Monday, December 30, 2013

December Break and Painted Warps

knitted shawl
Our guild took a break from our regular meetings in December.  For some that meant putting away the yarns and fleece temporarily while we don our aprons and do some Christmas baking.  But don't think we were totally distracted by the holiday season.

Earlier in November a group had explored warp painting using cold reactive dyes.  As a result there were painted warps just waiting to be woven.  I've included some photos of the dyed warps.  The intensity of the colour varied with the amount of dye and with the type of fiber that was used.  Some of the cotton and cotton-mix warps took on soft subtle colourations while other fibers gave quite brilliant results.

A painted warp is to a weaver what a dyed fleece is to a spinner.  It is full of possibilities.  It is also a tease.  It causes your imagination to wander, creeps into your idle thoughts and constantly lures you into the studio to check on it.  You begin to play with the possibilities instead of baking Christmas cake (no one but you will eat it anyway).  You imagine how the choice of weft will work with the colours of the warp when you ought to be wrapping presents.  You start designing scarves but of course you don't intend to set up the loom until after the house has been cleaned and decorated.  Sure!

So, some of us just could not wait.  I'll bet they are the ones who open their presents on Christmas eve too.  Above are the scarves they produced from those painted warps. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Elegant Threads Sale Part Two

lavender bird hand woven fabric

We were fortunate to have good weather for our sale and that always encourages good attendance.   We have a great cadre of regulars who attend our sale each year.  Some are friends others are just lovers of fiber arts and hand crafted items.  They come every year to see what we are up.  This year we welcomed many people who were visiting our display for the first time because our event was part of the Winter Art Walk.  Many people stayed to chat and some even tried our demonstration loom with its rainbow warp.

Anne's demonstration loom with colour gamp warp

The annual show and sale is a major undertaking for the guild.  The small sales committee starts planning for the sale early in the new year.  The hall must be booked and timetables coordinated with other groups participating in the Winter Art Walk.  Promotional plans need to be in place in September, which means designing and printing materials.  There are always props to build, repair or locate.  The sales committee is too small to staff the 3 day event so the entire guild gets involved.  Just organizing the volunteers to work during the show is a major task.  We are fortunate that so many people (even those who do not put anything into the sale) come forward to help. 
two shawls

Pat's shrug with red hat
Dressing the show is one of the most difficult tasks and also one of the most sensitive.  The set up group have no idea what will arrive.  One year we might have a few skeins of hand spun yarn or like this year we may have an abundance of yarn for sale.  Some times we have shawls but few tops but another time it may seem that everyone in the guild wanted to make a scarf.  This year we had more tops than usual but fewer tea towels.

shelves full of scarves

It is difficult to impossible to make sure that every item is shown to its best advantage when the doors open.  The best compromise we have found is to move items around over the course of the show in order to bring items that may be in the shadows for a time into the limelight.  The sales committee re positions the show at the start of each day.

This year we had an abundance of everything.  That meant lots to see and a lot of choice for shoppers.
wool & mixed fiber shawls
hand woven rugs

It is great that our members have been so productive over the past year.  It was also nice to see items from newer members or those relatively new to spinning and weaving. We had positive comments from visitors from other guilds.  It is always a bonus if another fiber artist appreciates your work.
tops and hats were very popular items
red hat hand spun yarn
open work knitted scarf
Weaving and spinning/knitting skills were both well represented.  We had plenty of knitted items, scarves of many kinds, shawls, caps, mitts, slippers and purses.
A selection of funky knitted scarves
Selling a item that you created is a bit like giving away a puppy.  You want it to go to a good home.  You hope the person that purchased your piece values it and can see it as you do.  Many items left our sale over the 3 days.  Some were immediately united with their new owner but many will go into gift boxes for others.  Where ever they end up we hope they will be appreciated and enjoyed.
table mats & runners
knitted tam and scarf

tea towels galore

So, now that it is over what are we up to?  Well eating and visiting is high on the list as our pot-luck lunch takes place in December.  After that we need to get busy again.  Next year we have to produce items for both our annual sale and a gallery show. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Elegant Threads 2013

This past weekend the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners guild held their annual show and sale at Rotary House in Qualicum Beach.  We had plenty to show and tell and sell as you can see in the photos. 

Early in the morning guild members arrived with their boxes of goods.  It was like opening Christmas presents and finding surprises but without the messy wrapping paper.  But as kitchen counters, chairs and appliances became covered in scarves, tea towels and shawls we began to panic.  How are we going to display all this?? 

It happens ever year and some how the set up elves find a place for everything.  While we are busy in the kitchen opening checking and sorting things the display group are busy with tables and lights and props.  In the photo below they have cleared the hall and put up the tables.  The props are sitting waiting to be put in place and dressed.
This can be heavy work and we are always grateful for friends and spouses who show up every year to lend a hand.  It helps to have tall people and strong backs at this point.  Thanks to Mark and Paul and others

I've included the photo of Linda putting on the lights in spite of it being a bit fuzzy because I liked the effect.

 Eventually all the lights were in place.  We learned where the circuit breaker was hidden.  Nothing really caught fire and we started dressing the show. 

Dressing the show is a reiterative process.  The first items may be moved several times as more things emerge from those piles in the kitchen and we realize we really need two stands for tea towels or we have a plethora of shawls this year but not so many scarves.  This year we could see the influence of our guild project on mixed warps.  Several weavers were inspired to make yardage and sew it into "Hapi wraps".

John waiting to take shopper's money
As always the first shoppers were at the door before we had finished setting the items out but one never turns away some one who appreciates fiber arts and is in the mood to shop.  John remained calm through the chaos and was ready help those early shoppers.

The pictures that follow show a small portion of the items on display.  I'll put more pictures up when the sale is over.
hand towels

A trio of shawls with Linda's Bags
keep feet & hands warm
colourful sweater
a small selection of hand spun yarn
funky bag from the silent auction table

We had a good selection of hand spun yarns.  The picture above shows a small selection of what was available.  A lot of local knitters took home some unique yarns for their hand knit items. 

More to follow so check back soon!!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coming Soon Winter Art Walk and Elegant Threads

At this time of year most artisans are busy finishing up projects checking their inventory and getting ready for the holiday season art and craft shows.  The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners are in the middle of planning their annual show and sale, Elegant Threads.  It runs from 11 am Friday November 22 to 3 pm Sunday November 24.

Qualicum Beach is a well know location for artists and artisans.  There are many studios and galleries in the area.  Artisan markets are a summer feature in the downtown area.  This fall the local arts community has organized a Winter Art Walk.  Our guild show will be one of the featured events.   Most of the locations are within easy walking distance of each other.  During a pleasant afternoon stroll along decorated streets, you will be able see a variety of high quality crafts, quilting, fiber arts and paintings.  You may opt to round out the day with a stop at one of the many bistros.
If you click on the poster to the right you can enlarge the list of participants.  For more information about the walk check
The guild show, Elegant Threads will take place at Rotary House which is at the corner of Beach and Fern in downtown Qualicum Beach.  The sale committee will be setting up our display early on Friday morning.  The doors open to the public at 11:00.  Every year the set up committee starts out wondering what guild members will bring to the show.  We are always amazed at how creative guild members can be.  There is always something new that results in comments such as "How did he do that?" or "Now why didn't I think of that!" or even "Where is my wallet I want to buy one before they are all gone!"  I love the whimsical pieces that hint of a quirky mind allowed to wander without boundaries.  They are quickly picked up by the savvy shoppers that come early.
Our guild members have a common love for working with fibers and threads but we differ in the way we use them to create pieces.   This results in a wide variety of items that arrive the morning of the sale.  The set up group have a difficult task displaying the items so that each piece is shown to its best advantage while the entire show does not look like a jumble sale.
 Some of us are masters at blending and spinning fibers and our "art" is based on the beauty of the hand created yarn.  We may knit or weave with it using simple structures in order to make the yarn itself the center of the piece.  Often these hand spun creations must be felt to be appreciated for their softness, warmth and drape.
This lovely hand spun hand dyed yarn will be a feature on our silent auction table.
The simple design and natural colour of the blanket below shows off the hand spun yarns.  It makes use of different thickness to create a striped effect.  Blankets are a favourite project for the more industrious spinners.
Pat's painted bamboo scarf
Some people may be enchanted by colour and how yarns can be used to mix colour or paint a picture.  They may blend coloured yarns or dye them to create a flow of colour.  Others may use the structure of the cloth to create complex blending of colour.  These two different scarves were created by dyeing the warp threads to get specific effects after the yarns were woven.
Mary's silk tied weave scarf
The show includes many utilitarian items that you would expect a group that have a fascination with yarns to produce.  Although the items have a use they still illustrate pride of workmanship and style that is unique to hand crafted items. 
group of tea towels 2012 sale

Weaving a tea towel is almost a rite of passage for every new weaver.  They also remain a favourite project for experienced weavers as they are an opportunity to explore design and colour.  There will be something for every taste and a match for even the most striking kitchen paint job.

Clothing and accessories are other favourite projects for both knitters and weavers.  This year expect to see cozy tops with simple lines and unique fabric.  Several of our members participated in a mixed warp workshop which I predict will result in several Hapi wraps.
hand woven and knitted tops from 2010 sale

A large group also attended a woven lace workshop.  If the participants put their new knowledge into practice we should also see some woven lace table linens. I'd be disappointed if we don't also see some "double wide" woven blankets made by the intrepid group that practiced this technique on the guild looms.  Who knows what other inspired creations will come out of the boxes on Friday morning.   

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Back to Fall

September is the month marked with the return of things we enjoy.  Children return to school.  We return home from summer vacations.  Migrating birds return from the north.  Local apples return to the farm market.  Artisans and crafters return to their studios with renewed inspiration.  The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners guild returns to regular monthly meetings.

Something about September makes you want to buy squash and wool yarns.  It also inspires a change in colour pallet as the leaves turn and fall mums appear in the garden stores.  Jackie's blanket fits with the blue skies and changing colours that we have experienced in the first half of September.  The inspiration for this blanket came from the yarn sale table at the ANWG conference.  We congratulate Jackie on being the first to use the yarn she purchased at ANWG.  Some of us are still admiring our purchases without having any idea as to what they will turn out to be.

Mary's hapi wrap reminds one of the black berries that were so abundant this year.  It is woven using a mix of colours like the mix of ripe and unripe berries on the canes.  You can see how well the fabric drapes from the photo.

David's point twill scarf has a colour mix that resembles the fall colour of the potted mums that are now appearing in all the garden stores.  The yarn is relatively thick and will be warm.  David has opted to "wrap" the fringe rather than twist it.  The contrasting colour makes the fringe stand out. 

For our September show and tell, Linda brought us an example of tubular braiding with a diamond patterning.  This technique can be used to create a decorative edge on a piece of fabric as well as making beautiful cords.  This is another idea arising out of the ANWG conference and workshops.

  Cooler weather was definitely on the minds of some folks as we had an abundance of scarves to choose from.  Myrtle's scarf is a mixed warp that she worked on as a demonstration at our summer displays.  You can see her working on it in the previous posting.
  Jude also produced a scarf from lovely dyed alpaca.  It was made on a small frame loom.  Jude made the small squares over the summer as part of our demonstrations.  These 2 pieces demonstrate just how useful small looms can be.

The spinners and knitters in the group were also busy over the summer months.  The photo above is a close up of Anita's knitted vest showing the lovely mix of colours in the yarn.  While the photo below is Marie's handspun yarn.

The final piece in this show and tell episode is a table runner done in a tied weave structure named Bergman after the woman who first published it.  The colours are meant to represent the early fall season with dark green of firs and cedars against the changing colours of the under storey shrubs.  It will grace my table for Thanksgiving dinner.

The guild is now in the planning stages for our annual show and sale called Elegant Fibers.  The show will be part of the Qualicum Beach Winter Walk that takes place from November 22nd to 24th.  The "walk" will include a walking tour of the many galleries that dot downtown Qualicum Beach, plus 3 major, once a year, artisan events including the Arrowsmith Quilters annual show and the Village Craft Faire and of course the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners.  For more information check the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism site.