Back to the Borders…..

I’ve been back down in the Borders for eight weeks now….(how?) The days are passing so quickly, it’s crazy, and all my time is spent, yarn wrapping, weaving and thinking about textiles. Below is the view from my loom this year.

IMG_20131106_210757This is my final year down here, so we are free to decide our own project. During my summer at home in Shetland and weaving for the Ann Sutton Foundation in Yell, I have realised the importance of Shetland and it’s heritage to me as a young local. I have continued themes of this into my work for my capsule collection.
 Being from a remote location like Shetland is so special, as we are aware that we live in a unique place and this can relate to creative projects really well. I have been exploring our connections with Scandinavia and our own Northern Identity as a unique Island up North.

Here are some photo’s of what I have been up to lately to illustrate my project in a snapshot….and since its Wovember – I have been weaving with 100% wool throughout my project, but I’m currently weaving a large 36″ warp with Shetland Wool – which I am so excited about.

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I love the dry stone dykes in Shetland….so many geometric shapes!
(Love a geometric shape, I do)

This has to be one of my favourite photographs I took this summer in Lerwick, down near the Lodberries at Bains Beach. I love this old part of the town as there are so many aspects where industrial meets natural and this is something I am really interested in.



DSCF4064 DSCF4001The things which we pass every day yet we take for granted, as they are not a typical ‘beautiful spot’ but I’ve noticed when I am no longer there, these are the things that make up our sense of place, and can contribute to our identity as islanders.

I love taking photographs and they are a main part of my visual work before I get to the design stage.
Keep an eye out for more progress as this semester comes to an end in 4 weeks!










A quick peak at a few sketchbook pages, setting up the loom and a few development samples for you:







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The final collection….

I went up to Yell at the end of last week to drop off the final collection of fabrics to Andy at the Ann Sutton Foundation. As my summer is almost over it’s been a funny week of saying goodbye to people and packing things up….although, I have been procrastinating like something else and actually haven’t packed anything yet, but that can wait!
It’s strange how fast 12 weeks can pass and how quickly things can change.

I would like to take this opportunity to Thank Andy, Maggie, Kirsty at foundation  – I’ve had a great summer and a valuable and unique experience. Also the John Neil Travel Scholarship I was awarded from Heriot Watt University, which gave me the monetary help to travel to and from Yell during the summer.

Here are the photographs of the final collection of my Shetland Tweed altogether:


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A Contemporary Shetland Tweed….

Two out of three of my finished samples for ASF Shetland have now been taken off the loom and have been washed and pressed. It’s a great feeling to see a finish piece of fabric! The last sample is about half way through but I ran out of one of the weft yarn colour and when I went to the Woolbrokers to get some more…they didn’t have any either!

Here are a few pictures I have taken of the two finished three meter lengths which are going to be used for interior accessories.

As part of the Stay and Make post me and the Weaver in Residence – Kirsty Leadbetter – were invited to speak at the Shetland Textile Museum a couple of weeks ago to share our experiences of our time at the Ann Sutton Foundation this summer.
Andy gave us some guidelines to follow so I have included these to give you an insight into the fabric.

DSCF3986Where has your inspiration come from?

As part of the application process we were asked to think about a fabric which would be related to Shetland using local materials which the center could continue to promote for sale. This is what first sparked off an idea in my head about Shetland Tweed.
I thought it would be really interesting to create a woven fabric which would be recognised as ‘Shetland’ aswell as there being a knitted fabric – Fair Isle.

I did some research into woven fabrics in Shetland and found out there was an extensive range of old samples available for me to look at, at the Museum and Archives store. I spoke to a Lecturer at Heriot Watt, Sarah Dearlove, who is actually doing a practise based PhD in Textile design and part of her research is focussed on the Shetland Tweed industry during the 1950’s. She suggested that I look into arranging an appointment at the archive store to look at the old samples, and I am so glad I did.
I seemed to have stumbled upon quite a large area of almost forgotten Shetland heritage which before March this year I was basically unaware of, which I am quite ashamed to admit!

DSCF3988How did you come up with the designs for the final samples?

With my interest in Shetland Tweed being kept in mind, I spoke to Andy about a contemporary version. I noted the structures, colours and patterns which were used in the samples I looked at, at the Archives.
I kept these in mind but tried to introduce contemporary hints into the fabric while I was sampling. After my first lot of sampling, we stopped and spoke about the most successful samples.
keeping parts which were successful and then combining them with other idea’s I have come up with these final samples.

The first two final samples are the same warp pattern, but are different in colour and blog size. The first having a subtle rust colour weft and shorter flatter blocks compared to the second final sample having a grey and purple mix weft, with square blocks.

DSCF3990DSCF4082Where has your colour choice come from?

My colour choice is a tricky one to try to explain.
The colours are related to the everyday things that are a part of my life in Lerwick. Me and Andy had a discussion one day about my colour choice, and he said to me that “I couldn’t possibly just see blues and greys when I looked outside!”.
I laughed because of course I dont – but this sparked an interest of how people local to Shetland might see our Island.
I thought about what Andy had said for a lot of time, and I managed to come up with an answer to his question, which I finally gave him while doing the presentation.

I said “Im looking at the everyday things I pass like the steps and the buildings in the Lerwick Lanes on the way to the street.
The natural versus the industrial which surrounds us in Lerwick and the sea and sky which encircles our island. It is the feeling which the climate creates rather than the exact colour representation that I am interested in”.


Luckily, I have picked up the colour I need to finish my final length from Jamieson and Smith so weaving can once again commence!
If you are interested in any of these pieces contact Andy Ross at the Center for Creative Industries – Global Yell in Sellafirth, Yell. Or if you are passing the center they will now be located there forever, so go in for a look!

ASF Shetland 2013 – Stay and Make

I have been spending my summer on the far northern island of Shetland – Yell.
A 40 minute drive, 20 minute inter island ferry and then a further 15 minute journey away from my house in Lerwick, I have been driving up and down the A970 three or four times a week to work at the Center for Creative Industries there.


The Ann Sutton Foundation based in Sellafirth which is run as part of Global Yell and the Center for Creative Industries by Andy Ross, is the only organisation of its type on Shetland. (
I have been working on the Stay and Make program, which was set up for graduates to come and use the equipment, to get experience working in a professional environment and to get an idea of working to a brief for a company outwith University.

Having worked at the center for a couple of weeks while I was still studying at Shetland College in 2011, I knew what I was coming too, but at the same time as the Stay and Make program running, there is also a Weaver in Residence based there during the summer months.
This year, Kirsty Leadbetter, from London, who graduated from Chelsea School of Art last year has been working along side me, designing fabrics for interiors. (

Being a Shetlander, and living away from the Island for the past year, I have come to realise just how important it is as a young local and designer that we need to promote our Island and its heritage, especially the strong textile heritage which we have.
Weaving in Shetland, which to me is equally as important as the knitting heritage, seems to have been forgotten slightly over the years and I did some research into the past weaving industry while I was home in Easter.

I spent 2 days at the Museum Archives looking through old samples from ‘Adies of Voe’ 1920’s – 1960’s collection. I was surprised to find out how successful the industry was, and how good the quality of the fabrics were. These fabrics were exported all over the world. These tweeds and woven fabrics inspired my designs which I created for the center and I have tried to create a new contemporary Shetland Tweed.
Below is my moodboard which I used to help me with my designs.
18Inspired by my local surroundings and favourite places around the Island, I used the everyday colours along with trends from WGSN in my designs.
It was important for me to use these everyday colours which surround us as I wanted the fabrics to depict Shetland in the way which I, as a local see it.
It is the greys and purples that make the slate steps which we tread down the Lerwick Lanes on, the stone buildings which our houses are made of and the blues and greens of the sea which our Island is surrounded by.

Another important factor which I wanted to include in this project for ASF was to use Shetland wool. After doing research last semester for a written project I found the social responsibility of using local products and materials which are readily available in your local shops really interesting and using our local resource of Shetland wool is something I will definitely continue to use in the future as a designer. (The piece I wrote about this can be found here:

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These were some of the pictures from me setting up my first warp, which consisted of three miny samples next to eachother.

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The first set of samples which came out were simple in structure yet effective in the portraying the Shetland scene. Working closely with Andy, we stopped and assessed the samples at each stage and discussed the successful ones, and what could be done to develop them on to the next stage of final samples. With help from an outside eye, Rhona Skinner – who owns the Shetland Gallery next to ASF Shetland ( we successfully picked a collection of Shetland Tweed’s designed by me which I am currently weaving large lengths of. These are potentially going to be made into interior accessories and details will be posted once they become available.

Here is a look at some of the final designsDSCF3975 (2)DSCF3970DSCF3981DSCF3976If you are in Shetland and fancy coming to see us at the Studio in Yell, you are more than welcome to drop by and see what we have been up to! Andy, Kirsty and I would be glad to see you!

Farlin at the StAnza Poetry Festival – Fife March 2013


Due to a hectic uni schedule which suddenly approached me without any warning it seemed, I was in Gala, for 6 whole weeks without leaving, before I escaped for easter at the end of March. That is a record for me….who normally stays only during the week and escapes to Edinburgh or Glasgow at the weekend…so I wasn’t able to make it to see the Farlin exhibition in St. Andrews at the beginning of March.

It was quite weird for me to pack up my work and send it, not knowing if it would get there ok. When I was at the post office, the assistant asked me if the contents of the parcel had any worth…I was like,’Eh. YES!!’ but then…it doesn’t actually….I mean my sketchbook was a whole years worth of work, and the fabric, would be worth a lot for materials and time….but it doesn’t actually have a price tag.

Image(photography – Chris Park)

The Storytellers cape was made using 100% Shetland Wool, and the theme behind it was the sea. During my first few months away from Shetland, it struck me just how lucky Shetlanders are that they get to see the sea from almost every angle.
The idea of this being the story tellers cape came from the idea that the sea holds many memories and stories, good and bad, but not everyone know’s what they are. The cape is supposed to hold all these stories in one, evoke memories of the sea and places we call home to its viewers.

At the same time as the sea being an influence to the design of the fabric, Andy and I spoke about Stories and fairytales which could be connected to the sea. I came across the Scottish Fairy Tale – Rashiecoats. Although not directly related to the sea, it was the artwork from the story which inspired me….


It was her dress made of feathers and all the animals following her, that made me thing about the waves of the sea being the inspiration for our cape. (Picture from:

Here is the link for an extract of the story which we got permission to use in the exhibition:

While we were discussing our idea’s, and communicating through email, Andy came up with the poem…


Marriage Guidance

Who wears a cloak of woven gold?
Has no-one told you glam is out,
that foxy royals favour shabby chic?
These days it’s all about the bold
rejection of convention, so shout
it from the highest turret; weak
is the woman who marries for wealth –
a rich man would happily marry himself.

Who would wear this feathered cloak?
Do you think the birds would give
the very things that make them free,
without a fight? The kind of bloke
who breaks a wing would have you live
in batteries, clipped and flightless. He
may lure you with his cooing words,
but choosing to be caged is for the birds.

Who would wear this cloak of reeds?
Hope you had the sense to keep
the gift receipt. You may start to plan
your strategies of love, the seeds
of passion germinating in the deep
of your womb, disrobing for your man
rush by rush, but girl, here’s the news;
love is just lust in sensible shoes.

Andy Jackson

The Farlin project was a really enjoyable experience to take part in, and it is so interesting to see that today, you dont need to be in the same place as someone to do a collaborative project….with today’s advance communication anything is possible!
Here are some pictures of our work from the Exhibiton at the StAnza Poetry Festival this year:

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Campaigning for the wool……

At uni during last semester, we had to write a series of blogs for design practice. In the last task we were asked to write an essay developing one of the blogs that we had previously written. I chose to talk about sustainability in textiles because it is something we have to consider more and more these days as designers, and i think it is a really important issue. I agree that we need to find greener ways of doing things, but there is also another really big aspect to sustainability which is often over-looked. Buying Local!

You may think how does this link to sustainability, but it really does if you go back to the source, as I did with Shetland Wool.

Shetland Wool Brokers, Jamieson and Smith ( buy their fleece from over 700 Shetland Crofters! How great is that. Buying fleece from the locals ensures the wool is 100% Shetland, and more importantly puts money back into the Shetland economy. If we, as designers in Shetland, then buy the wool, we are also putting money back into our economy by buying from our local producers. And then if locals buy our products…the cycle continues.

My aim of the essay was to think about creating Shetland products, using the Shetland sustainable fibre, and taking sustainability, the social responsibility side, into consideration.
Creating fabrics using Shetland wool, would promote the luxury fibre’s name that Shetland wool has associated with it. It boasts to be soft, strong and warm, and is hand sorted into grades. Like the ‘Made in Britain’ campaign, where products are promoted because they are made wholy in the UK, ‘Made in Shetland’ could have the same effect and this would ideally be the unique selling point of any product designed and made in Shetland.

While I was home in the Christmas holidays, I had a week to prepare and weave the fabric I had planned for the next part of the Farlin Project.  I made a visit to my friend Ella who works at Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick, to pick up some Shetland wool.

I will stop now and say that I usually weave with cotton, or a combination of wool and cotton…and that I haven’t actually used Shetland wool to weave with before. (Terrible I know!!!) Im not sure why this is, I think its because I usually prefer my fabrics to be sett quite tightly, and I seem have only noticed a number of things about Shetland I feel more strongly about now that I am away from the Island but I was more than keen to use Shetland wool for the next part of the Farlin Project and I will be using it again!!



Soft, and lovely when washed and pressed, I cant explain how nice the fabric is to touch. Sett as outerwear fabric, I am so pleased with the outcome, and I cant wait to weave with Shetland wool again. Colours inspired by the Shetland landscape, sky and sea….the story behind the fabric will be posted on here, along with the final product nearer the StAnza Poetry Festival which takes place in St. Andrews in March.

I am so pleased that I researched into using Shetland wool, and I cant believe how important it is to use wool, and especially us from Shetland to use our local producers. The ‘campaign for wool’ ( of which the Prince of Wales is patron, is a global campaign to bring wool back into the limelight by highlighting wool’s natural and sustainable qualities and its importance in the textile industry to those who are involved big or small.

From here, I am hoping to use Shetland wool next year as part of my final honours year collection. By doing this, I hope to focus and weave with the wool confidently so that I can take this onto my own practice and predominantly promote Shetland wool, ‘Made in Shetland’ products along with Shetland as a place. Shetland is after all a lifestyle and a way of life…..why don’t we promote it more?


(……especially Shetland wool??!!)