A group of Island craftspeople will be on hand to – literally – spin a yarn for visitors to an exhibition they are staging to demonstrate traditional skills still as useful today as when they formed a vital part of the nation’s wealth from the woollen industry.
Members of the IW Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers will be on hand from 12 to 16 September in Newport Minster, St Thomas’s Square, Newport, to show how wool is processed “from sheep to shoulder” as fleece is prepared, spun into yarn, dyed and knitted or woven into garments and other practical and decorative domestic products.
Guild chairman Jane Cooke said: “The spinning wheel was once as common in our homes as a television is nowadays. Men, women and their children joined in the processes of transforming the fleece shorn from their sheep to practical garments and attractive decorative items.”
The guild regularly features at IW events, such as Chale Show and Wolverton Manor Garden Show. Members also produce work to compete in the prestigious mainland Weald and Downland Open Air Museum Rare Breeds Show near Chichester each July, this year coming home with a haul of a dozen awards.
Mrs Cooke added: “It’s first and foremost a very satisfying hobby, but it’s good to take up this annual challenge to measure our skills against our mainland colleagues – and win!
“Our exhibition in Newport is a chance for us to demonstrate the skills involved with a view to encouraging others to take up this absorbing and practical pastime. All the processes are very simple to master with a bit of dedication but, as with many craft pursuits, practice makes perfect.
“We’ll be on hand to introduce people of all ages and abilities to this part of our Island’s – and our nation’s – traditions and heritage, as relevant today as it has been over the centuries.
In order to link up with Isle of Wight Day our members were challenged to produce a scarf inspired by ‘My Isle of Wight’ and these will be on show at the Exhibition.”
Admission to the exhibition is free and it will be staged from 10am to 4pm on weekdays, and 10am to 12.30pm on Saturday 16 September .
MEMO TO EDITORS: For more information on the IW Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers and the exhibition, please call Jane Cooke on 01983 614495 or Sue Starke, secretary, on 01983 551386.
ATTACHED PICTURE SHOWS: Members of the IW Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers ready to welcome people to their exhibition at Newport Minster. From left: Charlotte Moore, Jane Cooke (chairman), Joy Verrinder and Sandra Clark.