Welcome New Spinners

I started a new “spinning” class this week at Place des Arts, with seven wonderful new beginners.  I look forward to getting to know each individual better over the next few weeks, as I introduce you to the gentle art of spinning yarn.  I love watching the progress as tense, wobbly movements with many breaks and joins produce that first lumpy yarn.  A week later, movements and thread begin to smooth out and breathing is calmer.  Later still, laughter and joy as handfuls of fluff more easily turn into smooth, continuous threads as hand-eye-foot coordination  kicks in and muscle memory takes over.

Spinning, I believe, is an inherited instinct.  As our spun threads strengthen, so too, do our connections to each other, and to our ancestors.  Welcome new friends to our spinning community.  Hope you like the neighbourhood.

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The State of the Looms

As we slide into the new year my looms are full or on the way to becoming full.

On the big loom, the Queen of my studio, I have a pale pink warp for some subtle Spring shawls.  The warp is 2/8 cotton in three shades of pink, with a fuchsia zinger.  The first shawl is being woven in plain weave with 2/20 silk in a pale grey called “Rainy Day”, with occasional shots of a multi strand textured rayon in pinks and greys.  Twenty-four inches wide in the reed, and it will be woven to 84 inches long.  In the finishing, I will attempt to add tassels in the same multi-strand accent thread.

On Loomella, the 8 shaft Baby Wolf, I am in the process of sleying an Ikat warp hand-dyed in a beautiful shade of carmine red.   In December I taught a beginner’s course on Ikat weaving, and this was one of the samples I used to demonstrate the wrapping and tying method.  This is a 2/20 mercerized cotton (Thanks Irene).  There are two distinct wrapped section, one more formal, and one more casual, so the two ends of the scarf will be unique.  I know I didn’t dye enough matching red weft for a scarf, so I will weave it in a combination of red and white weft.  I did dye a little bit of Weft Ikat, which will also play its part in the finished scarf.  Excited to see where this will lead.

On Amy Ashford, my 32 inch, 8-shaft Ashford table loom, I am playing with Supplemental Weft.  I found this draft on “gangewifre-dot-blogspot-dot-com”, under supplementary warps bit of research (posted July 8, 2016), which was inspired by the lovely scarves of Juanita Girardin.  So, if you are interested in the draft, this is the blog to look at.  My warp and weft is 2/8 tencel.  The tencel is doubled for the pattern warp, and the background cloth is black and white stripes.  It is a lot of fun, and I would be happy to do more.  This piece had to go on a table loom because it requires 24 treadles.  A workout for my arms flipping toggles, but worth it.  All the work is in warping and dressing the loom, after that the weaving is smooth sailing with one shuttle of black tencel.  It is a delight watching the supplementary threads dive over and under the ground cloth.

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A Year of Living with Colour and Design

Imagine having the luxury to take a year-long workshop with your favourite weaving teacher.  An internship really.

Well, that is exactly the experience I had by following Jane Stafford and the JST Online Weaving Guild for 2018.  https://janestaffordtextiles.com/online-guild/

Over the course of the year Jane delivered eleven episodes and seven sample warps in Season Two: Colour and Design.

Thanks, Jane Stafford, for a superb year.  Now that the last piece for the year has been woven, I am taking the time to reflect on this year of weaving and playing and to think about what I learned and gained from this experience.

The focus of Season Two was colour and design in plain weave (mostly).

For a mere $99.00 I received over 19 hours and 25 minutes of high-quality video instruction.

But wait, that’s not all!  I received seven complete drafts exploring Colour and Design.  I made seven warps, totaling 58 yards.  For these warps I sleyed and threaded 2,473 ends, and then re-sleyed them all over again to change setts throughout the projects.  A whopping total of 20,458 yards of 2/8 cotton was used in the warps.

The weft used 8,520 yards of 2/8 cotton, 1,380 yards of cotton boucle, 5,244 yards of silk, 1,814 yards of bambu 12, 2,083 yards of zephyr wool/silk, and 149.86 yards of other materials.

The grand total cost of materials directly used for warp and weft: $526.14.

I made 9 pure samples, 21 tea towels, 1 table runner, 8 shawls and 2 scarves.


Hours of experience – designing, measuring warps, sleying, threading, tying and winding on, weaving, hemstitching, finishing, pressing and ironing, sewing hems, twisting fringes:  approximately 500 intense hours.


What I learned from this experience:

  • Not to be afraid of a longer warp. There is so much to do and change that I can’t be bored.
  • There is a system and method that can be learned, so that mixing colours is easy.
  • Start with a graphic and build from there, pouring in colour, texture and pattern.
  • Changing sett changes everything – and gives you the drape to match the function of the cloth.
  • Play with numbers and sequences, but don’t be bound by the numbers.

So much more than you would ever get from a one-week workshop.

Learning, playing, and finding inspiration: priceless.

Looking forward to the new year and “Pushing the Boundaries of Plain Weave” and it will be so much fun to see all the variations of plain weave:  denting, cramming & denting, log cabin, warp-faced, weft-faced, double-weave, collapsed weave and supplementary warps.  Can’t wait.  And all for just $99.00

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Still weaving

I’m still here, and this is what I have been working on:

On The Queen, my big, old, sturdy hand made loom:


Two scarves at the same time on the JST muted colour warp gamp.  I dropped the centre threads, so that the left scarf is predominately warm colours and the right scarf is predominately cool colours.  warp is 2/8 cotton, and the weft is silk, sett 16 ends per inch.  This is slower than just weaving one at a time, but is plain weave.  It probably would have been easier if the pattern/colour order was similar, but it is just a matter of counting two things at the same time, and a lot of stopping to measure.  Each scarf is about 9.5 inches wide.

On the Baby Wolf: a wide scarf in six shaft crackle weave:

2.8 cotton warp, silk and cotton weft.

On my spinning wheel, a lovely merino/silk blend.  Hand dyed by Smith and Ewe, the colour is called “Winter in Tofino” and showcases the white, grey, green of a moody winter day in this Vancouver Island west coast community.


And knitting a simple pair of socks from yarn hand dyed by Farm Fairy Fibres.  This is sock #2, almost finished.


This weekend I attended the market place at the Textile Society of America Symposium where Greater Vancouver Weavers and Spinners had a booth, and then on Sunday went to the great charity yarn sale at Van Deusen Gardens and added to my stash of silk, rayon, and linen with some great bargains.  I foresee some fun weaving projects ahead.



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Grey Matters

I have been absent from the blog, but I had a very busy year, mostly teaching and making samples for teaching, and being involved with guild activities.  Here is my latest weaving that I wove just for fun.

At the ANWG conference in Victoria this summer I purchased the Right Brain Gray Matter kit from Lunatic Fringe.  The kit contained 50 gms each of 10/2 mercerized cotton in seven shades from black to white.

I made a warp 4 yards long with this colour order. The warp is purposely asymmetrical.

grey matters colour order

Materials used:      

Warp:             2/10 Mercerized cotton in seven shades ranging from Black to White.  50 gms each

Weft:               same as above plus 2/8 cotton in dark gray.

Measure Warp: 20.7 inches wide in reed, 20 e.p.i., 4 yards long (416 ends total)

Sett:  20 ends per inch    Sley: 2 end per dent in a 10 dent reed

# of warp ends: 416

Picks per inch: 20 p.p.i.

Plain weave threading and treadling:

From the amount of threads available in the kit I was able to weave one napkin 19” by 19”.  I love the optical effect and movement of the greys.

And one tea towel 19” by 30”.  When I squint at it, it makes me think of an x-ray, the way the light catches the shades of grey.

By now, I had used up most of the 2/10 grey colours.  I cut the first two pieces off the loom and re-sleyed the warp to 30 ends per inch.  This I wove with 2.8 cotton in dark grey for a table runner 15” wide by 30” long.  This warp dominant piece with the same weft throughout is much tamer than the other two pieces.  All in all a great joy to weave.

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Fibre Flare 2017

The Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners Guild is hosting Fibre Flare 2917 at Turnbull Gallery, South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre, 14601 20th Avenue, Surrey BC on Friday, November 3, 12-5 pm, Saturday, November 4, 10-5 pm, and Sunday, November 5, 11-4 pm.  I will have several pieces for sale.  Hope to see you there.

Peace Arch Weavers & Spinners
34th Annual Artisan Sale
Friday, November 3 12-5pm
Saturday, November 4 10-5pm
Sunday, November 5 11-4pm
Shop for unique fashion accessories, baskets, and home decor. Items hand woven, felted, or hand spun and knit.
Special Features
► Silent Auction
► Guest Artisans
► Ongoing Demonstrations
► On-site Café
► Free Parking
VISA, MC & Interac Accepted


Turnbull gallery
South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre
14601 20th Avenue, Surrey, BC
Admission by Donation
Door Prizes

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Black and White and Red All Over

So this pattern comes straight from Handwoven magazine, May/June 1992 issue, page 50/87.  It is an eight shaft double weave pattern that appealed to me with the smart black and white checkerboard studded with red blocks, dots and dashes on one side, and a pure red with black and white blocks, lines and dots on the other. Just a fun weave for me, learning how the threading of double weave can have such a dramatic effect.  This was designed as a table runner, but I changed it up to create a light, drapable scarf in “bambu” 12 yarns.    I had some trouble with edge threads breaking in the beginning six inches, but with a little focus and more careful beating, I was able to overcome this problem.  I wove the first scarf exactly following the printed directions, and hemmed, rather than fringed the ends.


img_4135  img_4130

Once I understood the treadling sequence and how to place the blocks and dots and dashes, I changed it up for the second scarf to have six inch colour blocks with black or white or red on top, and then placed the colour accents in columns.  The checkerboard is gone, replaced by stripes and columns of contrast.   I really love how this second scarf turned out, and how it looks quite different from the first.   The first and last six inches are woven in solid colours in two separate layers. The scarf is finished with a lovely three colour fringe.


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Technical details

The warp and weft are Bambu 12 sett at 40 epi (20 per layer) and woven at 20 picks per inch per layer, threaded and treadled following the instructions in Handwoven. The warp was 5.5 yards long.

For the second scarf, I flipped the colours every six inches, using red weft throughout (six inches on the top then six inches on the bottom) and using white weft for twelve inches then black weft for 12 inches. To shift the red to the top layer, and black (white) to the bottom layer weave the following sequence:

Plain areas: red on top, black (or white) on bottom

Lift shafts 2 and 6, weave red weft (top layer)

Lift shafts 2, 3, 4  plus shafts 6, 7, 8 weave black (or white) weft (bottom layer)

Lift shafts 4 and 8, weave red weft  (top layer)

Lift shafts 1, 2 , 4, plus 5, 6, 8, weave black (or white) weft (bottom layer)

Repeat this sequence to create areas of solid red layer on top and a black and grey (or white and grey) warp stripe layer on the bottom

Pattern areas: red on top, black/grey (or white/grey) on bottom

Lift shaft 2 plus shafts 5, 7 and 8, weave red weft (top layer)

Lift shafts 2, 3, 4, plus shaft 5, weave black (or white) weft (bottom layer)

Lift shaft 4 plus shafts 5, 6, 7, weave red weft (top layer)

Lift shafts 1, 2, 4, plus shaft 7, weave black (or white) weft (bottom layer)

Repeat this sequence to create areas of red with black/grey (white/grey) accents on top layer and areas of black/grey (white/grey) with red accents on the bottom layer

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Spicy Napkins

These napkins were inspired by the colours in my kitchen/family room, and remind me of spices: turmeric, cayenne and nutmeg.  I intend to weave luncheon size napkins and they are 18” x 18” on the loom.  I saw the colour and weave draft on Pinterest, and the source of the draft for the colour and weave section is found on Handweaving.net: Figure 108, A Manual of Weave Construction, Ivo Kastanek, 2 shaft, 2 treadle.

For these napkins I used the colour and weave draft for the first half of the warp, and for the second half of the warp I used the same number of threads of each colour to create colour blocks.  When woven, I treadled in plain weave following the colour order of the warp.  (I added a one inch hem on each end of each napkin).  This gives me a square napkin with one quadrant showing the colour and weave pattern, one quadrant with horizontal stripes, one quadrant with vertical stripes and the final quadrants with colour blocks.  Although I wove all four napkins the same way, the changing colours kept it interesting.

img_4118 img_4120

Technical Details:

Measure Warp: 18” wide, 20 e.p.i., 4 yards long (320 ends)

Colour order:  Cayenne 2, Brown 1, Cayenne 2, Brown 1, Cayenne 3, Brown 1, Cayenne 2, Brown 1, Cayenne 2, Yellow 1.

repeat above 9 more times, then

Cayenne 110, Yellow 10, Brown 40

Size on loom: approx 18” wide x 20” woven (includes 1” hem on each end)

Finished size: 15” wide x 15” long after washing and hemming

Reed: 12 dent reed

Sett:  18 ends per inch

# of warp ends: 320

Sley: 2/1 in a 12 dent reed

Picks per inch: 18 p.p.i.

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Spinning Fun

As the snow continues to build up outside, I have been snuggled down and spinning.

img_4068  img_4069


The fibre is titled “Unsung”and dyed by Kinfolk in blues, pinks, greens and purples.  100% organic Polwarth wool.  It became a soft, heathery yarn, almost 500 yards of 2 ply from 4 oz of fibre.  A dream to spin, it did not take long at all.

Next, a very fine 2 ply of 50% camel, 50% silk.  This colour I called petroleum because the colours reminds me of looking at a gasoline slick, and the finished yarn has a silky hand.

img_4072  img_4107

I’m looking at knitting patterns to see what will become of these yarns.

Meanwhile, a favourite knit of mine, is this wedge-shaped shawl, I knitted from the previously spun “Spinning the Blues” yarn spun earlier.  The pattern is a mash-up:  the shape taken from one pattern, the lace from another and the picot edge from somewhere else.  The shawl is a joy to wear, and to touch.

blues-scarf  IMG_3917

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Goodbye January, Hello February

My mini-quilt for January is completed, and here it is shown both front and back.  I have included on the front a piece of every thread that passed through my hands and used in some capacity throughout the month of January.  Hand-stitched in straight stitch, back-stitch and French knots.  My theme for this year is to work from my stash as much as I can, and this is reflected in the quote from Arthur Ashe.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

img_4094             img_4095

As I am stitching I am reflecting and meditating on my world and the world around me.  Using the resources that I have at hand without causing further damage to the environment.  Extending a hand to others in friendship and welcome.   Thinking about what I can do to make my home, my community and my my world a better place, then doing what I can to make it happen.

And a sneak peek at February:


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