The year was 1978 and we were living on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, where the Beachcomber TV series was filmed; anyone remember Molly’s Reach? My sister came for a visit and she came off the ferry carrying an immensely bulky cotton bag. It was a pillowcase full of raw fleece in all its lanoline glory! Marlene proceeded to show me how to pick over the locks and hand card greasy (it was the 70’s after all!) rolags ready for spinning. I was hooked on spinning as soon as I got my hands into that wonderful tactile heap of wool. A few years later in 1980 we moved back to New Zealand so my son could be born there, and I purchased my first really good wheel, which I cherish to this day. It is a Nagy Upright and is made from New Zealand Kauri, a wood which was then and is now a protected species. Every one of the wheels was made from recycled Kauri – mine was made from the banister of a demolished hotel! Years pass quickly and now with two children under the age of three, back to Canada we came. I found myself with scads of handspun yarn and I needed some way to use it – there are only so many sweaters you can use! In 1982 I joined the Kalamalka Weavers and Spinners Guild and learned to weave without ever taking a class, I just jumped right in! I don’t have any of my early weaving, but do have some samples with record cards that I’ll share.
Here is my very first piece on a borrowed loom; never one to do things small or start at the beginning, I put on 10 yards of wool yardage 36” wide with my friend Lynne. It was sett at 12 e.p.i and had 432 ends, we each wove 5 yards. I wove my yardage as weft faced twill for a fall jacket using a lovely lofty plum and pink boucle.
I then wove two pieces on my used Leclerc Nilus that I have record cards for but no samples – two twill wool scarves and six 4/8 cotton placemats in rosepath.
Now I was crackin’ and I went for the traditional chioli blouse in rose cottolin. Again I sett at 12 e.p.i.( I think that may have been my only reed size) and wove 5 yards, but only 12” wide – I was a tiny gal back then! When I think back now at loom shaped garments I cringe. Next project was cotton chenille bath towels! I wove 2 full sized bath towels, sett at 10 e.p.i. 30 inches wide and 4 yards long. These towels were all the rage in my guild at the time and never one to be deterred off I went! What were we thinking, they were sooooo heavy they never dried!
The guild put on a guild warp for Krokbragd rugs and although I didn’t know what that was I signed on. I don’t have a photo but do have my record card. My rug was dark blue, turquoise, plum and pink and I do remember it as being really lovely and sadly long gone….I do tend to toss items that are out of favour. Out of this experience I was hooked on rugs and proceeded to weave 9 more over the next year. I was lucky enough to sell 6 of them and again have the record cards, but no photos.
Skip forward to 1986 and I’m back weaving wool yardage for coats , the turquoise was for slash inset gussets, amazingly I sold the coats for about $120.00.
And ruanas which were a big seller at fashion shows and again popular today.
Still 1986 and this is the fabric I made to make two ‘Anita Myers Drawstring Blouses’. I was now weaving at 15 e.p.i using 2/8 cotton, ramie and cotton flake. Very loose sett though!
My final project for the year was to weave samples for everyone in the guild. I chose to weave Canvas Weave – Ribbed Monks cloth with a white cotton warp and white orlec weft. I don't believe these were ever wet finished.....sorry Laura.
As you can see I jumped right into weaving twill before every doing tabby! It's been a great journey so far...can't wait to try it all!
The word heckle is derived from the flax industry, where linen stems are separated and combed – or hackled. This notion of picking apart to find defects gives us the word, heckle.