Members can bring along their spinning wheel or drop spindle and spin until the talk takes place. There are special spinning mini skills days, where members can learn things like Navajo plying, core spinning, drum carding and blending using a blending board. Workshops have focused on special techniques for spinning to suit the garment and there have been lessons on top-down knitting, Fairisle knitting and other knitting techniques, using the wool spun from fleeces. Members have been known to help with flax spinning and teaching beginners how to use a drop spindle. From time to time the meetings have focused on making basic repairs to equipment and maintaining spinning wheels. Our friendly Guild members are usually happy to help beginners get started, time permitting. It is important that members and prospective members consult with the 2020 programme for this year’s lectures and workshops.
Guild members weave on a huge variety of looms including rigid heddle, inkle, table, peg and various simple frame looms. Weaving materials include wool and silk and weaving baskets is included in the craft as well as braiding and tapestry weaving. From time to time members hold courses on various weaving skills and there are also skills days at the normal monthly meetings in Ringmer Hall. (see our programme). Members can bring along their looms and current project and members are usually willing to help with any problems. Members have recently spun silk for the weavers to weave scarves, in wonderful colours, for the guild biennial exhibition in October 2019.
There is a focus on natural dyeing using plant-based dyes and talks have focused on sustainable natural dyeing and the problems of using chemical dyes. However, the guild does also include information on chemical dyeing and there have been talks on Indigo and Woad and the unique method of dyeing with these two natural dyes. Members recently attended a workshop on using natural leaves and flowers directly onto silk and fabric to provide dye patterns. The librarian kindly fits the books on display to the talk in hand with excellent books on things like indigo. Members bring in dye plants and seeds to grow dye plants, which are for sale. One member sells a wonderful array of wools with lovely hand dyed muted colours, which are especially useful for Fairisle knitting.
Of course Members and visitors are also encouraged to spin directly from fleeces or alpaca fibre, in the wonderful natural colours nature has provided.