People who work in fibre, especially on a loom, struggle with the mechanics of their tools, problems with the fibre they use, solving design issues and colour interactions.  Often these challenges are dealt with alone in home studios and sometimes far away on an island.  Our long winter isolates us even more so it is great to get an email with a photo of someones latest work.  Here are a few of our members winter projects.

louise tea towels

Louise’s grand plan was to wind one warp 12 yards long of white 2/8 cotton and wind another 12 yard warp of pastel 3/5 mercerized pastel  cotton from ukI.  She was going to put the white warp on a secondary warp beam and the coloured cotton on the primary beam.  Unfortunately she found she did not have enough of the pastel coloured cotton for 12 yards.  She also found her secondary warp brake did not work properly.  She ended up cutting the white warp down to 6 yards and combined it on the primary warp beam with the coloured warp sett at 24 epi.  She used up the last of her coloured cotton in the weft which was the whole reason for the project.    End result was a lovely length of fabric to be cut and finished for tea towels for future sales.


marian portugal warp

Marian’s towels from photo inspiration to warp reeling to weft sampling to weaving.
The weave structure is Bumberet which groups warp colours in threes. On a warp reeling these groups were arranged using Fibonacci ratios (1:2:3:5) to give a graduated watery effect with the blues and a striated effect with the oranges.  This weave structure alternates plain weave with three end floats. The hope was that the long floats would help to keep the oranges and blues distinct.  The weft for each towel is simply one colour of blue; one mid blue, one turquoise, one aqua. Quite a lot of designing has gone into this project and there is still one more towel to weave.  For the last one Marian hopes to weave it using the Fibonacci ratios in a variety of colours..  Can’t wait to see results.


carole scarf 5

Carole’s silk and  stainless steel silk scarf was a warp and weave challenge.  She used a strand of silk and one of the stainless steel  silk together.  The later is a hair thickness, hard to see and definitely with a life of its own.  The warp was sett at 12 ends per inch.  After carefully winding the warp she made sure the warp was tied off ever inch or so to keep it under control.  As she was only doing one scarf she did not use a second warp beam but noted that even on a short warp the stainless steel warp thread needed a different tension and that the take up resulted in a threads which needed adjusting every once in a while.  Otherwise she just let the stainless steel silk do its thing as weaving with the pale pink silk made it hard to see any skips.  The finished scarf is a bit kinky and has a slight shimmer.   Quite a challenge for a winter weaving project.


katleen baskets in Dominica

While spending the winter on a lovely warm Caribbean island without a loom, Kathleeen spent the months creating woven/plaited baskets out of palm leaves. This is quite a collection of work. It proves that weavers’ hands are always busy taking up the weaving challenge where ever they are.






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The guild is celebrating its 40th anniversary and I hope to have a blog from as many members as I can to commemorate this year.  This article is written by one of our guild members who has been a guild member almost from the beginning of its formation.

“Earlier this year my son Jeff and his wife Karen vacationed in Peru.  During one excursion to a small village high up in the Andes Jeff came across a large pile of brightly-coloured balls of wool at the local marketplace.  He gathered up enough to fill an easy-to-pack bagful and brought it home to me (along with an exquisite sash woven on a backstrap loom.)  After admiring the pretty colours for several months, I decided to use some of the wool to make scarves for Jeff and Karen as a memento of their trip.  I don’t have much wool in my stash, but there was some “vintage” 2/6 Black Merino (circa 1989) which was comparable in size.  I weighed the Peruvian balls and with one exception they weighed 23 gm. each (the exception was 27 gm), and I estimated I had about 90 yds./ball.   My design was based on a project found in “Home Weaving” by Oscar Bériau, called “Belt or Sash”, pg. 250.  On December 19, hoping my math was accurate, I wound a 5-yard warp, using 6 of the colours for the stripes.  The weaving went quickly and I was able to twist the fringes, wash (and dry) the scarves and wrap them up as a surprise Christmas gift for Jeff and Karen to add to their memories of a magical trip.”


Peru Scarf - Finished

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To many guild members 2017 held many challenges.  Thankfully the year has almost come to an end and we are all still smiling and creating lovely fibre items.  The guilds year end party with its gift exchange is always a highlight and the gifts we receive are treasured and help to bring back happy memories.

Here is wishing you a happy holiday season and good wishes for the coming year 2018.

spinners xmas socks

Our spinners get to wear their festive Xmas socks into the new year.


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Some time ago our guild rented the OHS 100” loom for a year and wove a series of coverlets threaded in a pattern taken from Dorothy Burnham’s Keep Me Warm One Night. This beautiful book had been issued in the 1970’s in connection with a ROM exhibition of C19th coverlets from eastern Canada.


This November, the ROM partnered with the U of T Art Department to revisit Burnham’s legacy as weaver, curator and scholar, with an international conference entitled Cloth Cultures.


Four guild members braved the transit system and the weather to attend one day of this event. There were 15 presenters that day. What a wonderful chance to see how cloth and clothing are slowly and carefully investigated and assigned a place in time and space. The range of historic and ethnographic investigation ranged widely from Finish nettle fibre to Nova Scotia’s plant dyes and from Amazon Shilbo textiles to Anishinaabe strap dresses. Truly amazing.

And there was more to see. The lobby of the ROM Eaton Theatre where we revived ourselves with mid session coffee and snacks held a display by the Etobicoke guild’s Burnham study group. That by the way is also the present location of the Henry Eaton statue we saw as children in the downtown store. As a bonus, our seminar admission gave us entrance to the Viking exhibit where we were inspired by some beautiful bronze wire work and jewelry.


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Every two years, The Association of North West Guilds holds a Fibre Conference. This June 28th through July 2nd it was held in Victoria BC. With over 500 participants drawn from 10 western territories, provinces and states, it was a very inspirational event.



Weaving, spinning, dyeing, felting and basketry instructors drawn primarily from western Canada and the US led 22 pre-conference workshops and 78 seminars at the conference itself.  My Colour Confidence workshop with Sarah Jackson gave us a step by step process for working in any colour way.

One of my weekend seminars on Crimp Cloth Primer with Diane Totten, gave me good understanding of how to weave permanently pleated cloth using the shibori and steam method. I also gain valuable knowledge on finishing details in her class.

And there was so much more: 30 guild displays set up in a large arena with at least 40 Vendors, and at another venue, the beautiful work in the Juried and Open Shows.


And Evenings held more! Charllotte Kwon of the Maiwa Foundation was our Friday night keynote speaker.  Saturday night there was a fabulous Fashion Show. Sunday’s finale was a banquet supper.  Profits from the conference go back to the participating guilds for workshops and special projects. Truly a win – win event.

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IMG_1288My long summer at the lake is over for the year.  The cottage loom is empty waiting for next year’s projects.  It was a productive weaving summer.  Two warps finished and a small tapestry.


As I packed up all the yarn I had brought up for this summer, I realized I had acquired a lot more due to my August visit to Loom Lust Yarn Store in Midland.  I managed to fill in the missing colours from my shelves and added a few other colours I never knew I wanted or needed.  On arriving home to the city I dumped everything in my studio and now have the chore to find places and spaces for it all.


Two new warps are wound and planned and ready to go on my Harrisville Loom.  I just have to find the time to work on them.  Why is it that city life fills my days with chores that keep me out of the studio?  Maybe I will hire a cleaning lady!

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Well this project really got me back to weaving.  It was challenging enough to keep my mind off other things and with our Ontario wet spring made the days goes faster.

It was not easy sailing.  I (as always) had loom issues.  Chains got hooked together, unhooked and harnesses unclipped and clipped together causing problems with the number of shafts being lifted.IMG_1093

I stuck with it and after doing a sample square, I finished a nice runner.  (see photo)

On consultation with friends, I decided to change the sett to 24 instead of 28.  Threading it at 28 meant the reed was sleyed  2, 2, 3.  This resulted in areas where two of the same coloured threads appeared on the surface and I did not get the solid blend of colour I liked.   So I cut off the woven warp and resleyed, not once but twice. ( It wasn’t until I sleyed it wider did I notice that I wasn’t getting a true plain weave.  I kept looking for something I had done wrong when I finally realized it was the weave structure itself. )  The polka dots were larger of course but the colour mix better.

Some of my weaver friends thought 20 epi would be better if I wanted to do tea towels, but I think the polka dots would be too large.   That experiment can come another time and may require reducing the size of the dots.

All in all, it was an interesting project.  I think the runner was a nice weight and drape for pillows, runners or upholstery, or maybe a tote bag.

As I am now off to cottage, I think I will try summer and winter polka dots as seen in the 2015 handwoven.  By the Fall I will truly be dotty.

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