Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Is this the future for the British woollen industry?

This is a photo of Buckfast Spinners in Devon being gutted and emptied of all it's equipment. Buckfast Spinners, owned by Axminster Carpets is set to permanently close the mill doors in December this year.    Some of the most advanced spinning and dyeing equipment in Europe has been ripped out and shipped overseas to the competitors in Turkey and Belguim.

What a sad sight to witness a stagnant shell of a mill, eerily hushed forever. The Dartmoor wind rushes through the building, stirring the clumps of oily wool hanging from the carding machine. Only last year did the mill produce the yarn to make the carpet for the ballroom in Buckingham Palace in honour of the Royal Wedding. Travellers on the Orient Express pressed the Buckfast yarns under their feet.

How will Axminster Carpets ever hope to survive if their local, life long yarn suppliers haven't? Who will ship yarn to order in 24 hours at the highest quality? Who will match colour for colour in a day? Why wasn't the support there for Buckfast Spinners before it was too late?

Thursday, 28 March 2013


George. The orb stamper and his three rams.

Norman and his single width loom.

Angus and his double width loom,  George peering over.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Harris Tweed, Isle of Lewis


Mixing the wool

On a mission to answer my thesis question (What is the value of wool) I decided to take a wee trip to the Outer Hebrides to research the famous Harris Tweed.

Yesterday, after a bumpy ride up and down the hills and bays of Lewis, I was dropped off just outside the Harris Tweed Hebrides mill in Shawbost and was greeted with a much needed cup of tea and some home made sticky duff. The day was spent chatting to Ian Angus Mackenzie, and the workers in the mill. It was great to see how much they all really believe in the future of Harris Tweed and it would have been impossible for their enthusiasm not to have rubbed off on the most stern of people.

Every process is done with the utmost care and pride. There wasn't one old boy working there that wasn't glad to sit down with a coffee and tell me about their life working their crofts, the oil rigs, deep sea fishing and then weaving. Readily showing me Vivienne Westwood's "weird" past tweeds and the next tweed for Prince Charles. Feeling that I was hard done by, having to leave the mill early to catch the bus, I was offered a lift as I long as I stayed a bit longer!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Work in Progress Show. Jan 15th - 20th 2013.

Please come to the Royal College of Art School of Materials Work in Progress Show. Its a great chance to catch a glimpse of the exciting projects taking place at the moment. My work will be on display too!

Where: Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU
When: Tuesday 15th to Sunday 20th January. 10am to 5:30pm.