Metis Sash Loom Weaving – Live & Socially Distanced

Calgary, AB @ Herbal Healing Apothecary

2 Workshops:
Saturday December 12th, 9am-5pm or
Sunday December 13th, 9am-5pm

Immerse yourself in the Story of the Michif People while creating your own sayncheur flayshii (Metis sash) on a locally-made hand loom.

Kalyn Kodiak, Metis Knowledge Keeper (MNA Region 3) brings teachings about the history, ceremony & symbolism of the “arrow-belt” sash. We will provide looms and other necessary supplies to take home with you after the workshop!

We begin with the famous Red River pattern, the acknowledged symbol of the Metis People. Based on the Assomption sashes worn by Red River traders in the 1800’s, this loom-woven pattern is a nod to the courage and strength of our ancestors.

Warping, threading and troubleshooting are an important part of this beginner-level workshop. Everyone is welcome, regardless of culture or background. No previous weaving experience is necessary, we will teach you everything you need to know to make your own custom sash.

This is a social distanced workshop. Please bring a mask to wear in all common areas. Hand sanitizer and plexiglass barriers are provided for your safety. All workshops are limited to 6 people during COVID-19.

Cost: $260 per person, Register Here:

Metis Sash Loom Weaving Workshop

Our cedarwood looms are hand-crafted by a local woodworker and come in a complete kit with rigid heddle, shuttle, double-ended reed hook, patterns and all necessary supplies. If you already have your own hand loom and know how to tie-on for craft-weight yarn, you can bring it along for a discount on your workshop ticket price.

More info: This workshop takes place in Calgary at the Herbal Healing Apothecary, 2410 2 Ave SE. Children 12 years and up can learn to weave, but may require the help of their guardian. All minors must be accompanied and supervised by their parent or guardian.

Registration is done through PayPal or by e-transfer to kalyn@kodiakherbal.com . Once you have paid for your spot, your email address will be added to the list of registered participants. Registered participants receive an info email to their PayPal address 2 weeks before the workshop. You do NOT need a PayPal account to register, you can choose to check-out securely with a credit card by click the grey “Pay with Credit Card or Visa Debit” button. Kodiak Herbal never receives access to your private payment information, just your email address.

Please see accessibility info & our workshop policies here.

The History of Loom-Woven Metis Sashes

There is no way to describe how much I love my new loom! It’s a simple, honest tool that makes weaving so fun and fast. Although you can’t get that traditional, finger-woven look with a loom project, you can at least make a full sized sash in about 20 hours instead of 300.

The most famous Metis sashes now-a-days are woven with looms, specifically the Red River Sash pictured below. It is probably the most recognizable emblem of Metis culture in Canada (although some Easterners will tell you that it is a French Canadian invention, to which I must say, they are about half-right!).

(C) Winnipeg Free Press

Interestingly enough for Canadian history nerds, this most common of emblems is a debutante on the scene of traditional Metis sashes. Voyageur and other similar sashes were originally woven only by hand.

The story that was told to me is this. In the old days, women would weave beautiful handmade sashes and trade them to the Hudson’s Bay Company, who would sell them. Everyone wanted one of these sashes, and if they didn’t have a weaver in the family you could head on over to your nearest HBC trading post and buy one. Trade was brisk!

The talented women who made the sashes were grievously underpaid, making today’s equivalent of pennies-per-hour for their gorgeous handiwork! When the women decided to band together and demand more money, so the story goes, the Hudson’s Bay found that loom weavers could produce a similar-looking sash in a fraction of the time, and were willing to accept less money than the finger-weavers. The finger-weavers were replaced (Progress, you old tyrant!).

And that is the story of the cheaper-to-produce, but still beautiful, red river style sash as told to me.

Definitely a loom sash can be a work of art, but will always lack the craftsmanship of a finger-woven sash, which is quite possibly worth its weight in gold.

Meanwhile, as I wait for my next finger-weaving teacher to appear out of the mists of the ages, it’s nice to have a loom to be creative with. I’ll post more projects as I learn, and eventually I’ll post a pattern for the red river style sash that you can use at home on your own loom.