Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summer Markets

Outdoor markets spring to life in the summer in the Oceanside area.  It is a great opportunity for artisan groups to introduce themselves to the community.  This past month the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners guild attended "Art in Action" in downtown Qualicum Beach.

In spite of a cloudy start to the day the weather favoured us so much so that barefoot spinning was encouraged.  Note the lovely pedicure.

The Art in Action event is a sale.  For most of the events we attend we bring items for demonstration only so our display was different from the usual.  One learns to appreciate how vendors manage to fit so much into such a small booth spaces.  As you can tell from the pictures we were not successful in packing both demonstrations and sale items into the same space and the spinners have spilled into the empty area at the edge of our booth.  They were appreciative of the dry weather.

We set up our tent under a grey skies and watched as the threatening clouds slowly moved south east away from our location.  A "wash line" full of tea towels covered one side of the canopy.  By noon the number of towels had decreased substantially.  Many of them are headed to homes many miles away as souvenirs of a summer trip to Vancouver Island.  With them went the story of how they were made and who made them.  The story behind a piece is unique to hand crafted items and something that sets them apart from equally beautiful items that are manufactured in large quantities.

We also had a colourful display of light scarves and household linens.  Some of these are also on their way to a new home far away from where they were created.

As always the spinners draw a curious crowd.  This spectator seems to be content to watch from a distance.

Our demonstration loom is always popular but this time we brought along a drum carder.  It helped to bridge the story between raw fleece and the singles spun yarn.

If you missed us at Art in Action then look for us a Children's Day at the Qualicum Beach Museum on August 20th or later at the Light House Fall Fair in Qualicum Bay on September 3rd.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Painting Yarn

hand dyed warp
May was a busy month for the Qualicum Weavers and Spinners.  We celebrated our 25th anniversary, held our final business meeting before the summer break, attended Qualicum Beach Family Days and discussed painting yarn with Lucy Slykerman.

Detail from Lucy's shawl

testing dye strength
Lucy Slykerman is well known for her work with painted warps.  She was in our area and generously agreed to meet with members of our group who have an interest in warp painting.  We had a wonderful morning sharing experiences and learning from an expert.
Members of the guild brought in their samples of painted warps or finished products.  We used the samples and the stories behind them to spark discussion about designs and techniques.

Marie's experience with old dye

 Marie brought us an example of what can happen when one uses old dye.  She was not expecting the grey colouring in her scarf.  The age of the dye was questionable ( more than a decade but less than a century).  The lessons presented by this piece might be to date ingredients when you purchase them and test them before you use them.  Lucy showed us a quick way to test a dye using paper towels.

Staggered warp bundles
Several of the examples involved painting the warp or manipulating it when dressing the loom to get specific effects.
Mary brought an example of yardage that was made from painted warp bundles.  The bundles were deliberately off set in order to create blocks of colour.
The blending of one colour into the next is inevitable if the dye liquid has an opportunity to move during curing.  This suggests that you might want to separate colours that will turn muddy when they mix or alternatively you might use this property to create a gradual transition that creates intermediate colour.  Sylvia and Linda brought examples of scarves that demonstrate colour blending.
plain weave scarf
Pat isolated groups of warp threads and used a thickener to reduce dye movement in order to create stripes that change over the length of the warp.

pleated scarf

painted stripes in warp

Lucy showed us her design process and how she uses both painted and solid colour yarns to create stripe interest in her baby wraps.  She finds that darker weft threads tend to make the painted warp stand out so she gets intense colour.

Lucy's design

We left the session with painted warps waiting to go on the loom and/or new ideas for what to do with those colourless yarns sitting in our stash.  You can expect to see some colourful new creations by the fall.

scarf waiting to be woven
We would like to thank Lucy for giving us such a wonderful opportunity to learn from such an accomplished weaver.  To learn more about her work and in particular her baby wraps, check out her website at