Sunday, September 2, 2018

From Fibre to Fashion at the Fair

blue ribbon cabbage
Fine weather and the promise of home made pie made for a busy day at the Light House Country Fall Fair.  The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners has been a part of this annual event for many years.  We put on a display of textiles and bring along spinning wheels and looms to demonstrate our craft.

Lamb Chops on Hand spun Yarn

"Fibre to Fashion" is written on the sign above the door that leads to our display.  It reminds us that a textile doesn't materialize as a whole but is created from simple products by a few basic processes.  Automation and computerization might obscure the links but when you strip away the machines you will find the same basic spinning, knitting and weaving activities.  It is particularly rewarding to show the process to people and note the Aha! moment when they realize that they have just seen yarn and cloth being made by hand.

We usually pick a theme for our display and this year our theme was "Sheep to Shawl".  It was a tongue in cheek tribute to an old contest.  As most of you will be aware "Sheep to Shawl" refers to a contest in which teams work against a deadline to turn raw fleece into a hand woven shawl.  There are variations to the contest but it usually involves a team of spinners and a weaver, a pre-warped loom and a fleece that must be carded and spun.  The team's effort is judged on how complete the shawl is by the deadline, the quality of spun yarn and the quality and level of difficulty of the weaving.

fluffy on a fancy wrap

Our tribute didn't involve any raw fleece but we did have sheep, shawls, spinners and weavers.  In fact we had a whole herd of sheep, include many rare and unusual breeds and even a celebrity sheep called "Lamb Chops".  The latter drew a lot of interest from those old enough to remember the famous comedy team of Lamb Chops and Sherry Lewis
lamb in a cozy wool shawl

"real" wool lamb

honeycomb shawl

It is always interesting to see how individuals interpret the same idea.  The shawls in our display covered quite a different range of materials, design ideas and techniques.  There were cozy winter shawls in neutral coloured wool, bright patterned shawls in rayon, and wool blend shawls with textural effects.  There were dressy shawls that call out for that little black dress, lace knit shawls made with hand spun yarn and nuno-felted shawls on a silk chiffon base.
nuno-felted shawl

pair of knitted shawls


The fair includes contests for needlework including weaving.  In addition, The Qualicum Weavers and Spinner's Guild sponsors a special contest for a hand woven shawl.  Some of our members came home with ribbons as a reminder of the fair.  The photo below is shows the prize winning shawl. It is an interesting blend of yarns in the warp that give it a neutral but still lively colour.  The shawl drapes beautifully and has a soft texture.

September is a busy month for our guild.  General monthly meetings resume on Sept 24th at Qualicum Commons.  A new study group is forming and existing study groups are getting together after the summer break.  Later in the month we will be hosting an Open Studio as part of the Regional District of Nanaimo's Active Aging Program.  Check out our "events" listing for more information.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Hot Time in Town

We've had a heat wave this July.  The kind that encourages activities that involve staying in the shade, drinking cold beverages and thinking about things one should be doing.  Good weather for designing a fall project, dyeing warp yarns or recording attractive colour schemes seen in the garden.

Although our regular guild meetings have been suspended until September the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners are still busy.  The Commons Studio is open every Tuesday morning when the spinning group meets.  A group of weavers have been busy turning old jeans into rag rugs to sell through our "guild store".  Members of the knitting group are busy creating squares that will be turned into a blanket.  The blanket will be part of our fund raising efforts.

inside the booth
On July 28th we took part in Art in Action, an annual craft fair that takes place in the town of  Qualicum Beach.  Our Studio and Resource Centre at 744 Primrose is a stone's throw from the site of the fair so in addition to having our usual booth we decide to include an Open Studio event.  It was hot!  So hot that we had wilted by noon as had a lot of the folks attending the event.

a little shade helps

 Thank heavens for the cooler full of ice cold water and extra tents provided by the Farmer's Market and Walter Hoogland.  This year we had spinners at the booth and a second group closer to the Commons building. 

finished spinning at last
The Studio was refreshingly cool in comparison to the booth on the asphalt parking lot.  Attendees were able to watch the weaving demonstrations and browse our sale display in comfort.

rag rug in progress

mug rug in progress

Cloth being formed on a floor loom is more impressive than anything we can do with our small "demo" table loom.

We have set up a small guild store as part of our fund raising.  The store sells items donated by members with all of the proceeds going towards our guild activities.

guild store

In addition to the store we had a display of household linens, light scarves and shawls.  As usual people bought our tea towels.  Many of those tea towels went home as reminders of a pleasant summer vacation.               

Our next event will be at the Lighthouse Fall Fair in Bowser.  This is a great old fashion farm fair with great home made pies and competitions for everything from weird vegetables to scarecrows.  There are spinning, knitting, weaving and felting categories too.  We will be there with demonstrations looms for the little ones, spinning wheels and a display of our work.  The fair takes place on Saturday September 1st.  link for fall fair