Saturday, December 9, 2023

Making Merry and Meeting the Challenge

This month we are making merry.  We are also celebrating our good fortune to belong to this group of generous and inspiring people.  What better way to celebrate than sharing food at a pot luck luncheon.  Sorry no pictures of the buffet.

the kitchen is always the best gathering place

  Earlier this year, we had set ourselves a challenge that was to be completed by our December event.  Those who took up the challenge received a container of mystery yarns donated by an unknown member.  The challenge was to use those yarns in a hand crafted creation. It was up to the person receiving the yarns to determine how to use them.  You can imagine the result.  Some of us found ourselves with a type of yarn we would never have chosen to work with and most of us found ourselves with colours that we tend of avoid.  So what to do with colours you abhor, yarn that is unfamiliar or yarn that is not suitable for the items you like to make?  Well, take a look.

dyed to death bag
This bag started life as a coarse cotton yarn in blah colours.  So the first step was to dye the yarn. This was a partial success.  So it was dyed again and finally dyed yet again as the finished product.

endless purple scarf
Then we have the endless scarf in very fuzzy yarn which is always a challenge to weave.  Great colour if you are a fan of purple and this scarf you can wrap around and around and around.

What to do with orange?

Orange is a difficult colour to work with but, if you can use it as an accent in small amounts then it can make a design pop.  This is the border on a lovely linen bread bag.
Orange sock yarn

More orange.  This time sock yarn.  The knitted head band illustrates how the yarn would look in a sock.  But it has also been used in asymmetrical stripes in the warp and the weft for a light scarf.  The bands of sock yarn are separated by wide areas of a deep golden "yak" yarn that lightens the piece and dilutes the effect of the sock yarn 


Anchors in summer&winter
Pink is another colour that is difficult to deal with but here is is used against a beige back ground.  The pink almost beomes neutral.  The thick mercerized cotton is ideal for a tied weave structure like summer and winter.  You might have guessed the weaver is a sailor.

textured table runner
Sometimes the yarn just fits perfectly. The weave structure in this table runner shows off the thick variegated weft yarns and gives the entire piece a strongly textured effect.  The colours are great for highlighting a wooden table top.

If your mystery yarn package wasn't enough to do what you planned then a little clever sewing and the addition of a matching blue tassel can turn a deficit into a winner.

Or, you can have plenty and make yardage.  The lovely warp in the teal piece was handspun wool too scratchy for a scarf.  The weft was an unloved coarse wool and together, with some deliberate felting, they made great yardage for a lined top.  You just have to imagine that the top has been finished but that in itself could be another challenge.

The final piece is a lovely scarf made from hand-spun 3 ply yarn that had been dyed so that it gradually changes from warm to cool colours.  It failed to work as a knitted garment but as a plain weave scarf, the colour gradient is spectacular.  The only problem is that the hand-spun yarn is scratchy.  The weaver used a very soft weft in a neutral colour to counteract the coarse warp.

dyed wool scarf

Merry Christmas towel

Just had to find a place for the picture of this lovely little towel from our Elegant Threads sale.  We are off now until January, busy finishing up presents, baking or enjoying more festivities.  Our next events will be Jan 5th (textile tour of Scotland) and a Member's Only sale on the 6th.  

Watch for our web site launch in January.
More information at your finger tips.  You can use it to join the guild, book workshops and find out about guild events.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Guild Sale 2023

Jackie our greeter
Elegant Threads has come and gone for another year.  If you were able to attend we hope you enjoyed your time with us and perhaps found a treasure to take home with you.  Maybe you had a chat with our friendly "greeter" or added your piece to our group tapestry. 
tapestry in progress
 The entire guild is involved in putting on this event.  In addition to the volunteers that you may have interacted with there are those that designed and set up the display, managed the inventory, did the publicity and dealt with the sales

Every guild has its own system for putting on sales.  Our guild combines the inventory from all those members who wish to sell.  The inventory is then displayed according to categories and all sales are tracked electronically.  This year we had just over 1,000 items to gather, display, and track.
piles of tea towels and hats

We take in the items a few days prior to the sale.  Our studio is packed with roughly sorted piles of goods. Each item has been checked against our standards and logged into the master inventory.  For those managing the intake it is like show and tell on steriods.  There are a lot of "wows", "I never thought of doing that", "feel this", "just my colours" etc etc etc.  It tends to slow the process down a lot. 
"just my colours" scarf

On the evening prior to the sale, items are transported to the sale site where they are grouped according to the display plan.  Prior to their arrival a crew has brought in the props and set up the tables.  The items vary from year to year so the display is always slightly different.  

display of handspun yarn
setting up
rack of hand towls

display of baskets

blankets & throws

The fun starts when we open the doors to find a line up.  Some are old friends or fellow artisans and some are always first time visitors.  We thrive on their positive comments and love the opportunity to explain how items were made or what inspired us.  
just having fun

checking out the goods

curves shawl

Thanks to all of you bought something, we can all now justifying buying more supplies and if your stash is over flowing in your cupboards you know how important that justification can be.  And thank you from the guild as a whole.  The commission on items sold and the proceeds from the silent auction will support our guild activities in the coming year.  

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Elegant Threads Sneak Preview


Linda's blanket

Our guild members are busy getting ready for Elegant Threads, our annual show and sale.  Looms are loaded with that last project.  Knitting needles are finishing off that last row of stitches.  Sewing machines are humming.  Tags are being printed.  Will everything be finished in time?  

Vera's Basket

This year Elegant Threads has moved to St Stephen's Church, 150 Village Way in Qualicum Beach.  We have a large venue that will accomodate the displays and give us room for demonstrations and a slide show.  As always the atmosphere is relaxed with plenty of time to meet the makers and learn about our craft

Sharon's pendants

We thought we'd give you a sneak peek at some of the items you will find for sale.

Pat's funky scarf
This is a two day event, Friday November 17 and Saturday November 18th.  The hours are from 10:00 to 4:00 both days.
On Saturday you can park once and shop thrice if you are an early bird as the Qualicum Beach Farmer's market is a stone's throw from St Stephen's church and the Village Art Faire will be open across the laneway from the church.

Linda's crinkle scarf

Linda D's tea towels

handspun yarn

rainbow hat

We are planning a silent auction for those of you who are bargain hunters.  The silent auction will include art work, hand-crafted items, tools and materials for crafty people and some surprises.  If you enjoy a little competition be sure to be there on Saturday at 4:00 pm when the auction closes.

As always admission is free and we'd love to see you.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Fall Workshops

beginning weaving workshop

 This fall we have a busy workshop schedule with classes in weaving, felting, and basketry taking place in our studio in Qualicum Beach. 

We started off with our very popular beginning weaving workshop.  This course covers the basics from, what is a heddle (?) and other odd terms to actually making cloth.  It is a close encounter with a floor loom in the company of a fun group of fibre enthusiasts.  Each student has their own loom and loads of support. 

class mug rugs
 Once  the basics are out of the way students get to try their hand at playing with yarns and designing a set of mug rugs.  It is always interesting to see how the final designs vary.  Below is a special mug rug that is the result of a the beginning weaving and a previous workshop, beginning spinning.  The weft material is the student's hand-spun wool.

hand-spun wool weft

For a change, this month we are taking our classes into the woods to forage for mushrooms.  The mushroom dyeing workshop starts with how to identify and harvest Phaeolus schweinitzii.  It is often found on conifers, including Douglas Fir which is common in our area.  Students will then learn how to use this "dyers polypore" as a dyeing agent to create beautiful muted colours.

Not chantrelles

bags in "natural" colours

In October we will be making a Market Basket, while learning some basic basketry techniques.  See the section under Workshops for more details.


Then there is Beginning Weaving Level II.  In this class, weavers will learn the basics of designing and planning a simple project then they will set up their looms and watch their design become a reality.

felted slippers

In November we will be wet felting with Darrell Giraldeau.  With cooler weather in mind we will be working on felted wool scarves and cozy slippers.  For more information on these classes see the section under Workshops.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Showing Our Stuff


Children's day at QB museum

The past month we've been out and about showing off our craft and meeting with our community.  We always have a great time at these public events, greeting old friends and making new ones.

Children's Day at the Qualicum Beach Museum is one of our favourite events.  Children love to make things they can take home so in addition to our spinning wheels and looms this year we made simple devices for making kumihimo braids that can become friendship bracelets.  From the photo is seems our group was just as fascinated with them as the children.

display of natural dyes 
We also took part in the Lighthouse Fall Fair with demonstrations and displays of everything from baskets to natural dyes. 
Rita and her rugs

Vera's basket
Like many traditional fairs the Lighthouse Fair encourages excellence in arts and crafts, the domestic arts and of course gardening/farming by sponsoring contests. 

While we didn't win anything in the rude vegetable or largest zucchini category our members did dominate the needlework section. 

 Linda took first prize with a top in handwoven yardage that mixes two different patterns in the same colours and threads.  The panels are reversed on the back.  It is often difficult to match patterns exactly with handwoven yardage and this design eliminates that problem.

Linda's blue ribbon vest

The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners sponsors a special prize for a hand woven shawl.  Below are the first and second place winners in this years contest.  The blue shawl is highly textured with glittering threads and random bead-like nubs.  The blue ribbon shawl was woven with a painted warp and textured threads so colours shift and move throughout the piece.   

Special Contest 

Our monthly meetings will resume on Monday September 25th.  The meeting is from 10 to noon at our studio.  Visitors are always welcome so come along if you would like to check us out.

We are busy with classes in September and October.  Check out the sidebar under workshops to see what is happening.  We will report on our beginner weaving classes in the next post.


Sunday, August 27, 2023

Studio Activities


overshot studio project

Our summer break is almost over.  We are gearing up for a busy fall with the Lighthouse Fall Fair on September 2nd followed by a busy workshop schedule that includes mushrom dyeing and beginner weaving lessons. 

rosepath runner in progress
The studio has been a busy place all summer with two studio projects on the go, overshot mats and rosepath runners.  We've also had monthly drop in sessions when members are invited to bring whatever they are working on.

weft faced mini rug

Members have found time to work on their craft in between trips and visits from friends and family.  The exploring more group have been working on "distorted cloth".  Below are some examples of distorted cloth.  One scarf was woven with active yarns that shrink with finishing.  The other employed a woven shibori technique with steaming to create a rippled surface.

scarf with distorted surface

shibori manipulated scarf

If you are interested in checking us out look for us at the fall fair or plan to come along to our general meeting on Monday September 25.  See the events posting for interest group meetings.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

First Threads

cloth bands from demo loom

Our small demo looms are very popular at public events.  They help us to explain  the process of making cloth and to answer questions about the pieces that we have on display.  They have visited care facilities, been to museums and fairs, taught weaving basics and entertained at children's events. 

Over the years we have acquired a collection of  woven bands that remind us of the fun we had sharing our craft with others.  The people responsible for creating these bands often have no idea how a loom works.  For most it is the first time they have thrown a shuttle across a warp and watched the threads intertwine row after row until a piece of cloth is formed.

The photos that follow are some of the "first threads" experience.

rags to knitting yarns

The participants range from the raging enthusiast to the perfectionist that worries about doing something wrong.  The former quickly gets into the rythmn of throwing the shuttle and beating the fell and weaves yards.  The latter is tentative to start and may experiment until the process "clicks".

raffia, glitz, cotton, slub

Some like to experiment with materials like rags, popsicle sticks, raffia, knitting yarns.  Others are attracted to textured yarns or exciting colours.


experiments with skips
Our bands were woven with no preconceived ideas about what is "right" or "wrong" and no experience so you can imagine we have some interesting results.  There are no "bad edges" but some interesting edge treatments.  There are no treadling errors but interesting experiments with plain weave skips.  

interesting edge treatment


design feature

 Variation in beat becomes bands of subtle weft colour stripes or open areas that create undulating waves that are semi-transparent.  

wave-like bands

peek-a-boo waves

experiments with thickness
Most of these examples are due to a lack of skill and experience.  A seasoned weaver would not be happy if they produced pieces like these.  But these are uninhibited pieces done with no expectations for perfection or knowledge of weaving "rules".  They spark some interesting design ideas.

Variations in beat or thickness can be used to deliberately create weft stripes, loops at the edges can create a frilly selvedge, skips can be placed at random to create dots of colour on a uniform surface, long weft skips can create texture and a dramatic statement on a uniform surface.  As the pull-in varies the shape of the piece changes.

Errors are still errors not design features but if you have mastered the fundamentals and are skilled at your craft you might take a lesson from these novices and consider breaking the rules for your next design.

Beginner Weaving Lessons  September 8,9,10.

If you have dabbled with weaving and would like to go further with a harness loom then you might want to take an in person course that covers the fundamentals.  Learning on your own can be a long and sometimes painful process.  The QWSG is offering 3 full days of  instruction on harness loom weaving.  Equipment and materials are provided.  For more information check the listing under WORKSHOPS

beginner mug rugs