Business Name: Blue Rhubarb
Based In: Calgary, Alberta
Products Include: DIY weaving kits, fiber wall hangings, yarn & embroidery art
Learn more about Blue Rhubarb in our interview below.
Blue Rhubarb Calgary, Alberta
What inspired you to open your shop?
Crafting and making items has always been an outlet for me to keep my mind and hands busy. When my kids were small, I had a sewing business making blankets, carseat covers, and items that were cozy, warm, and couldn’t be found in a big box store. I have an “I can make that” way of thinking and creative expression as a form of self-care is really important to me.
Due to personal life circumstances, I no longer had the time to dedicate to sewing but I still had a need to create and keep myself busy which is how I found weaving and fiber arts. I use this as a way to manage my stress and anxiety – a way to keep my mind focused and temporary pause from the struggles we all have in life. My fiber art journey has helped me with mental health as it really does bolster mood and improve self-esteem. My “time-out” is spent in my home studio and brings me back to center and feeling grounded.
I use my memories from childhood where I spent lots of time with relatives who knit, crocheted, embroidered, etc. I get inspiration from my nostalgia of how good it felt to complete a project, learn, and grow from doing something hands on with my grandma or aunts. Being able to teach and show how being creative can be expressive and a form of healing is of utmost importance to me. Taking traditions and techniques from my ancestors, motivates me to continue to pass along this knowledge and bring a modern style to my fiber arts products today. Creating can be a really positive space for people of all ages. So, I just really believe that everyone should be spending quality time, learning, growing, and making memory memories with each other. There is something that feels really good about enjoying something that you’ve made that you can give to somebody or that you can display. Art is really meant to bring that to people which what brings me harmony and inspires me to keep doing what I do.
How would you describe your business?
When I wanted to rebrand my sewing and embroidery business, I knew that this was an opportunity to have a handmade business that could grow and evolve over time. I strive to represent a style and way of living that promotes self-care/healing through art because creating is a emotional journey that we all can share together. My goals are to bring this to you so we can all learn something new and grow with self-care and healing through art which is a strong message I hope is translated into my products. Art evokes emotions and feelings in us all and there is so much passion within all Blue Rhubarb products.
Blue Rhubarb products encompass textures and color that feel uplifting but yet whimsical. The reason behind Blue Rhubarb is very personal and special to me. Rhubarb was a nickname that was given to me by my dad and I grew up with being called that. I guess there is some bits of my personality that is tart and sweet with a little bit of sassy that fits Rhubarb! My dad has played a big role in my life and when he suddenly passed away in 2011, the loss was deeply profound to all of us. There have been quite a few hardships over the years and creating or keeping my hands busy with crafts allows me a safe space to dealt with the life stresses and anxieties I have. The colour blue has always been one of my favorite colours and it brings me such peace and relaxation. Blue represents tranquility, calmness, and quiet. I long for this everyday and believe in the calming effect that colours can have on your mind. Creating is a powerful way to come back to center and studies and research shows that crafting is mood booster and has a positive impact on our minds and bodies.
Fiber art can be a broad topic, but Blue Rhubarb represents weaving, spinning, embroidery, latch hooking, and needlecrafts. I source quality materials such as premium wool roving, yarns, felt, and canvases. I support local wherever possible but quality materials for fiber arts tend to come from Europe or Australia. For example, I get the bulk of my wool and silks from Italy. My mission is to bring quality craftsmanship to you, which means you will see and feel the difference from one of my wall hangings to something you would purchase from a chain or big box store. Being allergen free from pets and environmental toxins such as smoke is also extremely important to me. All felts and wool fibers found in my products follow OEKO-TEX Standards which have been tested for harmful substances to protect your health. All wool rovings, wool felt, dyed yarn, and silks in my shop have this certification.
My knowledge of latch hooking, embroidery, and knitting has all been passed down to me from family. In a world of you-tube, it is easy to find videos of someone making something. When seeking out new techniques, I place the same emphasis on learning as I do on the quality of my materials. I have sought out training for weaving and spinning from those who have been in the fiber arts and textiles business for years on platforms such as Domestika. Honestly, the best source for my information that I still use today is from a book from Reader’s Digest – Complete Guide to Needlework. It was a book my mom had in the 80s and covers all topics such as embroidery, needlepoint, knitting, applique, quilting, patchwork, macrame, crochet, rug making, and lacework. It really is my go to and is such a reminder that craft is timeless and why I feel that “Creativity Never Goes Out of Style”.
I am a self-taught weaver but appreciate all the leaders who paved the way. I create intuitively and most times, don’t plan out my creations as it really is a emotional guided process for me. This creates a unique experience and feel is what makes each product stand out from the others. I am always wanting my designs and patterns be something that isn’t anywhere else. I have great pride and pleasure from taking wool fibers and turning them into yarn, then into a weaving, which then creates an amazing piece of art.
What’s your best selling product and why is it so popular?
DIY Kits – weaving, latch hook and embroidery.
There is a DIY trend when it comes to home decor and these items have been hard to keep in stock. I have made DIY kits that are perfect for beginners who are looking to take up a craft especially weaving. I have simplified the weaving and latch-hooking process to include all the materials you need to make a round wall hanging. I chose neutral and popular colour palettes that are versatile and easy to combine together.
I think people are wanting to get started into crafts, but not sure how to do it or where to look for modern styles. The round woven wall hanging kits were formed from my signature collection of Gold Threads. The mixture of gold threads with wool roving makes a truly stunning combination. The pattern and style are unique to Blue Rhubarb and formed to make these popular circular weaving. Two sizes are available, and the hoops have been prepared – ready to weave. Instructions and all materials are included for easy quick start to circular weaving.
Currently, I have round latch-hook kits available with an addition of rectangular wall tapestries coming soon. I have created patterns and instructions making them easy to follow. I know that I love to latch hook but have not been able to find a project on the store shelves that suited my style or felt were modern which is why I have created my own. I do not like acrylic yarn which is why I use my own yarn combinations that are of premium quality. I also, use premium Zweigert rug canvas that is stronger quality for a better project. My latch hook kits will give you a thick and fluffy tapestry that is not found anywhere else. These are perfect for beginners and are a great way to pass the time or make a great gift!
What’s your favourite product from your own shop?
My favourite product right now is the floral hoops – I love both the mini hoops of dyed yarn knit flowers and larger hoops wool roving flowers. I love them because they have colours that bring such texture and vibrance to each piece. With the dyed yarn floral hoops, I wanted a way to showcase the yarn as sometimes, its brilliance gets lost in a weaving. This way it features the colors and textures which can be found in nature and flowers. I just love working with hoops and round art. These pieces can be easily incorporated into your wall decor and bring a unique style to any room.