Monday, 5 March 2018

Third Set of Travel Shawls

Travel shawls have been hugely successful and I'm thrilled with how much their owners enjoy and appreciate them, as well as all the new interest they've created. I think travel shawls are like a personal, portable blanket for many people and what's not to like about that?

I have a few new ones to show:

#15 | 100% wool | 160 cm x 68 cm (63" x 27") | Private collection

#16 | 100% wool | 156 cm x 69 cm (61.5" x 27") | $150

#17 | Wool and fine wool/mohair | 165 cm x 75 cm (65" x 29.5") | $170

#18 | Wool and alpaca | 160 cm x 75 cm (63" x 29.5") | $170

#19 | Wool and alpaca | 176 cm x 75 cm (69" x 29.5") | $170

#20 | 100% wool | 175 cm x 69 cm (69" x 27") | Sold

As always, feel free to contact me if you're interested in more photos or info about any of them.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

36 Threads Per Inch

Two projects of wool travel shawls last year, with a third set just finished and soon ready for presentation, prompted me to weave next with finer yarns. I wanted to make big blanket scarves that wrap warmly around the neck with no possibility of itchiness or scratchiness, and which look elegant and classy in the process.

I weave my towels with 2/8 cotton, but the borders are in 2/16 cotton so that they can be folded back at the hems and be about the same thickness as the rest of the towel. The weight system for cotton means that 2/16 is half the weight of 2/8.  2/16 is slightly thicker than sewing thread, but not by much.

Blanket scarves in silky 2/16 cotton would be super, I thought. I knew it would be a tight sett, meaning many threads per inch. All the charts I checked said 36 threads/inch for 2/16 cotton in a twill weave. I had several cones in navy and purple, so I ordered more to thread alternating navy and purple. The two slightly different shades of purple give the cloth a certain unique depth I hadn't anticipated.

Such fine yarns tend to tangle more easily than my usual 2/8 cotton at 24 threads/inch, and even float in the air with a little static electricity. Beaming the loom with the 36 cones was pretty quick, but even just taking them off the racks, winding each one back up and putting them away took awhile. Then the threading ... at 26 inches wide ... that's a total of 936 threads.

It was worth it though. The blanket scarves turned out great with the alternating lengthwise stripes of straight and advancing twill. Now they'll need some time for fringing.  Here is one sample on the loom, woven with fine silk.

More later on a future blog, or feel free to ask how the fringing is going. :-)

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.