Born and having lived most of my life in Victoria, B.C., I now live and weave on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia in the small rural community of Shirley, population approximately 500, where us humans are but specks in the natural landscape. On my daily walk along the beach and back, I see seals and sea lions, eagles, various sea birds, the occasional whale and once in a while a bear.
I have been involved with fibre related activities for as long as I can remember; starting with being taught by my mother to embroider, knit and sew. For over 30 years I knitted sweaters, sewed clothing, and tried to embroider, and then once my three children had grown up and left home, I discovered weaving….
I started my weaving life in 2008 in my early fifties, when I moved from Victoria to the wilderness, by asking if anyone knew of a weaving teacher. I was lucky enough to find a wonderful weaver who sold me my first loom and gave me my first weaving lessons, I then joined the Sooke Weaver’s Guild….and I was hooked. Since then I have been mostly self-taught, learning from my mistakes, reading everything I can find on weaving, listening to other weavers and attending workshops whenever I can. I am currently working towards my Master Weaver Certificate through the Olds College Master Weaver program.
From the windows of my studio I look out on my garden with its flowers and shrubs and on the towering cedars, firs and hemlocks surrounding me. I see rabbits hopping about on the grassy area outside the studio window and lately more deer than I would like!
I am mostly influenced in my designs by colour and its infinite combinations and how it can be manipulated by weave structure and design. My inspiration for a piece can be the juxtaposition of the petals and the leaves of a flower, driftwood on the beach with a cedar forest backdrop, or just the arrangement of cones of yarn on the wall in my studio. I have learned to see that nature is the perfect colour wheel.
My hand woven items, whether tea towels, placemats, scarves, shawls, jackets or blankets are designed, constructed and finished with their final use in mind, hence tea towels have been washed and dried so as to be easy care and absorbent, scarves have lovely drape, blankets are warm and cosy. I still incorporate my other fibre influences into my work, for example, I often quilt my placemats, placing batting between the hand woven top and the backing fabric in order to have a sturdy mat which stays put on the table.
Each of my pieces is unique. A lot of thought and time goes into the design; choosing the colours and weave structure, winding the warp on the warping reel, dressing the loom, then finally throwing the shuttle and watching the fabric grow.
I hope you will enjoy using my pieces as much as I have enjoyed creating them.
- Fiona McDannold
Designer & Weaver