From ‘Ewe to You’ – a Guild Challenge

by | May 16, 2013 | Event write-ups

From ‘Ewe to You’ – a Guild Challenge

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As part of their celebrations of National Week, The Hallamshire and District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers set their members the challenge of taking a fleece and turning it, through the processes of carding, spinning, plying and knitting, into a finished throw. The event took place at Heeley City Farm in Sheffield and the finished article was to be the prize in a raffle, raising funds for the farm. Heeley City Farm is an urban farm and environmental centre, manned by an enthusiastic team, who raise livestock, grow crops and run educational programmes on the compact city site. The task had to be completed over two days and within the opening hours of the farm, as the Guild was both producing the finished article and demonstrating its skills to the public.Punctuated by the piercing shrieks of the farm peacock, the Guild set to work with a fleece, weighing in at 3.25lb (1.5kg) and kindly donated by the family of a late Guild member. (The farm’s own sheep were close to lambing, which ruled them out of the challenge.) This fleece had been pre-washed, which revealed a lovely tonal grey colour with a soft handle and worsted finish when spun. Three drum carders were manned heroically and the rolags started to come off quickly. Within an hour and a half the first ball of plied wool was ready for knitting and due to the selection of complimentary spinning thicknesses, the finished yarn thereafter was a reasonably consistent Aran thickness.

The knitters had been given a selection of patterns to work to, some more complex than others and aimed at a range of knitting abilities. All of the squares had a garter stitch border to frame the pattern. By mid afternoon, the first few squares were ready for stitching together and the throw began to look as though it might be a real possibility.

By the second day of the challenge, the spinning was all but complete and marathon knitting was the sport of the day. It was ironic that the Guild members were sitting under a warm winter blanket of fleece on the first hot Bank Holiday that we had seen for several years. However, this did mean that the farm had a good visitor count and that the Guild had an opportunity to show the public its skills and to talk to a number of people who wanted to take their own spinning and knitting interests further.

Fuelled by excellent cake (the farm has a very good café), the final push came in the afternoon when the stitching together of the squares took place, as well as last-minute knitting. The completed throw was made up of 36 squares and finally measured 50 x 50 ins. An accurate ball count is not possible because of different gauges and lengths of spinning but was approximately 30 in total.

The finished throw was completed on time and was subsequently rewashed to remove any remaining grime and grease. It has been raffled in aid of Heeley City Farm and will give its new owner many a warm winter’s evening, snuggled up in the muted greys and blacks of a beautiful fleece, put to excellent use as its legacy. The Guild members appreciated the hospitality and support of the farm, and are looking forward to more challenges (and cake.)

To find out more about the Hallamshire and district Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers, please visit at www.hallamshirewsd.org.uk and to find out more about Heeley City Farm, please visit at www.heeleyfarm.org.uk

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Drumcarding

Spinning

Knitting

Finished Throw