RUTH, the name is mine, but it also stands for Really Useful Things Handwoven. I have been weaving for 20 years, and prefer useful items. Tea Towels, Scarves, Shawls, Baby Wraps. Variety in colour and structure mean that every item is different, with its own personality. I prefer natural fibres; cotton, linen, wool, silk, but also love tencel and bamboo.
Baby wraps have been around for years. But when a young mother wanted one handwoven, Ruth Thoem stepped up to the challenge. “I heard about the request from the Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Guild, says Thoem, “so I wove her a baby wrap, and I have woven probably 40 baby wraps since then!” Thoem, owner of Ruth Handwovens – Really Useful Things Handwoven – enjoys interacting with her clients, so what's developed between Thoem and the young mothers is organic.
“It's really a great combination because they are young moms and they are local and I get to meet them,” explains Thoem, who has been weaving for 20 years. “They talk about colours, we talk about babies and I talk about grandchildren – it's a very warm relationship.” Through the relationship, Thoem met a woman who helped set up her Facebook page, so more people could see her work. Since then she has been selling her scarves, shawls, table linens and other weaved items online. Thoem also exhibits her crafts through the Art Gallery of Burlington as well as other weaving and guild crafts, like pottery, rug hooking and fine art.
Thoem designs everything she weaves. “I just finished two series of tea towels – one is based on a very traditional Dutch pattern – there are a lot of squares on it, she says. “I wove what I call my stainless steel appliance series – it's an appliance because it dries dishes and it's stainless steel because I used a mixture of silvery grays to make it look like the front of a real stainless steel appliance.”
For custom orders, clients send photographs of what they like and Thoem gets her inspiration from those images, samples that she keeps in her studio and from other sources.
Always searching for new designs, Thoem discovered an alternative to a traditional shawl at Hummingbird Weaving Studio in Barry's Bay. Thoem now weaves turned shawls that are structured like an infinity scarf to drape effortlessly across and not fall off like other shawls. She also creates lap robes that are 40-inches by 60-inches, perfect for cuddling up on the couch or to keep you warm on a cool September night when you want to sit outdoors and cherish those moments in your garden.
The Burlington resident lives by the notion behind the 100-mile diet, supporting local suppliers and their community.