Miles and milestones

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There have been many since I last posted.

My trusty companion and I have flown to Chicago…

out to USA

…and back again.

back from USA

We took the train from Chicago to San Francisco,

train at Emeryville

crossing the Mississippi…


…and accompanying the Colorado.


In Illinois there were Seminars. Complex Weavers Seminars, which are unlike anyone else’s Seminars. I guess all the Seminars were brilliant, or I was exceptionally lucky, because all six sessions which I attended were excellent. Weavers are doing the most amazing things! Sara Nordling and her double woven pleats, Alice Schlein’s lampas explorations, Dianne Totten’s crimp cloth, Sally Eyring creating 3D cloth on her superbly hacked Magic Dobby loom… I was inspired.

And I got The Pin.

CW selfie

The Pin signifies that I once was, but no longer am, the president of Complex Weavers. At Seminars I should have handed on the CW tiara to my friend and successor, Kathi Spangler. Sadly, just a matter of days before Seminars took place, Kathi found she was too ill to travel. Everything happened very quickly and her condition deteriorated until she passed away on Tuesday this week. The last words she wrote to me were “I really did want to give you that pin!” And I wanted to give you the tiara, Kathi! Fellow weaver Brenda has written a lovely tribute to Kathi here.

The weavers come and go, but the weaving continues. Once again, a valiant 1st VP has stepped into the breach, and the amazing Lynn Smetko – excellent weaver and fantastically capable human being – now carries the CW torch. Lynn presented me with the pin, and I am looking forward to heckling her supporting her from the back benches.

Finally, this is Macavity, a rather shy resident of Walnut Creek, CA. My dad’s old cat, Tiger, died last year and Macavity is the newest family feline.


Our own cats were so excited to see us home again, they could hardly contain themselves.

cat collection

Miles and milestones” was posted by Cally on 30 June 2016 at

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I spent the first 24 hours of this weekend with one of my tribes. It was the annual gathering of OU maths tutors in Scotland, and it is that specific intersection of attributes – the organisation (OU), the subject (maths), the role (tutors, or ALs, as we are officially) and the location (Scotland) – that makes this group My Tribe. Between us we teach a wide variety of courses, but we all have common experiences, pleasures and frustrations and for the rest of the year we mainly work alone. This is our opportunity to remind ourselves that there are Others Like Us, and it’s great. I reconnected with old friends and met others I had only known through email or not at all. Sounds like weaving, doesn’t it?

And, yes, I’ve been preparing to join one of my other tribes next week. We are trying out a poster session at Complex Weavers Seminars, so I thought I’d contribute a poster on my double huck experiments. I got it printed at Dundee Uni, and discovered – to my great excitement – that they could print it on cloth rather than paper. The intention is to make it easier to put in one’s luggage (just fold it up with the t-shirts), but could there be anything better for a weaving poster?


Tribes” was posted by Cally on 11 June 2016 at

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Fun as it was, my public self was just about worn out by all the festival shenanigans. This week, by way of a contrast, we have exam marking.

I was actually quite glad of it on Monday, but that feeling didn’t last too long! Still, I am enjoying the quiet of working at home. The weather is fine, the old rose by the window is in tumultuous bloom and I can hear blackbirds.

Once the marking is done I need a bit of planning and thinking time. As soon as I get back from Complex Weavers there will be workshops to prepare and teach, exhibits to plan for, new ideas to pursue.

One exciting thing that has happened in the last few months is that I have been accepted for membership of the Society of Designer Craftsmen. I was just in time to sneak my work into the pop-up shop within their summer exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London, so that is something I’m looking forward to.

And behind the scenes I’ve been streamlining my website a bit too, to sit more comfortably with the way my practice is evolving, but there is a lot I have been neglecting.

Here’s a picture of some warp chains. I wound them for a workshop a few weeks ago. Each was destined for a different loom, but I do like the combination.

warp colours

Quiet” was posted by Cally on 2 June 2016 at

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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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