Weaver’s Cottages an inspiration 

Today I took advantage of a free-to-attend Open Day at the Weaver’s Cottages in Kidderminster, as inspiration for the song-cycle I’m writing about the history of the cottages. The site manager took us up to roof level to see tiles of clay and slate highlighting the fact that the cottages were not all built at the same time. Craftsmen demonstrated and described the making of bricks, wall plates etc and we were able to speak to the project director and volunteers. Everyone spoke with passion and enthusiasm and brought aspects of the cottages’ history to life. A walking talk by Melvyn Thompson, always an inspiration, then took us to the Museum of Carpet where more information was available.

The Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust is doing an excellent job, not just with the building work but also with its programme of events to engage and inform the public. I’m delighted to have been commissioned by the Trust to write songs which will be sung for the first time at free workshops in Kidderminster on 16th August 11.00-1.00 and 2.00-4.00. You’re invited to take part! See www.weaverscottages.info to find out more.


 

Weaving Yarns book launch, Wednesday 11th November

Weaving Yarns is a unique infectious cocktail of assorted snippets and stories about the carpet industry and the folk who helped to make Kidderminster the carpet town.”
(Melvyn Thompson, Historian to the Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster).

Black Pear Press is delighted to announce the launch of Weaving Yarns, a new collection of poetry, songs and stories from Worcestershire Poet Laureate Heather Wastie (Published by Black Pear Press, ISBN: 978-1-910322-18-5). Heather was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet in 2013 and has interviewed many retired carpet factory employees whose stories are told in this book.

The collection traces the impact of the carpet trade on Kidderminster and its people:

In the carpet capital of the world,
Brian is studying the Stour,
today’s mix of colours
from a multitude of dyes.

(From ‘Tell-tale Colours’)

And draws parallels with the carpet industry in other parts of the world:

There’s a line
from Turkey to Kidderminster
girl after girl after girl

tucking tiny fingers
between the warp threads
posed and squashed on solid planks

(From ‘Knotting Frames’)

Enjoy readings and music from Heather and friends, as she celebrates the publication of her book inspired by the rich history of Kidderminster’s carpet industry.

You are invited to join us at the Museum of Carpet, Stour Vale Mill, Green St, Kidderminster DY10 1AZ, 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start on Wednesday 11th November. The event is free to enter and should finish around 9pm.

“What could be better than this collection of poems for the expression of the emotions of townspeople who have witnessed the decay of their staple industry?”  (Nigel Gilbert, Writer and Historian)

The photographs and illustrations in Weaving Yarns are drawn from the extensive archive at the Museum of Carpet, and used with the generous permission of the Museum.

Further information is available from Black Pear Press: tony@blackpear.net
01299 253258

Microsoft Word - Heather Wastie and Black Pear Pressv3 .docx

Peg-boarding and “Tying the Knot”

Last night my project was featured on Radio Wildfire, a streaming radio station which has included my work many times. It’s an excellent organisation promoting spoken word at http://www.radiowildfire.com. This morning I was delighted to receive a response to the broadcast from Charles and Jean Talbot of the Carpet Museum Trust, saying “It was very moving to hear the stories that we have all been determined for so long to celebrate by creating the museum.”  It is thanks to the Talbots along with other determined volunteers that the Museum opened last October after 30 years of hard work!

On Thursday morning I’m running a writing workshop which will respond to a talk by Melvyn Thompson, one of the band of determined volunteers mentioned above! He’s a mine of information and a very entertaining speaker. It’s not too late to book for the workshop which starts with Melvyn’s talk at 11.00 and finishes at 1.30. By way of a taster, here’s a 10 minute video which begins with Melvyn talking about how he came to work in the carpet industry before moving on to a song I wrote about a weaver who married a picker, all filmed in the Museum of Carpet by White Raven Films.

There’s another writing workshop on Sunday too which will begin with a tour of the Museum. Further details can be found on the Workshops page of this website.

Here is one of the poems which was broadcast on Radio Wildfire last night.

New designs – a secret job (Peg-boarding)
for Mollie Smart

Four ladies
doing secret work
up in the loft
up above the weaving sheds
with two young lads
to fetch and carry

Two young lads
with two heavy satchels
quite a walk
from Park Wharf to New Road
at the bottom of The Butts
up the stairs
up to the loft
up above the weaving sheds

No-one disturbed them
all very quiet
secret work
keep it to yourself

Four ladies
each with a board
full of holes
a board at the side
a pattern in front
a ruler ‘cross the bottom

working sideways
one hand holds a hook
the other round the back
feels the yarns
yarn on bobbins
pull the colours through
and every time
they fill up a row
they move the ruler up
move and copy
till they get to the top
pull the colours through
till the board is full

then the two young lads
take it away
and shear it off

Two young lads
with two heavy satchels
go down from the loft
up above the weaving sheds
down the stairs
quite a walk
from Park Wharf to New Road

If Head Office say
“We don’t like the colour”
one of the ladies pulls it out
and sews in another

They never know
what’s coming in
from day to day

an interesting job
a lovely existence
secret work
keep it to yourself

© Heather Wastie
February 2013