Thursday, 31 December 2015

Thank You 2015, Hello 2016!

There are so many different memories of 2015 for each of us, and so many good wishes going around for 2016. I have to thank 2015 for being so good to me personally, which originated largely through family and friends. Cariboo Handwoven had a very good year, too. Highlights included:

  • Being accepted as a supplier to the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, BC for their VIP gifting program,
  • Continuing as an Artwalk artist in both Merritt and Williams Lake this summer,
  • Hosting a booth for my fourth year as a vendor in the Williams Lake Medieval Market, and  
  • Seeing numerous visitors in my studio.

Cariboo Handwoven saw 91 blankets and 227 towels go to new homes around the world, along with a few more of each provided as donations for fundraisers or event sponsorship.

Alison, Elsie and Doug were key for me in Ottawa with all their promotion and sales at craft fairs, events and at home - thank you so much.

The Station House Gallery, Bloom 'N' Gifts and Dandelion Living in Williams Lake all hosted my work and did really well for me - thank you.

And special thanks to each of you who came to see my work in my studio, especially those who tracked me down and we first met at the door.

Some of my favourites for me in 2015 included numerous shipments to Ottawa:

And a big order of Shetland wool blankets that went to Vancouver in December:

Other wool blankets that really thrilled me this year were:

"Canada's Forests in Winter" for the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, BC 

Sold in Collingwood, ON to local buyer

Sold at Station House Gallery in Williams Lake, BC

Sold in Ottawa and headed to New Zealand

Sold from studio for wedding gift in Vancouver

Sold from studio and shipped to Toronto for a wedding in the United States

SH141 - available

SH142 - available

SH143 - available

SH144 - available

Cotton blankets were my "thing" through the hot summer months, and I made many.

Displayed at Williams Lake Artwalk and sold in December from studio

Sold in Ottawa

Displayed in Merritt Artwalk and available in Jane's studo

I wove way over 200 towels and enjoyed designing each one, often very spontaneously, testing ideas for blankets, and also seeing my older work in the homes of many friends when I visited.

Georgian Bay towels

And what's up for 2016? My second loom will be set up soon, I think I have a new weaver to help along in my studio, and I look forward to more fun and fulfillment with fibres, yarns and friends.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Inspiration in Italy

I'm on my way home from three glorious weeks in Italy: Tuscany to be more precise. Pat and I know Italy a bit from previous travels. This time we decided to begin and end in Florence, and stay in two good locations for walking in the countryside while still being able to enjoy town life. We never rent a car, we just take busses and trains. And we walk ...

Staying for a week or longer in a rented flat is perfect for us. Instead of moving on just after we figure out the medieval street plan, the different venues that sell bus tickets for different locations, or whatever other delightful little quirk Italy has to throw at us, we lived in each town for longer and really felt part of it. Of course, we stood out as tourists, but we couldn't beat the daily rhythm we created of long walks and good food.

I embarked on this adventure with the hopes of bringing home some new ideas for my weaving, possibly a new collection inspired by what I saw and felt in Italy. Here are some of the ideas I have to develop. They're not necessarily good photos, but they each give me some inspiration to consider and maybe apply later.

Ciao, Italia - arrivederci e grazie!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Passion and Piñatas

I’m writing this blog because I have a bit of a problem with the word “passion” and I’m ready to talk about it.

Passion is regarded as some mysterious thing that we are nevertheless expected to find and use to guide our lives. We are told that it’s there for each of us, we just have to find it.  And then it’s all passion this, passion that.

I’ve always cringed at the word because I think it’s misleading. The whole discussion about passion expects each of us to know our passion and take it from there. As if we wake up one morning and declare our passion, then single-handedly pursue it and follow our destined life path.

And if you can’t find your passion, then it implies you cannot face such a basic aspect of life and truly know yourself. You must have a problem!

To me, all of this is like the blindfolded person hitting the piñata and hoping to strike it in exactly the right place the first time to receive its riches inside. There’s really no clear tactic involved, but you’ll eventually get your reward if you just bash away long enough without seeing or thinking much.

No, to me passion is not necessarily a distinct calling in life. It’s something you kind of like and feel an affinity for, and maybe you receive helpful encouragement when you begin, then you find yourself investing your time and energy in pursuing it. That feeds on itself in a wonderfully positive spiral, so that as you improve and feel more proficient, your passion grows.  Part of the passion is not necessarily the “what” but the “how.” And I suppose the “why.” The “where” and “when” don’t really matter as much.

The essence of passion is the day-to-day joy in just doing it. It’s not truly work, it’s more like play, even a privilege for each hour spent on it. But it does mean putting up with the problems and hurdles while keeping the joy in sight – whether it’s finishing a project that is fraught with stupid problems, or getting through all the business paperwork and administration for a deadline, or just continuing to reach a little goal no matter how tired you are.

A big part of my passion for weaving is my individual approach to it. I own it, it’s mine. (PS Same goes for blogs!) I truly believe that if you’re good at something because you’ve invested a lot of heart and soul, then you’ll be happy with your passion. You’ve created it and crafted it, so it’s yours. That’s the beauty of passion: it is so individual.

I also find that there’s no knowing where a passion will take you. You can’t plan for much, which is fine with me especially at this stage in my life. There’s plenty of room for spontaneity, surprises, being open to others’ ideas and suggestions, and in general just hanging on for the wild and wonderful ride.

Passion also involves a lot of learning, and learning is exciting and makes me feel really alive. I’m learning tons about my weaving business, from new designs and weave structures, to interpreting nature in different ways, to becoming more comfortable with selling my products and feeling less shy and inhibited.

My passion now in my life is weaving, but I didn’t find that from sitting around naval-gazing or doing any of this on my own. I’ve actually had a lot of individual encouragement from people who mean a lot to me (thank you all), and I’ve taken pride in a lot of what I’ve created (but not all). I’m learning lots and I feel very alive, with too many ideas to pursue in the rest of whatever the length of the lifetime I’ll be granted.

Those are my thoughts on passion …  any others out there?

Friday, 23 October 2015

20th Set of Shetland Wool Blankets

Another set of Shetland wool blankets is ready for presentation, my twentieth. Three of them are available in Ottawa (noted below); the rest are in my studio in BC. The seven blankets represent a diverse set of ideas and fit into some of my ongoing series and collections. Here they are:

SH119 | 100% wool | 173 x 130 cm (68" x 51") | Small flaw running lengthwise,
can provide photo | $225

SH120 | 100% wool | 173 cm x 128 cm (68" x 50.5") | From the
Georgian Bay collection - water, rock and some fall vegetation showing in photo | Sold

SH120 | Photo shows sky and trees (upside down) 
SH121 | 100% wool with approx. 50% handspun | 180 cm x 132 cm (71" x 52") |
$325 | Sold
SH122 | 100% wool | 173 cm x 130 cm (68" x 51") | From the Autumn Storm series | $250

SH123 | 100% wool | 190 cm x 130 cm (75" x 51") | From the Georgian Bay collection - water, rock and fall vegetation showing in photo | Sold

SH123 | Photo shows sky and trees (upside down)
SH124 | 100% wool | 183 cm x 130 cm (72" x 51") | From the Autumn Storm series

SH125 | 100% wool | 170 cm x 131 cm (67" x 51.5") | 3 shades of blue | Sold

For more information on the blankets in Ottawa, please contact Alison at The rest - please contact me at More blankets to come this fall!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Fall Plans

This is an exciting time of the year in many ways. These last days in most of Canada (I'm pretty sure) of beautiful fall weather and bright leaves contrast with the shortening days and the inevitable onset of winter. But for now we are drinking in this glorious feeling of autumn.

Autumn leads to Christmas craft sales and often the busiest time of the year for many artists and artisans. I thought I'd update blog readers on what Alison in Ottawa and Jane in BC are planning for the next few months.

Today I shipped six wool blankets, three cotton blankets and ten towels to Ottawa. The box was totally stuffed.

Alison will be hosting an open house in Ottawa on November 21, which she'll set up as an event on Cariboo Handwoven's Facebook page. Feel free to contact her at about what she has available.

Jane will be at the Medieval Market in Williams Lake, BC on the weekend of November 21-22 and informally hosting an open studio the week before. Contact her at if you'd like a sneak peak before the weekend or want to talk about an order for December.

Both Perry sisters are really excited about all the blankets and towels to show this fall. :-) :-)

Friday, 9 October 2015

Canada's Forests in the Fall

As both a forest lover and weaver, it's intriguing and fulfilling to combine those two special interests of mine. I've woven quite a few blankets by now for my ongoing Autumn Storm series, and then I began a series called "Oh Canada!" to portray different aspects of Canada through handwoven blankets.

"Oh Canada!" began with a custom blanket woven for the 2015 Canada Winter Games, held in Prince George, BC last February. The organizing committee accepted my work for their VIP gifting program, and several of my blankets were purchased as gifts for, I gather, various national and provincial dignitaries who attended the Games for the opening ceremonies and other events. Yes, very exciting for me!

The custom blanket was entitled Canada's Forests in Winter. Each end was woven in shades of blue to represent the oceans. After the oceans was a deep layer of snow, then layers of branches in green and more snow, representing the link of Canada's forests from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

I decided to take this idea a step further recently, and recently wove a blanket entitled Canada's Forests in the Fall. Again, each end of the blanket begins with blues to represent the ocean. From there, one side is predominantly reds, oranges and golds to represent the colourful Acadian and Great Lakes - St. Lawrence forests west of the Atlantic Ocean.

The other half is predominantly rich greens with spots of golds and yellow to represent boreal, montane and coast forests with their dots of bright aspen, birch and shrubs. (Thanks to my ancient university copy of Forest Regions of Canada by J.S. Rowe 1972.)

This blanket measures 170 cm x 130 cm (69" x 51") and ... Update:  It sold at the Medieval Market in November.  The buyer fell in love with it and had to have it - made me happy.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Kitchen Cloths for Friends

Often at the end of a warp for cotton towels or blankets comes a short section of yarns that I refuse to waste. (Or, worse yet, one section will be short by one turn from beaming, and so I'm left with extra warp on either side of this short section. Fortunately, that happens less often these days.) However, my error gives me the opportunity to make little kitchen cloths, as I call them. Kitchen cloths are little towel samples with selvedges or machine hemming on all sides, so they're durable in the wash and useful as towels for many years.

Kitchen cloths are handy as:
  • Table napkins
  • Kitchen counter wipes 
  • Dishwashing cloths
  • Backpack towel
  • Gift wrapping
  • And more!

One of the ways I can invisibly link different friends, without them knowing, is to give them matching kitchen cloths. This happens, for example, when I wrap some of Pat's flatbread in a kitchen cloth for a friend, and another friend will receive her kitchen cloth wrapped around a CD.

(Allow me to please do a little shout-out for the latest album by Drum and Bell Tower  - Out of the Time. This is incredibly good music and I want to share it with everyone.)

If I have a kitchen cloth left to use for myself, then I have that little link with my friends, too.

Weaving brings us all together. :-)

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

A Wedding Gift Blanket

This is another Cariboo Handwoven blanket story. One of my deluxe wool blankets with about 50% handspun wool arrived in Toronto recently. Here's the blanket:

And here's the buyer's response:
Hi Jane,
I picked up the blanket package yesterday and we are thrilled.  You are amazing.  To think that you spin the wool and weave it into that beautiful blanket is truly wonderful.  Your finishing of the fringes is so perfect as well.  Would the colours be natural or have you dyed them?   The blanket will make a very special wedding present – thank you. 
(Answer to question: The handspun grey/brown and cream are natural colours - in fact, I believe the entire blanket is natural colours with no dyes used.)
Thank YOU!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Georgian Bay Towels

My Dad truly loves Georgian Bay and everything about it, and so I made him a Georgian Bay towel for a milestone birthday earlier this year. He was so thrilled and delighted that he ordered three more to give as gifts. It was pretty weird to send my wonderful Dad an invoice with his order, but he was expecting it and I added a second gift towel for him. :-)

My Georgian Bay towels are designed to show the water with whitecaps, rock with orange lichen, evergreen trees, and big sky with cumulus clouds.

And then one of my Dad's friends who received a towel requested six Georgian Bay towels to also give as gifts! I was about to plunge into making more towels right about then, so I added this order to the project. Each towel is differently designed but has the same motif of water, rock, trees and sky. (Some of the sky in the towels below is hiding behind the railing.)

These are going in the mail on Monday. I'm looking forward to carefully packaging them up and sending them on their way - to another Georgian Bay fan.