Out and About

We get out and about visiting events, exhibitions and crafty workshops around the country

Made in Cork exhibition

Made in Cork: The Arts and Crafts Movement 1880s – 1920s took place in the Crawford Art Gallery between 18th November 2016 and the 25th February 2017. The exhibition, curated by art historian Vera Ryan, brought together a wide cross section of people involved in the Arts and Crafts movement in Cork including artisan workers in lace and metalwork, the Cork School of Art, artists, craftspeople, religious orders and business families. The exhibition featured intricately designed furniture pieces and accessories, as well as beautiful examples of lacework that quite simply took our breath away.

As part of the exhibition, on Saturday 4th February, the Traditional Lacemakers of Ireland ran a free event at the gallery. They invited members of the public to come and see lacemaking techniques in action and in some cases, they offered tutorials to anyone looking to get hands on with some of the techniques.

The event was well attended and there was a bustling vibe in the room, which features amazing life sculptures. Guild members were working on styles such as Mountmellick Embroidery, knitted lace, Irish crochet lace, tatting and bobbin lace. It was great to see the interest from attendees who were eagerly lapping up the guild members’ knowledge.

If this event is anything to go by, we can expect a surge in new lacemakers in the coming years. The Traditional Lacemakers of Ireland Guild runs classes on the first Saturday of every month in Nemo Rangers GAA hall from 10:30am. For more details visit the website.

Spinning with a drop spindle

On a blustery Saturday at the end of February we took part in a workshop where we learned how to spin wool using a drop spindle. Liz O’Connor of Limerick, a spinner extraordinaire, ran the workshop.

There were eight in our group and we were provided with our own drop spindle as well as the fibre we needed to get started. Liz started off by showing us the basic principles of spinning by using two strands of commercial yarn in green and red. This was a great way to show us how spinning worked, it was easy to see how the distinctly coloured strands of yarn had spun around each other.

And so we moved on to spinning the raw wool. First things first Liz taught us how to draft the wool or separate the fibres, which is necessary to prepare the base with which you spin. Liz told us to “dare to draft” and not be afraid of separating the fibres too much. Once we’d mastered the draftig we took to the drop spindles, and we were off. Liz was extremely patient and knowledgeable and moved around the group making sure we were all picking up the process.

The next step was to introduce colour. Liz unveiled a huge selection of colourful wool and encouraged us to get stuck in. We learned how to join new wool to our spinning seamlessly.

We were also given a demonstration of carding our fleece so that we could combine colours. And Liz also showed us her wonderful collection of homemade spindles – we learned, at a pinch, that you can create a spindle from any manner of things from dowels and CDs to Mecano sets!

After three hours of intense concentration each of us had a small batch of spun yarn to show for our efforts. Thick, thin, bobbly and colourful, it was a beautiful collection, each batch unique to their maker.

Liz has a Facebook Page dedicated to her love of spinning here.