Tuesday, 20 June 2017

A New Georgian Bay Blanket

My latest presentation of new wool blankets omitted the last one which was waiting to be fringed and finished, but it is ready to show now. This one depicts the colours and scents of Georgian Bay, a special place for all my family as well as many Canadians and others.

The blanket's design emulates the blue waters with whitecaps, the grey rock with orange lichen, Georgian Bay's windswept white pines, and the deep blue sky and puffy clouds above.

SH187 | 100% wool | 175 cm x 127 cm (69" x 50") | $350

SH187 Detail | Water and rock in the Georgian Bay blanket design

As with the other six blankets, the blanket's weave structure is lengthwise stripes of plain and advancing twill which give a nice contrast of distinct and wavy lines.

My Georgian Bay blankets and towels have been much-appreciated and admired in the time I've been making them. They remind the user of those special fragrances of the sun-warmed granite and white pines, and many carefree summer days.

Let me know if you're interested in this one.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Shetland Wool Blankets in Browns with Colours

I've lost count of how many Shetland wool blankets I've woven but this latest project is probably somewhere in a batch in the twenties. These are my classic wool blankets and I love designing, weaving and finishing them. This project incorporated wide lengthwise stripes of regular and advancing twills to produce contrasting straight and fuzzy-lined diamonds. After weaving, fringe twisting is a portable activity and two of these blankets accompanied me on some recent local travels.

One blanket of the six below (SH184) was woven with my handspun white wool, making it a little thicker than the others. Any of these blankets would make a really special wedding, grad or retirement gift.

Here they are:

SH183 | 100% wool | 170 cm x 127 cm (67" x 50") | $290

SH184 | 100% wool with approx. 50% handspun | 175 cm x 138 cm (69" x 54") | $375

SH185 | 100% wool | 168 cm x 127 cm (66" x 50") | $290

SH186 | 100% wool | 178 cm x 128 cm (70" x 50.5") | $290

SH188 | 100% wool | 186 cm x 125 cm (73" x 49") | $290

SH189 | 100% wool | 199 cm x 125 cm (77" x 49") | $290

As always ... let me know if you're interested in any of these and would like more information or photos.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

New Cotton Blankets for Summer

Eight new cotton blankets are ready to present. These are all large (except for the last one) and meant for lazy summer afternoons and evenings on the hammock or chaise lounge, through the night as light warmth, or year-round for wrapping up in. I love these blankets and so do many owners from what I often hear.

We have five in our household, and I washed them today and dried them on the line.

Sometimes a guest falls in love with one of my blankets and it leaves to a happy owner. That is a huge compliment. However, I can only let mine go that way, no one else's. ;-)

OK, here are the eight. They are all hemmed, and machine wash and dry. They are cozy and soft and last for years.

C295 | 100% cotton | 196 cm x 137 cm (77" x 54") | $170

C296 | 100% cotton | 183 cm x 137 cm (72" x 54") | Sold

C297 | 100% cotton | 180 cm x 137 cm (71" x 54") | $170

C298 | 100% cotton | 188 cm x 136 cm (74" x 53.5") | $170

C299 | 100% cotton | 182 cm x 137 cm (71.5" x 54") | $170

C300 | 100% cotton | 173 cm x 136 cm (68" x 53.5") | $170

C301 | 100% cotton | 188 cm x 138 cm (74" x 54") | $170

C302 | 100% cotton | 132 cm x 132 cm (52" x 52") | $115

As always, let me know if you're interested in any of these blankets.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Weaving by Trail or Bushwhacking

I've enjoyed different forms of transport over trails and I've also worked in the forest, creating my own path through the woods to take measurements or mark plots. I find a huge mental contrast between following a trail or 'bushwhacking' on my own. Both are nice, but they are just very different. This even applies to weaving.

Taking a trail when I weave means creating a pattern in my mind and then following it to the end of the fabric's length, whether it's a blanket, scarf or towel. I might have a set of colours and weave patterns in mind and then change them as soon as I begin, but it's a trail by the time the design is established, and then I simply follow what I've set for myself. Like this:

In contrast, my artistic blankets and towels are like bushwhacking. I have to create my own path throughout the full length of the fabric. This means having a picture in my mind, such as my Georgian Bay blankets and towels, and needing to loosely plan the proportions of water, rock, trees and sky. Then I must determine what colours to use, how to make possible colour gradations, and how I show wavy water, smooth rock and big sky with the weave patterns I have available.

And - how do I make the current piece a little different from all the others? That's all the bushwhacking part.  It takes more physical and mental energy but it's totally worth it. I just can't do a lot of it.

This concept of trail versus bushwhacking probably has endless other applications - painting or stitching geometric images versus abstract, cooking creatively versus following a recipe (someone else's trail), and much more.

Notice that people may wish you "Happy Trails" but never "Happy Bushwhacking"?

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Winter's Tale (of Spinning)

The Winter's Tale is the last Shakespeare play I saw, in my very limited experience with (and knowledge of) Shakespeare. I was a groundling in London at the Globe Theatre 12 years ago. That meant standing for the performance down in front of the stage, but it was worth it - and affordable!

My winter's tale of spinning, or part of it, includes two local fleeces. The light grey is the last roving from a Romney flock in Beaver Valley, east of here. It has a lovely lustre and was gorgeous to spin. The dark brown is from the Wenger's sheep on Fox Mountain quite nearby my studio. I loved working with these fibres; I know both producers and the relationship I have with each is part of the very fulfilling experience for me.

Both yarns are two-ply, meaning that I spun two separate yarns and plied them together in the opposite direction to the spun direction of twist. The two strands want to do this anyway. I find two-ply more stable in finished cloth and it's worth all the time. I figure I spent about 40-50 hours to spin and finish each of these two projects.

Local fibres woven into blankets are growing in popularity. The last blanket I sold with local handspun Icelandic wool generated interest from the skeins when a studio visitor spied them. And that's where the blanket went!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Travel Shawls

My latest project, which I call travel shawls, was designed to serve a need. (Mine!) Often I would think how nice it would be to have a practical and stylish small blanket to:
  • Wrap around my shoulders like a shawl.
  • Sit on as a cushion when folded up.
  • Fill the badly designed void in seat backs on many airplane seats and conference chairs.
  • Use as an extra small blanket on my bed in a chilly hotel room.
  • Wrap around my waist like a sarong to keep my butt and legs warm when I'm fine up top.
  • Use as a lap blanket when seated for chilly legs.

So I designed travel shawls. They're smaller than a full-sized blanket but warmer and a bit heavier than a typical lightweight shawl. They're also designed to be a bit of a travel buddy that can be taken along for all those purposes and look great in the process. They're compact and sturdy, and will stand up well to a lot of use without looking grubby.

I wove all of them in big waves of undulating twill, with a few little interesting variations in some of them. All of them are made of wool, one with a little mohair, and measure approximately 150-155 cm (60"-61") long. Width varies from 69 cm (27") to a maximum of 78 cm (30.5") for the white one.

 Each one below is priced at $150.

#1 | Heathery blue for about 3/4s of the cloth | Sold

#1 | Detail of transition from heathery dark mauve at the other end into heathery blue

#2 | Dark brown handspun of either alpaca or very soft wool | This one is quite thick and luxurious.

#3 | Very dark charcoal Sold

#4 | Soft brown | Sold

#5 | White wool-mohair | Very soft, a bit fuzzy and wider at 78 cm (30.5") | Sold

I have a feeling that travel shawls could be popular. And I think that other needs from mine could arise from other users.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Special Blanket with Handspun Local Icelandic Wool

A repeat studio visitor returned recently to look at a special blanket with handspun local Icelandic wool. She'd seen and liked the skeins of wool I'd spun from a ram named Dimayo, who I blogged about last summer. Dimayo's badgerface colour is one of the Icelandic sheep's official pattern combinations.

The fleece was mostly cream-coloured, supplemented with caramel and black, for a stunning yarn when randomly spun together.

I marvelled at the results as I wove this blanket in an undulating twill pattern. Knowing that my Dimayo yarn supply was a bit low, I wove strong, dark brown borders with wool left over from a ewe in Dimayo's flock, Nancy. Both Icelandic sheep fleeces were produced close by, just over on Fox Mountain near Williams Lake. Here is the blanket in the fringing process.

The finished Dimayo blanket:

The detail and uniqueness of the woven cloth were the most incredible for me:

The new owner of the Dimayo blanket bought it for one of her sons ... but she admitted she might keep it for herself!