It was a beautiful sunny autumn day in Salcombe in South Devon, and I headed off to the beach with my tapestry weaving kit with a plan to weave the North Sands view. Not on my own, but inviting any interested passers-by to join in.
Steve, my husband, had whipped up a portable easel for my frame, making use of odds and ends of timber left over from work on our smallholding. It sat on the seawall at the perfect height for weaving, and proved to be the solid base I had hoped for. (He has also made additional ‘legs’ that I’ll be able to use when I don’t have a handy sea wall!).
I came up with a very simple design for the tapestry, using a wedge-weaving technique that would provide a visually interesting image, but wouldn’t ask too much of people who had probably never woven before. In my mind’s eye, there were three main ‘layers’ in the design, each one with just one or two main elements: firstly beach and rocks, then sea and headland, and finally, sky.
I had barely set up my easel and frame before the first group of people came to see what I was up to. It didn’t take much to persuade one of their number to have a go, and this set the pattern for the rest of the afternoon. When there was no-one else around, or no-one came to join in, I carried on weaving myself. All sorts of people got involved, young and old, male and female. Some stayed and wove several rows, others did just a little bit.
I also asked people to make decisions for me about what colours to use, based on the selection I had available. It was oddly liberating to let this element of control go, and I found that I loved trying out combinations that I probably wouldn’t have chosen by myself.
So why was I doing this? So many reasons, but mostly about sharing the fun of tapestry weaving and at the same time, showing people a different way to notice the nature all around us.
By the end of the tapestry, 20 people had got actively involved, and at least that number again came to watch what we were doing. Thank you Tony, Alison, Fee, Fi, Nadia, Angelina, Kate, Lucy, Janet, Jack, Sian, Caitlin, Liselle, Maxine, Tristan, Karenza, Chris, Maggie and three others whose names I didn’t catch! And thank you WeaversBazaar for the yarn, which they originally supplied as part of sponsorship for a project I ran a couple of years ago.