Sunday, May 19, 2019

Thoughts on Level 1 of Master Weavers

I have been back a week from the training at the Gaelic College for Level 1 of the Olds program for weaving. I've had time to think about it and all thoughts are good.

My friend, Linda and I boarded the ferry at Wood Islands Sunday morning on May 5/19. We had a calm crossing and drove off an hour and a half later in Caribou, N.S. The drive to Englishtown lasted about 3 hours and included a slight detour off the road when I mistakenly took a wrong turn. We suffered through a rough road, even worse than the ones on PE, then found our way back easy enough. Caution: do not turn at the 'red barn'. Not long after we found our way to the Gaelic College and the signs laid out for the Master Weavers course. Our keys were waiting for us in MacKenzie hall and we settled into our rooms in another part of the building.

We met up with the rest of our little group and then proceeded to Fitzgerald's on the other side of the mountain where we all gathered for a meal and some socializing. The resident weaver had met us and led our expedition. The speed limits are higher, the roads steeper, curvier than here and the scenery is spectacular. Included on the little trip is a narrow and high green bridge over some water. It would have offered a nice view, but being the driver on unfamiliar roads I didn't see much. So we had a nice meal in a local restaurant before heading back to our rooms for some rest.

My five classmates came from Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The instructor - Linda Wilson - came from British Columbia. Everyone brought their enthusiasm, willingness to learn and work hard. As a group we bonded well and helped each other out.

Level 1 class
I was expecting a hectic week crammed with information and intensive work using wool and I was not disappointed. We covered the basics about weaving; the names for parts of the loom, drafting patterns and draw downs. Sampling and record keeping is a must. I learned how valuable these records are to have. Nothing is finished until it is wet finished - fulling, not felting.

The wool provided was mulespun 2 ply wool from Custom Woollen Mill in Carstair, Alberta. I loved the wool and intend to get some more for my final project. It fulled just great in the finishing process for our samples. The other wools used were Quebecoise 2 ply wool and Jaggerspun merino (2/18 or 2/20) and one merino/silk that was prone to breaking.

At the other end of the spectrum was the very dense fabric that would be an absolutely fabulous wearing upholstery fabric. In fact it would perform magnificently!

Greyscale Gamp. Plain & Twill
We also covered colour and what happens when the colours are optically mixed. This was the weaverly version as compared to optical mixing in spinning or painting. This photo shows two greyscale samples - one in 50/50 weave and the other in a 2/2 twill.

Using the 'Custom' wool we made five samples starting with a loose sett right up to a very dense sett.
Important in this exercise was to keep a 50/50 balanced weave. The loose set was amazing in how it changed after wet finishing. I immediately thought of a lightweight, but warm summer shawl for those very chilly summer nights that occur.

At the other end of the spectrum was the very dense fabric that would be an absolutely fabulous wearing upholstery fabric. In fact it would perform magnificently!

Pictured above shows the loosest sett on the left to the most dense at the end right. Five setts with unfinished on left and finished to the right.

The last exercise of samples used the Quebecoise 2 ply. In this exercise, we used some colour stripes and experimented with mixing plain and twill weave, weft faced, warp faced and a 50/50 weave. The results were attractive and very interesting.

Warp Faced
Weft Faced


The week was a fabulous experience - I enjoyed the people, learned a lot of the basics that I didn't have before and as a bonus I attended my first ceileigh featuring Howie MacDonald, who is a very well known performer. It was sort of our night off from homework, was a lot of fun and the performers were so very talented.

Yes I would definitely recommend the Olds Master Weaving program to anyone seriously interested in weaving. It provides a comprehensive foundation in a practical setting with guidance in a classroom by experienced teachers.

In the week since my return, I've had to wind a warp for a tea towel sale, dress the loom for it and weave off 12 towels. It just went so smoothly and I was so pleased with them.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Plans 2019

I have plans for this year - mainly studio set up.

We have a quite large barn on our property and we have two workshops in it. My husband's woodworking shop and my weaving/spinning studio which I am still arranging.

I have three looms in operation and projects have come off all of them.

In between weaving I arrange things. Need more shelves set up. Lots of scoured wool waiting for carding, blending and spinning. There is much more to unpack for the studio that I have to tackle.

The studio will accept visitors and there will be a display set up for selling my woven articles. 

But first I have a week away coming up starting next Sunday. A friend and I are going over to the Gaelic College on Cape Breton Island and we will be attending level one of the Master Weavers program being offered as a satellite program.

One week of intensive study. One year of weaving homework. Sounds like a lot of fun for me.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Shortest Day of the Year

Yesterday was one of my sons' birthdays and he turned 41.

Today the winter solstice is upon us. I look forward to tomorrow when the days are noticeably longer and from what I just read we have a full moon happening too, so the night sky will be bright.

Having a full moon and the winter solstice so close won't occur again for another eleven years. Where will I be then and what will I be doing?

Well for sure I won't be taking on any new things to do in my spare time. In my next breath I have to say what spare time?

It has been a very busy year with full time work, family visiting and finding our way around the island in just our end of the island.

Right now I should be out in the barn studio plugging up holes so I can get it all primed and painted before the new floor goes in. There really is a lot of work to do yet, but once it's done then I can get out from under the extra things I have in my 8X8 house studio.

I will have the Varpapuu and Thought Products Cassandra looms outside while the Glimakra standard stays in the house. My small Lervad loom is in here at the moment. The Glimakra loom has hand towels on it. Two shades of green in a Taquete pattern.

I still continue my knitting with a couple of Icelandic sweaters lined up in queue with a Fair Isle sweater. When those are done next will be a Norwegian sweater.

Merry Christmas to all.

More in 2019.