Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Learning Opportunities


In December our attention is more on social activities than working in the studio.  The guild sale has come and gone.  Now the only urgency is to finish those Christmas presents before the 25th. 

cedar reindeer

As the year comes to an end it is also a time to think about the future.  Maybe you are working on your new year's resolutions already.  Improve your diet? (after the cookies are gone)  Exercise more? (when the weather improves)  Find a use for that odd coloured yarn?  Stop buying odd coloured yarn at the thrift shop? 

painted warp shawl
If your future interests include learning something new then you will be happy to know that our workshop committee has been busy lining up some interesting classes for 2019. 

Perhaps you saw something at the Elegant Threads sale and you are inspired to learn to weave.  Beginner weaving classes are being offered in January.  The instructor is a master weaver who started weaving when she was 12.  Linda Wilson developed the Level 3 Master Weaver program and teaches it through Olds College in Alberta.  Take this class and you will be well on your way to mastering weaving.

hand spun yarn

Maybe you are inspired to produce your own yarns for knitting or weaving.  We've got a class in January for that too.  Linda Raven is a retired educator and former owner of a spinning mill so fibres are in her blood.  She has extensive experience teaching beginner and intermediate spinning classes.  this course will give you a good grounding in the art of turning fibre into yarn.

Scarf from Woven Beauty

If you have ever thought of starting an on-line store or wondered how to display your work on-line then you might want to attend the lecture on Introduction to Selling on Etsy.  Lynnette Lynch of "Woven Beauty" will share her experiences on January 9th.  The photo above is an example of how to display your work in a clear and attractive manner.

 The line up for February includes:

             Basic Drafting on February 4th
             Learn About Your Wheel on February 12
             Knitting Colour Work on February 18.

If any of these topics interest you contact us at          

Check the side bar under Workshop Series 2019 to see what the latest offerings are.  We are planning for more including,  twill treadling, novice spinning, felting and silk fusion lanterns,

detail from 2018 nuno felting workshop

Our workshops are open to members and non-members alike.  So if you belong to one of the many related spinning/weaving guilds we'd love to have you join in one of our workshops.  It is a great way to make links within the broad arts community.  Similarly if you are interested and think you might like to try your hand at fibre arts this is a great way to meet people with similar interests.  

remains of the pot luck Dec 10th

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Shopping at Elegant Threads

scarves for sale
November has been a busy month for our guild, culminating this past weekend, in our annual sale, Elegant Threads.

This year we moved to a new location for the sale and are happy to report that yarn and textile lovers were able to locate us at Qualicum Commons.  The new location meant revising our display layout, building new props and reorganizing processes.  The sale committee did a fantastic job as usual.

sorting goods in the studio
A few days before the sale our studio was filled with members's goods waiting to be sorted and props waiting to be assembled.  As usual the display elves managed to turn this mishmash into a pleasant shopping environment with a place for everything.

the elegant shawl rack
 Our members are quite active and have a range of interests including felting, spinning, knitting, braiding,weaving, and basketry.  That presents challenges for the display but results in a wide variety of goods for the shoppers.   

earth tone shawls
Even items that you might think have a common elements such as a shawl can be interpreted quite differently.  We had earth tone warm wool shawls to cozy up in but we also had elegant silky shawls to complement that little black dress.

wall of scarves
It seems this year that all of the weavers had scarves on their mind and so we had a wall of casual scarves and another of fancy scarves.  This year scarves even out numbered the tea towels.
hand spun yarn for sale

knitted hats
The spinners and knitters were well represented.  There was a good selection of unique yarns, including some that were hand dyed or blends of luxury fibres.  Hand spun yarns were the foundation to the many knitted items making them one of a kind creations.

lace knit scarf
We also had a selection of cedar basketry including Christmas ornaments and some unique bags.
cedar purse and bag
spotted owl
 One had to look carefully at all the table displays to find treasures like the watchful owl or the tablet woven bracelets. 

tablet woven bracelets
Thanks to members' generous donations we had an expanded silent auction table.  Proceeds from the silent auction go towards guild programs and expenses. 

Since we took over responsibility for the studio rent sales like Elegant Threads are more important from a financial point of view.  Commission from members sales is a major source of income for the guild.  If you purchased something then thank you and we hope you enjoy your purchase as much as the maker enjoyed making it.  

We have always love interacting with the public and Elegant Threads has been our way of showing off what we do on a grand scale.  Many thanks to the folks that come every year and to those that came for the first time, we hope you will come again. 

Shopping at Elegant Threads

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Elegant Threads 2018

The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners Guild will be holding our annual show and sale on November 23 and 24th from 10 am to 5 pm.

The sale features the works of guild members.  Members have a wide range of interests including spinning, felting, knitting, weaving, basketry and dyeing.  So, you can expect to find a variety of items and styles.

a selection of scarves
All of the items in the sale are hand crafted with limited production.  Many are original designs and one of a kind creations that you won't find anywhere else.  Some are inspired creations with a story to tell so be sure to ask the maker when you visit our show.

felted container
hand-spun yarn hat


This year we will be holding our sale at Qualicum Commons (formerly QB elementary school).  Our studio and resource centre is located here and it will be open during the sale for those interested in seeing the large looms.  The address is 744 Primrose Street.  There is plenty of parking in the lot behind the Commons.  The entrance to the lot is on Primrose.  (See links of interest for map)

front entrance 
The Elegant Threads Sale is also a fund raising event for the guild.  Every sale contributes towards the operation of the guild.  In addition we will be having an expanded silent auction this year.  This is your chance to get a bargain.

Admission is free and you can use your credit card for that special purchase.

You might also want to check out several other events that are taking place in Qualicum Beach this weekend including,

WinterfestCraftFair Nov 23-25, QB Civic Centre winterfestcraftfair

Parksville Quilters Sale, Nov 24, St Stephen's United Church

Chichi Black and White Tea, The Old School House Art Centre Nov 25 TOSH

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Mushrooms and More

In late October the farm fields may be full of pumpkins but the woods are full of mushrooms and that calls for a mushroom festival.  You may know mushrooms for their culinary or mind expanding(?) properties but they are valued for other uses as well.  If you enjoy dyeing with natural materials, mushrooms should be on your list of collectables.

dyer's mushroom
The show and tell portion of our monthly meeting involved mushrooms and more.  The photo to the right shows a clump of Phaeolus schweinitzi which is often referred to as the dyer's mushroom.  It produces a lovely range of muted shades including pale yellow, golds, orange/gold mixtures and rich browns.  The final colour depends on many factors, including the condition of the fungus itself, the mordants involved, the water used for the dye bath, timing and the yarn.  The final colour of the fibre can be surprising which is why dyeing with natural materials is so interesting.

natural dyes from the garden
Dyers will try to get colour out of anything that grows including flowers from the garden and beets from the kitchen which often leads to experiments with small amounts of fibre.  What to do with those dye samples?? Natural dyed yarns blend well together because they all tend to have an earthy quality.  Simple structures like the woven wool bags pictured below are perfect for using up small quantities of dyed yarn.

natural dyed wool made into bags

And now for the "more" part of the show and tell.

different weft colours

Fibre-reactive dyes can be used to paint a warp made from cellulose based fibres.  The warp is wound as usual and dyed before it goes on the loom.  While you may have more control with these chemical dyes there is still the same anticipation when you wash the cured yarn and see how the colours have moved and blended together.  The weft colours come into play during the weaving.  Dramatically different cloth can be produced using the same painted warp. 

There is a story behind the striped scarf below.  It is a story of perseverance or just plain stubborn refusal to give up when things go dreadfully wrong.  The weaver estimates that at minimum wage the labour cost for this scarf is around $2,000.   More time spent undoing and redoing than doing in the first place.  After a while it just becomes a battle of wills, the yarns versus the weaver and in this case the weaver won out in the end. 

Ginny's labour intensive scarf

Our members are busy getting ready for our sale, Elegant Threads which takes place on November 23rd and 24th in Qualicum Beach.  For more information see the sidebar.  Some of the pieces shown or similar items will be in the sale.  The number of pieces brought to the meeting suggests there will be plenty to see and buy.

tea towels ready for the sale


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Returning to School

fall flowers

We are literally back to school after our summer break and by that I mean we are busy at our studio in Qualicum Commons.  The latter was once an elementary school in the heart of downtown Qualicum Beach.

 The building is home to a variety of organizations including a day care, a dance studio, a social agency, and recreational and health oriented groups.  In September we joined with some of our neighbours in the Commons to celebrate, Active Aging Week.  This program is organized by our regional district  government and is designed to introduce seniors to the recreational activities available in the district.  We participated by holding a day long open house at our studio.
workstation for pin-loom weaving

We decided to showcase several areas of interest and to encourage a hands-on approach.  The photo illustrates one activity, pin-loom weaving.  These little looms are very popular.  They produce small squares of textile that can be joined in imaginative ways to create everything from Christmas ornaments to shawls.

visitors to our studio
Visitors were also able to see weaving in action, try their hand making yarn with a drop spindle, or try making a band with an inkle loom.

The show and tell portion of our September meeting provided a glimpse into what may appear at our November sale, Elegant Threads.  For example, you may see more woven bands as stand alone items or as embellishments.

card woven bands

A number of members with an interest in tablet or card weaving have formed a new group.  Some examples of tablet weaving are illustrated in the photo above.  They make decorative straps, wonderful belts, and custom edging for clothing.  The technique is ancient.

textured yarn shawls
We were treated to a display of shawls at the meeting.  The shawl on the right has a bold graphic pattern that comes to a point in the middle back area.  Other shawls, such as the two pictured on the left showcase the yarns without pattern.

diversified plain weave shawl

hand spun yarn

You can expect to find a good selection of hand spun yarns at Elegant Threads,  The wool yarns shown have been dyed with natural materials to produce a range of lovely fall colours.

Some fleece are just not suitable for spinning or even felting. Even the most heroic efforts won't turn mutton into silk.  Composting might be the best option.  However, if you've been gifted with a fleece and can't bring yourself to discard it, the example below might be of interest.  The weaver has used the washed fleece as weft fill in a woven rug.  The detail looks like a sheep-skin intact but it is actually a deep pile rug that is so luxurious you'd sigh as your feet sink into it.

Through October we will be busy getting ready for our sale.  Elegant Threads takes place November 23 and 24th.  In previous years we have held the sale in a rented building, Rotary House, but this year we will be hosting the sale at Qualicum Commons in the old library area.  This will allow us to open up our studio space during the sale making it a more interesting event.  With our increased and diverse membership you can expect to see new styles and items but the same quality hand crafted items.

merganser feathers

Sunday, September 2, 2018

From Fibre to Fashion at the Fair

blue ribbon cabbage
Fine weather and the promise of home made pie made for a busy day at the Light House Country Fall Fair.  The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners has been a part of this annual event for many years.  We put on a display of textiles and bring along spinning wheels and looms to demonstrate our craft.

Lamb Chops on Hand spun Yarn

"Fibre to Fashion" is written on the sign above the door that leads to our display.  It reminds us that a textile doesn't materialize as a whole but is created from simple products by a few basic processes.  Automation and computerization might obscure the links but when you strip away the machines you will find the same basic spinning, knitting and weaving activities.  It is particularly rewarding to show the process to people and note the Aha! moment when they realize that they have just seen yarn and cloth being made by hand.

We usually pick a theme for our display and this year our theme was "Sheep to Shawl".  It was a tongue in cheek tribute to an old contest.  As most of you will be aware "Sheep to Shawl" refers to a contest in which teams work against a deadline to turn raw fleece into a hand woven shawl.  There are variations to the contest but it usually involves a team of spinners and a weaver, a pre-warped loom and a fleece that must be carded and spun.  The team's effort is judged on how complete the shawl is by the deadline, the quality of spun yarn and the quality and level of difficulty of the weaving.

fluffy on a fancy wrap

Our tribute didn't involve any raw fleece but we did have sheep, shawls, spinners and weavers.  In fact we had a whole herd of sheep, include many rare and unusual breeds and even a celebrity sheep called "Lamb Chops".  The latter drew a lot of interest from those old enough to remember the famous comedy team of Lamb Chops and Sherry Lewis
lamb in a cozy wool shawl

"real" wool lamb

honeycomb shawl

It is always interesting to see how individuals interpret the same idea.  The shawls in our display covered quite a different range of materials, design ideas and techniques.  There were cozy winter shawls in neutral coloured wool, bright patterned shawls in rayon, and wool blend shawls with textural effects.  There were dressy shawls that call out for that little black dress, lace knit shawls made with hand spun yarn and nuno-felted shawls on a silk chiffon base.
nuno-felted shawl

pair of knitted shawls


The fair includes contests for needlework including weaving.  In addition, The Qualicum Weavers and Spinner's Guild sponsors a special contest for a hand woven shawl.  Some of our members came home with ribbons as a reminder of the fair.  The photo below is shows the prize winning shawl. It is an interesting blend of yarns in the warp that give it a neutral but still lively colour.  The shawl drapes beautifully and has a soft texture.

September is a busy month for our guild.  General monthly meetings resume on Sept 24th at Qualicum Commons.  A new study group is forming and existing study groups are getting together after the summer break.  Later in the month we will be hosting an Open Studio as part of the Regional District of Nanaimo's Active Aging Program.  Check out our "events" listing for more information.