Join date: Mar 15, 2021

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I am working towards a second career in textiles. I am currently studying Ba Design for Textiles, at Heriot Watt University, Galashiels, and I am keen to specialise in knitting. This wasn’t a planned journey, but happened through circumstance.

I am in my fifties, and previously worked for the NHS for nearly 25 years. I have always ‘crafted’ though, and my mother, being a Home Economics teacher, helped me make my first skirt for my doll Sascha, aged six. It would be around this time that my paternal grandmother also taught me to knit. It means that I have always had a sense of ‘making’ something by hand, and the importance of tactile and visual information. My mother especially taught me about clothes, and colour and “putting things together.” Her favourites were browns, or as she called them, her “slurgy” colours. I prefer cool colours, and I love colour mixing and blending.

Making, now brings me closer to my family. My younger sister was a talented artist, she was always the one who could draw. She died aged 40 of MS, and now I find myself drawing and painting, and loving it. I am increasingly interested in maintaining our textile heritage, and making teaching accessible to all. This reminds me of my mother. I get my creativity and curiosity from my father - he was a bit of an ‘inventor.’ He could always come up with a solution for something. One of my prized possessions is a diagram he drew, of circuit breakers, on graph paper. It is a beautiful thing. My older sister (still living) was a keen knitter for years, and could knit the most wonderful things: Kaffe Fasset and Patricia Roberts, were well known designers in our household. Ironically, she now prefers weaving, and it is I who love knitting.

I am particularly interested in exploring themes of female empowerment through textiles, and especially ‘Imposter Syndrome, and the opposite, which is being, ‘Right Massie,’ (or big headed). I want to promote the idea that failure isn’t shameful, but it is a process of iteration, and refinement, and is an essential part of design. A second theme is always sustainability: economic, social and environmental. As I finish writing this, I have literally come back from finding massive amounts of pure wool ‘thrums,’ left over from the weaving process, from a skip outside a local weave shed. Undoubtedly, I will use some sort of up cycling for this project.

Emma McLellan

Emma McLellan

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