Each year the guild members are invited to partake in a Challenge, where we create something using one, two or all of the guilds disciplines.

In 2022 the themes was “Waste not, want not”

The 2022 challenge was held over from before the Covid lockdown, so there was plenty of time to consider what to make, gather up the materials and research how to make our chosen exhibit.

Many of us interpreted the brief as an opportunity to use up stuff from our stashes for example dyed tops from a spinning endeavor, rug wool not used in a long while, dyed knitting yarn in small quantities and so on. This “raw material” was worked on in inspiring ways. The dyed tops-after being knitted and felted-became a woven circular floor rug; the small balls of wool were knitted up into an intriguing square shawl and the rug wool was woven into a tapestry wall hanging.

Upcycling of material and re-purposing was evident in the cotton fabric from old duvet covers which was woven into a pastel rug, nylon rope left behind by fishermen was gathered from a beach and woven into a huge wall hanging, wool from an old jumper was unpicked and reknitted into a tea-cosy, a woven fabric used as a curtain over many years was dyed and made into a bag for carrying a drum etc.

The prize went to Fiona Moir for her wall hanging made from nylon rope which she found on the beach in Benbecula. A close second was Gene Howe with her gorgeous shawl knitted from small amounts of wool left over from spinning adventures and workshops. The winner was chosen by the votes of our members and visitors.

Thanks to everyone who participated. I hope you enjoyed the process and found it in keeping with our times when we are very aware of the need not to waste resources and to look after our planet.

More background to this challenge

The challenge is being carried over from 2021 due to having most of our meetings via zoom. For this Challenge, members will use their core skills – spinning, weaving, dyeing – to create a textile for our Gathering Exhibition in November. This year we ask members to work to the theme of “Waste Not, Want Not”.

As Scotland is hosting this year’s Global Climate Change summit in Glasgow in 2021, we thought it fitting that we explore how our skills can be used to limit consumption and needless negative impacts on our environment. We invite members to reinvigorate existing materials and give them a renewed purpose or aesthetic.

Some very simple examples, there are so many! The March/April issue of Selvedge magazine is themed around the environmental impact of the textile industry and celebrates the art of repair, so could be a good source of inspiration.

Members were encouraged to consider upcycling, recycling, reusing or refashioning existing textiles or household objects by applying techniques such as dyeing, spinning and weaving.

In 2019 the themes was “Ethnicity”

For this Challenge, members used their core skills – spinning, weaving, dyeing – to create a textile for our Gathering Exhibition in November. This year we asked members to work to the theme of Ethnicity which, from a textile perspective, provided an exciting creative challenge.

Background Information

It was suggested at our March meeting that members might wish to research their origins via any of the many websites which assist by matching DNA samples, helping to build a family tree and/or outlining the history of surnames.

People have always moved from their original homelands for all sorts of reasons bringing with them their social customs, languages and traditions: textile traditions including materials and methods were an important part of their physical and mental luggage. In their new lands they continued to spin, weave and dye textiles often adapting their skills as familiar fibres were difficult to find, as the climatic conditions changed and as they learned from and shared skills with the locals.

The threads with connected them back to their homelands, which eased their settling in process and which they passed on to their children are the threads we are exploring with this theme.

If you have investigated your family’s origins through ancestry websites, DNA analysis or historical research e.g. surnames you may know that you have traces within you of Viking, Norman, Iberian, Jewish, Arab, American or African peoples and others.

Members explored a strand or two or even a whole web of their textile heritage to create pieces unique to them. Some sources included:

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Issue 87 of Selvedge Magazine looks into folk art and other textile traditions, particularly where ideas, tradition and handwork are properly respected, given credit and compensated.

Within the British Isles the local textile traditions of different parts of England, Scotland, and Wales were emerging from members’ recollections about their families-for example a member who had Lincoln Longwool flocks in her childhood landscape; Nottingham lace being made by family members; silk and cotton weavers in Lancashire; wool workers in Yorkshire and Cumbria; paper making and fabric bleaching/dyeing in the vicinity of Glasgow; Quaker influences in Birmingham; Cornish, Welsh and East Coast textiles e.g. ganseys worn by seafarers; Argyle knitwear; linen weaving in Ulster and Scotland.

The stories about why the ancestors moved also proved fascinating and included a soldier from Napoleonic France ending up in Lockerbie, Belgian weavers being brought to Scotland to enhance the weaving industry in the Borders, Huguenot weavers coming from France etc.

In 2018, the theme was “The Sea”

In 2017, our theme was “Scotland: Land, Light and Life”

This coupled beautifully with 2017 being Scotland’s year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. The Members’ Challenge work was exhibited on our Gathering / Open day on 14th October, 2017.