“As the snow fell, the community hub filled with the first set of workshop goers learning how to make twine from nettles. Tallula went through all the stages it takes to make nettle twine from the retting and drying and then everyone began to break down the husk and started making their twin. Everyone went away with a little bobbin of twine and more nettles to have a practice with. Everyone seemed super satisfied and excited by having learnt about the process and having a native fibre they could go away with and do themselves.
All the while colours where being created by plants and food products collected by the community gardeners at the Precinct. There was onion skins, cabbage, avocado, turmeric , daffodils and crocuses. There was a surprise visit from Marulin Tea who dropped off some of their butterful pea flowers and they worked a treat. People were experimenting with different technicues such as bundle steam dying, shibori and full submersion and there were some incredible patterns and colours created. It was such fun and the bunting of everyone’s swatches of dyed linen and khadi (hand spun / hand woven cotton) will be seen hanging in the Preinct soon.
We were also lucky enough to get some fleece form Stepney City Farm, from Tom the Farm Manager, which we had cleaned and washed a few days previously and everyone could have a go at carding (combing the wool) ready for felting. It was very special to be using wool from the jacop sheep who was just grazing 10 minutes down the road.
Jessie was also able to use some of the wool in her drop spindle workshop which was a great success and we even had some people stay do both workshops. Jessie got everyone making their own thread and she got people to connect to the beauty of the process and see how every bit of thread is unique to that person and can change so much depending on the lightness of your hand. When you walked into the room it felt like you were entering a meditation space where everyone was so at peace and focused.
In the afternoon felting began, and it was such fun. By the end everyone was on the floor rolling their layered wool, getting really into it. It was a brilliant sight and really showed people the time and energy it takes. You could see everyone’s individuality shine in their small bits of fabric and how pleased people where once they had finished.
The whole day connected people to the process of fibres and the time and energy it takes to the work with nature with your own hands to create string, thread and colour and the beauty of it all. It was a day full of appreciation and enjoyment and an excitement to do and learn and share. In a world of fast fashion and desires for instant results the day encouraged people to stop and connect to the slowness and beauty of cloth and its value. There were people who came with no prior knowledge of these processes and then a few textile enthusiasts but what was amazing is that everyone came with an open mind and enthusiasm and were keen to share with each other. It felt like a really positive and encouraging day we got so much good feedback. Some people stayed the whole day and people left proud of what they had created and in good spirits. When people weren’t immersed in cloth they could sit by the fire in the Yurt Cafe and eat some of the delicious food that is on offer.
Thank you so much for all those who helped the day happen, who ran workshops, drop ins and bought their energy and spirit – Jessie, Tallula , Hannah, Stephen, Claire, Jonathan, Tom and Alberto and the Precinct and Stepney City farm for all being such key parts in making the day happen and what a special day it was!”
Written by Phoebe Hunter Mcllveen & Isobel Williams-Ellis