Sunday, 14 October 2018

Fall Craft Fairs for Cariboo Handwoven

After enjoying several Fridays at the Williams Lake Farmers' Market through the spring, summer and early fall, I'm looking ahead to fall craft fairs.  Two special ones are on my calendar, here they are!

First, in Prince George:

I'll be back in the admin building with the beautiful timber beams, First Nations banners and bright natural light.

And next:

At both events, I'll have:
  • Wool blankets ($300), including some with a story ($350) and some with local handspun wool ($400)
  • Big cotton blankets ($170), and some cotton/wool ones at the Medieval Market ($200)
  • Cotton hand towels ($34 each)
  • 80/20 towels with approximately 80% cotton and 20% linen ($38 each)
  • Wool travel shawls ($150 and up)
  • Lightweight blanket scarves in fine cotton with silk, alpaca, wool and other fibres ($150 and up)

If we've met already, please drop in just to say hi. :-)

Enjoy these wonderful craft fairs with so much talent and energy.  Hope to see you this fall!

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Another Guest at the Blanket Spa

At the local farmers market a few weeks ago, a musical couple I know visited my booth and talked about their favourite cotton blanket. 'He' bought it for 'her' at the Medieval Market several years ago. They'd taken it on their recent summer vacation through western Canada and north into Yukon. It had endured some pulls in a few threads and they weren't sure what to do. I said "Bring it to me!" Then I could fix it and return it to its original condition.

I've talked earlier about what I call my blanket spa. Any well-loved and well-used blanket or anything from Cariboo Handwoven that needs a little TLC I love to restore and return to happy owners for further use.

Once I had it at home, I examined it carefully and used a darning needle to gently bring pulled threads flat.  This is a delicate procedure that requires pulling the loose thread from both directions and flattening the thread back into the cloth on either sides of the pull. One very large pull had not wrinkled the fabric on either side and was not going to easily fit back into the cloth, so I cut the thread, spliced the ends together and trimmed the emerging ends.

The blanket had a good wash and then went out on the line to dry in lovely Cariboo sunshine on an early fall day.

Then it went for pressing, with any other pulls fixed that I'd missed, and I laid it flat on the floor to rest.

It is rather fascinating to see my early work. Some of it's not bad! What really heartens me is to know that owners are totally happy with their blanket and it's become almost part of the family. I knew I had to return it quickly because it would be missed.

Another guest leaves the blanket spa - restored, revitalized and ready for more years of service.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Introducing! ... 80/20 Towels

Cariboo Handwoven towels, all the hundreds of them so far, have been 100% cotton. I regularly hear nice comments that they are the best - they dry hands and dishes well, they dry out quickly for the next use, and they last for ages. All of that very positive feedback has certainly inspired me and given me the comfort that my towels are worth their price. As well, I have more than a bit of fun with the patterns and colours.

I've had a supply for quite awhile of cottolin from Sweden, which is a lovely blend of 60% cotton and 40% linen. Linen is renowned for being absorbent and adding a little more body to a fabric. The colours I bought long ago are rich and harmonious. I decided to pull out all this cottolin and weave it on a cotton warp for towels.

Do the math: 60/40 cotton/linen weft woven on a 100% cotton warp gives an 80/20 blend overall, roughly speaking. I've always liked the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle, which is that 80% of results come from 20% of the causes or inputs. This is thought-provoking in many ways - in our personal lives and our work, for starters.

But back to 80/20 towels - here are some samples:

80/20 towels have life and energy, and they should perform even better than pure cotton ones. I'm featuring them at $38 each, or three for $110, from my studio or at a craft fair. I was pleased to witness one studio visitor in early September spy the first ones stacked far away and be immediately attracted to them. My supply was soon reduced by two ... and then by two more this morning!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

"Coco" Blanket

I first introduced Coco with Nancy and Carmen in an earlier blog.  To add to the "Coming Home" and "Beetle Kill" blankets in this year's Artwalk, the Coco blanket is the third blanket I am presenting.

Coco's fleece was produced locally, just up on Fox Mountain north of Williams Lake. The producer is a friend, and we have a good relationship through my fleece purchases and what I spin and weave.

SH233 | 100% wool | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | Sold

Detail of Coco blanket

Artwalk finishes on Saturday and has been very successful again this year. Thank you to Arty the Artwalker who did all the organization and to my hosts at the Raymond James office on 3rd Avenue.

Monday, 27 August 2018

"Beetle Kill" Blanket #2

Further to my last blog about the "Coming Home" blanket in this year's Artwalk, here is a second blanket I have on display at Raymond James in Williams Lake.  Artwalk is going really well again this year, and the different displays are very good.  Enjoy it if you are here! 

OK, here's my second Beetle Kill blanket and its story:


Lodgepole pine forests in the Cariboo were hard hit by the mountain pine beetle over a decade ago. Bark beetles burrow beneath the tree’s bark and mine through the underlying phloem layer while also introducing a fungus that additionally kills the tree and stains the outer sapwood blue.  Vast areas of the Chilcotin now have many dead pine trees that have decayed and fallen over.  This is all part of the natural cycle.

From the bottom of this blanket, the design depicts the lush greens of the lodgepole pine forest with some scattered darker spruce.  One pine is attacked by the mountain pine beetle and shows red needles, then more trees turn red, and within a year the entire stand is a bright reddish shade. The needles fall to the ground and the forest looks grey.

The trees become standing skeletons that rot and fall over, but the forest responds with the increased light to the forest floor.  New plants pop up and thrive in their brighter environment: lush green shoots of pinegrass, bright golden flowers of heart-leaved arnica and goatsbeard, mauve showy aster with its golden centres, and splashes of bright purple vetch.  As the dead lodgepole pine fall over and their cones release seeds that germinate, the entire stand is renewed to a healthy forest, as shown at the blanket’s opposite end.  

SH244 | Beetle Kill Blanket | 100% wool | 178 cm x 126 cm (70" x 49.5") | $350

Detail of beetle attack in lodgepole pine

Detail of attacked stand showing new growth of pinegrass and wildflowers

If you're interested in this blanket, please let me know!

Friday, 10 August 2018

"Coming Home" Blanket

I set up my Artwalk display this morning and joined the start of the tour to view some of the artists' work in their venues. Artwalk is a month-long exhibit of mostly local artists in various businesses and offices in Williams Lake. My location is Raymond James again this year on 3rd Ave. between the Cariboo Regional District and the Bean Counter (open Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm).  Thank you for having me back!

I have three blankets in this year's Artwalk and I'll present them in three blogs.  The first is my "Coming Home" blanket:

SH242 | "Coming Home" | 100% wool | 178 cm x 126 cm (70" x 49.5") | $350

Here's the story that goes with this blanket:

I grew up in Ontario and my family is still there.  So, in my almost four decades living in Williams Lake, I’ve made many trips east and back west, all by plane.  And once I’m on the plane in Toronto to fly west, I can’t get home fast enough.

I’ve always liked maps, and I can get a bit transfixed with the plane’s route over western Canada.  Prairies and grasslands in Alberta transform to the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains past Calgary.  Mountain ranges are crossed in BC before landing in Vancouver on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  

This blanket was designed to represent that sequence through western Canada: the soft shades of the prairies and grasslands, over snow-capped mountain ranges separated by wide river valleys, and west to the deep blue Pacific.

No matter how special the family visit was, this scene while in my plane seat comforts me that I’m returning home, home to western Canada and the Cariboo.


If you get a chance to see this year's Artwalk, I highly recommend it. Take your time and enjoy all the great work.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Meet Nancy, Coco and Carmen

Nancy, Coco and Carmen are three ewes (female sheep) from the Cariboo whose fleece I've spun and woven into beautiful blankets. I'm proud to present these on behalf of both the wool producers and the weaver. All three of these blankets are a little heavier in weight than my usual wool blankets. They're woven in simple diamond twill patterns and expected to last for decades of use.

Nancy and Coco are both Icelandic sheep from Fox Mountain, just north of Williams Lake. Long-time blog readers may remember Nancy from an earlier post with her rich, very dark brown fleece. The pattern I wove is a series of large and small diamonds from one end to the other.

SH232 | Nancy 2 | 100% wool | 180 cm x 143 cm (71" x 56") | $400

Coco's fleece is what I call butterscotch pudding, which is a warm, creamy brown that blends well with the black, greys and white in my first blanket with her handspun wool.

SH233 | Coco 1 | 100% wool | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | Sold

SH 233 | Coco 1 | Detail

And Carmen is from Tyee Lake, a little further north of town. I believe she has some Friesian blood but I can't recall the details. What I do remember is her incredibly long and silky fleece. After some quick carding of the raw fleece, it was a dream to spin. This is another very beautiful blanket.

SH234 | Carmen 1 | 100% wool | 178 cm x 127 cm (70" x 50") | $400

SH234 | Carmen 1 | Detail

As always, feel free to contact me if you're interested in any of these blankets. Please send a comment which I'll get right away by email, or email me directly at cariboojane "at"