Hello, I’m Chris.
I have been a member of ESGWSD for the past five years. I took up spinning as a hobby after having lessons with Daphne (another guild member). I borrowed a spinning wheel from my next door neighbour of 27 years, Ruth. Ruth, who sadly passed away this year ten days before her 100 birthday, had been spinning for the past 40 years. Whenever I popped round to see her she was either in the garden or spinning on her Ashford spinning wheel that she had brought back from one of her many trips to New Zealand. I soon decided spinning was for me, and then I heard about dyeing – wow! What wonderful experiments you can have with an old saucepan, some dyes and washed fleece; this was truly satisfying. I soon had various hats and scarves in wonderful colours all spun and dyed by me!
Merino rolag hand-dyed using goldenrod
Two years ago, I decided it was time for me to have a go at weaving and I joined Val’s weaving class at Clayton. Val lent me a loom and off I went (or should that be wove!). Now, weaving is a lot more complicated than spinning and dyeing; there are ‘Rigid Heddles’, four shafts, eight shafts etc, warps, wefts, raddles etc., etc. So for me, weaving has been a real challenge, with assorted pieces of poorly woven, if interesting, pieces of fabric! But finally, I am getting ther – I have made a few scarves and cushions. A hand bag (fingers crossed) will be my latest creation, which I hope to exhibit in our Exhibition.
My new loom
Being part of East Sussex Guild has been a real inspiration to me; not only have I learnt to spin, dye and weave, but I have met some wonderful truly talented people. This year I organised our stand at the South of England Agricultural Show, with a lot of help from Sheila and Val, and we won ‘Third Prize’ in our section – amazing!!
A table runner woven using Japanese Washi (paper), which you can wash at 30 degrees centigrade!
So come on, visit our Exhibition, join our Guild and make lots of wonderful friends and learn some exciting skills.
I have been interested in textiles from an early age, having been taught knitting and dressmaking by my mother. I learned to spin on a weekend course at Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre in North Yorkshire in 2006, having found the course on the Field Studies Council website whilst looking for the tatting course which ran at Juniper Hall, my local FSC centre.
The result of that weekend was that I came home with a second-hand Ashford Traditional wheel and Lazy Kate. I had been told about the Association of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers whilst on the course so when I got home, I looked for a local guild. OK, so Croydon in Surrey is not very local to Lewes, but having been born and bred in Eastbourne I’m a Sussex girl at heart and the East Sussex guild had the best programme in the south east. So, at the beginning of 2007, I joined the guild.
What I like most about our guild is the range of the programme and the skills of its members which they are always willing to share. If you want to know anything about our three crafts you just have to ask anyone and if they don’t have the answer they will point you in the direction of someone who can help. I particularly enjoy the workshops. From dyeing to basket weaving and various spinning techniques with a range of fibres, I’ve enjoyed them all and learned so much from excellent teachers.
A skein of silk Jenny has spun for this year’s silk scarf raffle
I don’t seem to find much time to spin but I have spun enough yarn from merino tops to knit a waistcoat. It was going to be a cardigan but once I started knitting I realised there wasn’t enough yarn for sleeves so it became a waistcoat. I’ve spun a Texel fleece but haven’t yet knitted it up. There are various fleeces in the spare bedroom waiting to get on my wheel. My ambition is to spin a Shetland fleece fine enough to knit a ring shawl!
Jay enjoying a beer with her son, who lives in the USA, so they have to make the most of any time they get together!
In 1982, while living in Kansas, I adopted a few angora rabbits, so I needed to learn to spin their fibre into a yarn I could knit with. Unfortunately, Tendonitis put paid to that. Back in the UK with a repaired elbow, I found a spinning group in Uckfield run by Ann Dishman, there I was able to get to grips with a borrowed wheel and became a member of the Guild around 1984. Many years later, I served 3 as chairman and have served on various committees too, currently the exhibition committee.
Over the years I have learnt many new skills through various workshops run by the Guild, felting being my favourite although I love dyeing yarn and fleece too. In 2011, I opened my etsy.com shop selling dyed yarn, dyed fleece and my own knitwear designs. I have many friends at the Guild and I doubt I would be running my woolly business without it.
One of Jay’s ‘giant’ needle-felted creations
Some years ago I watched the sheep shearer at Ardingly shear a beautiful Masham sheep, I bought the fleece, washed it, dyed it in shades of blue and green, spun it and knitted a beautiful long scarf. It found a new owner a year or two later.
One year we had a fashion show which I really enjoyed participating in, and I always enjoy the shopping experience.
I have been spinning for about two years. I have been knitting and crocheting since I was little but began to become more interested in where my yarn came from and the actual process of making yarn a few years ago. So, I saved up, bought myself a folding spinning wheel in the summer of 2013 and set about teaching myself to spin with the help of some books and YouTube videos. I am now totally addicted! I have also recently begun to experiment with dyes, particularly natural dyes – as a keen allotment owner, I have grand plans to grow my own dyestuffs some day.
A freshly-spun blue-faced Leicester and silk blend single yarn on my spinning wheel
I joined the Guild in February 2014 to meet other spinners and like-minded craftspeople. I really enjoy being part of the Guild and promoting our traditional crafts. I have learned lots of new techniques and have been inspired by many members’ creations at our monthly meetings and have had the opportunity to try spinning some different fibres, thanks to the fleeces that are sometimes sold at the meetings by some of our members who are also sheep and alpaca breeders.
A baby hat knitted with yarn hand-dyed using madder root
This year, I have taken on a bigger role in the guild as part of the committee organising the 2015 exhibition. I have been mainly involved in organising the publicity for the event and have been busy combining traditional craft skills with social media skills by tweeting and blogging!
I work part time as a Countryside Ranger. This year I am part of the team that is putting together this year’s exhibition. I joined the Guild after the 2011 exhibition as I had always been a keen knitter and crafter and I wanted to know more about raw materials and techniques.
I started spinning on a drop spindle and progressed to an electric wheel. I have recently got a small travelling spinning wheel which I haven’t yet mastered. I do some of my dyeing at work, demonstrating with all the plants in the woodland and garden, and have attended courses locally to learn new processes. Being in the Guild helps you discover many talents you didn’t realise you have and expands ideas you have into beautiful creations (well, not always!).
Collecting flowers for the dyepot
Dyeing the yarn
The finished, natural-dyed yarn
Some of Trudie’s hand-dyed and handspun creations