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December Blog, Weaver Spotlight!

This month we shine the weaver spotlight on Jae Koscierzynski from Michigan. Like so many students that came here over the years, Jae was an inspiration to me. Throughout my career as a teacher I have been so blessed to have such wonderful students.

Doing towel or sample exchanges was always a big part of the retreat scene here at JST. When students did exchanges based on the overlaying of ideas in the workshops the results were fabulous, unique and so inspiring. The whole was always greater than the sum of the parts. 

Thank you to Joan Sheridan of Heritage Spinning and Weaving for being such a wonderful friend and for sending me so many talented students. You must be so proud of Jae, I sure know I am.

I was introduced to weaving several years ago by Joan Sheridan. She owns Heritage Spinning & Weaving where I teach knitting. As an engineer by trade, she thought I would enjoy weaving. I’ll admit I didn’t take to it at first. I loved everything about weaving a project except the actual, well, weaving. Figuring out the amount yarn needed, love it! Warping, beaming, threading, sleying, and hem stitching – love all that too. It wasn’t until I took Jane’s Colour & Design class that I learned to love throwing the shuttle. Until then, I couldn’t follow someone else’s pattern without boredom setting in about 2 inches into the project, but I didn’t know where to start or have the confidence to try my own ideas. After Colour & Design, I am always weaving. I now have more ideas to try on my loom than I will ever be able to weave in my lifetime!
I wove this scarf after a sample exchange with several other class members from one of the last in-person Pushing the Boundary with Plain Weave I sessions. We had been together the year before in Colour & Design and did a towel exchange. We enjoyed taking what we had learned from C&D to make towels and wanted to do it again. However, we admitted that perhaps Cramming and Denting, Rep weave, and the like weren’t well suited for towels. Instead, we all committed to providing 3 samples at least 24″ long. The “rules” were to take something from Colour & Design and combine it with something from PBPW.

I gave away my samples and apparently did not take any photos before I did! The scarf is warped with 16/2 cotton – black. It is sett and woven at 20 epi/ppi except at the edges which are crammed at 40 epi. This sett is the same as the warp that is used for Season 3 – Episode 8.  

I used 30/2 Bombyx silk for the supplemental threads and for the warp, Black Magic, Violet Ice, Ariel’s Voice, Lime Light, Gold Rush, Tiger Lily, and Persophone’s Pip. 

The ratio of each color for the supplemental threads is based on the Parrot Sample from Season 2 – Episode 5. I started with colors I had in my stash to create a color gradient, similar in concept to the Parrot Sample as well. 
I originally thought of using black as the dividers and natural as the back ground. I’m glad I went the other way as the bright colors pop more against the black background. If I were to do it again, I would perhaps pick a different color for Gold Rush or Lime Light. In the skein, they look distinct but in the actual warp, the colors are very close and I would aim for more contrast.  

I chose to keep the middle section simple since that portion is scrunched up around the neck and isn’t easily seen. 

From my sampling, I also realized that the floats had to be kept short to avoid snagging while wearing.

At each end I wove the colors to be square – one with a pattern of “bricks” and the other solid colors with small dashes from the supplemental warp. Choosing how to weave the ends was the hardest part. I had several more ideas that I wanted to try using this graphic and warp structure. As always, the warp ran out before my creativity did!

With every episode that Jane presents, I learn something new. But the best lesson she has given me is to be fearless and just see what happens. It may not turn out as I expect, but I still end up with a piece of cloth that has something to teach me.   

Learn more about the JST Online Guild

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JST Online Guild Weaving Lessons

Twills on 4 is coming your way in 2020

For the past few months we have been busy working on the program for 2020.  Twills on 4……Oh My, Oh My, Oh My……it is so exciting. In January of 2020 we start diving into the world of twill structure and will overlay it with everything we learned in Colour & Design and Pushing the Boundaries of Plain Weave. This strong foundation will allow us to take 4 shaft Twills to a new level.

We start the year off learning to draft on graph paper and then we weave a sample exploring our 3 standard twill tie-ups and bring all the repetitive sequences we learned in Colour and Design to Twills (yes, Asymmetry, Plaid, Parrot and Colour and Weave Sequences start playing on Twills).

Episode 2 is very special because we have Bob Keates co-creator of Fiberworks PCW presenting his programme for Mac and PC. 

In addition to building on our Colour & Design gamps, this year includes 4 amazing twill gamps: one using small threadings, one using big threadings, one exploring point twill and an awesome colour and weave gamp on twill that will blow your mind. Each of these gamps explores tie-up possibilities, treadling techniques and colour and weave ideas in the weft.

We also delve into the power and beauty of Basket Weave. One entire episode explores Basket Weave as a vertical design element with other twill threadings. This allows us to frame our twills or just have 2 different structures vertically in our cloth…..so many ideas. Twill and Basket Weave are a fabulous combo, they are like an awesome bottle of wine and a great chunk of cheese. Yep, everything still revolves around food 🙂

Towards the end of the year we will apply the rules of Shadow Weave to all the twill threadings we’ve learned and then we’ll do the same with Weft Faced Twills.  

Weaving is all about systems and this year we’ll be looking at twill as a system. It is very liberating to look at it this way….to learn that we can use all this theory to create new, stunning, modern renditions of old classics. The twill family is a big happy family and they all like to party together. 

If you haven’t guessed it by now….I LOVE WEAVING…..and I LOVE SHARING IT ALL WITH YOU!

Come for the ride….we’re going to have a blast.

Twills on 4!

To learn more about the JST Online Guild click here

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May 2019 Newsletter

Two custom colour ways in silk

I do believe Spring is here to stay. In honour of her return and because we’ve had so many requests for this colourway… we’ve done another small run Playing with Pastels and Cheryl, our wonderful hand dyer, has created a very small run of West Coast Wonder inspired by the water that surrounds and nourishes us.

New 16/2 Linen from Venne

Last month I dropped in on René and Mischa van der Venne in the Netherlands and spent a wonderful couple of days hanging out with two marvellous people AND exploring a warehouse of organic yarn. We are committed to expanding our line of organic yarn. This month we have added 16/2 GOTS certified organic linen in 21 colours. GOTS stands for the Global Organic Textile Standard. The aim of the standard is to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.

The process of making our sample cards

Why do we charge $5 for our sample cards? We thought we’d better explain why and the reasoning behind it. All sample yarn is cut by hand. All the sample cards are punched by hand. The length of the yarn is such that you can compare, side-by-side, any thread with any other thread. We don’t use sticky tape to adhere our yarn to the sample card – tape stiffens and becomes brittle over time – we thread the yarn into the sample card. Two Salt Spring gals are responsible for constructing our sample cards; let’s here it for Christine and Susan! 🙂

The JST Helpline is dead, long live the JST Knowledge Base!

If you’ve not used the JST Helpline before, it’s a compendium of as much knowledge about weaving as we could squeeze onto the interwebs. But it hasn’t been used as often as we thought it could be. So we’ve relaunched/revamped the JST Helpline. It is now called – cue drumroll – the JST Knowledge Base.

We want to make it the first place to go when weavers encounter a problem. Having a problem with your Jane loom? Check the Jane loom section of the JST Knowledge Base. Maybe you’re asking yourself can I wind two threads at a time? Or perhaps you’ve pondered the question, how do I tie-up a sinking shed loom? 

Or try searching the knowledge base. You should see suggestions appear and become refined as you type.

If you find the article useful, give it a thumbs up. If you felt like the article didn’t hit the spot, click thumbs down. Either way, leave some feedback and we’ll be able to refine the article for other weavers.

Linen spring cleaning

Spring is a great time to have a linen sale. The following are all 10% off, whilst stocks last…

16/2 Wet Spun Line – Bleached
16/2 Wet Spun Line – Natural
30/3 Wet Spun Line – Natural
33/3 Wet Spun Line – Bleached
40/2 Wet Spun Line – Bleached

And, we have some large cones of 5/2 warp twist cotton that need to find a new home. These are 10% off too 🙂 There is a lot of yardage on these puppies, it is a fabulous yarn but unfortunately we have to buy it on these huge cones and that seems to put weavers off… so if you’re interested in any type of production work that requires a lovely natural cotton at 2100 yds. per lb… this yarn is for you.

Warp Faced Weaving is up next on the Online Guild

You don’t want to miss the next episode which airs May 23rd. Warp Faced Kits are available on our website!

How heavy is cone?

It depends.

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March 2019 Newsletter

The Great Snow Storm of 2019 follows on the heels of The Great Wind Storm of 2018

I know that so many of our readers put up with snow four or five months of the year but we don’t get too much of it and when we do it is a lovely treat… for a couple of days 🙂 After a couple of days it becomes quite apparent that we are wimps out here on the west coast of Canada – a snow conversation around here starts like this… “Hey Honey, where’s the snow shovel?” “Oh, I think it’s down in the orchard under all the snow.” We got 18 inches worth of white stuff and we never did find the shovel. But all the whining aside it was peaceful and beautiful, until it wasn’t anymore.

The Producers!

We’ve had multiple requests lately on making a repair heddle and how to read a reed substitution chart. The easiest way to do this was in a little video, so here you go…

How to make your own repair heddle.
Do you only have one weaving reed? Don’t let that get you down! Here’s how to use the handy dandy Reed Substitution Chart. It will help you access the many possible ends per inch with only one reed!

Fibres West 2019

A lot of people are asking if we’re going to Fibres West this year. Alas, we are not. Jane has the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and work with the weavers of Sabahar once again. It was a chance that was too good to pass up. The JST crew refused to go to the show without her! Boo yah! We hope Brenda and all the vendors at Fibres West have a fabulous show so please go support them.

Spring cleaning!

We’ve given our website a facelift! We’re always trying to make things more user friendly and cleaner looking. We’ve updated a lot of our photos, the next thing we’re going to tackle is the Online Guild forum and make it easier to use.

Next Online Guild episode

The next Online Guild episode airs on March 14. Come and learn all about log cabin.

The Coneheads are coming!

We have a brand spanking new cone winding machine. Grant has read the manual and is ready to rock and roll. This should mean we’ll have fewer gaps in our inventory.

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February 2019 Newsletter

Alpaca Lace, Tweed and Prime Alpaca. 25% off sale

Our beautiful Alpaca yarns have been lonely for too long so I have decided to let them go at great savings. All remaining stock will be discounted until these beautiful skeins and cones have found a new home. Now’s the time to add some to your stash.

100% Super-fine Alpaca made in Peru. 1330 yds/lb. Available in 1/2 lb skeins – 664 yds/skein. We carry this yarn in two styles, Prime and Tweed. All colours are naturally occurring. It truly is a heavenly fibre. In plain weave the prime Alpaca weaves up beautifully at 10 epi and the Tweed is fabulous at 8 epi. Both variations full beautifully.
Lace weight Baby Alpaca. This yarn is spun from the finest quality of alpaca fibre. It knits or weaves to a luxurious, supersoft hand. It is beautiful as a weft on a silk warp. After you finish your project all it needs is a gentle wash in warm water, a rinse and hang to dry. Finish off with a nice steam press.

880 yds/100g cone.

More Bouclé Blankies

Do you remember those gorgeous blankies from last newsletter? Well I just couldn’t stop working on them. The first lot were soft and subtle in their colour ways and you know me… I love hot and humid, LOL. So here you go… two limited edition colour ways: Salt Spring Berries and Carmanah Caress.

Coming up next on the Online Guild


Get set to learn about Cramming and Denting in the next episode airing February 7th. It is the perfect technique to follow on the heals of Denting which we did in January.

Latest Blog

I have had a few requests to write a bit about the weavers of India and those beautiful fabrics you seeing hanging in the studio during the videos. I will add a new post to these threads every month and you’ll see just why I’m always talking about these artisans. They are so inspiring.

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Weaver Spotlight: JST Online Guild Member Linda P.

This month we are going to shine the spotlight on one of our JST Online Guild members…the talented Ms. Linda Pickett from Victoria, B.C. Earlier this year, Linda attended our last workshop and brought along some fabulous show and tell. I was so excited that I begged her to let me share 3 of the pieces with you.

She used all the techniques that were presented in the last 3 blog posts. She figured out what her sett was first, then she divided her space and finally she poured in the colour and threading structure.
These 3 pieces are amazing!
In Linda’s words:
A number of things came together for me this past year.  I think it was partly the online guild, partly that I framed some goals for myself for the year (first time I have done that), partly that I was working with yarns and colours that I like. I was inspired to play, to push things further, to experiment. I have let all this air into my cloth. I experimented with mixing yarns in my cloth that I would never have considered. I am weaving more mindfully (its kinda slow but I am enjoying it), I am doing better at watching the negative space, paying more attention to my technique.  The result is that I wove projects this past year that thrilled me, the most delighted I have been with my weaving since I first threw a shuttle (before I realized that that miraculous cloth closely resembled cardboard). So very exciting. 
 
One of the brilliant things about the online guild is that it is like getting a creative booster shot every month. I certainly didn’t weave everything; I didn’t “keep up” by any means but they always inspire me. Sometimes I almost can’t watch because my brain is too full for more ideas! So fabulous. 
‘Blankie’ is woven using Harrisville Shetland in PW at 8 epi and 8 ppi.  Linda pulled one of the Colour and Weave threadings (DDL) from the guild gamp and used it for the body of the blankie.
 She framed it with a natural zinger line and a solid border.
The drape and hand are spectacular and the colour is beautifully soft.
This next shawl is breathtaking; Linda used many of the techniques we learned in 2018. Her canvas was a mix of 18/2 merino for the warp and 16/2 cotton for weft. Woven perfectly balanced at 18 epi and ppi.
Graphically, she did a division of space in 5, and her outer borders are different widths….there is that asymmetry word again! 🙂
Then she had 2 sections with 4 D, 4 L colour and weave sequence from the gamp in Season 2 episode 4
and the centre section was solid white with a fine over grid of black on it. She put it all together using the ideas from Colour and Design, so naturally I was jumping up and down when she showed me this piece. (You can just imagine!)

Linda took it all tad further with this beautiful fine 40/2 linen scarf where she inserted some Bronson Lace into the graphic.

It is so easy to see how the graphic and the sketching helps you get to the warping board quickly:

She knew her EPI was going to be 24 because we discussed it based on all the sampling we do around here. She figured out how wide and how long, then she drew her graphic…..got her number of warp threads…fiddled around a wee bit making the lace threading fit (based on Season 1 Episodes 5 and 6),
and then she poured in her colours:

That’s the formula that just keeps giving and giving and giving!

We absolutely adore seeing what our guild members are weaving! Did you know that you can share your projects with our Ravelry Group, and also on Instagram using the #JSTOnlineGuild hashtag?

We look forward to another exciting year of weaving in 2019 – click here to learn more about Season 3: Pushing the Boundaries of Plain Weave. We hope you’ll join us!

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Design for Weavers: Colour Theory & Practice

Colour is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.

Claude Monet

Colour is the child of light, the source of all light on earth.

From “Colors: The Story of Dyes and Pigments”

My weaving colour choices are an emotional response, a response to some stimulus that has moved me—a flower, a painting, a picture in a magazine. I see something that I love, and then I interpret it in coloured yarns.

Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong; sometimes it looks stunning, sometimes—less stunning. But the great thing is, there’s always more yarn and there’s always another opportunity to try again and make it better.

Talking Colour

Colour is a big subject, and it has a vocabulary all its own. In designing, I work most with three aspects of colour:

  • Hue
  • Value
  • Saturation

Hue

Hue is easy. It’s what we naturally think of when we think of “what colour” something is: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple.

Another way to think of hue is where the colour sits on the colour wheel:

Value

If you were a painter, you could easily achieve a wide range of colours simply by adding black, white, or grey to your hue. This changes the lightness and darkness of a colour. This changes its value, which is the lightness or darkness of a colour.

If you add white to a colour, you have a tint:

If you add black to a colour, you have a shade:

If you add grey to a colour, you have a tone:

Saturation

A hue at its purest and clearest, as it would appear in the colour wheel, is said to be at its maximum saturation.

As you add grey to a hue, the hue becomes more desaturated—making it less clear and more muted. In the picture below, the outermost ring is the pure hue at its most saturated. As you move in to the centre of the circle, the colour becomes increasingly desaturated.

Using Colour

Weavers can’t mix on a palette like painters do, so it is important to play with combinations that might strike you as unlikely, because you’ll be amazed how some of them work in the cloth.

You will see in the sample work on the online guild that varying colours that have high and low saturation can give you the most amazing, complex colour in your finished piece.—Sort of like having a party with your quiet family, and then the loud crazy cousins come in and it becomes a hootenanny. ☺

I have some favourite moves I like to make when using colour, and I’ll share them with you here.

Gradations

I love gradation work.  This is where you can put all the tints and shades of one colour that you might have in your stash. A gradation builds movement across your weaving from light to dark.

If you then add an overgrid on your gradation, it makes an entirely new graphic:

You can shift through analogous colours, or in and out of one set of colours—for example, dark on the selvedge to light in the middle, or vice versa.

Analogous Colour Harmonies

I use analogous colour harmonies more than anything else in my weaving. They are the colours right next door to each other on the colour wheel.

Analogous colours flow into one another. Gaia uses them all the time: just start looking at flowers!

Some colour systems include four colours from the wheel in a row, others three. Personally, I think you can use as many as you want to create your own personal rainbow. If you are working directionally around the colour wheel you can never go wrong.

Analogous colour harmonies are the perfect place to start if you are unsure about using colour. Then you can add gradations of light and dark.

Complementary Colours

Colours that are right across the colour wheel from each other are called complementary colours, or complements.

Complements for Zingers and Accents

Complements make great zingers and accents.

When deciding how you want your complementary colours to interact, keep in mind that colour plus its complement (in theory, anyway) gives you a muddied look. For example, if you use one colour for your warp and its complement for your weft, the resulting piece can be very muted, possibly more than you expect.

If you want that big contrast, keep blocks of complementary colours larger in both the warp and the weft, so that the eye does not blend them into gray.

Our plaid sample is a great example of this. We have big red squares and big green squares. Where they weave on each other, they look muddy. But because our eye is drawn to the solid square of each colour, we don’t even notice the muddy areas.

Split Complements for Pairing

For a split complement, we first identify the true complement of a colour. Then we select the colours on either side of it to pair with the original colour. For example, the true complement of green is red.

To find the split complement, we look at the colours on either side of red.

If you are looking at one colour family and want to find some nice pairings, split complements always work. They make great zingers, too. Start looking for split complements in nature and you’ll start seeing them everywhere.

Many of the samples in the previous 2 posts use these principles.  Go back and have a look here and here.

So happy to share my approach to colour with you. To explore colour further, I invite you to join the JST Online Guild; our 2018 season focuses on Colour & Design, and you’ll receive immediate access to all published videos when you sign up! Click here to learn more (you’ll also receive our free PDF guide, Project Planning 1010).  Happy Weaving!

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November 2018 Newsletter

Take this opportunity to stock up on all your favourite yarns. This weekend only, all yarns 10% off.

Stocking stuffers

The festive season is just around the corner… if you’re looking for some great stocking stuffers for the weavers in your life we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite products.

Blog

We’ve started a blog last month, here’s the two articles you may have missed this month:

Design for Weavers: Fibonacci & Division of Space
Weaving Architecture: Step 1 of the Design Process

If you want to subscribe to the blog, you can do it here: https://jst.link/blog-signup

Online Guild update

Just wanted to let you know that we’ll be releasing our wee promotional video on December 6 about what’s coming your way in 2019. Pushing the boundaries of plain weave is the workshop we’ll be featuring. If you’ve been wondering about denting, cramming & denting, log cabin, warp-faced, weft-faced, double-weave, collapsed weave and supplementary warps then you won’t want to miss next year. Sign up before December 7 and you’ll get it at the current price of C$75 / year.

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Septober 2018 Newsletter

Welcome to Septober

Fall is my favourite time of year. It brings cooler weather but with bright sunshine; the garden is overflowing; the apples are pressed into juice (this year we did our apples and pears together and it is fantastic. Just sayin  ).

And of course with autumn comes Thanksgiving Day. I usually do feel thankful every day of the year, but on the Thanksgiving Weekend (which we just had in Canada) I do reflect a little more deeply on all the blessings I have in my life. I have so many:

  • I have a wonderful and supportive family,
  • I live in a wonderfully supportive community,
  • I have an amazing staff running my business.

And, not least, I have been able to spend my life weaving and fostering our little business.

Few of us would be doing what we get to do (weaving and spinning and knitting) without all the farmers who grow the fibre in our yarns. When I think about it, we have silk rearers, flax growers, cotton farmers, and shepherds shepherding all those beautiful hoofed beasties – the alpacas, the angora goats, the numerous breeds of sheep – all working for us. Then there are all those hard-working folks who turn the fibre into yarn and all the dyers who pour their colourful hearts into it. An army of artisans stands behind every cone of natural yarn, and I am thankful to all of them.

A few weeks back I was cleaning up some really old files and I came across my very first order to Henry’s Attic back, in January of 1992. I was reading the list of yarns on that order and I realized that we still sell all those same yarns. Now, I have never met either Henry or Samira, but I feel like I know them somehow after all these years and I’m thankful to them because they have been at this forever, too. Then I started to think about all our other yarn suppliers and the mills we have been dealing with for all these many years and there are so so many. I am grateful for all these long-lasting partnerships, alliances, and connections.

And then there are all my students and customers and members of the Online Guild, we would not be here without you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for trusting in me and supporting me personally and JST as a business. I am so grateful.

Harvest Splendour tea towel kit

A few weeks back Joan and I were wandering around the yard marvelling at all the fall colours. We started to collect little piles of leaves, twigs and Japanese maple helicopters  , it was such a beautiful pile. When we got back to the studio I was looking at all the amazing colours and decided to design the Harvest Splendour Organic Tea Towel Kit.

I started with a 3 stripe overall division of space but after I wove them I decided to make the sides a bit narrower and the centre stripes a bit wider. I know this will give you more curry and brass to play with while weaving and I love those zinger accents in the weft.

I also decided to weave these in Venne Organic 8/2 cotton, it was a no brainer… it was Mother Earth who provided such brilliant inspiration and therefore I needed to honour her by using the kindest yarn we sell. Organic cotton is kind to the earth, plain and simple.

Blog

We’ve started a blog – I have it on good authority that they’re quite the rage. Here’s the first two posts:

In Praise of Good Selvedges: Practical Tips for Weavers
Weaving Philosophy: Find What Works For You

If you want to subscribe to the blog, you can do it here:

https://jst.link/blog-signup

Mohair price increase

The price we’re paying for mohair has increased. We’re going to hold off increasing our prices until Nov 1.

If you were thinking of making one of our mohair blanket kits – Spring StripesThree Stripe or Two Stripe – then now is the time to buy it… unless you foresee a slump in the worldwide price of mohair.

 

Jane appears on the Weave Podcast

Jane chatted with Weave Podcast host, Sarah Resnick, about the Online Guild and weaving in general.

Listen to Episode 36: Online Weaving Guild with Jane Stafford.

 

 

Online Guild price increase

When I first envisioned the Online Guild I budgeted to present one hour of video each month. All the filming we have done in 2018 and for 2019 has produced videos that are 2-3 hours long! I have completely blown my budget. But how can I cut anything out? I just can’t!

Alas, after much number crunching the Online Guild dues are going up to $99 (Canadian) starting December 7, 2018.

If you’re not already a member Online Guild, you can Join the Online Guild before December 7 at the original rate. If you are a member, unfortunately our system doesn’t allow renewal in advance.

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July 2018 Newsletter

Remembering Mary Andrews

Last week Alberta and all of Canada lost one of our most treasured weavers. Mary Garnham Andrews passed away at the age of 102 in Banff Alberta. Mary shared her love and vast weaving knowledge with weavers across this country for over five decades and she influenced my weaving path more than any other teacher.

I would not be the teacher I am today if she had not been my weaving master.

It was the Spring of 1981, I was 22 years old and living in Thunder Bay where I was born and raised. I was a ceramics major at Lakehead University and was having a secret love affair with a loom in my mother’s basement. There was a big poster in the ceramics studio advertising summer classes offered at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Banff Alberta… that was so far away ALBERTA! Multi Harness Techniques!!!!

I thought, why not… two weeks on a big adventure all by myself, driving across the country in my brand new Chevrolet Chevette rocking on to the Doobie Brothers… what could be better than that. And after all, I had woven a set of placemats, an entire Overshot coverlet without alternating tabby picks between pattern picks and a blanket that stood up in the corner all by itself. I was sure I could handle a Multi-Harness loom or anything else that came my way.

I should have realized that summer that I had an angel on my shoulder guiding my every movement because Mary Andrews accepted me into her workshop and my life was forever changed.

Mary was formidable. Her knowledge and her presence demanded respect and I held her in awe. I was very nervous… she was a tad stern and I was… well ‘me’!

She was dressed in a royal blue pant suit with her trademark Bob haircut and that wonderful smile. At that time Mary was many many things… a serious weaver, extremely disciplined, a technical perfectionist, a traditionalist but with intense curiosity about modern things and a superb and demanding teacher.

I was the youngest person in the room, an aspiring hippie and remember… had woven exactly one set of placemats, one overshot coverlet without any tabby and a blanket that could have been used as a sheet of plywood… I might add that each of those projects were the most remarkable weaving I had ever seen up to that point. Within moments I was scared to death.

Mary’s class was formatted so that she lectured in the morning and we wove in the afternoon. I learned so much in the next two weeks… Mary taught me how to do read patterns, how to do draw-downs, how to hemstitch, how to do name drafts in overshot and that overshot had alternating tabbies between pattern picks :A), she taught me how to sit at the loom properly, how to hold a shuttle, how to control my selvedges. She taught me what the numbers mean in 2/8, what cellulose and protein fibres were. She gave us graphs with so much information crammed into them, sett charts, yardage charts, reed charts. She taught me the Fibonacci numerical series and the Golden Mean. In two weeks she crammed everything she could into my little brain and I learned that I could weave anything if I could read a draft.

I made it through all 12 samples alive. I did not understand a great deal of it, but I had a binder full of notes that I continue to learn from to this day.
She taught me the four P’s: with Patience and Practice you Persevere for Perfection. I have quotes she shared with us all through my book, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”.

Mary Andrews was a gem, she was the weaving worlds  national treasure, she was a flower of Alberta. Her greatest gift was her ability to share her knowledge which she did with grace and kindness.

Biography

Bom in Montreal Quebec in 1916, Miss Andrews affinity with the “Comfortable Arts” was apparent at an early age. At the age of 23 while working as a senior counsellor at Taylor Statten Camp in Ontario, she was exposed to the craft of handweaving. On her return to Oshawa in 1939 she immediately bought the first of her 11 looms and began a life long study. Through correspondence with Harriet Tidball of the United States, Mary studied textile theory and cloth construction.

In 1943, while in charge of Occupational Therapy at the Royal Edward Laurentian Hospital in Ste. Agathe des Monts, Quebec, she began a teaching career that spanned more than 50 years.

From 1943-1948, Mary set up the Ontario Government Home Weaving Service, an agency designed to revive handweaving and encourage a cottage industry. Along with two other weaving teachers she taught and developed the project throughout Ontario. During the last year of this programme Mary continued her own studies at the Penland School of Handcrafts in North Carolina, USA.

In 1948 Mary was appointed Assistant Programme Director for the YWCA in Oshawa. She spent the next six years teaching handweaving, leatherwork and metalwork to hundreds of students. It was during these years that Mary first travelled west to study at The Banff School of Fine Arts with two of Canada’ finest weavers, Ethel Henderson and Mary Sandin. It was during these visits that her desire to reside in Alberta was kindled.

Mary  joined the Canadian Red Cross in 1954 and served as a Rehabilitative Therapist in Korea and Japan after the Korean War. After working for 18 months on a Welfare Team she travelled through 13 countries working her way back to Canada in 1958.

On her return to Canada she was appointed Director of Handcrafts at the Grenfell Labrador Medical Mission. She travelled throughout Northern Newfoundland and Labrador teaching handweaving, embroidery and traditional rug hooking to its residents with the intent of developing cottage industries that could subsidize the fishermen’s incomes. She remained in Labrador until September of 1962 when she purchased her home in Banff and realized her dream of living in Alberta.

From 1962-1975, Mary taught at The Banff School of Fine Arts where she developed the programme from a six week summer course to a two year Diploma granting programme. Through her early guidance and insistence that Visiting artists be brought from around the world, the Fibre Department became a widely renowned centre of study for the Textile Arts.

Mary retired from The Banff Centre in 1975 and spent another five years teaching and lecturing all over Western Canada. In 1984 she developed a four year summer weaving programme for Olds College where her students prepared for the Canadian Guild of Weavers, Master’s exams.

One of Mary’s greatest personal achievements was earning her Master Weavers certification from the Guild of Canadian Weavers in 1972 and she later published her Master’s Thesis “The Fundamentals of Weaving” with book three finished in 1994. Throughout this massive three volume endeavour she was assisted by Ruth Hahn who provided all of her IT support.

She also spent a great deal of time serving the community of Banff by working in the Banff Library several mornings a week and donating her weaving for auction to raise funds for community projects. In her late seventies she was still taking courses in English Literature and Philosophy from Athabasca University.

Mary lived in her log home on Squirrel Street until 2013 when she moved into a Seniors Lodge and then on to Continuing Care at Banff-Mineral Springs Hospital. Mary Garnham Andrews passed away July 30th, 2018.

Mary’s recipe for Weavers’ cookies

Mary always served these cookies to her students on the last day of class.  I hope you’ll make a batch, brew a nice cup of tea and think of her while you enjoy.

She used to say… “Weavers sit at their looms all day long. These cookies are full of healthy fibre.”

Note: (4 dozen per recipe)

In a large bowl mix:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Sift together:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt

add:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts)
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • ¼ cup flax seeds
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Mix wet with dry ingredients.
Spoon on to a greased cookie sheet, flatten and bake at 350 for 15 – 20 minutes (baking paper or butter).

Undulated Twill Tea Towel Kit

We have had so many requests for Sharon Broadley’s striped towel since it first had a starring role in one of JST’s Online Guild episodes, that she has consented to share her pattern!

This towel has a lovely striping sequence moving from charcoal to dark grey to light grey and then to white, all laid on a black background.

This tea towel looks very classy hanging from a stainless steel oven door.

This kit will make 8 beautiful tea towels.

More exclusive, very limited edition silk colours

We’ve been experimenting with dreamy colourways inspired by pistachios, flax and glaciers.

There’s only a handful of sets available, therefore stocks are limited.

New Online Guild sample kits

New Online Guild sample kits are now available:

Online Guild Sample Kit #6 – Muted Colour Gamp
Online Guild Sample Kit #7 – Primaries & Secondaries
Buy all 7 Sample Kits for Season #2

Exclusive, very limited edition silk colours

We’ve restocked last month’s lovely gradient pastel colourways.

Again, there’s only a handful of sets available, therefore stocks are limited.