THE NATURE OF CLOTH

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 retting the fibre, to drying it and then finally spinning it into a yarn or twine. Everyone began by breaking down their husks and started the process of making their own twin. It was a satisfying result, with everyone taking home a little bobbin of their own hand spun twine and more nettles stalks to have a practice with.

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All the colours were being created by plants and food products collected by the community gardeners at the precinct. There were onion skins, cabbage, avocado, turmeric , daffodils and crocuses to name but a few. When the lovely folks from Marulin Tea passed by to drop off their very special tea to the Yurt Cafe they decided to join in the fun and kindly brought some of their butterfly pea flowers for extra dyeing material and they worked a treat! Lots of experiments were made with bundle steam dying, shibori, tie-dye and full submersion. The overall result was magnificent and there were some incredible patterns and colours created. We strung each swatch of dyed linen, silk and khadi (hand spun / hand woven cotton) in a line of bunting, which we hung up in the community hub, to be enjoyed by all! 

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 acob 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 the 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 work with nature and with your own hands to create string, thread and colour. 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 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 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 brought their energy and spirit - Jessie, Tallula , Hannah, Stephen, Claire, Jonathan, Tom and Alberto and the precinct and the city farm for all being such key parts in making the day happen - what a special day it was!