My JST Napkins

Here are the napkins I created for the Jane Stafford Textiles napkin exchange, and a little story about how they came to be:

Annie and the Starfish

Annie was both nervous and excited.  Edward had asked her to accompany him on a walk on the beach on Sunday.  Edward, of the handsome face and strong arms, had asked her!  I’ll pack a picnic lunch, she thought, and I know, I’ll make some new napkins.

She planned a masculine window-pane plaid to reflect the colours of the rocks and grasses on the beach.  She planned and measured her warp.  “I’ll make fat window panes intersected by thin mullion lines echoing the colour of the adjacent pane.” She planned.  “The napkins will be sturdy and strong in classic plain weave.”  She sleyed and threaded and wound her warp tightly.  She wove a sample, carefully measuring to ensure the same number of weft picks as warp threads, following the warp order.  The sample was washed and pressed and hemmed.  “Ah”, she thought, “the take-up for warp and weft is not the same, and the sample is longer in the length than width.  She adjusted, reducing the number of picks in the fat panes by two to square the plaid.  Now it was perfect and she finished the napkins just in time.


On the day of the picnic, she packed the hamper with fresh bread and cheese, fried chicken, tomatoes from the garden, cake and lemonade.  She added a blanket to sit on, and with great pride, packed the new napkins at the top of the basket.  She put on her best summer dress, picked up the hamper and her sun parasol (to prevent freckles and sunburn of course), and was ready to go.


Edward carried the hamper and held her hand as they strolled along the beach.  Enjoying the warm summer breezes they walked and talked of little things.  They looked for pebbles and shells along the beach and stopped to investigate the tide pools.

“Oh look,” said Annie, “Starfish have been stranded here when the tide went out.  How rich and pretty their colours.”

“They are beautiful,” Edward agreed, looking at Annie, “and delicate.  But they need to be returned to the ocean to survive.”  Edward reached into the hamper and took out the napkins.  Cradling the starfish in the cloth he carried them back to the water and gently released them.  That is when Annie fell in love with Edward for his strength and compassion towards all living things.  And Edward fell in love with beautiful Annie, the maker of such fine and sturdy cloth.

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And that is how the starfish became part of these napkins forever.


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Napkins and Beaches

I returned home from holiday to find this in my mailbox:  Napkins from the Jane Stafford Textiles Ravelry group exchange.  I squealed with delight!


Eight coordinated napkins based on the photo “Starfish on a Beach”, taken by our own Sandra. I love then all!  Thanks, Weavers.

I spent my holiday on the Oregon Coast beaches near Manzanita, and the Nehalem Bay campground.  A great place to spend time with children and grandchildren.  So relaxing.

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A Nice Wool Vest

Well, it has been a while since I made any clothing, or really done any real sewing.  This vest was inspired by the Peace Arch Weavers Guild 50th Anniversary celebration.  To celebrate we decided to have a fashion show.   To the loom and sewing machine I ran, and pulled this off in two short weeks.  The vest fits very well and I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of me wearing this.  I’ll try to get a better photo later.

The material is a Swedish Weaving wool,  purchased at a previous conference.  Sett at 12 epi in a simple dornick twill, I wove 4 yards of fabric.  The vest is lined with lightweight cotton lawn, and trimmed with commercial wool.  It all came together in two weeks, just in time for the fashion show.  The vest will be nice and warm for Fall walks in the park.


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A Diversified Way of Reducing Stash

One of my goals this year is to reduce my inventory of handspun yarns.  Really, my super stash exceeds its dedicated cupboard space. And I’m not sure buying more shelving is the way to go.

Luckily, my need to reduce stash coincided with a small group challenge to weave something in Diversified Plain weave.  I chose two plump skeins of handspun that went well together and were of approximately the same grist.

For the fat warp I chose a springy skein of brown Australian Moorit wool.  The fat weft is a variegated skein of Superwash merino/bamboo blend in brown with blue tones. I paired these with thin warp and weft of bambu 12 in ebony and sweet corn.


I found the draft on the “Fibres of Being” blogspot. I adapted it to show squares of Diversified pain weave contained by frame of plain weave in the bambu. The result is subtle circles in low colour contrast, with great texture.

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Experiment in Linen

I wanted to try working with linen again.  The last time I wove with linen threads was at least ten years ago, and while I ended up with some pretty nice tea towels. I remember many people saying linen was a cantankerous fibre to work with.  But oh, such a beautiful fabric, with great lustre and feel.

I decided to work on a series of handwoven linen scarves.  I envision linen as a beautiful cool fabric for summer scarves.

For the first two scarves, I used Euroflax linen, in 14/2 lace weight from Louet. The cost is $25.00 per 100 gm cone, and I used one cone of natural, and one cone of caribou for two scarves.

For drama, I wound 4 inches of natural, and 4 inches of caribou, warp length 5 yards and sett at 12 ends per inch for a more open weave.

For the first scarf, I wove 12” in natural, 12” in one-inch wide stripes alternating colours, 24” in two rows natural, two rows caribou, 12” in alternating one inch wide stripes, then 12” in caribou.  Simple plain weave, beautiful results.



For the second scarf I used a clasped weft technique, 12 inches where the natural thread was pulled past the centre line to give a clear natural block, with mixed colours on the caribou side, then the middle 60 inches where the threads were alternately pulled to the natural side, then the caribou side, and the final 12 inches where a clear caribou block was achieved.



I had no problems at all working with the linen thread.

To finish, I washed in hot water in the machine, which made the scarves extremely wrinkled.  I hard pressed when damp to remove the wrinkles.  The fabric was very crisp.  I then threw the scarves in the dryer for 10 minutes with a fabric softener sheet, and the scarves came out with a soft hand.  For linen, repeated washing/pressing/drying will increase the softness over time.

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The Lovely Month of May

So many things seem to happen in May.  Our Guild elections have taken place, and I will be President of the Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners Guild for a second year.  Hopefully I can use the second time around to improve those things that were new to me last year.

2016 is the Peace Arch Weavers Guild’s 50th anniversary, and lots of “Golden” events are happening.  Saturday, May 14th was the annual “Sheep to Shawl” competition at the Surrey Museum in which I was a participant spinner.  Our team of six on the floor consisted of four spinners (myself, Yuuko, Shona, Grete) two of whom also manned the hackles for fibre prep, one plyer (Janice), and one magnificent weaver(Ginette).  Mary stepped in to help with the fringe twisting.  In front of the public we had Janeesha as our steward who rose to the challenge of her first sheep to shawl competition, and Joan who entertained the youngsters in the audience with a smile on her face.  We also had a small army of people behind the scenes who worked diligently before the competition to help us prepare.

Our shawl was so lovely in a Huck lace pattern.  The warp is a combination of Cotswold wool and Muga silk, bringing in the gold for our 50th.  The weft was a soft Merino-Romney wool cross.  The shawl just glows with golden goodness.  We won the competition!

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Sunday was the opening of the PAWS Guild “Celebrating Fifty Years of Fibre Arts” showcasing 13 PAWS Guild Artists, at the Newton Cultural Centre Gallery.  I am honoured to be one of the exhibiting artists.  The show will run to May 31, 2016.  Beautiful work from our members is on display.  The pictures below are: my handwoven scarf, Donna’s felted vest, and Joan’s wonderful tapestry.  I love the diversity of our members.

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And at the Coquitlam Weavers Guild meeting last week, we were honoured to have well-known fibre artist, Catherine Nichols, conduct a mini workshop on stitching.  On a small canvas cloth we added fabric and stitch to create a small booklet cover.

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Catherine is one of the artists featured in the show “Mended” which is currently on display at Place des Arts, Coquitlam for the month of May.  Catherine also showed us some of the antique Kantha cloth blankets she collects.  Kantha is a form of stitched cloth from India, made by those whose need led them to collect discarded clothing and other fabrics, and stitch them together in layers to create new layered cloths for blankets and clothing.  They are beautiful in their simplicity and creative stitching, with a deep connected history.  Fascinating.  I would love to take a longer workshop with her.


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Denim Dreams

Every textile, fibre, or yarn that moves through my hands sparks a thought, a memory, an emotion or a flight of imagination.  I get lost and my mind wanders, following the thread . . . . . .

I have been spinning again.  This beautiful pile of fluff was blended and dyed by Lynne at West Coast Colour.  Lynne loves to work in fibre and names her fibre blends.  This one, called “Satisfaction”, is a blend of 60% Polwarth wool, and 40% silk.


While Lynne names her fibre blends, I like to name the colour story.  Not when the fibre first comes to me, not while it is on the stash shelf, but as I start to spin and draw out the fibre, the name and the story start to evolve.  This fibre is dyed with blues and a hint of purple, and as I worked it started to remind me of a pile of blue jeans on the floor, some darkly new, and others old and soft and faded to nearly white.  And so, my mind wanders to denim dreaming.

I started to think about myself and what blue jeans have meant to me throughout my life.  When I first noticed and wanted blue jeans as a child, my mother insisted that jeans were the uniform of farmers and cowboys.  OK to wear while working in the house and garden, but never to be worn into town!   When going to town, dresses and leather shoes were the only respectable clothing.


I spun a fine thread of blues and thought some more.  High school meant wearing a school uniform every day (kilt, white blouse and knee socks).  Weekends meant blue jeans and freedom.  I remember slitting the sides of my jeans and inserting large wedges of patterned fabric into the opening and now they were bell-bottoms.  Accessories were fringed vests, felt hats, and love beads.  The soundtrack of the “Mammas and Pappas”, “James Taylor”, “Carol King” and “Sonny and Cher” was heard in the background.


Still I spun the pile of blues, and moved on to university, first time away from home, and denims became a uniform of a different nature.  These jeans clothed me through learning about the larger world: civil rights, philosophy, world religions, cultural differences, war and peaceful protests.  My mind was opened up to new thoughts and philosophies and optimism that my generation could change the world.

In my twenties my jeans morphed into Mom Jeans and family responsibilities.  Oh, how I loved these days: playing in the park with the kids, exploring tadpole pools, piling up and jumping in the autumn leaves, snowball fights and building snowmen in the winter, bike rides and swings in the spring, baseball, beaches and bar-b-ques in the summer.  These days passed oh so quickly, fast as life.  My second bobbin of yarn was filling up.


On to the plying, the colours now coming together in a patchwork of blue.  Now what do I wear?  Old lady jeans?  Maybe.  But like a favourite pair of well-worn jeans I am softer, paler, a little torn and patched, but oh, so comfortable in myself, in my own skin.  I fit.

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This 119 gm skein of “Denim Dreams” is 557 yards long, and took 14 hours to spin – lots of time for dreaming.  I plan to weave a comfortable scarf or shawl to wear with my jeans.




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