The Journal for Weavers Spinners and Dyers

Guild Meetings - Fibre Sampling

Guild Meetings - Fibre Sampling

As we draw in to autumn, and for many guilds, the resumption of regular meetings, we’re still faced with the need to come up with ideas to keep members involved with the guild, and interested and energised to keep developing their skills in our core crafts.

We’ve been sharing workshop ideas that you can do online via video calling since the spring, and we’ll carry on doing so for as long as we need to. This content is generated by contributions from you… and programme secretaries all over the country will be incredibly grateful for us sharing our resources. If each guild shares just 1 meeting idea we’d have enough virtual workshops to keep us all meeting online every week for the next year! Email with meeting suggestions, or recommendations for online speakers you may have booked to deliver workshops or lectures via a group video call.

Today we’ve got an idea for a spinning workshop, teaching technical, detailed spinning skills can be hard over the internet, but they do work excellently for this type of activity. Montgomeryshire Guild did this earlier in the summer and it provided us with a way to hold a spinning and chatting meeting, but one with slightly more purpose.

This workshop is intended to give members more experience at spinning unusual fibres, but in the small quantities, saving people the expense of buying 100g of a new fibre only to discover they don’t like it. Before the workshop the co-ordinator needs to draw up a list of fibres, and work out the costings, we chose a wide variety, but you could do the same thing with different wool breeds, or do it as a silk sampler… the list is endless! Roughly you can fit 7 x 10g samples in a large letter box with the aid of some sticky tape, which is a sensible amount to be spinning in a 4-5 hour meeting. A large letter box works best because the postage cost for this size parcel is much, much lower, and it really helps to keep the costs down. The fibres can be purchased in bulk from any fibre supplier, and then subdivided in to smaller amounts, and posted out. We managed to do this, including postage for just £5.

During the meeting we worked our way through Shetland, Corriedale, Tussah Silk, Alpaca, Silk Hankies, Cotton and Rambouillet. We started off with more traditional fibres that members might have spun before, though we also ventured out in to the skill of spinning from the fold with the aid of a demonstration from a guild member, but you could also use a You Tube video for this.

As we worked our way through the samples, we split our fibre in half and tried spinning from the end of the combed top with a short forward draw, and spinning from the fold with a form of long draw, allowing direct comparison of ease of spinning, and the yarn that was produced. We went on a slight side trip to look at videos showing the production of silk hankies, which generated a lot of discussion. As we were spinning we used resources like The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook to share information about the different breeds of sheep.

It was a great day, a really valuable learning experience, and one we plan on repeating with a different set of fibres later in the year. By having a structure to our spinning meeting we’re all staying more engaged in the essential part of guild membership, and we’re able to carry on sharing knowledge even though we can’t be in the same room.

Katie Weston



Spinning from the Fold with a Short Forward Draw-

Spinning from the Fold with a Long Draw-

Various videos showing techniques for spinning all sorts of unusual fibres-

Making Silk Caps from the cocoon-

by Jo Finlow

Categories: Spinning

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