The Droving Project launches spinning events

spinningThis November there is a great opportunity for people to try their hand at the traditional, functional and beautiful craft-forms of spinning and weaving as part of The Droving Project’s series of community events.

Free workshops by local artist Janet Renouf Miller and a demonstration by Ayrshire Handspinners will enable participants to make fabric from raw sheep’s wool, cow hair and various other materials.  There will also be opportunity to buy beautiful handmade textiles at the Christmas Craft fair on Saturday 29th November.

The workshops will start on Thursday 6th with an under 18’s weaving workshop, followed by an adults weaving workshop on Saturday 8 November and on Saturday 15th November there will be a spinning demonstration by the Ayrshire Handspinners.

These traditional rural crafts are enjoying a national resurgence, and seeing the process up-close will allow participants to get a real feel for these activities which may be done as a hobby or even to make a living, as there is more and more demand for real handmade fibre, fabric and clothing.

Janet Renouf Miller, who will tutor the workshops, says: “The Droving Project is an inspiring exhibition and I was delighted when Katch asked if I could provide workshops. In 2015 Ayrshire Handspinners will have been meeting in the Doon Valley Museum for twenty years, and it is very fitting that these workshops are taking place in what were once weaver’s cottages.”

These workshops and events are being run as part of The Droving Project, which also has an exhibition running at the Museum until 31st January 2015. The project involved photographing, filming and recording the sounds as cattle were walked along the old drove road from Knockengorroch to Bellsbank, and the resulting beautiful exhibition has captured the imagination of all who have visited. The Doon Valley Museum, Cathcartson, Dalmellington, is open 10am to 4pm from Thursdays to Saturdays.

The Droving Project’s producer, Katch Holmes, discusses the relevance of spinning and weaving to project in terms of pastoralism and traditional activities. She says:

The Droving Project has always been very much about place and history. Spinning and weaving are central activities to a pastoralist society and are still practised in South West Scotland today. We were delighted to receive funding from Foundation Scotland to allow us to offer the opportunity for people to try their hand at these crafts and for local practitioners to showcase their work, which safeguards a valuable part of our cultural heritage. Artist Janet Renouf Miller is experienced at teaching these ancient craft-forms and these workshops are really not to be missed!”

To find out more visit www.thedrovingproject.org , email thedrovingproject@yahoo.co.uk or ring 07727 127 997.

Under 18’s Weaving Workshop, Thursday 6th November, Doon Valley Museum, Dalmellington (contact Janet Renouf-Miller on 07712 575 874 for further info)

Weaving Workshop, Saturday 8th November, Doon Valley Museum, Dalmellington – FULLY BOOKED

Hand Spinning Demonstration, Saturday 15th November, 11am to 4pm, Doon Valley Museum, Dalmellington  (contact Janet Renouf-Miller on 07712 575 874 for further info)

Christmas Craft Fair, Saturday 29th November, 11am to 3.30pm, Doon Valley Museum, Dalmellington (contact Sarah Ade on 07727 127 997 for further info)

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Route update

This is a map of the route we hope to take, which crosses 4 separate farms.  The whole route is grazed by sheep but not cattle.

Drove road scan

It has become clear that, due to the restrictions around moving cattle which involve a complete standstill of farms that they pass through for 13 days, it would take us 6 weeks or longer to travel the 7 miles or so out from Knockengorroch to Bellsbank.

If the cattle enter another farm both they and all the animals on that farm must stay put for 13 days.  Obviously if we were to observe this rule (even if the farmers were able to keep their animals on lock down for that long) the seven mile journey would take us 6 weeks!

An alternative would be to treat each piece of ground we move onto as a show ground, which means it needs to be cleared of all animals for 28 days beforehand.  As these pieces of land are large sections of moorland or hillside grazed by sheep it is not possible to clear all the animals off for 28 days.

As a result we will not be able to walk the whole route unbroken with the cows and will have to use a cattle truck to ferry them over all farms but one. (Thanks to WH McWilliam Cattle Haulage, Alexander Moffat and Davy Macmillan at Eriff farm for their help in this.)

To walk cattle across the land in this day and age, is not possible without a series of restrictions around clearing the land that is impossible for upland sheep farmers to observe.  The UK has some of the strictest restrictions around animal movements in the world.