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


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


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.