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Sunday 14 March 2010

Mastercrafts - my thoughts!

On Friday night I invited some friends over for a Mastercrafts party to watch the tears and tangles I got myself in to on the show! Capturing seven weeks of filming into one hour of television was always going to be a difficult task but they had to edit it, and in the same way, here are my edited thoughts!

Firstly my final piece above. We were given a choice of 16 colours of yarn to choose from and remarkably we all opted for different colour schemes. Although I stuck with my signature bold brights, on close inspection I also put in some more subtle greys to break up the 'jewel' inspired colour scheme. We had just seven days to weave our fabric, I spend five of those setting up the loom, they were extremely testing times and at one point I came very close to giving up but I stuck with it!

Our previous task was to weave a product to sell at the Hereford Crafts Fair, I made two silk laptop cases with yarns I had hand dyed in my own colours and used the scraps to make handwoven greeting cards.
I was very sad that in his voiceover Monty said that Holly was the only person who sold something at the fair, I sold two cards....so what Monty said was a total LIE : (

It took me two days to warp wind 6 metres of yarn to make my final piece. This was done outdoors, it may look sunny but it was freezing cold - we filmed the show in October and November and what's more I was all alone while others were snug indoors!

Ironing and steaming the final fabrics was an essential part of finishing off the woven fabrics.

My laptop cases were inspired by the gorgeous natural Autumnal shades that were all around me. Aubergine, mustard, oranges, browns ........it was the first time I'd ever seen the proper beauty of Autumn, in London it doesn't happen this way, leaves seem to fall off trees overnight but in the countryside I saw the changes over the whole season.

The yarns on the chair are the ones I hand dyed, I mixed these with some of the many lovely colourful yarns we had in our studio.

To inspire me I created lots of mood boards and surrounded myself in colours. Rather than being dictated to by a set pattern I did my own form of 'mood weaving' - I put on my headphones to block out distractions and totally zoned out while I was weaving.

One of the most difficult things that I had to deal with was sleep deprivation - we worked non stop, including evenings and weekends. Twice when the other two went home I stayed behind beyond midnight trying my hardest to catch up and one weekend they both went home to have a break while I again stayed back and worked my socks off. Needless to say by the penultimate day I was so exhausted I decided to stay in my pjs; nothing beats the home comforts of wearing slippers and a dressing gown, especially when the barn itself was so cold!

This is a a close up of my final piece, it doesn't just have the basic plain weave, I also incorporated some more complex boxes. I wove and wove until I physically couldn't do anymore. The yarn was very fine, continued to get knotted and broke very easily. Each time I moved the work to allow for the fabric to grow, it took 45 minutes to reset it and then I had keep winding bobbins to go inside the wooden shuttle that you can see in the picture, this is what you carry in and out of the warp threads to create the weave.

Pictured here on the last day is me with the other trainees Holly and Tref and Aiyor from the production crew - he kept me sane by playing Primal Scream when I felt down, bought me lots of Innocent Veg pots when I was hungry and made me endless cups of peppermint tea to keep warm!

The aftermath

A lot of people have contacted me and asked me if I would weave again. By the end of the experience I did learn how to set up a loom and how to weave so to lose that skill would be wrong. I don’t have access to a loom now but if I saw one I’m sure I would want to have a go. Long term I plan to do an evening class in weaving which will hopefully be a much less stressful experience!

Hearing feedback about the show has been really interesting, especially where I have been mentioned. On one end of the spectrum, there are people who sympathised with me and understood my frustrations – one person even told me she was so emotionally exhausted watching the show she needed to lie down afterwards. On the other end of the scale I’ve read people say that I came across as a very lazy person. Who’d have thought a Friday night TV show about crafting could be so controversial!

Most of my memories of the experience are still very clear in my mind and seeing them visually was a bit like having my private thoughts suddenly projected on a TV screen without me knowing. But I'm glad that throughout it I stuck to my beliefs - weaving is this instance may not have been for me but I am very open to trying it again one day under slightly more normal circumstances.

If you missed the show it is still available to view on BBC Iplayer in the UK:



  1. well done! its nice to have your behind-the-scenes look around. my husband and i were cheering you on and were very impressed by your good naturedness despite how maddening it must have been to do all of that untangeling at the end. i also appreciate the insight into your mood board and closeups of your cloth. the weaving was my favorite episode of mastercrafts!

  2. I don't think they did a very good job of showing how hard warping is. It looks so easy, but you can get things tangeled in no time!!!! Whenever my guild does a weaving weekend we spend all of Sat and most of Sun warping....

  3. First off I have just started watching this episode on IPlayer, its is only 19 minutes into the show and I felt I had to come look for you. I can see you would be the one to work the hardest to keep up but I love your style, your individuality and your determination.

    Anyway I am off to see the rest of the show, I plan to follow your blog and your work, you rock.

  4. Thanks for all your kind words, it's really lifted my spirits!

  5. I really enjoyed the show, but I felt it was a tiny bit edited biased against you! It was pretty clear to a crafted that you were really giving it your all, and what would be going on behind scenes, etc, but to a lay person, I can see why they might have thought you were the least dedicated, due to the editing- which is a real shame!

    I'm glad that you are still keen on weaving tho-it looks very hard bit satisfying. Well done, hope it leads to lots of new opportunities for you :)

  6. Moosh, you have got it spot on! I am sooooooooo dedicated to crafts, I have a real appreciation for handmade things and have been making stuff all my life ..but alas, being on a tv show exposes you to misinterpretation - at least you and many others who have contacted me could tell that despite the problems I had with weaving I am still very much a craft enthusiast! : )

  7. There are a lot of weavers, spinners and dyers who were very excited about the programme and the exposure it would give to their craft. It wouldn't have mattered what time it was on, it was a very important programme in that it featured a craft which so often is taken for granted.

    I didn't think you came over as lazy, but I thought there were times - perhaps with editing - that you did not come across so committed to continuing with the craft than the others, nor did you appreciate just how hard it was going to be before you started.

    That said, I do hope that you now appreciate the time and effort which needs to go into perfection and is the difference between a craft enthusiast and a professional who has to perfect in order to make a living.

    Best wishes in whatever you do.


  8. Hello Momtaz
    I've finally just watched the weaving episode on iplayer. Good natured! I think you were amazingly calm. It would have been so easy to have let off a bit of steam when things were getting tangled and when Monty came along with a carefully worded question.
    Well you did something that i wouldn't have. a. You volunteered to go on a tv programme. You just never know how it will be edited or how you will be in stressful situations.
    b. Weaving. My degree is contemporary crafts . But I saw the looms and a saw the days and weeks thst only a few students wanted to devote to just setting up looms. For me I know I would hate to weave. It just isn't everyone's cup of tea.
    I do really love Margo Selby's work and think that she has done so much in raising the status of contemporary handweaving.

  9. Hi, I watched the programme and really enjoyed it. I dont think you came across as lazy in the programme I think it showed just how hard it really was. Your comment about ameuteur v professional showed a great deal of insight. Its a repeative task with little chance to alter and chnage designs spontausly. I think you are quite a spontaneus person! Thanks

  10. Great to come across your blog - the wonderful world of the web! Just wanted to say this was my fave show of the series and I thought your journey was amazing as it showed such determination and true grit and your love of craft and your unique style really shone through. Inspirational, thank you x

  11. Oh dear, you certainly didn't come across as lazy to me! I found your perseverence and grit inspirational; anyone else would have given up long before 7 weeks was over!

    I am learning to weave, albeit under my own steam, and my first thought as I watched the show was that Margot started you off with some quite complex weaves, you certainly got chucked in at the deep end!

  12. you were my favourite - so individual - and all the way through the programme I was thinking you would love Saori weaving- which is all about freedom, self-expression and colour and texture! I've only done a tiny bit of tapestry weaving so far, but can't wait to try Saori, once I pluck up the courage to warp my little rigid heddle loom, that is. Lots of pics if you search on Flickr for 'Saori weaving'.