If I taught a workshop/seminars at ANWG '19 would you be interested?

Monday, November 20, 2017


In trying to get more organized and make my studio more functional, what was chaos now feels like an endless job of moving boxes and bins from here to there and back again.  

So instead I’m threading another mat warp, ignoring, as best I can, the mess...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

One of the routine discussions that goes round the weaving world is that of how to hold the shuttle.

Now, everyone has to work within their abilities and disabilities, but here's the scoop on whether or not thumbs up or thumbs down is good for you:

"What is this “ideal shoulder position,” I speak of? Lucky for you, the ideal position of external rotation can be demonstrated by standing (or sitting) up straight, imagining that there’s a pencil between your shoulder blades (scapulae), and you’re pinching your scaps together to keep the pencil from falling. Lift your arms directly in front of you, make a fist and lock your elbows. Rotate your thumbs so they’re pointing towards the ceiling; you are now externally rotated at the shoulder (pictured below, ignore the arrow for now). This is an ideal position. Alternately, flip your thumbs towards each other then down towards the ground; you’re now internally rotated at the shoulder. This is bad."

(edited to add the link to the above quote)

I have been weaving, production weaving, in other words many hours nearly every day, for 40+ years.

I have two whiplash injuries, so my neck is compromised as well as my back and shoulders.  And yet, and yet, I can still weave for 3 (or more) 45 minute sessions every day, holding my shuttle as shown in the photo above.

Over the years I have consulted with various professionals - chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, dance instructor who holds a degree in movement.  All, every one of them, says the thumbs down position is 'bad' for the body.  Maybe not today.  Maybe not tomorrow.  Maybe not ever!

But for those people who are already compromised in their neck, shoulders, back, I strongly urge them to try holding the shuttle in the manner pictured above.  It helps with wider warps insofar and you can more easily propel the shuttle across a wide warp.  It helps with shoulder issues (especially if you have a tendency to rotator cuff problems) and I feel a smoother rhythm can be achieved much more quickly.

I have certainly had positive feedback in workshops from students who make the effort to change. (If you are one of those who experienced an improvement by changing, please comment below?)

In the end, however, if you are happy with what you are doing, no need to change anything.  But I do suggest that if you hold the shuttle thumb down that you take frequent breaks.  And if you only ever weave for 15-20 minutes at a time, the thumbs down position may never cause any grief.

Each to their own!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Plans vs Reality

Stephanie Pollack has brilliantly summed up Life.

I am a plan maker, a deadline meet-er.  I purposely set up my life with goals I want to obtain, in a time frame that I need to work towards, pretty much daily.  Having goals and deadlines gives me the adrenaline I need to get out of bed every morning and hie myself to the studio.

With the craft fair season not quite as lucrative as I'd hoped, and debts higher, I have been kind of scrambling around trying to come up with a plan.  Or three.  Or more.

First - sort through the left over inventory, get beauty shots, list on my on-line web shop (via Circle Craft)  Today I will select the first items and try to get good photos although the light is pretty dull today so it may have to wait until tomorrow.

Weave the order of a dozen place mats I got in Vancouver.  Again - won't finish today, will aim for tomorrow.

Accept commission from another weaver who is similarly running into Life and Deadlines.  I don't mind 'ghost' weaving for another weaver, especially when it is something that I feel I will ultimately benefit from doing.  Not to mention she is willing to pay.  (See comment above about lack of income and debt load.)

Simmering in the background is a commitment to write up my part in a joint project, do the 'final' edits for The Intentional Weaver (so far), submit a proposal to Handwoven.

People have no idea how much work it takes to be a professional artisan/teacher/author.  I need my daily deadlines/goals to keep me heading in the direction of my ultimate objective.  Peaks, valleys, obstacles will undoubtedly lie on my path - not that nice straight line that I think Life should be like - might mean I don't meet my initial goal.  But if I never set a goal, a deadline, I will never get anything done.

So...I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go...

Currently reading Take Out by Margaret Maron 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

No Rest

This afternoon I started dressing the small loom again, mainly because I have an order for this colour of mats.  I didn't promise delivery before Christmas, but I'd like to get them done and shipped - and paid for.  Because the show season didn't go as well as I would have liked.  I knew I was low on shawls.  I knew I was getting low on scarves.  Turned out I was low on place mats, too.  If you don't have it there to sell...

Yesterday I wound a couple of warps, this one included, but didn't even try to dress the loom.  I was tired and that is a recipe for mistakes happening.  As it was I was distracted and had to stop several times and recount my ends to make sure I was winding the warp accurately.

By 4 pm I'd hit the wall, so to speak, but managed to get this far:

I'm ready to weave, but rather than carry on while tired, decided to just wind bobbins so that I can start weaving tomorrow, hopefully when I'm better rested.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

An Honour

I've been interviewed lots of times - newspaper, radio, television, podcasts.  It's always an honour to have someone be interested in you and what you do.

It is especially nice when it is a fellow artisan - someone who understands the creative urge, who doesn't think you are a little bit...strange...a little bit...warped.

I was very surprised when I got an email from Felicia Lo of Sweet George Yarns last August asking if I would be interested in being interviewed for her podcast.  She said interviews were generally about 20-30 minutes.

OTOH, this is moi, after all, and I do seem to have a very lot to say and our interview lasted closer to 55 minutes.  I really thought she would have to edit it to make it fit the more usual 20-30, but it appears that she didn't.  (!)

The interview went live this morning.  However I was on the road coming back from Circle Craft and for some reason my ipad wouldn't link to their website.  So - we are in the door, starting to unpack and I'm sifting through my inbox and trying to catch up on being away for 8 days.

First priority will be to get the studio organized, financials sorted, make a plan.  And then see if I can actually stick to the plan without haring down rabbit holes.

(For another podcast, WeaveCast is still up and available to listen to.)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Deja, Deja Vu

Last day.

The show has been...ok...but after last year's success, disappointing.

Today it is supposed to be more typical Vancouver weather with rain all day.  That may help because it won't be very nice to be out of doors.  Plus today is the last day so if people want something, today is the day.

This show has about 300 booths.  The vast majority of us either earn our entire income from making and selling, or at least the income forms a significant portion of our income.  If we don't make enough, then we have to make decisions.

It is never a good idea to make such decisions while disappointed and tired.  So I will wait until later in the month after I've been home for a while and can crunch numbers, look at the calendar and do some thinking.

In the meantime?   One more day.  

Friday, November 10, 2017

Hump Day

Today begins day three of a five day show.  It's the last of three, back to back.

I've been doing this show (this time around) since 2011.  It's a high end show that attracts interesting makers and a clientele that, for the most part, is willing to pay 'extra' for hand made designer items.

Over the years I have developed a small following and a number of them have let me know that they appreciate what I make.  Some have even added to their collection.

It is always heart warming to get this kind of feedback.  But the years have taken their toll.  My body has been having...issues...for a number of years.  Each year I sit down at the end of the season to assess how the shows have gone.  How much in sales?  How much physical effort it takes?  How much inventory I have left vs how much stash?

At this stage of my life doing three shows back to back is no longer a given.  Each year I have to think long and hard about whether or not I can do it again.

In the meantime I also have the on line 'shop' on the Circle Craft website, which I expect to rejuvenate next week sometime.

I need to sit down with my iPad and make a list of what needs doing and set myself some deadlines/goals.  Because the conference is about to get real, too.