Saturday, January 16, 2021

Songs to Work To

 From Wikipedia - Work Songs

Definitions and categories[edit]

Records of work songs are as old as historical records, and anthropological evidence suggests that most agrarian societies tend to have them.[1] Most modern commentators on work songs have included both songs sung while working as well as songs about work since the two categories are seen as interconnected.[2] Norm Cohen divided collected work songs into domestic, agricultural or pastoral, sea shanties, African-American work songs, songs and chants of direction, and street cries.[3] Ted Gioia further divided agricultural and pastoral songs into hunting, cultivation and herding songs, and highlighted the industrial or proto-industrial songs of cloth workers (see Waulking song), factory workersseamenlumberjackscowboys and miners. He also added prisoner songs and modern work songs.[1]


Last night I downloaded TikTok, in part to see what the buzz was about sea chantys (chanties?)


There has been a lot of discussion around the 'net about sea chantys, but that wasn't the only area of work that had songs/music to make the work flow more easily.


Textiles had many songs, the best known now probably the waulking songs (fulling the wool).  


Human beings have used music since the dawn of time to make work easier, especially work done in concert with others.  The timing/beat of the music kept people moving together, co-ordinated.  And when you get lost in the music, even if just for a few minutes, you can forget the labour you are doing.  Especially repetitive labour.


Music was part of my life for as long as I can remember.  My father played the fiddle when he was younger and mom whistled and sang while she worked.  The radio played music pretty much non-stop and if talk radio came on, she might play a record.  (Yes, I'm old enough I remember bakelite 78 rpms, then vinyl 33 and 1/3s, then 45s.)  Before I attended school I pestered my parents to buy me an accordion.  They scraped the money together to buy me the pint sized RED one in the window of the music store and paid for the lessons.  I played until I was around 10 years old, until I started ballet.  I could do one or the other, the budget would not strain to provide both.


My mother inherited her father's collection of 78s and eventually donated them to a local radio host who collected all manner of recordings.  


Personally I still have cassettes and CDs and actually prefer them.  They are time limited and I use them to set out a period of time to work.  When the music stops, I go take a break from the studio.


If young people are finding sea chantys fun, they might like to look at the music of other labour intensive professions.


Friday, January 15, 2021

Poised

 


I had a morning appointment and planned to tackle a few of the 'minor' tasks on my job list this afternoon.  And yet, here I sit...

As I look around my house, I see so many things I was going to do when I could get a round tuit.  Well I have one, it's sitting right here on my desk.  And yet...

Doug has taken my e-spinner apart.  It has been behaving inconsistently, not holding a steady rpms, which is making spinning more challenging (and frustrating) than it should be.  So he is trying to source a new speed controller and checking the wiring for a reason for the irregularity.

So my goal to spin every evening is on hold.  But the table is also cluttered with the spinner bits and my spinning stuff, so I can't use the table for anything else, either, until the situation is resolved.

I do have skeins that need wet finishing, so I intend to do that yet today.

There is a pile of papers that need to be sorted through in preparation for phoning my accountant.

There is the dribs of hemming to be done.  I did manage two of the towels last night.

There is a new warp on the Leclerc, ready and waiting for me to throw the shuttle.

There are photos to be taken and loaded to my shop on ko-fi.  But first I have to devise an inventory system so I know exactly which towels someone wants to buy.   Without resorting to scrolling through previous blog posts or ko-fi posts.

There is a power point presentation to develop - for two separate but closely related topics.  So I want to make sure the presentation is appropriate for both.  But it also means a whole lot of picture taking.  And thinking.  About how to order the info and what visual aids I need to make my points.

There is the Sunday Seminar - need to touch base with Abby.  But she is a busy person and a continent away (north/south).

The guild executive asked if I would expand the Seminar Series, so that is simmering at the back of my mind, too.

Being 'retired' from running my business does not mean that I stop wanting to do things.  *Needing* to do things.

There is still too much fibre and yarn in my studio.  Too much woven inventory that needs new homes.

There are too many books I want to read, but my eyes water all the time - possibly due to the developing cataracts, or who knows why.  

And I distract myself by reading stuff on line.  Because I can biggify my ipad so I can see it more easily.

I think about all the things there are to do, and that's me on the left side of the diagram.  Sitting on my bike, looking out over the course.  And I remain poised.  Not doing the course, just...poised.

Time to go do something.  Choose one.  Any one.  Just go do it.  

"Do or do not.  There is no try."

Yes, yes, thank you Yoda.  (grasps round tuit in hand and walks away from the computer...)



Thursday, January 14, 2021

Pollyanna


serene on the surface, paddling like hell underneath



 Well, it's been quite the year.  

This time last year I had a friend visiting and was taking a natural dyeing workshop.  The news about Covid was beginning to arrive, with the virus itself soon to appear.  Warnings were beginning to sound as various countries fell ill with it and medical folk scrambled to contain it and treat the people who caught it.  

The curse 'may you live in interesting times' was something I had heard about a long time ago but until 2020, I'd never truly understood just how 'interesting' those interesting times could get.

We were inundated with supposition, speculation and...outright lies...as the pandemic developed.

Events were cancelled, businesses shuttered, schools closed, hospitals in many places overwhelmed.

And yet?  The approach was simple enough - if we all bought into doing it.  The personal protection of staying home instead of being out and about.  Wearing a mask when out.  Not gathering in real life.

Some of us got it.  Unfortunately too many did not.  Some governments tried to help - others seemed to blithely accept a large number of people were going to die - and didn't seem to care.

Add to the pandemic a worsening political situation and things got really 'interesting' - and still are.

So how do I keep going?  Am I a Pollyanna, blithely ignoring what is happening?  

No, I am not blithely ignoring anything.  I am trying to see beyond the current events, hanging onto the hope that things can, and will, get better.  Because we can work to make them so.

During the years since my brother died, I have found Churchill's quote helpful in reminding me what needs to happen:



When things get overwhelming, it is right and good to stop and rest.  But when I feel able, I get up again.  Because I do not want to stop in the middle of hell.  I want to get the hell out of hell.  So to speak.

So I see what is happening.  I witness.  I even comment.  I swear like a sailor.  But then?  Then I go on.

I look to a future where all of this (waves hands) is behind us.  When we have addressed the problems - the politics, the pandemic, the climate changes that continue.  Just because there is a pandemic doesn't mean other things stop.  They continue. too.  

And so must we.

Hope is a tiny thing, fragile.  It must be nursed along, held close in our hearts.  And as Beau of the Fifth Column says, activate Rule 303 - those who have the means, have the responsibility.

Seeing so many people despairing about cancelled fibre events, I reached out to the fibre community and booked speakers for the Sunday Seminar Series (which begins this Sunday - you can still register here)   It was a way to get some income to teachers who were struggling because all their events had been cancelled, but also a way to reach out to people thirsty for knowledge.  Something positive in the sea of negativity and stress.

Then I started a mentoring group for my students.  

I had to buy more software (Zoom) and then learn how to use it.  Old dogs *can* learn new tricks.  We might cuss the whole time we are doing it, but we can.  

So.  I look forward.  I look to a time beyond this time.  This oh, so interesting time.  

Rest when you need it.  But then move on.  Look forward.  Work to make things better.  Build bigger tables not walls.  And swear like a sailor if that helps.  


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Planning on/with Hope

 


My beginning of the year ritual has included the making up of my planning calendar for the year following.  I have one calendar that is the current year, and one for the next.

In past years I needed that next calendar because I was booking events that far in advance - craft fairs, fibre festivals, teaching.

Last night my guild executive asked if I would continue the Sunday Seminar Series into 2022.  I had been thinking that I might, under certain conditions.

a)  Covid.  If we are still in precarious circumstances with Covid, then I would consider booking more presenters for the following year.  When asked if I would be one of them, I explained that I was holding myself in reserve in case of a last minute complication that prevented the person booked for that day not able to actually do theirs.

b)  If the series makes money for the guild.

c)  If people are interested enough in the series and it looked like they would be willing to continue purchasing registration for the seminars.

With all that in mind, I finally sat down (squatted, truth be told) and cleaned off 2020's planning calendar, dug out my dry erase markers, and started filling in the dates for 2022.

Right now there are zero entries because I am not doing shows or fibre festivals and I'm not booking teaching for workshops.

However, all that said?  I am open to doing Zoom presentations.

I am fine-tuning my Zoom chops for a mentoring group I started (it's full) and getting some practice in a) crafting the presentation appropriate for on-line learning and b) getting comfortable with this method of conveying info.  Of the presentation done on Sunday, one of the people there commented that they would never have known it was my first Zoom.  

Well, technically it wasn't, I did a presentation for the Black Sheep guild in November, but I had great support from the guild.  Since then I've been practicing holding meetings and visits, and then spent several hours punching buttons on Zoom figuring out how it worked.  Sort of.  For certain values of...

I have two Zoom presentations scheduled, one for Feb and one in Oct.  One is a guild 'workshop', the other is a seminar for a fibre event.  In the meantime I expect to do monthly Zoom presentations for my mentoring group, plus be an audience member for the Seminar Series.

I anticipate the current mentoring group to continue throughout this year and then?  Then if it seems that others would be willing to join a mentoring group (yes, I would expect some kind of remuneration) I might consider running another in 2022.  Based on my book, The Intentional Weaver.

So, regardless of what happens with Covid?  We will continue to learn.  To explore.  To grow.  Old dogs *can*learn new tricks, as uncomfortable as they may be.

And so today?  Today I prepared my planning calendar for 2022.  With hope and anticipation.

The Intentional Weaver

 



This morning I received an email from Archives and Library Canada requesting that I provide them with two copies of The Intentional Weaver.  Both formats.

Thing is, I no longer have hard copies of the book, they are all sold.  So I have two options.  I order two copies and send them to the Archive, or...I place a small order and try to sell a few hard copies myself.  Signed, obviously, because I can.

The problem is, postage rates have gone up.  Padded envelopes have gone up.  Just...everything...has increased in price.  So, if I were to sell copies myself, I would have to charge more.

Before I place an order I would therefore ask if anyone is interested in a signed copy from me, please email me laura@laurafry.com and let me know.  This would not be an order, just an indication of interest.

The selling price would be $90, including shipping in North America.

I hesitate to buy in multiple copies of what is a fairly expensive book (even though trade hardbacks are routinely selling for $30 and up, technical books for $120) partly because I won't spend that money if I can't sell them and I can't afford to give them away.  Seeing as how I'm 'retired' and don't do shows anymore (even once covid is over).  My income is limited and greatly reduced seeing as how I'm pretty much living on state pensions.

If you email me, I would then have your email to contact you when the books arrive (IF I buy a bunch) and you would have right of first refusal.  

Or you can just go to blurb. ca (in Canada) or blurb.com (if outside Canada) and buy it for the listed price there which is $68 plus whatever they charge for shipping.

Anyway, let me know.  I have to decide by the end of the week...

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

And in the Evenings

 


bin of skeins spun, ready for wet finishing

Once I put the puzzle board away, I brought out my espinner and started spinning the rolags I had made, oh, two years ago?  I try to spin one bobbin a night, although I don't always make it.  Since beginning this dive into my fibre stash, I already have 8 skeins spun, plied and wet finished and even wound into balls.  

There are four skeins in the studio ready for wet finishing, the 8 above in the photo also ready for wet finishing, and four more bobbins ready to be plyed.  This yarn is being plyed with a textured rayon that is just the right colour and will add a bit of 'sparkle' to the yarn.  

Since I already have a couple dozen shawls knitted up, ready for donations, I've been toying with making cowls.  But honestly?  I just don't know.  

I no longer chide myself with the fact that I'm not a good spinner.  I enjoy making the rolags, playing with colour, then spinning them up to see how the colours work together.  So far I've been happy with what I've done, even when I've been working with colours that are not my personal preference.

There is still hemming to be done.  A couple more blue towels and then the red ones.  

But I'm also going to try weaving place mats on the Leclerc and then there will be hemming again.  Still.

The daylight hours are increasing but the days mostly remain grey and far too warm for January.  However I welcome the coming spring and summer and am hoping for walking weather sooner, rather than later.  

This week is filled with appointments.  Today we will go out together because we both have dental hygiene, then to the post office to mail some parcels, and then because the shop is just down the street, I will drop my serger off for servicing.  I was going to wait until the hemming was done, but obviously that isn't going to be for a while.  And the machine gets very dirty because I use it to serge unfinished cloth.  It fills up with lint.  So it will go into the shop and get a freshening up.  The poor service guy always seems to cringe when I come in, knowing the job he has ahead of him.  :)  Plus I need more serger yarn and I can't find my bottle of sewing machine oil so I'll buy another.  And then, no doubt, find the other.  But never mind.

While I may not do handwork in the evenings, I like to have some to do.  Or ignore, such as the case may be.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Endings. Beginnings.

 


The Nechako River in summer

A river can be a great metaphor for many things.  Today I am thinking of beginnings, endings, and beginning again; the great cycle of time that flows, like a river.  Sometimes the level of water is high and the river has more energy; at others the level drops and the river becomes languid.

Creativity is much like that.  At times we are in the throes of a fabulous new idea and we work on it, energetically.  At other times we may struggle to meet our minimum goals for the day.  Eventually, much like a drop of water that begins at the source and finally reaches the ocean, we come to the end of a project.

I have been steadily working on depleting my stash of 2/16 cotton and today I will finish the last few inches of the red warp, cut it off the loom, separate the towels and get them into the washing machine.  Once pressed they will be ready for hemming, then their final press.  And I will have sailed from the source to the ocean and be 'done' (for now) working with 2/16 cotton, making tea towels.

Am I done making things?

Not hardly!

I still have yarn - lots and lots of yarn.  However, with the end in literal sight, I have been thinking about what comes next.  

Today I will dress the Leclerc Fanny with a place mat warp.  If that goes well (my body doesn't object) I have several combinations pulled for some more mat warps.  It is a test of how well my recovery is going.  After discussing with my massage therapist, I will do as advised and take it very slowly.  Instead of 45-50 minutes weaving, I will cut back by half.  IOW, where I was when that was all I could manage on that loom.  And see how it goes.

While he has been very encouraging and supportive, he also cautions me that I am poised on a knife edge and it would take very little to knock me 'back' and I do not want to go that direction.

So I will begin today, monitoring how I am doing, resting in between sessions at the loom.  

If I still can't manage to weave on the Leclerc without sparking pain, I will go back to the Megado.  On that loom I am planning a run of scarves, using the 2/16 bamboo for warp, crossing it with other rayon yarns in my stash.  Yesterday I looked at some of them and will start to make decisions on combinations.  The first warp yarns are pulled - black and dark navy.  That should set off any of the colours in my stash nicely.  And, having done shawls in that combination previously, I know the quality of cloth that will result.  Mostly I will continue to play with colour.  

I don't know that I will set the goal of actually using up any particular yarn, like I did with the 2/16 cotton.  I may decide to just do 'enough' of something to add to my inventory, not worry too much about actually weaving down the yarn entirely.  

Making the 2/16 cotton tea towels for the past year and a bit was good for me - but I think I'm ready to start looking at being more experimental, more adventurous, more creative, than I have been for a while.

Life gets busy and bodies get worn out.  If I have learned anything in my life, it is that I cannot get too set in my thinking.  I need to stay flexible, change as circumstances change.  The power of the river is in its constancy, it's steady flow towards the sea.  It doesn't matter if it flows with energy or more languidly, more peacefully.  It keeps going.

Onwards.