Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Thank You

2014 was very good to Cariboo Handwoven and me, with record sales and a lot of interest in my work. I have many people to thank:

  • Friends and others who were interested, caring and supportive, regardless of whether or not any sales were involved. Studio visitors were often very intrigued with my looms, my handmade blanket racks, and the big, bright space I'm fortunate to use. That all meant a lot to me. 
  • All those who purchased a Cariboo Handwoven blanket, towel or scarf. 
  • Blog readers who brought my page views up to 8,506 by the time I posted this blog at the end of the year.
  • The Station House Gallery in Williams Lake, BC for hosting "To Drive the Cold Winter Away" in November, and Joan Beck as my enthusiastic artistic partner in the show.
  • Pat, my husband, for making me three blanket racks and a new blanket tree, and teaching me how to better understand and use his first digital SLR camera for better photographs of my work. Pat is also very supportive and encouraging whenever I steer away from my favourite earthy browns and greys and use brighter colours. :-)
  • And last but certainly not least: Alison, my sister in Ottawa, who has been instrumental in another successful year. Along with her cousin-in-law, Elsie, she has done a lot of one-on-one promotion, Facebook posts, lugging, displaying, standing, hosting, banking and more. 

I began 2014 with a good supply of blankets, towels and scarves, and then added to it during the year through new projects. I'm now down to some nice wool blankets, what's left of the latest set of hemmed cotton blankets, and a few bath towels but no hand towels. This is an important milestone for me, and it means that my work will be even more tailored to what is wanted on top of what I want to make.

I can't forget 2014. All the lovely feedback about how much you enjoy your blanket, or how great your towels look and how long they last, or how well a scarf was received as a gift - that's what really matters to me most. The business part all comes after that.

So whatever your part in my enjoyable and successful 2014 ... thank you. I'm wishing you a great 2015!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Blankets in New Homes

The festive season created a lovely flurry of orders and studio visitors through the last month or so. And now the feedback is coming in. Here are three reasons why I love to weave.

First, a buyer at the Medieval Market in November took home my 11th and latest Wenger blanket that includes about 50% handspun Romney wool from the Wenger Sheep Farm on Fox Mountain, just north of Williams Lake. The weave structure is narrow columns of tiny herringbones, and the blanket is thick and soft.



Here's what the blanket owner wrote to me:
... I wanted to check with you as to whether putting it up as a wall hanging is advisable. Would you recommend that and what would be the best way to do that?  I worry about stretching and definitely do not want to do anything damaging.  ... There is something so tactile about this blanket that speaks to me of everything that went into it. It is really quite meditative and grounding so I want to keep it in safe reach.
I have extra dowels for hanging and plan to give her one for this blanket.

#2, I made this cotton blanket for a special person in her favourite blues.


And she said:
I love wrapping up with it for a snooze or when I am feeling a chill :)



And third, a friend of a friend on Vancouver Island contacted me in November, and we had an enjoyable exchange of emails that led to her order of a Shetland wool blanket for her father-in-law.


The colours are earthy browns and greys with a distinct and complementary reddish-brown. It's kind of a masculine blanket and I was really pleased to hear this back from her:

We want to let you know that the woven blanket we gave as a gift was such a hit. My father-in-law said it was the best gift he could receive and I know he meant it! Thank you again for your superb handwork.

The business of Cariboo Handwoven is enjoyable and all that, but the feedback itself is the best. Thank you!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Big Cotton Blankets - Part 2

Here's the second part of my new cotton blankets after posting three blankets on Dec. 11.  This blog is missing one blanket because it left my studio the day I pressed and labeled it. (I never had a chance to photograph it, but I know where to find it after Christmas!)

C182 | 100% cotton | 175 cm x 137 cm (69" x 54") | Sold

C184 | 100% cotton | 188 cm x 135 cm (74" x 53") | Fringed | Sold

C185 | 100% cotton | 155 cm x 135 cm (61" x 53") | Sold

Feel free to contact me if you're interested in these blankets - or any others.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Big Cotton Blankets - Part 1

A new set of big cotton blankets is ready to go, and here are the first three. They all consist of intriguing blends of different colours that work beautifully together. Overall, I'm very pleased with the effect.

All blankets are 100% cotton, and machine wash and dry if hemmed. (Fringed ones will be posted later; all of these are hemmed.) Cotton blankets are great for people who aren't crazy about wool, and for everyone in milder climates or during warmer times of the year in Canada.

C179 | 100% cotton | 183 cm x 135 cm (72" x 53") | Sold

C181 | 100% cotton | 162 cm x 135 cm (64" x 53") | Sold

C183 | 100% cotton | 168 cm x 135 cm (66" x 53") | Sold
Wide stripes of diamonds in graduated shades of blues and purples

As always, feel free to contact me if you're interested in any of these blankets.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

What's Available on Dec. 2, 2014

I've recently received several enquiries about what I have available for sale. This being early December, here's the latest. Please check the labels on the right-hand side of my blog for more sample photos and information. (And please note that taxes are additional to the prices listed.)

Cotton hand towels for the kitchen or bathroom ($30) - available from Alison in Ottawa, my studio, and Bloom 'N' Gifts in Williams Lake.



Cotton bath towels ($80) - from Alison or me. If you're thinking "bath towels?!!??" then here's a good blog to acquaint you with their usefulness.



Cotton blankets ($115-$170) - Alison has a few, I have two big ones and a few smaller, Dandelion Living in Williams Lake has a good selection, and more new ones are underway (like literally before and after I type this).



Shetland wool blankets ($250) - try Alison (new shipment arriving tomorrow), me, and Cariboo Growers and the Station House Gallery in Williams Lake.

Deluxe wool and handspun alpaca blanket ($350) - I have this one!


This blanket measures 192 cm x 130 cm (75.5" x 51") and is soft and plush from the handspun alpaca, which is from Heritage Valley, Williams Lake. (I did the spinning and it's lovely fibre.)

  • Alison Perry in Ottawa is at: alison "at" cariboohandwoven "dot" ca
  • I'm in Williams Lake, BC at: jane "at" cariboohandwoven "dot" ca - or my cariboojane email address if you know it.
  • All Williams Lake locations are on Facebook as far as I know, but please contact me if you need help finding them.

I can easily send photos, measurements and any information you need. This is becoming a more common way of distance purchases for Cariboo Handwoven.

Enjoy the season!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Birch Blanket

This Shetland wool blanket was displayed in the "Welcoming Spring" part of my recent show at the Station House Gallery. It's made of a soft silvery grey with accents of warm yellow, cream and brown.

SH070 | 100% wool | 190 cm x 130 cm (75" x 51") | $250

In September, I took photos of it draped over the lower branches of a paper birch, and designed and ordered a set of 6" x 6" cards. I've already been using the cards and have distributed some to interested people.


The blanket is still available, and the buyer will receive a set or two of cards with it! Let me know if you're interested by commenting below, sending me a Facebook message on Cariboo Handwoven's page, or emailing me at: jane "at" cariboohandwoven "dot" ca.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Williams Lake Medieval Market - My 3rd

Cariboo Handwoven was a vendor for the third time at the annual Williams Lake Medieval Market last weekend. The new venue in the larger high school campus provided two stages for musical performances, along with the usual great food, wandering minstrels, and many friends stopping in to visit and say hi. Even visitors who I didn't know at first were happy to look around, and I received many compliments on the recent Station House show. Thanks to all of those who dropped in!

I had many towels for sale and brought only a few home:


Cariboo Handwoven also had a good selection of wool blankets (on big rack under banner), cotton blankets (right-hand side of booth) and bath towels (hanging on tree between).



I was grateful to hang lights and dowels from the beautiful wall provided by Scott and Janet from New to Olde Designs. I had Debby Lloyd's gorgeous baskets on my other side - coincidentally, I displayed hand towels in my own rush basket with juniper handle that I'd bought earlier (very far left above stool).

It was one fantastic weekend with amazing community spirit - and people coming from as far as Quesnel and 70 Mile House.  I know - I met them!

Thanks so much, see you next year!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Bath Towels - 2nd Batch

My first set of cotton bath towels were very well-received by the two requestors, and the reviews couldn't be better. So I decided to weave up another batch for this busy time of the year with craft sales and numerous enquiries coming in.

Here are some examples of the 12 new bath towels:




All towels are about 90 cm (35") wide and 140 cm (55") long. They sell for $80 each. And they're heading to the Medieval Market later today for the weekend!

Monday, 17 November 2014

"Keep Weaving Your Story"

At the opening of "To Drive the Cold Winter Away" a week and a half ago, a friend and very dear person gave me a little gift she'd made, along with a card filled with kind words. Her note ended with: "Keep weaving your story." I was very touched by this gift, and those four words got me thinking.

Keep weaving my story? ... What is that? What is my story?

Stories are big these days. It seems that every person, every product, every thing has its story. I'm warming up to the idea of stories, although initially rather reluctantly. Just in case stories are a trend or a fad, I didn't want to be swept in. But maybe there's something to it, to a story. And if so - what is my story? What is this story I'm to weave?

Answering that question now, my story is who I am at this stage of my life in all that I've done that's made me who I am now. It includes my successes and triumphs, and my failures and goof-ups.  It goes for everyone. Right now, my story is being a weaver, but it's also my other interests: music, horses, running, my community, my province and country, my family, the travels I've done and places I've visited, and more. In other words, my story is all that I've experienced and learned so far in life.

The story I weave brings the style I've developed over decades, often described as fine-textured fabrics with meticulous finishing. Lately, I've added special aspects to my story like my Deep Forest and Energy series. And a new part of my story is "Blankets Aren't Just For Horses!" which is helping connect me with other horse lovers.

I suppose that my story is also what I'm to become. If I weave my story then I'm creating it as well as telling it. The timing is good for this, because as the days grow shorter and colder, those of us in the northern hemisphere are approaching the winter solstice and a new year. Now is the right time to be thinking about weaving my story because I first have to create it in my mind - and my heart.

To other weavers out there - what is the story you're weaving?

Monday, 10 November 2014

"To Drive the Cold Winter Away" at the Station House Gallery

To Drive the Cold Winter Away is my show (my first ever) with potter Joan Beck at the Station House Gallery in Williams Lake, BC. Joan and I developed three parts to the theme and here they are in sequence:

Staying Warm and Cozy

Six Shetland wool blankets

Family Blanket in Shetland wool woven in twill blocks

Chasing Winter Away

Blankets in wool (left and right) and cotton (centre)

Great combination of blankets and pottery

Awaiting Spring

Joan's raku swallows flying over cotton towels and blankets on trike, and Shetland wool blankets hanging

The show is on until Sunday November 23, and more photos are available on the Station House Gallery's Facebook page.

Thank you to the gallery's hanging committee, all who attended the fabulous opening last Thursday evening, and of course to my artistic partner, Joan Beck!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Station House Gallery Show

I'm almost ready to deliver blankets, scarves, towels and props to the Station House Gallery in Williams Lake tomorrow. "To Drive the Cold Winter Away" opens on Thursday, November 6 from 5-7 pm and continues to November 22. It's a short time period, just over two weeks, but November is the perfect month to think about facing the upcoming winter.


Taking inspiration from a 17th century Christmas carol,
Joan Beck and Jane Perry's exhibition To Drive the Cold
Winter Away aims to alleviate the dread that comes with
early winter months. "We can embrace winter and see it
as an opportunity to gear down with more time indoors for
reading, crafts, and gathering with friends" the artists illustrate.
Jane's weavings and Joan's pottery, accompanied by a
surprise musical guest, provide the perfect indoor comforts
to get you through another Cariboo winter.


From the germ of an idea in May 2013, through the proposal submission
and acceptance, and then all the collaboration by Joan and me since -
next Thursday will be fun!

Friday, 31 October 2014

I'm a Weaver and I Went to a Photography Seminar!

Last weekend, Pat and I drove down to Burnaby for the annual seminar hosted by the Abbotsford Photo Arts Club. The speaker for the day was Frans Lanting from California. To call this incredible man a "nature photographer" is only part of what he shares with the world. Frans Lanting has a personal mission to present the environment vividly to his viewers, and to make us see differently, think differently and act differently about our world.

So what's in a photography seminar for a weaver? Lots.

With a husband who is a keen and very good photographer (and photography teacher), I'm becoming a little indoctrinated in the art of photography and seen the many connections with weaving. Seeing, composing, finishing - photographers and weavers proceed through these and other related steps. Photographers may see an image before them whereas weavers first can only see the cloth in their mind. But photographers and weavers both compose, produce and finish carefully, involving many technical steps along the way.

As well as those obvious (to me) overlaps, even some of the photographic discussions and critiques start my mind racing. One photographer's dud photo could be this weaver's major inspiration.

Some of Frans Lanting's key points that I could really relate to included:
  1. Art is starting with nothing and making something, or it is starting with too much and having to remove and reduce.
    One of my key faults in cloth design is trying to do too much. I would take a complex weave structure, add a complex colour regime, flip the colour sequence around across the width - too much.
    Simplify, and the beauty will stand out.
  2. Pause, think about what interests you, analyze a bit, then compose.
    This is not only relevant to photographers, but true for me as a weaver. I have some ideas still incubating for over a year. Other ideas need far less time or can even be acted on quite spontaneously.
  3. Look for your favourite colour combinations.
    I have mine, and I use them as often as possible in my work. What gets me is how versatile and essential some apparently unexciting colours may be - a Prussian blue, my Tuscan gold standby, a favourite verdant green that springs with life. Yarn dyelots may vary though, and perfect consistency from one yarn order to the next can never be guaranteed.
  4. Dig down into one topic or location rather than traveling all over and trying to photograph everything.
    I dig down into weaving blankets :-) and my colours are earthy, natural combinations or I go a bit wild now and then, such as in my Energy series.
Frans Lanting is a very skilled and engaging speaker, and a really outstanding individual. Pat and I knew he'd done his seminar many times before, but it felt new to us as audience members and not recycled from past presentations. Check out Frans' website if you want some major inspiration.


Monday, 27 October 2014

Another Energy Blanket (SH089)

I began my Energy series recently with a colourful blanket in advancing twill. It was the start of an ongoing series of bold, bright blankets - the colours and weave structure have so much life and energy.

The latest batch of Shetland wool blankets included another member of the Energy series.


SH089 | 100% wool | 175 cm x 127 cm (69" x 50") | $250

This is another blanket headed to the Station House Gallery show in November. It will be part of the show aimed at chasing winter away.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Family Blanket

I usually aim for a finished length of six feet for my wool and cotton blankets, which is 183 cm. Some blankets are a bit less because of the pattern sequence - or my miscalculation of the woven length before shrinkage during washing. And some blankets are longer, for the same reasons.

When I weave Shetland wool blankets, I plan on seven blankets for a project. This works out to 18.5 turns of the back beam when warping. (My counting is generally more reliable than the yarn meter on the tension box; if the yarn slips off I'm lost, so I now just count aloud.)

For the 15th batch of Shetland wool blankets, I added an extra half metre and knew it would be plenty to weave one extra-long blanket at the end of the warp. Correct - this one is 2.8 m long, which is over 9 feet.
SH092 | 100% wool | 280 cm x 127 cm (110" x 50") | $325
This blanket is headed to the Station House Gallery next month for my show with potter Joan Beck entitled "To Drive the Cold Winter Away." It will help a family do just that!



Monday, 20 October 2014

15th Batch of Shetland Wool Blankets

Blog readers and blanket owners have probably noticed by now that wool blankets are my forte.  My 15th set of Shetland wool blankets was super fun and enjoyable to make. After they were woven, I loved having all the fringing, washing, pressing, labeling, measuring and photographing to do. And now the final step - blogging.

Here they are with a few notes regarding their availability. I finished weaving the 16th batch yesterday and have all the fringing and subsequent finishing stages happily ahead of me again.

SH086 | 100% wool | 175 cm x 128 cm (69" x 50.5") | $250

SH087 | 100% wool | On hold

SH088 | 100% wool | Sold

SH089 | 100% wool | Energy series | 175 cm x 128 cm (69" x 50") | $250

SH090 | 100% wool | Autumn Storm series | Sold

SH091 | 100% wool | 190 cm x 128 cm (77" x 50.5") | $250 | Available in Ottawa

SH092 | 100% wool | Family Blanket | 280 cm x 127 cm (110" x 50") | $325

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Shetland Wool Blankets on the Line


Three more Shetland wool blankets dried on the line after handwashing and before pressing, labeling, measuring and photographing. The interwoven blocks and lines from the turned twill weave structure, added to all the colour changes, make some very interesting combinations.



The left and centre blankets are on their way to Ottawa, and the one on the right is in my studio. I'll blog the whole batch with more information when all are ready to show.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Thanksgiving


Love ... family, friends, memories
Peace ... living it and wishing it for everyone
Nature ... its beauty and resilience
Fall colours ....



Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Flaws

After my recent post on knots, I received this quotation that's probably meant to address (and quell) my paranoia with flaws in my weaving:
“Some beautiful things are more dazzling when they are still imperfect than when they have been too perfectly crafted."
- La Rochefoucauld
Examples of flaws include a threading error, which will run lengthwise down the cloth. It will show up (to various severities) as a subtle stripe of colour imbalance, or a raised stripe of grouped threads, or some distinct imperfection that grabs my eye uncomfortably and makes me squirm to some degree.

Flaws running across the cloth are from my errors in the treadling sequence. They usually appear as a jump in the progression, some missed rows, and I find are often more visible than lengthwise flaws. 

The degree of visibility and acceptance of flaws ranges among viewers, however, with this weaver usually being the most critical of her work.  I get the "lighten up" comments from various fans of my work. That's fine, as it shows me I'm the most critical and others see the flaws as minor imperfections that prove the cloth was handwoven.

I'm not providing any photos in this blog. I've said enough!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

23 More Towels

One project I enjoy now and then between all the blankets is a set of towels. After working with lovely wool in heathery tones and beautiful shades, I'm ready to strike out with simple cottons and bolder colours to create something that is often in high demand.

Here's my latest batch of cotton towels. Some are headed to Ottawa, and some to the Station House Gallery show in November where I'll be exhibiting with potter Joan Beck for our show "To Drive the Cold Winter Away."

Some samples:




(Yes, that's one of Joan's mugs that's been in frequent use here at home.)


Friday, 26 September 2014

Knots

Working with yarns inevitably means working with knots. (Tangles are another matter and I won't get into them now.) As long as spun yarns end before the yarn's final desired length is reached, knots are required to extend their length.

There's an important distinction in where knots are acceptable and not. Knots in the warp reduce a lot of waste and are pretty essential. When the weaver knots two yarns together for a warp end, enough extra can be added so that the knot can be carefully undone and the ends spliced in. It depends on the yarns and weave structure, but tapered ends usually fit in very nicely and the splice disappears after washing.

Knots in the weft, however, are generally not allowed. When winding onto bobbins, if I feel a knot whizz through my hand, I'll stop, back up, find the knot and break the yarn. I'll find the break when weaving and can splice in the two ends, usually at the selvedge, which is again invisible after the fabric is washed.

The knots that really bug me are the ones I discover in a finished piece. Yesterday I found one in one of the bath towels that went out for selection. How did that ever slip by? I should have seen the knot during the weaving, or the pressing, or during the final inspection. However, I obviously missed it. In two minutes or less I can fix it. But seeing that flaw jump out at me showed me how, as thorough as we may think we are, that "human error" factor usually jumps in.

To anyone who finds a knot in a finished piece of mine, my apologies. The knot slipped through several stages in production, but I should have found it and fixed it.


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Felting Experiment

"There's no such thing as a failed experiment" is my adage - moreso, I find, in middle age. Often, a new way of doing something, even if not necessarily approached voluntarily, can lead to interesting discoveries and profound improvements. Or, if not, at least one knows more now than one did.

Along those lines are these blankets. I wove them in advancing twill and made the second one part of my Autumn Storm series. It is another blanket that tells a story: one end is predominantly heathery orange and rich greens, then the grey clouds move in, then the other end is mostly greens of the conifers with the coloured leaves gone.

Here's one of the advancing twill blankets in detail. All photos in this blog are by Pat Teti who used a temporary line of coloured thread to return to the same spot for comparison.

SH082 before washing

SH082 after handwashing - completed


The beautiful advancing twill weave structure creates a lovely movement to the eye, but the second blanket had long floats of individual threads throughout.

SH084 before washing

As a blanket, I was afraid that the floats would catch and pull which would soon make it a mess. I wasn't sure what to do about this. So I tossed it into the washing machine on a regular cycle with the laundry. I knew this would felt the blanket considerably and lock in the floats.

The blanket was waiting for me at the machine door when I opened it. Wow!

SH084 washed (felted)

It has indeed felted and shrunk to a width of 107 cm and length of 132 cm. It's rather gorgeous, I think, and the felting has softened the colours and colour shifts. All that take-in has made it pretty thick and heavy. It's still a very nice size as a blanket, but just not the type to wrap around the user as much as all my other blankets do.

I certainly won't be felting all my blankets, but this one is rather special. I consider it another successful experiment.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Shetland Wool Blankets in Advancing Twill

I've used advancing twill before for towels and wanted to try it with this next set of Shetland wool blankets. This project gave me a huge chunk of ideas that I can work with and use for a long time. It also stretched me mentally and just about knocked me out physically, which I love about weaving.

Some of my new ideas while weaving these blankets include a new Energy series of blankets (SH083), which I'll add to when specific items seem suitable. Another blanket is a new addition to the Autumn Storm series and it's a blanket that tells a story and also includes a felting experiment.

Here are six new blankets woven in advancing twill.

SH080 | 100% wool | 175 cm x 125 cm (69" x 49") | Sold

SH081 | 100% wool | 181 cm x 127 cm (71" x 50") | Sold

SH082 | 100% wool | 180 cm x 125 cm (71" x 49") | $250

SH083 | 100% wool | from the Energy Series | Sold
SH084 | 100% wool | 132 cm x 107 cm (52" x 42") | $175

SH084 

SH085 | 100 % wool | 196 cm x 125 cm (77" x 49") | $250