Monday, July 6, 2020


tubes of pale grey I want to use up

dye lot difference - yes that change from very pale to darker is a dye lot difference

Anyone who has worked with yarn is (or should be) aware of a thing called 'dye lot difference'.

Not even industry gets it perfect every time and people are always advised to buy sufficient yarn of the same dye lot to complete their project.

Which is all well and good if you only ever buy enough yarn for one project.

Having been a production weaver for 40+ years, I have accumulated a rather large yarn stash.  As I seldom ever made just one of anything, my stash eventually grew to have multiple dye lots of the 'same' colour.

I'm pretty good at differentiating colour but on this grey even my eye was fooled.  I thought I had sorted the tubes into their different dye lots, checked over several days, in different light conditions.  And yet.  And yet.  When I began weaving with the grey there was a distinct difference in value which had not been detectable in the tube, but became abundantly clear as soon as I started weaving with it.

What to do?

Many people consider a sudden change in colour to be a flaw and frankly?  If I were planning on submitting this tea towel to an exhibition I would not.  Because it is obviously a difference in colour.

However.  It's a tea towel.  The slight difference in colour might not even show on the other side (which is the 'right' side) and if it does?  It will be very slight.  So slight that many people won't even notice.

Recently someone posted a rainbow spectrum on Facebook saying if you could distinguish more than 34 different stripes of colour you had very good colour vision.  I could see 35.

Yesterday a friend came to visit (and I wound up putting her to work trimming shawl fringe - gotta love friends who will pitch in to help!!!) and we talked about how people see different colours, can distinguish many - or fewer - different values/shades.

Ultimately my goal at this point in time is to use up as much of my stash as I can.  How much do I, or should I, care about such things which are considered 'flaws' by some while not actually interfering with the ability of the cloth to do its job?

Now that weaving is my hobby, I find that I don't much care.  If the difference is really obvious, that towel will be set aside and given away.

I look around and see all the people who cannot bear to be 'wrong' or make something that isn't 'perfect'.  And I wonder if humanity would be a bit better off if we could be satisfied with 'good'.  Or be willing to embrace that we are all imperfect in some way, that most of us are doing the best we can in the circumstance, and that a few scars, wrinkles, or subtle dye lot differences don't diminish our inherent qualities or usefulness.

Life is not black and white, but subtle shades of grey...

Currently reading The Redeemed by M. R. Hall

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Golden Orb

After days, weeks, months (it feels like) of heavily overcast skies and almost daily rain, we have some sun today.  A welcome appearance of a golden orb, making it's sedate way across the sky.

Not that it hasn't been there all along - just not visible to us on the ground.

The plum trees had some blossoms in the spring but how many have set fruit we don't really know. 

A timely metaphor all way round for life in general.

Even in our darkest days, the sun does shine.  Maybe not on us, but it is there.  Every cloud has a silver lining.  In spite of the rain, the flooding happening, we don't have wildfire smoke pall.

Something to be grateful for, especially during a pandemic that attacks the lungs.

I never understood how people could keep going through things like the Black Plague, the times of extreme weather, mini-cold ages, etc.

Now I know.  You just keep going.  You keep hanging on.  You keep hoping that things will improve.  That the water will abate, the virus die off.

You look for the tiny good things that happen.  A card from a friend.  A phone call (or Zoom, these days).  A pretty picture that reminds you of how beautiful this world is.  How much you value friends.

Recently someone I knew primarily via the internet died.  I always appreciated her blog posts and kind words.  In the end I have a piece of her weaving that will serve as a reminder that people can be lovely and supportive and kind.  Especially on days when I'm dealing with people who don't seem to be any of those things.

I live for the day when I can teach again.  Hug my friends again.  In the meantime today will be a day of physically distant visiting.  A friend will come over this afternoon and we will sit in the carport and have a much needed catch-up.

As our province begins to slowly creak 'open', I will stay home as much as possible.  Wear a mask when I go out.  Keep distance.  Wash my hands with soap and water when I get home.

Stay safe as can be everyone.  Virtual {hugs} to everyone.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Bread and Roses

I would feel more satisfied about the 'holes' here...

...if it weren't for the bins of yarn pulled for the next warps here...

With my yarn out where I can (mostly) see it, I have been feeling a bit smug about the holes developing in the yarn stored on the shelving near the Megado.  

Yesterday while congratulating myself on the excellent progress on stash busting, it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't doing quite as well as I was thinking, given the several pounds of yarn pulled to make the warps (and weft) for the projects in the queue.

However, given that those shelves were packed cheek by jowl just a few short (long?) months ago, I have made progress.  And progress is still progress, no matter how much further there is to go in the journey.

During this time of pandemic and stress/worry about what will happen in the upcoming months, I constantly question why I keep making more stuff.

The craft fairs that I do locally are cancelled.  The consignment shops are also closed.  People are hurting financially in many cases.  Like someone once said to me a long time ago during a different economic recession, when they are worried about putting food on the table they can't be thinking about pretty cloth to put under the plate.

It is a comment that I have never forgotten, in large part because most of my life as a 'starving artist' my concerns were more about the food on the plate than anything else.

So what is the role of artists in our society anyway?  We often take them for granted.  Arts funding is one of the first things that gets cut in economic downturns.  People worried about their literal survival have no room to spare in their budgets for the 'frivolous' pursuits of the arts.  On the other hand, people frequently use things like music to lift their spirits, read to escape from reality.

Craftspeople participating in what we now call 'traditional' crafts frequently make useful things, not just decorative.

But throughout humanity, useful things have been decorated.  Given the time it takes to make something useful also beautiful, the very act of making the beautiful must mean something to our souls.

I was once asked to talk at an International Women's Day gathering.  It was sponsored by several unions so I drew on the value of making in society.  And ended presentation by saying that we need our bread, but we need our roses too.

Friday, July 3, 2020


With the pandemic continuing, especially in some parts of the world, things like classes or other gatherings are being put on hold.

It is very upsetting for a lot of people as their course of study, be it elementary/high school or college/university or other avenues of learning are so completely up in the air.  Many teachers are being forced by circumstance to convert their classes to on-line, with all the upheaval that entails.

If someone has never taught a course of study, there is little understanding of the kind of preparation that is required.  To then pivot and put that class on-line requires a further investment of time, expertise and technology that might be completely beyond an individual, never mind an institution that might have tech support but is overwhelmed with ALL the teachers needing to do the same at the same time.

Do teachers invest perhaps a hundred hours of prep time creating an on-line class that then becomes redundant in a year because the pandemic is over?  Or do they sit tight and hope that things will be able to return to some semblance of normality?

On the other hand, in the textile community a number of people had begun the shift to on-line learning, so they were already prepared with camera crews, appropriate physical space and on-line presence.

Others, like myself,  had produced DVDs and with the break up of Interweave and the creation of Long Thread Media, those DVDs were turned into on-line 'workshops'.

As for classes like the Olds master weaving/spinning classes, much of the value of those classes are the in person aspect where the instructor can view how the student is working (ergonomically) and give in person 'correction' plus answer questions in real time from which the entire class benefits.

There are other instructors who are presently working on on-line resources.  Some are beginning to roll out on-line data bases and classes.  Others are working on them and will launch as soon as they finish their production.

Some have Patreon accounts and may have on-line mini-classes for subscribers.

I can recommend the following:
Jane Stafford's on-line guild
Tien Chiu Warp and Weave classes
Janet Dawson - Craftsy class, turned into bluprint, now bought out by another company
Long Thread Media's catalogue of DVDs now on-line workshops
Daryl Lancaster

As other efforts go live I will announce/share the info as it comes available.

For myself, there are still the level two and four Olds classes scheduled for Nova Scotia in September.  Whether or not it will be advisable for people to travel to Cape Breton remains to be seen.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Rain, Rain...

pretty picture to brighten your day (stack of painted warp scarves)

This (ahem) summer has not been very nice so far.  We have been beset by rain and t-storms.  The rivers are rising, there is flooding in much of the province.


We don't have wildfires, so that's a win, I guess.

In going through my stash of yarns, I feel like I'm in a marathon.  Just completely focused on one thing - weave the yarn down.  As mentioned in a previous post, I have three more warps in the queue with a fourth in development.  And still the 2/16 lingers!  Whole lotta yardage in 2/16 cotton...

OTOH, I am making progress.  I was thinking yesterday how nice it was to see 'holes' on the shelves, then suddenly remembered that the holes are there because I have three bins of yarn pulled for the warps in the queue!

The current warp has 5 towels woven on it with about 14 or so left to do.  Guess I'd better go do them.  Now that I've seen how this warp is going to look, I'd like to weave it off and get rid of some of the 'left over' yarn on tubes.   Too little to really want to put into a warp, too much to throw away.  Just right for popping into a shuttle and weaving it off.

Eating the 'elephant' one pick at a time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Best Part

I enjoy weaving on multiple levels.  I enjoy the physical activity of sitting at the loom, throwing the shuttle, beating the weft into place.

But I also find the intellectual work of trying to figure out how to make the threads move through the fabric stimulating. 

So when I'm at the loom and things are going well and only surface attention is required, I will frequently mull over up-coming warps.

Right now I have 20 yards (give or take) of warp on the loom with three towels woven...with about another 8 or 9 days of weaving before that warp comes off. 

I also have at least three bins with planned warps waiting.  Two of them already have their drafts ready to go.  The third one I'm still letting simmer.  A fourth is percolating in part because of the draft I want to use and what I have available which may - or may not - be suitable.

In order to get a good fit between draft and planned warp you have to have the right combination of things and I'm not sure I have a good fit left in my steadily reducing stash of 2/16 cotton.

I also have some more linen (thanks to a friend giving me more linen just as I was finishing off my stash!  Um, thanks?)

So I may wind up using the linen for weft on that one, but given about two weeks per warp, I'm still several weeks away from needing to crunch that one while I deal with the ones that are ready to go.

Here is a glimpse at what I work on:  The draft has been turned so that instead of 16 shafts only 8 are needed.  But 16 treadles are required, so suitable for a loom with levers or a dobby.  The stripes are now weft wise instead of warp wise, but yes, it is possible to weave on fewer shafts.