Tuesday, 16 February 2010


A few weeks ago I went on a weaving course in the wildlife garden of the Natural History Museum in London. The weather was miserable but we were nice and cosy in a shed at the back of the garden, with tea and biscuits and wildlife outside the window (a cheeky robin and an even cheekier squirrel).

The course was run by Caroline Ware who is the wildlife garden manager. We began with an overview of dyeing with natural dyes, including the effects different mordants achieve. While my garden is too small to grow woad and other dye plants I do use onions all the time as was taken with the warm brown colour the skins produce. Caroline also talked about sheep breeds and the different types of fleece they produce and had a few samples for us to fondle, some of which we would be using later.

We then set up the peg loom which is one of those things which is straightforward when you know how.

Peg Loom Weaving

We used undyed fleece as well as fleece dyed with natural dyes to make chair covers.

Peg Loom Weaving

I had a go at carding a Shetland fleece which is a lot harder than it looks. On the first few tries I ended up with a matted mess so I have a new level of respect for spinners.

Peg Loom Weaving

We had a break for lunch and had tea and delicious ginger cake mid afternoon but other wise spent the day concentration on our weaving.

Peg Loom Weaving

Between the four of us we produced four seat covers, all varying in style but all lovely. Mine is the one with the red stripe in the middle. I'm amazed my piece turned out to be symmetrical. I was sort of aiming for symmetry but wasn't expecting it to work out.

I really enjoyed it. The peg loom was included in the price of the course (£35 for the whole day, including a wooden peg loom) so I can now use up the fleece I've bought on impulse and haven't spun. Having said that I bought some more fleece, some grey Wensleydale Longwool and a small amount from the sheep at the Natural history Museum, I can't remember the breed. The seat cover works well and is very warm, perfect for the winter months.

Seat cushion

By the way, the red stripe on the seat cover looks huge in the photo but has settled down after lots of "sitting".

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