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

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Beginning...Again


Writing a technical manual is a constant case of beginning, again.  

With the aim of taking information that is detailed, precise (in some cases), far reaching (in other cases), linear (at times) and non-linear (at other times), editing, over and over and over again is not just necessary but imperative.  

The choice of which word, turn of phrase or placement of photo or diagram can either illuminate or obfuscate.  

As I write, edit, get my alpha reader to read and suggest, then edit, polish and attempt to clarify, it is becoming ever more clear to me that my target audience is not the beginning weaver, as in this is not a how to learn how to weave, but a how to weave better for the weaver who wants to understand the craft at a deeper level.  

What I desire is to explain how the craft works in its non-linear aspects.  Why the short answer to almost every question related to the development of cloth is either 'it depends' or 'sample, sample, sample'.

Will I succeed?   Only time will tell.

I am at 100+ pages and still so much more to do.  

It is daunting and, at times, overwhelming...

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Done!

For certain values of done-ness...


Three buckets of scarves woven, and a fourth with the fringe twisting elf.  

Several deadlines are going critical, so I may go 'dark' for a while.  

After years of juggling more stuff than I can keep track of effectively, I have come to the realization that if I just hunker down and complete one thing, then move on to the next I feel less scattered, less panicked.  So I am going to try to - shall we say - uni-task - for a while and see how that goes.  If I need to weave as a palate cleanser, I have a 100 yard warp to put into the AVL...



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Determined


The last warp in this series. 

As a child my parents lamented my stubbornness, my pig headed ness.  I was too strong willed.  Too defiant.  Too...much.  

I prefer to call it determined.  My strong will, my determination, are why I am still weaving, still trying to share my knowledge.   

There were so very many times when it was tempting to give up, give in, cry 'uncle'.  Times when exhaustion became so great I ached from it.  Times when I worked with injuries.  Through illness.  

Therapists always advise to slow down, do less.  And I am.  Right now I'm working at about half speed compared to just 10 years ago.  I have become resigned to working less, working more slowly.  But I refuse to stop entirely.  

I may miss a deadline, not accomplish as much as I would like, but my stubborn, strong willed, determined spirit cannot give up entirely.  Not yet.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pro Tip


These warps were wound with one strand of Bambu 7 and one of a highly textured yarn.  I wound them both at once, with my index finger between them.  I find that winding them separated by a finger means they don't grab onto each other and snag during beaming.  

When I thread, I choose the yarns randomly as they present themselves, except at the selvedge.  Since the weave structure is plain weave, I manipulate the threads so that I have two Bambu 7 forming the selvedge.  This gives a nice tidy edge to the scarf.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Wall



There are times in life when we 'hit the wall' - as the marathon saying goes.

We dream big dreams, set huge goals, get carried away with this fantastic idea - which may take a great deal of effort, time and energy to complete.

When the energy runs out before the goal is achieved, what do we do?

A younger friend asked how I had managed to write my book.  She was trying to complete her thesis and had hit the wall.  Her energy was about used up, her enthusiasm for the topic had drained away, all her doubts had reared up and her inner voice was questioning why she was still grappling with it - it would be far easier to just give up.

Or at least, I assume that was happening.  Having set myself enormous goals throughout my life, I can only imagine that she had reached that critical stage when it all seemed too difficult, too overwhelming to continue.

Since she is an athletic person, I figured the sports metaphor would resonate with her, so I used it.

I looked her in the eye and told her that when she hits the wall, she needs to just keep going to the end.

As I get older (and less healthy) my energy runs out sooner than ever.  I find myself still thinking that I have as much energy and fitness level as I did in my 30's.  But I don't.  I hit the wall sooner and find it more and more difficult to complete the goals I set for myself.

My level of weariness comes faster and my energy resources take longer and longer to refill.

It is oh, so tempting, to set smaller goals, dream tinier dreams.  To give up, sit on the sofa and eat virtual bon-bons (because I can't actually eat real ones.)

On the other hand, I am still here.  I still have a certain level of fitness/health.  I still have things I want to accomplish, goals I want to achieve.  I can't just stop.  My work, my teaching, even my blogging, is meaningful - to me.  So long as I find meaning in what I do, I cannot stop.

So when I feel myself hitting the wall, I need to take a step back, take a deep breath, put my head down and take another step.  And another.  And another.  Until I reach the finish line.

Currently reading View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Not Feeling the Love


Warp number four in the final count down of this series.  

And today I'm not feeling the love.  

I do love weaving.  I love being a full time creative person, setting my own goals.  Deciding if today is a good day in the studio.  I love the Idea of being independent, setting my own priorities.  

But there are times when the every day commitment isn't as much fun.  When I grow tired of a series, such as what has happened with this one.  When mentally I am done with it.  When approaching deadlines begin to announce the fact that they can't be ignored for much longer.  

It is sort of like serving yourself a meal when you are really really hungry, and you soon discover your eyes were bigger than your stomach.  Which is about the state I have reached...four more warps to do when I would much rather be doing something else. 

At times like these, I have to reach down sometimes way down, in order to continue.  I have to remind myself of the larger goals, in this case to a) use up some stash and b) have a new series ready for the all too quickly approaching fall sales season.  The season where I make about one half of my income for the year.  Where, if I have insufficient inventory, I might not make enough money to cover the show costs, never mind enough to get me through the following lean income months.  

Time to take a deep breath.  And continue.  And remember that this, too, is part of the job.  Even when I'm not exactly feeling the love.  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Numbers Rolling Over


At 11 pm, the stats for my blog were getting very close to having a significant number about to appear.  To have so many people read my posts is amazing!

As some of you know, if you have been with me from the start, I began writing partly as a celebration of life.  I thought I had been through the 'worst' and things would only get better.  

Well, that isn't the way Life works, and there have been ups and downs, as they say.  

For those who joined at the beginning, thanks for sticking around.  For the new kids on the blog, thanks for the opportunity to share my warped (pun alert!) life.  

Teaching


Finally got my 2017 calendar up and began entering possible dates for events.  Next spring is really beginning to fill up.  Which is great, but so far all of those dates are tentative.  

So, dear readers, I need some feedback...

Right now I am holding dates for possible Olds Master Weaving classes here in Prince George.  I am assuming there will be enough people to run level two. There has also been some interest in another level one.  I need to know if there is enough interest to negotiate with the college to have a level two AND a level one, here in PG in 2017.  

Advantage?  I am running the class over six days instead of five at the college.   If anyone is interested in attending either level here, please email me so I know to start discussions with the college.  (As a side note, if you have taken one at the college you can take two here, and vice versa.)

There has also been discussion with other institutions elsewhere about establishing satellite classes in other locations.  As things get settled I will post updates.  (The classes in Yadkin, NC are filling up as quickly as they can be scheduled...a very positive development!)

So please, if you are interested in the master weaving program here, email me so I know to begin the process with the college administration.  Laura at laurafry dot com


Friday, July 22, 2016

Messy



There are aspects of weaving that are very linear - e.g. dressing the loom.  The process is complex and in order to achieve a good result, care must be taken to do all of the steps in their order.

But what about the process before you get to that point?  If you want to design your own textiles, from the thread up, the process becomes extremely non-linear.  It becomes down right 'messy'.

I made the chart above in order to try to make the process more sensible - more linear.  And the diagram does, indeed, look nice and tidy.  But the process of considering all of those variables, contrasting one against the other, weighing up how much impact each is going to have on the final result?  Messy.

Beginning with the function the cloth is to perform, I consider all of the characteristics of the cloth.  Each variable needs to be assessed for how it will affect the finished textile.  Some of them are more consistent than others - I have two looms and depending on which one I use, I will either wind a warp on a warping board, or I will beam sectionally.  These two different methods mean I will approach designing things like stripes appropriate to the choice of equipment being used.

How wide/long will the warp be?  Shorter, narrower warps tend to be put into the smaller 4 shaft loom, while longer, wider warps on the AVL.  How many shafts do I want to use?  Four shaft weaves can, of course, be done on the smaller loom, but perhaps I want to beam sectionally - in that case I might use the 16 shaft loom, anyway.

How much drape does the cloth need to have?  That drape ability will be filtered through the section on density, then tested against the section on weave structure - and the density might be changed if I am using 16 shafts and a weave structure with fewer interlacements.

And so it goes.  Each factor contrasted with the others, changes made depending on how I feel the different factors are going to affect the others.  I may back and forth for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks.  Some projects may simmer in the back of my brain for months, partly because I haven't sourced the yarn that I feel is 'best' for the project.

One of the challenges with writing The Book, which I've mentioned before but have been thinking about a lot recently, is how to present this non-linear information and contrasting of factors in a book, which is quintessentially linear.  How can I teach the material for Olds, which is primarily about helping weavers learn to think through these things for themselves, rather than just do what the instructions say.

Trying to get a grip on this aspect of weaving knowledge has been a huge stumbling block in terms of my actually grappling with All The Words, and getting the book written.

On the other hand, I can only do the best I can.  So my goal is to finish the (now) 6 more warps for the current scarf line, then hunker down at the computer and get busy word smithing.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Shifting Colour


This is the second of two scarves on this warp...and I am liking it a lot better than the first, which used the same bright green in the warp as weft.  

The darker value blued green has toned the bright green down considerably, which some people will find more appealing.  Of course some will prefer the brighter green, too.  

Something for (nearly?) everyone.  



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Producing a 'Line'


There are a number of reasons for producing a 'line' when you are selling your products.  I do several craft fairs that appeal to the higher end of the market.  As such, I need to have a cohesive display, one that is enough eye appealing to entice people out of the aisle and into my booth to take a closer look.  

What that means as a creative person is that I first need to develop a quality of cloth appropriate to the function of the finished textile.  Then I need to come up with a design.  And then I need to execute it in a variety of different colours, again in a range that, when displayed together, looks attractive.  

There are a number of advantages to working in a series like this.  

Once the cloth is designed and prototyped, I don't have to re-invent the wheel for each warp.  I have worked out the technical details (epi/ppi), width in the reed, length of warp, how long to weave each scarf and how much warp to be left for fringe twisting.  I can go on auto pilot.  

The creativity then becomes all about the colour choices for each warp.  

Since I am primarily selling my creativity, my designs, I like to have a large number of different colours for customers to choose from.  One way I do this is to make short warps, just two scarves per warp. One gets woven with one colour of weft, the second gets woven with a different colour. 

People often ask why, when dressing the loom is so large a part of weaving I would 'waste' time putting such short warps on when I could do longer and save the loom set up time. 

Partly I do it because I am very fast.  If I don't allow myself too many distractions I can easily dress the loom and weave off two scarves a day.   Partly it is because I want the biggest variety of different colours I can make.  

But I do get tired, eventually, especially as I start running out of different options.  It becomes more difficult to come up with choices I find attractive.  As my choices run out I know it is close to wrapping up the series, especially when I see that I actually have plenty made for the upcoming season.  

So, even though I could eke out a few more warps, I have decided that once the warps already wound are woven, this design will be complete.   As for the above scarf, I like it so much that I am going to make two identical scarves and keep one for myself.  

And once these warps are woven it will be on to the next thing. 


Currently reading A new Kelley Armstrong, title escapes me...City of the Lost, perhaps.  The book is upstairs and I'm too lazy to go check.  Because I'm supposed to be weaving!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wear and Tear


So many weavers tell me they prefer to weave with bare feet.  That's fine as long as no injury results.  It also depends on the type of loom and how much force is required to open the shed.  

When I weave on the AVL I use shoes with good support and lots of cushioning.  On the Leclerc Fanny, I need to be able to feel the treadles, but I also need protection from the abrasion of treadling.  When I weave on that loom, with its front hinged treadles, I wear ballet slippers.  

Last night when I removed the slippers I noticed I had worn holes through the leather on both feet.  The constant rubbing of my feet on the treadles is plainly visible on the soles.  Rubbing that would have been directly on my feet if I wove with them bare.  

Any kind of shoe with a flexible sole is fine...the shoes that are worn for Tai Chi, dance shoes, ordinary household slippers with a leather sole, whatever is preferred.   In my studio, I insist students wear some kind of footwear.   I don't want to see anyone develop problems with injury from repetitive stress.

Ready to go again!

  

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dealing with 'Rejection'

Abby Franquemont took the words right out of my mouth with this essay for PLY magazine.


Unlike Abby, I actually wanted to teach.  I started 'local', then began to widen my circle of applications.  For every successful application I sent out, four or five (or more) were 'rejected'.  I wasn't well known, had not written a book or even very many magazine articles.  I live in a geographically remote location and travel to get...anywhere...is expensive.

But eventually my name started to get 'out there' and acceptance letters started coming.

Because I wanted to teach, just like I wanted to sell my textiles, I had to come to grips with the fact that the market for weaving teachers is tiny and there are way more teachers than there are opportunities to teach.  Not everyone was going to be selected.

And, even if you are selected to teach...your class may not fill and you get the 'sorry, your class has been cancelled' letter.

If there is anything worse than not being selected in the first place...it has to be having your class cancelled due to lack of registrations.

If you think that can't happen, think again!  We had to cancel the workshop I was scheduled to teach at a conference that I was co-chairing due to lack of enrollment.  My ego took a gigantic hit on that one!

So for anyone thinking of teaching in the fibre arts, be prepared for rejection letters.  Be prepared to read negative comments on evaluation sheets.  (If you even read them.)  Be prepared for people to have expectations beyond what the class was designed for, or to come unprepared (looms not dressed, knowledge not up to the course content).  Be prepared to be flexible in case of equipment not working properly (projectors in the classroom not talking to your laptop, etc.)

And when you mess up, 'fess up and try to make it right.  Because none of us are perfect.  None of us gets out of bed everyday feeling fully functional.  Sometimes teachers and students are dealing with Life Happening and their concentration may not be as high as they would like.

Students can only absorb so much information and then the lights go out while they process what has gone in so far and so they may miss something said in a lecture.  Be prepared to repeat, repeat, repeat until it sinks in.  Be prepared for different manners of learning - not everyone 'gets' everything presented verbally - they may need to see it or do it for themselves.

But when all is said and done, if the students walk out of my class knowing more than when they walked in, I consider myself to have succeeded.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Sisyphus


Next warp, ready to go into the loom.

I thought I was doing really well, weaving two scarves almost every day.  I even had to get out a third bucket to put the woven, ready to be fringe twisted, scarves in.

The box under the work table was getting emptier.  And then I found a bunch more cones of yarn and when I put them into the box under the table...that box was fuller than when I had actually started.

I began to feel like Sisyphus, tasked with a never ending job!

But this is what most of my days feel like.  Second verse, same as the first.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Roll that rock up the hill...and watch it roll back down again.

Currently reading Wildflower by Drew Barrymore


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Risky Business


Colours not quite true to life - this warp is a kind of coral - not quite pink, not quite red, not quite...

Woven with the same solid in the weft,.


Again, not true to life - woven with a kind of tomato red as weft.


There are a number of aspects about being a person who creates things for sale.  One of them is sometimes using colours that don't...speak to you.  As with this warp.  I'm not a big fan of coral - it's not 'my' colour.  But I have this yarn and it needs to get used up, so I'm weaving with it.

Because it's not 'my' colour, I can't tell if I've succeeded in making something attractive. (Remember the colours are not 'true' in the photos.)

But I carry on in spite of that, feeling insecure in my ability to work with these colours in a meaningful way.  Because being a textile designer from the thread up is a risky business.  I risk my time, my materials, my...reputation...every time I push past my comfort zone and try something I'm not sure is going to succeed.

I don't rely on others to tell me what to do - which colours to use, which weave structures, what density.  I choose those things for myself.  And for me, it is that - shall we call it - acceptance of responsibility - that makes someone a 'master' or not.

I think for myself.  I may, at times, check in with someone else if I feel they are more informed than I am about something, but ultimately it is my judgement that needs to be used.  So I have to know as much as possible about my materials (and equipment and processes).

My successes and failures are mine alone.  I do not blame someone else because I was following their instructions.  I study the materials (by sampling), I make my best guess, I try it.

And I do fail.  Sometimes spectacularly.  But when I succeed - I've learned something then, too.

And that is mastery.  It is not relying on others to tell you what to do.  It is thinking for yourself.  It is pushing beyond your comfort zone, your level of knowledge - in order to learn more.

So yes, it is risky.  But every day I learn something I didn't know before.  Like the fact that coral and tomato red kind of looks ok - even to my eye, that doesn't really 'like' those colours individually, never mind together...


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Plan, Boss, the Plan!

With apologies to a hokey 70's TV program...


Being a bit (?) of a control freak, and always thinking ahead, I generally have A Plan (or three) complete with deadlines.  Because if I don't have a deadline, nothing gets done.  I need a reason to get up and get dressed of a morning, and a self imposed deadline is the carrot AND the stick that just happens to work for me.  

Being self employed also means having to be self motivated.  Without a dream, which gets broken down into goals, which are fuelled by deadlines, I would happily curl up with a book or some other distraction.  

But right now some of my plans are waiting for feedback from other people, so until I hear back from them, I am in limbo.  My way of coping (in between obsessively checking my email) is to get into the studio.  Today I am dressing the loom with the 17th two-scarf warp since Olds.  My goal is to weave two scarves every day because a) I need inventory for the coming craft fair season b) I need a good range of colours and I'm working with a limited palette of colours, so two per warp will give me the greatest selection c) I am trying to bust stash and make this line of scarves from what I have on hand, not buy yet more yarn.  

Once the work begins on the house (one of the people I am anxiously waiting to hear from) there will be noise and dust, and I plan on heading to the guild room to write in the quiet there.  But it is now almost halfway through July, and still no word.  My patience, never in generous supply to begin with, is wearing very thin and I'm getting cranky.  

So I am going to set a deadline and get back to writing on that day.  I'm not sure yet which day that will be, but I cannot delay the writing much longer and still have something to show the graphic/layout person the end of September.  

In the meantime I still have to thread warp #17, with five more waiting in the wings and more yarn to be wound into warps...

Carrot.  Stick.  One and the same, for me.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Growing Weavers


My growing pile of proto scarves is quite satisfying but since it only requires surface thought, I have had quite a lot of time to think about other things.  

One of those things is contemplating the surge in interest in weaving and the large pool of people new to the craft.  

While I am all in favour of leaping into the deep end of the pool (read my first blog posts for the story of my plunge into the deep end), I would encourage people to learn the vocabulary of the craft, the language of the materials, and hone their physical skills.  

It is the reason I am so enthusiastic about the Olds College master weaving program.  It rings all the bells that I believe need to be rung in terms of nurturing the principles of the craft.  

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a 'recipe' weaver.  But there must be some weavers who can create 'good' recipes.  And for that, I firmly believe the designer needs to have a good grasp of the elements of the craft.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Growing Pile


The pile of scarves continues to grow.  I am trying to weave two scarves a day, although I don't always make it.  But if I don't set a goal, I don't do anything.  Right now that just isn't acceptable because the fall shows will be here all too soon and I have other things I want/need to do...like maybe host company in early August, spend the last week of August in Cape Breton, maybe take a workshop and visit with friends the end of September.  If I am to have sufficient inventory for the first craft fair the end of October, I need to make them now.  Because after weaving comes fringe twisting, wet finishing, trimming, tagging/pricing.  If all I had to do was weave, I could take it 'easy' now, but the job isn't done when the shuttle throwing is complete!

I also have been mulling over the teaching.  When I was told I needed by pass surgery, I really thought my days of travelling to teach were over.  If I was done teaching, I could get rid of the huge stack of teaching materials, which would free up a lot of room in the studio.  But here I am, heavily invested in growing the Olds Master Weaving program, and now guilds are contacting me again to come teach.  So today I dragged my big planning calendar out and will begin pencilling in tentative teaching dates for next year...and maybe even 2018...

Apparently I really don't know when to quit!


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Another Year


I don't really celebrate birthdays much.  When you are self employed, every day is a potential work day, including birthdays.  Besides I have so many 're-birth' days now, beginning with May 9, 2008 with the angioplasty that saved me from a heart attack, to the beginning/completion of chemotherapy, to Jan. 22, 2015 and the triple by-pass surgery.  So, rather than celebrate one natal day a year, I try very hard to celebrate each and every day I wake up.  

The way I choose to celebrate is to be creative.  With all the negativity in the world, my hope is that by making textiles, exercising my creativity, others will see that it isn't ALL negative in the world.  

Being a crafts person is in some small way to act against the forces of negativity.  My little rebellion, if you will.  

One of the nice things about celebrating a birthday, though, is the reminder to connect with friends and family.  So I thank everyone who has chosen to send their best wishes and think of me today.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

No 'Sale'



So, it looks like Canada Post is going to be shut down after all.  Since my usual 'sale' is 'buy two, get free shipping' and I just cannot afford to use courier to send things, the 'birthday' sale will not happen this year.  I was hoping that they would settle today, but so far I have not heard that they have and...since my birthday is tomorrow, which is when the sale usually ends, it looks like it just isn't going to happen.

My tickets to Cape Breton have been purchased, and I need to decide very soon if I am going to go to TN in Oct.  I did sign up for the Bonnie Inouye workshop, but guild members get priority, which is only fair, so I don't know if I will get in or not.  Since my coffers are getting a bit um, light, shall we say, making another trip might not be a good idea.  On the other hand, I would really like to go and take Bonnie's class...

The summer is disappearing very quickly.  There is much to be done before the fall sales begin.  I'm hoping that some things that are up in the air will be settled soon.  I really dislike not knowing how things are going to play out.  Control freak?  Moi?  Apparently!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cloth Whisperer


After talking to students about weaving being a biofeedback activity, how they needed to listen to what their looms and yarns were telling them, and then adapting what they are doing in order to get the results they desired, one of them said something to the effect they they needed to become 'cloth whisperers'.  

Weaving is, indeed, a conversation between loom, yarn and weaver.  Couldn't have said it better myself.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Bottom Line


Stack of warps waiting to be woven

 One of the things that makes me sad is seeing photos on the internet of people sitting at looms with poor posture/position.  Why does that make me sad?  Because I know these people are inviting injury to their bodies.  It is one reason I really like teaching brand new weavers - I can discuss ergonomics with them and explain why some positions are 'better' than others - before they develop 'bad habits'.

One student let me know today that after taking a class with me in May and adopting some techniques I shared in class that she is not only able to dress her loom in less time - she didn't have to stop because of pain and take pain relievers.  All good things, in my opinion.

Another student let me know on day 1 of a 5 day class that she always suffered pain upon dressing a loom and weaving.  At the end of the 5 days, she shared the fact that she had not had any pain to speak of (in comparison to what she usually experienced).

Another brand new weaver thanked me for showing that weaving didn't have to be slow and painful, that she now had hope that she could weave and it didn't need to take days to dress a loom, it was possible to do it much faster than that.

Bottom line for me is to improve the experience of weaving for those who are encountering tangles, messes, difficulties and pain.


Just finished reading Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason.  (The translation seemed a bit...awkward to me, but it was an interesting look at a different culture.)   Currently reading Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekba:ck (thanks to Serena for the recommendation.)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Diminished


While the next warp goes into the loom, I think.  The routine of dressing the loom requires only surface attention, so deeper thoughts roil and bubble beneath the surface, surging now and again to consciousness...

With another birthday coming soon, I think about what it means to age.  I ponder the 8 years of health issues, adverse drug effects taking their toll on top of the various treatments - chemotherapy, by-pass surgery - general aches and pains, growing almost daily, it feels like.

And the only word I can come up with that describes this experience of body failing, energy failing, fitness...failing...and that word is 'diminished'.

I feel less, in so many ways than I once was.  I cut back on my activities and feel further...diminished.

I stop actively seeking opportunities and feel even more cut off from community - a community that is sparse on the ground to begin with, vastly spread out over most of North America - and beyond.  And I give up on dreams to travel to these far flung places...and feel further diminished because of a body that simply cannot deal with long distance travel - across the pond (although I still hope for one more trip) or further yet - Down Under.

I mourn the loss of energy, drive, resilience.  I stumble through my days, feeling that I ought to be doing more, accomplishing more - and lack the energy to tackle even the most mundane of things.

After two years on beta blockers I had less than zero energy - some of that has returned since getting off of them, but this interlude without them might be short lived as my cardiologist might insist I go back on them when I see her next year on my follow up after the surgery.

My mother turns 90 this year and I watch her - once vibrant and active - slowly move through her days, and I wonder - will that be me, next year?  Never mind our age difference, she always out ran me.  But now she struggles to walk.  Am I seeing my future?  Will I even last that long?  Would I want to, if I could no longer weave, teach, think clearly enough to write?

Is this what getting 'old' looks like?  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Be Not Afraid



During demos, observers usual panic a wee bit when they see the lease sticks do this, usually as I am transferring the continuous loops of the warp from the stick holding the loops onto the apron.

Inevitably one or two will swoop upon the lease sticks to 'save' them.  

If I notice, I will tell them not to bother, that nothing is 'wrong'.  The lease sticks are secured, the cross is being held. Everything is fine.  

Part of 'mastering' a craft is knowing the limits f the materials and equipment and when something needs to be fixed or can be left until the next step.

Once the loops are securely on the apron, the lease sticks can be re-aligned, the choke tie grasped and gently pulled to ease the loops back to being equal.  The warp is installed into the warping valet and it is good to go.  All is well. 


The biggest lesson to learn is the confidence to know the difference between disaster and a minor glitch. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

That Tired Inaccurate Formula


When I started weaving as my job, my career, lo, these 40+ years ago, the prevailing wisdom for pricing was that you trebled your material costs.  

At that formula, this scarf ought to sell for $15.  

While I may have paid about $10/lb for the yarn in this scarf, that price is not a true reflection of the material costs.  I happened on a bargain for yarns that would have cost me a lot more if I had bought them from the supplier in the U.S.   By the time shipping and exchange rate and duty was added to the yarn it would have cost at least double that.  So, even if I trebled that amount, the sell price using that tired inaccurate formula, my selling price would be $30.  

Even if I used that as my wholesale price, doubling it would still only bring the selling price to $60.  

But no where in that pricing formula are my overhead (those costs that continue every month regardless of what you do or do not do), my labour, the additional expenses of things like the wet finishing (water, soap, electricity to run the water/dryer/steam press), the dry finishing (which takes as long as the shuttle throwing to weave the scarf), the cost of booth fees and travel to other cities.  Not to mention my years of study, my skill.

So, no, I won't be selling these scarves for $60.   The price will be more like $100.  And even at that, they will be a bargain.  Even if I do say so myself.