The Farfield Residency (12:14)

Current Listening: J.S.Bach The Art of Fugue

My dear daughter Frances May, as editor of the wonderful, but late lamented Plan B magazine, always used to head her blog with ‘current listening’. This really set the tone for the writing that followed. During my days at Farfield I have listened to more music in a fortnight than I have in months, if not years. Having really got to know Ollie Mustonen’s playing of the Goldberg Variations, it was time tonight for Die Kunst der Fuge. This version of the work for piano intersperses miniature pieces by Gyorgy Kurtag – to great effect.

* * * *

Today I devoted to weaving, as much as time and this really ‘difficult loom’ would allow. I have made some good progress, but ultimately I am defeated and decide this evening I can’t go any further until I can get the loom balanced (shaft pins would help!) and the lams to behave themselves (without those all important washers I have on my Toika loom.

The next part of the woven garden

The next part of the woven garden

What I’ve decided to do is to cut the woven piece off and hang the incomplete piece in a small display I’m putting together about my all too brief residency. I’ve asked Alice to help me do this if she arrives in Sedbergh in good time for my recital tomorrow – I need some Vilene (which she has and I forgot) and some moral support! What I’ve tried to do with this woven experiment is to put colours together with particular weave patterns. I’ve made use of pebble weave, crepe, cord, vertical herringbone (43, 41, 21, 32, 41, 43, 32, 21) and towards the end of the piece long and short pointed twill (with a straight draw – 43, 32, 21, 41, 21, 32, 43, 41, 43, 32, 21).

Detail of the Woven Garden

Detail of the Woven Garden

Despite all the problems I have learnt a lot from my concentrated time trying to weave what is certainly the biggest piece I have attempted to date. I realise how far I have to go to make coherent weave and colour structures. Talking of coherence,

Front view of the woven piece to date

Front view of the woven piece to date

Alice sent me the first fruits of her weaving on the rigid heddle loom she warped up during her time at Farfield. I love the image of the weave against the window with the garden outside . . . I’m hoping she might bring the completed piece to Farfield tomorrow to put in the display I’m co-ordinating (see below).

Alice's Rigid Heddle 'Garden' Piece

Alice's Rigid Heddle 'Garden' Piece

I finally put the loom from my mind about 4.0pm and after a strong cup of coffee settled down to play through my programme for tomorrow’s recital.  Although I’ve played this work – Carcassi’s Etudes Melodiques – many times, it’s a fickle piece and there are still corners that surprise and infuriate me. But I like it because it gives me such a lot of room for creative interpretation.

After a gentle and clear morning rain set in before lunchtime . . . and it is still raining,dismal for all those people on holiday. After a flurry of visitors this morning, the Mill has been quite quiet. I wonder what people do with themselves when it is raining in Sedbergh. Probably go and explore one of the many bookshops. It’s a good job I’m 15 minutes walk from the town – so far I have only succumbed to two books, and they were presents. Maybe tomorrow?

I arranged my getaway from Farfield for Sunday afternoon. It will be a five-hour trip by train with three changes to arrive in Bangor in time for a fish and chip supper with Susan and Meg. But before that I have to negotiate getting to Brigflatts for Sunday meeting and then a 10-mile journey to the station at the head of Garsdale. A bus surely? You must be joking. Sedbergh only has a bus service that runs on a Thursday – so it’s a taxi or the kindness of friends or colleagues..

Remember that vase of flowers . . .?

Remember that vase of flowers . . .?

This evening I’ve been putting together a kind of residency retrospective: a display of photographs, sketches, warp and weft designs, recital programmes, photos contributed by the online weavers I know. I can certainly cover a good space of empty wall outside the studio.


2 Responses to “The Farfield Residency (12:14)”

  1. Barbara Says:


    It appears from your photo taken from the front of the loom that your warp path to the cloth beam is running UNDER instead of OVER the “knee beam”. If you plan to tie back on (or weave in a header and a stick to tie back on with), try changing the path of the warp next time…’ll be so much happier a weaver. (Ask me how I know this so well!) After moving from a traditional jack loom to a glimakra countermarche, I made this mistake repeatedly. Never remembered until I found myself wondering why there was so little space for my knees beneath the cloth. Eventually I managed to do it right the first time with each warp.

    Maybe you already figured this out and I am just rubbing it in. It is certainly a learning process and always an adventure, this weaving business!


  2. Dot Says:

    Just to add to what Barbara said, you’ll probably find on Glimakra looms that, as with my Toika, you can correct this mistake by lifting out the knee beam, slackening off the warp, and then putting the knee beam back in place under the warp.

    I’m sure you know about the apron rod not being parallel to the beam also. Especially you’ll know about it if you wove far enough to wind the cloth onto the beam…!

    If you have time before the next term in Bradford, why not book a course with one of the best weaving tutors in the UK, I recommend Stacey Harvey-Brown, or Martin Weatherhead, or Janet Phillips, and see if you can get the basic skills polished up to make life easier when you get back to the design stuff? Loom set up and colour & weave would be useful. Stacey has lots of interesting looms.

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