Hand of the Maker show at Chelsea UAL

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The journey of the exhibits at this year’s Society of Designer Craftsmen show started in autumn last year when British Wool obtained two cones of yarn, spun by Gardiners Yarns of Huddersfield from British Herdwick in the natural grey tones of their fleece, for me to weave with at Decorex 2017 on their stand with CountryLife magazine.

The ‘demonstration’ warp remained on the loom for several months until I decided to use it up by experimenting further to see what designs I could create from using just the two Herdwick greys.  The contrast was a little too subtle so I added Shetland wool in Charcoal, Quarry and Pearl to enhance the difference tones of the two Herdwick wools. The design elements play with the visual trick of appearing to change direction from a horizontal stripe to a vertical stripe.

Tempted to add colour, the reverse side of all the cushions have a subtle addition of a little colour.. turquoise, pheasant, claret, navy..

I decided this cloth would be perfect for my show pieces as it illustrates how my woven designs are frequently driven by the character of the raw materials. The wool ‘tells’ me what it wants to become…

These cushions are not destined for a lounge sofa, but a rural working kitchen and taken outside onto a garden bench or stone step.

For the first time the one-off pieces I have created to exhibit at the show will be available to buy, therefore they are constructed to a high standard with down/feather pads.

Woven design in British Wool submitted to the Bradford Textile Society Competition 2017

Detail of design submitted to the Bradford Textile Society Competition 2017

Using the specified wool yarns, I developed a design suited to a light soft furnishing application. The wool was supplied in very dark brown, creamy white and a ‘marl’ (being the brown and white twisted together). I wanted to use these natural fleece colours in the main but chose to add a little colour by dyeing the white and the marl yarns with cochineal and indigo natural dyes. These were used sparingly in both warp and weft.

The design had a border of a zig-zag pattern, this would be a feature around the edges of a cushion.

For more images, see here.

Exploring weaving with a Rigid Heddle and Back-strap

In recent months I have been kept busy with requests to teach weave workshops using this simple loom.

The wonderful things about this form of weaving are:
The equipment is very ‘low tech’ and inexpensive if you want to buy your own.
It is very portable so you can weave anywhere, inside or outside, standing or sitting.
I can have absolute beginners weaving within a very short space of time, both children and adults.
You can weave cloth in a ‘conventional’ form or weave an ‘art piece’ incorporating all manner of materials.
I have taught 2 groups of 14, A Level Textiles students at Cirencester College in a morning; a knowledgeable group of 11 from the Gloucestershire Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers and one-to-one with students in my studio.

I now teach on a regular basis at The Bothy at Vanessa Arbuthnott in Cirencester, Prema Arts in Uley and Cotswold AONB Rural Skills in Northleach (where my next day workshop is on Friday 28 April 2017). Check their respective websites for dates, availability and booking. If you send me an email and I will add you to my mailing list and I’ll let you know new course dates.

Cotswold AONB Sheep and Wool Day 2016

Demonstration of weaving on my folding floor loom.
Demonstration of weaving on my folding floor loom.

The Cotswold AONB’s 2nd Sheep and Wool Day took place at their Visitors Centre in Northleach on Bank Holiday Monday. I was invited, along with my folding floor loom, to demonstrate the craft of weaving.

Local groups and businesses supported the event, bringing spinning wheels, home grown wool yarn and of course some Cotswold Sheep. To showcase local wools, I warped my loom with Lleyn from Abbey Home Farm’s flock and wove with Cotswold from Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm

Always popular with children (and adults too), I brought a little loom so they could do some weaving which they could take home. The loom of choice for beginners, the rigid heddle and back-strap, was warped up ready to weave and many visitors had a go, amazing themselves at how good their weaving was!

I will be leading one of the Cotswold AONB’s 50th Anniversary Weekend Creative Courses in June, which will include weaving and natural dyeing.