April and May 2022

For the April Guild meeting Susan did a talk on “How to look after your Spinning Wheel”. Susan began the talk by giving a brief description on how spinning began. She demonstrated how spinning would have been done using a stick and then how spinning developed when a whorl was added. This progressed to the stick and whorl being attached to a wheel followed by the development of the treadle and flywheel.

Guild members bought their spinning wheels in for Susan to look at. She explained that different wheels required different attention. Different oils were discussed for different spinning wheels as well as the use of polish to nourish the wood.

Although a small meeting, everyone appreciated Susan’s expertise and felt more confident about looking after their spinning wheels.

In May the Guild welcomed Christine Sanderson to the meeting to talk to both Guild members and visitors about her wonderful needle felted figures. Christine’s life size needle felted figures were much admired when Doris and Rosie were exhibited at the Norwich Makers Festival earlier this year. For the Guild meeting Christine bought grandparents Doris and Arthur as well as granddaughter Rosie and Pip, the Jack Russell. They graced the meeting with their presence, reclining in the comfort of armchairs, with Rosie perched on Doris’s knee and Pip sitting on Arthurs lap. With cups of tea and a packed lunch they really looked the part. The figures are so life like that for a moment you might mistake them for real people.

Christine did an informal talk and lots of questions were asked. The photos, passed around, of the figures in their underwear were fantastic and had many members in a fit of giggles. The expression on the faces of Doris and Arthur looks different from every angle and everything from the clothes, shoes and hair styles down to the lunch box with the packed lunch is so authentic.

Doris and Arthur with Rosie and Pip having lunch at the Guild meeting.

Spring 2022

February saw Guild members meeting in person at the Methodist Church in Diss after a period of two years, due to the pandemic. During this time Guild members participated in Zoom meetings, met up in various members’ gardens during the summer months and have kept in touch via the wonderful, monthly newsletter that Pam and her daughter Kathryn produced.

However resuming our monthly meetings again in February was wonderful and we were pleased to see current and new members. Everyone who attended bought something to the ‘show and tell’ that they had been doing during the last few months. These items included knitted and woven items, hand spun yarns, felted bags as well as embroidery using threads dyed at the Indigo workshop held last Autumn. Members were particularly interested in the hand spun yarn, dyed using purple basil, which Karen showed us.

March has seen Diss Guild participating at the Makers Festival along with five other regional Guilds. The Norfolk Spinners Weavers and Dyers had a stand for three days at the Forum in Norwich and volunteers from the Norfolk Guilds helped to man the stand and demonstrate a variety of skills. Members from our Guild demonstrated back strap weaving, Inkle weaving, weaving on a four-shaft loom, stick weaving and spinning. Mary’s Covid coat was exhibited at the stand along with Pam’s hand spun, hand knitted angora scarf and Anne’s hand spun, natural dyed, knitted and felted bag.

Mary’s coat, which used hand spun, natural dyes and different knitted patterns, was much admired. Mary gave an interesting talk to the Guild at the March meeting on the different knitting techniques used, the natural dyes and mordents she used to dye the fleece and hand spun yarn. She went on to describe how she assembled the coat once she had knitted her samples. Mary bought a wonderful array of knitting pattern books to show us and to explain where the patterns came from.

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.