Wednesday, March 28, 2018


My life has been a roller coaster for more years than I care to think about.  Being a self-employed weaver in the 20th and 21st centuries is...challenging.  Then, for the past 10 years, add in serious, potentially life ending health issues (my allergies and whiplash injuries are not exactly life ending, just annoying), well, there has been plenty for me to muse on lately.

See, being self-employed means a whole lot of things.  Working to deadline.  Bringing in and paying for materials long before you ever see the income from using them up from making fabric to sell.  Accepting commissions and sometimes not delivering what the client wants.  Or making a terminal error because you are rushing, don't stop to think, mess up.

Like I did, recently.  (Yeah, still not perfect.)

My new medication is helping to keep me alive, but at a cost.  Fortunately the adverse effects aren't horrible, just annoying (see comment about allergies/whiplash above).  But one of the things it does is make me feel tired.

I don't have the fatigue brain fog any more - just this low grade feeling of never being able to get enough sleep to feel refreshed.

As some people with chronic illness say - my supply of daily spoons is limited - and I run out long before I'm used to.

I am going to exit my 7th decade in just over two years (I should have said 'exit', not 'enter' in a recent post).  When I chose to weave I thought I would production weave and sell my textiles for the first 25 years, which would take me to 50, then teach for the next 25 years, which would take me to 75.  Well, I'm damn close to that second number now. 

I am thinking I am well beyond 50 and yet, here I am, still weaving for production, schlepping boxes of textiles to craft fairs.  People I know have been retired for over 10 years.  And here I am, still working to deadline, juggling dates, commitments, scrambling to get things done.

As my energy drains out of me at the end of the day (like now) 'retirement' - at least from the production aspect of weaving - seems more and more attractive.  But I have this stash.

So now, I'm thinking that if I concentrate and work with intent on getting my stash woven down, that 2020 seems like a good year to end doing out of town shows.  This year I'm only doing one out of town, the other two are local.  So I will probably carry on doing the local ones - if only to sell down my inventory and reduce that aspect of my stash, too.

It is beginning to feel as though it is time to start winding up the selling textiles part of my career.  I do still enjoy the teaching, but now I am focusing more and more on the Olds program. 

Today I finished the run of silk scarves I wove for the fall sales.  I have some silk set aside for a project for The Intentional Weaver.  I may get that into the loom next.  Technically I only need about 7 projects to illustrate the weave structures I'm including, but knowing me I will want to do variations to show how to manipulate the weave structure to create different designs.  There are also several people who have offered to design and weave projects for me.  Realistically I probably will do, oh, 12?  Myself? 

Given how fast I am, that isn't even a whole lot of work.

I have made arrangements for my editor to come in July to deal with the photographs so I'm going to try really hard to get those 12 things woven over the next 3.5 months, in between marking homework and teaching classes.

Which doesn't leave a whole lot of time for production.  So I may be a wee bit thin on the inventory part of the craft fair shows.  But I am going to try to use my spoons wisely and balance my energy so that I can get everything I want done accomplished.

Because I can never seem to dream small dreams...


Nancy said...

Not to be a devil's advocate but...I am wondering - have you ever considered parting with your stash in any other way besides weaving it up? Weaving it up means that there may be more sales/schlepping in the next number of years to move that product. Other creative ways to divest stash may open up some of the less labor intensive things that you want to do much faster. Some wise person told me once that you have to weigh what you want with what you don't want. I'm having to think some of these kinds of things out right now in terms of my level of involvement in some of the fiber groups to which I belong. I'd rather be weaving.... why am I doing all this administration?

Laura Fry said...

Yes, that is an option. Part of my problem is that I have different 'levels' of stash - stash for production, stash inherited from several friends now in the loom studio in the sky, stash for teaching, stash for spinning, knitting, bobbin lace, even stash left over from retailing yarn. Having been in the biz for 40+ years, I've accumulated a lot of stash, one way or another. Which is why I'm giving myself a couple of years to continue to get rid of some of it. It's something I have danced around for 10 years, hoping my health would get back to where it was in my 50's. Appears it ain't gonna happen...

Lady Locust said...

I think it is rather sad when someone with your skill set and talent begins slowing down. I mean that in both a complimentary and selfish way. I am just learning and if closer would hire you for a week long instruction course. I love learning from people who really know and are passionate about what they do. That’s the selfish part. The compliment ~ you do so much and so well, I can only be happy for you in setting your schedule to accommodate you. You deserve to be able to sit back a bit if that’s your desire. I appreciate craftsmanship of your caliber and your willingness to share your knowledge with others. Best of luck at your shows and a great big sincere thank you.

Laura Fry said...

I am not the only one looking at slowing down. But I am also encouraged by the people taking the Olds classes. Passing the torch seems to be what I need to be doing now. ;)