Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Was ... Fun!

We are all looking back today at a very complex year on this planet, but I will keep this to Cariboo Handwoven's year of 2016. The best word I have to describe it was "fun!"

The year began with the final steps in setting up and beginning to use my new Leclerc Colonial 8-harness loom.

It took the prime spot in my studio and the old Colonial moved to the other wall. I like both looms and both locations, and the little contrasts between them are actually quite helpful and refreshing for my body.

I wove a lot of blankets and towels this year and sold most of them from my studio, through Alison in Ottawa, in some local venues, and in three fall craft fairs in BC.

I learned a lot in helping a new weaver start from an immediate fascination with everything in the studio to getting his own 36" floor loom and making some beautiful things. Jon has been fun to weave with and I can't really say I'm teaching him. I'm just showing him some things now and then, and soon he's a step or two ahead of me. Our collaboration has boosted my own weaving and outlook.

I've learned a lot about some weave structures, particularly in combining twills and figuring out how to design the warp (lots of trial and error). And it's become a bit easier for me to show my work at craft fairs and put myself out there.

As well, I learned something for myself when I was recently asked if Cariboo Handwoven is a hobby or a business. Gee, good question. Well, it's much more than a hobby and it's certainly a business. But it's not a business in which I want to compromise the fun part just to grow. I'm producing at close to my maximum level anyway, so growth and increased sales are not really a significant goal. My primary goal is having fun - learning and experimenting while I work (if you can call it work), meeting people and hearing their feedback and stories, and thinking ahead to what's next.

I can't close 2016 without thanking Alison in Ottawa for all she has done again for Cariboo Handwoven and me; Jonathan for all his great questions, ideas and collaboration; and Pat, my husband, for putting up with all my wacky ideas, brief (I hope) episodes of angst, and time away this year. And to all of you with kind comments and heartfelt compliments - thanks to each of you.

May everyone's 2017 be filled with peace, joy, interesting challenges and successful pursuits of their own fun.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Twenty-Two Tony Two-Twill Towels

Towels have been selling well at various craft sales and local outlets, and from both my studio in BC and Alison's house in Ottawa. I wove a lot of towels this summer, as I can never have too many in stock or too much fun in making them, and now I'm really glad I kept pumping them out.

The Station House Gallery asked for more towels last week, so I beamed a warp with Jon on Monday and finished weaving all of them by Friday. Cold winter weather helped make that happen - nice to be weaving away in my cozy, sunny studio.

The lengthwise blue stripes have what I call fuzzy twill lines (threaded 1234 1234 5678 5678), then the reds in the middle have typical clean twill lines (threaded 12345678). I experimented with various diamonds and treadlings, and just had a lot more fun with towels again.

And here are some samples of my latest 22 two-twill cotton towels. All are machine wash and dry, long-lasting, and every one an original!

Please let me know if you're interested in any towels, either ASAP or next year. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

How Long Did It Take to Make That? About 35 Years!

Every now and then I see a big surge in page views for my five-blog series on "How Long Does it Take to Make a Blanket." I'm glad to see this because it shows that some of you out there must be interested in the detailed process. Thanks for reading!

But in the growing spirit among artisans of what it really takes to make anything by hand, I'm going to answer the "How long does it take?" question with the title's response - because that's really how it works. I've actually been weaving for a little over 35 years. It's been very fulfilling and a lot of fun.

The truth is, no weaver - in fact, no artist - starts up and makes something for sale for the given price, just like that. There is a lot of training, whether formal or informal. There are numerous test cases that end up in the - I hate to say it - garbage. And there is all the ongoing learning, too, which takes time and requires building one's knowledge. Add in the cost of materials, keeping a studio running, and numerous overhead costs. As well, I need to know from all those years of experience that anything I sell is of the best quality that I can make, and that it will serve the owner well for many, many years.

So please do not point out an item, ask how long it took to weave, and do some quick math in your head that convinces you the artist will make a killing when it sells. You're probably looking at a unique piece that cannot be found anywhere else, and if you're there with the artist you have begun (or continued) a special relationship. Additionally, a well-made piece will last for very long with much enjoyment throughout that time.

And that's all IF it sells.

So that's why it's not just a certain number of hours to make anything, but really - for me - 35 wonderful years.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Hemmed, Not Fringed

If James Bond was looking at Cariboo Handwoven wool blankets, he might request they be hemmed, not fringed. Picture him standing before an array of them, his famous "shaken, not stirred" martini in hand.

Other people have requested hemmed blankets and so I decided to give it a whirl and see how a hemmed wool blanket looks and works.

As with towels and most cotton blankets, I wove a strip in lighter-weight yarn at each end so that when doubled and sewn it roughly equals the thickness of the rest of the blanket and will become part of the total cloth. By hemming, I saved about three hours of fringing time per blanket and then all the careful trimming of each fringe (120 per blanket), so it was certainly worth testing.

Hemmed wool blanket (SH170)

Here are the two blankets. Both are in rich browns and greys and part of the Equestrian Collection.

SH170 | 100% wool | 180 cm x 130 cm (71" x 51") | Sold

SH171 | 100% wool | 168 cm x 127 cm (66" x 50") | Sold

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Nancy Blanket #1

Nancy is one of the Froese's Icelandic Sheep Farm ewes on Fox Mountain near Williams Lake, British Columbia.  Here she is in her field last summer.

I spun one of Nancy's washed fleeces from Donna Froese ...

... and wove it as weft in a wool blanket ...

SH168 | 100% wool | 175 cm x 144 cm (69" x 56.5") 

The blanket's weave structure is undulating twill and woven with about 50% handspun Icelandic wool in a swirling back and forth pattern. Simple pattern, and yet lots to absorb in the design.

Nancy Blanket #1 is the first of more, I hope, and this one's headed to the Medieval Market in Williams Lake on November 19-20.  Might see you there!

Update: A local resident bought my first Nancy blanket at the Medieval Market and I'm thrilled it's gone to an appreciative home!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Artisans of the North Fair in Prince George

Last week I made the three-hour drive north to Prince George for the Artisans of the North Fair at the University of Northern British Columbia. This was my first time at this juried craft sale, and one of my first tasks was to pick up my box of submitted items on Friday before the office closed.

UNBC is celebrating 25 years and the campus is beautiful. I knew it from its early days when the Association of Northwest Weavers Guilds hosted its conference there in 1995, as well as from a few forestry conferences through those years of my career. The campus is a coordinated series of buildings that really fit into its site at the top of the hill west of the city, with their timber beams, rock and glass.

Cariboo Handwoven was in the administration building, which I consider quite stunning.

I set up a large blanket rack on one side and a table covered in cotton blankets and towels on the other side. This worked well for having to bring only one rack and a small table.

Neighbours on both sides of me and across the hallway were great. And I met many interested and interesting people. Thanks to all who stopped in!

Sales were good and I saw many blankets and towels head out as gifts or for personal use. I know of two wool blankets going to Norway and England. In particular, watching people look things over very carefully, blankets stretched out for them to see, no rush to decide - well, that was fun for me, too.

One buyer has already let me know about her blanket from the Energy Series:

My blanket is stunning, I've already had a rest with it. It just makes me feel happy. Thank you for coming to Prince George.

The fall craft fair season is off to a good start for Cariboo Handwoven!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Four More New Wool Blankets

Four blankets are presented together below. All are 100% wool and woven in undulating twill, which creates lovely waves of gentle movement to the eye.

The first one I wove with my handspun wool that came from the Wenger Sheep Farm nearby. It has muted grey tones from natural variations in the fleece. And it's extra wide because the handspun is washed before I weave with it, so it's done all its minor shrinking before becoming part of the blanket.

The next one in the fall colours of heathery orange and gold is currently my Cariboo Handwoven photo on Facebook and has received many likes and compliments.

The last two are in blues because I can never have enough blue blankets (or towels) available. Each blanket has two harmonious shades of blue added to the greys and cream.

Here they are!

SH159 | 100% wool with approx. 50% handspun from the Wenger Sheep Farm,
Williams Lake, BC | 176 cm x 133 cm (69" x 52.5") | Sold

SH163 | 100% wool | 193 cm x 128 cm (76" x 50.5") | Sold

SH163 Detail

SH166 | 100% wool | 183 cm x 127 cm (72" x 50") | Sold

SH167 | 100% wool | 173 cm x 125 cm (68" x 49") | Sold

SH167 Detail

If you'd like more photos or information on any of these blankets, just let me know through a comment either here or on Facebook, or email me at: cariboojane "at" shaw "dot" ca.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Cariboo Handwoven's New Equestrian Collection

Many of my wool blankets are woven in earthy colours: shades of browns and greys, often with cream and black. As much as I revel in weaving bright colours for cotton towels, I often yearn to return to these wool blankets to ground me. I've always loved the beautiful neutral tones and they are so very compatible with the entire equestrian world: horses, tack, a lot of rider apparel and even the footing we ride on.

Blog readers may already know about "Blankets Aren't Just For Horses!"from an earlier post (it's a favourite).

It therefore seemed logical that my latest project of Shetland wool blankets begin a new Equestrian Collection, which I've been promising myself for years. All those browns and greys with accents are so harmonious with the horse world. And so two blankets are presented below, both woven in undulating twill; this pattern creates lovely little waves of subtle energy.

The first blanket is in charcoal, near-black (not a pure black but with a little softness) and greys, with narrow cream stripes:

SH164 | 100% wool | 180 cm x 125 cm (71" x 49") | Sold

SH164 Detail

The second blanket is in warm browns:

SH165 | 100% wool | 173 cm x 125 cm (63" x 49") | Sold

SH165 Detail

And now - let's go riding!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Four New Shetland Wool Blankets in Undulating Twill

It does seem a little odd to weave wool blankets in August, but it wasn't unbearably hot in my upstairs studio, and I was keen to have lots of blanket fringing to take on some recent travels. Totally worth it! All of these blankets are woven in undulating twill; the first one has waves going from one corner up to the next, and the three others have the waves of different sizes going back and forth in a nice way.

Here are four of the blankets, now ready to go from my studio. Please feel free to contact me at "cariboojane" at shaw "dot" ca if you're interested in any.

SH158 | 100% wool | 163 cm x 128 cm (64" x 50.5") | Sold

SH160 | Wool with handspun wool-mohair | 168 cm x 137 cm (66" x 54") | Sold

SH161 | 100% wool | 175 cm x 128 cm (69" x 50.5") | Sold

SH162 | 100% wool | 190 cm x 129 cm | (75" x 49") | Sold

More blankets to come, and more in undulating twill!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Fringing Travels

Not being one to sit around for too long without doing something, and with some quiet visiting coming up on my calendar, I wove six wool blankets earlier this month and brought four with me. Three are almost done, just one left to finish up sloooowly. :-)

Here are the blankets, all Shetland wool.

SH163 | SH161 | SH162

All blankets were woven in undulating twill which gives them beautiful wavy lines. But they're so stiff (and a bit whiffy from the raw wool used right off the cones) that I'm dying to wash them when I'm home. They will soften up and smell much better after then.

Here is one wrapped around a little garden angel. In this blanket, the soft tones of rich dark gold and reddish-rust go really well on the warp of browns and greys.


All this fringing progress would not be as quick and efficient as it's been without my handy fringe twister. Many weavers will recognize it.

I used one for many years but it actually wore out and broke. I thought I could manage with twisting all the fringes manually, but a weaving friend ordered one for me as a surprise gift. Now I wonder how I could ever do without one!

These blankets and more will be posted when they're finished and ready to leave my studio.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Latest Project of Small Cotton Blankets

Cariboo Handwoven's small cotton blankets are intended mostly for babies and children, but they are lovely little lap blankets so they're good for all ages. I totally enjoy making them, particularly if there's a little one in mind who might use it for many years. And my earliest blankets are being passed on to the next generation.

All of these cotton blankets are about 140-145 cm (55"-57") long and 92 cm (36") wide. They machine wash and dry really well. Other than the first one below, all are woven in what I call waffle squares which is very comfortable - not too hot and not too cool. 

Here they are!

CS271 | 100% cotton | Twill pattern | Sold

CS272 | 100% cotton | Private collection

CS273 | 100% cotton | Private collection

CS274 | 100% cotton | Sold

CS275 | 100% cotton | Sold

CS276 | 100% cotton | Sold

CS277 | 100% cotton | Sold

CS278 | 100% cotton | Sold

CS279 | 100% cotton | Sold

Update: Only one left - CS272 near the top. Its colours are blues with plum.