Shift Canada Residency

I’ve seldom been so glad of the extra hour’s sleep, courtesy of the clock change, as I was last night. Yesterday I got home after a short but very intense residency at NSCAD in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was a whirlwind of mental, physical and social activity over ten days, and will take me a while to process.

Four makers travelled from Scotland to Canada, where we were paired with four Nova Scotian makers for a collaborative exchange. My partner is Andrea Tsang Jackson, a contemporary quilt artist, and we spent much of the week getting to know each other’s work and interests. The themes of the exchange are identity, sustainability and collaboration, so there is a lot to explore. We talked about our home cities and their changing landscapes; about our own backgrounds and sense of belonging; about materials and resources; about the role of textiles in shaping and expressing identity; and much, much more. It was exciting and energising and I am looking forward to seeing where we end up.

Our Scottish foursome were very warmly welcomed in Halifax. We hadn’t known each other before we travelled, but sharing a rented house together on Halifax Common soon took care of that. Applied Arts Scotland provided the funding which enabled us to travel; NSCAD provided us with studio space and materials; and our partners generously took us out and about in the city and the region – so we had nothing to wish for except more time!

Around Halifax

Studio time

Field Trip to Taproot Fibre Lab

The next few months will see us developing our collaborative work, with a return visit planned for the spring and an exhibition next summer. I’ll keep you posted…

Shift Canada Residency” was posted by Cally on 27 October 2019 at

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Weaver, Interrupted

September turned out to be a very odd month. We had more major ‘life events’ in a three-week period than we normally deal with in as many years, and only one was really intentional: building work right in the middle of our house. So while the builders got on with that, we bounced in and out of our own lives in a most disorienting way. But now all the Bookers, human and cat, are back at home and mighty glad to be so.

The chief logistical problem now is one of furniture. The layout of our home means that ‘the middle’ is very much at the centre of our living as well as the building. Every room is accessed through one large central space. To enable the builders to do their thing we had to empty this central space and move all our stuff to the margins. However, thanks to one of our other ‘events’, I am now minus my appendix (and plus a lot of stitches in my own central space), so I am barred from heavy lifting for a while and can’t move it back! My brother has been helping S to shift the heaviest and most in-the-way items, which makes a big difference. But there is a lot of work still to do which requires decision-making, and we haven’t had the mental capacity for that.

Meanwhile, I have also had to take a short break from weaving, which brings its own frustrations. I had woven roughly half a scarf warp and cut those pieces off the loom, but the second half of the warp still awaits me, with the first scarf half-woven. It feels as though ‘half-done’ is a strong theme just now…

As I have recovered my energy levels, though, there has been plenty to keep me entertained.

  • I’ve been working away on my Bonny Claith website, to get the online shop back up and running. Its launch won’t be quite as soon as I had hoped, but that is partly because I am going to be travelling in October for a new project I am very excited about! I didn’t want to open up the shop just to close it again straight away.
  • I’ve also been busy behind the scenes of the Complex Weavers website, putting up all the information about next year’s CW Seminars and getting a taste of the topics which will be presented there.
  • Those scarves I cut off needed finishing (and they still need labelling)
  • I’ve got a new ‘Weave’ banner for my studio underway on a table loom
  • There’s a new Weaving Space workshop coming up which needs some preparation, and I’ve re-started my series on double weave at Warp Space
  • A few braiding experiments snuck into the mix

There’s probably more I could add to that list, but I must say just seeing those few items make me feel that I am getting back on track. I’ve been enormously cheered this week to have a flying visit from fellow-Complex Weaver Amy Norris and friends. Online friendships are great, but it’s even better when you can get together in person! And there is lots more to look forward to as well: new projects, new events, new ideas.

Weaver, Interrupted” was posted by Cally on 4 October 2019 at

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Aural Textiles continues

Many exciting projects are afoot! And Phase Two of the Aural Textiles project is one of them. Last week the new, expanded team met for the second time. We gathered in Helmsdale, a small town in the far north – though it is not the very farthest north you can go in mainland Scotland – for a sunny weekend of discussion, skill-sharing and collaborative planning.

This time round we are working in pairs (or threes, or possibly even fours), with the basic principle that textile makers should collaborate with makers from other disciplines. I am working with Jen Stewart, the jeweller behind Nmarra Design. We were drawn to working together because our practices could hardly be more different. As I’ve learned, our temperaments are also different and complementary, with Jen bringing spades of optimism and drive to the project while I do the worrying for both of us!

Our vision for the project can be roughly summed up as ‘a suit of armour’, though we aren’t planning to clad a knight from head to toe. Not yet, anyway. The challenge of combining textile and brass elements into a coherent statement gives us both a great excuse reason to experiment with our techniques. Along with other participants, we have been documenting our discussions and experiments on the Aural Textiles blog, so do follow along if you are interested. Over the next six months we’ll continue developing our samples until we meet up with the rest of the team again at the end of March – hopefully, with prototypes in tow.

Aural Textiles continues” was posted by Cally on 13 September 2019 at

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This weekend – Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 August – I’m taking Bonny Claith to CLOTH, Edinburgh’s curated selling event for handmade textiles. We’ll be at Dovecot Studios, 10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh from 10am until 5pm both days, so if you are in the area I hope you will pop in and say hello. I’ll be bringing work from my new Flow collection, inspired by patterns found in water.

ETN 2019

We’re just home after a really enjoyable trip to Austria for the European Textile Network conference (and a bit of R & R).

We spent a week staying near Haslach so that I could attend the conference and we could both partake of the interesting ‘extras’, since S enjoys touring linen factories and textile exhibits almost as much as I do. One of the highlights was visiting a factory that weaves fire hoses on circular looms! And we also saw a family printing and dyeing business, which is well into its fourth generation and still using the same indigo vat. In fact the contents of the vat is ‘only’ 22 years old, since the original vessel sprang a leak and the current generation had to line it with stainless steel.

There is an annual Weavers’ Market in Haslach which was taking place just before the conference. The whole village is turned into a giant marketplace for fabric, garments, yarns etc, so there was much to admire. ETN hosted an exhibition called Garden of Eden in the ruins of Castle Neuhaus, which was an incredible venue. The team had done a wonderful job installing the textile exhibits in the different spaces and against the diverse crumbling surfaces. There are lots of photos on the ETN Facebook page.

ETN 2019” was posted by Cally on 12 August 2019 at

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