Summer Workshops with Women of the Cloth

I will be teaching feltmaking with my sister Woman of the Cloth Kim Winter at some of our local community organisations as part of their summer festivals, which should be fun!

First up we’ll be at Vauxhall City Farm on Saturday 4th June

Vauxhall City Farm

Vauxhall City Farm is the most centrally located farm in London.  They specialise in educational, recreational and therapeutic services and activities ranging from school trips, workshops, gardening projects and birthday parties to riding for the disabled.  As part of their Spring spectacular we have been invited to run a day of feltmaking workshops in their new Education Centre, and you can also enjoy spending time with the animals and having refreshments in the Old Dairy Cafe.

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We’ll be making felt flowers in the morning session, then felt phone cases in the afternoon using a resist technique.  Sign up for one or both at a cost of £12 per session.  Book your places directly with the farm.

Next up we will be at Brixton Windmill on Sunday 26th June

Windmill with sails

Brixton Windmill turns 200 years old this year and there will be a number of different events in celebration.  Although there were probably mills in the area in the Middle Ages, the earliest evidence of a WIndmill in Lambeth dates back to the 16th Century.  At least 12 sites have existed,  though the maximum number of mills at any one time was at the beginning of the 19th century when there were five working in Lambeth, including Brixton Windmill, which has been lovingly restored and recently had beautiful sailcloths added, designed by local team Eley Kishimoto during the Beer & Bread festival.  Read more about the event on the Brixton Blogpost about the the day.

We Women of the Cloth will be running the Felt Flowers and phone cases workshops during their Summer Parade and Festival on Sunday 26th June.  Email us to book places.

On to embroidery – I am finding my newer embroidery workshops are proving popular, especially embroidery on Vintage Fabric and Japanese Sashiko.  Keep an eye on the sidebar of my home page to see new dates being added.  Next Sashiko workshop is on 2nd June.

Indigo dyeing with Carol

Kim and I spent a lovely day as Women of the Cloth, shibori stitching and Indigo dyeing at her house recently, and here is her blog post showing pictures of work in progress and the finished results. Great fun.


Last week my sister Woman of the Cloth Carol came round for a day of indigo dyeing.

indigo dyeing

I’ve not run indigo shibori workshops at my house because the thought of having several people traipsing between my kitchen (where the water supply is) and the garden (where the indigo vat is) with dripping blue bundles is a bit alarming, even though my house is not exactly up to show home standard – as you will see from the photos!

Also, indigo dyeing is slow – you need to dip several times to build up colour and make it fast, and the fabric has to oxidise well between dips. And although there are some shibori techniques that are relatively quick, stitching and binding resists are time consuming. So it’s not for people who want to produce something in a couple of hours.

shibori stitching

However, Carol is a very competent stitcher (she runs embroidery workshops), and, despite her being…

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Carol’s Summer Workshops

My summer workshop schedule

Women of the Cloth


If you enjoy getting together with a group of women to make something with your hands, go away with new skills and just generally have a nice time, Carol’s workshops are a great place to spend a day, an evening or a half day learning some different stitching or felting techniques.

See Carol’s Website for full details of the workshops listed below, all taking place in Carol’s Studio in Streatham, south London:-

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Saturday 11th July in the afternoon – Shisha mirrorwork embroidery

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Monday 13th July, all day – Nunofelt (felting onto fabric)

felt necklaces 001

Wednesday 15th July, evening – Felt balls and cords for necklaces and bracelets


Saturday 18th July, all day – Chanin-style reverse applique with stencils


Monday 20th July, evening – Pincushion bling using handmade felt & Indian trimmings

sprout workshop

Saturday 25th July, all day – Feltmaking, learn flat & 3D feltmaking


Saturday 1st August, all day – Japanese Sashiko Embroidery

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Natural dyeing workshop with Cordwainers Garden


I’m still finding my feet with this eco printing lark. Results are slowly improving – here’s a cotton bag, mordanted with aluminium acetate, bundled with peony leaves, coreopsis flowers (only two – the slugs ate all the rest!), eucalyptus leaves and some sycamore “helicopter” seeds, and put into an onion skin dye bath.

peony bag1

I dipped the peony leaves and sycamore seeds into an iron mordant before bundling. The sycamore seeds didn’t show up at all, but the peony leaves worked quite well. The first picture below shows peony leaves with the head of a coreopsis flower in the foreground (damn those slugs!).

peony bag2peony bag3

So off I headed to a workshop on natural dyeing run by Kate Poland of Cordwainers Garden, a community garden set up on a disused piece of land belonging to the London College of Fashion in Hackney. As well as growing fruit, vegetables and dye plants, they are also…

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Natures Natural Colours

Interesting blog, with great pictures, about the range of different coloured fleece on Shetland sheep, by jamieson & Smith the original Shetland wool brokers. Still going strong in Lerwick where I visited them last year.

J&S Blog

The Wool season is now in full swing at Jamieson & Smith, a recent spell of fine weather has meant that wool producers have had a dry early start for clipping.

a Shetland crofter clipping his sheep. Photo by Oliver Henry a Shetland crofter clipping his sheep. Photo by Oliver Henry

As the wool store fills up, grading the clips is under way and our first shipment left us last week on its way down to our parent company Curtis Wool direct, to be processed and spun into our yarns.

the woolstore last week the woolstore last week

While Derek and Jan who work full time in the woolstore and Robert, who has joined us for the summer season, get to work on the white fleeces Oliver has been in what we call the Middle Store sorting some of the coloured fleeces.

Oliver in the middle store Oliver in the middle store

Since Oliver has been to see some of the coloured sheep on their home turf  recently we…

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Felt Ball making with Carol’s Creative Workshops

Lovely blog post by Hannah Cox about one of my feltmaking workshops!

Crafternoon Cabaret Club

Continuing with my quest for more craft knowledge I signed up for a Felt Ball making session with Carols Creative Workshops.  Carol is a feltmaker, embroiderer and painter and runs workshops from her beautiful home studio is Streatham.  Also in the group were three other lovely crafters and Carol greeted us with wine and biscuits (immediate win for me!).  Carol is really friendly and the workshop felt so relaxed – which was great as I didn’t exactly take to the felt balling technique like a duck to water… consider me more a clumsy flamingo, overexcited by the sheer rainbow of coloured felting wool on offer.

The general premise is that you take your felting wool, wet it and add soap and then roll it into a ball.  Keep adding water and soap and rolling and the wool will slow begin to felt and join – leaving you with a collection of…

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Yan Tan Tethera (one, two, three)

One evening last week, as part of the Museums at Night season,  I went along with some friends to Cecil Sharp House in Camden, London – home of the English Folk Dance & Song Society to see this event exploring the connection between the making of textiles and song.  Yan Tan Tethera (one, two, three) – a traditional method used by shepherds in the north of England to count sheep, as well as a method used by knitters to count stitches.

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Tables were set out around the edge of the great hall, adorned with baskets of yarn, knitting needles and crochet hooks,  so that everyone could take part in the event by knitting charms and keepsakes to be added to the Mandala made by textile collective & gallery Prick Your Finger, celebrating the communal activity of making.

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Meanwhile the floor was filled with folk singers and dancers.  One of my old schoolfriends sings with the Dulwich Folk Choir so a little group of we ‘girls’ went along to enjoy seeing her take part in the song and dance.  We had a bit of a lark with our knitted ‘charms’ one of which was a short strip of cable stitch, which one bawdy onlooker thought resembled a certain bit of the female anatomy!  Not sure I’d agree ….

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T’ sang was — “‘Sally an’ I, Sally an’ I, For a good pudding pye, Taa hoaf wheat, an’ tudder hoaf rye, Sally an’ I, for a good pudding pye.’ ” We sang this (altering t’ neams) at every needle : and when we com at t’ end cried ’ off,’ an’ began again, an’ sae we strave on o’ t’ day through.”  This extract gives a good idea of what is meant by ” a Knitting Song.”

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Here’s a glimpse of friend Alison, and all her singing buddies, getting stuck into one of a number of songs, such as the Cotton Breeches song

“Oh father, father I am married
Oh that I had longer tarried
For the women they do swear
That the breeches they will wear”
(from the song, Will the Weaver, collected from John Burton, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex), and

the Cotton Breeches dance. Danced by a woman on a table with skirts tucked in
(Dance collected by Clive Carey from Alfred Bishop, Thaxted, Essex)

Other delights of the evening were Dancing of the Bobbin, partaking of the ale, admiring the textile artworks by Freddie Robins,  Basket weaver Shane Waltener, Folk artist Stewart Easton, and the East London Textiles  McGrath Makers Group and just generally being in amongst a huge session of good-natured communal making.   Knitting along at the next table was  Julie Arkell – a well-known textile folk artist who runs her quirky creatures workshops in knitting shop Loop, in Islington, London.

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An interesting event forming part of an exhibition running in and around Cecil Sharp House until 25th September.

currency of colour

Sarah Campbell has painted a little picture of one of my felt bags and included it in her latest blog ‘the currency of colour’ in which she talks of many links with others which lead her to conclude that “It’s clear that textiles – designing, making, collecting, using, sewing, enjoying – have enormous significance”. I wholeheartedly agree, as do many of my workshop participants who leave feeling uplifted, accepted, inspired and wanting more chances to sit with a group of likeminded souls making beautiful things with their hands.

Sarah Campbell Designs

Pippin IV

I saw a picture of a tiny library squashed inside a Lewisham telephone box.

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