14 05 2010

An interesting phone call came today from one of the people heding up the Ix project/center. The moment I found out about Ix,


 I thought it would be a good place for a textile incubator in Charlottesville. Desireable, eventually, though perhaps not for several years (sort of like the Looses Building on Magdalene St. in Norwich was). Very close to home (considerbly closer than Looses was).

But the history of Ix as a textile factory was especially attractive. If I had to state the focus of my textile work, it’s preserving traditional techniques by taking full advantage of advances in materials and tools for doing those traditional techniques. Having the incubator in Ix would be creating new types of textile businesses in a location with a textile history.

I have no idea if this will come off. Heck, at present I have no voice for extensive discussion of it even. I know that considerable effort was put into a similar idea a few years ago and came to nothing. The reasons I’ve been given for that make me wary.

And yet….

I WILL follow up on the call tomorrow, perhaps in person so as to not strain my voice more than is absolutely necessary.


Corset Customers and Local Wools

4 12 2009

Pocktorian Textiles, the textile incubator, progresses in small measures, day by day. Yesterday, Rebecca Spragge


brought in one of her marvelous corsets along with some cards. It was more for attention getting than for selling, or so she thought, so she didn’t initially set a price for it. However, not five minutes after she left, someone asked the price. After I had another query about the price later in the day, I contacted her and she set one.

Looses is a place for treasure hunters, lots of well-used of doubtful further use, yet lots of genuinely desirable antiques as well, and some marvelous things in between that are beautifully made, yet the workmanship was lavished on something not nearly as useful now and when the piece was made, like some of the beautifully housed old phonographs. I, of course, notice the textile treasures, like a christening gown lavished with several types handwork. Should it be a surprise that those interested in searching out the treasures among the bric-a-brac are also interested in the work of a present day maker that has the potential to become a treasured antique?

Today came more confirmation that I am on the right track with my intention of featuring locally sourced wool, rovings, yarn, and other materials of interest to makers. My mailing list for locally sourced knitting yarn and felting tops is begun.

If you are a local maker of any kind of textile work, including paper or baskets, or a local farmer who has fleeces, or wool, or roving, or felting tops, or handspun yarn, or yarn from local wool or alpaca, or a woodworker who makes equipment for textile work, knitting needles, spindles, spinning wheels, warping mills, even looms, please contact me. Help me really bring textiles back to Norfolk.

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.

Pocktorian Textiles! TaDa!

10 06 2009

Hello. I’m a textile designer. I’ve loved textiles for as long as I can remember. I’ve been designing them at least since the time my kindergarden teacher gave me a picture of mittens to color. And I’ve been learning every textile skill I had access to for some time now. Finally, I went back to school (The Fashion Institute of Technology) and got a degree in it, then worked in New York City’s garment district for several years. Then I moved to Norwich, UK.

I chose Norwich, from all the cities in East Anglia having done my research. The whole area was famous for textiles and had been for close to a thousand years! In the 1500’s Norwich was England’s second largest city because of textiles. There was a particularly bright red color called Norwich Red. You’ve heard of worsted yarn? The town it’s named for is just down the road. And there is a whole book on the subject of Norwich shawls, which were handwoven paisley. Norwich’s textile history was deep and varied and long.

What about the present? I checked the local institutions of higher education and found several offering various degrees in textiles, including graduate degrees. This, I thought, was my kind of place. Surely there would be a job for me here.

There wasn’t. I had come a bit too late. Norwich’s textile industry was essentially defunct.

It took me a while, but I’ve now figured out a way to restart Norwich’s textile industry. I’ve learned a bit over the last few years. I’ve learned that East Anglians have tight ties to East Anglia and prefer to live here, even choosing it over practising what they studied. So there are a lot of people with a lot of textile knowledge practising those skills as best they can while doing other work. I’ve learned that there is no longer a good market for the wool of the sheep raised in the area, and therefore farmers don’t raise sheep for the wool, but you can have the wool if you’re willing to pay for the shearing. I’ve learned that there are local farmers raising alpacas, too, and another whole farm devoted to growing and prcessing natural dyes, woad (indigo blue) in particular. There are still textile treasures in Norfolk, and there are still people who would just love to earn their livings in textile businesses.

I want to help them start their own by establishing a textile incubator, a shared workroom studio containing all the equipment needed to take fibres to finished products, thus saving them the trouble of  establishing premises and buying a lot of equipment to start with. We’ll also share our knowledge with each other. We’ll collaborate. We’ll plan and purchase together. And we’ll sell our work together. And, I hope, Norwich’s textile industry will rise again via new kind of cottage industry.

A few weeks ago, I went to an exhibit of some very old pattern books from Norwich weavers. There was also a poem in the exhibit, and I have taken the name of my incubator from that poem. How could I not? Some of the lines went like this:

“One more, ye Pocktorians, shall your looks and back slums be made all alive by the clicks of your looms…Then success to the weaving and long may it flourish and bring trade and prosperity once more to old Norwich!”