Stories from the weave studio: November

Material matters

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.

New work

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.

Crafting Business

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, 
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground, 

Tithonus, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Thank you for reading this far, and hope to see you here again soon!

Veronica

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© All designs and images Veronica Pock 2020

Stories from the weave studio: October

The art of weaving fabric

Colour is crucial in my work. Recently I’ve been asking myself when this fascination began. I think it began when I was at school; my art teachers introduced me to acrylic paints. I played with mixing colours and learnt that by placing different colours next to each other I could make them sing out or recede. Discovering how colours interact is still a huge part of my creative interest and investigation, both when working on paper and with threads on the loom. Weaving is essentially interlacing two sets of perpendicular threads, and the colours of those threads and the pattern they are combined in can give endless combinations and effects, endless scope for experimentation.

October brings a sense of ending: leaves are falling, blooms are descending into decay. Colours are simultaneously muted and vibrant, and this is my signature palette. Years of colour exploration have brought me to this place. And it’s not standing still, it’s ever changing. Just like the seasons, my work reflects how I see the world and my experience of it.

New work

One of my sources of inspiration is my allotment. Year after year I’ve grown more and more flowers and fewer and fewer fruit and veg. At this time of year the dahlias are a riot of colour, brassy and loud. I love them for their exuberance. I temper their vibrant colours with more muted tones in my woven work, working more subtle yarns into the weft threads, so that the brighter colours can sing out.

It really does surprise me, genuinely, every time I take something off the loom to find that I can make a fabric that is both useful and beautiful.

The Kröller-Müller museum: van Gogh and nature

I’m lucky enough to live just an hour’s drive from the world class Kröller-Müller museum which houses many of van Gogh’s works, and is surrounded by a wonderful sculpture park. I love art in nature, seeing the sculptures in a natural surrounding, being able to interact with the work, touch it, walk round it, experience it fully. The forms and colours of the weathered stone eventually find themselves into my work in one way or another.

New in my shop

For 2021, I’ve produced this unique calendar which features 13 different images of my textile designs. It’s a different take on my designs, viewing them as little pieces of woven art. A limited number of these is available in my shop and you can see more by clicking here.

Upcoming events

I have an open studio planned for the 6th/7th November, 11.00-15.00, for those who are in The Hague and surroundings. Due to the current restrictions in The Netherlands, you’ll need to book, which you can do by filling out the contact form on my website by clicking here. Numbers are very limited and on a first come, first serve basis. You’ll be able to find out about my design process, how I translate this into a woven piece, and I’ll be giving weaving demonstrations.

Studio view

Finally, I’ll leave you with the current stack of soft, warm, luxurious lambswool scarves I’ve been working on over the past year or so. Rich colours pulled together on the loom, fusing colour, texture and pattern in a process of colour exploration.

Thank you for reading this far, and hope to see you here again soon! If you’re interested to see more, I post regularly on Instagram – some daily inspiration and an insight into my creative practice.

Veronica