Welcome to the April Ask Me Anything blog post where we're looking more closely at sustainability and commissioned designs!
I thought this would be a good way to share a little bit of what goes into running a solo weaving studio from the North East of Scotland. You can ask me anything from the world of textiles, from questions about colour and inspiration to the slightly less fun but just as important business side too! You can submit questions for next month's blog on the first of each month through my Instagram Stories or by posting in the comments below.
What do you do with waste yarn?
I have a few solutions to using up waste yarn; I use the longer warp ends to make wool clouds which I sell through the website and the studio, any yarn left on the cone is either used in future projects or sold on in small amounts to hand weavers and knitters, small amounts are used in my new mending kits and any tiny left over scraps are put in a bird feeder in the garden for birds to use in their nests or composted!
Any tips for finding trusted yarn suppliers?
Finding a yarn supplier can be tricky, I tried quite a few different places before settling on one mill. It depends on what type of yarn you're looking for really and what the important factors are for you (provenance, cost, reliability, repeat colours etc) It's definitely worth contacting mills or visiting them and asking for shade cards or trying small samples before you commit to a larger order. I order most of my yarn from Knoll Yarns, they are really friendly and so far they they've been great at providing repeat colours along with being able to send small amounts on the cone rather than the full pallet that other mills offer, all factors that are important to me and for my business.
I have been on the hunt for yarn which is traceable back to the sheep for a little while now so if anyone has any tips let me know!
How does the back of a double cloth fabric compare to the front?
It varies depending on the design but I'll put a side by side image of the most recent double cloth designs I've been making below so you can see the difference between them. These ones have a fairly subtle difference compared with other designs but one side definitely has more obvious colour changes than the other.
How long does a commission take?
A commission is the same as any woven piece and can vary wildly depending on the design, size and yarn chosen. It also depends on what is already on the loom or on order and may have to be on a waiting list for a number of months before the actual weaving can begin. It can be anything from 4 weeks to 9 months.
Where do you start with a commissioned design?
I usually start with a studio or home visit with the client if possible. I find that it's easier to convey ideas and design when you can see the setting for a piece or show past examples of work. If a visit is not possible I am able to post yarn and fabric samples to them and have a video call with the client to discuss their hopes and ideas.
What goes into weaving a commissioned piece?
There are a few steps to creating a commission which vary slightly with each client but generally they follow the same basic pattern.
They would visit the studio for a chat about what they're looking for first then I'd put a few different digital design options together that they'd be able to choose from. We usually go back and forth a few times until all the details have been decided and they're happy with the proposed piece (this would usually include multiple studio visits, posted yarn and pattern samples and digital mock ups).
Once the details have been chosen I can order the yarn and start setting up the loom as I would for any other project. As the weaving progresses I keep the clients updated with photos or videos and they sometimes pop in to see their design on the loom!
Once the weaving and finishing is done, The piece/s are either delivered by post or, in the case of larger wall artworks, delivered by myself.
In my experience the key to an effective commission is definitely communication!
Do you have any examples of a past commission?
Pictured below is a commission I had in early 2020 for two identical cushions. The colours and size were specially chosen to go with the existing decor and each one contained a hypo-allergenic cushion pad. This was a lovely piece to make and we were all delighted with the end result!