KNITTED PONCHOS AND THOSE DARNED KNEES
I was always a fairly creative child with a penchant for knitted ponchos and trousers with darned woolly knees in mismatching colours. I also remember spending a rather large amount of time making tiny houses out of paper. Despite the paper houses, I didn't study architecture but instead, opted for graphic design. It was the early nineties and at the age of 20, I took myself off to London to do my degree at Central St Martins. Design took a bit of a back seat in my second year as I fell completely head over heels for photography, spent a chunk of my grant on a Nikon FM and decided I wanted to be a fashion photographer.
After graduating, I spent a few months assisting a photographer and commercials director before returning to design, working for various London based design companies. After 9 years and with a lot of planning (including going back to college one day a week), I changed my career to horticulture.
However, once a designer, always a designer! Missing my old ways and inspired by a passion for contemporary ceramics, I wanted to combine a love for hairy wool with making simple, tactile, beautiful bowls. Ideas are continually evolving from developing techniques such as carding and blending fleece to working with scale, shape and surface detail.
It’s just like Pottery. But with wool!
CURLY OR STRAIGHT,
NATURAL OR DYED
A few years ago, I went into a beautiful wool shop in North London. It was heaven on earth; a sweet shop for wool lovers. Naturally I wanted the fattest, snappiest knitting needles ever and the fluffiest, softest, most luxurious, (and expensive) yarn I could get my hands on. There was just one problem, I could barely knit. I still have those needles and most of that yarn as my flirtation with knitting was sadly, all too brief. But the excitement and euphoria of being in that lovely wool shop and being guardian to the fluffiest, softest wool was worth the aborted toe dipping (and expense).
I am currently trialling different wools, each giving different results, good and not so good! Shetland is a delight to work with and I am in the process of carding (very curly) Gotland fleece ready for felting.
Fibre thickness can vary enormously, with Shetland being one of the finest at 29 microns. Jacob is coarser and more robust at 33-35 microns and varies quite dramatically from colour to colour in terms of felting success.
An old breed, established in the UK in the 8th century by Shetland Islanders to support their knitting and weaving industries. Small and hardy, it has 11 recognised colours with over 30 different markings. The wool is fantastic to felt with, fine and soft and very hairy. Synonymous with the Isles but also found on the mainland. One of my favourites.
The hairiest of them all. Introduced to Britain in the 17th century (with exotic Middle Eastern connections), it is another breed that produces natural colours from cream and brown to an almost chocolate black. It's not fussy where it lives and can be found throughout the UK, often chomping away in parkland.
JUST ADD HOT WATER AND OLIVE OIL SOAP
Pottery. But with wool Is about creating contemporary, hand felted woollen bowls with an emphasis on using natural, undyed British wool. The bowls are formed through the process of wet felting carded wool, using hot water and olive oil soap. As the wool felts, it thickens and strengthens and is then moulded and dried into its final shape..