The Saturday afternoon ‘Spinning for Beginners’ is now full, with additional people on the waitlist. We are considering offering a second session on Sunday morning; if you’d be interested in this, please email
and let us know.
There are still a few spaces available in some other workshops, so we’ve extended the registration deadline. If you’d like to attend any of them, please register in the next day or so.
Also known as ‘needle lace’, this beautiful lace requires no pillow, bobbins or pins. The technique is thought to have developed from drawn thread work in which buttonhole stitches edge an area of fabric from which warp and/or weft threads are removed. Open areas are then filled with needle-woven designs.
The earliest examples of needlepoint lace come from 16th century Venice. Known as Reticella or Punto in Aria – ‘stitches in air’ because it no longer required a fabric – the needle-woven lace now filled shapes defined by threads couched to a parchment base.
Freed from the constraints of even-weave fabric, needlepoint lace became increasingly elaborate as knowledge of the technique spread. Point de Venise, Point d’Alençon, Point de France, Kenmare Lace, Brussels Point de Gaze – all these fabulous laces use the fundamental techniques you’ll learn in this class.
Coleen Nimetz holds a Master Spinner Certificate and has been an instructor and technical consultant for the Olds College Master Spinner Programme. Coleen’s love of spinning and dyeing, which she teaches throughout North America, has taken her on interesting adventures. Her work as a labourer on a silk farm in northern Laos led her to develop a passion for silk reeling to produce the fine yarns she uses in her knitted lace shawls and miniature cut pile rugs.
Coleen’s current focus is reeling filament silk from cocoons and working with various types of silk. Her articles on silk and silk reeling have been published in Spin-Off and Ply magazines and her work has appeared in juried shows across Canada and the United States. Coleen has received numerous national and international awards, including the Saskatchewan Craft Council Award for Excellence in Textiles.
Tension baskets or tension trays are so called because act of weaving the materials together creates stresses that hold the structure together. A variety of woody materials lend themselves to this process. These bendable woody fibres could be willow, hedge row material such as osiers and young twigs and shoots of trees. The baskets can then be decorated with natural embellishments. In this workshop we will be using hand dyed reed of different sizes to create an easy functional basket. The skills learned here can be transferred to make similar baskets with other materials.
Maria Curtis has been making baskets for over 20 years. She enjoys the amazing diversity of materials that can be used in basket making as well as the many varieties and types of baskets that can be made. While she sometimes uses reed fibre, she likes to weave with a mixture of locally harvested material. She has taught several classes and enjoys the creativity that happens in the workshops.
Learning how to set up your inkle loom will open your eyes to what can be created on these little looms. Unlike its big brother, a multi-shaft floor loom that consumes a lot of space in your studio – and don’t forget all the extras, such as a bench, warping reel, bobbin winder, shuttles and cones of yarn that come with it – most inkle looms are quite happy to sit on a table. There they’re close at hand and easy to use once you know How to Warp an Inkle Loom.
Just imagine what you can weave – camera straps, book marks, shoe laces, small bags, trim for garments, ribbons…!
Before you can do any of those projects, the first step will be to tie heddles for the loom. These are the loops that hold half of the warp in place. Because you’ll be weaving narrow bands with no gaps between the warp threads, it’s important to choose a fine smooth yarn for the heddles. Once they’re made, you’ll move on to dressing the loom. In this workshop, we’ll be using a variegated yarn for the warp. That means we won’t be fussing with cutting and joining different colours in order to create certain patterns in the woven cloth. What appears instead in your first warp-faced band will be random designs determined by chance: the spacing of the hues in the yarn and the length of the warp on the loom. Some of them may inspire future bands where the patterns are deliberately chosen for each piece.
From the time the warp threads are secured in the heddles (left) to the last shots of weft in the hem (right), it’s fun to weave an inkle band with a variegated yarn.
To give you some idea of the variety possible, take a look at the four bands shown here. Anyone who has seen what I weave on my other looms will not be surprised to learn that the more complex bands in those images are the result of different pick-up techniques, all of them possible on a simple two-shaft inkle loom.
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!” — Jule Styne and Leo Robin, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949)
Were Carol Channing and Marilyn Monroe braiders? While waiting for their turns on stage, did they sit with kumihimo disks in hand braiding silk cords? If so, the pair would certainly have recognized the value of my Diamond Grid and reached for their crayons, eager to fill in the diamond-shaped spaces on the grid as they created new designs to braid!
You don’t have to be a blonde or know all the words to that classic or even be a singer to sign up for the 8 ‘n’ 8 Kumihimo workshop. Just come with your coloured pencils and scissors, and I will show you how to set up sixteen threads on a special foam disk for the simple round braid. We’ll start with the basic spiral and then move on to other patterns, each one a variation of eight light threads and eight dark threads. Once the threads are in place on the disk, unlike the theatre there are no difficult lines for you to learn. There are just five words to remember: left up, right down, turn. Your kumihimo braid will grow longer as those five are repeated, over and over again.
Have I forgotten about those coloured pencils? Of course not! We’ll pick them up once you’ve worked a couple of patterns and the left up/right down/turn mantra is now so familiar that your hand does it without any prompts from you. It is at this stage that I’ll share the secrets of the Diamond Grid, how 16 of the spaces on paper correspond to the sixteen threads on the braiding disk. The first patterns we’ll draw will be in the same two colours — 8 light and 8 dark — used for the braid on that disk. Let’s see what happens when we change the layout of the colours within that ‘block’ of 16 diamond-shaped spaces. Now swap the threads around on the disk to match those spaces and do some braiding: left up/right down/turn. What new design is emerging in the braid? Shall we add a third colour? A fourth? And what can these braids become?
By the time our three hours together are up, you will know the answers to these questions and more, and understand why, for a braider, “a Diamond Grid is your best friend!”
A good question, given there’s so much beautifully-dyed yarn and spinning fibre available from commercial dyehouses and indie dyers.
I want my colours NOW and I want the colours I see in my imagination.
Sometimes I want a specific colour or set of colours RIGHT NOW, and I don’t want to spend hours searching the internet for them (only to find when they arrive that the colours on my screen weren’t the same as on the vendor’s screen, so they’re not the colours I was looking for). I want my colours now and I want the right colours for the project I’m working on.
I want a set of colours that work well together.
If you buy indie-dyed yarns or fibre you may have noticed that all the colours from any one dyer tend to work well together, but might not work well with the colours from a different dyer. Each dyer is working with his or her stock dyes: all the colours come from the same basic dyes. In the same way, if I work from a set of dyed fibres, the colours I make will generally work well together.
I don’t want bland solids. I want living colour!
For many centuries dyers of yarn and fabric worked hard to produce even colours on fibre, yarn and fabric. Blotchy, uneven dyeing was unacceptable. Even today, unless the blotches are deliberate (hand-painted fibre and yarn, tie-dye, shibori, snow dyeing and other techniques), I don’t want unevenly-dyed fabric. But some unevenness in the colours of a yarn makes that yarn come alive in my weaving and knitting. Very few things we see are a single solid colour: if you look closely at a green leaf the colour varies not only because there are different shades in the leaf, but because light reflects differently from different parts of the leaf. By blending my colours myself I have more control over how evenly they are blended. A quick look at the photo below shows a rainbow of colour, but if you look more closely you’ll see that every one of the yarns shows its constituent colours to some degree. As a result they not only work well together, but they bring life to whatever I make from them.