Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Re-inventing Myself

Image result for Louet Megado

I've vented on here several times about my declining physical 'fitness' and health. 

Over the past few months I have also been fighting with an elderly AVL Production Loom which is showing signs of also being worn out.

Thing is, I am not done weaving.  I'm not nearly done weaving.  I want to weave and so I had to come up with a plan that would allow me to continue to weave.

When Louet premiered the Megado, I had the opportunity to weave on it at a conference I was attending.  I was impressed with the other Louet looms I had seen and at times woven on in workshops, so I was curious about the Megado.

For one thing, the Louet looms are well engineered.  I had woven on one while Doug had the flu and he had no idea I had been weaving it was so quiet.  The loom was in my dining room, so if he was going to hear it, it was close enough to bother him as he slept, trying to recover from a rather serious flu.

So I was familiar with the 'floating' beams, the small footprint and how quiet they were.  However, I was also familiar with the AVL and how noisy it was so I wanted to see if the Megado had continued it's engineering in that regard.

They did not disappoint.

So as I thought through my options, the Megado kept rising to the top of my thinking. 

It's not a cheap loom and they are not readily available on the second hand market, which kind of tells you about overall customer satisfaction.

So I gripped my credit card tightly and ordered one.  I just managed to time it so that the loom ought to arrive sometime in August or early September.

Since I am pretty much over fighting with looms, as soon as I can get the current warp woven off, the AVL will get disassembled and we will inventory the parts that others might be interested in buying because perhaps they have a loom that is wearing and need new gears.  Or more shuttles and pirns.  Or heddles.  I have about a bazillion heddles.  Plus the dobby bars I kept in case of failure of the compu-dobby. 

Life is too short to fight with equipment, and I can't take money with me.  My brother would approve of my spending my inheritance on something to ensure a better quality of life...and weaving...

Come and Get ‘em!

Three weeks to the conference and final detail crunching proceeds.

Part of the staging for the conference was pulling the boxes of books out and stacking them, ready to be packed up for the vendor booth I have at the conference.  I have 55 copies of The Intentional Weaver.  They will be available for sale during the conference.  I will also have copies of Weave a V.

Written by Kerstin Fro:berg and published in English here, it's a look at weaving a V-shaped shawl using double weave.  She includes information for both sinking and rising shed looms and general information on double weave as well as details on double width weaving, including tips on dealing with the fold.

If you can't come to the conference you can order The Intentional Weaver and Magic in the Water here

If there are copies of The Intentional Weaver left after the conference, you can order a signed copy directly from me.  People outside of Canada don't have to pay the GST but shipping is $20.

When purchasing in my booth, I have to charge applicable taxes.  For textiles, the taxes consist of 5% GST plus 7% provincial sales tax.  If you are from outside of Canada I can mail purchases to you and not charge the tax, but shipping starts at $20.  Cheaper to just pay the tax. There is no provincial sales tax on books, so just 5% on those.

Today I'm working on the exhibits, looking at what we need for display apparatus.  With the loan of display stuff from a local textile artist I think we will have enough display equipment to display everything.

I am also waiting for emails from several people about personal stuff, while my inbox balloons to nearly 8000 items.  I will be grateful when the conference is over and I can start deleting stuff.  Right now my desire is to just select all and delete but I can't do that.  Yet.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Too Many Hats

The beginning of staging for the conference

All of my life I have worn too many hats.  This year has been no different except that I took on way too many hats given my current state of health.  But five years ago I was in pretty good health (I thought).  I was in remission from cancer and cardiac seemed to be well in hand.

So to tackle co-chairing another 'major' conference seemed like it would be easy-peasy.

Life has a way of tossing curve balls and I got hit with both barrels (apologies for the mixed metaphor).  By-pass surgery in 2015, the return of the cancer last year.

My energy levels are much lower than I'm used to having so I'm struggling to get everything done that I want to do let alone what needs to be done.

In addition to general conference organization there is the vendor booth and teaching of four seminars.

Fortunately Doug is a very real support and participant in doing shows so he is doing most of the lifting in terms of the vendor booth.  And I mean that literally.  There are boxes of books, set out on the living room floor - the beginning of the collection (or staging) for the booth.

Ignore the bin - it's the contents of my desk I cleared off and have not, lo these many months later, had the inclination to sort through and toss or keep (if keep, where?????)

So I don and remove hats frequently throughout the day.  This morning I'm getting the comp copies ready to give to those people who substantially helped with The Intentional Weaver.  Since several of them will be at the conference I decided to a) save the postage and b) hand them over personally.  Maybe I'll get a hug.  :)

And no, I'm not doing the conference all by myself.  This weekend I forwarded some files to a friend who is a great administrator and loves spreadsheets and organizing data.  She will take care of the exhibit paperwork, labels and awards, act as 'secretary' when Mary and I do the jurying.

A member of the committee will print out the numbers for the models to carry in the fashion show as well as her duties of treasurer, and a guild member has been very helpful with getting the fashion show booklet printed.

Other committee members have been spending many hours on their areas of responsibility.

My biggest issue is that I no longer have the energy I used to have.

Of course I'm also still trying to weave for the craft fair season, do the marking for the Olds classes - there are two who are VERY late and will simply have to wait until after the conference is over.  They will be marked before Fibre Week so they have gone ahead and registered for their next level.  I have every confidence they will both pass.

Then there is getting ready to teach level one again at Olds in July (and possibly Yadkin Art Centre in NC August, if they get enough students for level one and two to go ahead.)  And I can't find my sample book so I can place my order for the yarn needed for the students.  :(  It isn't in the file drawer where it is supposed to live so I can only assume it's buried somewhere in the studio.  (weaving gods help me!)

The past month has made it abundantly clear that Things Need to Change.  I turn 69 this year.  I know people who retired at 55 to do the things they wanted to do.  When you have had the job you wanted and you love it and want to keep doing it, it doesn't make much sense to 'retire'.  On the other hand, when it becomes increasingly difficult to do everything you want to do, it is time to make some changes in what it is you actually want to do so that you can do them!

So some decisions have been made since the new year.  It seems like monthly I make a few more.  I keep chipping away at the things I do not have the time and energy for and try to hang on to the things that I feel I need to keep doing.

I need to preserve whatever energy I have for the things that mean the most to me.

I find myself going back to the original 'plan' I had when I first began weaving.  Production weave for 25 years, then teach.  Well, as it happens I did both at once.  Time to let go of the production weaving and focus on the teaching and learning.

Also time to face the fact that I am 69, in not great health.  Time to think about what happens in 10 or 15(?) years, especially in the face of so many people I know dying, at relatively 'young' ages.  Time to think about needing to have assisted care.  My gigantic AVL will never be appropriate in assisted care, but another loom might.  So I have decided to purchase a Megado with electronic interface because if I'm going to dig more deeply into the formation of cloth I will want more than four shafts and an electronic dobby will help with complex treadlings.

The AVL has served me well.  But it is showing signs that it also needs to be retired.  I will continue to limp along with it for a few more warps but expect it to be sold off for parts when the time comes.  It's too big and too worn for me to even think about selling it and it will have to go away for the new loom when it arrives, sometime in the new year.

The industrial steam press and the industrial pirn winder will go to the scrap yard.  The metal in them might pay for the truck-with-crane that will be needed to move the press out of the annex and onto the truck bed.

The annex will be given up, in no small measure because the rent has been increased - again, which means I need to squeeze everything there back into here.

I plan on doing the Art Market craft fair one last time and make that my last big out of town show.  I will continue doing the two shows here I've done for the past - in one case 4 decades - while I still have sufficient inventory to make them worthwhile doing.

Mentoring will become more and more important to me and I hope to continue teaching the Olds program in some fashion.  It gives me great joy and satisfaction to see the light come on in student eyes and see them go on to keep the craft alive and fresh with good solid information being passed on.

I am going to try to remember that my goal is to hang some hats up and leave them there, rather than wear them.

Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Editing. It’s a Thing

Spent the hours I allot to the conference work the past few days mostly chipping away at details and then crunching the data for the fashion show.

Found some errors, made some, fixed some.  All of them.  I hope.

Managed to keep the fashion show 'program' to two sheets of paper which will get folded in half to make a small booklet.

The fashion show is a modified 'tea room' style.  People entering items into the fashion show are to model themselves, or provide models.  They will carry the number of their position in the line up while I read the commentary and the audience will be encouraged to talk to the makers to discuss the garments after the show is over.

Just another way we are hoping to encourage people to socialize, connect, come together. Confluences.

My desk is messy.  I actually got a lower grade in 'Office Practices' from my teacher because she observed that my desk in class was always messy.  She said it would have been higher if I would just learn to be more organized.

Yes, Mrs. Pitchko, it was messy and I thank you for your class where I learned a great deal about typing/editing, double entry bookkeeping, how to plan large projects, proof read and format large documents, leaving white space and spacing for ease of reading.

But yes, my desk was 'messy' - and it still is.

Without your class, writing numerous magazine articles, preparing workshop handouts and self publishing not one, but two, books would have been a lot harder.  So I will take that C and thank you for your class.

I thank all the typing teachers that came before Mrs. Pitchko and also my English teachers, especially Mrs. Dallamore who taught us how to read for editorial bias and to think about what was being said and how the writer was trying to influence how we thought about a topic.  I learned that editorial bias didn't just live in editorials, but in all forms of communication.  I learned about focusing on what needed to be said, and how I needed to say it.  More proof reading and editing, typos and so on.

I try to explain to my Olds students how important communication is and encourage those who are not confident writers to take classes if they can.  No matter how many people in our audience, good communication is required if we are to pass on the knowledge of the craft - be that verbal, visual or written.

So yes, editing is a thing.  A very important thing.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


ignore reflection of me in the glass in the frame...a gift from a friend

When we held the 1995 ANWG conference here, my co-chair very much wanted to include bobbin lace in our workshop line up.  We engaged an instructor and when the time came to confirm or cancel workshops, I had only two people signed up for the workshop I was supposed to be teaching, and the lace workshop needed one more person.

"Cancel my workshop and I'll sign up for the lace.  I'm not that interested so if I'm called out to deal with conference issues, it won't be a big deal."


At the end of the workshop, I walked out with $150 worth of lace supplies.

I enjoyed it.  It was weaving where warps could turn into wefts and you built your loom as you built your textile.  I wound up making quite a lot of Torchon lace.  At one point I was trying to make a pattern out of a book and asked a question on a lace group, hoping for some insight into a difficulty I was having. 

The next morning someone emailed me directly and offered help.

That person was Jacqui Southworth.  She had lived for a time in Brunei and learned how to make lace from the Dutch ladies she got to know, then went on to take the City and Guilds lace program getting her certificate.

After that initial email, we settled into a daily correspondence.  She was planning a trip to Vancouver Island and asked if she could come for a visit and we could meet in real life.

While she was here I got tips from her and we found we not only had lace in common but other things - jigsaw puzzles for one.  Dorothy Dunnett's books.  Travel.

A couple of years later I went to Sweden and she suggested I swing by to England to visit with her, so I did.  She took me to Gawthorpe Hall, which has a pretty amazing textile collection, as well as other points of interest.

As we drove around England, Eric at the wheel,  we talked about traveling and I suggested that next year, if they arrived in Calgary on such and such a date, I could pick them up when I was done at the conference in Olds (about an hour north of Calgary) and I would drive them through the Rocky Mountains and they could have a visit with Doug and me.

So they arranged to meet in Seattle (Eric was working in Singapore), then they flew to Calgary where I met them and drove them here. 

After that we would meet in real life every few years, in Florida where they bought a house to get away from English winters.  2.5 years ago Doug and I both went to visit as he'd never been to England (other than a layover in Manchester on a trip to Greece).  Again Eric drove us around to places of interest - like the textile mill in Styal, Hadrian's Wall, etc.

Just before we left Canada to visit with them, Jacqui got the news that her cancer was terminal.  I offered to stay at a hotel instead of with them, but she said we would provide welcome diversion.  Plus, since I have been dealing with cancer (different kind, similar dynamic) we found quiet time to talk about the experience.  I hope I provided some support as she sought to find out what her treatment was going to look like and how to proceed.

Once home we continued our daily emails.  We talked about what she was going through and although she wasn't one for expletives, she didn't seem to be offended at my routine 'Fuck Cancer' responses.

Yesterday she slipped the surly bonds of earth.  She is no longer in pain. 

I hope she is finding lots of lovely lace makers and supplies so she can make lace again while she keeps an eye on her family from above.

A couple of Jacqui's hand painted bobbins, turned by Eric.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Yesterday a friend emailed and asked if I was ok - that I'd been sounding 'down'.

I told her I was.

I have a shit ton of stuff going on right now - the conference is only the part I've been sharing - and I've been having a hard time, what with one thing and another.

She let me vent, validated that I was walking a rough road (not that she isn't, herself) but just being able to sum up all the stuff that I've been dealing with made the load lighter.  Then I was able to go back to conference work I'd been struggling with and finally feel like I was making some headway. 

Today I dealt with some personal stuff, and then this afternoon I got back to the conference data and again sorted through it and chewed the next bite of the elephant.

Doug fought with technology and by 4 pm had finally sorted out the issues with the cell phones, the ipads and the Square.

Just getting that finally functioning  has been a huge load off of me.

This morning while in a waiting room my cell phone rang.  Normally Doug is the only one that phones me, mainly because I don't give my number out much, but my conference co-chair has it so I answered.  It was a local florist asking if I was home to take a delivery.  I said no, I was out, but would be home after 1 pm.

Just now this lovely arrangement was delivered and the friend I had been venting to yesterday and another mutual friend were the angels who sent the flowers.

I cried, dear reader.

And the arrangement looks fantastic next to the transparency woven and given to me by a third friend who has nightly been sympathetic and supportive.  Others have also been there for me, letting me vent.

Friends.  They lift us up when we are down.  Extend a helping hand, even when we don't realize we need it.

Thanks, y'all.  You are the wind beneath my wings...

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Snail Mail

I used to love getting letters from friends.  For many years I had a pen friend in Sweden, and eventually went over there to meet her.  Several times, in fact.  We stayed in touch until we were in our 30s and then life got busy and we stopped writing.

But I always look forward to getting mail - especially the 'not bill' kind.

I've had a bit of a rough time for the past year or so.  Rougher than usual, that is.  My friends have stayed in touch via email or FB message, which I love and look forward to. 

But one of those friends went into hospice about 4 weeks ago, and she is too ill to stay in contact and it has become a waiting game to hear how she is doing.  I hate to bother her husband for updates, but I'm left wondering.  She is in England, so not really feasible to go to her, and totally impractical considering the conference is happening in (yikes!) just over four weeks. 

This past week brought two unexpected envelopes.  One is a lovely letter from someone who just wrote out of the blue to say she had given one of my tea towels to a friend and kept one for herself and how much she enjoyed using hers.

The other is a close friend who I email with nightly (as I used to do with my friend in England) with a 'just because' card of a little kitty.

Our friends lift us up when we slump.  Sometimes they may know we need  a lift, sometimes it's just serendipity. 

Either way, it's much appreciated.

Sometimes a little bit of snail mail can be just the thing needed.  Or even an email or FB message.

The thing that joins us as human beings is that we struggle.  We may be in actual physical pain, or battling emotional 'demons'.  We may look like we are fine but none of us knows what another person is going through.  Just know that everyone has struggles.

If I have any goal in this life at all, it is to help others.  If I can answer weaving questions, I will.  If I can give/send a hug, I will.  If I can be an example (for good OR bad), I will offer myself up as a training opportunity (although yesterday there was one too many of those, given how much stress I'm dealing with!) 

Over the years I have learned that I will never feel better for putting someone else down.  Instead I will always feel better - about myself, about the world in general - if I can help someone else.

Time to share this again:

And a big thank you to friends who light my candle when necessary.

Friday, May 10, 2019

If It Was Easy

  • Image result for Staples Easy button

There are days - many days - when I wish I had a functioning 'easy' button.

Life isn't always 'easy'.  Weaving isn't always 'easy'. 

Organizing conferences isn't 'easy' either.  

On the other hand, doing something challenging, 'hard' even, and managing to accomplish it?  Pretty darned satisfying.

But today?  I kinda wish I had an 'easy' button.

Or at least a 'round tuit'...

A friend says that it is much more satisfying to say "I did a thing" than to say "I am going to do a thing."

She's right.

Come six weeks from now, I will be able to say "I did a conference."  (Again.)  

Time to get back to the data crunching.  Or go thread a loom.  Or something...

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Old as you Feel

Yesterday I found myself saying "If you are only as old as you feel, I feel 'old'."

And it's true.

I just didn't expect it to happen so young.

Today is our 49th wedding anniversary.  Today is 11 years since my brother died and I was 'saved' from dying the same way - undiagnosed cardiac blockages.  Eight years since the cancer diagnosis.  Can it only be four years since triple by-pass surgery?  It seems like much longer ago than that.

It's been 44 years of weaving at a production level, learning as much as I can about the craft - the physical skills, the theory - and how to convey that information to others.  And wearing out my loom - and body.

I turn 69 this year.  I have been dancing with 'semi' retirement for several years.  As I enter my next decade, it may be time to focus on 'full' instead of 'semi'.

I feel old.

But!  Being 'old' isn't a 'bad' thing!  Being 'old' means I have had a lifetime of experiences, a lifetime of memories, a lifetime of learning.

Being 'old' means I don't have to pay much attention to societal expectations, conform to other people's views of how I, as a female member of society, 'should' look, dress, behave.

Being 'old' means I don't have to worry too much about the future because I have a lot less of that in my future.

Life comes, does it's thing, dies.  None of us gets out of here alive.  So, best we should live while we are here.

Just finished reading Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence, vol 3 in his trilogy of The Ancestor.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

May 9, 2008

Ancient Forest - rare interior rain forest about 90 minute drive from my town

Today someone reminded me that my wedding anniversary is coming up.

On May 9, 1970, Doug and I married.  I was 19, soon to turn 20.  We have been together ever since, through thick and thin.  And yes, there has been plenty of both.

On May 9, 2008, I had three stents installed.  When the doctors found out it was our wedding anniversary, they wished us well and told Doug he now had a 'brand new wife'. 

Well, not quite.  Instead of returning to full health, I started a journey of adverse drug effects and instead of a life where I could easily continue what I had been doing I felt like I was bumping along the bottom of the barrel, making some progress at times, not, at the others.

And yet, and yet.  Here I am, this much older, still here, still putting one foot in front of the other - as much as I am able, on any given day.  So many others have transitioned on to whatever comes next, if anything does.

As my activity horizons have shrunk over the years, I have had to come to grips with not being able to weave the way I was used to, think the way I was used to. 

For the two years prior to the stents, I had been feeling as though the sand was running out of my allotted hour glass of life.  Since the stents I've dealt with cancer and more cardiac.  Facebook co-operatively reminds me of my 'memories' of the time I recuperated from the broken ankle, the chemotherapy, the various and sundry drug adverse effects, by-pass surgery, and now once again the cancer journey.

My well of energy seems to be running dry.  I look at all my stash - the dreams I had when I bought all that stuff.  I mourn my loss of energy and desire to jump into the studio and toss a shuttle.

Yes, I do still want to weave - I just find it harder and harder to weave like I used to.

Right now all my energy is pretty much being spent on the conference.  (Getting sick with a nasty cold didn't help!)  We are five weeks away from welcoming fibre artists from western Canada and the Pacific northwest (and beyond) to Prince George.  I want them all to have a good experience and enjoy their time here.  I spend about two hours a day working on the conference and try to get at least a little time at the loom as well.  (And no, I'm not the only one working on the conference - my blog, my stories).

But my goal of 'semi' retirement is looking less and less workable.  The rent on the annex has gone up to a point where my semi-retired income is not going to cover the rent for long, so the steam press needs to go away and the rest of the stuff stored there needs to be moved out so that I can stop that monthly expense.

Dealing with that is an 'after the conference is over' job. 

Bottom line?  I am still here.  I can still weave.  I do still want to teach (some).  I'm not done with this life - yet.

We went out for dinner last night.  That may be as much 'celebrating' we do as a nod to the date coming up.  With my traveling to teach so much, all special events have been declared movable feasts. 

I am considering the conference one giant celebration of life as well as fibre arts.  If it's a party, I want it to be a great one.  Many of the people attending are friends, some of them virtually, some of them in real life. 

It's gonna be a time (as they say in Newfoundland).

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Comes a Time

I took a workshop on how to make bobbin lace at our last ANWG conference in 1995.  Since then I've worked at it on and off (lately more off than on).  It is something I enjoy for the mental stimulation and the fact that it is still weaving, just that you build your loom as you create your textile, warps can turn into wefts, you can tie knots, make loops, add in colour at will.

But I'm mumble-mumble years older now.  My eyesight continues to deteriorate (gave up cross stitch a couple of decades ago) and my neck doesn't like to be bent over.

My lace making friend is in hospice and somehow the desire to continue to make lace seems to be leaking out of me.

I am going to be making up my mind whether to offer my lace making supplies at the conference here in June.

I have several pillows of various types (cookie, filled with sawdust, block made with styrofoam, a roller pillow) and my friend in hospice has, over the years, given me a lot of her painted bobbins.  Not to mention others I acquired along the way.

There are several shelves full of books including the very latest 3 volume set that I had hoped would serve to inspire me to start making lace again.  I paid $40+ each for them, then put the loose pages into plastic pocket pages in binders.  They would be a bargain at $120 for the three.

But a part of me wants to hang on - for the memories of my friend as I use her bobbins, the many emails we exchanged over the years (we emailed nightly for 27 years - until she entered hospice a couple of weeks ago).

I'm torn.  But the conference would also be a really good place to try to sell my bins full of stuff.  And I need to remove them from the annex, so sooner would be better than later.

I haz a sad today...

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Ups...and Downs...

need more shawls so that design idea is simmering until after the confence - probably similar to these

Most of my energy the past while has been used up on the conference and/or dealing with the nasty cold I had.  I'm pretty much over that now, but friends tell me this variety comes complete with a lingering cough.  Add to that the rise in pollen and my allergies and I just don't have much energy.

After not weaving for the better part of two weeks, I'm also dealing with loss of muscle tone and weaving on the AVL is pretty physical.

This morning I dealt with the fall out of the latest seminar cancellations - I'm hoping that's the lot and I can begin on the other aspects of conference organization.  As usual I'm wearing way too many hats, but it looks like we have found a young person willing to assist Doug with the load in and out to the vendor hall, and Mary says she will help with the final 'fluff of the inventory if I'm too busy.

But I'm also low on brain power so after working on the conference this morning, then pushing myself to weave two towels (looks like maybe three more to go) I think it may just be nap o'clock.

The next tea towel warp is crunched and ready to get slammed into the AVL just as soon as this one comes off, I have tentatively got two designs for rayon chenille scarf warps crunched, the first colourway selected.

Now to lay down and re-charge.  I may not sleep, but I think it will refresh me anyway.

Maybe I'll feel mentally able to start working out what list needs to be tackled next...

Friday, May 3, 2019

Life, Interrupted

I'm not done this warp yet, but Doug says he can go pressing on Sunday so I cut off what I've got woven and started cutting/serging the towels apart.  He'll do a small load of scarves but that isn't really enough to make it worthwhile to fire up the press, so he will also do a load of towels.  Not sure how many he will be willing to do, so I just cut off at the cloth roll at the back of the loom and taped the rest back on so that when I feel able, I can finish off the last few towels.  I think maybe four, but that remains to be seen.

The past while I have been thinking a lot about Life, and What's It All About Alfie?  (You have to have seen the movie with Michael Caine to get the reference.)

So many people I know are dealing with huge Life Happenings.  I mentioned previously a friend is in hospice and every day I wonder if I'll get the email saying that she has slipped away to whatever comes next.

But others are dealing with chronic health issues - either their own or their partner's.  Some are doing their best to cope with other things, like jobs, income generating, family members going through some rough times.

Some things are seen as 'positive' in this society, some, 'negative'.  But either way?  They can prove to be very stressful.

My own journey right now is trying to find a new way to balance my life - and last month the rent where we have the press and store excess inventory/stash went up.  They had been threatening for some time that an increase was in the works.  I have to make some decisions about all of that but really, until I get through the next six months I just don't have the energy to tackle what needs to happen.  What I do know is that I can't afford to continue renting the annex so by the end of this year Puff will have to go away and all that stuff stored at the annex?  Will have to be shoehorned into my studio.  Somehow.

Then I got sick with a nasty virus and not being a patient person, found myself raging about not being well enough to get to the loom, think clearly, deal with problems as they arose with the conference.  This morning I finally came to the realization that these sorts of things are not actually Life, Interrupted, but just another pot hole in the Road of Life.

Everyone gets dealt jokers as well as aces in their hand, and it is what we do with them that counts, not that we have a crap hand.

It's also a good lesson to know when to walk away and stop investing time/energy in something.

Yesterday I dug through the box of variegated rayon chenille and started working with one of the colourways that doesn't appeal to me.  Might as well use that up and get it out of my way first, right?

At any rate, I examined the colours of the variegation, started analysing which solids I had on hand that would go with it (because the point is not to buy more but use up what I have) and then design a stripe sequence.

As I worked with the cone trying to match solids with it, I felt a 'rough' patch on the cone.  The cone of yarn had been damaged in some fashion - I don't know how.  Maybe something spilled on it.  Maybe it was stored poorly.  I don't know.  It just felt rough and there was no guarantee that, once the scarves were woven, that the roughness would or could be removed during wet finishing.  It wasn't a 'full' cone - less than a pound.  I tried unwinding the yarn to see if it was just on the surface, then realized the damage went all the way down and under the cone so that the yarn had damage pretty much all through it.

I held the cone, felt the roughness.  Thought about investing the time/energy into making scarves that might wind up 'flawed'.  Walked over to the recycle bin and tossed it in.

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.

Thank you Kenny Rogers.  Lesson learned.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Many Hands = Light Work

When things look tangly, before order is established***

It may seem like I'm doing the conference all by myself, but that's because I'm constantly talking about it!

In reality, an event like a conference of this magnitude cannot be done by one person, and I have a great committee working alongside of me, every step of the way.

Birthe Miller is co-chair.  She has been sounding board, facilitator, facility negotiator.  She arranged for the discount codes on the two airlines, and block booked the hotel rooms.  She has helped form policy and also developed and maintained the official conference website.  She is the person who receives all the info emails sent through the website and distributes them to the appropriate person, or answers the questions herself.  I'm probably forgetting a bunch of stuff.

Wendy Knudson is the treasurer.  She has developed the budget and keeps track of all the expenses.  She advises on financial matters, has charge of the bank accounts for the conference and oversees payment of the bills.  She also is a great sounding board and give feedback on policy.

Serena Black worked tirelessly last summer/autumn getting the details for the instructors information confirmed so that she could then set up the registration at Eventbrite.  She has crunched numbers and provided the information I need to keep track of numbers in workshops/seminars.  Provided feedback on policy. 

Grace Morris is dealing with the vendor and guild booths.  She has been negotiating with the display company for the booth dividers and other amenities the vendors will require.  Sounding board and policy feedback.

Elizabeth Gibbs is covering a number of different fronts - liaise with the art gallery, marketing locally and generally filling in holes that she sees that are needing to be dealt with.

Two guilds offered to help and Sheila Carey provided assistance with her guild who assembled the name tags while Alison Irwin volunteered her guild to weave the award ribbons while contacting people to see if they were wanting to sponsor a cash award.  She did a spectacular job as we have received nearly $5000 to reward the people who (are registered for the conference and) submit an entry.  Some of the awards will be used for the guild booths and fashion show.

Now that the clock is ticking down, I have begun requesting volunteers for various things that need doing.  This morning I sent a newsletter request for people to assist with providing items for our guild display to be mounted in the stair well of the public library for the month of June, and people willing to pick up and/or return instructors to the airport.

Other tasks will soon be coming up as the days whip off the calendar.

So no, I'm not by any means doing this by myself.  I just talk about it more.  A lot more, apparently!

***to finished!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A Room for Everyone

I've spent the past two days - much of it, anyway - working on the room assignments.

I had done the initial room assignments based on what we *thought* would be popular, with high numbers of students, and using the largest rooms for those teachers/topics, then assigning the rest into the smaller rooms based on how many I thought would be interested.

Turns out I was right for some, wrong for others.

Not to mention I found out yesterday - after spending nearly three hours on the task - that one of the larger rooms I had been counting on was no longer available.

The good news is that one of the rooms that I thought was smaller was actually larger than I thought it was.

By the time I found that out I had mush for brains, decided that sinus congestion, fatigue and trying to sort out a complex scheduling situation were not compatible and declared myself done for a Monday.

This morning I still have sinus congestion but had at least slept a reasonable amount, and started again.  Being fresher, I was able to see my way through the morass of information and two hours later I have an updated room schedule.

A couple of the classes might be a bit full, but hopefully not uncomfortably so.  And we're all friends, right?  We're all adults and we know how to play well together, right? 

We did have to cancel a few things due to low enrollment but those people affected have been switched to other seminars/workshops.  And there is one last opportunity to change things during check in.

Several workshops/seminars are full, but many still have room for more, should anyone suddenly find themselves able to attend. 

Our web mistress will be updating the website shortly with the cancellations.  We have had a few more vendors join us for the Market Hall, we have around $5000 worth of awards for people registered for the conference entering either the exhibits and/or fashion show.

Instructors are booking their travel and I will be letting the hotel know when to expect the arrival of those staying at the Coast Hotel.  (Locals will be sleeping in their own beds.)

We are officially 6 weeks (SIX WEEKS!) away from the conference.  Working on this for five years means a kind of surreal sense that it is still a long ways away - but it's not.

I will be spending a lot of time at the desktop generating lists - materials we are to provide, audio visual we are to provide, class lists, room listings for each building so registrants can find the room they are looking for (with floor plan so they know where the room actually is), so on and so forth.

I will also be writing up the fashion show commentary, arranging for the numbers for the models to carry and the printed program.

Through all of these details, I keep thinking about how organizing a conference is similar to designing a textile.  Lots of details.  Lots of considerations.  Lots of confusion.  Lots of complexity.  At times feeling like it will never work out.  But often times, how stepping away from the problem will bring clarity, and then?   Next thing you know, it's done.

I think there are lots of reasons that making textiles is so frequently used as a metaphor for life.  Look how many 'fairy' tales there are with spinning and weaving are profiled - Sleeping Beauty, Rumplestiltskin, The Swan Princes, and many, many more.

Monday, April 29, 2019


photo taken at the Ancient Forest 

...I've had a few...

I have several friends dealing with serious health issues while I keep being dragged down by some sort of virus I caught two weeks ago.

This morning I finally feel like I might have come through the worst, but feeling stuffed up, drippy nose, mild sinus headache, tired, achy, has left me with little energy to weave.  So I haven't touched the loom in far too long.

On the other hand, spring seems to be arriving and with it, another milestone...six weeks until the conference begins.

I am sorry I won't be heading out to Cape Breton for teaching, but with conference work ramping up, I'm also kind of relieved I won't be away for three weeks.  Or even one, if the class in Tenino had gone ahead. 

Sometimes the universe really does know what is 'best'...

Homework from Olds students came in a flurry in April and I hear there are a few more boxes to come in May.  I always tell students to aim for January, but they likely won't meet that.  I asked them to not send homework in May, but, here we are, the end of April with more to come.

All of that is to say, I find myself struggling to find the energy to do much of anything while in the back of my mind I know one friend is in hospice and her journey will soon end.  Conference details eat up whatever mental functionality I might have.  The loom calls to me and I ignore it.  I'm so close to finishing that warp, with the new one crunched, ready to go on.  Four more towels to finish - and I am going to continue to ignore it today and maybe tomorrow, too.

In May I also go get my blood checked to see how my cancer is doing, so the emotional roller coaster carries on.  Mostly I can ignore it, and really I don't expect to hear that I need to decide on treatment - yet.  But I've been so sick, it also makes me wonder about the cancer...

Some of the student work has been exceptional, which gives me hope for the future of the craft and lifts my spirits.  Gloria Steinem has said something about passing the torch - I paraphrase - no, I'm not passing the torch, I'm lighting more torches because the only way to improve things is by shining a bigger light, so I'm keeping my torch, thank you very much, and lighting up more.  I feel very much like Ms Steinem right now, hoping to light more torches.

I have reached the slogging through details part of conference organization.  I'm going to deal with a few things I need to do for myself, clear the dining room table, concentrate on the nit-picky job of reviewing room assignments, then start working on what each instructor needs in those rooms.

It's not the kind of thing I enjoy doing, but I'm just enough of a control freak that I will do it to make sure the teachers have what they need to do their jobs.

So I will be making lists, checking them twice (thrice, as many times as necessary).  At least this cold has ebbed enough I can find a couple of neurons to rub together.

But I am also at the 'what on earth was I thinking when I agreed to organize a conference' stage of conference planning.

So, yes, I have a few regrets...

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Stars and Roses

It is a source of continual amazement to me how things interconnect in weaving.

One of the things that students study in level two of the Olds program is overshot and one aspect of that weave structure is how the central motif of so many overshot designs are called 'stars'.  More fascinatingly, how 'stars' can be turned into 'roses'.

Now I'm not a big fan of weaving with two shuttles so I never did do much overshot over the years.  But as part of my master certificate from the Guild of Canadian Weavers I had to learn how overshot worked, and do the star to rose conversion.

It can be difficult to tell them apart, but once seen, cannot be unseen.

In the above draft, I was playing around with a traditional draft from Pat Hilts work on the old weaving draft book about Gebrochene twills.

Over the past few years I have been using overshot motifs as the starting place for weaving tea towels, converting the four shaft motifs of several popular overshot threadings into twill blocks.  I have 16 shafts, so I can do that.  It was, in fact, this very book that showed me the link - it has the 'Wandering Vine" or "Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws" motif rendered in a twill block version.

Ah-ha! I said to myself.  If it can be done with that motif, it can be done with any four shaft overshot motif.

Paging through the book late the other night, I spotted the above threading showing both star and rose motif in the same cloth.  I thought it would look great on the 2/16 cotton warp with the singles linen weft I need to use up, so fiddled with it and came up with the above version.

If you can't see the two different motifs, then I direct you to look at the top right hand corner where the border turns into the motif.  The star sits first, then the rose and then they alternate across from right to left, ending with a rose.

The stars all connect along the twill line.  The roses are rounded and look like a flower.  (A pansy to me, but also a wild rose.)

Most of the 'work' that I did with this threading was to determine the number of repeats I wanted, fit the borders in to 'frame' the body of the towel, fiddle with the tie up. I don't claim this as original work, but inspired by or based on, the work of Marx Ziegler as presented by Patricia Hilts in Ars Textrina, volume fourteen, 1990.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


People don't realize just how physical weaving can be.  This morning I read about another weaver being told of muscle tears.

Repetitive motions can cause injury.  If someone weaves like the above mentioned weaver or me, the risk of injury increases as we age.  I have been forced by my overall health to start slowing down.  Having a drug that caused muscle pain and weakness just made it even more obvious that I needed to dial back the effort and hours at the loom.

With my music/dance/sport background, I came to weaving understanding my own body and able to self coach myself into 'better' more ergonomic movements.  But no matter how ergonomic those motions, keep doing them - usually in the face of a looming deadline (sorry/not sorry about the pun) - and the weaver risks setting up inflammation.  If the weaver continues to weave, they risk injury, such as muscle tears.  So why do we keep on?  Because we have always previously been able to keep going with little to no effect other than feeling a bit more tired, a bit more achy for the long hours at the loom.

When I advise people to wear some sort of protection on their feet beyond socks, I get a chorus of "NO!  I have to feel the treadles!"  Or variations thereof.  In that case I tell people, don't weave for long periods of time or you can set up inflammation in your feet and recovering from inflammation in the foot is particularly hard because we still need to walk.

So today I step up onto (one of) my soapbox(es).

Sit in the 'waterfall' position.  Hips higher than knees.  Sit forward, perched on the edge of the bench, on your sitz bones, not on your tailbone.  Engage your core muscles to protect your lower back.  Sit straight, not rounded through the upper back.  Sit high enough that when you are in the waterfall position your elbows clear the breast beam.  If you don't you will hunch your shoulders and then the shoulder girdle and neck muscles can spasm.  And believe me, that is no fun at all.

Soft tissue injury can take weeks to heal.  If you want to keep weaving, take rest breaks.  Do stretches.  See a deep tissue massage therapist to help release any muscle spasms.  Pace yourself.

Steps off soapbox...

Chart courtesy of a website that provide free educational materials.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Sunday's Child

Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child is full of grace
Wednesday's child is full of woe
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is happy and wise, and good and gay.[1]

I was born on a  Sunday and learned the above rhyme as a child.

While I very much doubt that the rhyme really has any predictive attributes, I have always aspired to be that Sunday's Child.

When I'm sick, however, all of that goes out the window.

It started with my voice going 'funny', then coughing, then nose running, accompanied with low grade sinus headaches and lethargy.

One of my life lessons has routinely been 'acceptance with grace'.  I think I'm getting the 'acceptance' thing.  Still working on the 'grace'.

What do those words mean to me?

Acceptance is acknowledging that I am sick and not functioning very well at the minute and it is time to step down from my expectations of doing even the little that I had managed to recapture after a year of adverse drug effects.

'Grace' to me means not whining about it.

Not doing too well on that front.

I am so close to finishing the 50 yard warp - like maybe 5 yards (four towels?) left to do.  I had planned on being able to cut that warp off the loom today.  But it isn't going to happen.

Instead of kicking the metaphorical tires of my energy levels, I am going to try to work on things that don't require a lot of physical energy, which means hemming towels and fringe twisting.

And let the conference work simmer until I get more responses from the people I emailed over the weekend.  

(Just deleted a whiny sentence.  Still working on that 'grace' thing...)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

About that Elephant

colour gamp with earth tones - colour gamps don't have to be rainbow - just sayin'

Well, Life Happens, sometimes more co-operatively than...others...

I have caught a cold.  So far it isn't too bad and I've been able to keep going.

Today I have sent official letters for American presenters to show when they cross the border.  I have let them know their numbers and given them email contact info for the students in their workshops.

One person who is doing a hand's on two part seminar needed her student email contacts too, so those also got sent out.

Eventually I got dressed (yes, all of that was done in my jammies!) and got to the loom to weave one towel.

That meant a late lunch, some procrastination, then back to the loom for a second towel.  It is now 'official' - two more navy towels will finish off the rest of the navy linen (except for some dribs and drabs).

Back to the desktop and dealing with 10 people who had some of their choices cancelled because there just were not enough people signed up for them to run.  We really hated to cancel, kept hoping for a few more to register but had to finally bite the bullet and make some hard decisions.

It's now 4 pm here and I am 'stick a fork in me, I'm done' state.  Time to go cast on another shawl (I finished knitting the one I have been working on last night) and then maybe do some hemming.  Because the current warp will be coming off the loom soon and I've barely touched the first dozen towels that Doug pressed two weeks ago.

What can I say.  I've been a wee bit busy.

OH, yeah - just about forgot - after we confirmed with Janet Dawson her workshop Gamptastic! was a 'go', we had a cancellation.  Since some local guild members had offered to supply a few looms for her workshop, if you are a weaver and didn't want to drag a loom to Prince George?  We can probably fit you up with one.  It will even be dressed.  All you have to do is arrive with your favourite shuttle. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019


Every craft, every endeavour that we do as humans, has 'jargon' attached to it.  Since weaving (and spinning, and knitting, and, and, and) all require specialized tools, knowing what these tools are called and the names of the processes involved in the craft makes communication more specific.

It's really really hard to ask a question when all you have are 'the pointy thing' or the 'lever thing' to refer to when asking a question.

So for anyone wanting to learn how to weave, I generally suggest that they get a book out of the library and go through the glossary to learn what all the words of the language of weaving mean.

In the back of The Intentional Weaver, I included a list of books I have found useful over the years along with some websites.

I'm not saying you can't learn how to weave unless you know the language, I'm just saying that to ease communication it might be a good idea to learn some of the language.

You don't even need to know it all before starting, but it will help to learn if you know what the books or the presenter is meaning when they use words like 'reed', 'beater', 'fell line', 'pick' and so on.

It also helps to know how to spell those words.  Especially things like 'treadle', 'heddle', 'brake'.  And my favourite... 'dyeing'.  (I've got a story about 'dying' and 'dyeing' - maybe I'll tell it one day.)

'Dressing the loom' to me means the entire process of getting the warp into the loom - from rough sleying or spreading it in a reed or raddle to winding on to threading, sleying and tying it to the front of the loom.

Others take a narrower definition and only consider the beaming to be 'dressing'.

Some of the older books, especially those from England, will have the English terms, not the more modern ones.  So you might see 'batten' instead of 'beater' or 'heald' instead of 'heddle'.  But once you know the 'American' version, the 'English' words taken in context should make sense.

If you are one of my students I will offer the words and supply a definition to put the word into context.  Then I expect you to make an effort to learn the words.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

To Everything There is a Season

We tend to forget that for every beginning there is an ending.  When we are reminded, it can be difficult to cope with the feelings that the reminder brings with it.

In weaving there are lots of beginnings and endings.

Warps end.  Thread ends. Shuttles empty and need to be filled.  Projects come to completion and we are either satisfied with our results...or we are not.

Endings can be fraught with emotion.

As we head into true spring life has served to remind me that there are also endings.  Spring rolls into summer, which rolls into autumn and then...winter.

But as life is a cycle, there is hope.  Spring comes again with the promise of new life.  A friend has goats and they are popping out babies.  Chickens are laying and hatching.  Trees are beginning to leaf out and there are little hints of green showing up in my 'flower' beds.

I have not done as much as I intended - or  hoped - over the winter.  But the current warp is significantly reduced and I'm down to about 7 or 8 more of the navy towels to weave.  That yarn was way thinner than the turquoise and therefore wove a lot more yardage!  But that cone is now empty as all the navy yarn is wound onto bobbins, currently steeping to make them more co-operative.  I'm already planning the next warp.  It was supposed to be a shawl warp, but I'm determined to get this fine linen woven up.  Besides, I think weavers will be more inclined to treat themselves to a half linen towel than a shawl - those are mostly intended for the autumn craft fairs, anyway.

Early bird registration for the conference has ended, and while we will gladly accept 'late' registrations tonight we need to make some decisions.  Better get back to crunching numbers.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


One of the challenges in the Olds curriculum is that of weaving double weave, both double wide and double width.

The top sample was woven by one of my students, the lower one by me.

The fold in each of these textiles is visible in the photo.  Well, that's the point.  It isn't visible.  One can speculate where it might be, but in real life?  It really isn't visible and the only way I can tell where it actually is?  I need to fold the cloth in half.

Recently I read a discussion on line about how horrible weaving double width is, that it is impossible to ever get a decent fold and it's essentially a mad waste of time for anyone to ever do it.

I'm here to say it can be done.  I show proof that I'm not the only one who can do it.  In fact several students this year completely rocked the fold but their homework has been returned.  This one will be returned to the student at the conference.  I'm hoping she will allow me to display her work during the seminar on the Olds program.  But I have to ask first, and I haven't, so I'm not saying whose it is.  I'm sure that if she reads this blog post she will recognize her work.  

Even if you can't get the fold 'perfect', there are ways to disguise it.  In the upper photo the fold shows one way to partially disguise with the colours of the stripes, plus a really nice fulling of the wool yarn.  Although I think she was playing it 'safe' because even without that, the fold was invisible.

In mine, the warp was 2/16 cotton, 36 ends per layer for a total of 72, and the weft was linen 20 (I think - it's been a while)  There was no 'disguising' the fold.  I've mentioned this project previously and the best I could do weaving this cloth was 9" per day.  Because every shed had to be checked, and two of the four routinely cleared, then the fold had to be very carefully laid in.

This warp was a once in a lifetime project.  And I do not regret doing it.

Saturday, April 13, 2019


One of the things I find challenging, yet very satisfying, is to mark the homework for the Olds College master weaving program.

Have I done a good enough job explaining things?  Have I given them good information?

Of course there are times when very experienced weavers take the class(es) and I don't feel like I offer them very much.  But perhaps they, like me, wanted to 'test' themselves to see if they really know what they think they know.

I have been blessed to follow one group through two levels.  Now many of this group were already very well established weavers and it was a challenge to discuss principles with them on a much deeper level.  But that forced me to dig deeper into my own foundation of knowledge/experience.

After teaching this program for a number of years I feel that I have grown, not just as a teacher, but as a weaver.

This year is especially challenging because I'm also flailing about the conference.  Finding time to do both things has been stressful, and as mentioned previously, I have discovered that there very much is a bottom to my well of energy.  :(

When I look back (hindsight is so accurate?) I feel that my health issues began to become critical in 2006.  That's almost 15 years (more because I only became aware of the symptoms then - when I think back they were there for at least another 5 years, just weren't really adversely impacting me) of a slow leak of energy.

Major surgery, then a recurrence of the cancer the past few years, has just served to drain my reserves even further.

If I can do one thing in this life, I hope it is to encourage weavers to learn more.  To change their minds when they find that is appropriate.  To explore.  To expand their horizons.

I do my best to support those who are less experienced and to challenge those who already are, to do better.  Aim higher.  Dig deeper.

I have caught up on the current harvest of boxes of homework.  I know there are more to come.  Several have had Life Happen and they are either changing which class they go to next or taking a gap year to continue to work on what they have learned.

If nothing else, I hope that people feel that they have benefited from the class(es) and feel more confident in proceeding.

Each one...teach one...(or more)

Friday, April 12, 2019


There are levels, and then there are levels.

The above is an enlarged view of a two ply yarn of cotton and linen - or as it is sometimes called 'cottolin' or 'cotlin' or some variation thereof.

The thing is, if you look at this yarn from a 'normal' viewpoint, it looks like a perfectly standard fairly smooth yarn.

When you see it very close up, it doesn't look nearly as neat and tidy.

This would be a metaphor for me, right now.

After years and years of cramming one more thing, one more deadline into my life, my schedule, neatly jockeying my way through the morass of obstacles and hurdles, I find myself frazzled.

Now I'm no stranger to the feeling - just that I'm finding it harder to cope, emotionally, with the whole ball of wax, the tangle.

The past few years have left me - apparently - depleted in the energy resources department.  So today I find myself ignoring everything save the things that have gone pear shaped and/or critical.

I find myself sitting in the chair in the window ignoring everything else.

Today I had lunch with a friend - one of those slightly older women who mentored me during my early years that I referred to recently.  I found myself telling her that I'm looking forward to 'retirement'.  That 'semi-retirement' didn't seem to be working very well.  That I am looking at the calendar and counting down the days to the deadlines (ahem) looming and looking forward to having them behind me.  At looking forward to getting by the next set of critical conference tasks so that we can figure out what needs doing next, and by when. 

Then, like the true friend that she is, she asked, what can I do?  How can I help with the conference?  So we talked about a few things and we found a job that is perfectly suited to her, so there is one thing that can be handed over to someone who will do as she has promised and take that little bit of weight off my shoulders.

Our female friends are the 'sisters' we have chosen for ourselves.  I don't have a biological sister, but I have been blessed with a large number of chosen sisters.

Thank you - all of you.  I love you all, more than I can say.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Each One, Teach One

Interest in weaving as a craft waxes and wanes.  I started weaving in the mid-70s when weaving was in an upsurge.  I found myself in the midst of a group of (mostly) women who were intrigued by the craft and the unexpected nuances that could be discovered in the exploration of the craft.

I quickly got to know several of these women who became role models and mentors.  (I was 25 when I started - they were in their mid-30s to mid-40s)

Four of them dove into the Guild of Canadian Weavers master weaver certificate and with the excitement of discovery and challenge the program provided I was inspired to begin the program myself a few years later.

Three of the four continued on to achieve the final level and certificate and all were supportive of me as I started the program myself.  When I flagged they encouraged me to get back at it.  They wanted to see my explorations and when I passed a level, they oo'd and ah'd.  When I finally(!) passed, they gifted me with a lovely book by Jack Lenor Larson "Material Wealth".

I always taught, right from the beginning.  Weavers who had kept the craft alive during the down part encouraged me and others to pass the knowledge of the craft along.  For those too shy to teach classes, the encouraging phrase was 'each one, teach one'.

Today I spent another couple of hours at a local high school.  The teacher said she had 6 or 8 students on her list but only three showed up.  Two could only stay for one hour and then had to leave.  The third one?  I left her with the guild table loom and a warp she had wound for a scarf.  In the two hours we talked a bit about tapestry, then I showed #3 how to wind her warp, then we beamed the warp together and I showed her how to thread.

There weren't enough heddles on the first four shafts so instead of just using four shafts, I showed her how to thread a straight draw over all eight.  When you are new, there are no preconceptions that 8 shafts are any more difficult than 4.  It's all just a mysterious blur no matter how many shafts are there!  So I don't tell beginning weavers that they shouldn't use 8, I just get the loom set up and get them started.

There wasn't time for her to finish threading before next class, so we talked about when she would be available and it turned out that Friday morning she didn't have any classes so her homework is to finish threading the 200 ends by 10 am Friday.

She says she likes the detail of the process and we talked about weaving being a working meditation.   That frequently I go to the loom precisely because I'm frustrated with the way Life is Happening and I go to the loom to centre myself.

If we can get her equipment, I think we may have found one more.  Maybe she will teach one, too.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Book review - part 2

To see the entire quote, right click and open in a new tab, then click on the tab

I have been slowly, thoughtfully, chewing my way through The Golden Thread by Kassia St. Clair.

This morning the paragraph beginning "While it is often assumed..." stopped me cold.  What she is saying is that the people who were captured, brutalized, de-humanized, were in large part put to creating the trade goods that would send slave traders to Africa to capture and enslave more people.

Quote is on page 169 of the book.

Ms St Clair provides lots of footnotes and citations for anyone who wants to research further.

There is a myth that Europeans were 'civilizing' the people living on the African and North/South American continents, when in fact all continents had indigenous peoples with highly complex civilizations.

There are many books that expand on those civilizations.  While we don't know what we don't know, there are plenty of resources out there that are available.  Choose books that don't espouse the 'white savior' complex, or attribute ancient artifacts to aliens. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Variations and Options

A threading draft is just a set of pre-programmed options which may be executed in a variety of ways.

The above photo is a sampler I did for the GCW master weaver certificate.

The requirement was to take a 'traditional' overshot threading, weave a repeat of that, then weave it in 'rose' fashion, then in 'monk's belt' fashion.  (There were other options as well, but this is what fit on the scanner flat bed.  Besides, it's the 'star' and 'rose' fashions I want to talk about here.)

I covered this more extensively in The Intentional Weaver so I am just going to cover a few points.

Not every overshot draft can be effectively converted to 'rose'.  If you look at the above photo, the top design has very strong diagonal lines running through the entire motif.  The middle sample, has very strong circles in the design - the 'rose'.

The conversion can also be 'tricky' because the treadling sequence depends on exchanging blocks in the design.  This can be done by not changing the tie up and treadling it, or by changing the tie up and following the 'star' (traditional) treadling. 

But the underlying threading has to be able to exchange those blocks to create the circles or 'roses'.

It is possible to take a 'rose' threading (M. P. Davison has a section on rose designs) and convert them to a star, too.

An overshot threading can be woven in other weave structures.  If the design has small units/blocks, it can be woven in a 2:2 twill, lacey, honeycomb along with others.

Overshot is characterized by areas of floats (generally considered the design/motif), half-tones and plain weave.  Larger sized designs may have very long pattern floats, so sometimes the pattern float is tied down so that there is no plain weave area as such, but only the floats and half-tones. 

When going to overshot on eight shafts, it is possible to have no half-tones at all, or weave the overshot motif in double weave so that you don't have long floats, but still retain the motif.  Much like I have been taking overshot motifs and converting them to twill blocks (because I have the 16 shafts needed to do that.)

I frequently use the traditional Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws motif for tea towels.  It's a fairly large motif which has a strong graphic look to it. 

The warp on the loom right now is the  Canadian Snowflake twill (derived from the 8 shaft Swedish Snowflake into a four shaft twill) which I converted into twill blocks.

Once someone understands the potential in a threading draft, they can play with it and manipulate it to create unique textiles.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

In the Fullness of Time

after wet finishing and brushing

before wet finishing (loom state)

Patience has never been one of my attributes.  I have a plan, I want things to fall into place.  NOW!

Over the years I have had to curb my impatience and just let things develop in their own time.  So I tend to cope with uncertainty with distractions.

Waiting for word on a project?  Oh let's work on that other one (or two, or three...)

Unfortunately repeated health issues and the brain fog that comes with them mean I can no longer multi-task like I used to be able to do.  The tendency has been - of late - to wait and fret for deadlines to come - and go - and not accomplish much of anything at all.  Getting old(er) has not been easy.  On the other hand?  I'm still here - so many aren't.  And since stopping the cancer drug I am feeling so much better.

So it was with a sigh of relief that I read the email yesterday, saying I was booked for level one at Olds College Fibre Week in July.  I will know soon about Tenino, WA.

The early bird registration for the conference ends April 15 and a lot of uncertainty will be addressed when we crunch the numbers of those signed up for workshops and the conference proper. 

I know that our conference instructors are also impatiently waiting for word on their numbers and I want to give them their class lists as soon as possible.  (If you are planning on registering, please do so as soon as possible so that we can give them accurate information.)

We have extended the deadlines for the exhibits, partly because we have been overwhelmed with the generosity of guilds sponsoring awards.  We have a significant number of awards to hand out!  To be eligible for an award, you must be registered for the conference, deliver the item(s) and pick it/them up.  You can still enter exhibits if you are not attending, but assign someone to deliver and return to you.

April is well begun.  Teaching takes preparation and so I'm also watching registrations for Yadkin in NC where I'm booked to do level two and then one; September is the John C. Campbell Folk School.

After that it will be full steam ahead for the craft fair season.

And poof - the year will be gone...

In the meantime, I need to practice patience while events develop in the fullness of time.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

And On We Go...

The conference registration is ticking along (we'd love to see more people sign up - it's gonna be a time!) and it is time to lift my head up out of that particular deep well and start looking beyond mid-June and to what comes next.

Now that I'm beginning to feel better - for however long that lasts - I am looking forward to possibly teaching at Olds Fibre Week (to be confirmed - or not - depends on registration - as do all events, including the conference).  Fibre Week has been moved to July which means that if I'm there I will be celebrating my birthday with fibre friends. 

In August I'm booked to teach level two and one (in that order) at the Yadkin Arts Centre which is in North Carolina, then back to the John C. Campbell Folk School in September.

In the meantime there is marking from last years students to be done.  There is a flock of boxes en route so I will be checking the mail box daily to make sure I grab them as they arrive.  I will mark in order of arrival.

Feedback from students is that level one is challenging but the lessons learned are significant.  If anyone is thinking of doing the program, consider the fact that it is a college level certificate course and that with the increase in satellite programming you can take it on either coast now.  This year level one was presented on the Sunshine Coast north of Vancouver, level two is scheduled at Tenino, WA (near Olympia), Cape Breton is offering levels 1-3, North Carolina is offering all four levels in August and of course, at Olds, AB during Fibre Week.  Even if you only ever take level one, you will learn a lot of stuff - things that don't normally get addressed in workshops because there just isn't time.  (If you can't take the program, I suggest my book which covers some of the curriculum - it's why I love teaching level one because I've been preaching this level of knowledge for years and finally got it down on paper...)

The other advantage of a core curriculum is that students can move from campus to campus - for example the level one class here launched a couple of people over to Olds for level two.  Level one at Olds launched someone over to Cape Breton and to Yadkin.  And so on. 

Here, spring is coming along with all the rites of spring - the woodpecker hammering away on the metal cover of the street lamp, the dust advisories, the flooded streets.  Spring Break Up - the season that lasts too long...