The Jodrell Bank astronomer and scientist who also loves weaving her own rugs
PUBLISHED: 16:56 14 November 2011 | UPDATED: 15:30 21 September 2017
Astronomer and scientist Christine Jordan spends her days operating telescopes at Jodrell Bank. But at home she spends her time on a more traditional activity WORDS BY EMMA MAYOH PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
Christine Jordan has spent much of her career working with big machines: from diggers that helped create the Channel Tunnel to the huge telescopes she has operated for 20 years at Jodrell Bank.
But away from work, the astronomer and scientist controls a very different type of machine. Most evenings and weekends you’ll find the 60-year-old working at the large weaving loom in the studio of her Lostock Gralam home, near Northwich.
‘Weaving has always run alongside my job,’ said Christine, who lives with husband John. ‘My work is busy and at times quite stressful. I love to come home, switch off and do something totally different.
‘I’ve been a knitter for as long as I can remember. Textiles are in my family too, my father was a textiles sales rep and my grandfather was in the rag trade. I just love working with my hands and creating things. I think I’m gradually working my way through the various crafts.’
Weaving is a pursuit Christine has enjoyed for the past decade, making scarves and tea towels and now rugs. Until recently it was just a hobby, making hand-woven gifts for family and friends. But now she’s taking the plunge and will be selling her handcrafted rugs to the public.
She said: ‘I want to see whether the idea takes off. With working full-time, the rate of rug production is pretty low but I’m thinking of when retirement comes around and making the rugs could be something I could move on to.
‘I’m a bit of a workaholic so when I do retire it may come as a shock to the system. With this I can keep myself active and busy doing something I really enjoy.’
Christine, who loves using Celtic knots in her designs, uses natural Berber wools to create her rugs. The can take around 30 hours to make and costs from £320. She uses skills from her day job to calculate the formulas she needs to set up the weaving loom and to make her designs.
The natural wools are sourced from Yorkshire but she also spins her own wool from remnants in her studio, which is also home to several portable looms, a winding frame and lots of yarn that she uses to make throws, fabric and her favourite weave, the rugs.
But what Christine - who also does demonstrations with weaving and knitting groups at some county shows - loves most about her work is keeping this age-old tradition alive.
She said: ‘I feel proud that I’m continuing a traditional craft and there are not many people still doing this in Cheshire. That’s why I love doing the shows, you can show children and their parents how important it is. It’s good for people to know how wool is woven to make so many different things.
‘I don’t want it to be a really big business, but I do want to be able to sell my rugs and share what I love doing with more people.’
Christine’s rugs start at £320 and are available at www.madebyhandsofbritain.com, founded by Cheshire’s Gillian Montegrande.
The print version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Cheshire Life
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