Ever since I was little, I've loved making things...if I could make old fabric into something, I was happy (and quiet!). One of my earliest memories is of using old black tights to make dresses for my Sindy dolls (to go with the food-colouring-dyed mohawks that I gave them). Thankfully, throughout school, I seemed to pay attention to my sewing teacher and actually acquired a few skills in my home economics classes! I then went on to study textiles at college, although I left the sewing behind me after graduating and went and got an office job instead. After a number of years, I went back to my roots and became a seamstress. Whilst I enjoyed designing and making prom and bridal dresses, it was always the beading and embroidery that I preferred rather than garment construction. After a few years, I went back to full-time office work but kept my hand in, knitting and sewing for friends and family. In 2016, I decided to start weaving again - something that I had always enjoyed in college. However, after a year or so, I realised that I couldn't buy the yarns that I was always picturing in my head. There was only one thing for it...I needed to have a bash at making my own yarn. I had some idea of what to do through using a drop spindle at college, but decided that I needed a wheel. I practiced, read some books, practiced some more and eventually taught myself to spin. Joining a local Guild was probably the turning point in in my fibre-to-product journey and, whilst there are always new tricks to learn (it would seem that every day is a school day when it comes to fibres and new techniques), I'm now happy to announce that my biggest critic* is finally happy with the work I produce.
* that'll be me, by the way (but I am really fussy).
My main aim is to produce items that I know the history of. Therefore, I use yarn and fibre sourced from the UK and, where possible, will buy fleece from animals raised here in Wales. I use a number of techniques to dye the yarns and fibre, sometimes dyeing the yarns using a single colour and others using a combination of dyes to get different effects. If I'm working with fleece, I'll usually dye it before spinning or felting it.
I also produce a range of silk scarves which, for ethical reasons, I prefer to cut from a bolt of silk rather than buy scarves that have been commercially made (this also allows me to make scarves in any length). Once cut to size, the scarves are hemmed and washed prior to dyeing. I prefer to press and then machine stitch the edges, but I can finish scarves with a hand-stitched, rolled hem if preferred. I sometimes work into the scarf with wool (usually merino) or silk fibre, felting it to create a range of patterns.
I love nature and wildlife; however, although I might have an image of green leaves and ivy and the rugged bark of an aged oak in my head, the soft pastel shades found in a clump of toadstools or a collection of shells from the beach, when peering into my drawer of fibre dyes these colour schemes don't always make it into the pot! The colours of my local woodlands, canals and fields and the wildlife that can be found there all get added to the dye pot in my head, but mood and music will always throw in their two pennies worth.