Susie Gillespie


Flax processing, spinning, weaving & natural dyeing with Susie Gillespie




2019 May 18th to 22nd  2 places

2019 September 2nd to 6th – 5 places

Susie’s workshop and studio are set in the orchards of a 15th Century cider farm in South Devon . It is the perfect place for you to relax and be inspired on this 5 day Residential Creative Textile Course.

Susie Gillespie will show you how to process and spin flax grown in her orchard to make a hank of linen, colour it using natural dyes and then weave a cushion cover or piece of artwork. The course is 5 days and includes all materials, accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

You can relax during the evenings by bringing along your own knitting, crochet and sewing project and share your ideas with the other students. Or take the opportunity to explore the beaches, countryside and river estuaries of South Devon recording what you find in sketches, photographs and found items and return to the studio to incorporate your ideas into your woven art work.

Susie plants the flax seed (which is also called linseed) in spring and it is ready to harvest around August time. Susie will talk you through the process of rippling, retting and drying and you will be supplied with the flax stems from last summers harvest for you to start the next stages of processing the flax into linen yarn.

91Firstly you will put the stems through a giant wooden crimp called a breaker to reveal the flax fibres. The remaining bits of hard pith that are left on the fibres are then removed with a wooden knife called a scutch.

To prepare the fibres for spinning, you will comb them through fine metal tines (prongs) called a hackle and they will begin to resemble the pony tail of a flaxen haired maiden.



103The pony tail is then spread out on a table and wound onto a distaff. Susie will then show you how to tease the fibre off the distaff and onto the spinning wheel to produce the linen yarn.

Once you have a hank of your own linen yarn you can colour it using natural dyes and then move on to the weaving studio where there are large four shaft floor looms and begin the process of weaving the linen into cloth to produce your own cushion cover or artwork.



95Susie will show you basic weaving techniques as well as her more unusual ideas in weaving.

You can weave different textures and experiment with wrappings, twill, looping, slits and tapestry inlay. You can also experiment with gesso, paint and earth pigments and if you are making an art piece distress, fray, stain, unravel, darn, stitch, cut and sew fragments together.

Suitable for complete beginners and experienced spinners and weavers and you will come away with your own linen cushion cover or piece of artwork designed and created by you.

Course price £875, fully residential including 5 days tuition, all materials, accommodation in the Farm House and Barn House, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

To enquire about course availability please click here



2019 May course dates: May Saturday 18th to Wednesday 22nd with accommodation dates Friday 17th to Tuesday 21st – 3 places

2019 september course dates: September Monday 2nd to Friday 6th with accommodation dates Friday 1st to Thursday 5th.

To enquire about course availability please click here




Dear Susie and Dave,

Thank you for a most wonderful week’s stay.  I left tired but fulfilled and inspired, and highly charged with so many ideas and influences.  The course was everything and more than I expected, and to come away with a finished piece was highly satisfying.  I am using it as a runner on our dining table as I write.

You both led us through the linen making process in such a relaxed and non dictatorial but encouraging way, allowing us to discover for ourselves, which was much appreciated.  Alison’s contribution ‘thinking outside the box’ midway, complimented the session extremely well and I must say for me has given confidence to free up and experiment with anything in anyway.  Very releasing.

The accommodation was really comfortable and your home so stylish.  You were so generous with all the delicious meals, ginger biscuits and ‘evening cake’, wine, walnut bread, and the variety of a meal at your Mum’s (not even brisket) was fun.  On top of that you generously took us out for lovely refreshing, beautiful walks. 

Thank you so very much.

Oops, I did forget and left behind a most important treasure.  I left hanging in my room on the pegs two skeins of flax, one the untreated flax stem and the other the carded skein of hairy flax fibre.  I think they looked so attractive hanging there, and not part of my clobber, I just forgot to take them.  I wonder whether you could post them to me.  I am sending a reply paid envelope so do wait until that arrives.  They are a most important prop when I enthuse about your course and what I have done.

With best wishes,




2019 course dates calendar

March 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th – Flax processing, linen spinning and creative weaving course – 2 places

March 23rd, 24th – 2 Day Weaving course – full

April 6th, 7th, 8th & 9th – Tim Johnson ‘Finding Fibres – Containing Space’ – 1 places

May 4th-5th – 2 day weaving course full

May 18th to 22nd – Field to Fabric Residential 5 day Creative Textile Course – 2 places

June 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th – Flax processing, linen spinning and creative weaving course – 3 places

July 2nd to 4th – Alice Fox Land Marks Course – 5 places

September 2nd to 6th – Field to Fabric Residential 5 day Creative Textile Course – 5 places


Please use the contact tab above to enquire about course and accommodation availability if I don’t get back to you within a day or two please try again as sometimes the enquiries do not reach me. Thanks Susie.

I also have gift vouchers available if you would like to give a course as a present.