Would you like 2 tonnes of wool with that?

When the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase the entire contents of the Collingwood rug weaving workshop came up, my gut instinct, without much hesitation, was to snap it up.

Admittedly, the UK’s most prominent and successful rug weaver, Jason Collingwood, announced his retirement a little sooner than I had expected. I wasn’t quite ready, but it was only a ‘small’ matter of logistics.

I simply had to move three full-size looms, all the additional equipment, and approximately 2 tonnes of yarn from Nayland in Colchester, to my shared studio space in Bristol. Only that! Oh, and the sampling loom made from a piano! Fortunately, the reality has allowed this to happen in stages, so much less overwhelming.

Three looms in the Collingwood workshop-Nayland. Photo: Theo Rooden

Serendipity

There were signals from the onset that this was the right move.

Firstly, I’d set my heart on one day owning the Harrisville shaft switching loom after weaving a rug on it in 2014. I voiced this intention at the time, and possibly a few times since, which put me at the top of the list when Jason decided to sell up. (Does anyone reading know if there are any more of these looms in the UK?)

The fact that I could make the figures work was obviously the biggest factor. 12 months earlier my business couldn’t consider this acquisition financially.

Initially, I expected to move my workshop to new premises for more space. However, in a serendipitous twist, the two adjoining spaces in my studios became available (was it something I said?), and I was able to expand without having to move.

It’s a bit of a squash and a squeeze and it certainly ain’t ‘Instagram pretty’, but it’s working for me and I love being at BV Studios. I can walk to work and it’s filled with so many amazing artists and friends.

Closing a chapter and cobwebs

The move is taking longer than originally estimated, but personally, I think this is better than an abrupt end to this chapter. There’s so much weaving history and some incredible cobwebs in The Old School and I’m conscious to be respectful of what came before. Two more trips should cover it though and I’ll miss my 24-hour mini-breaks driving a white van.

In the meantime, I’m knuckling down to some intense core strengthening and some hardcore rug weaving. And whilst I’ve no inclination, nor the skill set to emulate the prolific business model used by the looms previous owners, I do have productivity targets that require an improved level of stamina and endurance. (Note to self-Time to Plank).

Insane or savvy?

And the wool… Yes, let’s not gloss over the wool-shaped elephant in the room. A wise friend advised me not to go near it, but I’m trusting my gut instincts as they’ve served me well so far, and a deal’s a deal.

One section of the wool storage in the Collingwood workshop.
Ridiculous…

That said, my inner critic is screeching expletives on a regular basis about the ridiculous amount of yarn I’ve just transported across the country. Luckily, my inner advocate is louder, and I’m reminding myself that I now have the option to grow my business without buying new raw materials…ever again!

I’ll also try to sell what I don’t need over the coming months so drop me a line if you’re in the market for some good quality sustainable wool.

Life is a fairytale…by the brothers Grimm. Illustration: Vera Southgate

Yes, right now I feel I’m playing all the key roles in a weaving version of Rumpelstiltskin, although fortunately, no infants need to change hands in return for weaving this heap of wool into rugs.

There’s plenty more to share about my plans for this unusual business move. It feels nuts to be surrounded by more wool than I’m ever likely to weave, and so many looms.

However, it also feels right that this special collection of looms is staying together for the time being, and I’m looking forward to the time when I can open my studio doors for other weavers to use them, while I (to coin someone else’s phrase), pick up the baton to take on the world…one rug at a time. That should be shuttle really, shouldn’t it?

Angie Parker Phtoto: Alice Hendy Photography

Angie Parker is a weaver, designer, and colourist, based at BV Studios in Bristol. She trained in rug weaving in the 1990s and started her textile practice 8 years ago. Subscribers to her newsletter are the first to see new designs and also get access to special offers and exhibition news. Sign up here to keep in the loop.

Bristol Weaving Mill and Angie Parker Textiles

A micro-mill based in the heart of Bristol

Did you know that Bristol has a weaving mill?

Not only that, but a weaving mill that specialises in niche cloth production and that is a short walk from the City centre, (and conveniently for me, a 20 minutes walk from my studio).

I first heard about it when it was still a concept in 2014. I was a delegate at the ‘Loom’-A Textile Seminar, as part of the Stroud International textiles program. Chaired by Helen Foot, the seminar brought together a panel of contemporary weavers to discuss their woven production methods and how it affects their practices. The audience was a who’s who of established and emerging weavers, and the impressive lineup of speakers included Kirsty McDougall of Dashing Tweeds, and Franki Brewer, and Juliet Bailey, from renowned textile design studio Dash and Miller amongst others.

This was the first time I heard Franki and Juliet, the founders of Bristol Weaving Mill (BWM), talk about their dream and vision of creating a space where innovative fabric design could embrace traditional manufacturing processes. The result is a micro-mill based in the heart of Bristol which opened its shutters in 2015 and has since gone on to create some of the most exclusive, bespoke, and experimental fabrics imaginable for the international fashion and interior industries.

The first power loom in Bristol for 100 years

With such an amazing resource right on my doorstep, it’s no surprise that I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to work with this dynamic team since setting up my business. What I didn’t expect was that the perfect project would come about because of COVID-19. (More about that here).

Creating my new product with BWM during this global pandemic was remarkably straightforward. In part because of the location, but mainly because they are such a bloomin’ fabulously lovely, talented, and professional team. With safety at the forefront of our minds, most of the initial production planning was carried out via email, phone and zoom, as it would have been if I lived further away. But one huge difference was the rather happy coincidence that Rowenna, the Product Development, and Sales Manager, lives four minutes walk from my front door. Having the opportunity to meet face to face on those sweltering sunny days, even if it was in the street, was hugely beneficial when working through the samples and fine-tuning how to translate my handwoven designs to a power loom. As we didn’t have to rely on the postal service, it saved us days. I think we’ll all agree that as much as we’ve embraced the benefits of technology, nothing beats a real-life chat.

Inspiration for the new design was found in the colourful houses of Bristol which were saw on our daily walks during lockdown.
Inspiration for the new design was found in the colourful houses of Bristol which we saw on our daily walks during the lockdown.

I’m delighted to reveal the new collection and The Bristol Blanket woven in partnership with the BWM. The design for this luxurious and soft blanket is inspired by the colourful houses of Bristol which became a familiar and uplifting backdrop to our daily walks during the lockdown. (More about the inspiration here). The micro collection of handwoven rugs, woven art panels, and samples created in my workshop have informed the final design, and I love that we have a product that is typically Angie Parker, and typically Bristol! Head over to my online shop to discover more.

Angie Parker Phtoto: Alice Hendy Photography

Angie Parker is a weaver, designer, and colourist, based at BV Studios in Bedminster. She trained in rug weaving in the 1990s and started her textile practice 6 years ago. Her latest collection of handwoven designs and small batch-produced textiles has been launched ahead of schedule in September 2020. Subscribers to her newsletter are the first to see new designs and also get access to special offers and exhibition news. Sign up here to keep in the loop.

The Bristol Blanket

It’s a Bristol thing……

Inspired by Bristol and woven in partnership with Bristol Weaving Mill.

The Bristol Blanket. Photo: Article Studio

Earlier this year, like many people, I reshuffled my life and business to fit with the changing shape of 2020. Planned teaching and usual selling opportunities had slipped away and I had to find a different way to sustain my business and reach my customers, (as well as the added bonus of being a less than adequate home school teacher to our three children).

It was an interesting and sometimes challenging transition, but one that I’m thankful for, especially in light of so many livelihoods that simply don’t have the option of adapting to fit new regulations. And out of this shake up came the opportunity to action a plan that had been waiting in the wings for the right moment. Enter stage right: The Bristol Blanket

The decision to produce the blanket with Bristol Weaving Mill wasn’t really a decision at all on my part. As I saw my handwoven designs, inspired by the Bristol houses, develop on my sampling loom and in my sketchbooks, it became obvious who I had to work with on this project. Click on the links to read more about the production journey and the inspiration in these additional blog posts.

Bristol Weaving Mill.

I’ve continued to weave a limited number of commissioned rugs and art panels throughout the year, and was also able to weave the capsule collection, pictured below, to support the new blanket design. In the midst of so much uncertainty in the news, the sessions at the loom were refreshingly grounding and I never take for granted that half my job is to focus on the calming rhythmic process of weaving . That said, it’s been quite full on, and seeing this project come together during the photo-shoot with the superb Article Studio was quite a momentous day after months of planning.

The Bristol Blanket Collection. Photo: Article Studio Furniture: Timberwoolf

Five feel good things I’d like you to know about The Bristol Blanket

The design is inspired by Bristol’s colourful houses, which brightened up our daily walks during lock down in the Spring. Read more here

It is woven in partnership with Bristol Weaving Mill. A renowned micro mill in the heart of my home city of Bristol which specialises in innovative design. Read more here


The optimistic colours in this sumptuous 100% lambswool blanket are designed to lift your spirits and bring warmth and joy to your home, and it is so soft. (I provide samples for those who prefer to feel the quality of a textile product before they invest. Drop me a line if you’d like to receive one).

The design reflects the connections with our neighbours and local community which for many were strengthened during lock down. As an artist I wanted to design a collection that echoed the special bonds that formed from the shared experiences, in the hope that we continue to strengthen them and support each other.

For every blanket sold, 10% of the profit will go to MIND- the mental health charity.

I’m delighted to launch The Bristol Blanket ahead of schedule and hope I can help to bring warmth and joy to more people this winter. Drop me a line if you have any questions and head over to my online shop to check out this uplifting new design from my Bristol studio.

Inspirational streets of Bristol. Photo: Vicky White Photography
The Bristol Blanket. Image Article Studio. Bed: Timberwoolf
The Bristol Blanket Photo: Article Studio
Angie Parker. Photo: Alice Hendy Photography

Angie Parker is a weaver, designer and colourist, based at BV Studios in Bedminster. She trained in rug weaving in the 1990’s and started her textile practice 6 years ago. Her latest collection of handwoven designs and small batch produced textiles has been launched ahead of schedule in September 2020. Subscribers to her newsletter are the first to see new designs and also get access to special offers and exhibition news. Sign up here to keep in the loop.