Following on from the first in our Meet the Maker series, we're delighted this week to introduce you to Ashleigh, the man who weaves all of our wonderful blankets.
Ashleigh discovered weaving as a happy accident in 2006 and got hooked so quickly, he decided to study it at university to perfect his technique. Over a decade later, he now specialises in tartan but is willing to put that to one side every once in a while to design and craft amazing geometric and striped blankets for us.
Without further ado, here's Ashleigh in his own words.
Ashleigh Thomas Slater
I lost count after 30
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Hard question – an astronaut, or to work in forensics or psychology
Tell us what you particularly enjoy about the weaving process
It takes a lot of design and process to visualise the end results. And I like the unexpected outcomes – every weave can surprise you, even after the wash. There are so many technical elements – from design and pattern planning to yarn calculations and colour selections – it's not just about the weaving.
Tell us about the process of making blankets for Aerende?
Each blanket takes between 2 and 3 days, depending on the weather and how distracted I get in the studio. And that's not including the setup that takes 2 full days and the finish that can take another day. The most complicated part is the design and sampling – getting the colours right and making sure that the outcome is predictable. Oh, and trying to decipher my notes on our conversations which I sometimes realise I've squiggled upside down on a scrap of paper. Although I focus on tweeds and tartans I enjoy the challenge of doing something different for Aerende.
What are your favourite materials to weave with?
If it bleets and baas I weave it. I love wool in its purest form though I sometimes add lurex to the more specialised weaves and occasionally weave with cotton, too.
Can you tell us more about your studio?
It's a small space with looms and wool but it also has a store front with an eclectic mix of gifts, selling my tartans and tweeds, plus a few teddies as well.
What are the challenges of trying to weave when you are in a wheelchair
Warping up a loom in a tight space and getting the chair into the loom. I have adapted all the looms around my own wheelchair and have a weaving assistant who helps to dress and warp the looms for the larger commissions. 95% of the time I can weave independently, the other 5% is when I need to get help.
Anything weaving dreams/ambitions?
I have fulfilled everything that I aimed to achieve in the last 5 years. My ambition now is to carry on with what I am doing and keep progressing with new tartans and tweeds. I also want to continue teaching in the studio and out in the community.
To see the products that Ashleigh has made, click here.