In 2015, the Guild, using Freda Neale funds, commissioned Marie Clews to train the weaving room staff at Inala Disability Service to develop projects suitable for their disabled clients.
The weaving room at Inala has 8 to 10 clients at a time. Marie has been attending the facility on a regular basis, either when the Inala clients are weaving or after hours to instruct the Inala teacher. The teachers at Inala have no previous weaving experience. Marie said, “Since there is usually only one other aide in the room, the teacher cannot spend much time learning the basics of weaving.” Some of the clients are capable of weaving by themselves, others need one-on-one help, while a few have been weaving for years very competently.
Marie comments, “The focus of my support at Inala is to instruct the teachers and to organise suitable weaving projects for the clients to weave.” Marie and the Inala teacher, Melissa, set up the different looms with various projects (e.g. bags, straps for bags, scarves, etc.). Some of the clients work on one loom and have their name on it. Where possible, the looms are set up with a long warp (which can be cut off after each project is woven) then another client can also weave on that loom. This makes it easier for re-warping as the new warp can be tied on without having to rethread the heddles. Tying on the warp saves the teacher time as none of the Inala students are capable of threading a loom for their own work.
Staff members not only support the Inala participants during weaving, but also get the looms ready for them. They learn on the job and are very happy to have Marie help them design a program that focuses on simple projects that don’t need much finishing. Marie has also been able to unravel some of the loom dressing myths that have developed over the years and has written up notes to make the job easier for current and future staff.
The Inala facility has a diverse set of looms: two-shaft table looms, floor looms, and a rigid heddle loom. Most of the looms are 60+ years old, functioning thanks to creative solutions over the years. At Inala, since there are a number of rooms with different activities, the woodworkers’ group in another room made some parts for the weavers’ looms.
The Freda Neale Grant is an annual endowment given by the Hand Weavers and Spinners Guild of NSW to successful applicants. The primary aim of the grant is to give the joy of weaving, though other fibre related projects are also considered. In the past, the Guild Committee has given preference for this grant to the disadvantaged or handicapped. Though applicants must be financial members of the Guild, the grant need not be distributed to that member. Instead, the grant may be applied to another person or group. The applicant must submit a written proposal for a specific project. The proposal may include requests for travel funds, tuition, registrations, fibre supplies, recording equipment, etc. Contact the Guild if you are interested in applying for these funds or have a suggestion for these funds and need help finding a member to support the application.
Inala provides a flexible range of human centred services, programs and lifestyle supports for individuals with disabilities, supporting each person to fulfil their potential, pursue their aspirations and be valued members of the community. Established in 1958, Inala provides services in the Sydney metropolitan area.