In 2008 my husband and I had sailed our 33 ft yacht, Red Dawn IV, from where we keep her in Essex to the Brest Classic Boat Festival in Brittany, France, which is held every four years. She had been accepted as a classic boat, having been designed by Maurice Griffiths, a popular designer around the 1960’s and a long time editor of Yachting Monthly magazine. All participants are requested to produce a ‘Toile de Mer’ which must in some way represent the boat and her home port. The Toile has to be produced on a board to a specified size. This is the design my husband came up with, the left-hand side being an outline of the boat, her class (a Barbican 33) and her designer (Maurice Griffiths). The right depicts our home port with the county coat-of-arms, and in the middle is her name over a depiction of the sun rising over the sea:
Why am I telling you this? Well, for my first project on my Big Beastie loom I planned on working a pair of cushion covers for the boat, side-by-side so that I could be sure they matched properly and based on the middle section of the Toile design. Having fiddled around with Big Beastie for some time I eventually managed to get the tension adjusted reasonably satisfactorily and decided it was time to start the project.
The first problem was finding appropriately coloured yarn. I had been gradually building up a collection of yarns suitable for weaving, buying from Ebay amongst other places, but apart from a small ball of a nice golden-yellow for the sun I had nothing else suitable. When I have a colour in mind I like to see before I buy so I scoured the local yarn shops and quite a number further afield, all to no avail; I could find nothing with the correct intensity of colour. I even bought some undyed rug wool and had a go at dyeing it myself, but even after putting it through a dye bath twice I was still not getting the required density and richness of colour and was at risk of causing the pure wool to felt!
Then I discovered Texere Yarns on the Internet. They have a vast selection of yarns, including an Axminster Rug Wool selection in a wool/nylon mix. The colours they stock do vary according to availability but I was able to get more or less the colours I had in mind from them (it is always something of a compromise). I bought a navy blue, royal blue, light blue, as well as red and orange and in August 2013 I set to work. Here you can see the work in progress, which you will recognise from the blog banner above:
I had bought the loom already warped up with a linen warp and a sett of approximately 6 epi so this formed the basis of the weaving. The finished size of the cushions would be 50 x 30 cms.
To be continued….
(In the meantime if you would like to know more about Maurice Griffiths and the Barbican 33 check out The Eventide Owners Association website here.)