My husband commissioned me to make the upholstery for our ‘new’ boat Hangarua, a major recycling project. Rob found the fibreglass hull of a Karitane fishing boat in a rubbish dump near Haast where it had been left after coming to grief on rocks near Jackson Bay. It had damage from this plus a big hole cut to remove the engine. After getting permission to take it, he got it transported back to Hokitika where he cut a slice out of the middle longitudinally, and off the end, before joining up the two halves and fixing the holes.
He has spent countless hours over many years on this project building the rest of the boat – cabin, installing an engine, wiring, plumbing, furniture etc, and so when he asked me if I could weave fabric to then upholster the seating/sleeping squabs, I could hardly refuse. I had a deadline to work towards – our daughter, Rebecca, wanted to arrive in the boat to her wedding at Lake Mahinapua in January.
I did lots of dyeing and sampling of yarns and thought I had the look we wanted. But then I discovered that I didn’t have enough of one of the yarns, so it was back to drawing board. I overdyed all the yarn (wool and wool blends, hard twist and carpet wool) before weaving 23m of the fabric which I then had to full. After my disaster with fulling in the washing machine, this time I did a lot of stomping in the bath.
I was a little apprehensive when I started cutting the fabric. The squabs were not regular shapes which was a challenge but in the end it all went well. I am very pleased with the result. We now have the boat upholstered in unique hand dyed and hand woven fabric.