Just come back from my Guild meeting where I’ve been today, spinning, weaving and dyeing – although today we were felt making.
It was my first go at making felt and it was really good fun! Creating the design with fibres onto chiffon and cotton, spraying it with warm soapy water and then rolling them up in a teatowel (100 rolls one way, then 100 the other!), then taking them out, screwing them up and throwing them several times onto the table until done. There we were, all taking out our various frustrations on these pieces of material and they all ended up being quite beautiful. I wonder whether there’s an analogy to life there?!
Some of us made three; my third one was just fibres on fibres, several colours crossing over at right angles so that each colour shows through. When they have dried out and I have a moment I’ll scan them in if I can so that I can show you on our picture gallery.
It isn’t all women of all ages who go; there are men too, and some youngsters who have been coming with their mum for years. Some are now teenagers and really creative; it is good that they all enjoy it so much. R dropped me off and then went in to Canterbury and picked me up later. Wouldn’t it be nice if in time there were three generations of us there joining in? I wonder whether it will ever happen?
It was at one of these meetings, years ago, when I discovered the colour PURPLE. Every year, if we can, we have a company come along to a meeting and they bring fibres of all types and all colours. They even have shredded plastic bottles, and we can spin them into yarn!! They have a lot of ‘rovings’ – wool that has been cleaned (and sometimes dyed) and drawn out into long snaking masses ready to be spun. It is like an Aladdin’s cave to us lot and we have a great time stuffing various colours into bags to be weighed and paid for. While I was looking I discovered this beautiful purple colour, and was drawn to it.
I have never been the same since! I shall always love all the colours for themselves; they all bring something special to the spectrum of life. I shall always favour blue, and red will always cheer me up, as I said earlier. Green and yellow are refreshing and orange has a certain zing about it. But deep, dark purple – well, it was weird, that day. Somehow, as soon as I saw this big mound of it it went straight to my heart and comforted me. That’s the only way I can describe it. It made me relax. For the first time in countless months it made me forgot my childless pain; it took my breath away and it wanted all my concentration. I wanted this stuff. I wanted to stare deep into it and lose myself in its depths.
I crammed as much of it as I could into the bag, and queued up to pay. Over the next year or so I spun it – some by itself, and some plied with white Romney wool. It gave me pleasure just seeing it on the bobbin! Then I wove it into a bag – my first weaving! – and lined it with deep purple lining as well. And now I can peer into its depths!! I added a few embellishments to it. Oh, I can photo that for you as well and can add that to the gallery; will probably do that tomorrow if I have time.
The weaving of it has its own story. In the year 2000 I was asked by a friend if I would take my wheel to their village Millennium Fete so that I could give demonstrations of spinning. I said yes and she said that they’d have a table for me on which to display some bits. Some time before R had seen this little loom in a charity shop, and I bought it. It was perfect for the table; the weekend before I had warped it – threaded some strong cotton through various holes and round pegs etc. ready for the shuttles to carry the cross thread through. When I join others demonstrating spinning at the County Show there are always children who like to have a go at the weaving looms that some members bring along.
I knew enough about it to be able to show people what needed doing. I also made up some little packets of clean, coloured wool so that anyone who had a go could take them away as a freebie. Well, it went very well and everyone enjoyed having a go, and by the end of the day there was quite a sizeable bit of cloth on the loom; about a foot of it. (I know it doesn’t sound much, but it is!) So after I brought it home I finished it off in spare moments over the next few weeks, then sewed up the sides leaving a flap, then wove a long handle and attached that to it and lined it, etc.
And hey presto! My Millennium Bag, that children started off for me. Yes, I will put a photo of it here for you; keep a look out over the next day or so.