Double Whale Handwoven Designs was born in the spring of 1984. Having taken a break from my first career as a photogrammetric technician, I graduated from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1983 with a BFA in textiles. I had no job but did have a loom, and was living cheaply in a small village on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. I decided to make clothing as that is one of the necessities of life, and to make mostly coats and jackets out of wool, as that is a necessity in our climate.
I also decided to use local materials as much as possible. There are two major woolen mills in the Maritimes: Briggs and Little in New Brunswick and MacAusland’s in Prince Edward Island. Local sheep farmers send their wool there to be spun. The wool is durable and comes in a beautiful range of colours. I began weaving and selling in small crafts shows and from my home. I design not only the fabric I weave but also the garments. I have never taken a garment pattern making course but I enjoy the engineering of taking a two dimensional piece of fabric and making it fit a three dimensional shape. I must admit that starting out I made everything to fit me. If someone asked what size something was, I would say, “My size.” I quickly learned that people come not only in different sizes, but also different shapes.
In 1985 I was asked to join The Lincoln Reef, a newly opened craft shop in Lunenburg. It was run by six craftspeople who worked one day a week in the shop selling both their products and the work of local craftspeople on consignment.
In 1995 I opened my own shop, Double Whale Handwoven Designs, in the space I had used as a studio in the basement of the building which housed The Lincoln Reef. It is two steps down from ground level and has sunny south facing windows with a showroom in the front and my studio in the back. Despite the smallness of the space, I got a larger second loom in order to weave blankets.
I have no interest in being a production weaver, weaving hundreds of yards of fabric and making a limited number of styles and colours in all the sizes. I seldom weave more than 12 yards at a time, which will make three large items (coats and jackets). With the leftovers I make hats and vests, and with the scraps I make rugs and chair pads, so as not to have much wastage. This allows me to make custom orders so a person can get whatever colour, style and size he/she wants if nothing on the rack suits. I often have one-of-a-kind items as I try out new ideas, working out design problems.
In 2021, I decided to semi-retire and concentrate on blankets and throws as the large amount of crocheting required to finish the coats and jackets was beginning to numb my finger tips. Besides, blankets and throws, I will also be doing scarves and shawls, etc. that require no crocheting. As I have reduced my shop hours, i will be weaving at my home studio, as well as at the shop.