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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day One

View from the bleachers in the Winter Garden

Floor level shot - other end

For the first time the University allowed us to unload and bring everything in the night before the show.  It made things so much easier!  

We didn't set out any product but got the booth up, the lights installed and all that needed to be done this morning was set out the product.  Since we didn't have to get up at 5 am, the day is much shorter!

This is a smaller show - only two days - but a very nice venue.  Although the Winter Garden has sky lights and normally gets a good natural light, today was very overcast and dreary.  And then it started sleeting in the afternoon.

It didn't feel as busy to me and several other craftspeople  commented that they felt there were fewer attendees as well.  In the end my sales were 'ok'.  Since this is a low cost show and local, sales can be less and still be ok.  I was hoping to empty one box because there is one box more than will comfortably fit on the cart - but it doesn't look like that is going to happen.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Perfect vs Excellent

 A friend had a saying that I had to think about for a while before I understood it:  Perfect kills good.

We’ve all done it. We envision something in our minds that we think about, mull over, tweak and finally we can see the perfect – whatever – in our mind’s eye. With a great deal of excitement we swing into action and set about making it.

Unfortunately the materials aren’t quite what we thought they were going to be. The colors are not the shades we need. The process goes awry and we struggle to get it completed. When we do finally finish it disappointment sets in. The reality simply does not measure up to the vision of perfection we saw in our minds.

We brand ourselves a failure, or at least the item, and that disappointment in our lack of perfection can cause us to overlook the fact that we may have attained a high level of excellence.

Perfect kills good.

No one can dip into our minds to see that vision of loveliness that we dreamt of bringing into reality. They can only look at our actual results. Sometimes those results are very good indeed, but because we are so caught up in our perfect project we cannot see what someone else sees.

As creative people we must learn that perfect is not a destination that many will arrive at. While we always strive towards that vision we also have to learn how to appreciate what we have made. We need to learn to look beyond the original creative impulse in order to see – really see – what we have accomplished.

In a way that lack of achieving perfection is what keeps many people creating. Accepting that nothing – or at least very little – that they make is going to measure up, they acknowledge that and carry on. They learn as much about their equipment, materials and what works in terms of design and keep trying. Every project then becomes a lesson learned. Another brick in their foundation of knowledge.

I had a mentor who always said that if we aren’t making mistakes we aren’t learning. If we continually keep doing the same things over and over so that we wind up with a ‘perfect’ project, we are not pushing our boundaries. We are not learning anything new.

Most of the traditional crafts have developed over millennia. Human beings have been making things, primarily from necessity, but also from a sense of beauty and wonder. When I see archaeological artifacts in museums I marvel at the time and effort that went into making everyday objects – baskets, pottery, metal tools – as beautiful as possible. Some of these things are not perfect.  They have their maker’s marks on them in one way or another. But from our perspective, they don’t have to be ‘perfect’. We have the time and distance to accept them for what they are.

When disappointment threatens to make something you’ve made in danger of hitting the garbage can, it’s a really good idea to stop. Put the item away, out of sight. Let it rest in sanctuary for a few weeks or even months. Then after some time has passed and the memory of that perfect vision has faded, bring it out again and take a long look at it. See it for what it really is, not what you had hoped to make. Look for what is right about it, instead of what is wrong.

Learn how to recognize when something is excellent or even just good. Don’t let perfect kill good. Or your creativity.

Leonard Cohen put it this way:

Ring the bell that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

I wrote this for Craftsy but it was turned down because they already had a similar post previously published.  I think this sort of message needs to be seen - sometimes repeatedly - before it sinks in.  And not everyone reads every blog post, surely?  So, here it is, even though I've written about it here previously.

Currently reading How We Got to Now by Steven Johnson

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Simplicity Itself

I think I posted this photo once already but it pretty much shows everything that needs to be seen.

The live weight tension system is simplicity itself.

One long cord, long enough to wrap around the beam three times which will support the weight of whatever you use to provide the tension (via the weight used) plus a small counter weight on the other end of the cord.

My loom is just 36" weaving width and I rarely dress this loom full width so providing tension on just one end is fine.  A wider loom might require the weight at either end to make sure it stays put.

Kati Meek has published a monograph on this tool and the warping trapeze (as she calls it - same idea as my warping valet) so do buy her book to get the details.

The original brake has not been removed from the loom because when I'm beaming a warp, I need that brake to keep the warp rolling on with good tension.  Once the warp is dressed, the cord gets wrapped around the beam, the weight applied (in this instance 25 pounds at the heavy end, 2 pounds - I think - it might only be 1 pound as I was tweaking the system over the weekend), lock the loom's brake system in the 'off' position and away you go.

At the moment I'm weaving scarves which don't require a whole lot of weight.  If my warp was wider or required higher tension such as place mats, I would add more weight to the cord.  Up to 40 pounds, according to Kati.  The counter weight needs to be sufficient only to prevent the heavy end from sliding down - gravity, you know?

The AVL has a type of live weight system so I'm used to the warp beam 'rocking' as I open the shed, but if you've never experienced that, you might find it a bit off putting at first.  This is normal!  It's not unlike the Louet beam that rocks - a little disconcerting the first time I wove on one, but you do get used to it when you realize it's not a bad thing.  Quite the opposite in fact.  There is less stress on the warp yarns when the system has a little 'give' in it.

The big thing is that I no longer have to reach out to the right with my foot and depress the brake release.  With the beginnings of arthritis in my right hip, I needed to reduce the stress on that joint.  And once the tension is set, all you have to do is just crank the fell line forward - the tension will stay the same from one end to the other - unless the cord gives way or something.    But as soon as you put the weights back onto the cord, you're back to where you were.  Automagically, as it were.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Messing About

Messed about a bit more with the camera today.  I think the top picture, which shows a bit more of the cloth in the background, is better than the bottom one, which is too out of focus.  Neither one really captures the cloth as cloth, though.  Going to have to play around with this more.

I think one of the best books I've seen which really seems to capture the nature of the fabric in it's photos is Jack Lenor Larson's Material Wealth.

Friends gave me the book when I got the master level of the Guild of Canadian Weavers certificate and while that is a very long time ago I still have yet to actually read the book.  I open it and start turning the pages, sucked in by the exquisite photos.

I think I need to pull that off the shelves again and take another look.

For those of you who have purchased the dvd's I did with Interweave Press, and you think they are worthwhile, I would really appreciate your passing along the word to your guild mates, on the internet (including posting a review to the Interweave site), etc.

I realize that the dvd's are not comprehensive - how can they be in a 70 or 90 minute time frame?  But hopefully they will be useful.

Please and thank you.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Scary Warps

Doug has done some more tweaking to the loom and I'm dressing it with another painted warp for scarves so I can double check the live weight tension system, which also seems to need a bit of tweaking.  I had wrapped the cable in one direction and found that it was creeping towards the warp. Which would be okay except that when it got to the apron rod, the rod would get wound underneath the cable and then dump the weights off - which was kind of counter productive.

So I'm going to wind the cable on the other direction and see if it will stay put.  If not I might have to get Doug to put a higher flange on the warp beam at that end.

I had thought there were only four painted warps left but discovered this 'parrot' coloured warp in a box - obviously way back in July I had started to get it ready to be woven and then the box got shoved in a corner and forgotten.  I won't get all five warps woven, never mind fringe twisted or wet finished, but I'm hoping to at least get this one done.  I'm low on inventory of 'true' reds so adding a bit more breadth to my inventory would be A Good Thing.

And Meg has issued a challenge to take really nice (beauty shots?) photos of textiles so I tried getting a good shot of my tea towels this morning.

Since this photo was to be for several purposes, I think I did okay.  What do you think?

I think I need to work on it some more...but not bad for a first effort...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Red Hot!

Getting a good picture of this cloth is a bit of a challenge - red on red?  Especially on the loom.

But I think it's looking good, and it's weaving up quite nicely.  this afternoon and evening I managed 3.5 towels.  I think that makes me 1/10th the way through this warp.

I need to do some weaving on the small loom, too, though, so tomorrow morning I will probably dress another painted warp for scarves on that, then do the final tweaking (or at least I hope it will be the final tweaking) of the live weight tension system.  We'll see if I get back to the AVL tomorrow, or not.

Friday, October 17, 2014


And it's out!  The Efficient Weaver DVD was launched today at the Interweave Press store.

It is currently on sale so now would be a good time to purchase.  :)