Saltholme and Red Dye Delights

We’ve had a wonderful summer so far with lots of fibre indulgence that has included our attendance at RSPB Saltholme’s Woolly Weekend on the 7th and 8th July, and a fabulous Dyeing For Red workshop in Durham on the 21st!

The summer is turning out to be a delight in lots of ways – now really looking forward to our Summer Party!!

Saltholme’s Woolly Weekend


The Saltholme event is a regular Durham Guild activity although this year was a little different. As the RSPB had a lecture in the education centre on the Saturday we spent the two days in one of their fields under a gazebo.


It was super-hot and there were lots of visitors but the staff at the centre really kept us comfy with deliveries of water, tea, coffee and very yummy biscuits!

Saltholme site is amazing, beautifully rural in the middle of an industrial landscape. Well work a visit at any time of the year, but Woolly Weekend is our favourite.

This year I was most struck by the enthusiasm of the visitors who were keen to have a try at drop spindle spinning and God’s-Eye weaving. The children had a great time!

We also met the ladies of the Saltholme Knitting group, including Trish who knit up the life size model of Moo the Sheep using the fleece the guild spun from Moo’s shearing last year.

Aimee and Moo

They are currently busy working on the yarn-bombing due to take place later in the year. Such a talented bunch!

Over the two days we met so many great people and gave out lots of goodies, brochures and leaflets. One visitor, who had never worked with fibre before, actually bought three whole fleeces before the end of the weekend, checking with us how to process them! Wow! Brave woman!

Aimee, the organiser has been a spinner previously and was inspired to get back into the swing and  wanted to join the guild!

In fact we had 3 new members for the next guild meeting!

Saltholme hosted some Alpacas this year – if you have never met an alpaca then you really should. Not only are they super cute but they also make the sweetest mewing noise! Their fleeces were for sale too, along with the fleeces of the Saltholme flock. Get in touch with the centre if you want to purchase one as we know there are some left.


The Dyeing for Red Workshop

The Dyeing for Red Workshop was wonderfully organised and we had great feedback. Thanks to Cia for planning, organising and delivering such a fabulous workshop.

Vikki Vikki wrote:

“Dyeing for Red: Wow wow wow!!! The room was buzzing with excitement as we began another excellent dyeing workshop from the very talented Cia Bosanquet. The day started with 11 people gathered around the table with 12 beautiful mystery boxes. Cia began the workshop telling us about Lac… We opened the boxes in anticipation and were told to use our imagination to tie, wrap, and manipulate the contents before choosing a dye bath or baths for our pieces.


Each person took time to decide what to do with the various pieces of fabric.


Ann spent some time folding and sewing one piece into what I can only describe as a wonton parcel. This was eventually put in the logwood dye bath…resulting in a beautiful purple tie dye effect piece.

Some people only used one dye bath for their piece of silk, but Sarah over dyed her silk which resulted in a spectacular array of autumnal colour.

Stirring the pots of dye was very therapeutic and mesmerising as the pieces added gently rose to the surface a totally different colour to what they were when they went in.

We were told we would be modifying the dyeing in the afternoon; we were intrigued, what would we be doing? This modification turned out to be adding a glug of citric acid to two dye baths and a glug of alkaline liquid to two others. Dipping a skein of yarn pre dyed using logwood into a modified dye bath of cochineal resulted in an amazing multi-tonal skein of almost black and sunset reds. We had lots of “oohs” and “ahhhs” when we came to look at each person’s work for the day – a wonderful myriad of colour and design. Amazing results when each person began with the same materials.”

One thing is for sure – Durham Guild have some great events and gatherings. Why not come along to the next Guild Day in September where we are having a Weaving Open Day! Every piece of weaving equipment will be out of the cupboard and there will be weavers showing their skills and wares. You would be most welcome!



Maker Faire & Calligraphy Specials!



What an extraordinary few weeks the Durham Guild has had! We have experiences some awe inspiring activities and there is still more on the horizon!

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To start with, on the  21st April we were treated to an amazing talk by Sue Hufton about her experiences and work in Calligraphy. She brought along a huge collection of items for us to see and we were all stunned by the quality and quantity of her work. What an amazing talent she is!

Sue works with a variety of materials; paper, cloth, stone, vellum…..and uses different mediums including stitching. The detail is mind boggling, and what patience she must have. Superb!

The hand painted lettering in her work is exquisite – do take a look at her online gallery of work .


The works are stunning in the photographs, but to see the pieces close up in person took our breath away. Sue furnished us with humorous and intriguing tales of her working life. What a wonderful gift to the world Sue has given with her masterpieces. Oh to be so talented!!



The following weekend there were quite a number of us at the Maker Faire at the Centre for Life in Newcastle.

We spent the Friday afternoon setting up our stall with anticipation – our display of goods looks impressive, especially when compared to other stands nearby. We were tucked into the corner of the “Dark Zone”!  We expanded into the room as much as we dared as we had so much to show the visitors. And, more importantly to all of us, we wanted the children visiting to have a hands on experience. We had peg looms, weaving sticks and wet felting set up and ready to go.

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Doors opened at 10am on Saturday morning with an expected footfall of 10k over the weekend. I think that at one point the Dark Zone must have held at least half of those 10k!!

Some of the children who tried some fibre crafts came back time and time again. Some even tried the spinning wheels and lots of people got very involved. The stand was a hive of activity and we were all pretty tired on Saturday evening. Some of our members stayed for the Chilli dinner provided by the centre for Makers.


Sunday felt like a “rewind and repeat” with so many visitors, and again so many of the children came back. Including one little boy who made at least 4 pieces of weaving – his mum ended up buying one of the peg looms for him! He stayed till the very last minute before heading off for his train back home to Liverpool and I am pretty sure that loom was used during his train journey!! What a lovely, charming young man who really got the bug for fibre craft. His mother promised to email us some photos of his products – can’t wait to see his work and fully expect to see him as a fibre artist in the future.

All our guild members taking part thoroughly enjoyed the experience, even if it was a bit exhausting. We felt that if we had inspired just one person to take up fibre crafts, or helped just one person keep the traditional crafts alive then the weekend was worth it!

We gave out lots of leaflets, bookmarks and information so we are hoping to meet folk at our next guild gathering and our Open Weaving Day in September.

Wow, Durham Guild!!! Wow!!

Oh…..and before I forget…….we won two awards for our stall and for our interaction with the public in the hands-on experiences we offered!

Wow, Durham Guild!!! Wow indeed!!!!