Guest Post – Haddington Spinners and Weavers Retreat

Guest Post – Haddington Spinners and Weavers Retreat

This is a guest post by one of our forum members Carole aka Craftywoman. Thanks Carole for this interesting and informative post. 

The Haddington Spinners and Weavers are a group of people who meet regularly and once a year head off into the Scottish Borders to Innerwick to enjoy time together, have fun and explore new creativity.

Our guests on this weekend were the Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh –  “Inverclyde Waulking Group”.

Waulking the tweed or the cloth is a term used to describe how women would collect together on the islands of Scotland including Skye and the Outer Hebrides to waulk the cloth after it had been woven. They would sing in Gaelic as they waulked the cloth (moved it around a table between them in a rhythmically thumping movement) to shrink it by about 6 inches and make it a firmer fabric for tweed clothing and so on.

Our weekend was greatly enhanced by these wonderful women and in their words – “In the songs you can express your every emotion; the hypnotic thumping of the cloth on the table helps to release all your tensions and frustrations (and it’s very good exercise!); in the company of your friends you can have a good gossip, and talk over problems. It’s great “female bonding”! And cheaper than counselling!”

The Waulking songs (in Gaelic), pictures and a video of our Waulking at Innerwick in the Scottish Borders can be seen on this link to their Facebook page. On this page you will see women in Poland and America Waulking the cloth. The technique was taught to women in America via skype – how things have moved on.

Felted piece

A felter who sadly passed away had started this lovely piece of work. She was a felt artist,  which is apparent in many of her pieces, but unfortunately, she never finished this piece.

During our weekend away at Innerwick in the Scottish Borders we sat together and discussed her and her work, scratching our chins and wondering how as a group we could come up with a plan to complete her piece. We had pieces of felt work that some people had completed when working with her, plus our own merino tops and Shetland fleece, the fleece from one of the women’s own flock.

Over the two days we started to needle felt in a sweep of colour and natural pieces from turquoise through to purple, everyone added their own flair

After much discussion on what we should do and how allowing for the those of us who went off-piste, we produced this final piece. It looks like stained glass windows one woman from the group is going to make a beam out of driftwood with a naturally plaited loop for hanging.

Now we can take the community spirit of the Haddington Spinners and Weavers with us where ever we go be it running workshops, gorilla spinning and showing the crafts of spinning, weaving and braiding at exhibitions.

Individual pieces – one woman has taken on the onerous task of making a Shetland Taatit Rug for young couple marrying next year. The woman is Scottish and loves horses and the man is from New Zealand so a feather will represent him. Basically, she has woven the base for the marriage bed rug, and now is tatting images for both the bride and the groom as well as celtic crosses and circles, hearts and traditional designs to ward away trows (mischievous spirits) and witches. The rug is laid on the bed stitch side up.

Whilst the rest of us knitted, wove and spun.

14 thoughts on “Guest Post – Haddington Spinners and Weavers Retreat

    1. thank you yarnandpencil, the photograph doesn’t do it justice, lots of time chewing over how we would finish the piece, quite a responsibility, a great community project 🙂

  1. What a fascinating post, Carole! I love that you all finished the felter’s piece and added your own bits to it. It’s a lovely tribute to the memory of your friend.
    So good to hear that communities of women are gathering to share and celebrate weaving, spinning and waulking traditions. The closest I got to that was being part of Felt United in 2014 in Quebec. We women gathered around an enormous table and nuno-felted our tribute to the occasion. (We weren’t thumping–just agitating).
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it and as you say we are all busy working away on our own so an opportunity to be part of something community is always a treat.

  2. Thanks for the post Carole! I love the felt piece and the thought that went into creating it in your friend’s memory. Always fun to create with a group of like minded people 🙂

    1. Thank you, although I didn’t actually meet her Ruth, other people in the group knew her but by the end of the weekend I felt like I knew a little bit of her.

  3. Thank you for the very interesting post (and links) Carole. The finished ‘stained glass window’ felt is glorious and it will mean a lot to everyone involved for years to come.

  4. What a fantastic experience. Not only learning, but bonding and creating. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Looks like you all had a great time. Finishing the felt piece is wonderful and that you will take it with so she will be with you in spirit everywhere you go is a great idea.

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