Susie Gillespie


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




2020 February 8th to 12th – Winter Residential – full

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 and Holiday.

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 includes 5 nights accommodation, 4 days tuition and 1 free day to explore the towns, villages and countryside of South Devon. All materials, breakfast, lunch and dinner including an evening meal out at the fabulous Riverford Field Kitchen.

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.



Firstly 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.






The 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.




Susie 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 £895, fully residential including 4 days tuition, all materials, 5 nights accommodation in the Farm House and Barn House, breakfast, lunch and dinner along with 1 free day to explore the towns, villages and countryside of South Devon and an evening meal out at the fabulous Riverford Field Kitchen.

2020 date February Saturday 8th to Wednesday 12th – with accommodation dates Friday 7th to Tuesday 11th – full

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,




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Revised 2020 course dates:

August 29th to September 1st – Flax processing, linen spinning and creative weaving course – 2 places 

September 5th and 6th – 2 day weaving course- 2 places

September 19th and 20th – 2 day weaving course- 5 places

October 3rd and 4th – 2 day weaving course- 3 places

October 17th to 20th – Flax processing, linen spinning and creative weaving course – 1 place

November 5th to 8th – Tim Johnson ‘Finding Fibres – Containing Space’ – 2 places

November 14th and 15th – 2 day weaving course- 2 places

November 21st 22nd 23rd – Alice Fox Land Marks – Recording Place – 2 places

2021 course dates:

January 30th and 31st – 2 day weaving course – 6 places

February 13th and 14th – 2 day weaving course – 6 places

February 27 to March 2nd – Flax processing, linen spinning and creative weaving course – 6 places

March 27th and 28th – 2 day weaving course – 6 places

April 17th and 18th – 2 day weaving course – 6 places

April 24th to April 27th March – Flax processing, linen spinning and creative weaving course – 6 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.