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So the snow melted and I made a warp out of some of my recently dyed yarn.

But I didn’t have time to get it on the loom before heading into the Highlands, where I was taking part in a workshop in the village of Newtonmore.

It’s a lovely journey on the train, and even more so when one is feeling extra-thankful not to be driving.

There was plenty of snow on the hills, and still a bit on the ground in the village…

…and a whole lot more fell while we were there…

…which made the workshop all the more interesting, as our task was to record and interpret the sounds of the Scottish landscape for the Aural Textiles project. There was much crunching of feet on snow and quiet listening to the dripping of the thaw. We – ten of us in total, including seven textile artists and designers of different disciplines – spread out to gather and record our sounds, and then reconvened in the village hall where we learned to filter out noise and visualise our recordings as spectrograms.

I’ll be working on this project through the spring and summer, so there will be more updates to come – here and on the Aural Textiles website. You can also follow @auraltextiles on instagram (check out the picture of our name badges…)

And now I really need to get that loom warped!

Newtonmore” was posted by Cally on 11 March 2018 at

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Snow days

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We are very lucky in the Booker household that very little of what we do is actually necessary for the world to keep turning. So when the snow piles up, we can stay indoors and nobody will miss us.

My one essential commitment in the last few days was to deliver an online class for the OU on Wednesday night and, being online, it was unaffected by the first stirrings of the #beastfromtheeast. Since then I have mainly spent my time dyeing yarn, dealing with admin and eating carbohydrates.

I have now used up pretty much all the dyestuffs in the house – down to rinsing out ten-year-old plastic bags – but I have a pleasing rainbow of yarn to show for it.

The only results I am not entirely happy with are a couple of BFL/silk skeins (not included above) which I dyed in henna with tannins and citric acid. This worked well last time I did it, but on this occasion the yarn turned out blotchy – almost certainly due to impatience on my part – so I shall overdye it later.

Something I find slightly unnerving about these BFL blends is that the wool component is superwash. I am used to being ever so careful with the merino/silk and still having to tease it apart a little when dry, so overdyeing it is not my favourite thing. But the BFL looks as fresh as ever, so I shall barge ahead.

Outside it is a little warmer but still snowing. The snow is tending to drift from east to west and we have almost lost the compost bin at the west end of the garden.

That red you can see through the hedge is the safety barrier around our hole-in-the-road. Scottish Water dug it up (again) about ten days ago, so now there is a hole full of snow. Fortunately, we still seem to have mains water.

My current task is winding all those skeins into balls, which is why I am blogging instead!

Snow days” was posted by Cally on 3 March 2018 at

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I am not good at multi-tasking. When working on a project my default setting is immersed-to-the-point-of-obliviousness, so I am quite challenged by the number of jobs I do. Even in my least busy moments I am juggling three of them: weaving, the teaching of weaving and OU teaching.

But of course each of those categories covers multiple strands of activity, and – while I do try to manage the total number of strands I am working with at any one time – at any moment the Unexpected may land in their midst. For example, the downtime between OU courses seemed like the perfect time to make my submission for fellowship of the Higher Education Academy… and then the opportunity arose to move studio, and it was suddenly all about ladders while I tried to martial my reflections on the process of tutorial delivery online. Switching my attention from one strand to another feels like dragging myself up off the ocean floor. But the studio was moved, the HEA fellowshipped and the illusion of flexibility is maintained for another wee spell.

At the moment I am trying to organise the process of creating work for summer exhibitions around the immovables in the calendar, such as periods of assignment-marking, so I am picking off the preparation in small doses while continuing to work on Arctic Sea Ice-inspired pieces.

There has been mordanting, there has been dyeing.

A couple of days ago, there was logwood.

Today there is weld. All the yarn for the Jazz collection will be naturally dyed. Or naturally undyed, in some cases.

The bright yellow dyepot makes a lovely contrast with the snow outside! But while there are freezing temperatures across Europe, the Arctic is exceptionally warm this winter. I’m glad I have started work on this series.

The latest piece currently looks like this.

There is not much warp left, so this may in fact be the last piece for now.

And all the while new and developing weavers have been sampling, designing, warping and more. In April I am going down to Cumbria to share my workshop on exploring Goethe’s colour triangle, so yesterday I made up the warps I will send down in advance. The saturated colours of Venne’s organic cotton are almost too much for my phone’s camera.

And now I am going to put on my furry boots and go out for a snowy walk before lunch. Got to make the most of a snow day, whatever else needs doing!

Multi-stranding” was posted by Cally on 28 Feb 2018 at

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Designer Crafts

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My Jazz collection has an exciting summer ahead. First on the calendar is Designer Crafts: The Hand of the Maker. This is the curated show of the Society of Designer Craftsmen which will be held in London in July.


I need to get busy dyeing and weaving!

Designer Crafts” was posted by Cally on 19 February 2018 at

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There haven’t been any posts for a while as I am pretty confident you don’t want to see the admin mountain I have been working through.

February always brings the start of a new term in my OU teaching life and this year I have an unusually large workload, with the added bonus of a new system for our online classes. Because we all love having to learn a new system and adapt all our teaching materials to work with it, don’t we? Anyway, while that process rumbles along, there has nonetheless been enjoyment in getting to know my new students and in a few other things I thought I would mention here.

If you haven’t seen A Stitch in Time on BBC4, catch it on iPlayer while you can! It is one of the best programmes I have seen in a long time. Our fearless heroines work to recreate garments from the past as seen in portraits of the wearers, with lots of insight into materials, techniques and social history.

And speaking of sewing, I have been seriously enjoying the fact that my new sewing machine (thanks, mum!) threads its own needles. I mean, really. How long has that been a thing? The last new-as-in-brand-new sewing machine I had is now more than 30 years old, and even the new-to-me machines I subsequently added must be well into their teens, so I guess I missed a few developments.

Then last weekend I treated myself to a day of willow weaving at Off the Rails Arthouse, where we made fruit bowls.

Alas we only had three apples left in the house when I put my fruit bowl into action, but at least you get a clear view of the weave. I had intended to take more pictures of it to share with you here, but then I dropped my phone and smashed it: one of life’s less enjoyable moments and the cue for yet another item on the tedious-but-necessary to-do list.

In other news, plans are taking shape for exhibitions and activities later in the year which I look forward to sharing soon!

Enjoying” was posted by Cally on 11 Feb 2018 at

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