Hanging Tree Progress

Hanging Tree TapestryProgress has been made on the Hanging Tree – yes, that’s its title, sorry – and there’s about a week’s worth of weaving done.

I am generally weaving through the day and then winding bobbins and dyeing in the evening. I was a bit nervous about being able to dye to a consistent colour and yet still have enough variation to make the surface interesting, but it seems to be working out. It has helped to use more than one hank at a time; it seems to provide some continuation as the work progresses. I’ll do a post on dyeing for tapestry very soon in case it is of interest to anyone.

Hanging Tree Tapestry

Initially interpreting the cartoon proved more difficult than I thought it would; I was forgetting the cartoon is just a guide and not something to be reproduced, that the tapestry has a will of its own and that has to be respected. I was just getting my eye in when I was stopped in my tracks by a bug and I’ve ended up malingering beneath my duvet for several days. It’s been very frustrating as I just want to get on with the tapestry, but at least I’d done enough to satisfy myself that it’s going to work – whatever it is about the original image that seemed so atmospheric to me, it looks like it will be translated into the weaving after all – phew! I’m very excited and eager to get going again and still hoping to be done by December.

Hanging Tree Tapestry

As well as this bug I’ve also been delayed by having to getting ready for the Makers Fair at the Saltaire Festival. That went really well and some lovely people popped by to say hello, including readers of my wee blog – it was great to meet you. Several of my scarves found new homes which was rather lovely. I also had to get ready an order for the Imaginarium Gallery in Haworth – this lovely shop seems to be going from strength to strength and is full of unique and beautifully made items – I am really proud to be part of it. My stuff is in the window at the moment – the owner Claire has done such a great job – it’s very exciting! This does all mean I need to restock pretty sharpish, so I need to get weaving, especially as the busiest period of the year is about to kick in.

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I’ve also been busy writing a couple of articles for UK Handmade. I am also really happy to say I’ve joined the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers as one of their Features Editors. This has necessitated me joining the Guild – why I have left it so long to do so I don’t know! I’m looking forward to this very much, and the chance to expand my horizons within the field.

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I was very much looking forward to visiting Yarndale this weekend but this bug has really put an end to that, but I’m on the mend now and hopefully tomorrow I can get weaving again. Ta ta for now x

Creativity, Making Mistakes and Happy Accidents

Got my wrists slapped last night for not updating my blog. Truth is I have been enjoying some pretty serious Chrissie time, mucking about in my workroom.

Yggdrasil

I’ve been playing, sketching for the first time since school, printing, painting, exploring with my camera. I’ve been thinking about my Nan a lot too, the making and doing we used to do at her table, I guess I have been tapping into that freedom to explore and create we enjoy as children but shun as adults, doing things for their own sake, not worrying why you are doing it or how they will turn out.

At the same time I put a small warp on my scaffold loom Evil Norris. The project I had planned of my great-grandmother will involve such a big time commitment I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. I did another sample area of the rose and wasn’t too happy with it – rather than a flower, I was merely reproducing the artefacts intrinsic to the blown up photograph; I realised I would have to start the design process again.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep” Scott Adams.

But one afternoon I spent printing, the images I made were quick and spontaneous, they were also quite dark and atmospheric – all aspects at odds with the methodical, slow going, warmth traditionally associated with tapestry weaving and I liked that contrast. I also saw a mythological element in the images and felt that link to the past which as an archaeologist I crave. The images just seemed darker and deeper and a bit more ‘me’.  One in particular I started to like, it reminded me of a tree and with its nine branches it brought to mind the Yggdrasil from Norse mythology and I made some samples on the loom that seemed to look ok. Initially I thought if I was going to try to weave it I would be sensible and do it on a smaller scale, but it didn’t seem right, these images are landscapes and I want to weave a ‘gateway’ into them, plugging into that link between weaving and myths, and for that the tapestry needed to be large and I’ve made a cartoon a couple of metres long. It will be woven on the side so that will be the finished height.

I haven’t seen tapestry like this before, and of course there may be a good reason for that and it might not work – will the atmosphere of the print translate into a tapestry? Nevertheless I have decided to give it a go – if it works it could be brilliant, and perhaps I have found a voice intrinsic to me as a weaver, and if it doesn’t well so be it – it will be a lesson learned and the skills I develop can be used for the next project. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be doing my great-grandmother project at some point, but it will be on the back burners for a while.

Saltaire Makers Fair Festival SpecialSaltaire Makers Fair Festival Special

I have a busy month ahead, the Maker’s Fair Special for the Saltaire Festival will be on the 14th and 15th September (please note I am on the leaflets – a legend in my own postcode 😉 )

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And I’ve also have an order to fill for the lovely Imaginarium Gallery in Haworth, and have been weaving some of my ‘Rainbow Twill’ for that, working hard to clear the decks as much a I can and plan to put the warp for the tapestry onto Evil Norris tomorrow.

Patchwork Hexagons

Today – I am sorry to confess – I am nursing a hangover but it is a good excuse to add to my stash of patchwork hexagons – they are a great way to relax away from the looms, very addictive and easy to do but which will one day hopefully end up as a bed spread of black-framed flowers. For some reason I thought it was really difficult until someone showed me how to do it a month or so back. I am sorry to say I was eyeing up a perfectly good dress of mine though wanting to use the fabric.

Before I go it seems right to link to this great post by Dixie Nicholls from Handmade Lives  –  Creativity The Elephant in the Workroom which I hope you find as interesting as I did. So ta-ta for now, and I’ll try not to leave it so long next time. x

Hexagon Patchwork

Worldwide Spin in Public Day at Saltaire Festival

The lovely streets here in Saltaire are bunting and banner coated and there is that buzz in the air that begins to descend during the Festival. On Saturday a great time was had at the Maker’s Fair Festival Special and on Sunday I treated myself to tickets for the award-winning Orkney folk band The Chair at Victoria Hall and had a foot-stomping time. I used to play the fiddle myself don’t you know, until someone about six doors down once told me he thought I was “getting much better now”.

The crafty goodness is set to continue for the upcoming finale weekend and not least because the 15th just so happens to be Worldwide Spinning in Public Day. Saltaire Handmade who are running a craft fair at the Caroline Street Social Club have kindly given me a spot and I’ll be there with Morag (my Haldane Hebridean spinning wheel) as well as a bunch of spindles and plenty of different fleeces, so if you’ve ever fancied having a go at spinning or are just curious to see how it’s done, do make sure you pop by and say hello. Local artist David Starley will also be doing demos, and two of my fave local designer makers will also be there, Quernus Crafts and Inkylinky. Flag crackin’ sunshine is forecast – it’s going to a great weekend.