How Ruth O'Reilly discovered the joy of making

Published on March 30, 2020 4 min read

Ruth is a yarn addict, creative inspiration and a fantastic fiber artist who is chasing her dreams and spreading the joy of making. Check out Ruth's gorgeous creations over on her Instagram!

I always think of that phrase "If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life". I wanted that.

Where is all began

Flashback to 2015, I’m sitting in a dull office, upstairs in an old GP surgery, typing out letter after letter, scanning in document after document and thinking to myself ‘this can’t be it; this can’t be what the rest of life is going to be.’ The green and yellow geometric patterned curtains hanging in that room still haunt me. At this point, I was 25, I didn’t do the whole uni thing after finishing school, I did a Business and Admin NVQ through which I did work experience in that very same office and had been there ever since.

Although I had a lovely bunch of colleagues, I was so unhappy there and had that Sunday night feeling every day of the week. I knew things had to change and that I was ready for a new adventure; I decided it was time for me to give university a go and change my career path. I started looking online for courses near me, trying to find something that I thought I would love. I always think of that phrase ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ I wanted that.

I have always been creative, from coloring in as a child (and adult), to baking and decorating cakes. I think my love for textiles especially comes from always being around creative, talented women. I can remember my mam and granny knitting as far back as I can remember and producing gorgeous clothes and toys for me and my sisters as kids. For me, being creative is the outlet I need to rid me of all my worries and anxieties and just forget about things. I drift off into a whole other world when I’m creating, and hours pass by within what seems to be the blink of an eye.

I really found a love for yarns; the different weights, textures and colors are so diverse however brought together can make such beautiful creations.

Chasing my dreams

I came across a course at The Northern School of Art (then, Cleveland College of Art and Design) which really stood out to me; BA (Hons) Textiles and Surface Design. It was aimed at the fashion, gift and interiors industries; 3 industries that I already had such a huge interest in (are you even a creative if you don’t hoard notebooks and diaries?). I had always been interested in interior design and to me, the course was interior design, but more hands on. Instead of just picking the wallpapers, furniture and fabrics, you actually design the prints and patterns that go on them; you create the wallpapers and the furnishing lengths. I arranged an interview and tour of the course and instantly fell in love. I knew that was where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.

For me, being creative is the outlet I need to rid me of all my worries and anxieties and just forget about things.

I’ve been taught so many amazing industry skills on this course, but one thing has always enticed me more than anything; making. Screen printing and painting with watercolours are fun, but for me, there’s nothing more satisfying than designing a product and seeing it come to life. I started weaving a few years back which is when I really found a love for yarns; the different weights, textures and colors are so diverse however brought together can make such beautiful creations. I am now a fully-fledged yarn addict and not ashamed to admit it. My collection is ever increasing, and I cannot pass a wool shop or department without splurging. You can just imagine my joy when I discovered LoveCrafts; I imagine their warehouse is a sort of heaven for someone like me.

Working towards the future

I’ve now reached my final year at The Northern School of Art and have researched some amazing fiber artists and makers through previous projects. These people and the staff at university have inspired me to try a range of techniques including fabric manipulation, weaving and I have finally landed on my favorite and most loved technique to date; rug tufting. This is not something formally taught on my course currently, but the staff around me are so supportive of any experimentation and new techniques and have really encouraged me to do whatever makes my heart sing. I ordered myself a rug tufting gun and a huge batch of new yarns from LoveCrafts and away I went.

Designing these rugs from my initial drawings and then developing them into final designs in photoshop is the surface designer in me; tufting them with my rug tufting gun in a tiny, cold corridor in our uni building, or the spare room in my mom’s bungalow, is what really fills me with joy. Hearing people comment on how exciting the technique is fills me with pride and I get so excited for each new design when my ideas come to life.

I graduate in July and this is just the beginning of my tufting adventures (I hope!). I have big dreams of creating my own rug designing & making company and selling my products online & in stores. The thought of a piece of my work bringing joy to someone and brightening up a room is so exciting. Knowing that something that gave me so much joy to create is now making someone else happy is something I hope to be able to achieve in my exciting new career.

Discover What it Means to be a Maker

Visit our international sites: Worldwide | Australia