Weaving & Wellbeing

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I know it has been a while since I posted, but things went a little bit pants. You know I said I hurt my knee when I fell down some stairs? Well it turns out I tore a layer of cartilage in the joint and it has taken a goodly while to start getting back on my feet  (seewhatIdidthere).

I got everything ready before my holiday so I could jump right into the next project when I got back. However I soon had to accept this was not going to be the case. I couldn’t bend my knee and I couldn’t put any weight on it. It meant I couldn’t get down on the floor to draw the cartoon or to start weaving; I also couldn’t climb my step-ladder to warp the loom. I’ve spent a great deal of time looking at my empty loom and it has been beyond frustrating.

I wasn’t entirely idle when I couldn’t weave. I used the downtime to think hard about what I am trying to do and I put together a pretty comprehensive business plan, I usually manage with a few sides of A4 each year looking at what worked in the last 12 months and what didn’t, but stripping down on paper what I do to the bare bones and building it up again and facing up to what my aspirations are has been incredibly useful and I am really glad I did it. I feel like I have got a good foundation for moving onwards, although it has brought home how much I have to do. There are lots of templates and guides out there, but the one provided by the Prince’s Trust I found particularly useful.

Also, an opportunity arose to get involved with the Heritage Crafts Association, and  I hobbled with the aid of my crutches onto a train down to London. I’ve been a huge fan of the organisation since it started and quite frankly in awe of what they have achieved in so short a period of time, so it was very strange sitting around a table with them. But they were all incredibly friendly and I am really excited to say I’ll be joining them as a trustee and I’ll be helping them out with their newsletter and a few other things. If you are not already aware of them, the HCA works with the government and other agencies to support traditional craft workers and to safeguard their skills as part of the UK’s intangible cultural heritage. If you support, or are engaged in, traditional crafts and are not already a member you should really think about it. Membership includes a place in their directory which is about to be re-launched as well as plenty of opportunities to keep up to date with what is happening in the heady whirl that is basket weaving and blacksmithing. There’s a story in my family that my grandfather was one of the last to do the job he did. I hope he would be proud.

HCA

Eventually I found a willing victim to help me warp the loom (top pic), a colleague from my grown up job, although I’m not entirely sure she knew what she was letting herself in for. But at last *falls to her metaphorical knees and shakes her clasped hands to the skies in gratitude* my loom is warped. I look like a drunk spider trying to get up from the floor but at least I can do it and I am now actually weaving. However much I love my scaffold looms it has made me think seriously about switching to a more traditional loom that I can warp myself and which is more knee-friendly to sit at. I do, ahem, have my eye on one.

I’ve been wondering whether to weave the design as one tapestry or as a triptych. I’ve grown used to the idea of the separate panels and I like the spread of the design across the three of them, but I am worried that their individual sizes will mean the impact will be lost and I’m left with three rags on a wall. But I think I have found the solution – weaving the tapestry as a single piece but breaking the design into three with some vertical soumak; hopefully this will give me the best of both worlds, the impact of a single piece and the shape of the three panels. Also, the two figures will be both connected and separated at the same time, which I really kinda like.

I’m working on the project in my workroom at home. I was very generously offered some space in a fabulous location, but it was in a very noisy and busy area and I knew I wouldn’t be able to weave there. I couldn’t understand why at first, after all East Riddlesden was busy, so why the difference. I suppose at least at Riddlesden I was cocooned in an enclosed area, whereas the new space was quite exposed. The noise from a nearby diner also seemed to puncture the space. Many folk have talked about the meditative nature of weaving, something I never realised I valued as much as I did until I was faced with working in an area where it would not be possible. I resisted the idea of working from home at first, especially as promoting tapestry is so important to me, but in truth, considering the nature of the project, it seems right to weave this one in private, it is between me and the loom.

When I first talked about the new project and the story behind it, many of you were kind enough to leave me messages hoping I’d find the project a healing experience. Although grateful I couldn’t really see how weaving a tapestry could help, until I realised I stopped doing something I’d done ever since my brother died. He was killed in Malia and when I was over there for one of the court cases I bought a reproduction of a Minoan pendant found in the palace there. It would be something I’d wear every day, a sign between me and him that I missed him and I was thinking about him. I wore it for fourteen years until a few weeks ago when I began to feel the weight of it around my neck. One morning I didn’t put it back on. I couldn’t figure out why until I realised that through this tapestry I was saying something that I never before realised I needed to say or acknowledge – that this thing had happened to me too. And having said it, or at least being in the process of doing so, I’m feeling that I am ready to let something go, I no longer have to have it around my neck day in and day out. All good progress and a rather unexpected development.

It has been quite a shock to me how quickly my own sense of well-being and self deteriorated when I could not work, or rather, could not weave. But I am on the mend now and coming out of it all stronger, more resilient and remembering the importance of self-reliance. Ooh something just pinged in the kitchen which means I have to go check on some wool being dyed. I shall try to stand up properly ‘nose over toes’ as my rather lovely physio would say.

Ta ta for now xxxx

 

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