Gaskell House Blogs

Enjoying traditional crafts at Eilzabeth Gaskell’s House

18th November 2019
in blog, Events, Gaskell House Blogs

Another year had passed and I’d kept promising myself I’d learn a craft.

Luckily, l chose to join Dee Sayce’s fabulous weaving workshop at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House for a day.

The setting is lovely- the warm spacious and light servants’ hall where Elizabeth’s household servants would pass their days.

A large long table was set out along the middle of the room for the ten women attendees (and yes we were all women weavers on this occasion), with intriguing looking tables at either end . One of these held the hand looms which we were to use, together with numerous lovely pieces of weaving, wall hangings, belts, purses and small handbags. Some were made within a circle of willow, woven sunsets, Starbursts and abstract colour wheels.

At the far end of the room were several large plastic boxes containing reams of colour sorted wools of many textures, plenty enough even for a turquoise seeking magpie like myself. Also, carding sticks, wooden shuttles. Finally, various colours of yarn with which to string our looms under Dee’s attentive supervision, to make the warp (vertical threads).

Dee gave us a brief history of her spinning and weaving experience, and set us to work stringing the looms.We started by introducing ourselves and in my case, admitting to complete inexperience of anything to do with wool!

Our work began with  stringing the warp, then we began to weave the weft in earnest. Apart from a couple of muttered curses as we mastered weaving the shuttle through the warp, we settled down in engrossed silence.

Dee then taught us a series of different weaving stitches at intervals throughout the day, working on her own beautiful piece of tapestry weaving to show us in small groups how to make stripes spots and diagonal patterned weaves. The art of introducing second and third colours, and of tapestry making( enabling us to weave shapes) was also taught at an easy, relaxed pace.

Lunch was taken in the lovely bright tearoom, with sandwiches and cake tea and coffee (&wine by request! before we enthusiastically resumed our absorption with our looms. The afternoon flew by as the weaving grew longer and more colourful, each piece startlingly different. Pat my fellow Elizabeth Gaskell’s House volunteer chose bright contrasts of pink and orange whilst l stayed resolutely focused on blues of every hue. As an absolute beginner, I am thrilled and inordinately proud of my woven wall hanging,and determined to treat myself to a small handloom. I’ve already started scouring charity shops and begging friends who knit and crochet for remnants of wool.

A really enjoyable and rewarding day in lovely surroundings and with a great group.

Nina Fedorski, Volunteer at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

If you like the sound of this, our next textile craft workshop is a full-day Spinning wheel workshop on Friday 6 March. Click here for more information and to book.

And we've got a house. Yes! we really have

Elizabeth Gaskell, 1850