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.


  1. I love your River scarves - they have graceful movement and are more original in terms of felting. I'd buy one! (BTW I wore my waves scarf all day yesterday - inside and out. It was 60 degrees and rainy, too warm for wool but too cold without - the scarf was perfect!)

  2. I was happy to have a chance to speak with an experienced weaver and found your work very inspiring.