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

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Resources


Thought I would do a post on some of the (mostly on line) resources I find useful.

(note - I published this monograph by Kerstin Fro:berg and sell it)

Weave a V is an explanation of double weave and how to weave a V shaped shawl.  Instructions for both rising and sinking shed looms.  $25 including shipping (If in Europe, Kerstin sells it herself.)

Of course there are my DVD's, done via Interweave Press and Power Point presentation A Good Yarn.

There are also my video clips on You Tube  These are free.

Other resources I recommend are Janet Dawson's Crafty class

Jane Stafford's on line guild/classes

More on line classes from Tien Chiu, on creativity and design

Robyn Spady is publishing Heddlecraft

WeaveZine is still archived on line.  There are articles and podcasts (I transcribed most of the podcasts if you prefer to read a transcript)

Handweaving.net has hundreds of drafts as well as weaving publications to download

Weavolution is still available and Magic in the Water can be purchased (pdf version only) through this website - or from me directly.

The Association of Northwest Weavers is just one of the regional associations that hosts conferences.  Check your area for yours.  (This is mine, and their conference every second year will be held here in Prince George, BC Canada in 2019.  Our Keynote Speaker Abby Franquemont has started lessons on line as well.)

Handweavers Guild of America also hosts a conference every second year on even numbered years and Complex Weavers does as well.

Guild of Canadian Weavers has a newsletter and their master weaver program

This is just a short list of the resources available.  There are also Facebook groups of all stripes and a few on Ravelry.

If your aim is to learn more in the coming year, these are just a few of the places I recommend.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Who Do You Think You Are?



Someone famously said "An un-examined life is not worth living".  Well, I don't actually believe that, but I do believe that sometimes it is good to look at your life and think about what it is you want to do, you want to accomplish, maybe even how you would like to be remembered long after you are gone.

One of the exercises in a creative writing class was to write ones own obituary.  As a 20 something, I really hadn't a clue.  But it was a good exercise in that it forced me to think about how others might perceive me compared to how I perceived myself.

As the earth pivots in it's orbit around the sun and the northern hemisphere begins its steady march toward longer days and shorter nights, the feeling that life gone quiet will soon be returning, the winter solstice and beginning of the new calendar year is a good time for contemplation.

So.  Who do I think I am?

I think I know quite a lot about the creation of textiles.  I think I'm pretty good at explaining the nuances of the creation of textiles.  I think I am encouraging of people who want to know more about the creation of textiles.  I think that being a creative person makes me happier, healthier, than if I didn't have something creative to put my attention on, to focus on. 

I have doing this for a rather long time now.  I have been involved in internet interest groups since 1994.  I have watched as people struggled to learn the craft, quite often on their own, with nothing but books, then You Tube videos to point them in a direction.

I have tried to assist people with understanding why their efforts may not have turned out quite the way they expected, simply because they didn't know any better.  That they chose inappropriate materials.  Equipment.  Processes.

My intention in this has never been to put them down but to help them understand.

Most people have been very open to my suggestions, but a small fraction have not.  I have learned to not give advice willy-nilly to everyone having issues.  Because sometimes they just don't want to know.

I even had someone email me to question my motives in doing what I was doing, inferring that I was selfish and greedy because I wanted payment for a particular event I was organizing.

In the end I found myself unable to respond to the email and let it go unanswered.  She had obviously made up her mind about me and would not be swayed by any explanation or justification I might proffer for expecting a (small) remuneration for my time and knowledge.

Even though these interactions are the minority of the feedback I have received over the years, they have stung sufficiently that I am now extremely careful about who I offer free advice to.  Because you know how valuable advice is by how much you pay for it.

I have withdrawn from most of the social media type groups I have, at one time or another, belonged to because my heart actually aches when I see people post their intentions, using yarn that is going to cause them grief, processes that are not going to give them good results, using equipment that isn't the best.  All I can do is watch the disaster and heartache unfold.  And I can't.  So I exit stage left - and leave them to their struggles.

I have learned that not everyone is open to any kind of unsolicited suggestion. 

And so I keep my opinions pretty much to myself these days unless someone directly asks for my input.  Except here.  This is my blog, my opinions.  Anyone coming here is here because they choose to be here.  If they don't agree with me, there are plenty of other places to go.  Maybe too many.  How do you know who to listen to?

My advice is to find an expert who makes sense to you.  Learn whatever they can teach you.  Learn as much as you possibly can.  Learn enough to become your own expert.  When the student is ready, the teacher will appear...

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Keeping On, Keeping On



I'm fighting with fatigue these days and the short, grey, dreary days are not helping.

I am finding satisfaction in working with colour, which adds a certain zest to the studio.

I didn't start out feeling comfortable working with colour.  Truth be told, I'm still not all that comfortable now, although after a concerted effort to understand how colour works, theoretically, then within the woven structure, I am a lot braver, a lot bolder than I used to be.

Not everyone is instinctively comfortable working with colour.  To those people I have suggested to begin by weaving colour gamps.  First the primary colours, then the tints/tones, pastels.  Really look at how the colours are in their undiluted state, then how they look when they cross each other. 

Train the eye to see differences.  I find that years of making jigsaw puzzles has helped with that, and to learn to see fine detail.  Both good things to be able to do when a weaver.

But for those who would like a more structured approach to learning about colour and textiles, Tien Chiu is developing on line classes in colour and design.  She has been working hard on getting her first class ready for the new year.  If you, like me, are not comfortable working with colour, this might be a nice way to jump in and get your creative toes wet.

As for the fatigue?  It, too, is a matter of just jumping in and getting moving.  Fatigue is not cured by resting or naps.  It is just a constant companion, a veil that needs to be shoved aside so that I can carry on with what I really want to do.

If I sit for too long it just gets harder and harder to get moving again.  So now I give Fatigue a nod, tell it I see it for what it is, but I'm going to get up out of this chair and go weave anyway.  Because while nothing much makes Fatigue 'better', nothing much makes it 'worse'.  It just is. 

I'm hoping that I will be able to start treatment soon after my next appointment.  I've been told that if the pills work the fatigue will go away.  I really hope so.  Because I have things I want/need to do and I'm getting tired of shoving my way through the veil...

Monday, December 25, 2017

Potential



Recently someone asked me when I was going to retire.  I told them I am already doing what I love, why would I retire?

The fact is, though, that I am seeing the effects of a lifetime of labour.  No body resists repetitive motions done pretty much every day forever.  So once again, with the coming of the new year, I am thinking hard about what it is I want to accomplish in my life. 

This time last year I was either at mom’s apartment or at hospice.  There was plenty of time to think as I sorted through her things.  Keep?  Give to family?  Donate to charity?  Toss?

This year has been a year of reflection.  What do I want to do?  Answers were not forthcoming so I resorted to the easy.  The comfortable.  With one goal only-to try and address my excessive stash.  

In that effort I claim limited success.  Limited, because I definitely have way too much stash.  A classic example of SABLE...Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy.  

So, after much thought I still have not come to much in the way of a plan.  I have decided to continue with the effort to publish the manuscript, in some sort of format.  I am still exploring possibilities but realized I needed a professional to help and have hired someone who has the appropriate knowledge.  I will meet with her next month in hopes of settling questions that I can’t answer on my own.  

2018 is already shaping up to be busy as we enter into the nitty gritty of conference planning.  Some things are well underway, some things need to be addressed in the next few weeks...as soon as the holiday is done.  

As for me, every day is a potential work/Weaving day.   So today I thread the loom and keep on, keeping on. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Shed


At the 'bottom' of the sweet spot


At the 'top' of the sweet spot


People don't understand why staying within the sweet spot is important.  

I am currently weaving on a Baby Wolf which is a small floor loom with short distance between breast and back beam.  It is a jack loom so the shed is formed by the shafts rising.

At the beginning of the sweet spot, the angle the threads are forming is about 20 degrees and the bottom of the shed floor is pretty much on the shuttle race.  The shed is nice and clear and large.  Plenty of room for the shuttle to pass through.

At the top end of the sweet spot, the angle the threads are opening is greater - about 28 degrees.  (I didn't do a really scientific measurement, just an approximate.)

While the shed is still big enough for the shuttle to pass through, it is clear that the bottom of the shed has lifted significantly from the shuttle race and the threads are under more stress because of the more acute angle at which they are opening.

If I pushed beyond this point, the shed would become harder to open (require more foot pounds) and it would also become smaller.  The bottom of the shed would continue to lift away from the shuttle race making it more likely that the shuttle would 'submarine' and pick up threads from the shed floor.

By pushing beyond the sweet spot, there is more likelihood that threads would break, especially the selvedge ends, which are under more stress than the rest of the warp to begin with.

Another thing that happens is that the warp tightens ever so slightly as the warp ends take up more and more.  The force needed to beat the weft in will change with the tightening of the warp.

As the beat changes, there can be streaks in the cloth as the warp is pushed to it's limit, then released and rolled forward.  

Much, much better to stay within the sweet spot and advance more frequently.

Currently reading His Majesty's Spy by Susan  Elia MacNeal

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Coming of the Light


Today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.  Here today it is dull, grey, depressing.  It is also the one year 'anniversary' (if you will) of mom going into hospital, then hospice.

It is a day to pause, reflect.  Taking stock.  Goal setting.  The new year begins with the returning of the light.  And so I have been dealing with a lot of things, emotional, physical, professional.

My entire life I have believed that encouraging others takes nothing away from me.  My approach to weaving is to encourage, inform (to the best of my ability) and - hopefully - light up someone else with the joy and delight I take in creating textiles.

Many things got put on hold this year.  I am hoping to return to some of them.  Some may get discarded.  Most people my age are 'retired' but how can I 'retire' to do what I love when I am already doing that? 

But I am also tired.  So I am looking at how much time I have in relation to how much energy, and am making choices. 

I don't make resolutions for the new year.  Instead I focus on what is important to me.  I made goals.  I set (arbitrary) deadlines for myself. 

There is no point, for me, to have goals if I don't also have a finish date to work towards.

So today, as the earth completes another journey around the sun, I encourage everyone to pause, take a deep breath, focus on what is important and work steadily towards the good and positive in their lives.  Maybe even light a few candles.  Because we can all use all the light we can get.


Monday, December 18, 2017

Organized



This draft has a repeat of 20 ends made up of four groups of five.  To keep track, I tie each group of five into a slip knot, then when all four groups are threaded I tie them all into a bundle.  That way I know all four groups have been threaded and I can start the next repeat.  

Some people use different methods to keep track.  Every person has to figure out what works best for them because we process information differently.  What works for one may not work for another. 

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

Tracking





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

Book-ish



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?


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Black Friday






The above photos are four of the 8 tea towels/table centres currently listed on my on line shop with more to come next week.

I'd just like to remind people that prices include free shipping to the US and are listed in those tiny Canadian dollars.  Therefore a 'bargain'?

Interweave Press  is also having a huge sale.  It looks like my DVD on wet finishing is currently out of stock, but the video download is on deep discount as are both DVD and video download of The Efficient Weaver.  They even have the webinar on fibre characteristics on at half price.  Or did as of this morning when I last checked.

Since this year's craft fair season wasn't as...brilliant...as I would have liked, I am exploring other options for income.  Some independent authors/teachers are pursuing the Patreon option, but I'm not sure I can effectively manage that, especially in the run up to the conference in 2019.

So I am exploring the possibility of monetizing this blog.  

I have been offering free advice via this blog since August of 2008.  Adding pertinent advertisers will, I hope, be acceptable to my readers.  If not, I hope people will be able to ignore them.  

So - don't be surprised if you suddenly see ads appearing.  

I will do a trial of three (?) months and see if it is worthwhile.  Google says you can opt out again anytime.  Of course it probably means more robo calls from Google - the most annoying part of being a small business.  But I have finally decided to give it a try and see if it is acceptable to me and my readers. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sisyphus



In trying to get more organized and make my studio more functional, what was chaos now feels like an endless job of moving boxes and bins from here to there and back again.  

So instead I’m threading another mat warp, ignoring, as best I can, the mess...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down



One of the routine discussions that goes round the weaving world is that of how to hold the shuttle.

Now, everyone has to work within their abilities and disabilities, but here's the scoop on whether or not thumbs up or thumbs down is good for you:

"What is this “ideal shoulder position,” I speak of? Lucky for you, the ideal position of external rotation can be demonstrated by standing (or sitting) up straight, imagining that there’s a pencil between your shoulder blades (scapulae), and you’re pinching your scaps together to keep the pencil from falling. Lift your arms directly in front of you, make a fist and lock your elbows. Rotate your thumbs so they’re pointing towards the ceiling; you are now externally rotated at the shoulder (pictured below, ignore the arrow for now). This is an ideal position. Alternately, flip your thumbs towards each other then down towards the ground; you’re now internally rotated at the shoulder. This is bad."

(edited to add the link to the above quote)

I have been weaving, production weaving, in other words many hours nearly every day, for 40+ years.

I have two whiplash injuries, so my neck is compromised as well as my back and shoulders.  And yet, and yet, I can still weave for 3 (or more) 45 minute sessions every day, holding my shuttle as shown in the photo above.

Over the years I have consulted with various professionals - chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, dance instructor who holds a degree in movement.  All, every one of them, says the thumbs down position is 'bad' for the body.  Maybe not today.  Maybe not tomorrow.  Maybe not ever!

But for those people who are already compromised in their neck, shoulders, back, I strongly urge them to try holding the shuttle in the manner pictured above.  It helps with wider warps insofar and you can more easily propel the shuttle across a wide warp.  It helps with shoulder issues (especially if you have a tendency to rotator cuff problems) and I feel a smoother rhythm can be achieved much more quickly.

I have certainly had positive feedback in workshops from students who make the effort to change. (If you are one of those who experienced an improvement by changing, please comment below?)

In the end, however, if you are happy with what you are doing, no need to change anything.  But I do suggest that if you hold the shuttle thumb down that you take frequent breaks.  And if you only ever weave for 15-20 minutes at a time, the thumbs down position may never cause any grief.

Each to their own!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Plans vs Reality



Stephanie Pollack has brilliantly summed up Life.

I am a plan maker, a deadline meet-er.  I purposely set up my life with goals I want to obtain, in a time frame that I need to work towards, pretty much daily.  Having goals and deadlines gives me the adrenaline I need to get out of bed every morning and hie myself to the studio.

With the craft fair season not quite as lucrative as I'd hoped, and debts higher, I have been kind of scrambling around trying to come up with a plan.  Or three.  Or more.

First - sort through the left over inventory, get beauty shots, list on my on-line web shop (via Circle Craft)  Today I will select the first items and try to get good photos although the light is pretty dull today so it may have to wait until tomorrow.

Weave the order of a dozen place mats I got in Vancouver.  Again - won't finish today, will aim for tomorrow.

Accept commission from another weaver who is similarly running into Life and Deadlines.  I don't mind 'ghost' weaving for another weaver, especially when it is something that I feel I will ultimately benefit from doing.  Not to mention she is willing to pay.  (See comment above about lack of income and debt load.)

Simmering in the background is a commitment to write up my part in a joint project, do the 'final' edits for The Intentional Weaver (so far), submit a proposal to Handwoven.

People have no idea how much work it takes to be a professional artisan/teacher/author.  I need my daily deadlines/goals to keep me heading in the direction of my ultimate objective.  Peaks, valleys, obstacles will undoubtedly lie on my path - not that nice straight line that I think Life should be like - might mean I don't meet my initial goal.  But if I never set a goal, a deadline, I will never get anything done.

So...I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go...

Currently reading Take Out by Margaret Maron 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

No Rest


This afternoon I started dressing the small loom again, mainly because I have an order for this colour of mats.  I didn't promise delivery before Christmas, but I'd like to get them done and shipped - and paid for.  Because the show season didn't go as well as I would have liked.  I knew I was low on shawls.  I knew I was getting low on scarves.  Turned out I was low on place mats, too.  If you don't have it there to sell...

Yesterday I wound a couple of warps, this one included, but didn't even try to dress the loom.  I was tired and that is a recipe for mistakes happening.  As it was I was distracted and had to stop several times and recount my ends to make sure I was winding the warp accurately.

By 4 pm I'd hit the wall, so to speak, but managed to get this far:


I'm ready to weave, but rather than carry on while tired, decided to just wind bobbins so that I can start weaving tomorrow, hopefully when I'm better rested.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

An Honour



I've been interviewed lots of times - newspaper, radio, television, podcasts.  It's always an honour to have someone be interested in you and what you do.

It is especially nice when it is a fellow artisan - someone who understands the creative urge, who doesn't think you are a little bit...strange...a little bit...warped.

I was very surprised when I got an email from Felicia Lo of Sweet George Yarns last August asking if I would be interested in being interviewed for her podcast.  She said interviews were generally about 20-30 minutes.

OTOH, this is moi, after all, and I do seem to have a very lot to say and our interview lasted closer to 55 minutes.  I really thought she would have to edit it to make it fit the more usual 20-30, but it appears that she didn't.  (!)

The interview went live this morning.  However I was on the road coming back from Circle Craft and for some reason my ipad wouldn't link to their website.  So - we are in the door, starting to unpack and I'm sifting through my inbox and trying to catch up on being away for 8 days.

First priority will be to get the studio organized, financials sorted, make a plan.  And then see if I can actually stick to the plan without haring down rabbit holes.

(For another podcast, WeaveCast is still up and available to listen to.)


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Deja, Deja Vu

Last day.

The show has been...ok...but after last year's success, disappointing.

Today it is supposed to be more typical Vancouver weather with rain all day.  That may help because it won't be very nice to be out of doors.  Plus today is the last day so if people want something, today is the day.

This show has about 300 booths.  The vast majority of us either earn our entire income from making and selling, or at least the income forms a significant portion of our income.  If we don't make enough, then we have to make decisions.

It is never a good idea to make such decisions while disappointed and tired.  So I will wait until later in the month after I've been home for a while and can crunch numbers, look at the calendar and do some thinking.

In the meantime?   One more day.  

Friday, November 10, 2017

Hump Day

Today begins day three of a five day show.  It's the last of three, back to back.

I've been doing this show (this time around) since 2011.  It's a high end show that attracts interesting makers and a clientele that, for the most part, is willing to pay 'extra' for hand made designer items.

Over the years I have developed a small following and a number of them have let me know that they appreciate what I make.  Some have even added to their collection.

It is always heart warming to get this kind of feedback.  But the years have taken their toll.  My body has been having...issues...for a number of years.  Each year I sit down at the end of the season to assess how the shows have gone.  How much in sales?  How much physical effort it takes?  How much inventory I have left vs how much stash?

At this stage of my life doing three shows back to back is no longer a given.  Each year I have to think long and hard about whether or not I can do it again.

In the meantime I also have the on line 'shop' on the Circle Craft website, which I expect to rejuvenate next week sometime.

I need to sit down with my iPad and make a list of what needs doing and set myself some deadlines/goals.  Because the conference is about to get real, too.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Payday


It has been quite the year.  It started with this warp.  Then I kind of stumbled my way through the months.

My goal was to use up stash, and in that regard I did succeed in using up some of my yarns.  But I didn't make the things I really needed.  So I am 2/3's of the way through my craft fair season, having done two out of the three major shows I am doing, low on shawls and place mats.  I always seem to under estimate how many mats I need.  As for the shawls?  I just didn't have the energy.  

Another way to look at my season is that I have done five of the 10 sales days.  So, reckoning that way, I'm really only half way through my season. 

As a craftsperson I work all year getting inventory ready.  Bills come in, money goes out.  And hopefully these three shows will be my 'pay day'.  

But you never really know how things will go.  

So...plan B is to get home, take beauty shots, update my 'shop' on the Circle Craft website.  Because I'm pretty sure there will be tea towels left over at the end of this fair. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Here We Go...Again



Yesterday was set up day for the other local show we do - Studio Fair.

I have been doing this show, first as a volunteer, then as an independent crafts person for a very long time.  I've watched it grow into the higher end show it now is, attracting artisans from across the country.  I've been here almost every year it has been in business, watched others - and myself - evolve through the decades.

We have refined my booth structure and display as what I make has changed.  Most of it fits on a cart other than a few 'odd' items - like the tall stool and some metal display stands.  Usually while Doug loads the cart I start hand carrying the odd ball items to the booth.

And then we start setting up the booth apparatus, including the lights.

Studio Fair is a 'low light' show but even before it was I always had my own lights.  Because the quality of light in such large halls is pretty terrible, which would shift my colours into something...not very attractive.  I needed my own lighting to wash out the overhead lights so that people could see how my textiles actually looked instead of how they looked under the hall lights.

So this photo shows Doug just after he has arrived with the loaded cart.  A couple of boxes are already on the floor - the cart is usually piled high with display stuff as well as the many boxes of product.

It all fits into the back of our 'mini' van with the seats out in the back.

Now it's down to whether or not enough people are interested in my designs, willing to pay my prices.

Sunday we tear down and pack everything up into the back of the van.  Monday morning, as soon as we can possibly hit the road, we head for Vancouver to do the Circle Craft Christmas Market.

Where we will do this all over again...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Seasons/Cycles


People sometimes forget that for me, weaving is a year round, full time job.  And so when I appear at a craft fair, the contents of my booth do not reflect just a few weeks or even months of work, but at times, years.

Since I have never yet actually sold out of anything in one year, whatever is left gets brought out the next year.  And the next.  Until I get sick of dragging it around and donate it to a worthy cause, or sell the last few pieces of a line at discount prices, usually at the annual guild sale in December.  It's a great way to support the guild (who gets a % of sales) and get rid of things that have been hanging around for far too long.

Some of the things in my booth might have been woven five years ago; some were woven this year.  

But bottom line?  If I didn't work at this all year round, I would not have enough inventory to do the (now) three major shows that I do in October and November (plus the guild show in Dec.)

Weaving by hand is still a labour intensive activity.  People constantly want to know how long is has taken me to weave something.  Which is very difficult to say without doing some serious number crunching.

So - place mats.

It takes about 30-40 minutes to wind a warp which will yield 12 mats and one table runner.
It takes about 30-40 minutes to beam that warp.  (What can I say, I'm fast)
It takes about 30-40 minutes to thread that warp.  (See bracket above)
It takes about 10-15 minutes to sley and tie on.
It take about 30-40 minutes to weave 4 mats, so a total of about 140 minutes plus breaks to weave that warp.  If I push hard I can weave the entire 10.5 meter long warp off in a day.
Cut and serge?  About 30 minutes.
Then into the washer and dryer.
Then a couple of hours to press.
Hemming takes about 40 minutes each.  Yes, finishing an item can take as long if not longer than weaving (as in shuttle throwing).
Then a final press.
Then tagging/pricing.

And I'm fast.  Most weavers can't come close to my efficiency.

Yes, people can buy place mats for cheaper at Target.  But they won't get my designs.  Because in the 21st C what hand craftspeople are selling - in addition to their skill - is their unique design aesthetic.  Something that cannot be found anywhere but from them.

For all the people who have believed in me and my skills/designs over the decades - my heart felt thanks for supporting me in my dream of creating unique textiles.

We set up for Studio Fair tomorrow, set up for Circle Craft Christmas Market (Vancouver) next Tuesday, and once I get home I will be re-opening my shop on the Circle Craft website.  

Stay tuned...

Currently reading Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Sunday, October 29, 2017

One Down, Two...



The first show of my craft fair season is done and dusted.  I have a few days 'off' to try and tame this cold - because man, I feel miserable!  Thank goodness Doug doesn't mind selling.  I pretty much sat in the background and let him deal with it.

The photo is of a traditional design called Snails' Trails and Cat's Paws.  All of these are gone now, but I'm revisiting the design in some soft muted blue/greens.  I intend to get them done as soon as I get home from Vancouver, mid-November.  If I can get them down quickly enough they will go into my 'shop'  on the Circle Craft website.

My shop is 'closed' for business right now, but as soon as I can get unpacked from the Circcle Craft Christmas Market, it will be open.  There will mostly be tea towels, mainly because that is what I have the most of, in terms of inventory.  I may list rayon chenille scarves, too.  Mostly it will depend if I can get photos that are remotely close to the colours in the scarves.

Tomorrow I am going to stay home.  I may (or may not) wind place mat warps.  I doubt I will feel up to weaving on the AVL, although I had hoped to finish the blue weft tea towels, maybe even start on the green cottolin weft. 

But all of that will have to wait and see how tired and miserable this cold is making me.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Soaring



Here I am at the loom having just caught the shuttle.  Notice I have 'caught' it between my index and middle finger and am using my thumb to brake the bobbin and apply a slight amount of tension to the weft to ensure that it seats well around the outside end, creating a secure and consistent selvedge.

Before the industrial revolution there were so many people involved in the production of textiles everyone pretty much knew what went into getting the fibre from the crop onto one's back.  But now the vast majority of textiles are produced in factories, far away from the eye of those people who rely on textiles.  In other words - pretty much all of us, one way or another.

As hand weavers we keep the craft of textiles alive.  As such I hold no secrets.  I am quite happy to share what I know.  If I get paid for it (such as by teaching workshops or publishing my hints/tips), even better.  Because I am in this as a profession, not as a hobby.

Weaving has never been a hobby for me.  Spinning, knitting, bobbin lace - all hobbies.  But not weaving.

I tell people that while I don't take myself very seriously, I take my craft very seriously indeed.  And over the years I've learned - quite a lot, actually.

I have taken workshops from as many people as I could, bought numerous books, reading many of them cover to cover.  And I've tried things.  Many things.  Failed too many times to count.  If you consider learning a failure.  Because sometimes the most valuable lesson of all is that you won't do that again!

As I was weaving this morning - after too many weeks away from the loom - I hit my stride - my zone.  And I thought about how, even when only surface attention is required, I am constantly monitoring what is happening.  Paying subliminal attention to the loom, to the shuttle, to the weft.  That even though it may look as though I am mindless, I am anything but.  Rather, I am actually pretty engaged in what is going on.  And when something happens that isn't consistent - the weft 'catches' in the shuttle, for example, I can immediately adjust and 'fix' that.

I rarely teach beginning weaving classes any more.  I'd much rather students get their introduction to weaving elsewhere and then come to me once they have learned some of the vocabulary, some of the concepts, some of the principles.  And then I can refine what they are doing.  Tweak their skills.  Advise on their equipment choices, their ergonomics.

At this point in my career, I find this enormously satisfying.  To see new-ish weavers take wing and soar.

And all the while I think about all the giants who allowed me to stand on their shoulders.  And I give my thanks to them for helping make me the weaver I am today.

Here is a link to the video clips I have loaded to You Tube.  And of course you can still get The Efficient Weaver from shops that carry Interweave Press products, or from their website

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Satisfied



Yesterday Doug loaded the van with most of the stuff for the coming craft fairs.  There are still a few things left to go in, including the cart we use to transfer all the boxes from van to booth location.

This weekend will be the Artisans of the North at the University.  We once again have a spot in the Doug Little room which is just off the Winter Garden (and Tim Horton's - but I digress).

I'm low on shawls, although I think this one is still available.  It's been a while since I sorted through the stacks and stacks of textiles.  But I know I have very few shawls left.  Never did make it to putting a shawl warp on.

Because it isn't just the weaving of them.  There there's the fringe twisting.  Then the wet finishing.  Then trimming the fuzzy bits off the ends of the fringe to make them look tidy.  Then tagging.

And I just didn't have the time or energy it would take to even think about getting more finished in time.  So, I didn't even try.

Instead I put another tea towel warp onto the AVL while getting a couple more white place mat warps woven.  Yesterday I finished hemming the mats and now I'm working on the table runners I got woven over the summer.  

So even though I'm disappointed I couldn't manage more shawls I am satisfied I did the best I could given how this year started - with mom dying and all that that entailed to get her life wrapped up, then teaching, then all the dental work I needed.  But the dental work is now finished (until next time) and once my mouth settles down I should be able to chew on both sides of my mouth.  Which should help my TMJ - chewing only on one side of my mouth was causing issues with stressing my jaw.

And on and on it goes. 

As Bette Davis supposedly said - getting old is not for sissies!

If I have the time and energy once we return from Vancouver I will update my on line shop via the Circle Craft website and have a 'sale' before Christmas.  Stay tuned.

Currently reading Glass Houses by Louise Penny




Monday, October 23, 2017

Hurry Up and Wait

Another airport, another wait.

While I love being there, the getting there and back, not so much.

The workshop, purportedly on Lace weaves, went rogue very quickly.  I deny any responsibility for that.  They just kept asking really good questions.  When someone in a class asks a good question and the rest of the class also wants to know the answer?   I will go down that rabbit hole.

So we wound up talking about Fibre characteristics, ergonomics, tension, beat, shuttle handling.

Best of all?   They laughed at my jokes.

What's not to love?  

Well, the travelling.  That is not so loveable.  But it's a lot easier to move me to them than to have all them come to me.

Time to board the last flight home.  My own bed.  Sigh....

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Form/Function



Yesterday I had the pleasure of addressing a group of weavers, talking about lace weaves.  As part of that I talked anout my 'messy' train of thought as I build a cloth, and that I am primarily a form follows function weaver. 

After the presentation one weaver came up to say that she worked for a group of engineers and that they were always saying "form/function, form/function".  

She said she now understood how that applied to weaving. 

Be still my heart.  ;)



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

TN Interlude


This trip has been a lovely Interlude before the craft fair season begins with a bang in, oh, 10 days?   Really it begins pretty much the minute I step foot back in my house next Monday evening.  Then it is four weeks of scramble, plus a slew of appointments stuck in between trying to pack, set up, make nice, hope to sell enough to pay off my debt and have some left over to get me through the winter.  

The downside of easing back on the teaching is...less income.  

So, once the sales are over I will need to stare that manuscript down and get it finished.  I'm still a minimum of six months away from completion of the manuscript, plus all the rest of what needs to happen to it after that.  Bottom line?   A bunch more money going out before it will (hopefully) bring some money in. 

And the cycle takes another turn...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Asking Why


Sometimes I do things just because I want to know what happens if I do this?  Or if I change this, how will it affect that?

Over the past while I have been working with a spinner and looking at things like twist energy.  Today we wet finished the three scarves I wove with handspun singles.  And the corners of this scarf curled.  We have had a good chin wag about how the yarns were the same and how they are different. We have come to a conclusion.  We are pretty confident in why it happened but more experimentation will be required to prove or disprove our evaluation.  In the meantime, it was an interesting exercise.  Proving once again that you never stop learning if you just keep asking "what if?"

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fellowship


There is nothing like finding kindred spirits, even though hundreds (thousands) of miles may separate us.  Every once in a while we gather, to share hopes, dreams, highs, lows.  

Today we visited Ann Marie's new studio and put our stamp of approval on it.  

Tomorrow we separate further, although Mary and I have a few more days together.  We will finalize a joint project and hopefully wrap up what we have done to this point.  And then I begin my slow journey home with a stop in the Pacific Northwest to help ease me back into fall weather.  Because today home had first snowfall and I am spoiled for winter after spending time in Tennessee.  But soon it will be time to enter back into the fray of the craft fair season before the descent into full winter.  

And the cycle begins again...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Culmination


I'm at the fun bit of weaving - sitting at the loom, contentedly weaving away, piling up the yards/meters.  Thinking.  Because when everything is going well and you only need surface attention for the task at hand, the mind can go wandering.

This morning I was thinking about how cyclic in nature being a professional weaver is.  My year end is not Dec. 31 but oh, around now.  The craft fair season begins very shortly and if I haven't got it ready for sale by now?  It probably isn't going to be ready for this year.  So what I am actually doing is working on inventory for next year.  

I am also stash busting - to a certain extent.  While the weft I'm currently using is 'new' - as in purchased in Sweden at Va:v last month, the warp yarns have been in my stash for considerably longer.  

This summer I did not have my usual 'birthday' sale so I am thinking of getting new items loaded to my Circle Craft shop as soon as I get home from the Circle Craft Christmas Market, mid-November.  Maybe by then these towels will be finished.  Or very soon after I get home.  My 'shop' is currently closed due to my travel schedule, but I haven't forgotten about it.

There are a whole bunch of things that have had to be put on the back burner, but I have not forgotten about them.  Number one is, of course, The Book.  I got the last set of edits in June but have just not had the time - or energy - to deal with them.  Again, hopefully after the craft fair season.  Doing the new edits can actually be - not relaxing, exactly - but a different kind of activity, one particularly suited to winter.

Plus the perennial conversation about all things weaving, generally process related, goes around again.  So finishing The Book seems particularly important, if only to give people more information than is generally available.  If you don't know what you don't know, you don't know that you need to know it.  My hope is to fill in some of those cracks in people's fundamental knowledge so that they can make appropriate choices.

As for the web on the loom, yes there are reed marks.  No they may not come out 'in the wash' (wet finishing) but they are consistent and therefore part of the character of the cloth.  I'm good with it either way.

And yes, that's a three thread float on the selvedge.  And no, it doesn't bother me.  It's fine.  And no, I don't use a floating selvedge.  See my other blog posts on Selvedges.  Whole lot more to good selvedges than using a floating selvedge.  Or an end feed shuttle.  Etc.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

It's Own Time


I have visited the province of Dalarna, Sweden several times and as such have also visited a number of glassworks and gotten to know a little bit about glass as a material.  One of the phrases heard about glass is that it 'has it's own time'.  In other words, the glass worker must tease it into the final shape by understanding how the molten glass behaves and when it is appropriate to shape it.

So too, I think, does linen have it's own 'time'.  Or at the very least, it's own humidity in order for it to behave nicely.

I bought some singles 16 at Va:v and this morning I started winding bobbins to place in a humidor.  I live in a much dryer climate than linen really appreciates, so it is important to allow the fibre to take up moisture so that it co-operates in the shuttle.

Yesterday I got the 2/16 cotton warp threaded and later today I'll sley and tie up and hopefully begin weaving.  I ought to have started winding bobbins yesterday so that they would have a good 24 hours to take up moisture, but I was distracted with other things and didn't remember the linen really needs a little coddling in terms of humidity.  Hopefully it will behave for me when I get started weaving.

I only filled one humidor this morning but that should be plenty to start weaving.  I'll wind more later today and fill the other two humidors I made with a couple of plastic tubs and a lid.  When everything is going well, I can go through quite a few bobbins in a day so I want to make sure I have them ready - and willing - to go.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bumps


Life is full of bumps, lumps, twists and turns.  

The last couple of warps that I put onto the AVL I had some errors that required fixing and this time I decided I needed something that would be simpler to set up.  It's also something that many people find attractive - a twill block version of the traditional Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws design.

I have some of this design on hand but they are 'neutral' colours.  The linen I brought home from Sweden is a lovely rich somewhat 'off' blue, not dark dark, but deeper than what I would consider a medium value.  As such I thought it would go nicely on this warp made up of greyed blues and greens in a medium value with a few darker blues, almost identical to the linen, to make up 32 spools for sectional beaming.

I have just now finished threading and rather than continue I need to do some administrivia - both sales taxes are due.  I don't owe anything on either of them but the paperwork has to be filed and I'd rather do it now before I leave on my next trip.  Because when I get home I will have to hit the ground running, as they say.  My schedule is gearing up towards the craft fair season and I have three back to back, each one longer than the next (2 days, then 3 days, then 5 days) with a 450 mile trip each way for the last.  Circle Craft is the last show of the season and is pretty exhausting, coming at the end of my shows.  Well, the guild does a small show but that is in December and only two days, in the guild room.  Usually a time when I can spin or knit or putter.  I am also hoping I can update my shop at the Circle Craft website for a 'sale' - just in time for Christmas?

With this warp I wound up with no 'extra' threads which gives me hope that I actually managed to follow my threading draft and not make any mistakes.  We'll see!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Magic


Just a few minutes into the first part of the wash cycle the colour begins to develop


After the first complete wash cycle the brown is now a deep rich colour and the green a warm mossy shade.

You may remember seeing pictures of this warp on the loom where the difference in colour between the warp and weft wasn't great.  At all.

The weft is the Fox Fiber natural coloured cotton.  As such it looks rather bland until after the magic of wet finishing with a high alkaline wash.

This is about 1/3 of the warp being wet finished, both green and brown.  Because the yarn isn't dyed there is no danger of fugitive dye so I don't worry about mixing two different colours in the water.

In order to get the colour as deep as possible I use a fairly high concentration of detergent plus added about 1/3 of a cup of borax to boost the pH level.

Then I used the 'soak' cycle of the washing machine, plus during the long soak I actually turned the machine off so that the cloth could soak in the machine for even longer.

With such a high pH concentration, I also set the machine for an extra rinse, just to make sure all the detergent and borax got rinsed out.

Sandra Rude has done more of a scientific approach to her towels using the Fox Fiber yarns.  I didn't think to save a 'before' sample so that I could compare to the 'after' wet finishing.  

Currently reading In These Grave Times by Jacqueline Winspear





Thursday, September 28, 2017

Relative Time

Time is relative.  I am still being affected by jet lag and woke up way too early this morning at 5 am.  Eventually I got up and then had an 'early' breakfast, which meant an 'early' lunch.  

This afternoon I have a doctor's appointment and the day is dragging like it was crawling through molasses.  

I took a quick look at the calendar this morning and realized just how jam packed it is.  And my schedule won't let up any time soon because there are larger projects in the works that will demand my full time and attention as soon as the craft fair season ends, mid-November.  

In the meantime, I have weaving that needs doing.  I'm almost finished the place mat warp I left on the loom and started weaving yesterday.  My goal is to finish it today, preferably before I leave for my appointment, but if not?  After.  If I can.  If my energy lasts.    


Where much of my time and energy will be going over the winter.