Medium: Fibre Arts
Location: North Vancouver, BC
Member Since: 1976
Helen Long grew up on a hillside sheep farm in Scotland where she developed a childhood love of wool. However, it wasn’t until several years later, while faced with an active young son who refused to put on his footwear while playing on a concrete basement floor, that she decided to combine this early love with her knitting skills to create the first Padraig slipper, eventually founding her business in 1977.
Sometime before this, Helen had begun learning and experimenting with knitting, weaving and spinning techniques. Her mechanic husband, Jeremy, became intrigued by the spinning process and after learning the basics from Helen, he soon started to supply her with the yarn needed for all of her various projects.
Frustrated with the stubbornness of her young son, she noticed that he liked to curl his toes in the sheepskin rug; the idea for the first sheepskin-lined, knit wool Padraig slipper was born.
After a few years of continued experimentation and development of her skills, exploring different processes and projects, Helen kept coming back to the Padraig slipper. She and Jeremy then decided to start their business. Over the years, many changes and improvements were made in order to meet the demand of a much wider market. Nevertheless, Helen and Jeremy continue to produce their now much-beloved slipper.
“Not only was I influenced by my childhood but also by three fascinating years living in small Indian communities in the Northwest Territories. Spinning, dyeing, weaving and knitting became a major part of my life. With the discovery of the Indian Head Spinning Wheel and Salish weaving, I experienced a sense of freedom in my craft, taking freely from both cultures.”
Jeremy & Helen Long