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.

New Editions of The Bristol Blanket for 2022

In 2020 I created The Bristol Blanket in response to the daily walks I had around Bristol’s colourful houses with my family during the first lockdown. This was also to raise money for MIND – the mental health charity.

If you’re familiar with my home city of Bristol, you might have noticed that the inspiring painted houses overlooking the harbour frequently get a makeover. If you’re not, here’s a photo from a recent harbourside walk. Spot the new additions in luscious ochre and grey.

This gave me the idea to subtly alter the design and the shades I’ve used the Bristol Blanket.

Now there are three fabulous options for you to choose from this season; Original, SUMMER (left), and WINTER (right). 

EARLYBIRD DISCOUNT ON NEW EDITIONS

The official launch of these new colours is Spring 2022.

But if you like being ahead of the pack I’m offering an early-bird discount. Simply select SUMMER or WINTER from my online shop. Then use the code EARLYBIRD21 to receive a whopping 20% off your blanket. They’re available for immediate posting so will be with you in good time for Christmas if this is for a gift.

The blankets are a warming addition to any bedroom or sofa. And they are just the thing to snuggle up under in front of the fire this winter. Lots of the recipients have fed back that they feel they were sent a soothing, cosy hug through the post, so why not send the gift of warmth and joy this Christmas.

Under Your Feet. Ruthin Craft Centre 6 April-14 July

Under your feet: The Contemporary Rug is a celebration of rugs designed in the British Isles.

WAVE rug by Angie Parker. Photo: Article Studio

Many moons ago (we’re talking mid 1990’s), I visited the Christopher Farr rug showroom in London as a rug weaving graduate, and whistfully tried to figure out how I could get from where I was, to being part of the contemporary rug scene. I’ll admit that getting sidetracked by a rather lovely career in costume for theatre and TV clearly wasn’t the most effective way to do it.

However, fast forward to 2019, and I’m over the moon to share that there’s a new exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre, where my handwoven rugs will hang alongside eighteen of the countries leading rug designers, including artists for Christopher Farr.

Under Your Feet: The Contemporary Rug
6 April – 4 July 2019
Park Road, Ruthin.
Denbighshire
LL15 1BB


The exhibition is bringing together many of my idols from the world of floorcovering design (see list below), and I’m thrilled to be there too.

I’m also really proud to be representing the tiny portion of UK rug designers who make their own rugs, and I’m delighted to see British rug weaving given this platform.

Angie Parker at the loom. Photo: Jo Hounsome Photography
WAVE rug on the loom in Angie’s Bristol Studio.

I weave a limited number of rugs each year in my Bristol studio and accept commissions from lovers of colour who are looking for a bespoke piece of floor art for their interior. More on that here. My distinctive and intricate Krokbragd rugs combine contemporary patterns with an instinctive and daring approach to colour.

Angie Parker. Fryktlos. Photo: Yeshen Venema


A few words from the curators; Jane Audas and Gregory Parsons.

Rugs defy definition. They might be craft, interior design, product design or textile art. A rug is a large presence within a room. It brings texture, colour, design and wit to an interior, where it will focus the eye and comfort the feet. Depending on the rug, it might pull together an overall interior aesthetic, or provide a significant visual exclamation point for an otherwise quiet room.

Some rugs are entirely made by designer makers. Sometimes design and production are separated out. This exhibition will showcase both types of rug; but for the latter the curators have chosen rugs whose ethical production methods are declared at source.

Helen Yardley. Force

Kate Blee Cast (for Christopher Farr)

This exhibition is a timely reminder that underfoot, or on a wall, rugs remain as vibrant and relevant as any other craft medium. And we have chosen to use the word ‘rug’ (instead of ‘carpet’) as we feel it talks to craft production and the smaller domestic setting in a way that ‘carpet’ doesn’t.

Makers in the exhibition are: Lesley Barnes, Kate Blee for Christopher Farr, Claire Gaudion, Adam Higton, Irene Infantes for Christopher Farr, Tania Johnson, Andrew Ludick for Ceadogán Rugs, Ptolemy Mann Rugs, Mourne Textiles, Patricia Murphy for Ceadogán Rugs, Alan Oliver, Angie Parker, Eleanor Pritchard for CASE, Rachel Scott, Margo Selby, Helen Steele for Ceadogán Rugs, Gunta Stölzl by Christopher Farr, Collett Zarzycki for Christopher Farr and Helen Yardley.

Margo Selby. Logan

The exhibition Under Your Feet: The Contemporary Rug runs from 6th April to 14th July 2019 at Ruthin Craft Centre, Park Road, Ruthin LL15 1BB, Wales. This exhibition will spread out before you a stunning selection of the best rugs by the best makers working today.