Friday, March 20, 2009

the fest ~

The pest...Marcel. This was taken yesterday as he intruded on my spinning. I've been home a lot lately and he's come to realize that he must stick to me like GLUE ~ not Elmer's but the "Super" kind. He won't leave me alone to do important fiber things.

This is what I was trying to finish up before he barged in. This is bobbin #1 ~ a conglomerate of fiber remnants and event door prize winnings. Bobbin #2 is finished and I am currently plying them. I plan on cabling the yarn, so the next step after making it a two-ply is to spin it again creating some "wicked twist" as Judith MacKenzie McCuin called it. By spinning it again in the same direction, more twist is built up so that the cabling doesn't create limp and lifeless yarn. You need that "wicked twist" to be able to take the two-play yarn and ply it again ~ back the other direction. The end product will be a four-strand cabled yarn.

This photo is just to show off the Lois Meyer painting I bought at an estate sale yesterday.

Lois was a local painter ~ can you guess the time period? The colors just kill me ~ these are "MY" kind of colors! The "estate" belonged to a neighbor of mine growing up ~ I lived just up the street. He was a former senator who travelled quite a bit. I was always impressed that he and his wife remained in a middle-class neighborhood filled with young families when they could have "moved up" as the senator's career advanced.

Underneath the painting is a Polish tapestry I also bought ~ it too is from the 1970s. I haven't done any research on it yet, but it was bought in NYC a long time ago.

Speaking of tapestry! I took a journey across the border this afternoon to FibresWest (originally called FibreFest) in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. I've gone to this event for the last five or so years and enjoy the chance to see and buy a few things.

Today I planned my trip so that I could enjoy the mid-day lecture presented by tapestry artist Ruth Jones ( I've visited her website a few different times and was very interested in seeing and hearing her speak.

A pretty good size crowd ventured over to the lecture area, and I saw that there were a number of young women from Capilano University in Vancouver. Capilano is one of the few schools around here that has any sort of textile program (

Cleverly, Ruth began her program with a joke. I kind of had a few Brady Bunch flashbacks ~ remember when Peter became the "comedian". Although, starting off with a joke also struck me as a nice ice breaker that leveled the playing field for the lecture.

Speaking about her background, interests and weaving, Ruth was able to share a few gems of wisdom which define her process. She tries to express herself in as few colors as possible ~ using seven to 10 colors maximum. By limiting her palette she is able to focus on her technique of blending color by using specific weaving techniques. (For more information go
HERE to read about medieval tapestry techniques.)

The image above is a tapestry remnant that Ruth shared with the group. At about 350 years old, it is a remarkable example of a restrained use of color. The color is derived from natural dyes including lichen and weld.

Like many artists, commissions are important to keep busy and money flowing. Ruth shared her process of creating small tapestries as "sketches" to submit as samples when working toward gaining commission contracts. Like a maquette, her small scale tapestry shows the intentions of the final piece and allows her commissioner to approve of her design. The image above and below are two of Ruth's maquettes.

By presenting slides and sharing her actual pieces, Ruth gave the audience a wonderful opportunity to listen, learn, see and touch tapestries.

The three images above are all details of Epiphany & Co, 30" x 40", hand woven silk and wool tapestry, 2000.

Above is the The Golden Spruce, 43" x 84", hand woven silk and wool tapestry, 1999.

The final piece above will remain without a proper title ~ I can't seem to find it in my notes. Ruth did speak about the concept of milles-fleurs ~ translated as "thousand flowers"~ in medieval tapestry. Symbolic flowers often filled the background of these tapestries.

It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to attend Ruth's lecture today. With any luck, I might be able to persuade her to present a similar program to the Whatcom Weavers Guild next year. When I asked her if it was possible, she seemed quite amenable to the idea.

She also shared with me that she had once shown a piece in a group exhibition at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art (my old workplace for some 11 plus years!). Sadly the touring exhibit she was a part of was in the early to mid-1980s prior to my tenure at the museum.

So there you go, and EXTREMELY long post due to not posting for a few days. I could go on and describe the fiber I purchase, but that's for another day.
In closing, here is another Ruth Jones tapestry that I saw in person today.


  1. Oh WOW! That is some weaving majic! Cooking red hot with GAZ! You should have called me to tag along though I am not a weaver I am a good pay for the petrol kind of gal. Beautiful stuff - I have to study today but will be back this evening to look again and to check out the link. Kitty- too handsome!

  2. It would have been a hoot to have you along. You could have cursed my GPS system with me! The map in my head was much clearer than the "woman in the box" telling me to "turn left" constantly! The next event is the Whidbey Island Weavers Spin In on April 4-5. A grand place to buy roving and win door prizes!