Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Weaving Connections

Weaving is a rather solitary pursuit. I can't take any distractions when working on a complicated threading or treadling. I can handle the radio or music on in the back ground, but will happily let hubby take the calls or let them go to voice mail over getting lost in my pattern! I'm one of those kind of people who is comfortable with my own company and could work for hours like this (and have). But one of the best parts of weaving is the social aspects that come with belonging to a guild!

I started weaving in 1995 shortly after moving to the Okanagan Valley in south central BC. I joined the local guild in Vernon and while I am primarily self taught, I did take their one day workshops. We moved to Winfield and found myself half way between Kelowna and Vernon. What to do? I joined Kelowna's guild of course and attended both. :) I took the workshops there as well. They were fortunate to have no less than 3 Guild of Canadian Master Weavers as members. (There has only been 30 since 1947!) I took classes from all three, plus people like Karen Selk of Treenway. I was soon roped into becoming VP and handling workshops. Not too bad a job as you get to pick your teachers and you are always in the class! I was even their president for 2 years.

Along the way, I took up spinning, dyeing (my own silk warps), bobbin lace (made my own pillow) and kumihimo. I started collecting beads to use as embellishments and add them to my tencel scarves, shawls and silks. You want to try everything! Through it all, my main focus is weaving.

I decided to start the GCW test program and submitted my first level to the test administrator, Sandy, in a smokey parking lot in downtown Kelowna that fateful day of the firestorm in 2003. That poor woman went home to evacuate her home and as luck would have it, the fire stopped 1 1/2 blocks from their place. Our guild had 5 members who did lose their homes, and even three in one family. I did pass my Basic level and received a nice certificate. I plan to carry onto the next level, intermediate, but life keeps getting in the way! (or is that me in my way??)

I developed severe osteoarthritis and had a hip replacement in 2001. I wasn't able to weave for roughly 18 months while I waited for surgery. But I was weaving again at 3 months post op!!
My only concession to arthritis is the tie-up assist. It's made by Woolhouse Tools and is called a 20+ as it can give you 20 plus more years of weaving. Oh, so true...
{My loom is a Woolhouse Tools Gertrude 45" with 12 shafts and 16 treadles by the way. http://www.woolhousetools.com/ Her name (yes, I named her) is Emmatrude after my Mother and Grandmother.}

Another move and this time to the Shuswap and a lovely place called Blind Bay. I joined the Shuswap Guild ( and still a member) Great bunch of gals there! They have a blog too:

I joined other groups along the way:
Complex Weavers
Greater Vancouver Weavers and Spinners Guild http://www.gvwsg.com/
The Weavers List on the internet
Can Weave group at Yahoo groups
Can Spin List at Yahoo groups
I have been a member of the Guild of Canadian Weavers since 1997, and was the BC Rep for a year. I became the President in 2003 and just stepped down this past March in 2007.
Great organization for promoting excellence in weaving and features a super library, scholarships, and the test program. I learned by working first hand with weavers across Canada that weavers everywhere are all the same.... they love the process, the yarns and the satisfaction that weaving brings to their lives.

Another move to Powell River, BC and another guild. Powell River Fine Arts called themselves a 'club' and they were composed of potters, artists, quilters and weavers. We were only there 18 months and now reside in Duncan, on south eastern Vancouver Island. Here I joined the local guild and the Tzouhalem Weavers and Spinners are the most active group I have seen in some time. They amaze me!

So many guilds and so many friends across BC and even Canada! I feel very fortunate to have such 'weaving connections'

The road ahead is bright....

Mixed silks: bombyx, muga, silk noil, reeled silk. And after 12 years of weaving, my first scarf for me.


Christine said...

Wow! Thanks so much for the tip on the 20+ gizmo from Woolhouse Tools. In 2000 I had my left hip replaced at age 27. In 2003 I picked up weaving and now find that crawling around on the floor with my 8 harness jack loom on a rainy day like a mechanic is a pain in the ha-ha, butt. I would like to make weaving a life long hobby but my right hip is going to need replaced sooner than later. In the meantime I've been looking to save up for a loom with more shafts because eight is fast becoming not enough and Gertrude is looking sweet as is the 20+ attachment to keep me weaving when all of my bits have worn out.
Happy Weaving!

Susan said...

Hi Christine,
Thanks for your kind comments. I am hoping that this blog will be 'useful' to other weavers and I'm really pleased that you now are encouraged to keep weaving with THR's (total hip replacements)
I may have my right hip done in time as well. (so far, so good! touch wood)

I have bookmarked your page and will follow your adventures too.
All the best, Susan