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Friday, September 27, 2019

New heritage workshop is up and running

Gwlangollen Heritage Workshop, located in the Lock Up Heritage Centre on Victoria Square, is now up and running. Here project spokesperson Gill Britten gives an update on the new facility.

The room is upstairs, and from the beginning of September we will be open to the general public as often as we can manage. 

We now have a number of experienced crafters supporting the project. Between us we cover a wide range of “wool” skills and are able to offer talks demonstrations and bespoke workshops. These can take place in the workshop, at Pentredwr Community Centre, or we go out to groups if that is easier.  

* The interior of the new Gwlangollen Heritage Workshop,
So many people have been intrigued by what’s happening outside the workshop door on a sunny day. We are washing and drying fleece in preparation for carding. Raw fleece is sorted, at Pentredwr. All the bits of vegetation and contamination are removed and recycled by local gardeners as soil conditioner. Nothing goes to waste!

The soft locks suitable for crafts are put into net laundry bags, to prevent loose fibres clogging up the drain. Still in the bags, the fleece is gently hand washed in hot soapy water. The bags are hung outside on an A frame. 

Once the bags have stopped dripping, the fleece is taken from the bags and spread out between two sheets of smooth plastic coated wire. These again are hung up outside to dry. Once dry and fluffy, the fleece is carded. This part of the process combs the fibres, so they all run vertically, ready for spinning or felting. Many spinners prefer to spin raw fleece and wash the yarn in hanks. We all have our own preference.

Historically, anecdotal evidence suggests that locally, young boys foraged the hillsides for fleece. Washed fleece would be snagged on bushes, stone walls or wire fences to dry. The children scared away the birds and retrieved any clean fleece blown away by the wind. I’ve been told by local farmers of a certain age, they remember damming a bend in the river to make a temporary sheep wash. 

This would be done two or three days prior to shearing. They say the fleece in those times were much cleaner than today. Perhaps someone knows what year the river authority stopped the practice.

If this has aroused your curiosity and you would like to visit the workshop, please do so. Visitors are most welcome. Unless you happen to be passing, do please get in touch first to make sure someone is here to let you in.

* Call, text, or Facebook  Gill on 07871 774 651 or email

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