Tactile Textiles

The Weavers’ Workshop went out and about last weekend, exhibiting their wares and skills at the Tactile Textiles event at FARGO, Coventry’s creative village.

We were one of a number of textile groups and individuals showcasing and demonstrating a variety of crafts with opportunities to purchase kits and equipment. From Jo’s beautiful stumpwork family tree, the Weavers and Spinners lovely samples of all things wool, made using a variety of techniques such as felting, spinning, weaving and knitting, Jane Cobbett’s patchwork corner and the very popular Broad Street silk painting corner where many took the opportunity to test their painting skills and use of colour, visitors had a chance to witness a wide variety of textile crafts.

(Silk Painting)

FARGO’s shops also offered a variety of interesting handcrafted items for sale including unusual home made chutneys and jams, many made from locally produced produce – something different for Mother’s Day or a birthday. I’m looking forward to trying aubergine chutney and hot pineapple relish!

Sunday brought the Pod’s repair cafe event into the Urban cafe – lovely vegan soup, foccacia bread and cake fired the creative spirit and while items to repair were thin on the ground – there were plenty of knitters and crocheters to make items for the caravan cosy or themselves.

It was great to see so many traditional making skills thriving in the city, offering a vital anti-dote to the stresses and strains of modern life.

The Weavers’ Workshop offers introductions to simple weaving techniques using weaving sticks and peg looms and all are welcome to drop in on a Monday or a Thursday morning between 10.00 am and 12.30 pm to have a go for the modest cost of £3 which includes refreshments.

Our membership package costing £20 per year opens the door to learning more advanced weaving techniques such as tapestry and loom weaving as well as sharing inspiration and ideas with other members.

Dyeing with Woad

The Woad plant (Isatis tinctoria) has been famous as a source of blue pigment for several thousand years.

Its main use is as a dye for wool and other fabrics. The pigment is extracted from the dark blue-green spinach-like leaves of the woad plant that is a close relative of spinach and other brassicas.

Here is Sarah showing the weavers the technique of dyeing wool.
Beautiful Coventry Blues.

TWW outreach! by Penny Halpin, a member of the Weavers’ Workshop

Visit to Sri Lanka

I went with my family to visit old friends in Sri Lanka last Christmas. As they had a young daughter, Adithi, I decided to take a sample pack of weaving sticks and yarn from the TWW as a gift. The first evening we were there I taught Adithi how to weave a friendship band, and we also took some photographs. A day or two later we set off on a 2 week tour around Sri Lanka. Imagine my surprise on our return to be presented with this framed picture. Adithi had enjoyed weaving so much that she had asked her grandmothers for some more yarn and had produced this beautiful picture as a reminder of our visit to her family.

Visit to Calais

Last September I went as a volunteer with care4calais, a charity that was helping refugees living in ‘The Jungle’ camp outside Calais. The main task of the charity was to distribute aid of all kinds to the refugees who were otherwise destitute. The TWW was very supportive of my trip and I left with sets of weaving sticks and bags of yarn, with the intention of making some friendship bands, although given most of the refugees there were young men, I wasn’t sure there would be much enthusiasm for this activity. How wrong I was….one sunny afternoon, another volunteer and I settled ourselves on the ground between the tents and we were soon surrounded by curious faces, asking what we were making and could we make one for them. ‘No chance’ we said. ‘If you want one, you have to make it!’ By the end of the afternoon, a group of young men, mainly from Eritrea, Sudan, and Afghanistan, were proudly sporting friendship bands and showing them to their friends. A great bit of TWW outreach!

Hats for Newborns

We have been asked to knit hats for newborn babies from George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton. So we did.

George Eliot Hospital Maternity team are seeking kind donations of knitted baby hats to provide valuable protection for new born babies.

Midwives prefer that all babies born at the George Eliot have a little hat when they arrive but want to ensure that every baby has a new hat after they are born.

This initiative is part of a drive to prevent the risk of hypothermia in babies. Babies can get cold really quickly after birth as there is a big drop in temperature between the womb and the outside environment. Babies who get cold may need more medical treatment, a longer stay in hospital, and occasionally need care in the special care baby unit. The team have introduced a neonatal hypothermia care bundle which includes checking temperatures at various stages after the baby is born and the wearing of knitted hats.


The Weavers’ Workshop heads for The Handweavers Studio, London

On a very cold, wet, sleety February day, six members of The Weavers’ Workshop went on a visit to the Handweavers Studio in London last Friday to investigate what was on offer and purchase wool, books  and equipment for a variety of weaving projects. The owner, Dawn, hosted a very informative session on what to think about when selecting wool and considering design elements and textural quality.

Weaving, while on the face of it a simple process, involves a host of decisions on colour, texture, drape, handling and amount of shrinkage as well as the suitability of the spun wool for the project in hand. Who would have thought fuzziness versus shiny-ness would require particular consideration when calculating numbers of warp ends per inch. There is no doubt that loom weaving is a creative and technical skill  with boundless possibilities and Dawn’s sound advice was to create sample pieces before launching into the main project  – she assured us that samples provide a valuable insight into how materials  behave when woven and washed and reduce the potential for abortive time and effort.

Armed with their new found knowledge, TWW members browsed the contents of the shop and came away armed with all sorts of goodies to keep them busily weaving over the coming months.

The visit would not have been complete without a trip to a suitable tea shoppe and Honey and Co in Warren Street provided the vital sustenance needed for the journey home at the end of a cold, wet day.

We all agreed it had been an enjoyable outing and appreciated Margaret’s efforts in setting up  the trip.