photograph by Adam
Jill Goodwin (neť 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 fatherís 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 was given 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 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 farmerís 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 Jillís child rearing years along with rug
making, corn dollies, baskets from willows, rushwork and the busy life of
being a farmerís 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
was known to many
people around the world as a source of knowledge and encouragement. She
had been a founder member of the mid-Essex Guild of Spinners, Weavers and
Dyers and continued spinning until she was 94 years. Her boundless
enthusiasm, considerable wisdom and great generosity have left a lasting