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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sisyphus



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.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Payday


It has been quite the year.  It started with this warp.  Then I kind of stumbled my way through the months.

My goal was to use up stash, and in that regard I did succeed in using up some of my yarns.  But I didn't make the things I really needed.  So I am 2/3's of the way through my craft fair season, having done two out of the three major shows I am doing, low on shawls and place mats.  I always seem to under estimate how many mats I need.  As for the shawls?  I just didn't have the energy.  

Another way to look at my season is that I have done five of the 10 sales days.  So, reckoning that way, I'm really only half way through my season. 

As a craftsperson I work all year getting inventory ready.  Bills come in, money goes out.  And hopefully these three shows will be my 'pay day'.  

But you never really know how things will go.  

So...plan B is to get home, take beauty shots, update my 'shop' on the Circle Craft website.  Because I'm pretty sure there will be tea towels left over at the end of this fair. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Here We Go...Again



Yesterday was set up day for the other local show we do - Studio Fair.

I have been doing this show, first as a volunteer, then as an independent crafts person for a very long time.  I've watched it grow into the higher end show it now is, attracting artisans from across the country.  I've been here almost every year it has been in business, watched others - and myself - evolve through the decades.

We have refined my booth structure and display as what I make has changed.  Most of it fits on a cart other than a few 'odd' items - like the tall stool and some metal display stands.  Usually while Doug loads the cart I start hand carrying the odd ball items to the booth.

And then we start setting up the booth apparatus, including the lights.

Studio Fair is a 'low light' show but even before it was I always had my own lights.  Because the quality of light in such large halls is pretty terrible, which would shift my colours into something...not very attractive.  I needed my own lighting to wash out the overhead lights so that people could see how my textiles actually looked instead of how they looked under the hall lights.

So this photo shows Doug just after he has arrived with the loaded cart.  A couple of boxes are already on the floor - the cart is usually piled high with display stuff as well as the many boxes of product.

It all fits into the back of our 'mini' van with the seats out in the back.

Now it's down to whether or not enough people are interested in my designs, willing to pay my prices.

Sunday we tear down and pack everything up into the back of the van.  Monday morning, as soon as we can possibly hit the road, we head for Vancouver to do the Circle Craft Christmas Market.

Where we will do this all over again...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Seasons/Cycles


People sometimes forget that for me, weaving is a year round, full time job.  And so when I appear at a craft fair, the contents of my booth do not reflect just a few weeks or even months of work, but at times, years.

Since I have never yet actually sold out of anything in one year, whatever is left gets brought out the next year.  And the next.  Until I get sick of dragging it around and donate it to a worthy cause, or sell the last few pieces of a line at discount prices, usually at the annual guild sale in December.  It's a great way to support the guild (who gets a % of sales) and get rid of things that have been hanging around for far too long.

Some of the things in my booth might have been woven five years ago; some were woven this year.  

But bottom line?  If I didn't work at this all year round, I would not have enough inventory to do the (now) three major shows that I do in October and November (plus the guild show in Dec.)

Weaving by hand is still a labour intensive activity.  People constantly want to know how long is has taken me to weave something.  Which is very difficult to say without doing some serious number crunching.

So - place mats.

It takes about 30-40 minutes to wind a warp which will yield 12 mats and one table runner.
It takes about 30-40 minutes to beam that warp.  (What can I say, I'm fast)
It takes about 30-40 minutes to thread that warp.  (See bracket above)
It takes about 10-15 minutes to sley and tie on.
It take about 30-40 minutes to weave 4 mats, so a total of about 140 minutes plus breaks to weave that warp.  If I push hard I can weave the entire 10.5 meter long warp off in a day.
Cut and serge?  About 30 minutes.
Then into the washer and dryer.
Then a couple of hours to press.
Hemming takes about 40 minutes each.  Yes, finishing an item can take as long if not longer than weaving (as in shuttle throwing).
Then a final press.
Then tagging/pricing.

And I'm fast.  Most weavers can't come close to my efficiency.

Yes, people can buy place mats for cheaper at Target.  But they won't get my designs.  Because in the 21st C what hand craftspeople are selling - in addition to their skill - is their unique design aesthetic.  Something that cannot be found anywhere but from them.

For all the people who have believed in me and my skills/designs over the decades - my heart felt thanks for supporting me in my dream of creating unique textiles.

We set up for Studio Fair tomorrow, set up for Circle Craft Christmas Market (Vancouver) next Tuesday, and once I get home I will be re-opening my shop on the Circle Craft website.  

Stay tuned...

Currently reading Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Sunday, October 29, 2017

One Down, Two...



The first show of my craft fair season is done and dusted.  I have a few days 'off' to try and tame this cold - because man, I feel miserable!  Thank goodness Doug doesn't mind selling.  I pretty much sat in the background and let him deal with it.

The photo is of a traditional design called Snails' Trails and Cat's Paws.  All of these are gone now, but I'm revisiting the design in some soft muted blue/greens.  I intend to get them done as soon as I get home from Vancouver, mid-November.  If I can get them down quickly enough they will go into my 'shop'  on the Circle Craft website.

My shop is 'closed' for business right now, but as soon as I can get unpacked from the Circcle Craft Christmas Market, it will be open.  There will mostly be tea towels, mainly because that is what I have the most of, in terms of inventory.  I may list rayon chenille scarves, too.  Mostly it will depend if I can get photos that are remotely close to the colours in the scarves.

Tomorrow I am going to stay home.  I may (or may not) wind place mat warps.  I doubt I will feel up to weaving on the AVL, although I had hoped to finish the blue weft tea towels, maybe even start on the green cottolin weft. 

But all of that will have to wait and see how tired and miserable this cold is making me.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Soaring



Here I am at the loom having just caught the shuttle.  Notice I have 'caught' it between my index and middle finger and am using my thumb to brake the bobbin and apply a slight amount of tension to the weft to ensure that it seats well around the outside end, creating a secure and consistent selvedge.

Before the industrial revolution there were so many people involved in the production of textiles everyone pretty much knew what went into getting the fibre from the crop onto one's back.  But now the vast majority of textiles are produced in factories, far away from the eye of those people who rely on textiles.  In other words - pretty much all of us, one way or another.

As hand weavers we keep the craft of textiles alive.  As such I hold no secrets.  I am quite happy to share what I know.  If I get paid for it (such as by teaching workshops or publishing my hints/tips), even better.  Because I am in this as a profession, not as a hobby.

Weaving has never been a hobby for me.  Spinning, knitting, bobbin lace - all hobbies.  But not weaving.

I tell people that while I don't take myself very seriously, I take my craft very seriously indeed.  And over the years I've learned - quite a lot, actually.

I have taken workshops from as many people as I could, bought numerous books, reading many of them cover to cover.  And I've tried things.  Many things.  Failed too many times to count.  If you consider learning a failure.  Because sometimes the most valuable lesson of all is that you won't do that again!

As I was weaving this morning - after too many weeks away from the loom - I hit my stride - my zone.  And I thought about how, even when only surface attention is required, I am constantly monitoring what is happening.  Paying subliminal attention to the loom, to the shuttle, to the weft.  That even though it may look as though I am mindless, I am anything but.  Rather, I am actually pretty engaged in what is going on.  And when something happens that isn't consistent - the weft 'catches' in the shuttle, for example, I can immediately adjust and 'fix' that.

I rarely teach beginning weaving classes any more.  I'd much rather students get their introduction to weaving elsewhere and then come to me once they have learned some of the vocabulary, some of the concepts, some of the principles.  And then I can refine what they are doing.  Tweak their skills.  Advise on their equipment choices, their ergonomics.

At this point in my career, I find this enormously satisfying.  To see new-ish weavers take wing and soar.

And all the while I think about all the giants who allowed me to stand on their shoulders.  And I give my thanks to them for helping make me the weaver I am today.

Here is a link to the video clips I have loaded to You Tube.  And of course you can still get The Efficient Weaver from shops that carry Interweave Press products, or from their website

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Satisfied



Yesterday Doug loaded the van with most of the stuff for the coming craft fairs.  There are still a few things left to go in, including the cart we use to transfer all the boxes from van to booth location.

This weekend will be the Artisans of the North at the University.  We once again have a spot in the Doug Little room which is just off the Winter Garden (and Tim Horton's - but I digress).

I'm low on shawls, although I think this one is still available.  It's been a while since I sorted through the stacks and stacks of textiles.  But I know I have very few shawls left.  Never did make it to putting a shawl warp on.

Because it isn't just the weaving of them.  There there's the fringe twisting.  Then the wet finishing.  Then trimming the fuzzy bits off the ends of the fringe to make them look tidy.  Then tagging.

And I just didn't have the time or energy it would take to even think about getting more finished in time.  So, I didn't even try.

Instead I put another tea towel warp onto the AVL while getting a couple more white place mat warps woven.  Yesterday I finished hemming the mats and now I'm working on the table runners I got woven over the summer.  

So even though I'm disappointed I couldn't manage more shawls I am satisfied I did the best I could given how this year started - with mom dying and all that that entailed to get her life wrapped up, then teaching, then all the dental work I needed.  But the dental work is now finished (until next time) and once my mouth settles down I should be able to chew on both sides of my mouth.  Which should help my TMJ - chewing only on one side of my mouth was causing issues with stressing my jaw.

And on and on it goes. 

As Bette Davis supposedly said - getting old is not for sissies!

If I have the time and energy once we return from Vancouver I will update my on line shop via the Circle Craft website and have a 'sale' before Christmas.  Stay tuned.

Currently reading Glass Houses by Louise Penny




Monday, October 23, 2017

Hurry Up and Wait

Another airport, another wait.

While I love being there, the getting there and back, not so much.

The workshop, purportedly on Lace weaves, went rogue very quickly.  I deny any responsibility for that.  They just kept asking really good questions.  When someone in a class asks a good question and the rest of the class also wants to know the answer?   I will go down that rabbit hole.

So we wound up talking about Fibre characteristics, ergonomics, tension, beat, shuttle handling.

Best of all?   They laughed at my jokes.

What's not to love?  

Well, the travelling.  That is not so loveable.  But it's a lot easier to move me to them than to have all them come to me.

Time to board the last flight home.  My own bed.  Sigh....

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Form/Function



Yesterday I had the pleasure of addressing a group of weavers, talking about lace weaves.  As part of that I talked anout my 'messy' train of thought as I build a cloth, and that I am primarily a form follows function weaver. 

After the presentation one weaver came up to say that she worked for a group of engineers and that they were always saying "form/function, form/function".  

She said she now understood how that applied to weaving. 

Be still my heart.  ;)



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

TN Interlude


This trip has been a lovely Interlude before the craft fair season begins with a bang in, oh, 10 days?   Really it begins pretty much the minute I step foot back in my house next Monday evening.  Then it is four weeks of scramble, plus a slew of appointments stuck in between trying to pack, set up, make nice, hope to sell enough to pay off my debt and have some left over to get me through the winter.  

The downside of easing back on the teaching is...less income.  

So, once the sales are over I will need to stare that manuscript down and get it finished.  I'm still a minimum of six months away from completion of the manuscript, plus all the rest of what needs to happen to it after that.  Bottom line?   A bunch more money going out before it will (hopefully) bring some money in. 

And the cycle takes another turn...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Asking Why


Sometimes I do things just because I want to know what happens if I do this?  Or if I change this, how will it affect that?

Over the past while I have been working with a spinner and looking at things like twist energy.  Today we wet finished the three scarves I wove with handspun singles.  And the corners of this scarf curled.  We have had a good chin wag about how the yarns were the same and how they are different. We have come to a conclusion.  We are pretty confident in why it happened but more experimentation will be required to prove or disprove our evaluation.  In the meantime, it was an interesting exercise.  Proving once again that you never stop learning if you just keep asking "what if?"

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fellowship


There is nothing like finding kindred spirits, even though hundreds (thousands) of miles may separate us.  Every once in a while we gather, to share hopes, dreams, highs, lows.  

Today we visited Ann Marie's new studio and put our stamp of approval on it.  

Tomorrow we separate further, although Mary and I have a few more days together.  We will finalize a joint project and hopefully wrap up what we have done to this point.  And then I begin my slow journey home with a stop in the Pacific Northwest to help ease me back into fall weather.  Because today home had first snowfall and I am spoiled for winter after spending time in Tennessee.  But soon it will be time to enter back into the fray of the craft fair season before the descent into full winter.  

And the cycle begins again...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Culmination


I'm at the fun bit of weaving - sitting at the loom, contentedly weaving away, piling up the yards/meters.  Thinking.  Because when everything is going well and you only need surface attention for the task at hand, the mind can go wandering.

This morning I was thinking about how cyclic in nature being a professional weaver is.  My year end is not Dec. 31 but oh, around now.  The craft fair season begins very shortly and if I haven't got it ready for sale by now?  It probably isn't going to be ready for this year.  So what I am actually doing is working on inventory for next year.  

I am also stash busting - to a certain extent.  While the weft I'm currently using is 'new' - as in purchased in Sweden at Va:v last month, the warp yarns have been in my stash for considerably longer.  

This summer I did not have my usual 'birthday' sale so I am thinking of getting new items loaded to my Circle Craft shop as soon as I get home from the Circle Craft Christmas Market, mid-November.  Maybe by then these towels will be finished.  Or very soon after I get home.  My 'shop' is currently closed due to my travel schedule, but I haven't forgotten about it.

There are a whole bunch of things that have had to be put on the back burner, but I have not forgotten about them.  Number one is, of course, The Book.  I got the last set of edits in June but have just not had the time - or energy - to deal with them.  Again, hopefully after the craft fair season.  Doing the new edits can actually be - not relaxing, exactly - but a different kind of activity, one particularly suited to winter.

Plus the perennial conversation about all things weaving, generally process related, goes around again.  So finishing The Book seems particularly important, if only to give people more information than is generally available.  If you don't know what you don't know, you don't know that you need to know it.  My hope is to fill in some of those cracks in people's fundamental knowledge so that they can make appropriate choices.

As for the web on the loom, yes there are reed marks.  No they may not come out 'in the wash' (wet finishing) but they are consistent and therefore part of the character of the cloth.  I'm good with it either way.

And yes, that's a three thread float on the selvedge.  And no, it doesn't bother me.  It's fine.  And no, I don't use a floating selvedge.  See my other blog posts on Selvedges.  Whole lot more to good selvedges than using a floating selvedge.  Or an end feed shuttle.  Etc.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

It's Own Time


I have visited the province of Dalarna, Sweden several times and as such have also visited a number of glassworks and gotten to know a little bit about glass as a material.  One of the phrases heard about glass is that it 'has it's own time'.  In other words, the glass worker must tease it into the final shape by understanding how the molten glass behaves and when it is appropriate to shape it.

So too, I think, does linen have it's own 'time'.  Or at the very least, it's own humidity in order for it to behave nicely.

I bought some singles 16 at Va:v and this morning I started winding bobbins to place in a humidor.  I live in a much dryer climate than linen really appreciates, so it is important to allow the fibre to take up moisture so that it co-operates in the shuttle.

Yesterday I got the 2/16 cotton warp threaded and later today I'll sley and tie up and hopefully begin weaving.  I ought to have started winding bobbins yesterday so that they would have a good 24 hours to take up moisture, but I was distracted with other things and didn't remember the linen really needs a little coddling in terms of humidity.  Hopefully it will behave for me when I get started weaving.

I only filled one humidor this morning but that should be plenty to start weaving.  I'll wind more later today and fill the other two humidors I made with a couple of plastic tubs and a lid.  When everything is going well, I can go through quite a few bobbins in a day so I want to make sure I have them ready - and willing - to go.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bumps


Life is full of bumps, lumps, twists and turns.  

The last couple of warps that I put onto the AVL I had some errors that required fixing and this time I decided I needed something that would be simpler to set up.  It's also something that many people find attractive - a twill block version of the traditional Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws design.

I have some of this design on hand but they are 'neutral' colours.  The linen I brought home from Sweden is a lovely rich somewhat 'off' blue, not dark dark, but deeper than what I would consider a medium value.  As such I thought it would go nicely on this warp made up of greyed blues and greens in a medium value with a few darker blues, almost identical to the linen, to make up 32 spools for sectional beaming.

I have just now finished threading and rather than continue I need to do some administrivia - both sales taxes are due.  I don't owe anything on either of them but the paperwork has to be filed and I'd rather do it now before I leave on my next trip.  Because when I get home I will have to hit the ground running, as they say.  My schedule is gearing up towards the craft fair season and I have three back to back, each one longer than the next (2 days, then 3 days, then 5 days) with a 450 mile trip each way for the last.  Circle Craft is the last show of the season and is pretty exhausting, coming at the end of my shows.  Well, the guild does a small show but that is in December and only two days, in the guild room.  Usually a time when I can spin or knit or putter.  I am also hoping I can update my shop at the Circle Craft website for a 'sale' - just in time for Christmas?

With this warp I wound up with no 'extra' threads which gives me hope that I actually managed to follow my threading draft and not make any mistakes.  We'll see!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Magic


Just a few minutes into the first part of the wash cycle the colour begins to develop


After the first complete wash cycle the brown is now a deep rich colour and the green a warm mossy shade.

You may remember seeing pictures of this warp on the loom where the difference in colour between the warp and weft wasn't great.  At all.

The weft is the Fox Fiber natural coloured cotton.  As such it looks rather bland until after the magic of wet finishing with a high alkaline wash.

This is about 1/3 of the warp being wet finished, both green and brown.  Because the yarn isn't dyed there is no danger of fugitive dye so I don't worry about mixing two different colours in the water.

In order to get the colour as deep as possible I use a fairly high concentration of detergent plus added about 1/3 of a cup of borax to boost the pH level.

Then I used the 'soak' cycle of the washing machine, plus during the long soak I actually turned the machine off so that the cloth could soak in the machine for even longer.

With such a high pH concentration, I also set the machine for an extra rinse, just to make sure all the detergent and borax got rinsed out.

Sandra Rude has done more of a scientific approach to her towels using the Fox Fiber yarns.  I didn't think to save a 'before' sample so that I could compare to the 'after' wet finishing.  

Currently reading In These Grave Times by Jacqueline Winspear





Thursday, September 28, 2017

Relative Time

Time is relative.  I am still being affected by jet lag and woke up way too early this morning at 5 am.  Eventually I got up and then had an 'early' breakfast, which meant an 'early' lunch.  

This afternoon I have a doctor's appointment and the day is dragging like it was crawling through molasses.  

I took a quick look at the calendar this morning and realized just how jam packed it is.  And my schedule won't let up any time soon because there are larger projects in the works that will demand my full time and attention as soon as the craft fair season ends, mid-November.  

In the meantime, I have weaving that needs doing.  I'm almost finished the place mat warp I left on the loom and started weaving yesterday.  My goal is to finish it today, preferably before I leave for my appointment, but if not?  After.  If I can.  If my energy lasts.    


Where much of my time and energy will be going over the winter.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Rolling Deadlines


We got home last night and are still dealing with a time zone change of 9 hours.  One of the benefits, so to speak, is that my body thinks it is 'later' than it actually is local time, so I got up 'early' and got started on my day.  I'm trying to stick to the local time zone schedule as closely as possible in hopes that my body clock will be tricked into getting back into the swing of things as quickly as possible.

Because I came home to rolling deadlines.  By that I mean that they are coming thick and furious for the next six weeks.

I have a full calendar of appointments and commitments for the next couple of weeks whereupon I head out on another trip (and another time zone shift) for two weeks, arrive home on the Monday, set up for the first craft fair show on the Friday and then the following three weekends they run back to back with less and less time between them.  Plus that pesky 450 mile drive to - and from - the last.  In November.  Which means possibly winter driving conditions...

At which point I may fall into bed for two weeks.

So far today I have dealt with finances - at least the start of dealing with the urgent things and preparing for the third quarter sales tax reporting - done some necessary shopping, taken care of some emails, some personal, some conference related, woven a table runner and two place mats.

Now I'm fighting the fact that my body thinks it is actually 2 am.  I still have a meeting I really want/need to attend this evening but it is fairly early so I may fall into bed again at 10 pm.  Or maybe by then my body will be waking up again because it thinks it is actually 7 am...

Ah, the joys of travel and time zone changes...



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

One More


It's just after 7 pm local time.  Body time is more like 4 am.  And we aren't home yet.  One more hop to get home.  I may be getting too old to be having this much fun...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Heading Home

it is 1:30 and I can't seem to get to sleep.  Fortunately we are heading home in stages, going only as far as Copenhagen tomorrow afternoon.  So my inability to get to sleep isn't as awful as it might be if the alarm were set to go off at dark o'clock.

It has been a great trip, visiting first with friends in England, now in Sweden.  Getting to attend the Swedish conference, meeting people in real life.  Seeing lovely textiles, shopping.

But all good things must come to an end.  Three weeks away seems to be just the right length of time.  We didn't get to see everything but it would take a great deal longer to scratch the surface.  Three weeks is also long enough to be away from home...and one's own bed, and routine.

So I face Monday with a bittersweet sense of leaving too soon but arriving very soon to my home and studio.  Where I have work to do, deadlines to stare down, goals to accomplish.

I am also beginning to once again feel the urge to tackle the long languishing manuscript.  But that will have to wait for some weeks, yet, as my schedule until mid November will allow zero time to even think about it.

Perhaps I can try getting to sleep again.  It will still be a short night.  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Present


Not a great photo, but I splurged and bought this hand towel for myself.  Of course it will do double duty as a teaching example.  They had many different designs to choose from, some more typically Swedish, but this one called my name so it will be coming home with me.   If you can't tell, the design is a stand of birch trees.  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Autumn


At the closing of the day, the last day of summer, the view from the window. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Visit

Always nice to visit other weavers and see what they have been weaving





Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Vaxjo


Wandering around the town looking for textile displays.  Found this one at the library geared towards children. 

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

Changes


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

Goals

(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...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Showing Up


I'm over half way through this bin of rayon chenille scarves, but still hours of work to do yet. 

Today Doug is working on installing a new light in the laundry room and, for safety's sake, the computer that runs my loom needed to be shut down.  Ergo, I could not weave.

While it was enormously tempting to take the afternoon 'off', things don't get done, so instead of weaving I'm back to fringe twisting.  My goal is to finish the fringe twisting and, if possible, get all of the scarves wet finished before I leave.

In a recent conversation with another fibre person, she commented about people running 15 things off the side of their desk.  Well, I do that, but I also use my dining room table...which is why there is a clear plastic cover over the hand woven table cloth that graces my table but largely remains invisible due to heaps of stuff all over it.  

Being self employed means showing up, even when you don't much feel like it.  I'd much rather be thinking about our upcoming holiday - the first in several years.  Frequently my trips are for 'business' and sometimes I can sneak in a few days here or there that might qualify as a 'holiday' - insofar as I'm not actually making any money during those days.  So, a holiday.  Of sorts.

All too often I work at least a little bit, every day.  Including 'holidays'.  Yes I have been known to weave on Christmas Day.  Thanksgiving.  There is always some aspect of being self employed that can be tucked into a day - ledger entries, project planning, writing (like this blog - although that is more unpaid labour), research, writing.

Now I will be adding conference planning.  More unpaid labour.  But that is part of returning to the weaving community some of the benefit I have had, being part of that community.

But if I don't show up and do it - well, nothing happens.

Dreams are well and good.  They are a pathway.  A goal.  But the only way to get there is to walk the walk.  Show up.  Do the work.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Deadline: Critical


Someone asked me recently how I keep track of what needs doing when.  As usual, there's not really an easy - or short - answer to that.

I keep calendars where I note events coming up.  Since I parse that information best by seeing it in print, I have several 'paper' calendars, plus one erasable one.  The erasable one has my business/studio events and the paper ones are mostly personal.

The studio ones get entered at the beginning of the year because those events are usually repeats, then when inquiries come in about teaching I can quickly and easily reference that calendar to see what I am already committed to and whether or not another event can be fitted in around those annual events.

These things are my priority and I have a pretty good idea of what needs to happen to meet those deadlines, partly because I know how much prep time is needed for teaching, and how long it takes me to make textiles for the craft fairs that I do.  

Articles for publication can usually be fit in here and there when I have the time and inclination to do those.

My biggest commitment of time and energy is, of course, the craft fair season.  As I scale back we are now down to three shows a year, two locally and one in Vancouver (plus the annual guild sale, but that's not a 'major' show for me, more an opportunity to put end of season stuff on 'sale').

So, even though I actually wove the above bin of scarves oh, last December?  Around the time mom got sick and went into hospital/hospice, they weren't needed until, well, now.

They don't need pressing, so they could be fringe twisted and wet finished much closer to the sale date.  

BUT - I am going to be out of town more than I am home for the next six weeks or so.  Which means I need to start getting the fringe twisting done now.  I may not get all of it done before my first trip, but I should be able to make a good dent in the pile.

Nothing like a deadline going critical to light a fire under me!!!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Planning Well in Advance


Fighting a low grade headache today made thinking challenging.  I realized I needed to see the shape of the conference so first I printed out a calendar (white sheet at the top) but the squares were just too small.

Sometimes it pays to be a pack rat, and I found a large roll of (very sun faded) paper and drew out the days of the conference, which events would be happening on those days, and then wrote in which facility we would be using for each event.  

It's only the broad strokes, and there is still more to be done in terms of contacting some facilities, but I need to book the one hotel now, so mostly I was looking for what rooms we would need at that hotel.

Even though the conference is nearly two years away, this is a small town and facilities get booked a few years in advance so we need to do this now.

Once I have the facilities dealt with I can go on holiday with a clear conscience and not think too much about any of this until after the craft fair season.

In the meantime workshop and seminar topic proposals are coming in so hopefully we will wind up with something for everyone.

We did not send out an open call for instructors/leaders.  We have, as I say, limited facilities to work with so an invitation was sent out to specific teachers.  I've asked for proposals by the end of September and when I get home from Circle Craft, I should have everything I need to start slotting people into appropriate rooms, which will let me know how many people can be accommodated.

Our conference team is small, so if I can do these sorts of things early, I won't be scrambling later!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Options


After talking at length with someone this morning about efficiency (more on that in the future) I went to the loom, finishing one colour (below - very subtle) and starting the next.  The weft for the new stretch of cloth is 100% natural green, which will develop into a deep sort of sage green after wet finishing.  Knowing that the higher contrast between the warp and weft would be much stronger visually, I quickly changed the treadling/tie up to something much bolder, more graphic in appearance.

And as I did that bit of work, I thought about how the computer assisted dobby doesn't do anything that can't be done on a 'standard' floor loom.  It just allows me to do it a whole bunch faster.

I still have to know what I want and how to get it.  I have to understand the weave structure I am working with and how changing the tie up and treadling sequence is going to change the effect of the interlacements/design.

But instead of crawling around under the loom, physically untying and tying string/cord, a few keystrokes achieves the same thing.  And instead of an hour or more, I was back weaving in less than 20 minutes - probably closer to 15.

When I decided to buy the AVL in 1981 there were very few 16 shaft looms around, never mind a dobby.  But my goal, right from the beginning, has been to earn an income from textiles, one way or another.  With that goal in mind I wanted to work efficiently.  One of the first 'production' pieces of equipment I purchased was an electric bobbin winder.  The reason?  It was taking me longer to hand wind a bobbin than it was to weave it off.  I knew I'd starve at that rate, so since I was attending Convergence in 1978 at Fort Collins, CO, I saved up my money and bought an electric bobbin winder.

I still have that winder.  Well, to certain values of same!  The motor has been replaced along with the foot pedal.  I use it for winding bobbins, the AVL pirns for the fly shuttle when I need to use those (I also have an industrial pirn winder with industrial fly shuttle and pirns which I much prefer to use but can't always, depending on the yarn) and sometimes spools for sectional beaming.

Thing is, there are options.  We can each approach the craft at whatever level we want.  Some prefer a slower, more meditative practice (although for me weaving has always been a working meditation - I just do it a wee bit faster than most).  Some prefer to follow directions.  Some like to experiment, some to take a more research oriented, experimental approach.  Some like to make a lot of things because we like to eat.  So to speak.

All of these approaches are completely and totally valid for that person.  We each get to choose.  There are options and we get to decide our path, our processes.

It's one of the things I really love about the practice of making textiles, be that on an inkle loom, tapestry, 'standard' floor loom or other textile practices like bobbin lace (really just another kind of weaving), knitting, crocheting, felting.  Etc.

Most fibre craftspeople do more than one craft.  That was one of the reasons we chose Confluences for the theme of our conference here in '19.  We are looking forward to the confluence of many different textile practitioners and how they combine different fibre crafts.  Yay for options!