April Fair Preview: Chrissie Freeth

Hailing from the fabulously crafty Saltaire, the mecca for northern artists, Chrissie Freeth will be joining us at the next Reetsweet on April 6th at Leeds Corn Exchange...

'I first learned to weave twenty years ago on a replica Viking warp-weighted loom built by a friend. Although my career as an archaeologist tended to focus on other areas I continued to create and study textiles and yarn and enjoyed the informal mentoring of two friends and renowned textile conservators, Sonia O’Connor and Rob Janaway.  

Living in Saltaire it was impossible not to be inspired by its history, vibrancy and creativity and last year I began making and exhibiting hooked and prodded rag rugs, traditional mats that would have once adorned every house in the village in one room or another. I was used to exploring what interested me through the written word but began to see other possibilities and was eventually able to realise a dream when an old four shaft counterbalance floorloom came my way.  

I live in a small cottage and it took some doing to find somewhere for him to live, but from the get-go we were a team, his dents, nicks and scratches guiding me through what needed to go where and how. He provides the means for me to explore my creative side and his technical and practical tantrums I have grown to love. He has also given me that link to the past which as an archaeologist I have always craved and when I sit before him I know I am making the same moves and decisions others have made for centuries before me, and on equipment that would have been little different to that they used.  

In recent years there has been a growing interest in protecting heritage skills, skills which once have been commonplace but are now on the verge of being forgotten. Whilst modern day practitioners help to prevent their loss, unless they are shared there is little point in their preservation and for that reason I am always happy to teach, demonstrate and talk about spinning, weaving and my work.I am a friend of the Heritage Crafts Association, a member of the Guild of Long Draw Spinners and part of a Yorkshire based group of energetic designer/makers called Craft Soup.'

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