At Woolyknit, we love to see your amazing yarn creations on social media, and each month we like to get to know a small business owner and celebrate their incredible talent. This week we wanted to introduce you to the wonderful weaver, Kate Greatorex.
Owner of Wiseheart Textiles, and half of Wiseheart and Wild, Kate makes beautiful woven textiles with the intent of using traditional crafting techniques to create stunning pieces for a modern, sustainable home. As well as sharing her finished woven pieces, Kate also shares her time and knowledge in weaving and spinning workshops, all of which can be found on the Wiseheart and Wild online shop.
This week we chatted to Kate about her creative process and favourite Woolyknit yarn to work with, as well as her advice for beginner weavers and new shop owners.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how Wiseheart Textiles started
I am a professional textile artisan, specialising in handwoven cloth and rugs. Four years ago I took a chance and opened a studio, which grew into Wiseheart & Wild, a collaboration with my daughter, fellow fibre artist, Wild Spinster. We now share a studio space and gallery in New Mills where, alongside our own pieces we stock a selection of locally sourced wool, and provide space for other creatives to sell their work.
Describe your work in 3 words
Beautiful, useful, natural.
What was your first ever weaving project?
A bespoke stair runner using handspun and hand-dyed wool.
What product/project are you most proud of?
My ‘New Mills Tweed’. A project a year in the making, we collected the wool ourselves and had it spun at the Halifax Spinning Mill to my exact specifications. Once it returned to new Mills, I collaborated with Wild Spinster to produce a tweed fabric that has New Mills and the High Peak at its heart.
What inspires your designs and what is your creative process?
The majority of my inspiration comes from the countryside surrounding me in the Peak District. I particularly enjoy the contrast between the wild, untamed beauty of the hills and the industrial heritage of New Mills. You often find these contrasts woven into the colours and patterns of my work.
One of the greatest influences on my work, even before I turned professional, has been the Arts and Crafts movement. As such, I always begin each new piece with the same thought, how can I make this both beautiful and practical? I believe that an object as everyday as a teatowel can be a piece of art, bringing a little bit of practical beauty to the mundane.
What is your favourite Woolyknit product to work with?
The British Wool, Yarn to Cone range.
What’s on your woolyknit wishlist?
More shades of British wool!
Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to start weaving?
Don’t think you have to start with the simplest loom. Find an experienced teacher who works in a style that inspires you and book a workshop or lesson. If you’re not sure what kind of weaving you would like to do, try a couple of courses. Equipment can be expensive, and not every loom can do every type of weaving so experiment through courses and workshops first.
What do you love to do when you’re not working on weaving?
I always have some knitting or spinning on the go. It can be hard to get me out of the studio, so every so often Wild Spinster will kidnap me for an adventure. They usually entail quite a bit of food, a lot of fresh air, and at least one incident of getting deliberately lost somewhere in the wilds of northern England!
What do you enjoy most about running your own shop?
Collaborations with other creatives. We’re so lucky to be surrounded by a lot of artists in the High Peak. I regularly work with Wild Spinster and more recently have combined forces with a local tailor to produce a range of accessories and clothing using the New Mills Tweed.
What advice do you have for anyone who would like to open their own shop?
Work with something you’re passionate about, know every detail of your products. It’s not as easy as it looks! I got lucky, Wild Spinster has over a decade of experience in retail and really knows her stuff. It would have been very overwhelming at times without her. Even if you’re a people person, get some customer training. Most of all though, remember that retail should be fun and theatrical, so go wild with your displays, give yourself a shop ‘alter-ego’, have fun and your customers will too.
If you want to be a part of our meet the maker series, make sure you tag us using @Woolyknit on your Instagram photos.
All images by @Wiseheart_Textiles, @WildSpinster and @eren.drake.photography