Crafted by Hand, Masham

I’m taking time to have a day off after having a fabulous day yesterday at Crafted by Hand in the market town of Masham in North Yorkshire. It has long been lauded by fellow makers as one of their favourite events. I baulked for a while as without a car it was hard to get to, but with wild abandon I threw aside all practical concerns and applied and was lucky enough to have been selected for a spot and given the opportunity for doing some demonstrating too. My knights in shiny armour were the fabulous folks behind Hawksbys gallery in Haworth, who not only gave me a lift up, but also helped in the setting up.

Crafted by Hand MashamIt was clear in the run up to the event that it was superbly organised, there was great communication with clear and timely information and a swift response to queries. Within seconds of pulling up in front of the town hall an army of cheery volunteers were on hand to help unload – I’ve never done an event where such consideration was given to the needs of the participants. There was plenty of time to set up (although I did have great help from my roadie Barry) and I was totally free to use my space however I wanted. There were lots of fellow exhibitors there that I knew, especially through the Craft Soup group. The standard of the work of all stall holders was phenomenal and the type of work very varied. There was a prize for the best presented stand, a handmade trophy and a hefty voucher to spent at the event. This was a really nice touch and it went to a worthy winner.

IMG_7338There was free tea for the makers and plenty of offers to look after the stall should we need a break. The cake stall in the café was stunning – you could actually smell cake as you stepped in. The visitors to the event were non-stop, a clear testament to the popularity of the event on both sides of the stall, and the effort that had gone into marketing the event. This all sounds so gushing I know, but there was one massive fault, and that was the fog on the drive up. I was on a road trip and I was denied a view. But clearly the organisers had a line straight to the heavens as by the time the doors opened the fog had lifted and the sun was shinning. In November. That too was a nice touch.

IMG_7330I was able to condense the set up I had done for Art in the Pen and I was really pleased with how my spot looked. Rather than just having me weaving, I thought it would be a good chance to encourage folk to have a go themselves so I set up a table of card-loom weaving for kids and tapestry frames for adult visitors. It was great to meet so many talented folk, especially the younger ones and I was often taken aback by their concentration and engagement and the questions they were asking. Hopefully they will carry it on once back home. I also learned a lot, one pair of visitors told me about a traditional Irish weaving technique I hadn’t come across before and I am really keen to explore it further.

It was a really lovely day, and a great event for visitors and participants alike.

The weekend before I was at East Riddlesden Hall. On learning I had done some rag rugging in the past, the hall’s steward invited me down to do some demonstrating. It was a great chance to blow the proverbial dust off my prodders and frames and I had a really fun and busy day, and there was some pretty spectacular autumn sun!. It was quite strange seeing Gracie, the tapestry I wove there last year, for the first time in so long. It was also so lovely to see again some of the volunteers who were so supportive of me while I was there and who helped to keep Gracie at the hall.

IMG_7262Like so many creative folk, I always think everything I do is rubbish, but seeing Gracie hanging on the wall I did well-up a bit and have a moment. I walked away with a bit of a straighter back and a realisation of what I am capable of.  It turned out to be a very timely reminder. I’ve had my head down working really hard exploring how to translate my designs inspired by archaeological landscapes into thread. I emerged feeling I had really grown up as a weaver, honing my techniques. I was ready to get the first one on the loom when suddenly, through my dodgy roof, through the rather precarious plasterwork and straight into my noggin came a realisation of how I could fix a tapestry I started last year but failed to finish.

This was the Long Night and since I cut it off the loom I always felt something was left undone and not least as the subject was so personal to me. I realised I had tried to explore the subject too literally. At the core of what I was trying to say was that there was this girl before the event, and a different girl after, and I needed to acknowledge and embrace them both. The initial sketch came quickly, it will be similar to Gracie which is no bad thing. It is very abstract, a bit Celtic, and quite textured.

IMG_7380When I tried to approach this subject last year I laughed that it didn’t affect me like I thought it would. But in truth as soon as I drew this new version, I fell into a massive funk that lasted a good few weeks, hence the absence of any blog posts. I am coming out of it now, but this has been a sign to me that this has hit a nerve and is thus the right thing to weave. The cartoon is drawn and all the samples are now done and I’ve started warping the bigger loom. I’ve gone for Sutton Hoo inspired colours focusing on reds and golds. It will be mahoosive, about 6ft by 10ft and I am loving the opportunity of making full use of the loom in weaving something so wall-friendly. The narrower shapes of the archaeological landscape pieces mean I can weave them on the smaller of my upright looms, so I can still get those going too.

IMG_7224On top of all this I’ve also finalised the content of some workshops and those details are now uploaded on my website. Once the dates and locations have been finalised, they’ll be added too. So I don’t think anyone can be cross at me for having a day off devoted to some rubbish tv and quality sofa time! If you are, quite frankly, I don’t give a damn!

Ta, ta for now x

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