Now that I’ve let that First Bee out of my bonnet it is a lot quieter in there and I can concentrate on telling you about some of the lovely things which people round here are making – people whose wares I was able to enjoy at Petite Noel. For a complete list of participants, the best place to go would probably be the event page on Facebook — though if you are not on FB that might be a challenge. Anyway, here are a few highlights.
Stuart would almost certainly prefer one of Nikki’s cushions, because they look like Tunnock’s tea cakes. Strictly speaking, he is a caramel wafer man, but that would require more of a bolster-type design. (Apologies to readers outside Scotland: these confections are a national obsession.)
A suitable motto for the studio would be the “Less Talk More Make” print by illustrator Jen Collins of hellojenuine. A more general purpose motto would be her alternative “When in doubt, bake a cake” but — unsurprisingly — that seems to be out of stock.
And finally… another Jen, aka RandomlyGenerated, paints little peg people. But these are not just any little peg people, they are the entire set of doctors from Dr Who. There are Dr Who sidekicks as well, of whom my favourite has to be River Song — just look at that hair. Peg dolls have moved on a bit since I made my nativity set in junior school.
I’ve had a host of bloggy bees buzzing in my bonnet for the last wee while, but no time to stop and set them free as I have been too busy hemming mug rugs. Now, thanks in large part to Petite Noel, the mug rugs have almost all departed for their new homes, so I can sit down and write a post or two. (Not that I wasn’t sitting down to do the hemming, you understand.)
First Bee, then, is the title of this post: questions of identity.
Buzz part 1
When I first started my blog I didn’t know what to call it. My main concern was that I didn’t want to come up with a name that would sound brilliant when I first thought of it and then cringeworthy forever after. As my most overused phrase is “well, it seemed like a good idea at the time”, this was not a negligible risk. So I settled for the plainest URL I could think of: my own name. I suppose there’s a chance I might eventually start cringeing at the sound of my name, but in that case I’ll have far more serious problems to worry about than blogging. As a bonus, I was able to give my blog any title that I wanted — independent of its address — and that worked just fine.
Buzz part 2
When it came to trying out an etsy shop, however, I decided it was time to get a bit braver. I didn’t want my etsy shop to be designated “callybooker” because I wanted to distinguish between myself, “the weaver”, and the products I make, “that which I weave”. The name I came up with — and haven’t started cringeing at yet — is Bonny Claith, which is simply Scots for “pretty cloth”. A bit of googling reassured me over two possible concerns: nobody else seemed to be using it, and it didn’t appear to be moonlighting as a euphemism for anything embarassing. I haven’t actually used it much except on my etsy shop — and to be honest I haven’t used my etsy shop much either!
Buzz part 3
More recently I had to decide what domain name to register for my website and that made me pause for a while — before I decided to get both names: callybooker.co.uk and bonnyclaith.co.uk. At the moment everything is built in the callybooker space, while the bonnyclaith name simply points to it. However, the intention is to maintain and develop that distinction between the weaver and the woven. If you want to know what I am up to, if you want to ask me anything, then you need Cally Booker. If you are primarily interested in buying something which I have woven, then you need Bonny Claith. In the first case, I suspect that you are also likely to be a weaver, while in the second case you are probably not a weaver — another reason for aiming to develop two distinct spaces.
Most recent buzzing
I can see potential for getting muddled; I can also see potential for developing each space on its own and in relationship to the other, and that is quite exciting. My first moment of muddle came when I set about ordering new business cards with the new web address on. Which new address should they carry? Well, it depends on the purpose of the cards. My business cards get an airing here and there, but mainly they come into their own when my work is on display somewhere, so it made sense to use the bonnyclaith address associated with the work. This led me to thinking a bit further about the cards’ function. If they accompany the work then perhaps they could be tailored to go with specific pieces of work?
Many of you have used moo cards, as I have, to feature lots of different photographs in a single set. I decided to try and manage this aspect of the moo production process to get a mix of business cards: some would be straightforward business cards with my contact details on one side and a photograph of my work on the other, while some would take it a step further and be purposely designed as swing tags. These would have the same contact details side, but the other side would be half photo/half “product details” — fibre composition, care instructions and so on. Planning them in this way reinforced their identity as bonnyclaith cards, which is what I now have.
Ooh, look. There’s one right there.
Next bit of buzz
The architecture of my site is evolving in my mind, but it seems to me that it is likely to be a place which has several different front doors. At some stage I would like to host my own online shop, for example, but there are all sorts of other possibilities percolating as well. In the meantime I am playing around with some of the formatting — you may occasionally notice changes (sometimes swiftly followed by changes-back-again) — and getting used to the powers suddenly bestowed upon me as webmaster.
Hey, more snow! We had quite a good weekend, with sufficient sunshine to cheer us up and even bring about a bit of thawing. This morning, however, it was heavily overcast and snowing again.
Grumpy bit follows – skip to ** to miss grump.
The cooncil are allegedly busy clearing roads, but they haven’t done any of the residential streets in our area and these are becoming decidedly scary. We are at the end of our (very short and steep) street, and the main road below us has been cleared – so at the bottom of our (very short and steep, note the “steep”) street is a wall of mushy snow. Want to know how many cars have been dug out of said snow over the weekend? I’m afraid you’ll have to ask someone else, ’cause we lost count.
End of grumpy bit **
But I have been consoling myself with those luxury fibres, as I mentioned earlier, and can now share some results. It is fun to try out different tie-ups for the parallel threadings and see what happens. Some combinations give very clear areas of each of the different warp yarns, like the one I had on the loom the other day. This had two adjacent 3/1 sections in the tie-up and this side of the scarf is decidedly warp-faced.
Whereas in this one I separated the 3/1 areas with some 2/2 and the result appears to me more blended (but note that the threading is different too, so it is not a direct comparison). I set up one half of the threading in Fibreworks, copied it, and then “dragged” the copy so that it is offset from the original – that is why the red silk areas on the left correspond to multi-coloured cashmere areas on the right.
I am currently weaving in Tencel, and am thinking of calling this one “Northern Lights”…
If this all seems a bit random — well, it is and it isn’t. I am trying to keep a balance between planning and improvising: planning enough to know that I have sufficient yarn for my threading, for instance, but improvising in the tie-up and treadling so that the results are varied and I can learn more about these structures. And don’t get bored. In the circumstances, this is an important consideration.
Well, there is an awful lot of snow. I know you are keen to see a bin update, so here is Wednesday (compare Sunday and Monday here):
It is pretty hard for me to get beyond the garden gate now. Stuart has cleared the path again today, but beyond our walls lies deep, deep snow and my ankle is not sufficiently stable for me to walk on it safely. This has been proven the old fashioned way, by trying it, falling down and then making a spectacle of myself failing to get up again. Fortunately, this was less painful than it was funny! Anyway, for the sake of health and safety, the latest bin picture was taken through the window, as was this one of the wee lattice opposite the gate which serves as a windbreak to protect some of the plants (very important in these parts).
Isn’t it lucky that weaving is an indoor activity? (Slightly less lucky that the radiator in the loom room is kaput, but we are praying that Mr Radiator Repairs will make it through the snow tomorrow.) I have been surprisingly productive at the loom, even with only one working leg. Being both forgetful (have I shown you this before?) and lazy (I can’t be bothered to check), I am going to show you the bag I made with the hemp and cottolin echo weave in pink and orange…
…which I think has turned out rather nicely. It is lined with plain calico (I do like a light coloured lining to a bag, otherwise I can never find anything) and has a wee pocket at the side. I am now making some more in different colours and with different drafts, so that I have a nice selection for Petite Noel. In each case the threading is planned, but the treadling is improvised at the loom. Here is some finished fabric in blue and turquoise…
…and here is one on the loom in green and yellow.
My big unresolved question is Button or No Button? I would quite like to put a button on the pocket, but it would have to be the Right Button. I would rather have no button at all than the Wrong Button. None of the buttons I have is telling me absolutely Yes, I am The One, although there are some contenders. This is the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night, you know.
Today I lined up my four serious scarves ready for a photoshoot and then discovered my camera battery was nearly flat. Unfortunately, it is the kind which you have to take out of the camera for recharging so I had to eat cake while I was waiting. By the time the cake was gone, so had the light… I really Must Do Better. Nevertheless, I did manage a few shots before the battery completely died, so these will have to do for now.
And here, for comparison, is the wrapping that started me off:
It is harder to see the patterns in a photo, but here is a slanty look at the blue (wave) and rust (brick)…
…and an even less effective shot of the red (square) and green (curved triangle thingy):
The green curved-triangle-thingy has already been much discussed, but I don’t think I have said anything about the red squares. At first I thought squares might be a bit boring, but then it seemed as though jazzing them up would be too fancy — these patterns were meant to be simple shapes to complement the colours, and the green had already got a bit out of hand. So what I ended up with was this pattern of smaller and larger squares, slightly offset to liven them up a bit:
I’ve used a bright blue weft in the drawdown just so that the pattern shows up. In fact, I am really pleased with the way all these patterns have turned out. On the loom they look quite dull, but once the lace has tightened up with washing, the whole scarf is transformed. This makes me happy.