Sunday, March 3, 2019

In praise of the colour grey

sand ridges
Grey yarns tend to sit on the shelf like a wall flower at a dance.  More vibrant colours seem to get all the attention.  Those grey yarns have more potential than you may think so don't leave them on the shelf.

The natural world is filled with shades of grey.  Think of beach sand, stones, and weathered wood or lichens, tree bark and birds.

stones on weather log

Grey is a classic colour that doesn't become dated.  It is conservative, easy to look at, and combines with other colours to give a contemporary look.  It is commonly used for printed materials, fabric and interior designs.
Grey is neutral and can calm a vibrant colour scheme.  If you colour design seems over powering then try adding some grey to the mix.  The tea towels in the photo are based on M's & O's patterns in bright warm colours but the weaver has made good use of grey to balance the strong patterned areas.

tea towels mix of grey and orange to yellow
Grey mixes with many different colours including electric or light blue, lime green, yellows and oranges, gold, rose, aqua and even deep purple.  Check out any site for house paint to find contemporary colour schemes based on grey.

The colour grey appeals to both men and women.  Dark greys, especially when paired with dark colours, have a masculine quality.  Light greys are more feminine when paired with light blue or yellow.

Since grey accessories can be worn with a range of colours, it is a good choice for scarves or shawls and items that are intended to appeal to both men and women.  The motif in the scarf  (pictured below) stands out against a neutral grey background. 

summer & winter scarf

 All greys are not created equal.  Just check out "grey" paint chips the next time your at a paint store.  Achromatic grey is an equal mix of white and black and it has equal amounts of red, green and blue.  It is truly neutral.  But there are chromatic greys that are not a balance of red, green and blue.  Chromatic greys will have a "hint" of colour to them.  These greys can be considered warm (rose tones) or cold (blue/grey or green/grey).  Before selecting a grey check it against your other colours.

twisted threads create random pattern

You can always create your own shades of grey by mixing black and white yarns in your piece.  The photo at the right has a moire pattern due to the way the weft threads have been twisted. 

The photo below shows yardage that would be suitable for a coat or jacket.  Bright buttons or a coloured trim would look great with the neutral textured fabric.

yardage in mixed fibres

silk fusion clutch purse
The silk fusion clutch purse shows a classic combination of grey with gold.  It has a contemporary elegant look to it.

We are busy in the studio these days with workshops and projects.  We are participating in the Brant Festival this year and that has inspired a lot of interest in the colours associated with the Brant goose, black and white of course but also greys, beige and off white.  The geese will arrive in our locale sometime this month. 

Watch for our show and sale Friday April 5th and 6th from 10 am to 4 pm at Qualicum Commons, 744 Primrose St in Qualicum Beach

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Modern Day Spinning Circle

Hand crafted spinning wheel
The spinning wheel pictured to the left is a lovely piece of craftsmanship from the turned spindles that form the wheel to the carved hearts and other embellishments.  To the man operating the spinning wheel, it is a piece of fine furniture as well as a fine instrument for creating yarn.

At any large gathering of spinners you could expect to see variety of spinning wheels in operation.  The size, position of the wheel and the treadles might vary but that large wheel shape tells you your seeing a spinning circle. 

spinning circle

Many things have changed since it was necessary to spin our own yarn.  For many of us it is now a leisure activity and we see the opportunity to join a spinning circle as a pleasure not a necessity.

The spinning group of the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners meets every Tuesday from 10 am to noon.  Members bring their wheels or knitting with the intention of working.  They also bring their problems or triumphs to share over a cup of tea.  Of course there is always a spinning circle as these just form spontaneously if there are more than two spinning wheels in the same location.  It is something to do with all that twisting that goes on.

But take a peek at the latest Tuesday spinning circle and you'll see a modern twist.  The first hints that something is different are the  extension cords and the outlet bar.

e-spinners in cherry wood
The spinning devices in this circle are electric.  The large wheel that is romantically associated with hand spinning and history is no where to be seen.  The bobbin and flywheel are obvious but they are now being driven by a motor in the base.

So why would you want to replace that beautiful wheel in the first photograph with a far less romantic electric spinning wheel.  Well, that lovely wheel is heavy and an awkward shape that is difficult to store and transport.  In that way it really does resemble a piece of furniture.  The electric spinners are bread-box size (does anyone have a bread box anymore?).

 The traditional wheels pictured above are driven by foot power and while that gives one an excuse to knit colourful socks and booties it also means you must be able to coordinate what your feet are doing with what your hands are doing.  Getting all those parts moving in a synchronous fashion can be difficult at first and impossible if you have health issues that effect your lower limbs and feet.

blended fibres before spinning
Even with the electric motor assist, the spinner is still very much in control of the final yarn, from selecting, dyeing and blending the fibres to controlling the thickness and amount of twist.  It is still very much "hand spun" yarn when it comes off that bobbin.

Raw fibre and the final yarn