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Volume 36/4

December 2013


Buckinghamshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers













Dear Members This edition is somewhat short on quality and photos having been compiled under very difficult circumstances whilst being abroad. I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a very happy New Year.



60th BIRTHDAY EXHIBITION by Gilly Pusey 20 and 21 September 2014 Plans are moving along for the exhibition and I am sure we are going to have a memorable weekend. The committee meets once a month at Marjorie’s for coffee and cake. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it! These meetings are busy, but fun and if anyone feels they would like to join us please do as we could do with more help. We need someone to organise the refreshments. This does not mean you are chained to a sink for the whole weekend! The job includes organising a rota of people to provide food, set up, clear up and serve. If everybody did an just an hour or two it means nobody is tied to the kitchen. The menu depends on how much help we have. Morning coffee and cake, soup with a roll and something sweet for lunch and afternoon tea is the least we would like to offer, but more would be lovely. We have already had offers of food and I know members will be generous with their goodies. I do not expect the exhibition to make money. It is a celebration and a chance to show the public what we do. However, I would like to break even and the refreshments are a very important part of that. So if you feel you could help please come forward. This could be two or more people job sharing with lots of help from the committee.


FIBRE EAST by Audrey Kittermaster This was the first fibre event I had been to! It was held on a very hot weekend in late July on a large community campus in Ampthill, occupying several large halls and small marquees. An exhilarating array of colours and textures greeted me as I walked in - I could hardly believe my eyes! I decided my best plan was to see everything before I bought a thing and this proved to be a wise decision. There were yarns, fibre and fleece of all kinds and colours, spinning equipment, looms etc, specialist (expensive) silk, merino, cashmere yarns all beautifully presented. I was particularly drawn to a lovely young woman from Yorkshire selling, amongst other things, some beautiful hand dyed random knitting yarn. I also bought some Bluefaced Leicester knitting wool. The other stands that caught my attention, as I love natural coloured yarn, were the Shetland Sheep Society, the Hebridean Sheep Society and various alpaca stands with a very wide range of colours. The various local guilds were in a small marquee inviting people to ‘have a go’ and some very hot sheep were waiting outside to be sheared. The event was well attended, but not too crowded. Although overwhelmed by choice it gave me a wonderful taster of what is on offer as I do not have internet and I shall know more what to look for next time (same venue for 2014). Interest in spinning, weaving and knitting seems to be thriving, judging by the purchases being carried away!


S.O.A.R 2013 (The Finale) by Beverley Thompson 20 to 26 October 2013, Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Illinois, Chicago Before the notification of 2013’s event being the final S.O.A.R. I had already decided to only subscribe to the three day single topic workshop (Monday to Wednesday). In the past Thursday would have been a “rest day” followed by four half day retreats on Friday and Saturday. This year I wanted to spend more time with past/new delegates and was glad that I did. ‘Fabric from the Golden Fleece: Cashmere’ with Judith MacKenzie-McCuin was my preferred workshop and when registration opened I was pleased to get it as her classes tend to fill extremely quickly. It was an excellent course. We learnt about the history of the cashmere shawl and I tried on shawls that were over 100 years old. We were given a wide variety of fibres to blend/spin with different grades of cashmere. The fee included an amount for materials, but we got in excess of that amount. One theme I took away from her class was the fact that there is a very active market in recycled cashmere sweaters. On the first day four delegates spent their lunch time going around various thrift (charity) stores to acquire cashmere sweaters to de-construct them back to wool - either in their natural colour/the colour that they were made or to dye them. That certainly got me thinking. I had a fantastic time and never wrote so many notes! This year’s numbers were down but there were still over 300 delegates. My friend and fellow Chiltern Spinners member, M a r i l y n Wr i g h t , t h i s y e a r attended as a ‘Mentor’, running two half day sessions on Blackfoot Spindle Spinning, with a total of 31 delegates. I brought along a variety of ColourMart yarns to make swatches (washed/unwashed) and sample skeins as giveaways for delegates. Quite a few were made at Heathrow, on the flight over and in various breaks during this event. 5

It was great to just hang around and chat with some of the delegates/vendors I had met before, albeit very briefly. From various discussions I learnt that there appears to be a lot more interest in knitting and knitting guilds in the States are extremely active. I also spent a lot of time using a blending board (similar to a drum carder but flat) generously supplied by Clemes & Clemes During SOAR they organised a competition for delegates and though I didn’t win, I had a great time producing skeins. Both Roy Clemes and his son were on hand, but the main demonstrator was a fellow Raveller called “BirdGwen”, who generously provided a wheel for me and another delegate from South Korea to use during the week. Such a generous soul, along with her husband Don, who though not in attendance, paid for our meal (four of us) at a swish restaurant in downtown St. Charles where we were based. This event is going to leave a big hole, most certainly in my life as it’s a trip I’ve looked forward to attending, in the Autumn since 2008. It seems that the new management, FW Media, felt that it was no longer cost effective in its current form and there are plans for a new event to be unveiled? Some time next year for 2015? Watch this space!


BUNTING FOR THE EXHIBITION by Gilly Pusey If you have completed your bunting triangle could you please hand it in to Adelheid so that we know how many more we need. I still have more letters in the box if you have not chosen one yet or would like to make another one and will bring the box to the December meeting. Dimensions are 9 1/2” across the top and 10 1/2” from the centre of the top to the tip of the triangle. The letter should be nice and clear so it can be seen from a distance. The triangle needs a means of threading on to a cord on the back of the top edge. The bunting can be made from any textile medium so be as creative as you can.

TRAWDEN SHOW DIARY AUGUST by Alison Jolley Show time, and I’ve arrived at my sister’s to help with Trawden Agricultural Show. I’ve brought some of my entries with me, my knitted cushion, a couple of hanks of hand-spun silk, my braided bookmark, a knitted scarf, and a crochet baby blanket, but I’ve yet to make my Christmas decoration and my wibbly-wobbly hat, so I’ve brought lots of dyed merino tops for felt, a hat block and the germ of an idea which I hope will work. I’ve also brought my spinning wheel as I’ve been volunteered to demonstrate spinning next to the pens of rare sheep. Could be fun. Day two: My hat; I need a tray to make the felt in. I have the template, a very tall isosceles triangle, so my best bet is a garden gravel tray, which I find at the garden warehouse at the bottom of the lane. I’ve brought the template with me and bought a tray to fit it. Bingo! I’m off. . . Day three: The marquees are up and my nephew Nicholas has been on the field driving the tractor around and putting up the sheep pens etc. He’s too young to drive on the roads so is having a great time. And I start my hat. First I completely cover the plastic template with the first layer of black fibre layered from top to bottom, followed by a layer from side to side; then I turn the whole thing over and repeat. Then I put on a thick layer of multi-coloured streaks – red, yellow, blue, orange, purple – turn and repeat. I make sure the edges are well tucked in and overlapping, then start to felt. Lots of hot soapy water and kneading until I am bored, then turn and repeat, until at last I can feel the fibres binding together and shrinking, drawing together and 7

crumpling up the template within the body of the hat. At last I feel confident to pull out the template and carry on with the felting as a tall, pointy, multicoloured witchy hat forms in my hands. At last it has shrunk to the size of my head, so I rinse out all the soap and pop it onto the hat block, where I tweak and crumple it into a wibbly-wobbly, spiky hat with a felty tassel dripping from its tip. And I’ve finished my hat! I don’t know if it will win (judges can be so temperamental), but I’m really chuffed with it. Day four: The tents are going up in the field next door for Isobel’s twenty-first birthday party. I have yet to make my Christmas decoration, in between shopping for a boot-load of supplies for the party and covering a dozen trestle tables with banqueting roll in the children’s craft tent ready for tomorrow. Simple! I end up with a wreath of entwined green felt sausages covered with red, yellow, purple, blue and orange felt bobbles. It looks better than it sounds. Later: Isobel’s party – more of a gathering of good friends for food and drinks and table football in the garden than a wild party – has now decamped to the field next to the house to sleep in the tents put up for them, and hopefully the sheep won’t be too noisy in the night. It’s after my bed time, and I have to be up early tomorrow. Show Day: After delivering my entries to the Adult Craft Tent I start the day wrestling with my gazebo. The weather has turned windy and it’s threatening to take off, me with it, and is heading towards Skipton over the hill. Eventually I give up and squat in a corner of the children’s craft marquee, which is held down with massive spikes for tent-pegs. My sister is in charge of it, so can hardly refuse me space. In fact I think this is a much better spot because all the children come in to see if their entry has won a prize, and on the way past stop to see what I am doing and have a go. After a proper roast lunch – as a helper I get given it free in the stewards’ tent – I go and have a look to see if I have won anything. My wibbly-wobbly hat hasn’t won, it’s come second. But that is quite right as the first prize has gone to a wibbly-wobbly rhinoceros which wibbly-wobbles down a wooden 8

ramp making a noise, so you have to keep on playing with it. My hat, though very good, just can’t compete. But I have got a first, 4 second and 3 third prizes out of nine entries, which comes to a grand total of £14 in prize money! It almost pays for my petrol to get here! My only unplaced item is my hand-spun silk, which is quite ironic, but as it loses out to a wonderful needle-felted dragon, which deservedly gets ‘best in section’, I’m not complaining. The day ends shattered but satisfied, and as a footnote my sister tells me that one of the organisers of the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate asked for the name of her spinner as she wants her (me) to demonstrate there next year. I’m astonished but flattered, but decide it’s probably a bit far to go! Day six: Home.

DYEING WORKSHOP with Alison Jolley We all had a fun day playing with natural dyes producing lovely colours!



The task of putting into a few sentences some words about Susan has fallen to me gentle, kind and caring friend. I have found it uncanny how many exact parallels we shared in our lives, but perhaps that is the basic thing which turns an acquaintance or friend into ‘a good friend’. Raised on a sheep farm, it is hardly surprising that Susan ended up having a passion for ‘all things woolly’! I spoke to Caroline, Susan’s sister, who told me that as children they would collect the bits of fleece off the bushes and fences, twisting them as they went, obviously a spinner in the making. This also nurtured a love of the countryside, wildlife and birdwatching which she enjoyed throughout her whole life. She was very good at identifying local birdsong. Her husband, Stephen, shared anecdotes of Susan’s earlier life as an accomplished horse rider, of dancing to the songs of Abba in their early days together and of her love of music. She played the piano and sang soprano, especially at family carol singing. She also loved gardening, amateur dramatics and history. A talent I knew nothing about was a passion for writing poetry. I was asked several times how long I had known Susan. The exact number of years has merged into the mist of time, but too few I know for sure. We first met at a craft taster day at the village school just around the corner from where Susan lived. After that she decided to join the Guild. When asked to join the committee, we joked that we must have arrived as a successful double act .... some people didn’t know which was which!! 10

I am so glad that Susan had the opportunity to win first place in our annual competition and to achieve the wonderful accolade of having her work displayed in the National Exhibition. I have particularly fond memories of the part I played in the making of her lovely bag. We had such fun with indigo in my garden, blue fleece ending up in her finished project. Both the last time I saw Susan and the last time I spoke to her on the phone, Guild was part of the conversation. She asked me to thank you all for your friendship and wanted you to carry on with the craft we all enjoy. So, to Susan I say “what a fitting and beautiful way you chose to leave us in a woven basket edged all round with sheep fleece, your favourite blue flowers and native hawthorn to the sound of birdsong. Thank you for your friendship. My craft buddy - it just won’t be the same without you. Miss you loads already.

CHILTERNS COUNTRYSIDE FESTIVAL by Audrey Kittermaster This is an annual event on the National Trust estate at Ashridge, celebrating local businesses and charities. It was very blustery and cold but fortunately not too wet; well attended, including a large number of dogs! There were many lovely food stall, apple juicing, local wildlife trusts and stalls with plants and craft. The Guild spinners were admirably represented by Gilly and Alison in action on their wheels and Martina was spinning on a spindle whilst Ian was giving moral support and fetching refreshments. There were several different breeds of sheep, ferrets and also live musicians struggling to be heard above a very gusty wind. It was a pleasant and informal event and good to see our spinners.


THE KNITTING AND STITCHING SHOW by Helen Allen This event, more familiarly known to most as ‘Ally Pally’ because of its location at Alexandra Palace in north London, takes place every year. It is a three day event which is vast; there are exhibits, the opportunity for shopping, and most big brands are represented. It draws huge crowds, and is not for the faint hearted. It’s not my favourite event in the knitter’s calendar, yet it is one I have attended for the last three years in a row! This year, as before I went with a group that I knit with outside of the Guild. We travel together, usually full of excitement and chatter about ‘shopping lists’, what bargains may be found, and who else we may meet for coffee or lunch. The fun started before we entered the building. We were greeted by a London taxi which was completely covered by yarn! There were smiles and comments all round, with lots of pictures being taken. This year, in a break from our established routine, we decided to see the exhibitions first, in the hope of a little more breathing space. It worked! This major exhibit was work by Margaret Nicholson. We saw some amazing crewl work, exciting embroidery and some interesting work by the textile students from our local Buckinghamshire university. There were also some examples of work from students working towards their handweavers diploma and the displays included where their inspiration had come from. This in particular I found fascinating, and I could have spent much longer talking with them, but it was time to meet for lunch. After lunch came shopping! I can confess to some pretty buttons, some undyed sock yarn, and a sweater’s worth of shilasdair! Well it was half price, and it is very pretty…. It is a good day out, albeit one that leaves you tired, but mostly in a good way, and usually a little lighter in the pocket.


BRINGING SPINNING UP TO DATE by A Linnette Bell Alison Daykin, an experienced weaver, spinner, dyer and teacher introduced us to a fun world of colour and texture where the uneven spinning of beginners is actually an advantage to be encouraged, in order to produce beautiful artisan yarn. She achieved an A level in Craft Design & Practice in weaving in 1981. She took up spinning to understand yarn construction. The trend in those days was for perfect, even spinning which was uninspiring for Alison, as she sought interesting colour and texture. Ann Norman encouraged her to “ think outside of the box” and she started adding ‘extras’ to create texture. Mabel Ross was also an influence in spinning fancy decorative yarn. Alison attended a Summer School workshop with Bobbie Cox entitled ‘Spinning & Dyeing for Tapestry’. She found inspiration through nature or found objects such as flotsam from a beach. This experience gave her ’the right’ to experiment further. Alison taught experienced spinners ‘colour blending’ using a carder. She brought colourful photos and taught the students how to select the colours and textures. For fancy yarns she added oddments of commercial or handspun yarn to the carding process for texture. ‘Teaching Design for Spinners’ in South Derbyshire Community Education, was a course that eventually became a book called ‘Creative Spinning’, produced in collaboration with Jane Deane. Alison showed many beautiful examples of textured, colourful hanks of yarn, dyed yarn samples, textured tapestry and a woven scarf ornamented with fancy yarn. Many of the yarns would have been too busy to make a knitted item, but they worked extremely well as small added flashes of colour and texture in a plain woven or knitted item, or in densely textured tapestry weaving. “Less is more” she reminded us and she appreciates usefulness in her creations, as well as beauty. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris 13

MEMBER PROFILE: Jean Neill Hugh and I moved from London to Durham in the 1970's with our small children. I can't remember how long it was before Ann Cartlidge, a friend who lived in the same street, asked me if I would join an evening class with her and learn to weave. After a short time our tutor became ill and could not continue with the class, so a group of four of us decided to start the Durham Guild of Weavers. It is a flourishing Guild today and I am still in touch with other founder members. Shortly after the new Guild got under way Michael Crompton, the tapestry weaver, came to live in Weardale, not far from Durham. He was giving spinning lessons at that time so Ann and I bought spinning wheels and had a few lessons. That is how I got started in both crafts. We moved to Buckinghamshire in 1982 and it was not long before I became a member of the Bucks Guild. Over the years I have enjoyed being on the committee several times, including 8 years as treasurer. I have taken part in many activities and remember with particular affection the years when we held our annual exhibition in the Market Hall in Old Amersham. In those days we held an exhibition for a week, we sold home-made refreshments (made by members) all day and made space for a few tables and chairs where our visitors could sit and enjoy some lunch or a cup of tea and a piece of cake. It was hard work, but good fun - and very expensive to hire the Market Hall, but we made a good profit on the food! Not only did we make everything at our own expense but we bought it back when we wanted some lunch!! I wove on a tapestry loom for some time and then on a rigid heddle loom, then bought a four-shaft table loom. I now have an eight shaft table loom. Most of what I have woven is for my own use or for the family. I have put an occasional entry into the Guild competition! There has been lots of sample weaving and experimentation with design, colour and pattern along the way and my inspiration has come mainly from the natural world. I have not been a prolific weaver but have enjoyed nearly every minute of it! 14

KNITTING AND SPINNING GROUPS We now have groups for knitting and spinning. The spinners meet on Mondays and bring their wheels and spindles. Knitting is on Thursdays, but you can also bring crochet, weaving or embroidery or whatever else you are working on. The groups meet in alternate weeks at 7.30pm in the Pottery Room and if you would like to come along please contact Gilly or Martina for the dates.

BEALE CUP The topic this time around is ‘Diamonds’ in preparation for our exhibition next year. The Beale Cup competition is in less than two months and no doubt everybody is busily working on ‘Diamonds’. Let’s hope for a lot of entries!


2014 Guild Programme 11 January

AGM, Beale Cup, Christmas Party

1 February

Talk on Weaving by Ismini Samanidou

1 March

Talk ‘Full Circle’ by Emma Price

5 April

Member’s Meeting

3 May

Talk ‘From Nettles to Soy Silk’ by Teresinha Roberts

24 May

Workshop ‘High Loft Silk Spinning’ with Priscilla Lowry

7 June

All Day Inkle Loom Demonstration and Talk by Rob Dunster

5 July

Show and Tell

2 August

Garden Meeting

6 September

Talk ‘Creative Crochet’ by Hilary Turner

7 September

Workshop ‘Creative Crochet’ with Hilary Turner

4 October

Speaker from the Association

1 November

Knitting Day

6 December

Guild Project

Meetings are held in Barn Hall at the Amersham Community Centre at 2 for 2.30pm. We always have a sale table where you can bring and buy and we serve tea and biscuits after the talk.

Committee Acting Chairwoman

Alison Jolley

Acting Secretary

Gilly Pusey


Penny Hughes

Programme Organiser

Mary Newland

Programme Coordinator

Margaret Baker

The Web/Publicity

Martina Müller

Committee Members

Adelheid Jenkins Helen Munday 16

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