Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winter Weaving Workshop: a weaving retreat and Canadian winter experience

In the autumn of 2008, Moira Diane Wood, fibre artist from Reading, England ( contacted Moon Rain Centre to arrange a winter weaving workshop for herself and her artist sister, Elaine Callen from Ireland. Moira Diane is collaborating with Maiden Erlegh Community Arts School in Reading to develop a Family Weaving Programme that facilitates community tapestry projects as creative community outreach. The two artists wished to further explore tapestry techniques in the quiet retreat of the studio at Moon Rain Centre. Here are Moira Diane Wood's and Elaine Callen's summaries of their winter weaving week.

Elaine Callen in the studio

A few weeks before Christmas my sister and I left the UK for Toronto, boarded a train for Ottawa and on to Quebec. Our first glimpse of Moon Rain came just as the sun was setting - a golden glow in the sky, dark silhouetted trees and blue shadows across snow - more snow than we had ever seen before. Thoma led the way to the studio, showed us our cosy rooms, lit the woodburning stove, advised us of the whereabouts of the washhouse and left us to settle in with a very welcome invitation to dinner later.

Soon the wood-burning stove was roaring and the thought of going outside to the toilet was not appealing. However our night time expeditions to the wash house and the contortions of putting on all the layers required were rewarded with a stunning carpet of stars on clear nights and hushed fields covered in glistening snow.

Mornings we worked hard on our weaving guided and inspired by Thoma quietly and assuredly at work on a new Aurora tapestry. By lunchtime we could no longer resist the lure of the snow outside. Snowshoeing expeditions were called for - a short one to try out our snowfeet with Little One leading the way, and then a more adventurous expedition to the far corner of Moon Rain to visit the frozen waterfall.

Little One shows us the way

Moira Diane on snowshoes

Our last evening was memorable - the euphoria of finishing our tapestries, Thoma's special egg nog (sweetened with Moon Rain's smoky maple syrup) all rounded off with venison stew which had bubbled on the wood burning stove all day.
We enjoyed every minute of our stay at Moon Rain, and cherish all the new experiences it brought. We brought home a beautiful and much admired tapestry each and hope to return one day to see the finished Aurora tapestry and the Moon Rain garden that was hidden under the cloak of snow.

Thank you Thoma and Moon Rain for an unforgettable experience.
Moira Diane Wood


My week at Moon Rain was a wonderful experience of sunshine and snow, bright blue skies and deep blue shadows. Baskets of multicoloured wools on a warm wooden floor. Ideas and inspirations, weaving and concentration. Snow shoe walks over pristine fields. Icy cold and warming spiced teas.

Elaine Callen. December 2008


Below are the wonderful finished pieces that Moira Diane and Elaine designed and wove during the winter tapestry workshop

Elaine Callen's winter landscape tapestry

Moira Diane Wood's "Flax Field" tapestry

Moira Diane Wood is a flax spinner and linen weaver living in the UK (
Elaine Callen is a landscape artist working in paint and pastel, she lives in Ireland.

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