Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wool Show happenings at the fair

Yvonne Madsen demonstrates spinning to a group of visitors to the fair.

The sights and sounds of the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden are all around – kids showing their prize animals, carnival rides, tempting fair food, and sounds wafting over from the grandstands.

Inside the wool show is a treasure trove of beautifully handcrafted items spanning the range of fiber techniques: handspun yarns, felted creations, knitted wonders, and handwoven articles. Along the wall are several bags of lovely wool from local sheep. Many of these items are sporting ribbons, validations of the their quality.

On hand are a couple of local fiber artists to demonstrate, usually one spinner and one weaver. Sometimes there’s a story-telling spinner out front, dressed in period costume, who entertains passers-by. Adults and children alike are intrigued to see the displays and view the demonstrations. Many of them have never seen a loom or a spinning wheel, so there are lots of questions. Kids often take a turn at the small table loom and weave a couple of shots of plain weave.

All this makes part of a great visit to the fair!

And here’s a small sampling of the entries.

Chris Paul's saddle blanket, woven of handspun yarn for the 2010 Lynden Rodeo

Debbie Carpenter's shawl, made from handspun Border Leicester lamb's wool

Pat Walker's hooked rug, based on her original design

Linda Landis' knitted shawl

Gabrielle Andres' shawl, made with handspun Border Leicester

...and where it all starts, with quality wool

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Nearing the end of the guild season ~

It is hard to imagine that this year swept by so fast.  With a wonderful guild sale, spirited monthly programs, and exciting community projects, the Whatcom Weavers Guild nears a spectacular anniversary year in 2011 (that’s our 40th!).  What will we have in store, you ask?  It is still a mystery, but it is bound to be good!

As a recap, read below to get a taste of where we have been during our 2009-2010 guild year:

September started off with beads and crows when Seattle resident Rebecca Roush ( shared her talents with us.


In October we were visited by tapestry artist Ruth Jones (  Ruth opened up guild members eyes and hearts to her remarkable tapestries.


And then in November Kim Werker ( got the party started. Her energy and ability to entertain the group made it an evening to remember…everyone when home and searched the web for the “Serephinas” crochet pattern.


Kim injected enthusiasm that carried over into December when our Yarn Bombing ( friends from up north paid us a visit. Leanne Prain and Mandy Moore seemed have great fun as they shared their new book with us and the story of Yarn Bombing.


January was a walk down memory lane for many guild members as we discussed a local hand weaving industry (Barber Hand Weaving) which became a trendsetting style in the 1950s for all high school girls.  It was exciting to see our members bring in their woven skirts and some were even able to wear some of their treasures.


In February of each year, we are never sure if the weather will behave. But with a select group of guild members coming together to create a program on different weave structures, we had a self-produced winner of a program (one of the best of the year!).  Each speaker provided drafts and shared knowledge with the group.  Handouts were prepared, and members had notebooks filled with information to take home.

Twill Style Treadling Sample of draft prepared for member notebooks ~ Crackle: Twill Style Treadling

These members helped make this program a grand success.

  • Jane Coombs: Traditional Diamond Twill Saddle Blanket
  • Marcia Culver & Anne Lorgen: Krokbragd
  • Candy Meacham: Double-Faced Twill
  • Sheri Ward: Thick & Thin Weaves
  • Sondra Rose: Crackle

Former Whatcom Weavers Guild member Linda Rees ( visited us in March.  Having Linda present our program was a great treat.  She shared her years of tapestry weaving and filled us in on what she has been working on since moving from the area.


For the guild, April showers brought Toby’s travels!  We all travelled the world from our little meeting room during our April program presented by Toby Smith.  As a fiberist and retired professor, Toby had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.  She took us to Hungary, Norway, and India in just over an hour.


And if there were April showers, our May flower was a visit from sunny Ms. Sarah Swett (  Sarah presented a three-day workshop for members and then gave an electric program held on Mother’s Day.  As a small fundraiser for the local YWCA, we welcomed visitors to hear Sarah speak and help support the Y.

sarahJune, well, the meeting in June is a programless meeting.  We will close the year with our annual stash sale where members trade, sell, and buy all sorts of items to inspire fiber creations to be made throughout the summer months.

It has been an exciting year! Although the summer holds warm promises, I’m already excited for cool fall evening guild meetings in September.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sarah Swett ~ Slow Literature: Story Telling in Tapestry


On Sunday, May 9, 2010 we will welcome nationally recognized tapestry weaver Sarah Swett as she presents a special program beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Bellingham, WA.

Sarah isn't bound by one medium, she explores them all ~ tapestry weaving, knitting, painting, writing. As a creative woman in the 21st century, Ms. Swett allows each artistic form to influence the other when communicating her work's many themes and stories. Her writing influences her painting: her painting influences her tapestry design.

By intertwining many methods of creative expression, Sarah shares her enthusiasm for her work, "The design worth pursuing is not a design at all, but love made manifest in color, texture, image. It is a second captured in cloth, an unfolding story, a small miracle..(My) work infiltrates my dreams, builds my biceps, thrills me to the bone and drives me to tears."


Sarah Swett's May 9th program is open to the public and will be held at the YWCA located at 1026 N. Forest St. Bellingham, WA. Admission: $5.00 suggested donation to the YWCA. Whatcom Guild members are free.

casting off_1a

Toby Smith shares her Textile Travels ~

Guild members were enthusiastically treated when fellow member Toby Smith shared a remarkable presentation on her travels to three different countries: Hungary, Norway, and India.

Sadly, she only brought enough images to fill a couple of hours ~ we wanted MORE! Most members would have stayed all night to see the glorious colors, textiles, and images.

Toby brought examples of her travel journals that she makes by hand and fills as she sees the world (examples below).

View Toby's Sketch Books

Detailed sketches, notations about patterns, and design plans fill each book like recipes for future project.

Toby translates the images from her travels into her work. Below are beautiful textiles she has created using the many colors and motifs from the countries she visits.

View motifs

Hungary was the first place she took us in her presentation. She talked about the places she visited, the people she met, and the rich material history.

View Hungary

Color, texture, pattern, design, and the vibrant culture of Hungary showed through in every image.

View Color

We left Hungary for Norway and experienced weaving classes right with Toby.

View Scenes of Norway

More color, textiles, and fiber from beautiful Norway.

View More!

Oh my gosh, then she took us to India ~ now we are talking REAL color. Toby told us that the radiating color is a stark contrast to the dry and dusty natural world of neutral tones. Yet, she said, people paint their surroundings in intense color ~ doors, walls, even the elephants are painted in color.

The looms, the stitching, the dyeing ~ she showed it all being done by hand in India.

View by hand

Stunning, incredibly stunning. Thank you so much Toby for the journey into the world of textiles.

View Toby

Linda Rees and her Tapestry

We were so lucky to have former member and tapestry artist Linda Rees visit the guild in March to share her work and stories with us.  Linda has been a force within a number of local, regional, and national arts groups over the years.  With exhibits, tapestri es, and books under her belt, it is exciting to know that she will showing in the area this fall. 

Linda will be participating in a exhibit at the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum in La Conner, Washington opening on September 29.  The exhibit called Constructed Inquiries will run through the end of 2010.

Visit the museum’s website for more information.  Also, so there will be Linda Rees website ( ~ keep an eye out to see when it goes live.


Above is a photo of one of Linda’s past exhibits in Eugene, Oregon.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Textile Travels with Toby ~


On April 14, 2010, the Whatcom Weavers Guild welcomes Vancouver, BC resident and retired Western Washington University professor Toby Smith as she presents a program on how her travel [both worldly and armchair] influences her textile practice.

Smith’s talk will show the progression from inspiration to textile product. Part travelogue, part lecture on creative process, and part textile show and tell, Toby's presentation will appeal to anyone who enjoys the aesthetic that textiles provide. Special emphasis will be on India, Eastern Europe, and Norway.

In her own words ~Toby-green

"This presentation will be about my travels and how they have influenced my weaving and other textile practice such as embroidery. For example, I have been fortunate to have taken two textile tours to India. Since I love colour and acres of fine cloth flowing like water, I really felt like I had come to my aesthetic home. I am particularly attracted to the textiles of the people who live in the Kutch desert, with their sometimes rough weaving, sometimes fine weaving with supplementary weft. I also love the amazing embroidery with mirrors. As well, I have taken a weaving course in Norway where we made traditional vadmal cloth, fulling it in a water-driven fulling mill. Part of this course was the design and construction of a garment using traditional methods. I have also spent time camping around Eastern Europe, specifically, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic. These countries have wonderful outdoor museums in the countryside. In the buildings brought to these sites we see the textiles of humble people. In the cities are marvelous ethnographic and applied art museums which focus on the finest craft commissioned by the aristocracy, as well as a range of other classes. I shall show slides and some gorgeous textiles from some of these places. I’ll also bring a few of my own pieces that illustrate how I have integrated these travel experiences into my own creative process. This process begins with my fat, worn design journals that I always have on me when I travel. I will use these to illustrate how I get from inspiration to finished textile. See you on April 14th."

For those of you who frequent the guild’s annual sale, Toby is known for her fabulous ruanas and sampler cards.  Below are just a few images to give you a taste of her work.

CIMG0681       toby

Friday, January 15, 2010

An open letter ~

I never intended to post anything to the group like this, but I really need to say something to the whole Whatcom Weavers Guild.

Last Wednesday evening’s program felt iffy to me back in the planning stages.  Iffy only because I wasn’t sure if there was going to be enough to see and touch.  My attempts to secure the video about the Barber Hand Weaving business from the Museum didn’t pan out.  I was concerned….but then, Marcia C. called and e-mailed me saying that she had spoken to an old friend who was employed by the Barbers for years.  When she told me the person’s name, I said, “I think I know her.”  Sure enough, I did. 

That’s how dear Mary Ellen became an important part of Wednesday evening. 

I, or should I say WE, are indebted to her for sharing such wonderful artifacts.  As the trusted guardian, she has preserved a treasure trove of history from such a successful weaving business located right here in Whatcom County.  Thank you Mary Ellen.

As for all the rest of you guild members, thank you for your active participation.  I left that evening thrilled that the meeting became an open forum for all.  Thank you to the folks who brought items to share, and thank you for simply filling the room with so much energy.

It was way cool! ~ Julie

Here are some images of garment from Barber Hand Weaving.123 476