Another superfast 6 months – I still have the beginnings of a post sitting in my drafts folder from July, when I had just started my 3-month internship in Edinburgh at Araminta Campbell Textiles. I am now sitting in my new flat just outside Leeds, 3 months into a new job at cashmere weavers Joshua Ellis & Co.
Working with Araminta for three months was great, and just the right kind of work to be doing immediately after my degree. As a weave designer, it is rare to have a chance to handweave as a job, so I made the most of that. It was for three days a week, so I kept up my pub job for two days a week as well. Always a busy bee! I learned a new method of warping up on the dobby loom which allows one person to wind, stretch and beam the warp alone in a confined space – really useful if space is at a premium. Through some research for Araminta’s blog I had an opportunity to learn more about alpacas (docile, easy to keep and becoming more popular in the UK) and their fleece (two varieties: Suri and Huacaya), and to visit specialist spinners The Border Mill (and their alpaca farm!) in the Scottish Borders. Quite an immersive alpaca experience in addition to weaving it almost every day! I traveled with Araminta to Perthshire for just under a week to help set up her stand and sell her products at Blair Horse Trials in September – by that time some of the alpaca cushion covers I had woven and assembled were on display so it came with a sense of achievement. Araminta also won the prize for Best Stand at the end of the week so it was a really positive experience.
I want to briefly mention the Worshipful Company of Bonnetmakers and Dyers Prize that I was awarded when I graduated. It was for Best Student Project on the Textiles course so it was amazing to get it. The dinner and ceremony were held at the end of October at the beautiful Trades House in Glasgow, which felt like a fitting way to mark the end of my time in Edinburgh and the start of my new adventure in Batley.
At the start of November it was already time for me to leave to take up my new job at Joshua Ellis in West Yorkshire. This had come about through a brief conversation at the New Designers exhibition in London at the end of June – just shows that you never know what life might offer you and who or where it could come from. I had never considered a role in sales before, so I went for the interview with an open mind and not expecting too much. I really enjoyed the sound of the job and the prospect of interacting with customers and talking about fabrics. The fact that it is based at a mill and provides a direct connection to the fabric being produced is also important to me. Before graduating I had just assumed that I would pursue a design job – as you do after a design degree. But working with Araminta in production rather than designing showed me that I could definitely enjoy a ‘non-design’ job – and also that whatever I do, I am likely to bring a bit of design creativity into it somehow because that is who I am. So when Joshua Ellis offered me the sales position, I decided that this would be an opportunity to learn some new and different ways to be creative.
My job title is Sales Coordinator, but the actual work encompasses many things. Three main headlines: I look after the coordination of accessories orders at the labelling, packing and finishing stage; I am gaining experience of sales meetings with a view to being able to present our collections to customers independently in two of our main international markets; and most recently I have been handed the reins of our social media output – obviously with guidance and not completely on carte blanche! Other things have included helping out on a product photo shoot with a professional photographer, and putting together presentation documents such as brochures or company profiles. So the creative things still get a look in here and there. Definitely all change and lots to learn, but I love a challenge and I am always happy when I’m learning new things.
So far, so positive. But I should also say that it has not all been easy. Moving away from Edinburgh has been hard, and has felt more difficult recently, now that the novelty of the new job/flat/town is wearing off. I miss being able to meet up with friends spontaneously on weeknights or weekends as I please. I have not yet built up a social circle here in Batley so I think it will take some time before I feel settled in that sense. I always find starting a new job very tiring as there is so much to take in, and this job has been no exception. With the winter cold and darkness, my instinct on coming home after work has been to hibernate, and to save my energy for trips home to Edinburgh and visits from Mr Wonderful. However for once I decided not to fight this need for rest and a bit of quiet. The slowing down has given me time to take stock, and I’ve enjoyed just chilling in my new flat or taking walks exploring my new hood. It is very unlike me to choose to do less when I could do more, but I think the alternative would have been some sort of horrible flu and migraine onslaught, which I have so far (touch wood!) avoided. I now feel like I am finally ready to wake up a bit and come back to a more sociable life again. Maybe I’m turning into a grown-up 😊
A couple of photos from my days out exploring… I get very excited when there are hills to climb and get great views from. Might be the Swiss upbringing…
Thanks for reading!