This might be your cup of tea….

“In Ireland, you go to someone’s house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you’re really just fine. She asks if you’re sure. You say of course you’re sure, really, you don’t need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting. You don’t need a ting. Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn’t mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it’s no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting. 

In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don’t get any damned tea. I liked the Irish way better.” 
― C.E. Murphy, Urban Shaman

Tea is such an integral part of life – certainly British life, possibly more so for the older generation. When a visitor arrives at our houses we immediately offer them a cup of tea. Making tea is suggested as a suitable response to receiving bad news. It gives the recipient of the news something practical to do, somewhere to put their grief, or shock – for the moment anyway.

“If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.”
-William Ewart Gladstone

Tea has invaded our language too – we talk about someone or something being just “my cup of tea”, something we feel comfortable with and we enjoy. Jack Buchanan explains our love of tea so well in his song EVERYTHING STOPS FOR TEA, which was featured in Buchanan’s 1935 comedy film, “Come Out Of The Pantry” (Goodhart / Hoffman / Sigler) Jack Buchanan

https://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/e/everythingstopsfortea.html

I couldn’t give quotations about tea without a mention of Billy Connolly’s “Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on. ”

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/109148-never-trust-a-man-who-when-left-alone-in-a

The House that I was born in

There’s something about the house that I was born in that draws me. Happy times I guess. Learning about the world was always enjoyable and I was keen to know learn the next thing. Even then I was drawing out little maps of the roads that I knew – the roads to school, the way to the library and the shops and then later on, my route to the bigger school, which I wasn’t allowed to do on my own. It requiring crossing Brigstock Road with all its buses and vans. It seems amazing now, that I was allowed to walk to school on my own as an infant, crossing two minor roads. We lived in a Victorian semi, which originally had three bedrooms and then the back bedroom was converted to a bathroom and box room.

The House that I was Born in

As this tapestry progressed, I was interested in how my use of colours developed. I had an idea of a palette and had decided not to be driven by the aesthetic of the work, which would be my usual approach. Instead, colours took on a meaning and in particular, bright orange for no-go areas like the scullery, that we weren’t allowed into as children. The pale blue areas show where we lived routinely, and places like the front room were very vague to me, only used for visitors and for short periods of time and very cold, with Lino round the edge of the room.

The house I was born in

Another surprising thing for me was the realisation that, in my mind, I always see the plan of this first house with the back of the house at the bottom. Other houses I’ve lived in I see the other way around, the front of the house at the bottom. I guess that I didn’t have to enter this house – I was already in it. It’s where I was born.

The tapestry is small, but quite precious to me and is probably technically my best work so far. I am now starting work on a larger tapestry 33cm wide for my 7-11 house (we moved twice when I was a child). I am going to experiment with using sock wool (cheaper!) but I am wondering if it will be as resilient as the beautiful worsted yarns that I bought from Weaver’s Bazaar and my own dyed worsted yarns.

Tapestry Weaving Continues

Another Sampler

There is so much still for me to learn about tapestry weaving. Despite a lengthy history of working with knitted and embroidered textiles, tapestry weaving imposes its unforgiving linear structure, reminding me of the quotation for the Rubaiat of Omah Khyyam:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writMoves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit. Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

….and I have tried to jiggle the weft and tug at the warp to adjust a part of the tapestry that offends my eye. Patching in from behind or beating down harder doesn’t remove those unacceptable wefts which lie further down the tapestry than I am prepared to unpick. And I do unpick a lot. Even in my peaceful studio, devoid of most distractions, I lose concentration, forgetting which direction of travel I need for a new bobbin colour, so as to allow an easy transition or junction with its neighbour.

The most interesting thing for me has been learning how to blend several fine threads together to create a ‘weft bundle’ and how colour graduation is achieved thread by thread with each newly wound bobbin.

Hazards of modern life

One of the hazards of modern life is being subject to random attacks of various kinds. My site was hacked this week and some of my recent blogs (2017) have been lost – note to self – back up your own blog material. I consider myself lucky – no-one was hurt – just irritated at the inconvenience.
I shall aim to re-populate some of the material to show up to date work – meanwhile the gallery will give some clues there.