Spinning and Dyeing with Stella Berg

Stella Berg, herbalist and textile maker, has been spinning and dyeing yarns and making textiles for fifty years. She talks about the wild collection, cultivation and preparation of dye plants and the basics of how dyeing is done with British yarns (nettles, hemp, linen, wool). Stella takes students through the age old patterns of carding and spinning, with spindles and on the wheel, learning to produce a strong yarn that can be knitted or woven.

As we are relearning the skills of preparing textiles, one of the most absorbing aspects of this is dyeing. Dye materials abound everywhere, from Goat Willow bark to Elderberries.It is fascinating, alchemical, transforming natural fabric into subtle, glowing colour, quite unlike the chemical dyes we are accustomed to now. Stella will talk about the basic rules of dyeing, dyestuffs, mordants and you can dye some yarn. There will be handouts but it is recommended to take your own notes also.

stellas popular dyeing workshop radical bakers 2018

Stella delves into the historical significance of textiles, providing a detailed analysis of how the Industrial Revolution was sparked by the textile industry. She emphasises the importance of understanding the role textiles played in shaping our modern world, as it is directly linked to the development of capitalism, globalisation, and the exploitation of labour. Stella examines the politics of de-skilling and the consequences it has had on traditional clothing practices and we will explore the impact of this loss on cultural identity, community resilience, and environmental sustainability. She will also discuss the potential benefits of re-establishing a connection with local textile production, including supporting local economies, reducing the environmental footprint of the textiles industry, and preserving cultural heritage. Participants will be encouraged to consider the significance of textile sovereignty in the broader context of political, social, and ecological well-being. Through this workshop, Stella aims to inspire attendees to rethink the value of textiles and advocate for a more sustainable, equitable, and culturally rich future.

Spinning with Stella Berg

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Spinning and Dyeing Threads hanging over a table edge to dry.