Thursday, December 22, 2016

Happy Holidays 2016

Miscanthus sinensis "little kitten"
We were blessed with a rare snowfall to set the holiday season.  Snow is ephemeral here on the west coast.  It creates havoc with our daily routine but is also an excuse for long walks, dinners by candle light and communal grumbling about the weather.
The snow turns ordinary landscapes into works of art.  A clump of grass becomes a pattern of lines and curves.
 Moments captured by the camera now can be the inspiration for a project later.  So forget shovelling the stuff and photograph it instead.

toque in hand spun wool

By now those Christmas presents and commissions should be finished and ready for wrapping.  And for those that did not make the deadline there is always that birthday or anniversary date that can be substituted for the Christmas deadline.  We artisans learn to be flexible.  You just can't rush creativity.
The Christmas craft fairs and studio tours have wound down.  Soon it will be time to take stock and think about products for the next season.  Meanwhile baking, eating and celebrating with friends and family is at the top of the to do list.
Linda's shawl
lace knitting
  Maybe you found a treasure at one of the local art events.  A lot of treasure's went off to new homes from our show, Elegant Threads.      

Simple top
woven bracelet
When you open your Christmas presents this year you might be lucky enough to find a hand crafted item.  There is a story in every hand crafted piece.   Consider the item carefully. Remember that the artisan made choices about the design, colour and materials with the purpose of expressing an idea.
rag rugs

We are taking a short break but regular meetings will start again January 23rd.

Have a great holiday season!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Guild Show and Sale 2016

It is craft fair season again.  In keeping with the season, the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners welcomed shoppers to our annual show and sale on Nov 25 and 26.  Rotary House in Qualicum Beach was jam packed with beautiful and unique items that were hand crafted by guild members.  Below is just a sample of the tea towels that were on display.
     Scarves were another popular item for both the weavers and the buyers.  The styles ranged from elegant neck jewellery to cozy woollen scarves to ward off the cold on a winter day.  They are easy to pack and ship so they make excellent gifts.

The spinners and knitters were well represented.  Unique hand spun yarns are very popular with knitters like the happy shopper in the photo.  
 Knitted items  are common at craft sales but the items that you would find at our sale are unusual in that they all contain at least 50% hand spun yarn.  You won't find the yarns in these items in a yarn shop.  They are often unique blends of fibers or unique colours, the result of hand dyeing the fiber in small batches.
Many of the woven items also contain hand spun yarn.

There were a number of shawls in different styles and a wide range of colours.   Some were designed with stripes that were subtle or not so subtle or random like the knitted shawl.
Some relied on texture and a simple weave structure for the design.  Others made use of multi-harness loom capabilities to show off pattern.
The textured black shawl included a bit of glitter and a luscious fringe that elevated the design.
The patterned shawl uses a weave structure called "summer and winter" to create rectangles of different colours.

There was a good selection of throws and blankets in a wide variety of colours.  The photo shows a close of up three different throws that have been brushed to give a high nap.

The sales desk was kept busy which made them happy.  Our new tags and streamlined procedure kept things moving well with a minimum of fuss.

 Many thanks to our sale committee, a host of volunteers and those loyal spouses and friends that always help with the heavy lifting.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Guild Show and Sale

scarves for sale
Our annual guild sale, Elegant Threads, will take place November 25th and 26th.  See the side bar for more details.
 As you can imagine, many of us are busy finishing, pressing and labelling items that we will bring to the sale.  The event is a 2 day affair once a year but pieces at the show represent a full year's work.  There is so much to see that shoppers need to allow plenty of time to browse.

 Elegant Threads is both a fund raiser for the guild and an opportunity for guild members to sell their works.  A percentage of the price goes to the guild to support activities.  Guild members volunteer their time to organize and staff the event which helps to keep down the costs and this is reflected in the pricing.

recycled trees
hand spun yarn
Pricing of unique hand crafted items is a topic of debate.  It is a bit like selling a home.  The seller and buyer can have very different views as to the monetary value.
Artisan works fall some where between classical art pieces and utilitarian items.  The value is part emotional and part concrete.
You can calculate the value of the materials in a piece and estimate the time involved.  The value of design and workmanship are subjective.

felted snowmen

 Then there is the difference between hand crafted and manufactured items.  Given the same level of design and workmanship some buyers may be willing to pay a premium for hand crafted items especially if they are produced locally.

Most of us do not expect to make a living from our arts endeavours.  We are happy to recover our costs and something for our time.  Few of us make even minimum wage but then spinning and weaving are a lot more satisfying than most minimum wage jobs.  The real reason we sell our items is for the positive feed back and the bragging rights when someone (not a family member) actually pays money for them.  It is confirmation that our work is valued.

 Elegant Threads will be held at Rotary House in downtown Qualicum Beach.  It is on the corner of Fern and Beach streets.  There is plenty of parking and admission is free.  The doors open at 11 am on Friday November 25th.  See you there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Season of Change

We are almost past pumpkin season and well into the season of change.  The deciduous trees have exposed their true colours and dropped their leaves.  Seed heads have taken the place of flowers.  Mushrooms have popped up in the grass. Yellows, oranges and warm browns dominate the landscape.  The sky is darker blue with more grey than we like to see.
clasped weave scarf

 It is difficult not to start playing with yarns and fibres that mimic the colour of nature at this time of year.  Every vista presents a possible colour scheme for a new project.
Fuzzy, warm yarns and fibres also have a strong attraction as the days are cooler.  Now we have visions of afghans and shawls, blankets and sweaters, scarves and mitts that are waiting impatiently for our attention.

triangle shawl
If the inspiring environment (or rain) isn't enough motivation to get back to the studio then our guild show and sale should be.  This year our sale will be held over two days, Friday November 25 and Saturday November 26.  (See "Elegant Threads" for more information)

For the next month the focus of the guild will be on getting ready for the sale.  Spinning wheels and looms are busy now.  Knitting needles can be heard clacking at meetings.

We have completed the guild tea towel projects from the summer.  Some of those tea towels will go into the silent auction at our show.  The silent auction is always popular with bargain hunters and the proceeds from the auction support guild activities.

Napkins inspired by cloth
Expect to see some inspired colour combinations in the sale items this year.  The colour study group have been working on the relationship between colour and weave structure.

colour study with weave structure
The use of colour in a design can be a challenge for fibre artists as there are many factors to consider including how colours blend when fibre is spun, how colours interact in weaving and how different fibres reflect or absorb light.  Those autumn leaves may look beautiful on the maple tree but recreating that look is a lot more complicated than it appears.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fall Activities

Lace tea towel
Fall asters are in bloom in the garden marking the approach of fall.  This means busy times for our guild as we get back to regular meetings, study groups and projects not to mention thinking ahead to our annual show and sale.  So much to do so little time!

In our loft studio and resource centre we are finishing up the last of the tea towel projects and getting ready to refurbish our studio looms.  We have a Leclerc Fanny, counterbalance loom and a Gilmore jack loom that have both been in heavy use over the past few years.  The latest project was based on a pattern in Atwater-Bronson lace.  It was a challenge on the counter balance loom.

Lace tea towel
It is always interesting to see how different people interpret the same pattern.  One of the towels is a classic pastel with a subdued pattern whereas the other is bright, cheerful with a rustic look.  I wonder what the weavers' kitchens look like???

Some of our guild members managed to find time between gardening, hosting relatives and vacationing to actually get some weaving and spinning done this summer.

Terry's scarf
Linda's blanket
Two of them had also been bargain hunting,  We have some great thrift shops in our area and the craft section is always worth checking on,  Below are photos of two pieces both made from the same thrift shop yarn.  The yarn fulled beautifully and has a wonderful nap after brushing.  Which proves that sometimes you can find a treasure amongst the discards.

It also justifies numerous trips to thrift shops just in case another bargain shows up.

Then of course there are "discards" that just need a little know how and determination to turn into something beautiful.  The skeins of hand spun wool were created out of "leg hair" from a local Cotswold cross sheep.  The yarn is coarse but would make a good rug yarn.

colour and weave gamp
Other guild members have been busy studying.  We are lucky to have an experienced teacher in our guild and many members are taking advantage of the Weaver's Atelier and Linda Wilson.  The most recent workshop combined colour and weave structure showing how the former is altered by the latter.  The photos do not do justice to the cloth.
colour & weave gamp
Guild members are gearing up for our annual show and sale, Elegant Threads.  This year we will have a two day sale November 25 and 26.  We hold our sale at Rotary House in downtown Qualicum Beach.  Several other events will be going on that same weekend so a visit to Qualicum Beach would be well worth the trip.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Exposing Ourselves

Qualicum Beach Museum
August was a busy month for the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners guild.  We had fun participating in the Qualicum Beach Museum's Childrens' Day as well as exhibiting at the Lighthouse Fall Fair.

blue ribbon pears at Lighthouse Fair

Public exhibits and demonstrations are an important as well as fun activity for our group.  They give our guild exposure in the community and are a way for us to support the efforts of community groups with similar interests.  They also give us the opportunity to teach people about the basic processes involved in making yarn and cloth.  Maintaining knowledge from the past is a passion that we have in common with our local museum.

spinning lesson
The museum event includes a lot of hands on activities that let children experience how things were done in the past.  In keeping with this we set up our display to encourage little ones to try their hand at both weaving and spinning.  The photo illustrates a spinning lesson.  The parents seem to enjoy the activities as much as their children do.  The spinning lessons spanned a wide age range and attracted males as well as females as you can tell from the second photo.

adult spinning lesson
Our Lighthouse Fall Fair is an old fashion country fair that celebrates self sufficiency in many ways.  Like a lot of country fairs this one includes contests that involve old fashion home maker skills, farming activities or crafts.
Jude's start fish, part of our seaside display
There are categories for spinning, felting and weaving along with everything from wine making to grotesque vegetables.  The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners Guild sponsored a special prize for a hand woven shawl and the Weaver's Atelier sponsored a prize for the best woven item done by a novice weaver with less than 5 year's experience.

Pat's winning shawl

Benita's scarf
There were plenty of prize ribbons to be had and our guild members brought home their share, including two in the wine category, best red and best white.

Our first general meeting of the season is on Monday September 26th at the Baptist Church on Beach Avenue in Qualicum Beach.  The church is across the walkway from the old Via Train Station where we have our resource centre.  The meeting starts at 10:30 and visitors are most welcome.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summer Markets

Outdoor markets spring to life in the summer in the Oceanside area.  It is a great opportunity for artisan groups to introduce themselves to the community.  This past month the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners guild attended "Art in Action" in downtown Qualicum Beach.

In spite of a cloudy start to the day the weather favoured us so much so that barefoot spinning was encouraged.  Note the lovely pedicure.

The Art in Action event is a sale.  For most of the events we attend we bring items for demonstration only so our display was different from the usual.  One learns to appreciate how vendors manage to fit so much into such a small booth spaces.  As you can tell from the pictures we were not successful in packing both demonstrations and sale items into the same space and the spinners have spilled into the empty area at the edge of our booth.  They were appreciative of the dry weather.

We set up our tent under a grey skies and watched as the threatening clouds slowly moved south east away from our location.  A "wash line" full of tea towels covered one side of the canopy.  By noon the number of towels had decreased substantially.  Many of them are headed to homes many miles away as souvenirs of a summer trip to Vancouver Island.  With them went the story of how they were made and who made them.  The story behind a piece is unique to hand crafted items and something that sets them apart from equally beautiful items that are manufactured in large quantities.

We also had a colourful display of light scarves and household linens.  Some of these are also on their way to a new home far away from where they were created.

As always the spinners draw a curious crowd.  This spectator seems to be content to watch from a distance.

Our demonstration loom is always popular but this time we brought along a drum carder.  It helped to bridge the story between raw fleece and the singles spun yarn.

If you missed us at Art in Action then look for us a Children's Day at the Qualicum Beach Museum on August 20th or later at the Light House Fall Fair in Qualicum Bay on September 3rd.