A Yarn Well Spun



A Yarn Well Spun

It’s been almost exactly a year I designed this pattern for the New Lanark World Heritage Site and Visitor Centre and a little less since I actually won their award. I’m really fond of the whole project it so let me explain a little bit more about it. The brief was simply titled „life and work in New Lanark” and the only restriction was to use colours from their branding guide which was published on their website as a pdf. Naturally, the graphic designer in me was looking at the clear, outlined brand style and the four main colours of the Visitor Centre and the World Heritage Site colours.


I was vaguely familiar with the history of New Lanark, Robert Owen, and their importance in general industrial history, however I have never visited before and while researching the village on maps, I wanted to do something with the valley shape instead, the waves, and how the view of hills are sliced by the vertical rows of mill windows. I loved the idea of waves, since the Falls of Clyde are located nearby (it’s pretty spectacular btw), but I also wanted a photographic collage to represent the history and archive kept at the site. Quite some generations of people lived their lives working at these mills and the idea of community should be somehow represented on the patterns. But I also wanted a connection to the present and an idea of contemporariness in it, since their heritage still affects our working lives too. The past can’t be too mouldy because it directly relates to our current lives.


The pattern started with the wave, but the wavy flow of the pattern however is not just a reference to the river but also to the continuous flow of the yarn. The title I gave to this pattern, “a yarn well spun” refers to the many stories told through the community of mill workers, the unique tales of people who worked here. The photographic, collage-style composition of the pattern strengthens this idea. The waves are cut through in even lines as the rows of mills and houses emerge on the river bank, a representation of the community of workers. This was roughly what I wrote about it in my entry and then to my shock, they let me know that I won the first prize, which was an amazing honour, because, my, if I had to name a single sector, or a single type of client to work for the rest of my life, it would have to be visitor experiences. When you create a space, you create a lot of memories for a lot of people who will want to go and see it. So apart from consistent brand communication (the 4 main colours), I wanted a direct, photographic reference as a pretty reminder for the people who would purchase the gifts printed in this pattern. I just love this type of work, and I hope my next project can be somehow related to local history, heritage and visitor experiences.


Winning the award also meant that I finally got to visit it myself, and the Artists Textiles Exhibition which they hosted at the time too and was an amazing, rich, and very comprehensive exhibition of a great amount of prints from famous artists and I was just totally thrilled to be there. I wasn’t sure how they were going to use the pattern so I made some non-repeatable versions too for mugs or other things, and presented them that way too, which is the kind of flexibility they took into consideration when awarding the prize. I really enjoyed it and I look forward to visiting New Lanark again.


I hope it makes sense and that you enjoy this pattern. Go and visit New Lanark! It’s very pretty, very educational, interesting, interactive, full of great things, and it has a nice café (and their millionaire shortbread is GIGANTIC you have to eat it if you can.)