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While Master of Living Tradition Hélène Blouin cannot imagine ever being done learning about the art and craft of fléché, she has reached a high level of expertise, and is committed to passing on her knowledge.
This month in Common Threads: a virtual tour, a commemoration of those lost to COVID-19, a piece on a now-extinct fibre dog, upcoming Local Yarn Store Day, and a fascinating thread on the business of knitwear design.
Inspired by a project one of designer Laurie Dolhan’s students embroidered, this pattern features the simplest stitches combining to convey a most powerful sentiment: welcome.
Throughout history, we as human beings have spun, woven, knit, and stitched intention and love into our everyday. Nothing says home to me like the simple softness and comfort of handmade fibres.
When COVID-19 restrictions went into effect in March, 2020, craft shops were hit hard. Owners scrambled to get products and classes online, working unimaginably long days, pivoting on the head of a pin to serve their customers, all while under pressure from shifting restrictions, growing demand, and the looming threat of supply-chain interruptions. As we approach the anniversary of the start of our collective pandemic experience, we caught up with shop owners from across Canada.
“Holding up okay and doing well are rather different,” writes Yarns Untangled owner Amelia Lyon. “The truth is that lockdowns for this small business are a bit of a mixed bag. It is a boon that we are in the internet age and we can reach our customers through the wonders of online shopping, social media, and direct email campaigns. It was enlightening to discover just how much could be accomplished with a smart phone and an internet connection.”
The Textile Museum of Canada is an intriguing destination for fibre and textile lovers, whether you are interested in weaving, beadwork, rug hooking, knitting, quilting, historical pieces or contemporary artwork. While the museum is closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions, let’s take a virtual tour.
Our February Studio Hours will feature Indigenous bead artist Malinda Gray in conversation with writer Michelle Woodvine, followed by small-group discussion and crafty catch-ups. Join us!
“Each night as I sit in my living room I am not simply cross-stitching, not simply moving my needle across the canvas. I am also continuing this sacred art form and paying homage that I know my great-grandmother would have been proud of.”
I learned recently that the word “poetes” in ancient Greek, as used to describe Homer, actually meant “maker.” Maybe this is why I’ve always felt, as a writer of words and maker of tangible objects, close to my zayde, though he died before I was born.
“Grannie’s the reason that I make my living in craft. Not just because she taught me the fundamentals, but as a direct result of a story I was told…”
“As an Anishinaabe Ojibway kwe (woman) I have been taught that we need to live by sharing our gifts,” writes Malinda Gray. “My gift is beading, and I practice the Anishinaabe philosophy of Mino-Biimaadiziwin, or living the good life. In line with this life philosophy I must share my gift for it to grow.”
“I knew enough about Canada’s history to know that the story is almost always told from the perspective of what we in the writing world refer to as an unreliable narrator—a very white, very colonial narrator.” When Dan Levy invited his Instagram followers to take the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Canada course, our writer eagerly signed up.
Links to courses, articles, and papers about Indigenous beading practices, history, and artwork; and a starter list of Indigenous beaders to follow.
“We offer actors a variety of silk and merino under layers when setting costumes in their trailers,” explains costume designer Jennifer Haffenden. “They layer up with sometimes three sets of under layers before they get their costumes on.”
A peek behind the scenes of Wynonna Earp stars and crewfilming in snowy Alberta, Canada.
WATCH: Artist Caitlin Ffrench on how she got started doing textile work for television shows and movies, an item she knit 16 times for a show, and the time she hid under a table to make a broken vintage sewing machine appear as if it was working.
Jennifer Haffenden, costume designer for the TV series Wynonna Earp, sent us a list of Canadian artists and products she likes to use.