This week in the Studio

It's been a busy week starting with a visit from a group of women in a photographic tour of craft businesses in Swaziland organised by Nest.  Nest ( is an organisation that "partners with the world's most promising emerging artisans to promote peace and prosperity through sustainable business development".  So, we're in extremely good company.  

Alison Wright led the photographic side of the tour.   
She is an esteemed photographer who has been published in numerous prestigous journals such as National Geographic,The New York TimesTime and many more.  I later found out that in 2000 Alison nearly lost her life in a bus accident while travelling in a remote part of Laos.  Her subsequent book, Learning to Breathe: One Woman's Journey of Spirit and Survival details her recovery and is an inspiring story of her journey back to a normal life.  I think I will be ordering it and maybe one of her breathtaking photos.  Her website can be found at and is well worth a look - incredible images from Mongolia, Tibet, Cuba, Japan.  I am sorry we did not have more time together, but the connection is made.

On the work side, we are working on a variety of carpets including a tapestry weave one which is something we do not do too often.  I am fortunate enough to have access to my tapestry weaving mother-in-law, Marguerite Stephens who helped interpret the design into a workable cartoon which the weavers follow like a map.  The designs we are weaving are based on woven textiles from Central and West Africa and convert well to a large scale.  The finished carpets will be installed in a lodge in Botswana.

We have several tufted carpets on the looms too...these are painfully slow to make as there is a layer of background mohair on to which clumps of fine mohair are knotted (tufted) to create the carpet pile.  The carpets use up a large amount of mohair so we have had to bring in some extra hands to keep the production of handspun mohair going at a good pace.  

Following a visit from a delightful weaving instructor, Glynis Brooke we have been trying two different weaving patterns on our looms and the experimentation continues.  Sitakele and Zanele have been trying different materials and combinations to get the most out of the pattern, but we still have not settled on a definite winner, so far lots of Also Rans - I need a complete departure from something that hints of dishtowel. 

With only six weeks to go before we close for our annual Summer holidays there is still plenty to complete.