Around the time that I bought my Big Beastie loom and whilst I was weaving the Black & White Sampler I discovered the existence of The British Tapestry Group (BTG) and from their website learned that three weavers were holding an exhibition at The Gateway Gallery in Shrewsbury, Shropshire during September and October 2012, about a 45 mins car journey from where I live. The exhibition was called Shropshire Yarns and the three weavers were Maralyn Hepworth, Pauline Fisk and Lindsey Marshall (follow the links in the sidebar blogroll to learn more about these three tapestry weavers).
I noted that on one day a week one of the weavers would be there to demonstrate and to talk to visitors so I went along on the appropriate day, hoping to find someone who could advise on my problem with setting up the Big Beastie and there I met Maralyn Hepworth.
I found the exhibition to be inspirational and Maralyn was very helpful and encouraging although she was unable to help me with my problem as she did not have a similar loom. She suggested that one of the other weavers might be able to help and invited me to attend their BTG Midlands Branch meeting on the last day of the exhibition and maybe bring some work to show them. I wouldn’t be able to take the Black & White Sampler on the nail frame loom as it was too cumbersome to carry (there is no parking at the Gallery!) and I had nothing on the small wrap-round frame loom. I would need to get designing!
Unfortunately I didn’t take any photographs at the exhibition so have none to show you here but there are plenty on the Shropshire Yarns website.
Please note I shall now be away until the end of the month, with no internet access. I will resume this saga on my return in February.
The gallery pictures in Kirsten Glasbrook’s book “Tapestry Weaving” (available from Amazon and all good bookshops) and the picture of her large tapestry loom inspired me to dream up designs of my own for large tapestries, for which I would need a large loom. Without intending to buy one immediately (this was August 2012 and I had only just started weaving) I began a little research into such looms and how much they would cost. In the process I came across a website called The Loom Exchange which deals in second-hand looms and other equipment as well as books, so out of interest I took a look.
I found an advert for a large Glimakra Regina loom for sale not very far from where I live and arranged to go to see it. To cut a long story short, it was immaculate. I paid a deposit and we went home to arrange transportation. My husband offered to pay the rest for my birthday at the end of the month. We went back a few days later with eldest son and van to fetch it home.
The loom was warped up with some six inches or so of weaving on it and I decided that it would be good if we could transport it with the warp in tact so that I had something to practice on, the warp would not be wasted and, most of all I could study it properly before needing to warp it up myself. I must add here that the instruction leaflet with the loom was all in German, a language I do not speak! I tried to find a translation to download from the internet but failed miserably. (Later a friend did a rough translation for me).
We took loads of photos as hubby and son dismantled the loom to make sure we could put it back together properly, brought it home and immediately, while it was fresh in their minds, they reassembled it in a spare bedroom – it filled the room! It measures 73 ins wide by 42 ins deep by 76 ins high. We then realized what a large room it had been in when we saw it, size can be deceptive! As you can see I couldn’t get it all in the photgraph and it soon earned the nickname Big Beastie.
It is a two shaft loom, which means the alternate warps can be moved backwards and forwards for ease of weaving, but I had great difficulty in getting these set up properly and also getting the warp tension correct after reassembling the loom. I spent many hours fiddling with it and doing little bits of weaving practice. It was to be some time before I actually wove anything on it.
The gentleman who sold me the loom was disposing of his late wife’s weaving equipment and he kindly gave me a copy of Nancy Harvey’s book, also called “Tapestry Weaving” and subtitled “A Comprehensive Study Guide”. Nancy Harvey is an American tapestry weaver and this book is an ideal one to move onto after working through Kirsten Glasbrook’s book. The book is available from Amazon but seems to be priced rather highly (at least for the UK market) so maybe I was very lucky to be given it.
In this book Nancy talks you through two sampler projects as well as detailing many other techniques and providing ‘cartoons’ for further projects. I worked both samplers, although I had to slightly redesign the first one to fit my small weaving frame. Here is a picture of the one I didn’t alter. This was woven on a sett of 6 epi (those of you who have read my previous posts will know this means ‘ends per inch’) and again in a variety of knitting yarns from stock. Here it is framed and ready to hang on the wall.