Friday, 15 July 2011

The people inside The Book of Forgotten Crafts Part 3...

This is the last of my posts about a book I bought called The Book of Forgotten Crafts. When I bought the book, I realised that I knew some of the people inside it (which was a new experience for me!) so I decided to blog about each of them.

Part 1 was all about local oak swill basket maker Owen Jones and part 2 was about wooden bowl maker Robin Wood. This third instalment is about Jane Meredith, who is a multi-talented fibre artist living in Herefordshire.

Here are some of Jane's pages from the book...
Dyer and felt maker

Jane runs plant dyed wool courses from her home by the river Wye and also teaches feltmaking, hand spinning and weaving using a peg loom or a Brinkley loom. I was lucky enough to go on one of Jane's three day workshops with my Mum in July 2007 and we had a great time playing with rainbows of lovely naturally dyed wool!

On the first day we dyed up mountains of fleece in an array of bubbling dyepots, many of which were full of plants from Jane's amazing dye garden (I'd love to have my own dye garden one day!)...
One of the other flower dyepots

We labelled each piece of fleece with a peg, which was marked with the mordant used and the name of the dye plant...
One of the flower dyepots
This helped us to identify which combinations produced which results and we each put together a sample card to take home.

The dyed fleece looked lovely hung out to dry...
Dyed wool drying line 1

Jane also prepared an indigo dyebath for us to try, which resulted in a lovely washing line of blues and greens...
Indigo drying line

On the second day we used some of the fleece we'd dyed to weave a woolly mat on a peg loom. Peg looms are very simple, but can produce lovely results, especially if you're weaving with beautifully textured, curly fleece...
Peg looming in progress

Wool on the peg loom
Mmm... curls! :)

The third day was spent doing a variety of things. We could have a go at feltmaking in Jane's kitchen...
Making felt in Jane's kitchen

Or weaving with a Brinkley loom, which is another simple-but-effective kind of loom. The main element of this loom is the ingenious heddle, which is turned over after each row of weaving to raise and lower each set of warp threads so that the weft threads can pass between them...
Mum's shed

Putting the warp onto the Brinkley loom is great fun... it's fast, energetic and involves the use of a broom handle! I love the results you can get from this kind of loom. You can go for a full-on, fleecy texture sensation, like my friend Liz did with hers...
Close up of Brinkley loom scarf

Or use yarn for the weft, which results in a more sedate, lighter and smoother fabric...
Close up of Brinkley loom weaving

A few people also had a go on a drop spindle and I think it was through watching Jane spinning alpaca fibre on her spinning wheel in the evenings that I became interested in learning how to spin :)

The venue for Jane's courses is so lovely, right next to the river Wye...
Basket of curly grey wool

View from my bedroom window

It was a fantastic few days! :D

If you'd like to see some more photos from the workshop I went on, the full set is on Flickr here.

If you're interested in trying a plant dyed wool course, check out the workshops page on Jane's website. Or if you're at a fibre festival of some kind, keep an eye out for Jane's colourful stand, where you're likely to find her demonstrating how to use a Brinkley loom, like she was at Woolfest this year...
Jane Meredith weaving
(Jane's got a handy list of diary dates for shows and talks on her website here).


  1. What a lovely post, your photos are brilliant. I really like the woven fleece - absolutely gorgeous. I've never done any weaving, but I can feel my fingers starting to itch!

  2. Thank you! Weaving is great fun, especially if its relatively easy weaving like on a peg loom or Brinkley loom! I don't think I could cope with one of those 'proper' enormous looms that fill a room and have to be operated with your hands and feet... they look like man-traps! :D

    1. I find it much easier to weave on my Swedish floor loom than small looms, of which I've had several. Try it before you give up on the idea!
      But, do enjoy small looms, too, they're transportable & inexpensive!

  3. Jane had a lovely stall at Woolfest, didn't she? I bet you and Mum F had a fantastic time on the course xxx

  4. i'm so glad for the intro to this book and to jane's work! what a dreamy setting! i haven't done any weaving before, but i think i am finally getting the bug!!

  5. Jane's work is so inspiring! And it would definitely be a dream to live and work where she does... it's like a different world! Weaving is so much fun, I'm sure you'd enjoy it! :)

  6. I was luck enough to go on Jane's course this August, we had such a wonderful time. It was great seeing your photo's