Crafts may save the day

Creative Fibre Guild members will save the day if a national disaster strikes.

Blenheim guild members Christine Marks and Shirley Thompson make the claim to promote their craft, which creates items from natural products using age-old techniques.

This Sunday, June 8, a week-long Scarf Expo starts in Blenheim at 22 Scott St and different guilds will demonstrate their crafts each day: tapestry weavers on Sunday, weavers on June 9 and 14, spinners and knitters on June 10 and 13, and felters on June 11 and 12.

Marks says it is hoped young people make time to watch the guild members, and perhaps sign up to have a go.

"We want to pass these skills on so they don't get lost," she says.

"If there was a terrible disaster, we would be the ones that could keep the country going.

"We can make tents, clothing, boots, bags."

Thompson was introduced to the guild when she saw a felting demonstration a few years ago and was instantly hooked.

A vineyard worker at the time, Thompson says she used every rainy day when work was called off to practise her new craft. Last year she retired from the workforce but felting has almost become a new career.

"I used to give them [the creations] away, now I sell them," Thompson says.

She has come to Marks' house to help promote the Scarf Expo and the women have put examples of their works on a barrel for a photograph.

Felting techniques can blend merino wool and silk together and the scarves on display have been coloured with products like food colouring, turmeric, red beet and onion skins.

Thompson says it is magical the way a dye mixture reacts on fabrics with often surprising results.

Marks holds up a soft silk-merino scarf and says she coloured it using two teaspoons of "black" food colouring. After it was "fixed" in white vinegar, the dyed scarf was washed and emerged in beautiful shades of purple.

"If you dyed it with purple you wouldn't have got purple," Thompson says.

Marks says commercial dyes can be used too but natural products are preferred.

Weaving, spinning and knitting divisions in the guild use similar materials as the felters and Marks says there are some "amazing, incredibly skilled" craftspeople in Marlborough.

The Scarf Expo runs from June 8 to June 14 at 22 Scott St, Blenheim.

The Marlborough Express