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Published: 20 January 2018

By Andy Ross

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An interesting week

This week has been busy at the studio, and very interesting. 

The warp has gone onto the beam and in the sunlight the colours glow and shine. Alicja, who worked with us last year, chose the colours and worked out the original sequencing of them, and I then worked out the new sequencing for Alvin-the-loom. The sequence is based on Fibonacci's famous working where the number to come is the sum of the previous two numbers - 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13, etc. This mathematical formula describes spirals in nature such as exist in the whorls of a sunflower or the horns of a sheep, and it was also the basis of the sculpture that started us on our weaving adventures: the Maelstrom (pictured left).

For this warp I discarded the first few numbers and started with 1 for the colours. Then the sequence went up to 13 and returned. At the same time as it was returning, a second sequence was started, going in the opposite direction. It is a little difficult to explain but maybe numbers (and a picture) will help. 

13 threads of colour one plus 1 of colour two

8 threads of colour one plus 2 of colour two

5 threads of colour one plus 3 of colour two

3 threads of colour one plus 5 of colour two

2 threads of colour one plus 8 of colour two

1 thread of colour one plus 13 of colour two

1 of colour three plus 8 of colour two.

So, as I have said already, the warp is now on the back beam and ready to be threaded. There are going to be three different cloths across the loom, i.e. there are three different threadings and so we will get three variations of completed bed runners. 

Here is another picture of the warp showing the gap between the different lengths and the threads ready to be sorted for threading in the background, and lastly, a picture of the threads in the sun to show why it is such a satisfying warp to be working on.

So far, so good, but the week was not finished with us yet. 

While the warp was going on we had amazing weather. Huge clouds, heavy with snow, surrounded the studio and out of the windows we have had the most beautiful colours. The white of the snow against the peat hills and the steely grey green of the sea. Who could fail to be inspired? We have not had the snow that those further south have experienced and so far less disruption and, because we all live beside the sea, every morning has been a joyful celebration of colour. 

This has also been the week when the length of day has noticeably changed. The sun is coming up earlier each day, spreading orange across the horizon, and going down later each evening. For us the daylight changes very quickly from now. A month after the shortest day we have an hour and a half difference in our daylight hours already and, believe me, it makes for glad hearts!  

Also this week I was very pleased to have a visit from MA students from the University of the Highlands and Islands. The nine visitors drove up to spend the day in the North Isles and we had a very pleasant hour or so, chatting and talking about all things art, craft and community. It is always good to meet other people and especially those who have an artistic leaning. Thank you for visiting us. 

And lastly, no week is complete without learning something new (and preferably more than one thing). A great joy this week has been the learning about new species. We seem to be in an age when new discoveries of all types of creature and plant are happening. Newly designated primates, new dinosaurs, new plants.. the list goes on. And some are not new at all but are new to me. Have you heard about this amazing orchidRhizanthella gardneri, which lives and blooms underground, unseen by anyone but living its life out just as orchids do on the surface of our planet?