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Friday, September 19, 2014

Hen Party

Cleaning up, Doug came across one of my old postcards I used for marketing eons ago.

This was one of my more popular place mat designs which I wove by the 100's - literally.  Warps were generally 40 yards long, woven 3 mats at a time or about 150 place mats from each warp.

Nothing like finally digging into the piles of rubble to find stuff you'd long forgotten about!

The reason for the clean up is that a friend was coming to visit and we needed her to be able to actually sleep in the bed in the guest room come office.

Cindy arrived on time last night and today we spent a leisurely day sight seeing around the town.  Autumn has arrived and over the next few days the colours should be pretty spectacular.  It was also nice that the rain forecast for today arrived last night, so we had a really pleasant day wandering around, sight seeing.

This afternoon I let her loose on the spinning wheel I borrowed for her to use at the workshop this weekend.  I'm not a very good spinner, nor do I have any particular aspirations in that direction, so you might wonder why I signed up for a spinning workshop.

Well, the topic, for one.  Kim McKenna will be explaining the fibre characteristics of the new regenerated fibres.  I figure anything I learn will be more grist for the mill in terms of my being able to make appropriate choices in my weaving.

And who knows, she might be able to teach me how to spin more effectively.  Although after putzing around on the borrowed wheel, I've come to realize that part of my problem is that I'm not getting sufficient twist into the fibres.  Which would explain why my 'yarn' so often breaks as I'm trying to reel it off the bobbin.

Always something more to learn when it comes to fibres, yarn and how to make better cloth.

Currently reading Revenant by Kat Richardson

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Community Ties

One of the benefits of the internet is the ability to stay in touch with people at a distance - sometimes at great distance.

During the summer Bobbie Irwin came through town and we managed to connect with each other for an all too brief visit.  As part of the visit I gave her a tea towel.

And then things went to hell in a hand basket for me and I had a rocky road in terms of pain, finally ending up not being able to weave.  Long story short, the road to recovery does not travel in a straight line and I had a relapse just as I was beginning to literally get back into the saddle and wound up worse than before.

During the relapse a parcel arrived from Bobbie.  We had talked about weaving with fine linen and more than 8 shafts and how much she was enjoying her new 12 shaft loom.  She had told me about an old tea towel woven from fine linen she had found in a second hand store, how she analyzed it and converted it from 16 shafts to 12 so she could weave it.

What a delight to receive such a special gift - one of the very fine linen towels we had talked about.

Through this 'ordeal' - and the rest of the health issues I've shared on this blog - I have been so grateful to everyone for their support and encouragement.  Through the internet - emails, Facebook, comments on the blog - I have been made aware of how many people are sending best wishes and positive healing energy my way.

I have needed every bit of it to get through the past 6 weeks, and to carry me through at least another two weeks of recovery.  (The soonest I guestimate it will take before I can do more than just sit at the loom and see how possible it will be to actually weave.)

Soft tissue injury is dreadful.  Once injured the tissues are never entirely whole and healthy again.  It is one reason why I am so adamant about working efficiently/ergonomically.  Once you have suffered repetitive stress injuries, those tissues will always be at risk for further improper or over use.

So I say again - if it hurts - STOP!  Rest.  Allow the body to heal.  The sad truth is that when the injuries pile up and age creeps in, healing takes longer.  Sometimes much longer than we would like.  Be kind to your body as much as you can.  We only get issued with one.  I just wish an owner's manual came along so that we would know how best to care for it.

Currently reading Long Way Home by Louise Penny

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bronson Lace and Spot Bronson

Spot Bronson in a point progression.  The weave structure will 'pivot' so do not repeat the final block when repeating the threading or treadling.

Bronson Lace.  Half of one repeat shown.  Again, do not repeat the 'pivot' blocks at the centre and end of the repeat.

I usually don't like lifting a whole lot of shafts so I tend to weave lace or spot weaves so that fewer shafts would be lifted.  Compare the above draft to this:

By weaving the cloth as mostly lace with just some plain weave, you lift a lot fewer shafts.

But that much lace might be too much for the cloth desired.

What differentiates Spot Bronson from Bronson Lace (or sometimes Atwater-Bronson) is that in order to get lace you have to have two units of the weave structure side by side both vertically and horizontally.  The lace 'hole' happens at the intersection of the four units.  If there is only one unit of Bronson surrounded on all sides by plain weave that is considered a 'spot'.

Currently reading Elemental - a collection of short stores written by a number of different authors building on Mercedes Lackey's Elemental series

Thursday, September 4, 2014

No Contest

Blooming Leaf overshot design converted to twill blocks

Got the next warp up and weaving.  Blooming Leaf is a very large overshot design, so naturally it's a very large twill block design.  So large that I could only fit two repeats into the width and three into the length.   This isn't a very good photo, but the best I can do under the loom.

Reading In Praise of Slow has got me thinking along with a thread on one of the chat groups.

After nearly 40 years of refining my techniques, perfecting my skills, I'm rather efficient.  Therefore I'm rather productive.  But since my goal is to earn income from the fruits of my looms (pun alert!) efficiency and productivity are A Good Thing.

What I am not, is in a contest.  The only person I am competing with is myself, on a mission to become the best I can be.

Bottom line is, I couldn't care less how fast/efficient anyone else is.  Everyone has to do what is right for themselves.  If that's working slowly, so be it.  Some people tell me that they don't want to hurry when they are working with threads.  I am in total agreement, on that point.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - working efficiently is not hurrying.

When you are hurrying it is because you are not in the moment but thinking about the next thing(s) that need to be done.  When you are hurrying, you take shortcuts - which sometimes work, but most often do not and just cause something to take even longer.

On the other hand, weaving cloth doesn't have to take forever.  Not everyone has unlimited time on their hands.  Some people work full time, have family obligations that eat into their play time at the loom.  Some people have deadlines and they want to work more efficiently.  I'm here to say that it doesn't have to take forever to make a baby blanket, a wedding shawl, a birthday present.

Learn the most effective methods for you - what works for me may not work for anyone else.  Select the tools that enhance your experience at the loom, not detract from it.  Believe me there are some tools that don't work terribly well.  Find tools that 'fit' you.  Find methods that work for you.  Work with mindful intention to become better than you were yesterday and the day before.

And if you want to become more efficient, study the processes, methods and tools that someone who is efficient uses and try them out.  It may be difficult being at the slippery end of the learning curve, but in the long run?  You might just enjoy the process even more than what you are doing now.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


One of the things that has concerned me since the fall in March was the damage done to my spine/hip.  Apparently it (the damage) was significant and my body is not happy with me right now.  The x-ray also revealed the extent of the damage to my hip from over use.  Weaving on a floor loom with that awful side-step-depress motion to release the brake has taken it's toll.

Once I had recovered from the initial fall - and everything seemed to be ok - I was still a bit suspicious about my hip and had discussed with Doug on several occasions about converting the Leclerc Fanny to a live weight tension system.  After getting the results of the x-ray last week I realized that it was not something that could remain in the realm of theory and over the past couple of days Doug has been messing about with a cord and weights.

The live weight tension system is really simplicity itself.  So simple it seems like it shouldn't actually work.  It took quite a bit of weight before I felt I had the correct amount of tension on the scarf warp, but it seems to be working just fine now.  That's 25 pounds of lead on the heavy end, one pound on the other end of the cord.

Of course, how I beam warps may have to change, but we didn't remove the old Leclerc brake system from the loom, just locked it 'off', so it will be easy to remove the cord and lock the brake on again for beaming the warp with the trapeze.

I suspect more weight will be needed for cloth that requires a firmer beat than the rayon scarves I'm currently weaving, but Doug bought lots of weights of various sizes.  And we know where to get more.

Currently reading In Praise of Slow; how a worldwide movement is challenging the cult of speed by Carl Honore'.  I saw a TED talk with him a while ago, and of course the Slow Movement has crept into the world of textiles.  The thing that I noticed however, is that the Slow Movement is not solely about doing things slowly, but doing them at the correct speed.  If you have ever watched a chef prepare food, you will have observed that they do not slice and dice slowly, but very efficiently.  IOW, very quickly.

Handwoven cloth is by it's very definition 'slow'.  That doesn't mean that I want to work slowly (even when my body demands it!)  I want to work at a purposeful, efficient pace.  I want to work at the 'proper' speed for whatever it is I'm making.  Sometimes that means I go more slowly (ie. use a temple) in order to be more productive in the long run.

The big thing about the Slow Movement is that it wants people to stop rushing.  Rushing through their day.  Rushing through their meetings, their meals, their interactions with other people.  Stop rushing through their lives.

Being Slow doesn't mean wasting time.  It means using your time well, staying focused on what you are doing rather than always thinking about the next thing and the next and the next, forever not in the moment.  A lesson more of us need to learn, I think.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Little Good News?

Remember this?  Yes, it's still on the loom.  However, I did manage to get to the loom yesterday - not a full session, but still - and since things didn't seem to be any worse today, have just now finished another session.

But rather than leave the computer at the loom on, I shut it down so that I would not be tempted to try a second session today.  I'm not quite back to 100% and don't want to stress my lower back/hip too much, too soon.

What a relief to be able to weave again, even if I am clumsy after so long away from the loom.  It doesn't take long for muscle tone to deteriorate!  Today went a little more smoothly though, so I will aim to do one session tomorrow as well and see how things go.

Slowly, slowly...

Currently reading Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron

Sunday, August 24, 2014


You Tube

A while ago Interweave Press posted the Introduction to the wet finishing dvd to You Tube.  For anyone interested, click on the link above.

Interestingly, there is one 'dislike' - not sure why someone wouldn't like an introduction to an instructional dvd!  Or maybe, they just didn't like moi.  Who knows?  I surely don't.

Remember - if you like someone's product, whether that's on You Tube, Amazon, whatever, take a moment to 'like' or review it.

As for The Efficient Weaver DVD - no word yet on when it will be ready.  It should be coming out soon.  I'm assuming summer and vacation time has slowed things down.