Spring!

I’ve been weaving with a purpose for the past little while. I don’t do a lot of shows, but there’s one here in Berwick on 08 April (this Saturday), and it was so much fun to try to work up some spring-like weaving. I’ve got some “seasonless” shawls – silk and mohair, cotton, merino. I’ve also made something new to me – a few “stroller blankets” – the perfect size for a stroller (hence the name) and machine washable materials.

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The information: the “Swing into Spring” Craft Show is Saturday 08 April, and runs from 10-4 at the Berwick Legion (232 Main Street).  Admission is free. There will be a canteen that will provide lunch and various treats. There will also be a “Kiddie Korner” so the kids can be entertained while you look at 40 tables of local craft and art.  There is an ATM on site (and I take credit cards at my table). Here’s the link to the event on Facebook, so you can see more information about other artisans who will be there. Did I mention 40 tables?

There will also be a 50/50 draw, so you may end up with more than you came with!

As I write this, Spring has overnight come to the Valley. It’s sunny, the sky is blue. There’s been a little rain (it is April, after all). There are crocuses! This is the perfect time to get out of your late-winter fog and come see some colour, and to buy local.

Here’s a bit of a slideshow of what I’ll have available on my table tomorrow. Remember, though, that I do a lot of commission work, and so am happy to discuss with you making just the right thing.

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Looking forward to seeing you there.

January Blues (& Greens, Reds, etc.)

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It may be dreary outside, but these are not.

January is a funny time of year – it’s usually a bit dreary, and we begin to long for Spring, but we know there’s still some winter to slog through. Sometimes there are, say, world events that get us a bit down. We will look away from those things for a moment, and think about ways to cheer ourselves up, right?

To counteract the doldrums, I’ve been weaving with more colour lately, moving slightly out of my usual palette, and it’s been a brilliant move for my own mood. Just handling these lovely fibres makes me happy.

So. If your neck is cold, or you want to warm up a loved one, here’s what I’ve got in inventory. Of course, feel free to contact me if you would like me to make something different up for you to your specifications.

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**SOLD**  Sea and Sky, with some bottle green beach glass thrown in. Wide and slinky scarf, 12.5” x 80” all in a 70/30 mix of super wash merino and tencel. It’s really beautiful, $140

 

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**SOLD**One of my favourites. A large scarf of “peacock colors” – teal, purple, green. Who can resist? Chunky, nubby blue-faced leicester wool, with merino, silk, and bamboo warp. 13” x 68” $100

 

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Stole, in pink/orange/red with some chartreuse thrown in. Handspun weft with multicoloured 8/2 cotton warp. It’s lightweight and gorgeous. 26” x 70” $175

 

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There’s a special buzz that happens when you mix blue with rust/red. I love this mix – cotton and merino warp with a blue faced leicester/merino weft. 8” x 84” nice to wrap around several times. $100

 

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Ravenclaw House, anyone? Made in the Hogwarts’ Ravenclaw colors of blue and bronze, this is for those in your life who are known for their wit, learning, and wisdom. Smaller than my usual, it’s still a good size at 5.5” x 60” and made with a mix of cotton and super wash merino.  $50

Looking for last minute gifts?

Christmas is fast approaching. I have a few pieces still available.

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img_3255Stole, pink/orange/red. A gorgeous handspun wool. 26″ x 70″
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Understated generously sized scarf, 12″ x 78″. Very pretty tweedy grays with subtle panache – greens, purples, blues. Cotton warp, Merino weft. $100

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img_3259One of my favorites. Large scarf, “peacock colors” of teal, purple, green. Who can resist? Chunky nubby Blue Faced Leicester wool, with merino, silk and bamboo warp. $100img_3260

 

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Sea and sky, with some bottle green beach glass thrown in. Wide and slinky scarf, 12.5″ x 80″ all in a 70/30 mix of superwash merino and tencel. It’s really beautiful. $140

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Tracking texture

I am always delighted by the alchemy of colours. A pretty multicoloured sock yarn, married to some gorgeous tourmaline- and beet-coloured blue faced leicester (all by Fleece Artist), and you’ve got yourself something quite lovely that you couldn’t really anticipate. Those colours just somehow make something entirely different in the end.

On top of that, with this particular piece, there is an unintended patterning of textures. Can you see it, there in the bottom right-hand picture?  Compare that to the picture, directly above it, of the piece still on the loom.  The finished piece is thick and rustic, and there’s tracking on a large scale.

Tracking is a mysterious event caused by the random (un)twisting of the wool one uses, once the material is wet-finished. I haven’t been able to find an official definition of it, because it’s an elusive effect – one cannot anticipate or plan it. It has something to do with the twist put into the yarn by the spinner, with humidity, with the amount of space you have between rows…there are a lot of variables, and like I said, none of them are reproducible.  In this case I also used a weft that was thick-and-thin, which made some really interesting window-pane type patterns while I was weaving (which are, oddly, pretty much lost because of how the fibre fulled with washing).

Tracking is not always prized by weavers, or by those who buy their wares. Sometimes one wants a perfectly smooth piece of cloth, or you have an ocd-ish inability to live with the imperfections of hand-made textiles and want to press the tracking out (you can’t, btw).  I am of the pro-tracking school – I love what it does, and how it makes something that cannot be reproducible. Embrace it. It’s a unique and completely original thing, never to be seen again.

Tracking is weaving’s snowflake.

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I made this stole on a very simple loom called a “rigid heddle”, and using what is called plain weave, which is a very simple and (I think) under-appreciated  method of weaving. It is a simple over-under, over-under. It is absolutely the most primal of weaving drafts, and the one that I think I may love the most. It allows the texture, colours, and fibre to shine; it is what I always imagined Gandalf’s gorgeous grey cloak to be made with, and Dumbledore’s, Kvothe’s, and William of Baskerville’s….

oldtobygandalf3In fact, you can see it in Gandalf’s cloak, here. There are what look to be diagonal patterns in the fabric, all of which are the delightful collateral damage of the wet finishing process once you take something off the loom.

There are always opportunities to make complicated and beautiful patterns using more complicated drafts, more complicated threading, more finicky techniques. But when looking at this, I want to celebrate the fabulous textiles that we can create on simple rigid heddle looms, with plain weave.

Next time you see fabric – at home, in a store, at a holiday craft fair – take a look at it. Touch it and rub it between your fingers. Look at it, really look and think about how it was made, and by whom. Think about what it’s made from, and in some lucky cases you’ll see tracking, and think about how the fibre was spun and twisted and handled, and made-with.

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Interplay

It’s the beginning of October. The leaves are starting to turn, and my view is full of greens, orange, brown, and red. I don’t want to work, but to play. I’m counteracting the autumn colors with this:

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Two kinds of gorgeous purple merino from Mineville Wool, one more blue, the other with some pink and magenta mixed in. Then some brilliant shots of thick-and-thin turquoise, emerald, sapphire….

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I started to warp this up, and realize I have no idea what this particular piece of fabric will be. I think that I’m going to stay simple with this, just to let those delicious colors speak for themselves. I’ll use my rigid heddle loom and craft a stole, with a thin and simple purple weft – about 14 inches wide, and 6 and a half feet long. I might bead it, I might not. I’m happy to entertain suggestions.

This is one of my favourite parts of weaving – the  interplay of texture, colour, and function. Having a plan is always nice, but for the moment, I’m going to just see what feels right and we’ll see what we end up with. Whatever it is, you can’t really go wrong with those luminous colors, and the fibre is lovely and bouncy and soft.

Whatever you’re doing, remember to play once in a while, eh?

 

“Grey” or “Gray”?

What’s the convention for “grey” vs “gray”? I’ve looked at them so long that neither one looks right.

Regardless of how one spells it, I’m continuing my love affair with textures, and with the grey/pink combination. This time I added some rust and  hints of red/peach/orange. Good enough to eat, this.

It’s a mix of fibres – cotton, merino, silk, bamboo and yes – acrylic. This will be a shawl, already commissioned.

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Yeah, I think I prefer “grey”…. You?

Autumn is coming….

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Cool greys, hot pinks. Lots of texture.

This is what’s on the loom today, and although every time I warp something up it’s my “favourite,” this one is up there in the top-10 for sure. It’s a shawl made of stubby cotton/mohair/mystery yarn warp, with a silky boucle weft. It’s loose and drapey, nubby and comforting.

Don’t hate me for reminding you that autumn is showing itself in cooler mornings and evenings…why not embrace it, with something pretty instead?

Woolgathering

IMG_1291I know I’m probably not the first fibre artist blogger to use the term. I know it’s a bit…obvious, but it’s also exactly what I’ve been doing.

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In the time since my last post I attended the Expo, went to Belgium, Scotland, and Ireland, redesigned my studio, had a lovely bunch of visitors,  and got a (very time-consuming) puppy. It has turned into a bit of an extended hiatus for Berwick Weaving Co., but that’s the beauty of working at your own pace, by your own rules, right?

With the beginning of August, though,  work will soon begin again. I feel a strong urge to get my hands in the wool again, to design and work with colors, to have those stretches of real peace when working with the rhythm of the loom. There’s a quickening, when I think of the work I’m going to really get my hands into this Fall.

All of that reverie, that woolgathering, is where creativity comes from. Without it, I’d be a machine just cranking out woven goods.

Here then, is a gallery of those things that have provoked my dreamy imaginings for the past few months.  Everywhere, there’s a feeling or a colour, something to translate into woven work.

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Off to the Expo!

2016 is racing along – it’s hard to believe it’s already mid-April.

expo-previewRight now, I’m racing to create some inventory so that I have something to show at the Saltscapes Expo this weekend. In case you don’t know about the Expo, it is the “biggest consumer show east of Montreal, celebrating all things Atlantic Canadian” and with nearly 500 exhibitors from across the region, you should plan to come for the day. I’ve been as a consumer and enjoyed it heartily (wear comfy shoes!).

This year, I’m excited to tell you that Berwick Weaving Co. is joining a group of amazing Atlantic Canadian artisans in Saltscapes’ “Crafter’s Village”. I’ll be demonstrating weaving, and you can come see my loom(s) and pick up something pretty or commission something just the way you want it.

I am really looking forward to meeting people and showing them what I love to do. I’ll be there all three days, so look for me and my looms. Please drop by and say hi.

Some of the work I’m bringing to the expo:

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International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day.

Today, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for all of us, regardless of gender, to channel a little bit of what this woman had.

This is Gunta Stölzl, the only female Bauhaus master, founder of the Bauhaus Weaving Workshop, WWI Red Cross Nurse, mentor to Anni Albers and countless female artists of her generation, listed, “degenerate artist” by the Nazis for her political views, uncompromising advocate for textile arts.

(for more, go to this site which is where I got this photo)

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