ABOUT ARRA TEXTILES
Where I Began
Arra Textiles is named after my great grandmother, Arra MacDonald who was born and brought up on Orkney and passed her love of textiles on to me.
My first collection was launched in 2016 at New Designers, One Year On with a small collection of bespoke throws and cowl scarves. For the first 18 months I worked from home before moving into a dedicated studio space on a nearby local estate in 2018.
Before launching Arra Textiles I studied textile design at Heriot Watt University for four years where I was chosen to take part in an Erasmus exchange to study at a university in Turku, Finland for a semester.
After graduating I worked for a range of different companies, from large corporate businesses to independent studios before deciding to find a loom and set up on my own!
I was delighted to be awarded first prize in "Best New Woven Fabric Or Textile" by the Incorporation Of Weavers Of Glasgow in May 2021! This is the first competition I've won (unless you count best marmalade two years running in the village show) and I'm so glad it was for my favorite Trade Winds design.
Inspiration and Colour
With inspiration drawn from ever changing seascapes, each limited edition piece is handmade, from initial design sketches through to hand finished products in my tiny studio. No matter how hard I try, blue seems to be a reoccurring theme!
I love to travel and always gravitate towards parts of the world by the sea, be it an archipelago in Finland, the southern coast of Australia or the beautiful coastlines we have here in Scotland.
My first collection, "Tides" was inspired by family holidays to Orkney. White sandy beaches with blue shallows one minute, then stormy indigo and grey the next.
The Weaving Process
Before starting a collection I build a theme using photographs of colours and textures I find in the natural world, along with coordinating yarn shades and structures. I design my woven patterns from scratch using traditional techniques combined with a modern floor loom to create contemporary and engaging designs.
Once I decide on yarn shades, quality and the pattern I begin to make the warp. Each warp is different from the last and is made up of hundreds of individual threads in a specific colour pattern. Each thread is wound onto a spool which is then wound by hand onto a beam at the back of the loom.
Once the beam is full, each warp end is threaded in a specific design pattern through a heddle (pictured to the left) then through a metal reed at the front of the loom. Once the warp ends are tied on in sections at the front of the loom, the weaving can begin!
My loom is a hybrid of traditional and modern technologies. A computer box controls the shafts with a foot pedal to lift them as they are so heavy! I use a traditional fly-shuttle system and manual beater to weave the cloth, and can weave around one metre every two hours depending on the design.
Once I have finished weaving the fabric, I cut it off the loom and take it home to hand wash and press. Each piece is hand sewn either by myself in the studio.
Setting the loom up can take up to 60 hours, depending on the design, and each collection or commission takes on average three months to complete. I believe that this attention to detail and the craftsmanship of each piece sets my work apart and allows it to be instantly recognisable as an Arra Textiles design.
Sustainability and Ethical Production
With the textile industry being the second largest polluter in the world, sustainability is one of the most important aspects of my practice. I strive to produce as little waste material as possible by using every last scrap of material and reselling any yarn cone ends.
I always use natural yarns to weave with, be it Alpaca, Cashmere, British Lambswool or Merino Wool. The majority of the yarn I use is sourced in Britain; designed in the Scottish Borders then spun and dyed at a mill in Yorkshire. Traceability is an important factor in my work and I try to use materials which reflect this ethos.
I use 100% renewable energy sources in the studio and consider the environmental impact of each stage of design, production and marketing. With my Zero-Waste production policy and emphasis on traditional craftsmanship, I can be sure that my work will become timeless heirlooms to be enjoyed for generations to come, before biodegrading naturally at the end of its lifespan.
"As long as there is grass to graze on, every year sheep will produce a new fleece; making wool a renewable fibre source. At the end of its useful life, wool can be returned to the soil, where it decomposes, releasing valuable nutrients into the ground. When a natural wool fibre is disposed of in soil, it takes a very short time to break down, whereas most synthetics are extremely slow to degrade."
- Campaign For Wool
Where To Find Me
You can find my work in the Visit Scotland shop in the Ballater Station and also in a number of publications including Coast Magazine, Modern Rustic by Country Living and Country Living Magazine.
All online orders will have the option to be sent by Royal Mail Tracked delivery. I would always advise this for more expensive or one off items. Standard shipping is also available but the buyer will be responsible for any orders which go missing in transit.
Studio pickup is available for all orders with some larger items (such as the giant cushions!) available exclusively through the studio. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or special requests.
There is a lot to see in the local area including ancient castles, stone circles and the Royal Family's official Scottish holiday home, Balmoral Castle!
"I just received my Ripple cowl in Stonewash and I cannot describe just how thrilled and in awe of it I am!! The colors are right out of the river near my house here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, a river I hold dear in my heart and these colors are the very essence of my soul! Thank you again!
- Kimberly, USA
Ripple Cowl Scarf
"We had a great time at Lucy's Weaving Workshop. This would make a great present for any craft lover or just for a relaxing day out. It is well suited to all ages as my daughter was only 13 and loved it too! 5 hours was the perfect length of time and went past so quickly. Loved the fact we got to take away a finished article and have been wearing them ever since!"
- Gayle and Hope, UK
"Arra Textiles products are simply beautiful...A worthy purchase and I'll keep it forever!"
- Geometric Cowl Scarf in Ecru
"Absolutely delighted with the lovely scarf for a special birthday present! It's in such gorgeous colours, fabulous soft feel..."
- Wave Cowl in Ecru
"A feast for the eyes"
- The Arra Textiles Studio