Virtual Wonderwool

Many of the Welsh Guilds have stands at Wonderwool Wales. The show is moving online again in 2021, and so are the Guilds.

We’ve put together a programme of talks and lectures to give you a flavour of the varying interests and areas of knowledge Guild membership allows you to explore.

All the speakers listed here have kindly donated their time.

There is no charge to attend these lectures, but we ask that you make a donation to either the Welsh Air Ambulance or Macmillan Cancer Support. These charities are usually supported at Wonderwool Wales, and we’re delighted to be able to raise funds for them in this way. Please leave a note so the charities know the reason for your donation.

All times listed below are GMT+1, British Summer Time.

These talks will all be hosted on Zoom, you may want to set up your computer/tablet/phone in advance of the start time of the talk. You will need to book a ticket by following the links for each talk. You will then get an email with the full booking information. Closer to the event you will get a link to the call, and receive a reminder email. The call will not start until the time listed below, and we will be aiming to start promptly.

We are hoping to have an auto-caption service working on all the Zoom Calls. This will allow you to read captions/subtitles whilst the speaker is talking. Please bear in mind that any automated system can sometimes struggle with unusual technical terms.

Glamorgan Guild are kindly using their Zoom account to host the whole event, with the upgraded Zoom Webinar feature to allow us to manage the large number of people on these talks sponsored by Katie Weston of Hilltop Cloud.

Saturday 24th April

10amJohn Arbon

Mill Tour and Question and Answer Session

1 hour
Take a behind the scenes look at John Arbon’s Worsted spinning mill in Devon. Learn how all your favourite yarns are made.
Follow by a Q&A session with John and the team… ask them anything!
Book your ticket
11amAndrew Johnson

Carding for long draw spinning

30 minutes
Master your hand carders to create the perfect rolags. Andrew is a familiar face to many of us in the Welsh Guilds, and an entertaining session is guaranteed.
Book your ticket
12 noonHelen Melvin- Fiery Felts

Solar Dyeing, Botanical Inks, and Natural Pictures

40 minutes
Learn how Helen uses plant material to dye yarn, fibre and fabric and how you can turn them in to beautiful felt pictures. Discover how those same dyes can also be used to make beautiful inks for creative artworks.
Book your ticket
2pmPenelope Hemingway
The Knitting Genealogist

Their Darkest Materials

1 hour + Q&A session
18th century and 19th century Textile-related Yorkshire Tales of Murder & Mayhem, Prisons, Workhouses, and Charity Schools.
Their Darkest Materials’ is about the seamy, dark, sometimes creepy underside of material culture and textile history. A sort of ‘Horrible History’ for grown-ups.

In ‘Their Darkest Materials’, we creep through nineteenth century asylums, debtors’ prisons, charity schools, pubs and marketplaces; the ‘stews’ (brothels) of the city, school-rooms, collapsing London houses, workhouse toilets, small-town waxwork exhibitions in back rooms and see ladies knitting in grand Georgian drawing rooms; following the unravelling thread of history’s textiles.
Book your ticket
3.30pmCarmarthen School of Art– Coleg Sir Gar

Meet the Textile Graduates

1 hour
A conversation with recent graduates from the textile degree course run at the college. Graduates will be speaking about their experience of studying with us, their practices and their life after graduation.
Followed by a Q&A session
Book your ticket
4.45pmTextile Traders

From Cradle to Grave – Javanese Batik in Birth Marriage and Death

45 mins
The people of Java produce the finest batik in the world, and yet most of the makers are poor and their stories remain untold.
The traditions of making this unique fabric by waxing and dyeing are centuries old and carefully passed on from mother to daughter.
You will be amazed at the patience and expert skills which are needed to make these beautiful cloths and fascinated by the stories and the people behind them.
Book your ticket
7.30pmVirtual Flock GatheringFor many years now the Flock Gathering has given people opportunity to catch up on the Saturday evening after the show. We’re hosting an online version this year…
You’ll be allocated in to “rooms” with 10 people, so you can chat about your purchases so far, and share your love of all things textiles.
Book your ticket

Sunday 25th April

10amJohn Parkinson-Iinouiio

Contemporary Textile Recycling

1 hour
A behind the scenes look at the textile processing in Yorkshire. John’s family have been recycling wool in Yorkshire since 1970, they now use these techniques and expertise to make a range of yarn.
Book your ticket
11amThe Braid Society

Meet the Braid Society

1 hour
Introducing the Braid Society, and showcasing examples of members’ work that illustrate the wide range of braiding equipment, braiding techniques, materials used in braiding, and the uses for braids round the world.  The Braid Society is international and membership includes professional makers, teachers, collectors, researchers, students and others, all interested in the art and craft of making constructed and embellished braids and narrow bands, so the examples will be far ranging and, in some cases, may be quite surprising for anyone not familiar with braiding techniques.
Book your ticket
12.30pmSue Hiley Harris

Some remarkable string bags

45 mins
From her studio in Brecon Sue Hiley Harris will show you her collection of Australian Aboriginal string bags and discuss the materials and structure of these remarkable bags. She will also demonstrate simple looping and netting techniques.


For many years Sue’s mother sent her Australian Aboriginal string bags. Sue used these in her daily life and for storage bags in her studio. Sue has studied her own collection of string bags and researched others in museum collections. 
Book your ticket
1.30pmFran Rushworth

A Dye Plant Garden

30 mins
Ever wondered about growing your own plants for natural dyeing? Fran will be sharing information about growing, caring and harvesting plants that provide reliable colours for successful dyeing.
Book your ticket
2.15pmKatie Weston

The History of the Textile Trade in Mid-Wales

1 hour
When Newtown Textile Museum reopened several years ago Katie was thrust from being a contemporary dyer, spinner and weaver in to a world of textile history. This talk draws on her research in to the fascinating textile manufacturing that happened in this part of the world. Far from being isolated, backwards and remote the textiles produced here were recognised all over the world for their quality. This whistle stop tour through 1000 years of history covers the rise and fall of the Welsh Flannel mills, from the giddy heights of making Queen Victoria’s knickers, to the lows of making the fabric used to clothe slaves in the American plantations.
Book your ticket
3.30pmJill Shepherd

The Domestication of Craft

1 hour
How and Why did Domestic Handcraft Flourish in Our Homes over the Last 500 Years? A wide-ranging (but sadly brief) view of handcraft as a marker of status and the cult of the hobby.
Why was the pursuit of handcraft in the home so important for women and children?
Book your ticket

These talks are being organised by volunteers to raise funds for charities. All our speakers have also donated their time free of charge.

If everything goes according to plan we think this will be an excellent weekend of education and entertainment. If things don’t quite go according to plan please be patient with us, know that behind the scenes we will be doing everything we can to get things working again.

This programme may be altered at any point. We really hope this won’t be the case, but real life occasionally throws curve balls to our speakers. Please remember this entire event is being offered as a fundraiser.

Talks will not be recorded, if you can’t make a time slot please get in touch with a speaker to find out if they will be speaking online at any point soon. If you are a guild member why not suggest one of these speakers for your future guild meetings.