Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Acceptance

 


There is a meme that floats around which essentially says that you can be angry because there is more snow coming down or you can accept it, but either way there will still be snow coming down.  

I paraphrase, but still, the point is this:  there are things that are going to happen and you can get angry about them, which will do nothing to stop the snow, or you can ACCEPT that it is January in the northern hemisphere and you live where it snows and get on with your day.  Either way, there will still be the same amount of snow coming down.

I was reminded about the interview with Tina Turner I heard a bunch of years ago, where the interviewer asked if Tina ever got angry now that she was a Buddhist.  

"When I feel anger, I ask myself if I can use my anger and turn it into action that will solve what is making me angry.  If I can, I take action.  If I cannot, I let my anger go."  (I paraphrase, it's been 20 years, but that's the gist.)

It was an interesting perspective, and one that I try to emulate.

That is not to say that I don't feel anger.  I do.  But now I stop and let myself feel the anger. Acknowledge that something has triggered that reaction.  Ask myself, what can I do to try and bring a solution to the situation that is triggering that reaction.

Obviously some days it is easier than others.  Some things are far too big for my little effort to resolve.  Most times, I tend to write it out in order to find a way forward for myself and change my anger into something more productive.

Right now?  It's tea towels.  May seem bizarre, but a tea towel is useful and generating something that is useful and potentially 'beautiful' is much better than feeling impotent, upset and angry.  Weaving lets me set those feeling aside so I can concentrate on other things.

There are so many things happening right now that trigger anger, exasperation, frustration, none of them I have any power to change on a global level, so I have to concentrate on a personal level.  I understand the concept that being angry is not healthy in the long term.  So I work on accepting that there are things I cannot change, and working on what I can.  

Most days I feel the powerlessness deeply.  Other days, like today as I watch more snow falling (up to 40 cm over 4 days, which isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things but makes things more difficult) I accept that yes, the snow is falling.  No, I don't have to go out in it.  I can, however, go to the loom and weave a tea towel instead of kicking the baseboards in frustration because it's another grey, dreary day, the roads are pretty crappy, accept I don't have to deal with it so there is no point in being upset over something that I have zero control over.

Which is kind of an important lesson for me in terms of other aspects of my life.  

There are a number of things I am (still) dealing with - retirement and an aging, breaking down body, for example.

I could give up and feel depressed and angry because I am having to give up so many things.  Or I can try to find other ways to accomplish things.

So I am struggling to find ways to carry on teaching.  There are two emails from groups in my inbox but I need to work with them to give them something they want while also agreeing to doing something that I can actually deliver.  And right now everything in my life is dependent upon me being able to deliver, six months from now.

So I either email them with a plan to move forward, or I say that I cannot because things change and right now the change is ever diminishing in terms of the things I can do.

This is not a comfortable position to be in.  The tendency to depression is ever present and the grey dreary days aren't helping, nor is the fact that our furnace is still not working and we are having to use space heaters to keep warm.  OTOH, we DO still have power so we CAN keep the house warm enough.

And so I gather up the tatters of my energy and brain power and get ready to go to the loom.  If everything is going well there (which it has been, thank you loom goddess), there will be time to let thoughts about teaching simmer in the background.  What can I do?  What do I *want* to do?  How can I manage to do that which I want to do?

But I need to get back to the two groups soon so that they can book with another instructor if I decide I cannot do it.

And if I decide I cannot do it, I must not get upset, depressed or angry.  I must accept it.  And concentrate on what I CAN do, not on what I CANNOT...a lesson I am still working on learning...

Right now, at this moment, I *want* to do the presentations, so I will be thinking carefully today on how I can make that happen.  Because I still love to teach.


Monday, January 30, 2023

Different Slant

 


When I began weaving this combination, I wasn't confident that it was a good colour choice.  

The warp is a turquoise and cyan, threaded randomly, the weft a kind of periwinkle.  The day I started weaving was grey and dreary and dull, and the colours also looked dull.

But intellectually, they *ought* to 'work', so I carried on, given the dreariness of the day.

As I wove, the colours began to meld more, the periwinkle began to show more lavender and by the end of the first towel, I felt that after wet finishing they would be fine.  OK, if not fine, then 'ok'.  And I have lots of warp on the loom and lots of yarn to use up so even if they weren't 'great', I could settle for 'ok'.

My ipad takes pretty good pictures, but sometimes it has trouble 'seeing' colours accurately and this was as close as I could come.  

The 'right' side of the cloth will likely be the other face with the turquoise/cyan being the main colour, the periwinkle will be the design line that undulates across it.  Or maybe not.  Perhaps it will be this side.

Mostly in these warps I've been using the warp emphasis side as the main colour, but at least one has been turned so that the weft is the dominant colour.  

It depends.

And sometimes you just have to get up off the loom bench, shine the light from a different direction and gain a different perspective, in order to be able to see.

A whole lot like life, honestly.

We all live in a bubble of our reality.  We assume everyone else lives in the same bubble.  But they don't.

As a child I read, copiously.  As a young adult I took a running leap and got myself to Sweden, had 'adventures', experienced a different culture - several of them, in fact.  I paid attention to the news of the day, knew there was a war going on (yes, another decade, another war), knew that oil/gas was a finite resource, understood the detriment of dumping phosphates and DDT into the environment.  Stopped using products that damaged the ozone layer.

I assumed that we would do better once we knew better.

Seems I was wrong.

But I also live in a privileged situation, as a white woman in Canada.  I have universal health care, which means I'm still alive after a series of unfortunate adventures with my health - plus I'm not bankrupt.

I have a level of comfort I had no right to expect due to another unfortunate circumstance, but which left me financially secure to a level I never anticipated, having been a starving artist most of my life.

As a 24 year old, I understood that learning how to weave was very much a survival skill and if society goes toes up, people like me would be valued because I could make cloth to keep people warm in the cold climate we have for 6 months or so of the year.

And it still is.

But now I'm old, so I'm doing my damndest to teach others.  Just in case.  Because you never know when the next natural or man-made disaster will strike and the level of comfort we have now, here, in Canada, can rapidly disappear.

So when Public Health Officers began telling people to 'do your own risk assessment' when it came to an airborne virus, I was well versed in running the odds.  Because my reality bubble is porous, and I can see beyond my privilege and understand that bad things can, and DO, happen to 'good' people.  And I am not immune from bad things happening to me.

I have also studied history, was well aware of the Black Death(s) in Europe (not so much in other parts of the world, given Canada is pretty Euro-centric in terms of historical references) AND the influenza pandemic in 1918/19.  I truly thought that enough people were familiar with *that* pandemic that there would be little resistance to wearing a mask to reduce the spread of a deadly virus, that might not actually kill you but leave you with lingering deficits, much like polio and other of the viral diseases.

Surely people could see the danger and the very simple precautions that would protect them.

Seems I was wrong.

OTOH, I have worked hard to let people I know what needs to happen, and I am in a privileged position again to push others in my personal physical sphere to do the correct thing.  Wear a mask.

I don't know how long I can hold the line, and frankly?  I don't want to be the barrier to people 'living their best life' when that means exposing themselves to a real and still present danger.  I am tired.  It is taking all the energy I have, currently, just to keep going.

But a little voice reminds me, I need to keep teaching. After three years of cutting back, cutting back, cutting back, there is little left to cut back and what I am left with is writing.  Perhaps the occasional Zoom presentation.

I have several things on my desk I have been procrastinating about completing, but this week my focus will be to do as much as I can and get them off my desk by week end.

While I have been avoiding doing those, I have been letting the essay collection simmer on the back burner and hopefully when I come out from under the current deadlines I will be able to start plugging away at the essays.

My hope is that once I get truly started (one essay is done, the introduction needs to be re-written with a better 'slant', a better 'perspective') that the essays will roll off the ends of my fingers fairly quickly.  I have beta readers lined up.  The latest update to the ipad presented me with an app that I can use like a whiteboard and then *save* my diagrams so I can even do more of the graphics myself.

It seems the universe is nudging me towards doing this next Big Project, so I feel like I have little choice but to follow the nudges and pokes.  Whenever this has happened before it has always felt like a command, not an option.

And the essays are, indeed, all about a different slant.  A different perspective.  


Friday, January 27, 2023

Pom Poms of Encouragement

 



As a new weaver I felt all at sea when it came to so many things.  But I had something not every young weaver has - a local guild of very supportive members.

This morning I was emailing with someone and found myself being able to - hopefully - shake the pom poms of encouragement.

One of the things I mentioned was that if they want to sell online, they need to have really good photos.  That the photos needed to convey something of the character of the cloth, because people largely buy textiles by *feeling* them.

Now, I'm no expert photographer, but over the years I've learned a few things and while my photos are absolutely NOT works of art, I do try hard to let the cloth speak for itself.

Mostly my online sales are to other weavers.  Most of them have either seen my textiles in real life at a conference or class, but some buy on my reputation.

I've been weaving for about 4 decades, consistently attending local craft fairs and let's say I have a bit of a 'name' in this town.  For persistence, if nothing else.

When I had my first 'big' health issue, I began gifting my health care providers with my textiles.  The internist who saw me in emerg and, more importantly *believed* me, didn't whiff me away with 'oh you are just having a panic attack' and literally saved my life by arranging a stress test, got tea towels with hearts woven in.


These ones, in fact, shown still in the loom.

Since then, the rest of my health care workers have gotten textiles, including the infusion room at the cancer clinic.

But also?  My hair dresser.

In December I gave her a scarf, and when I went yesterday to get 'shorn' she commented that she had been showing her friends the scarf.  "Wow, did your client buy a Laura Fry scarf for you????"

"No!  My client IS Laura Fry!"

Weaving is one of those crafts that are 'so long to learn', and figuring out how to sell your hand wovens can take a long time, too.

I don't have any magic bullet solutions about how to make it all work for someone.  Took me long enough!  But along the way I had other weavers shaking the pom poms of encouragement.  When I mentioned to one of them I couldn't afford to pay them for all the advice they had given me, the response was 'help someone else'.

I took that to heart, so I try to help others, as best I can.  Not to tell them what to do, because what worked for me 40 years ago probably won't work for someone just starting out now.  

But I also finally got a new listing loaded to my ko-fi shop    in part because I wanted to share an example of how I photograph my textiles for online.  Two birds and all that.

I hope to get one new design uploaded each week and will delete older designs to keep things manageable (for me).


Thursday, January 26, 2023

Intentions

 


Once again, I had plans.  They were good plans, too.  Carefully crafted plans.  Some of them with critical 'looming' deadlines.

As usual, I have not yet managed to do everything on my daily to-be-done list.  And it's Thursday afternoon, so stuff I had *planned* to get done this week, in addition to the stuff that I *have* to get done this week?  Well, not faring too well on that front.

Some of those 'good intentions' have gone to pave another bit of that proverbial 'road to hell' I suppose.  OTOH, the only 'deadline' for getting them done was my desire, so perhaps not actually in the road bed yet, just still sitting on the cart?

Having the furnace stop working in January was a definite curve in the road and knocked me off my rails.  Health issues still not resolved contributed.  I can say that while I missed my 'personal' deadline to get some things done the actual critical deadline is still far enough in the future that if I don't get to them today it won't be detrimental to anything other than my ego.

I did manage to get up early enough this morning that I started weaving the next warp.  I wasn't best pleased with the weft colour at the beginning but decided I had enough bobbins wound for two towels so I would weave those two.  But once I finished the first, I decided part of the problem was the very dull dreary day we were having and that once I saw the other side properly I might find myself pleasantly surprised.  So I'm withholding judgement on that weft colour, willing to do more.  Because I have plenty of that kind of periwinkle blue to use up.

Then I went to get shorn and feel enormously better for it, given the beginning weaving class starts on Saturday.  I won't feel so...well...scruffy.  My standards for personal appearance, never very high in the first place, have dropped since the beginning of the pandemic.  

Now I've had lunch, packaged up a copy of Weave a V, and will head to town.  I have several things that sort of need to be dealt with and when I get home it will either be nap time, or I'll work on one of those looming deadlines.  I still have to generate a couple more class handouts, plus the project notes for the class for School of Sweet Georgia.

And by the time I finish all that, pretty sure the day will be 'done'.  And if not the day, me.  

Tomorrow is another day, with another early morning alarm and hopefully I can get lots of stuff done on Friday with such an early start to the day?  Time will tell.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Bringing Light

 


Yesterday I got the next warp beamed and began threading.

It was a grey day overall so supplemental light was really needed (although I always use supplemental light regardless).

I've drawn a yellow highlighter line around the lamp heads.  I have two lamps at the front of the loom (the British call them anglepoint, can't remember the NA term - I just love the word 'anglepoint'!)  

There is one mounted to the table beside the loom which I use during weaving as it provides sidelight, but when I'm threading I have a second lamp that gets set up on a 'pole' to my other side and each one shines over my shoulder with the light directed *into* the heddles.  You can clearly see in the photo how much light is in the heddle eye area making threading so much easier for me.

There is a third lamp at the back of the loom.  This lamp illuminates the back shafts because there are 16 of them and on a dark day it can get a little dim back there.  Plus it also lights up the taped sections (or the lease sticks if I'm working from a warp wound on my warping board, which I do from time to time.)

When choosing lighting in the studio, think about what it is you need to see and ensure it is *those* places that get the supplemental light.

One of the benefits of using this type of lamp is that I can move them as I proceed with threading and keep the spotlight on the area that I am working at.

The older I get, the more important it is that I have good light on my task.

The 'baby' cataract in my left eye is getting worse, so being able to see becomes more important while I wait to hear if the eye doctor decides it needs surgery.  My next check up is July, so I need to pay attention to things like my vision and how best to cope with vision that becomes 'old', just like the rest of my body.  Because she may decide that July is still 'too soon' for the surgery.  

One of the benefits to the anglepoint lamps is that they come with clamps that allow the lever part to rotate, the elbow bends as well as the base and the lamp head itself can be adjusted, so it is easy to get the light to where I need it.

I don't mount lamps to the loom - which is a hold over from weaving on the AVL.  I wove at such speed on the AVL that the lamps I mounted to the loom would vibrate and break very quickly.  So now nothing gets mounted to the loom, even though the Megado vibrates much less (because I have to weave more slowly on it as well as being engineered differently).  But using these lamps in this way works well for me, so as 'they' say these days, this is me doing me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Symptoms and Solutions

 


I ought to be working on something more productive, but I have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my brain and the best way for me to deal with the thought squirrels is to write them out.

After three years of pandemic isolation, NOT going out if I don't absolutely have to, avoiding crowds, staying home, entertaining myself (not a hardship when you are an introvert), it is obvious that things are not really going to change much for me, given my compromised immune system.  

As part of the pandemic response, I bought into Zoom, then crafted lectures for my Olds students (and then expanded them to anyone who wanted to join in) and began learning new 'tricks' - ie how to do online presentations.

I learned the limitations, but also how I could stretch my tech chops (as they say) and came up with a series that I feel were valuable to students who wanted to know more.  Do more.

Then I was approached by Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia, asking if I would be willing to offer classes on line, specifically things that I felt were within my wheelhouse.  After the first two launched I talked them into offering the lectures to their community as well, and we are about halfway through presenting those (every two months, two hours of info packed weaving talk.)

Now there are two more classes in the works, the first one launching early summer, the other to follow.

And I have been encouraging guilds to hire me to do Zoom guild programs and lectures, which - so far - have been working out for them and me, given I have zero desire to ever get on a dark o'clock flight, jump 2 or 3 time zones, expose myself to a pandemic that is now endemic at far too high a level for MY comfort.

As I sink further into this 'retirement' thing, I find myself less and less inclined to spend much time outside of my house, my studio, my own thoughts.

And, as mentioned above, the best way for me to deal with the thought squirrels raging in my brain box is to write it out.

It is also the best approach to my continuing to teach, given the brain fog induced by pain/painkillers.

I am also still wanting to help others.  

If I have a 'super power' it would appear to be the fact that I have made So Many Mistakes that I can intuit what the actual problem is when someone writes a vague description of what is going 'wrong' for them. 

The thing with weaving is that a symptom (just like with a body, to be honest) can be caused by a variety of issues.  Until the actual problem is solved, the symptom will persist.

To understand what the actual problem is means a deeper dive into the science, the physics, the mechanics of what is happening in the loom (and then later in the wet finishing, but that is another topic and one I've already written about.)

So these essays I am planning.  They are all the things I wanted to include in The Intentional Weaver, but weren't appropriate for a 'textbook'.  People tell me I'm a story teller and that I write well.  And I have stories.  Lots and lots of stories, which I use to illustrate principles when I'm teaching 'in person' (which means Zoom these days.)

Not everyone is interested in peeling back the layers of the onion of knowledge, but there are some.  Some people just like a good story.  And a book of essays doesn't need a story arc or a plot or anything that a novel needs.  All it needs is a flash of insight into a specific aspect of the overall topic - which will be how threads get turned into cloth.

After talking to a few people, I have an approach (thank you Syne), I have had encouragement to continue.  I understand that few people will be interested, but that's ok, I can self-publish like I did with the other two books.  I have a bare bones outline and specific topics I want to address.  I even have a first essay written, just needing to let it sit and then polish, add illustrations.  I even have a new app on my ipad that makes creating illustrations a lot easier for digital purposes.  (When the student is ready and all that?)

At this point I have no publication date in mind, in part because it depends on the level on brain fog and other deadlines on any given day.

But, here's the thing.  If there is some aspect of weaving that you would like me to tackle?  Let me know.  Because I won't think of everything.  I don't even *know* everything.  But I can research.  And I can learn, too.  

You know how to contact me.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Lighting Candles

 


I use this image at lot, as you know, in no small part because it is a core belief.  No one gets through life without help from others and essentially, our job (if you will) is to help others as much as we can.

So when other weavers give me feedback that lets me know I am on the right track when I'm planning on doing something, it means the world to me.

People have told me I'm 'intimidating'.  Which always kind of stops me dead in my tracks.  Intimidating?  Moi?  

A few years ago a high school classmate reached out and connected with me and as part of our reminiscing they mentioned that other classmates assumed I had my 'shit' together (I'm paraphrasing).  The reality was so far from what *I* felt in high school, I was a bit taken aback and simply burst out laughing.

The first time someone referred to me as an 'expert' I literally cringed because I am well aware of how much I do NOT know.  It took me years after getting the 'master' certificate from the GCW that I was finally able to feel at least a little bit comfortable in the role of 'master'.  And I did that by recognizing that a 'master' simply does not know 'everything' but just knows enough to begin to fix mistakes and chart a path that will lead them to success (however one defines that) more quickly than someone with less experience/knowledge.  And maybe, because they have made so many mistakes themselves, they know the potholes and can avoid them.

Over the last few days I reached out to a few people who I trust to tell me the truth about my essay project and so far?  The response has been positive enough that it is now a 'real' project.  I do not, at this time, have a deadline by which I want to have it ready, but I feel comforted enough by the feedback I asked for, plus unsolicited feedback from another experienced weaver whose opinion I trust, to begin to be more serious in my objective of peeling more layers off the onion of knowledge. 

As usual it will be a niche book for a very niche audience. It will not appeal to all weavers because not everyone wants to understand the nuts and bolts of the craft in the way I did - and still do.  And frankly, in the 21st century, there is no need to worry about the size of the audience for such a publication because I'm not a 'real' publisher and online publishing makes it economically feasible to offer such a small market a 'book' tailored to them.

In large part my desire to do this is based on the fact that travelling long distances is no longer in my future given my health and covid.  As I deal with the roller coaster of brain fog, writing is much better for me than trying to be 'on' even for Zoom presentations.  Saturday I felt pretty good and the usual jolt of adrenaline did the rest.  The brain fog wasn't too bad and I don't know that anyone realized that at times I was mentally scrambling to find the word(s) I wanted to use.  And at the end, the chair of the St. Louis guild let me know that the in person crowd gave me a round of applause.  :)  

So, to the people who lift others up?  Thank you.  To those who lifted *me* up over the past few days?  I cannot tell you enough how much it means to me.