Category Archives: Spinning

Botanical Garden’s Harvest Festival – Sept 3rd

Lots of interest today in the “Blanket Project”, Ursula’s magical tree weaving, and the Dyer’s Garden pokeberry display … Pokeberry pink is becoming the colour of the year!

1 Botanical Garden Display

Trees, grass, and Penny’s canopy helped to provide relief on this very hot September day.

2 Canopy vs Heat

Lynne mesmerizing the public with her beautiful silk rovings.

3 Lynne

Joan demonstrating spinning on her wheel and teaching how to use the drop spindle.

4 Joann

The 12 year old boys loved the drum carder!   Lynda is showing how to blend her shades of indigo to produce a watery looking roving.

5 Lynda with Drum Carder

Ursula and Ann discuss the intricacies of plant and tree weaving.

6 Ursula and Anne


Milling for the ANWG Blanket Project

For three Tuesdays, members of our Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild gathered at Dorothy’s to process and spin local fibre for the ANWG 2017 Blanket Project.


The first step is opening up the fleece with the Patrick Green picker in preparation for carding.


We also tried out Dorothy’s new picker for the first time.


Next comes carding with the electric carder.  First we worked on LaBraun’s grey fleece.


We also started work on a white fleece from Happy Chick Farm.



After two passes through the carder the rough fleece has become a lovely smooth batt.


Andrew was busy with the combs producing some beautiful, soft brown Romney rolags which were given to Roberta to spin.


After being weighed and divided into 4 ounce lots, bags were given out to Guild members to spin.




We also filled bags to distribute at June’s Northern Spin-in.  Helene from the Powell River Guild carded some of the fleece and then took it home to spin.


Joan and Bonnie compared their skeins.


Lynda and Merrily collected and admired the skeins spun so far.  Our blanket will be a special Guild project with contributions by many members.


Heather Apple

Grown and Sewn Close to Home

April 10th was a beautiful sunny day for the Sunshine Coast Fibreshed’s “Grown and Sewn Close to Home” event at the FibreWorks Studio & Gallery in Madeira Park.  Fibre farmers and processors, artists, teachers and fibre art enthusiasts gathered together to meet, network and learn from each other.


There were displays of local fibres and beautifully coloured wool dyed with plants and mushrooms from the Sunshine Coast.



Participants enjoyed Jean Pataky’s display with pictures, descriptions and wool samples from different breeds of sheep.


When Helene Nissle lived in Ontario her Guild did a study of the fleece of different sheep in their area.  Members visited local sheep farmers and collected samples of fleece which were divided up among members who processed and studied the wool from each breed.  Helene then wove the yarn into two weavings.


It was interesting to look at the weavings and see the difference between washed and unwashed wool in the final product and the appearance of various combinations of fibres in the warp and weft.


Members of the Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild gave ongoing demonstrations of carding,





and spinning.


Participants could admire Marie-Claire DeClerck’s beautiful handwoven Fibreshed scarves and shawls while watching her weave with her own handspun yarn.


Doreen MacLauchlan worked on weaving her handspun local alpaca and Shetland wool into a scarf, patterning it in the Fibonacci sequence.



Participants enjoyed meeting rug hookers Mudito Drope and Lynne Hunt.  Lynne started the group Hooked on the Coast in 2013.  Here they show off Lynne’s wall hanging of Icelandic sheep, inspired by her visit to Iceland.



Ron McInnis of Imaginary Image was busy recording the Fibreshed’s first big event (see the April 12 blog to watch his beautiful video).  Here he’s filming Andrew who’s demonstrating carding and spinning beautifully soft local llama fibre.


Two visiting sheep, Razz and George, were a great attraction.  They’re part of Kate Skinner’s flock of 10 sheep that she uses for training sheep dogs.  Kate was delighted to meet fibre users to learn what they’re looking for in a fleece and how she might improve her own fleece.  She was interested to see the whole process of wool preparation from the sheep through carding, spinning, dyeing and making a final garment.


We were delighted that Anna Runnings of Qualicum Bay Fibre Works could come to the Coast for the event.  The mill plays an important role in the Fibreshed.  Anna processes all fibres and does washing, picking, carding into rovings or batts, pindrafting and spinning.


Local sheep owner Wendy Gilbertson shows off some of her Shetland wool that was washed and carded at Qualicum Bay Fibre Works.


Catherine Simpson of Kensington Prairie Farm raises suri and huacaya alpacas.  She brought her beautifully soft yarn, rovings and fleece.


The Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild and the Fibreshed are planning a display for the 2017 ANWG (Association of Northwest Weavers’ Guilds) Conference in Victoria, British Columbia.  The project will be a blanket made with local fibre, local dyes, washed, carded, spun, dyed and woven by local artisans.  Deanna Pilling wove a beautiful shawl out of her handspun local fibre as a trial run and as a display at our event.


In the summer of 2013 some members of the Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild planted and dyed with Japanese Indigo for the first time (see October 5, 2013 blog).  Since then, Japanese Indigo has been an important part of our Fibreshed dyeing.  To further encourage growing and dyeing with this wonderful dye plant we gave out free seedlings and instruction sheets.


Everyone enjoyed the delicious nibbles and refreshments made by local cooks from local ingredients – Fibreshed flatbread, rhubarb punch, kale chips, borlotti bean dip, homemade goat cheese, pesto, salmon, muffins and devilled eggs.  Fibreshed team members Deanna Pilling, Lynda Daniells and Merrily Corder show off Deanna’s delicious Fibreshed flatbread.




As part of the networking that took place, Noelline Bellemare of the Ecole du Pacifique met sheep and llama owners and Fibreshed team members who were happy to help with a project of taking her Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes to a farm to meet animals and  follow up with demonstrations of carding and spinning.  It’s so important for young people to experience where their clothes come from and how they are made.


Participants enjoyed and learned from the displays.



There was lots of communication and sharing among artisans, fibre producers and school teachers.



Our Fibreshed team members were kept busy answering peoples’ many questions.



Kate Skinner summed up the event, “It was a fun, informative day with a group of friendly, welcoming people.  I learned a huge amount.” It was a wonderful day with participants feeling an increased enthusiasm and commitment to make responsible clothing choices that support local sustainability and protect the environment.

Heather Apple

Video for “Grown and Sewn Close to Home” Event

On April 10 our Fibreshed hosted its first big event at Yvonne’s FibreWorks Studio & Gallery. “Grown and Sewn Close to Home” was a wonderful day of learning, networking and fun (details will be upcoming in a blog).  Ron McInnis of Imaginary Image made this beautiful video that captures the heart and soul of the event.

Spin-in at the Yurts

Once a month Guild members gather for our northern spin-in at Yvonne Stowell’s beautiful FibreWorks Studio and Gallery in Madeira Park.  On a windy rainy day we gathered in the yurt which is Yvonne’s studio and set to spinning with our assorted wheels.




We knitted, carded, visited and shared our creative ideas.



And then the sun came out and shone gloriously so after our delicious potluck lunch we moved outside.


Yvonne is the Fibreshed’s first certified vendor.  She currently sells wool from Oscar, Bessie, Y and Z – alpacas on Thormanby Islands, and from Angel, Bertuzi and Makari – llamas in the Pender Harbour area.  This is one of the joys of the Fibreshed – we can know and see pictures of the animals that produce the wool we spin and make our creations from.  Yvonne also dyes the wool using both natural and Gaywool dyes and spins it into beautiful, deliciously soft yarn.  Visitors from around the world come to FibreWorks and many happily leave with skeins of wool for knitting.  Here, Yvonne, Lynda and Merrily admire the locally produced wool that Yvonne stocks.


Yvonne dyes some of the wool with natural dyes.  On the left is Oscar’s wool dyed with Dyer’s Polypore.  Next is wool dyed with Japanese indigo (vinegar method) that Yvonne grew on her deck last summer.  The wool on the right is dyed with lungwort, a lichen that falls off the branches of broad leaf maples and litters the ground beneath the trees.


The beautiful brown and white wool of Angel the llama (who is spotted) makes an interesting and fun base for dyeing.  The brightly coloured skein was dyed with Gaywool dyes and is predominantly white fibre.  The darker skeins are a mixture of Angel’s medium and dark brown fibres.  The purple skein was dyed with logwood, which is darker in some areas than others based on the amount of lighter vs darker coloured fibres.


Here are the wools in their natural colours.  On the right is a slouch hat Yvonne knitted from Oscar’s wool.


And here Lynda models Oscar’s hat.


It was a wonderful day of fun, good company and inspiring fibre activities.

Heather Apple

The Three Circles – The Spinning Circle

Over the past years our Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild and its project the Sunshine Coast Fibreshed have brought together some special gatherings/circles of women deeply connected by their love of fibre.  The Fibreshed search for local fleece, local dyes and the artisans who transform them into products of special quality and design has taken us on a wonderful fibre journey.

Our  Fibreshed’s undertaking to source out local fibres from Langdale to Lund brought about not only a new awareness as to how we clothe ourselves but also a desire among many members to explore in depth the basics of from Soil to Skin or from Sheep to Shawl.  We realized that we needed to know about each of the unique breeds of sheep, goats, alpacas and llamas that share the Sunshine Coast Fibreshed with us and how to choose, prepare and spin the right yarn for that perfect project.


We have put into place three circles of women working together and sharing their individual knowledge in the preparation, spinning and weaving of fibre – the Fibre Circle, the Spinning Circle and the Weavers Circle.

Personally I am deeply focused on the Icelandic sheep and was pleased to be part of the Fibre Circle where four Icelandic sheep fleeces were laid out on tables at the FibreWorks Studio & Gallery and Yvonne and Jeannie instructed us in the skirting, sorting, washing, combing and carding of raw fleece.  (See video Dec 29, 2014 and blog Dec 30, 2014).


As the actual spinning was a weak link in my fibre art abilities, I was delighted when members organized a Spinning Clinic to be conducted by Birgit, our very own Olds College Master Spinner.  We gathered together for our first Spinning Clinic fortuitously during the week of St. Distaff’s/Roc Day where in many European traditions women resumed their household work after the twelve days of Christmas (Epiphany).  The distaff, a medieval symbol of women’s work, is a tool which holds the unspun fibres (usually flax), keeping them from becoming tangled.  Spinning was an essential activity then as it was the only means of turning raw wool, flax or cotton into thread which could then be woven into cloth.  Women carried their spindles with them during the day and used their wheels in the evening.

3St. Distaff's day

Although centuries may have passed since those medieval times, as contemporary women we were eager to gather our wheels, our fibres and get back to the spinning that matters so much to us even today.  Three Spinning Clinics were held over the first months of 2015 in members’ homes where Birgit talked about fibre supply, carding, equipment, wheel ratios and tension.


The techniques of woollen and worsted spun yarns, plying from a bobbin and using an Andean method of plying were all covered and demonstrated by Birgit. We also learned about spinning balanced yarns, making a skein with a niddy noddy and the washing of the finished yarn.  We thank Birgit for sharing her spinning knowledge and Jana and Lynda for sharing their homes with such an enthusiastic group of brand new and older members of the Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild.


As well as the Spinning Clinics an essential part of our Circle of Spinners is our Spin-ins.  Once a month spinners gather in the home of one of our members who lives in the southern part of our lower Coast.  We spin, knit, card, share what we know and carry out that age old tradition of women coming together to work and visit.  Once a month we also gather for our northern Spin-in at Yvonne Stowell’s beautiful FibreWorks Studio & Gallery.  There in Yvonne’s studio in one of the yurts we sit in a circle, happily surrounded by fibre and looms, taking a break at noon to enjoy a gourmet potluck lunch.


Now it is up to me to take this knowledge back to my studio and home and take my Icelandic wool from raw fleece to beautiful hand spun yarn from which I shall weave a special garment to show at our Fibres Plus Sale in November.  I love the deep feeling of a re-connection to the spirit of all the women who have gone before me on this fibre journey.

Deanna B. Pilling
Photos by Lynda D, Deanna B. Pilling, Yvonne Stowell

Distaff Day, Wikipedia

Suggested Reading
The Spinner’s Book of Fleece, a Breed-by-Breed Guide to Choosing and Spinning the Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose, Beth Smith, Storey Publishing
The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, More than 200 Fibers from Animal to Spun Yarn, Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, Storey Publishin

Spinning Clinic – a Gathering

Winter – that time of year when we slow down after creating a warm and loving environment for our friends and family and gather to share gifts, food and warm memories of another Holiday Season.  That time has passed for another year and now that we are starting to stir in our creative spirits we are pleased to get the call for the first gatherings of the year of the Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers Guild.  This is a time when we come together at each other’s homes to share in a common interest and in the news of our Guild community.  For me, my Guild also provides a connection to a grassroots fibre community and allows me to contribute to the preservation of the craft in my area.


Twice a month members of our Guild gather in each other’s homes for a general Spin In. This gathering, however, is in addition to those – a meeting to plan a course of study and exploration in hand spinning.  On January 14th six members gathered at Birgit Rasmussen’s warm and cozy home to share creative camaraderie and learn the finer details of our craft of hand spinning from a Guild member and Master Spinner Birgit (right in photo) who gained her Master Spinners certification from Olds College, Alberta.  This fine program also offers a Master Weavers certification.  Our Guild is gifted to have a few Masters among our membership, who graciously share their knowledge.


As spinners, we gathered to plan what we want to explore under Birgit’s expert teaching – hand carding, spinning in the woollen and worsted systems, the long draw, spinning flax, Navajo plying, wheel ratios for twist per inch (TPI), spinning and preparation of exotic fibres such as silk, cotton, banana, soya, casein, sea cell, etc. and techniques for blending fibres and colours in carding and spinning.  While the focus of the Fibreshed is on local fibres these practices will add greatly to the overall goal to create beautiful clothes.

Now to share with you the members and the diversity of hand spinning skills we were exploring and planning that day.

Here, Joan F is working with a Tibetan Spindle.


She does the finest of spinning on her Peacock Wheel using Aurelia’s Merino/Silk top. We all marvel at her thread-like spinning which she will then ply into the finest of yarns.


Merrily holds up the beautiful skein of Corriedale which she has just spun with the lovely Majacraft Little Gem wheel that she purchased from a past member.


Some members who do not spin or are waiting to learn bring their knitting to Spin Ins. Here Debbie is knitting up thrums into a new project.


Joan R and her husband spent three months this summer trailering across Canada. She kindly brought Merrily’s new wheel back from La Scie, Newfoundland from our loved past member Celeste.  Joan also spins on a Majacraft Little Gem and here she is spinning a Merino/Silk top.


This past year Roberta worked on many fibres and local dyes and created a beautiful Dyer’s Garden (See Blogs Aug/Sept 2013).   Roberta uses a Lendrum wheel and here she is showing her beautiful carded roving of hand dyed Alpaca from Thormanby Island – our very first local fibre for our Fibreshed.  She dyed this alpaca with an alum mordant and logwood.


Here Roberta shows her handspun Merino, mordanted with alum and dyed with Rudbeckia flowers (black-eyed Susan/coneflower “Cherry Brandy”) from her Dyer’s Garden.


Last but not least meet Sasha, Birgit’s good buddy, another lovely older gal who is comfortably curled up at the foot of Roberta’s wheel for her snooze while enjoying the pleasant hum and motion of the spinning wheel.


We look forward to sharing more information on the progress our Spinning Clinic over the next few months.  We have room for seven more to join in this Spinning Clinic commencing early February.

Words and pictures by Deanna B. Pilling