Stories from Lyon – the garbage bag of silk

Lyon image

A garbage bag of silk scraps was the beginning of new directions in my weaving practice.  Quite by chance I was given this bag during my first visit to Lyon eleven years ago.    This first trip was instigated by my daughter – she was visiting a friend.   What would I do?  Well, I researched and discovered Lyon was the major silk weaving city in the world in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Their textile museum is unparalleled, both for the collection on display and the research archives:  .  I also found a textile artists’ network LaTrame de Soi , still as inspiring as ever!   Their President at the time, Inger Kristensen welcomed me and hosted me in so many ways over the next few years.

Early on Inger took me to visit the wonderful Atelier de Soierie  – still in operation.  There I met Emilie Moussiere who was hand painting exquisite velvet scarves as her ‘day job’.   She was an aspiring textile artist and jacquard weaver.  Just as I was about to leave I asked about scraps.  Were there any leftovers, bits of silk perhaps?  Emilie hurried away.  I think I imagined I would get a small handful if I was lucky.  But she came back with an enormous black garbage bag packed tightly with silk pieces.


The bag also contained many more wonderful and mysterious scraps: fake fur with stitched embroidery on the back, gold netting, lace and little pom poms.Non-silk scraps

I have been weaving on and off from my garbage bag ever since.  As I look again into my stash I realise it continues to offer riches and delights.  I use these silk scraps from Lyon in my Woven Memories work by inter-weaving them with the precious fabrics and clothes others bring to me.  Neck pieces, scarves and brooches often have elements from my garbage bag.  This was the beginning of my weaving with fabric scraps.


Eleven years on I still feel like I have a magical source of wonder that continues to inspire me and my textiles – thanks to Inger and Emilie.  You can see Emilie’s textile work at


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