Weeks 8-10: Finally weaving Found Drowned

IMG_2332 I have been massively busy, hence the shockingly rubbish frequency of posts. I am sorry, I will give myself a good slapping later. At last I have been able to source some local wool;  it will reduce my costs quite drastically although I have had to buy in bulk, and I now need to climb over a huge box as well as the now residence scaffolding poles and acrow props to get anywhere. But it is a worthy sacrifice – having this stock of wool has made a big difference to how I work, I’m no longer penny-pinching over ever inch of yarn too afraid to waste it, I’m much happier to experiment with dye colours and to tweak things when they aren’t quite right, and at the back of my mind, I know I have plenty to see me through this tapestry and several others.


The loom is now warped (and the studio nowhere near as tidy as this). It took a little while to tie the warps onto the lower beam and get an even tension but overall I suspect it didn’t take any longer than warping the scaffold loom, and it was certainly a calmer more gentle process and I think I prefer it. I am some slight trouble getting the level of tension I want but the cables on the cloth beam (which I should have replaced but didn’t), are protesting wildly, but hopefully as I wind on more of the completed tapestry I should be able to push the loom more. Meantime I’ve been able to compensate by putting in some shed sticks.


The tapestry is building up astonishingly quickly, that’s about a week’s worth above, not including a couple of days dyeing. I knew the treadles would make for faster weaving, but it is also so much more comfortable to use so I can work for longer. I really couldn’t be happier with this loom. IMG_1856In case you need reminding, this is the design. It is quite strange working with only part of the image before me, that is one of the advantages of the scaffold loom, having the complete cartoon/tapestry before me. It will be a real treat to see the whole thing once it is finished. At the moment I am working on the right margin. IMG_2481I wanted the finished tapestry to be calm and still, and so sought to use horizontal lines when I could, especially with the water. I had researched long and hard about how I might translate the idea of water into woven cloth, especially at night. I didn’t want to go down the rippled moonlight route; knowing the area Jane might have drowned herself in, I looked at images of the River Trent, one of which was just a stretch of brown. I couldn’t quite shake it off thinking it would work well with a palette of blacks, greens and rusts. At the end of the day, it is the colours that are one of the most important things for me as a weaver.  However, weaving the tapestry on its side has meant a compromise has had to be made in that the hatching from light to dark in the water is now vertical rather than horizontal once the piece is hung. But I am really pleased with how it has worked out; looking down the length of the loom I keep thinking the surface of the tapestry has become distorted. It hasn’t, there is just a natural shimmer and dappling that has materialised and one no amount of planning could have come up with.


My confidence was knocked by the last tapestry which didn’t really work and which I wasn’t too sorry for when it I had to cut it off prematurely from the scaffold loom to make way for the new one. But this one is turning out just as I had it in my head, better, in fact. I am certainly learning to trust my own eye more. Part of that has been to make sure I have done all the planning and preparation I can, before the weaving starts. But despite all that work there has been some tweaking when at the loom. I have toned down the green of the dress, it was too yellow and it needed to be stronger to counterbalance the black background. I’ve also decided to intermingle the heavily textured hair with more normal weaving. It happened by accident as I was thinking it might be easier to ditch the time-consuming textured weaving, but I am going to do both – I think the contrast is going to add even more to the texture in the end, as well as to save a bit of time. IMG_2438The only problem with weaving faster, is getting through bushels of bobbins. I’ve rigged up my old pirn winder with tubes and elastic bands (to give the tubes some grip) and it has helped muchly in the winding department. I will have to take some time out to get ready for the Saltaire Arts Trail next month (23rd-25th May). I don’t have anywhere to hang tapestries so will instead be selling some of my older woven accessories. On behalf of Sponge Tree on Monday (25th) I will be organising and running a day of family orientated weaving activities and demonstrations. I’ve only ever heard good things about Sponge Tree and of course public engagement is very important to me so I jumped at the chance when it came my way. It will mean I’m only at the Makers Fair on Saturday and Sunday, but the opportunity to get kids weaving is just too much of an opportunity to pass up. I’m very keen to get some workshops going, so it will also be a good chance to make a start on that. I also like to think Titus Salt, the Victorian mill owner who built the village I live in, would be pleased children weaving in Saltaire once more, we just need to see them malnourished and suffering from rickets and we’ll be all set. Photo1503I’ve not long got back from a jolly this morning out to the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe. My small tapestry Apologies was selected for the Yorkshire and Lancashire Craft Open and it was great to see such an eclectic mix of exhibits from crafts folk across Yorkshire and Lancashire. My little tapestry was in a space all to herself, quite prominent. It was strange to see her like that; again I felt that sense of divorce from my work, like with Maides Coign. She simply isn’t mine anymore. Photo1510Jo Whitehead from Glassprimitif also had some of her lovely glass selected and very kindly took me to the opening today as well as delivering the tapestry itself last weekend rather than risk it to Royal Mail. The exhibition is on until 4th July; I’d never been to Clitheroe before and definitely want to go back and explore it more. 11160582_670847713019258_2619126881025349429_nA couple of weeks ago I went to another opening. The Imaginarium Gallery in Haworth has not only had a rebrand but has moved to much bigger premises across the famous cobbled street. Hawksbys as it is now named was full of spectacular work by artists and craftspeople, its owner Claire has a stunning eye. I wish I had photographs to show you, mine, as it turns out, are of the spectacular spread they put on for everyone (how predictable was that?) This picture above I’ve nicked (with apologies) from their Facebook page. They are such lovely people, one can only hope they have all the success they rightly deserve. IMG_2446 - CopyAaaaaaaanyhoo, talking of spectacular spreads, this, ahem, little thing, landed on my doormat this week. April was manic to be honest, and May is not looking much better what with the Arts Trail, Sponge Tree, the Heritage Crafts Association’s conference, A Place for Craft, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a copy deadline for the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, ongoing work for my events later in the year, my grown-up job, and now this and the inevitable shopping for a new frock it will entail. …And….And….Anyone else feeling light headed?……… I am trying to be good and not over do things, but I am just so happy and excited by everything at the moment it is quite hard to rein myself in.  Here’s hoping I am still here to post next time and not some dribbling wreck crouching in a corner. I will try not to leave it so long next time. x

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