Made from scrap

Made from scrap
All's well


Total Pageviews

Saturday, 8 September 2012

A Dabbling Day

All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!
Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver,
Yellow bills all out of sight
Busy in the river!
Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roach swim--
Here we keep our larder,
Cool and full and dim.
Everyone for what he likes!
WE like to be
Heads down, tails up,
Dabbling free!
High in the blue above
Swifts whirl and call--
WE are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!

Kenneth Grahame  (I had to learn this poem many moons ago at school, it has always been a favourite of mine).

Today was a Weaving Spinning and Dyeing Guilds Meeting.  It was officially known as a 'Dabbling Day'.  There was no speaker or workshop and it was our first monthly meet since June.  It was an effort to get motivated to go today to be quite honest.  I have felt zapped all week and my Mom has been having great trouble with her eyes for a couple of months.  She has been going to the GP and using various antibiotics, ointments and drops but nothing is working so far.  Her eyes are sore, painful and light sensitive.  It is pretty tricky to get motivated when you feel 'low'.  My Mom has an appointment with an eye specialist on Monday and I hope they can help.  I used to tell both my kids when they were toddlers 'your eyes are precious' and they really are.  We made the effort to go dabbling and we had an enjoyable day.  
              Dabbling meant we got to chat and mingle and explore.  People were working on various projects, weaving, spinning, knitting, crochet, etc.  There was a large table with lots of fibres that a couple of members kindly bought for others to spin.  I have a small amount of soy fibre to try at some point  and some bamboo fibre to experiment with.  My Mom tried to spin some banana fibre...she was not impressed.  It looks beautiful, white and silky but it has no elasticity at all and has a crunch to it.  I asked her if she had picked 'coconut fibre' by mistake!  
                It was lovely to see everyone after the Summer and one of the more 'senior' members, Evelyn gave us a demonstration of how to 'skirt' a raw fleece.  We had two 'Shropshire' fleece and two 'Shetland' fleece.  We have a Guild project to work on for next September when there will be a 'Six Guild Exhibition'.  Our Guild 'Birmingham and District' will have a display to do using 'Shropshire' fleece that has been Woven, Spun or Dyed'.  Evelyn is a fantastic spinner and has a wealth of knowledge and experience.  She is an amazing lady.
Evelyn talked us through how to 'skirt' a fleece, showing us how to quickly sort what is worth keeping and what would be destined for the compost heap.  Fleece is apparently great for compost. . . but it can attract foxes!  It won't be going on my compost heap!  No Mr Fox for us!  I surprised myself a little as I did not want to touch the fleece and spent most of my time looking from afar with my nose turned up!  It is not like me.  I usually don't mind getting my hands dirty.   I just didn't fancy it today.  We have had an exceptionally wet year in the UK and I think that has resulted in some particularly mucky fleece.  Usually the best fleece is from the neck down the middle of the back.  One fleece was completely matted down the back, I wonder if that is the result of the constant heavy rain too.  Another guild member has kindly offered to wash the lot ready for sharing out for spinning, felting or whatever we are going to do with it.  We have a guild member nominated as 'Artistic Director' so I will await instruction.  
             I really like the opportunity to chat to other guild members.  I am full of admiration for their skills and knowledge.  One member Teresinha has a company  'Wildfibres'.  Do take a look at her website, you can lose yourself for an hour or two with all the interesting goodies and information you will find there.  I am pretty sure she ships worldwide too if anything should take your fancy.  She was telling me today that she has orders from South America, Iceland and Ireland to name a few.  Teresinha always wears some beautiful hand spun, hand dyed, or hand woven clothes or accessories.  Today she had a fantastic bag that she wove on a cardboard loom, it was woven in one piece without seams.  I have been busy googling how to do this. . . watch this space!   She also grows and sells her own dye plants and fibre plants, she keeps silk worms and travels guilds all over the UK giving talks and demonstrations about dyes, plant fibres, animal fibres, weaving, textile pots, silks and others.  She is one of those multi talented individuals that I am generally in awe of.  She stocks a wide range of fibres and spinners and spinning wheels too. Today she asked me if I could do her a favour.  She has started to stock silk hankies.  I have spun silk but never from a silk hankie.  She asked if I could follow her written instructions to test them for clarity.  I love silk and have always wanted to try and spin a silk hankie so I was more than happy to oblige.
A silk hankie is one cacoon from the silk worm.  It is created from a single thread and if you could unravel the single thread it would be over a mile long.  It really is fascinating to work with and has some unusual properties.  It is very fine and webby but at the same time amazingly strong.  It is not at all like wool to work with or spin.  To spin a silk hankie you first need to draft the fibre, stretch it out and prepare it to spin.  With fleece you would draft as you spin in a simultaneous movement.  Silk is crazy and it just will not stretch unless you have your hands a considerable distance from each other, so you draft it out then spin it without further drafting.

       The hankie was about 30cm square then you break a hole in the centre and start to stretch it out.
The result was about 7 metres of fine silk strand to spin.  I spun it without any problems as I was already working with Tussah silk on my bobbin.  I forgot to photograph the spun hankie it is now buried on my bobbin.  I love trying new things though so I really enjoyed this.  I am very fond of working with silk.  I would definitely work more with silk hankies.  Silk and wool blended together make beautiful yarns.  I would also like to dye some hankies and make ply together a strand of wool with a strand of silk.  Silk takes dye really well and the lustre of silk enhances colour.  Too many ideas and not enough time.  I am sure that sounds like a familiar dilemma to many of you.  I am champing at the bit again now raring to go with 101 projects.  Roll on the dark nights of locking the front door and hunkering down to some crafty recreation!  Of course I will still be making the most of any sunshine that would care to come this way.  


  1. It sounds like you had a great day full of exciting ideas and friendly chatting. Nothing better! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  2. Yesterday I saw some ducks in the Sandy river ducking under the water just as your picture and poem show and describe! A friend showed me a silk hankie and let me pull on it a bit to understand it's texture although I did not try to spin it. I am interested to see what projects are spawned from your guild meeting inspirations.([I have skirted several fleece. It is not a task I enjoyed, but rather I rushed to finish :)
    I will have to do another post on my tomato plants. We have had less than
    10 tiny tomatoes so far, although we have perhaps 30 little green tomatoes... that might ripen... someday.... Knitting a tomato somehow seems more productive a task at the moment :)
    xx from Gracie

  3. I love that poem, I leaned it off by heart nearly 50 years ago. I put it on my blog earlier this year and this is only the 2nd time I have seen it, in all those years.
    Intereseting to read about your workshop, we had our wool fair here in Glastonbury a few weeks back. My friend came from Wales to sell her rare breed fleece and I fell in love with the needle felted animals.

  4. so interesting!!!! and, as always, i enjoy your blog, immensely. blessings, amycita

    1. also, i mentioned, in reply to your comment on my blog, that one of my daughters will be visiting the United Kingdom, in november. i wish it was me, and that we could get together and share a cup of tea! just thought i would mention it here too, since i didn't know if you would see it there;D

  5. Oooo Lucy with my new found passion for spinning I found this post fascinating. I'm off with my spinning friend (Spins on a wheel not round and round!) on Saturday to a meeting of the Spinners and Weavers Guild so I'm very excited, hope to learn loads and maybe even track down a wheel of my own!!!!


I appreciate and enjoy reading all of the feedback from your comments. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and sharing your thoughts. Sadly I have found it necessary to enable word verification, something I was trying to avoid...but I am receiving an unmanageable deluge of Spam! We don't want that do we? xxx :)