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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Styal, England

Mill conditions were anything but clean.  There were many hazards involved.  If you can find Tony Robinson's series The Worst Jobs in History, note how many are textile related.  

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


There is a meme going round Facebook that says something to the effect that "I don't mind getting old, but my body is taking it badly."

So it is with me.

I actually like the age I am - my years of experience, the things I have managed to do during those years.  Oh, not all of them were wonderful, of course, but that's life, right?

As my physical limitations narrow I find myself less able to do the things I used to do without blinking.  My hours at the loom are fewer because I just can't do what I used to do.  I try not to mourn the shrinking circle of my physical capabilities but it is a fact:  between the two Big C's I live with, I also have growing issues with the Big A - Arthritis.  

The latest episode of fringe twisting made it clear that my thumbs are not happy with the firm pinching that is required and I may have to seriously think about getting rid of that huge stash of rayon chenille.  Because I don't want to wreck my thumbs doing that when I could be doing, oh, spinning?

I have recently re-discovered spinning and knitting.  Both are low impact activities and they have been bringing me a great deal of satisfaction.  Not to mention the universe kept gifting me with spinning wheels - none of which were 'right' for me.  So I bought a Canadian Production Wheel and a blending board and have been happily spinning my own blended rolag/punis.

But it wasn't 'right' for me either.  It was simply too large and too fragile for what I wanted to do.  I wanted something smaller, that would actually fit into my house instead of living in the guild room, and I wanted something portable.

So I ordered an espinner from http://questionableorigin.com/  Chad is Abby Franquemont's husband/partner and between the two of them they developed The Device - an espinner that fits into a small box, has an on board battery for when there is no power, and other features that seemed to make this the Device for me.

I sold my Canadian Production Wheel, returned the espinner I had borrowed to use at home and am looking forward to receiving my Device next month.

Because I have all this fibre that needs to be spun up...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Be Prepared

With both looms empty and today yet to work, I'm dressing the small loom with a place mat warp.

I really don't like leaving both looms empty when I go away, especially on a long trip with major time zone changes.  I come home exhausted and brain dead from jet lag so I really don't want to have to think.

Plus I need more all white mats as I'm woefully low on inventory.  Of course I never really know what will sell at any given season, any given show, but generally I need about 3 dozen white place mats and some runners to get through the season, so I like to have four dozen.

A friend did a study of her sales and she determined that if a textile person sold 40% of their inventory they had had a really excellent show.  So I always plan on having way more than what I think I might need.

Partly because I like to have a selection of colours for people to choose from, but also I have seen how, when inventory gets really low (like my current shawl inventory) nothing sells.  There isn't enough selection for people to choose from.

So I'm a wee bit concerned about not having much in the way of shawls, but this year really didn't leave me much time for getting any woven.  Not mentally, not physically, not emotionally.  I did the best I could and that will have to be sufficient.

I have nearly two weeks between trips and loads of appointments that can't be delayed so there won't be a lot of time for weaving.  Having the loom set up for mats means that I can squeeze studio time in between and hopefully get the two warps I wound last month woven and maybe even wet finished so I can bring them with me to hem while I'm away.  If there is room in the suitcase, which is already getting really full of stuff that needs to go.  Either that or they will get hemmed between the first and second craft fairs and ready to go to Vancouver and Circle Craft.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Road to Hell

One of the pithy sayings around the house when I was growing up was that the road to hell was paved with good intentions.

In other words, you can dream all you like, you can intend all you like but that is only just the very first step in what may turn out to be a very long road.

As I grew older the next pithy saying that started to be bandied about was the observation that someone could talk the talk but not walk the walk.  I think this is just a variation on a theme.  Saying you are going to do something is pointless unless you actually DO the something.

So my life has been filled with doing.  

My mother modeled how to walk the walk by volunteering for organizations she felt were deserving of her time and energy.  My earliest memories are of her volunteering at the church, catering events, teaching at Sunday school (then volunteering me to do the same).  Then she got involved with the Hospital Auxiliary and worked tirelessly for that organization, locally, regionally and provincially.

She taught kindergarten, then when schools absorbed kindergarten into the school curriculum, pre-school.  If there was something needed doing, she pitched in.  Helping establish the Child Development Centre for children needing assistance due to cerebral palsy or other issues.  Getting behind the drive to establish a university here - the first in about 25 years to open in the country.  And so many more.

My energies have been more focused on weaving - the doing of it, the teaching of it, the writing about it.  I have been an active member of the local guild since the first day it was organized.  I volunteered first by doing the newsletter, then moved through various other positions - library, workshops, programs, chair.  And then started doing it all over again after a couple of decades.

I have chaired conferences, organized textile exhibits, sat on various organization boards.

Because good intentions are all well and good.  But they don't actually accomplish anything.

One of the things I see on social media is that people seem to feel that if they share their concern (thoughts and prayers) or outrage (how can XYZ do this!) they have done all that is needed.  But that's not how it works.  That is just the first step.  Outraged about something?  Work towards change.  Sending thoughts and prayers is a pretty empty sentiment when people are losing everything, up to and including their lives.  Concerned about people fighting fire and flood?  Donate to an organization who is boots on the ground.

There are so many areas that we as citizens need to work towards solving.  In Canada we are not immune to this.  We need to open our eyes.  We need to - if necessary - open our wallets.  We need to urge our governments to act, not mouth empty platitudes.  Because that's all they are - words without action are just one more cobblestone in the road to hell.

For obligatory weaving content - I am over the 40 yard mark on this warp.  Because intent without action accomplishes nothing.  Show up.  Do the work.  Eat the elephant.  Be the change you want to see.  Set an example.  Walk the walk.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


(the lines on the cloth are shadows from the loom)

My stated goal - for far too many years - is to weave down my stash.

I can say that little by little my stash is actually being used.  I made a good dent in the Legacy from Lynne yarns over the past year finally using up all (well, most - there is still a box of tow linen I have no idea what to do with...but it's linen!) of her linen and cotton/linen blends this spring.  Also some cotton flake, including some of mine that I had purchased for resale.

Some of my yarns are harder to part with than others.  The weft for this warp, for example, is Fox Fibre naturally grown coloured cotton.  As such it is more expensive than 'ordinary' cotton.  It is also fine, so you get a lot of play value using it.

In other words, it takes more time to weave up than a nice 'fat' 2/8 cotton.

Since it is more expensive, I am not really getting my money's worth out of it because I just can't charge enough to cover the cost of purchasing it, then the labour of weaving it off.  But, the time had come to deal with it.

I carefully sorted the cones because I had several different shades, calculated how much warp I would need to use it up and started planning.  My math figured I had about enough yarn to weave 40 yards so I thought I would go ahead and put 45 yards on and any warp left over I would weave off using some of the nice half bleached singles linen in my stash.

And then I found more cones on another shelf.

My warp grew to 50 yards.

I'm now about 40 yards into that warp and I will have Fox Fibre yarn left over.  Not much, maybe a cone or two.  A friend has spoken up saying that she would love to have whatever is left over, so what I don't weave myself will go to her.

But I am one step closer to my stated goal of weaving down my stash.

Not that I'm in any danger of running out - and even if I were, I know where to get more!

But all those bits of yarn that were too...precious...to use?  I'm going to finally get them woven, one way or another.  

Now, what to do with that silk...