6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to EADT Suffolk today CLICK HERE

Lavenham weaver's passion for traditional skills

PUBLISHED: 12:28 23 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:26 20 February 2013

Lavenham weaver's passion for traditional skills

Lavenham weaver's passion for traditional skills

Knights from Thorpe Morieux always has an excellent yarn or two to spin. A member of the Lavenham Guild of Spinners and Weavers she is as passionate about the wool towns and their countryside as she is about passing on traditional skills

Knights from Thorpe Morieux always has an excellent yarn or two to spin. A member of the Lavenham Guild of Spinners and Weavers she is as passionate about the wool towns and their countryside as she is about passing on traditional skills




Many of our readers might not know what goes into making a piece of traditional woollen cloth. Can you tell us a bit about the processes? First, the fleece is cleaned and prepared by combing it between two spiky flat carders. This teases out and aligns the fibres. These are then spun out and joined together to make continuous yarn either using a wheel or by a more traditional drop-spinning technique.


The yarn is dyed and the finished yarn can then be fed to the loom to start weaving a cloth.


That sounds like very time consuming work. Do you share it out with others? The whole process fascinates me and, personally, I find it really satisfying to see it all through from start to finish. l love spinning, weaving and am totally hooked on making natural dyes to colour my yarns. But I do like to share.


Thats particularly where the Guild comes in: we have about 40 members now, all with varying degrees of skill, but we all constantly learn off each other and want desperately to pass our skills on.


So did your interest hail directly from the Lavenham Guild of Spinners & Weavers? When I started out over 40 years ago, I was selftaught, sourcing books from libraries until I joined a smallholders co-op. Ironically, it was an American lady who started me spinning the wheel and I only got involved with the Lavenham Guild when I retired from teaching about five years ago.


Is the Guild an ancient one? Its perhaps not as time-honoured as the name might suggest. I believe it reformed in the 1970s. And regrettably there is no ancient link to the amazing Corpus Christi Guildhall on Lavenhams market square. That medieval Guild had a religious rather than trade focus. We do undertake partnership activities with the National Trust inside the Guildhall today though, as we naturally have strong connections through our skills to Lavenhams medieval wool trade.


Is there a chance for our readers to have a go? Most definitely. Thanks to Jane Goslings team at the Lavenham Guildhall weve been invited along to support a number of open days over the last few years. This year though, a Heritage Lottery Funded project organised by Choose Suffolk called Suffolk Threads will really help to put our unique weaving heritage on the map and on the wall for posterity.


Well help visitors card, spin and weave their own traditional thread into a piece of textile art, and you can witness the creation of a stretch of Lavenham Blew Broadcloth, although it wont quite be the original 28 yds 28 inches long or 5ft 3 inches wide!


What else can our readers do to get an insight into this fascinating part of Suffolk history?


Walk. Ive been an outside person all my life and our weaving heritage is firmly stamped all over our wool towns, villages and countryside. Its down by the River Brett and along our old footpaths. The South and Heart of Suffolks annual Walking Festival which takes place in May and June is great for guided town and country walks all around this area, including Lavenham. You might learn to spot a weavers cottage by the size of its window or hear how some medieval houses have evidence of yarn-winding frames incorporated into the very fabric of the building.


Do you have a favourite walk yourself ? Ive a footpath by the side of my garden which leads me off on a three woods walk from Thorpe Morieux towards Rattlesden and back via Felsham. If Ive got guests, have more time, or need inspiration, I reach for the web. Theres plenty to choose from on the Discover Suffolk site.


Is the web useful to source your weaving materials too or do they come from Suffolk? Its handy for tracking down elusive bits of looms, but my pearly Leicester Long Wool fleeces come all the way from Felsham from sheep who Ive probably helped care for during lambing or at shearing time!


What sort of finished items do you usually make and where do you sell them? Throws, rugs, pashminas, wraps and waistcoats anything really from a 15 hat to a 300 coat. I sell mostly at craft fairs, but only to fund the looms really.


Do you have any particularly memorable moments from your time weaving? Last year I was spinning in one of the historic rooms at Lavenham Little Hall.


Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the EADT Suffolk Magazine