My weaving ranges from classic and earthy to funky and energetic. I use heathery Shetland wools, soft but sturdy cottons, and my own handspun wool and alpaca. From the spark of an idea through to the meticulous fringing or hemming, my handwoven items are designed, produced and presented with joy and delight.
A big fan of Cariboo Handwoven bought a wool blanket in January for her son and daughter-in-law for their wedding in late April. She and I met for lunch and had a lovely time, and I delivered the blanket then at the restaurant table.
I remembered the date coming and wished her well before. A few weeks later, I learned that everything went off without a hitch and it was a lovely wedding and wonderful family celebration.
I couldn't help but wonder how the blanket was received - well, this couldn't be nicer to hear:
I wanted to let you know that the blanket was a huge hit - apparently the ones I have here have been secretly coveted (I admit having suspected as much). It will enjoy pride of place in their home for many years to come.
Thank you for the care and talent you put into your art.
I usually weave wool blankets through the year and I finished my latest batch in March. Now they're all fringed and ready to go; one has even sold already. This batch has a very simple pattern of a wide centre stripe in charcoal flanked in light grey, with wide white edges.
Cariboo Handwoven wool blankets are really my classics. They are beautiful in the home, cozy and warm for reading or watching a movie, and they last for years and years - decades, I would say. At this time of year, people looking for grad and retirement gifts might find one here that could suit their needs.
Here they are, the first two with handspun wool with the sheep's name added:
253 | 100% wool (50% handspun from "Dimayo") | 172 cm x 132 cm (67.5" x 52") | $400
254 | 100% wool (50% handspun from "Coco") | 178 cm x 135 cm (70" x 53") | $400
255 | 100% wool | 179 cm x 127 cm (70.5" x 50") | $300
256 | 100% wool | 180 cm x 125 cm (71" x 49") | $300
257 | 100% wool | Sold at Handmade in the Cariboo
258 | 100% wool | 200 cm x 123 cm (79" x 48.5") | $300
Let me know if you're interested in any of these blankets!
A recent studio visit by a Cariboo Handwoven blanket owner had a special moment for me. Well, the whole visit was special for me because she and a friend made a day trip to visit my studio, watch how a loom works (they were amazed) and see what I had available for sale. I was really touched that they would take a day to visit me, and I gave them some ideas for things in town to see and do before they headed home.
The blanket owner wanted a second blanket, a cotton one, and requested something in greys with a little yellow. I think that's how she put it. I had something new that might fit her idea. As soon as I pulled it down from the shelf, she knew it was for her. I just happened to have those colours and it was a quick and easy decision for her.
I just love it when someone instantly 'knows' that one of my works is for them.
Here's the blanket she bought:
It's a fringed cotton blanket, just finished a month ago. It's gone to a good home!
To continue from Part 1 (highly recommended to read first for Part 2 to make sense), I arrived at Giuditta Brozzetti on the first day not knowing what Marta's plan was. I had suggested I could assist with a big project that she needed some help with, but she said right away that I could weave on her small four-harness loom from the 1700s. I was quite surprised actually and I really appreciated her trust in me as a weaver. She wanted to see what someone new would do on that loom.
The main feature of the studio is the array of old Jacquard looms. They produce very complex patterns based on punched cards, meaning that each warp thread is controlled individually, like a harness for each one. Unbelievable, I know! The weaver climbs above the loom to change cards. Giuditta Brozzetti's website has examples of the beautiful fabrics woven on the Jacquard looms.
Jacquard loom looking from the back beam
One of many Jacquard looms at Giuditta Brozzetti with the design mechanism above the loom. On the railing hang various pattern cards used for weaving. Each row in the punched cards creates a different weft shot for the woven pattern.
Marta had two weavers working for her, a woman from Paris who spoke fluent English after her time in London, and a man from Peru with whom I communicated in gestures and very basic Italian. He liked to call me 'signora' and he was just as much help to me with the bobbin winder and advancing the warp on my loom. Marta joked that she has a multi-national studio. The Jacquard looms are quite noisy, and working beside the two of them made me feel part of the production.
My loom was apparently from 1750 and it's still working well. It's a counter-marche set-up, unlike the jack looms I've always used, and has one treadle for each harness. This required more detailed mental work for this new weaver on it, ahem. The front and back beams were held with a ratchet and pawl system, with no brake on the back beam that modern weavers expect.
I had a lot of fun on this loom and the experience was a big 'wow' to me for the three days. I wove with gorgeous 4/68 cotton from a company in Milan. Marta and her weavers double the weft for pattern stripes to help them stand out. This is a good concept to try in my own studio. A big part of the whole opportunity was using an entirely new colour palette.
But before I could weave, I had to learn the complexities of the bobbin winder. After the main switch to the upper right (not visible in photo) is turned on, the whole machine comes to life through a lengthwise drive band to which individual winders can be engaged. Figuring out this monster took some time, but with help by the two weavers who often saw me struggling, I figured it out.
Winding double cotton onto one bobbin (actually a pirn)
After a little practice on my loom, I wove seven samples that Marta can sew into bags, bracelets or whatever she likes. Here they are:
On my third day, everyone had left for lunch and I planned my last sample to finish in plenty of time to catch the train back to Arezzo. I wanted to savour my last hour in Giudetta Brozzeti. I finished weaving and tidied up, then enjoyed how the afternoon sunlight filled the whole building with beautiful soft light. I walked around to photograph, drink it in, remember. It was all so enchanting for me. The goodbyes were hard. I could only promise myself I would be back.
A year ago, my husband and I were in Arezzo, Italy and decided to take the train to Perugia, a fascinating city he knew fairly well. Perugia dates back to the Etruscans from several centuries BC and its university was founded in 1320. Situated on a massive hill, modern residents can take the MiniMetro from the valley floor up to the two main piazzas. The medieval street plan is pretty complicated and challenging to most North Americans used to a perpendicular street grid - and it's beautiful.
Piazza IV Novembre, Perugia
Before going last year, Pat found information online about a weaving studio and suggested we visit. It is the Giudutta Brozzetti Museum-Laboratory of Handweaving and it is one of the most incredible places we'd ever seen, augmented by the friendly, high-energy owner, Marta Cucchia. The building is the Church of San Francisco Delle Donne ("Of the Women") that was established in 1212 by Saint Francis and then passed on, originally as a monastery, to the Benedictine sisters in 1252. In more recent years, the building was used as a factory; holes in the roof's brickwork (covered with a tile roof now) were made for exhaust fumes.
Giuditta Brozzetti established the weaving business in 1920 to revive traditional weaving from the Umbrian province. Marta is her great-granddaughter and a passionate weaver. She and I kept in touch through the following year and then I said I'd be back this March. She very kindly agreed that I could spend three days in her studio.
I cannot write everything in one blog so I'm making this Part 1 and will finish with Part 2. To me, the three extraordinary days I spent with Marta and her weavers included the daily commute from Arezzo, where we stayed again, to Giuditta Brozzeti. First, I had a 20-minute walk to the train station, buy tickets and validate the first one, then I traveled on two trains in the morning with an easy connection. I next walked to the MiniMetro station and went up to the final stop, Il Pincetto. I first walked out and oriented myself (fairly familiar from a year ago and helpful with GPS on my phone) and made my way northwest for about 1.5 km. My favourite route was to walk along the aqueduct built in 1254 which became a walking route in 1812.
Aqueduct on the left, a long flight of shallow steps on the right
The aqueduct is just wide enough for two people. Houses have been built along the way and their entrances have required removing sections of the low wall (as in the example on the lower right with the open gate).
For a western Canadian, all these dates and sights were extraordinary and they really fired my imagination!
Here are some photos of Giuditta Brozzetti:
Tessuti means textiles | Umbri is the Italian province of Umbria
Looking from the far end of the building to the east. The loom I used is in the right foreground and I'll talk about it in Part 2.
Afternoon light in the church's south transept
First and last view of the studio along Via Tiberio Berardi
Before concluding Part 1 and planning Part 2, I want to thank Marta for three really special days in her atelier (studio). She was really good to me and I will always cherish this opportunity from her.
After a long winter, with February setting a record daily low temperature in my area, signs of spring are most welcome. I've just finished nine cotton blankets in shades of green, blues and yellows. There is also one blanket in bright diamonds and two are in taupes and greys with black, a common request I receive.
Here are the blankets with measurements and price. And where a photo doesn't really reflect the colours well, I added a description. All blankets are machine washable and versatile for year-round use.
C334 | 100% cotton | Light teal, seafoam and light green with narrow white 186 cm x 135 cm (73" x 53") | $170
C335 | 100% cotton | 178 cm x 135 cm (70" x 53") | $170
C336 | 100% cotton | Dark green, shamrock and olive with light green stripes (180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") | $170
C337 | 100% cotton | Four shades of green with bright green stripes 188 cm x 135 cm (74" x 53") | $170
C338 | 100% cotton | 185 cm x 135 cm (73' x 53") | $170
C339 | 100% cotton | Navy, royal and bright blue with light blue stripes 186 cm x 135 cm (74" x 53") | $170
C340 | 100% cotton | Greens with black stripes 185 cm x 135 cm (73" x 53") | $170
C341 | 100% cotton | Dark grey herringbone with bold borders in black and grey 183 cm x 135 cm (72" x 53") | $170
C342 | 100% cotton | Fringed | 188 cm x 135 cm (74" x 53") excluding fringes | $200
Coincidentally, late last year I received two orders for bath towel sets with greys and cream.
Greys and cream with black
Greys and cream with seafoam for a new bathroom
After following colour requests for the first four towels, I veered off and tried some different ideas. These towels are all 100% cotton, generously sized at approximately 160-170 cm x 80 cm (63-67" x 31"), and ready to wrap up in and dry off after a bath or shower. Price is $90 each.
Light blue stripes edged in white | Diamonds in greens
Slub cotton in two slightly different shades | These towels go together well
I've had three items hanging around my studio for awhile and I decided to finish them and post this blog to see if there's any interest. All three are "fine" ... but each has a bit of a glitch that I hope will not bother a new owner. I don't really want to show these off to the world (other than in a blog, really Jane?) but I'd like to find them good homes. Prices are half or less than the usual for a similar item of usual high quality.
Here they are, warts and all:
Fringed Cotton Blanket I wove this beautiful blanket quite awhile ago and the rest of the batch has gone to different homes. This blanket is rich greens and light browns in herringbone with two shades of purple in the wide stripes of complex diamonds.
100% cotton blanket | 180 cm x 135 cm (71" x 53") excluding fringes | $100
My error was to hastily cut apart this blanket from its neighbour without leaving fringe until I gulped when I realized what I'd done. So 6" (15 cm) of this blanket is missing its fringe but the hem is secure and should be fine for years of use. (And no, I have not done that again!)
Big Cotton Blanket
This hemmed blanket in a bold herringbone pattern has a minor flaw running lengthwise due to the small error in the alternating colours of cotton threads.
100% cotton blanket, hemmed | 173 cm x 135 cm (68" x 53") | $80
Detail of lengthwise threading error
Cotton and Silk Blanket Scarf
A weaving friend gave me a big load of her yarns, including some hand-dyed purple silk in a lovely shade that I wove into a big blanket scarf.
Cotton and hand-dyed silk blanket scarf | 160 cm x 59 cm (63" x 23") | $80
Unfortunately, I didn't notice there were two shades of the purple until I finished the scarf and looked at it and ... whoops. What you see below is a slight difference in the purple's intensity and the silk's weight (possibly why the dye was taken up differently). This is at one end of the blanket scarf, so it could be easily tucked in and out of view when being worn. This blanket scarf is a bit heavier than the others I've made and it is rather gorgeous and elegant other than the dyelot error below.
Difference in dyelots with darker purple at one end
Please let me know if you want to see more photos of the three items or order anything here. I'd love to see these nice-but-not-perfect items find new homes!
My early winter hiatus from weaving and blogging has happily come to a close. I used up most of my 2/8 cotton supply for towels towards the end of December then only had sufficient wool left for blankets. But I didn't feel like weaving blankets, especially in earthy tones of greys, browns and white - I've been seeing that enough looking out the window. I want bright colours and fun!
My supplier was closed for Christmas and then must have had a big backlog, based on their slower-than-usual response time to my order. Then the shipping took ... forEVER ... I've already made a note for November 2019 to ensure I have enough bright yarns to see me through the holidays and well into 2020 if needed again.
Now we're all into a new year and the days are growing longer. I'm warping up the new cottons for bath towels, something I haven't woven for awhile. I have two orders and we need some in the house, so that's all very inspiring.
Then I will be well into another wonderful year of projects, craft fairs, our farmers market, and studio visitors after eventually seeing the end of January.
Thanks to blog readers for sticking with me through thick and thin. I like checking page views and seeing where you are all over the world! Happy 2019 to all.
December is a busy and fun month for pretty well everyone in different ways. If you're interested in what Cariboo Handwoven has on hand, here you go:
In Ottawa, Alison has a good supply of wool blankets, some big cotton blankets and some cotton towels. The cotton items are being replenished a small shipment expected in a week. You can contact Alison at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Williams Lake, BC, the Station House Gallery has a selection of Cariboo Handwoven wool and cotton blankets, wool scarves, wool travel shawls and cotton towels in their Christmas market.
Wool blanket recently delivered to the Station House Gallery
The three darker scarves were delivered to the Station House
This is the travel shawl on Facebook in early November shown when on the loom. Lots of people loved it and now it's done!
Travel shawl for someone who loves purple :-)
If you're local, drop in just to see the beautiful display created by staff and Board members. And thank you for having me as a vendor!
In the Cariboo Handwoven studio, there are a few wool blankets, including the Coming Home blanket which is still available, and blanket numbers are being increased through December. I also have lots of large and small cotton blankets, some wool travel shawls, and both cotton and 80/20 towels. Feel free to contact me for a studio visit - I'm just 10 km west of town and easy to find. I can also do a weaving demonstration if you're interested to see how a loom works. Enjoy December - whatever you do!