April 2017 – Weaving Tools and Tips

Anne Dixon led the meeting on the topic of Weaving Tools and Tips. Anne gave us a whistle-stop tour of the weaving process from warping (demonstrated on her warping mill) to fulling the web into cloth, and there was a selection of weaving equipment on display. Sue Brooks brought along her Saori Piccolo loom, upon which it was possible to illustrate both technical terms and techniques, making the whole topic interesting and informative to both weavers and non-weavers alike. Even experienced weavers learnt a thing or two, whether it was the use of hairspray and/or combs to deal with those sticky warp threads, or filling a 35mm film canister with baking beans to act as a weight for loose warp threads.

This proved to be a most useful forum where members were able to exchange tips and ideas, comparing techniques and asking questions.

March 2017 – Spinning unusual animal fibres

Today we met at our new venue in the Methodist Church Diss – it has much more and much easier parking and, for £1, you can have as much tea and coffee as you like! We welcomed a visitor from Pembrokeshire, and a new member who Pam got started with spinning. Once all the new housekeeping and business was over (which was quite extensive as our exhibition is at the end of May) there was the opportunity for ‘spinning fine’.

The mini-workshop at the meeting was Spinning Unusual Animal Fibres, led by Janet Major. Janet showed examples of some of her fine spinning – reaching down to 0.15mm (measured with a micrometer scale and microscope!). She then demonstrated and briefly discussed some theory on ‘wraps per inch’ (w.p.i.) and ‘twists per inch’ (t.p.i.) and encouraged members to gradually spin finer. Fifteen packs had been prepared and at the end only one was left!

Attendees had a pack of exotic fibres to try:

Look at the concentration:

Lots of members were surprised at how fine they could manage. This is some of Pauline’s spinning from the day:

A great start to the new venue.

February 2017 – Silk bowl

We had a mini-workshop, led by Janet Major, in which we made silk bowls:

    1. At first the silk looked like this:
    2. Before the workshop it was dyed blue (one of the colour choices):
    3. After the workshop and home to dry:
    4. A completed bowl!

January 2017 – The Heritage Triangle

Jess Johnson, Arts and Heritage Outreach Manager, gave an informative talk to us about the Diss Heritage Triangle and the Corn Hall Project. This is a £3.2m investment programme (with £1.65m from Heritage Lottery Funding) in the heart of Diss. It is in fact 5 projects and the physical aspects of this relating to the Corn Hall are due to be completed very soon (in Spring 2016). Our exhibition in the Corn Hall will be our first (public) involvement with the project. It was fascinating to hear about the research that had been carried out since the start of the project and which has built on previous work done by the Diss Museum and its members into the textile industry of Diss. Many of us were particularly interested in what is being discovered about the Linen industry for which Diss was such a large and important centre.

It was also good to hear about the computer simulation of change in the town over the centuries, the previous (textile related) uses of buildings in the Textile Triangle, and the exciting new facilities being completed in the Corn Hall.

We could have listened for much longer and, as a Guild, we will be involved in some of the further research. It is all very exciting for us and for Diss. Many Thanks to Jess for a brilliant start to the programme for 2017.


Get into the habit of labelling everything, however small! It can save you hours. Try having a bundle of labels close to your weaving, spinning or dyeing (and a pen/pencil) – it will make a difference. It is always useful to record the Date and the type of Fibre. Other information might include the Dye used, the Loom used, the Sett, the Weight of the finished piece. For Spinning, you might add the Method of preparation (combed, carded, etc.), type of Fleece, and Wraps per inch (WPI).


Loose or broken warp threads

If you find you have a loose warp thread, fill a 35mm film canister with baking beans and tie it to the warp thread to act as a weight. To weight a floating selvedge, wrap the thread around the canister then trap it under the lid to stop it unravelling.

A pair of hemostats can be used in the same way; they just clip right on.

Finding a lost end

When you spin finely, at some point, you are likely to find that the thread breaks! Being fine, it often embeds itself in the spool of completed yarn and it can take a long time to find it. A way to avoid this happening is to add a strip of card now and again and then the worst that can happen is that you go back to the last time you used a card strip.


Tying skeins

‘Figure of 8’ ties around skeins, three or four of them per skein, help to keep the integrity of the skein during the dyeing process. Don’t be mean with the amount of yarn you use – the fibres need room to move. If the ties are too tight, you will find the dye isn’t taken up well by the fibre under the tie.