Friday, October 4, 2013

Cowichan Valley Fleece and Fibre Festival

I will be writing on my blog soon - thank you all for missing me!! But to keep you up-to-date, mark this on your calendar.  It is going to be awesome!

I'll be in touch soon - very crazy busy these days, but my computer is fixed here in the studio, so will be able to write more.  However, if you are on Facebook, befriend me at Leola's Studio - I try to do daily updates there.

Monday, June 17, 2013

…I’ll know if it’s what I wanted. It might be what I needed which usually ends up being what I wanted in the first place.” -Eyarheh Wapa

A lovely visit from a former student wrote the title of the post... It led me to design a workshop, called Pique Your Passion. Anyone wanting to have me teach this workshop get in touch - it is intense, fun and the only way I can really bring the studio to you.....more on that later !

I am on my way to Convergence in Bellingham this week, so I hope to see many of you there. Please look me up at Booth 16 - would love to meet you! and for more information:

So, I can only say I have been busy and too tired at night to blog - so I got my laptop fixed and I can now work in the studio - Ann and I are constantly getting obsessed about certain weaving techniques - one of which is rosepath - and especially eight harness rosepath - a traditional threading that for many of us was the first threading we used.  Wanya, my esteemed teacher had a certain reverence for rosepath (rosengang) which probably impressed my young mind and still does. So off Ann and I went down the rose garden path and had a heck of a good time! As a result we have pillows made out of Eastwin mohair blend - 100% Cowichan Valley fibre! The above trees (I thought of pussy willows, but others thought it was after a forest fire etc. :) at any rate this one is special as I had a 93 year old manfriend giving me the treadling order,  as I was on a table loom.  The red tree is for Forbes! We later found the skeleton tie-up key in Tim's Treadling program on-line!!!! which we will use when we get to the floor loom - our plan is to make bolsters which are wide narrow pillows with an insert of the rosepath........I will post pictures when they are done. 100% Cowichan Valley fibre too - mostly mohair. At present we are wrestling (I say this as I put my neck out reaching for the heddles!) with a 12 harness loom.....onto another project though.

So lots of pictures to show what the last few months have been like.....
The spin-in in Metchosin was a huge success and it was wonderful to see everyone!

And then it was Fibres West - which was an amazing fibre fair in Cloverdale. I met so many people that are obsessed by fibre!! Aren't we all??

I did my usual red corner and a natural corner and then Hummingbee Farm had their luscious fibres surrounding me - can it get any better?

Some pictures from the event - Fiona Duthie was there - she is one of my favourite fibre artists in the whole wide world..............

Shibori - another workshop by Fiona
and there were so many other things to see, knitting designers, the Cashmere Breeders of British Columbia - YUM!!!, lace, flax and everyone loved my Cowichan Valley fibres too!
More pictures.....
The lace pictures were for Barbara and of course the women demonstrating there, knew her!
And one of the most wonderful experiences was finally trying an e-spinner and I tried to hold Devon back as I told her that her spinning life would never be the same again.....
My favourite piece - a little hooked bird
And then I am on a tour - the Cowichan Valley Artisans Studio Tour
I managed to get a little thread painting on raw silk done as well - fiddleheads were calling me! The tour continues through December.
Okay, now the studio - busy as ever and some interesting things to see!!
I don't know what it is, but I love ALL the parts of weaving - including the ties - the anticipation of another rag rug!!
I can look at this all day - I just find it so pretty - Eastwin Farm Mohair - hand dyed by me!! I like that space dyed yarn works well in a weft face......
Handwoven chenille - all sold!!!
Fenn from Custom Woollen Mills came by - and saw that we were weaving many rag rugs - she said she uses sock tops from the mill to weave hers and would send me some - soon a package came, but all I could think of was rya!! and so now everyone wants a rya rug!

A lot of our local wool is processed at Custom Woolen Mills and on the island as well with Anna Renning and also there is a mill on Salt Spring - we are lucky to have this available to us - I want to weave with as much local fibre as I can - so we have started weaving Cowichan Valley blankets using our local fibre - we have finished 4 already - and looking for fleece to process!!
We are making them about 52 X 72
I have very sore arms!
Rya rugs are fun to make and use a lot of material - if you are using rags and fabric. Some of my young students made a rug using Pendelton Blanket selvedges - it was so heavy - I don't seem to have a picture of it though - will have to get them to send me one and I will add it to the post.
The two looms were next to each other - and were a perfect match - couldn't have planned it.  I am always surprised when there is a keen interest in one technique how it becomes infectious! I even had a rya rug walk into the studio to be repaired!!
We love using mohair and especially our local blend from Ann's farm, Eastwin - but I wanted to celebrate it - so wouldn't you know, a knitting designer walked into the studio and introduced herself and I jumped at the chance to suggest she design something for us. And voila - she did. It is so beautiful and luscious and fun to knit. You will be able to purchase it through my website soon, pattern and the mohair blend....or the pattern can be purchased on line from Andrea Rangel's website or Ravelry.  It is called Glenora where the pretty goats sweet student, Katie is modelling it for us in these pictures.
I mentioned my website - I have an official one now and it isn't quite up to date - one will be able to purchase things eventually but the site is
and we have had photo shoots as well which have been really fun to watch.
My photographer is awesome.
And I will end with one picture that has captured my heart

My weaving teacher, Wanya came to visit one day. I have a great deal of respect for this amazing woman. She has taught me that tradition, heart, and spirit combined, makes for a weaver that continues to explore and teach the magic.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy New Year!

My dear friend Anne wrote the following on a card
'wishing you a year as rich as a tapestry, as "full" as a handwoven blanket and as connected as the seasons...' with love
I wish this to all of you as well - have a wonderful year of creativity and joy!!!

A photo I snapped one day because it called to me...

Speaking of tapestry - just to let everyone know that it is moving along centimeter by centimeter and it is so beautiful - Anne, Barbara, Ann Marie and I all do our part - it is a community tapestry, so others are welcome at any time.

a couple of details....

Barbara Birke

Goddess of the Birch
So I have decided that I would try to showcase someone each blog - I have just too many interesting people come through, working and creating in the studio, that both humble and inspire me which, leave little snippets of wisdom and make me feel like there are just not enough hours in the day to accomplish all one would like to accomplish. So this month I would like to feature a woman that I have known for about 30 years and who I didn't really know until she came quietly into the studio and said she would like to weave on the the community tapestry! And now when she doesn't come in on Thursdays, I feel that my week is not complete.
Barbara came to Canada 32 years ago from Germany. She had studied at the Academy of the Visual Arts -  Kunstakademie in Stuttgart. Her focus being textile and to begin with explored fabric painting which evolved into teaching at the Academy in the printing department. She then switched to weaving, and worked on many hangings and was paid by the meter! One of the biggest was approximately 18 X 4 meters and then it was hung in the Heidleberg Cancer Institute.
Working with another weaver, she was accustomed to working with others in a 'community' way - just as she is now in the studio - lucky me!  This hanging was done 'rya-like' - which of course piques my interest as I so want to weave a rya - perhaps then next community weaving.....
Barbara discovered bobbin lace in the Cowichan Valley and is a crackerjack bobbin lace maker - unbelieveable. She submits her designs to Lace Makers Gazette and Die Spitze.  Barbara is also well known for her knitting and everytime I see her, she has another sweater on that she has designed - and she is so humble...
Barbara's personal statement, she expresses, "I love every thing what you can do by hand", in her lovely accent and continues, "I love working with my hands and using nature as a springboard. It is important to work along with other like minded people." After asking her what she can offer the world - she was reluctant to answer - but after some discussion, she likes to bring awareness of the textile world to youth through demonstration and feels this is one way to keep the craft alive. Her work can be seen at the Sooke Arts Faire every year, the Tzouhalem Weavers and Spinners annual show, and various fibre fairs on the island.  My creative world is enriched by this wonderful artist.
Who will I showcase next time..........
I have been playing as usual - Summer and Winter Lace these days - just to stretch the threading - white on white for the most part which of course bores me to no end - but I do want to paint it or dye it once I have finished - I have been inspired by Lynette who writes in her blog Le Tissier Designs who submits to Vogue Knitting magazine - amazing lace knitter. Check out the latest Vogue Knitting  magazine and see her socks!!!!
And then I have been obsessed by pink...........thanks to my friend Sherry of Vintage Treasures who now has her store in Chemainus.....
A raw silk flower thread painted 4 X 4 inches sitting on a blanket in cream and white - two blankets one in white woven with Eastwin mohair blend and the second a Fleece Artist kid mohair.....Pretty pretty pretty!
It is the season for submitting for craft fairs in the summer and Christmas, Convergence, brochures - deadlines everywhere -  slowly but surely everything will get done....I keep weaving, and teaching and being inspired every waking moment - it cannot get any better than this.

I leave you with an adage that came my way by Susan's husband Bruce when we were talking about getting old and retirement etc. - that talk!! He described this ideal moment at the age of 14, he was in a canoe with an older gentleman, fishing and enjoying the summer day - his Finnish friend, George Wala gazed out over the water and turned to him and said -

Too soon old
Too late smart
He told me this just after I had the pleasure of teaching a dozen young women, the Renaissance Women they call themselves, aiming to learn as much as they can - which made me feel just a little old - but good because I have been blessed with the ability and the good fortune to be learning everyday - all the things that I love to do.
I have much more to tell you and to share with you but will do that in another blog - lots of stimulating conversation, amazing art sites etc. Create everyone!!!