Lots to show

We’ve seen some beautiful and interesting things lately at our Wednesday meetings.

Members have made cosy items for young and old (summer will be over before we know it, and in fact sometimes it feels like it already is).

Helga’s exquisite silk spinning deserves a special mention.

We’ve had an AGM, at which this was the most interesting item of business (every agenda should include scones with jam and cream!)

At another meeting we saw some history: two very old and special sweaters. They were made in 1967, at a Wool Week in Wairoa which led to the formation of of our national body, which we now know as Creative Fibre. Two teams attempted a world fleece-to-garment record, and these are what they created.

The first was spun and knitted in the usual way. The other team used what we now know as kiwicraft. ‘Māori women devised a unique way of knitting yarn without spinning the wool first. Women working as fleece-os (gathering shorn wool) in shearing sheds would roll freshly shorn wool on their thighs and knit the resulting strands with needles made from fencing wire in a practice known as uruahipi’ (find out more at Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand).

For more about the very beginning of Creative Fibre, see the second and third pages of your 2019 Creative Fibre diary, and to see the actual sweaters, come to the April 2019 Creative Fibre Festival, where they will be on display.

Our last item was a mystery. Lynette brought this crochet she was working on and challenged us to guess what it was …

No, it’s not a scarf. Much too scratchy. It’s made from hemp …


What do you think it is?


Would you like a clue?


It’s for an animal.


Another clue?


The animal is a reptile.


But what will a reptile do with that?


Give up? We all did.


It will be a hammock for her granddaughter’s Bearded Dragon. Bearded Dragons are lizards native to Australia. This is what they look like.



Foxton Spin-In, Blocking a Shawl … and Block Party

Early in October a bus load of us traveled to the other side of the island to the Foxton Spin-In.  Lots of yummy wool, lavender products and soy candles to name a few of the goods on sale.  The morning and afternoon teas were scrumptious! Why else do we go to these things if not for eating and buying?

Most years at our Spin-In we have a fashion parade. As we had invited Elizabeth and Richard Ashford to speak at our Spin In, we decided not to have our usual fashion parade. So, I was interested to see what the folk at Foxton were up to in terms of fashion. Their fashion parade was not entirely of their members work, but the work of selected people from all over. An ‘eagle eyed scout’ gives everyone a look up and down as they come through the door and those chosen are later asked about their item and if they would be prepared to model it. Some were garments that had been made many years ago, others completed in more recent times. One of our members, Helga was invited to model her multi-coloured cardigan. Congratulations Helga!

The title of this blog is Foxton and Blocking a Shawl, and you are wondering why the connection.  One of the garments proudly shown was Tracy Henwood’s Seafoam Crescent Shawl published in Issue 29 of the Wheel. When I saw the shawl in the Ashford’s magazine I knew it needed to be on My Bucket List.  It is simply knitted with a garter stitch section at the top and a feather and fan section at the lower edge. The shawl starts at the centre back, with six stitches, and is increased at the end of each row. If you have knitted a shawl in this manner you will know that a triangle is formed.

This didn’t make a lot of sense to me as the garter stitch section is knitted first and is worn by the model in the magazine with the garter stitch section at the top. So, like many things we are unsure of we put it to one side. Shawl 2 Blog

Well, the pretty shawl shown at Foxton galvanized me into action. After all, I did have the lace blocking wires and the blocking pieces that linked together sitting waiting for me to undertake the Blocking Adventure.

Here is a photo of the shawl unpressed and unblocked. Not really fit for the purpose.  Well, not like the pattern picture. The method of increasing formed a fairly tight edge, which made me somewhat nervous about the whole thing. Let alone how the pointy bit at the start was going to become a straight edge!Shawl 1 Blog

I did what I do best and consulted Mr Google and Mrs Pinterest and discovered that a long soak in water was required and that wool has an amazing amount of stretch when wet, which I had previously learnt the hard way. Into the tub went the shawl and the mat laid out on my new guest bathroom floor.

Shawl 3 BlogIt took awhile to stretch it out and to pin every section out.  I left it for two or three days and then unpinned it and took the wires out – NOW my shawl looks the right shape.

What did I learn? – I learnt to have faith in both the pattern instructions and myself. If you too, are unsure about blocking a piece, just get on with it and do it!

Here’s two pictures of me modeling the shawl at spinning a couple of weeks ago.

I bet the Block Party in the heading got you excited too, wondering if I was going to share with you a party where there are lots of blocks – if you are a quilter you will have lots of experience with ‘Blocks’. In knitting we tend to think of blocks as ‘Squares.’  More about blocking. Sorry to disappoint, this party was centered around the street block.  You could say this is the  cultural centre of Masterton.  It’s where The Woolshed Museum, Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, Conart, King Street Artworks and Masterton Library.

You probably know The Woolshed is where our club rooms are located. The Block Party took place on the Saturday of Labour Weekend. We decided to sit outside and spin and other members sat outside a yarn shop and knitted. But prior to that we did some yarn bombing. We had a largish space to cover and not a lot of yarn.  It was a great way to lift our profile. Three of us sat beside the footpath and spoke to almost everyone who walked past – some don’t make eye contact, so had to speak with them. One young lady commented that if there was a power outage we could still continue to spin, which is why she liked the idea of spinning.


Mary found this yarn bomb around the corner.

Mary's tree blog

Tablet weaving!

We were fortunate recently to have Sandra Brookes come and teach a workshop on this ancient craft (which is also called card weaving). Astonishing things can be made using just a few square cards with holes in each corner.It’s a very ancient craft, she told us. Examples have been found in Europe from as long ago as 800BC, and the Vikings knew all about it. Here is a drawing by Daniel Reeve of some spinning and weaving tools found in the 8th century AD Viking ship burial at Oseberg in Norway.

Sandra showed us how manipulating the cards in different ways gives different patterns, and soon we were each harnessed to our (pre-assembled) set of cards, learning the basics.

Then we started making simple patterns, some of us better than others.

After lunch it got harder. She showed us how to thread a warp, and then set it up for slightly more complex patterns. Her enthusiasm was catching even if some of the complexities seemed terrifying.

Threads were determined to tangle –

– and had to be brought under control and each threaded through the right hole in the right direction. There are S and Z directions in tablet weaving, just like in spinning!

But when we got things organised, more pattern possibilities opened up –– and more –

Thanks Sandra!


Spindles and more

Recently a few of us started learning  the ancient craft of spindle spinning. Our efforts were a bit tentative
and sometimes the drop spindles did what drop spindles do –
but fortunately we had a good coach in Ulla, who even knows how to use different types of spindle.
A couple of weeks later we got brave and invited other members to come upstairs and watch and have a go, still with Ulla’s help, of course
and several did.
Who knows, we may have started something!
Thanks to John MacGibbon for the last two photos.

We’ve also seen some lovely things made by members. This little rug in natural colours was particularly admired –
(The sheep isn’t real – the Wool Shed has quite a flock of these, all fake though a couple of them can be persuaded to baa.)

Show-and-tell was colourful, with a variety of skeins
and an attractive vest –

Here are a couple more pictures from last month – a serious discussion about suitable wool for felting (Another photo by John)

and giving a final polish to a wheel that will be for sale.

We receive quite a few older wheels, either inherited or no longer wanted, as outright gifts to the guild or sometimes to sell on commission. Some are too far gone, and we have to decline them. Often they just need a bit of TLC (this little Ashford Traveller wobbled, and had other minor issues) so we fix them up and find them good homes.


Spin In 2018 – another perspective

We have just had another very successful Spin In at Wairarapa College, with fibreholics coming from near and far.
Planning begins well before the event – do we use the same venue as last year? Well, yes as the Town Hall is still closed pending earthquake strengthening.

What traders did we invite? Tried and true of course. Lib, our lovely secretary took care of that while Trish sorted the venue. One of the things that make our Spin In such a success is the cup of soup at lunch time thanks to Gloria and team. I am sure this is what attracts so many to our event.

In past years we have had a Hands-on Activity which was located on the stage. This year we decided to hold this in the centre of the Hall at Wairarapa College. This proved to be a great idea, those participating didn’t have to climb stairs to the stage and if people wanted just to look they could as they wandered by. This year Janet assisted by Sue, guided us through the steps of making multi-coloured twisted cords where each colour was separate. If people were interested Janet helped them make a tassel. The best tip from the tassel making portion was to hold your tassel over a steaming kettle or pot of water. This puffs up the threads and makes them nice and fluffy.

Sue and Joan WP
There was the usual array of raffle prizes donated by members and traders. Its well worth buying a few.

Raffle table (2)

Ever seen a lamb in nappies?

Lamb (2)

Patrizia brought along one of her lambs. I kid you not, one of our members was cuddling it at the end of the day!
This year we decided to invite Elizabeth and Richard Ashford to speak about the Ashford company. What interesting and dynamic people they both are. I could have listened to them for much longer. Sadly, they needed to return to Ashburton later in the day and had a plane to catch. Before Elizabeth and Richard left they presented Lynette Teahan with the Joy Millar Trophy. This trophy is for any combination of wool and other natural fibre(s).  The item may be spun, felted, knitted, crochet etc. or any combination but must contain some wool. Trish Carver was presented with the William Ackerley Trophy for Best use of Colour.  Congratulations to you both!

Roll on next years Spin In.

Spin-in 2018

As always, it was a lot of fun.

The traders were a serious temptation –

(Yes, of course she bought it!)

There was plenty of colour as well as the naturals. Here are just a few of our wonderful traders –

(You may have recognised Tracy White and Yvonne Monk in the last two photos – a spin-in  wouldn’t be complete without them.)

It was a special treat to have Julie Van der Putten (Puddle and Quilt Works) come all the way from Cambridge.

As always, the Bring-and-buy was popular, with lots of books this time –
and some interesting plants –

Then some sheep arrived outside!
There were two Valais Blacknose rams (the ewes were all otherwise engaged, it being lambing time). The breed, which originated in Switzerland, is still very new to New Zealand – find out more about them here. They are reputed to be extremely friendly. Presumably this would never happen –

But back to the spin-in and the event many of us were eagerly anticipating, the talk by Richard and Elizabeth Ashford, come all the way from Ashburton. Their products are well known to most of us, but not the family’s history. Richard’s father Walter Ashford began selling kitset household items during the 1930s depression, when affordability mattered. We liked the photo of early product testing (yes, that is Richard on the rocking horse) –

There was much more, and we were happy to hear from Elizabeth that their succession planning will ensure continuity of supply in the future, including spare parts.

Elizabeth had one more job to do: she judged our two annual competitions. Here she is showing her choice for the Hugh Ackerley trophy for best use of colour, Trish’s much-admired rug –

And here is Lynette being announced as winner of the Joy Millar trophy for the best item made from wool and any other natural fibre –

Elizabeth seemed a little reluctant to take Lynette’s exquisite scarf off, and why is Richard on his knees?

A huge thankyou is owed to everyone who worked so hard to make the day a success!

More about the Spin-in, and …

First of all, we hope everyone’s calendar has a great big ring around Saturday the first of September – the Wairarapa Spin-in! Here are some of the goodies: are they to eat or to wear?

Just for some more temptation (and to make your wallet cringe) here is a list of the traders who will be there:
Earth Palette Dyes (Lynn Evans)
Caveland Fibres (Shona Harris)
Inspire Fibres (Tracy White)
Kaihi Wools (Sue Grayson)
Kane Carding (Sara and Neil Thorburn)
Little Wool Company (Anna Gratton)
Puddle and Quilt Works (Julie Van der Putten)
Raydene (Yvonne and Don Monk)
Rewa Rewa (Patrizia Vieno)
Waione Wool Carding (Lyn Watson and Steve Clarkson)
Wairarapa Felters

But that’s not all … Richard and Elizabeth Ashford are coming to talk to us! And they’ve asked for a screen to project onto, so what will they show us? Oh, the suspense!

Might there be some cute sheep too? Cross your fingers for nice weather.

And of course there will be the usual mouthwatering food and  soup (BYO lunch though). For everything else you need to know (time, place and how to get there, cost etc) click here  or click on WAIRARAPA SPIN-IN 2018 in the menu at the top of the page.

Now something special – at a Tuesday evening meeting last month, two young members were prizewinners:
Janine and Simona spun and knitted the cushions, and crocheted the rug. We are very proud of their achievement!

This month there were some lovely things at show-and-tell (click on one to see it bigger):

That’s it for now – see you at the Spin-in!