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 https://callybooker.co.uk

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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 https://callybooker.co.uk

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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 https://callybooker.co.uk

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I have been well and truly stretched by the last few months. Behind the scenes there has been much activity and anxiety – sometimes more of one, sometimes more of the other – and 90% of it has been outside my comfort zone. Indeed, I have frequently been in an entirely different planetary system from my comfort zone of studio practice back here on earth. The mission that has taken us on this journey has been the complete redesign of my Bonny Claith brand, which is the label I use for my handwoven scarves, cowls and other functional textiles.

‘Brand’ is not the easiest word to love in the era of social media, so it was a stretch for me even to start. But it comes down to a very simple idea. Having spent the last couple of years doing all the thinking about what I wanted to make and why I wanted to make it that way, I needed to express these thoughts clearly in the way I present the finished pieces. That includes the way I present them physically, when I am at an event or they are displayed in a shop, and the way I present them online, on my website and – of course – on social media.

I’ve had a lot of help with this. I’ve taken workshops with the Design Trust and Craft Scotland. I have hired intelligent creative women with amazing skills. And I am really delighted with the results. Among other things I have a brand new Bonny Claith logo which is the partner to my Cally Booker logo. I have a portfolio of gorgeous photos of my work being worn by the most elegant model imaginable. I have new swing tags printed on card made from recycled cotton and new sew-on labels made from cork. There are one or two things still in the pipeline, but my refreshed website is now launched and I will be taking my new look to CLOTH#19 in August. By the end of September I plan to re-open my little online shop.


Huge thanks are due to wylliecat design for the logo; Anneleen Lindsay Photography for the model photography and styling; Naomi Baxter for make-up artistry and Shayne Brodie for modelling.

The gallery above includes a couple of close-up-to-the-textiles photos which were taken by Stuart, to whom thanks are due for that and for All the Other Things.

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