Peak Gate Textiles is the business and passion of me, Sue Russell.
I am a weaver, teacher and witch; with a love of nature, particularly the standing ones (trees), and an antipathy towards waste. These underpin my weaving influences and designs.
My values, and thus the values of Peak Gate Textiles are: well-being, calm, light and passion. Well-being is the outcome of balance in mind, body and spirit and weaving gives me all of these.
Thanks to an amazing exhibition at Stirling Castle, I discovered that tapestries are woven. This inspired me to learn more, now I am enjoying the art and craft of weaving.
I hope that through this web-site you will find well-being helped by weaving and my work.
Whether nature or nurture I was bound to make in one form or another. My father was a gentlemens’ outfitter and enjoyed knitting and tatting when not in the shop, while my mother was a maker and teacher of dress making, having trained in dress making and pattern cutting with Mrs Rhodes.
I had made my first dress (for me) whilst still only 5 (I suspect there may have been a substantial amount of help, but I can still remember a deep pink dress with white daisy flower trim across the yoke). This was the start of many years of making my own clothes, facilitated later on by a supply of fabric my Cotswold Curtains (my Mum’s soft furnishing shop).
I also learnt to knit and to tatt. The former I still do, the latter has been forgotten, but is very much on the list of things to relearn.
By the time I went to secondary school I had my own sewing machine (a Singer 319K), which I still have and love. Dressmaking classes at school were disappointing. I suspect now that I was the teacher’s worst nightmare, a clever-clogs who was too quick and advanced for the rest of the class. Having had to write an essay on how to thread up a sewing machine, I decided that this was not the subject for me.
When I had to do my options, the timetable didn’t permit me to take art along with my other chosen subjects, so my education in artistic and creative subjects stopped aged 13. I did keep on making my own clothes, both sewing and knitting until after I graduated with a degree in Physiology and Biochemistry, but by then I was on a career pathway and time was limited and clothes had become relatively cheap.
Having graduated with a science degree specialising in ruminant nutrition, I started whole time work in the agricultural industry. During my degree I had become very interested in the chemical composition and structure of plant fibres, an interest which has now extended to animal and synthetic fibres.
Once in the world of work I was really able to develop my love of education. I had started “teaching” first aid and life saving skills at the age of 14 and the Royal Life Saving Society had provided some very good core training skills. I was now in a position to give lectures and workshops within the farming community. With thanks to the Agricultural Training Board and later Agenda, I learnt a lot more about training and facilitation and was able to qualify as an NVQ trainer and assessor through the British Red Cross.
So, I gradually moved from technical into developmental roles and completed training in supporting life skills such as counselling and coaching.
This occurred at Stirling Castle. The moment when I discovered that tapestries are woven! I knew I had to learn how to do this. Years spent in Learning and Development had taught me that I am a theorist learner (for those of you into Harry Potter I’m an Hermione Granger, if in doubt find a book!). I am also lucky enough to live in the Derwent Valley world heritage site, the cradle of mechanised textile manufacture.
I explored how I could learn more about textiles locally and found a Textile Design course at the University of Derby. All went well until they asked for a portfolio of my work. As my educational involvement with art had stopped abruptly a long time ago, I didn’t really have this, I certainly didn’t have a sketch book. Fortunately, this didn’t stop me for long and so I have started on a new adventure learning how to weave.
This is not a process which has an end as such, because I will continue to learn for the rest of my life, as I have done so far. Now, however, I can share not only my knowledge, but also the products of my weaving.
If you like what you see, but can’t see what you want, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 07595 836855. I look forward to hearing from you soon.