In the late summer of 2019, I was contacted by the owners of Coldcroft Farm (located just outside Gloucester), who had around 80kg of yarn which had been spun by The Natural Fibre Company from the fleece of their rare-breed Ryeland sheep. They wanted their wool woven into blankets using the two natural colours of the ‘white’ and ‘coloured’ Ryeland fleece but needed my assistance with the weave structure and patterning, and to work with a weaving mill to produce in quantity.
I wove samples by hand in potential structures (basketweave, twill, honeycomb and others) then designed the placement of the stripes and overall aesthetic of the textile including the appropriate thickness and weight. The range was expanded to include generous scarves, throws and yardage of fabric in two colour-ways.
Following the lockdown period at home, I returned to my studio and the tools of my trade, my floor looms. The framework for my year comes from the courses I teach, the craft festivals I attend and the exhibitions I develop new designs for; these were all gone. Using trial samples of a new wool yarn and left-over natural dyed yarn, I revisited one of my designs inspired by Fairisle knitting patterns. It was joyful to allow myself to experiment; the shapes and scale of the patterns and the combination of colours.
For my first rug, the design was inspired by the symbol for Earth from the i-Ching; seeking a motif with significance to Meditation, I sought my Yoga teacher’s guidance. For the 2nd rug I just wanted to use some fabulous pinks and a design I love, as the ‘noughts’ on the front become ‘crosses’ on the reverse.
I have been selected to show work created during the Coronavirus ‘lockdown’ and since being able to return to my weave studio.
The meditation rugs I am showing were woven by hand on one of my smaller vintage floor looms, initially using materials I had in stock. The spirit of self-reliance extended to making dyes for my wool from plants which were different as the season changed; wild cow parsley to multi-coloured dahlia flowers. The colours from nature’s palette zing against the un-dyed shades of grey from the Shetland breed of sheep.
Dates and information for studio weaving sessions in 2020 can be found under the COURSES tab.
An opportunity to “do some more weaving” has been requested by several of the ‘students’ who have recently attended one of my Introduction to Weaving day workshops. I plan to open my weave studio one day a month to facilitate this; I will be on hand to provide equipment, yarns, know-how and hopefully inspiration to those who want to continue their learning and exploration of weaving.
I will be stewarding the Exhibition on Saturday and Sunday of the first weekend. I am taking a loom or two (just the small portable ones!) and hope to be weaving on and off, however and between 2 and 4 on both days all would be welcome to have a go at weaving.
The opening of this Exhibition is on Friday 6th Sept 2019 from 5pm to 7pm, all welcome. As one of the weavers taking part, I will be there to show the new designs I developed, inspired by the textile archive held by Trowbridge Museum.
Woven Textile Designer and Educator Laura Thomas has been running a Weaving Activity in the MakerShack at Cheltenham Science Festival and I’ve popped in a few times to lend another pair of weaving hands. The MakerShack has on average 1000 visitors each day, to have a go at a wide offering of both ‘techno’ and traditional making crafts. Children and Adults who had never woven before, were weaving their own mini masterpieces within minutes on little weaving frames.
Promotional images from Vanessa Arbuthnott on launching this addition to her collection in Spring 2019.
Introducing new Honeycomb Blankets, created in partnership with woven textile designer Rebecca Connolly.
Representing England, Scotland and Wales!
A TRADITIONAL WELSH TEXTILE WOVEN IN SCOTTISH SHETLAND WOOL
Our Honeycomb blankets are woven in the beautiful wool from the Shetland breed of sheep farmed on the Isle of Shetland. The yarn is processed, spun and dyed on Shetland too. This breed are Britain’s most northerly native sheep providing wool for the Shetland textile industry, whilst simultaneously supporting the rural farming community on these islands. Shetland wool is a world class natural fibre, with a long standing reputation for quality, strength and excellence.
From a traditional honeycomb weave pattern, Rebecca developed a bespoke design in Shetland wool for my blankets.
WOVEN IN BRISTOL WEAVING MILL, ENGLAND
The next part of this wool’s journey takes it to The Bristol Weaving Mill where it is woven into blankets especially for me. The blankets are a delightful grey blue, very close to our Pigeon colour, with an edge detail of a stripe in either Charcoal, Powder Blue or Saffron.
Ideal as a throw in sitting rooms and in bedrooms too…the honeycomb structure traps air to keep you particularly warm.