Tapestry at Art in the Pen

Art in the Pen, Tapestry Weaver

Art in the Pen was fantastic. If you are not familiar with it, the pens in Skipton’s cattle market are handed over to selected artists to turn into their own micro galleries.  It was my second time, and I did feel in the run up a bit more organised; the hard work thinking how to dress one’s pen and display one’s work had been done last year. Whilst I was proud of the new work I was showing, that which made me glow with pride every time my eyes fells upon it, was my stand for cards.  I dismantled a display stand and stapled hessian to it and balanced some other pieces of wood on some nails for the shelves. I did that! Me! And best of all, I can still use it as a display frame if need be. I had plenty of cards made for the event and they sold incredibly well. In the next couple of days I’ll be adding them to my online shop (links above).


I couldn’t have done it without the wonderful Barry from Hawksbys gallery in Haworth who helped get me set up and taken down. Artist Ian Burdall very kindly ferried me about during the weekend. I even came away with a little pressie from Jill at Touchy Feely Textiles. My heretofore naked front door key now puts a smile on my face whenever I use it. As I am so tired these days, at least I can comfort myself in the knowledge it must be because I am extra-fabulous.


I had intended to take some time off once it was over, but instead went back to basics, something I have been meaning to do for a while. I think it is easy to get stuck in a rut technique-wise, and with workshops in the offing it seemed like a good excuse to make some small samples. That I would have to treat myself to a new sketchbook to store them all had no influence on this decision at all. It proved a very useful exercise and has filled me with ideas. I know that experimenting and sketching is utterly essential to what I do, but I do find it hard to justify the time, and perhaps because I find it hard to call it work. But with a bit of breathing space between events I have let myself explore wherever my interest led me over this last week or so, and I am pretty pleased with the new tapestry design that has started to emerge from it. But more about that once it gets underway.


There isn’t long left to catch the Weave exhibition at Craft in the Bay in Cardiff, but some photographs sent by its curator is making it pretty tough not to make the trip. Such a stunning array of how the idea of weave can be translated in different mediums, I can’t think of another exhibition like it. I am looking forward to getting No Longer Mourn returned though – I’ve missed her!

dsc03261dsc03280dsc03267 dsc03284dsc03292    dsc03277

One final bit of news. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride health-wise over the last few months. It was a really tough decision but it seemed sensible to delay my Winston Churchill fellowship travels until things settled down and I was fit enough and well enough to do this amazing journey justice. I’m now heading off in the Spring. On the one hand it is very frustrating, but it is absolutely the right decision, and on the plus side I’ve got plenty more time to get prepared.

Right I have a long list of admin to do, and am refusing myself access to the workroom until it is done, so better dash off. Ta ta for now x


Extreme Weaving! A new tapestry woven.

I should imagine I am pretty incoherent tonight, I am pretty tired, but I know you will forgive me.

Chrissie Freeth Tapestry 'Delia Jo' in Progress

Next weekend, 13th and 14th August, is Art in the Pen, in Skipton. I did it for the first time last year and loved it and am looking forward to it immensely. I always want to show new work, especially with my tapestries having changed so drastically over the last twelve months. But with one of my main new pieces over at the Weave exhibition in Craft in the Bay, I knew I was going to be pushing it. Nonetheless I felt I needed a new large piece, returning to the full width of the loom. I had enough left over warp to do it, and while I’d need to dye some new wool, I could use the colours and sampling I had done previously. The cartoon materialised quite quickly. I’ve long wanted to revisit the story of my female relatives needlessly trapped within a cycle of asylums in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, I didn’t do them justice last time.

When I got the cartoon on the loom I calculated how much time I would need to complete it, marking off where I would have to be at a certain date in order to finish it in time. I soon realised I was looking at several weeks of sixteen hour days. I’m not sure how I have done it, except to say I pretty much just battened down the hatches, gave myself over to the project and just got on with it. I’ve pretty much lived off what my workroom kettle could provide, and moving a comfy armchair into the workroom was a mark of total genius on my part.. I am quite surprised how unscathed I am considering my bleating in a previous post. There was something – can’t think of the right word – ?monastic, about the experience. I’ve actually enjoyed it. I have so many hats, juggle so many things, and although I felt rather selfish not making myself available for my other roles, it was good to focus on one thing so solidly.

Delia Jojfldskjf

I do feel I have rushed her, but I am pleased with the results nonetheless. It was rather nerve-wracking unwinding the loom yesterday and seeing her complete. I was thrilled actually, and although I went straight to bed, I found myself getting up every now and then to check she was still there and I had really done it.

She is just shy of 120 cm x 130 cm. It was the first time I was able to utilise the style and techniques I have been developing on a larger scale, and I much prefer it, much more room for the tapestry and the technique to breathe. Although I say I rushed it, I’m not sure what I would change if I had the chance.

After such a concentrated period of uninterrupted Freeth-time, during which I’ve had plenty of space to think, my mind is so full of ideas, including lots that are quite embryonic but growing fast that I can’t wait to explore them further. Fortunately there is some space between events after Art in the Pen and I’ll be able to take some time to think things through as well as carrying on the prep for my Fellowship which is now due to start in the Spring. It will be good to regroup and think about future directions.

In amongst this weaving marathon , I did have some respite after being invited over to East Riddlesden Hall to do some demoing. They have a lovely collection of rag rugs and they were a good excuse to get folk having a go themselves. It is not often you get to poke a hole in something inside a National Trust property. I trust you will be able to tell which part of the rug was mine. It is such a simple activity for younger hands to try, and for older visitors it always seems to bring back memories. Although I am not making rugs myself anymore, I do love these opportunities to blow the dust off my prodders.


It was also wonderful to see the volunteers again and to have been made so welcome. Strange to see Maides Coign after a year or so. I look at her and can’t quite believe I made her. Hopefully there will be lots more events at East Riddlesden in the future and I’ll keep you apprised here or over on my website or Facebook page.


Talking of which, do have a look at the Facebook page or Instagram of Craft in the Bay. They are showcasing the work in the Weave exhibition and the quality and variety of the work is astounding. I really am terribly proud to be part of it.


I do hope you can pop into Art in the Pen. I loved attending as a visitor before I started exhibiting there. As I am sure you know, the cattle pens of Skipton Auction Mart are given over to selected artists, including sculptors, painters, potters, jewellers and others to turn into mini-galleries. It is a great way to spend a day, and to meet artists and in a very friendly environment and if mooching is your thing there’s no pressure at all, but if you are after a little something, it is a great chance to buy work direct from artists, often at great value. You can find more details about Art in the Pen here.

Finally, my dear friend Moira Fuller, an incredibly talented designer, is about to embark on a new business adventure to help encourage and support creativity in others. She would love your input through a wee questionnaire (she’s Scottish, you know), it’ll only take ten minutes or so. Do please have a look if you can spare some time.

Anyway, I hope all this goes some way to explain my absence, for which, as always I am very sorry.

Cheerio for now xxx

New new tapestry!

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you’ll know it has taken a long time for me to find a way to weave that is unique to me and which gives me a way to say what I want to. The last tapestry, No Longer Mourn, was a bit of a breakthrough. All I had to do next, was do it again. Was it, perhaps, a fluke?

I had plenty of warp left over so I was quick to make another cartoon and to get it on the loom. The design was something I’ve been playing with for a good while but couldn’t quite get it how I wanted it, but now, with this new way of thinking I was able to create a version I liked pretty quickly. I suppose in my head it is about strength in the face of regret, but no real title as yet. It is pretty nerve-wracking unwinding the beams and seeing the completed tapestry for the first time, but I have to say I was pleased with the result and I sat down and looked at it with a sense that I have finally found my feet as a weaver and as an artist. I know what I want to do – and I know now exactly how to do it. I’ve got more ideas and designs in my head and in my notebooks than I’ll ever probably have enough lifespan left to weave. This is a massive change and relief for me (not the lifespan thing). I feel in some way, like I am just starting out.

woven tapestry

This tapestry was woven in a slightly different way technically to the last and once they are both cut off the loom I’ll go into a bit more detail about that. This tapestry is destined, as with the last one, to go to the Saltaire Arts Trail. It will be the first time I’ll have slapped my insides onto a wall for other people to look at and I am rather nervous about it, and if truth be told, rather excited too.

The event takes place here in Saltaire on 28-30 May. I’ll be in the Art Rooms in Salts Mill – just follow the signs to the Tourist Information Centre. The list of artists taking part in the Arts Trail has just been released. As well as the juried exhibitors in the Open Houses there will be local people opening up their homes and showing their work too. There is also the Makers Fair and lots of exhibitions and activities. In the Art Rooms I’ll be exhibiting alongside Janis Goodman, Salma Patel, Steve Rayner, Gemma Lacey, Dave Gowers, and the owner of the Art Rooms, Jacky Al-Samarraie. Do please come and say hello. Pictured below is one of Dave Gower’s amazing paintings; I can’t wait to see more.

David Gowers, No 10

I’ve also been selected for Weave, a summer show at Craft in the Bay in Cardiff – it’ll explore the act of weaving across different mediums, not just with yarn, and I’ll share more about the exhibition in due course. It does sound rather exciting!

Cheerio for now and I hope to see you later this month x

Saying it with weft – a new tapestry finished

Putting weft in and out of warp, there’s only so much you can do without distorting the nature of the cloth. Whilst I’ve always tried to circumnavigate this rigidity by using textured weaves like soumak to create curves and flow, I’ve always felt I was somehow cheating the nature of the medium. But there are some weavers who seem able to just drip the weft from their fingertips and create incredibly expressive weavings; I’m thinking here of Finnish weaver Aino Kajaniemi, the twentieth century German weaver Johanna Schutz-Wolff and a weaver who I only know through a couple of small images of their tapestries, Rojane Lamego.


The need to find a more expressive way to weave myself became increasingly apparent after embarking on the life drawing classes made freely available by Bradford College of Art. Turns out I wasn’t entirely rubbish at drawing. I learned I had scope to explore, that I needn’t jump on the first quarter-decent image I produced despite myself and subsequently devote the rest of my weaving life to it. I became much more liberated in the design stages, certainly less petrified. I’ve begun to draw for its own sake and not just to make something to weave. I also.learned when it came to drawing I leaned towards quick, loose, abstract images (and large-scale, gasp), and I wanted to find a way to translate that looseness in my weaving.

Initial samples focused on eccentric wefts, loose weaves, plain weaves, painted warps and textured surfaces, but I found I was still ducking away from what tapestry was. I was still hiding behind texture and gimmicks. I wanted to get back to basics; simple weft faced weaving. Writing this post I realise perhaps this is a result of my recent research into earlier tapestries.

Embrace insomnia is what is what I say, because the answer appeared in the wee hours one morning, in-between ‘did I close the freezer door properly’ and ‘when is the council tax due’. I had the answer all along, I had already woven the way I was seeking in the studies I had made for the DMV projects and the Hanging Tree tapestry. I reworked one of my sketches into a proper design, made the cartoon and worked some samples including the more complicated areas such as the face (below).


I aimed to weave something where the figure and the background were intrinsic to one another, interwoven in design as well as structure, hoping this would make it more expressive than my previous tapestries.


I also found myself finally being able to express something trapped for some time. A sonnet someone once shared with me came to mind as I was designing this (No Longer Mourn for Me), and I realised the figure was sinking into the blackness, but read differently, she was also emerging from it, and that was basically what I’ve been trying to say and failing miserably, as the graveyard of abandoned tapestries attests.


I finished her today and I’m very pleased with the results. It took about three weeks to weave, but stupidly weaving 15+ hours a day, so probably more like five. She is 116cm x 82 cm, so smaller than what I normally go for, but she was a bit of a punt and I didn’t want to waste too much wool and warp in case she didn’t pan out. It was far more complicated than my previous tapestries but also far more addictive. I also found myself freely interpreting the original drawing at the loom which was a far more interesting way to work than being a slave to the cartoon.


She’ll have to stay on the loom for a little while as there’s loads of left over warp to use up. But this piece, and others along similar lines, will be ready to show in May. I am very happy to say I’ve been selected as one of the exhibitors in the Open Houses Gallery at the Saltaire Arts Trail. I’ve never really had the chance to show my tapestries at this event before and I am really looking forward to the opportunity. I feel embarrassed to think of myself as an artist, but I do feel this piece is something I can be proud of and is unique to me and my voice. The Arts Trail takes place 28-30 May and the work of the artists will be on show in houses of the World Heritage Site and I’ll let you know where I’ll be as soon as I do.


I am also thrilled to have been selected for Art in the Pen this year. This will take place in Skipton 13-14 August. I’ve also been selected for Crafted by Hand 5-6 November in Masham. I’ll update the events page on my website very soon, likewise workshops. It has been hard to plan for the year with my Fellowship travels in the offing, but as one of the places I want to visit won’t be open until the summer, it looks like I’ll be heading off later in the year. Obviously I want to go right now, now, now, but it does seem this will be more practical and give me a greater chance to prepare. It is Easter now and I am going to try to take a couple of days off. Whatever you have planned, I hope you enjoy it x

Sonnet 71: No Longer mourn for me (Shakespeare)

No longer mourn or me when I am dead

Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell

Give warning to the world that I am fled

From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell;

Nay, if you read this line, remember not

The hand that writ it; for I love you so,

That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,

If thinking on me then should make you woe.

O, if (I say) you look upon this verse,

When I (perhaps) compounded am with clay,

Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,

But let your love even with my life decay,

Lest the wise world should look into your moan,

And mock you with me after I am gone.

Awarded Churchill Fellowship

Time to let a cat out of the tapestry-woven bag – there’s a reason this blog has been a bit quiet of late. Something rather spectacular has been in the offing and I’m sorry I’ve been so coy about it up til now.

As an archaeologist I’ve always tended to take a long view. There’s not much I see without wondering how it came to be as it is. As a textiles practitioner I am also very much rooted in the past, I started mucking about *coughs* twenty-five years ago, as a result of working in a textile-related museum, and I’ve been mentored and supported by conservators since. As I’ve moved into tapestry the work of medieval weavers has been at the core of my work. I don’t mean that I am trying to replicate their work, but there is a link to the past, an inheritance, for me weaving is a way to connect with those that came before me. Their work is also of major relevance to contemporary weavers whether they are conscious of it or not. Jean Lurcat, the artist responsible for the French Revival in tapestry during the mid twentieth century, and who rescued it from shepherdesses and turned it into a contemporary fine art, was himself directly inspired by pre-Renaissance work.

I’ve studied early tapestry veraciously, albeit through online museum collections and the few texts that are out there. But when this time last year I went to the V&A and saw the Devonshire Hunting tapestries and others I realised that nothing could have prepared me for the vivacity and the skills on display. After all, how can you really transpose tapestries 100 feet long into the few centimetres afforded in a text book? Even online I only know of one image were you can zoom in close enough to see the work as a weaver would, to get close enough to the bead of the weaving, to see how the weavers laid down the weft, to see what they did and why, to explore the decisions they made, the techniques they used, the technical choices they had to make.

So although I walked out of that gallery inspired and thrilled, I was also a little deflated. I realised I would always be stunted as a weaver unless I managed to study firsthand early tapestries and those that were inspired by them. There would always be a lack of depth and context to my own understanding and work. I also realised that with the dearth of formal training in tapestry, I wouldn’t be the only one.

The only thought I could comfort myself with, was that if I was ever given six months to live, I would sell my house, buy a camper van and trundle off to the museums and abbeys of Europe to study them. But then along came Winston Churchill. After his death in 1965 a living memorial was established – the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. They provide travelling fellowships to individuals who wish to study abroad and bring back findings of relevance to all within their field. These Fellowships were established to perpetuate and honour the memory of Winston Churchill and their joy is that they are not restricted to academics attached to a university, and in fact anyone can apply regardless of their qualifications. They announce ten categories each year and for this round they included a Crafts and Makers group in partnership with the Heritage Crafts Association.

Here was a chance to fulfil my dream and without the shadow of a terminal illness. I would also be able to put to use what I saw and share it with others. Here was a chance to grow up as a weaver, to see things that would change me and my practice forever and to pass that knowledge on. I had to go for it – no question.

Detail from a 15th century tapestry at the V&A

It meant turning away from my loom and hitting the books. I had to flesh out my original inspiration into a comprehensive research project. I may have slightly over worked this part, partly because that’s just what I generally tend to do, partly because, ahem, I didn’t realise there was a word limit. But it was to pay off in the end. I also had to identify places and collections that held the work I needed to see and which would give me an overview chronologically, geographically and technically, and which would answer my questions and all still be do-able within the confines of the Fellowship. In the end I identified places in Belgium, Switzerland and France and in the US including New York. I also had to select places that would give me the best opportunity to engage with practitioners, curators, historians and gallerists. I also had to identify how best I could disseminate this learning when the time came. Yee gads it all sounds so easy written like that, but it was a lot of work. I was able to console myself at the time that if I didn’t get the Fellowship I had at least learned a tremendous amount during the course of the application process and was perhaps pushing myself in a direction I hadn’t thought about before.

Fabulously, I was shortlisted. I had to provide further details about the project, which is where all that extra work came in handy and not least because this was precisely when I contracted the pox for several weeks and which may have put all this in jeopardy had I not done the bulk of the work beforehand.

I had my interview a few weeks ago, at the end of January. Obviously one tries to convince oneself that it doesn’t really matter if one doesn’t get it, but I knew I would never fulfil my potential if I didn’t. It also turned out that I knew a couple of Churchill Fellows in my grown up job, and their support and encouragement just made me want to be part of the fold even more, I liked that you became a Churchill Fellow for life, I liked the idea that I would have a responsibility to encourage others to do it too. As my interview was in the afternoon I had time to nip back to the V&A to see some tapestries I hadn’t seen last time I was there (pictured above), and it only made me realise how utterly crucial it was for me to do this. There was just no way I could be a weaver without seeing the work of my predecessors. The interview panel were incredibly supportive and friendly, in fact the whole process has been tremendously smooth and well-organised and professional. I left the room as high as a tapestry kite, but knew there was a long wait for the decisions to be announced. That was supposed to be the 19th Feb, well it turned out it wasn’t, it was today. And I got it and I am utterly thrilled and very proud, and not quite sure what to do now. Except it may well involve fish and chips and Saltaire brewery. Apparently just shy of a 1000 people applied, 236 were interviewed and 150 Fellowships were awarded across the 10 categories. I’ll get to meet the others in my group in March, which I am really looking forward to. Oh, and the title of my project is Exploring early European tapestries and their relevance to contemporary practice.

I will explain in more detail in future posts what the specific aims of the project are and where exactly I will be going and when, and how I will be sharing what I have learned with others. I just wanted to share this news with you now and as a bit of an explanation for my absence. Can I add I also totally bossed it at life drawing today? Right. Beer.

Tapestry weaving progress

Where have I been? Sick as a flipping dawg! Went to London for a meeting and came back with what I thought was a sore throat. A few days in and I had lost my voice (which I thought was funny) and by the end of the week I could no longer breathe properly and had to call on a neighbour for help who took me down to the local hospital. This was the sickest I have ever been in my life and it has taken a long time to push past it. I’ve broken bones before, but this was something else. Regrettably it meant I had to pull out of the Holmfirth Art Market. This had been in my diary for most of the year, and it was a big event for me and I was very upset about it, but there was no way I could have managed and I was worried about spreading my infection further. The organisers were very understanding and I am very grateful for that. All together I lost nearly a month’s worth of working time and have had my head down since, trying to make up for lost time.

But progress has been made on the Long Night project discussed last time.IMG_7442

I warped up the main treadle loom in the workroom pretty much trouble-free even though it was the biggest warp I’ve put on it, around 570 warps, all six yards wrong. I threaded the warp onto the bar of the warp beam rather than tie it the warps on and although it meant shifting the loom a bit, it has made for a much neater start.


I have always had a snagging worry that although I love textured surfaces, I was hiding behind them a little and wanted to tone it down a bit for this piece. I wove the hair of the first figure as simple waves.


That was how I wanted it, plain, simple, calm and with just a line of soumak to separate them. But once it was done, it was pretty lifeless and I didn’t like the colours. They worked together in the samples, but didn’t seem to work on the larger scale.


When I start doubting myself and start messing about on the loom, throwing out all the planning and preparation is where I generally start to go wrong so I was determined to see it through. I got about two-thirds through when I accepted it was wrong and it had to come out. It took all day to unpick as I wanted to preserve the wool rather than just rip it out.

It has taken a long time to find an alternative. I still wanted waves that followed down the length of the figure’s back, but it also had to have some life to it, but also be relatively simple. This is only a small part of the tapestry and I didn’t want it to be too overwhelming. The result is shorter waves and curls within the larger waves. It looks to me like fields or waves or even flames and the latter seems particularly relevant as the project is to me about survival and rebirth. The colours I kept the same and they seem to work much better now. My inspiration for the colours have come from Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo which hopefully will become more obvious as the tapestry progresses. I feel that the cell-like structure of the new hair echoes something of the cloissonne technique used in the jewellery. In my head it does, anyway.


Having to unpick as much as I did meant I could weigh the wool I’d used and get some proper calculations as to how much yarn I was using to cover an area so I’ve been able to make some good estimates on how much I need to dye for the rest of the project, which will be my next job. It is a lot less than I thought. I am going to try very hard to only dye what I need, and not do a few more 100 grams just in case the laws of physics should change when I am not looking.


I’ve changed the way I’ve been winding my wool. I used to wind the wool from dyed hanks into a ball. It was a massive, rather unpleasant job, and they usually just got tangled on the spool rack anyway when trying to wind up the bobbins. I have instead started to use my mum’s old cake beater as an electric winder, putting the wool directly onto tubes (sitting on a drinking straw) which is much quicker. I then stand whatever tubes I am using to wind the bobbins on an upturned raddle. I am using more colours than I have done previously, and it seems a lot easier to just pick out tubes from labelled tubs than have them all fight over space on one of the spool racks.


Looking over my last few posts I realise I haven’t shared some of the samples I’ve been working on for the DMV projects. Initially I was going to try working with fewer warps per inch than I am used to, but I wasn’t happy with the result. I was cutting corners for the sake of time. The new samples are a much more literal rendering of the original designs, and hark back to The Hanging Tree project, but I do rather like them, they are something very different and I will be warping up the smaller treadle loom in the next few days to get on with these.

IMG_7667 - Copy



IMG_7674 - Copy

I had a lovely afternoon in Leeds visiting the British Art Show. I have to confess a lot of it was over my head. But I did very much like Jessica Warboys Sea Paintings, the one on show being made at Spurn Point. She scatters pigments onto canvas and lets the waves of the sea distribute the colours. I only had my phone with me, so forgive the quality of the photographs, but I did want to share something of the scale of her work. BAS8 is on until the 10th of January before it moves on and is certainly worth a visit.


Sorry to be so cryptic for now, but in amongst all the nightmare of the last month or so, something rather wonderful has happened, which may or may not mean that my movements next year may be a little unsettled. For this reason I have delayed announcing the dates of my workshops until February. For that I sincerely apologise but I didn’t want to go ahead and then have to change them, wasting everyone’s time. And if you wouldn’t mind praying to the loom gods on my behalf, I would be very grateful.

It has been a wonderful year, and if things go as I hope, next year promises to be rather spectacular. Thank you so much for your support – it really does mean the world to me. Best wishes for to you all for the Christmas and the new year xxxx

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