Thursday, February 24, 2011

Houndstooth on the loose..........

From one breed of sheep - wowzers!

It's happening - there's the tooth!!!!!

Houndstooth on the loose - before fulling

It seems to me that there are just an amazing amount of fabulous warps out there - my students' work not withstanding, everywhere I look there is a beautiful warp, albeit not warped yet, but wherever my eyes roam I cannot help but notice a new 'landscape' to explore in colour and texture. My friend Alberta is one of those that has her natural environment speak to her - her wonderful Shetland sheep, (which I am sure that you have heard me speak of before), just seem to have an ability to present us with an array of colour and texture in the most natural of forms.

Vintage Cowichan

The Cowichan knitters were introduced to another world of fibre from a woman from the Shetland Islands - their wonderful Cowichan symbols were soon translated into beautiful knitted sweaters.  The image on the right is a sweater that is quite vintage Cowichan. Interesting that the colours are similar to Shetland wool, but I am to understand that there weren't any Shetland sheep at that time in this valley.....wouldn't that have been a wonderful full circle! Might I add that the above houndstooth is all handspun warp and weft that my dear dear Alberta spun from her exquisite sheep. I am in awe...............

Isn't she the most beautiful sheep you have ever seen?

We are getting ready for the Unfinished Project Project - the 2nd annual. Saturday March 5th & Sunday March 6th from 10 - 3 in the courtyard at Whippletree Junction. My landlady has generously given us the use of an empty storefront, so it will be closer to the studio and The Loom which will have 10% off all regularly priced yarn for the day! So come and bring your projects to work on or trade, bring a mug and your lunch, and a few $ for the silent auction (some really neat things have been donated), and of course your enthusiasm for all things fibreous. All proceeds go to the Somenos Transition House, a safe haven for women and children that are abused or threatened with abuse. Also we will have some Providence wool for those who would like to spin for Providence and missed the first Spin In @ Providence. (The next Spin In @ Providence will be March 14th - bring a lunch and your spinning wheel 10-2). We did change the date of the Unfinished Project Project due to the uncertainty of the weather - it is supposed to snow this weekend which was the original date for the event. Hope we haven't inconvienienced anyone. 

I had a birthday this month and as a treat to myself I took a basket weaving workshop with Kathryn Dice offered by the Qualicum Weavers' Guild - it was wonderful. It was held in the Guild's meeting place which is an old train station - very charming and welcoming. Thank you so much for opening up the class - it was great. Of course I wanted to make a hat.............


lovely, lovely cedar

I keep meaning to mention my Textile Arts program that I teach at Shawnigan Lake School....I have been teaching there for about 23 years and have taught many students, weaving, knitting, quilting, surface design, dyeing etc. I have had many studios on campus and I am finally in a 'new' one and although I have been there since the beginning of the school year, I am still in a muddle. I am not one for making order, except in my artistic endeavours and teaching! But, what is wonderful, is that we actually have a sign on the studio! This year, we are trying to use as much recycled materials as possible - woven rag rugs, wool that has been sitting around forever and the students have been great at using what we have - although we will never run out. One of my students has woven fabric for a backpack using plastic bags for weft.
The warp was made with anything she could get her hands on and she went to town with colour. This student is from Macau and is graduating this year and going i to be a doctor. She has made amazing projects for the last three years and I cannot tell you how much I will miss her when she leaves.

Spin In!! at Providence Farm

Apparently the 'p' fell off of the sign at one point, so we had a good laugh about that! Sinning spinners....there is a certain decadence about spinning I have to admit....
Valentine's Day brought about this wonderful heartfelt day of spinning at Providence Farm on Tzouhalem Road in Duncan. The Tzouhalem Weaver's and Spinner's Guild used to meet there many years ago and it is a wonderful place to see if you haven't already. The intention is to have a Spin In every month. The next Spin In is on March 14th. Betty has started a Textile Program there and the participants will use the spun wool and alpaca for weaving, knitting and crocheting. The participants have diverse abilities and will love the process of expression through textiles. I have the pleasure of being a consultant which gives me the chance to be a part of the process - what a gift to have been given. Thank you Betty.

The spun wool - we had 12 spinners and a lot of wool and alpaca to spin - all wool was grown on the farm.

Betty proves to be a natural spinner under the tutelage of Alberta.
Alberta is my favourite shepherd and has the Shetlands.....

Well I haven't managed to mention all that has happened in the last weeks - my young students that come every week are producing some amazing projects - such weavers, sewers, knitters and felters and I will have to do a special blog just on them, my wonderful women friends that come every Sunday for the knitting and spinning day or they just come and be.

My weekly sojourn at the farm.....................

And then of course my weekly sojourn to my friend Ann's studio - my time to be inspired, my time to contemplate and talk weaving into the night and then again first thing in the morning - what better time spent. Ann is off riding a horse for a month - a bit beyond my comprehension but I am learning more and more about the challenge of it. All I know is that I will have to wait for a month and think of all kinds of things to do when she gets back. So some pictures of last week's study. The above chocolate brown warp is a wonderful blanket on eight shafts - our favourite twill - Eastwin mohair hand dyed both warp and weft with wonderful subtle unintentional shades. And then a collection of beautifully dyed mohair locks on their way to Switzerland and a whole swack of mohair/wool lopi like for a local school. Ann is a crackerjack dyer and it is so much fun to dye with her.

We have put on a twice woven rug to use up her handwoven chenille and it is on the way too - I got to spend time underneath the loom and for some reason it felt right tying up the cords - a Swedish loom and I go way back to apprenticeship days where I swear I spent a whole hot summer underneath a loom - the only catch this time was, is that I had a big old black Labrador keeping me company!

Ann brought out all kinds of handwoven linen towels that she brought back from her home in Sweden - heirloom pieces from her family. She gifted a couple of them to me which I will cherish forever. Ann's towel is the upper right hand, either done in one of my classes or most probably Cherryville. I love towels.

Enough for now - I will add some pictures of the Friesien sheep and the part Barbadoes sheep. The Friesien sheep have strange tails - no docked tails for these guys. Very pretty faces. I saw some St. Croix sheep today - they are lovely too, but the fleece isn't fleece - apparently the fleece falls out. It was like patting  dog. Unfortunately they were on their way to auction - a whole family and my heart was heavy. I did take pictures of the beauties but will add them later.


A Friesien sheep 

Friday, February 11, 2011

In the pink.....

Afternoon in the studio...

Pink epitomizes the pinnacle of quality, according to the - Elizabeth I admired the variety of dianthus flower as we now know as 'pinks' where the idea of excellence comes in. Whether the colour pink came first or the flower can be argued, but the verb is rather interesting, and being all things to me are wrapped around textiles - the verb pink, means to cut or pierce - the edges of the flowers look to be 'pinked' - voila - pinking shears!

I have a fondness for pinks - my grandmother's garden had a mass of them, but it was the smell that swept me away. My first bouquet from my husband was a posy of pinks.......however, I love tulips as well and today this is what swept me away. That and pink of course - it is just that time of year I guess. And it is quite a wonderful colour I must say - I am quite tickled pink to be celebrating the colour.

The dressed window at The Loom - advertising the Spin In! at Providence Farm this Monday - which just happens to be Valentine's Day. 10-2

Come and spin wool for the new Textile Program at Providence using the farm's wool. Lunch and wool will be provided. Bring your spinning wheels and spin to your heart's content.

Now what else has been happening at the studio these days. I can see why people write regularly on their blogs, as it is hard to keep up with all the goings on. It is my students that are working the hardest these days. I know I am teaching, but what they are producing is nothing short of wonderful. Michelle is working on a blanket that is so rich that it

is almost hard to be near it! There are these little sequins that wink at me when the light is right - wool, rayon, and our new favourite yarn Berroco Lustra.........
The blanket is threaded to a goose-eye block - very electric!

One of the other fabulous students, Alison, wove her first scarves with beautiful Sublime and Little Flowers, Lustra and Mochi Plus. When I think of the fibres we had 35 years ago, so limiting that you had to spin for interest. Now with knitting being so popular, the fibres available are amazing. We are so lucky to have such a variety. Speaking of fibres - the studio is now carrying a line of linen - we have a distributer right in the Cowichan Valley.
Alison is now on her second warp for handtowels ready to weave her twill sample - a variation on each towel.

My best weaving friend Ann and I had a draw down night a couple of weeks ago, both hand and PCW - we had a great time, but one of the best parts of the night was this wonderful book on stripes which I will make sure I include the title in the next blog. I cannot remember the name of the author and I would like to quote some of the content - it is sure to make you look at stripes a different way. If I can figure out how to edit in after posting, I will edit it when I get to the studio. I used her 'harmonies' of stripes as an example of designing stripes with Alison and Kate (who hates stripes) - and the 'striping' they are getting up to is awesome.

And then my dear student Nadine....she has the ability to make things happen when they are supposed to - all the planets are aligned in the right order and the energy around her just makes things happen. Nadine had a warp on for some time to do cushion covers for her dining room chairs - a bold red and brown warp, with this electric blue thread running at regular intervals........but it just stalled. Along came Nadine and along came Gaye from the Loom with this wonderful sari strips all sewn together and wow - chair covers woven in no time flat and

they are fabulous. I look forward to seeing them on the chairs in her beautiful home.

I have so much more to write, but I am saving some for the next blog which I hope to do soon - my favourite Shetland wool will be celebrated with Alberta's most wonderful warp - stay tuned.

And I leave you with Gabriele's stripes - pre-stripe book - she has the stripes down - lovely Super 10 and a hint of cotton will be a beautiful runner - perhaps the weft will be linen....

And don't forget to put the Unfinished Project Project on your calendar. February 26th and 27th at Whippletree Junction in the courtyard, 10-3.........bring your mug, lunch, projects, yarn exchange etc. etc.

email if you have questions or phone the Loom.