We’ve been talking about putting together a fabric archive for quite a while. OK, ten years! So this winter we finally sorted through our miscellaneous collection of swatches and put them in a couple of books. Leafing through them all was a bit like looking through old photographs, with the added dimension of touch and texture.
We got a few new ideas from looking through our woolly past. We’ve also been reminiscing about the many stories behind our weaves. They might be linked to the landscape, or something personal, or sometimes a technical challenge we set ourselves. So for this blog we thought we’d pick out a few of our favourites from a decade of design.
This throw has a rather personal story. It’s based on an old blanket that once belonged to Roger’s father, Hyla. He’d kept it since his schooldays in the 1930s and Roger found it gathering dust in a cupboard. We loved the pattern so set about working out how to re-create it.
When we installed our new loom in 2017 we decided to weave this throw on it first. It felt a a very fitting inauguration.
The history of the Macleods on Skye goes back nearly eight centuries. Just a few miles away from us is the clan seat, Dunvegan Castle, Scotland’s oldest continually inhabited castle. When we heard about a Macleod clan gathering there in 2014 we thought it was a good time to weave our version of the traditional MacLeod Dress Tartan. We really like the pattern, but decided to weave a muted, or ‘misty’, version of the original bright yellow, red and black tartan.
Of course the name is also a reference to Skye’s ‘Misty Isle’ moniker – and the cloudy conditions that are not uncommon on our nearby hills, the Macleod’s Tables.
Further up Loch Dunvegan, beyond the castle, is another local landmark: the Coral Beaches. From a distance the stunning white ‘sands’ look almost tropical. But get up close and you see that the beaches are actually made up of tiny pieces of coral-like material in different colours. It’s not in fact coral but a type of dried and bleached algae, known as maerl.
In this weave we wanted to recreated the multitude of colours found in the ‘coral’ sands. We originally used the design for baby blankets. We’re thinking of weaving it again this year, so watch this space …
A love of lichen
If you’re familiar with our textile designs and inspiration it will come as no surprise that we wanted to include a bit more lichen in here! One of my favourites is the vibrant yellow of Xanthoria parietina, which we find growing on rocks around our shores and on the hills. We had yarn specially dyed to match the colour. We love using this with natural grey Skye Wool which sets the yellow off beautifully.
Another favourite is a design we called Asymmetric Lichen Throws. These were inspired by ochre coloured lichens in the Cuillin hills.
And if you love lichens too, have a look at our Learning about Lichens blog.
These next throws were a first for us in many ways. Not only were they our first Skye Wool throws but they were also the first complex weave we created on the new loom.
The design made good use of the new loom’s eight frames – we couldn’t have created it on our original loom – and comprised a wavy pattern within a check.
Bauhaus to Brodgar
It’s hard to stop when picking favourites as there have been so many over the years! But we’ll sign off with just two more particular highlights.
The year 2019 marked the centenary of the Bauhaus and it was great to see the work of the textiles workshop highlighted in several events and exhibitions. We had great fun playing around with geometric patterns and textures to create our own Bauhaus inspired designs. You can read about them in our blog.
A couple of years later we travelled a lot further back in time for our Brodgar scarves. These were inspired by a Neolithic stone from Orkney. The incised zigzags might be ancient but their geometric patterns don’t seem a million miles away from the Bauhaus several thousand years later. You can read about the design genesis in another blog.
It’s been great fun looking back over past designs and very satisfying to start building an archive. But we’re never short of inspiration so looking forward to the next decade and beyond!