Field to Fabric with Susie Gillespie

Hosted by Susie Gillespie, 3-7 July. £875, includes matierials and accomodation


Susie’s workshop and studio are set in the orchards of a 15th Century cider farm in South Devon. Based here she will show you how to process and spin flax grown in her orchard to make a hank of linen. Susie will also show you how to colour your linen using natural dyes.

Susie plants the flax seed (also called linseed) in spring so it is ready to harvest around August. Susie will talk you through the process of rippling, retting and drying and you will be supplied with the flax stems from previous summers for you to start the next stages of processing the flax into linen yarn.

Firstly you will put the stems through a giant wooden crimp called a breaker to reveal the flax fibres. The remaining bits of hard pith that are left on the fibres are then removed with a wooden knife called a scutch.

To prepare the fibres for spinning, you will comb them through fine metal tines (prongs) called a hackle and they will begin to resemble the ponytail of a flaxen haired maiden.

The pony tail is then spread out on a table and wound onto a distaff. Susie will then show you how to tease the fibre off the distaff and onto the spinning wheel to produce the linen yarn.

Once you have a hank of your own linen yarn you can colour it using natural dyes and then move on to the weaving studio, where there are four large shaft floor looms, and begin the process of weaving the linen into cloth to produce your own cushion cover or artwork.

Susie will show you basic weaving techniques as well as her more unusual ideas in weaving. You can weave different textures and experiment with wrappings, twill, looping, slits and tapestry inlay. You can also experiment with gesso, paint and earth pigments and (if you are making an art piece) distress, fray, stain, unravel, darn, stitch, cut and sew fragments together.

Suitable for complete beginners and experienced spinners and weavers, you will come away with your own linen cushion cover or piece of artwork designed and created by you.

Price includes five days tuition, all materials, accommodation in the Farm House and Barn House, breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Accommodation is from Sat 2 - Thurs 6 July

Course times: 10am to 4pm each day