Saturday, 1 December 2018

What's Available - December 2018

December is a busy and fun month for pretty well everyone in different ways. If you're interested in what Cariboo Handwoven has on hand, here you go:

In Ottawa, Alison has a good supply of wool blankets, some big cotton blankets and some cotton towels. The cotton items are being replenished in a small shipment expected in a week. You can contact Alison at:

In Williams Lake, BC, the Station House Gallery has a selection of Cariboo Handwoven wool and cotton blankets, wool scarves, wool travel shawls and cotton towels in their Christmas market.

Wool blanket recently delivered to the Station House Gallery

The three darker scarves were delivered to the Station House

This is the travel shawl on Facebook in early November shown when on the loom.
Lots of people loved it and now it's done!

Travel shawl for someone who loves purple :-)

If you're local, drop in just to see the beautiful display created by staff and Board members. And thank you for having me as a vendor!

In the Cariboo Handwoven studio, there are a few wool blankets, including the Coming Home blanket which is still available, and blanket numbers are being increased through December. I also have lots of large and small cotton blankets, some wool travel shawls, and both cotton and 80/20 towels. Feel free to contact me for a studio visit - I'm just 10 km west of town and easy to find. I can also do a weaving demonstration if you're interested to see how a loom works.

Enjoy December - whatever you do!

Friday, 16 November 2018

"Still Going Strong"

A friend in Ontario sent me that title on an email with this photo:

The towel is "still going strong" and I recalled that I gave it to her on a milestone birthday.  You can see that the plain weave hem has faded a bit and the label's edges are a bit beat up from washing agitation.  Here's what she added:

Anyway, isn't it an awesome  towel? Fourteen years of consistent wear and tear, and it still looks like a towel I like having in the kitchen. Lots of others become stained or faded so quickly. I have orange, red and baby blue Jane Perry towels. I know it sounds weird saying one has a favourite tea towel, but it's true - they are!!
Lovely feedback, makes me happy.  Thank you happy towel owner!

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") 

Detail of beetle attack in lodgepole pine

Detail of attacked stand showing new growth of pinegrass and wildflowers

This blanket sold at the UNBC Artisans of the North craft fair in October - thanks!

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") 

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") 

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") 

SH234 | Carmen 1 | Detail
All three of these blankets have sold to very enthusiastic buyers.  The Coco blanket was the first to go - at the Williams Lake Farmers Market in September.  Then the Nancy and Carmen blankets sold on the first day of the UNBC Artisans of the North craft fair.  Thanks, everyone!

Monday, 2 July 2018

"It's Exactly What I Want"

One of the spinners at our spin-in two months ago mentioned to me that she really wanted one of my Georgian Bay blankets. She visited my studio in early June and we went over the colours for the rows of water, rock, trees and sky. I wanted to ensure there were no shades that she really didn't want, and that her blanket reflected her own memories of Georgian Bay.

She added some sandy light brown for beach and wanted a touch of light green for deciduous trees and reds for maples in the tree layer. And grey around the cloud edges at the top to show an approaching storm. At the bottom, we agreed that I'd add a little wool/mohair I had left to make the whitecaps stand out a bit - they actually look a little frothy and very authentic.

Here's the finished blanket with, I think, fifteen colours in total.

I always say to anyone who's ordered something that there's no obligation and they have to love it before they buy it. I like to have the item ready for presentation and on display on a special rack for the person's arrival and viewing. After a short silence as she admired it, I heard:

"It's exactly what I want."

Nothing more needed, I was thrilled (and a tad relieved). We had fun looking over the blanket together and talking about it.

Even though we'd chosen colours and discussed the blanket design, I was still winging it a bit and drawing on my own memories. So to hear that this blanket will be enjoyed and appreciated by someone else with special Georgian Bay memories is wonderful for me.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Studio Visits

Studio visits are one of my favourite ways to show off my work. (Craft fairs have become a close second.)  As well, visitors sometimes bring something for me to see that I find interesting and artistically expanding. Most often I will receive a request from a friend or new person about a certain item, or just to see what I do with all this weaving stuff I talk about.

Earlier this week I had a memorable studio visit by a woman from the Arctic doing a short-term work stint in my community. My first question when she arrived was what brought her to Williams Lake, and my second question was how did she hear about me?

She said she'd searched online for weaving stores, so calling me that was a nice start.  She wanted to look at travel shawls and I had them all out for her to see (a huge advantage when there's a visiting plan, as I have out what's requested and the studio is reasonably tidy).  Once she'd seen them, she meandered over to the blankets and I returned to what I'd been doing before she arrived. But almost immediately she started gushing over the Resilience blanket, which I wove last fall and blogged about in December.

She loved the colours, texture and everything about it, and knew it would be far more useful for her than a smaller travel shawl. Then I told her the Resilience story and she loved it even more. It was a very quick and definite selection.

On the way out to her car, she met the Resilience image photographer and told us more about her life in the Arctic. As she drove out the driveway, he and I were already looking at the map.

The Resilience blanket story was really important to her, which is important for me to remember - the story part. It was so gratifying for me to see someone fall in love with my work right in front of me. Business is always secondary when that happens.

Enjoy and stay warm!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Starting Another Long Run

Starting a set of blankets is like starting off for a long run. Once the blankets are ready to weave, there's already been a fair bit of time invested in warping the loom - winding bobbins, beaming the warp, threading, sleying, tieing on and then weaving a header. Oh, and fixing any little threading or sleying errors. :-)

Then we go. Shuttles are lined up, pattern is fresh in my mind, the rhythm begins. Mmmm.

For a long run (going by memory, certainly not by recent experience), usually there's been some prep time to rest, then I plan my route, dress for the weather and I'm off.

It's physical, psychological, even a bit spiritual. A long warp waiting for me is like the open road or a beautiful trail. I just need to remember to pace myself to get myself to the finish line with a smile.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

One - No, Two - of My First Blankets

I visited a friend recently and spied a vintage piece of my work, her well-loved blanket, a housewarming gift from almost thirty years ago. She had it hung perfectly neatly on a blanket stand and it looked great.

This had to be one of the first blankets I wove on my Leclerc Colonial I loom. I bought that loom in Vancouver, used, in 1988 and had it shipped north by a moving company. I was dying to expand my projects from my 36" Artisat loom to a 60" loom and with the extra four harnesses I added to the original four.

This blanket would have been woven pretty soon after setting up the Colonial loom and starting with some small projects. The weave structure is turned twill, which I call twill blocks - the threading alternates between 1234 and 5678 to create blocks, with different weft colours to highlight the differences.

I looked up the blanket in my big binder of vintage projects, and there it was. The project of seven blankets took from Nov. 1989 until the following September. My notes itemized all the problems I faced, the delay while I pondered what best to do, and how long it took me to warp and then weave each blanket. Wow, I am quite a bit wiser and more efficient now, good to know!

Anyway, this blanket looked great, all fringes still tightly twisted and knotted, and the owner loves it.

It washed up well and feels much softer and nicer. I did an overnight soak, lots of gentle washing and rinsing, and hung it up to dry outside in the Cariboo sunshine. I returned it to my friend yesterday and was rewarded with a nice latte and chat together.

Update: Coincidentally, I spied this blanket at my brother's house.  With a much busier household than my friend's place, this blanket has taken a bit of a beating but it's held up well.  I fixed some fringes and enjoyed giving it a little TLC.

The light in this image really shows the slightly bubbling mohair stripes, which didn't pull in as much as the wool woven in the rest of the blanket. It's a nice effect though.

Amazing and very interesting for me to see these two very early blankets within only a week or two.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Ideas for Mother's Day and ...

Mother's Day on Sunday May 13 is a popular event for sending flowers or giving a little gift.  Cariboo Handwoven has some ideas if you're thinking of something unique for your mom - or for the upcoming busy season of graduation, retirements and summer visits.

In Ottawa, Alison has a good selection of cotton hand towels and wool and cotton blankets. One or two hand towels are great on their own or added to a gift basket.

Cotton blankets are perfect for spring and summer in particular, but useful year-round.

C282 | 100% cotton | Sold

And wool blankets are classic and also very popular.

SH189 | 100% wool | Sold

Contact Alison at: alison "at" if you're interested in anything.

In Williams Lake, British Columbia, the Station House Gallery has towels and some cotton and wool blankets, and Bloom 'N Gifts has towels. The Cariboo Handwoven studio has the best selection of towels, blankets, travel shawls and large lightweight blanket scarves. Jane is available by appointment if you'd like to visit, even just to see how a loom works. 

Please contact Jane in your usual way or: jane "at"

However you spend Mother's Day, hope it's a nice one!

Friday, 20 April 2018

Make More!

When I started Cariboo Handwoven about eight years ago, I did the whole business plan thing, from writing down my vision through all the steps leading to specific tasks. At that time, my vision was "My blankets have a waiting list!" I thought it was a most appropriate vision for how I wanted my work to be in demand and appreciated. Then I'd be sure to keep busy and have fun in the studio.

Over those years though, my vision has changed a little. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. And what I've learned in those years, after all the planning, is what I really want to do.  

Make more. 

Make more! 

Pump out the towels especially, assess them carefully, and do it better the next time. Apply what I learn to the bigger items, like blankets. High production obviously yields more results than picking the details to death and letting that interference result in making much less. Really, without the quantity of work there can be no quality.

I first read about this concept a few years ago in Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Boyle and Ted Orland, which is a super book for anyone who creates.

In it is a story about potters divided into two groups: one to achieve one perfect product and others to produce as much as possible. The potters aiming for perfection produced nothing because they got stuck seeking perfection whereas the other half of the class achieved their goal. 

I've never forgotten this story. I know there's a balance between quality and quantity, but a quantity of zero yields absolutely no quality at all. Or even much potential.

So, on that note, I'll be making more in my weaving studio through the year.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The First 2018 Craft Fairs for Cariboo Handwoven

It's always fun in the winter to look ahead to another year - set goals, expand on ideas, try new things and register for craft fairs. At this point I know I'll be at two good ones this spring and summer.

First up on Saturday April 21 in Williams Lake is Handmade in the Cariboo:

This is its second happening and I was really glad to be accepted.

Next up is the Great Shuswap Pottery Sale in Celista, BC on Shuswap Lake.

The website is really well-designed and quite elegant. Scroll down on the home page if you want to read more about the artisans and see samples of their work.

These craft fairs all take major organizing, and I'm really impressed with how well each of these ones has gone for enquiries and registration. Thank you!

Monday, 5 March 2018

Third Set of Travel Shawls

Travel shawls have been hugely successful and I'm thrilled with how much their owners enjoy and appreciate them, as well as all the new interest they've created. I think travel shawls are like a personal, portable blanket for many people and what's not to like about that?

I have a few new ones to show:

#15 | 100% wool | 160 cm x 68 cm (63" x 27") | Private collection

#16 | 100% wool | 156 cm x 69 cm (61.5" x 27") | Sold

#17 | Wool and fine wool/mohair | 165 cm x 75 cm (65" x 29.5") | Sold

#18 | Wool and alpaca | 160 cm x 75 cm (63" x 29.5") | Sold

#19 | Wool and alpaca | 176 cm x 75 cm (69" x 29.5") | Sold

#20 | 100% wool | 175 cm x 69 cm (69" x 27") | Sold

Saturday, 24 February 2018

36 Threads Per Inch

Two projects of wool travel shawls last year, with a third set just finished and soon ready for presentation, prompted me to weave next with finer yarns. I wanted to make big blanket scarves that wrap warmly around the neck with no possibility of itchiness or scratchiness, and which look elegant and classy in the process.

I weave my towels with 2/8 cotton, but the borders are in 2/16 cotton so that they can be folded back at the hems and be about the same thickness as the rest of the towel. The weight system for cotton means that 2/16 is half the weight of 2/8.  2/16 is slightly thicker than sewing thread, but not by much.

Blanket scarves in silky 2/16 cotton would be super, I thought. I knew it would be a tight sett, meaning many threads per inch. All the charts I checked said 36 threads/inch for 2/16 cotton in a twill weave. I had several cones in navy and purple, so I ordered more to thread alternating navy and purple. The two slightly different shades of purple give the cloth a certain unique depth I hadn't anticipated.

Such fine yarns tend to tangle more easily than my usual 2/8 cotton at 24 threads/inch, and even float in the air with a little static electricity. Beaming the loom with the 36 cones was pretty quick, but even just taking them off the racks, winding each one back up and putting them away took awhile. Then the threading ... at 26 inches wide ... that's a total of 936 threads.

It was worth it though. The blanket scarves turned out great with the alternating lengthwise stripes of straight and advancing twill. Now they'll need some time for fringing.  Here is one sample on the loom, woven with fine silk.

More later on a future blog, or feel free to ask how the fringing is going. :-)

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Big Cotton Blankets in Diamonds and Waves

Cariboo Handwoven cotton blankets have been very popular and they've sold well both in BC and Ottawa. In early January I really wanted to weave more, so I warped up my old loom (which has sufficient heddles on all eight harnesses) with a simple palette of soft colours - cream with pale blue and pale grey for the wide stripes. I found the gentle contrast subtle and calming. I threaded the wide stripes in two twills to create some variety with diamonds and waves.

I aim to weave all my big blankets to have a finished length of six feet (72") or 183 cm, which most of these achieved. These blankets are all 135 cm (53") wide, so the overall size is really generous.

The more I use cotton blankets in my home, the more I love them. They're soft and cozy but never too hot, which wool can be at times. I do love my wool blankets, they're heirlooms to last for decades, and they're the best for really snuggling up. But cotton blankets are more versatile through the seasons, and the machine wash and dry treatment is very easy.

And so here are my latest cotton blankets:

C311 | 100% cotton | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | Sold

C312 | 100% cotton | "Sage and Sand" | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | Sold

C313 | 100% cotton | 188 cm x 135 cm (74" x 53") | Sold

C314 | 100% cotton | 183 cm x 135 cm (72" x 53") | $170

C315 | 100% cotton | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | Private collection

C316 | 100% cotton | 183 cm x 135 cm (72" x 53") | Sold

C317 | 100% cotton | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | Sold

C318 | 100% cotton | 170 cm x 135 cm (67" x 53") | Sold