So when you head up the ladder with your first bundle of thatch, hoping to actually start, cut the string and have a massive heap of reed all blowing in the wind, it feels impossible.
To have an actual thatcher here for the first week was a godsend. We used 8mm mild steel rod for the sways, to hold the thatch down. These were secured with a special stainless steel wire fixing, using a thatchers screwdriver bit extension, you prod down through the thickness of reed and screw the wires onto your batten, then while depressing the sway with your knee, you twist the wires nice and tight.
Dressing the reed into position must take several years to master, it seemed easier while my tutor was around, during the time he was away, It was seriously difficult.
Another tricky part was getting the thatch to be an even thickness. You have to hold a ladder on edge, flush with the surface of the reed and assess if it is parallel with the roof line.
Here's a picture of me as the roof nears completion.
You only see the last inch or so of any reed, once on the roof, even though they are six feet long.