Two weeks ago, we were showing our visitors around Fort Langley, stopping first at the National Historic Site then over to the Langley Centennial Museum to see an exhibit on WW1. As we approached the museum, I noticed some of the railings and trees had been covered with what could best be described as scarfs! Odd for such a hot time of year.
What I didn’t realize was that the Langley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild had a new exhibition inside – Fiber Arts A-Z.
Yarn Bombing aka Guerilla Knitting: The action or activity of covering objects or structures in public places with decorative knitted or crocheted material, as a form of street art.
The exhibition featured a number of textile artifacts created by members of the Langley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild. Artists were asked to represent all the letters of the alphabet using their art.
“Our organizing committee wanted to have an exhibition that would include as many of our 100+ members as possible. We liked the “A-Z” concept for that reason. Our guidelines were minimal. The artists were asked to pick a letter (or several, if they wished) and interpret that letter in the fibre art of their choice. Some people chose to join forces; others worked alone. They were also asked to provide a short statement on the project to accompany their pieces. I think the latitude we provided created an eclectic and interesting exhibition.” – Ann Embra, LWSG
The choices were not as obvious as one might imagine. For instance, I would have used Crochet for the letter C. But rather, they had used Cats (needle felting), Clun Forest (a blanket woven from the wool of the artist’s flock – Clun Forest being a breed of sheep), and Core Spinning (spinning for heavily textured yarn – a specific technique).
You can imagine the challenge for finding words and artifacts for X and Z! A task the artists mastered beautifully – Z is for Zombies, of course!
The Fibre Arts A-Z Exhibition features many items that young and old will enjoy looking at. One of the most unusual items I saw were miniature animals that seemed to have been knitted. They were in fact felted. I was later told they were a big hit with children as they are actually made using yarn made from cat or dog hair, respectively. No, it’s not as gross as it seems. After all, these artists are spinners. They would probably use all kinds of materials to create yarn.
“The little animals (A for Angora, B for Birds, C for Cats and D for Dogs) were not knitted. They are needle felted. This is a technique of dry felting wool, using very sharp barbed needles. The sculptures are built up in layers – usually wool, but in the case of the angora rabbit and goat, the cats and the dogs, hair from these animals has been incorporated with the wool. The artist, Carol Funnell, has created pieces for people using the hair of their pets.” – Ann Embra, LWSG
Did you know that angora, the soft yarn used in making some sweaters, is actually made with Angora rabbit fur?
The purpose of the Langley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild is to promote, educate, encourage, inspire and improve the skills of their members through spinning, weaving, dyeing, felting and knitting. Established in 1971 under the sponsorship of the Langley Arts Council, they go into the community to promote their art by demonstrating, giving workshops or exhibiting their work. There was a weaving demonstration on the day we visited the museum but we missed it by a few minutes.
The Guild meets on the third Tuesday of each month at The Sharon United Church Hall. Annual membership is $20. You don’t have to be a textile artist to join. Remember, their purpose is to educate. They run workshops! The next meeting is September 19 at 7:30pm.
The Langley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild Gallery Show 2017 runs until October 25, 2017 at the Langley Centennial Museum – Fort Langley. Entrance to the museum is free but donations are gratefully accepted.
*And mark your calendars for what promises to be a good start on your Christmas shopping. The LWSG will be holding an Artisans’ Sale on November 3 & 4 at the West Langley Community Hall (9400 208th Street). The sale will include fibre arts from their members as well as pieces from artisans working in other disciplines such as pottery and leather.
More information on the current Gallery Show and the upcoming Artisans’ Sale can be found on their website at lwsg.org.
Thanks to Ann Embra and the Langley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild for graciously providing the images for this article.