Summer 2019

We have had a very busy summer 2019, and the website fairy has fallen behind in her updates. July’s meeting was about spinning cotton, and most members attending had a go, although they all agreed it was very different and considerably harder than spinning wool.

August’s meeting was somewhat larger than normal as we welcomed Amanda Hannaford to talk about her experiences teaching spinning cashmere in Afghanistan and yak in Tibet. She illustrated her talk with hundreds of wonderful pictures of the people she met and the places she went.

While Amanda was visiting, some members had a chance to learn from her at a workshop focused on english longdraw. After first carding our rolags, we then went on to spin them. Despite several attendees never having spun longdraw before, by the end of the session, everyone had managed at least a few good drafts and were prepared to go away and practise at home.

Amanda also spent the day with us at the RBST wool day at Melsop Park Farm, showing us what to look for in a raw fleece, and examining and commenting on examples both from the farm and brought in by local sheep owners. Many of us came home with some wooly stash enhancement.

April 2019 – Natural Dyeing workshop, and needle felting

This month we moved venue to Mary’s garden so some members could enjoy a natural dyeing workshop run by Kally Davidson. Kally brought along samples of yarn she had dyed from plants she found in Mary’s garden on a earlier visit, as well as some other examples of her work.

Those of us participating in the workshop were given small pre-mordanted skeins of yarn and were told to go around the garden collecting plant matter to layer in the jar with our yarn. Once we were finished, the jar was filled with boiling water, and we were told to leave it in a warm place for as long as we can manage before we get impatient and want to peek!

We also did some more instant gratification dyeing, and made dyebaths from ivy and applewood from the garden, as well as flowers brought along by participants, including daffodils, dandelions, and marigolds. We experimented with removing the green parts of the flower to see if it made a difference, and Kally explained how colour can be modified by using iron or copper. We all had a wonderful day and learned so much.

Those not participating in the workshop also had a great time. They stayed inside out of the rain and learned about the Bugs and Blossoms project, which is part of the Waveney and Blyth Festival, and aims to promote awareness of our native insects and plants, many of which are under threat and in decline, and to encourage people to notice, care and take positive action. Diss Guild members will be creating a textile based exhibit, making bugs and blossoms encompassing a variety of media and techniques. Work was started on making needle felted bugs and blossoms.

March 2019 – Favourite ways to prepare fibre for spinning

Members shared their ideas on fibre preparation, including opinions on scouring and/ or washing fleece prior to spinning. Some members preferred to spin “in the grease”, but it was generally agreed that excess dirt and
chemicals needed to be removed. Some of us like to use washing up liquid, others use anitbacterial handwash.
Mary had attended an AGWSD Summer school on fibre preparation, and had a comprehensive file of tips and techniques. Mary ran briefly through what to look for when choosing a fleece. The “Ping” test is most revealing.
Various methods for opening up fibres were looked at, flick carding, combing with a dog comb or dog brush etc.

February 2019 – Cables and colourwork

The first half of the meeting was spent discussing proposals for the Association AGM. After this was dealt with, we moved on to fibre!

First we discussed cables; different ways to work them, including without a cable needle, and mock cables, and how working cables at the selvedge of a piece of work gives a nice neat edge. We also talked about converting celtic knots into cable patterns. Slightly unrelated to cables, but still on the theme of threads crossing over one another, we discussed sprang and looked at a wonderfully stretchy bonnet that had been made from handspun using sprang.

After this, conversation moved on to colourwork. Two colour knitting using two hands was discussed, as well as different ways of dealing with floats in knitted colourwork. Then we talked about different ways of using colour in our knitting, pairing a very colourful space dyed yarn with a neutral to showcase the colours, samples of all these techniques were passed around.

September 2018 – Fancy Yarns

Kim Morgan from the Saori Shed in Diss gave a wonderful talk and demonstration on how to make fancy yarns. She begun by showing how she uses the drum carder to mix various types of fibre, ‘sandwiching’ the lumpy stuff between layers of smoother fibres before feeding in. Then she demonstrated how she spins different yarns from these batts, showing how to make a corespun yarn, and various ways to ply the amazingly textured singles this makes.

She brought along many examples of different art yarns, some of which had been woven in the Saori style.

Thank you Kim for a wonderfully interesting and inspirational talk!



August 2018 – Fibre prep revisited

This month’s planned meeting on synthetic dyeing had to be postponed due to a scheduling conflict, so Susan took over and led another meeting about fibre prep. She demonstrated using a drum carder both to prepare fibre, and to blend ready prepared fibres, and talked a little about the difference between carding wool and alpaca. Members who had previously expressed dissatisfaction with their carding technique realised the benefit of slowing down and doing a little extra prep work beforehand to end up with some really nice batts. She also gave a short demo on how to use the combs with a wonderful Mule X fleece brought by a member.

The information on how to use a drum carder will soon be available on this website.

July 2018 – Plying

This month’s meeting was lead by Maggie, who discussed different types of plying and their structures, and demonstrated Navajo plying. The benefits of navajo plying in relation to preserving colour sequences was also discussed and demonstrated in a lovely sweater spun from natural colours of Jacob fleece, and various samples.

What to do with leftover singles was also discussed, leading on to talking about Andean plying. Many members brought their wheels and both had a go at navajo plying, and worked on their own projects.


May 2018 – Preparation for spinning and felting

Preparation of Fibre for Spinning. 

Members were treated to an excellent talk and demonstration on this topic today by fellow member Susan Pearson. Susan had numerous examples of fleece of different qualities as well as a variety of finished examples of knitting from her spinning. She  covered hand carding , drum carding  and using wool combs to produce a variety of prepared  fibres, both naturally coloured and involving blended  colours. Her attention to detail and preparatory work before the carding process was a delight to see and clearly showed itself in the quality of the yarn produced. Many Thanks Susan, we were only sorry the session wasn’t longer. 

Before the session, Susan’s enticing range of carding related delights.

The show and tell contained a special item, Gwen’s nearly finished Inkle loom which she has made herself. Well done Gwen.

Gwen – with her Inkle Loom


April 2018 – Weaving with a loom

This meeting focused on weaving with a loom. Members brought in many different types of loom to discuss and try out. We had inkle looms, tapestry looms,  rigid heddles, table looms, a Saori Piccolo 2 shaft folding floor loom, and a loom set up for tablet weaving, all set up and ready to play with. The for sale table was popular with members and visitors alike, and all the linen yarn there was rescued from the tip!

Show and tell featured a year’s work in the form of a wonderful hand knotted rug, two beautiful Saori pieces, and a sample showing ten different twill patterns all from the same threading.