Nicola Gates (Ollanua Textiles)

Northern Ireland

About Nicola

Nicola Gates is a weaver and curator from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, with a passion for craft heritage and sustainable contemporary design. Driven by a fascination with the inherent properties of natural fibres, especially wool, Nicola aims to use natural materials and traditional techniques in a contemporary way. Her work is primarily intuitive and technique-focused, with inspiration often coming from the qualities of the material she is working with or the possibilities of a particular weaving technique.

Since graduating from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, in 2005 with a degreein Textile Design, Nicola has worked in the museum and heritage sector alongside developing her skills in weaving and feltmaking. She is currently designing her first collection of handwoven textiles, which she plans to launch in September 2015 under her brand Olla Nua, a name derived from the Irish for ‘new wool’.

Making for the Challenge

Nicola’s weft-faced rug has been woven on her Swedish floor loom, which is powered entirely by hand and foot. The geometric design of diamonds and chevrons is based on a sketch of ancient stone inscriptions made during a visit to Newgrange passage grave in County Meath, Ireland, which dates from the Neolithic period.

The weaving technique uses a ‘plain weave’ base of indigo-dyed yarn, interwoven with shots of twill in natural-coloured yarn to create the pattern. The rug has a linen warp, which is hidden by the dense Cambrian wool weft. The challenge has encouraged her to try new things, with this being both the first time she has woven a rug and dyed with indigo!

Additional image © 2015 Nicola Gates