In full swing

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The Dundee Design Festival opened on Wednesday night, and we have hardly paused for breath since. There was a great opening night party and then yesterday afternoon I was leading the drop-in weaving workshop, so there was much running around all day: from an early start dropping off looms at the venue, through a crazy spell of everyone ‘dropping in’ at the same time, to an exhausted piling of looms back into the car – to drive them 300 yards along the road back to the studio. (I need a loom-barrow, don’t you think?) I was very lucky that my friend Kate was on hand to help, especially from 1 – 2 when it was going like a fair, because I could not have multi-tasked any faster!

I must go back to the studio and tidy up the debris this afternoon as we are opening tomorrow from 12 – 4 pm, but I’ve spent the morning catching up on email. No, ‘catching up’ is misleading, because I will never catch up. But I have answered a few, sent a few (sorry, people) and that will have to be enough for now.

And I would like to go back to the festival and look at a few more exhibits! The space is great. I’d say it was transformed from the empty industrial shed we visited a few weeks ago, and in a way it is; but it is also still very recognisably an industrial shed and that is a big part of its appeal. It’s been fitted out by Old School Fabrications, and everyone’s favourite part is the way they have used the shape of the roofline in the design of the exhibit stands.

DDF Gallery 1

The stand you see on your right as you enter is all textiles, including my own Firth of Tay alongside pieces from fashion designers Hayley Scanlan and KerrieALDO. And you may just be able to see the bottom of a brightly coloured illustrated panel – part of a series by another Meadow Mill designer, Louise Kirby, which was specially commissioned for the festival.

There’s a very illustrious line-up in the gallery, and I am highly amused to find myself heading the list. Thanks must go to my parents for choosing such an excellent first initial.

DDF Gallery sign

And here’s the Firth of Tay herself, getting a rare opportunity to bask in some sunshine.

DDF Firth of Tay

DDF Firth of Tay sign

The workshop space was also excellent: simple and spacious.

DDF workshop

Behind the partition are three large tables. We had one for samples and yarns, one for looms and one for wet finishing. It was too busy for me to take any pictures, but we were well documented by others so if I spy any images on social media I will share them. You can see that the festival colours also appeared in the window films, and I was really pleased that everyone immediately recognised our woven tie-in – the colours must have been a pretty good match.

Update: I knew there’d be photos!

DDF samples

In full swing” was posted by Cally on 27 May 2016 at

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Workshop Round-up

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I’ve reached that point in my crazy May schedule where I have deadlines for different activities just about every day and it all seems quite random and unconnected. In the last seven days I have prepared two maths classes and taught one (the other is tonight); set up and hosted a taster workshop in the studio; re-warped one table loom to design the activities for another workshop next week; marked a large batch of assignments and returned them to the students (in spite of the university’s systems being out for a day); delivered my work to the Design Festival venue and checked out the workshop space there; delivered and set up the Magic Dobby in the atelier at the Old Flour Mill; attended the opening of said atelier – which is looking fantastic, I must say; but aside from the workshop prep, I can’t say that I have done any actual weaving.

So here’s a quick round-up of what other people have been – or will be – weaving.

At the taster day on Saturday, we had all kinds of experimentation with twill patterns, clasped weft, chunky yarns: you name it.

May 2016 Taster 2

May 2016 Taster

May 2016 taster 3

May 2016 taster 4

The Deisgn Festival workshop will be a drop-in, so the activity needs to be quick and easy. Any complexity needs to be included in the threading to keep the liftplan super simple. I decided to riff on the wool mug rugs I’ve used before, but this time incorporate the Festival’s branding. The posters were designed by Sooper Double D, a Dundee-based artist, and one of the elements he has included is a reference to the city’s textile heritage: little pictograms of weave structures.

So I checked with him if it would be OK to use his colour scheme for the workshop and started experimenting. I’ve got more or less the right colours in lambswool, although I am blowed if I can get them to come out accurately on screen.

DDF blue, white, pink

DDF blue and white

Oops. I have the warp heading N-S in the top photo and E-W in the second. Oh well. This warp is dark teal and silver grey. I will set up the next in pink and silver. I have also got some jute yarn to try as weft, and some hemp in case that is too tricky to handle.

On Saturday I will be at the Tea Green atelier in person, weaving on the Magic Dobby: do call in and say hello if you’re in Dundee. And if you are not on Facebook you won’t have seen this album of photos from the Make/Share last Wednesday. What are those faces I’m pulling?

Workshop Round-Up” was posted by Cally on 19 May 2016 at

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It’s launch night tonight for the Tea Green Concept Atelier. The indefatigable Jo MacFadyen has been working like a trooper all week to get the pop-up shop installed in the Old Flour Mill in Dundee – I glimpsed the transformation yesterday when I dropped off the Magic Dobby – and it is looking seriously good. Anyway, before I get my party shoes on, I thought I’d share how the new scarves turned out.

These are woven in single cloth, a mix of huck and echo, all in hand-dyed merino/silk. They are a new part of my Waterfront collection and I am calling them Coastline. They were supposed to have a proper photo shoot, but that will have to wait. I snapped a few of them hanging up by the window as I was pressing and packing.

Do click on them: the colours are much more accurate in the pop-up view. No idea why!

Coastline” was posted by Cally on 13 May 2016 at

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Loom bodging

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The Magic Dobby is due for a couple of outings this week. It is well designed for outings, since the loom and stand are each quite portable. 

However, the Magic Dobby also has another excellent feature: several possible locations for warp and cloth beams. In common with many table looms, the default positions for the beams are quite cramped, making it tricky to put on a warp of more than a few metres. Alternative slots on the stand rather than on the loom itself give you much more space. (There’s quite a good image of the extra slots on the cover of the instruction manual.)

When I recently dressed the MD for the first time, I used the beams just as they were provided to me: installed on the stand. The part of my brain that knew I’d done this was working entirely separately from the part of my brain that then planned to take the loom on the road… Because, of course, if the warp and cloth are attached to the stand, the loom is not going to be quite so readily detached from it. 


This particular penny finally dropped yesterday, while I was packing up my work for Tea Green. So I dragged S down to the studio for an improvised loom bodge.

Fortunately, yet another independent part of my brain was planning to use these various slots to hold more than one warp beam, so I had already purchased a second one but not yet installed it. Three beams are an excellent number for bodging with. We were able to install the new warp beam in the conventional location, then crank the warp forward, clamp the end between two lease sticks (just to be on the safe side) and gently transfer it to the new beam. Once it was wound on again, we could turn the old warp beam into the new cloth beam and make the transfer at the other end. And I still have one spare beam on the stand.

I should really have taken pictures, but got a bit too absorbed in the process. There weren’t too many Moments of Jeopardy – moments when dropping it all on the floor really would be fatal – and with four hands to do the work we got it done in about 45 mins.

And then spotted my mistake. I’d passed the cords for the front apron rod right under the loom instead of threading them through the gap between the breast beam and the cross piece. I did take a picture of that, although it is not at all clear:


We contemplated this for a while, as you do. Then decided the simplest option was to unscrew the cross piece and reattach it below the cords. The path of least jeopardy.

So now ’tis done. Bodged and ready to hit the road. 

Oh, and I did take a few pictures of the work I was packing up, but the camera battery went flat and is currently charging.

Loom bodging” was posted by Cally on 9 May 2016 at

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3 Shades of Grey

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new work in grey

Dark and light in the warp with a mid-grey weft. In my scant weaving time this week I have been prototyping something new. It cheered me up a bit when I was feeling quite glum: a good opportunity recently presented itself, but I couldn’t make enough time even to try for it.

new grey from the side

The mid-grey is my favourite yarn of this range. It fulls more readily than any of the other colours and really makes a gorgeous soft finish.

There’s a change to the venue for the Make/Share next week, and – even better – it now includes free beer. I have updated this post with the details.

3 Shades of Grey” was posted by Cally on 6 May 2016 at

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