Gather Wool based in Somerset, UK have recently launched their first range of British Wool textiles for the home. I created four designs for them, all using the two natural colours of the breed without the need for dyed colour.
We collaborated on the first project of this newly established business, which was to use the wool from their own Pedigree Ryeland sheep to produce premium blankets with provenance.
To be able to process their wool cost effectively in bigger batches, they offered to purchase wool of the same breed and quality from other local farms. The wool was processed into yarn by an Artisan Spinning Mill in Cornwall, then handed to me to develop designs for blankets using extensive hand-woven sampling.
Two Yorkshire mills were commissioned to weave the fabric to my specifications in the quantity required for each design, then complete the transition from woven cloth to blankets by specialist ‘finishing’.
The Gather Wool blankets are available directly via their website and through their carefully chosen outlets.
As a member of Southwest England Fibreshed I have collaborated with the curation team at New Brewery Arts in Cirencester, on their Exhibition to show the circular journey of locally produced natural fibres – from regeneratively farmed sheep’s wool to woven cloth (in my case) via sustainable plant dyes. I’ve provided a weaving loom, a spinning wheel and woven samples to help illustrate the story.
I returned to West Dean College nr Chichester, last week to teach a 2 day course ‘Weaving on a Body-tensioned Loom’. The 8 students wove on two prepared warps- the first all white wool to master the basic techniques and the second Black Welsh Mountain and White Ryeland wools to start their experimentations with pattern and colour. For their third warp, students chose yarns and colours then wound their own warps and threaded their looms. The diverse outcomes from these beginner weavers was amazing – some wove in just one yarn and colour, others incorporated material they had brought with them.
I have been invited by the organisers of Stitchfest Southwest to run weaving taster workshops at FibreQuest, a new venture for 2022. Fernhill Farm in the Mendip Hills has a well established Blade Shearing Farm Open Day, which has been expanded to include other fibre related exhibitors and workshops co-ordinated by Stitchfest, for whom I’ve taught before.
I have managed to squeeze in 4 sessions of 1 hour 15mins during Saturday, with space for 4 participants in each. Using a Body-tensioned loom, setup ready to go with local rare-breed Ryeland wool, you will have an hour to weave a sampler in un-dyed coloured wools and natural dyed yarns. What you weave is yours to take home.
Click here for link to FibreQuest for information and to book a workshop.
My studio is situated in the countryside a few miles from Cirencester, so lots of outside shots were taken too; this image is showing the Yoga Meditation rugs I have been weaving during the past year. During lockdown I had no income from teaching so these were created to generate an income. They were (and still are) available to purchase or to commission a bespoke pattern/colourway.
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.
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 demonstrating hand-weaving on a floor loom, using British Wool, at the Cotswolds Living Landscape Festival on Sunday 18th September. This event has been organised by Cotswolds AONB in conjunction with The National Trust and is held at NT Lodge Park, running from 10.30 to 4pm.