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About Armstrong Textiles

Lesley Armstrong fell in love with weaving when she wove her first cloth in Halifax, Nova Scotia, years ago.

During her studies at NSCAD University in Halifax Lesley studied weaving production methods in Scotland, visiting and studying with weavers throughout Scotland and its Western Isles.

After pursuing further studies in hand and power weaving at the Philadelphia College of Textiles & Sciences where she was influenced by teachers and artists John Vorlicek and Lee Clawson. Lesley continued her stay in Philadelphia, receiving her MA in Art Education at the Philadelphia College of Art and working with Warren Seelig in the Fiber Dept.  Returning to her native province of Nova Scotia, the designer works on private and public textile commissions and is the owner of Armstrong Textiles. Another creative field for Lesley is part-time teaching and she has been a part-time faculty member in the Textiles Department at NSCAD University since 1983.

Lesley's passion for weaving is sustained by “endless delight in the physical nature of this medium—you are building cloth from humble little strands of yarn and the element of surprise is always present when you shift and push the weaving and finishing limits.”

Acknowledging that the colours and textures of a Maritime environment play a key role in the choice of the subtle, restrained hues used in the designs--seaweed, rocks, tidal pools, moss, and woodlands are some of the sources of inspiration for Lesley's work.  Equally fascinating are possibilities offered by new and innovative yarns from Japan, Europe, and South America, especially when they are manipulated in the weaving and finishing processes.

In the summer of 2014 the Armstrong Textiles' workshop moved to the South Shore of Nova Scotia and is located by the LaHave River, near the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean.  The day-to-day experiences of ocean, landscape, and forest are a continuing influence on the development of the products, as well as the observation of material culture, both past and present.  In the Summer of 2017 Lesley will re-commence weaving workshops (once held in the wonderful LaHave Bakery) in historic Lunenburg offering a variety of short courses in weaving, design, and a textile study field trip of Nova Scotia's South Shore.

Armstrong Textiles designs and produces fashions and interior furnishings that are sold in apparel boutiques, art museum shops, craft galleries, and interior design stores.  The fashions, which lean toward a European design sensibility, include accessories such as scarves and wraps as well as tops, tunics, skirts, and jackets, made in collaboration with Nova Scotian fashion apparel designer, Kate Delmage.

Interior furnishing home products include linens, draperies, throws, and pillows while the company's contract interior products include custom draperies, textile panels, and art installations.  The focus is exploring the intrinsic properties of textile materials—the dimensional nature, the juxtaposition of colours, the texture, and the “hand”.

The company proudly weaves on both wooden hand looms, Leclerc, Macomber, a George Wood dobby loom, and a 70-year old vintage British power loom called "The Hattersley Domestic" once used to weave Harris Tweed in Scotland.  Lesley embraces and celebrates these time-honoured machines because of their flexibility, their endurance, and their valued history.

The Fall/Winter of 2016/17 brought about a re-commencement of Lesley teaching textile workshops on the South Shore.  LaHave Weaving Studio will open its doors in June 2017.  The renovation of the second floor of the old Lunenburg Foundry
Garage has made this historic building into a light-filled rustic studio with a view of Lunenburg Harbour a place where students can immerse themselves in fibre!  Join us in the picturesque town of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The workshop is just a 10-minute stroll along the waterfront to the pulbic wharf area and a variety of restaurants and cafes.  Check out our workshop schedule and descriptions at http://www.lahaveweavingstudio.ca  Email Lesley <lesley@lahaveweavingstudio.ca> or call 902-220-5430.


"Sow to Sew" Conference Speakers

A symposium called "Sow to Sew" was held at NSCAD University, Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 27, 2013.  The theme was sustainability in textiles and fashion and there was a variety of local and international speakers whose talks ranged from farming flax to sustainable fashion to growing natural dyes.  The conference was organized by Robin Muller, Frances Dorsey, and Gary Markle,
Textiles/Fashion faculty at NSCAD.

Armstrong Textiles

Lesley Armstrong of Armstrong Textiles was one the speakers at the conference and gave a brief history of the company's production model, some of our products, and what the future might hold in terms of small-scale production weaving.  The video can be seen on this link.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGneTaPZxRo


List of Speakers at the "Sow to Sew" Conference.
The conference speakers can be found on YouTube by searching for their name & "Sow to Sew NSCAD". 

Sustainable Practice

Kelly Drennan, founder of Canada'a Fashion Takes Action, describes her goals.
Kate Fletcher, British author, educator, and consultant talking about alternative fashion systems.
Lynda Grose, author and professor, CA, describes sustainable dye practices for the fashion industry.

Plant Dyes

Rowland Ricketts III, professor, artist, and indigo dyer in Indiana, discusses farming indigo and other current projects.
Shanna Robinson, artist and professor in Michigan, grows natural dyes in northern climates.
Laura Sansome, professor, creator of the Textiles Lab project in NYC through the Parson's New School of Design.

Making Fabric

Bethanne Knudson, founder of the Jacquard Center and the Oriole Mill in Henderson, NC.
Lesley Armstrong of Armstrong Textiles describes her business on vintage power looms in Nova Scotia.
Patricia Bishop is an organic farmer and is growing flax at Taproot Farms, Port Williams, NS
Claire Gagnon, fibre researcher and craftsperson from New Brunswick, discusses the challenges of raising and processing flax on a small scale.

Sustainable Fashion

Barbara Starr, designer and producer talks about creating small-scale fashion lines in Canada.
Julia Grieve, founder of Preloved, discusses the history of her company producing recycled fashion.
Sibylle Klose, professor, Paris,  discusses What is Ethical Fashion?