Friday, August 16, 2019

Hurry Up and Wait

So, I’m sitting in a hotel in Charlotte, NC.  I’m anxious to get home, in no small part because I got word on Monday my loom was wending it’s way across the Atlantic.  

Doug has been working on getting the studio ready for when it arrives.

My flight leaves at 1 pm and I go from here to Detroit, to Vancouver, to home.  All being well, I will arrive home around midnight.  By that point I will have been awake since around 3 am home time, and I hope to be able to fall into bed as soon as I get through the door.  

As usual the class was marvellous. There was the expected wide range of experience and the more experienced helped the others.  Everyone was cheerful, even when things got confusing.  And it is confusing, I readily admit that.  The manuals were upgraded and at times I found myself remembering what was in the old manual, which didn’t help.  But in the end we got through it and people who didn’t make a practice of sampling now see the value.  Which warms the cockles of my heart. 

Hesitation to wet finish is now overcome, I think.   More warmed cockles.  

I also recently found out that Long Thread Media will soon have their DVDs back.  They are gone from the Interweave website hopefully transitioning to Long Media.  Sign up for their email notices to get their news. 

I will be home for about three weeks before I leave again.   Lots to do between trips.  Send me energy.  Imma gunna need it...

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Hump Day


At the Yadkin Valley Art Center in NC, and we are just over the halfway point in the class.   Students are working there way through the learning exercises and light is dawning.   We are working at peeling back the complexity of the craft, revealing the principles.  

It is great to see them tackle the issues and problem solve.   I’m looking forward to getting their boxes of homework and seeing the progress as they work through their homework.  

So satisfying to see how enthusiastic they are and eager to learn.  Warms the cockles of my heart, it  does!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Wrapping Things Up

Over the past little while I have been slowly but steadily working my way through mat warps.  When we looked at inventory a few weeks ago and realized how few mats there were, it seemed prudent to get some more made.  Today I finished threading the warp I beamed and started threading yesterday until it was time to head off for a doctor appointment, then sleyed and tied on before stopping for lunch.  I have just two more mat warps planned but I won't likely get them both done before I leave Saturday morning.

Tomorrow is Thursday and I need to work on my packing again.  The weather there is supposed to be uniformly hot, much hotter than I'm really comfortable with, being a 'northern girl'.  OTOH, they probably have a/c so I should pack a light sweater.

Before I left I wanted to finish writing up the conference wrap up report and get it to the board.  We aren't quite done as the treasurer needs to finalize the books and get them audited, but the rest of the committee is already on to the next projects.  I've sent the draft to the committee asking them to correct any errors.  Hopefully they will get back to me so I can email the report to the board on Friday.

I had hoped to get a bunch of my knitted shawls wet finished in time for the fall fair but the floor remains cluttered with loom bits and there is no time for me to get the shawls wet finished and tagged ready before I leave.  So the guild will get them for the craft fair in November.  So much for getting rid of that mountain.  Well, soon enough.

The Megado should arrive in a few weeks.  I haven't received notice that it has arrived in Canada yet but it could be in the country soon.  Then it will have to travel across country here.  It might arrive while I'm away, or not until I get back.  Either way, it will come when it comes.

Doug was helping a friend today, which wound up taking longer than expected.  Maybe he can get back to my mess tomorrow.

I am just so fed up with the disruption, chaos and clutter.  On the other hand, progress has been made.  Not as much as I'd hoped, but still...

What I have managed to do is spend time every day (nearly) working on another writing project.  I have no idea if it will ever see light of day, but it just seems to be writing itself, so I'm letting it pour out.  It's quite amazing how much typing can be done when you just let it flow.  Of course it might disappear in editing - or get buried as being of insufficient interest to bother paying an editor and setting the file up to be published.

I still haven't seen the review of The Intentional Weaver in Handwoven, although I've seen some sales come through on blurb, so it must be an ok review.  Someone let me know today that she couldn't place an order and wanted to buy directly from me.  Thing is, I no longer have copies.  The only way to purchase it is through the website.  You can choose between hard copy or PDF and also get Magic in the Water while you're at it.  ;)  I suggest if anyone is having issues with the blurb website that they contact blurb to let their support team know.

Right now I'm in 'elephant eating' mode.  One bite, one deadline at a time...and hopefully I can get my last few commitments wrapped up.  By the time I get home from my trip it will be more than half way through August.

So much to do, so little desire to do so much of it.  Hopefully a new loom will provide a much needed boost of energy.  The plan - subject to change - is to finish the run of place mats, hopefully have the Megado ready to go as soon as it arrives and put a test warp on it.  I'm hoping the learning curve isn't too long or too steep.  I've got shawls that need to be made for the upcoming craft fairs...(chomp, chomp, chomp...)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Looking Forward

Well, the Whitin winder has now left the building and is on it's way to it's new home

There are still many more things to be done in my studio, but as the dust starts to settle, I begin to look towards the future.

One of the things is what happens next in regards to The Intentional Weaver.  The review in Handwoven is in the latest issue, and I've seen some orders happen.  But I also recognize that books are expensive.  We went with the hardback to begin with because they are more durable.  Not everyone can afford to buy hardback.

My trusty editor and I have been mulling over whether it would be 'better' to just have the hardback and digital copies as we do presently, or if we should explore a paperback option.

She wondered if it would even be worthwhile to offer paperback.

My feeling is that there would be a market for a cheaper print version, but don't really know.

Things on that front are on hold for a while, in no small part because I have a busy travel schedule, but I will be home for about 5 weeks after my second trip and before the first craft fair happens.

I expect that by that time of the year I will have to make a decision and if we go with the paperback version I will have to see if Ruth has time in her schedule to render the files and load them to blurb.

What I have decided is that I will not order in copies to sell directly.  If we launch the paperback version on Dec. 2 (one year after hard back launch), it would mean that I would have to deal with orders, then shipping the books out.  Since I'm hoping to get my foot 'fixed', I'm going to be recovering from surgery and hopping about trying to deal with packages and mail and whatnot really isn't advisable.

So - what say you, dear reader?  We don't have a price because the file would have to be rendered on the blurb website in order to get their quote on printing, but it would be cheaper than the hard back.  How much cheaper?  To be determined.

Saturday, August 3, 2019


Doug has been working really hard on getting the studio sorted out.  It is a well worn but extremely accurate adage that says before things can get better, they have to get worse.  Sometimes a lot worse.

The loom tear down and studio re-arranging was proceeding nicely when Doug found a buyer for the Whitin pirn winder.  She decided the best time to come get it was now, not later, and suddenly all my carefully thought out plans got tossed aside in order to dig the winder out from behind the several years of accumulation that had been piled in front and beside it.

Since she will also get the shuttles and pirns, I had a good dig through the store room to find some I knew still had yarn on them.

When I was into production, I would wind plenty of pirns and have them ready to go.  If I didn't use the wound pirns up, it didn't matter because I had lots of pirns.  As in lots and lots.

Since I haven't used the fly shuttle the past few years, and only sporadically for about five years prior to that, those boxes of filled pirns had also gotten shuffled to the backs of shelves, into nooks and crannies.

The photo is actually part of the 'becoming better' stages.  With moving things around, floor space that hasn't seen any kind of cleaning in years was exposed so Doug has been vacuuming with his big shop vacuum.  It's that black and red thing with the hoses. 

Piled to the left are loom parts and the two fly shuttle boxes are standing against the wall to the left and back.

The white cabinet holds the computer that runs the loom, a boombox and other tools and it may stay where it is or get moved slightly.  We will decide once the Megado is here and assembled.

That pile of boxes?  Those are the boxes of pirns.  One of the boxes has fine cashmere on them, the rest are primarily 2/16 cotton.  Pounds of it, all told.  I'm going to ask if she minds if I keep those and use up as much of the yarn as I can because she says she won't use it and would just strip it off.  Which would take hours.  Plus it's wasteful.  So I'm hoping she will agree. 

Since I may be teaching not too far away from her studio in April (to be determined - I may have a conflicting commitment, plus the college may choose a different instructor), I will tell her I'll get them to her by the end of April.

That would give me the chance to use the yarn plus gives me a deadline by which I would have to do that.

Doug has made arrangements with a young fellow to help carry some things up out of the basement, including the winder, and once those things are out of the way Doug can begin bringing shelving from the annex to here.

My schedule is really full (given my energy levels) and I would really like to get as much moved out of the annex in advance of the end of the year as I possibly can.

I may have surgery on my foot in December, so the more I can do prior to the surgery, the less I will feel like I need to hasten recovery by dealing with moving out of there so I can reduce my expenses.

Retirement will only work if I can reduce the out-go because the in-come is going to go way down come 2020...

Right now I'm awash in the scramble to get all of this done and keep weaving for the fall craft fairs.

Just cut another place mat warp off the small loom, cut/serged them, and will now go dress the loom again with another.  I'm very low on inventory and to make the shows at least pay for themselves, I have to have more textiles to sell. 

I don't think I'm going to miss the hamster wheel of production/sales.

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Little Good News

Yesterday the news broke that Handwoven, Spin Off and Piecework magazines have been purchased by Interweave founder Linda Ligon, Anne Merrow and John Bolton.

After months of uncertainty due to the Chapter 11 of F&W Media (with dozens of authors losing big amounts of money, myself included), to find out that this team is now in control of these magazines is a huge relief.

One of my goals for 'retirement' is to go back to experimentation and exploration, possibly writing for publication.  I am now much more at ease about offering articles to Handwoven, knowing that the magazine is in good hands.

At this point the weaving (and spinning and quilting) community will need to take a leap of faith and continue to support the magazines.

Publishing in the 21st century is a risky affair.  So many people expect to get things for nothing, but nothing good or lasting comes from nothing. 

As a self-publishing author, I know the back room efforts it takes to publish books and monographs.  A magazine is doing it multiple times a year, dealing with multiple authors, not just one.  Publishing standards are higher than ever with the new technologies.

As soon as I found out about the purchase I went to the Long Thread Media website and signed up for updates.  I expect the transition to Long Thread will go smoothly and that the magazine will continue without interruption.

My de-stashing continues as people check in and either arrange to purchase things or decline so I can continue on down the 'dibs' list.  This Sunday the pirn winder will go and there will be room to bring in a shelving unit to go into that space.  The dresser at the other end of the studio will also get carried up and out.  Thanks to a young man who will help lift and tote.  And then more shelving can come over from the annex to here, allowing me to sort the recently acquired silk.  I have had someone ask about silk yarns and if I have something she is looking for I will happily send some to her.

I have also been eyeing that shelving unit of rayon chenille, wondering if I really and truly want to weave it.  I don't know how many pounds there might be - easily 50, quite likely more - in various colours.

Marie Kondo got a lot of flak for her clutter reducing advice, but frankly?  I'm finding it a good measure of whether or not I actually want to keep something or if I'm ready to let it go to a new home.  And rayon chenille no longer brings me much joy.   So...

And in the end, not finding the joy in something tells me that I am probably ready to let it go.  There is no point hanging on to something when someone else can find the joy.

As one internet meme says - 'sprinkle that stuff everywhere'.

A Little Good News by Anne Murray

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Wear and Tear

evidence of wear on the breast beam just under the threading/reed hook

"Things as imagined, things as they are, things as used, and things as discarded all have their own emotional resonance which weave and interplay with the others to form a complex embodiment of feeling in materiality” Hillary Davidson

The Leclerc Fanny was 'rescued' from an art centre in Alberta. Originally made around 1950, it had been well loved and used by probably two weavers previous to it making it's way to the art centre where it languished for an number of years until I bought it.

We drove out to Alberta in the winter - through the Rocky Mountains in February as I recall. I forget what year it would have been, but sometime in the late 1990s. For the past 20 or so years, I have woven miles of cloth on it.

I had been through several other looms, none of which were really working well for me so I had high hopes this would be my loom and it has been. In so many ways it has been a workhorse.

We upgraded it because it still had the original dog and pawl brake so Doug installed a friction fit braking system. I bought all new cords for it but kept the original aprons. The back apron is showing signs of failing soon and I may need to replace it. I have a length of cotton I had bought for the AVL that is left over and will work just fine. Once I have the time, energy and space to lay out a large piece of cloth and cut it to size, make the slits for the rod, sew the rod pocket and so on. The current apron has cloth 'tabs' that I love, but I'm not about to try and replicate those. Another sign of the age of this loom because anything after about the mid-1950s has a back apron more like the front apron pictured. OTOH, I could just order a new apron from Leclerc and not have to fuss with it.

Yesterday as I started threading the next place mat warp, the light reflected on the curve of the beam and I really noticed the amount of wear on the beam. Evidence of the abrasion the cloth makes each time the warp is advanced and tightened. Or at least that is what I assume because I don't remember the beam having nearly this much wear on it when I got it, new-to-me.

Or maybe I'm just in a state of hyper-awareness about my equipment - my tools of the trade. Maybe because I am in the process of downsizing and getting rid of so much I am paying more attention to the things I am keeping. Noticing that they, too, are getting old(er), wearing out.

Hillary Davidson is an historian who writes about the history of clothing/fashion. Her Twitter handle is @FourRedShoes. I always enjoy her observations about clothing and fashion and will look forward to reading more of the things she writes about. I think she may have a book coming out soon-ish.

This morning I was emailing with Dr Paulette Steeves who also has a book coming out next year. I mentioned to her that I will look forward to it and that once I've shut my business down I anticipate having more time to read.

The emotional resonance of downsizing has been getting to me and I find I haven't much mental wherewithal to read very much of substance.

But currently I am reading (in small bits and pieces) Sarah Parcak's book on the work she has been doing with satellite imagery.

I have always enjoyed reading about people of other times and places. Recently I've 'discovered' Adrienne Mayor and will be looking for her books. The local library has a couple of her titles and if I weren't so busy and out of town so much I'd put them on reserve. However, all of this disruption and the emotional resonance of getting rid of so much of the equipment and tools accumulated over 40+ years will be over soon enough.

I thought I would be sadder than I am. Maybe because I'm not quitting weaving, just changing my focus. I'm not going to be without a loom, but getting a new one. One that will - hopefully - allow me to weave for a good many more years.