Join In ... with the Murray Bridge Hand Spinners and Weavers Guild

Tineke Pel invites you to join a homespun group of women who work wonders with wool.

“Join In” aims to promote community connections and wellbeing in the Murraylands – and it could promote your business, too. Murray Bridge News is seeking an ongoing sponsor for this regular feature. Call Peri on 0419 827 124 or email peri@murraybridge.news.

It’s an unlikely spot, the old school building on Jose Street, nestled between a machinery dealer and an engineering firm, where half a dozen ladies are at work.

Threads of every colour pass through their hands as they weave and knit, spin and chat.

This is the home of the Murray Bridge Hand Spinners and Weavers Guild, a group which maintains local knowledge of the crafts our mothers and grandmothers knew.

Every Wednesday, ladies of all ages get together to work on their projects, some of which – like Ashleigh Lose’s woolen jacket – have been on the go since before COVID-19, and will take many months to finish yet.

Some are new to their craft, while Lynette Williss – the last founding member still involved with the guild – have been at it since learning to use a drop spindle at TAFE more than 40 years ago.

Secretly, the guild might be just as much about the conversation as the craft.

Either way, as Bev Loeckenhoff says: “It keeps the old girls young”.

The elder stateswoman in the room, 90-year-old Tineke Pel senior, took time out from her knitting to chat with Murray Bridge News.

When did you first get involved with spinning and weaving?

I’ve always done spinning. I started with an ordinary spinning wheel, now I’ve got an electric one ... I worked in Holland in a small, private group, knotting carpets. I was 18 or 20. So it must have come all from that beginning ... We arrived (in Australia) in the 1950s. My husband was a tool maker; we arrived on a Friday and he started work on the Monday. I used to work for Red Cross, who used to look after the children of country people when the mum was sick or had had a baby ... We used to live in town, and I joined the Hand Spinners and Weavers Guild in Adelaide. We organised spinning wheels from New Zealand – they were Ashford spinning wheels – and we went to the Adelaide Show, the first time spinning wheels were shown. I was secretary for three years, then it all became bigger and bigger and bigger ... When I came back here (to Murray Bridge) I heard there was a group. How long have I been here – five years?

What do you get out of your involvement?

The company; it gives you something to do; you get new ideas. It’s something I like doing. It keeps my hands busy ... If you want to know something about what we’re doing, everybody knows something different. But mainly the company. It’s a very nice crowd here. Everybody’s friendly and helpful.

Ashleigh Lose works threads onto a frame that will someday be placed on a loom and woven into a piece of clothing. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

What is your fondest memory of your time with Murray Bridge Hand Spinners and Weavers Guild?

I can remember we had a demonstration ... We did spinning at the Sixth Street market. I was asked to do spinning and I did. Lots of people stopped and watched and asked questions. It was a beautiful day. There’s always people who are taking an interest. Sometimes we get new members because of that.

What do you spend your time doing each week?

I mainly knit beanies for Care Flight, for premature babies. Members give me wool, so I keep busy with beanies and make all sorts of different sizes or colours.

What is your goal with the guild?

It’s mainly for the company, and to make sure you do something, you know, instead of not doing anything. To get out of the house.

Why should people join Murray Bridge Hand Spinners and Weavers Guild?

For the company, to do something – maybe do some good, knit beanies – and to learn something new. It’s always nice to do something with your hands.

  • More information: Call Bev on 0419 023 103 or search for Murray Bridge Hand Spinners and Weavers Guild on Facebook.

“Join In” aims to promote community connections and wellbeing in the Murraylands – and it could promote your business, too. Murray Bridge News is seeking an ongoing sponsor for this regular feature. Call Peri on 0419 827 124 or email peri@murraybridge.news.