The Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers celebrated their 35th anniversary in fine style on Thursday April 26 with a tea, exhibit, sale, demonstrations, and a special performance by the Oliver Handbell Ringers. The event was open to the public, and was well-attended. The date was also picked to coincide with BC Arts and Culture Week, and was one of a number of arty gatherings this week.
Visitors were treated to a sit-down tea with sandwiches and sweets. The audience was delighted with the handbell concert, which transformed the event into a multisensory experience!
Many stalls displayed clothing, linens, purses and other accessories, and whimsical items. A collection of spinning wheels stood at one end of the Oliver Community Centre hall where there was also a slide show of various fibre art projects. Weaving and felting were among the live demonstrations.
At left, Gail Erickson weaves using one of the smaller looms on display. A belt perhaps, Gail?
Felted blossoms and leaves were a sure sign of spring.
Cynthia Jones threads her shuttle, working on the largest loom on display.
Terry Irvine soaps up her wet-felted creation, a sheep tea cosy, while an amused Diane Lindsay looks on.
And a busy happy throng of weavers, tea-partiers, and curious onlookers!
Photo Credit: Penelope Johnson
Pictured here, members of the guild are “growing” felted blossoms on willow branches. The finished creation will be a stage decoration during the event’s fashion show.
This guild has some of the most inventive, creative, beautiful … and funny! …spinners and weavers around. The Slow Fibre Fest will be guaranteed to make you gasp with delight, laugh, and reach for your pocket book so you can take those warm and cuddly creations home with you. A fun and educational outing for the whole family.
Photo Credit: Barb Hicks
The crafts of Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers Guild will be the featured exhibit at the Osoyoos Art Gallery during the month of October. Guild members will have their work on display beginning with an opening reception on Saturday, Oct 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. The public is welcome to attend. Some items will be for sale.
The Slow Fibre Fest, sponsored by Desert Sage Spinners & Weavers Guild, is planned for Saturday October 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Seniors Centre on South Main in Penticton. The event will feature and promote the use of natural fibres. Much like the “Slow Foods” movement that champions traditional, healthy, and eco friendly methods of growing and preparing our own foods, the “Slow Fibre” Festival promotes using fibres in traditional, “home-grown” and eco-friendly ways, from raising animals for wool to using eco-friendly dyes. There will be a vendor market, demonstrations of weaving, spinning and felting including display of the Guild’s felted yurt. A fashion show will take place in the afternoon. A fun day for all and admission is free. Refreshments and lunch will be available.
Photo Credit: Val Friesen
Local fibre artist Terry Irvine has completed a creative challenge: designing and creating one new work per day during the month of February. What a great way to beat the February blues!
Here is the second set of photos from her project. Scroll down the page to find the article detailing the first installment.
“The seemingly dye resistant flowers accepted the colour when immersed in my acid dyes. Success!” says Terry.
Here is a whole bouquet of acid dye flower brooches :
Terry completed two sets of hot pads wirth coasters, each in an animal paw design. The first photo shows the blue and white set before the felting process. It was created using thick handspun and a store bought edging yarn after knitting. The next photo shows the set after felting.
The third shows the results of the second set.
Terry comments on the process: “The coasters didn’t felt that easily by hand so I gathered some other things that needed felting and put them all together in the washing machine. The next day the hot pad was ready for felting, but nothing else was. Interestingly enough, the machine felted coasters were thicker and fluffier than the hand felted hot pad, which was surprising and, if ya think about it, opposite how you’d want them for functionality.”
Irvine also tried her hand at felting a water bottle carrier. However, felting is a mysterious process that doesn’t always give you what you expect:
“This was already knitted [before the challenge started], but needed finishing, ends sewn in or twisted for design elements, a border added to finish the top edge and felting and was one of those items added to make a load in the washer worthwhile. Its purpose when knitted was to be a bottle carrier complete with handles.
And here’s a bit of whimsy: “I wanted a container for tissues in the car that could be crushed and otherwise abused and still look good. The final project is smaller than it should be, but I was able to try out my handspun ‘eyelash’ yarn and really like the result. I coulda checked the washing machine sooner, but…….”
Want to comment? Email // and we’ll publish it or forward it to Terry per your request. Are you an OCAC member with a project of your own? Let us know!
“I set myself a couple of goals for the month of February. The first one was to produce a fibre product each day. The second was to document and photograph the products. The third was to upload the photos onto my computer and share them with friends who would like to see my progress and share in the madness. I figured by the end of the month, I’ll have a nice cache of smaller items for the farmers’ market and be more computer literate in terms of uploading and sharing photos.”
Irvine is the founder of The RipOff Artists, a local multi-media co-operative that chooses the work of a famous artist to “rip off” each year, each in their own artistic medium. Terry Irvine works with a variety of yarns, spinning, crocheting, knitting, and felting to create wonderful three-dimensional pieces of art. She was inspired by fellow Rip Off artist Thea Haubrich (of Twin Lakes Encaustic Art) who set herself the goal of doing an encaustic (wax) piece once a day for a month in the spring of 2010.
By the first week’s end, Terry found herself easily mastering the fibre portion of the February Fibre Madness project, but stymied by the computer:
“I’ve an interesting (and annoying) dilemma on my hands.I can get my photos from the camera to the computer, but the computer won’t accept them. A nice little photo preview shows on the computer screen followed by a statement that talks about the program not being initialized. Then the photos disappear. Sigh…..My plan is to call in the professional who is a Mac master in the Oliver area. With any luck he’ll be able to come over this upcoming week. In the meantime, I’m continuing with the knitting, crocheting, spinning, etc. Oh yeah, and the taking pictures.”
Problem quickly solved with phonecalls to some computer-savvy girlfriends, the photos soon arrived. See below for just a few samples from Terry’s daily photo diary:
Photo 4: I hand felted the bowl in about 10 minutes. The red and purple yarns were knitted using a slip stitch pattern. Both yarns shrank up very quickly. I was aiming for a container to put business cards in, but ended up with a bowl that was ever so slightly too small. Back to the drawing board…
Photo 5 and 6: One of several fabric flower designs. The first few Terry made were for brooches. This one, as she describes, “is bigger and meant to hold small objects rather than be worn as a brooch.”
Got the blues? Why not set yourself an artistic challenge!
The Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers hosted the Slow Fibre Festival in Summerland on Saturday October 9, 2010. The festival observed a similar principle as “slow food”: focussing on natural fibres and local fibre producers and artisans. The event, including displays, demonstrations, and sales tables was a huge success. It was a perfect tie-in with the Thanksgiving weekend. Member Gail Erickson says the venue was bursting at the seams with vendors and customers, and they will be looking for a larger location next year. Take a look at some of the photos from the festival, featuring the busy Desert Sagers at work.
Wish you knew how to do this yourself? Join the Guild! Contact the Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers by visiting our “Contact” or “Groups” pages, or by emailing the OCAC at
During the last week of June, the South Okanagan’s RipOff Artists attracted media coverage and crowds of curious onlookers with their fourth annual exhibit, “ripping off” Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris and his iconic Mount Lefroy. During a weeklong demonstration and exhibit, each of the ten artists in the collective interpreted the famous painting in their own medium.
JoAnn Turner turns a CD cabinet into a work of art. Can you see the drawer knobs? Or are they surreal snowballs and mountain rocks?
3-D artist Kurt Hutterli adds the finishing touches to an elaborate installation. Painted egg cartons on the floor give the illusion that his artwork is at the “pinnacle” . The whimsical climbing figures added to Harris’ landscape are adapted from a famous period photograph of Rocky Mountain alpinists.
Kurt Hutterli discusses his tongue-in-cheek demo piece with OCAC member Dot Cranston. Mount Lefroy is painted on the hood of a rusted car, cruched in the shape of a mountain peak. Hutterli wonders (with a twinkle in his eye, of course) if the car perhaps once belonged to Lawren Harris himself?
Photographer Russell Work cleverly reimagines Mount Lefroy as “two-two-two Mounts in one!” His photo installation rotates (much like some modern billboards) to switch from the Lefroy painting to a photo of artist Harris at work on Mount Lefroy.
See a video of the “revolve” in action here:
Collage artist Marion Trimble painstakingly glues strips of fabric and paper onto her piece.
And now for the finished exhibit! Marion Trimble, Enid Baker, Barbara Levant, Russell Work, JoAnn Turner, Terry Irvine (knitter), Diane Birnie, Leo Pedersen, and Thea Haubrich. Missing from photo: Kurt Hutterli.
Photo credits: Russell Work, Thea Haubrich
For more photos, visit Thea Haubrich’s Encaustic Blog: http://encausticcanada.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/finale-ripoff-project-mount-lefroy/
For a fantastic video of the RipOff Artists with Mike Roberts of CHBC, take a look at
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“Tromp as writ”, “Overshot”, “Throw the shuttle” “Tabby”, “Pickup” — these unusual expressions are just a few phrases to be heard in the Desert Sage Spinners and Weavers Guild. Weaving is an age-old art of forming lengths of yarn into cloth. In early human society, weaving satisfied the need for clothing and shelter. Garments and dwellings were constructed from woven animal hair or plant materials. Today, the possibilities are endless with an array of threads, yarns, fabrics, dyes, animal hair, plants, and synthetics – and centuries of creative techniques to draw from.
Desert Sage members practice a number of skills including felting, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and knitting to create works of art. Anyone who likes to work with fibres is welcome to join! The Guild’s sixty members span the South Okanagan and the adjoining Thompson valley.
The Guild holds regular drop-in sessions every Thursday, September to June, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Oliver Community Centre. The monthly business meeting is on the second Thursday of each month beginning at 10 a.m. (same location). There are frequent workshops, demonstrations, exhibits, and sales.
We’re growing! Currently our membership sits at between 65 and 70 artisans. Between four and six new fabric art lovers join the guild per year. You might be one of them!Desert Sage Spinners & Weavers Guild P.O. Box 1473 Oliver, BC V0H 1T0
Our guild is a mixture of ages, backgrounds, lifestyles, skill levels, and artistic preferences. Our common thread is our keen interest in an unusual and somewhat obscure pursuit of yarn and fibre craft. Our crafts are an expression of human ingenuity, a sense of continuity with our past, and linkage with other cultures and generations. The pursuit of excellence in our projects forces us to slow down, pay attention to detail, and allow our creativity to flourish.
Photos by Penelope Johnson
Coming up for the Desert Sage Guild:The Association of NorthWest Weavers’ Guilds Conference “Weaving Waves of Colour” May 29-31 Gonzaga University Spokane Washington
Visit us atSummer Studio July 6 – 11 Opening Reception: Monday 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Displays and Demonstrations: Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Kids Day Activities: Wednesday 10:00 – 12 noon Studio Building, Quail’s Nest Arts Centre