Take a truly wonderful weaving class!

Take a truly wonderful weaving class! This is an article written by a friend, former spinning student and fibre addict.  Hope you enjoy reading and take this course! Fibre crafts are addictive, aren’t they? You start off learning one, but soon you will be tempted by a complementary craft or two to add to your repertoire. So it was for me; not long after I had learned to spin (in a Meet The Wool workshop taught by Sandra!) Then I was lured by to the joys of dyeing my own spinning wool. Once again it was Sandra to the rescue, ever the enthusiastic, knowledgeable teacher, in the form of one of her Natural Dyeing workshops. Hot on the heels of this new skill was the siren call of Weaving!   Sandra herself was hearing the call to learn to weave; in fact, once again she was my enabler! She’d signed up for a 4 day beginners & improvers weaving course, and tempted me with the delights of learning to weave in the charming stone buildings of the Grennan Mill Craft School in Thomastown, Kilkenny. We reeled another craft lover in, and the fates were set– we three women would add another notch to our fibre craft belts this summer!   Grennan Mill Craft School is a renowned school for full-time craft programs, but during the summer months they run several short courses. Catherine Ryan, the excellent weaving teacher, definitely brings out the best in her students. She loves the craft, and by the time you leave, you will too. Beginner weavers can’t help but be buoyed up by her practical, calm encouragement when we get... Read More


WASHING FLEECE AND CONSERVING WATER This is the time of year, after shearing, that I am usually scouring fleece every day.  This consumes lots of water, not to mention electricity for heating the water to a near boiling temperature.  As we are on well water, I have been conscious of conserving water during this hot, dry spell but I still need to clean lots of fleece. I have known about a method whereby a raw, dirty fleece can actually clean itself through fermentation, Fermented Suint Method (FSM), which is used extensively in New Zealand and is being used elsewhere.  This method is basically for cleaning large quantities of fleece without the use of detergents.  The suint, or sheep’s sweat, woolgrease, and water ferments and produces a natural soap.  Once your initial fleece soaks for about 7 days, the following fleeces will take less time to clean…about 3 days.  Usually collected rainwater is used, but with the current shortage of rain, I just used well water.  The softer the water, the better. There is an excellent article with step by step instructions on cleaning wool by FSM on https://mozfiberlife.wordpress.com/fsm/.  Have a look and give it a try.  Just a warning.  The fermented wool will have a stinky smell while wet, but once it dries, there is no... Read More


NATURAL DYEING SUMMER WORKSHOP I’m hosting a natural dyeing workshop next month which will run for two days, 14th & 15th of July.  This is suitable for anyone, experienced or not, spinner or not.  We will be collecting our own plants and flowers with which to make the dyes.  We will learn how to prepare the wool with mordants, how to extract the colours from the dye materials, and how to make a dye bath and modify it.  The work will be done at my studio and participants can also meet my sheep and see where it all begins. The goal is for everyone to dye 2 skeins of yarn which you can take home and create with.  The handspun wool will be provided so all you need to bring is a packed lunch each day and yourself.  I expect to have lots of fun and space will be limited to 3-4 students.  Below are the details on time and cost but if you have any other questions and if you want to attend, you can contact me on this website or on Facebook at Meet the Wool. Hope to see you soon! Where: Alder Cottage, Callura, Ballinruan, Clare When: 14/15 July  10AM – 5PM Fee: €135 includes all... Read More


WOOLAPALOOZA 2018 This May bank holiday weekend was perfect for Woolapalooza which took place in the lovely Airfield Estate, Dundrum, Dublin.  What wonderful weather and what an appropriate venue for a couple of days packed with all things woolly.   I attended to help out all the dedicated members from the Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers who had a stand. The day was full of activities for the whole family including sheep shearing, sheep dog herding demonstrations, acid and natural wool dyeing and dye plant walks. There were also farm animals aplenty, both real and make believe.  If you’ve never been to this event and never experienced Airfield Estate, don’t miss it next year.  I’m certainly going back for another wonderful experience.... Read More

Spinning Coils

Spinning Coils For the past few days, I’ve been trying to master spinning coils. There are tutorials on You Tube of different methods of spinning coils, but my favourite explanation is from an article in Spin Off magazine by Jacey Boggs. For my first attempt, I used hand dyed commercially prepared merino top. You want your fibres to be rather short for the thick and thin single. You spin this first, using strips of the top about the thickness of the thumb and spin these on a slow speed preferably with a large orafice. You will make the slubs, or thick sections, by pinching the strip of fibre with the thumb on your drafting hand and giving it a little clockwise twist. Then where it thins out, pinch the fibre, draw out the fibre and spin a thin section. The thick sections won’t have a lot of twist, but will stay together. You can get by with some overtwisting as this is what you want for the coils. When the bobbin is full of the thick and thin single, you will finish the coils by plying with a strong thread. This should be the same colour as the single, or a complimentary colour. I used silk for my plying thread as it is very strong or you can spin your own laceweight single. The plying is where the coils are created and this process took a lot of practice until I got it right. Hold the plying thread in the left hand and hold it straight out from the orafice. At the same time. hold the thick and thin single at... Read More

More Natural Dyeing at Meet the Wool

More Natural Dyeing at Meet the Wool I have been doing more natural dyeing, using up some materials left over from the dyeing and spinning workshop. There were flowers from meadow sweet, chamomile and ragwort which I had picked over the summer and then frozen. Since they had thawed, I decided to make use of them in dye baths. The wool was mordanted first in alum and the dye baths prepared, soaking and then boiling the flowers. The chamomile dyed a pale yellow. For the meadow sweet, I added copper to the dye bath and it produced a golden yellow. The ragwort bath was modified with iron and produced a dark green. During the workshop Clare had chosen Madder root for one of her dye materials and when she was finished, I saved the leftover dye bath for a second dip. This time instead of bright orange/red, I got a paler orange/peach colour. There are so many natural materials available in the countryside and eventually I’ll try most of... Read More