Friday, December 24, 2021

Workshops, Rug Weaving and More

rags to riches mat

Rag rugs were once utilitarian floor or bed coverings that could be made at a minium cost using recycled materials.  When yarn and fabric were scarce, worn cloth could be cut and sewn into strips to create weft "yarn".  The warp was usually a strong cotton thread like seine twine and the loom was set up for plain weave.  Over time, weavers developed different techniques for making their rugs distinctive.  Some depended upon how the rag strips were joined others involved how the weaving was done.  The mat in the picture would be typical of a "hit and miss" pattern where the colours are spread randomly though out the piece.

  At some point in their weaving journey all weavers seem to be drawn to rag weaving.  Perhaps it is the link with weavers of the past.  Perhaps it is the desire to repurpose items instead of discarding them.  

cloth and the two strips it was woven from

While the weave structure may be simple, good technique is required to produce a rug that will lay flat and stand up to heavy use.  The beat must be tight, the width must be consistent and special treatment is needed to protect the fringes.

The thick weft can also create problems with the edges and that is what prompted our workshop committee to organize a Finnish Rag Rug Workshop.  

We are lucky to have talented members like Rita Deverney who are willing to share their knowledge.  Rita took 14 students through the process using a combination of lectures, demonstrations and hands on weaving.  Students prepared their "rags" at home and wove samples on guild looms that had been warped with seine twine by the instructor.  Time on the looms was spaced out to limit the number of people in the studio at one time.

Braided selvedge using 3 strips

   A characteristic feature of Finnish rugs is the braided selvedge which is created by the specific ordering of 3 shuttles each carrying a separate rag weft.  In the example, 3 different colours were chosen to highlight the braiding.  It produces a secure decorative edge that adds to the strength of the rug and protects the edge from wear.


  Below are some of the rugs woven by the workshop participants.  

students rag rugs

In house workshops and studio projects wrapped up for 2021.  The studio looms are bare and having a well deserved rest.  This year they made blankets galore, tea towels, table mats, wash cloths, lace mats, rag rugs and mug rugs. 


Interested in workshops for 2022??  Here is a preview of what is coming up.

Optical Illusions starts Wednesday January 19th 2022 (8 weeks). 

optical illusions 

 This on-line course is taught by Linda Wilson.  Linda will take you through an exploration of optical illusions created by clever manipulation of colours in the warp and weft.  Log Cabin, Shadow Weave and Parallel Threading will be covered with examples for both 4 and 8 shafts.  Students will work on their own looms using drafts that will be provided. 

Cost members $75, non-members $95 

We are also planning for workshops on Transparencies and Working with Linen

For more information contact our Workshop Registrar Gillian Best at 

Friday, December 3, 2021

Sales Wrap Up

hand woven napkins

Elegant Threads has come and gone for another year.

We hope you managed to attend but if you missed it we've posted some photos here to give you an idea of what you missed.  You will also find more pictures on our face book page.

Our guild sale took place on a dreary, rainy weekend in November.  Thank you to all those tough rain resistant folks who showed up to help and to shop. Covid protocols were in place to make it a safe event for all and everyone was very cooperative.  Our display covered 3 large rooms with lots of space to allow for social distancing.  As always there was no admission charge for our event and people seemed to appreciate that.

mobius shawl

Members had plenty of works to show.  While we had seen photos of some pieces at our Zoom meetings, it was wonderful to see them in the flesh, experience the feel and drape of the fabric and observe the true colours.  Ours is a very tactile craft. 

 Our wall of scarves included some nuno felted pieces, casual wool scarves and elegant silk and rayon scarves that mimic necklaces. 

wall of hand woven scarves

This was the first event that has involved more than two or three members so it was a chance for members to re engage with eachother.  Even masked, talking in person is an improvement over distance communications.  It was also a chance to share the ideas and techniques that we have been working on in isolation.  The show always inspires you to try something new.

Purples and blue-reds were popular colours for tops.  Tea towels and scarves covered the entire rainbow. 

knitted jacket and scarf

woven and knitted tops

It is always interesting to see how different people interpret the same theme or idea.  Take for example the variety of blankets in the photo below.  Some are mohair with a high loft and even some "bling" while others are sturdy warm wool pieces that you could wrap yourself in on a cold evening.  Three in the photo started with the same warp threads.

wall of blankets

socks galore

lace knitted shawl

Many of our members include knitting amongst their talents so that we had a lovely selection of knitted items.  They ranged from practical bed socks in warm wool blends to delicate lace shawls.  Warm socks were a hot item this year.

lace knitted shawl

Finally we would like to thank all of the people who helped to put on this event.  The sale committee organized the effort but it takes the combined effort of many people to publicize, set up and staff the event.  A special thanks goes to the faithful spouses who transported props to and from our storage locker and did it cheerfully.  And a special thanks also goes to the Qualicum Beach School of Dance for allowing us to use their space.  


We are busy for the rest of December, counting money, putting our studio back together and making last minute Christmas presents because we sold that scarf that was intended as a gift.  It was a nice scarf and it went to a good home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Joy of Shopping


Who doesn't love a craft sale?  Visit Qualicum Beach  November 26 & 27 where you find 3 unique sales. Winterfest will be at the Civic Centre from the 26 to the 28.  The Quilters will be at St Stephen's church on November 27.  Elegant Threads, our guild sale will be at Qualicum Commons on November 26 and 27.   

light wool shawl
Covid may have limited some of our social activities but it has encouraged our creative ones.  We are brusting with new works and a pent up desire to share our love of the fiber arts.  Two years of relative isolation has given us time to translate those stored up inspirations into new works like the two sided shawl in the photo.

flower inspired tea towels

Of course you can still expect to see the ever popular rack of tee towels where you might find one of these flower inspired towels.

We are also planning for an expanded knitting selection using a larger range of materials.  Turns out knitting is better for stress relief than baking (no calories). 

knitted cowl
We plan on having a silent auction for the bargain hunters.  It will include members works, fiber arts tools and materials, and other high quality items.  See some of the examples below.
Silent auction items


 Friday November 26 & Saturday November 27   10:00 am to 4:00 pm

The sale will be held at The Commons, 744 Primrose Street in downtown Qualicum Beach.  There is plenty of free parking off Primrose street.  Look for the side entrance directly to our studio.

Covid protocols will be in place so bring a mask, your vaccination passport and identification.  There is a limitation on the numbers attending but the space is large and that should not be a problem.


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Elegant Threads Returns


A sampling of members' works

We are happy to be planning for the return of our annual fall sale.  It is an event that brings together the entire membership and it is a high point of our year's activities.  We look forward to having an opportunity to share our works with the public.  Feedback is essential to all artisans and after a year or more working in isolation we have plenty of new designs and ideas to share.

Of course Elegant Threads is also a major fund raiser for the guild as a portion of every sale goes to the guild.

embroidered bag
Elegant threads will take place on November 26 and 27.  The hours are Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The location will be Qualicum Commons where our studio is located.  The address is 744 Primrose Street in Qualicum Beach.  See "links of interest" for a map of the location.  There will be plenty of free parking off Primrose Street.

As always admission is free.
silent auction

wet-felted slippers

The event will also feature a silent auction for those that love a bit of competition and a chance at capturing a bargain.  Items include works donated by members and craft related supplies and tools and so much more.

In order to promote a safe event we will be following government protocols for Covid.  That means masks are mandatory and proof of vaccination is required.  Social distancing will be encouraged and sanitizer will be available.  


Monday, September 6, 2021

New Life for Old Stash

sooo many fine threads
 There comes a time when you have to face the reality that you are just never going to use up all those ultra fine, odd coloured, thrift shop bargain or hand-spun yarns. When you run out of ideas for stash busting scarves, it is time for a cull.  Let a fresh set of eyes have a go at making something from your excess materials.  (Spinners and felters are not immune to growing an out of control fiber stash so this applies to you as well)  Consider donating your excesses to your local guild.

The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners Guild is grateful for the many donations of equipment and materials that we have received over the years.  The donations have allowed the guild to offer our members a rich variety of programs at minimal cost.  Sometimes the donations inspire joint projects, new learning experiences or just plain fun activities.

afghan from donated yarns

Take for example the stripped afghan in the photo to the right.  It is one of 3 woven on our 90 inch loom.  The afghans were a joint project created from miscellaneous wool yarns that were acquired by the guild over a period of time.  The afghan creators had fun matching colours and yarns, designing the stripped sequences and working out issues with sett.  Someone's cast offs became 3 lovely blankets.  You might call it a Stash Busting Blanket.

studio project 

Many of our studio projects start off with a warp that is created from miscellaneous donated yarns.  Check out the lovely stripes in the turned taquete piece that the bare foot weaver is working on.

nuno felting in progress

A donation can be the inspiration for a new guild workshop or activity.  Thanks to a generous donation from Janice Charkoand we recently held a workshop on nuno-felting.  Members made silk scarves embedded with wool and silk fibres.  This was a new experience for some.  Below is one of the finished products.
Jan's ruffled scarf

Sometimes the materials need a little help to shine.  Some one with a vision and ingenuity can turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.  Take for example the sweater shown in the pictures. 

sweater front

 The story starts with a donation of hand spun yarn, moves onto a dyer needing something to dye and then a knitter with some imagination.  The colour patterning is unusual because the wool was dyed with natural materials in small skeins.  The knitter made good use of the small amounts and used the blue yarn to tie the whole piece together.  The bonus with this design is that it won't show stains.


sweater back

So, if you acquired materials with good intentions and now feel you need to "de-stash" don't think of it as giving them away but think of it as giving them a new life in someone elses hands.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Weaving Workshops for the Fall


Our workshop committee has been busy!  

If you are a weaver interested in understanding how colour interactions can change the look of your work then you will be interested in the following.  This workshop allows you to work on your own loom in your own space.


This is an On-Line course in 5 sessions.  The sessions take place Wednesdays from September 29 to October 27 via Zoom (time of day to be decided). The Instructor is Linda Wilson.     

This workshop will explore how a warp in two colours can be woven in a variety of ways to produce different effects.  Participants will weave a sampler/tea towel on their own looms using 4/8 cotton yarn.  A detailed draft will be provided. This workshop is suitable for beginner weavers.

Cost:  members $40, non-members $60.

If you ever thought you would like to try your hand at weaving you will be interested in the following.  No equipment or materials are necessary just a pair of hands and a curious mind.

        BEGINNER 1 WEAVING: An Introduction to Hand Weaving

This is an in person course and will take place in the guild studio in Qualicum Beach.  The sessions are scheduled as follows

October 2, 9:30 to 12:30, October 16, 9:30 to 12:30 and Oct 17, 9:30 to 4:30   The instructor is Sandra Schulz.

Participants will learn how to weave on a 4 shaft loom.  The course will cover, the weaving vocabulary (warp/weft etc), how to select materials, design and weave a project and how to "finish" newly woven cloth.  Students will create a sampler using materials provided by the instructor then with guidance from the instructor they will design and weave their own set of mug rugs.  Looms, weaving tools and materials for the sampler will be provided.  

For safety reasons and to ensure good one on one instruction this class is limited to 5 people.  Participants will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid 19 

Cost: members $160, non-members $210

Materials fee is $15 paid to the instructor




Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Sunny Sunny Days

cooling off in the water

 We are enjoying a summer break and staying cool as best we can.  Our regular monthlymeetings have been suspended until September.  At that time we should know if a late fall sale will be possible.  Behind the scenes the workshop committee is planning for our fall and winter education program, the sale committee is investigating the possibility for a sales event and the executive is working on a longer term plan.

Corrie's knitted cowl

 The knitting/spinning and rigid heddle groups are getting together outdoors to socialize and share.

The Fun with Four group used Zoom to watch a video on warping techniques.  Now members of the group are warping with gusto.

The Exploring More group are either at sea (literally) or in the garden or finishing off weaving projects.

Access to our studio has improved and since the studio is relatively cool the weavers have been working on studio projects.  One of the J-made looms is set up for a turned taquete project and the 60" Leclerc loom has produced a steady flow of blankets.  Look for pictures of them in a later post.  

Ginny's scarf

 In between gardening, golfing, RVing, sailing or entertaining friends and relatives, members have still found time to be creative.

Mary's blouse

Pat's double weave runner

Time to apply more sun tan lotion.  We will check in next month.  Meanwhile it's hot out there stay cool.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Learning on Line

Early Covid Learning

One of the main benefits of belonging to a guild is the opportunity to learn more about your craft.  Learning may come from the informal sharing of information or it may come from structured lessons.  Our guild usually has a busy workshop schedule with both member and invited instructors.  

For some subjects even the best video doesn't replace an in person experience.  Dressing a loom for the first time is likely one of them.  There are so many subtle hand movements that it helps if you have someone watch while you try them yourself.  We had just planned a series of in-person workshops for beginners when the Covid pandemic appeared. 

 In the early stages of the pandemic, we were able to continue using our studio albeit with strict precautions and limited numbers.  As the public health situation worsened, we were forced to rethink how we could continue to deliver educational programs.

This past year technology has helped many of us cope with physical isolation and adapting it to educational programs was obvious.  So, we moved to learning on-line.  Linda Wilson's previous experience with distance learning was a great asset.  Linda chose two topics for our first learning adventures, Double Weave and Summer and Winter.  The photos below are works created by workshop participants.
Joyce's double weave blocks

Double weave is a versatile weaving technique that can produce many different effects.  Once you've mastered weaving in layers you can manipulate how those layers interact to produce blocks of colour, patterns and even surface effects.  Simple block designs can be used to create warp and weft colour interactions.  The piece above is the result of mixing the 3 colours of yarn.
The workshop participants looked at different forms of double weave, including "deflected double weave".  When yarns that have different shrinkage properties are combined in deflected double weave the end result is a highly textured cloth that is revealed after wet finishing. 

Doug's scarf

Sue's deflected double weave

The "Tale of Two Sides" workshop in April was all about the weave structure, Summer and Winter.  Summer and Winter pieces are interesting for areas of almost pure colours (see the orange stripes in Val's piece), two distinct faces and interesting surface detail.  Below are two examples based on a two colour warp and two threading blocks.  Both weavers chose a stripped design.  

Judy's hand towel
Judy obviously had a fun playing with stripes in this hand towel.  Sometimes the blue weft crosses the entire warp and sometimes it hides on the backside.  Val's piece was designed to show the "two sides" at once.

Val's hand towel
You can expand the concept of summer and winter blocks to create patterns as shown in Sandra's towels below.  One side of the towel will be light (summer) and the other side will show the pattern in the dark colours (winter).

Sandra's S&W towels

Some lessons learned from this experience.  First, you get to weave your samples on your own loom at your own pace.  No rushing to finish all those round robin samples.  Second you don't have to travel to the workshop location.  Instead you can stay home and even attend the lessons in comfy clothes.  Third you can meet new people from far away places, be inspired by their ideas and come away with new friends.

More workshops are in the planning stages and we hope to be able to resume in person lessons again late in 2021.  If you are a beginner or interested in expanding your horizons you can always contact us by email to find out what is in the works.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Time Out for Meditation

Ripples in the sand

Now and then,we all need some down time.  We need a period when there are no deadlines or goals to meet, no people to please and no pandemics to worry about.  We need time to just sit on the beach and count the ripples in the sand.  


Even if you love your craft it can sometimes become a source of stress.  You might be doing commission work with deadlines.  You might have a study group challenge to work out.  You might even have a self imposed goal to perfect a design or learn a new technique.  All that stress can lead to a creativity block.  When you can't find the inspiration to keep going don't just quit instead take a step back and try something simple that you can do with a minimum of effort. 

Mindless knitted scarf

You could try some mindless knitting like this scarf that Sylvia says was pretty much mindless knitting.  What makes it interesting is how Sylvia salvaged some ugly pink wool by over dyeing it to create a variegated yarn.  A larger shawl is shown in the picture below.  It may look complex but it is simple repetitive knitting.

shawl from over dyed yarns

Corrie's plain weave with warp stripes
If you have a loom you could try some "meditative weaving".  Pick a simple design or plain weave and just throw the shuttle with no goal other than enjoying the rhythm of the process.

plain weave scarf

Try making something familiar such as tea towels.  Wind a narrow warp for dishcloths or mug rugs. Weave something for yourself. 

Marilynn's tea towels


wool singles
The ultimate past-time for meditation has got to be spinning with its rhythmic motion and the soft swishing of the wheel.  Just feeling the fibre slipping through your hands has got to be soothing.  So make yourself some yarn for that mindless knitting project.

Hopefully after a short period of down time you will be recharged and ready to explore new horizons.

With that in mind take a look at Rita's towels in deflected double weave.  It is an unusual choice for tea towels but in 2/8 cotton it makes a thick and thirsty cloth.  Some of the towel patterns are reminiscent of those ripples in the sand. 

Rita's deflected double weave towels