'Endless array': Fibre arts group set to finally mark COVID-delayed 10th anniversary

Linda Elkins has been weaving tea towels since she was a child.

"My grandmother was a weaver, and I grew up hanging around in her studio and just absorbing until she became my teacher and my mentor," said Elkins, 72.

The best part of what can often be a fairly complicated and lengthy process, she said, is the design.

"Because there's no end to the creativity. When you play around with colours, you take standard patterns and then alter them and make them your own. It's just an endless array of possibilities."

Handwoven tea towels of all colours, designs and patterns will be on display for the fibre arts festival and sale on Nov. 18 to 20 on the mezzanine at Covent Garden Market.

"We have well over 200 of them for sale, and we're going to feature them as a center point in our displays," said Elkins, a member of the London and district weavers' and spinners' guild.

But don't be mistaken, no two are the same, she said. "Weavers will occasionally repeat something, but it's more fun and more exciting to do something just a little bit different each time."

Works by Elkins and 32 other artists from her guild, along with those from Simply Hooked and the Strathroy Pioneer Treadlers, will be featured and for sale during the three-day event. That includes everything from handmade baskets to wall hangings and Christmas ornaments.

Visitors also can watch demonstrations of spinning, weaving, basketry, lace making and rug hooking, said Diny Warren, chair of the festival and sale committee.

"As well as coming to have a look and buy things, it's also learning about craft," she said.

The annual event has run every year since 2010 until the pandemic struck. And while it made somewhat of a comeback last year with a smaller festival and sale, organizers never had a chance to mark the 10th anniversary celebration.

This year, the guilds will celebrate the milestone with a wider variety of items from across the three guilds, Warren said.

"Over the years, it has grown into a beautiful event," she said, reflecting on the last decade. "The market has been so instrumental in that and has been really supportive of all of us."

Some people attend the annual event each year, while others come to get some early Christmas shopping done. The most exciting, though, may just be watching the first-timers browse through.

"It's great to see brand new people come. Their eyes are just wide," Elkins said with a laugh. "There are so many different things on display, so many things that are beautifully made, locally made, and so useful."

cleon@postmedia.com

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What: Fibre arts festival and sale

When: Friday, Nov. 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Covent Garden Market, second floor

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press