Milton craftswoman receives rare award

RACHEL ASKEW
Last updated 14:41 05/06/2014
nancie allison
RACHEL ASKEW/ Fairfax NZ

SPECIAL AWARD: Silver Thread award recipient Nancie Allison at her home in Milton with some of the blankets she has created over the years.

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Making tea towels is one of the items left on Nancie Allison's bucket list, despite her long-time dedication to the crafts of spinning and weaving.

Now in her 70s, Allison recently received the rare Silver Thread award at the annual meeting of the Spinning and Weaving and Woolcrafts Society in Otago where she was presented with a badge and citation.

She said it had only been awarded six times previously.

Allison started spinning 45 years ago after a demonstration left her fascinated with the craft.

A long-time member of the Otago Spinning and Weaving Association and the Milton Craft Group, she has served on many committees over the years, run a ‘yarn barn' from a shed on her farm near Milton, is former Otago Area delegate and served three years on the national education committee.

"It's been a big part of my life for a long time, I've made so many good friends and learned so much," she said.

She was most proud of the baby blankets and the fabric she made that her mother and sister-in-law turned into clothes. "I've also done some linen table cloths that I'm thrilled with."

She has sold items over the years, including some popular woollen placements.

Allison admitted it could be an expensive hobby, but her late husband Stewart was incredibly supportive, she said.

"He never complained, which helped me enjoy what I was doing."

Allison tried spinning first because she did not have the space to weave, but gradually learned that craft as well. She put her first Ashford spinning wheel together herself, but had done less spinning lately, she said.

She weaves by hand using a loom set up in a room dedicated to her hobby and crammed with different yarns. She referred to them as her "stash" and still had plans for some of her favourite yarns.

Weaving tea towels was high on her list of items to make after being given a hand-woven one by an American woman, she said.

"It's far nicer than a commercial one to use."

Despite the Silver Thread award recognising her contribution to the craft, Nancie Allison shows no signs of stopping any time soon.

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