Thursday, December 30, 2010

lazy days

Winter finally arrived on PEI with a bang after a green Christmas. My family and I drove down to NB on Tuesday on snowy highways to visit my cousins. The drive down was a little harrowing, but the drive back to PEI was sunny and beautiful, the trees laden with snow.

My Etsy shop has been hopping the last week, so I thought I would post another scarf that I have listed.....this one is an Echo scarf in "heather", handwoven in raw silk and cotton.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

city mice or country mice?


So, I haven't really been keeping up with the scarf-a-day plug. I've gotten distracted while on Prince Edward Island. Mainly distracted by houses for sale. And when it comes to daydreaming potential new homes, I have a one track mind and I get a tad obsessed. Damien and I have never house-hunted before and we figure it's time to get our feet wet. We're just looking for now, but we have to start somewhere, and looking at houses doesn't cost a thing.

So, yesterday with Damien, my mom and friend Mille in tow, we went to look at a small century farmhouse in South Pinette, about thirty minutes east of Charlottetown, towards the Nova Scotia Ferry. Three out-buildings (possible studio space), a small orchard and a price that is definitely in our low budget price range. We'd have to make some investments right off the bat - new oil tank, new septic, buy a car - but there's loads of potential there for us to make it our own for a very reasonable price....but two main issues pop up: do we want to be that car dependent, and the winter isolation of country living. But, we would be buying ourselves space and time to work on our individual art practices and live within our means. And, out of all the regions in rural PEI, this is one part of the Island where we have very good friends, (Mille and Dan would be a 5 minute drive away). It's easy to get swept up and romanticize country living....

And, last night, I found a tiny little house in Charlottetown that I'm going to make an appointment for us to see. It's about $17,000 more than the country house, only one little outbuilding, but we'd be in town. From the photos of the inside it looks like it's got good bones, nice moldings. The big question: is there room for both Damien and I to have studio space?

Friday, December 17, 2010

scarf a day

Because I'm now on PEI for the holidays, and staying at my parents' house, I don't have my vast archive of photos which is on our own computer. I also didn't bring my cord for my camera to upload photos to my parents' computer. So, I will take images of scarves from my Etsy shop and do a scarf-a-day feature for the next few days. This one is a wide Wave scarf in cotton and raw silk, and I'm calling it Autumn Dusk.....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

filling the shop

I just spent the afternoon taking photos of some of my scarves and listing them on Etsy. Click on my Etsy shop link on the right sidebar. I am heading home to PEI for the next couple of weeks, but will bring these scarves with me, just in case I need to get them to the post office. After I'm back in my studio in January, I will stock my shop with even more scarves....I'm just running out of time right now and the holidays await.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

stay-stitched

My friend Mille Clarkes recently made a short documentary about sewing for yourself. Made as a way to promote the work of another PEI friend, Erin Arsenault's book "Stay-Stitched", (click here to watch the film on Vimeo) that encourages us to learn the skills and problem-solving to make items of daily use for ourselves. I am so struck by the beauty of this little gem of a film. Thinking how great it would be to hire Mille to make a little film about my weaving....

And just for the sake of posting some photos:

Two custom scarves just in time for Christmas. They were both picked up this morning. Plus some of my own hand-spun Blue Faced Leicester wool and silk in the back.

And the start of photographing scarves for Etsy - which I will get to before heading home to PEI.

Friday, December 10, 2010

tomorrow

When Anne Pryde and I were doing the Dalplex show a couple of weeks ago, we decided to have an open house. I volunteered North Pocket Studio that I share with Joanna Close and Keeley McLean. So, tomorrow we will have a Holiday Open House with handweaving by myself and Joanna, stiching and fashion by Keeley, Anne Pryde Pottery and Osha Mae Soap by Laura Mae. All five of us are part of Halifax Crafters and it's a good excuse to have a little party at the studio while showing and selling our wares. We'll have treats and some refreshments too...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

customize it

Now that all my craft fairs are over for the season, it's time to get down to the four custom orders I have on the books, plus one scarf gift for family. I want to get everything finished by the time I leave for PEI at the end of next week.

The first scarf up was this beauty which I accomplished yesterday from start to finish (for the husband of a friend). Cotton, raw silk and merino wool, using the same threading as my River scarf, but without the felting. I hand-dyed it after weaving to colour the raw silk and merino a pale lichen green amongst the brown, blue and gray cotton.

Monday, December 6, 2010

thank you Halifax!

This past weekend was wonderful. Halifax Crafters had their annual Christmas Handmade Market with about 70 artists selling their wares. Well-attended and busy with lots of positive energy. Thank you to all those who came out to buy, browse and converse; to all the crafters who together make this show so great; and the other volunteer organizers (some of whom make appearances as scarf models in the pictures below). Here's a smattering of photos from the show:

My table of scarves and shawls.

All crafters were asked to make 10 paper cut out snowflakes and string them. Joanna and Keeley took care of tying them together and stringing them across the room, from one balcony to the other.

Three narrow Wave scarves and one yellow Echo scarf. The three on the left are still available for sale and I'll post them soon in my Etsy shop.....

Anne Pryde and her new River scarf, purchased from me at the show.

Joanna Close and her narrow Wave scarf that I gave her for her birthday last summer.

Laura Mae and her new wide Wave scarf that she purchased at the show.

Anne and Dean's daughter Remi. Hanging out with her mom and dad at the show for much of the weekend. I love having this kid around.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

this weekend

I'm very excited about the Halifax Crafters' Handmade Market this weekend. The Christmas show is always a great one. A craft fair made up of artists who enjoy making things by hand and who have a unique vision to share. The mandate of Crafters' is to encourage new artists and local artmaking. Shows are juried every time creating a unique place for established artists and university instructors to gather with emerging artists and students to show inspiring new projects.

I've been part of the volunteer organizers since moving back to Halifax in 2009 and this time I took on the responsibility of doing the floor plan with Laura Mae of Osha Mae Soaps. I finalized the plan yesterday and this morning appeared bright and early on Breakfast Television along with other Crafters Amanda Fullerton and Caitlyn Purcell. I biked to CTV in the dark with my backpack of scarves.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

things I learned

During the craft fairs I've done so far this fall, there's been time to reflect. Thoughts about how I want my life and art practice to grow. Craft fairs are wonderful in so many ways: they allow me to talk to people about handweaving and my work, provide a high quality original handmade product to people who appreciate the value of skill and ingenuity and function, earn income to pay all my bills while continuing a full-time weaving practice. But they can also be exhausting, long, and sometimes discouraging.

A big part of making sure I don't burn out in my production weaving is to change things up now and then. This means trying new shows each year, learning what environment works best for my work. Some shows aren't juried as vigorously as a craft council organized show - this means that the people coming there may not be the right market for my work and expect much less expensive items. I felt this was partly the case at Dalplex this past weekend, combined with thin crowds. It might mean not doing longer shows, more than 5 days.

Changing things up also applies to the scarves I'm designing and weaving. I learned that my felted scarves will always sell, equal or better than flat scarves. This is largely to do with their volume and texture caused by the shrinking of the merino wool. This year, I decided to re-vamp the felting process to be done in the washing machine. For the past three years, I've been hand-felting my Seaweed scarves and my wrists are finally starting to protest (it involved taking the scarf and putting it in hot soapy water and beating and wringing the cloth - I did this to control the extent of the shrinking). I wanted to re-design a scarf using the washing machine to felt without the worry that it would over-felt. This meant spacing the merino yarn a little denser through the reed while changing the warp stripe design.

I left too little time to make as many of these new felted scarves as I would have liked, and only had nine River scarves to take with me to NL plus a smattering of older Seaweed scarves. But my new River scarf was a big hit in St. John's: I had sold the majority of them by the end of the first weekend. Felted scarves are more labour intensive - they have to be woven 25% longer to account for the shrinking and felting, plus watched while in the washing machine - and the price point reflects that. But they sell because they are soft, richly coloured, warm, and gently structured because of the differential shrinkage. I have another felted design in my head that I'm excited to play around with.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

a breather

It's been a very busy last couple of weeks. After finishing the Dalplex show this past weekend, I'm enjoying some time to simply catch my breath. Puttering around my home, getting to some household chores, shopping for a new winter coat. And a little organizing for the Halifax Crafters' Handmade Market this weekend: myself and Laura of Osha Mae Soaps took on the task of organizing the floor plan, and I'm to appear on Breakfast Television Thursday morning with two other crafters to promote the fair.

While I was in St. John's, my Nana gave me a beautiful cup and saucer from her china collection. It arrived yesterday packed in a box of extra cloth and clothes that I had with me while I was in St. John's for the craft fair but couldn't squeeze into my suitcase. I love the orange, the gold trim and the little bluebird perched inside the lip of the cup. So lovely.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dalplex Christmas Market

Today and tomorrow I will be at the Dalplex Christmas Market here in Halifax with all my scarves. See side bar at right for more details about the show....drop by and say hello and find that perfect scarf!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

thank you St. John's

Well, I made it back home in one piece yesterday. The temperature has dropped dramatically since I left Halifax almost two weeks ago - winter is in the air and it feels cozy. It feels good to be home, in part because I've been fighting swollen tonsils and some kind of sickness since Saturday (maybe strep?). Aside from being under the weather the last two days of the St. John's Christmas Craft Fair, it was a lovely show. A big thank you to everyone who came by my booth to chat or buy a scarf. Here's a smattering of photos to make up for two weeks without any blog posts:

My booth display under the bright lights. Very happy to have my little mannequin along to model....

Since this was my first fair of the season, I had an abundance of scarves. Too many to crowd onto my hanging racks. So, I borrowed a tall shelf from my aunt and uncle's where I was staying and it worked perfectly to house my surplus.

colours, colours.....

....and more colours. And textures.

I had three days off last week between the two four day sections of the fair. I took some walks downtown and finally made it to the Rooms, Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial art gallery and archives. The view from the Rooms is stunning and made vivid through the ginormous plate glass windows: all of St. John's spread out before you with Signal Hill keeping an eye over everything.

In the museum part of the Rooms, they had a display about the Products of Industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly the domestic industries involving women and textiles arts. I stumbled upon this beautiful photo from the archives of a woman weaving at what looks like a home-made loom. I too am a woman of industry....

I noticed while walking the streets of St. John's that garbage bags are always placed under these fishing nets. My guess is that it's to keep out raccoons and other scoundrels who like to eat trash. Whatever the case, I love that in a city that has so relied historically on the fishery, that you see this reflected in the netting used to protect their rubbish...

And lastly, I stopped and took a photo of the first house my mother bought when I was a mere babe in arms. This is 52 Monkstown Road. My first childhood memories are in this house: learning to whistle, eating my lunch in the backyard in the summer sun. I think she bought it for something as little as $28,000. Today, the cost of housing is soaring in St. John's and you'd be hard pressed to find anything under $200,000.

In coming posts I will write more about my experience in St. John's, as well as some insights I had into the direction I would like my production weaving practice to go.....but for now, I need to take care of myself and work on feeling better for the next craft fair this weekend here in Halifax.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

St. John's, here I come!

Tomorrow morning I fly out of Halifax to St. John's for the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador's Christmas Craft Fair. This is an 8 day fair spread out over two weeks. The first half takes place from November 11 - 14, and the second half from November 18-21 (see side bar at right for hours).
This will be my third year as an exhibitor in this craft fair and it is always a fantastic experience: wonderful atmosphere and community, all exhibitors are juried members of the Craft Council of NL, and I get lots of scarf love from the citizens of St. John's. It also provides me with a great excuse to visit the city where I was born and lived until I was seven years old. I get to visit with my extended family of cousins, aunts, my dear Nana, and craft buddies from my time living in Corner Brook. I love being in St. John's and am always amazed at how many people come out of the craft fair crowds who are old friends of my parents and remember me as a child......Please drop by the fair and say hello!

Monday, November 8, 2010

comfort and joy

So, my second post today - I hardly ever do this - but I wanted to show off this one-of-a-kind scarf I just finished up. I made it especially for the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador's Comfort and Joy exhibition which opens at Devon House in St. John's on December 4th (it will be for sale!). I'll take it with me when I fly to St. John's this Wednesday for the Christmas Craft Fair and hand it off to Sharon, the gallery coordinator.


The warp is raw silk and the weft is cotton. Before weaving, I wound two separate warps and dip dyed each of them: one warp shifting from pale straw to deep burnt orange, and the other warp shifting from a pale periwinkle grey all the way to a deep teal/blue. When threading the loom, I used a modified twill, alternating stripes of each warp and using a bright fire engine red cotton for the weft. Very very happy with it, love the transition of colours from one end of the scarf to the other with the stripe juxtoposition. I'm a little tempted to keep it for myself.......

my Island home


My dear friend Millefiore Clarkes, a documentarian and film-maker from PEI, has been working on a project about Prince Edward Island for the last couple of years. The Telling is about an ordinary place and its ordinary people, an ode to the stories of an island that has seen many changes and is very dear to those who know it well.

Collecting interviews and many many hours of footage, Mille is finally in the post-production stage. I strongly encourage a visit to see the preview of this film (click on the link above), and if you are so inspired, you can even donate to help with the hard work ahead of editing all the material into a feature-length documentary and web series.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

heat

It's a crisp fall day here in Halifax, but the sun is shining and packing some heat.

My parents brought this beautiful string of hot peppers, some jalepeno (I think), for me when they were here last weekend. The peppers grew in the their garden over the summer. When winter comes, they will will pack lots of heat in stews and sauces....

ps- just been informed in two separate emails by both my parents that the peppers are not jalepeno, but cayenne.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

wednesday loom shot

My last big production push is five batches of Echo scarves. Each day so far this week, I've managed to complete three scarves from start to finish....I love the colours in this one, it reminds me of the bare branches in winter - heather and tan. Hard to believe one week from today I'll be flying to St. John's!

Monday, November 1, 2010

halloween

Yesterday we discovered a new little friend living in the maple tree outside our front windows: a little squirrel. The little guy spend ALL day yesterday scurrying back and forth along the branches, collecting whirly-gig maple seed pods and storing them in a hole in the tree trunk. Busy busy! And our cat Luigi spent all afternoon watching him from the window, making little squeaky noises of excitement.

In the evening, we put our carved pumpkin (grown in my parents' backyard in Charlottetown, PEI and brought over on their visit this weekend) out on our front stoop. We probably had about 15 children come by: vampires, princesses, pumpkins, ladybugs and even a gumball machine.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

weekend breather

My parents are visiting from PEI this weekend, and it's forced me to take a needed break from the studio for three solid days. Probably a good thing to do. We've been eating lots of great food, went for a lovely walk in the crisp sunshine yesterday. The leaves around our house in Halifax are incredible, especially when the sun shines. Makes me happy to live in a neighborhood with so much green space.

Friday, October 29, 2010

countdown

The countdown is definitely on - so much so that I haven't had time to sit down and write a blog post for almost a week. A lot of running around, with the end of goal of getting (almost) all my scarves in the mail to St. John's which I manged to finally do yesterday. Before they could be packed into two boxes, cloth labels needed to be sewn on, garment tags attached, and everything needed a price sticker. Having all that stuff done before shipping my scarves means that everything is ready to go when I get to St. John's and set up my booth at the St. John's Fine Craft and Design Fair.


I counted up all my scarves produced for this year's craft fair season and the total was over 150, plus there will be more that I will make before flying to NL on November 10th and take with me on the plane as carry-on luggage (I do not like the idea of losing baggage just before a craft fair!).

In the meantime, I have emptied my Etsy shop. It will be re-stocked after December 7th, once my slate of shows are finished, but I didn't want to disappoint anyone who was Etsy-browsing and had their eye caught by a scarf that could potentially be sold at a fair......

Saturday, October 23, 2010

piles

Taking photos today. Piling my scarves and making colour compositions.

My goal is to come up with images that I will get printed onto postcards to sell at this year's craft shows.

Friday, October 22, 2010

spinning in transit

I met Robyn Love in Corner Brook a couple of years back when I became part of a the West Coast Craft Collective, a group of (mostly) women artists. Robyn is an artist who lives the winters in New York City and the summers in Gillams, Newfoundland. Her art practice brings knitting and spinning into the common spaces of public and urban life. She just sent me the link to a short film her friend Susan Forste created called Spindle 7 as part of a project of the same name. The project took Robyn back and forth on the #7 train with her spindles and wool in 2008, meeting people and teaching spinning between Main Street in Flushing (Queens) and Times Square in Manhattan. Please watch! There are so many things I love about this video.....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

sweet

My parents recently extracted 600 pounds of honey from my father's beehives. While my friends Jordan and Kyla were in PEI last week, they visited my folks and brought me back a care package with my parents' garlic, onions, potatoes, jam, wine and honey. Pure gold.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

samples

Since deciding last week not to use double weave for a small run of felted scarves, I've turned back to my little 4 harness Leclerc in my home studio. I just finished a sample scarf yesterday and will do a (very) small production run over the next week before moving on to a variation of this design. The pattern in a modified Bird's Eye woven in raw silk (down the center), merino wool (along the edges) and cotton. After weaving and fringe twisting, I dyed the whole scarf and then felted it in the washing machine.

I specifically wanted to design for felting that can be done in the washing machine instead of hand-felting each scarf....after years of laborious hand-felting, I think it's time to give my body a break, especially my wrists. The main thing with felting in the washing machine is that you can't necessarily control the felting process (unless you stop the washing machine to check every few minutes), so I've learned that this means a much denser sett (ends per inch through the reed, or e.p.i.) to give the merino less space to shrink. A lot of the work in this was figuring out the e.p.i. of the merino wool warp: I know I wanted some felting to happen, but I didn't want the result to be an over-felted short scarf with a very ruffled silk center.

What I really like about this scarf is the edges of felted merino that can be pulled up over the chin. Nice and cozy for winter. And the wave of silk and cotton diamond waves that fall nicely between the edges, keeping the scarf lightweight.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

tube

Some shots of a double weave sample done on my eight harness Cranbrook loom. A tubular structure: two layers of cloth woven simultaneously connected along the selvedges. The top layer is raw silk and the bottom layer is merino wool (with a much looser sett), both warp. The weft is coloured cotton.

Here you can see both layers of cloth with their connected selvedge running down the center.

Pre-felting, inside of tube.

Post felting: I just tossed it in the washing machine with some towels and the looser merino warp shrunk and felted right up, making the raw silk bubble out.

Post-felting: inside of tube.
My original idea was to use double weave to design a new scarf for differential shrinkage, but I think the cloth would just be too thick....But learning and adapting the very basics of double weave has been a great exercise and I have just tapped the surface.