Sustainability in action

President of Chorleywood WI modelling a naturally dyed, low-waste design jacket entirely made from re-used materials. (c) S Rayfield

Sustainability was the theme of guild activities this March. Member makes were shown off on the catwalk of the RE23 Sustainable Fashion in Chorleywood. They showcased the breadth of approaches to sustainability, including using natural dyes, re-used fabrics and zero-waste design. Models and visitors alike were impressed by their quality, uniqueness and the skill involved in making them. Plans are already underway for next year’s event and perhaps we will have even more of a presence!

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Woodland Walk Wrap

Helen modelling her bright yellow handwoven wrap.
Helen modelling her beautiful handspun, handwoven and hand-dyed wrap. (C) Helen Allen

Helen tells us all about her scarf that was selected for the RE23 Sustainable Fashion Show in March 2023. As she puts it, “The yellow scarf has been hand spun, hand woven and hand dyed.  As an example of the kind of work our guild does, it ticks a lot of boxes and as it’s make entirely from local biodegradable fibres it also ticks a lot of eco boxes !”

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Harris Tweed – an island and a passion

Talk by Guild member Fiona Cumming
20 November 2022

At this meeting Fiona introduced us to the island of Harris in the Outer Hebrides – a landscape of contrasting colours and textures. Via an extensive set of slides Fiona explained the history of Harris Tweed, from the Murray clan’s tartan being used as the standard fabric for the Dunmore estate workers in 1846 to it’s popularisation in fashionable London circles. The certification of the tweed began in the early 20th century and in 1993 Harris tweed became a protected name.

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Dyeing Workshop 16th October 2022

For our October meeting we welcomed Debbie Tomkies who ran a dyeing workshop using extracts of natural dyes, and she also brought a shop of dyes, yarns, books and tools. Twelve members of the guild took part and everyone had an interesting and productive session whether they had years of dyeing experience or were new to the process.

Debbie Tomkies showing us her dyed samples
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Guild on show at Shelswell Festival

Village festival-goers had a chance to see what we do, and have a go at spinning, weaving and braiding when they visited the Bucks WSD guild stand at Shelswell History Festival in July 2022. The colourful display of samples attracted lots of visitors, while others were attracted by the equipment being used. Guild members endeavoured to answer the myriad of questions asked and encouraged potential new members to come to a meeting where they will be sure of a warm welcome.

Guild stand at Shelswell History Festival with members demonstrating spinning and weaving
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Spring Activities and competition

There was egg-citement in the air during our March meeting, when members took part in egg-related activities and brought their competition entries for judging (details further down page). There was a choice of natural dyeing eggs using onion skins and leaf masks, needle felting egg decorations and two methods of Dorset button making, all instruction given by members of the guild. Most people had a go at everything, with some lovely results. Plus there were some beautiful finished items on display this month, including the prize-winning lace shawl shown below.

Blown eggs dyed with onion skins using leaf masks
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Alison’s Adventures in Knitting – January 2022 meeting

Alison Jolley gave a really interesting talk on the history of leisure knitting, told through her collection of knitting paraphernalia. Some of this collection has come to her through generations of knitters from her family, so there was a real personal connection to the talk. Many viewers recognised items from their own hand-me-downs which led to discussion of when certain tools had come into use. The talk came right up to the present day, with the explosion of resources available to us now and where to source vintage tools we might like to add to our own collections. Thank you Alison!

Selection of vintage knitting tools presented on a red velvet background.
Vintage knitting tools
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