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Autumn Craft Courses in the Ribeira Sacra, north Spain and August roundup

August is nearly over in north Spain and despite the continuing heat it is difficult not to start to think about autumn.  Many of our neighbours will be thinking about the grape harvest here in Cristosende September.  But in the Cristosende craft workshops – despite their idyllically tranquil position at the end of the hamlet – we are looking ahead to several busy months ahead with Spanish craft courses, craft projects and visits programmed right up to the end of November.  In this post you can see a selection of photos taken in the craft workshops this past month, newly-made textiles, as well as what´s on for autumn here in the craft studios in the Ribeira Sacra.


Many thanks to those of you who came to the workshops, bought or commissioned work, or came for a guided workshop tour.  Of course, we welcome guided visits and inquiries during the rest of the year, but please phone us first to arrange a time that is suitable for us and for you.   In the meantime, here are some photos of some of the events here this August –

la representación gráfica del tejido es un conocimiento importante para la tejeduría manual en telarTextile Design and Analysis Course in August 2010

Well done to Begoña and Rosa – you worked hard to understand how to interpret and use the graphic representation of woven textiles in this intensive 10 hour course.    Hopefully you will now be able to use books with pattern drafts with more confidence.  Mastering weaving drafts does require a bit of practice but I always work on the draft on paper before setting up a loom with a new threading.  Really, for anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of woven textiles and start designing original work for themselves this knowledge is really vital.

fulares seleccionados para Suave, exposición internacional de accesorios textilesAnna Champeney Estudio Textil textiles selected for 2 international textile exhibitions

The bi-ennial exhibition of textile accessories organized by the Asociación de Creadores Textiles de Madrid, which opens in Costa Rica in September will include two pieces of work designed and woven at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in Ourense, north Spain.  The work will also be on exhibition in 2011 in Madrid (on the grapevine we hear that the venue is going to be Madrid´s Textile Museum – but it´s best to visit the website nearer the time.   Anna says “for anyone interested in exhibiting their textile work, Suave is useful exhibition to submit work to, as it has an international jury so you can be sure that if your work is selected it will be exhibited alongside quality work because an international panel of judges decide whose work is accepted.  As with most exhibition selection, the quality of your photographs is very important- as they will be the visual basis on which selection is made in 2012, the next date for the exhibition.  Be aware that in Spain it is not un-common for exhibitions organisers to charge exhibitors a fee to cover exhibition costs, not just post and packing”.

Natural Dyeing course for Beginners August 2010.

marga y evaMadder, logwood and onion were the dyes of choice during  during the fairly intensive 2-day Introductory course with Marga, Lourdes, Tania and Eva.  The deep purples and blues from logwood were gorgeous, and Tania managed to dye a single skein with no fewer than 5 colours.  Working together we managed to achieve no fewer than 34 different tones from just 4 dye plants, including Marga´s experiment with Maria Luisa (lemon verbena), growing at the edge of the outdoor patio where we did some of the dyeing.  And yes, it does act as a natural dye although we haven´t tried it out for fastness.   If you would like to do a natural dyeing course with us in 2011 then contact us or re-visit the blog around christmas time when our 2011 course programme will be up.

una madeja con 5 colores diferentes

agarradera con tintes naturales

Summer Craft Activies for Kids

jovenes tejedoras tejen el primer tejido en telarines de albergueríaInés, Sofia and Elena from Alberguería (Luinta), were just some of the kids who came with their parents on the guided workshop visit around the craft workshops this August – and their visit included trying out a table loom for themselves.  Well done girls – you did very well – and see you again soon for a willow fish making course or some felt ball making in the not-too-distant future.


As well as hosting a masterclass course with Danish weaver, Lotte Dalgaard in September and working on some autumn designs and exciting new kit projects – to be unveiled soon – we are offering some new courses in the autumn-winter period.   We will also be working on our programme for 2011 so if you would like to see a particular course offered at a particular time in 2011 now is the time to get in touch and suggest it to us.

Just off the loom – Zingy man´s scarf with natural dyes

bufanda para hombre de tejido gofre en lana con tintes naturalesThe zingy, spicy colour combination of this one-of-a-kind man´s scarf in 100% natural wool is particularly pleasing.  The scarf would make an ideal christmas present for a special friend, partner or family member.  It measures 27cm x 170cm (excluding fringes) and has been woven in warm waffle weave.   As with all the textiles from AC Textile Studio, the beauty of the colours is due to the use of natural dyes which are extracted at the studio itself.    Hand-wash at 30ºC.   The scarf is a one-of-a-kind, (although another similar, shorter, women´s version is currently also available) and costs 75€. Inquire about purchasing this scarf.

Mushroom basket course 21 – 22  September 2010

cursos de cestería con lluis grau en galiciaIf you have been wanting to try basketry for some time now this is an ideal opportunity to make your first basket, all ready for picking wild mushrooms later in the autumn.  Some regions of Spain have already banned the use of plastic bags for collecting mushrooms and in fact baskets have always been a better option – allowing the mushroom spores to fall through the basket structure to seed next year´s mushroom harvest.  Collecting mushrooms in a basket also means that they don´t get squashed.  Let´s see if in Galicia we can promote better mushroom-picking habits with the adoption of baskets too!

Complete Weaving Course for Beginners 11 – 15 October 2010

curso de tejeduría manual en telar en diciembre 2010In this intensive 5-day course you will learn to prepare a Louet table loom from scratch and weave samples and a finished piece of work.   This course is ideal for beginners and for those with limited experience or confidence who wish to work on a loom project from scratch and prepare the loom.

Spain´s December Bank Holiday 2010 – Short breaks in Galicia with creative craft courses and special offers

Treat yourself this Puente de la Constitución to a short creative craft break in Galicia.  Our rustic cottage, awarded themact quality mark,  with its two spacious double rooms and central heating, is available for rent and the craft workshops are just 30 metres away.

Casa dos Artesans (casa vacacional) en la Ribeira Sacra Galicia

Casa dos Artesans holiday cottage is ideal for 2 - 5 people looking for a traffic and tv-free holiday in a peaceful village setting with stunning natural scenery in north Spain. Casa dos Artesans specialises in holiday craft activities both for adults and children, in fabric weaving, basketry and natural dyeing, all taught by professionals.

balcón privado en Casa dos Artesans en Agosto 2010Here we offer you two holiday activities – an introduction to loom weaving and a beginners´ basketry course.  So you can try both our crafts over the holiday period.  You will be surprised at what you can make – with no previous experience – and if you sign up to both courses we´ll give you a discount of 20€. Contact us for more details.

Craft in the Ribeira Sacra – Preparing for Open Workshops 1 – 31 August 2010 in Cristosende, A Teixeira, Ourense – Guided studio visits – Sale of unusual hand-woven textiles and rare Spanish baskets.

The only weaver in the Ribeira Sacra (Ourense).  Anna Champeney Estudio Textil.  Buy textiles online direct from the studio.  Courses.  Guided Visits.  www.textilesnaturales.comIt´s July in the Ribeira Sacra and hand-weaver and designer, Anna Champeney, and basketmaker, Lluis Grau, are working hard in order to make their textile and basketry studios ready to open to the public during August, when they have their their summer selling exhibition and open studios.  Their places of work are situated in beautifully-restored traditional stone buildings in the picturesque village of Cristosende which overlooks the famous River Sil Canyon itself.  Here´s a sneak preview of what is to come when they finally open for the month of August.

July – As well as running a weaving course from the studio from the 4th – 8th July Anna, the hand-weaver at AC Textile Studio, is busy weaving up 55m of linen yarn on the loom– making large-size linen farm sacks with colourful stripes and a personalised cushion commission. Do the sacks actually have a modern-day use or are they just decorative reminders of the past?

“The sacks are nice to look at and hang up but they are actually very practrical – they are machine-washable for example – and have many modern-day uses as well as constituting part of the region´s local craft heritage.  At home I use one of the large sacks as a bread bag but I also love using it for picnics and some clients of mine have even converted them into cushions!  I also make smaller versions which can be used as bathroom bags, as handbags, for garden seeds, just about anything really – it´s not so different today as in the past – the sacks have always been multi-purpose”.

What is the history behind the traditional rustic linen farm sacks in Galicia?

I have researched traditional folk textiles in Galicia since the early 2000s and the rustic linen sacks were certainly a core part of the traditional weaver´s repertoire in my area of mountainous northwest Spain – Ourense province.  Similar, rougher sacks, were made in neighbouring Asturias, but I find the Galician sacks finer.  Some local people still use the old sacks in my area but unfortunately  I was never able to meet any of the old weavers as they died years ago.  The fact that the old weavers´ sacks are still in use is a real tribute to the weavers and proof, if any was needed, of their robustness.  The traditional sacks were originally larger than the modern versions woven at the Textile Studio, as they were used to take grain to the water mills and for large quantities of sweet chestnuts which formed the staple diet of many local people not that long ago.  But people don´t need such large sacks today for home use so, unless I receive a commission for a full-size sack, I weaver them in smaller sizes.  The stripey versions of the sacks were locally called “sacos róxos” (red sacks), something of a mystery, given the fact that they could be black, brown, red or blue.  But they were always stripey and we weave the sacks using the same kinds of stripes as before”.

These traditional Galician sacks some of Anna´s favourite stock items and she finds them very satisfying to weave.  The colours are from natural dyes extracted from plants in the workshop itself – some of which are from plants grown in the dye workshop garden – you can´t get much more local than that!  The end of June is when camomila tinctoria or dyer´s chamomile can be harvested and Anna has a large flat basket full of drying flower-heads in the studio which she will later use to dye woollen sack yarn. 

 Can visitors see the natural dyeing process in the workshop during a visit?

“Well we do offer guided tours for the public both during our opening hours in August and during the rest of the year (when telephone booking is required) which means visitors can learn more about the way that hand-made textiles and baskets are made here and see whatever we are working on at the time.  I usually do large-scale batch dyeing about twice a year, a process which can take several weeks so yes, there is a chance of seeing either the yarns being dyed or some of the plants I use and colours that I obtain”.

“Craft” is a bit of a confusing word today as it covers a huge range of things from cheap, imported objects which have been mass-produced to exclusive hand-made objects which are unique and command a high value.  What kind of craft is on offer at the Cristosende craft workshops? 

At AC Estudio Textil and Lluis´ basketry workshop we offer craft work which has been authentically hand-made, locally, but us, and made from natural materials.  Local, traditional craft is amongst the most authentic as it is often tied to the history of a particular area.  Despite being more expensive than some objects sold as craft in shops we feel that our work offers real value-for-money as it is not only genuine but well-crafted – it´s the “real thing” not an imitation or a fake version.  Some of the techniques we use are over 1000 years old and the methods we use are all completely manual.  Ironically, although some of the objects we make today might have been commonplace about 50 or 100 years ago today they are rare – and in some cases we are the only makers in Spain making particular types of basket or woven textile for sale.  Our clients come not only from Galicia but also from Madrid, Barcelona and abroad.  Some clients are collectors, many are visitors to the area – but in general they are all searching for something unusual, authentic and different to what is normally on sale.  We select traditional designs and techniques which we find beautiful ourselves and which can also find a use in modern life.  Our textiles and baskets are often used, not just looked at on a shelf.  At the textile studio we also produce our own label textiles – with designs which go beyond traditional designs and techniques and sometimes use more complex techniques and more creative designs.  The own-label designs include limited editions of scarves and cushions and one-off pieces as well as textile art pieces.  Our prices range from just 9.50€ for a mini-textile to 26.50€ for a strong mushroom basket, to over 500€ for a decorative framed piece; there is something for everyone.

What´s new in the Cristosende craft workshops for 2010?  We always try to introduce new ranges or designs in our August open workshops.  New for 2010 are some lovely linen babycapes  – ideal for the heat of summer (linen is cooler and more absorbent than cotton).  They are quite different to industrial babycapes and can be used for formal and informal occasions, and as both towels and summer blankets.  In the basket range we hope to have some of the very special traditional baskets which are traditional in the Los Ancares area of Galicia, which are not only rare but very beautiful.  We will have some old favorites on display too – including mushroom baskets and potato-peeling baskets.

Anna Champeney Estudio Textil en la Ribeira Sacra, foto del exterior del taller, ubicado en una bodega antigua de piedraPublic Opening Hours

  • August 2010 – 10.30am – 1.30pm / 6 – 8.30pm (every day except Mondays).  Guided Visits on requestduring opening hours – 2,50€ per adult
  • Rest of the year – the craft workshops are closed to the public but you can book a guided tour or visit by appointment – T.669 600 620.


Warm Winter Scarf Project Part II: Loom Preparation & Weaving

Casa Rústica "Casa dos Artesans" con nieve en Diciembre16 December 2009.  It´s snowing!  Yes, as you can see from the photo I´ve just taken of the view from my textile studio, the Ribeira Sacra looks stunning.  It´s pretty cold though so it´s very appropriate I´m weaving warm wool scarves!  I´m continuing the project I wrote about in earlier – see for the natural dyeing part.  Now I´m onto weaving the woollen scarves.  Below I´ve uploaded some photos so you can see the different stages of loom preparation.  I´m using a Louet table loom for this project.


1.  The yarns to be positioned on the loom are measured and wound on a warping mill

Winding the warp (yarn which goes on the loom)

Winding the warp (yarn which goes on the loom)






 2.  Setting the loom up with the warp wound onto a beam at the back.  Louet table looms have raddles built-in to the design which help you to space out the warp properly – and avoid problems later on.
WindingWinding the warp onto the Louet loom using the raddle the warp onto the Louet loom using the raddle

3.  Weaving a small sample piece.  I always do this when using new yarns or trying out a new design.  Sampling is fun and enables me to try out different colour combinations and yarns.

weaving the sample piece

weaving the sample piece





4.  Weaving – The design requires using two colours so you can see I´m using two shuttles, changing from one to another at regular intervals throughout the design.  This makes weaving slower but the design is far nicer as I can use more colours.

how to weave with 2 shuttles

how to weave with 2 shuttles

5.  The finished scarf. 

woollen winter scarf

woollen winter scarf

6.  … and finally the scarf being worn by its new owner.  This is Galician blogger, Martin Goetz, at the German-style Christmas Fair organised by him and his wife Barbara in Mer (Sober), Galicia.  If you didn´t know about Martin´s blog or the christmas fair visit ….

martin wearing the scarf

martin wearing the scarf