Promoting traditional textile crafts across Dorset
From the Acting Chairman:
2017 seems to be going by so quickly. There is a lot going on over the summer and we hope members will get involved with the various shows. If you haven’t demonstrated at your local show yet, why not give it a go? It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or have been a member for a while; more experienced members will be only too glad to give you some tips.
Running the Guild always needs support and help from “ordinary” members. Some tasks are ideally done by Committee members, but many can be carried out by any member, such as giving a vote of thanks, writing an appreciation of a talk/demonstration, helping with the tea, clearing up after the meeting, show & tell, etc. etc. None of these mean having to attend the meetings every month.
One task we would like to set up is that of “hostess” – a member who will help to introduce new members to others. Do we remember ourselves what it was like, the first time we arrived, to see a sea of new faces, and realise good it would be to have a friendly greeting & someone to introduce us around? We’re hoping different members will feel inspired to volunteer for each meeting; thank you Jane, for volunteering for June.
It’s not long until autumn, then our special AGM/shared lunch/entertainment in November. We will also need to vote for a new Chairman and Committee members. Perhaps we need to put our thinking caps on sooner rather than later?
I’m sure there are quite a few informal groups that meet fairly regularly scattered around Dorset, as well as the ones listed below. Perhaps we could tell other Guild members about our own group – what we do, where we are, and when – either by a short article in the Newsletter or on the website. For more information, please contact Angie; her details can be found at the end of the Newsletter.
Shortly after April’s meeting, a flurry of emails went around the Committee. To cut a very long story short, a number of old looms and spinning wheels needed to be “rescued” urgently from the garage loft of a former Guild member, or end up in a skip; the loft had fallen in and had to be re-roofed, and all the debris from a long and very creative life removed. This included four spinning wheels, an unknown number of looms, and a very historic Huguenot Silk loom, not unlike the loom below.
After some negotiations, Jean & I set off into the wilds of north-east Dorset, and found ourselves faced with complete mayhem in an utterly idyllic setting. The silk loom, needless to say, was enormous, far bigger than any of us could possibly give up the space for, and the rest were in all kinds of states. On the first visit, we managed to identify & remove most of four looms; an 8-shaft 3’ Harris table loom, a 2’6” 4-shaft Dryad floor loom, a curious little 8-shaft loom with upright split-metal heddles, and a very dilapidated folding 4-shaft loom, which we both felt was too far gone to take on. Not to mention several spinning wheels in various states of repair; one too far gone to rescue, most of the rest sans bobbins or whorls. I had a feeling that amongst the other parts lurking in the loft was an upright rug loom, but the cars were full to bursting.
What to do with the silk loom, really a treasure without price? I agreed with the gentleman in charge of sorting all this out to ring round various museums to see whether any of them might find the room for it, and struck lucky with the first one I tried; Rochester Huguenot Museum would be delighted to have it!
So we co-ordinated our final visit with the Museum’s couriers, and the silk loom has duly gone off to Kent. The rug loom came home with me, as I’ve wanted one ever since the “Weaving New From Old” talk from Riita Sinkkonen-Davies we had last year; it was missing a vital part, which I could have had made up, but when I got it into the only possible position in our house that it could have occupied, I realised that it was enormous! Not only was it over 6’ high, but it stuck out about 4’ and would have hit family members on the head every time they tried to walk past it.
Disappointed, I was chatting away online when it emerged that a lady in West Sussex was desperately hunting for just such a loom; a couple of phone calls later, and a very happy lady and her handy husband appeared on our doorstep and we managed somehow to manoeuvre the big side-pieces, then the rest, into their car. (I hasten to add that no money changed hands, except what I’d spent on a new reed for it, as it’s still very much a project, not a working loom as yet.)
So, three of the old looms have gone off to make themselves useful. THREE? Yes – one of the Museum’s couriers had spotted the old folding loom, which was on the pile of stuff going off to the Tip. He announced that he’d be delighted to take it on & do it up; his girlfriend would be thrilled with it. So off that went to Kent, too.
The Guild is going to keep the curious little 8-shaft loom and restore it to use at shows. It turns out to be an old “Pioneer” loom from the North-West Pacific Loom Company, and should be easy to renovate & great fun to demonstrate on.
So – that leaves two large looms awaiting loving homes, currently stored in Sonya & Pete’s barn! They will need work, and possibly some money spent on them, but would be very worthwhile projects for someone handy. Talk to a Committee member if you think you might like to take one of them on!
Our April talk was given by Richard Warren, on the Castlemilk Moorit breed of sheep and the relationship of Rare Breed sheep to conservation grazing in Dorset. He described the breed and some of the problems of modern sheep management alongside the need for ecological management, e.g. Ivermectin, the main worm control, having a detrimental effect on the dung beetle. He told us that 80% of sheep meat bred in the UK is exported to Europe so added value is needed to create sustainability. The animal needs to be bred to people’s requirements e.g. the wool suitable for spinning. To keep our diversity of breeds we need to lobby the government to support smallholders and small-scale farmers producing primary products and we need to ask our butchers and supermarkets for pasture-fed meat.
DGWSD – SPINNING AND WEAVING GROUPS IN DORSET
Members new to the guild may be unaware that in addition to the Guild which meets on the last Saturday of each month there are a number of other spinning and weaving groups which meet at various venues throughout Dorset at different times of each month. Listed below are the names of these groups, where they meet and who to contact if you would like to join them.
Blackmore Vale Spinning Group
Meet at Hinton St. Mary Village Hall the first and third Wednesday of each month (except August and December). Contact Jocelyn Banks (01747 854897)
Bridport AD HOC Spinners
Contact Rev. Jean Thorn (01308 898540 or email email@example.com)
Courtyard Knitters and Spinners
Meet every Tuesday at The Courtyard, Lytchett Minster. Contact Sheila Hosking (01202 386831)
Meet on Tuesdays at Verwood Heritage Centre, Manor Way, Verwood. Contact Dawn Willey (01202 823095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Meet on the first Monday of each month except August. Contact Dawn Willey (01202 823095 or email email@example.com)
Wefan Tapestry Weavers
Meet the first Thursday of every month in Dorchester. Contact Robin Bunce (01305 250456) or email Gil Huntley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Historical Files at the Dorset History Centre
There are extensive files concerning the DGWSD held at the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester. These files date back almost to the time when the Dorset Guild was founded, up to 2012. To access the lists you will need to google “Dorset History Centre” then click on “Dorset History Centre – Dorset for you.com” Then under the picture entitled “Dorset History Resources” click on “Search our catalogue”. Follow the instructions until you get the list of Guild files. I would emphasise that only the titles of the files are listed – not the contents of the files. If you wish to see what the files contain you will have to personally visit the History Centre and ask to see the files themselves. I would add that the History Centre, like all local government departments, is strapped for cash. So while entry to the centre is free, do not be surprised if, when you sign for receipt of the files you have requested, a large box for cash donations is placed very close to hand! Their phone number is 01305 250550.
Lynn Davenport will be going to the trade fair at this year’s Summer School at Winchester in August and will be meeting Dom Porritt regarding weaving equipment. She is willing to bring back small items of weaving equipment which members may want to buy. If you wish to take advantage of her offer, her Tel. No. is 01749 814804
AND, with apologies to Gil for inadvertently leaving this out: