By Michael Doran

The Healesville Spinners and Weavers are a multi-craft group whose common bond is creating beautiful things from natural fibres.

“We call it fibre-craft and we start off with a fleece then clean, dye and spin it into yarn on our wheels,” the group’s secretary Lesley Wilkinson told the Mail.

“After that you can knit, crochet or weave with it to make whatever you fancy.”

Nine of this very congenial group set-up their spinning wheels for a working exhibition at the Healesville Library on Tuesday 11 September, where there’s an extensive selection of their finished products and history on display.

“We use wool or fibres from sheep, alpacas, goats, camels and rabbits, with some beautiful fine hair coming from angora rabbits,” Ms Wilkinson said.

“We also use mohair that comes from angora goats and cashmere from cashmere goats.”

Mention of using hair from cats and dogs also came up and this “just showed how versatile the range of materials we use is and that the fibres are the glue that holds us all together”.

Apart from the spinning wheels, there was also a demonstration of blending, where different coloured fibres are brought together prior to spinning.

As she deftly weaved her magic on the blending board, Jill Sheffield said “this is what I call making a fibre sandwich”.

Ms Sheffield is one of a number of members whose children are now part of the group.

“Through our enjoyment and being involved we are helping to keep these crafts alive,” Ms Wilkinson said.

“We are not just women doing this, we have a male in the group as well and more are welcome anytime.”

The Healesville group has members from across the Yarra Valley and often puts on demonstrations and workshops to spread the obvious joy and fun they all get from their various crafts.

The group started in the 1970s and meets between 10am and 4pm on the first Saturday of every month at the Badger Creek Hall.

Visitors are welcome to drop in and see what the craft is all about.

The place to find out more is the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria at www.hwsgv.org.au.

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