By Nicole Fitzgerald
Who: Ruth Stewart
What: Whistler Farmer’s Market
When: Saturday, Oct. 6 & Sunday, Oct. 7, 11 a.m.
Where: Upper Village
Yarn scarves knitting through a rainbow of colours catch my eye at the Impulse of Delight booth at the Whistler Farmer’s Market.
Some knits are delicate and smooth while others heartier, yet still plush. Artist Ruth Stewart explains the pink, orange and yellow hued scarf I hold up was made from recycled sari silk.
I eventually force my gaze away from the vivacious colours draped above to notice the delicate silver jewelry ornamented with semi-precious stones below.
Stewart’s knitting talents have looped their way into silver pendants and earrings: crocheted flowers in bronze, a veined leaf in silver and solid silver circles loop themselves into a bracelet.
I love the way the circles move within each link and how they slide and shift on my arm.
There is something familiar in all of Stewart’s artwork.
I only needed to look at the puddles at my feet or the flowerbeds to my right to discover Stewart’s inspiration.
Mother Nature is the muse behind Stewart’s scarves and jewelry. The local photographer snaps pictures of pine needles, flowers, dewdrops and even rain drops in puddles to implement nature’s colours and shapes into her work.
“My other love is photography and I am always taking lots of photos around Whistler,” she said. “I love colour. I take a striking photograph, analyze the colours and translate that into a dye palate.”
She holds up one of her pictures of a dragonfly face. Twenty different hues of green, brown, blue and black from the dragonfly’s eye were chosen and then dyed by hand into silk yarn. She then created a simple geometric overlay, reminiscent of the wing structure, as the knitting pattern for her scarf.
“I layout a skein of yarn and die it in patches,” she said. “I dye it specifically to make patterns. It’s a bit of work, but very rewarding and fun to play with.”
The scarf is part of her Patterns in Nature knitting colour palette series, which was lauded in the Silver Anniversary Collector’s Issue of Vogue Knitting this fall.
The avid knitter has been pearling one and looping two even before attending her first day of elementary school. She’s always loved the colour, texture and drapery of textiles as well as the satisfaction of making her own garments.
She then transferred techniques such as Irish lace crocheting into silver and gold as well as traditional silversmithing. Three-dimensional textile sculpting began to work its way into the mix along with semi-precious stones.
“Colour is one of my signature things of my style,” she said. “I tend to use very saturated colours with high-end gem stones. They go really well with the silk.”
The Whistler homeowner of 15 years became a fulltime resident and artist this year. The family physician decided to completely dedicate herself to her craft.
“I made that leap to try a year without practicing and concentrate on arts as a business and it’s been wonderful,” she said.
In addition to her online business at impulse-of-delight.com, she has also showcased her work at local art venues, including Made in Whistler, ArtWalk, the Whistler Farmer’s Market and Ruby Tuesday.
Look for her scarves, jewelry and new note cards at Bizarre Bazaar this December. Until then, visit Stewart at the last Whistler Farmer’s Market of the season Saturday, Oct. 6 and Sunday, Oct. 7 from 11 to 4 p.m. in the Upper Village.
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