Sunday, May 28, 2017

Not Out

The box with the cones holds more of Lynn's yarn, this time cotton slub.  The box with the tubes contains the yarn I brought in to re-sell - when I was still doing that.  That box with the tubes?  It's two layers deep.

So no, I'm not even close to being 'out' of yarn.  And it appears I am also not 'out' of ideas for more stripe sequences.  

I kind of agonized over that purple stripe, but in the end, once the dull blue weft crosses it it should all meld together quite nicely.

The thing about working in a series is that the longer I 'mine' the design, creating new colour combinations, all within the same framework (stripes) the more I push myself, the more adventurous I get with my colour combinations.

This stripe sequence is also challenging because I am using four solids and a variegated.  Sometimes that fourth colour is really, really hard to choose.  Much easier to use 3!

But part of why I do this thing that I do is to push myself, creatively.  One of the ways I do that is in the colours I select to make my textiles.

But I've been working on this series for over a month, now, and so far I have more than 10 warps either woven, wound or planned.  At 10 towels per warp...that's a lot of towels!  More than needed, given the inventory I already have on hand from my push making towels last year, trying to use up Lynn's stash of linen and cotton/linen blends.

So I guess I'll be having a towel sale later in the year.  Just...not right away.  I normally have a sale around my birthday, but I am away the month of June (for all practical purposes), getting home on July 4, dental surgery scheduled for July 15, plus other maintenance appointments.  So it might not be until August.  After that I'm out of town again, plus the craft fair season.  So, who knows, my 'sale' might be in time for Christmas???

Saturday, May 27, 2017


The cone is the last (finally!) of Lynn's ginormous cones of cotton/linen blend.  It's about the same grist as 2/8 cotton, so has been weaving up nicely on the cotton warps I've been pulling.  I really expected to use this cone up on the last warp, but here it sits, giving it's all for another 4? 5? 6? towels?  

Once it is used up, the pale blue cotton slub on the tubes will be next.  I'm hoping to use some of them up on this warp too.

I have collected almost everything needed for the Cape Breton class, bar the stuff I use almost daily in the studio.  After all, there is still another week - surely I can weave another warp or three?  But I also have a boatload of appointments - hair cut so I don't look so shaggy, Rx renewal, chiropractor, massage therapist.  Such a lot of maintenance required to keep this body going!

The grey shawl is almost knitted.  Just a few more rows, then the ribbing.  I made it longer than usual because it seems my lower back always feels the cold and I wanted a shawl long enough to cover that.  Hopefully I can finish tonight.  Then there are another 6 or 7 spools of singles to be plyed.  I may - or may not - bring knitting as well as the 10 towels ready for hemming to Cape Breton.  It depends on how much 'spare' room there will be in my suitcase.  Plus a book or three.  It's a very long plane ride(s) from Sydney, NS to Prince George.  Lots of time to be reading.

We are still waiting on the contractor to get back to us about when the work on the driveway will get done.  I am so wanting something to be completed!  Although completing the outside of the house just means we will have to decide on what to do about the inside.  I think we've given up on doing much this year.  Instead we will look at next summer for replacing the flooring in the two small bedrooms and painting inside.  The kitchen desperately needs it as well as the main bathroom, the ensuite, the two small bedrooms, which were never touched when we moved in, although the rest of the rooms have been painted at some point.  With So Much Stuff in both of those small bedrooms (one of which is my office), we've decided to rent a storage bin, empty the two rooms and strip them rather than trying to work around the stuff.

Plus I'm arm twisting a friend to come in January or February to help me sort through my office, decide what to keep, what to toss and set up a proper filing system for the Olds things.  

For today, my dust busting helper came, vacuumed, washed floors, then weeded the front flower beds.  And the sun is shining.  It's good.  It's all good.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Things We Do For Love

I am still in the collecting phase of packing.  There are a few more items that need to go into the pile, partly because they are studio items that I am using, still, while frantically weaving as much as I can before I leave.

This trip involves flying from one small remote airport to another small remote airport.  Flights are limited and when I went to book my tickets, there was exactly one option - the red eye.

So exactly 7 days from today I leave here on the 9:30 pm flight to Vancouver, then the 0 dark hundred and a half (12:25 am) flight from Vancouver to Toronto, then finally make it to Sydney, NS at 12:25 pm.  Which means I will have been up for about 24 hours - because I don't sleep sitting up - in a car, train or plane.  Which makes trips like this...challenging.  Even more so that there is a long 'commute' from Sydney to St. Ann's so I can't even fall into bed right away.

Coming home my body clock will have reset itself to NS time which means I will be arriving home at around 4 am Sydney time, whereupon I hope to be able to fall directly into bed (do not pass "go", do not collect $200) and sleep like, well, like I've been up way too long.

There are now 10 in the Cape Breton class, with room for two more.  I'm assuming that Olds still has 9, although that was a couple of weeks ago and more may have signed up since then.  I am preparing for 12 for both, just in case.  Because neither St. Ann's, nor Olds, is very big and specific supplies may be difficult (if not impossible) to obtain.

I have been thinking a lot about both classes and hope that a few tweaks I have made to the way I present the material will be helpful.  

It is imperative (imho) that we keep a certain level of knowledgeable practitioners around to write, teach, demonstrate, encourage new weavers.  It's all well and good to say that you can find anything you want on the internet - but when you don't know what you don't know, you don't know that you don't know it.

So, by teaching these classes, flying via a red eye (yuk), or driving for 9 hours with a van loaded with as many teaching materials I can cram into my van, I am hoping that once I and others like me are gone, our knowledge will live on.

Currently reading Wool by Hugh Howey - which has very little to do with wool per se but makes a great metaphor for a modern day 'fairy tale' (science fiction novel).

Saturday, May 20, 2017


One of my mentors always used to say "If you aren't making mistakes, you aren't learning anything."  And would then share her latest 'mistakes' and the lessons she'd learned from them.

So very early in my career I learned that displeasing results were not terminal, just a stepping stone on the journey of learning.

This series of towels is meant to use up a bunch of yarn that I either inherited or purchased to re-sell.  I began, as I usually do, by making a striped design that appealed to me (based on the Fibonacci series) and then began to play with the colours to go into those stripes.

I set myself some design constraints:  the centre stripe would be one of the variegated cotton yarns I'd bought to sell, the weft would be yarn from Lynn's Legacy or, if that didn't have the right colour for the warp, from cotton slub I'd bought to sell.

The centre stripe on this warp is a rather dull and fairly dark varigation with a 'sad' green (with a bit of blue), lavender, and a dark-ish greyed blue.  I didn't have the right shade of lavender so I went with a quite dark value purple, which I'm still not sure I like but does give the rather dull warp a little 'zing'.  And of course I never judge a textile on the loom but only after wet finishing.

The colour palette isn't to my personal taste, but for those who like more subdued hues, I think this is working ok.  In spite of that dull beige stripe which, quite frankly, I agonized over.

The weft is a dull sage green which seems to be working as I'd hoped and pulling all the different colours together visually.  

Currently reading Hidden Figures.  I bought the DVD and will watch that with Mary in June.  But movies never have the scope to go into detail so I'm glad I'm reading the book beforehand.

Friday, May 19, 2017


A few years ago (quite a few, but let's not count them up) I was asked to do a guild presentation about my life as a professional weaver.  After the presentation one person approached me and said that she had re-invented herself three times, with three different professions, but had been intrigued with how I had re-invented myself but always within the context of weaving.

Being the child of a French-Canadian mother and a German-Canadian father, I think I got a double stubborn gene.  Add in the Cancer water sign, and stubbornly persistent, or persistently stubborn would pretty much sum me up.

Water tends to meet an obstacle and go under, around or sometimes just plain over, in order to reach it's destination.

While I have not managed to achieve everything I set out to do - sometimes the answer is indeed "no" - it has not been from lack of trying.

After my first craft fair, I completely re-thought my approach to designing textiles, re-tooled my entire inventory, and achieved a modicum of success.  Enough to continue, at any rate.

My writing was not an instant 'success' so I kept writing articles, submitting them and when they were rejected - tried again.  And again.  And again.  While my ego cringed, persistent stubbornness would not allow me to give up.  My ego was instructed to pull up the Big Girl panties because I was going to continue.  As I continued to write and be rejected, I was also honing my writing skills.

Ditto applying to teach workshops.  Don't like that topic?  How about this one?  And I re-wrote my marketing tools to make my workshops sound more...interesting?  Appealing?  Until guilds started to hire me.

Conferences?  Again, multiple applications, multiple rejections.  Damn near wore out those Big Girl panties!  Get another pair and keep trying.

Chairing meetings?  I can do that.  Organizing conferences?  I can do that.  Not getting answers?  Nag, nag, the nicest possible way, of course!  Because I wanted, needed, an answer and getting shirty wasn't going to hurry those answers along.

Weaving is all about not stopping, not giving up.  I have a high paced month coming up - lots of details to take care of.  I am so far 'behind' on where I wanted to be - because Life Happened - and then it didn't (for my mother - and all that that entailed).  I am way behind on my writing of The Book and know that after the crazy month of June I'm going to need some time to recuperate - only to get some dental surgery done which may knock me out of being able to weave for at best several days, at worst a week or more.

But I am stubbornly persistent, or persistently stubborn, and like my Cancer water sign, I will go under, around or over the obstacles.  

I may not achieve all that I would like to do, but I will do my best to get as much done as I possibly can.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


I am in the throes of finding my teaching aids for the two Olds classes I am teaching in June, which is a bit of a challenge because I also have all the samples for all the other workshops I've taught over the years.  Things have gotten shifted multiple times over the past year due to the renovation work we have been having done, plus studio production.  

Once I teach one last workshop (if it goes ahead) in October, I will sit down over the winter, sort through ALL my samples, decide which I need to keep for the Olds classes and the rest will get tossed into the recycle bin.

I told Doug yesterday that I am fed up to the back teeth with all the clutter.  Between each of us, then emptying out mom's apartment, living in the same house for over 40 years, running a business out of it, which included teaching as well as production, well...let's just say I might qualify for an episode of Hoarders!

I am turning 67 this year.  Many people I know retire from their professions in their 50's.  I am allowed to admit that I am getting tired.  I've had a lifetime of repetitive motion type of work and my body is wearing out.  I really don't want to be toting heavy boxes and suitcases around any more.

It is time to look at what I really actually need and get rid of the rest.  To that end, I have given myself five years to downsize, at least to the point of having only the yarns I really want to use instead of all the other stuff I have needed for teaching workshops.  So I am on a mission - weave as much as possible of the stuff I want to get rid of, finish The Book, concentrate on teaching the Olds class, spend more time doing what I enjoy instead of what I feel I must do.  Every job has stuff that isn't as enjoyable as the stuff you really love to do.  It's time for me to concentrate on moving towards the 'joy' and away from the things that aren't.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Prep Work

So Saturday was my mom's interment and everything that needs to be done for her has been done.  Now it is time to think about deadlines.  Which loom.  Threateningly.

It would seem that starting to panic a wee bit a month before a class might be a bit premature, but in reality, most of my prep work for a workshop is done 6 weeks ahead of a class because materials have to be prepared and mailed.

For the Olds Fibre Week program however, I get to drive so I can bring everything I need with me.  

For the level one class, I wind their first warp for them to save time during class.  The program is information dense.  During the five days of class I present approximately 12 hours (or more) of lectures, filled with information, most of which many weavers have never thought about, never mind considered.  Some who come are more experienced, but that doesn't mean they have been presented with some of the material that I include in my classes.  Like ergonomics.  Efficiency.  Which are not actually covered in the course content, but...well, I'm me and I cannot not discuss these issues to people who are expected to do some level of teaching.

So I wind the skeins of wool onto cones, and then I wind their first warp for them.

In the past I have wound all of the skeins onto cones, but have not received all the cones back again.  So this time I am only winding the skeins that I am going to use, then enough skeins for them to wind their second warp.  Since each sample warp consists of one skein, I will be able to get all my cones back again.

I use the Silver Needles cone winder.  It is the 'best' cone winder I have found for the price.  I also have a large industrial cone winder, but it really doesn't like to pull/wind from a skein and I didn't have enough money to also buy an industrial swift that would wind off as the cone was winding on.

Eventually I will offer the industrial cone winder for sale because I am no longer buying large quantities of yarn, coning it off and re-selling it.  

The other reason for jumping on this class prep now is that I will be teaching the Olds level one in Cape Breton the first week of June, coming home with about 5 days to recover, then driving out to Olds to teach the class there.  I will then have about 5 days to recover from that, then drive to Victoria and the ANWG conference.  So I feel like I really need to do as much as I can now and not wait to the last minute.