November brings rain and winds that send the leaves cascading to the ground. Yellow predominates in the woods, vivid against the dark wet umber of the tree trunks. Dusk comes early. The crows gather in noisy crowds, carried on the wind as they make their way to roost, and murmurations of starlings flicker and flow in the twilight.
It’s a time for being out in the weather, experiencing it, embracing it, and feeling the exhilaration of surviving what Mother Nature has to throw at you. And it’s a time to wrap up warm and enjoy wearing wool.
The virtues of wool
The first week of October saw the 10th annual wool week in the UK. Organised by the Campaign for wool, this is a global endeavour to raise awareness amongst consumers about the unique benefits offered by the fibre.
This amazing natural material is recyclable, biodegradable, compostable and naturally renewable; wool is the most adaptable and sustainable material, and is beautiful to work with, being elastic and forgiving when on the loom. The choice of colours and wonderful textures is huge, and it lends itself equally well for use in clothing and home furnishings. In this range of cushions, as well as lambswool, I also use Alpaca wool and mohair yarns.
Something that’s very important to me is the origin of my materials, their sustainability and integrity of source. I use mainly natural materials, wool, silk, linen and cotton, but also include so-called ‘mill-end’ yarns that are surplus to the textile industry when I’m weaving more experimental pieces. All my scarves are woven using high quality merino lambswool from Z. Hinchliffe and sons, spun in Yorkshire and responsibly sourced. They are wonderfully soft and warm, and will last a lifetime.
Exploring linen: a commission
Commission work is becoming increasingly important as part of my day-to-day work. It’s a real pleasure to connect with the client, and talk with them to discover exactly what it is they are after. The correspondence continues throughout the sampling and weaving process. Some people come to me knowing exactly what they want; others are happy to be guided in the direction of colour and material. Both ways of working are deeply satisfying, and always a learning process for me.
I recently completed a commission working in linen, wool and silk. The linen warp was quite challenging to work with but, combined with a lambswool/silk weft, resulted in a scarf with the most luxurious drape and sheen; something I’ll definitely be exploring further.
To weave with materials on my loom is, to me, also to create a piece of art. It’s a way to fuse colour, texture and pattern in an endless variety of combinations that can express a feeling or atmosphere. Two new pieces I’ve recently finished, woven in wool, linen, silk, cotton and ecological recycled string, reflect the current autumnal colours and mood.
Since August, I’ve been taking part in Crafting Business, a programme of speakers and workshops aimed at new and established craftspeople, run by Crafts Council NL. The final session took place in November and, as well as being extremely informative and with a great line up of speakers, it’s been an opportunity to connect with other makers and professional bodies here in The Netherlands. If you’re interested to see more of professional craftspeople in The Netherlands, the Crafts Council NL website has plenty of information (in English and Dutch).
A fascination with trees
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved trees. These gentle giants are my constant in keeping track of the seasons. To walk amongst trees is to be close to nature. Earlier this year I read the thought provoking book “Underland” by Robert MacFarlane, in which he journeys into what lies beneath, exploring the world under our feet, fusing travel and nature writing. The book gives an insight into the interconnectedness and inter reliance of every living and nonliving entity, man’s effect on our planet, and, sadly, our lack of appreciation for this complexity. Just one example is the recently discovered communication system that trees have via the mycorrhizal fungi that joins individual plants by an underground hyphal network; trees talking to each other.
So, as we approach the darkest time of the year, when the nights are long and full of fires and stars, I’ll leave you with the poignant words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson that, for me, so sum up this time of year
The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,Tithonus, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,
Thank you for reading this far, and hope to see you here again soon!
See more blog posts:
- Stories from the weave studio – September
- Stories from the weave studio: August
- Stories from the weave studio: July
- Stories from the weave studio: June
- Stories from the weave studio: May
© All designs and images Veronica Pock 2020