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

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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New Year’s reading

When I say ‘reading’ here, what I chiefly mean is ‘looking at pictures’ because my new books are full of them.

I had seen the new edition of Albers’ book, because I was lucky enough to receive a copy to review for the Journal for Weavers, Spinners & Dyers; but that will shortly head off to the Association Library and I didn’t want to let it go! So I put in a Christmas request which my mother kindly granted. The main text of the book is unchanged from previous editions, but it has been ‘expanded’ in two ways. One is the inclusion of some essays about Albers and her work, and the other is the explosion of colour plates. The quality of the images is eye-boggling. Never mind the textiles, I particularly love the reproductions of her hand-drawn drafts on squared paper.

Norma Smayda’s book on Ondulé Textiles was a gift from Pat, who has made a significant contribution to it. I knew the book was in progress, but didn’t know that it had progressed to completion, so that was a really nice surprise. It is also full of weaver-bait in the form of luscious photos of textiles and glamour shots of reeds in various stages of construction. It’s when I am turning a book through 180° to examine a photo of clamped metal strips that I wonder how I ended up here… Subcultures are brilliant, aren’t they? I love the fact that while I am looking closely at pictures of reeds, there are whole worlds out there of people getting excited by cricket ball design or the composition of compost. What would we be without our capacity for enthusiasm? And I haven’t even started on the text yet.

New Year’s reading” was posted by Cally on 11 Jan 2018 at

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Echoes of Freeform

It’s been a while since I posted about freeform techniques, but I haven’t forgotten about them. I had a chance to play around at the end of a couple of warps, and now I finally have a warp on the Megado which is dedicated to using freeform echo weave to interpret data about Arctic ice loss. Yes, there’s quite a lot in that sentence, but I won’t unpack it now. I just want to share some quick photos before 2017 makes its getaway.

The warp is a mix of cotton and silk yarns from my stash (along with a sparkly thing I found there as well).

I haven’t got two distinctly different layers, but I am using a parallel threading to get the greater warp density.

I have two different liftplans: one for ‘ice’ which is warp-faced and angular, and one for ‘water’ which is weft-faced and a little more curved. To keep things as simple as possible, I am weaving ‘water’ on the right and ‘ice’ on the left, so there is only one shed change per pick. The first pick goes from right to left, so the first two lags are pegged (1) water pick one (2) ice pick one. The second goes from left to right, so the next two lags are (3) ice pick two (4) water pick two. And so on. This minimises the amount of thinking I need to do about the actual lifts, so I can concentrate on the freeform element.

Nonetheless, when I started the weaving, on the Friday before Christmas, I made every kind of mistake and then some. I wove an inch. I unwove an inch. I wove two inches. I unwove an inch and a half. I wove the same inch three times and it still wasn’t right. And can I just mention that unweaving freeform is the stuff of weavers’ nightmares? I left the loom and went to a Christmas party instead.

After almost a week of cooking and feasting, I finally got back to it yesterday and wove the first few inches straight through, no mistakes. It is amazing what difference a holiday can make!

My intention is for this to be the start of a series. Always supposing I can finish the first one…

Echoes of Freeform” was posted by Cally on 30 Dec 2017 at

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