The Langley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild hosts its annual show and sale Oct. 29 and 30.

Langley guild members’ skills woven through history

Local weavers and spinners keep fabric arts alive.

Maureen Dones heads outside each morning to feed, water and tend her yarn supply.

The Langley woman has kept llamas since 2000 and they in turn provide her with soft fibre that she spins and weaves into yarn.

She is a member of the Langley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild and one of the organizers behind Beyond Fibre Artisan Sale, the annual guild show and sale on Oct. 29 and 30.

The event is juried with the guild approving every offering.

Even the vendors – offering jewelry, art, pottery, cards, preserves, leather work, soaps, woodturning, and more made by local artists – are vetted.

The care taken in organizing the event is why people literally flock to see what’s on offer.

“We have line ups at the doors at 10 o’clock in the morning,” Dones noted.

The guild show and sale normally takes place in early November, but had to be moved up because of venue availability.

What greets people entering the Fort Langley Community Hall is a sea of colour in the yarns and handmade items. The annual event runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“We have people who come back every year,” she said. “You can buy hand-spun skeins so the knitters love to come for this.”

The guild’s spinners and weavers don’t simply fill tables with some sweaters, toques and skeins of wool.

There’s unique woven, knitted, spun and felted items handcrafted for the body and the home. One person makes journals with hand-felted covers, another will be bringing her Santa figurines that use all manner of different woven and handspun fabrics.

There’s also demonstrations throughout, door prizes, a silent auction, the wool room for supplies and equipment, and more.

Though called the Langley guild (learn more at lwsg.org), this group features members from beyond. They number about 100 in all.

“We have members from Chilliwack and actually even farther than Chilliwack,” Dones explained.

There’s members out as far as White Rock and even former residents on Vancouver Island who maintain memberships.

Most are women (there’s a handful of men in the guild) and range in age from their 40s to 80s, but younger people in their 20s and 30s are showing interest, Dones said.

“We have a lot of very talented members are in their 70s or 80s,” she said.

Most members fit in both categories – they spin and weave. The group also welcomes knitters who get involved so they can create their own yarns.

Members decide which fibres to use and what kind of pieces to create. Dones likes mixing her llama fibre with some sheep’s wool for elasticity. She’s also a knitter who does felting.

“Probably most of the things are wool,” she said of guild creations. “Cotton’s very popular. There’s bamboo. There’s silk.”

Dones said many members – whether they enjoy spinning and weaving, felting and knitting – find the activities peaceful and like meditation.

A lot of the members also enjoy the ties to history. They welcome connecting with other members to learn and share, and the trade magazines which often include history articles.

Dones said one member recently purchased a Canadian production wheel, a six-foot tall spinning wheel. It was used for a century in Quebec from the mid-1800s.

“It spins very fast so it’s good for producing a fine fibre and producing it fast,” Dones explained.

She added that members often try to find the devices from the past and refurbish them for use to keep alive historical skills. Raising their own fibre-supplying animals also provides some members that link to a past when people had to produce from scratch the clothing on their backs.

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