So the last day of Travis’s time with us comes. Another blustery changeable day, but we’re all in good spirits. Another textile expert from the Trust, Davinder joins us and brings two other kinds of weaving to demonstrate and so at some points in the day, we have 4 different kinds of weaving simultaneously on the go!
Lots of our friends track us down to see the finished weaving, have another go on the loom and say goodbye to Travis. Jo presents him with a cute little cardigan she’s knitted in just a week, for his soonish to be born son and Travis decides unilaterally and rightly, that she, as the donor of all the wool used throughout the project deserves to have the first ownership of the first woven blanket.
In total 394 people come to visit the Weavers House over the weekend. It’s a huge achievement for the hard working volunteers, who are all hoarse from talking and aching from standing on the hard stone floors.
The project is now over. But the revolution has begun. More to follow…
Safe journey home Travis!
So the project becomes part of the Weavers House display for the Heritage Open Days and Travis is one of the main attractions.
Alongside the other people demonstrating spinning and dyeing with woad to make Coventry Blue, Travis explains the principles of weaving to an impressed public, over and over again. He bears up well, but unfortunately the loom doesn’t. A suspect screw that has been bothering Travis and I throughout the two weeks, now fails and an emergency repair has to take place with the help of Trust volunteer Brian, using an authentic medieval electric drill…
The repairs are quick and the loom now looks a lot more robust and less likely to snag clothing or fingers, so we’re all happy.
It’s a good day, weather changeable but not torrential and the house and gardens look very fine. The first blanket woven by the general public, is displayed on a ‘tenter’ – a frame for stretching out the fabric and is much admired. And as people get entranced by the process of weaving, yet more fabric begins to emerge from the loom.
What are we going to do with it all? This is a question Travis always faces at the end of a project and he finds it interesting to invite the public to make suggestions. So far we’ve not had many, though – any ideas from the webosphere welcome.
Last chance to meet Travis at the Weavers House today, Sunday 11, 10.00-4.00.
Well the project culminates in the next two days with the Heritage Open Days, when the whole of the Weavers House is open to the public.
Official opening times are 10.00-4.00, we hope to see you there!
Doing justice to the story of this project in photographs has somewhat eluded me. I’m a rank amateur and therefore was very grateful to Andrew Moore – a talented designer and photographer who dropped in to the Weavers House. Andrew (the designer of our graphics) is a very generous soul and kindly took some photographs of Travis in action. Ironically the loom was just been rewarped so the images were not your typical weaving shots. But, as well as giving a sense of Travis’ manual dexterity and skill, they also show his tattoos off a treat.
More pics to follow
The loom is now a central feature of the Weavers House. The size is perfect for the amount of space, allowing people to watch, chat, and take turns in a not too awkward cycle. The cloth builds up almost invisibly whilst this goes on. And the weaving is not hard work, the loom makes only soft squeaks and clanks. It’s a calm meditative process.
Nothing like I imagine textiles manufacturing operates on a mass production scale. A former weaver from Cashes silk weaving company tells us how she had to make the same woven labels every day and the most exciting thing that happened was when a thread broke.
So here we are feeling very privileged to be making cloth and yet enjoying the process.
We’ve become something of a magnet for local textile lovers. They visit us again and again. And they bring their own textiles and projects to show Travis and talk through processes, stories and techniques.
It feels like a really productive time, with confidence building and ideas being discussed. And Travis is in just quietly supporting the process. So this is what an Action Weaver is.
Monday and Travis spends his morning completing the final stages of warping the loom.
And at last we see it in action. He started by weaving a couple of rows of thick wool which becomes the ‘header’ or waste cloth. Then the real weaving begins.
After a week of using the little heddle looms, which are so flexible but really dependent on the user keeping the threads taut to work, it feels like a gift to work with a set up that is already set up and which stays permanently rigid. The pedals also make it really easy to change the warp threads over. Travis has made a basic stick shuttle which feels huge compared to the little plastic ones, and doesn’t take much effort to pass between the threads. But without the experience of the back strap looms I think many people would feel intimidated by the look of the loom and all of those threads and wouldn’t have grasped the principles so easily. It feels like just the right time in the project to offer people something to progress onto. And the cloth being produced is so beautiful – it’s got a lovely tweedy feel. This really does feel like a Weavers House now.
Travis spent Saturday in the company of volunteers from Spon End Building Preservation Trust – some of who are expert spinners, dyers and weavers.
Travis therefore offered them a more advanced session and the results involving woven pictures and two colour patterns are intriguing.