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What a fantastic activity day we had last Thursday. Brian McCarthy kicked off our Natural Dyeing morning with a very comprehensive discussion about his collection of plant material, his methods of extracting the colour as well as showing knitted items and the yarn colours. Brian's meticulous collection and recording methods are par excellence. Using just about anything he can get his hands on — mostly leaves, bark, lichen and flowers — his range of colours was truly impressive.

Also impressive was Helen's collection of soft pinks, purples and coral colours. These colours — quite rare for natural dye pigments —she obtained from coastal lichens. It was interesting to hear her relate that as she collected lichens further down the coast, the colours changed (even though she was using the exact same extraction and processing methods).

After the hour long talk and demonstration, it was out to the bubbling pots of luscious liquids that Brian and members had organised for the practical side to the day. Spun yarn and skeins were immersed in the different dye pots with surprises all round. With two such competent dyers, in Brian and Helen, there was no 'trial and error' to be had!

We thank Brian and Helen for sharing their knowledge, for their preparation and organization of the day and for their commitment to their craft. Also a BIG thank you to the several members who helped in the setting up — in the hall and outside — and the running of the day. Your generosity is much appreciated.
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L to R: Helen showing the lovely green colour she gained from using Hormosira Bansii (Bubbleweed); a beautiful range of pinks and corals from Helen's collection of ocean lichens; interested members looking on.
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Our first meeting back was a BIG one! Lots of items and exhibits from the recent show(s) on the table for all to see. We welcomed five new members and it was great to catch up with all the regulars whom we haven't seen for the last few months. It's shaping up to be another big year of spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, tatting and all things textiles and fibres and fleeces. Check out some of the new photos I have posted in the Album.
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For those who had the chance to pop into the Berry Show last weekend you may have seen Ingrid's loom warped up and ready to go. Jennifer, and friends, have done a remarkable job in getting a warp wound, beamed, threaded and sleyed. The project will be a 44" square baby blanket in white Bendigo Woollen Mills 2ply Merino with a variety of soft wefts randomly woven through. We're eager to see the finished product — watch this space!

Jennifer (L) and Alison (R)

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Over thirty five people attended our recent Activity Day to learn more about Saori weaving from our guest, Pi Wei .

Pi Wei brought her own loom and, firstly, showed us how the loom operates and some of the features of it — such as collapsing it to transport, buying ready made warps and the braking system. Members were excited about its ease of use. Secondly, Pi Wei spoke about fibres, yarns and fabrics that she uses in her weaving and shared the 'saori' philosophy of organic, 'on-the-loom-design', and 'free-style' weaving. Pi Wei then opened up the floor (so to speak) and those interested had a turn at the Saori loom. The joint-piece created on the day will soon hang in our meeting hall. Some of our members are familiar with this weaving technique while others discovered an approach very different to their usual practice.

It was a fantastic day, with everyone in good spirits and keen to learn. Friends travelled from North Wollongong, Kiama and the Highlands to join our usual regional members. Thank you Pi Wei. We greatly appreciate your time and energy. You clearly love Saori weaving.

🏆 2017 Country Shows 🏆
A fantastic workshop/presentation was held on 27 October by three of our members who, between them, have a wealth of knowledge and experience about exhibiting and entering into the country show circuit. Our first presenter, Christine, talked about preparing your items to get them 'show-ready'; things like finished edges, tidy seams, consistent tension. Cheryl, our second speaker, then went on to discuss the judging process and what judges look out for, in particular. Lastly, Brian discussed getting your spun yarn 'show ready' and what the 'spinning' judges award and critique. All three presenters shared really useful tips and strategies throughout the morning. The most important message, I think, form all three was the importance of entering your work into the shows whether you're novice or experienced. And as Brian summed up….the country shows are just that. They're shows where you can show what you've been working on, and show the community what our craft groups do. That's why they're not called country competitions.
We'll be expecting a 'large' range of exhibits in 2017

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A “little” knitting project for a good cause… Knitting baby hats for premmie babies born at Nowra Hospital. It is handy to knit two or three matching hats as a lot of premmie babies are twins or triplets. These hats are needed to keep little babies’ heads warm – they lose a lot of heat through their little bare heads! The hats are given to mothers to take home with their babies, so more supplies of hats are always welcome. Please contact us if you’d like to help.
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The Art of Wool - Goulburn
Last week a small group of members attended The Art of Wool Exhibition in Goulburn. The exhibition displayed current and past winners and runners up of the International Woolmark Prize. The basic premise of the Prize is to 'extend our understanding of the technical and creative potential of a fibre that begins in the land.' All garments submitted must have 80% Australian merino wool. The garments on show ranged from wearable art, exquisitely crafted daywear (a beautiful men's coat) to glamorous evening wear. As you would expect for an international fashion competition, all of the garments were breathtaking in either their complexity, their structure and technical skill and the design and creative use of wool. Interesting to note that past winners of the prize include Karl Lagerfeld and Yves St Laurent.

Following the exhibition and a delicious lunch at Rose's cafe, we had a brief tour around the Alpaca House (thanks to Jennifer's discovery); a burgeoning weaving and yarn business. The photos in our album here show Bill (owner/operator/Alpaca farmer) explaining some of processes of making the alpaca blankets that they are most famous for. Then, across the road we found the St Clair Villa Museum & Archives (thanks to Margaret's discovery) which was hosting the 'From Needle & Thread to Machine' exhibition. It was a really top day and worth the experience, so much so that we're planning a similar trip for later in the year.
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Alpaca Activity Day

The month of April saw an excellent presentation about all things “Alpaca”, for members and friends. Christine Talbot commenced the presentation with, at times, a rather humorous discussion of breeding alpacas and their husbandry. A photo display showed the life cycle of the alpaca. Christine discussed issues when raising alpacas that might affect their fibre.

Christine’s talk was followed by Annette O’Donoghue who is a commercial breeder of alpacas. Annette spoke about various fibre types, micron densities, tensile strength, scouring, carding, combing and dyeing of the fibres. Our spinning members had their ears pricked…!

Next, was Brian McCarthy’s discussion about spinning alpaca fibres into yarn. Brian is an award-winning spinner who enlightened us about spinning different qualities of alpaca fleece as well as the difference between spinning Suri alpaca and Huacaya alpaca.

Lastly, Sue Rodgers presented the group with her experience of weaving with alpaca yarn. Sue discussed warp and weft issues and showed some of her lovely products that she has woven with this yarn. Annette also contributed her experience with weaving with alpaca. Other members, (Barbara), also showed beautiful items crafted with alpaca, even an exquisite bird’s nest made with an alpaca roving.

Overall, it was a highly competent presentation about the alpaca fibre. Many questions were asked, and answered, by the group and much discussion had by members who have also had long experience with either raising the animal, spinning the fleece and weaving and knitting the yarn. Members would like to thank Christine, Annette, Brian and Sue for their precious time and knowledge of this most beautiful fibre, and rather cute animal…!