Sunday, 22 October 2017

Fall Craft Fairs

Cariboo Handwoven has lots going on during the rest of 2017. I'm really looking forward to two fantastic craft fairs. First, on October 28-29 next weekend is the University of Northern BC's Artisans of the North event. This will be my second year there and my booth will be back in the spectacular administration building - yay!

Hours both days are 10-4 with free admission and free parking in UNBC's big parking lots. Here's the website for more info.

Next will be the annual Medieval Market in Williams Lake at the Carson campus of Lake City Secondary School. This is a favourite event for many. The dates are November 25-26 and doors open at 10:00 am. The small admission fee goes towards the students' fundraising efforts.

I'll have lots of wool blankets, big and small cotton blankets, cotton towels in hand and bath sizes, along with some sets of hand and bath towels.

I'll also have blankets and towels for sale in local venues, and I welcome studio visitors if they contact me to arrange a day and time.

This is a fun and special time of the year. Enjoy!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Towel Sets

Continuing on the topic of towels ... my original order for two bath and hand towel sets as a wedding gift created a lot of interest in similar towel sets. I also received an order for hand towels and a fair bit of support and interest that I was finally back in the studio. Of course I promised myself not to try to make up for two months away, but it's hard to stick to that. The fall craft sale season is coming up, I have tons of ideas swirling around in my head, I've been thrilled to be back, and I'm seeing several studio visitors every month while making plans for more.

The original requestor of the towel set received seven bath towels to view and select from,  then I wove the 'closey-matchy' hand towels. Here's a bath towel next to a hand towel being woven. The stripes matched perfectly when the hand towel was finished and washed.

More bath towel photos went out by email to the second interested person, and same thing:

Finished set of one hand and one bath towel

Accompanying set of hand towel and bath towel as a second set, with test hand towel on right

The towel with the brown on the right was a test for a bathroom of blues and brown, but we decided it was a bit of a red herring so it's available on its own.

Here's what the latest recipient of towel sets said:

I was just thinking today that I wanted to send you an email to let you know we love the beautiful towels. The blues are going to be absolutely perfect in [the] bathroom. 
The sets are fun to make, especially when I know interested people are waiting to see them. No one is ever obligated because I do not want pressures or expectations for the potential buyer or the weaver herself. But I do get great ideas through the process - thank you all!

Monday, 2 October 2017

A Special Towel Order

A long-time friend - gee, we go back to our university days working together as summer students in our forestry jobs - well, she has been a big fan of my towels. After I blogged about being back in my studio, what would appear in my inbox but an order for eight towels.

She wrote:
If you have any tea towels similar to the ones below I’d like to get 8 of them please.  Or you could send pictures of what you have in inventory, and I’ll pick from that.

I plan to wrap them with some black currant jelly I made as Christmas gifts.  

All of the towels in the photos she pasted in from my past blog posts had some bright red. So my interpretation for the order of eight was to include bright red in each one. Totally cool idea to wrap homemade jars of black currant jelly in a towel!

I didn't have too many towels left that were that bright and I'd just begun a towel project, so I decided to weave all of them at once for my friend. All her gifts would come from the same warp, which I suppose represents a certain unity from the giver to her recipients.

Here are the towels on the front beam of the loom and then unfurled on the floor.

Little bits of bright red are visible on the edge of the cloth near the centre of the front beam

Unfurling the warp - always a delight for the weary weaver ...

I asked my friend if she wanted photos of each towel to approve of it before I sent it. The response?

Jane those are beautiful! I love them, and don't need to review them.   Please just send the 8 you are thinking of.  I am very excited to get them. 

And this was my way of integrating bright red differently into a variety of towels.


And here's what my friend wrote to me when she saw the towels with her own eyes:

What gorgeous colours you picked. Some more blue, some more green, and all with some red. You are a Master to create all those variations at one time.  There's even one that sure looks like Christmas trees in the pattern.  Couldn't figure out just how you did that,  but then saw the pictures on your post tonight.  What timing!
That was a special towel order indeed!  Thank YOU!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Blanket Spa

Cariboo Handwoven not only produces wool blankets, but I offer free handwashing to blanket owners, whether it's local pick-up and delivery or through shipping. Recently, I found it necessary to do a little rehab work on a well-used blanket. I had the satisfaction of doing some minor repairs that will prolong the blanket's life, appearance and usefulness.

Two local friends, a couple, bought blankets for each other several years ago. I remember well the studio visit and then the Medieval Market visit at my booth a year or two later. Each of them took time to select the perfect blanket for their spouse, and they obviously chose well.

I'd heard that their blankets were two treasures they'd packed for the wildfire evacuation this summer. It really warms my heart to think that their unique blankets were so personally important for their function as well as their connection to home. I recently emailed them about washing their blankets while the September sunshine lasts, and here's what I heard back:

Boy, during the fires, those blankets got dragged around from Gavin Lake to the evac centre in Prince George, Chetwynd, Moberly Lake and Aleza Lake Research Forest and back home finally. They were really nice to have along.
I picked up the blankets on Friday and was gently warned that the Georgian Bay one had seen daily use in years of ownership. Yes, how true, I noticed ... little pulls from cat claws, a huge pull that had been knotted tight, and I later found a missing fringe.

The little pulls I gently eased flat with a darning needle, the huge pull I unknotted carefully with a sharp sewing pin (please don't do that again!) and eased flat, and the missing fringe I fixed:

12 new threads were spliced into the blanket and then twisted as fringe.
The ends at the top were trimmed after washing.

Then both blankets went into a laundry tub of sudsy water, not too hot and not too cool. I let them sit and luxuriate for quite awhile to bask in the suds and ease away all that travel dirt and stress. After several rinses, they had a machine spin on gentle, and then went out on the line to dry by soaking up some moonlight overnight and the next morning's soft sunlight.

Left: Georgian Bay wool blanket showing the layers of water with whitecaps and then rock.
Right: Wool blanket woven in twill blocks with approx. 50% white handspun wool/mohair.

Out in the studio the two blankets each had a good pressing with the iron. Up one side, down the other. Turn over and repeat. I fixed any last little pulls I'd missed and trimmed the top of the new fringe. Then the blankets were placed flat on the floor to cool and rest. This is a blanket spa after all.

I'm returning the blankets today. The Georgian Bay blanket looks vastly softer and fluffier, and the other one in twill blocks also has a rejuvenated look and feel to it.

I learned a few things from all of this and was delighted to take on this little task, especially for friends. And I was lucky to receive a container of home-grown honey in appreciation - thank you back!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Bath Towels

A studio visitor in June came over specifically to talk about bath towels as a wedding gift to a family member. She was looking for two bath towels with hand towels. We joked they would not be matchy-matchy, but just closey-matchy. That means the smaller hand towels would probably have a slightly different warp but I would match up the horizontal weft pattern that I weave to make them look like sets. I've done this before and it looks great.

Seven bath towels in blues are ready for drop-off and viewing tomorrow.

What doesn't have a closey-matchy hand towel woven to make a pair will just go on its own.

Obviously, I've been working quite a bit with blues ... time for more greens, purples, oranges and burgundy.

Yes, it is GOOD to be back in the studio!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Forced Paralysis

I don't want to inundate blog readers with accounts of my Non-Weaving Summer of 2017. So if you're interested in new weaving projects or what I'm doing in the studio, you might want to skip this one. The British Columbia wildfires have changed a lot of summer plans - in fact, for just about everyone, I'm quite sure.

I've been away from my home and studio for over a month now except for two nights when the evacuation order was lifted and I returned home to check on things and pick up a little more that I wanted with me. Since then, I've been living north 250 km in Prince George where the air has been mostly fairly clear, although the fire hazard here is also at Extreme, just as it is in the Cariboo. It will only take some lightening strikes, or - I hate to say it - someone tossing a cigarette butt out their car window or illegally lighting a campfire to create all the chaos I know is happening elsewhere.

How do you describe over a month of staying away from home because either you've been evacuated under legal order, or your area is on evacuation alert and the smoke and risk are so unbearable that you leave anyway? How do you express your thanks to all the incredible individuals, from literally all over the world, who are working really hard for British Columbia's forests and individuals' private property? How do you similarly thank all the many people and businesses who have helped you out in some way? And how do you sit around much longer without going nuts?

This is what I call forced paralysis. One day at a time. Keep your expectations low but do as much as you can. Repeat the next day. Do your best to see this as some sort of opportunity to reflect on your life, help and support others, do things differently. Or something like that, right?

And, does one transition easily out of forced paralysis? Twill be interesting to find out.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Going Back in Time

Taking a break from the major interruption in so many lives - yes, I am still evacuated and unable to be in my studio ... so let me go back in time for a moment.

When you've been pumping out a lot of handwoven blankets and towels for the last few years, I guess it's inevitable to look at something from earlier and think ... "Wow, that's not bad." Or, "Hmmm, I actually did that?" Most of my projects are original patterns designed from scratch because if I want to continue a design into another project with new colours, by the time I get to the actual warp threading I'm on to something new, something I just must try, something (maybe?) better.

Recently I took a big cotton blanket from my studio that has a lengthwise threading error and started using it in the house. I always want to know how my blankets and towels 'work' in daily use, beyond all the really nice comments I receive. I need to know for myself. So this slightly flawed work I took out of the inventory to test and scrutinize in regular use.

I looked at it after awhile and thought - that's not bad. It's just herringbone in alternating colours in the warp. It's so simple and yet so rich and interesting. Hmmm, maybe I should go back to that and see what I can do now?

That's inspiring! Hope I'm back in my studio before long.