Tuesday, August 8, 2017

We Are Moving

The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners are moving.  After 25 years of hanging out in the loft of the Train Station at Qualicum Beach we are leaving.  The town of Qualicum Beach has decided that we don't fit with their vision for the old Via Train Station.  They intend to renovate the loft area and rent it out to a commercial enterprise.

hand painted floor
The creation of the Train Station Resource Centre was the action that solidified the guild in its infancy.  The guild was provided with a largely unfinished attic area which had to be turned into workable space.  This meant a lot of fund raising to buy materials and a lot of do-it-yourself construction work.  Take a look at the fake brick pattern that was hand painted on the blank grey linoleum.

Having a permanent space allowed the guild members to build and share a set of resources including an extensive library, an inventory of common yarns and of course equipment.  It was a tiny area with low ceilings and windows that didn't quite close but we made the most of it.

library of books and periodicals

Fanny loom
The train station loft served as a meeting place, a resource centre and a studio space.
Members now had access to floor looms that were too large for most homes.

 A used Fanny loom was donated to the guild and became the workhorse for many guild projects.  We will be retiring the Fanny loom when we leave the loft but she has many years of service and we hope she will find a good home.  If you are interested contact us qualicumweaversandspinners@gmail.com

Mixed yarn warp demo
The loft was ideal for holding small workshops and spontaneous group projects.  It wasn't pretty space so a little mess now and then was tolerable.

stars workshop
We learned needle felting, painted warps, made Christmas ornaments and bookmarks, held spinning lessons, wove tea towels by the dozens and had tons of fun together.
workbee ANWG goodies


Projects became a means of integrating new members into the group and a way of sharing knowledge between experienced members and novices.

Scarf project

Over time as the guild grew the space became too small for regular meetings so we held our monthly meetings in the old church that shared the grounds known as Heritage Square.  Study groups continued to meet at the loft.
messy chart does it mean anything?

train station birthday

In 2014 we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the train station with a "simulated" sheep to shawl.  We even put on costumes for the event.  This event brought us closer to our neighbour The Qualicum Beach Museum and eventually lead to the guild joining in other museum programs.

In spite of grumbling over the narrow stair case, bumped heads in the cupboards or the cold breeze from the windows the train station has been a great home.  We will remember the times there fondly.

Where to now???  The town is anxious to start renovations in the train station so we will be moving out the last week in August.  The town has found us space in the old elementary school now referred to as Qualicum Commons.  The space is excellent but it will mean a significant change to how the guild operates.  The town is helping us with rent for the first year but after that the guild will have to earn sufficient income to continue in that space.  It will be a challenge that will stimulate new ideas.

More to follow on our new location.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Art in Action 2017

Pat and Jane the loom
Art in Action is a community event that show cases the various artists and artisans in our area.  It is an outdoor event that features, visual arts, fibre arts of all kinds, metal and wood work, pottery, and glass.  It is an annual event that takes place in downtown Qualicum Beach.  Our guild has been a part of this event since its inception.
This year we set up our booth under cloudy skies and kept close watch on the clouds in case we had to grab our equipment and head for cover.  But though the wind did blow and the skies were dark the rain went somewhere else.

this is how we weave
This was the first outing for our new Jane loom by Louet.  We'll have more about the loom in another posting.  We are grateful to Grinsheep Fibre Productions and the Regional District of Nanaimo who supported the purchase.  Often we get questions about how a specific piece was woven and it helps to be able to show the process on the demonstration loom.  The couple in the picture are getting an explanation from Gitte.

shawls and scarves and clouds

which tea towel to buy?
A lot of tea towels flew off the clothes line (now and then due to the wind) in the first hours of the event.  Regular visitors to the event know to check out our booth early for the best selection.  Some went home to Alberta and Ontario as reminders of a pleasant vacation and some went home as future Christmas gifts.  We hope whatever the intent that they are well used and enjoyed and yes they are meant to be used for many years.

As usual the spinners performance drew a lot of attention.  Some people just like to watch while others become very engaged in the process.  Notice the styles of foot wear, or lack there of, in the photographs.

footwear included technique

barefoot spinning technique

the sock foot technique
    Our next event will be Children's Day at the Qualicum Beach Museum on August 19th.  After that we will be at the Light House Fall Fair in Bowser on Saturday September 2nd.  We will have a large display with clothing as well as home decor items.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

We Went to ANWG

Congratulations to the Victoria Handweavers and Spinners Guild. Treadle Lightly, the ANWG 2017 North West Weavers' Conference was a great success.
About half of our guild members made their way to Victoria to take part in the workshops, lectures, and shopping opportunities.  We met old friends and made new friends.
The fashion show was not restricted to the runway. We got to show off our creative efforts and admire those of others and we came home with inspiration and a renewed creative energy.

A convoy of our members managed to transport all of the elements of our booth to the display location.  The assembly went as planned (more or less) and the constructed elements held together. Thanks to the group that transported and assembled the booth.  They had to come early to set it up and stay after the conference to take it down.

Grinsheep booth
Weaver's Atelier Booth

Shopping is a big part of every conference and judging from the bulging bags this conference was typical.  Three of our members came as vendors.  Some of our members came home with new looms (or at least looms on order), most added something new or unique to their stash.  There was a nice mix of spinning and weaving supplies and some lovely finished goods as well.
Spirit Song Fiber Works
Our guild wove prize ribbons for the various shows so we got to see our "weaving" on display even if we hadn't entered anything into the shows.  But one of our members came home with several ribbons for her efforts.
Mary's "Spring Fever" tailored jacket

 Mary's jacket was a multi-layered project starting with a dyed roving of mixed wool and silk fibres.  Her handspun yarn turned out to be unsuitable for the knitted project she had in mind so she improvised and wove yardage with it.  She also had to modify a jacket pattern to fit with the yardage.  Unfortunately the picture shows the lovely prize ribbons but it covers up the hand worked button detail.

The long anticipated 2017 conference may be over but the planning has already started for the 2019 event.  It is being hosted by the Prince George Fibre Arts Guild.  It will take place June 11 to 16 in the city of Prince George, British Columbia.  If you have any questions contact the conference committee at  pgfibrearts@gmail.com

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Planning for the Summer

Spring is rapidly moving towards summer.  The sun is no longer playing hide and seek in the rain clouds (most of the time).  It is reminding us that the windows really do need to be washed and the garden really needs to be weeded and we haven't been to the beach in ages.  Time in the studio is less appealing than time spent soaking up inspiration (and sunshine).

Family Day, weaving demonstration
Some of our members moved the looms and wheels outdoors for the Qualicum Beach Family Day event.  Our demonstrations are quite popular and we are never short of volunteers to help with the booth.  The sunny weather certainly helped with the attendance and our demonstration looms were busy.

The weavers in the group were very busy over the past month so that we had a lot to show and tell about at our May meeting.

Linda's towels

Lynnette's scarf
 Small towels are fun.  They are great for experimenting with new designs and weave structures.  With a single warp you can try a dozen new ideas and still end up with a useful product.

The red scarf in tencil is a simple weave structure, a point twill, but the threading has been set up to create a double border that is repeated in the treadling.  This extra design detail creates something truly special.

detail of twill scarf

Ngaire's scarf
The second scarf also makes use of small diamond motifs in different sizes and groupings.  The dark weft against a painted warp adds complexity and drama.

The lovely shawl in natural shades of wool was woven on a rigid heddle loom proving that you don't need a lot of technology to make something beautiful.

The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners suspends meetings from June until September as many members are busy or away over the summer.  But, we are still very active especially this year with the ANWG conference.  If you plan on attending the ANWG conference in Victoria at the end of June look for our booth.

We will be at the Art in Action event in Qualicum Beach on July 22nd and if you visit the Qualicum Beach Museum this summer look for our spinning and weaving demonstration.  We will also be at Children's Day at the museum on August 19th and at the Lighthouse Fall Fair in Bowser.  More public events are planned for September.  Maybe we'll see you at one of these events.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

ANWG Guild Booth

some of the project participants
The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners will be decorating a guild booth at the ANWG conference in Victoria next month.  This project has been embraced enthusiastically by a large number of guild members.  The theme for the booth is West Coast Wild.

Members have been planning, crafting, constructing or scrounging items for the booth for several months now.  

tree in progress
our theme

A group of volunteers  have been weaving boas and tea towels that will incorporated into the booth while others have been busy needle felting creatures and rocks

can't see the forest for the trees
The project has brought together members with many different interests and will truly be a composite of many different fibre art techniques.  It has also spawned several mini projects that are easy enough for beginners to complete.  It has been a great opportunity for introducing some of our newer members to the group.

some sea creatures
You may have guessed from the photos that there is a seaside aspect to the theme but how will the birds in a basket fit into the scene?  You will just have to check our booth at ANWG to find out.

birds in a bush

The project has resulted in some seashore inspired weaving including the twill tea towel in natural colours that is waiting to be cut off the loom.  It is reminiscent of ripples in the sand.  The piece in the photo to the right is based on the colours of the water and the tide line with shells and sea weed.

seashore inspired piece

more pieces for the booth

We hope you will come and see our booth at the ANWG conference in Victoria.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Basic and Beautiful

Ikat technique
Today hand spinners and weavers have a wide array of tools and materials at their disposal.  Many of those tools save time and physical effort so we can produce more products with enhanced consistency.  Consider how efficient a drum carder is compared with using hand carders  Other tools, such as design software, support an advanced level of complexity in our designs.  But modern tools can't replace good design and excellent technique.
Maybe that is why we tend to have a deep appreciation and a sense of awe when we see a master work created by hand using simple tools and techniques.  Maybe that is why so many fibre artists feel compelled to help preserve or revive skills that maybe lost in the name of efficiency or advancement.

Salish Blanket

The first nations people of the pacific northwest were noted for the fibre arts.  They worked in cedar, mountain goat and dog hair.  Blankets and other woven items were used in commerce as well as for personal or ceremonial use.  Fibre art is an important cultural heritage for all people.  We are lucky that it is being preserved, revived and in some cases reinvented without loosing its meaning.

Salish blanket 
 The photograph above shows a typical but newly minted Salish blanket that was created on a large frame loom that we refer to as a "Salish loom".  Many of us tried weaving on a "Salish loom" in the 70's and can appreciate the skill that it took to create this piece.
Traditional patterns have been used in the border of weft stripes.  As with other forms of traditional weaving the patterns have meaning and would tell a story about the blanket if we knew how to read it.

The thick yarn is spun using a large headed spindle attached to a wheel but in the past a spindle would have been used.
jewellery set

The set of pendant and earrings is a fine example of modern Chilkat weaving.  The same technique is used to create large ceremonial dancing blankets.  It is hand worked in on a simple loom using a complex combination of twining and weaving.  Traditionally the warp would have been a blend of cedar and wool.  The yarn would have been spun and plied without the use of a spindle.  
Salish weaving in progress on loom
The colourful photograph shows a "Salish style" weaving in progress.  It is being woven on a small frame loom.  The warp is thick hand spun yarn that has been plied to create a multi-coloured yarn with a lumpy texture.  The piece is a riot of colours that are anything but traditional but it is being constructed in keeping with the traditional techniques.  A very nice example of the artist expressing their own personality while keeping in touch with their heritage.

If you are interested in the Chilkat weaving you might want to check out "The Chilkat Dancing Blanket" by Cheryl Samuel, Pacific Search Press, 1982  ISBN 0-914718-69-X

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Exploring More on Crackle

There are several interest groups within the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners Guild.  They meet at intervals to work on their shared interest and periodically they share what they have learned with the larger group.  The photo shows the Exploring More Group in our resource centre at the Train Station, in Qualicum Beach.

The Exploring More Group is studying "crackle".  This is an older weave structure that is highly versatile.  It can be used very effectively with just 4 harnesses or with a higher number of harnesses.  It is adaptable to almost any fibre and colour combination and so it can be used to create a variety of items. There are numerous references to crackle in weaving books and magazines.

crackle with glitz
crackle wool rug sample

The weave structure is based on a 4 thread unit that at first glance resembles a lopsided point twill threading with one arm longer than the other.  There are rules for creating a crackle threading that can appear quite complex at first.  When paired with a 2/2 twill tie up this threading produces 3 thread skips. On a 4 harness loom there are 4 possible threading combinations which gives 4 pattern "blocks" for designing.

 Another interesting feature of crackle is how warp and weft threads combine to produce tones and half tones as illustrated in the green crackle table mat.

crackle table mat

Traditional crackle designs often involve either diamond shapes or blocks of different colours.  The photo to the right shows the detail from a scarf that uses alternating blocks in a thick pattern weft to create an all over design of chevrons.  By contrast the table mat is a large graphic design.

crackle blocks

There are many different ways to weave crackle.  It can be woven with a tabby weft and a pattern weft as in Summer and Winter or Overshot.  It can also be woven as a twill or twill blocks, as drawn in without a tabby weft or in a poly-chrome fashion.  The possibilities are endless.

crackle treadled as twill in fine threads
When woven as a simple twill the effect is a small overall pattern with distinctive twill lines that can mimic texture if the colours are muted.

Summer&winter treadling

as drawn in blocks with tabby

Both the peach on yellow diamonds and the brown on yellow pattern were woven on the same warp using different treadling sequences.  One is reminiscent of overshot and the other of summer and winter.  Both have a tabby weft and pattern weft but the effect is quite different.  Both still have a "blocky" appearance as the treadling is repeated to build up the pattern.
crackle scarf

Non-traditional crackle designs may involve long pattern repeats, oval motifs and delicate lace like patterns.  They are less "blocky" and more flowing in nature in part because they are woven as drawn in without a tabby weft.  The cloth also tends to drape well and has a good mix of plain weave areas and twill like areas.  It is a good structure for rayon yarns or other slippery threads.

based on a random number threading and treadling

non-traditional crackle on painted warp
Having just scratched the surface on the topic of crackle, the next challenge for the Exploring More Group will be poly-chrome crackle.