Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Balancing Act

It has been heart warming to have both level one classes sending in their homework.  At this rate, I think everyone will complete their homework and get it to me.  And if not, well sometimes Life Happens and we can't always do what we want to do.

A discussion on a group I belong to was talking about 'perfection' and how if we aren't perfect we have - somehow - failed.

It is a concept I understand all too well.  When I was a kid in school, unless I brought home all A's, the focus was on what *wasn't* an A and a lecture on how I needed to do better.  Because a B simply wasn't 'good enough'.  I was expected to at least be in the top 10 in the class.  Woe betide me if I wasn't.

Working with textiles all my adult life I very quickly had to get comfortable with never being 'perfect'.  Figuring out that good was good enough.

That didn't mean I didn't try, try, try to do better.  To be better.

But, as a teacher, what is my job?  To rubber stamp whatever my students do?  To only point out their 'flaws'?

I try to be more balanced than that.  I try to encourage.  I try to gently point out where more attention needs to be paid by the weaver while recognizing what is 'good enough'. 

And some of the work truly is so close to perfect that there is little I can say. 

In my role as teacher I try to bring my decades of experience as a production weaver to share with the students.  I recently had someone comment - again - on how fast I was.  Yes.  I am.  I've spent my life becoming as efficient as I am.  Do I expect every student to emulate me?  No.  I expect them to become the best they can be.  And always strive to be better.  But I don't expect them to be me.

I see my main job teaching the Olds master weaving level ones as helping students understand the principles.  Of encouraging them to question.  To wonder why.  To ask 'what if'.  To set them up for the following levels.

It is not my job to tell them what to do so that they can get 'perfect' marks and Ace the class.  Because that isn't 'mastering' weaving.  That's just studying to the exam to pass the course.  And that isn't what it is all about.  IMHO...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Roller Coaster

Yesterday I was thinking about all the things I've written, including this blog.  But I also published Weave a V*, Kerstin's book (in English).  I have also been thinking about the conference planning, which I really need to get back to - SOON! - and plans to have an author signing event at the conference.  I intend to have The Intentional Weaver ready for sale by the end of this year and will likely purchase some actual print copies to sell in my vendor booth at the conference.

No, I won't be teaching, although it is likely I'll be part of seminar on the Olds programs, spinning and weaving.  In the end I decided to not even attempt to teach at the conference.  It seemed like the straw that might break the camel's back to teach (maybe) level three at Cape Breton, come home to oversee (along with my right and left hand women) the conference, make sure the instructors have what they need, etc., then drive to Olds to (maybe) teach level one there again.

My roller coaster of a schedule will be quite busy enough without my teaching at the conference as well.

But I have nearly completed the special commission for a new publication (actually two) that is in production.  I just have to get final measurements, re-read my project notes, append my bio and package it all up to ship on Monday.

Yesterday I laid out my schedule for the next six months and took a big gulp.  It's going to be busy! 

Guess my roller coaster ride is going to keep on going for a while longer...

*still available $25 Cdn including shipping

Currently reading Mrs. Roosevelt's Companion by Susan Elia MacNeal

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Full Steam Ahead

The yarn arrived yesterday afternoon.  I immediately opened the box and checked my initial calculations once I had the actual yarn in hand, and everything seemed ok.  I wound the warp and started filling out the project notes.

By the time I'd done that it was dinner time, so I left it until this afternoon.


Last night I could not get to sleep.  As I tossed and turned the thought squirrels started flailing.

Was the epi I chose really good for this slippery silk yarn?  Should I increase it?  That would mean redoing the draft to accommodate the narrower width.  Did I have enough yarn to wind more ends?

I mentally did the math.  Never a good idea, never mind at 2 am.  But I did it.  And then I thought about adding another 40 ends.  Mentally pictured the yarn left on the little cones.  Hmm.  Probably enough yarn for 40 ends?  Maybe...

Eventually I fell asleep but had to be up early. 

After lunch I re-did the math.  Eyeballed the cones.  Yes, it looked like enough for 40 ends.  As I wound the warp I realized I probably only needed 36 ends.  So, back up to the computer, adjusting the draft.

Yes, 36 ends it was.

Back down to the studio to finish the small chain, which then got added to the lease sticks so I could rough sley both chains and get them beamed at the same time.

There might have been enough for 40 ends, but it would have been squeaky close.

And a reminder that sometimes you really need to pay attention to the thought squirrels, as annoying as they may be at 2 am...and thank goodness for always adding in a bit of a fudge factor.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Deadline Dance

Trying to find peace today in the face of a deadline going ballistic.

There was a miscommunication - an email went astray - and the yarn I need for a project, due in the hands of the publisher very soon is only just now en route.

Sometimes juggling deadlines is the hardest part of being self-employed.  I always keep a wary eye on the calendar, but when you are relying on others, sometimes the cogs slip. 

And then, as in this particular project, I'm bumping up against a very tight deadline.

However, I just checked the tracking number and the yarn appears to have cleared customs and is released back to UPS to deliver.  Hopefully tomorrow.

I will be setting every other thing I'm supposed to be working on to one side as soon as the yarn arrives.  Because even though there are others waiting on me to do my (other) job, they can actually wait a few days.  This project cannot.

As it is, it had to be shipped via courier, which means I will have a large brokerage bill to pay when it does arrive, and I will have to ship it via courier to get it to Colorado in time for the photo shoot.

All part of the customer service.  And part of being 'professional' in the face of things trying to go awry.

At least now I know the yarn will arrive tomorrow, I can relax and stop checking the tracking number and get back to doing my other jobs...

Sunday, March 11, 2018

You Only Get One

Body, that is.

The photo is from the photo shoot Interweave did for The Efficient Weaver.

One of the reasons I particularly wanted to do this DVD (now downloadable course) was to show proper position and posture at the loom.

I so often see photos on the internet of people sitting at the loom in a chair or on a bench that is too low for proper ergonomics.  I wince.  Because while it may not hurt today or even next week, over time sitting 'poorly' will hurt.

Generally speaking it is a bad idea to sit in an ordinary chair at the loom.  (I don't care what people say, that you don't need a bench, I'm here to say that it's generally a bad idea.)

Most looms are tall enough that an ordinary chair is simply too low.  Ordinary chairs are also generally raked to the back, putting your hips and knees into a 'bad' position relative to each other.

If you only have an ordinary chair, build it up with cushions.  What to look for?

Elbows should be higher than the breast beam.  Hips higher than knees.  Sit forward so that you are perched on the edge of the bench, on your sitz bones.  Sit up straight.  Pivot from your hips.  Engage your core muscles.  Shoulders in neutral.  Throw the shuttle with thumb up, not down.

Recently Beth Smith did a blog post where she talks about changing her shuttle handling. 

Be kind to your body.  Work ergonomically.

Friday, March 9, 2018


This year my high school graduating class is having a 50th year reunion.

I have mixed feelings about this. 

I was never in the 'in' crowd at school.  I suppose I might have been considered a bit of a nerd.  I actually liked school - for the most part.  I enjoyed reading.  I did my homework.  Usually at the last minute because I've always worked best to deadline. 

The other day I talked to some people in my graduating class and when asked if I would be attending the reunion I said that I might be out of town.  And was met with a rather disparaging, negative comment.  I turned to the person and told him that it would depend because I might be out of town.  "Because I am still working after all".

As a self-employed person for the past 40 mumble years, I have not accrued wealth - or at least not in terms of money - nor a comfortable pension plan.  I get whatever the federal government gives anybody in Canada.  But it's every month, and I have a level of financial security I have not had for too many years to count.

I turn 68 this year.  Many of my peers have been 'retired' for several years.  But why should I retire from something I love to do?  So long as I am physically able, I see no reason to 'retire'.

Or do I?

The past 10 years have been...difficult.  My health has suffered.  I have just come off a year plus episode of cancer related fatigue.  I find it more and more difficult to get up and get going like I used to be able to do.

I run out of steam.

Is this what aging is?  Is this what getting 'old' is?  Is this why people 'retire'?  That they just get...tired?

The craft fair circuit is physically demanding.  The market for hand made goods is changing.  Faith Popcorn predicted it way back in the 1990's - that people are saturated with 'things' and that as the baby boomers aged, they would not be buying material goods but small, consumable luxuries.

Vendors at craft fairs are increasingly selling food or other consumables - like personal care products.  They have enough place mats.  Enough scarves.  Enough pottery.  Art for their walls.  They buy chocolate.  Spices.  Pre-mixed soup makings.  Soap.

This year I will do two craft fairs here in Prince George and instead of Vancouver, I've applied to do the large show in Calgary, Art Market.  I took a sabbatical from that show for two years and feel it might be time to try it again.  Plus I would have a week between the 2nd show here and going to Calgary, to rest after two back to back shows.

Because I don't have the energy I had.  I need to be sensible about my health.  And I need to think about where I want to spend what energy I do have.

So I am not looking at teaching for guilds much anymore.  I am putting my energy into other venues.  On line teaching - perhaps - if it works out (and why I may be out of town in August.)  The Olds program.  Finishing The Intentional Weaver.

I have no children.  My branch of the family tree ends here when I do.  But my ego wants to leave something of me behind.  My textiles will return to dust.  But perhaps some of my knowledge will live on...

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Fatigue Brain Fog

Yes it's March.  No, winter isn't over yet.  (This photo is from a couple of years ago - the snow is actually much, much deeper/higher this year.)

But the new year is well established and the calendar keeps rolling, day by day.  Deadlines come - and go.

And I am finally starting to feel better without the crushing fatigue and brain fog that I had been dealing with for the past year or so.

While I am not yet back to something I would even consider 'normal', I can think again.  For example, one of the critical deadlines creeping up closer, closer, is being dealt with as everyone involved does a mad scramble to get me the yarns in time to weave the scarves.  I was able to get the yarn information, crunch the numbers and get the information back to the supplier within the hour so that they can wind skeins onto cones and get it into their regular shipping by 2 pm their time.  Hopefully the courier will co-operate and get it to me by the weekend so I can toss everything else aside as soon as it arrives and I can slam the warp onto the AVL and get them woven, wet finished and back into the mail/courier before we leave for Vancouver on the 21st.

This week I don't have as many appointments so my priority will be to get the Olds homework marked and the information back to the students.  And carry on weaving a scarf a day on the small loom - until the deadline yarn arrives. 

After that?  More place mats.  I thought I'd woven plenty, but when seen set out on the shelves?  Nope.  Plus tea towel warps.  Doug has convinced me to do some table runners, too.

And then...there's the manuscript.  I have a half hour or so today where I could have chosen to read while I waited for my friend at her appointment or...work on the ms.  So I have packed the binder along with scrap paper so I can start planning the projects.

I have also had a nibble from a traditional publisher.  We'll see where that leads - if anywhere.  If not, I have been very happy with http://blurb.ca and their handling of Magic in the Water.  It's nice to have the option of digital download or print-on-demand for people.  But The Intentional Weaver is going to be a much larger file than Magic, plus having a traditional publisher means stores can buy and have copies to sell in their shops.  So, I'm waiting to hear back from the contact to see if that is something I can pursue.  It would be lovely to not have to do all the marketing and promotion my own self.  Lots of things to think about.  Now that I can...

Monday, March 5, 2018


The warp is mostly a medium value kind of tomato red (a little more intense than the photo shows), with some yellow.

The first weft is a very light value yellow, the second weft a medium darker tomato red.

The lighter value yellow washes the red out, turning the scarf into a mostly yellow with a little red.  The red weft intensifies the red and makes the yellow 'pop'.

Value is more important than hue when choosing weft colours to show off the warp.

The next scarf I'm going to try a green about the same value as the red.  I may - or may not - actually weave a scarf with the green.

But!  Value is more important than hue!!!

Currently reading Fallout by Sara Paretsky

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Exceptions to the Rule

Generalizations are great.  They help in remembering nuggets of information.  Unfortunately, when propogating a generalization it is a good idea to remember that there are, inevitably, exceptions to the rule.

I have been guilty of pushing generalizations.  The most common one is 'it isn't finished until it's wet finished'.  But there are exceptions to that 'rule', too.  Example?  If an art piece has been woven with plant materials, perhaps.  If the textile in question is never in its life going to be washed, perhaps.

So when you hear these sorts of generalizations, remember to keep in mind that there may well be exceptions.

There are a couple of generalizations about counter balanced looms that I see repeated over and over again without the qualifier that there are exceptions.

One is that of counter balanced looms being unable to weave unbalanced weaves.  That statement is sort of true for roller type looms.  The shed is, indeed, compromised.  But I have one of those roller type looms and I have woven unbalanced weaves on it.  Yes, the shed is compromised.  I may have to weave with looser tension.  I usually switch to a low profile shuttle.  And I take greater care in my shuttle handling. 

However, on a loom with horses (levers) instead of rollers, typical of Scandinavian type looms, unbalanced weaves are woven all the time with no difficulty at all.

The other generalization about counter balanced looms is that they can only have four shafts.

While this may (or may not) be true of roller type counter balanced looms, it is wrong for Scandinavian style looms with horses.

Here is a diagram from Laila Lundell's book (I have the Swedish version but it is now available in English):

This diagram shows the set up for six and then eight shafts on a counter balanced loom.  There is also a set up for 10 shafts on a counter balanced loom.  Ten shafts allows for the weaving of two blocks of 5 end satin.  (And other weave structures of course.)

The 10 shafts for satin means a block of 1/4 and a block of 4/1 satin being woven.  Both of these are unbalanced.  It is also a common weave structure where these looms are common.

So, when you hear a generalization, think about the exceptions.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Not Perfect

Yes, I have a piece of paper that says I am a 'master weaver'.

No, I am not perfect.

Some days I struggle.  With concentration.  With focus.  With brain fog/fatigue.  With co-ordination.

This one little 'flaw'?  Proof that I am human.  I make mistakes.  I struggle, physically, mentally, emotionally.  Just like every other human being.

Am I going to beat myself up because this scarf has this one tiny 'flaw'? 

No.  Absolutely not.  The world will beat on me quite enough, thankyouverymuch.  I don't need to do it to myself.  Especially over something that most people will not notice, and - even if they do - won't care about.

Mastering a craft does not mean that you no longer make mistakes.  It does not mean that you are 'perfect'.  What it means is that you have a basic understanding of the craft.  You know how your tools work, and which ones are appropriate in the circumstances.  It means you understand the craft well beyond a superficial level.  And that you understand that there will be no end to the number of layers you can peel off and still learn something new.

Currently reading The Shoe Boy; a trapline memoir by Duncan McCue  (rant coming)

I have lived in Canada all my life.  But I'm white.  My experience does not reflect the experience of recent immigrants, or - especially - the people who were here before the Europeans came.

If you are white, please take the time to understand life from the point of view of others.  White is not the 'default' of most of the world.  It's time white folk understood that.

For Canadians, take the time to watch some of the programs on the APTN network.  Start with 1491; North America before Columbus.  Watch Wild Archeology.  Go to the NFB website and watch some of the documentaries there on the aboriginal point of view and/or experience.  If you are from central BC (or anywhere, really), read books like Stoney Creek Woman by Bridget Moran.  Or The Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. 

And let us all try to do better for each other, be better for each other.  We are all on this planet together and together we sink or swim.  Perhaps literally, given global climate change...

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Guest Post - Barbara S

In my weaving life, I learn something from every warp.  Sometimes the lessons are based in exploring different structures, techniques or yarns; other times they come from air-brained moments of inattention.  My latest adventure was a puzzle that required thought and analysis.
As a student in the Olds Master Weaver program, Level 1, one of my assignments was weaving a value gamp composed of six colours of woollen-spun wool. The goal was to complete a twelve-inch grid with each cell measuring two inches after finishing.

Using information from previous work with my chosen yarn, I forged ahead and produced a sample with five colours behaving predictably and one very long stripe that was not conforming in either warp or weft directions.

As my frustration grew, I recalled that, when winding the warp, the colours had not felt the same when running through my fingers. Some had felt smooth and fine while others gave the impression of being rougher and bulkier.  It was time to examine the yarns in more detail.

First, I checked the staple length of the fibres, pulling apart the strands and extracting small quantities of wool.  I found that the longest staple lengths varied between 1" and 1 3/4" depending on the colour.  These results were repeatable over three samples. Next, I looked at the fibres under a magnifying glass and noticed differences in the diameters of the fibres as well as the degrees of crimp.  The longer samples were greater in diameter with less crimp. Since we know that these differences can translate into variations in fulling properties, I hoped I was starting to decipher the puzzle.

Yarn from a cone is generally quite inelastic and needs to be wetted to awaken its resilience. In an attempt to discover any variations in how the yarns responded to wetting, I measured equal 15-inch lengths of all the colours, tied them together evenly at one end, and gently washed the bundle.  After drying, two colours were longer than the others by about half an inch. Interesting ...

As a final check, I measured each colour on a McMorran yarn balance, so that in theory I had the same weight of each yarn - 1/3,600th of a pound. My theory was that if these yarns had all been spun to the same yards per pound, the resulting strands should have been the same length - or close - given  my basic measuring technique and acceptable variation between processing batches in the factory.  The results revealed significant differences between sample lengths of different colours both before and after washing.

The measurement techniques used in these experiments are crude; nonetheless, they do provide an overview of what is happening with these yarns.  The results were enough to convince me that when the fleeces were selected and blended in the mill prior to spinning, there had been definite differences in the characteristics of the wool used.

As a final test, I purchased another cone of the problem colour from a different dye lot.  It worked!  The next sample finished with straight hemstitching and no wonky selvedge.

Lessons learned included the need to trust my own perceptions of a yarn, strategies for checking yarn collections for similar properties, and the importance of sample, sample, sample!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Change One Thing

Change one thing and everything can change.

Such a simple sentence.  Such a complex concept.

This is one of the principles that are explored in the Olds Master Weaving (level one) class.  I say this over and over.  Usually after saying "It depends."

The best short answer to almost every question in weaving is "It depends.  Because change one thing and everything can change."

So, this scarf.

It's 2/20 silk, most commonly set at 20 epi for plain weave (using 2/20 silk for weft - or other yarn of the same thickness).  But I wanted to put the emphasis on the warp, which is hand dyed.  One way to do that is to make the cloth slightly warp emphasis.

Silk is a fibre with lots of drape, and the weft I had decided to use is rayon from bamboo, so also high in drape.  I knew that a denser warp would not negatively impact the drape of the finished cloth with such flexible warp and weft.

To make things a bit easier for myself (I thought) I started with 32 epi.

However, when I started weaving it wasn't a huge surprise when the weft would not beat in nicely.  Instead it got 'trapped' in the dense selvedge creating loose bubbles.  This is a sure sign that the warp is just too dense.

Of course I had enough warp to sample.  (Of course I did!  Sometimes I do work with full sized 'sample' warps.)

So I cut off the inch or so that I'd woven, resleyed to 30 epi and started over.

Voila.  No problems with the weft not beating in nicely.

I'm still getting the warp emphasis I wanted.  At 30 epi it will drape and behave nicely.

We're good to go.

And registrations are open for level one classes in Tenino, WA (sponsored by the Olympia Weavers Guild), and in Cape Breton (at the Gaelic College).  Registration for Olds College opens on March 1

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Getting to Know You

Questionable Origins is the business run by Abby Franquemont's husband Chad Tudor and between the two of them they have come up with an electric spinner that was developed to meet the needs of the 21st century hand spinner.

While there are other e-spinners on the market, this one has a feature that suited me - on board batteries. 

When I go demo-ing, I usually like something portable.  Weaving is not that thing.  The Device fits into a fairly small case, has a foot switch, a revolution counter, bobbins that fold down into flat packs.  But most of all, those batteries!  It means I can fold the spinner up into a fairly small, not terribly heavy case, and take it to the park, or the fall fair, or where ever, and not have to worry about a plug in.

I intend to bring it with me to Fibres West where I know there will not be a handy plug in.  (Must remember to bring the battery re-charger, though!)

After being dragged kicking and screaming (so to speak) into the spinning room and then falling down the rabbit hole of weaving, I set aside spinning for a good number of years.  I even sold my favourite wheel, a wheel built on a Norwegian design that I really loved.  But I simply wasn't using it.

Then a few years ago wheels began showing up in my life.  When I wound up with three(!) I decided I really did need to get back to spinning if the universe was going to be that insistent by providing me with wheels.

But none of them were juuuuuuust right.

After discussing what I wanted to do with a local guild member, she suggested a Canadian Production Wheel.  I bought one and really liked it, but...it was old (a true antique), large (didn't fit into my house) and fragile (see true antique above).

It was not a wheel that could easily be transported or set up for demonstrations.  Too many little fingers wanting to get into the spinning bits.

Then a couple of years ago, The Device became available.  It was more than I wanted to pay (although not as much as some other brands - prices seems to range quite widely), not all had the same features, not all came in a case.

So about this time last year I placed an order for one.

Well, it took a while to receive because Life Happened Big Time for Chad and Abby but I now have it and have been getting to know it first by plying some singles I already had spun up.

Those skeins are now done and soaking in the sink in preparation to wet finishing.  Next up?  Spinning singles.  Which might be more of a challenge.  But I'm also looking forward to giving it a go.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


I was reminded recently that I haven't mentioned the things I sell for a while - especially Magic in the Water now being available for sale in either PDF or print-on-demand.  

Then there is the book/monograph I published in English for Kerstin Fro:berg, Weave a V.  If you are in Europe, you might like to use the link and buy directly from Kerstin.  She has both Swedish and English versions available.

My editor assures me that she will have the final final edits of The IntentionalWeaver done by Friday, but I have company until the 28th so nothing much will get done until March.  However, I do feel (after meeting with Ruth in person) that I have something worthwhile publishing.  I just want to add some more projects and a few more hints/tips specific to the weave structures I am including.  Then this summer I am hoping for a massive photo shoot to make the photos consistent because I've just been cadging photos from my files and they span about 12 years.  And no, I no longer look like that in some of those older photos.  :(  So, for the sake of visual harmony, all of the photos need to be re-taken.  

Again, I am not trying to write a 'how to learn to weave' book, but mining my 40 mumble years of production weaving, teaching and writing about weaving, in hopes of a 'how to weave better' book.

My finances took a big hit last year for one reason and another (a parent dying does tend to kind of knock the wind out of your sails) and I'm scrambling to keep myself afloat during the early months of this year.

So if anyone is at all inclined to either purchase either of the above, or contact me about tea towels (tea towels, I got tea towels!) I would be ever so grateful.  Or you can shop on line - I have six designs listed (more in inventory if you don't see something you like - let me know what you are looking for!)

As for teaching, I've had to cancel one workshop already this year but it looks like the local workshop on Twills will go ahead the first weekend of April.  If you are interested, feel free to email me via my website and use the contact form.

For Olds, I'm still sitting on contracts for four classes - three level one, one level two.  This program is 5 days in person with the instructor, then homework to be completed during the following year.  Right now there are classes in Yadkinville, NC, (although I'm not teaching there) Cape Breton (Englishtown, NS) and hosted by the Olympia, WA guild (Tanino, WA).  

I am also working on more written projects.  One has been sent off to Handwoven for the Nov/Dec issue and I'm quite pleased with how the cloth looks.  I hope I have presented a familiar weave structure in a fresh way.

And I just signed a contract to do another project for Interweave, plus I have been in discussion with Interweave about on-line teaching.  No contract yet, but I'm quite excited about opening up the possibility to teach remotely.  Because I'm getting way too tired for those dark o'clock flights.  (Last year I wound up taking the red eye to Cape Breton and I fear there will be a repeat of that this year - but still preferable to those 6 am flights!!!)

Now, not all of these things I mentioned may happen.  In fact I rarely say much of anything until I have confirmation.  But sometimes you need to let people know these things are scheduled so that they can go sign up...

As always, thank you for reading and your feedback.

Currently reading Bone Box by Faye Kellerman

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Little Good News

With the way the world - and society - is right now it is hard to find a little good news.

But today I had some.  Yes, it's personal, but it is good news - hopefully - for me.

It's hard sometimes when you see so much negativity going on in the world to find some happiness.  But ultimately, staying as hopeful, optimistic and, yes, happy (or at least content) is the only way I know how to navigate through it all.

The past few months have been very stressful coming after a couple of stressful years.  This bit of good news doesn't mean that things won't continue to be stressful.  Just that with this bit of good news the stress going on outside of my control will be a wee bit easier to bear.

This month marks the 10th year after my brother's death - and my diagnosis - essentially saving my life.  Since then my health has gone up and down (sometimes more down than up, it seems like), but I have just been approved for one of the new targeted medications specifically for the cancer I have.  I have also found out that while there is a genetic component to this cancer, it is not an inherited genetic defect but a true mutation.  So I can stop blaming my dirty gene pool for this cancer.  It just is.  Something, somewhere, sometime caused my immune system to develop rogue cells.  I am fortunate in that I did well with chemo the first time round - well enough that in the interim these new targeted drugs have been developed and are now available for round two.

And I am approved to receive them.  No chemo.  No shutting down my life for 8 months while my immune system gets trashed.  No being ill from the chemo cocktail.

The oncologist told me today that the drug will take effect almost immediately and I should start to feel better within just a few days.  That the crushing fatigue I have been pushing myself through should ease.  Yes, it may take some time for my body to adapt and adjust to it but that the drug is well tolerated and if there are adverse effects, they have treatments.

So I can look forward to my very busy teaching schedule.  I can look forward to getting back to writing The Intentional Weaver.  I can look forward to the craft fair season.  I can look forward to weaving my stash down.  I can look forward to the conference here next year.

I can look forward to living longer.

Thank you science.  Thank you big pharma.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Flurry of Activity

The past week has seen a flurry of activity as boxes of homework from two of the level one classes began arriving.

The submissions have all been very good - which is a bit challenging.  How do I comment when the student has pretty much figured out on their own what their weakness(es) may be and a plan to improve?  So, I resort to 'atta girls' and affirm that I believe that they know what they need to do.

I have also given them a head's up on how to prepare for level two (cotton, twill, overshot, double weave).  Might as well let them know what to focus on?

Some of the students arrive with more or less experience.  I feel that one of the important things that I, as a level one (mostly) instructor need to do is prepare them for the mental challenges of mastering something as complex as weaving.  Sometimes the hardest part to learn is to a) let go of the idea of being 'perfect' and b) to figure out where to go from where they are.

This year I am booked to teach three level one classes and one level two.  Level one will be offered in WA (Tenino) the beginning of May.  Cape Breton (St. Ann's College, Englishtown, NS) the last week of May and Olds mid-June.

Level two will - I hope - proceed on Cape Breton the first week of June. 

For details on these or any of the other class options then scroll down to see them all.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Better Than You Were

My work table gets used for all sorts of things.  On this day I was doing some experiments on absorption.  

The past few days I have been marking student work.

I have been thinking about the journey of learning a lot - as you do when marking.  There is a popular saying right now that says something to the effect that if you want to master a skill you need to spend 10,000 hours practicing it.

Well, first of all, I am pretty sure 10,000 hours is an arbitrary number.  Because some students will come to mastery faster than others.  What the number does, however, is convey the fact that mastery does not come 'cheaply', certainly not always quickly.  That it takes focused study and, at times, determination - especially when things go horribly awry.  As they do, when pushing one's boundaries!

Practice without self awareness simply makes 'bad' practice 'permanent'.  Of course we can always change what we are doing, but the more we have practiced 'bad' processes, the harder it is to change.

So always, when we are learning, we need to do so with awareness of what it is we are doing, whether or not it is effective, what we need to change in order to do 'better'.

I tell my students that if they walk out of the classroom knowing more than when they walked in, I have succeeded.  

So rather than being put off by some arbitrary number, I encourage students of anything to walk forward into new knowledge with the purpose of becoming better than they were before.  

None of us knows when our end date is.  Some of us will never be able to invest 10,000 hours.  Some will invest much more than that.  Just know that learning a skill is not an instant gratification kind of an activity.  If it was easy, it wouldn't be called mastery.

But most of all, I am grateful for those students who share their journey with me.

Sunday, February 11, 2018


A not uncommon sight in my studio - bins piled up with warps, spools, general...messiness.  While it may look messy to someone else, there is a certain level of organization in the mess.  Because I never work on just one project, one warp at a time.  My approach to getting everything I do, done, is to have several items that progress, in their turn, depending on a number of factors.

I have always been really good at working to deadlines.  I can 'see' my schedule, I have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done next in order to progress efficiently.  There are times when I work in batches, collecting things to the point of, say, wet finishing, then doing a big batch of wet finishing.  Like I did yesterday.

Doug said he could go pressing today, so yesterday I ran four dozen mats with matching runners, plus the 14 towels I wove last summer, through the washer and dryer.  This makes more economical sense than running only a dozen mats through the washer - that's a waste of time, energy and water/electricity.  Much more economical/efficient to do two dozen mats at a time.

I tend to go on a warp winding binge.  I get into a rhythm, filling boxes or bins with warps to be done later.  As I design more colour ways for a particular design, I push myself further out of my comfort zone in terms of the colours I use together.  I work from my stash, adding another level of challenge - what can I do with what I have?

Then I tend to weave them off as quickly as I can.

I've gotten good at scheduling.  I know how long it takes me to do a task so I have a good idea of what I can accomplish (when I'm not sick) in a given time.  Sometimes the available time is just 15 minutes.  What can I accomplish in 15 minutes?  I can wind bobbins.  Pull colours for another warp.  Clean up.  Make up a yarn order.  I don't ever say "oh I only have 15 minutes - not enough time to do anything productive".  Those 15 minutes here and there can add up.  I can even weave a place mat and a half in 15 minutes.  I can wind a mat warp in 20.  How do I know?  Because I pay attention to such things.

I don't watch the clock to see when I can stop working.  I watch the clock to see how much time I have and what I can fit into that time period.

A friend has told me that I get more done when I'm having a bad day than she gets done when she is having a good day.  But she does different things than what I do.  It's never a good idea to compare yourself to someone else because you never know what is really going on beneath the surface.

What I do say is that if you like my results, you might like to take a look at my processes.  Because what I do and how I do it is no secret.

I also do a lot of my thinking when I am in the studio, working when only surface attention is required.  People frequently tell me that they can't make more than one of anything because they get bored.  I never get bored when I'm weaving and I almost always make multiples.  I get into the zone and weaving becomes a kind of working meditation for me.

My problem is that as I age and find my body wearing out I still think I'm 35 with all the energy and enthusiasm of that 35 year old.  Well, I still have the enthusiasm, which is part of the problem.  I'm slowing down, my energy isn't the same as it was 30 mumble years ago.

But I hope that as I enter my 7th decade in a couple of years that I can at the very least retain my enthusiasm without becoming frustrated at my reduced energy levels...

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Details, Details

Not too long ago, in a conversation with another textile professional, she commented that people like us were always running 15 projects off the sides of our desk.  I had to agree.

My working life is a constant round of keeping various and sundry plates spinning on their respective sticks.  Sometimes I don't always manage it.

This week my schedule has had:

- finish weaving another place mat warp
- weave on the nearly 20 yard warp on the AVL because it will soon be needed for a pressing deadline
- wet finish four dozen mats with runners and 14 towels - because hemming also needs to get done
- mark three boxes of Olds Master Weaver homework (one done, one in process, one in the wings)
- finish documenting the project for Handwoven and get into the mail
- mail the dozen mats special ordered and delayed due to snowmaggedon
- market Magic in the Water on blurb.ca
- work out details for the conference seminars - trying to get info from people as busy as I am can be challenging...
- continue to nail down conference facilities - library secured as of last week
- continue to work on tentatively booked guild workshops later in the year
- answer emailed questions from formal and informal students
- work on The Intentional Weaver - once the last edit arrives, projects need to be designed, woven, documented to incorporate into the ms
- market the conference - which now has a Facebook page and blog, first post written.  Now to approach instructors to see if they are willing to contribute
- discuss further plans for an on line class and schedule when that will get taped, then design the course content

There are other things waiting in the wings, but those listed above are things I actually worked on over the past week.

People like me don't work a standard five day week, or a standard 8 hour day.  Over my lifetime I have worked 7 days a week, up to 15 hours a day.  A 60 hour week isn't uncommon.  Much of what I do is very physical - for me weaving is an aerobic activity.

Much of the work I do is out of the eye of the public.  The administrivia of keeping a business afloat, financially, overseeing the bills getting paid, taxes remitted, supplies and materials ordered in a timely fashion - all takes time.  Class prep takes time.  Writing takes time.  (Marketing, which on the internet is primarily writing - takes time.)

Staying in touch with workshop/class/conference organizers - takes time.  All of that time is unpaid until it is.  You have to market yourself by applying to conferences and/or guilds to teach.  You have to submit articles 'cold' many times until you get accepted.  When writing, you never know if anyone will pay you for your efforts.

Most of all, being a professional in this craft is a daily dance with details - just like the craft itself.

Currently reading The Templars' Last Secret by Martin Walker

Friday, February 9, 2018


Further to professionalism...

One of the jobs required if you are to be a professional is that of marketing.

Since I have several income streams, I have to 'market' all of them, at one point or another.

The first thing was to come up with a logo.  A visual that people would come to associate with me, with my name.

At my first (and only, but that's another story) solo art exhibit, viewers noticed that I had repeatedly used the butterfly as a symbol in my work.  Many commented that obviously I needed to use the butterfly to represent myself.  I took heed.  Over the years my logo has changed, evolved, and for the past - oh - nearly 20 years?  I have used the logo above.

This little butterfly tends to get incorporated in various ways.  It is used on my hang tags, my business cards, on my letterhead. 

But what, you ask, is marketing, anyway?

In the 1990's I took a marketing class and one of the presenters defined marketing simply as sharing information.

It's all well and good if you build a better mousetrap, but if no one knows that you do?  You won't sell very many!

So.  Marketing.  Sharing information.  Letting people know that you have a product, an event, something they might be interested in, either purchasing the product, or signing up for the event.

I have gotten pretty good at it.  People say I write well (thank you!) and since I was an early adopter of the internet, have gotten pretty savvy with various chat groups, social media sites and blogs.

But marketing is not something one person can really do, all by themselves.  And so people like me rely on others to spread the word.

Such as this conference I'm involved with.  My hope for this conference is broad.  The obvious one is that everyone who comes has a great time.  Just as important is that the conference be financially successful.  In order to be financially successful, people have to attend.  We are still gathering information on how much it is going to cost - which is making budgeting a bit of a challenge. 

We are also attempting to pay our instructors a fee that respects their knowledge, commitment and the effort it takes to put on a good workshop, present an interesting seminar.  But we are also, as hosting guild, hoping to make a profit.  The association keeps 20% of the profit but hopefully even after that is paid there will be sufficient money left over to benefit the guild.

For any guild that is considering hosting a conference, feel free to contact me.  You don't have to be a huge guild in a large metropolitan centre to host a conference.  Our town is small, our resources limited.  We are not aiming for bigger is better, but to have a quality experience for all.  Sometimes smaller is better.  Sometimes you just have to get a little creative in how you plan.

The ANWG conference happens every two years.  The conference after ours will be held at Salem, Or.  There are rumours that 2023 might be further afield.  But ultimately, conferences need hosts.  Do think about being one of them, where ever you live. 

The internet is all well and good, but nothing beats meeting the textiles - and other weavers - in real life!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

On Being a Professional

What does it mean to be a professional in the world of weaving?

It can mean many things.  Mostly people take it to mean that you get paid money for your efforts.  While that is one measure of a professional, there are others.

One way to be professional is to do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.  Another way is to arrive at an event you are presenting at, on time and prepared.

Sometimes things happen that prevent this from happening.  Like the time I arrived, but my luggage, and therefore all my teaching samples, didn't.  It did eventually catch up with me, but it meant I stood up in my travel clothes (a much more casual - comfortable - look, than I try to portray!)  And there was a lot of arm waving and use of the guild members show and tell textiles to be examples of my talk.

Sometimes you get sick.  I have multiple allergies to various and sundry foods and I have, more than once, spent the night in the toilet, then had to deal with the brain fog of a severe allergic reaction while trying to find the right words to use to convey meaning.

Sometimes parcels get lost in the mail.  I had to replace several copies of Magic in the Water (yes, the original) when the box didn't arrive - or arrived damaged due to adventures in getting across the pond.

Was that my fault?  No.  But it wasn't the customer's fault either.  So I made good by sending another copy.

The majority of weavers (and spinners) who teach do it because it is one of their income streams.  They work hard prior to an event - either guild workshop or conference - putting in many hours of preparation prior to the event, generally purchasing their tickets a month to six weeks ahead of time, essentially financing the event until they get paid.

Teachers should not, in my humble (or not so humble, take your pick) opinion should not be subsidizing an event by being paid low for their teaching, subsidizing the event by financing travel prior to but most especially after the event has happened.  Teachers frequently purchase class materials well ahead of the event, so they are in effect subsidizing the event by financing those class materials until they get paid.

I have only once been paid for materials for a guild workshop when I shipped them.  It was a welcome courtesy that was completely unexpected because it was so rare. 

I have instead been made to wait for up to three months after an event to get paid for my teaching, travel and materials.  To me, this was most unprofessional on the part of the organization.  I was able - at that time - to carry the financing - but teachers should never, ever be expected to do so.  Payment in full should be taken home when they leave the event.

If teachers are expected to act professionally, they should be treated as professionals and get paid, in a timely fashion, and not have to nag the people who are paying them.

And that is the rant du jour from me.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Back to the Future

As a weaver/writer/teacher I am constantly working on things that won't actually happen until some time in the future.

In this case, I'm working on a suite of samples for an article/project for the Nov/Dec 2018 issue of Handwoven.  Yes, the lead time for magazine articles can easily be 9 months.  Since I also have to mail them, I cannot wait until the deadline the magazine needs to have them to mail.  I have to get them done, project notes written up and all, into the mail well before their deadline to receive my materials.

I am also working on inventory for craft fairs - happening in Oct. and Nov. of this year.

I am also working on The Book, hopefully to be ready in time for Christmas purchasing.  Yes, this year.

I am also working on a conference to be held in June of 2019.

There is no instant gratification involved in what I do.  Ever.

Weaving cloth is, by it's very nature, time consuming.  If I needed instant gratification I would never have managed to be a weaver.  Or a writer.  Or a conference planner. 

My days are filled with thinking about what will happen in the future.  What I need to do to make the event, the thing, happen so that it is ready in time.

As for the explanation of the pictured sample?  You'll have to wait until the Nov/Dec issue of Handwoven!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Building Inventory

In spite of ongoing health issues and a quick trip I have made progress on my intention to build inventory.  Things are getting busy here and with writing assignments, my own and for others, teaching, if the event fills (I always make every event conditional) plus the designing and weaving of the projects for The Intentional Weaver, this year is shaping up to be crunchy with critical deadlines.  

As a teenager I was a member of the track and field team.  We needed to have three events we participated in.  Now, I was not any kind of runner, so I chose shot put, discus and hurdles.  Because the one thing I could do, after five years of ballet, was jump.  

As an adult I visualize deadlines as hurdles in my path.  And as long as I keep going and work every day, I can usually manage to make it over those hurdles.  

Getting older means I need to be aware of time in between to catch my breath before I tackle the next.  But after 40 plus years of over booking myself, knowing some events would cancel due to lack of sufficient registration, I find myself working to find the balance that will allow me to carry on at a more sustainable level. 

I think this is the hardest thing about getting older, facing the reality of a body wearing out...how to find that balance.  

One way I am doing this is to put my efforts into the Olds College program.  And getting The Intentional Weaver ready for publication.  But once the book is done I am hoping to continue to work on finding balance in my life.  

And stop thinking up exciting *big* projects to work on!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Lessons Learned

Jacket I wove for my brother.  Motif based on the photo of the Royal Hudson, turned into a graph by Don, adjusted so it could be woven, then woven in modified Beiderwand.

This month marks 10 years since my younger brother died.  It has been 'interesting' - in many ways interesting in terms of the Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times", in many ways just plain interesting, as in intriguing, educational, engaging.  Sometimes all within the same week, even the same day.

My brother and I were 6 and a half years apart in age.  We were very different in terms of personality.  When he died, one of his friends lamented the fact that Don was gone because he would miss Don's energy and enthusiasm and referred to Don as a catalyst.  And it was a true assessment of my brother, I think.  He always seemed to quietly make great things happen.

We were not close, insofar as we didn't hang out together socially.  We led very different lives, hung out with a completely different set of friends and acquaintances.  But we were close on a different level.  About every three months, Don would come over and he would share what was going on in his life and we would dissect what it might mean.  As in a 'what's it all about, Alfie' kind of way.

Bottom line - what was the lesson to be learned in this situation?

I think - I hope - I provided him with context.  It started when he was in his 20's and I laid out the timeline for significant events that had happened when he was a child, explaining the stresses that were going on, things that - as a child - he was too young to understand.  After that, he seemed to feel comfortable coming to me to examine the events going on currently and we would pick through the underlying meaning - the life lessons that we might both learn from.

I suppose in a way that this is how I have always lived my life.  And this approach has always been most valuable in terms of learning how to create cloth.  To be able to look at the results, pick the whole apart, see where things might have gone 'wrong' and how to get closer to 'right' in the future.

In a way it is why I think textiles have played such a prominent role in the fairy tales.  When these stories were first created, language was primarily a spoken one, not a written one.  These tales referenced common touch points - things that most people understood.  The creation of textiles was common amongst the people and everyone understood collecting fibre, spinning it and then making some type of cloth from it.  Yarn and cloth were understood by pretty much everyone, so became important metaphors for life lessons.  Rumplestiltskin.  The Swan Princes.  Hanzel and Gretel.  And so many more.

When my brother died I wondered, why him?  Why not me?  I was older.  It didn't make sense for him to go and for me to stay.  So I looked for the lesson.  And realized that I had more lessons to learn before I could go.

The past 10 years have seen health issues galore and over and over again I have asked myself, why?  Why him?  Why me?  Why am I still struggling to stay here?

And again and again the answer is - I have more to learn.

Currently reading Emergence by C. J. Cherryh

Monday, January 29, 2018

Impostor Syndrom

There are so many ways we wind up feeling like an impostor!  For years I didn't quite believe that I had written a 'real' book, in spite of its physical presence on my shelf.

When it went out of print, I struggled again with the fact that I had actually written a book.  There were no more copies to be had, so was it really real?

Eventually, with the help of some friends, it got turned into a PDF and I sold copies that way.  But is a digital version really 'real'?

Now I am working on a second title.  I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that I am once again attempting to put technique into words.

The Intentional Weaver is much bigger in scope than Magic.  And much, much more difficult.

Meeting with a professional editor suddenly made this whole endeavour real in a way that it had not been previously.  A 'real' editor!  Somehow it made me feel as though I really was a 'real' author!  Because I had an editor!!!

Since I cannot afford to print any kind of copies, then warehouse them, the decision was made to use an on-line host.  We found one based in Canada that offered both digital and print-on-demand options.  Since people had been saying over and over again that they wanted a 'real' book, not a digital version, this hosting site seems to fulfill everything that will be required.

The offering for Magic, already in PDF format, went live on Wednesday.  Since then there have been sales to customers in the US, Canada and Great Britain.

I was amazed anyone was still interested in getting a copy.  On the other hand, there have been new weavers come along since the original Magic became out of print in it's original format.

Being able to test the site to see how easy/difficult it was, then have real, actual, customers purchase, well, it was eye opening.

And I think I am a little more comfortable calling myself an author.

The really valuable thing about the trip to California and spending four days going through the manuscript is that I now feel that I have good bones to build on.  There is much more to do before it will be ready for publication.  But it feels right now.  And I feel a whole lot more confident that this (oh, my!) second book has something of value in it.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Plans Afoot, Part II

No event comes into being without a lot of effort before it sees light of day.  Venues have to be found, dates secured, budgets formulated, equipment found.  For the past couple of months there have been arrangements being made for upcoming Master Weaving classes, both at Olds and in satellite locations.

These events have now gone 'live' at this link.  Scroll down the page for upcoming scheduled classes. (edited to add, put Master Weaving into the search bar.  The link gets you all of the college offerings, not just the master weaving classes.)  If anyone is interested in taking a class, they will have to create an account (if they haven't already done so) in order to register.

For the class in Cape Breton, the college is taking class registration.  Students will have to go to the Gaelic College site to register for room/food.

There are other things still in the planning stages and until they are sorted out I don't feel I can talk about them in case things fall through.

But changes are in the wind.  Technology has made it more and more possible for distance learning, for those who are interested in that due to life commitments.  Perhaps distance is an issue and workshops not easily accessible in real life.

We live in interesting times.  Stay tuned!

Read recently and currently reading:

Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson
Feeding My Mother by Jann Arden
A Newfoundlander in Canada by Alan Doyle

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Plans Afoot

It has been a productive stay and things have progressed fairly quickly.  Faster than I had hoped, even.

There has also been time to visit with friends, make new acquaintances, visit some museums.

Developments are underway for the rest of the year and hopefully projects will come to a successful conclusion.  Some I can talk about, some need to mature a while.

Olds College Master Weaver program continues to grow.  Opportunities to take level one at satellite locations will be announced soon, plus level two will happen in Cape Breton the first week of June.  They are also looking at offering level one the last week of May.  I’ve been asked to teach level one again at the college in June.  The paperwork arrived this week and their website should be updated shortly with this year’s course offerings.

With the technology now available to have on line classes, there are more and more opportunities for these to happen, too.  In addition to Janet Dawson’s Craftsy classes, Jane Stafford’s on line guild, Margaret Coe’s and Tien Chiu’s, there are more people entering the world of on line teaching and learning.  Stay tuned for more.

Tomorrow is my last day here before I head home on Friday.  I hope to have an announcement in the next few days about Magic in the Water.

Exciting times!

Sunday, January 21, 2018


Is what I should be doing, but I can’t get to sleep.  At least it isn’t a six am flight, so there’s that. 

This is one of the pieces of art in the Vancouver airport, where I hope I will be in 12 or so hours.  So far the weather is looking good here, but I’m not sure if it will be good in Vancouver.  So many things to think about, even for a short trip. 

We take air travel so much for granted now.  It’s hard to believe but the very first time I flew on a plane was to return home from Sweden in 1969.  You see, I’d taken a berth as a passenger on a freighter, out of Montreal to Oslo, then a train to Sweden.  And then I had to get home.  So I flew from Stockholm’s Arlanda airport to Vancouver. 

Air travel has changed a lot since those days.  But then, so many things have changed.  

Even hand weaving, although I hadn’t begun to weave in 1969.  That was to come later, in 1975.  And now, in 2018, I am about to go meet Tien Chiu’s loom, a Jacquard, with a computer interface.  Such a loom for hand weaving had not been thought of, I don’t think, in 1969.  After all, home computers had not really been thought of, either.  

And now, we email across the world, post digital photos and videos to the internet and communicate in ways that only science fiction writers seemed to think of.  Cell phones.  Fitness trackers with Bluetooth connections to iPads.   And more.  

Amazing  times we live in.  These are the sorts of things I think about when I can’t get to sleep...

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Wee Respite

A fairly stressful 2017 rolled into an equally stressful new year.  Not that all stress is bad, just that there has been too much of it of late.  

So on Sunday I leave for a wee respite.  I will have time to visit with friends, talk a lot about textiles in general and weaving in particular.  

Plans continue for the conference here next year, plus other irons are in the fire.  I am just suspicious enough that I don’t want to talk about them too much just in case they come to naught.  

But I’m not leaving until Sunday, so I’m beaming another place mat warp.  Because it already is beginning to look like this year is going to evaporate very quickly and I have a slew of things I really want to get done.   

A wee respite sounds like just the thing 

I finished my book this morning but haven’t decided which I will read next.  :)

Monday, January 15, 2018


In a fit of mid-winter blues I started referring to deadlines as dreadlines.  Feeling overwhelmed with life, continuing dental woes, lack of energy, looming deadlines were viewed with a certain level of dread and stomach clenching anxiety.

In the past few weeks I have managed to make sufficient progress that I realized calling them dreadlines was a level of negativity I did not want to subscribe to, gave my head a shake and applied shoulder to the wheel with a renewed sense of purpose.  

It would help if I weren’t so prone to taking on such large, sweeping, projects.  Projects that didn’t take such an enormous amount of time and energy.  Like co-chairing a reasonably large conference.  Like trying to write a book.  Like dressing the loom with 40 yards of warp.  Etc.  

But if I didn’t, well, I wouldn’t be me.  

A friend tries very hard to be a helpful, positive energy in the world.  We joke that she tries to save the world.  I have given up that sweeping and daunting a task, but no doubt I will continue to try to accomplish large, sweeping projects.  But I swear, this conference and this book?   Once they are done?  No more.  

Obligatory weaving photo to sweeten the post...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Planting Seeds

On social media feeds I have been seeing people with their spring seed catalogues and packets, making plans for the future.

A sense of optimism prevails and we make our plans, plant our seeds.

And this is how I feel about teaching.  Planting seeds.  I tend to spread my little nuggets of information as broadly as possible - here, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - because I never know where one of those seeds will take root.

Sometimes people will contact me and let me know that they have taken root with them.  And I deeply appreciate their taking the time to let me know.  As I spread my thoughts, my knowledge, my opinions with wild abandon I sometimes look upon myself with a certain amount of chagrin at how bold, how brazen I can sometimes be.

But then I see the spark of understanding light up someone's eyes and the cockles of my heart warm.

A new year brings new dates.  Nothing is set in stone yet.  Many details still need to be hammered out.  But I can say that - should there be sufficient registration - I have accepted the level one class at Olds Fibre Week for this year.

There are also plans forming for Cape Breton, a possibility of level one and two.

And another seed is seeing if it will take root, but plans are too nebulous to talk about yet.

So - stay tuned!

Currently reading Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia Maclean

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Certain Values of 'Finished'

With a craft as densely layered as weaving, there are many stages along the way to 'finish'.

Not only do I weave, I spin and knit.  (I also very occasionally make lace, but that's another story entirely.)

In order to keep myself motivated on the long journey from fluff to fabric, I count 'finishing' stages as a way to measure progress.

Today was a catch up kind of day.  Since lunch I've cleared some clutter off the floor because I have a floor cleaning elf coming.  She needs to be able to see it before she can clean it!

A niece was asking for donations and since I have a bunch of hand spun, hand knitted shawls on hand, it was obviously time to wet finish and block them.  So five of those got dealt with and are now on the floor (on plastic) drying.

The five skeins of yarn that had been plyed were also wet finished.

I worked on the article for Handwoven.  I've still got almost 3 yards of warp left.  Am I done?  Or do I weave off the rest?  Hmm.

Just finished rough sleying a mat warp and needed to change out of my heavy shirt into a t-shirt or I was going to start feeling awfully warm.  The way I beam I can work up a sweat, even in the winter, even wearing a t-shirt.

So each time I 'finish' a stage in the process I have a little happy dance inside, knowing that I'm that much closer to the ultimate in 'completion'.  OTOH, until the items are sold, I'm really not done, done.  But that is a stage too far in the future to think about on a January afternoon...