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.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Moving Day

Qualicum Beach truck
This past Monday was moving day for the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners.  For the past week we have been sorting items, packing some, discarding others and generally getting ready for the big day.

The moving process forced us to take stock of our belongings and not surprising we found we had duplicate items and items that could only be considered of "historic" interest.  We sold one of our studio looms and will be having a sale of small equipment at a future date.

The town of Qualicum Beach provided us with trucks and a crew of young strong backs.  They cheerfully carted boxes, assorted loom parts and furniture down the narrow staircase and into the vehicles and posed for pictures now and then.
"the movers"

"the movers"

  They had an appreciative audience who came to say goodbye to the train station.
Just the loom left to move

appreciative audienced

Soon we were watching them unload items at our new home in Qualicum Commons.  Qualicum Commons is a re-purposed elementary school that houses a number of social and arts programs.  It is in the heart of downtown Qualicum Beach at 744 Primrose Street.   location 
We have a lovely large, ground floor room.  So no more narrow winding staircase, no more bumping heads on the ceiling or squeezing into the eves to locate equipment.  We appreciate the town's role in locating this space for us.

main entrance to Qualicum Commons

So much space
We ended the day with boxes and belongings stacked along the walls according to an initial floor plan.  Over the next two weeks we will begin the process of assembling our library area, setting up our looms and refining the floor plan.
What to open first!

  The town of Qualicum Beach is providing us with some stacking chairs and tables so we can begin to hold our meetings in our new home rather than renting space in the Baptist Church on Beach Street.  If you are planning to attend the general meeting on September 25th come to Qualicum Commons at 744 Primrose Street.  There is a large parking lot just past the building.  

Watch for an announcement for our "Open Studio" event when we welcome the public to our new location.

Finally, Thanks to Heather and the moving guys and the Town of Qualicum Beach for their assistance with the move to our new home.

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

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

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.