Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the view from higher up

Sunday was a laundry day. It's a bit of a trek up to the laundromat as it is up the hill from where we live. A nice thing about being up there if it happens to be a rare day with blue sky, is the view of Corner Brook and the surrounding hills. The laundromat also had this great old sign in the window. As you can also see, winter in Corner Brook usually means no sidewalks.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Contemporary Fibres

On Wednesday I leave for my second trip to Halifax this month for the installation, opening and panel talk for a four person exhibition including myself, J. Penney Burden, Joanna Close, and Margaret Forsey. We all graduated from the NSCAD Textiles Department almost five years ago and are still all practicing our art in one form or another. It should be wonderful to see them all again plus everyone who is coming out for the opening itself. And when I return to NL, it will be March, one month closer to spring!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

success and satisfaction

My first sample for a new summer scarf is finished! This is the same scarf posted in pictures yesterday while it was on the loom. I am very happy with this design. It is a very lightweight scarf, woven from cotton and raw silk, with a sturdy but light hand meant for summer wear as a scarf or wrap. The stripes of white raw silk in the warp (refer to pictures from yesterday's post) allow me to dye it after it's woven - this one I dyed in an emerald green - while the cotton warp stripes and weft remain their original colours. Being able to dye after each scarf is woven keeps production work interesting for me as I will never know exactly the subtle colour differences from scarf to scarf until it has reached that final stage.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

take 2

sometimes it takes a couple of tries to work through a new idea, a new design. Yesterday I made one sample scarf, and after it was finished, washed and dyed, I studied it, took from it what I liked, and worked at adapting what needed improvement. The first sample, because of grouped threading in the warp, had weft floats that were much too long for a wearable, sell-able textile. Also, I wanted some pronounced stripes in the warp - in a way a summer version of my seaweed series - so I grouped the raw silk together for one direction of the herringbone points and and the two colours of cotton for the other direction of the herringbone points. Each scarf will be dyed after the weaving to colour the raw silk (but leaves the cotton alone) and make each one different.....

Friday, February 20, 2009

pyjama day

I have spent most of the day in my pjs today. Not because I haven't been working - in fact a sign that I've got a new project on the go. Sometimes this happens when I'm working out the planning for a new scarf design or a new woven work. I get so focused on problem solving and working through each step of results that the day flies and I drink lots of coffee, skip the gym, eat a very quick lunch and puzzle away. Today I'm working through a new design for summer. My goal is to design and create a lightweight, wool-free, wide summer scarf woven of fine raw silk and cotton. I am almost finished weaving my first sample, but it will be transformed once it is off the loom, washed and over-dyed to colour the bits raw silk in the warp. The structure is an undulating twill, a nice wavy pattern. The final scarf design might be narrower and have graduating warp stripes.......we will see!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

dye job

The scarf for Rebecca in Santa Cruz is in its final stage. Right now it is sitting in an orange/coral dye bath. Because the warp stripes of merino absorb the colour differently than the raw silk, once the scarf is dry, the fuzzy felted stripes will be a bright mango yellow/orange, hopefully as close as possible to the original scarf pictured here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

where I live

This is painting by my partner Damien Worth. This is the block where we live in Corner Brook, NL. We live in the middle building on the second floor in a studio apartment. There is LOTS of snow all winter long. More snow than anywhere else I have ever lived. Life in this town has it's challenges and it's advantages. Because it is very isolated geographically, it costs a lot to leave and travel other places. Snow clearing leaves much to be desired for pedestrians like me - it is a place where everyone relies on cars. Our apartment is getting too small and it would be really nice to have a deck/backyard/our own entrance. On the bright side, I have become part of an amazing craft community in this town (and province) who have offered me incredible wisdom and mentoring. The summers are beautiful and our proximity to breathtaking landscape is fantastic (Bottle Cove, Gros Morne, Western Brook Pond). Because of the isolation, I am able to approach my weaving as a self-imposed artist residency - not a lot of social distractions. But, we have decided to move to Halifax, NS in May after being here for a year and a half. Damien will finish his BFA at NSCAD and we will both be closer to our families and friends on PEI and in the Maritimes. I lived in Halifax for 7 years during my time at NSCAD and am looking forward to returning at a different stage in my life, but I will leave Newfoundland with mixed emotions.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

lost and found

Early in January a woman in Santa Cruz, California bought one of my Seaweed scarves listed in my Etsy shop. A beautiful diamond pattern in a colour combination I called "pink mango", it was one of my favourites for its brilliant sunny glow. I put it in the mail right away for her - my first order going to the US - but by the end of January I received an email from her saying the scarf still hadn't arrived. I tracked it through Canada Post, but the last date they were able to track it to was january 16th when it reached customs. Thanks goodness I insured it (I insure all my shipping), and I quickly filed an "investigation" with Canada Post. Well, almost three weeks later, they still haven't tracked it down, and are now starting the procedure to refund me the value insured and the postage of the scarf. I think about that poor scarf out there in the world somewhere (I tend to personify what I make).... I feel very bad for Rebecca in Santa Cruz, I know what it's like to look forward to receiving something special in the mail and it not arriving. So, I am weaving an exact replica of the Pink Mango Seaweed Scarf for her and thought I would post an image of the scarf while on the loom. Once off the loom, the fringes will be twisted, the scarf hand-felted and then dyed in coral/orange that will only dye the white silk and merino of the warp, but leave the cotton weft the original dusty pink. It will look exactly like the original pictured here. And I will now ship to the US with Canada Post Express with guaranteed delivery......

Monday, February 16, 2009


this is an order for a new retail client. I wanted to photograph it for her before sending it off to make sure that the colours she picked out at ACTS are still the colours she wants for this sample selection.....lots of complementary hues going on here: blues, turquoises, orangy reds.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

thinking of spring

Even though it is the middle of February, in a couple of weeks I will make the switch back to weaving scarves. As spring approaches, so do scarf orders from shops that carry my work and some that will be starting for the first time. I also have some design challenges on the horizon as one shop has asked me to come up with an exclusive line (purchased wholesale) for their store by the end of March. As well, there may be potential for some more exclusive lines for a retail buyer I connected with last weekend in Halifax at ACTS. It's exciting to be given an "assignment" with clear constraints to consider - I love this kind of problem solving. I also have some designs that have been swimming around in my head for the last few weeks that I would like work out in some samples....designs based on feedback from One of a Kind and ACTS. I would like to have at least one of these new designs ready for the summer ordering season. It's nice to know there is work to be done.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

valentine's day

birthday gift from my cousin Martha from her trip to Guatamala.
handwoven on backstrap loom (I think), cotton, supplementary weft brocade patterning.

Friday, February 13, 2009

sustainability and the small producer

My friend Kyla gave me this wonderful book for my birthday while I was in Halifax last week called Fashion Future White Papers. It is made up of essays from all aspects of the textile growing, processing and manufacturing industry. It often makes the point of how little we think about the textiles in our lives, where they come from, how they are made and the waste and pollution generated by the textile industry. With the use of natural fibers, there is a strong similarity to organic farming practices when it comes to producing sustainable textiles. It's got me thinking particularly about cotton - this factoid blows me away: there are 17 teaspoons of pesticide used in the growth of cotton for one t-shirt. I love cotton. I love it for it's breathability, softness, lightness and how wonderful it is to weave with. There are strains of cotton that grow in colours and need little to no pesticide use, an ancient South American practice buried under the enormity of mass cotton production, and recently re-generated.
As a small producer whose work is all made by hand on a very small scale without the use of energy guzzling machinery (I use a human operated loom), large scale agriculture (I buy in very small supply quantities, but they are not organic) and transportation (I ship very small, mostly in Canada) - it's got me thinking about the ecological footprint of my own business. I do think knowledge is power and even though I am controlling the small scale manufacturing process of my work, I think doing some digging to find out where my cotton comes from (besides my supplier in Quebec) would be a good thing. Something to keep thinking and learning about. Even though I am small, like the original organic food producers, it is often the small forward thinkers who end up making big changes through an approach that is outside the mainstream. And manufacturing scarves by hand is definitely outside the mainstream.....

Thursday, February 12, 2009


My birthday falls on Friday the 13th this year - it happens every 5 or six years. And, it is always the day before Valentine's Day which means that I often receive red and/or pink treats on my birthday. I got these beautiful sweets while at Love, Me Boutique in Halifax, I couldn't resist. They are made by a felt artist in Regina, SK and they fly off the shelf.
PS - they are made of wool and not chocolate and strawberries, so I can look at them for years, and never be tempted to make them disappear by popping them in my mouth.......

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I arrived back last night from my first stint to Halifax this month (I visit again in two weeks). The ACTS show was my first wholesale show and I'm glad I did it. I got two orders and am hoping to follow up with some other retail buyers. It was amazing to realize how many people I know in the Atlantic craft community/industry - lots of familiar faces. But, it was a slow show compared to the hustle and bustle of retail shows....lots of waiting, and somewhat of a sense that a lot of the craft producers haven't changed their work in a long time - it's time for the next guard of contemporary crafters with an art practice approach, and I know there are lots of us.
I made a visit to the lovely Love, Me Boutique which carries my scarves and the owner Chara Kingston traded in some of my scarves for different colours, different styles. Wonderful shop on Birmingham St. - my first time there since she started carrying my scarves in October.
I did a lot of thinking and talking about point of purchase displays, designing a smaller version of my booth display ladder and getting feedback from my shops about whether or not they would like to have that display option for their scarves. Presentation is very very important , and most of the compliments directed at my work this weekend were also directed at my display - a simple, effective wall of colour.....
I also have some new designs to play with in the next month or two: a wholesale commission from the NL Craft Council to design an exclusive line of scarves, as well as wider silk and cotton scarves, and a narrower seaweed scarf....design is on my brain. But for today, I will simply settle back in.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

ready to go

today I fly to Halifax for ACTS. I'm ready to go, and amazingly, underneath those clothes, there are 50 scarves labeled and ready to be shown off. After my non-stop organizing/printing/packing day yesterday and getting up early this morning to do the last minute packing of clothes, I now have a couple of hours to relax, make breakfast, and drink coffee before leaving to catch the airport shuttle at 1pm. And upon my arrival in Halifax, I get to spend a wonderful evening tonight in the company of two of my favourite people - life is good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

time for business

I leave tomorrow for ACTS in Halifax, a three days wholesale show for Atlantic Canadian craft producers. This will be my first time at a wholesale show and today will be taken up preparing: making and printing wholesale price lists, order forms, tagging and pricing all my sample pieces and making sure I've read over all my "how-to" info. And I got a phone call yesterday from Mills Brothers in Halifax because they had received my ACTS promo postcard - a high end classy department store who will come and check out my scarves on Saturday, very exciting!

I am also bringing my four pieces for the exhibition "Contemporary Fibre" (Feb. 26 - April 12 2009) to the Mary E. Black Gallery in Halifax to save on shipping, so some ironing will be in order for my freshly washed new work. I am very happy with these two pieces pictrued above. I find they have a stained glass quality to them because of the varigated colour....

Monday, February 2, 2009

health blanket

really happy with this new approach to my inlay work. working with a 1-ply wool warp and weft in twill variations, embedding the inlay right into the woven structure, creating topographical landscapes with shifting colours. this work in progress depicts the rates of asthma in the Atlantic provinces between 1996 and 2005. The end piece will be washed, slightly felted and have the hand of a warm wool blanket. concept, function and tactile comfort.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

looking back to look forward

getting the loom threaded for my fourth piece since the beginning of January today. looking over the other three, I am most happy with the work in wool. it depicts cancer rates and the use of chemicals in commercial agriculture on Prince Edward Island. what I like about it is that it combines concept with reference to function - a satisfying feat in craft. It has the comfort of a small lap blanket, slightly felted, with the inlay imagery very integrated in the structure. So that's why I am returning to a wool warp for my next piece. Also, receiving such positive feedback today about this wool piece from the women in our West Coast Craft Collective confirmed the satisfaction I was feeling about it.