IN the 1970s, Colac Bay resident Isobel Bates learned how to spin wool.
Little did she know, almost half a century later, she would be recognised for her contribution to woolcraft.
Mrs Bates was recently awarded a Silver Thread Award for the contribution she has made to the New Zealand Spinning, Weaving and Wool Crafts Society Inc at both a national and area level.
Although her delving into the world of fibres started with spinning, it was when she visited a weaver at Thornbury she found her passion.
“As soon as I saw what they were doing, I wanted to do it.
“Within two weeks I bought a loom for $25. From there I graduated to a bigger loom.”
It was her voluntary work in the organisation which saw fellow members of Creative Fibre Southland put her forward for the award.
Her nomination tells of her involvement on committees as well as being the area delegate for a time. She has helped with festivals, taught others and helped with a variety of exhibitions and activities.
Mrs Bates has been a member of the Creative Fibre Southland branch since 1977, and still holds the secretary and newsletter writer roles.
“She is very passionate about all fibre crafts and loves to encourage others to learn,” the nomination says.
“She willingly gives of her time freely, shares her knowledge even down to sourcing and providing the materials and equipment to get others started.”
At 81, Mrs Bates still has her studio at Colac Bay open most days.
“If I want time off, I take it.”
She welcomes people in, enjoys meeting those who are interested in her crafts and is still teaching, with her latest student, sculpture and now weaver Daegan Wells her latest “star pupil”, she said.
She has volunteered countless hours doing administration, helping with events, exhibiting, teaching and completing endless other tasks.
But for Mrs Bates, none of it has felt like work.
“I’m just doing what I love and being with people with the same interests.