So we got the loom moved in. And then it all started to go wrong.
I left a few days before I was planning to start, to get the dyeing of the first batch of yarns done. The sun even shone, especially or me and the drying of my hanks. But then I started dyeing one of the colours I intended to use for the face, hands and legs. I did about 12 batches and none of them came out the same – I ended up with yellows and browns, and only the occasional ginger I was actually after. My supplier sent more dye in case it was at fault but still I could not get a consistent colour. I thought about abandoning it, but I loved the colour too much when it worked so I am going to have to see if I can mix the different shades into another colour blend, or just dye shed-loads and pull out the ones that work. I won’t reach her hands for a few weeks yet, so I have some time to make up my mind.
My friend Kate turned up on Saturday morning (with cake) and off we went to East Riddlesden to warp the loom. She was at the top of a ladder and I was at the bottom and it was so much easier to keep the tension even with the two of us. Frustratingly I ran out of warp a couple of feet before the end. Why, why, why? I had done the calculations, it should have been right.When I got home I fired off an email asking for some emergency warp to be delivered at the hall, but still it wouldn’t come until mid-week. Very, very annoying. Kate was only planning to help on the Saturday but came along on the Sunday as well to help put the cartoon up and finish what we could before the new warp arrived. The cartoon was easier than I thought it would be – Kate could fit around the back of the loom whereas I, ahem, could not!
It was lovely talking to the visitors, but it was hard for them to see the cartoon behind the warps, so it was difficult to explain the design. I thought it odd but presumed it was because it was a line drawing. The next job was to put on the leashes, a nice sit down job, especially after all the bending and reaching the day before. But it was a bit difficult, the leashes were quite hard to pull through the warps. But Kate was great chatting to the visitors, especially the kids. Except she kept telling them there were 1200 warps on the loom – I didn’t want to contradict her in front of visitors so waited for a lull to let her know there were in fact 600, not 1200. Except she was adamant there were 1200. She had counted them. I started to recalculate everything in my head and that is when I realised – we had not only warped one loom, we had warped two – we had put twice as many warps in each inch than we needed to. A stoopid mistake, too much fun and chatting! It took a good few hours to see the funny side. And at least now I knew why I had run out of warp!
But at least things couldn’t get any worse, could they. As we left the house we talked to the house steward a man who has spent years researching the house and its habitants. And that is when he told me Grace Murgatroyd, the inspiration for the tapestry design wasn’t actually a member of the East Riddlesden family and a mistake was made long ago connecting her to them. He also told me that the inscription didn’t refer to any particular women but to the Psalm as a whole, an underground code refering to its message to get ready for war. As Kate drove me home, my face thick as thunder, I don’t think she stopped laughing.
On Monday I had grown up things to do and so wasn’t at the Hall. The tapestry has been a large part of my life for so long it was very strange leaving her at the hall and having nothing to do with her for a day. On Tuesday Kate came in again, this time to unwarp half the loom and reattached the leashes. On Wednesday I wove the header and on Thursday I actually got to weave. The house has been shut during the week and I’ve had it pretty much to myself and have slowly been settling in. I’ve been kicking off the boots, and started listening to Radio 4 for the first time in a good few months. It has also been great getting to know the staff there – they are all incredibly friendly. I get home pretty tired but have writing and editing jobs to do. I have given myself a week off from the Hanging Tree but tomorrow I have to start working on it in the evenings.
When I am weaving at home I am generally watching rubbish on the laptop, tweeting and facebooking and dealing with emails, so it has been good discipline for me to just get in front of the loom and get on with the weaving and keep focused. Everything else, my other responsibilities and jobs, are not intruding and I would definitely like to keep this going in the future.
The house has been full of visitors again this weekend. There seems to be a lot of interest and many folk saying they will come back to watch it grow. A few younger visitors even had a go, and at the end of the day that’s what it is all about.
The week ahead should see some solid weaving. But now I know man plans and god laughs. Oh, did I mention I am loving every minute of it?