Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall Fibre Works

Everywhere you look these days you will find nature sporting fall colours like these mum's in my garden. Time to get that loom set up or pull out those knitting needles.
Working with fibre is one of those comfortable arts involving activities like baking or woodworking or drinking sherry that just go better with cooler weather. Wheels and looms just seem to call out for more attention as the days get shorter.

Natural fibres like wool, mohair and alpaca are more appealing at this time. They attract us like the handspun yarn attracted the two ladies in this photo. Maybe the crisp nights and dark mornings inspire us to create cozy blankets or that warm scarf or sweater in anticipation of winter. Or maybe it is just too wet and cold to work in the garden so that we can justify playing with fibre without guilt.

For a lot of us, the fall means getting ready for our annual show and sale at the end of November or working on Christmas gifts or both. Tea towels are a favourite item.

The annual show held in Qualicum Beach is our largest show of the year, but this year many of us have enjoyed putting on public displays and demonstrations. Our latest display was in the beautiful recreation centre at Craig Bay. We had a lot of great questions about spinning and weaving and even had some novice weavers working on the guild's loom. The demonstrations included, needle felting, cardweaving, spinning and harness loom weaving. The intricacies of spinning were explored by a number of the attendees.
Jen's helped to add a European flavour to the event with his collection of rugs. One is featured in the 'member's works' photos.

We hope that people who are interested in fibre arts will drop in to our show and sale in this November. Like all artisans, we love complements and questions about our creations and the scarves in this photo look much better in real life.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What is your style?

I am always intreged by the variety of items at the Guild's monthly "show and tell". Some pieces are amazing but I know that I would never produce something similar because it is "just not me". Other pieces inspire me to push my work a little further than I would have on my own because they appeal to my sense of style.

We all work with fibre, either as raw material or yarn, but our finished pieces can be quite different.

We may end up with a colourful pair of socks, a needle felted butterfly, a woven scarf, towels, a runner or rug.
Some pieces emphasize tactile properties of the fibre or yarn. They cry out "touch me" or "wrap yourself in me". Other pieces are based more on a visual design. They ask the viewer to "look closer, see the detail". The differences go beyond simply a interest in structure or texture. Even if we use the same technique we can produce items that are refined and subdued, exhuberant and colourful, homey and comforting and so on.

Our creations reflect our individual interests and style rather than the latest in fashions or home decor. That is a good thing according to Pamela Ballantine, the speaker at our September meeting. She reminded us that we do our best work when we use colours that we like. How true! Put an ugly (to you) warp on the loom and it will sit there haunting you like an evil spirit. When you do get around to working on it you just cannot wait until the whole process is over. Not the way to do your best work!

Pamella also gave us a great tip about "finding your style". This works for both fashion or home decor. If it is home decor that you are interested in forget the myth that people decorate their homes using the same colours that they wear. To build a picture of your decorating style, go through several home related magazines and cut out pictures that you like. Once you have a pile of pictures, lay them out together and look for the common elements. Those elements are the basis for your unique style.

If you love blue (red, yellow, etc) but need more help with all the possible variations try looking through house paint chips. They are a great tool for evaluating different tints and tones. If you are serious then get a paint chip fan from your favourite paint supplier. A little colour research before you shop might help to keep your stash under control. But then again, that odd ball colour that you bought by mistake might lead to a whole new creative experience. Or at least, that's what I tell myself.