Two ladies and a whole lotta wool
This bank holiday weekend I went to visit my parents’ new home in Ipswich and what should be on but the Maritime Festival? It’s celebrated every year on the waterfront and it’s so much fun! There was a lot of historical re-enactment going on – think Sharpe soldiers walking around with muskets – and as a result there were a lot of stalls that showed you how things used to be done, back in the day. This was already exciting enough for me as I’m a bit of a history geek, but imagine my excitement when I spotted the spinning and dyeing stall?! Oh my goodness, I ran straight over and watched as the lovely Debbie Bomford from Mulberry Dyer explained all about hand dying, hand spinning and natural yarn – and all in costume too!
On the left you can see some dying going on with onion skins and on the right (under the lid) there was dyeing going on with woad. Woad has an awesome history and has been used by various civilisations for thousands of years. I think I quite like it for it’s association with East Anglia (I’m Suffolk-born and bred) , as woad was apparently worn by the Iceni tribe when going into battle and they are of course famous for their leader Boudicca, my favourite historical figure when I was child. The dye is seeing quite a revival now after being pushed out by indigo and then chemical dyes, and this is mainly thanks to the people at Bleu de Lectoure and The Woad Centre. I for one am going to get myself a kit and have a go, because above all else I just love the colour!
Here’s some more natural dye but I must confess I’m not sure what they are (please feel free to let me know in the comments if you can guess!)
Next to the stall was a man demonstrating metal casting – in this case he was using pewter and making musket balls and small soldiers. It turned out he was also the man behind the amazing drop spindles, multi-talented!
Some colourful hanks hanging up on display.
Once I spotted those gorgeous drop spindles I couldn’t resist having a go! I have to be honest it’s a skill I hadn’t mastered and my poor little spindle had sat just unused after several failed attempts. However, after Debbie showed me what to do I was well away and have been ever since! I think the Ashford spindle I had originally purchased was a little heavy for a beginner. Naturally, I bought the spindle I was practicing on (I cannot resist a crafty purchase) so expect pictures of my efforts soon. It’s just so relaxing and satisfying, I highly recommend it.
And if you would like to meet Debbie and hear about natural dyes and natural yarns, you can visit her website here for dates of all the events they’ll be at.