A DYER’S MANUAL
Jill Goodwin (neé Slater) was born in West Suffolk in 1917, the descendant of a long line of farmers, famous for their livestock since the eighteenth century. Inspired as a young child by the rich colours of the Saxon and Medieval period in her history books she began experimenting at the age of six with damson plums in her father’s old tobacco tins, dipping in wool she had gathered from fences round the farm.
In 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War she bought a spinning wheel, taught herself to spin, and made socks and jerseys for the family. She attended the East Anglian Institute of Agriculture (now Writtle Agricultural College) where her interest in plants and their properties was encouraged by her botany tutor, and this interest and enthusiasm has been maintained all her life.
She met Lewis Goodwin, an Essex farmer’s son, at college and after the war they moved to the family farm in Essex where they raised seven children. Lewis, always a great support, died in 1995.
Spinning, dyeing and weaving continued throughout Jill’s child rearing years along with rug making, corn dollies, baskets from willows, rushwork and the busy life of being a farmer’s wife. By the end of the 1970s her dye notebooks were overflowing and this book is a result. Not written as a textbook, but as an enthusiastic sharing of her knowledge and a mine of information for experimental dyers, with snippets of her philosophy on life.
Jill has featured in a number of magazine articles and television programmes, provided naturally dyed wool samples for the restoration of the Bayeux Tapestry, and is known to many people around the world as a source of knowledge and encouragement. She was a founder member of the mid-Essex Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers where she continues to bubble with enthusiasm over learning new skills and techniques. At 87 years Jill is now writing a family history, teaching herself computing, and remains surrounded by her wool, rugs and plants.