Trade Winds Winning Design

I’m delighted that my Trade Winds design has been awarded first prize in “Best New Woven Fabric Or Textile” 2021 by The Incorporation Of Weavers Of Glasgow! The award considers elements such as colour and technical ability along with overall design.

The double cloth design was inspired by a trip to Australia and took the larger part of a year to get right. The final pieces were bought by collectors all over the world in locations including Japan, California, Australia, Thailand and of course the UK.

You can find the pattern used in the Rockpool//Shoreline designs and also in some of the larger artwork pieces that will be on display for Artefact in Chelsea next month.

This is the first competition I’ve ever won, (unless you count best marmalade two years running in the village show!) and I’m so pleased that it’s for a design which I love. You can find out more about my winning design below and see a few images of the inspiration, making process and final fabrics.

My business, Arra Textiles, is named after my great grandmother, Arra MacDonald who was born and brought up on the Orkney Islands. Her husband, my great grandfather James Melbourne MacDonald, was born onboard the fully rigged, three masted family ship in Melbourne harbour. My great grandparents were merchants who used the trade winds to cross the worlds oceans at the turn of the 19th century. They returned to Australia from Scotland many times to trade iron for wool before eventually settling in Orkney. I travelled to Australia to see the wild and beautiful coastlines for myself and the shades of blue, turquoise and gold inspired the Trade Winds fabric.


The undulating design is inspired by the wind patterns, known as the Trade Winds, created by the Polar, Mid-Latitude and Hadley Cells. The air pressure creates undulating wind streams around the world which bend and flow together and are the same weather patterns my ancestors used to cross the seas. I have adapted a complex, double cloth weave structure to recreate these naturally occurring patterns within the cloth. Shapes and patterns fade into each other before abruptly changing direction and drawing the eye.


 Woven on a traditional floor loom with a modern, computer driven dobby box I have created a unique large scale repeat pattern made up of tiny woven structures that run subtlety throughout the fabric. This creates a large scale repeat from a distance but much more complex patterns the closer you get to the piece, a contemporary twist on an age old process. The colours within the design tell a clear story connecting it to place, from inky blues to soft ochres, illustrating the wild Australian coastlines. The subtle colour changes are achieved by using a four colour warp and two colour weft. An organic, curved design allows the colours to blend into each other and create an illusion of movement and the double cloth weave structures allow each face of the fabric to be unique.


I created the Trade Winds design as the perfect heirloom piece, with craftsmanship, sustainability and identity at the heart of the fabric. A British sourced cotton and merino wool blend yarn gives the fabric a luxuriously soft feel with the added bonus of long lasting durability and lightweight warmth. The adaptations of a heritage technique with natural fibres allow me to create texture and depth within the finished fabric making it tactile and intriguing. My aim is for people to find themselves wanting to touch the fabric and consider the making processes, so often a forgotten element in many textile artworks.


I set out to tell a story through cloth, one which encapsulates the adventurous spirit of my ancestors and the wild landscapes which remain today and hope that this feeling of place and identity can be seen throughout my design and elicit an emotional connection between the finished fabric and the audience.