford Saturday a.m. £40; p.m. £40; Sunday £70. Lunch not included
Discount of £10 if you take two workshops or £20 if you take all three.

The Woolshed, Oyne Saturday a.m £40; pm £40 Lunch included if you attend both
Sunday £80 Lunch included. £150 for both days including lunches.

To book a place: Please e-mail me on or call 07776092903

Tuition in Italian and English
8th & 9th October   Lucca (Tuscany) (very easily reached from Pisa Airport or by train from anywhere in Italy) One day will be a beginners' day = Fibre preparation, using beautiful fleece fom the Shetland Islands, and drop-spindle spinning. The other day will be for people who have attended one of my previous beginners' workshop, or who have some experience of spinning. Topics covered will depend on requests from participants, but will move beyond basic skills.

15th & 16th October San Sperate (near Cagliari), Sardinia ONLY THREE PLACES LEFT
On Saturday we will cover Fibre preparation using fleece from the Shetland Islands, sorting the fleece; carding and combing raw wool; how to use pre-prepared fibres (combed tops and carded sliver); blending colours and fibres, and preparing silk from cocoons and hankies.
On Sunday we will concentrate on drop-spindle spinning, using the fibres prepared on Saturday, getting started by spinning a singles yarn, controlling thickness and twist, measuring thickness and twist, why and how to ply and how to balance the twist, making skeins and finishing yarn to set the twist. On Sunday evening we are planning a festa to show off our lovely yarns, with local delicacies and wines.

The Italy workshops are filling up quickly - please e-mail me for more details,  prices and availability.

!!! NEW !!!
19th & 20th November hosted by Biella the Wool Company at Miagliano, Biella (west of Milan)
These workshops will be part of a 3-month Wools of Europe exhibition and series of workshops focussing on artisan textile crafts - spinning, natural dyeing,felt making, weaving, knitting and more. You can read more about the Wool School here:

Saturday will be devoted to beginners - fibre preparation and drop-spindle spinning.
Sunday will be for people with at least some basic experience of spinning, and will cover troubleshooting, controlling and measuring thickness and twist to produce the right yarn for your project, and experimenting with new fibres or techniques. Participants on this workshop will be invited to suggest particular topics in advance.

Solar dyeing update - first results!!

31st July
The silk hankies in the jar with the poppy petals look as if they have taken up loads of colour - a rich reddish purple - and the dye liquid still looks  strong. I would like to take the hankies out and add fresh ones but I cant get the lid off!!

I took the first batch of fibres - some silk cocoons - from the tall jar with jostaberry and grape pulp (frozen). They were a good rich pink but went slightly mauve when gently rinsed in cold tap water

I set up another jar with jostaberry pulp - the skins and pips of beries that had been boiled and sieved (for making jam) - not frozen this time. I added about 5g alum dissolved in a little boiling water. No cream of tartar as I reckon the berries are so acidic the alum should work fine without it. Then I added some wet degummed silk cocoons and just enough water to fill the jar - it is a thick soup-consistency.

5th August
The silk in the new Jostaberry jar already looks a bright pink. It has been on the patio table all week. I moved the other jars out of the greenhouse to the table as the grapevine in the greenhouse is now making it quite shady, so there will be more light on the table.

I noticed that in the tall Jostaberry and grape skin jar the remaining fibre nearest to the pulp looked more colored than the fibre near the top. I took out all the fibre and most of the pulp and rearanged it in layers in the jar so that more fibre would be close to the actual pulp.

At the top of the achillea jar the fibres that were not completely submerged had a thick grey slimy film over them. I scraped most of it off, moved the fibres around and pushed them further under the liquid. The fibres that had been closest to the flowers were a pale yellow.