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 too...cranky...in 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.

Sigh.

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

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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!