7th December 2022

Woven in the Bone for AW22

Woven in Time

The work of Sam Goates has graced the pages of this website, and more importantly the wardrobes of Timothy Everest clients since 2020. Her hand-woven tweeds, herringbones and checks are made with the expert love and attention that only someone so passionate and knowledgable about their craft could create. Magically made in Sam’s mill in Buckie on the Moray Firth coast, the latest creations from Woven in the Bone are once again a testament to Sam’s incredible skill and singular approach.

This season Sam has woven two types of cloth. First a 100% Merino wool ’Saxony’, in a dobby weave, its fine and breathable woollen yarns making it supremely comfortable and beautiful to wear. And then there is the Carrick Raglan Coat, a heavier weight cloth woven into a classic pattern for timeless elegance and versatility. Both styles are a limited run, as distinctive as the land that inspired each cloth. Sam kindly took some time to talk a little about the process, inspiration and heritage of these marvellous creations.

What makes the perfect cloth in your opinion?

It really depends on the client. I’ve worked on upholstery for aircrafts as well as cloth for tailors so it’s really about what your requirements are. For some it’s the pattern or colour, for others the tactile experience of weight and handle, or something rare and handcrafted. The perfect cloth for me is the one that meets my customers’ needs, which is hopefully a combination of all those things.

Do you consider the type of sheep and their wool or is just a matter of colour and texture?

There are 70 plus native breeds of sheep in the UK, and so many more around the world, each with their own unique fleeces of differing characteristics. For the most part I buy yarns from long-established spinning mills that have decades of experience and sometimes I have been involved with projects working directly with farmers. I’ve worked with wool from the hardy Herdwick from Cumbria to the Scottish Bowmont Merino (a cross between merino and Shetland sheep) so it is a case of choosing wool with appropriate characteristics and properties for the specific cloth you want to create.

What was the brief for these two particular bespoke Timothy Everest cloths?

For this years AW season the brief was to create two cloths of different weights. I love working with the designers at Timothy Everest as they put considerable effort into researching, creating mood and colour boards as a focus for the season. I meet with the designer and show samples of cloths that I have made and the first decisions are usually around preferences for weight and quality; by that I mean the handle, yarn and weaves. Then I will submit my interpretation of the patterns or style and texture shown. I’ll usually start with CAD simulations, then produce hand samples that can be reviewed and tweaked until we have a final selection. It’s a collaborative approach and that keeps it interesting for me, as it forces me to be open to others’ ideas and push my own creativity.

The names of the two cloths, Saxony Dobby and Carrick, where do they come from?

These are the names of the cloth ‘qualities’ which for me is the particular combination of yarns and sett (density of the threads). The Saxony refers to an Australian/NZ blend yarn that I use as Saxony is the traditional cloth term used in the trade for a woollen cloth made of Antipodean wool. Dobby refers to my rather rare Hattersley Domestic Dobby loom, using more unusual weave structures achievable on this loom. Carrick is the name of a particular combination of Donegal yarns that I use from north west Ireland.

The loom you use is what Harris Tweeds were traditionally made on? What advantage does this give you?

Essentially it’s a cost advantage. As a small business starting up an old cast iron loom is considerably cheaper than a larger, more modern production loom. There’s still a massive learning curve in terms of setting up, maintaining and repairing vintage machinery but with patience (more than I ever thought I had) and perseverance, it continues to make things possible. The expense, size and specialised skills that you would need for more contemporary looms and machinery would have been beyond me in too many ways. In even more positive terms it gives me the advantage of a really deep connection to what I make, a sense of pride, satisfaction and motivation that I think I would not get from more hi-tech production. It also helps that my customers (and their customers) also seem to find it mind-bogglingly entertaining and appreciate the love that goes into it.

The Saxony Dobby Woven in the Bone Blazer

Do you think it’s odd that people like wearing factory-made plastic-based outerwear in the ‘outdoors’, and then maybe wear more natural fibres in the city?

Again I think that’s down to the individual, what the hopes and expectations are in terms of performance. I wear GoreTex for a walk in the hills as its more waterproof, lightweight and packs easy in the rucksack, it’s convenient. But I wear my own woollen cloth every day because it is warm, breathable, and temperature regulating making it comfortable for everyday use. Wool is a natural, rapidly renewable and biodegradable resource that mankind has been using to keep warm (and in more recent centuries, look smart) for thousands of years. The cloths that I make are not performance cloths in the way GoreTex cloths may be used, nor indeed the tough Estate Tweeds which are also woollens, but specifically engineered in terms of the wool fibre, yarn spinning and cloth construction, to be durable and weatherproof out on the hills.

Did you always dream of having your own mill?

Initially I had one loom and a shed, it’s grown a wee bit since then and I still talk about the ‘shed’. It wasn’t until a visit from a friend and their elderly mother, who had spent her lifetime working in mills in Yorkshire, who declared and indeed insisted, I very much had a ‘mill’. And that made me very proud.

Do you think there’s something special about Scottish textiles?

There are of course many regions of the UK that have an amazing history of wool production,Yorkshire, the West Country but of course I am a wee bit biased. I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown up and live in a part of the world with the most incredible palette of colour in nature. Tweeds and cloths are no longer just about the hills and glens, and part of what I hope we have achieved with this year’s Timothy Everest cloths have the same sense of joy in colour combinations and texture but with a more contemporary palette and pattern that work for both urban and country life.

Is sustainability part of your approach?

Of course, as it should for everyone, either as a manufacturer or as a consumer. My production is not perfect, but as an extremely small cog in the textile industry machine, I do keep trying to improve what I do. Some things are easier as a small producer, like the use of my foot-pedal-powered looms, but other things are more of a challenge as a one-woman business. I worked in a textile business in Australia that invested heavily in sustainability and I have seen what is involved if you want to do things properly.

The Carrick Blue Donegal Woven in the Bone Coat

Do you think more people are turning to smaller production and bespoke clothing?

When I grew up my mum made a huge proportion of the family wardrobe. From knitwear to boiler suits. The global wave of cheap mass production sadly saw the decline of much of the skills in textile and clothing production in the UK. But somehow that tide has turned and it’s heartening to see UK businesses and manufacturing of all shapes and sizes, new and old, being acknowledged and appreciated. Smaller production and bespoke will never be for everyone, but if the values of skills, materials, people, local production, reducing waste and care of our belongings and the planet’s resources becomes more deeply instilled here then there will be more opportunities creatively and production-wise. Hopefully the revival of an industry that meets everyone’s needs and choices.

Limited to only 8 pieces, the Carrick Blue Donegal Raglan Coat is an elegant and timeless piece made from a unique herringbone donegal tweed by Sam.
With only 8 pieces made, the Saxony Dobby Woven in the Bone Blazer is tailored from a super soft 100% Merino cloth inspired by our seasonal inspiration.