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.
Pound Arts, Corsham, Wiltshire. From 15 April 2022 to 28 May 2022.
“An exhibtion exploring multi-sensory rhythms of making and composing art through diverse media including, light, sound, ceramics, drawing, typography and woven textiles”
Featuring a diverse range of my woven work including a room screen with woven paper panel, also works from five other participant artist/makers.
i will be teaching a 4 hour Weaving workshop on 7th May as part of this event (info under Tuition tab). Also a ”Live Art Event” will be taking place on Friday 20th May, featuring “experimental live art and music collaboration”
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.
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.
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.
Just after Christmas, Cotswolds based photographer Chris Boulton visited my weave studio in Calmsden near Cirencester, to capture images of me and my working environment for his ongoing project titled ECHO OF OUR FATHERS. He intends to produce a book and stage an exhibition of the images he has created; portraits of artisans whose practice embraces heritage craft skills. These beautiful atmospheric images are now on his website, please follow this link
I travelled up to Bradford with friend and fellow Bath Spa University Alumni, Rosie Smith, for the Bradford Textile Society Design Awards on 6th May. Entering the annual competition for the first time as Independent Designers, we both received a Commendation for our woven designs in British Wool.
In my designs I used wool from different sheep breeds in a range of thicknesses to weave fabric for ‘throws’ in two weights. The colours developed from working with a variety of natural yellow, red and grey dyes which I extracted from plant (or other) substances, layering one over another.
The samples were woven in my studio, by hand (and feet!) on my restored old wooden floor loom.
The four short-listed designers were all invited to the award ceremony not knowing who the actual winner would be. In the end, the winner was Wendy Kotenko from Cornwall and I was runner up!
It was a lovely event and many of the people I spoke to showed their appreciation for my design and how much they liked it.
The Bristol Cloth Award evening and Textile Mingle was hosted by Bristol Textile Quarter, with representatives from various collaborators including Botanical Inks, Dash and Miller and the newly established Bristol Weaving Mill. It was held at the Bristol harbour side ‘Lab Space’, as part of the events marking Bristol as European Green Capital 2015.