From Fibre to Fashion at the Fair

by | Sep 2, 2018 | Uncategorized

blue ribbon cabbage

Fine weather and the promise of home made pie made for a busy day at the Light House Country Fall Fair.  The Qualicum Weavers and Spinners has been a part of this annual event for many years.  We put on a display of textiles and bring along spinning wheels and looms to demonstrate our craft.

Lamb Chops on Hand spun Yarn

“Fibre to Fashion” is written on the sign above the door that leads to our display.  It reminds us that a textile doesn’t materialize as a whole but is created from simple products by a few basic processes.  Automation and computerization might obscure the links but when you strip away the machines you will find the same basic spinning, knitting and weaving activities.  It is particularly rewarding to show the process to people and note the Aha! moment when they realize that they have just seen yarn and cloth being made by hand.

We usually pick a theme for our display and this year our theme was “Sheep to Shawl”.  It was a tongue in cheek tribute to an old contest.  As most of you will be aware “Sheep to Shawl” refers to a contest in which teams work against a deadline to turn raw fleece into a hand woven shawl.  There are variations to the contest but it usually involves a team of spinners and a weaver, a pre-warped loom and a fleece that must be carded and spun.  The team’s effort is judged on how complete the shawl is by the deadline, the quality of spun yarn and the quality and level of difficulty of the weaving.

fluffy on a fancy wrap

Our tribute didn’t involve any raw fleece but we did have sheep, shawls, spinners and weavers.  In fact we had a whole herd of sheep, include many rare and unusual breeds and even a celebrity sheep called “Lamb Chops”.  The latter drew a lot of interest from those old enough to remember the famous comedy team of Lamb Chops and Sherry Lewis

lamb in a cozy wool shawl

“real” wool lamb

honeycomb shawl

It is always interesting to see how individuals interpret the same idea.  The shawls in our display covered quite a different range of materials, design ideas and techniques.  There were cozy winter shawls in neutral coloured wool, bright patterned shawls in rayon, and wool blend shawls with textural effects.  There were dressy shawls that call out for that little black dress, lace knit shawls made with hand spun yarn and nuno-felted shawls on a silk chiffon base.

nuno-felted shawl
pair of knitted shawls


The fair includes contests for needlework including weaving.  In addition, The Qualicum Weavers and Spinner’s Guild sponsors a special contest for a hand woven shawl.  Some of our members came home with ribbons as a reminder of the fair.  The photo below is shows the prize winning shawl. It is an interesting blend of yarns in the warp that give it a neutral but still lively colour.  The shawl drapes beautifully and has a soft texture.

September is a busy month for our guild.  General monthly meetings resume on Sept 24th at Qualicum Commons.  A new study group is forming and existing study groups are getting together after the summer break.  Later in the month we will be hosting an Open Studio as part of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Active Aging Program.  Check out our “events” listing for more information.

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