Gabriola Working Group Report (Dec 2023)

Gabriola Fibreshed Working Group Report

We have had a busy fall, working on our own various projects, traveling, and planning for a big event in the New Year.

We gathered once to brake and hackle our flax. Oops! Turns out to be the most labour intensive step so far – we didn’t get much done, but have worked out the steps and hope to have an outdoor public flax braking party in the spring. Meanwhile, pod member Christi York used some of the tow from the hackling to make paper and turned it into a sculptural form, which is quite exciting. Christi has a lot of expertise in basketry and has worked with Sharon Kallis in the past. Some of you may have caught Christi’s show at the McMillan Art Centre in Parksville in October.

Yarrow Koontz spent a month traveling in Japan, and was able to take a week-long course in indigo dyeing and shibori with Bryan Whitehead. We are eagerly anticipating seeing all her samples and photos of the trip. As Yarrow was already very proficient in indigo dyeing we can’t wait to see her new work.

Last week Francine McCabe came to Gabriola to read from her book “Fleece and Fibre: Textile Producers of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands” at our branch of the VIRL. There was a good turnout and lots of buzz about using local fibres.

Our big news is that our pod received a grant from the Islands Trust to participate in Gabriola 2050, the community consulting process for a new official community plan. We will be asking questions about the role textiles will play in our vision of the future, using the soil to soil model of the Fibershed. ie. How can it be made easier for farmers to get their fleeces to processors, how can changes in zoning help makers produce their goods? How can we reduce textile consumption and waste? We will be using Amy Twigger Holroyd’s Fashion Fictions engagement model to encourage participants to use their imaginations to arrive at creative solutions to these and other questions. (Amy’s website is – lots to explore there.)

The event will take place at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre over the weekend of January 26-28, 2024. There will be an exhibit of textiles and art we have made using only Gabriola materials, as well as the visioning session. Off island visitors welcome!

Alyssa Semczyszyn

And coming up before we know it will be Thrums Winter Solstice event, featuring pod member Alyssa Semczyszyn and Wayne Mercier’s collaborative sound and textile performance. I don’t understand the technology involved, but contact mics on Alyssa’s spinning wheel and loom create the beats, and generate part of the visuals, while Wayne creates an immersive sonic environment. Not a fibreshed event per se, but the yarns Alyssa spins and weaves are of local fleece, and I believe the audio loops incorporate island sounds.

Image shows Alyssa wearing a skirt, top and shawl that she spun, dyed and wove herself from Gabriola fleece. Well done, Alyssa!