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Festival Season is Mad

Spring is sprung and weavers are in their gardens. However, it is also a time for travel and festivals. In my studio on Salt Spring Island I teach Pushing the Boundaries of Plainweave, July 22 to 26 and again on August 5 to 9. Also August we will be at the Gibsons Landing Fibre Festival, vending and teaching Collapsible Fabrics from the 19-23.

This year, I have the privilege to teach at the Maiwa Textile Symposium for the first time. On October 1-4 from 10 to 4 in the Maiwa Net Loft on Granville Island in Vancouver, BC I will be teaching Weaving in the Maiwa Tradition.

I have always been so inspired by the exquisite handwoven fabrics that are produced for Maiwa. They bear witness to the beauty and elegance of plain weave, elegant use of colour, great design, and ingenuity. This workshop has been developed based on loom-controlled techniques used in Maiwa’s handwoven textiles. They are simple structures pushing the boundaries of plain weave in fine yarns. Students will weave eight fabrics over four days.

Students need basic weaving skills and their own table loom. Warps will be prepared in advance and sent to the students before the workshop. During the workshop students will migrate from loom to loom thus gaining access to a wide variety of structures and weaves.

Registration for this starts Monday June 22 at 10 am. Go to for more information

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Best Job in the Whole World

Well I guess the blogs are going to be monthly. Weekly certainly didn’t work, bi-weekly didn’t work, every three weeks didn’t work, so we’ll try monthly. Despite the fact that I don’t have much time to write these blogs I do feel as though I have the best job in the world. Every day I get to share my passion with weavers all over the continent. By chance, two of my favourite weavers were both in the studio at the same time a few weeks ago. They both brought in exquisite projects fresh off the loom woven in 12 gauge bamboo.
The wonderful thing about these two women is that they are both 88 years old, vital, creative and so inspiring. Josie has been weaving for more than 40 years and is one of the founding members of the Salt Spring Island Weavers Guild. Josie is a natural colourist and she is never afraid to try something new. She took home the Grand Rosette at our last Fall Fair.

Josie and her husband Philip are also very accomplished gardeners. A few years back they sold their ocean-front home with remarkable gardens to new owners. You can see their garden featured in Gardens West Vol 22 no. 8 October 2008, page 7. Josie and Philip are referred to throughout the article.

Josie’s scarf was woven in a turned twill pattern at 32 epi, 32 ppi on 8 shafts. Her warp was predominantly soft greens with a crocus weft. Pam’s colours were lime, sky, indigo, crocus and sugar plum woven in a 4 shaft huck lace, sett at 28 epi, 28 ppi. The hand and drape on both of the pieces were perfect.

Pam first learned to weave as an occupational therapist before she retired. When she was in her late 60’s she decided to take her weaving more seriously and began her very disciplined exploration. She is always dropping in to show me what she is working on and is always striving to make her weaving better. So often I hear my students say: “Oh, I wish I had learned to do this earlier!”. Let Pam be your muse because it’s never too late! Each project is a step along your weaving path. Keep moving forward along your path, don’t dwell on what you haven’t done, take positive action by moving forward.

P.S. Pam has a remarkable garden too.

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Sowing seeds for a future generation of weavers…

My last on line journal was about Josie and Pam, both 88 and creating absolutely stunning fabrics. We thought it would be fun to look at the other end of the spectrum.

Three young ladies who have had a chance to try out weaving on 4 shaft looms with good quality yarns in colours of their choice. They are 3, 6 and 12 years old and they have all jumped into the weaving world with a big splash. Children learn so quickly, unlike adults they are undaunted by the process. Given the chance, little fingers stiff at first with indecision are transformed into flying, exuberant and deftly joyous instruments of pure creative expression.
Saraphina is 3. Her mom Rachel weaves and works here. Saraphina is curious, independent and capable. She really really wants to weave.
After wanting to take over her mother’s loom we decided to give her one of her own that we weren’t using anymore. She chose the colours for her first warp. While her mother warped the loom and threaded it, Saraphine sleyed it all by herself. She throws the shuttle with gay abandon, marveling at the process and excelling at beating the weft ‘nice and tight’! Her mama loves to see her creativity nourished.


Amadea is six. She came to the studio with her grandma Arlene and was so interested, I just had to give her a scarf kit of her own. Her face lit up at the possibility of weaving. She dressed the loom with her grandma and look at the wonderful result. A perfect chenille scarf, She is going to “put it under her bed in her Tommy Hilfiger box where no one can find it and if they want to wear it they have to ask first”.
What a gift to give to the next generation – the gift of experience from a cherished person – her grandma! Grandma jokes: “A six year old and her grama, at the same level!”


We have another young weaver on Salt Spring named Zoë and she is 12. She is weaving with a mentor – Jane MacKenzie, and the result is magic. Jane told us a little of the story and here it is. Unfortunately we do not have any photos of Zoë’s weaving yet.

“Zoë and I first began working together a few years ago when her mother asked me if I could help her get started with weaving. Her idea was to weave material to sew a cloak. She was reading a novel and the main character had a blue cloak which she wanted to create.”

We used silk and silk/cashmere, yarns she chose from my studio supply of both Treenway and The Silk Tree yarns. We spent a day dyeing the yarn with real indigo to create a lovely shade of pale blue. She worked with 20/2 yarn at 36 ends per inch and once the loom was set up she wove all the yardage herself. I think it was about 6 meters, which is a lot for a 12 year old but she persevered! She then created a pattern with her mother and they sewed the cloak. It was a beautiful and well done job.

Zoë and I are presently working on another small project of three solid color silk scarves as she is keen to keep working and wants to create gifts for several people. We also have in mind a larger project with a painted warp which we will do when the scarves are complete. She will create the warps in my new studio, Knotty Threads, in Fulford and weave the project at home on her new loom. Zoë is determined and creative and has great parents that seek out others to help facilitate her goals and ambitions.”

Here is a girl who has no restrictions on her creative possibilities and she is producing beautiful fabric and handwovens already – winning at our 2008 Fall Fair and poised to be a great weaver.

These children have all been given a gift – a seed has been sown and hopefully it will continue to grow throughout their lives.

Why don’t you consider planting a garden…