Stewed Rhubarb Handmade

Monday, February 10, 2014

Erika is a weaver, wife, and a mother to a beautiful baby girl, living in Lloydminster, Alberta. She began spinning her own yarn and found herself longing to expand in this amazing and creative art form. Her one-of-a-kind baby wraps are crafted with love, inspired by either her client's visions or her own creative ideas. Each is unique and special. Her passion for this craft is truly inspiring, I couldn’t be more excited to have her featured on the blog! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your education – anything you wish to share! I grew up on Vancouver Island, and have since travelled to Australia a couple of times for extended trips, and spent nearly a year in New Zealand as well. I've had the pleasure of a good foundation in wine education while abroad as a part of an employment opportunity, and have always gravitated towards fine food and hospitality in my professional life. My most recent adventure was as the Coordinator of an Event Department for a local college, and it was an extremely rewarding gig.

How did you get into to weaving and how long have you been creating your beautiful wraps? I've been crocheting as long as I can remember, and took up spinning my own yarn several years ago. I threw myself headlong into learning how to process fleece (washing, picking,carding, dying, blending, spinning and  selling my own yarns), the summer I was pregnant with my little daughter, Pearl. Weaving sort of came naturally in that context, at least insofar as I was curious to expand my knowledge of how to make end-use products out of my creations. I decided to buy a very simple type of loom called a rigid heddle, just after she was born, as it was something I could play around with while she just spent the day laying beside me watching things. As my skills developed and she grew, we picked up a floor loom, and I set up a play area in our garage, so we could spend time out there with the summer sun coming in through the open door. It was a really serendipitous way to spend our first summer together!

What inspires you? Wow, where to even begin? I suppose the most wide ranging source of creative energy comes to me from the environment. I've had the pleasure of living in many different climates and terrains, so the seasons, and their weather patterns, always interest me. Living in the prairies, I'm always in awe of the sky - you can watch the weather change through the day, and I find that so fascinating, having lived in the trees and mountains my whole childhood. Even at night, the northern lights are amazing, and with so little light pollution, the stars are incredible. I think it's hard not to be influences by the forces of nature around us, and I happen to be particularly intrigued by the weather.

What is the best advise someone has ever given you? "Sample sample sample", which means, do small batches of things to test them out and make sure you have some kind of handle on what you're doing. Obviously I resented this very much because I was overly eager to dive into a huge project, so I resisted at first! Luckily my very early projects were at least mildly successful, so I continued relatively free of major frustration or catastrophe, and now I actually so sample often. As I progressed it became more of an enjoyable part of the process, and less of a hassle!

How do you balance home life and your business? Two words: Cleaning Lady! And even in saying that, I'm not sure I'm the brightest shining example of balanced homemaker! Haha! I mean, you've been here, we're not living in squalor, but I'm no June Cleaver either. We are a young family, both working from home to some extent, and with not much family living near us, so we don't have a particularly regimented life. We just go with the flow and try to keep things organized.

What do you love most about what you do? The feeling of having made something, from thin air – well, from yarn and stuff, but you catch my drift. I love the idea that the work outlast the creative flow I was feeling in the process of putting it together. It’s like a tangible keepsake of the energy that was experiencing at the time.

What intrigued you about this beautiful art form? I guess the sheer complexity of the craft intrigued me even from the time I was a little kid, going to the museum and seeing the 'old timey' displays with looms and wheels. I never really worked out how the looms 'made' the cloth, and I can remember being very small and thinking that it was a big deal, and something sort of magical that the big grown up at the machine could possibly know how to make the strings turn into fabric (How could anyone know THAT MUCH stuff!? About one thing? It was mindblowing!). And here I am, all growed up, somehow having at least a rudimentary grasp of said magic. Kind of neat!

Could you tell us about the equipment you use? Sure, I have quote a collection of fibre processing tools and pieces of equipment, but the two main, erm, things? I use to weave right now are a couple of floor looms. They're both Canadian made, by a company called LeClerc, from maple grown in Quebec. Many of the zillion little accessories I have are of the same company, while I do have some shuttles and odds and ends from other manufacturers. I use a brand of yarn also produced in Canada, called Maurice Brassard. I buy a specific gauge of cotton yarn for my warps, and then use a few different things for weft, so my customers have options, and I get to keep things interesting, and my pieces varied and unique, even though they're all of somewhat the same dimensions.

What type of music do you enjoy listening to when you working or needing inspiration? The garage workshop is always turned to CKUA (a radio station out of Edmonton/Calgary), just because it's not the same old crap on every other radio station. When I'm working on mending or sitting down to plan projects, I usually listen to CBC inside the house. Working at the computer, I love listening to the web feed of Radio3. I have found some awesome Canadian music on Radio3, so when I weave and need headphones to tune out the clatter, and actually hear the music, I listen to albums I've discovered via Radio3. I'm really digging Austra right now!

What is your favorite time of the day and why? I'm definitely and evening dweller. I guess it comes from working supper shifts at restaurants, but I love to sleep late, go for a run or bike ride, come home, eat something super nourishing, and then get to work. Things are a bit different now with baby in tow, but she conforms to that schedule surprisingly well!

What is some advice you would give to someone wanting to pursue a creative art form or be an entrepreneur? The advice I'd offer is not to take advice from me! Haha! My business is still in it's infancy so I have no business giving anyone any real guidance here. I guess the one element I can speak to with some degree of confidence is that it's super important to thoroughly research the legislative side of what you're planning to do. Do you have a good understanding of the taxes/reporting/personal liability/corporate legalities? You can grow as an artist over time within your spectrum of work, but if you do a sloppy job of setting up your entity, you could run into debilitating problems down the road. This has been a big focus for me because the items I produce fall into a category of manufacturing called Durable Infant Goods that is becoming heavily regulated, and includes cribs, strollers, car seats and things like that. So I'm obligated to conform to certain standards and practices. I'm happy to do it as I believe it's for the greater good, but it's something that has to be done with care as not to overlook a simple detail that could result in big troubles.


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