Gracious Preservations

Gracious Preservations is the name I have given to this garment.

The garment

The back panel, front panels and the neck facing are handwoven in silk and organic cotton, while the side pieces and neckband are a lightweight organic Tencel I purchased from Bawn Textiles. I used the Tibetan panel coat pattern from Folkwear, adapting it somewhat to eke out the small quantity of fabric I had woven – because when I wove it, I had a different garment pattern in mind – but isn’t that the way things go?

The fabric

The fabric itself is a close relation of this project – yes, it is the same warp and weft, and the weave is also based on sound recordings of handwashing during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I used that underlying structure more loosely this time, allowing myself to intervene in the design and introduce marks of my own.

The name

The phrase Gracious Preservations comes from a description of a journey taken in Ladakh in 1885 and recorded by my great great grandfather. He wrote, “Passing through rivers, or over them, on swaying bridges made of twigs; crossing glaciers, with dangerous ice hanging from steep, rocky precipices, where one truly carried one’s life in one’s hands; traversing partly snowed-up passes 14,000, 16,000, 17,000 and 18,000 feet in height. There were so many gracious preservations from danger that the recollections of this journey are truly a page of memory which my dear wife would not, on any account, be deprived of.”

The person

The fabric and the coat, then, are a reflection on the life of my great great grandmother, Adelheit Schubert, which seems a very extraordinary one from a distance of 150 years and several thousand miles.

In brief, she travelled from Germany to India in 1876 to marry her sister’s widowed husband and work with him at the Moravian missions along the Indo-Tibetan border. And I must admit I find every part of that sentence is quite startling, before we ever get near the snowed-up passes.

I only know the barest outline of Adelheit’s life, but I find it striking how profoundly its course was affected by disease. Her older sister had died of a fever, possibly typhoid, in the spring of 1876, which was the catalyst for her journey and her marriage. And in 1891 her husband died of typhus. Adelheit herself, though she became very sick, was again graciously preserved. However, her life in Ladakh was now over and she returned to Europe at the end of that year.

Gracious Preservations” was posted by Cally on 22 May at

Personal Approaches to Design

I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hold the new Complex Weavers book in my hands. Having been present at the moment when the first spark of the idea was seen, I’m acutely aware of how much effort from how many people it has taken to nurture that spark into the beautiful finished volume. The book celebrates the 40th anniversary of Complex Weavers and commemorates the life of Wanda Shelp, who served the organisation in many capacities over many years. It is a wonderful accomplishment by the editor, Laurie Autio, and her team.

Photo shows the front cover of the book, its title "Eight Shafts: Beyond the Beginning" and subtitle "Personal Approaches to Design". Edited by Laurie Knapp Autio, and the Complex Weavers logo.

The book’s subtitle Personal Approaches to Design is a theme which resonates strongly with me, and if you are interested in the many different ways weavers turn their ideas into cloth then I think you will love it. I’m honoured to have a piece of my own work included here: an over-sized scarf in double huck called Through the Looking Glass.

Eight shafts: Beyond the Beginning is available to order from the Complex Weavers Marketplace. In the UK, however, it may be more affordable to purchase from The Handweavers Studio, because the postage costs from the US are substantial. And at the time of writing, I see they have just re-stocked!

Personal Approaches to Design was posted by Cally on 25 August 2022 at

Postcard from Sutherland

Scotland is blessed with an exceptional quantity of coast for its size, which is perfect for those of us who love edges.

My home stretch of coastline is along the Firth of Tay, but I love to visit all the other edges too, especially those further north. One of my favourite areas to visit is Sutherland, in the farthest north-west corner of Scotland. The pandemic has kept us away for a few years, but that meant it was all the more of a treat to head back there in July. I feel as though I have only partly returned home…

Working with sound as a design inspiration has been an ongoing interest for me since I first joined the Aural Textiles project in 2018, and watery sounds are right at the top of my list. I took a lot of photos on our trip, but also captured just as many sound snippets. My phone calls them ‘voice memos’ though in truth they are mostly ‘wave memos’. I am looking forward to exploring these creatively over the coming months, and in the meantime I have discovered that Descript (the program I use to transcribe and caption my teaching videos) offers a little visualisation tool – perfect for sending you an audio postcard from Sutherland.

The idea of using sound as a design source can seem a bit strange. It’s appealing in principle, but how exactly do you make it work as a weaving? Of course there is no single answer to that question, but a whole host of possible answers depending on the way you like to approach the loom.

I’ve been sorting out my ideas on this in order to develop a brand new online workshop, which is quite exciting. It is an opportunity to bring together several different strands of design thinking, and to see how they complement and support each other. My thanks go to the Weavers’ Guild of Boston for setting me this challenge! I’m looking forward to leading the workshop in November, and to learning what sounds they find inspiring.

Postcard from Sutherland was posted by Cally on 19 August 2022 at

Creative Entrepreneurship Showcase

I know you know I’m a weaver, but did you know I am also a creative entrepreneur? (It is not as easy to say or to spell, so I don’t think I’ll be changing my logo any time soon.)

Last spring I was part of the Creative Entrepreneurship class at RGU, but we weren’t able to have a class show due to the rules in place at the time. Now we can, and our exhibition in Aberdeen is open weekends until the end of May.

The preview night was a lot of fun and quite strange at the same time. It was the largest indoor crowd I have kept company with since early 2020, and a lot of my classmates turned out to be either taller or shorter than I had expected. I also had the same experience with their work. Is it rude to say to someone that their paintings are larger than you had thought? I hope not 😬

New course for Scottish makers

If you are a Scottish craft maker who is setting up a new craft business or re-thinking the direction of your existing business, then this course has been designed for you. It’s free, it takes place online over 10 weeks starting from the end of January, and the deadline for applying is Monday 10 January.

Full disclosure: I’m part of the teaching team, and will be leading a module on project management. It would be great to see you there!

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