We now have a shop!
And I'm resurrecting this blog! So, here's a long yarn about how Vancouver Yarn came to be and where it's going...
Almost seven years ago Vancouver Yarn began as a one-page website containing a list of the yarn shops located in Vancouver proper, and I originally made it for myself, really. I was tired of bouncing all over the internet looking for the yarn shop that was closest to me at any particular time. As soon as I made that list I couldn't help but be perpetually thinking of ways that I could make this online destination even more comprehensive and useful for other local yarnies, so It wasn't long before it became the full-blown textile resource that it is today.
Since Vancouver Yarn's beginnings I've become a bit of a textile junkie, and a bit of a nomad too. After completing a diploma in the (recently cut) Textile Art Department at Capilano University I moved to Montreal where I completed a Bachelor of Fine Art in the Fibres and Material Practices program at Concordia University (my two-year diploma from Capilano was transferrable) and am now residing in the New York Metropolitan area where my family and I will stay for a total of five years while my partner completes his doctorate in Urban Education at the City University of New York. It has been a bit of a whirlwind trying to get settled in this crazy place for the past two years with our now toddler. With him going to preschool in the fall I suddenly have the opportunity to plan on doing things! I don't quite believe it's true yet, but among my grand plans is the intention to spend a lot more time making and teaching.
So here's where I tell you how I've been negotiating how to continue to be involved in the Vancouver textile scene from afar: I originally really backed off from being overtly incorporated in Vancouver Yarn's brand, even before I moved away. I've always thought of it as a community resource that is very separate from me and my own practice. But recently that self-imposed rule dissipated as I began to feel more settled in knowing what my practice is. Currently my primary media are tapestry weaving and natural dyeing, and I don't see that changing any time soon. My first taste of tapestry weaving was in 2008 in my first semester at Cap with my wonderful instructor, Anthea Mallinson, and then I didn't revisit it until exactly two years later at Concordia University for a project where I made a makeshift tapestry loom (with tension control!) out of a folding chair as a way to articulate how I am constantly thinking about how the history of textiles informs my perception of my surroundings. Then last year something made it stick, I found the perfect portable loom by Mirrix Looms. Portability is key for me, even for my 38" Mirrix Loom, because as part of my practice I weave in public, and even more pertinent I live in a shoebox (as most people in NYC do). My relationship with Mirrix Looms began when I was invited to participate in their social market program where I was given a loom in exchange for blogging on their website. What I love about these looms is that they are made for real tapestry weaving. That means I can adjust warp tension, there is a shedding device (or two), I can change my warp sett from project to project, they stand upright on a table and 16" loom sits comfortably in your lap, and they are sexy to boot. So, for over a year I've returned to tapestry in a serious way and I've never been happier as an artist. For the first time since my days in the textile art program, where my brain was filled with literally hundreds of possible ways to make and manipulate textiles I am feeling settled in choosing one medium to focus on in my practice.
What this means for Vancouver Yarn
I want to stay connected to the Vancouver textile scene and I will be returning there permanently one day soon, so in the meantime I plan of sharing my love for tapestry weaving in the following ways:
- Vancouver Yarn now offers Mirrix Looms!
- I am offering tapestry weaving classes in Greater Vancouver and on the Sunshine Coast at least once a year starting this summer when the first round begins on July 10th (see the shop).
- Also stay tuned for ready-to-hang tapestries, tapestry weaving kits with hand-dyed yarn, and beautiful weaving tools in the online shop, too.
- All the same great resource features will remain on the website and will continue to be updated and improved. If you have any ideas as to other things you want to see on it let me know.
In addition, as part of my artistic practice I offer to share textile handwork techniques to passersby in public spaces like parks and public transit for the Skill-Share Project. So, keep your eyes peeled for me with my loom in and around Vancouver this summer.
Janna Maria Vallee
Janna Maria Vallee is a tapestry weaver, longtime knitter, and 2013 graduate of Concordia University's Fibres and Material Practices program. In her art practice Janna combines textiles and socially engaged media. She founded VY in 2008.