2019 winter/spring workshops

Happy New Year and welcome to 2019! My usual resolution is to learn a new skill, and for me this year it’s drawing. I like playing around with pencils and ink and charcoal but it’s not something I’m confident about. So a more methodical approach to drawing is top of my 2019 list! If learning something new is on your list too, sign up for a Counterweave workshop. Click on the images to find out more or email me at [email protected] if you have any questions.

2 February                   Knitting for Beginners (Rome) – if you’re new to knitting or just starting to find your way.

16 & 23 February       Sock Wizard Workshop for The Bird House Panicale  (Rome) – make your own cosy wool socks.

9 & 16 March               Meditating the Spindle (Rome) – learning to make your own bespoke yarn

 

Small group workshops or private lessons.

Sock Wizard Workshop

This year as well as my usual textile and knitting classes, I’m teaching for a new eco-textile business The Bird House, Panicale, in Rome and Umbria.

Classes kick off with a 2-day Sock Wizard Workshop on 16 & 23 February in Rome.

Nothing feels as snug and luxurious as a hand knitted sock and as an added bonus, sock knitting looks a lot more difficult than it really is. Impress your friends by learning to wield yarn and knit with four double pointed needles to make your own soft, cosy socks.

Using the top down method you will learn to make a pair of basic socks with a simple ribbed cuff and easy wedge toe.

Participants will need to know how to knit, purl, decrease, increase, cast on and cast off. Knowing how to knit in the round is an advantage, but not necessary.

Please note: This workshop is run over two Saturday afternoons, 16th and 23rd February 2019, commencing at 13.30 and finishing 16.30 on each day. Price is €95.00 for the complete workshop including materials.

Click on the photo to find out more and book your place!

 

How do you use your handspun yarn?

My students are sometimes sceptical that you can use a spindle to spin enough yarn to make anything bigger than a coaster! But remember, before industrialisation all yarn and thread was spun by hand, and before spinning wheels were introduced to Europe in the early middle ages, all that spinning was done on a spindle.  Linen, hemp, cotton, nettles, silk and wool were spun by hand then woven into fabric to make everything from swaddling for babies, all household linens, garments, uniforms and shrouds. The thread for every ship’s sail from the Greeks and Phoenicians through the Romans, Vikings and the Normans was spun by hand using a spindle. For centuries societies were dependent on the skill and labour of women for their survival and expansion. Spinning wasn’t a hobby or something picked up at odd moments; it was something that women had to do constantly, and arguably was as crucial to survival as hunting and farming. And in many countries spindles are still used as part of everyday life, usually by women and children as they go about their daily tasks.

From that perspective spinning yarn to make a pullover or a shawl doesn’t seem so impossible. But you might wonder when we have the choice of buying readymade garments or yarn, why bother making your own? For me, I like being able to make my own yarn in the fibres and colours of my choice – I choose to make my own bespoke yarn.  Spinning is also a very satisfying craft, you’re magically turning fibre into yarn with a minimum of equipment. Most museums have a collection of spindles that are thousands of years old and yet still perfectly useable, like these beautiful spindle whorls in the British Museum.

My fingers always itch when I see spindle whorls like these trapped behind glass! I want to take them out and use them. All you need is a smooth stick, a spindle whorl and some fibre and you can make yarn. Making is also incredibly soothing and good for the soul: spinning can be very relaxing, almost meditative. Spinning links me back to generations of women who spun yarn and thread as a matter of course, because their families depended on their skill to keep them clad, warm and alive.

Keeping warm was very much behind my decision to make myself a pair of mittens after spending a weekend in beautiful Umbria and finding that my hands needed more than fingerless gloves in the icy winds of Perugia. I found a lovely pattern by knitting guru Kate Atherley and went online to check out my yarn options (I say online because there are few yarn shops in Italy which stock 100% natural fibre yarns – a topic for another blog post!). Then I realised I had exactly those colours in my fibre stash and I could easily spin some yarn for my mittens. And because the recommended yarn was an Icelandic lopi I could spin singles and make my fibre go a whole lot further. A single is just what it says on the tin – a single spun yarn, not two or more yarns spun together to make a plied yarn. Singles are lofty and warm, and can be lightly felted so your mittens are extra cosy against the winter winds.

Anther question students ask is how much yardage a spindle holds. To which the answer is, it depends. If you’re spinning a laceweight yarn for a shawl or fingering for socks, you will spin a much finer yarn and get much more yardage than if you’re spinning a worsted or aran weight yarn. Plied yarn takes more fibre than spinning a single.  It’s always a good idea to spin a sample, just as you would knit a swatch before knitting a garment, or make a toile before sewing a dress.

Here are the two lots of fibres I’m using to make my yarn. Both are from Hilltop Cloud, an online business supplying gorgeous quality fibres and tools, run by spinner and dyer Katie Weston in Wales (I also buy my workshop spindles and fibre from Katie). The blue is 50% merino, 25% Shetland and 25% bamboo, in shade Airforce Blue, and the fiery orange is 62.5% merino, 25% mulberry silk and 12.5% baby alpaca in shade Hawaii. I’m using the blue as the main colour and the orange as the contrast – the sheen given by the silk in the orange fibre makes a perfect highlight against the soft fuzz of the wool.

This photo shows the difference that finishing makes to handspun yarn. The blue yarn has been gently handwashed in warm water with a little wool wash added and allowed to sit for about 15 minutes so the twist in the spun yarn relaxes and the yarn blooms. You can see the unfinished orange yarn is still full of unrelaxed energy and is coiled against itself. If I tried to knit the unfinished yarn the twist would make the knitted fabric warp and bias, which is not what you want in a mitten!

 

 

Autumn workshops

Come and join us for our autumn workshops! Counterweave craft classes are fun and relaxing. My approach combines technical know-how with calm encouragement and stress-reducing meditation.

To book your place, just click on the the name of the workshop. If you can’t make these dates, please email me at [email protected] and we can organise a private lesson.

September

October

November

December

 

free shipping!

 

Counterweave has free shipping on all items in the Etsy shop until the end of April! Now is the time to treat yourself or someone special to a unique piece of Australian art.  Click on the photos to go to Etsy.

Currently in stock we have wearable art by weaver Mary Burgess, hand-dyed silk and wool scarves, book art and small weaving by textile and mixed media artist Felicity Griffin Clark. You can also buy gift certificates for art pieces and Counterweave workshops ranging from €25 up to €150.

No coupon or code required, we did all the work for you and free shipping is already added! Just click on the item you want, pay with your credit card or Paypal and it’s yours!

new workshop dates!

Check out the new knitting, spining and dyeing workshops at Counterweave Arts! Check the workshop calendar and book your place – click here!

Knitting for Beginners

Thursday 26 April 14:00-17:00

Saturday 19 May 14:00-17:00

If you’re new to knitting or are just starting to find your way, come and join me for a Saturday afternoon of gentle introduction to knitting.

Learn the fundamental knit and purl stitches, how to cast on and off, how to choose the right yarn and what to do with your first piece of knitting. My approach combines technical know-how with calm encouragement and stress-reducing meditation.

Knitting needles, merino wool yarn and class notes are provided.

Min 2, max 6 students.

Cost: €60 incl IVA and material

 

 

Meditating the Spindle

 

2 Sundays – Sunday 27 May and 3 June 14:00-17:00

Why make your own yarn? Spinning on a drop spindle is fun, creative and relaxing. Spend two Saturday afternoons learning to spin your own bespoke yarn – experiment with different types of fibres, choose how fine or chunky, smooth or nubbly you want your thread to be. Come to a Meditating the Spindle workshop and learn to spin organic, natural wool and beautiful lustrous silk. By spinning your own thread you know exactly what’s in it – no shedding microplastics into the environment!

Don’t worry if you’re new to spinning or fibre crafts. Meditating the Spindle workshops are relaxed, calm and encouraging, grounded in gentle meditation to keep you feeling calm, competent and in control. Workshops groups are limited to 6 people so you’re guaranteed personal attention and support. We also have a lot of fun, tea, coffee and a few treats!

Meditating the Spindle is for
– people with experience in fibre crafts – weavers, knitters, crocheters and textile artists.
– people with no experience in fibre crafts but who are interested in learning a new skill.
– crafters who are concerned about the environment and shedding microplastics from their craft materials. At Counterweave we only use 100% natural fibres.
– people who are keen to learn an ancient craft.
– people who are looking for a different way to relax and benefit from meditation and working with their hands.

Spindles, fibre and class notes are provided. Any previous experience with yarn or fibre will be helpful, but not necessary

Min 2, max 6 students.
Cost: €120 incl IVA and materials

Adventures with Indigo

Saturday 9 June  15:00-18:00

Monday 11 June 15:00-18:00

Dyeing with indigo is a special kind of magic. Come and experiment with Counterweave’s indigo vat and see what happens when you dip silk, cotton, wool or paper.

Dye your own bespoke silk scarf using a traditional Japanese shibori technique.

All materials and class notes are provided. Any previous dyeing or stitching experience will be helpful, but not necessary

Min 2, max 6 students.

Cost: €60 incl IVA and materials

Spring workshops!

We are now taking bookings for our first round of workshops for 2018!

Knitting for Beginners

If you’re new to knitting or are just starting to find your way, come and join me for a Saturday afternoon of gentle introduction to knitting.

Learn the fundamental knit and purl stitches, how to cast on and off, how to choose the right yarn and what to do with your first piece of knitting. My approach combines technical know-how with calm encouragement and stress-reducing meditation.

The next Knitting for Beginners class will be on Saturday 17 March 2-5pm.

All materials are provided: you will receive a class kit containing knitting needles, merino wool yarn and class notes.

Min 2, max 6 students.

Cost: €60 incl IVA and materials.

Click here to book your place!

 

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Meditating the Spindle

This class will teach the fundamental skills required to use a drop spindle. By the end of the class participants will know and understand the use of the drop spindle; the different fibres that can be used to make different types of thread or yarn; be able to use their spindle to make yarn. They will learn how using a drop spindle can be an aid to mindfulness, meditation and calm.

The next workshops are held on two Saturday afternoons on either side of Easter:

Saturday 7 April & 14 April 2-5pm

Spindles, fibre and class notes are provided. Any previous experience with yarn or fibre will be helpful, but not necessary

Min 2, max 6 students.

Cost: €120 incl IVA and materials

Click here to book your place!

 

2018 workshops poll!

We are running a quick poll over on the Counterweave Facebook page to see what people would like to learn in our workshops next year.We will be running regular workshops, including online classes, in 2018. As well as Meditating the Spindle, we are planning classes on:

  • spinning with exotic fibres (including paper!)
  • Stitch Doula, my 5 favourite stitches
  • silk papermaking
  • knitting
  • eco and indigo dyeing
  • a monthly Saturday afternoon BYO projects/help session

Click here to participate or email us at [email protected] and get a 10% discount on 2018 workshop bookings!

We would love to hear from you!

art | craft | anima - Counterweave - Melbourne + Rome. Australian, Aboriginal & Asia-Pacific contemporary arts, crafts & textiles. Reiki & Tarot.

Meditating the Spindle Day 2

We had a wonderful second day of the Meditating the Spindle workshop.

The students had done their homework (lots of practice!) and came ready to learn how to ply their yarn and then how to finish it. After a break it was time to learn the very different technique of spinning silk, using silk hankies (including some gorgeous hand-dyed ones in lustrous colours).

Everyone did amazingly well and ended the workshop as very able and enthusiastic spinners, having made lots of yarn and ready to try new experiments incorporating all sorts of fibres and threads from embroidery floss to feathers and horsehair! Huge thanks to Giulia Mangoni for translation and teaching assistance!

As of Sunday 19 November, there are still a couple of places available in the next Meditating the Spindle Workshop, which will be held at Counterweave Arts Gallery & Workshop in Rome over the next two Saturday afternoons 25 November and 2 December 2-5pm.  Spindles, fibre and detailed class notes are provided: any previous experience with yarn or fibre will be helpful, but not necessary. Classes are in English with Italian translation.

You can book here or contact me at [email protected] for more details or if you would like private lessons.

We will be running regular workshops, including online classes, next year. As well as Meditating the Spindle, there will be classes on spinning with exotic fibres (including paper!), embroidery, silk papermaking, knitting, eco and indigo dyeing. We will be finalising the program over the next month with classes to start from the end of January – click here to sign up for the Counterweave newsletter for details and early bird discounts. And don’t forget we’re running a poll over on the Counterweave Facebook page to see what sort of workshops you would like to see next year. Click here to participate and get a 10% discount on 2018 workshop bookings!

art | craft | anima - Counterweave - Melbourne + Rome. Australian, Aboriginal & Asia-Pacific contemporary arts, crafts & textiles. Reiki & Tarot.

 

Meditating the Spindle Day 1

We had a great day on Saturday for the first Meditating the Spindle workshop. Keeping the group small makes for a cosier atmosphere and means I can give participants individual attention. Not that these students needed much attention! They picked it up so quickly and by the end of the afternoon everyone was spinning yarn.

Yoga mats meant that the inevitable dropped spindle wasn’t something to worry about, and short meditations kept the stress of learning a new skill down to a manageable level (no one swore, unlike me when I was learning) Chocolate helped too, of course…

Day 1 focused on getting to know the spindle and spinning lovely soft wool fibre from Hilltop Cloud. Day 2 is this Saturday and we’ll be learning to ply and exploring the possibilities of silk.

The next Meditating the Spindle workshop will be held on Saturday 25 November and Saturday 2 December – book here to reserve your place! If those dates don’t suit you I also take individual students – email me at [email protected]

And we’re running a poll over on the Counterweave Facebook page to see what sort of workshops you would like to see next year. Click here to participate and get a 10% discount on 2018 workshop bookings!

Meditating the Spindle workshops – book now!

We are now taking bookings for our Meditating the Spindle Workshops! Workshops are held on consecutive Saturday afternoons:

Saturday 4 & 11 November 2-5pm

OR

Saturday 25 November & 2 December 2-5pm

Spindles, fibre and class notes are provided. Any previous experience with yarn or fibre will be helpful, but not necessary

Min 2, max 6 students.

Cost: €120 incl IVA and materials

Click here to book your place!

 

Spinning fibre by hand using a drop spindle is an ancient technique and one the world relied on for thousands of years and it can teach us much about mindfulness in our very techno world in the 21st century. It is a skill that relies on patience, gentle concentration and mindful hands as well as a quiet mind.

This class will teach the fundamental skills required to use a drop spindle. By the end of the class participants will know and understand the use of the drop spindle; the different fibres that can be used to make different types of thread or yarn; be able to use their spindle to make yarn. They will learn how using a drop spindle can be an aid to mindfulness, meditation and calm.

Instructor: Felicity Griffin Clark has more than thirty years’ experience in fibre arts. She spins wool, silk, paper and hemp and makes textile and mixed media art. She is also a knitter and weaver. Felicity also takes private students for instruction, coaching or mentoring.

Contact: [email protected]

 

Australian art in Rome in August and autumn classes

art | craft | anima - Counterweave - Melbourne + Rome. Australian, Aboriginal & Asia-Pacific contemporary arts, crafts & textiles. Reiki & Tarot.

Felicity Griffin Clark – mixed media indigo concertina art book

Australian art specialists in Rome, Counterweave Arts Gallery & Workshop is open throughout the summer.

August in Rome is traditionally when businesses close for the summer holiday. It’s true Rome is hot, people are saying ‘see you in September’ and there are signs going up on shop doors saying ‘chiuso per ferie’. But Counterweave Arts is open for business! If you want a cool place to revive, and see some beautiful artwork by Australian artists email us at [email protected] to arrange an appointment. Currently in the gallery we have works on canvas by Central Australian Aboriginal artists represented by Artists of Ampilatwatja and Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, etchings by Melbourne artists, Lisa Sewards and Trudy Rice, and mixed media and textiles by Felicity Griffin Clark. Click here to see full catalogues of our current stock.

 

Nathania Nangala Granites, Warlukurlangu Jukurrpa (Fire country Dreaming)

 

Lisa Sewards Love is in the air

 

We also have some amazing wearable art in stock, with beautiful handwoven necklaces by Mary Burgess, silk scarves featuring the unique designs of Artists of Ampilatwatja and indigo silk scarves by Felicity Griffin Clark. These are also available in the online shop here.

We are currently working on our autumn/winter 2017 Counterweave Workshop program, with classes including:

  • Introduction to eco and indigo dyeing (one day workshop)

  • Introduction to shibori (one day workshop)

  • Meditating the Spindle – an introduction to mindful spinning (three half-day workshops)

Workshops will include materials, class notes and snacks, for a maximum of six participants, and led by Felicity Griffin Clark, an experienced mixed media and textile artist.  Dyeing and shibori workshops will use a range of natural materials including silk, wool, cotton and paper. Meditating the Spindle will focus on using wool and silk fibres. One to one classes for individual students are also available.

For more information email [email protected] or subscribe to the Counterweave newsletter for updates on exhibitions, opening nights, workshops and early bird discounts. A full autumn program and online booking will be available soon.