Done!

Back in October of 2018, I was talking to my husband about the mythical weave shed that I imagined for myself. I may have been talking about it for the past several years, to the point where the myth was taking a very definite shape in my mind. In October, we both started talking about it as if it were a real thing, and it was just that simple – one of us said “we could actually do it, you know” and the plan started to take shape.

So, Berwick Weaving Company now has an actual building to itself, and I could not be happier. Have you ever made something happen, from dream-to-actuality, and at the end of it realize that you have literally made your dream come true?

I have, and it’s terrific.

The road to the studio, from when we hired someone to when it was finished, was surprisingly short. We got quotes in October/November, and they started the building process in January. Working through a wet and windy wintertime, the studio emerged in about 4 months. They were quiet, respectful, and responsive. I am happy with our builder, Bentley Built Homes. It may be the first weave studio they’ve built, but it may not be their last.

Before, and after.

It wasn’t always entirely smooth, but putting it all in perspective the process was remarkably freer of angst and stress than I had expected. The building is so quiet, and such a difference from the old weave room that looked out over a busy street! It’s warm, sturdy, and peaceful. It’s tucked in underneath my favorite old maple tree, and looks remarkably like it’s been there for ages already (though I do need to do some landscaping).

It took about a week to move everything in and organize it all – organization was always my biggest worry, because weaving comes with a lot of gear. But I’ve been in the studio, working, for about 3 or 4 days now, and I really couldn’t be happier. The efficiency one gets from knowing where everything is in a space, from everything having a place, is valuable.

The studio is not a retail space; it’s really just a more private and efficient space for me to work. I do plan on setting up a studio tour maybe, and as always if people want to visit they can message me through Berwick Weaving Co.’s facebook page or email me and set something up. I am “open by chance” – no set hours.

For those of you interested in that storage I keep talking about:

These shelves are terrific. Taking advantage of the 10 foot high ceilings, the shelf is eight feet high, and eight feet wide. Twelve inch deep shelves, so I don’t lose anything behind something else. I was shocked at the amount of fibre I actually had – in the old weave room everything was compressed, or boxed, so I had no real idea until I took it all out there and started sorting! I love it, and every time I look at it, I am inspired. I find it so useful to have it all out, and in view.

Some weavers keep their fibre stored in plastic boxes, or tubs. I just can’t do it. This will require more dusting than if I’d chosen to do that, but it’s worth it.

On the other side of the room, I chose to repurpose shelves I’d had made for my in-house weave room. I’m very happy I did – I love the look of them, and the cubbies will prove useful.

I’ve managed to fit all the looms in, save one small rigid heddle loom I decided to keep in the house. It’s a convenient size to use in front of the tv, or in the sitting room.

I found a place for my beloved mangle, and put a good sized table in as a workspace, or for (future, planned) teaching space.

I love this space, and am over the moon with it. I look forward to many happy hours in there. Thanks for taking this journey with me.

Almost Ready….

So, I’m not in the studio yet, but will be soon. We’ve had a few problems with the floor, but it’s going to be fixed early next week, so I may be able to move in very soon! I appreciate my builder’s willingness to find solutions to the problems and am confident it’s in good hands.

It’s been a slog, I must say. When it first started going up, every day there was something new to see, something that wasn’t there that morning. As it becomes a Real Thing, the pace slows down. That took a bit of getting used to. They are working at it, but as always the micro level isn’t quite as satisfying.

I’m so keen to get in there! I have work to do, and the home studio is such a mess that it’s hard to get any work done. I’ve been collecting furnishings/storage solutions for the studio, and there’s really no place to put it all except in the current weave room, which was full to bursting already. And somehow, the waiting saps one of motivation. I kept putting off warping my big loom, because I figured the studio was almost ready, and I can’t easily move that loom with a project in progress on it. I’m very glad that the floor will be sorted out soon, because I have commissions that need to get done!

When you undertake something like this, it takes on a life of it’s own. The big dig out there became a shell, then a sealed envelope, then an almost finished work space that I can’t move into. We sit out on the deck a lot, and just kind of…look at it. I’m finding it actually a little difficult to imagine actually being in there!

But in there I will be, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the actual dimensions, and placement of all the gear that comes along with looms. I’ve got most of it worked out in my head, but there are a few big ticket items that I’m just not sure what to do with – my very large warping reel, and a vintage mangle that I adore (and which my long-suffering brother in law picked up for me a few years ago. They’re really heavy, did you know that?)

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The mangle. A monster, but beloved. She needs a paint job, maybe. Her current home is the pocket of hallway space beside the stairs.

I have these fantasies about what this lovely but decidedly not huge space will look like. In my dreams, it looks like this:

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Found on Pinterest, see link in text.

In reality, it is in danger of looking like this, unless I plan carefully.

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Another pic found on Pinterest. No link, because really – who needs to look at that?

Stay tuned! It’ll be a process, finding efficient storage and figuring out how my processes will work best in that space. It’s an exciting thing, to have a brand new dedicated space.

To finish, a few of the things I’ve been weaving lately:

The art of seeing

Some days, I walk into the workroom and pause. I look around, and I see the tools that I use for weaving, the glorious fibres and colours, the objects that are both functional and beautiful, and I am grateful.

Other days, I take it all for granted – I forget that this workroom (though small and cluttered) is a haven. I forget that all of this work has stretched my abilities, that practice and time invested have made me able to create things that are beautiful, complex, comforting.

Today, I saw it all, and was glad. The studio build continues, and some days have more dump trucks and equipment in the driveway than I ever thought there’d be, but here in my little workroom is a lifetime of colour, texture, and fibre.

The sun is out today, but the sky looks threatening. It’s cold, and the wind is whistling around the house. Later today, in my snug workroom, I’ll start planning my next weave and the next after that.

It’s a good life.

Studio build update:

It’s starting to shape itself into a studio-sized form. Since we moved here in 2003, there was a garden shed, just in front of the new construction site. When it was removed, we realized just how much of a difference it made – they took down the fence, too, and all of a sudden we remembered the size and shape of the yard that was hidden behind that little shed, and bisected by picket fence.

A giant hole. Footings and foundation walls framed and poured.

I’ve begun to think about the inside of that studio too, trying to figure out where all of the stuff will go. It’s not a horrible task to have, and I’ve enjoyed having to think about my practice this way – where do I like the light while I weave? How to arrange fibre (type, colour, type and colour, size?), what makes more sense – a table or a long counter?

Arts & crafts project – a scale drawing with construction paper to-scale looms etc.

…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.

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.

Shopping? I’ve got that covered.

There are some small but vital changes coming to Berwick Weaving Co.

I like social media.  I like to curate Berwick Weaving Co’s Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. I like blogging, here on this page. I don’t always remember to update them all, and it seems that this page has started to become a little orphaned. I don’t always remember to update it with day-to-day things like I do the Facebook page, but I tend instead to think of it as the long form version of the others, where I can muse about what I do, or give you a better view of the big picture of what I do.

I do not really want to have an IRL store – I have prioritized making things over running a brick-and-mortar business, which would allow me less time to actually do what I love.   I do an occasional show, and while I really enjoy every minute of it, I am always glad to be back in my little studio.

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I have recently made a tiny step toward putting up an option on the Berwick Weaving Co.  Facebook page that will allow you all to see what is available for sale in real-time, and to buy it from me, online.  When I have a moment this week, I’ll also make this site a spot from which you can see my inventory and purchase it using PayPal, email transfer, or credit cards.

And while I don’t have a storefront, as always I am available here at my studio if you want to come and see what I’ve got, and have a chat. Just email or message me first, and we can set up a time. I love visitors and am happy to oblige but need advance warning.

So. Gearing up into Fall, you should start to think about shopping for the holidays. Christmas is only 117 days away.

HO-HO-HO!

 

June!

 

I love this time of year, and it just gives me so many ideas – everything is blooming and bursting with colour, and saturated with that gorgeous limpid/lucid June light. I’ve been busy weaving and rearranging the workroom, warping, teaching, and weaving some more.

Some scenes from my workroom (mouse over each photo for a caption)….

I haven’t been writing on this page much; I tend to post things on Berwick Weaving Co.’s Facebook page and forget about this place. If you’re looking for day-to-day Berwick Weaving news, go there.

As always, if you want to arrange a commission or have any questions, please email or comment here on this page or on facebook.

 

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. 

“Belize Collection”

Here are some cheery things to get you out of the winter blues! Inspired by colours from the tropics – hot pink, turquoise, orange, teal, blues and green.

BZ1: Made from a fun mix of llama, alpaca, merino wool and acrylic. 72″ x 6″ it’s a soft, generous scarf sure to keep you warm. $85

BZ2: cooler blues and reds, with rustic knots randomly spaced throughout, like flowers growing down a sun-dappled wall. Cotton warp, merino weft. $90

BZ3: Soft and silky. 72 x 6, with just a bit of tasteful beading in 5 inch fringe.
Wool, silk, cotton, llama. $90

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