Thursday, 20 December 2007

A Christmas Tree! A Christmas Tree!

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
With dark green needled memories
Of childhood dreams and mysteries
Wrapped present-like in front of me.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
I glimpse a past wherein i see
The child that then grew into me
Not forward fast but haltingly.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
A time for being with family
A time that's gone so fleetingly
Yet lives for always deep in me.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
When twelfth night comes whole hauntingly
One lingered look and then i see
No Christmas tree where it would be.

A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
With feelings now felt longingly
No corner in my house to see
The magic of that Christmas tree.

by David Keig

And here is our tree at FIBRECRAFTS surrounded by some of the many Christmas cards we have received! Thank you all for your festive messages.

We should have taken the photo a couple of days ago when we still had the 'Secret Santa' presents underneath it. They've all been given out now (as has the wine!) and we've eaten all the mince pies. We're in the spirit and hope you are too.


Monday, 17 December 2007

NEWS: Surrey Business Award Finalist

Great news for FIBRECRAFTS! The shortlist has been shortened and the finalists announced - George Weil & Sons Ltd have made it to the last four contenders for the Small Business Award!

FIBRECRAFTS is the mail order division of George Weil & Sons Ltd and it is the hard work, commitment and imagination of the small team here that has led to this success.

The winners of the Surrey Business Awards will be announced in February 2008 and we're waiting with baited breath for the results. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Natural Dyeing with Fibrecrafts

We've been delightfully busy here at Fibrecrafts and are pleased and surprised at the success of our Christmas offers. We've noted a particular demand for the Natural Dye Kit which we feature here.

The Fibrecrafts Natural Dye Kit includes a selection of natural dyes and mordants to enable the beginner to experiment with and gain a greater understanding of how natural dyes bond to fibres. Using the contents in various combinations (and keeping notes of the recipes developed!) the dyer can then dye the 100gm ball of wool yarn before knitting it into the simple hat pattern supplied.

If you become hooked on the craft, Fibrecrafts offers an extensive range of natural dyes to discover. You can learn how to extract the deep red from the dried cochineal beetle, the regal purple from Logwood Chips and the deepest of blue from Indigo!

The Book Shop contains a wealth of literature on the subject of dyes and how to use them, and a book is often the best resource for learning about them.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Christmas Decoration Ideas

If you've got some free time between now and Christmas, here are some Christmas projects just begging to be explored....

Computer Printed Silk Organza Christmas Card

Printed Organza Christmas Card
This card was designed and created by Linda Chapman. It is a relatively simple design but nonetheless very effective. Linda used a card blank, available from most stationery stores, and stuck a layer of batik decorated tissue paper in the centre. The tissue paper was wetted with a paint brush before being pulled apart to reveal a feathered edge. Find out more...

Angelina Fibre Bell
Heat Bondable Angelina Bell
Heat bondable Angelina fibre can be used in a number of ways. Here we have discovered a fun and simple way to bind them into a three-dimensional shape. The Angelina fibres need only a very small amount of indirect heat to make them fuse, in this instance, boiling water is involved so please take care! Find out more...

Felted Santa

Washing Machine Felted Santa
Felt is created by agitating wool fibres until they mat together to form a non-woven fabric. The fibres can be laid flat on a surface or molded around a former such as a hatshaper, cardboard or even a ball.This Santa was felted entirely in a washing machine. The head, body, hands and nose were created from balls while the limbs were made by shaping the fibres before rolling them and tack stitching them into J-cloth. Find out more... 

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Great Savings until Christmas 2007!

We're advertising it on the home page and we've sent out postcards, but just in case you haven't heard about it, we're putting it here too!

Simply order £50.00 worth of goods and then choose any book to receive a 15% discount off its cover price. Just take a look at what you can save! Christmas Book Offer
This exclusive offer is open until Christmas 2007.

Friday, 16 November 2007

NEWS: We've only done it again!

The team here at FIBRECRAFTS are delighted with the news that the business has been shortlisted for yet another award!

The Surrey Business Awards have decided that FIBRECRAFTS has the credentials of a successful small business. The Small Business Award category, for which we have been entered, is for businesses of 25 employees or less (we fall into less, operating with just 3 full-time and 6 part-time).

The general day to day running, and as important, long term management decisions will all be taken into account when deciding their winner. Watch this space!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

It's that time of year again...

Now that Halloween and Bonfire Night are out of the way, the next main calendar event is Christmas.

With the threat of 'Trick' still echoing in our ears and the smell of smoke lingering in the air, we've noticed a significant change here at FIBRECRAFTS.

Kits, such as the Feltmaking Kit and the Indigo Dye Kit, are flying off the shelves and books are with practically every order. Green, red, silver and gold paint is pouring out the door and seasonal colours of wool tops are winding their way to our customers.

There are some great ideas for gifts and Christmas projects in the FIBRECRAFTS (now George Weil, Jan 2011) catalogue and on the web site. If you have time during this busy period; why not drink tea and browse!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Trick or Treat?

TREAT - we hope! Special Offers at FIBRECRAFTS (now George Weil, Jan 2011) include a 30% saving on selected silks and up to 20% savings on Merino Wool Tops until the end November 2007.

The silk scarves and ties can be dyed or painted ready for the much anticipated Christmas (eek! is it really only 8 weeks away) and the Merino Wool Tops can be used for seasonal feltmaking projects. If you're very ambitious, you could try making a washing machine felted Santa!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

What Postal Strike?

As a small business that relies heavily on the Royal Mail, the team at FIBRECRAFTS (now George Weil, Jan 2011 find out more...) have been determined not to be beaten by the recent strikes.

Of course it has had an effect, not all of our customers have received their goods as quickly as we would like. We endeavour to fulfill orders and dispatch on the same day that they're placed - providing our customers with a fast and efficient service.

Some of our customers have opted to pay a little extra and used our courier service. This has guaranteed delivery by the next working day. Nonetheless, nothing does compare to the British institution of the Royal Mail and we're glad to hear that they've decided against any further action - at least for today!

Friday, 21 September 2007

FIBRECRAFTS Catalogue 2008

It's here! The 26th FIBRECRAFTS mail order catalogue containing page after page of textile crafts materials and equipment.

There are lots of new products including the Bubble Jet Set 2000, Ashford & Louet Spinning Wheels, block printing inks, handmade papers and papermaking materials as well as new fibres and yarns...

You'll need to take a look inside to see what else is new. If you would like to order a copy, please click here

Monday, 17 September 2007

Super Recycled Silk Sari Yarn

This unusual, varied and colourful yarn is a highly recommended product for the experimental textile artist. Take a look at the Fact File to see further examples of the yarn knitted by Sharon Crockford

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

NEWS: BT officially becomes a swear word!

We've been without internet access for 2 weeks here at FIBRECRAFTS. Up until three years ago we didn't even have an internet connection and email was still a novelty - a great surprise to us therefore that its been so difficult to cope without.

Ian's been dragging the server back and forth to download and upload emails, so we've never been more than a day behind - but, oh the frustration. Poor Ian (our MD).

You've been able to see the web site, it has stayed open for business but the Team here at FIBRECRAFTS have had an extremely perplexing two weeks. We haven't even been able to update the site until today or start getting it ready to coincide with the 2008 FIBRECRAFTS catalogue launch...

Technophobes we concur!

Friday, 20 July 2007

It's Our Turn!

It wasn't until we were at the mercy of torrential rain this morning, that we began to understand what some of you have been experiencing with the flooding across Britain.

It's quite amusing to look out the door here and see our temporary lake, but just a short while ago the water was lapping at the warehouse door threatening to creep in across the floor and damage fixtures and stock. We began to realise that if the rain didn't stop, there wouldn't be much we could do.

We're counting our blessings and hope we're not jinxing our luck - the rain has stopped and the water recedes...

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Getting stuck in at Fibrecrafts

Hey, I’m Sam and I’ve just finished my GCSE’s. I’ve been at Fibrecrafts for almost a week now doing work experience with them.

I’ve found it different to how I thought it’d be, I imagined an office full of grumpy employees with a new kid to baby sit. Instead I’ve entered a massive world of colour and texture, with a continual flow of tea. Everybody’s been friendly, Dave in the packaging room, a jolly bloke, never afraid to have a chat. Susan and Ian supervising and giving jobs, even if they are a bit dull, such as straightening books on a shelf. The warehouse gives smells that you might find in an Indian market, reeking of different scents from the natural dyes and bursting from the silks and wools.

I sketched out the initial design on Microsoft word which included much of the wording taken forward to the final design.

The design has been taken further by Allison, using an extremely complex computer design program, which had a manual half a metre thick. After the work on trying to get star shapes on the back, it was looking pretty good and even Susan described it as “sexy”. I enjoyed learning how much effort goes into even a smallish card like the one I contributed to.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

A Duck's Tale

We've had some very exciting visitors today. Apart from our usual welcome customers, a family of ducks have popped by!

When asked if there was anything in particular she would like to see from the showroom, Mother duck politely quacked that she was just looking.

Later she was overheard to say that she rather fancied having a go at silk painting and possibly feltmaking...

Monday, 25 June 2007

Handspun, Knitted and Felted Bag

Chrissie Shepherd has sent us this photo of her hand crafted bag. It is made by first hand spinning dyed wool tops (drafting the colours at random to create the variation in colour), then knitted and finally felted. Chrissie is so happy with her experiment, that she made this comment, 'I am very pleased with the end result and am going to make lots more using themed colours.'

Thursday, 7 June 2007

FIBRES: International Feltmakers Association Conference & AGM

The International Feltmakers Association Conference and AGM was held in Swansea between 29th March and 1st April 2007. FIBRECRAFTS were pleased to supply member Kirsten Hill-Nixon with 6kg of sample fibres and 20 lengths of needlefelt fabric for use in her Egyptian inspired felting competition.

We were delighted to receive her letter thanking us for our contribution and detailing the success of the competition. Along with her letter, she kindly sent us a collage of images and comments from the delegate feltmakers who used the products.

Thank you Feltmakers for such positive feedback and for the opportunity to see what you created with the fibres

Thursday, 31 May 2007

FIBRES: Camel 'Excellent Fibre'

Wendy Smith has very kindly sent us this photo taken at the Cameloid Show held at Ardingly, Sussex at the beginning of May.

Wendy is a member of the Kent Guild of Spinners, Dyers and Weavers and took a sample of our Camel fibre (basket on left) to demonstrate spinning. Wendy says in her letter to Fibrecrafts '...thank you very much for your generosity in supplying such excellent fibre for the demonstration..'

Thank you, Wendy for giving us such great feedback!

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

FIBRES: A 'Casein' Point - Milk Protein Tried & Tested

Sorry for the pun (we heard you groan)! Anne Cook has kindly sent us this pic of her Milk Protein (Casein) yarn which she dyed in skein using acid dyes.

When she saw it, Susan Litton decided to dye some of the fibre herself (see below). It takes the acid dyes very well, has a good sheen and a lovely soft handle

Friday, 11 May 2007

SILK: 5, 6, 7, 8mm...

A useful fact to know about silk fabric. The weight, and therefore the thickness is classified by the Chinese system of mommes, pronounced mummy, and normally shortened to 'mm'. The metric equivalent of 1mm is 4.3gm per square metre. A small Pongee scarf, 28 x 28cm, weighs just under 13gm.

This heavy Crepe de Chine scarf is 8mm

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

NEWS: New Faces

Welcome to Sharon who has come to join the sales team at FIBRECRAFTS (now George Weil, Jan 2011). There's nothing like being thrown in at the deep end and poor Sharon has joined us at a particularly busy time - our April free gift offer having proved very popular!

Sharon attended Godalming College and has an A level in Textiles as well as AS levels in Photography and Media. She is keen to become familiar with our products and can't wait to take some of them home to see what she can do with them.

In the meantime, Sharon is up to her ears in fibres, natural dyes and mordants - helping Julie to pick your orders and learn all about the business at grass roots. We're sure you will all join us in wishing Sharon luck with her new job

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

SHOWROOM: Have you visited?

Just a small part of our showroom

Is there something on the website at George Weil (formerly Fibrecrafts) or from the catalogue that you're tempted to buy but want to see or handle first?

If it's to treadle a spinning wheel, fondle the fibres, select a shuttle or flip through a book, visitors are welcome on week days between 10am and 4pm. We have most materials and equipment on display and if there's anything specific you'd like to see - just ask!

As some of our larger looms are displayed in a separate location nearby, we will need to arrange an appointment. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

Telephone: 0(+44)1483 565800 or email us or click here for directions.

Shown here are just a small selection of the textile craft books on display in our tactile showroom

Friday, 9 March 2007

FIBRES: Huge Delivery of your Favourite Fibre

Our delivery of nearly a ton of Merino Wool tops arrived today and the small team at FIBRECRAFTS were run off their feet!

The large bumps of wool are a challenge to move and store but we've squeezed them in tight to ensure we can meet our customers demands. Whether they're going to be used for feltmaking or spinning, the mass of colours looked stunning in the morning sunshine.

Our picture shows Julie, in front of just a small selection of the tops, picking an order for the green - a great Spring time colour. What will become of it we wonder...

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

NEWS: FIBRECRAFTS Wins ECMOD Mail Order Business Award

Allison, Jennie Bond and Ian

Last night Ian Bowers, MD of FIBRECRAFTS and Allison Farlow, our designer, were at the annual award dinner of the European Conference of Mail Order Distributors (ECMOD) - sounds exciting doesn't it? We had entered the Fibrecrafts business for an award as a mail order business in the category 'Home Based Hobbies & Pursuits'.

The assessment is based on the catalogue, e-commerce web site, customer support and business development in the year. The event was in the Natural History Museum in London along with all the dinosaurs, and 500 others from the mail-order industry. We were rather chuffed to have been short-listed along with John Lewis Direct (a huge chain of classy and effective UK department stores and a mega web site, rated 8th of the national leaders) and the leading Irish mail-order business selling nice 'tat'!

The first surprise was to find that we were seated on the top table with the organisers and the celebrity, Jennie Bond - obviously this was a consolation prize for effort. However WE WON and we're delighted to share our news with you.

Thank you to all our customers and friends who have supported us for these 25 years. Now, to find the next mountain to climb!

Central Hall at the Natural History Museum where the event was held

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

FIBRECRAFTS - under attack

Monday 5 February 2007 will be remembered at FIBRECRAFTS for some time to come.

We opened up, as usual, and as a part of our normal routine, checked the emails for orders from the web site. On the previous evening 16 identical orders had been placed by an individual with the name of ‘Sad’. After a few more minutes we realised that a file on the site which held some credit card details had been completely wiped.

More research, particularly using a free Google tool, told us that over a period of 2 hours the site had been attacked from a computer in Hanoi, Vietnam. The technique used is known as ‘SQL injection’. This attempts to trick the web site into giving away its structure so that, through a series of intelligent guesses, the data can be extracted.

All the key data on the site is, of course encrypted, using strong processes which we understand should take 30 years to crack. The evidence on the site suggested that the attacker had only been able to delete a data file. However we thought that the responsible way to handle this was to email everyone whose data could have ever been on the site. We told them of the attack and that our estimate of their credit card data being accessed was a ‘moderate’ risk.

We immediately closed down the web site and over the following days worked to harden it to ensure that no more damage could be done and we will remain ever vigilant of future attacks.

The site was re-opened on Thursday 8th February. On the following Sunday the site was attacked again, again from Hanoi, with two individuals working simultaneously. However this time the attack lasted only six minutes and there was no damage. Again we emailed all those who had registered on the site saying that we believed that this re-attack suggested that no data had been extracted.

There have been two lessons from this for us; never to assume that a site is safe and therefore to make sure that no valuable data is held there, ever. Secondly, just how cheered we were by the very many positive responses to our emails thanking us for the warning, and assuring us that they admired us for being prepared to admit that the attacks had happened.

Over the past two weeks orders through the site have continued to flow in at an ever increasing rate.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007


FIBRECRAFTS was founded by Anna Bowers. She trained as a Physics and Maths teacher, learning to spin on her great grandmother’s wheel when her two children were ‘at that stage’. With others in the village in West Essex she set up a Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. The difficulty of finding good quality reliable supplies at the end of the 1970’s led to seeking out suppliers and, by default, becoming a ‘table-top’ retailer.

The first, typed catalogue was sent out in the Spring of 1982 to 1,000 names bought from Tim Willcocks at Hedgehog Equipment (who still exist). Later the Textile Book business developed by Miss Whittaker was acquired to support the product range. You can click here to see a potted history of how the catalogue evolved.

A family move to Godalming in Surrey shortly after was greeted with “well, I’ll give it a year, and if it doesn’t work, then it’s back to teaching!”

In 1986 a merger with Barnhowe at Elterwater in the Lake District was agreed, bringing in weaving and dyeing skills. The business progressed and during this time Anna spent 5 years as Chairman of the National Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

In 1994 Anna died suddenly of Legionnaire’s Disease. After a short period her husband, Ian who was also hospitalised by the same illness, took over the full time running of the business, and bought out the Barnhowe partners.

The ‘cottage’ industry from their home at Style Cottage has continued to grow incorporating a number of other businesses including George Weil & Sons Ltd, Suasion Ltd and the Papershed and FIBRECRAFTS is now run from a warehouse in Peasmarsh just outside Godalming.
The Warehouse & Showroom in Peasmarsh Surrey

Monday, 19 February 2007

NEWS: FIBRECRAFTS shortlisted for ECMOD award

FIBRECRAFTS have been short listed for the 2007 ECMOD Awards for mail-order businesses, alongside industry giants John Lewis Direct and The major elements sought by the Judges were the quality of the Catalogue and web-site, customer support policy and the business strategy.

This picture of the FIBRECRAFTS Team and a press release were featured in the Surrey Advertiser on 16th February 2007. Well done to (left to right) Jo, Ian, Dave, Allison (the designer), Julie, Coralie and Susan. Also to Ruth, Howard and Rosina (not pictured)

Monday, 29 January 2007

MEMORY LANE: George Weil & Sons Ltd

FIBRECRAFTS, as it is today, has taken more than 115 years to create. The story is the blending of two distinct family businesses set up by George Weil & Sons in 1891 and Anna Bowers in 1982.

George Weil was a Silk Merchant from Alsace in the border region of France and Germany, who moved to London to set up business trading in silk fabrics as linings to the fur trade. We still have his original copperplate hand written order books and cash book. The business was based around the fur auction rooms by the river Thames near St Paul’s Cathedral. It thrived, being handed from father to son and becoming a prosperous limited company in 1934.

In the 1970’s public opinion began to turn against fur coats, and the business first adapted by moving to the West End of London into the ‘rag trade’ area and selling a wider range of lining fabrics to the fashion shops. Later the Weils noted that they were making more fabric sales to individual artists as silk screen printers and then to silk painters. They extended their product range to include the DEKA silk, fabric and glass paints. DEKA were one of the first makers of these items, and the business still holds the UK distribution agency for these products. They also added the Sinotex silk fabric agency.

Recognising that London was an expensive base, and that mail-order was becoming increasingly popular the main part of the business moved to a warehouse in Reigate, leaving a fabric shop in London.

Do you remember George Weil & Sons Ltd all those years ago?

Thursday, 25 January 2007

MODELLING: Modroc Hand

A member of the Trinity Methodist Church in Woking has kindly brought in a photo of one of our products in use at their Friday Night Club.

This Modroc hand was created by a member of our staff and you can see the photo taken at the club behind. The modeller first wrapped his hand in cling film before applying the wetted Modroc. Great messy fun! Do you know of any good tips for using this product?

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

SPINNING - Manx Loaghtan Shearling

With Christmas out of the way, Coralie couldn't wait to use her coveted present - a Schacht Matchless Spinning Wheel! With a Manx Loaghtan Shearling fleece in the shed begging to be carded and spun, Coralie set about producing this delicious singles yarn.

She told us, 'When I've finally finished the spinning, I'm going to have a go at lace knitting. I already have Gossamer Webs but the patterns in Victorian Lace Today are also very tempting!'

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Welcome to Textiles Talk

The phone is ringing intermittently and the tape gun is working away in the packing room. There are orders being picked and the sales team are processing them on the computer. It's raining hard and the wind is high...

So? I hear some of you say, but others will be pleased to know that we're working as hard as always to supply you with your textile craft materials.

This is our first post to our new blog 'Textiles Talk'. It's here for you. Add your comments or feedback, images, tips, news, events - anything to do with your textile craft and watch it grow into an interesting and stimulating resource.