What sort of publication would you be interested in?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

7 1/2 years

Don, in his happy place...The Little Prince

It's been 7 and a half years since my brother died and what a roller coaster it has been.  Little did I know then the ups and downs that would enter my life.

I have learned so many lessons since then.  How to stay in the now.  How to worry about the future less and enjoy the present more.  How resilient the human body is.  To judge others less.  To be more compassionate.  More forgiving.  Less angry.  More peaceful.  To look for the lesson in events.  To fill up the glass when it appears to be half empty.

I'm still working on other things.

To have fewer regrets.  To complain less.  To mine the clouds for those silver linings...because you know they are there...somewhere.

To watch for the rainbows.  Capture the joy, whenever possible.

But oh, how I miss having my brother on the journey.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Showing Up

People often comment on how much I get done.  What they don't realize is that a) weaving is my job and b) I really don't do anything else.

Thing is, when you are self-employed, every day is a potential workday.  (It's also a potential day off, but if you have too many of those, nothing, and I mean nothing, gets done.)

Weaving is so much more than a job to me, though.  It's my happy place.  It's therapy - physical and emotional.

One of the reasons I chose weaving as a career is that I wanted - needed - work that had an element of creativity in it, plus I wanted to make the decisions.  So I decided weaving might just be the answer, even though I didn't actually weave at the time I made that decision.

The biggest challenge is that you have to show up.  You are answerable to no one but yourself.  While it is you that makes the decisions, you also have to accept the consequences of those decisions.  And sometimes that means working even when you don't really feel like it.  Showing up when your energy levels are in the toilet and doing something in spite of feeling like you are dragging a grand piano behind you.  You show up with a headache, muscle pain, etc.

Creativity is not something that comes to you in a blaze of glory, completely formed and perfect.  Being a creative person means that sometimes you have to deal with the administrivia, the prep work, the 'boring' bits.  Being self-employed means that you get to do All The Things, regardless of whether or not you enjoy them.  If they are necessary somebody has got to do them and in a one person studio?  That person is you.

You have to show up for all the jobs.  And you do.  You either get to the point where you don't mind them, or you hire it out.  That's why I have an accountant.  I'd much rather beam and weave a 40 yard long warp than deal with year end and taxes!

The first thing you need to do on the road to 'success' (whatever success means to you) is that you have to show up.  And you have to do the work.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Poor Man's Damask

Twill blocks are sometimes called 'poor man's damask'.  So here is the pine trees and snowballs pattern woven with the same yarn both warp and weft.  Yes, they are, indeed, the same colour.  So why do we see a very distinct difference between the warp and weft?  It's physics, m'dear.  It is the way the light reflects off the surface of the yarns.  It is this principle that makes damask work with it's very elegant white on white (or any colour on itself) to show up the pattern woven.  It's all a trick of the light.

As you can see, I've used up the last of the very fine singles linen.  I'm very happy to finish this warp using up as much of the red cotton as it will take to complete the 40 yard warp.  I think there's about 10 yards left, give or take.  The red on red cotton will be turned into towels, the linen and cotton will become table runners.  I'm hoping to cut the linen off the loom tomorrow after weaving enough length so that I can cut at the back of the loom and not have to re-tie.  Mainly because I'm lazy and I'd rather just keep on weaving than stop and cut off at the reed and re-tie.  It's one of the nice features of the AVL - this ability to cut off what you've woven without having to actually cut off at the reed.

Doug made me several storage rollers so when I get about 2 yards woven I cut the cloth off the apron and insert a storage roller.  I can, at any time, cut off at the back of the loom and remove what I've woven for the next step.  When I was weaving for the fashion designer I'd weave about 40 yards or so and process the web (inspection and repair) and ship to her.  No time was lost because I could just keep on going.

I have no problems with the tieing of a warp.  So many people say they struggle to get even tension, there are numerous processes that 'guarantee' 'perfect' tension.  I just use the good old surgeon's knot and have rarely had any problems getting good tension.  But whatever works, right?

If I'm working with something slippery that won't hold a knot, I lash on.  I think I demo'd both of these methods on The Efficient Weaver.  The trick, as far as I can see, is to tie groups that are neither too large nor too small.  Too small and it seems as though it's nearly impossible to get everything close enough to the same tension to get good results.  Too much and the outside ends are under more tension than the middle ones, and again - almost impossible to get good results.  So my bouts are about 1 inch.  (.75" - 1.25")

If you are having tension issues due to the method used to tie on, do some research and see the other ways there are to accomplish the task.  Perhaps one of those other methods will suit you, your loom and your materials better than what you are doing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review - Looming Murder

In the best tradition of the 'cozy' mystery, Looming Murder presents lots of interesting characters and plot twists with a big dash of romance.   Weavers will find the addition of looms, yarns and textiles satisfying.  This is the first in a series and if you enjoy the 'cozy' genre, well worth looking at.  If you enjoy Monica Ferris' books, you will most likely enjoy Carol Ann Martin's. 

Monday, August 17, 2015


Textiles are ephemeral.  Unlike pottery or glass, they do not age well, rather they return to cosmic dust, leaving very little of their passage through time left behind.  Unless they leave an imprint in clay or some other medium which will record their existence.  In rare instances some traces are left behind - either frozen (literally) as the grave goods from Greenland, or bog finds or in extremely arid climates.

My textiles are meant to be used.  I don't aim to make heirlooms which will stand the test of time because eventually the vast majority of textiles will disintegrate.  My hope is that my textiles will bring joy to the user, whether that be in the home or wardrobe.  I don't spend a lot of time on fancy, intricate finishes.  I try to make sturdy textiles, ones that will serve their purpose, even if that purpose is to wipe dishes.  Sometimes I will make a textile that is a little more 'delicate' but generally I always try to keep the purpose, the job, if you will, the textile is to serve in the forefront on my mind.

Many people will look at my tea towels and exclaim that they are too 'nice' to use.  That sort of comment always makes me a little sad.  Why shouldn't we have beautiful objects around us?  Textiles that enliven our lives through the use of good design and colour?  Who says that our everyday items have to be...not nice?

As I work my way through the red cotton warp making a very traditional looking cloth which I hope will grace people's tables for festive - and every day - occasions, I hope that they will bring enjoyment to the people who use them.  And that they don't get consigned to the closet because they are 'too nice' to use.

Currently reading Looming Murder by Carol Ann Martin - more on this when I've read a bit more of it...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Big Jobs

I was maybe five when a friend and I decided it would be a good idea to dig to China.  I don't remember now WHY we thought it was a good idea, but we swung into action with our toy shovels and maybe a trowel and started digging.  The hole was sizeable.  It had to fit the both of us, after all, and by the time my mother came out to see what we were up to, the hole was already a foot or more deep.

I remember her standing on the pile of dirt already excavated, asking us, not in an angry way, just curious, "What are you two doing?"

"Digging to China."  "That's a long way away."  "We know."  "OK."

What she did NOT do was demand we stop, comment on the amount of dirt we were wearing, or make fun of us.  Knowing my mom, she probably brought us some cold drinks. 

By the time dinner was ready the hole was about four feet across and about three feet deep.   Digging to China had kept us busy for the whole afternoon.   I doubt dad was impressed but I don't recall him scolding me, either.  What he did do was quietly fill the hole in after I went to bed.

The lesson?  Not to be wary of working hard.  Not to be afraid to have a dream and work towards it, even when it might be futile.  That my parents respected focus and hard work.

People often comment that they get bored and wonder how I can weave off a 40 yard warp.   It's easier than digging a hole to China!  ��

Saturday, August 15, 2015

No Pretense

The first time someone referred to me as an 'expert' I literally cringed.

I cringed because I felt so far away from being an 'expert' at anything.  How could someone know so little about the vast ocean of knowledge that compromises the construction of cloth be an 'expert'?

Even after being granted the master level by the Guild of Canadian Weavers I was very uncomfortable using that designation.  It took a couple of years before I added that to my business cards. 

Eventually I realized that an 'expert' didn't have to know All The Things on a broad base but could know one tiny facet very deeply.  

Studying, exploring, experimenting in the other facets keeps me coming back to the studio.  The what if I do this, or that, or something else.  Changing one thing to see the results in the finished cloth is endlessly fascinating. 

I do not pretend to know all the answers.  The creation of cloth is way too large, much too complex for one person to Know Everything.

Thing is, it isn't necessary.  It is only necessary to know what you need to know to get the results you desire.  It is up to the teachers to tell people where to look for answers, even when the student doesn't know the question to ask.  Because when you don't know what you don't know, you don't know that you don't know it.