Little rags, new pattern & new weavers
In this newsletter you’ll find:
Generation - an exhibition coming up in January
For small things in VÄV Magasinet
I didn’t do a single pick of weaving in November — well, not strictly true, I wove some small rag samples for my Gist article on rag rug weaving. You can read it here! (Previously, I wrote about what type of loom you should buy.)
Instead of studio work I have been leaning in to my other work as an educator and finding the return (after a long two years of virtual work — not my favourite) so rewarding. For the past decade I’ve worked at the Art Gallery of Ontario in the education department, and it has been so fulfilling to connect again with people about and over visual culture. It’s a nice reminder of why we do it — make art, seek it out, and enjoy it.
I’ve also been busy with my volunteer role as the webmaster for the Guild of Canadian Weavers. It was the Guild’s 75th anniversary this year, and I’ve just finished putting together our online exhibition, Shuttles Thrown, which brings together the work of over 40 weavers from coast to coast to coast. It was my pleasure to read through everyone’s statements and see the breadth of textile practice across the country. You can see this free online exhibition here, or, better still, become a member! I love getting the quarterly Bulletin in the mail and we welcome members from the USA and beyond.
Generation at Craft Ontario
While I may not be on the loom, I’ve been doing peripheral work that surrounds it — namely, getting ready for my exhibition Generation, at Craft Ontario this January. As mentioned in previous newsletters, this exhibition is running from January 14-February 25, 2023 at Craft Ontario in Toronto. There is an opening reception on Sunday, January 22, 2023 from 2-5pm, which I will be attending.
In connection with this exhibition, I visited the archives at the AGO library on the hunt for more information about my grandfather’s carpentry work, and was sidelined by these examples of weaving from the National Industrial Design Council of Canada’s design award winners from 1958. Below you can see upholstery fabrics designed by Helmi Ehasalu (approximately $24/yard in 1958. The Bank of Canada inflation calculator tells me this would be nearly $240 a yard today).
For Small Things
I have a pattern coming out this month in VÄV Magasinet, issue 4/2022!
For Small Things is a sturdy pouch made in cotton and wool. It began with needing a birthday gift for my pal Laura (a prodigious sock knitter) and then took over my loom because they’re very fun and addictive to make.
This pattern uses 2/8 cotton and fingering weight wool (I used leftovers from my Spring Crocus Scarf sampling). I am a bags-inside-of-bags person and almost always need something to store my in-progress knit socks in, so the sample I kept is always in use. Or Vivian’s version is— she test wove the pattern for me and used her own hand spun yarn as the pattern weft (!) and then GAVE (!) me one. Kindness!
This fall I have been teaching a workshop with Centre and the Immigrants Working Centre here in Hamilton. The purpose is to connect new Canadians, practice language skills, and, most importantly, do something creative — ergo, weave!
Textiles are a language we all speak and, now that we’re halfway through our program, these new weavers have so much to say! Having gotten to know the loom and process from start to finish, they’re really looking forward to the next project — hand towels.
Better still, they’re all asking, “Where do I get one of these things?”
I’m enjoying the latest issue of Beside Magazine, which features an article written by my pal Megan Samms on her many fingered practice: weaving, farming, and tending for the land. Megan is currently weaving her annual edition of textiles for the body, which I always look forward to seeing.
Last week I received a brown paper parcel tied with string (YES) in the mail, which contained a small catalogue titled Textiles as Products of the Hands Making Them.
The Nara Momen Tetsumugi no Kai (Nara Handspinning Group) was founded to bring together like-minded people interested in making their own textiles from local and natural materials. This specific project taught participants how to spin their own home-grown cotton yarn (using a native Japanese wamen cultivar, emphasis theirs) and weave it into a simple towel. While each towel is roughly the same size and colour (natural with an indigo blue stripe), the variation between them is where the magic lies — each towel in the book has a strong personality in texture, fringe, stripe placement and energy.
A few of the weavers were invited to reflect on their experience, and I think F.K.’s comment perfectly sums up what my workshop participants are currently experiencing too:
It is plenty fun just to get together and make something with your own hands.
I don’t know where you can get a copy of this publication, but you can enjoy some of it online by looking at their Instagram page here. Thank you to my friend Hiromi (a member of Nara Momen Tetsumugi no Kai) for answering my curious questions across the language divide and realizing how much I would enjoy this catalogue and sending me a copy.
November got away from me — this newsletter sat, half-written, waiting to be sent as I felt like all I did was move forward through the world at an alarming pace. My inbox has piled up, my partner has done ALL the cooking, and still, nothing gets finished! But things are on their way, at least.
Have a wonderful end to 2022,
Well!! Your newsletter was chock-full of ideas, inspiration... And such infectious enthusiasm! Makes me wish I were more adept at textiles but as you know, me trying to do anything beyond knitting straight rows or using anything bigger than my wee hand loom is like trying to feed counterfeit coins into a toll booth 😉😉
While I can appreciate the time and effort your newsletters require, I do look forward to the next edition. And seeing you in person again... And soon!
Your newsletters are so beautiful and such a relaxing joy to read! And I’m totally swooning over those pouches.