Pocktorian Textiles: The Flyer

22 11 2009

Since we don’t really want to be all alone at the incubator, since we want people to come each week to find out what we’re creating or to come on Saturdays to grab the latest of our creations and see our sketches for the week to come, I’ve been working on a starting flyer to place at the tourist centre and to hand out to prospective visitors in town. I won’t include the picture because I’m using an uncropped version of the one at the top of our blog, but I would be interested in comments on the text of it. So here it is:

Pocktorian Textiles

a textile incubator

1st Floor, Looses building, Magdalene St., Norwich


Reviving Norwich’s textile heritage and putting it in your hands

 Pocktorian Textiles is a consortium of Norwich’s aspiring designers. We share space and equipment, advice and inspirations.We make things and sell them. We teach the skills we use, and we sell locally produced materials, wool, roving, yarn, and dyes, for your own creations. Something new each week.

Everything sold at Pocktorian textiles is locally raised, grown, designed, and made. You won’t find anything like it on the high street.

Come catch us in the act of creation and take some of our work, or something of  your own, home with you.

What do you think?


The Textile Incubator Is Coming Into Existence

18 11 2009

On December 1st, Pocktorian Textiles, a textile incubator will be a very real thing. It will be located in two rooms of the first floor of the Loosis Building on Magdalene St.

There is already one prospective designer besides me who will be working in the studio / workshop along with me. Her name is Ruth Solomon and she is trained as a stitcher of costumes, how to make a garment for repeated use by people differing in size and how to make adjustments and repairs. I’ve seen some of her sketches and a little bit of her work.

She plans to do alterations and repair work while she develops her line and is realy looking forward to having enough space to really sew up a storm. It’s going to be very interesting to watch her line develop. I showed her the Desigual line in a local store and she found it very inspiring.

I’ve also started contacting everyone I know locally who designs and makes very special textiles, dresses, corsets, bags, hats, costume wear, even baskets. We will be selling their work along with our own.

If you are in Norfolk and design and make any kind of textile goods, or would like to start your own line, but lack space and equipment for it, please contact me.

The third part of my incubator that I want to start right away is including locally produced materials for making wonderful things. That means locally handspun yarn, locally produced alpaca yarn, wool and roving for spinning, locally produced natural dyestuffs, locally printed fabrics, and whatever else I can think of. So if you do any of these and would like to sell in our shop, again, contact me.

Last note: I have just transferred over a number of posts and pages from another blog I had when this wild idea of mine was in the imaginary development stages. Sometimes I went a bit off track, and I’ve eliminated those posts. Some things in those old posts may seem a bit off. I’m likely to be doing more editing. The ones I’ve left had something too do with the progress of my idea, and I’ve totally rewritten the first one explaining how I came to this point to begin with.

Please do look at the other pages I’ve attached with pictures of my work (assuming they made it through the transfer. If not I’ll be fixing that soon). I’ll add pictures of work from the other artists as soon as I acquire them.

My Business Model is Evolving

19 08 2009

Oh I still have every intention of reviving Norwich’s textile industry in a hi-tech cottage textile industry kind of way. My vision of what I’m building up to never changes, but my ideas of how I might get there, and my ideas of what I’m going to be doing with my time to bring in a living seem to be evolving in front of my eyes.

I’m not really surprised. One problem I’ve always had was with market research. Basically, the only way to know which of the things you want to offer people will actually spend money on is to put your offers out there and see what happens.

So far, I’ve found out that there’s apparently not much demand for bespoke interior textiles locally. At least I haven’t been able to locate it. Nor was there much demand for my handmade goods from the people who came into the Textile Centre, though at least one other person in the Centre seemed to be doing pretty well.

But I’m getting weaving students. And weaving and teaching weaving are probably the things I like doing the best of all the things I know how to do. Sometimes, the world decides to cooperate with you.

Considering the state of the UK’s textile industry, it would seem that setting myself the task of reviving it would be an unlikely career plan. But slow but surely, it just might be working.

So I’m not saying I’d turn down a commission of some sort. I’m just saying it begins to look like I’ll be doing a good deal of teaching (which pleases me mightily since I highly value all these handskills I have and it would be a pity not to pass them on) and some making of the really fine things I want to make (I’ve got a shadow-weave chenille scarf on the loom just now.) and about ten other ideas for how I might be able to bring in a little cash from one way or another.

And, recently, I’m really enjoying my life.

(All the sunshine we’ve had this summer has something to do with it. I make sure I get my hour in the sun every day there’s enough sun and heat for that. But the other things I’m doing have a lot to do with it too.)

Reviving Norwich's Textile Industry

4 08 2009

I know I’ve taken this blog in an entirely different direction than I origianlly intended. This is probably because what you really want to do WILL surface, if you let it. Close just doesn’t really count, no matter how “unrealistic” what you really want to do is.

I want to establish a contemporary kind of high-tech cottage textile industry, in Norwich, because Norwich should really have one. Schools and universities in the Norwich area graduate large numbers of folks with textile qualifications. Norwich University College of the Arts is even planning a fashion program. Many of those students would like to remain in Norfolk. In fact, they do, doing jobs they aren’t nearly as interested in as they are interested in textiles, and doing or selling a bit of what they would truly love to be doing on the side. I think that’s a real pity.

Wool and alpaca and a natural dye company are all present within the county. (I hear that farmers are burning the wool or giving it away to whoever will pay for the sheering, another real pity.) Linen and silk is produced in the EU, and if Turkey joins it, cotton will be too. High quality cotton.

The technology for taking fiber to  products has been automated and has shrunk to the point that all the equipment needed could fit into a room not much bigger than the average living room. And there is no need for the work to be near as punishing to the human body.

I envision a new kind of high-tech cottage textile industry.

Shoes, My Next Speech, and Items of Rooted Beauty

22 07 2009

Today was a good day. I definitely needed one because yesterday was not.

I spent most of the day in a business training meeting. The first part was on networking. I was surprised how little internet networking possibilities were mentioned. I have some notes on changes I want to make to my business card though, and I’ll be looking for some FREE local networking activities. I have a feeling they won’t be official networking activities. More likely are visits to exhibits, during which I keep in mind networking. Maybe just an effort toward constant awareness of networking possibilities, but hopefully more than that. Also, my elevator speech is now one that can be delivered on the elevator of a building of less than 75 stories. It’s actually down to 30 seconds flat and I like it.

The second half was about presentations. Considering that I’ve been active in Toastmasters for a good half a year now, it was not surprising that there wasn’t much advice and strategy of presentations I hadn’t heard of. But the timing was perfect. Tomorrow I give my second speech at Toastmasters. I’ve been turning different ideas over in my head, but hadn’t really sat down and worked on it yet.

So I used the opportunity to practise for tomorrow, and I’ll be darned, what I produced was highly praised. I do think my attendance at Toastmasters has produced noticeable results. It’s done wonders for my confidence about actually being able to make a business of this. The instructor said the kind of enthusiam I have for my business is a good predictor of success. I’m finding myself imagining how it might actually happen. Amazing!

The second thing I want to write about is a project that pays nothing, though it might produce some useful publicity, and it should make some money for a charity. I’ve been commissioned to review a book for a website (the commission being keeping the book). The book is about turning unattractive or dull shoes into some really impressive shoes. Since it’s an instructional book, I think trying out a project needs to be part of the review. I proposed making a deal with a charity shop to allow me to take some of their shoes and tart them up. The website liked the idea, and the very first charity shop I approached approved it on the spot and let me choose three pairs of shoes to transform. Then they’ll be featured in the window with an attribution. Dig it!

Ah yes. and “Items of Rooted Beauty”. An e-mail discussion group I subscribe to has been discussing how difficult it is to make a living in one of my favorite craft arts these days. It was partly that discussion that had me down yesterday. But it is also that discussion that led me to try to find a description of the difference between the types of items I make and all those mass market things that might fill some of the same purposes. What I make are:

Items of Rooted Beauty.


12 07 2009

I woke up today wondering how I could possibly find a way to talk enough people into paying me minimum wage, just minimum wage is good enough, for doing the quality of fiberwork-needlework-fiberarts you now usually only find in shops that sell antique textiles.

There are people who manage to do it one way or another. Some are costumers with high-end clients or costumers for period dramas where the work will be seen up close and has to be authentically done. Some have written books and are well enough known to be in demand worldwide as teachers. The lastest issue of Selvege


 features a studio known for the quality of its pleating. LeSage


 and Hand and Lock


 do exquisite embroidery.

My version of “If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why oh why can’t I?”

Tonight, for some reason, I decided to finally see what the word “steampunk”, which keeps entering my range of awareness, really meant.

As I understand it, the origin is a type of fiction that blends older times (often Victorian) and modern advances (think the old TV show/movie Wild Wild West) . What if the Hindenburg never happened and the dirigible was highly developed instead of the airplane? What if computers ran on clockworks? In fashion and furnishings, it’s related to punk. A corset made of a computer game based print might be steampunk. I’m still getting a handle on it.

If I understand it correctly, a cushion made of black muslin smocked with neon threads or threads that are essentially white until they turn colors in strong light would be steampunk. Free lace done all in black, perhaps. (I keep thinking black, but all the Victorian colors would work. I think I see the potential for using all those practically achaic skills I love and admire in a way that has a current market.

By the way, I finished my ethereal random-long-tucked machine knit shawl. I’ll scan and post a picture detail of it tomorrow. I like it. It gives the impression of well-worn tatters that I wanted. I’m going to do more with the technique.

Mark-Making w/ Tucks and a Book

10 07 2009

I’ve finished my double-layer skirt/shrug.  (It really is time for a photoshoot.) It is gathered, almost in cartridge pleats, by matched side-by-side tucks, and I’m going to add some decorative crochet on the edges of one of the layers. On me, it is definitely a shrug, rather than a skirt, and I think the idea will work better on a one-layer skirt, but first I’m doing another project.

It’s my first machine-knit “art fabric”.

My knitting machine is a bulky, and meant to use thicker yarns than a non-bulky knitting machine. My play with organized tucks using several threads at once has produced the Gutsy Gatsby scarf (mentioned in another post, but not yet photographed) and the cartridge-pleated double layer shrug/skirt, both of which producing decorative elements that could be easily used for cushions.

So now that I’ve got a good handle on tucks, I’m using a single thin yarn to make a very light and airy translucent fabric, so translucent that tucks can be used to “draw”, to “make marks” that will be visible from either side of the fabric. Afterwards, I plan to drape the fabric on a dressform, layering, and gathering, and tucking, and pleating a unique garment in which the tuck “marks” are a feature.

I’also gotten my hands on a marvelous book. Some time ago, I saw the book in a bookstore, thought it was a new book, and decided to ask to review it for a website with the idea that I’d get it for free. But it wasn’t a new book, and it was gone the next time I went to the store. I looked it up on the web, but I wanted to look through it again before I bought it.

Now I have, and oh, the ideas it has inspired. What can be done with plain muslim is amazing.

Alright, I’ll tell you. The book is “The Art of Manipulating Fabric” by Colette Wolff. And I can’t wait to start using the techniques to make fabulous things. I’m going to have to add a page. I just know it.