Spinning mentor

This week Sonya, our roving reporter, brings you Christine ‘s story. Her crescent shawl continues to be one of our top posts. She has mentored new members in spinning and weaving . She supports them strongly at the start and then gives them so many ideas and pushes them to fly and believe in themselves. She is confidence-inspiring with yarn arts because she is so passionate about  them:

Christine is a most gifted and creative person you could ever come across. And laced with such kindness of heart. She willingly teaches newbies how to spin, weave, do complex knitting,  or manoeuvre their way into a puzzling spinning wheel., spin chunky yarn, use an  obscure sock loom etc etc.   Can’t do something? Need the shelves of patterns sorted? Take you to the airport? Do a stint at the Royal Adelaide Show? Just ask dear Christine. Oh it’s too late! She’s already offered before being asked. Every club should have a Christine. Here is her story which she assured me there was nothing about her, to write.

I’ve knitted for as long as I can remember. My mother was pleased she could teach me because my two sisters just didn’t cotton on to knitting. But for all that there was a lot of skill in my family. One of my brothers and his son built their entire house. Another brother has renovated and redecorated his house. One of my sisters is brilliant at sewing, making curtains and such, and so clever with macramé. And the other sister is just so socially gifted.

I was sixteen when I knitted my first cardigan. When my children were young I remember knitting seven jumpers for them in seven months. My wrists were so sore that I threw out my needles and the rest of my wool, vowing never to knit again.

After that I don’t think I picked up my knitting needles for some years. Then a friend gave me a cross stitch tapestry, a white work project and a long stitch tapestry. That all got me going again. I decided I would make hardanger embroidery my specialty.

When my neighbour and friend Beryl showed me her spinning wheel and told me about the process of washing, carding, spinning and then knitting, I thought to myself –what fool would go through all of that?

I started coming along with Beryl to Seaford Spinners and Weavers because I decided I wanted to learn how to spin. However I had   no intention of joining up.  I learnt to spin on the wheel I borrowed from my sister who keeps it as an ornament and is not interested in using it. I took to spinning and loved it. I still find it relaxing and I feel kind of secure, behind a spinning wheel.

Blog Stats

posts and pages 2019. It’s been a good year an we have done well. We’ll just look at the top posts for the year today because it is an interesting mix. We have had 7559 visits to the blog page and 178 followers. Our top five countries are Australia, America, UK, Canada and Belgium but our visitors come from all over the world now.

Our top post for the year is Christine’s crescent shawl from homespun wool. We then have had a lot of interest in the spinning and knitting sites  and the site on Australian spinning wheels we recommended. Margaret’s sheep cushion from Better Homes and Gardens has been a winner because she used her own colours and homespun wool. Sonya’s report on Alan came into the top 3 from being posted late in the year. We’ll have to blame that on Clarrie! Christine’s celtic knot scarf she tried out also did exceptionally well. It’s interesting and a good knitting challenge. Visitors to our blog like a challenge knit. Then there was Wendy’s cream poncho which looks just beautiful. Such a classic and it suits her well. Like Instagram it’s mainly knitting but the sheep was crocheted. Part of our success is the fact we can spin our own wool and create something which is very original because we can customise the yarn weight and colour when we want to . Such a nice reward for all our hard work!


The threads of life

Ashford wheel
The original “ornament” happily plying.

Sonya, our roving reporter,  has brought us another back story. This one is about Cathy who has been with Seaford Spinners and Weavers a year this June. Her original wheel is now going , thanks to the people in the group, and she has two others. She knew nothing about spinning when she arrived here but look at her go now!


The evolution of Cathy

At primary school (in England) our entire class learned to knit and do canvas work. The boys made a scarf and the girls made a clever little hat out of a square of stocking stitch knitting. We threaded that square onto an Alice hairband and then we learned to do running stitch in order to gather the square into a hat. After the hat and scarf we had to knit mittens to go with them.

The cold English winter must have been a great motivation for these projects!

My Mum had previously taught me to knit. I made a rather irregular scarf with added on and lost stitches.

Dad’s sister would come down from Scotland, with her Aran knitting. She always brought me red wool, and taught me how to do cables, bobbles, basket stitch and sundry other raised stitches.

 And so the germination of handwork was embedded in our Cathy at an early age.

Our German cousin used to visit and she did fair-isle. She taught me to change colours with my knitting. I would have been 9 or 10 years old. Our grandma taught me to crochet on a big fat tortoiseshell crochet hook at the age of 11.

I was 14 when we moved over to Australia. The woman who lived across the street from us did crocheting and tatting. Such a lovely lady, she got me into serious yarn crafting.

When I became a teacher, my knitting and crochet was a way of decompressing, after a day in the classroom and enduring an amalgamation of two schools and I knitted through numerous meetings, which kept me sane!

Then I had a baby girl. From the age of 3 , she would tell me what she wished me to  knit and what colours she wanted and also what graph design she wanted.

It was at one of my schools that I noticed a spinning wheel high on a shelf in the classroom. I thought I would like to learn how to spin. Every day this spinning wheel would call out to me whilst I was busy teaching French! In 1989 our school amalgamated. All fittings and fixtures were priced and sold, so I bought the wheel which had been beckoning me for some time. I cleaned and dusted and polished it but it remained an ornament until last year.

After Mum died I did quilting from fabrics she had stored away and from my own stash of bits and bobs. Also I got back into doing canvas work, cross stitching and needlepoint embroidery.

When I retired I applied to go on the Onkaparinga Active Ageing consultative committee. One of our roles was to contact all the groups that would or did, offer something for seniors so that we could organise an expo. That’s when I came across the Seaford Spinners and Weavers. I thought, well, I’ve got my spinning wheel, I’ll see if I can join up.

Eventually I got here! Janette helped me with my foot position on the treadle, Christine taught me to spin, Alexis got me going with natural dyeing and Sheila taught me how to felt. As a result of all this, I’ve got back into knitting and crochet. Everyone here has been such an inspiration and I’m loving it all.

 And aren’t we loving you, Cathy with all your handiwork, your delicious baking that you bring and , as for your blogging, well we remain quietly hopeful you will put us on the world stage, making Seaford Spinners rich and famous. Also those minutes of our meetings make us giggle and we wait impatiently for the next week’s funniness. Of course we hope you do too!


Margaret and Mohair

Mohair goat

Image: Mohair and more 

Sonya has created another roving reporter piece for us on one of our members, Margaret. Yes, Margaret of the amazing fingerless gloves, cocoons and colours. And Margaret who carefully manages our finances each week. We are grateful.


Margaret’s story

I started learning to spin about 1986. About two years before that, we had bought a ten acre property at Willunga on Range Road West. Four acres of grassland sloping down to natural bush. I needed some way of keeping the grass down and noticed a sign up at a farm gate near our property, advertising kid goats for sale. We bought two females, and named them Honey and Cream. They were lovely animals more cashmere than mohair. I began increasing my goat family. I went to sales and picked up goats, starting with ten and eventually ending up with twenty or so! I tried to keep the population to around ten.

 From then, I became involved with the Central Region of the South Australian Mohair Assn. At a Mount Pleasant show I met a woman from Myponga who said if I would like to attend the  C.W.A she would teach me how to spin.

Trevor bought my first spinning wheel at Willunga at a shop called Bumble Bee, just up from the Post Office. Trevor said he would assemble it for me, but it was my father who ended up doing that. I learnt to spin first with wool, then on to the mohair. At first I couldn’t countenance eating goat meat! However I got over that and found it was a very acceptable meat. We could get the meat butchered/processed at Gawleys. However later on, we could only get this done at the Kangarilla butchers after we’d had the animals dispatched by the Kangarilla abattoirs.

I   learned how to spin quite readily having no trouble spinning mohair, which many people found difficult. We went to various shows with our goats. That’s how I got to know my way around the Hills.

I went to the Noarlunga Tafe and did a course on goat husbandry and a day course on pasture management. At Marleston Tafe I did a course on mohair production and classing mohair.

Somewhere I met Jill King who kept saying I should come along to the Seaford Spinners, which I eventually did. Maria gave me her spare Ashford Traveller, then I got a Ron Doley fold up wheel. I like it as it fits nicely behind the back seat of the car.

At the moment I’m into crocheting. I still do Gallery duty at the Guild and put my garments for sale in there.

Maria and I go to the various retreats and camps such as Weekend Away where we learn new ideas and techniques and of course meet up with friends and make new contacts.

From purchasing two goats, I have gone on to learn how to spin, weave and felt, and I have made many friends along the way.

I’ve been club treasurer at Seaford Spinners since 2006 and funnily enough nobody seems to want me pensioned off! I wonder why?

Margaret I’d give you the Order of Australia for your years of service to our club, going over and above what the job description would suggest and for your flawless and fabulous creations. Long may you thrive and inspire us.