Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Big Cotton Blankets in Diamonds and Waves

Cariboo Handwoven cotton blankets have been very popular and they've sold well both in BC and Ottawa. In early January I really wanted to weave more, so I warped up my old loom (which has sufficient heddles on all eight harnesses) with a simple palette of soft colours - cream with pale blue and pale grey for the wide stripes. I found the gentle contrast subtle and calming. I threaded the wide stripes in two twills to create some variety with diamonds and waves.

I aim to weave all my big blankets to have a finished length of six feet (72") or 183 cm, which most of these achieved. These blankets are all 135 cm (53") wide, so the overall size is really generous.

The more I use cotton blankets in my home, the more I love them. They're soft and cozy but never too hot, which wool can be at times. I do love my wool blankets, they're heirlooms to last for decades, and they're the best for really snuggling up. But cotton blankets are more versatile through the seasons, and the machine wash and dry treatment is very easy.

And so here are my latest cotton blankets:

C311 | 100% cotton | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | $170

C312 | 100% cotton | "Sage and Sand" | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | $170

C313 | 100% cotton | 188 cm x 135 cm (74" x 53") | Available in Ottawa

C314 | 100% cotton | 183 cm x 135 cm (72" x 53") | $170

C315 | 100% cotton | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | $170

C316 | 100% cotton | 183 cm x 135 cm (72" x 53") | $170

C317 | 100% cotton | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | Available in Ottawa

C318 | 100% cotton | 170 cm x 135 cm (67" x 53") | $170

Monday, 22 January 2018

Less is ... Fine

When I wove this blanket I wanted to place the five beautiful greens and blues consecutively in big diamonds. Normally I would add narrow lines of an accent colour between, as Cariboo Handwoven followers may know by now I like to do.

I had the five shades lined up and they looked beautiful together. In big diamonds of what I call rough and smooth twill on a warp of wide grey stripes, this would look very well for a blanket that would have a certain soft boldness to it with the heathery tones. I just needed to choose an accent colour for narrow lines between the colours.

I had a lighter shade of green ... no, too green.
A lighter shades of blue? ... nope, too blue.
Use the light grey from the warp stripes? ... too grey and bland.
A lighter shade then, say, of a heathery beige? Still too bland.

Oh, I know. If in doubt use white. So I wove the first narrow stripe after the first big diamond in white, actually a beautiful cream.

But that was way too bright and sterile, it just didn't work. I unwove all the white.

My solution? No narrow lines between the five shades of heathery greens and blues. Just let the colours mix together, transition in big diamonds from one shade to the next.

SH200 | 100% wool | 187 cm x 130 cm (73.5" x 51") | $300

Problem solved. Less is fine a lot of the time.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

New Towels for a New Year

Most of Canada saw very cold temperatures at the end of December, and much of the country is still in the deep freeze. I see these cold snaps as an opportunity to avoid any automatic griping about being stuck inside for most of the day - instead, it's carefree studio time.

I ran out of towels again in December after weaving almost 300 this year, every one different, and sold 260 before the Christmas season. So slipping in another towel project seemed like a good idea.

Cold weather asks for warm colours. I used blues, burgundy with dark orange, and greens in the warp, and pretty well everything in the weft for different tests and effects. I have to say that I love every one of these towels!

(Note: All the reds came out in these photos brighter and more intense than they are in reality to the eye.)

If you're interested in any towels (these photos or others), please let me know. Prices remain unchanged in 2018 at $34 each or three for $98.

Have a great 2018!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Love and Gratitude in 2017

This year goes down in my life, and maybe for many others, as one of exceptional love and gratitude. For me it went both ways. I felt and expressed a lot of love and gratitude in 2017 through various personal losses, wildfire evacuations, happier adventures and friendships. And I received a lot of love and gratitude, for which I am very thankful.

For Cariboo Handwoven, 2017 wrapped up with a beautiful comment recently posted in a June blog of cotton blankets. Here it is (beginning with a lovely salutation):
Hello Goddess of the Loom, 
My daughter knew exactly what she wanted to get her brother when he went away to university: a blanket. When we saw your creations at the Immaculata Craft Fair in Ottawa we were sold on the first of the cotton blankets in your blogpost. We bought it.  
When my son opened the box on Christmas morning, he couldn't believe how beautiful the blanket was. He took it with him out to our friend's winter wonderland of a Quebec cottage and we took turns wrapping ourselves in it all day and night.  
I know he will cherish this blanket for many years. It already has a name: couette sans bout. As his dear baby blankie was called couette avec bou, as it was a quilt (couette) with (avec) a little edge seam (bou). This is his blanket (couette) without (sans) the little edge seam (bou), although I tried to tell him that there is a seam.  
Enough of that. I just wanted to let you know that your blanket will bring much comfort to a hardworking and slightly lonely McGill student over the next many many months.

Awfully nice! And this is the blanket:

I've been in touch directly with the commenter, and we've had some fun with emails and photos. She is not only warm and kind, but very appreciative of my work.

Perfect way to end 2017 with love and gratitude - in both directions.

Thank you all.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Designing a Custom Blanket

Two Williams Lake friends who moved to Victoria last year ordered a wool blanket in the fall. I thought I'd share my process from start to finish in designing a wool blanket for their home, as well as our enjoyable collaboration through emails and photos back and forth.

They wanted the blanket for their den with this mottled carpet of light and dark shades of greyish-brown:

And the blanket was to go nicely with a favourite pillow:

The pillow's background is that it was created by a cross-cultural project of contemporary Aboriginal art, called the Kaltjiti Arts, owned by the artists. The paintings are created by artists in central Australia and then the designs are woven into pillows and rugs in Kashmir. This design is based on the Tali Tali Pompey painting.

The blanket warp consists of wide lines of dark brown, medium brown and a lighter heathery shade. I wove the blanket ends with a line of diamonds in very dark grey (almost black) then there are alternating charcoal and red diamonds. The charcoal has a narrow line of white; the warm red has light grey to avoid a ‘candy cane’ look. Crossing the warp of brown tones with greys helps to bring out the pattern nicely but subtley, and will complement the carpet.

When I sent this photo of the blanket on the loom, it was to ask if there was too much red or anything that should be addressed in a second one (I knew this one would sell if the friends didn't like it). 

But I received this reassuring response:
We LOVE our blanket....please carry on weaving!!  It is simply splendid!
Then I sent a photo of the blanket right off the loom, unfringed and looking stiff and raw.

Again, more lovely reactions:
We are sending a Definite Yes for the beautiful blanket so it can almost 'officially' be ours.  We do love it!  
And here's the final version, not too surprising after all the lead-up.

And then the grand finale email:
Your parcel arrived this afternoon, was signed for, and opened in great anticipation!  We have to tell you that we absolutely love the blanket you have designed and woven for us. It is truly beautiful!  We couldn't be happier with the lovely colours and patterns you have woven into it. 
Jane, I also want to thank you so much for all the enjoyment I have felt as you and I corresponded through the exciting course of planning the blanket.  It was a unique and rewarding experience. 
[We] have certainly been able to see how much thought and heart you put into your weaving and your art. It must been very hard to part with your creations!  We are grateful that you are able to do that! 
Expect us to send more weaving projects your way!

You can tell that these people are very positive. Every email they sent was fun to read and I found the whole project from start to finish very fulfilling and inspiring.

What a great way to end the year.  Thank YOU so much.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Cariboo Resilience

This blanket has a story, a fairly long one, depending on how you want to look at it. But I'll keep this short.

I blogged through the summer about the British Columbia wildfires and their effects on my community, Williams Lake, and on my friends and family. In some ways, the summer seems a long time ago; in other ways, it doesn't seem that long ago to others.

Pat Teti, my husband, took this photo north of the city in the White Lake burn on the Soda Creek Road. He called this image Resilience and I gave out these postcards at the Medieval Market in November. The photograph shows sprouting Douglas maple in the very recent burn. People loved it.

Then I thought that a Resilience blanket might be a good idea. My plan was to emphasize the charcoal grey with the charred black stumps, and add a splash of the Douglas maple colours roughly in the middle.

SH205 | "Resilience" | 100% wool | 183 cm x 130 cm (72" x 51") | $350

"Resilience" depicting charred soil surface and blackened stumps

"Resilience" blanket depicting sprouting Douglas maples

Cariboo Resilience will continue in different ways for all of us in 2018, I am quite sure.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Feedback on a Georgian Bay Blanket

After my interview with Sheryl MacKay on CBC Radio's North by Northwest in late October (starts at about 1:45), I received an order for a Georgian Bay blanket. The one that Sheryl was admiring in the interview sold by noon that day, but I planned to make another on my next blanket warp anyway. And off it went to a CBC listener in British Columbia, who grew up on Georgian Bay and knows and loves it well.

Georgian Bay blanket - Water below and rock with lichen above

Georgian Bay blanket - layer of trees with sky and clouds above

I was really touched by the buyer's comments in an email:
The photos do not do your weaving justice. The richness of the colours, the touch of the fibers, the textures created and the amazing patterns have brought your vision of the bay into reality. I think that you've truly captured many senses experienced by being there. This will certainly be a focus in our home and a topic of discussion for years to come. Thanks for your dedication to detail.

Thank YOU!  (And I know my photos aren't great but I'm not trying to be a photographer also. :-) )
Jan. 2018 update from the owner: Well the blanket is permanently located in the living room for immediate use and visual enjoyment. All family and friends truly appreciate its beauty and your workmanship.
I hope you enjoy your blanket for many, many years.  I think you will.