Saturday, November 9, 2019

Next Test Warp

The Megado is definitely a different loom from the AVL.  There were many things about the AVL that worked for me very well and beaming sectionally was one of them.  The beam of preference was up high which meant I could stand and turn the crank, cut off and tape the section, then easily attach the leader string to the next.  And all the while, the sections were visible and I could ensure that the 'ribbon' of warp was going into the section flat, not bunched up against one or other of the dividers.

The Megado is a much smaller loom with a lower profile.  The beam is down low and the first couple of warps I struggled with the new location and how best to address filling each section.  Part of the problem is that the sections are below the back beam and the box 'race'.  I'm using the AVL tension box because I prefer it over the Louet that was supplied.  For one thing it has a 10 dent reed to guide the threads, and the reed mount swivels, so I can make the ribbon narrower if necessary.  Or do a compound sleying to keep the ribbon about the correct width.  The AVL beam was also a full yard, while the Megado is just 14".  So lots more turns to get the same warp length.

I didn't like working in the shadow, needing to bend over to be able to see if the ribbon was laying flat so this time I added a light to illuminate my actual work area.  Especially with this very dark warp which is mostly a very dark navy, 4 fairly dark green and the rest black.  Hard to see in the first place, then even more so on another gloomy day, in the shadow of the loom.

The stool is the exact height that makes the job do-able, but it means leaning over to crank, especially on this wider warp, so I'm taking more frequent rest breaks to make sure my back doesn't get doing the job.

I am also having to tweak my hand motions - how and where I tape the bouts, then tie off the ribbon for the next section, then attach the leader string.  After 20 sections, it's becoming smoother and I'm not having to stop and think about it every single time.  But it still isn't my new default, and may not be even for the next few warps.

My goal is to get this warp beamed today and begin threading.  There are 1080 ends in the warp and it is going to take a while.  I'm hoping to get it threaded before we leave, but if not it will get finished when we get home.

The threading is a re-run of the last tea towel warp I did on the AVL, adjusted for this wider warp.  The tie up and treadlings will be changed.  It is a 'fancy' twill over 16 shafts, with the motif repeated across the width and straight draw borders.

As a test warp, it will do.

The warp should be long enough for four shawls.  I will use the same red, blue and purple for three of them, then finish with a slightly finer grey rayon slub.  For that I will most likely add extra interlacements to increase stability.  The scarves have a lot of drape so the shawls should as well.  I may beat a little harder because wider warps generally have more resistance than narrower ones.  And a slightly denser (more ppi) cloth will also have more stability than one with less.  I think that might be A Good Thing in a shawl.

Change one thing...everything can change...

Friday, November 8, 2019

Life Changes

After wet finishing including a hard press and a final 'burnishing' with the hand iron, the new scarves are (almost) finished.  This afternoon I will trim the fringes, then tag/price them.  I found a tube and will roll them around the tube for transport, in part because the boxes are all loaded into the van and it will be easier to just pack them in my suitcase - but I don't want to set creases in them.

Major life changes are considered major stressors.  Shutting down one's business and making a gigantic change in how one spends one's days is surely up there in the top 10.

One of the ways I deal with stress and complicated emotions is to vent.  My mother never approved of such 'venting' - her watch word was that one never aired one's dirty linen in public.  I find that if I don't, the stress becomes anxiety and the anxiety turns into fear and anger. 

I use this platform as a way to work through my emotions.  By writing them out (a therapeutic tool I learned about in my 30s) I can tease out what is actually bothering me, see my way clear to a path through them, discover the silver lining in the current cloud.

Several people have encouraged me to continue blogging even as I down size my life.  Be assured I will continue to post, even as my focus shifts from production to...who knows what.

Life is complex.  Emotions are complicated.  My friends allow me to talk through my difficulties and once the pressure has been released somewhat, the kernel of what is bothering me becomes more visible.  Once it is visible, I can begin to reduce the influence the issue has been having over me.

I made the decision to be public about my health issues when I began this blog in 2008.  For most of my childhood, cardiac and cancer were spoken about in hushed voices.  Especially cancer.  It was as though someone 'catching' cancer had done something to cause it.  And during most of my childhood, both cardiac and cancer were pretty much death sentences.

As part of my cardiac recovery my medical team made sure I understood that people dealing with cardiac issues needed to be aware of the emotional impact.  The cancer team has a social worker attached to it, because again, major life challenging issues are involved.

Being public about each meant that those people who have similarly experienced these health issues contacted me to encourage and support while I was going through treatment - and the aftermath. 

Discovering that so many of you have or are dealing with the same thing(s) became a huge positive impact - because y'all had survived!  And there was hope that I could too.

So yes, I'm discombobulated right now.  Yes, I'm struggling.  Yes, it's challenging in a way that I wasn't ready for.  And yes, I will continue to write about this journey. 

I have no idea what the future holds, but seriously?  None of us do.  We make our plans.  God, in her wisdom, laughs.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Full Size Sample

No photo description available.

There are times when weaving a 'full sized' sample is a good idea.  With this warp, there was a dual purpose - I was becoming friendly with the Megado, so I didn't want to commit to a long/wide warp.  A scarf warp seemed ideal.  With the goal of getting some shawls made, weaving some scarves to 'prove' the loom and the concept seemed like a really good idea.

This week has been busy so I haven't done much in the studio - at all.  But I did get the scarves fringe twisted, then run through the washer/dryer last night.  With such a small load it wasn't worthwhile to fire up the big industrial steam press, so I did them on the small flat bed press.  The problem with the small press is the much smaller bed, and the fact it doesn't apply pressure evenly.  Or as evenly as I would like.  So I'm going to burnish the surface of the scarves with the hand iron.  Just as soon as Doug gets back from the annex, where it is currently stored.


On the other hand, I can see well enough that the combination is good.  The epi, yarn choices and weave structure seem to be playing well together.  I started getting the Megado ready to beam the warp, but errands took priority and nothing will happen before tomorrow now.

In the meantime, while I wait for Doug to get back with the hand iron, I will start reading the written work from the box of Olds homework that arrived yesterday.

Unfortunately I'm running out of afternoon and may not get all three scarves done before it is time to eat and head for the guild room.  I have to go up early tonight and open the room for drop in.

Tomorrow I need to start packing for the trip.  Doug has the laundry caught up so it shouldn't take very long.  I just like to do it a few days before I leave in case I forget something and can just toss it in with the rest of the stuff.

Currently Reading The Comforts of Home by Susan Hill.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Ticking Boxes

This morning I dealt with some business - both personal and studio.  I commented to the agent that after spending 40 years building up my business, it took time to shut it all down again.  And some things have to wait until my business is actually closed down before I can cancel them - like the business telephone line, the business banking, the insurance policy.

It seems like every day I remember something else that will need to be stopped, canceled, sold or given away.

We are also waiting for snow to arrive.  It's 'late' (climate change?) and there is the additional worry of what the roads will be like, especially through the mountains.  At this time of year, rain instead of snow means the possibility of black ice when temperatures drop.  Or slushy roads which are physically exhausting to drive through.  Wet, slush, dirt, all things I'd rather not deal with and had hoped would not.  But we don't get to choose our weather, just how we deal with it.

Thankfully Doug is a good driver and after years of dealing with winter weather highway driving, nothing much fazes him so I will bring knitting and books to occupy my passenger time.

No matter what someone is dealing with, life tends to go on, one way or another.  The guild received the donation of a loom, spinning wheel and miscellaneous books and fibres as one family deals with putting their mother into hospice.  At least we could take that worry off their shoulders and either fold it into the guild equipment, or find a new home for them.  A reminder that some folk are dealing with much bigger struggles than I am at the minute.

Having a few days of 'quiet' (because I don't have to scramble, scramble, scramble) has allowed me to help a friend, also dealing with stuff and needs help, but also to think about my own situation.  This morning I came up with a new Plan, having rejected Plan A.  In the end, I think B is a better solution.

My business/studio insurance is paid for the coming year and will be reviewed in January.  By then I will have a much better idea of what equipment I will be keeping, how much inventory I have, take some time to estimate my stash.  I've done a good job of weaving it down...but then got a huge gift of 7 boxes of silk yarn.  So probably value of my stash went up, in the end!  But I will continue to have way more studio stuff than an 'ordinary' household insurance policy would cover, so I will keep a separate rider for those things.

Today I am fringe twisting the scarves I took off the Megado the other day.  I'd kind of like to wet finish them before I decide on the weft for the sample shawl warp planned for the next Megado test warp.  Plus I received a box of homework which I want to mark sooner rather than later.

With several days before we leave, I am still hoping to beam the shawl warp and see how much of it I can get threaded.  The threading draft is printed out.  But I'm tired of things half done so I'm determined to finish fringe twisting today.  I have to leave soon to drive my friend to another appointment so I need to stay focused.  I'll bring my library book and read while I wait for her.

Currently reading A Better Man by Louise Penny.  (Another excellent page turner - highly recommended.  Begin at the beginning if you haven't read any of her books.  Set in Quebec, mostly, unabashedly Canadian.  Five hearts.  Maybe 10.  Maybe a whole lot more.  Can you tell I like her writing?)

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Half Full, Half Empty

For the longest time I saw the glass as half full, knowing that I could fill it again.  That there would always be capacity to improve, grow, fill.

Until my well of energy and wellness started to run dry.

The glass half full or empty is a powerful image, but it doesn't address the population who is struggling just to make it through the day because of a chronic (or acute) health issue, or life circumstances that are toxic. 

Those people who declare that if your glass is half empty, find a smaller glass and use that instead just don't get it.  Any of it.

It's like white folk who tell people of colour that they just need to get an education, get a better job, do better, assimilate better.  Then when they do get the education, get a better job, tell them 'not like that'.

White privilege is about the colour of your skin not preventing you from getting that education, finding that better job.  Not making your life difficult *because* of that colour.

It's like able bodied people telling people with physical challenges that they are worth less.  A cartoon on Facebook this morning kind of summed that up so well.  A man cleaning the steps off, telling the person in the wheelchair to wait until the steps were cleared for all the mobile people and the person in the wheelchair pointing out that clearing the ramp first meant *everyone* could access the building, not just the people who could use the stairs.

Rick Hansen (man in motion) has done more to raise awareness of accessibility in Canada - and around the world - than any other person I can think of.  But we can do better.

As I age, I am finding myself more and more compromised in terms of mobility.  As I deal with chronic pain and a body that seems determined to slow me down, regardless of how I feel about that, I become more aware of the fact that no matter how much I yank on my bootstraps, I cannot do certain things any more.

While I remain positive in my attitude, I have to admit that my well is running dry.  That glass?  I cannot refill it.  Switching to a smaller glass is to acknowledge that my activity horizons are smaller.  It becomes more and more difficult to do the things I used to do.  I have already curtailed my travel.  I am working on curtailing my expectations for how productive I can be.

So yes.  I can pour what I have left in that large glass into a smaller glass and remain grateful for what I still have. 

Doesn't mean I don't - at times - feel sad for what I used to be able to do.  And now cannot.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Two Down

Show Two is now over.

It went ok, as shows go.  I met some lovely folk, got to share what the future holds - so far as I know it.  Let people know where to find my textiles now that I won't have a booth there any more.

I'm still metabolizing the fact that I don't have to come home and leap back into production.  Yes, I'm running low on stuff.  That's the whole point!  I still have plenty of other stuff - like lots and lots and lots of tea towels.

I plan to make more, partly because I have yarn stash to use up.  So I'm hoping that tea towels will sell well in Calgary.  The place mats are nearly gone.  Almost not worth putting them out for sale, but I will.  Because they won't sell in my basement...

There are still piles of scarves, although they are shorter in height.  My next test warp on the Megado will be for four shawls.  I need to continue to scale up slowly on that loom so that we can become good friends.

It rained today, but it didn't snow and the ground wasn't covered in ice - so that was a 'win'.  But snow is in the air and the drive through the Rockies may not be as pleasant as we'd like.  OTOH, it could be lovely.

No way to know until the time comes.

Two down.  One to go.  Then the guild sale, where there may be things on deep discount, just to move them out of my basement and free up space for whatever new stuff I make in my 'retirement'.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

A Serious Child

This photo remains to this day my favourite one of my father, brother and me.

Dad hated to have his photo taken, and so do I.  This photo, captured by a street photographer - likely on Granville Street in Vancouver in June 1959 (a month before my 9th birthday) encapsulates the personalities of the three of us.

My father, quiet, introvert, never one to push himself forward, most definitely NOT wanting to take the ticket from the photographer.  But mom always took them and bought the photos so I insisted he at least take the ticket and give it to her.  Mom being mom immediately went to the place you could buy them and loved the fact that she had this photo of the three of us together.

My brother who noticed the photographer, full of joy and mischief.  Me, gazing off into the unknown, also quiet, introvert, not liking having my photo taken.

Doing the 'last' of the shows, there has been plenty of time for reflection, introspection, remembering.  Forty years is a long time to do anything.  Well, actually more than forty years - the decision to become a professional/production weaver was made in 1975.  It just took a while to learn the craft, then get enough inventory made at a good enough standard to sell.  So my first craft fair was 1979.

Talking to another exhibitor this morning, he asked how long I'd been doing 'this'.  When I said forty years, his jaw dropped.  "That's a long time!"   Yes, young sir, it is.

As I reflect on my life I see how the threads (ahem) of my lived experience, even as a child, led me to this place at this moment in time.

I see how my curiosity, my mechanical aptitude, proprioception, creativity, love of textiles instilled from a very young age, in no small part because of my mother's and aunts involvement in creating them, all managed to weave themselves into who I am.  Who I have become.

Once I found my passion, my intellectual understanding of how threads came together to become cloth, plus a desire to share what I was learning, my ability to write reasonably well, came together to bestir me to begin teaching.  Then writing.  Then publishing articles/books/this blog.

Doing 'this' has been hard work.  If I wasn't also willing and able to do that hard work, nothing much would have come of any of it.  Dealing with rejection is also a slice of the pie that is me.  Because even if someone isn't meaning to be 'mean', they can be willing to explain why your work isn't acceptable to them.  I had to quickly untangle their comments into something that reflected on them, rather than me or my work.  Because it is always about the 'me' in the giving and taking of such comments.

I will be frank - therapy helped.  I am empathetic and will take on the emotions and problems of other people to help them, make them feel better.  Therapy helped me understand how to snip that obligation and leave the person with their problem to solve (can't afford my textiles?  Not my problem to solve!)

So a serious child grew into a serious adult.  I took my craft, my profession seriously.  I worked hard.  I moved heaven and earth to make deadline.  Sometimes I just couldn't, but I tried.  And when I couldn't I learned to notify people to let them know.  They may not have liked what they heard, but I had been honest.

Like the day I got rear ended, having just beamed 100 yards of warp for the fashion designer I wove for.  I told her that I would keep going the best I could but at the time 20 minutes was the most I could manage before needing to take a long break to let the pain go back down.  She was then able to gear her other weavers up, adjust her production schedule, and I continued - all through my recovery - to weave and ship fabric just as quickly as I could.

While I try very hard to not take myself seriously, I do take my obligations very seriously.

Without being that serious child/woman, I very much doubt I could have continued for this long in what is a very insecure profession.  Never knowing from year to year if anyone would buy what I made, book me to teach, invest in first Magic in the Water, then The Intentional Weaver - plus magazine articles, smaller 'monographs'.

Yes, I have had fun.  But I have also worked hard.

And now I am seriously ready to rest.  

Friday, November 1, 2019

Show #2, Day 1

Image may contain: indoor

Yesterday we arrived at the hall and got set up, heading home to deal with trick n treaters.  This morning we arrived in time to finish 'fluffing' the booth, turn the lights on, get the till ready and generally say hello to some of the other exhibitors with whom we are friendly.

Most of them are in our age bracket - or close enough - and all of them congratulated me on the upcoming retirement.  One said that the time is coming for her as well.

The booth directly across of us is a young man who works with metal making mostly wall plaques/art pieces.  Some of his things are made from recycled sawmill saw blades - about 3 feet in diameter.  While it wasn't too busy this afternoon I had a chance to chat with him.  He and his two helpers were so cheerful all day, it was refreshing. 

Doug and I tag teamed and I was able to spend some time in the guild booth and visit with guild members I have seen very little of since the conference.  It was also nice to see the work of the members, attractively set out.  Next year I will try not to inundate the booth with my stuff - who knows, maybe by then there won't be much left and it will only be new work?

I made a sign saying 'Farewell' and letting people know I'm not doing shows in my own name any more.  A couple people made the assumption that I would be going back to having weaving as a hobby again.  I explained that it's never been a hobby for me, but now it will be.  :)

Several people had no idea of my age and while expressing disappointment I won't have my own booth, understood why I was retiring.  Several mentioned that they had textiles that had to be easily 25+ years old that they still used daily, in some cases.  Most were astonished that I've been doing this show for 40 years - 1979-2019 - not a bad run!

Since it wasn't terribly busy for me, I even had a chance to visit with a few people - something I will miss.  But maybe I'll have more time to meet friends for coffee, or even attend guild drop ins/meeting/seminars!  What a concept!

The first show was two days, fairly short hours.  This one is three days, with somewhat longer hours.  Then we have a week to rest, drive to Calgary and do Art Market - four days with longer hours and a much bigger show.  It's all coming to an end.

And then close down the business and see what happens next.  It's an adventure!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


photo from a walk through
 the Ancient Forest east of town

People sometimes ask where to find inspiration.  I find it all around me.  The bark of this huge cedar tree reminds me of a textile - one woven in collapse weave perhaps.  Or an irregular twill.  With several shades of grey and a kind of yellow/green moss colour, a little beige (wood).  All set off by the green of the Devil's Club leaves (the size of very large dinner plates).

I find myself today in the eye of the storm.  Calm when I would 'normally' be scrambling trying to make one more thing, do one more thing, more, more, more...

After making a few more decisions yesterday, however, I find myself calm.  Maybe because I just don't care anymore - I'm done with the mad scramble.  I'm done worrying about whether or not I will earn enough money to pay the bills.  Instead I am getting rid of the bills.

The invoice for the city business license arrived this morning.  I opened it and...I didn't care.  The license expires on Dec. 31 which is when my business officially closes.  I will likely go into City Hall, hand it to them and tell them to cancel it so that they don't keep sending me reminders.

Yesterday the business phone rang and a call centre voice asked to speak to the business owner.  I said "no" and hung up.  I just don't care.  That line will be discontinued in January and I will no longer have to pay that bill, which also arrived in today's mail.   Plus there won't be spam phone calls, frequently several every day.

So I continue to whittle away at the things that will soon become irrelevant to me.  We will probably have to take a long look at our finances, but our needs are few, we don't want for much.  Getting rid of the grind is bringing me a peace and calm I haven't had for a very long time.

And it's all good.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Press Pause

Over the weekend and yesterday I discovered that I am more than ready to end my professional life.  Beyond ready, in fact.  At one point yesterday I threatened to cancel the last two shows of the year because stick a fork in me, I am so done.

Sanity eventually prevailed and I adjusted my attitude, pulled myself together, came up with Plan B, and carried on.  I even managed to get to the Megado and carefully weave the rest of the scarf I'd begun before the show. 

My life for the last 40+ years has been all about the scramble, from one deadline to the next.  One job to the next.  Looking ahead, sometimes years, booking shows, booking classes, thinking up one more Big Project.

Since around June of this year, I have had to completely re-think everything I have been doing.  Let go of expectations.  Acknowledge the reality of this moment and that things may never get better.  At this point, I'm just working on trying to not let them get worse.

When some people find out I'm retiring they assure me I will be busier than ever.  If I wanted to stay busy, I wouldn't be retiring...the fact is I cannot maintain the kind of schedule I have kept for the past four decades.  That's the whole point of retiring!  I needed to Press Pause on my life as it was and begin to craft a new one.  One with less stress.  Fewer deadlines.  More time to stop and think.  Read.  Coast.

A life with fewer rolling deadlines will allow me to think more carefully.  Dig more deeply.  Explore further than I could when I was distracted by the daily grind.

So while I won't be sitting on the sofa eating bon-bons, I look forward to a more thoughtful approach to weaving.  And living.

Someone asked what I was going to do and I had to admit that right now?  I have no idea.  I have to make it through the next three months, finish closing down my business.  Take care of some health issues.  Maybe by the time the solstice arrives I will begin to see the light of a new life.  Until then?  Just taking care of business.  Because I'm not a quitter.  When I say I'll do something I will move heaven and earth to do it.  Studio Fair and Art Market, I will be there.  Come and say bye. 

PS - I no longer accept credit/debt cards.  Payment by e-transfer/Paypal/cash/cheque only

Saturday, October 26, 2019

So, How's Your Day Going?

Today is day 1 of the first of the last three craft fairs I will do on my own.

The universe (or whatever) has made it abundantly clear that I need to stop.  I need to transition over into a new way of living.  A new life.

Apparently I'm not doing this quickly enough.

Yesterday the van started dinging - the tire pressure alarm was going off.  Doug assured me he'd just checked the tire pressure and while it was a wee bit on the low side, nothing to worry about.  Nothing to be (heh, heh) alarmed about.

It continued to ding every time the motor was turned on, so Doug decided he'd better take the van to the shop and see if the alarm was giving a false reading.

This morning we got up with the (very early - for us) alarm, and slowly started getting ready for the day.  I still had some last minute tweaks to make to the display and get Square set up.  Something I knew would take me some time, since I'd not used it for quite a long while.

Doug headed out to the van and came back in.  Oops.  Front passenger tire on the van was pancaked.

No worries, I'd simply take the truck and go on up while he dealt with the van.

Erm, completely frozen truck.

Doug managed to get the truck open but while I waited I thought about the fact that it really is time for me to stop.  I just have a few more things to get done.  But if ever I had doubts about quitting?  The universe reminded me again this morning that nope, I do need to stop.

I had kind of agonized about posting a 'farewell' notice in my booth, wondering if people would accept that it wasn't meant as a sales pitch, just a sincere desire to thank all those people in the community who have been there for me.  In the end, quite a few people have come to talk to me, to say they own my work, how much they have enjoyed having my textiles in their lives, their homes.  Several have expressed the opinion that I have given it a good run and it's perfectly fine for me to 'retire' even if they will miss me - and my work.

So, my day is going ok.  Now.  How's yours?

Friday, October 25, 2019


I think one of the reasons I have been struggling with this whole 'retirement' thing is that I don't really want to 'retire'. 

I am tired.  That much is true.  I have been dealing with nearly constant fatigue and lack of energy since about 2006.  There is nothing quite like a body that has been worked hard and is now struggling to keep going.  And that, dear friends, is pretty much where I am at.

Two significant health issues, both of which have fatigue as a primary symptom, not to mention adverse drug reactions with fatigue as a primary symptom, means I am tired.  All the time, tired.

When I was younger I would race through the days, fueled by adrenaline.  Seems that is not exactly inexhaustible.  One can actually run out.

So here I am, about to set up for the first show of the year with no adrenaline to draw on.  The only way to keep going is to just...keep going.  But now I have an end in sight.  An end to the scramble.  The headlong rush to leap over each deadline as it rolls by.

I have regrets, of course I do.  But I am also pragmatic and it is time to accept the fact that I have given it my all.  I have done things I had no idea I would be able to accomplish.  I have been places and met people - all because I had this idea, this dream, that it would be possible to do this thing as my life's work.

The benefits have far outweighed the negatives.  But I'm tired.  It is time to imagine a different life for myself.  And I think I've done a pretty good job of that, too.  There are still some obligations to complete, stash to reduce, things to get rid of, one way or another.

Time to cut back.  Time to rest.  Who knows, maybe in the end I will discover that the adrenaline well will begin to refill and I will be able to feel more energetic again. 

But if not?  That's ok, too.

Today is 30 days away from my next clinic appointment.  I think my remission is holding.  I hope so because I still haven't recovered from the adverse effects of the last cancer drug.  In my special snowflake-ness, my body seems to have slipped into a completely unexpected hiatus from the cancer.  I am hoping very much that will continue because I want to continue to teach for a while yet.  I am hoping to hear from Olds College soon about 2020.    Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Prep Time

Last weekend Doug went pressing, getting the finishing press on the last of the place mats done.  While waiting for the press to heat up, he loaded up the rest of the inventory stored there, then Sunday night boxed up all the inventory stored here.  Tuesday his helper came and the two of them carried all the boxes and bins upstairs and out into the carport in order to load up the van.

Meanwhile I was fringe twisting my fingers to the bone (so to speak).  I have three more scarves to do but my wrists are beginning to hurt on top of my back, which has been hurting all along.  (Growing old - and decrepit - is not for sissies!)

It feels very odd, this not scrambling like mad, trying to make more, do more.  Recognizing that this is the last year to do craft fairs on my own hook.  The local guild has a booth at the big craft fair each year, and I have discussed the fact that I can sell through the guild booth on consignment, both there and at other venues the guild takes part in - like the fall fair and the annual guild sale.  So I'm not gone entirely - because my inventory won't be gone.

It also feels very odd to not be scrambling trying to fill up my calendar with guild and conference teaching opportunities.  Or article submission deadlines.  The oddity continues because the college has been going through some changes and I won't know until well into the new year if I will be teaching at Olds.  Since I'm not contacting other venues, I can hold dates open for the college - am happy to do so, in fact. 

But it all feels...odd.

I feel some kind of public acknowledgement needs to be done, so I will likely print out a 'farewell' letter and post in my booth.  I'd like to let people know that I'm done but also - especially for the local people - give information on where my textiles will continue to be on sale.

We are pretty much through autumn, heading into winter.  We had a huge wind storm the other day which ripped most of the rest of the leaves off of the trees.  Things are looking sparse - and sad.  Autumn colours have faded and overnight frost is now routine.  I'd be much happier if we had some sunny days at least.  The daylight hours are getting shorter, made even more so due to the overcast dreariness.  The forecast is saying some sun over the weekend, so I am hoping that happens. 

I am in persevere mode right now.  One day, one job, one deadline at a time.  Getting through the next 4 weeks, then through to the solstice.  When the sun begins it's slow gentle return.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Broken Record

Blogger gives statistics on page views and I frequently find it interesting which posts from the past are being read.

As I scroll through I am somewhat dismayed - at times - to see how frequently I address the same things over and over again.

When I chose the title for this post it suddenly occurred to me that the phrase 'broken record' will be meaningless to a large swathe of the population.  Because in order to understand the reference, folk have to have experienced an actual 'broken record'.  The vinyl pressing that a certain age bracket (mine) used to listen to for their music (and poetry and audio books/plays).

Over the years I have learned that people need to hear the same snippet of information over and over again before it will stick in their foundation of knowledge.  I developed short sharp sentences to focus on principles:  Never use a knot where a bow will do; a thread under tension is a thread under control, and so on.  In class I repeat these things over and over when something happens to illustrate the concept.

Recently someone who is educated in how people learn commented that people learn something in a linear fashion and until they learn step A, they can't learn step B. (I paraphrase.)

This is something I have noticed in my own practice.  And so, in a classroom of mixed experienced students, I find that it may take multiple repetitions of these principles before the ah-HA! moment for each arrives.

And why I keep stepping up onto my soapbox and repeating the same principles over and over again until I begin to tire of hearing my own voice.  And why I wrote it all down, to the best of my ability.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Comfort Zone

One of the benefits of working only from my stash is that I have to be bolder in my colour choices.

Rayon chenille has been a wonderful yarn to force myself out of my comfort zone of colours that I prefer to work with.  When I'm doing a scarf series using it, I tend to weave plain weave (for reasons) and make the coloured stripes in the warp the design element.

I will routinely begin with the proportions of the Fibonacci sequence, tweak them, make a stripe that can be interpreted in a variety of different colours in those stripes.

For this one, the value for '1' was 2 ends.  The proportions were then 5:3:1:3, repeat.  This created a fairly static stripe sequence but a lot of people like to have a symmetrical stripe.  (I have done asymmetrical stripes, too.)  One of the ways I added more interest to this cloth was to change which colour went where in the sequence.

Beginning with 5:3:1:3 where 5 was colour A, 3 was colour B and 1 was colour C, this scarf alternated so that the first stripe was as above, then the second was A:C:B:C.  The other selvedge ended with colour A so that both selvedges are the same.  The weft is nearly the same as colour A but not quite - I'd pretty much used up colour A in the warp so something that was very close in hue and value was used.

This combination was not my first but closer to my last - as I was beginning to run low on sufficient quantities of solids to make a two scarf warp.  While the scarves have not yet been wet finished, I'm pleased enough with them that I think they will look even better once they go through the magic in the water.  For now it's the dry finishing that needs to be done.

Winds of Change

October here typically brings winds of change.  As the weather moves from summer to winter, we frequently have lots of wind, blowing the leaves around - along with any unsecured items in the yard.

This morning, after the federal election, we are being battered by gusting winds.  It is also garbage collection/recycle pick up day, and blue bins are being upturned, contents scattered and bins skating down the street.

This is a turbulent time.  Along with the regular cycle of seasons, there are world and personal changes.  I am well aware that my personal changes are of no import to anyone but myself (and Doug) but it feels very insecure right now. 

With the election there is much uncertainty and people are fearful for their jobs, their own security in the world.  Of course there are people in other countries who have it much worse than us, here in Canada (for the most part).  But human beings are most concerned for themselves before they can be sympathetic towards others.

The future is never certain.  Every one of us can have our lives upended at any moment in time.  But somehow we manage to keep going.  One foot in front of the other.  Dealing with what must be done.  Keeping a roof over our heads - if we can.  Food on the table - if we can.

For me, the big shift is from professional to retired.  Adapting to changes in income.  Adapting to changes in what I want to accomplish.  Being more aware of endings.  But always, always, digging to find those silver linings in the clouds. 

Even as the world (the northern hemisphere, at any rate) prepares to hibernate for the winter, I look for the positive.  I try to find the hope for the future.

For the next four weeks I will focus on the three craft fairs I am scheduled to sell my work at and take the opportunity to say goodbye to other craftspeople who I see once a year but who inspire me.  Some have on line presence, so I will follow their exploits there, cheer them on in what they hope to accomplish.  Enjoy their successes, encourage when things don't turn out as they hope - if that happens.

Today I need to focus on fringe twisting.  Not a job I relish at the best of times.  But needs must.  So I will.

Currently reading The Body in the Castle Well by Martin Walker

Monday, October 21, 2019

Ways We Learn

With the rise of the internet, more and more people are turning to on line venues to learn things.  All sorts of things.

I was an early adopter of the internet (dial up hand shakes - yikes) and posted video clips to You Tube.  Now I'm not a professional and my video camera was as good as I could afford at the time, but when you are trying to be both in front and behind the camera, it isn't always great.

So in 2014 I had the opportunity to work with the crew from Interweave Press to make not one but two DVDs.  The Efficient Weaver and Wet Finishing.

Since then many people have contacted me to say that they have found them useful, so when parent company F&W Media filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, I had no idea if the content would continue to be available.

Over the summer Long Thread Media was formed and that company purchased Handwoven, Spin Off and Piecework Magazines, PLUS the DVD content.

I have been in touch with Anne Merrow and this morning formal notification of how things will proceed was provided.

It is a relief to know that this content will continue to be available, this time as on-line 'workshops'. 

Since I am currently in the process of 'retiring' - ie no longer traveling to teach for guilds or at conferences, it is heartening to know that the content of these (and the rest of their catalogue) will continue to be available for people wanting to learn.

As always, feel free to contact me with questions.  Read the archived posts on select topics on this blog. 

My social media is Facebook (I know, I know), Ravelry, Twitter and Instagram - in addition to this blog.  While I withdraw from physically getting myself from place to place, I enjoy hearing from folk and anyone passing through my town is welcome to come visit the studio.  So long as you don't mind, erm, creative chaos!

Saturday, October 19, 2019


This isn't the entirety of my inventory going into the show season, but it's all I have and - other than the scarves still stored at the annex - about all I'm likely to have bar the few rayon chenille scarves I got woven this month.

This level of inventory feels very low to me.  I usually have nearly double this at the beginning of the sales.  But I've been sick more days than I haven't been, and at the end of the year, I'm retiring from doing craft fairs, so...

The main goal at this point is to reduce my inventory, not grow it.  Some of the items have been around for several years, and it may be that no one wants them, period. 

As I count up the benefits of retiring, it is necessary to remind myself that I no longer will be in the rat race and it isn't imperative that I scramble getting as much woven as possible in the next few days.

Instead I have been focusing on finishing what was in the queue.  To that end, I finished off the rayon chenille warps that I had wound in September and this morning cleared off the dining room table so I can begin fringe twisting them.

Doug will go press the last two dozen mats and their matching runners tomorrow, so there will be one more pile of mats to add to the shelves shown here.  He will also pack up whatever scarves are at the annex because he will begin loading up the van on Tuesday.  The first show of the season begins with set up next Friday, sales Sat/Sun, then a couple of days off and set up the following Thursday with the sale running Fri-Sun.  Then we get a week 'off' before heading to Calgary for Art Market.

Beyond the guild sale on Nov. 30/Dec. 1, my textiles will be available at the CAC Studio Shop on consignment or from me directly.  What I do is ask what the person is interested in, then send photos of what I have on hand.

Normally I would be scrambling to make as much as possible in order to sell enough to tide me through the slow months of the coming new year.  But this year is different.  By shutting down my business, I am hoping that whatever residual income I have (book sales, consignment sales, etc.) will cover the reduced amount of money needed for buying more yarn, covering bank fees, paying membership dues and so on. 

I still have not decided if I will attend Convergence in Knoxville.  I know a lot of weavers in the area and it would be fun to spend some time with them, especially at a large fibre festival.  But do I want to make the trip?  It won't be cheap, flying to TN in tourist season.  Not to mention the dark o'clock departures.  I'm so not wanting to deal with 6 am flights anymore.

Next week I will also deal with the paperwork and lab tests for the foot surgery.  They won't give me a surgical date until I've been cleared by the anesthesiologist, plus they will be closed for a couple of weeks in December.  So I may not be able to get it done until January.  In which case Doug will chauffeur Mary and me around because I won't be driving until I recover.

So - lots of count downs in progress.  Craft fair season.  Retirement.  Surgery.  For today, I'm going to go to the Megado and see how well I did beaming that #3 test warp. 

At least the sun is shining today.  Which makes a nice change.  And snow is in the forecast.  A timely reminder to folk to attend the craft fairs and think about the upcoming Christmas season.

Friday, October 18, 2019

When Things Don't Go 'Right'

As adults we think we should not make mistakes - that everything we turn our hand to should be 'perfect' the first go round.

There is a hard lesson in there.  Because whenever we try something new, something different, there is a high probability that not all will go smoothly.  That our results won't be perfect.

Far from perfect, at times.

When you are slithering around at the bottom end of the learning curve, it is hard to feel joy.  Irritation, yes.  Frustration?  Absolutely.  Joy?  Not so much.

Yesterday I beamed test warp #3 on the Megado.  Part of my mistake was once again beaming a warp that is a very dark blue/black.  This made it hard to see as I tried to evenly fill each section.  I thought I was getting better at it, things seemed to be progressing in a direction that looked better than the time before.

I left the warp to thread until today.  Which is when I discovered that I had not done as good a job as I had thought.  Instead of progress, it felt like failure.

I'm supposed to be a 'master' weaver.  Today I am not feeling like a master of anything at all.

However, there is no learning without effort, and so I got nearly half of the warp threaded, then stopped for lunch.  I'm not certain the slight discrepancy in the warp ends will actually be a big problem, or is small enough that I can still get something out of this warp.  I put some extra on because I am still only getting to know this loom and if I have to, I can cut off after the first scarf and re-tie. 

A reminder that it took the best part of a year to get comfortable with the AVL keeps me going.  Obviously this is going to take longer than I'd hoped.  However, I still have a few more tweaks I can apply to the next test warp.  And each time I do this, it's a bit better.

Rome was not built in a day.  Getting to know a new loom will take time.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Meaningful Life

Tamara O'Brien

This week a young woman I never met died.  To those who knew her she was an inspiration - talented, kind.  Diagnosed with cancer, she struggled with the fact that she wasn't going to reach old age.  Instead she chose to live what life she had as meaningfully as she could.  Her friends and family mourn her absence from their lives.

In the interview linked above, she talks about how some people refer to getting cancer as a 'gift'.  She denies that cancer is any such thing, but rather for her it was an awakening.

So wise for one so young.

Over the years I have sought for meaning in my own life without really coming to much of a conclusion, just driven to do what I felt I had to do.  Until my brother died.

My brother was well loved in this community.  He worked tirelessly on projects he felt were important.  He sought always to become a 'better' person.  To be kinder, while not putting up with things he felt were wrong.  Like when, at the age of 10 or so, he stood up to a playground bully in defense of the younger children the bully and his buddies had been tormenting.

His death triggered survivor guilt in me.  Especially when I saw the church filled to overflowing, standing room only, including the balcony.  So many people my brother had touched, helped, inspired.

Why him?  I was the older one, why not me?  I had to come to grips with the fact that I was still here.  I chose to try and find a way to live with meaning outside of my own agenda.  To help others more.  To lift others up.  To shed light where it was dark, if I possibly could.

Awakening to the white privilege that is mine because of my accident of birth, I now see and recognize how that white privilege is ingrained into our society.  But I was also raised as a Christian, attending Sunday School weekly, listening to the words of Jesus - and as I grew older other spiritual leaders.  Recognizing that the spiritual lesson is love.  Not hate.  Not othering.

As the world staggers under the change of climate, storms worsening, wildfires burning hectares of forests, sea levels rising, humans also seem to be going a little bit 'mad'.  Resources are finite.  Petroleum will run out - maybe not today, or tomorrow, but at some point.  In the meantime we poison the ground and the water by squeezing every ounce of petroleum out.  We pave over the parking lots (thank you Joni Mitchell, who brought us that message in when, 1970?)

On the internet we bicker and shout at each other, trying to fix blame for whatever is happening that we don't like.  Fake!   Fake!  some of us shout, while ignoring the science, the data.

I have 'scored' left leaning on every questionnaire I've ever taken to determine political alliance.  I believe that we are all human, we are all related, none of us are lesser than the other.  That if something is a human right, then we all have that right.  Like access to clean drinking water.  I believe that people who have more than enough ought to expect to give a little more so that those of us who have little can have some comfort - like health care, housing.  Build a bigger table, not a wall.

For many years when I was first trying to build my business I looked forward to the day when I'd earn enough money in order to pay taxes.  To me that signified that I was finally a success.  I wanted to pay taxes to help support infrastructure, public libraries, schools, health care, etc.  It meant I could start paying back for those years when I didn't make enough money, but was never denied what I needed.  I had roads to drive on to go to shows, a hospital that would not turn me away, a doctor who would see me even when I didn't have any money.  Because those things get paid for out of the taxes our government levies.

A meaningful life means many things to many different people.  To me it means helping others to the best of my ability.  Even if all I can do is hold open a door.  Or vote for a government that sees the value in all people, regardless of skin tone.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

And Still Not Perfect

If you look really closely, over there on the right you might be able to see that four of the ends are not in the lease sticks.

I was distracted today and nearly at the end of rough sleying, I took two pairs out of order.  This meant they were 'crossed' and when it came time to transfer the cross behind the reed...oops.

This is not terminal.  Not even close.  First I sighed - because still not perfect.  Then I simply made sure that both lease sticks were slid in under the threads that were crossed.  When I got to them in the threading, they were entered into the heddles in as close to the proper order as I could manage.  It really won't matter if they are not in perfect order - they just have to be close.  Rayon chenille has enough elasticity in it that having a couple of threads out of place by a couple of threads really won't make any difference to the weaving.

This is the last of my pre-wound warps.  By the time I finished threading, sleying, tying on and getting the header woven, it was after 4 pm.  I have other things I need to do today so I decided the weaving will just have to wait until tomorrow afternoon.  I may - or may not - get both scarves woven.   I have things to do tomorrow so it will depend on whether or not my energy lasts.   Once they are, it will be back to the Megado to see if I can make friends with her.  (She seems to be a 'her' to me.)

We have had typical autumn/October weather - grey, dreary and mostly wet.  It was blustery today and leaves were dropping - well, like rain.  I'm trying not to let the dreariness affect me too much, but I'm kind of at the end of my rope.  I may increase the amount of vitamin D I take, I might set up the SAD light.

For now I have done the minimum I wanted/needed to do and if I can make friends with the Megado with the next test warp, who knows?  I might even get a shawl warp into the loom.  Not that they will be ready in time for any of the sales, but it will make ME feel better to get that done.

Of course with a huge stash of rayon chenille, I found myself thinking up more ways I could use it.  So we'll see.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Beginner Mind

One of the most valuable things a teacher can do is fail.  Failure is a wonderful reminder of how it feels to experience 'beginner mind'.  When things don't go right, right from the get-go, you are forced to remember another time, another place, when you had to think through a problem and find a solution.

While working on the latest rayon chenille warp today, I found myself thinking about the Megado.  I bought the Megado for the benefits I knew it had, smaller footprint, easier to operate, but forgot about the fact that I did not befriend the AVL in a warp or two.  In fact, it took over a year to become friends with that loom, constantly tweaking my processes all along the way.  Then, when I upgraded to the Compu-Dobby, I had to do it all over again.   And again when the air assist was added.

Beginner mind helps remind me to be compassionate with my students.  Especially the Olds students.  Some of them are very experienced, which usually means they have processes in place that they might have to work hard to change if they decide to do that.  Some of them are quite inexperienced, which means they may not have the vocabulary - of language and of processes - in order to grasp principles.

This afternoon I beamed the second last rayon chenille warp.  Doug has just made a small tweak to the Megado and if all goes smoothly with these last two chenille warps, I could get back to the Megado by Wednesday.

I have a threading designed for the next test warp, and I am scaling up slowly.  Instead of 10" in the reed, it will be 12 (minus 4 ends, due to the repeat) and it will be beamed for three scarves instead of two.

I will pay more attention to the rhythm of this loom, which is very different from the AVL.  I think I have the threading sorted, with a stool that I can fairly comfortably sit at to thread.  I'm hoping Doug can install the lamp holders before Wednesday, too, because we have had a number of grey dreary days and it will be another dark navy (mostly) warp of 2/16 bamboo rayon - which is difficult to see.

Without the pressure deadline of trying to make inventory, I can relax and let myself think through additional tweaks. 

Remembering to embrace beginner mind was a good reminder today.  A little compassion for me, as I slither along on the slippery end of the learning curve.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Of Toolboxes

A weaver's toolbox will reflect the quality of the cloth they routinely weave.  A weaver who frequently weaves rag rugs will have tools/processes different from one who routinely weaves damask in fine linen.  Unless s/he does both, of course.

Because we are not stuck in doing just one kind or quality of cloth, but anything that we wish to do. 

As human beings we discovered that tools could make a task easier, more ergonomic, increase efficiency.  But tools also take time to learn how to use them effectively, and not everyone wants to do that.

I have my standard type of textile that I enjoy making so most of my tools and processes have been honed to make the job of doing those fabrics as efficiently as possible.  Even though I won't be production weaving any more, there are just some things that are physically uncomfortable enough that I'd rather do them as efficiently as possible so that I can be done with that bit.

For example, threading and sleying the warp.  I had been weaving for over 20 years when I learned about the brass hook and how efficiently I could complete those tasks once I learned to use it.

It isn't that I don't enjoy threading, because I don't mind it.  I like the meditative quality of getting the threads into the heddles.  My back and neck don't enjoy it nearly as much.  So, for me, using this tool is a benefit.

I have other tools and processes that I prefer to use that others find puzzling.  But not everyone is the same, and no one has to do anything in terms of weaving in the 21st century.  I simply share what I do and let others judge for themselves if my processes/tools are something that they might find valuable.

So I use a temple - when I need to.   There are times when using one gives me the results I desire by working more slowly.  If I need to use a temple, I get into the mindset of using it, going more slowly in terms of weaving, but having fewer problems in getting the cloth I want.  I may adjust my weaving speed in order to carefully place the weft to the fell rather than my more usual speed when I beat it into place.

I like to use the warping valet (or sectional beam) but if those tools aren't available, I know how to beam a warp without them.  While I much prefer the bamboo or wooden blinds, I can use sticks or paper.

If necessary I know how to adjust the shed geometry of my looms by shortening the distance between breast and back beam, or raising the height of the back beam.

I can adjust my shuttle throwing to accommodate a tender yarn, or a cloth that is very open - or very dense.

These are all adjustments that can be made so that I am successful at what I am aiming to achieve.

Every new tool requires an adjustment period.  The Megado certainly is requiring me to tweak my processes, and under deadline pressure I am waiting until I've crossed a few more things off my list before I go back to that loom.  While I have made progress, more tweaks need to be made, and I need inventory, not more flawed test warps while I work through the slippery end of the learning curve.

For people wanting to learn more, take a class, preferably in real life so you can get real time feedback from an instructor.  If that isn't possible, then on line classes are available.  If you learn by reading, there are rafts of books (including mine) which will shed light.

There is no one correct answer in anything related to weaving.  It depends.  Fill your toolbox with as many different processes/tools as you can afford.  Know when to use a tool or tweak your process.  Keep learning.  Keep digging.  Keep peeling the layers off the onion of knowledge.

Those Pesky Numbers

Super Lamb, made from Superwash treated Merino Lambswool, offers the best of both worlds.  The special qualities of worsted spun*** wool are combined with the convenience of being able to machine wash and dry without fading or shrinking.  Garments made from our solid and heather shades of Super Lamb 2/24 retain their softness, resilience and durability after countless machine washings and dryings.  (taken from the Jaggerspun website)

When it comes to yarn, there is much confusion about how to tell what size it is.

This seems to have gotten even worse since so many people have come into the craft of weaving from knitting, where they don't generally use numbers at all but word descriptions.  It becomes even more confusing when weavers and spinners start using terms like 'worsted' and 'woolen' which mean something quite different to knitters and crocheters.

Add to that the fact that not everyone who weaves spins, and they may not understand 'worsted' and 'woolen' in terms of how fibre is spun into yarn either.

(Although I have it on good authority that those terms don't necessarily mean what most people think they mean anyway, but let's go with a simplistic explanation, ok?)

So getting fibre twisted up into yarn is a spectrum.  At each end of said spectrum are worsted and woolen.  Roughly speaking, worsted generally refers to having the fibres all lined up nice and parallel while woolen the fibres are every which way.  And then of course all the degrees along the spectrum, but let's go with the above.

How the fibres are prepared and spun will affect the yarn, as will how many twists per inch, both in the singles and in the ply.  The direction the fibre is spun and then plied can also affect the yarn.

So here we have two yarns that are rated to having the same number of yards per pound.  Are they the same?  No, obviously not.  They are both natural white in spite of the fact the one on the bottom looks grey in comparison to the one on the top.  (I am using a black and white photo which enhances the difference between the two.)

When I began weaving, the one on the top was identified as 2/8 cotton.  The yarn was - and still is - readily available in Canada.  It is ring spun from fibre that has been prepared so that the fibres are as parallel as possible.  It is smooth, strong and works very well for warp.  It is not, however, quite as absorbent as the one below which is readily available in the US as 8/2 cotton.  It has been open end spun, the fibres are disorganized, the yarn is weaker, loftier, and more absorbent than the yarn on the top.

The 2/8 cotton would be roughly equivalent to worsted spun yarn while the 8/2 would be more equivalent to woolen spun yarn if we follow that simplistic explanation I used above.

Do the numbers tell us anything about the characteristics of the yarn?  Well, possibly, if the numbers are being applied in the way spinning mills apply them.  

When I purchased directly from a spinning mill in Ontario, which I did for quite a few years, I was asked how many twists per inch I wanted.  I had no idea so I sent them a sample.  They told me I wanted 2/8 cotton with x numbers of twist per inch.  I don't now recall how many that number was, but it was the quality I wanted so that was what I ordered.  And then just put in repeat orders about once a year - because their minimum order was something like five cases.

According to some spinners, when the ply comes first, then the count, (2/8) that generally means a worsted type of preparation.  If the count comes first then the ply (8/2) that generally means a woolen type preparation.

Which brings me to the Jagger Spun website.  They widely advertise their yarn as worsted - as in the spinning definition.  Their counts are all expressed with the ply first, then the count.  See my *** in the opening quote.

So what do those numbers mean, anyway?

2/8 cotton means that a pound of yarn has been spun into (roughly - these numbers are only ever approximates) 6720 yards per pound, then two were plied together to create a yarn with approximately 3360 yards per pound.

The value for '1' for cotton is 840.  In other words, a pound of cotton fibre was spun to have 840 yards.  Finer yarns will have the value for 1 (840 yards) multiplied by their count - be that 4, 8, 10, 16 or whatever - then plied, usually with 2 plys, sometimes 3 or 4 or 8, depending on the quality of the yarn the mill is making.  Whatever the count is, divide by the number of plys to get yards per pound for that yarn.

Other fibres have other values for '1'.  

Wool(en) is 300 
Worsted 560
Silk is 840
Linen is 300

These are all imperial but more and more metric sizing is becoming common.

Ulla Cyrus-Zetterstrom's book Manual of Swedish Handweaving has the most succinct description of metric sizes that I have found.  She gives the formulas for converting Denier and Tex to metric as well, which is very useful, especially of you have purchased yarn from an estate sale.

I highly recommend finding this book just for the few pages of this information.  It should be readily available through second hand shops or in guild libraries.

For those new to the craft, learn and understand how the various numbering systems work.  Understand that how many epi you use yarns at can - and will - vary, depending on the quality of cloth you desire as your finished result.  

This very important lesson is addressed in level one of the Olds College Master Weaver program and really unlocks the secret to choosing an appropriate number of epi/ppi for your cloth when you begin to design your own.

Other things you might consider - a McMorran balance (or equivalent) and learning about burn tests.  Both important for identifying yarns purchased at an estate sale - because usually labels have faded or fallen off.  And never ever trust the label in the base of the cone.  Cones get used and reused, sometimes multiple times.

Did you figure out how many yards per pound in that 2/24 Jaggerspun?  It's worsted spun so the value for '1' is 560.  24 x 560 = 13,440 divided by 2 = 6720.  Approximately.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Dribs and Drabs

With inventory to make and stash to use up, I designed a new scarf to use some of my rayon chenille stash.

So far it's been a qualified success.  These three shelves show the dribs and drabs of some of the solids that are left.  What I'm not showing you is the other shelves that are laden with yet more.  There is one shelf that is entirely variegated, one shelf that is solids but in a lighter weight.  The variegated is either 1450 or 1300 yards per pound; the lighter weight solids are 2000 yards per pound.  Not a combination I tend to use together in a warp in case of tension issues.  Or, if I do, I use them differently than the current design.

So I have been trying to use the 1450 and 1300 yarn for warps, then cross them with the 2000 ypp solids. 

Unfortunately I don't have enough colours in the 2000 ypp rayon chenille, so I have also been using up the 1450 as weft, too.  Which is why these colours are nearly depleted.

Yesterday I got the blue warp dressed and today managed to get one scarf woven with a darker blue weft.  This run of scarves is being woven longer at 80" in the loom, in part because people were asking for longer lengths.  My standard length in previous years was 72" in the loom, but that wound up about 66" in length after wet finishing. 

Unfortunately I don't have enough of the darker blue to weave a second scarf, but I found a partial tube of the lighter blue.  It doesn't have enough for 80" in the loom, so it will be shorter.  It will be as long as it is when the tube runs out. 

Not everyone is tall and wants a longer scarf as a friend just pointed out.

Currently reading Unto Us a Son is Given by Donna Leon - the latest Guido Brunetti mystery

Friday, October 11, 2019


Now that the brain fog is lifting and there are merely tendrils, not full scale fog, my brain is starting to work again.

This morning as I wove another rayon chenille scarf, only surface attention was required so - as I am wont to do - thoughts that had been buried or ignored began to bubble to the surface.  I kept thinking about Abby Franquemont's keynote at our conference in June, about how confluences can be turbulent.

Life is full of ups, downs, detours, confluences, but most of all, life is about change.  And yes, change is stressful, uncomfortable.  It is sometimes driven by confluences that we didn't see coming, didn't realize they were even on our particular road map.

As mentioned previously, I'm stubborn - or determined, if you prefer.  When turbulence hits my life I tend to put my head down, shoulder firmly to the wheel, and keep pushing towards my goal.  Apparently though, when I am going in the 'wrong' direction things will get more and more difficult, more and more challenging, until I have to stop, take a step back and realize that I need to go in a different direction.

This is sometimes an easy decision.  Other times?  Difficult.  Very, very difficult.

My plan, my goal, was to keep my business open and continue to participate in craft fairs for another two years.  Doug is reasonably healthy, and I have a pretty good grasp of my physical limits.  Or did.  Until I took the last cancer drug, which seems to have lasting effects in a negative way.  I had hoped that the muscle and joint pain would ease - which it has, to an extent.  But not entirely.  I hurt.  I am in pain most days.  I can still weave, but at no where near the pace I used to be able to do.

I had been paring back my teaching but thought that I could still do the craft fairs.  The past few months have made it abundantly clear that no, not even with the new loom, am I going to be able to production weave any longer.

Since coming to that realization in July, I have initiated efforts to begin closing the business of the studio down.  At the same time, I am dealing with the emotions of doing something I did not want to do just yet.  There is grief wrapped up in the burying of my goals, my dreams.  But I also realize that I have been incredibly blessed with all that I have experienced in this life because I made that fateful decision (with Doug's full support) to become a professional weaver in a society that frequently doesn't value hand made any more.

I was extremely fortunate in that I was able to work to make a niche for myself and find customers who were willing to pay a premium for my hand woven textiles.  I also found other craftspeople at the fairs who I enjoy spending time with, who will no longer be in my social circle because I won't be there myself. 

There is a daily push/pull of emotions as I find myself realizing that something else has to go.  But I also have moments when I spy a benefit.  Like this morning when I suddenly realized that I won't need to buy a city business licence any more.  It's not a huge amount, but still.  No business, no licence required.  Other things are more obvious - like giving up the annex and no longer needing to pay the rent on that.  Or the insurance on that location.  I'll still carry a rider on the studio because I have way more stuff than would be covered under a general household contents policy.

I won't have to carry business insurance on the van any more because we won't be transporting a van heaped with inventory and booth apparatus on winter roads.  The business telephone line - and the incessant spam phone calls - will go.  I won't have a business chequing account any more, just a personal one.  And I won't need to collect and remit sales taxes anymore because I won't be doing retail shows.  When I sell on consignment the shop does that.  Weaving will become my hobby, which it never was before.

There won't be critical rolling deadlines.  I will make time for other hobbies - reading, puzzle making, bobbin lace.  And of course continue to share my journey here with anyone interested in riding virtual shot gun.

Change happens.  Time to embrace this one.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Stubborn:  unreasonably obstinate; unyielding; obdurate; inflexible; refractory; intractable.  (The Concise Oxford Dictionary)

So many negative connotations to the word 'stubborn'.

My mother called me pig-headed, saying she didn't know where I got my stubbornness from.  I so much wanted to tell her to look in the mirror!

She stubbornly worked tirelessly to take care of her family, make sure they had health care, food, clothing and shelter.  She went back to school in her 40s to get an early childhood education degree.  No small feat for someone who had English as a second language and grade 8 schooling.

I am, in large part, who I am because of my mother.  She modeled how to survive in a frequently unfriendly world. 

If one believes in such things, my astrological symbol is Cancer (the crab).  As a water sign, I long ago learned that water can overcome most obstacles.  If I couldn't go around them, there was always below, or in extreme circumstances, over them.  Water wears away even the most...stubborn...rock.

Drop after drop, I kept at it.  Until I achieved some rather large goals - GCW master certificate, bringing in enough money as a weaver to survive, or at least enhance our lives.  (Always with the support of Doug who for 9 years was studio assistant and sales force and VP in charge of assembly.)

Eventually (nearly) 1000 copies of Magic in the Water with actual before and after samples were created.

Co-chairing not one but several weaving conferences.  Teaching.  Writing.  Most of all...weaving.

Just like the drop, drop, drop of falling water wearing away the stone, pick by pick, thread by thread, weaving.

More recently, another book.  This one was different and I needed extra help to get it finished.  If anyone needs a good technical editor who also does textile arts, I can recommend Ruth Temple as a gentle and sensitive editor.

But I find that I am no longer driven like I used to be.  I commented to a friend yesterday that I have no more adrenaline.  That well ran dry some months ago.  But I stubbornly clung to my goals, my dreams.  I wanted very much to continue working/weaving for at least another couple of years.  But events conspired against me and finally I had to admit that I was done.  As in 'stick a fork in me' done.

Tuesday I went to the doctor and asked for anti-biotics for my sinus infection.  Today I'm feeling better and my brain is functioning again.  And I made the decision that becoming friends with the Megado is going to have to wait until the craft fair season is over.  It will be something to look forward to once the deadlines are all in the past and the pressure to produce inventory is history.

I may be stubborn, but I'm flexible.  Sometimes it just takes me a while to remember that I need to bend, before I 'break'.