Thursday, December 21, 2017

A little holiday cheer

We have put down our shuttles and moved the spinning wheels to one side while we work on the holidays.  Even the knitting needles are silent.  So we are busy shopping, wrapping presents, cooking and of course eating. 

Which brings us to the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners Guild potluck.  Now this event is special in two regards.  First we get to eat, drink and be merry together and second we get to distribute the proceeds from our Elegant Threads Show and Sale.  The sale was a great success thanks to a horde of volunteers and an even larger horde of shoppers.  Our silent auction brought in almost $1,000 which will help with the rent obligations we now have.

cable yarn
Earlier in the year our president had set guild members a challenge.  Weavers were asked to pick (without peeking) a series of cards with suggestions for designing a woven piece.  Spinners picked from a  series of cards specific for  creating yarn.  Participants were told to bring their results to the December pot luck.

The spinner who produced the blue variegated yarn was challenged to use many values of the same colour, print or paint the yarn and use a cable technique.  If you look closely you will see many different shades of blue.

baby sweater and legings

The knitted outfit is hand spun yarn dyed with mushrooms.  The jacket design is asymmetric.

Unwaxed candle wick is the unconventional material used for weft in the small mug rugs.  Also look for a block weave structure, curves and shades and varieties of white with a cut fringe.  Now that is a challenge!

overshot&finger weaving
The overshot runner on the right had to incorporate overshot as a weave structure, monochromatic colouring with stripes of different lengths, wool as a material and finger weaving as an embellishment. The fringe is finger woven.  The wool warp was painted in shades of blue to create background stripes of different lengths.
The colourful mats required a natural vegetable fibre as one of the materials.  The weaver used iris leaves and cat tail stalks.

bright colours, holes, chenille

Another weaving challenge included Bronson lace as a weave structure, holes as a design feature, bright colours only, chenille as a material and crochet as an embellishment.  A crochet trim in chenille was added to create a colourful border.  The piece looks very Caribbean.

painted warp, Fibonacci series

Or how about Fibonacci series in the design, yarns of two different thicknesses and an 8 shaft weave structure on a painted warp.

The wall hanging required shades of grey, texture as a design feature, a supplementary warp structure, Danish medallions for embellishment and boucle as a material.  The weave structure was based on Theo Moorman's technique for inlay which uses a supplementary warp.  Danish medallions outline a rectangle in the centre.
shades of grey

Executing the challenge piece is only part of the learning.  The real value comes in the group discussions and problem solving.  So, while not everyone produced a piece in the end we all had an opportunity to generate new ideas that will resurface in some future project.

Have a great holiday season.  Enjoy the Christmas lights.  Your neighbours went to heroic and sometimes dangerous lengths to put them up.

Xmas lights and snow men
January will be a busy month for guild members with knitting and weaving classes for beginners, study group meetings and on January 22nd we have our Annual General Meeting.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

After the Sale

the set up crew
We've survived yet another version of Elegant Threads, our annual show and sale.  This event is our biggest production of the year.  Pictured to the left is the set up crew but they are only a handful of the people involved in Elegant Threads.  The entire guild is involved in some role, whether it is promotion, working the cash desk, dealing with money matters or transporting props.  And that doesn't even count all the guild members who have been busy, spinning, knitting, felting and weaving so that we have something to sell.

This year we moved into the modern world and set up a credit card reader.  After a minor panic with the first sale we conquered the technology and it was a smooth operation.  The initial line up was both frightening (pressure to get the reader working) and a delight (so many buyers).

happy shopper
Every artisan loves it when someone acknowledges their work with a sale.  Your friends may rave over your work but it is the stranger who is willing to part with cash to own your work that encourages you the most.

tea towels

Our members were very busy this year and as a result we had twice the stock of previous sales so the set up crew had to rethink the display.  New members added a different variety of items and styles.  Even regular shoppers had something new to see.

felted baby booties

shawls on spiral rack
There was a good mix of knitted, felted and woven items.  The knitted items include at least 50% hand spun yarn which is also often hand dyed.  This makes the knitted items unique and hand crafted in more ways than one.
wet felted container

3 in 1 scarf
Some of the more unusual items included this wet felted container made from hand dyed fleece.  The knitter of the 3 in one scarf shared the same colour pattern with the felter.  Maybe they had the same inspirational source.

hand spun yarn

Hand spun yarn has become very popular and our sales are the place to find a good selection.   
rep weave mats

sweater of hand spun yarn

In addition to the items for sale we had a silent auction table for those who like a bit of competition and love a bargain.  The proceeds from the silent auction went to the guild and will help cover our operating costs.  With the move to our new location we will be facing a significant rent expense.  The auction table was very popular.  In the last hour of the sale people began circling the area to check on the status of their bid.  Some came away happy and so did the guild treasurer.  Thanks to everyone who donated items to the auction.
silent auction Santa


We are home resting now.  A pot luck lunch will be held in December instead of a meeting.  General meetings will resume the fourth Monday in January (the 22nd).  General meetings are held at Qualicum Commons in the town of Qualicum Beach.  Guests are always welcome to attend. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Looming Deadlines

shoppers at Elegant Threads past
The dates for our annual guild sale., Elegant  Threads, are November 24 and 25 which means the deadline for finishing projects is highly visible on the calendar.  It glares out from the page and says "you should have started sooner" or " you shouldn't have made it so complicated".

The sale committee has been meeting for quite some time.  They seem immune to the deadline terrors. 
bolero jacket in honeycomb

 The sale has grown steadily.  We have seen an increase in members and in member activity.  Skilled artisans have joined the group and brought with them expertise in many aspects of fibre arts.  As a result there has been an increase in the variety and quality of items in the guild show.  The sale committee is planning some display changes to help shoppers located the items and information they are looking for.  They are also looking to improve the check out process including a reader for credit cards so if you see something you must have and don't have the cash you won't have to pass it by.

Scarf in hand spun yarn

There will be a silent auction at the sale so if you like a bargain and a little competition this could be for you.  All of the items in the auction have been donated and the proceeds will go to the guild.

Also look for the door prize draw.  You might be the lucky one to take it home.

yarn from previous silent auction

In addition to getting ready for the sale we have been doing some fund raising with sales and raffles. We'd like to thank Deez Restaurant in Qualicum Beach for hosting the raffle and Quality Foods for providing supplies.

We hope to see you at Rotary House in Qualicum Beach next weekend, (24th and 25th of November).  Rotary House is located at the corner of Beach and Fern and is a short walk from the Qualicum Civic Centre where the Winterfest Craft Fair will be taking place.  Winterfest is a local event that features a wide variety of quality items and a relaxed atmosphere.

Other events in Qualicum Beach that weekend include a tea at The Old School House Gallery and The Quilters' Sale at St. Stephens church.

See "links of interest" on the right side of the blog to find a map to Rotary House and information on Winterfest.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Busy Busy

It is almost the end of October.  That means, coloured leaves, crisp evenings and Halloween.  It also means that beginning of  the craft fair season.  So, in between raking leaves, planting the last of the bulbs and locating our winter boots we are busy getting ready for our very own sale, Elegant Threads.  We have barely a month until the sale which takes place November 24 and 25th at Rotary House in Qualicum Beach.  For more information see the note to the right of this post.

There is still a short time to finish spinning a variegated roving, felt just one more piece or weave off a final warp.  But that is just the beginning to the process.  Now the items must be wet finished or washed and blocked.  Hems and seams need to be sewn.  Fringes need twisting and any embellishments need to be added.  All this before we finally get to making up and attaching labels.
cedar bark heart

This year you can expect to see a wide variety of hand made items at our show.  Our sale showcases the arts of weaving, spinning and related fibre art including felting.  Weaving is not limited to the creation of cloth.  The technique is used to create baskets, wall hangings and rugs.   You can weave with almost anything including, grasses, cedar bark and bull kelp.

There will be a good selection of knitted and woven items made from hand spun yarn.  But if you are a knitter looking for something extra special we will also have a good selection of truly one of a kind hand spun yarns in both natural colours and hand dyed colours.  The basket of yarn pictured below was dyed using mushrooms as the colour source.

mushroom dyed yarn

Sometimes we get a glimpse of what will be in the sale during the show and tell portion of our monthly meetings.  But unpacking the boxes on the morning of the sale is akin to the "big reveal" on a TV show about home renovations. 
Shawl with ribbon stripes

This month we saw a selection of elegant shawls, warm scarves and cosy blankets.  Obviously those crisp nights are influencing what we create.  We were also treated to some interesting cedar bark weaving. 

The show and tell portion of our meeting is a chance for people to share what they learned at workshops.  It is a great way to pass on knowledge. This time we learned about mushroom dyes.  It was a timely topic with all the mushrooms that pop up in lawns and gardens at this time of year.
colour gamp blanket

mixed yarn scarf
Linda's scarf in crackle pattern

So it's back to the studio and get busy.  With luck Linda will finish off the beautiful purple scarf in crackle weave.  The photo shows the cloth "just off the loom" but there are several steps to go before this beauty appears in the sale. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Spinning and Weaving for Active Ageing

golf course with chestnuts
This year the recreational department of our regional district asked the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners to participate in their "active ageing" week activities.  They wanted to broaden the emphasis of the activities beyond those traditionally considered "physical activity".

From the time that we are quite young we are told that physical activity is "good" for us.  Remember gym classes and those horrid outfits?  If they weren't enough of a turn off then running laps in the cold (in those horrid outfits) certainly did it for a lot of us.  Later in life, we may have taken up yoga or a sport (Golf and tennis fashion were an improvement over gym bloomers.) or even joined a gym.  Maintaining these activities over a changing life time can be difficult, yet we are told physical and mental activity are important for maintaining health in our senior years.

loom or gym equipment?
So what does this have to do with spinning and weaving?  Well, both involve a body in motion and both involve mental activity.  Spinning involves stretching and gentle rhythmic movement of the legs, feet and arms.  It is similar to yoga in its ability to create calm.  Weaving involves lifting weights, pulling, and rhythmic arm movements.  It reminds me of a universal gym machine. 
Spinning and weaving also involve mental activity such as planning, measuring and calculating.

Our new home in Qualicum Commons was not ready to receive guests so we decided to join with other groups to put on demonstrations at the Qualicum Beach Museum.

active ageing in the fall sunshine
We shared an outdoor area with a group of sketchers and did double duty, providing them with something to sketch as well as showing off our craft. 

inkle loom weaving

We included demonstrations of hand manipulated weaving, spinning with a drop spindle as well as with a wheel. 

Salish loom and drop spindle demonstrations

This event is our last outdoor exhibition of the year.  Our attention is now focused on the annual show and sale, Elegant Threads.  For more information see the side bar.  The sale committee is busy planning and promoting.  Members are busy working on new items for the sale. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fall Fair Exhibit

Dahlia exhibit at Lighthouse Fair
One of our favourite events is the Lighthouse Community Fall Fair. This takes place just up the highway from Qualicum Beach at the Lighthouse Community Centre.  This year the guild had a large room in the main building so in addition to our usual demonstrations we had a large display.

When not attending our display, guild members got to check out the exhibits and prize winners (the Dahlia's are exquisite), eat home made pie, visit the vendors, participate in a cake walk or silent auction and generally have a good time.

Outfits pairing denim clothing with hand crafted items

This year we decided to stage our weaving display around two themes, what goes with denim clothing and what can you make out of denim cloth.  We made outfits based on a piece of denim clothing such as jeans, a dress or a jacket.  It was surprising to see how many different hand crafted items fit with the casual look and colour of denim.  We had shawls, scarves, knitted tops, vests and even felted beads.

denim dress and shawl

funky flower hat

Jude's rags and rug

Linda explaining rag rugs
The second part of our display included items made out of denim and tee shirts.  It included rugs and a fancy denim bag.  Linda was kept busy explaining the process of cutting the rags and weaving the cloth.  The random surface effect of turns or joins in the rag strips gives a lovely homely effect that is characteristic of these simple but very effective and practical pieces.
While the weaving looks simple there is an art to getting a tight rug with a consistent width that will lay flat on the floor.  The preparation of the rag strips can take longer than the actual weaving.

detail of  Charlie's tee shirt rug

Our display included demonstrations of spinning and of weaving.  The warp on our small demo loom was finished and the end knots on the warp on our Jane loom are rapidly approaching the harnesses.  That isn't surprising since both looms have been in heavy use this summer.

Tracy's rovings

The Lighthouse Fall Fair includes the usual prize categories for handicrafts and baking.  Spinning, Felting and Weaving are included in the needlework category.  One of the weaving prizes is sponsored by Weaver's Atelier and another is sponsored by the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners Guild.

Jude's nuno felted shawl

Gitte's star

Misc weaving category

Several of our members came home with prize ribbons and rosettes.

This marks the last of our summer public events but we will be participating in the Regional District of Nanaimo, Active Aging Program.  The public is invited to come to the Qualicum Beach Museum on Thursday September 28th from 1 to 4 pm where they will have a chance to try their hand at spinning and weaving and learn more about guild activities.

Check our "events" calendar and the special links section for more information about meetings and demonstrations.