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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The End




Holzworth, M. D. (Doris)  Aug. 27, 1926 - Dec. 31, 2016

Doris arrived in Prince George in 1946 to join her parents living in the Willow Cale area.  She married Fred in 1948 and had two children, Laura (Fry) and Don.

She was predeceased by Fred in 1975 and Don in 2008.  Survived by Laura and Doug Fry, many nieces and nephews and friends.

Doris was a pre-school teacher for many years and gave her time generously to many causes.  She was a life time member of the Hospital Auxiliary, serving on many committees for the local and provincial organization.

Memorial service to be held at Assman's Funeral Chapel - date to be announced.


Instead of flowers, donations to the Hospital Auxiliary, Hospice House or the Railway Museum would be appreciated.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Year in Review


As each calendar year ends, people are encouraged to make resolutions for the coming year.  I don't do that, because I have goals that I work on all the time.  Some goals are long range - spanning years - some are short term - as in what do I want to get done today, this week, this month.

But as this year draws to a close, I have been thinking about the past year and that it might be time to let go of a few more things.

One of the things I let go of was selling Magic (the digital version) myself and made arrangements with Weavolution who are selling it on their website.  If you are not a member you do have to create an account, but that's free.  Then find the group Magic in the Water and follow the instructions.

This year held many good things as well as many challenging things.  One of the good AND challenging things was getting the Olds College Master Weaving program started here in Prince George.  Just before the holidays Zach was working on the details for running Level 1 and 2 here in May of 2017.  Watch for details.

While I was teaching in Cape Breton in August, we also made arrangements for Level 1 to run June 5-9, 2017.  Again, details should be forthcoming in the new year.

I also made progress on the book I am trying to write.  The bulk of the text is written and currently at the beta readers for the next round of edits.  I am still hoping to have it done in 2017, but a recent development in my life (more details at another time) means that might have to wait until 2018.

Writing a book is like birthing an elephant as a friend would observe.  Gestation seems to take forever!

The renovations to our house began in October and are still underway, depending on weather.  Of course renovations are a domino game and now that the outside is being dealt with, we realize the interior also needs some attention.  Again, something that may span next year and the year following, partly due to my incredibly busy schedule in the coming year.

Over the coming weeks, I will be spending a lot of time thinking about things I want to keep in my life and the things I need to let go of.  No decisions yet because I need to think the consequences through and decide if I'm really ready to downsize my efforts and where those 'cuts' need to be made.  It's been a challenging year in many ways and 2017 doesn't look to be any easier.

But that is also the nature of living.  We need to choose where we put our energies.  And as someone getting older, dealing with a raft of health issues (personal and family) I need to focus on what I want to accomplish and the best way to do it.

So, with the closing of another year, I send my best wishes to all. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Milestones


View out our kitchen window.  

Every life has milestone events that cause one to pause and reflect.  So it is here.  We are still playing the waiting game, and so far there are only questions, no answers.

But progress has been made on the renovations during a warm spell last week and it looks like after the cold weather over the Christmas holiday, more progress may be made yet.  I am practicing my acceptance of what is, rather than yearning for what I want.

As the new year unfolds, I will be taking the questions that have arisen over the past couple of weeks and determining best course of action,  Some things in my life are going to, must, change.  Just what those are, and how they will change, I don't yet know.

But the solstice is behind us, the light is returning, the calendar year is also ending, the new year awakening.

However the holidays are celebrated in your house, I send the best wishes for the coming year to you and yours.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Hurry Up and Wait


There are times when Life Happens in such a way as to reorder all your priorities.  So it has been at chez Fry for the past week.  Unfortunately it is also a waiting game so nothing productive can be done about the situation except wait for answers.  

Yesterday I got to the loom, but I am so out of practise and my focus was not on what I was doing and in the space of two,place mats I had three broken ends.  It was time to quit and do something else.  

Today I managed to fix the third end and get back to weaving.  Today I am trying to be mindful and go slowly, feeling the rhythm of the loom.  So far, so good.  

Picture shows the mat body and hem, and the cutting line I weave in to make cutting them apart easier. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Happy Place


When life gets overwhelming, it is good to get back to my happy place.  

2016 has been a stressful year, piled on top of many stressful times and I find myself contemplating many questions.  Some options are available. I just have to make decisions.  For some of the questions, I have to wait for more information.  Waiting for that information is hard, but necessary.  Since I have to wait, I might as well weave, even if I don't much feel like it.  If nothing else, I can generate a few endorphins and weaving will make the waiting easier.  Plus there will be cloth made.  Win-win!

Currently reading Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Feathering

The place mats I am weaving have a 'fat' weft made up of six different yarns.  When a bobbin empties, this is how I overlap the old and new ends. 


Each end has been 'feathered' so that the yarn does not have a blunt cut end but is tapered because each thread in the bundle is a different length. 

After several picks have been woven the overlap is nearly invisible. 


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Language Matters


One thing I learned early was that language matters.  

My mother spoke French as her first language, then was tossed into the deep end of the pool in Grade 1 when her parents sent her to an English only school.  Her sister in law did not speak English so I experienced not being able to communicate with family members at a very early age.  

As an avid reader from the age of four I developed an appreciation for the written word and dreamed of becoming a writer.  I didn't realize that my challenge would be to share my love of weaving via the written word. 

As a teacher of weaving I very quickly learned that not everyone processes information the same way.  I had to figure out ways of communicating with different people.  In the end I crafted short pithy sentences that I tend to repeat and repeat and repeat until realization dawns and the concept sinks home.  Friends refer to them as 'Laura-isms'.  One calls them an ear worm - but means it in a positive way.  (Or at least, that's her story and she is sticking to it!)

Conversation is fluid and when someone doesn't understand, I can re-phrase, draw a diagram, demo. But in a book, I get one chance to say what I want to say, no further elaboration. 

While I would really like to be clear and concise, not everyone will relate to this effort.  And I have to get comfortable with the thought that I cannot be everything to everyone.  All I can do is the best I can.  And hope that my best is good enough for some to find it useful.  

Currently reading Secrets of Death by Stephen Booth

Friday, December 9, 2016

Stalled


Recently it occurred to me that I have bern running on empty.  

Between my health issues, including adverse reactions to drugs meant to help - and weren't - plus my moms health issues, trying to get renovations to the house done, then having them start just as we were heading into show season, trying to also write a technical manual of a complex process was hubris of the highest order.  

When the weather, which had been mild much further into the season than normal, suddenly turned bitterly cold, not only the work stopped, so did I.  

I got 2/3's of the way through the latest rounds of edits and simply could not get back to them.  Nor could I work with the studio topsy turvy.  

Rather than beat myself up because I could not seem to force myself to do something productive I indulged myself by knitting, spinning at drop in, making puzzles and reading.  

Now, the studio is in no way 'organized', but I can actually do things in it.  After writing an order for blue place mats at the guild sale last weekend I wound some warps, got one beamed yesterday and my goal for today is to get it threaded, sleyed and tied up.  

Maybe tomorrow I will finally feel like weaving. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Treadle Lightly

...is the theme of the ANWG conference being held in Victoria, BC next year.



The Association of Northwest Weavers Guilds is a regional conference held every second year (odd years) and encompasses the Pacific Northwest and western Canada.

This coming year the conference will be held on the campus of the University of Victoria in BC.

Victoria is a 'destination' city with plenty of old world charm, Butchart Gardens, The Empress Hotel with real English high tea, and much, much more.

Registration opens January 17, 2017 and organizers are hoping there will be active interest in attending.  I, for one, plan on being there (am booked to present two seminars).  Most of all, I'm hoping to see many of my long distance friends for the opportunity to see (and touch?) beautiful cloth being worn by the attendees - who knows, maybe have something handwoven to wear my own self!

Be there or be square (as it used to be said!!!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Rubble





The studio is still in a state of upheaval although I have managed to reduce the rubble enough that I can wind warps.  I had intended to weave off the rayon chenille warps that were wound over a year ago, even got one done.  But I took an order for blue place mats over the weekend, so I started winding blue warps.  As soon as the curtains go back up at the north end of the studio I can get a few things cleared off my work table and hopefully roar through a few warps.  Since the mats need hemming before they can be sold, I figured the chenille could wait for a bit. 

The renovations have been very disrupting in so many ways and will soon be put on hold due to the weather.  If I can just get the studio functional, I can live with the rest of the house the way it is and hunker down for the winter.  

Monday, December 5, 2016

New Year



Since time is a human construct and my new year begins now, not on January 1...

Marketing is a constant when you are self-employed, whether you are selling a product or a service.  If people don't know about you, how can they purchase what you are selling?

In the 1980 and '90's I sold a line of place mats and table runners and sold them wholesale to gift shops.  As part of that effort, which was well before the internet became a sales tool, marketing was done by print media.  Therefore I invested in postcards as the one above.

As I face the new year I have decisions to make.  As a senior, working in this field for 40 years, I have to face declining energy and fitness.  In the run up to my cardiac surgery I lost much of my fitness and since then have only regained about 70% of where I feel I was. So starting in January we are going to take an Introduction to Movement class to assess where we are exactly, then decide if we take more classes or return to our old self directed routine at a gym.

Next year is going to be a very busy one for me with working on the manuscript, marking the homework from three Olds classes, attending Fibres West to promote the conference we are hosting here in 2019, teaching four Olds classes (if they all go ahead), teaching at ANWG in Victoria, working on the manuscript, working on the manuscript, working on the manuscript (no, that's not repetition for the sake of repetition - I find if I set it aside for several weeks I can return to it with fresh eyes and mind), getting ready for the craft fair season.  And that is the shape of my year - so far.  We are also hoping for a holiday in England/Sweden in September.

So, as soon as Doug and his helper get the curtain hardware back up in the studio, my first priority will be to get the studio back in working order and do the order of place mats I took over the weekend, and then pick away at the remaining 60 or so yards on the AVL.

Happy New Year to me!

Currently reading Trespasser by Tana French

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Quiet to Think


The siding crew arrived about 9 o'clock this morning and began the noisy job of removing the stucco from the house.  

Since the studio can't be worked in and the noise was grating on my already raw nerves, I decamped once again to the guild room where I have been trying to create order of the written kind.  

The last time I looked, really looked at the file, it was overwhelming.  Right now the file is 139 pages, with many more photos, diagrams and the project information to be added.  The word count is, as of this moment, over 33,500 words, including notes to self.  I fully expect it to grow to about 200 pages based on what is missing.  

The one thing this book is not, is a memoir.  It is a technical manual, aimed at people who have got to the point that they want to understand the principles of the craft and fine tune their technique.  My hope is that, with the information provided, people will be able to make appropriate choices when they design their own unique textiles.  

An author, especially for a craft like weaving, cannot be all things to all people.  Some readers will be disappointed in what I do, but my hope is that some will find it helpful. 


Monday, November 28, 2016

Bridget Moran



Bridget Moran was a social worker in my town for many years, much respected by those she tried to help.  She also wrote books, of which I've only read one - so far.

After her death a bronze statue in her remembrance was commissioned and placed on one of the benches downtown.  The pose is a listening one, as she did so often in life.  You just know that if you sat down beside her, she would listen to all your woes.

In years past people have at times helped her fend off our winter weather, and she sometimes sports tuques and scarves.

We had some wet snow over the weekend so I was curious when I was in the area tonight to see how Bridget was faring.  The scarf that had been casually draped around her neck last week had been redraped to cover her head against the falling snow.  Tonight it bore a crown of wet snow.

Not a great picture, but it was full dark and I was only using my cell phone.  Stay warm Bridget.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

New-ish Weavers


Four of six exhausted weavers, with some of their weaving from the weekend.  

This workshop is actually designed for weavers who might be considered intermediate.  Usually a lot of my time is spent explaining how the weave structures work to improve theoretical understanding of the included samples.  

This group wasn't quite to that level, so instead of focusing on theory of weave structures, the focus was more on understanding about the actual weaving...shuttle handling, with most of the warps needing two shuttles. How to deal with selvedges when using two shuttles.  Controlling beat.  Working with looms different than usually used.  One participant had never woven before, so she was literally dropped into the deep end, scrambling to learn the weaving vocabulary and terms while trying to acquire the basic skills of reading a draft, treadling a loom, winding a bobbin, hem stitching.  

Saturday was a pretty intense day and I think everyone was feeling overwhelmed.  Today they continued moving from loom to loom and most got a sample from each warp.  But all of them showed a big improvement and while the samples weren't perfect, there was greater understanding of the materials and tools/equipment.  

I was pleased.  I hope they are.  


Friday, November 25, 2016

Good Intentions


New display of textiles at the Studio Shop (not my studio, that's it's name).  I have several silk shawls, and a variety of rayon chenille scarves for sale there

So many good intentions, so many miles to hell paved...

After getting the guild room set up for the workshop this morning, I had every intention of getting to the small loom and dressing it with a rayon chenille scarf warp.  You know, one of those warps I wound over a year ago and that have been languishing ever since?  Completely forgetting that Doug was going to work on some plumbing issues.  Since one of those issues is right next to the loom...

Instead of doing something productive, I have found myself - for the last hour - messing about on the internet, not accomplishing anything at all.  I could be working on the manuscript.  I could be working on a yarn order.  I could be doing a number of things.  And I have done none of them.

I think I might grab my library book and just sit in the easy chair and read.  Not exactly productive, but better than playing games on the computer!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Little Interlude


A very bad cell phone photo of the latest spinning.  

Since getting home from Vancouver I pretty much crashed and burned in terms of energy.  So I have spent rather too much time doing nothing, or at least nothing in regards to weaving.  

I haven't been a complete slug, mind you.  The inventory got sorted, items selected for the Circle Craft website, photos taken, hours spent messing about on said website, trying to figure out how to list said items.  Olds homework got marked.  Knitting got wet finished, some of it delivered to worthy causes.  Two knitted items are for Xmas presents, so those just need to be 'wrapped' (as in placed into a gift bag).

I read a bit, made a few jigsaw puzzles.  I even spent a few hours on the manuscript until it got overwhelming.  Now I'm doing the "this is crap" inner dialogue, something all writers go through at many stages of the book writing process.  

And this weekend is the weaving workshop.  So tomorrow I need to get the handouts sorted for Saturday.  

The following week I will need to get ready for the guild sale.  

We are also into the flurry of getting as much of the renovation work done as possible.  Well, not us, but the construction crew, but that means dealing with their schedule and their noise and commotion. 

But I really have been away from the looms for quite a long time, and need to gear up and get back to weaving.  Hopefully refreshed with renewed energy. 

Currently reading Shadowed Souls, a collection of short stories.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Something Different



I have tried on-line sales previously, but haven't been entirely satisfied with the effort it takes and the amount of revenue for the time invested.  However, all that said, sometimes it is the operator at fault, not the actual system.  So, not being one to say 'been there, done that', I am trying once more to offer my textiles on-line, this time via Circle Craft

I spent some time during the show letting the people in my booth know that I was opening a shop on the Circle Craft website, and now I'm letting you, dear readers, know as well.

While I have run sales on my blog previously, it can get a bit overwhelming doing it on a web site that isn't set up to take payment, sort out shipping issues, etc., so I am giving this a go for the coming year.  For those of you who are interested in buying something I have woven, you will now have a year of access to an on-line shop.  Once I get used to the web site things should get a little easier in terms of the administrivia,

Please note all prices are in Canadian dollars and I'm offering free shipping in North America.  I'm not sure how the tax collecting - or not, if you are in the US will work - so if someone from the US purchases, could you let me know if the shopping cart recognizes an out-of-country address and doesn't charge tax?  If it doesn't I will have to make an allowance for any tax billed.  And let Circle Craft know that perhaps their web site could have a 'no tax' option for out-of-country purchases.

Currently reading The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett.  I delayed reading it for the longest time because it is the last Pratchett had published and I think I've read all of the others.  So I was kind of savoring the notion that there *was* one more...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Light a Candle



I originally made this image a couple of years ago.  It was my attempt to explain my personal philosophy.

Right now, I feel the need to say it again.  And I will keep saying it.

As a human being, I believe that we are all in this same boat together.  We need to encourage, support and lift each other up.  That lighting someone else's life with hope or support will never, ever diminish me.  Rather, if there are two candles lit, the light will be doubled and the darkness driven back.

Light a candle.  Live with love, with hope.  Each one, light one...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Adieu, Vancouver


Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Circle Craft's Christmas Craft Fair is pretty big, something close to 300 exhibitors.  Over the space of five days I managed to walk the show several times, and each time saw - or missed - something or someone.  

During the slow times the crafts people can chat, but of course our primary reason for being there is to sell what we make.  

Every show is different, and there is no guarantee that anybody will buy anything at all.  We pays our money, and we takes our chance.  

Compliments are all well and good but purchases mean bills will get paid, new materials can be purchased.  The highest compliment is when a fellow exhibitor buys...

We head north in the morning.  I'm grateful that this fair season is pretty much over for us with just the guild sale the first weekend in December.  But the work will go on.  I have signed up for an on line shop through Circle Craft's web site so I will have to go through inventory to decide what to offer and all the details of price, shipping charges, etc.,  not to mention taking the photos.  And of course there is the workshop the last weekend of November.  And let's not forget The Book.  

I wonder if I can actually afford to take even a week off...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Hump Day

"

Today was day three of a five day show.  It was also the longest day of the show at 12 hours.  Saturday we close at 7 pm.  Sunday we close at 5, but then follows pack up and out.  We will be lucky to be back in the hotel by 9 pm.  

Every year the shows get harder and harder.  I have been producing and selling my work, both wholesale and retail for a very long time.  I'm what you might call a 'veteran'.  

Since my goal from the very first day was to earn an income from producing textiles I realized very early that some shows attracted customers more willing, or able, to pay a premium for artisan designed and made goods.  The shows that did attract enough buyers generally had different standards for environment, provided more services, and always cost more.  But it became apparent very quickly that a show that provided all that was a much better use of my time and money than doing the other shows.  

But whichever type of show a crafts person does, there is no getting around the fact that it is hard.  It is hard mentally, especially if you are an introvert.  It is also very hard physically.  And getting harder, the older we get.

One of the difficult things is understanding the customer.  Some of them simply cannot afford my prices.  Some of them want to justify my prices by finding out how much time it takes to make an item.  The question "How long did it take to make that scarf" is not going to get a definitive answer.  Not that I couldn't tell them within five minutes exactly how long it took, but because it really isn't any of their business.   The factors that go into pricing go way beyond how long it took.

So now I explain that I work in batches and a batch of scarves takes days.  I also point out that I have been weaving for 40 years and my skill at making textiles is a culmination of those 40 years.  

At this show I was approached by an earnest duo who were trying to convince me to let them help bring my textiles to a retail market.  If I were 30 or even 20 years younger, I might have explored the concept further.  But I've done wholesale, I've done consignment, I've done with working that hard.  So I declined that opportunity.  I hedged on a special commission.  For that I will wait and see if I'm contacted.  But that might get the no word, too.  

In terms of my career, my life, I'm over the hump.  Now I need to think hard about what I want to do with what is left of it. 

RIP Leonard Cohen, joining the ranks of talented musicians and friends who have gone on to whatever there is after this...

Currently reading The Sheperds Crown by Terry Pratchett

Sunday, November 6, 2016

#fairfiberwage


There was a lot of discussion about fibre instructors getting a #fairfiberwage over the Labour Day weekend and a few weeks afterward.  But there is another aspect of getting a decent wage from fibres and that is from selling textiles.

I chose to become a professional/production weaver about 41 years ago.  I have been doing craft fairs for about 37 of those years with my own booth.  At one time I concentrated on table textiles and sold my place mats, table runners, napkins and such wholesale at the largest gift show in western Canada.  So let's just say I have a fair bit of experience doing shows at both wholesale and retail levels.

Let's also say I have had a fair degree of experience listening to the people that come through my booth.  Let's say I have learned about things like limited budgets - from both sides of the equation.  Because the one thing you do not do as a modern day crafts person making 'traditional' crafts?  You don't get rich.  And if you do manage to make money at it, you are working hard.  Very hard.

The one thing I don't want to hear, while standing in my booth?  "Your prices are way too high.  I can get a scarf at the mall for $25."  My inner voice is responding "Then go to the mall." while I smile and nod and actually say "I understand about limited budgets."

Abby Franquemont was very open about the costs of teaching, so let me be equally open about doing craft fairs at a 'high(er)' level.  

Let's take a theoretical craft fair.  One in a large metropolitan centre with a long history of presenting a high quality show.  Let's say it is open for 5 days.  Let's say the booth rental for this show (for a corner booth) is $2400.  Then add on any extras that you might need to rent for additional electrical beyond the 750 watts provided.  That might cost $100.  Let's say you rent a carpet.  That might be $75.  And so on if you need additional draping for storage or a fitting room (if you are selling clothing that needs to be tried on in private).

Or, if you don 't want to rent things like rug, lights, additional draping, you need to purchase and ship it.  Bear in mind that any draping must meet local fire code regulations, which is more and more often needing to be rated as fire retardant if not proof.

Generally most show contracts require the exhibitor to have $2M in liability insurance (in addition to whatever off site insurance you choose to have for things like a road accident with a van load of product, or theft of the vehicle before you get it unloaded - believe me, it happens).

So we chose to purchase our own flooring, lighting, etc.

This theoretical show is 450 miles away.  Now we need to add in things like the gas/mileage/wear and tear on the vehicle.  Current gasoline prices mean that this trip, to and fro, is going to cost around $200 just in gas, windshield washer fluid, etc.  Meals on the road will add another $150 or so.  The hotel for 7 nights at say $120-$150 depending on whether or not parking is included means an additional $840-$1050.  Plus any meals we buy because we are too tired to make something - at 10 pm, in our hotel room.

And that is before the doors even open.  So show costs are, worst case scenario?  $3800.  

Perhaps you have noticed there is no provision in that list for the material costs of the product, the operating costs of the studio (or even the insurance premium, but that is for the entire year, not just one show so I'm not including it here.)  There is also no mention of the labour of making the textiles.  Nor of paying any helpers that might be required - helpers who (unless they are a spouse) usually expect to at least get minimum wage.  Currently just under $12 in my province.

The uncounted 'costs' of doing craft fairs is the long hours involved - the making of the product in the first place - the set up, the hard physical labour of getting booth and inventory into the building, standing on a hard floor for, in some cases, 11 hours a day (10 am to 9 pm), sleeping in a hotel room, wondering what the weather will throw our way both back and forth, as well as during.  The hours of dealing with the public (which for an introvert is exhausting, but necessary).  And then there is the product development - the sampling, the sampling, the sampling - before I ever put a textile into production.

So no, I am not selling my scarves for $50 each.  They start at $100 and go up from there.  While it is possible to buy a scarf at the mall for pennies in comparison, what I am actually selling is my design aesthetic, my experience, my skill at making textiles.  When you buy a scarf - or a tea towel, or a place mat - from me, you are buying a piece of me.  

Comments from people who have purchased my textiles also report that you are buying quality - quality that lasts.  Textiles that can be used and enjoyed, in some cases for decades.




Friday, November 4, 2016

Challenges




One of the challenges with trying to sell on line is getting good photographs of textiles.  This is a lot harder than you might think.

First of all - accurate colour.  Colour on the internet is difficult because it may look perfect on my monitor - and vastly different on someone else's.

There is also the lack of tactile experience.  How to convey how something feels in the hand?  The warmth of it, or the coolness?  How soft, or rigid?  The texture?

All of these things are missing from the on line shopping experience.

I have had the best sales from people who are either weavers, or have already seen my textiles in real life.  So it was a bit of a stretch for me to sign up for an on line 'shop' through Circle Craft

In the end I decided that, since I have sold my textiles at the Circle Craft Christmas Market for a number of years now, and have developed a bit of a following, that perhaps having a shop associated with the market would be a good thing.

Once we are home from Vancouver - and I see what is left of my inventory - I will attempt to get photos of my textiles and post them to my shop.

Stay Tuned!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Show Time (Again)


About one hour into the set up process


One view


Another view

Since my neighbours were still setting up it was hard to get photos of the booth without other people in the shot.  Or carts and cartons.  But here it is - so far.

Did a quick and dirty inventory count and I should have plenty of inventory for this show and the next.  Depending on what people want and if I have it, of course!

It's always a bit of a crap shoot - will people like what I've made enough to pay my price?  Or are people feeling the pinch?

Time will tell!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

'Shadow' Bucket List



Mysterious object - attached to an 'industrial' loom at an old mill in England.  If I remember correctly, it is a carousel holder for pirns for the fly shuttle on the loom.

It seems as though lately 'bucket' lists have become popular.  I'm quite sure we all have things we would like to do, places we would like to see, while we still can.

We had hoped to cross The Pond next spring, but with the renovations now spanning winter, they won't be complete until the year is well advanced.  And then I have what is shaping up to be a very busy teaching schedule in May and June.  Since I'm not a big fan of traveling in tourist season, I'd almost given up going for a holiday next year.

And then I heard from my friend in Sweden who casually (?) mentioned that the Vav conference would be happening in her neck of the woods...in September.

Now, being a production weaver, my autumns have been rather stressful, since the sale season begins the end of October.  However, I do have a rather substantial amount of inventory, and if I get very organized in January through April, I could actually pump up the inventory well in advance so that a holiday in September would be possible.

And attending the Vav conference in Sweden?  Never once in my life thought it would be possible!  It was such an impossibility, it wasn't even on my bucket list.  But it was on my 'shadow' bucket list - you know, the stuff you'd love to do but never, ever expect to be able to do it?  

Like - write a book.  Make a DVD - or two.  Teach all over the place.  And yet I did do those.  Maybe I can get to Vav after all?



Monday, October 31, 2016

One Down



The first show of the year is done.  Turns out my suspicion that I didn't have enough place mats was correct.  Sort of.  All of the matching table runners plus the stand alone runners all sold.  Every single one.  Another case of a cloudy crystal ball!

Today I am struggling to get back to the studio, partly because it is such a mess, I can't think.  Considering the degrees of mess I normally deal with, that's saying a lot.  However it looks like the disruption of the renovations will be brought under a semblance of control in November, so hopefully I can begin the new year with things a little more organized.  

Currently reading Her Again, a bio of Meryl Streep.  

Friday, October 28, 2016

Adapting Tools


Our tools need to be able to do the jobs required of them.  Sometimes that means changing them to make them work better.  

The Leclerc Fanny has breast and back beams that lift off.   This is very useful if you need to sit closer to the shafts for threading.  Since I have long arms, I never remove the breast beam, anyway, so when I started using the warping valet Doug added a piece of wood that fixes the beam to the loom.  In this photo I have just inserted the rough sleyed reed into the beater.   The third lease stick is still taped to the back of the reed, holding the loops.  The warp has been centred in the beater, using the measuring tape affixed to the bottom of the beater for that purpose.  

The next step is to move the third lease stick to the back beam and transfer the loops to the apron rod.  Then the warp will be passed under the breast beam and over the warping valet, the loops smoothed and equalized.  Then the warp will be beamed.  

The photo below shows the 'bumpers' he also added to keep the beater further away from the shafts.  At rest the beater was so close to the shafts my fingers would get jammed into the heddles which was not only annoying, but meant I had to weave more slowly.   A block added to the castle with a furniture 'foot' did the job quite nicely.  When the 'foot' wears out and needs replacing it will be a simple matter to replace it, and the loom will continue to function as I need it to.  





Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Power of Intention



The power of intention.  Makes for a great motto, but what does it mean?

For me it means I have a goal that I am working towards.  In life.  In weaving.  I intend to make something - a particular something.  In order to accomplish my goal, I have to have certain skills.  Particular knowledge.

How do I obtain those?  I have to stumble around at the bottom of the learning curve until I figure out what I need to know in order to get from intention to material.

The above photo is of a sample warp.  I had an objective in mind, but I wasn't sure how to achieve that end result.  And so I put a sample warp on.  And I wove it.  I experienced how the materials felt as I worked with them.  I observed how they reacted when I changed one thing, and then another thing, and then another.  I tossed it into the water to see what would happen.  And then, and only then, did I actually attempt to make...something...using these materials in this particular arrangement.

Some of the Olds students are working on their homework and asking questions.  This is part of an answer I sent to one of them this morning:

Above all, document what you have done.  Because I don't necessarily just want to see 'perfect' (although that is always lovely to see!), I want to see the student work through the exercise, draw conclusions and observe the changes that happen when something is changed.  And perhaps, after doing the initial sampling, the student will do another one, based on their initial conclusions, so that they can produce results that come closer to 'perfect'.  Change one thing, everything changes.  When analyzing the samples after wet finishing, comment on when you might use that particular combination, or why you would never use it.  Document, document, document.  We always think we will remember, but we don't!

Why am I such a staunch supporter of the Olds program?  Because it hopes to make the students think.  Mastering a craft such as weaving does not mean coming to class, being told what to do, doing it, then passing the course.

Rather, the mastery of something like weaving means understanding the principles.  Gaining the knowledge of what happens when by actually doing the thinking, the analyzing of the results, figuring out how to more closely meet the parameters of the exercises.  Honing the physical skills required in order to get the results desired.  All of that.  But mostly to learn how to think the process through in order to get the intended results.

There is a reason I am calling my proto-book The Intentional Weaver.  I hope to distill some of what I have learned in 40+ years of stumbling around at the bottom of the learning curve (why do I keep typing that word as 'curse'????) until I figured out how to more-or-less, most-of-the-time-but-not-always get results I am happy enough with to put my name on and offer for sale.

With this publication I hope to explain some of the principles that go into the construction of cloth that the weaver wishes to have as their result.  Not so that I can tell people how to get their results, but how to think through the process in order to get their own results by following their path.

Right now all writing is on hold while we get through the next four weeks of show season.  This is the time of year where I 'harvest' the crop I have been working on - all the weaving I have done for the past 10-12 months will be on display and for sale in hopes that I earn enough money to get me through the next 10-12 months.  So the writing will have to wait for a bit.  In the meantime I'm still thinking it through.  Still analyzing what has been done so far.  Still honing, polishing, thinking what else needs to be included.  Definitely not forgotten.  Just one more step in the process of being...intentional about what I want to have result.

In my heart I know that anything I produce - not my weaving, not my writing - will not satisfy everyone.  I'm quite sure my book will be...controversial...because I have walked my own path, made my own mistakes.  My path will not be for everyone, because most of all, what I hope, is that people will make their own path.  Because change one thing, everything can change.  In weaving, as in life.

Currently reading A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Drape!




One of the things that people find appealing is a textile that feels good 'in the hand'.  A textile that bends and flows.  That drapes lovingly around the body.  

I have been working with various forms of rayon for quite a few years, now.  Rayon was developed to mimic silk, without the price of silk.  It drapes well, feels substantial (at a good density for the yarn) and takes dye to a brilliant depth of shade.  It can also have a luxurious sheen.  

It was an enormous relief when we were finally able to get some of the new scarf design wet finished.  There are still some left, which may not get done in time for this year, but there are enough for the upcoming show season.  And who knows?  There may be time next week to get the rest done before show two and three...

Friday, October 21, 2016

Crunch Time


Down to the final crunch before the first show of the season.  The van will get loaded next Wednesday, and set up begins Friday at 4 pm.  

The first show is not exactly small, with over a hundred booths, but it takes place in the corridors of the university.  The building is attractive, lots of natural light in most areas, and it has a more...intimate...feel to it, much like the craft fairs when I was just starting out 40 some years ago.  

It is just two days, over the weekend, and then we have three days before we set up for Studio Fair.   This show has around 70 booths and takes place Friday through Sunday. 

Once we pack up Sunday night we will have one night of exhausted sleep, then a 450 or so mile drive to Vancouver.  If we get up and onto the road early enough and arrive before 6 pm we can drive into the hall to off load.  If we don't, we will have to offload onto the loading dock, then carry everything to our booth from there...a much greater distance.  Tuesday we will do actual setup and Wednesday the doors will open. Circle Craft runs for five days, always incorporating Remembrance Day in their show dates.  At 11 am on the 11th of November, a minute of silence is observed to remember the men and women who have fallen in service to our country.  

We are trying to get the shawls I wove last spring ready, plus the new scarf design.   The white place mat warp still isn't threaded.  I'm going to try to get it woven, but they may not make it through the finishing...wet finishing/pressing, hemming, final pressing.  

There is little time left and all I can think about is how glad I will be to get the next four weeks behind me!   Not that more deadlines aren't following close behind, but...

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Craft of Writing


When I was much younger...(do you hear the music?)...I dreamed of becoming an Author.  I even took English Lit 101 in hopes of honing my writing skills.  But my stories were stilted, my characters lacklustre.  Instead I turned to writing long rambling letters, first by hand, then on my old Bison 8086 computer, using Wordstar as my word processor.

I found changing from writing longhand to composing on a keyboard a real brain twister.  Composing on a keyboard seemed to draw on a different part of my brain and writing these long rambling letters helped hone the process of getting from thought to words on the paper.

As I became more adept at composing on the computer keyboard I started writing more articles that I would then submit for publication in various magazines.  Much to my amazement, some were accepted.

In 1994 I got access to the internet via a Freenet portal.  I immediately joined a Usenet group for textiles and started writing long detailed responses to questions, particularly about wet finishing, partly because it was obvious to me that the lack of knowledge about how and why wet finishing needs to be done was...vast.

Out of the back and forth discussions, first on Usenet, then weaving on quilt.net, then Yahoo groups, the idea of doing an actual book grew.  Not just an article here and there, but a real book.  One with covers, table of contents and index.  And samples.  Lots and lots of samples.  Because the purpose of wet finishing is best seen and felt.

It was a very expensive proposition.  In the end 900 copies were made, plus 100 with limited samples as they began to run out.

This month the very last copy of Magic found a new home.  I had been hanging onto it because it was 'missing' one sample.  But with the renovations at the house, trying to downsize stash and reduce expenses, reduce clutter, I was faced with the reality that this last, lonely copy needed to go live elsewhere.  And so it found a home with someone who has been greatly supportive of my writing - gradually taking over more and more of the alpha editing tasks required for someone trying to write technical articles and, yes, books.

So now Magic in the Water is truly Out of Print - in a hard copy presentation.  It is, however, still available as a digital file with photos of all the samples, both before and after wet finishing, included in the file.  It can be purchased through Weavolution

Purchasers need to 'join' the site but it's free to do so.  Then go to the Magic in the Water group and follow the directions.

I am now down to the nitty gritty of my next publication.  The bulk of the text has been written, a group of beta readers have provided valuable feedback and I am now trying to consolidate the suggestions, including re-writing several opaque passages.  I am also recruiting people to work through some of the weave structure information and design/weave projects based on the included weave structures.  No, I'm not doing all the weave structures; mostly I'm concentrating on those included in the Olds College master weaving program.

A technical book such as the one I am trying to provide does not happen overnight, or easily.  Technical writing means writing with the greatest degree of clarity possible in order for the majority of people to understand the principles and theories.  If I were to do all the projects myself this book would take not two years but more like double that.  I am grateful so many have stepped up to offer their help and support.  I am all too aware that this book will not satisfy all.  But as has been famously said, (and I paraphrase) You can satisfy some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

Anyone interested in contributing a project should email me laura at laurafry dot com

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Planning Stages



Hard to believe, but I'm already working on my 2017 calendar...

So far all dates are tentative, subject to change, but here is what is in the planning:

(November 26/27, 2016 - Mug Rugs and More, Prince George Fibre Arts guild room)

2017

May 13-18 Olds Level One, Prince George
May 20-25 Olds Level Two, Prince George

The Olds classes* are usually five days, but I prefer to do them in six.  This gives an 'extra' day to the students to absorb the very dense information 'dump' during the class(es).  The classes in Prince George are also smaller - max of 10

June 5-9  Olds Level One, Gaelic College, St. Ann's, NS (on beautiful Cape Breton Island)

June 16-22 Olds Fibre Week.  I'm not sure if I will be teaching there yet, but hopefully Level One

June 28-July 1 ANWG conference Treadle Lightly at Victoria, BC  I'm booked to present two seminars

October 21-22  Lace Weave workshop with Olympia, WA guild.  Looking for another group to book the weekend prior in order to share travel costs

*Remember that if you pass a level, you can take the next level at a different location if it is more convenient for you.  You do have to pass the level in time to register for the next level.  Check the Olds College website in the new year for registration information.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Inside AND Out


After two plus years of trying to get work done on the exterior of the house suddenly it is happening.  Not one, not two, but three different sub-trades showed up this morning.

It is doubtful that everything will get done before winter brings a halt to working outdoors, but we should be first in line in the spring to get the rest done.  What that means, however. Is that we will be living in a construction zone until the weather co-operates, sometime in March or April, until it all gets done.

It seems I have been trying for ten years to get my stash under control, excavate Clutter Mountain, feel better organized in a space that has too little room for that to happen.  Now the chaos has been ratcheted it up even further.  Hopefully by the end of next year we will be able to set the house to rights.  Of course I also have an extremely heavy schedule next year with weaving for sale, teaching (especially if all the Olds classes I've set time aside for, go) and finishing The Book.  

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 10, 2016

What A Mess I'm In


Before I left we cleared as much as we could from under the windows and left the studio heaped with clutter.  Now that I'm home, I have to clear everything out of my way so I can work.  While almost everything needed got woven, I'm low on white place mats, so I need to get a couple of warps woven, wet finished, hemmed, final pressing done, then tag/price them.  

The van needs new winter tires installed before it gets loaded because we have three shows, back to back, and a 460 mile or so trip to Vancouner and then back again, in November.  

I also have a workshop the end of November to teach.  And 2017 isn't looking any less stressful.  I may build a blanket fort in December and retreat to it with Fiberworks...until, oh, I don't know, July?  Maybe the work on the house will be done by then?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Pushing Boundaries


The workshop with Bonnie Inouye finished yesterday and in order to cement some of the techniques we learned I have been working on a series of drafts that may very well find its way into my production schedule for next year.  

There are many things about weaving that make my little heart go pit a pat, and this workshop kind of rang a chorus of bells...fine threads, smooth fabric, complex looking cloth, all variations that can be woven on one threading.  Just changing the colour (hue or value) can drastically change the look of the design.  

I also have a huge stash of fine threads that need using up, so I can reduce stash and not even buy more yarns (or at least, not much) to weave with.  Truth be told, I may have to buy some yarn for warps, but weft?   I've got so much, and you get such a lot of play value when using 2/20 or finer threads!

The trip has been great.  I actually know people in the Nashville guild so it was great to see them again, plus make new friends.  I hope I can make it back again.  

On the home front, the basement windows are being replaced this week, so the studio can be put back together when I get home.  I've still got 60 yards on the AVL that needs to be woven before I can even think about this new direction.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The 'Sweat Shop'


Workshop preparations are going smoothly.  Mary has got her loom set up and just started weaving her heading.  I just finished threading and have begun sleying, but feel the need of a back break.  I have been away from the loom for too long...if you don't use it, you lose it...and I can feel how much muscle tone I have lost.  Fortunately it does come back, so I just need to pace myself.  

We have been working through the Fiberworks tutorial in order to acquaint ourselves with Fiberworks.  Even though I have used the program for literally decades, some of the more, shall we say advanced, features have eluded me.  So just for that alone this workshop was well worth signing up for!

The temperatures, which have been high for here at this time of year, have come down somewhat.  Maybe tomorrow we will go for a walk.  

In the meantime, I have a loom that needs setting up...and hope I didn't make too many threading mistakes!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Working Holiday


This 'holiday' is really an excuse to retreat from the daily concerns of life, work on things that I can't concentrate on well because of the distractions of Life, and generally take a break before a very busy time rapidly approaching.  

Mary had to go out this morning so I put some music on, opened the latest round of edits, and hopefully caught more typos and rough spots.  There are at least two passages that need to be re-written. But I'm going to talk them over with Mary and Cindy to see if they have some suggestions for clarifying what it is I want and/or need to say.  

There is still plenty of work to be done.  I'm thinking all photos need to be re-taken, partly to make sure they are all in focus, partly to make them visually consistent.  Diagrams need to be drawn.  Drafts edited.  Projects designed, assigned or slotted into my schedule for weaving.  Then, of course, the finished projects will have to be photographed.  

All of which is to say, I'm back on the original schedule, maybe even pushing completion into 2018.  

Well, it will take as long as it takes!

The stuff in the background is some of the preparation for us to take a workshop with Bonnie Inouye.  Looms have to be dressed and any threading errors fixed...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hidden Costs


One of the threads (ha!) on the #fairfiberwage topic on the internet is that of the hidden costs that go on regardless of the actual teaching fee being requested by teachers.  

The beta edits are beginning to arrive.  I have completed two, both of which were extensive (plus my own, done on a hard copy, because that's the way my brain works best, usually) and I am about to go to Staples and print the updated file out again.  

But here's the thing.  Those 133 or so pages that I was working from are now garbage.  Well, recycle, but you get the drift.  

So far I have invested countless hours generating the text to date. Printed out multiple copies for my own use, relied on the good will of a chosen few alpha and now beta readers.  And the book is still less than 50% complete.  I have used up printer cartridges to print out early versions, sucked electricity to run both computer and printer.  Burned the midnight oil.  And all of this effort done long before the book is ready for sale.  This is not unique to me, this is the effort that goes into any book.  There is a reason most authors only produce one book a year.  A technical book, in my experience, takes longer, partly because of the difficulty of rendering information in text, which is generally best seen done.  So, lots of photos, diagrams, and now, thanks to modern technology, perhaps even embedded video clips.

Teaching classes requires much the same sort of hidden effort.  Many students have no idea of the amount of effort required, nor the hours of marketing that are required.  The logistics of setting up teaching tours/dates.  Teachers who rely on teaching for part, or all, of their income stream are not just working the hours of the class.  They are doing hours if not days of preparation.  Then there is the challenge of physically getting from home to point A, B, C.  

At a recent five day class, I got precisely one 'coffee break'.  My only other 'breaks' were to run down the hall for a bathroom break.  And even then I have been known to field questions...  

One of the things to remember, as a consumer if educational products is that you get a whole lot more than what you see of the instructors time, effort and energy.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Self-employment


One of the things about being self-employed is that...you, yourself, get to do the work.  No minions.  Just you.  If you don't do it, it doesn't get done.

One of the things that I, personally, have to deal with, constantly, is a tyrant of an Inner Critic.  She constantly casts doubt in my garden of ideas.  "That isn't good enough."  "No one will buy this,."  "No one will pay that much for this thing."

For 66 years and counting I have been doing battle with this tyrant.  So far she has not actually prevented me from doing what I want to do,.  But wow, can it get tiring!

The worst thing, I think, is that the more I listen to her, the more I procrastinate, the more I doubt myself, the less I tackle the hard jobs.  Like writing.

The first edits (of the latest version of the manuscript) are beginning to come in.  And, in spite of it looking promising, and the kind words of those who have responded (because it takes a Peanut Gallery to quell the tyrannical Inner Critic), I sit here, the edits quietly, patiently, waiting for me to open the file and get 'er done.

The other things about being self-employed is that there is always a list of Stuff That Needs To Be Done.  So ignoring the 'hard' job (writing) becomes easier.  "Oh, I'll just do this 'easy' job, then I'll do the 'hard' job."  Ya, right.

And so the days go by and the hard job gets harder and harder to do.

Which is why I have to love the deadlines.  I have a deadline by which time I really want/need to have this round of edits done.  And it looms.  Relentlessly, the days go by and that deadline gets closer.  So today, right now (as soon as I hit Send and Share) I will open the Word file and get back to the edits.

The few days between starting and today, this minute, have let me cogitate on some of the edits and make a decision about them.  And so I will plough on. 

Because the hard jobs also need to get done.

Currently reading Dead Ground in Between by Maureen Jennings

Friday, September 9, 2016

Life is a Sample


trying for 'perfect'

I think there are so many 'fairy tales' that use textiles as a metaphor precisely because so much of weaving - the lessons to be learned - are true for creating textiles and life.

So yes, I weave samples.  Lots of them.  I believe in the lessons that can be learned by weaving just to increase my knowledge.  Unfortunately some new weavers just don't seem to understand the necessity.  Many of them just want to make...X...whatever X may be.

But without knowing your materials' potential, how can appropriate choices be made?

I am not the only one who believes in sampling for the sake of learning:

Abby Franquemont - That's just good sense. Sampling is doing all the science and investigation and exploration and whatnot!

The Olds program emphasizes the need to sample by requiring many samples, fully documented.  Weaving the samples and keeping records of what was done allows the new weaver to begin to create their own database of knowledge so that they can begin to adjust density, weave structure, wet finishing, in order to create the cloth they desire, not just whatever happens to occur.

People get all obsessed about making 'perfect' when what they need to do - imho - is to make good.  Concentrate on learning from what happens when x, y and z are put together.  Then change one of the parameters to get better.  

Lately there have been a lot of posts on social media about making things.  It has been shown over and over again that making many things leads to better results.  As one meme put it - make stuff.  It might be bad, but as you make more stuff, it will get better.

And that pretty much sums up life for me.  I do stuff.  I make mistakes.  Hopefully I learn from them and do better.  

It's all about 'sampling'.  It's all about learning.  It's all about getting better.  If I manage 'perfect' once in a while, that's great.  But it's only a goal I work towards.  I don't beat myself up when I don't manage 'perfect'.  I will just keep trying to make it good.