Thursday, October 17, 2013


Twill plaid blanket woven with Lemieux yarn by Judite Vagners. 
Recently I've been reading book The Philosopher, The Priest and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes by Steven Nadler. Rene Descartes was a philosopher and mathematician and though born in France, lived for great lengths of time in the Netherlands. He is best known for the phrase: "I think therefore I am." Why, you might ask, would I bring that up, in my weaving class blog? As it turns out, there are a couple of reasons and one of them is his connection to Haarlem in the Netherlands. "Haarlem's economy [in 1646] was dominated by the textile industry, especially the finishing stages of production. The broad fields extending southwest of the city were used for the bleaching of fabrics. They served not only local manufacturers, but also foreign firms. Bolts of linen - woven by the thousands of textile workers employed in Haarlem or on looms in London or Scotland, and carried by boat across the English Channel - were first soaked in lye and then bathed for days in buttermilk supplied by surrounding dairies. They were then laid out in long stretches on the grasslands beyond the city's moat to dry and whiten in the sun from the late spring though the early fall. " 
Samples for the blanket above. First sample on left, the fabric just off the loom; middle sample washed; and final sample brushed. The result is soft blanket - a complete transformation of the yarn which at first seems hard and wiry. Instructions for this method available in class. 

As a philosopher and mathematician, Descartes was concerned with applying mathematical methods, strategies or patterns to our thought processes and observations. He believed that thinking required a certain methodology which we can apply to many parts of our lives, from our relationships, to our jobs and leisure activities, and of course weaving. There are many meanings and connotations for the word pattern but the ones I want to focus on most are that the references to our own patterns of thought and patterns of behavior based on the structures of our beliefs. As we see in weaving, patterns are directly related to the how the structure is organized and this will contribute to the overall patterning of the weft threads and resulting fabric. These ideas about patterns of thoughts and behaviors directly impact our relationships and the quality of our lives. We are each individually the master weaver of our lives. 

Huck Pattern bamboo scarf by Marion Kirkwood.

A couple of recent discussions are fresh in my mind. One is my sharing with some students my ongoing belief that weaving for me, has always been about a "healing journey" and though I have not been that vociferous about proclaiming it, I know that the moment I think the journey is about something else, for instance, about ego, pride and achievement or even intelligence ..some event arises to remind me about the real reason I weave, or have to weave. Often this  event may  humble me or leaves me feeling vulnerable. Sharing this opened the door for a friend to reveal that she saw weaving as a metaphor for life, an activity that mirrors what we are going through, our explorations to make new 'patterns' in our life, find new routes, new methodologies, new routines, new connections that will revitalize us. Somehow this weaving methodology does lead to transformation on a personal inner and outer level. I am mindful of it in myself and I clearly observe it happening in those that surround me and are part of this wonderful practice. 
Agota Dolinay (holding the tablet and looking down) and Ellen Alias are back from there 3 week journey in Peru where they studied tapestry weaving with Maximo Laura. The tapestries they completed were based on Maximo's 'patterns' (designs) and learned the Peruvian methodology of tapestry execution. It is very textural and each colour area uses 5 strands of  a fine alpaca. Agota, Ellen and Mai-Liis showed us their pictures and samples. 

Which leads me to the conclusion of my meandering but first....isn't it neat how synchronicity has been working these last few weeks and how each interaction with you and whatever is going on in my life seems to be so connected. Christine Shipley sent me this link to a blog entitled "Work is not  a job": On the same theme, of changing life patterns, HGTV is looking for people who are doing just that: 
Fed up with the daily grind? Ready to give up your Wall Street corner office to run the corner cafe on Main Street? How about trading in that cubicle for a houseboat? Want to run your own B&B, rafting business, ski lodge, doggie daycare? Then HGTV is looking for you! HGTV’s, latest series, new house, new life seeks fun, high-energy, people who are in the process of flipping their career or current status for a lifelong passion or newfound interest and moving from their current digs to their dream home! Our cameras will be there to capture key milestones: The trials and tribulations of career departures, moving, settling into new environments, wrangling unexpected surprises with family, realtors and colleagues as the dream becomes a reality. Getting from point a to point b promises multiple surprises and unpredictable finales. Casting applications are being accepted now and production will continue through the fall. Ideal candidates will be outgoing, financially candid people who would love to share their life-changing experience with HGTV’s audience; inspiring others to pursue their dreams too. Singles, couples and families are all invited to apply! For more information please contact:bschoede@orionentertainment.com720.891.4860

Sacred Stitches
Beauty and Holiness in
the Needlework of many faiths
A week long exhibit of textile art
to mark the 100th anniversary of
Ecclesiastical Needleworkers
of the Diocese of Toronto
Friday October 25-Friday Nov. 1, 2013
at St. James Cathedral, 7:00 am -7:pm
65 Church St. & King St. E. Toronto

Community Threads Exhibition
12 tapestries depicting community life recently woven by the Nottawasaga Weavers and Spinners to be exhibited in Alliston, Ontario. Be supportive of other weavers and join me at the opening reception Sunday October 27 between 2-5pm. Refreshments are served!
The Gibson Centre
63 Tupper Street West

Christmas and Cedar Ridge
Sunday November 10
Cedar Ridge Creative Centre
225 Confederation Drive
Scarbourough Ontario

Talks, Workshops & Call for Entries
Karen Bota let us know about a rug weaving event happening at the Textile Museum of Canada:

Stitches across TimeDeadline: April 14, 2014
Dufferin County Museum & Archives
936029 Airport Road, Mulmur, ON

September 12 - November 9, 2014
Dufferin County Museum & Archives is pleased to once again present the exhibition Stitches across Time in 2014. Continuing the theme of the first exhibit in 2011, the exhibition will celebrate the tradition and history of textile arts. The DCMA invites submissions for a national juried exhibition of fibre art works inspired by a new selection of six historical pieces from the museum’s extensive collection of textile artifacts.

For access to the call for entry and to view the six inspirational images go For further information email Ruby

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