Weaving Tour Diary – Part 10: North East Scotland

7th September 2014: Woven in the Bone

Our visit to the North East of Scotland happened to coincide with the NEOS open artists’ studios event, so it was perfect timing to visit Sam Goates of Woven in the Bone  in her weaving shed, which she was sharing for the event with painter Lesley Cullan and quilter Avril Clark.

Woven in the Bone Sign

Woven in the Bone Sign

Sam greeted us and made us feel welcome from the second we stepped in to the shed. It was lovely to finally meet Sam, as we’ve been following each other on Facebook and Twitter for some time and I’d kept hearing her name mentioned along my weaving tour. Sam was also equally keen to finally meet the now famous Aggie.

Woven in the Bone (named after the poem in ‘Weaving Songs’ by Donald S Murray) produces a beautiful range of woollen cloth, which Sam weaves on a Hattersley loom. Sam has over 25 years of textile design experience, 20 of which was spent working in Australia, and since returning to Scotland Sam has continued to work within Scotland’s textile industry. Between 2009 and 2010, Sam was contracted by Cardonald College in Glasgow as Project Manager of the Harris Tweed Skills and Development Project, and developed the first SVQ for Harris Tweed weaving.

Although Sam has only had her own Hattersley loom for a little over a year now, her experience in woven design is instantly apparent through her beautifully designed and woven cloth and I’m looking forward to seeing how Woven in the Bone continues to grow over the next year.

Sam's Hattersley Loom

Sam’s Hattersley Loom

The highlight of the afternoon was when Sam allowed me to have a shot on her Hattersley loom. As you can see from the photo below I enjoyed every second of it!

Happily weaving on Sam's Hattersley loom

Happily weaving on Sam’s Hattersley loom

8th September 2014: Knockando

Our first visit of the day was to Knockando Woolmill, which has been manufacturing woollen textiles since 1784 and was recently awarded significant funding for its restoration. It now boasts a fully restored complex of buildings, including a working mill and visitor’s centre, and was lucky enough to have Beechgrove Garden‘s help with their community garden.

The Knockando Trust has the aim of not only running a working woolmill, but also educating the public about every stage of the process of making cloth. This strong educational ethos is clear walking around Knockando — every small detail of the restoration of the site has been carefully considered. For example, even the plants in the community garden have been chosen because of their suitability for natural dyes. Inside the visitors centre we enjoyed watching an informative video about the production of woven cloth, explaining every stage of the weaving process.

Knockando Garden

Knockando Garden

Knockando Loom

Knockando Loom

Johnstons of Elgin

Cashmere Goats at Johnstons of Elgin

Cashmere Goats at Johnstons of Elgin

In the afternoon we made a visit to Johnstons of Elgin, the major Scottish producer of cashmere and fine woollens who source only the finest wool from across the globe. Johnstons of Elgin are a vertical mill, meaning they take raw wool through the entire process of blending, carding and spinning, to then be woven or knitted and finally finished all on site. We enjoyed a mill tour, seeing the complete process from start to finish, however, sadly, I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside the mill itself.

9th September 2014: J.C. Rennie & Co

J.C. Rennie & Co is located down a narrow country lane outside a small village and it is not easy to find (we drove in circles for quite a while), but it is well worth a visit. After all my weaving research I have been itching to get back to my loom and, of course, want to use Scottish spun yarn in my weaving. So to that end I spent most of the morning choosing yarn from the yarn store — I could have spent all day in there! I left with a stunning range of cashmere and lambswool yarn, feeling very excited  about getting it on to my loom at home.

J.C. Rennie Carding Machine

J.C. Rennie & Co Carding Machine

Choosing my yarn

Choosing my yarn

Now back in Glasgow, I’ve already started weaving scarves using my newly purchased wool — I’ll share the results with you all shortly…

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An they a’ need the wark o' the weavers.