Meet the trader – Oakhill Wensleydales

Today we meet Shelia, from Oakhill Wensleydales.

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Hello, please could you tell us about your business?

I  have been breeding pedigree white Wensleydale sheep for 25 years under the flock name of Oakhill Wensleydales.  My original aim was to help conserve and promote a rare breed and to this end I have sold quality  breeding stock to all parts of the UK and Northern Ireland. I have also shown the sheep and fleeces winning championships at many National shows, making full use of their wonderful fleeces has been a natural progression to promoting the breed.

What can we look forward to seeing at your stand at ESGWSD 2015?

At the Lewes exhibition I shall be offering for sale, fleece, locks, tops and yarn all of which are from my own flock and some of which has been dyed from plants grown here on the farm.

What are you looking forward to most about the event and/or visiting Lewes?

Having traded at the exhibition for a number of years I am looking forward to meeting many loyal customers and hopefully some new ones!

See you soon, Shelia!

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Meet the Trader – MOMO

Today we meet Mo, from MOMO.

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Hello, please could you tell us about your business?

Hi, I’m Mo Jackson (business name MOMO) I was a graphic designer for 25 years but textiles were always my first love. I’m happy to say I’ve now left my computer behind and for the last seven years I’ve been a creative feltmaker and tutor.

What can we look forward to seeing at your stand at ESGWSD 2015?

I use both wet and dry felting processes such as needle felting and nuno felting to create wearable art. I use mainly hand dyed merino wool and silk. This year I will be including eco printed scarves using plants and rust which I’m really looking forward to experimenting with.

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What are you looking forward to most about the event and/or visiting Lewes?

I love this show, there is always such a buzz of creative excitement. There’s so much to see and buy, it’s get hard to stay on my own stand as I just want to keep looking at everyone elses!

Meet the Trader – Plant Dyed Wool

Today we meet Jane, from Plant Dyed Wool (http://plantdyedwool.co.uk/).

Hello, please could you tell us about your business?

I run workshops teaching wool processing, plant dyeing, peg loom
weaving, spinning, Brinkley loom weaving and felting.  I also sell the
wonderful and so simple to use Brinkley loom.  It takes 5 minutes to warp
up!  All my items for sale are dyed with plants from my garden.  And colour
is my passion.

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What can we look forward to seeing at your stand at ESGWSD 2015?

I will have an array of colourful woven shawls, scarves and throws on my
stall.  I will also be demonstrating my Brinkley looms and will have plenty
for sale.

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What are you looking forward to most about the event and/or visiting Lewes?

I have never been to Lewes so have no idea what is in store, but love
being near the sea.

See you in a few weeks, Jane!

Meet the Trader – South Downs Yarn

Today we meet Louise, from South Downs Yarn (http://www.southdownsyarn.co.uk/)

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Hello, please could you tell us about your business?

Hello, I am Louise Spong, founder of South Downs Yarn. We work with local shepherds to source Southdown wool from the South Downs. All our yarn is geo-traceable, meaning it can be tracked back to the flock it came from. It is woollen spun in England and naturally dyed in West Sussex using plant-based dyes. Our mission is to champion the breed, the Southdown, the place, the South Downs, and the people associated with both.

What can we look forward to seeing at your stand at ESGWSD 2015?

As well as showcasing our 100% Southdown wool from the South Downs in a range of colours reflecting the Sussex landscape from Downs to coast, we will be launching an exclusive limited edition knitting kit at the event in honour of Lewes. We will also have some vintage Southdown Flock Books and other associated Southdown information for people to look at, including a traditional Pyecombe hook – which I made myself!

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What are you looking forward to most about the event and/or visiting Lewes?

Lewes is a special place for me for a number of reasons, not least because of its historic association with wool, its former sheep fair, and the town’s proximity to Glynde where John Ellman started improving the Southdown breed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. For me, the ESG event is part of a continuum from our local shepherding heritage to the modern day activities of those involved in all the different aspects of British wool production.

See you soon, Louise!

Meet the trader – DT Craft & Design

In the first of our new series on the traders who will be attending the East Sussex Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers’ Exhibition this October, we meet Debbie Tomkies from DT Craft & Design (www.dtcrafts.co.uk)

Hello, please could you tell us about your business?

We are specialist suppliers of dyes, yarns, fibres and equipment for hand-dyers and textile artists. I have over 25 years experience as a dyer, spinner, knitter, crocheter and felter so I’m always happy to answer questions and advise on your dyeing and textile-related conundrums!

What can we look forward to seeing at your stand at ESGWSD 2015?

We’ll be bringing our extensive range of dyes to the event – procion and acid dyes, Kool Aid, natural dye extracts and Botanical Colors liquid natural dyes. We’ll also have a wide selection of gorgeous yarns and fibres specially selected for dyeing (or using as they are, of course!). For knitters and crocheters we’ll have needles, hooks and notions and we’ll also be bringing a lovely range of books and my exclusive pattern designs.

What are you looking forward to most about the event and/or visiting Lewes?

We always look forward to the exhibition – the wealth of talent is nothing short of inspirational (and I’m still hoping to win a raffle prize one day!). The people are always lovely and so welcoming and Lewes is a charming town. And of course it would be remiss of me not to mention the cakes – it’s interesting how textiles and great baking always seem to go hand in hand!

See you in October, Debbie!

Meet our members – Serena

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 singles yarn on my spinning wheel

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 I knitted using yarn I hand-dyed using madder root

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!

Meet our members – Trudie

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!).

Natural dyeing

Dyeing equipment

Collecting flowers for the dyepot

Collecting flowers for the dyepot

Dyeing the yarn

Dyeing the yarn

The finished, natural-dyed yarn

The finished, natural-dyed yarn

Some of Trudie's hand-dyed and handspun creations

Some of Trudie’s hand-dyed and handspun creations