…a long drought

Here in Nova Scotia we are experiencing a heat wave. Just brutally hot and humid weather. It makes one feel sapped of energy and creativity. I’ve been experiencing just this sort of drought metaphorically, as well. A long time has passed since I wove with the regularity and fervour that has been the hallmark of my creative process.

It’s early August, and it’s still stinking hot, but I think I feel autumn in the air – in the cooler mornings, and the occasional cooler evening. Something about the light, the timbre of the birds, and the dark-earlier twilit nights.

September has always felt to me like a new beginning. Once a student, always a student, I guess? I’m starting feel stirrings of impulse toward weaving more, toward experimenting, and in finding the joy in quiet work amongst colour, fibre, and texture.

Recently a really terrific store opened up here in Berwick, hotbed of creative activity – Market Between the Mountains has a great selection of work from local/Atlantic Canadian artisans, and mine is included. I still do commissions, but you can also come to Berwick and poke around the store to see some Berwick Weaving Co. pieces. Once the weather starts to turn, and you begin to think longingly about lap blankets and throws, scarves, shawls and stoles, you should come out and see what’s what.

In the meantime, here’s what just came off my loom. A stupidly soft blankie with Harrisville Shetland wool and a velvety one-off wool from Mineville.

 

…And here is what’s on my little rigid heddle loom. The earthy-toned warp is a little out of the ordinary for me, but paired with my old fave tourmaline, it really speaks to me. Once complete and wet-finished, this will be a velvety wide scarf that will have a lovely hand, and will stop traffic (or, at the very least, cool wind from hitting one’s neck).

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Happy creating to you all! Get out there and make something.

Online Holiday Shopping: blankets

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Oh, how I love blankets. The wide expanse of handwoven loveliness. The interplay of colours, the beautiful function of them.

This year, I went on a bit of a spree with shetland wool. It’s got a lovely warmth to it, while still being lightweight. It’s got texture, and depth of colour – little flecks that give it dimension.

Here is my inventory, as of mid-November 2017. If you see something you like, there are a number of ways to buy: I take credit cards, Paypal, e-transfer, & cash. Just message me and I’ll be very happy to take your information and send you the piece. If you click on the highlighted price, it will take you to my paypal page, if you wish to pay that way.

 

Sea blue merino with multicoloured Shetland warp. This mixture of fibres makes the blanket feel much more weighty. It’s a great feeling to cozy up underneath this velvety piece.  (69”x 40”) $200

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Shetland wool, in a mysterious woodsmoke green with pretty blue-grey highland wool border trim (78” x 36”) $200

Highland lap blanket: in a tweedy mix of blue/green/chartreuse and one purple end, this is a very pretty little car- or lap-blanket. Just the thing for a night of of Netflix, when there’s a chill…. (52” x 40”) $150

~SOLD~ Highland with one border: Highland wool is slightly thicker than shetland, but just as soft and lightweight. This blanket is another that would be a great car- or lap-blanket. Excellent for a night on the couch with a movie, stored in the boat or cottage, or in the back of your camper. This one has a pretty little twill detail on one end (56” x 38”) $150

Striped Shetland (80” x 36”)  This isa second, but one of my favourites of the bunch. It is not without some slight imperfections so you get a super deal. Happy stripes of gorgeous colour make for a very pretty throw. $150

Green/blue shetland (78” x 35”)  Another second. It’s a great deal, and admit it – if you squint, you’ll never see those “flaws” again… $150

 

Online Holiday Shopping: Scarves

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the current inventory of scarves and stoles available for purchase.

If you see something you like, there are a number of ways to buy: I take credit cards, Paypal, e-transfer, & cash. Just message me and I’ll be very happy to take your information and send you the piece.  If you click on the highlighted price, it will take you to my paypal page, if you wish to pay that way. 

Click on each photo for closer detail.

~ SOLD ~ Sea and sky, a luxe silky linen and mohair stole, generously sized at 90” x 14”.

Velvety brew of witchy purples, greens and blues with an aqua cotton warp. Generously sized at 82” x 14” $80

 

Thickly textured, velvety and heavy. I almost kept this one for myself.  Made of 96% Merino, 4% Nylon, this feels sooooo luxurious, and has a weighty luxury. One of my favourite colour combinations, this gorgeous emerald green-blue buzzes against the dark beet-red crimson. 81” x 7” so you can wrap generously. $85

 

Silver thick-and-thin textured blue-faced Leicester wool mixed with sparkly acrylic/cotton blend. (82” x 12.5”) $85

 

Autumn colours that you can keep all year round: Merino and nylon (4%) red and gold/orange variegated stole, 76” x 14”. $100

 

Purples and greens: a purple merino wool weft with a colourful springtime warp of Treewool (mix of 70% merino and 30% tercel). (74” x 14.5”) $100

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Blue and Rust merino, very soft and an attractive colour combination. (84” x 8” – a great size for multiple wraps around the neck). $80

 

 

Merry Xmas Reds and greens! A velvety mix of merino and 4% nylon, thick and bouncy. Subtle and understated holiday neckwear. (76” x 9”) $85

 

Smooth as silk

I’ve been spending some time lately trying to make my work processes more efficient. It’s really bearing fruit, too.

Today I warped my loom (meaning I got all the fibre on the beam and rolled up). It can be tricky sometimes – if you are, like I was today, using delicate fibre, or if you are trying to keep the tension  regular throughout and the dog is barking, something snags, the phone rings… or you all of a sudden find that you really need three hands….

I’ve been dressing my looms for years now, but it’s still tricky to me, every time. Sometimes my husband helps, sometimes I just do it myself and muddle through. Weavers are a clever bunch – we use weights, water bottles, hang weights from strings. We use trapezes, friends, dowels, etc. We’re always looking for an easier way to wind on.

Today, though?

I used this lovely tool made by my talented friend Lee Yorke, who made it after  seeing  other tensioning devices online. It’s custom fit to my loom, and even has a spot for me to hang a roll of paper that will magically roll between the layers of warp. It’s quite something.

Here it is, in action. It seriously hastened the process, and was a pleasure to use. I just had to share because I didn’t swear once during the entire process. A miracle!  (Please note, the noise is from traffic outside my window, not the tensioner.)

This warp, by the way, will be jewel-toned mohair shawls, eventually.

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

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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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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The “Perry” Blanket

A luxe mix of fibres; the client wanted “luxurious” and “yellow”. It is simple plain weave, but gets so much interest and texture from the mix of fibres and color variations.

Warp is a mix of cotton (noho flake, and 8/2), sea wool, and baby alpaca/cashmere. Weft is velvety merino 2ply, noho cotton and silk.
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some of the fibre mixes for the Perry

some of the fibre mixes for the Perry

 

 

 

Random moments, captured. 

Today I realized just how happy I am here in the BWCo. weavery.

These are tiny moments from the past 24 hours – I’m counting my blessings.

Quiet moments

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Hugo’s Wall of Troy


Shiny moments

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Sylvia’s Peacock Beads

Glowing moments

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Last night’s  sunset, viewed from the weavery.