Learning to Weave 2020-style

In February 2020, we started an introductory weaving workshop, lead by Sandra Hodgins, with six participants: Lisa Miki, Kate Hammond, Genevieve Lalonde-Martini, Sharon Bloedorn, Elise Young and Igor Darmokhid.

Each of them prepared a unique warp and dressed “their” table loom in our guild studio facilities.

With the greatest good fortune, when the pandemic circumstances became apparent in late March, most of the projects were ready to weave.

Once again we were lucky, the looms could be used at home, and the round robin workshop format allowed safe drop off and pickup at the studio.

Unfortunately, Igor was unable to participate in the weaving assignments; we miss him and his good humour.

By the end of October, all the projects were completed in time to be displayed in the SSI Public Library’s lobby showcase.  We thank the Library for this opportunity to show one more way that creativity flourishes on Salt Spring.

The six structures explored were:

1- Rep weave placemats with an original design inspired by Joanne Tallarovic’s book titled “Rep Weave and Beyond” and thoughts of chili con carne.

Rep weave placemats at the library display November 2020

Rep weave placemats at the library display November 2020

2- Colour and weave red/white napkins, another original design with the classic logcabin motif in the centre.

3- Twill colour gamp napkins using 12 different colours of 8/2 cotton.

Colour and weave Napkins at Library Display November 2020

Colour gamp napkins at the library display November 2020

4- Monk’s belt table runner with the two block design woven according to the inspiration of each participant.

MonksBelt placemat

5- Double weave sampler in greens to try weaving (a) 2 layers, (b) double width—joined one side, (c) tubular—joined both sides, and pickup for a figurative pattern of the weaver’s choice.

Double weave Library Display November 2020

6 – Swedish lace runner on a red warp with choice of orange, fuchsia, or dark red weft.


Lace Napkins

This round-robin workshop was a unique experience for everyone involved, and took place in other than ideal circumstances.  However, as the instructor, I couldn’t imagine a better group of enthusiastic guinea pigs to test drive a new workshop.  Working in isolation, as was necessary, prevented the usual coaching, feedback, and opportunity to learn from (and about) each other.  They worked well independently, at times revealing great inventiveness.  I predict with confidence that all of them will create interesting, and I hope exciting cloth.

Here are a few observations from the participants.

This was a fantastic project to be a part off and offered such a good look at what you can do with different weave structures and patterns!  It was really great to have something to learn during the pandemic….. Kate

As a new weaver, it would take me months, if not years, to design, setup and weave six different projects.  This round robin was a great opportunity to quickly sample various type of weaving and discover what I like best.  I learned that I enjoy weaving with a lot of variety – the colour gamp, with its twill treadle pattern and constantly changing weft colours, was my favourite project …. Elise

The beginners weaving round robin was such a fun and interesting experience.  We got to try six different techniques that I’ve been curious about, but haven’t tried until now.  It was the perfect pandemic project because we could weave together and yet apart.  It’s been inspiring and given me the confidence to get a project going on my own loom at home…. Lisa


Library display November 2020

A review of the year – January to April 2020

On the first Thursday of each month, the guild typically host a show, ask & tell.  With the advent of COVID-19, we were not able to meet.  To keep our guild spirit up we moved the show & tell to Facebook.  We had no idea when we made that decision in March/April timeframe, that we would still be in the middle of the pandemic in the December 2020.  As the year is coming to an end, we will be doing a year review on the website.  Our members have been busy, so get your coffee/tea , sit down in a comfy chair and enjoy this first part of this year in review.


On January 21st, 2020, Oh, the fun we have! Members gathered with their spinning wheels to spin with a bunny! German angora bunny–Ms Rosemary Snowflake–came to the high school with caregivers Skye and Bella. Ms Rosemary Snowflake likes to be cuddled, so members had the opportunity to have a warm lap while they spun. Skye and Bella shared their knowledge about the various breeds of fibre giving bunnies and how they are cared for. They also brought some of their collected fibre for us to fondle. This was truly some fibre bliss!

Visit from German angora bunny with owner Skye and Bella

Mary's Yak fiber

Mary P shared the following with us: I have been stash diving for the last month and have embarked on a goal to spin my “exotic” fibers. Judith Mackenzie had this tip in her Rare and Exotic Fibers book: steam your roving or top before spinning to “wake up” the crimp. The attached photo shows the difference in the yak top I am now spinning. Huge difference in feel and spin. The fibre feels alive instead of limp. The 100 grams were squished in a small sandwich bag and then into a small shoe box. Now they more than fill the shoe box. On both pictures, the thinner roving is before steaming and the thicker roving is after the steaming.


Silk Fusion

In early 2020, Ida Marie made lovely silk fusion boxes and hanging trees.

Silk fusion boxes and trees by Ada Marie

Our best friends: sheep

New Gotlands at North Beach Farm Early April 2020.

Lola was a Dream mother. Gave birth in about 15 minutes. And started caring for them right away. Dory was also a dream. She had hers in the pasture at 11:00 pm and had him cleaned up and standing with no help from us. Luna had hers twins after long labour from 2:00 in the afternoon until 3:00 am for female and 4:00 am for male. She rejected both due to way she was feeling. We cleaned them up, kept them warm, milked Luna and Dory for colostrum and tied Luna up and helped the twins to feed directly every 3 hours during daylight. The twins were 15 and 20 lbs after two weeks. All is good.  Maeve, our fourth ewe, was to give birth in the next few days

Berg our ram is looking very proud of himself.

We prepared fleeces from our original four ewes and ram for a special project, we prepared sweaters for our daughters -in-law – carded, spun and knit with craft resources on all on Salt Spring.

Thanks goes out to Margaret Thompson , who helped us through our first lambing season.

Dave and Marnie Naphtali.

new Gotlands at North Beach Farm

Shearing season is always busy on Salt Spring Island.  This is not different at Sheila’s farm. Below are pictures of her 19 sheep awaiting shearing and after.   There is a lot of spinning and weaving in Sheila’s future.

Sheila 19 sheep gathered for shearing


Alpaca silk blend scarf handspun and handwoven by Sandra




Sandra says she finally got that alpaca/silk blend to behave and weaved a beautiful scarf, shadow weave structure on just 4-shafts.






Balance weave on backstrap loom by Elise



Elise is using her isolation time to explore balanced weave on a backstrap loom. She bought an antique Miao (Chinese minority group) bamboo reed, and she warped her backstrap loom with 2/16 cotton to get a fairly airy weave, to which she added a little bit of inlay with 2/8 cotton – inspired by Guatemalan “pikb’il” weaving.




From Sandra: Gardening has been top of the to-do-list this past week, but a couple of projects are inching along. This tartan-ish plaid blanket is on Mom’s 45″ counterbalance at the studio. The frequent colour changes make for slow progress, and given my somewhat limited stature, an hour of weaving is a major workout. The bright colours remind me of spring flowers.

zucchini flowers anyone? Trying Linda Gilkeson’s early start suggestion.

Aubrieta deltoïdea (purple rock cress) is magnificent this year.


Sandra tartan plain weaved blanked

Double Weave on loom by Kate in progress


Kate Hammond, a new member, stated the following: Our first week of home schooling was definitely … different… first we were treated as an unexpected extension of Spring Break but  we are attempting to fall into some sort of pattern! But I did get a little weaving done! I am on the pattern pick up portion of the double weave sampler. Pattern pick up is both extremely time consuming and also my new favourite thing! But did I mention time consuming? I also made the mistake of letting my kids help me pick the pattern so, fingers crossed, I can work with what they chose! think you can guess what it is yet?



Monk Belt Table Runner on loom in progress by Lisa


Lisa Miki, a new member, shared her experience: I’ve been participating in the Studio’s Beginners Weaving Round Robin Workshop led by Sandra. The loom I dressed is for a monk’s belt short table runner/placemat. It’s been so much fun to weave and I can’t wait to trade it in for another project to learn a new technique! The format of this workshop is perfect for this time of social distancing because we can work on the table looms at home in isolation. But I must say that I’m looking forward to a time when we can all be back in the studio together.





Sweet and cheery plain weave napkins by Genevieve


From Genevieve: My first project completed for the Round Robin Workshop! A sweet and cheery plain weave napkin. I like it so much I may have to make a whole set to coordinate with my gingham picnic blanket! Looking forward to trying the next project….

It’s plain weave, 8/2 cotton.





From Terri B: This is the most recent weaving off my SAORI loom. It was very calming to weave once I was actually able to sit at the loom. It took a few weeks to be able to focus enough and then one day I just decided to start weaving back and forth.

The warp is cotton and linen and the weft is cotton, linen and silk. It washed up beautifully in the washer and dryer and is so soft now (photos are before washing). I’ll be making some type of clothing with it.

Saori weaving by Terri B

Sandra 's dye combo creation called terra-cotta


From Sandra: The last couple of days of April was spent creating a dye combo I’m calling terra-cotta. Two variations are illustrated. Ultimately, it’s for a cotton slub weft to harmonize with the warp stripes pictured. Can you guess which Procion MX dye colours I used? Would you believe orange, purple and scarlet?




Sheila was very busy and weaved 4 throws between January and April 2020.

Patterns were taken from Tom Knisely’s baby blanket pattern book, Jan/Feb handwoven magazine, M&O pattern and plain weave.

4 throws weaved by Sheila

Studio News:

Early April, What’s on the studio looms? The Spring has an 8-shaft Rosepath woven-shibori scarf warp.  The woven-in blue pattern threads are a fast way to mimic a traditional stitched shibori design. Through treadling choices, a variety of patterns is possible. This scarf has two patterns (rosepath diamonds and waves) that alternate (picture 1)

Next step is to pull up the blue threads to compress the underlying plain weave cloth as tightly as possible in preparation for dyeing (picture 2).

The scarf yarn is 8/2 tencel and is readily dyed with Procion MX. After dyeing in a black bath, and removing the blue pattern threads, the shibori pattern is revealed. This is a closeup of the rosepath diamonds section (picture 3).

The final step for this scarf was overdyeing with fuchsia. Soft, supple and warm. Love it (picture 4).

Lessons learned? 1. Tie the pattern threads more tightly to avoid dye leakage that’s evident as horizontal streaking. 2. Normally, the pattern threads are carefully cut at the knots and quickly pulled out. This time, as an experiment, the knots were untied and the pattern threads recovered as a black & blue ikat yarn; very slow, tedious process which doesn’t warrant repeating.

The second scarf woven has three different treadling patterns, and the dyeing process may change. We can dye before pulling up the threads to create the background colour, either by immersion or as painting. Definitely exciting possibilities.


Rosepath shibori scarf woven on 8-shaft loom


More from the studio — the Guild’s Artisat jack loom had an old-fashioned twill tea towel warp with rosepath threading in the stripes. The warp is primarily 8/2 hemp-cotton (unbleached) with 8/2 cotton for the colour stripes. The towel woven uses unbleached cottolin weft to give a subtle “white-on-white” contrast. The previous towel (visible on the cloth beam) has a pale gold cotton weft and a fancier twill treadling. It looks radiant: warm and inviting, like a summer’s day. The towel before that is pale green with dark green stripes. More spring than summer. Who knows what the next variations may be.

Old Fashioned Twill Tea Towel on studio loom


Guild Sale 2020

Fall Fair 2019

Merry Christmas Salt Spring!

Merry Christmas

from the

Salt Spring Weavers and Spinners Guild

After a delightful fall of fibre-filled activities, including a successful guild sale, beginner spinning lessons, and wonderful presentations from guild members and visitors,  the Guild spent the last meeting of the year sharing stories of  past Christmas traditions and present Christmas gifts. Here is just a little taste of that final meeting to share with everyone.


Christmas Collage:christmas-collage-002

Margaret Threlfall 

My collage project this year was designed  to send  a Merry Christmas for family and friends far away.  I would like to share this with the Weavers and Spinners too. If you are in the Country Grocer Cafe, you can see the original.



There is no Father Christmas

Susan Astill

Before moving to Canada, my family, including my sister and I lived in a small village (hamlet) in Warwickshire, the very heart of England.  It was post war Britain and the country was just starting to recover while rationing was still in evidence for such things as sugar.  My brother was not yet a twinkle in my mother’s eye the year I determined that Father Christmas was another hoax intended to make me ‘be good’ if I wished to ensure there was sufficient bounty on Christmas morning.  My sister was two years younger than I and still bought in to the myth.  A week before Christmas, I took her on a quiet hunt through cupboards and wardrobes in our house until we found some of our gifts where they had been hidden ready to wrap.  There were fox fur gloves, warm and soft and hidden in the back of a draw; rather disappointing actually since clothing of any sort was not high on either our lists.

“You see!  I told you so” I said.  “There is no Father Christmas”.


Lovely Christmas gifts from this year’s Guild Sale.

Tradition in England was to put up the tree on Christmas Eve.  That evening, my sister and I took the milk can and walked up to Mr. Campbell’s farm to ‘fetch the milk’.  It was twilight and very cold.  Cow’s breath was steaming out of the barn and we heard the gentle thunder of rich milk hitting the side of the pails as we stepped inside and into the warmth, rich with the smell of hay and sweet milk.  Our pail was filled and we paid our sixpence and started back down the hill toward home.  I was sad that I had spoiled Christmas, both for me and for my sister and remember wondering why I had done that.

It was now very dark as we turned the corner where our cottage came into view.  Suddenly, the cottage windows lit up with colour as our father plugged in the lights on the Christmas tree.

“Look”, said my sister clapping her hands.  “Father Christmas is coming after all”.

That evening, after decorating the tree and following a quick supper, we got into the car and drove to town to deliver our Christmas gifts to our aunties, uncles and cousins.  On our way home with my sister asleep in the back seat, my father turned to me and said “I know you probably don’t believe in Father Christmas any more, but don’t tell your sister; not yet.  Let her enjoy believing for another year”!

“Don’t worry” I said.  “She still believes”.

It was a lovely Christmas.  And though the gloves were wrapped and waiting for us, so were other gifts, proof that even an older sister can sometimes be wrong.


Christmas Gifts




A first attempt a Fair Isle knitting turned out rather well – fortunately for this year’s Christmas gifts! The pattern, called Tourbillon, can be found on Knitty.

I made it with sock-weight superwash from Elderberry Yarns.




 Guild Members

Guild members put endless energy into producing beautiful gifts for the Guild Sale this October. See the photo gallery for more images!





Spinning and Weaving at the Fall Fair

Learning to Spin and Weave at the Fair

Salt Spring Fall Fair spinning!

How long does it take to learn to make yarn on a drop spindle? At the Salt Spring Fall Fair it took about half an hour. Some of the students signed up for more lessons over the winter, and some headed straight for the only fibre vendor at the Fair to stock up on raw materials. See our classes to learn about spinning on Salt Spring.

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