Woven wool a winner at Bradford Textile Society Awards

13 July 2015

The Woolmark Company funded an award at the prestigious Bradford Textile Society 2014/15 design competition to help promote Merino wool to tertiary students in the thriving UK textile industry.

Bradford Textile Society Awards - Sharon Porteous
University of Derby’s fashion and textile student Sharon Porteous has won The Woolmark Company award at the Bradford Textile Society design competition, gaining one week’s work placement with UK fashion designer Holly Fulton.

Master’s in Fashion and Textile student Sharon Porteous has this year won The Woolmark Company Award as part of the Bradford Textile Society Awards. The award invites entrants to create a woven or knitted fashion fabric containing a minimum 60% Merino wool.

“My entry was a treble cloth with a bold zigzag pattern, softened by the subtle colours used,” explains Sharon. “The fabric was woven on a jacquard loom combining soft white cotton warp ends and hand-dyed Merino weft picks. 

“Once off the loom the fashion fabric was hand-finished to create soft, felted and layered textures.”

With just one triple module left to complete at the University of Derby, the win comes at an ideal time, as the prize is industry experience with influential UK fashion designer Holly Fulton. Sharon is also a lecturer at Newcastle-under-Lyme College and believes that aside from gaining personal experience from the internship, she will learn valuable information that she will then be able to pass on to her own students.

Sharon’s passion for textiles and teaching was ignited from a young age. She remembers enjoying sewing and sharing her ideas with her two younger cousins.

“I went on to study Art and Design at Further Education and then completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Textile Design. During that time I explored the processes of print, weave and knit and developed a fabric using recycled waste materials.”

Now defined as a designer/maker, she set up her own business Sharon Porteous Woven Textiles and has had her work exhibited across the UK.

“I was privileged to facilitate many workshops to various groups to share this way of working. It seemed like a natural progression to secure a lecturing post - interestingly at the college I had attended - and was so inspired to pursue the subject of textile design.”

The Bradford Textile Society, established in 1893, is the oldest of its kind in Britain and continues to open doors to the next generation of designers and technicians. Its annual design competition provides encouragement and inspiration to textile students and practicing textile designers to stimulate new developments in textile design and construction.

More than 900 students from universities and colleges across the UK participated in this year’s awards across 17 different categories, each vying for a share in the £11,000 worth of money along with money-can’t-buy experiences such as work placements. The awards offer an excellent opportunity for future textile designers to have their work recognised by the most important people within the industry. They also are crucial in ensuring the textiles industry remains strong and relevant by supporting the education of emerging designers.