If I taught a workshop/seminars at ANWG '19 would you be interested?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

It Should Not Be Hard

Weaving should not be hard, but like any new skill there may be wallowing at the beginning of the learning curve. 

Here is a warp during beaming. No I do not routinely beam front to back.  What I do is use a reed to space the warp out to its intended width, beam, then thread, sley and tie on.  

This is not the only way to get a warp onto the loom.  It is just one way.  But the principle of using tension during beaming is sound.  A thread under tension is a thread under control.  

If there is room a warp can be stretched out and weighted.  Recently someone posted a photo showing how they use a chair to apply tension.  I’m assuming that if more tension is required books or other weight could be piled on the chair seat.  Some people use bags of books or bricks.  The warp then slides across the floor.  

I don’t have the luxury of space so I use a rod in the ceiling.  Kati Meek has documented how to use what she calls a trapeze in her book Dance With Your Loom.  Many people, myself included, have blogged about how to do this.  

Some yarns are more co-operative than others, but if aspiring weavers remember that a thread under tension is a thread under control, then figure out how to apply that in their particular circumstances, beaming might not be so off putting.  

Currently reading Fatal Pursuit by Martin Walker

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Details, Details!

Conferences.  Love them or not, a lot of people are involved in the planning and execution of them.

Conferences - no matter the topic - are fraught with details.  Lots and lots of details.  It is the managing of those details that make the experience good - or not - for the instructor, the participants and the planners.

So this week I have spent another several hours, combing through submissions, making sure I have good topics, trying to sort out the details revolving around those topics, then sending emails off to the instructors to review (and revise/correct/add).

All of this sorting out of details is done by the planners as volunteers (as in not paid) and for the instructors as part of the administrivia that goes into setting up an event (hopefully covered in some part by the fee they will receive as part of the event).

So when people wonder why I am being more generous to instructors in the budget than some previous conferences, it is because I have been an instructor and I know how much work goes into crafting the topic in the first place, then all the myriad details that take up time - maybe 20 minutes here, 40 minutes there, a couple of days once the event is given the go-ahead.  All long before the instructor will be paid for their efforts.

Even when they do get paid, I can attest that many times they are working for 'free' to insure that the event goes as smoothly as possible.

There will always be glitches.  Flights are delayed.  Suitcases get lost.  Vehicles break down.  Equipment either breaks - or was forgotten. 

Most participants are not privy to these things because usually the instructor just makes do and/or the planners scramble behind the scenes to get things sorted.

So why did I agree to chair this conference?  (And yes, I ask myself that question on a regular basis!)

I agreed because conferences are great meeting grounds for fibre artists to gather, in real life.  We get to actually touch each others textiles, not just see a picture.  We get to share ideas.  We get to know each other better.  We get to exchange knowledge and information.  We get to thank those who have inspired us, even at a distance.  We get to see exhibits.  We get to shop!  And not from a sample card, from from actual vendors selling things right into our hot little hands.  We get to have conversations.

By the end of the conference friends may have been made, which can continue via the internet (rather than the snail mail that we had previous to the internet).  Connections will have been made.  Minds may have been opened to new ideas, new concepts.  Horizons may have been broadened.  Knowledge expanded.

17 months...and counting...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Regrets, I've Had a Few

No one gets to be my age without making some mistakes, having some regrets.  And yes, I have.

Mostly those mistakes were errors in judgement - how much I was actually capable of accomplishing.  Hanging onto something that wasn't working for too long.

Some of these errors wound up causing me grief, in one way or another.  No one enjoys making mistakes.  But we do.  It is how we deal with the results of our mistakes that make them valuable.  As in the "Well, I won't do that again" if nothing else.  But that is how we learn.  That is how we gain knowledge.  Even, at times, wisdom.

Some mistakes have much larger consequences than others.  Some carry more grief.  But there is always a lesson to be learned.

Students sometimes get so focused on the mistakes that they neglect to see the lesson.  My job as a teacher, I feel, is not to point out the mistakes but to help them come to see the lessons.

Teaching a workshop is a great deal different than teaching the Olds master weaving program.  The goal is different.  Teaching a workshop is an encapsulated very focused look at a particular aspect of weaving (usually).  The Olds program is meant to help students see the lesson.  Mistakes will be made.  Disappointments will happen.  Knowledge will increase if the student analyses what they have done so they learn from what they have done.  How has this warp not met expectations?  What needs to change to make it align more with the intent?

Rose bushes with beautiful white blossoms also have thorns.  When we stop to smell the roses, we need to appreciate the blossoms and avoid the thorns.  And we need to get past our regrets, our mistakes.  Absorb the lesson.

As one of my mentors would say - if you aren't making mistakes, you aren't learning anything new.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


I'm always looking for ways to make things easier, simpler, efficient. 

Today I was threading a warp on 8 shafts - two blocks of twill, 40 ends per block.  Too many ends to easily see if I'd done enough - too little?  too many?  Counting out the groups of four to make sure I had 10 of them was taking time and annoying me.

After thinking about it for a few minutes I grabbed this little clip, counted out 10 heddles on shaft one (for block A) and proceeded to thread the four end repeat on shafts 1-4 until all 10 of the heddles on shaft 1 were used up.  Then I shoved all the heddles from the first four shafts to the left, counted out 10 heddles on shaft 5 and threaded the twill progression until those 10 heddles were used up.

I also tie each group of four into a slip knot, then tie the 10 groups of 4 into a larger slip knot, just so I can keep an eye on my progress - and make sure I alternate between the two sets of shafts.

Once I started doing this threading felt like it was going faster, but mostly I wasn't getting annoyed at having to repeatedly count out groups of four.  And peace of mind is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Endings, Beginnings

Endings.  Beginnings.  Everything must begin before it can end.  But endings mean beginnings, too.   Sometimes endings mean a new direction.  Sometimes endings are just a pause, an Interlude before one continues onwards, on the same path, in the same direction.  Or changes direction completely.

When it comes to Fibres and yarns there are constant endings and beginnings.  Fibre packages run out and new ones begun.  Projects are finished, new ones started.

Bobbins may need several rolags in order to be filled with spun yarn.  A woven textile may require many bobbins in order to be woven.

These endings - and beginnings - are not to be faced with dread but calm acceptance than everything ends.  But then?  Beginning again.

A cycle that continues until the goal is achieved.  Like days.  The sun rises and sets.  The day begins and ends.  And we go on...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Know When to Hold 'Em

Today I choose serenity.

I admit it freely - I am focused, determined, not afraid to work hard.  That also makes me obsessive and prone to over doing things, working myself into exhaustion.

So today I choose to let go of a few things.  I am facing more health challenges, although initial appointments have given me hope for treatment, if not cure.  I thank my lucky stars I am Canadian with our universal health care.  Having medical care I can count on that won't bankrupt me (in spite of some American politicians who keep insisting Canadians flock to the US to 'steal' health care) means I can put my trust in my doctors although I do inform myself and advocate for my special snowflake-ness.

I have also chosen to let go of a few other things that were causing me stress and put my faith into the hands of some others I also trust.

I still have to work on the instructors/workshops/seminars, but after three days of concentrated focus on that, I feel I have crafted a well rounded list of instructors and topics.  Of course not everyone will find something of interest - that is the nature of planning such a large event.  But I have done my best, drawing on my decades of experience in the field, choosing people I feel will do good presentations - and be fun as well.

Because if we aren't having fun, I think we are missing the point.

Monday, November 27, 2017


I have shown this diagram before but, well, here it is again - as an illustration of how the brain needs to toggle between many factors in order to create whole cloth from individual threads.

Recently I learned of a new book by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt on creativity called The Runaway Species.

I've read a couple of Mr. Eagleman's books on the brain so I was intrigued with this one, addressing creativity specifically.

As a life long creative person, fascinated by how people come up with the things they make, I immediately put it on my library request list and it came in last week.

I want to just quote the entire book to everyone but that would not be possible so I will share this one paragraph (out of so many) and urge everyone to also read this book.

"We've all seen models in which the brain is presented as a map with clear territories:  this region does *this* while that region does *that*.  But that model ignores the most important aspect of human brains: neurons connect promiscuously, such that no brain region works alone; instead, like a society, regions work in a constant hubbub of crosstalk and negotiation and cooperation.  As we've seen, this widespread interaction is the neurological underpinning of human creativity.  Even while particular skills can be restricted to local brain regions, creativity is a whole-brain experience: it arises from the sweeping collaboration of distant neural networks.  As a result of this vast interconnectedness, human brains apply the three Bs to a wide range of our experiences.  We constantly absorb our world, crunch it up and release new versions."

Today I am sitting at my desktop trying to get my brain focused on the next round of edits for The Book.  The manuscript currently exists as approximately 130 pages with more photos, diagrams and the projects and their accompanying notes to be added.  It is looking like around 200 pages 'finished'.  I am exploring publishing options - perhaps digital with an on-demand print option.

But first - I need to finish this round of edits.  Now where did my round tuit go?