Sunday, December 3, 2023

Seasonal Reminder

 


photo taken a few years ago

Woke up this morning to the gentle sprinkling of snow that quickly turned into a full blown 'storm'.  There is an atmospheric river south of us and I guess we are getting the leading edge of it.

I am not going to complain.  I have no need to leave the house today, so I'm not going to.  I may not leave the house until Thursday, when I have an appointment.  Let the rest of the population get used to the fact that yes, once again, winter is here.  Along with the snowy roads.  I don't know that we will get as much snow as we did the year this was taken, but we desperately need precipitation as the drought continues.  

The entire province has been experiencing drought conditions, with one town west of us officially in the 'desert' range for precipitation.  For the first time since recording weather stats began.  This is Not Good for the new year and whatever Mother Nature is going to send our way next wildfire season.

Because we now officially have a season that isn't spring, summer or autumn, but all three, and deadly - for the animals that live in the bush, for human beings seemingly intent on ignoring climate change, and the planet itself.  It isn't *just* the fact that the fires burn up the forest, releasing tonnes more carbon into the air, it is breathing the smoke, as well.  Bad wildfire seasons are bad on every level.

So, when I looked out the window to see that the light dusting of snow was turning into a heavy snowfall, I could not be upset about it.  Instead I felt a certain level of relief, aware that a good heavy snow pack in the bush would help the coming wildfire season by moistening the earth, encouraging the regrowth of new plants, bring food to the animals that live there, and protect us from flooding and fire.

But - and there is always a but, isn't there - the temperatures are still 'too warm'.  If we don't get temps below freezing, this snow falling today?  Won't stick.  It will melt and run away into the streams and rivers, leaving the bush with bare ground.  Dry ground.  Tinder for any spark that may appear, natural or human caused.

In the meantime, an oil executive is chairing the climate conference, reassuring us that climate change is a myth, and the best thing to do is to continue to burn fossil fuels.

Since I actually live in an area where climate change has been showing up quite pointedly, I don't believe him.  (If *he* can believe there is no such thing as climate change, *I* can believe that there is.)

So, we bought a new HVAC system, one that uses far less natural gas than previously.  Our natural gas bill for the first month of use was 1/3 of what we used the same period as last year.  While our natural gas consumption is not zero, 1/3 of what we *had* been using, is still less.  And right now, less is better than continuing the way we were going.  

We also have a new hybrid vehicle ordered, which will arrive in the new year.  Both of these purchases bit deeply into our savings, but we refuse to finance when we can pay, so we have and will.  Because we also know that financing is going to cost more than any interest we might make on said savings.  

Using less fossil fuels is better than using more, imho, regardless of if you 'believe' in climate change or not.  Because fossil fuels are *finite* and when they are gone, we'd better be prepared to pivot to something else - if we haven't already.

In the meantime, I continue to weave as much as I can, pace myself according to my current state of physical condition, hope for a better future.  One where we find solutions to the problems too many of us seem eager to ignore, and way too many seem intent on making worse.

As we enter the season of the winter solstice, I think about the message of so many of our 'spiritual' teachers - love.  Love one another.  Love the earth.  Love our lives - ALL of our lives.  And let's for the love of all that is holy, please stop killing each other - be that climate change - or war...



PS - no, covid is not gone - nor are colds, flu, RSV, etm - wear a mask when out in public...

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Holiday Season

 


After Black Friday...

In NA the time for holiday purchases now ramps up.  Since we bought ourselves a new HVAC system this year, that will be our 'holiday' gift giving to each other for, oh, years...

As someone who largely made the majority of her income from producing things, I have mixed feelings about the buying splurge NAans are encouraged to go on, this time of the year.

So I would ask that when people are buying stuff, they look at small producers, rather than large corporations.  Boards of gigantic corporations really don't need more profits to buy another yacht or private jet (some people simply do not know what 'enough' actually means) but a small producer will be able to keep the lights on, a roof over their heads and - if you like what they make - keep making that stuff.

Like an author?  Buy their book.  Like a potter?  Buy a mug.  Like a weaver?  (ahem...)

There are two more signed copies of Stories from the Matrix in my ko-fi shop.  There are over a dozen different tea towel designs (and more in the pipeline).  There will be another 'book' in the new year.  Maybe.  Still working on that.  Blurb will continue to provide my three books currently listed there, available in both print and pdf formats.

However, in future, I may pivot to only pdf presentations and offer them on ko-fi.  Do I even have another book in me?  (After the current one launches - or not.)  Time will tell.  

In the past I've written long form 'essays' on various aspects of weaving, now sadly lost it would appear, in the conversion from CD to thumb drive.  If I can find the original CDs, I can see about getting the files transferred to a thumb drive, then investigate offering them as stand alone 'articles'.  Generally those documents were 'too long' for a magazine article, 'too short' for a 'book'.  But still, I put a lot of time and effort into writing them.  And some people did tell me that I made the information clear enough they could understand the concepts.  Always music to a writer's ears.

Today is the first day of the guild room sale.  If you aren't local (because I know most of you aren't) I still have a lot of towels listed in my ko-fi shop.  Just saying.


Friday, December 1, 2023

Marking Time

 


Don Holzworth 1956-2008


Tomorrow would have been my brother's birthday, were he still here.

Tomorrow would have been the launch of my latest (fourth) book, in part a nod towards his memory.  

But things happen.  

Or not.

And we, who are left, who are still here, go on.

My relationship with my brother was complex.  A (much) younger sibling, suddenly arriving to usurp my place in the home, sick with some unspecified illness which demanded nearly all of my mother's time and attention.  I had to learn to live with that change in focus, share my parents with a sibling, learn to get to know him as a person, although that took a while because he needed, first, to survive his infancy, and then to become the person he was meant to be.

And so I was going to launch my fourth book on his birthday as a nod to what he left me when he left - a level of financial security I'd never had before, in large part because he was a good money manager and he didn't live long enough to spend it himself.

For the longest time I barely touched 'his' money, only paying off my immediate debt, then used some of it to travel.

Because he loved to travel and I knew he would approve.

Perhaps part of his love to travel came from me?  Because he was just 13 years old when I left for a trip to Sweden, travelling by freighter from Montreal to Oslo, then stayed away for 3.5 months.  Months where my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and then it was my brother's turn to bow to the vagaries of life, learn how to adapt.  Change.  Deal with loss.

This is not a unique story.  Every one of us goes through something similar as we confront the challenges of living.  Changing.  Growing.  Hopefully learning.

I'm well into my 70s now and feeling the pinch of time as I deal with my battered body.  Last week I filled out a trauma/injury survey for my physiotherapist and suddenly became aware of how much battering this body has sustained.  I'd never considered dental issues a trauma.  Before.  And yet.  One of my earliest memories is of having an abscessed tooth extracted - while it was still infected.  Not much in the way of anti-biotics in 1954.  My mother brought me to the dentist.  He took one look, shot me up with novacaine (which didn't actually deaden anything) and then pulled the tooth.

As I looked back on my life in order to report all the injuries and/or trauma I've dealt with the list grew longer and longer - and I still didn't list everything.  Some 'injuries' were too slight to bother with, I thought.  Trolling through my memory, remembering each incident, reliving it (to some extent), becoming consciously aware of the injury once again, was interesting.  And, I am hoping, helpful to aid in further healing.  

But I am also in my 70s now, and I honestly don't know how much healing I can achieve.  I don't know how much longer I can weave.  Or write.  Will I retain my wits?  Or will they depart, along with my physical 'fitness'?

So I'm feeling pressure.  An imperative to weave down my stash.  No longer a desire, but becoming a need.  To write.  To share my stories.  to share my knowledge, most of all.

Do I have more to say?  Dunno.

The only thing I can do, is...keep going...for as long as I can.  Marking time doesn't mean standing still, after all.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A Gift in the (e)Mail

 This morning I got comfortable in my recliner with morning coffee and ipad and opened my inbox to a 'surprise'.

People sometimes tell me how much I have helped them, and when they do, well, cockles definitely warmed.  Since I woke up with (another) sinus headache and was feeling particularly groggy, I opened an email with some anticipation of a weaver wanting a question answered.  

Instead, my day - perhaps my entire week - got made brighter.  I quote:

"Although I am just a weaver in my spare time, I wanted to send you a message of saying thank you for your wisdom which transcends beyond the loom. I absolutely love your book and I also have watched your course on Handwoven a few times.

 

As a lecturer, I teach my students how to write undergraduate dissertations. Hence I am quite often confronted with questions such as “what referencing system to use” and “shall I use British or American spelling” or “how do I present my data”. In these instances, I always quote you (giving you due credit of course), with the simple but useful words “if you cannot be perfect, be consistent”. Indeed the students find this very useful and it surely helps them to get more autonomy with their decision-making. This is something I have often struggled to teach them in the past.

 

At our session yesterday, I resorted to your wise words again, but the students have adopted them already to a point where I only need to say “if you can’t be perfect” as they instantly respond with “be consistent”. I have explained to them before where I got this from and that it comes from a very efficient weaver who has perfected her craft and approach. In fact in my next writing group session with them I am going to draw the parallels between good and efficient weaving and academic writing.

 

From one teacher to another, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for developing these useful and easy to remember guides that are so useful for many disciplines. You can now know for sure that they are being passed on at (name of college redacted) London to a new generation of Business Management graduates who I hope will hold on to them for other challenges they will encounter!

 

I wish you all the best!

 

Christopher"


With cockles completely warmed through, it's now time to go to the loom and toss a shuttle a few hundred times.  :)

 

Looking for a Sign

 


Life is full of unexpected things and, as humans, we seem to spend a lot of time looking for a sign.

Shall I go this way?  Or that?  Should I take the road less travelled?  Or stick to the well trodden path?

I had no desire to learn how to spin and weave when the idea was first introduced to me.  I wound up in the spinning class at the college because I wanted to learn how to use natural dyes.  And then the first day of class, the instructor informed us that before we could learn how to dye, we had to spin some yarn.

And so the path was presented to me.  

I still spent the first 6 months ignoring it until the pieces finally all fell together - much like a jigsaw puzzle when you don't know what the picture looks like and you put the final piece in place and see the view in it's entirety.

After writing the fourth book and setting it aside, then realizing that the plan wasn't going to go the way I intended, I spent some days mulling over options.

Sometimes we ignore what is right in front of us and so it has been with ko-fi.  Right from day one the ko-fi site has made me choose between listing a digital product, or a physical one.  And always I was listing a physical product, ignoring the other option.

Finally I picked up that piece of the puzzle and realized that if my intent was to *only* produce a digital 'book'...ko-fi was the easiest way to go.  (Blurb is great if you want physical and digital, but this one isn't going to be a 'best seller' and probably more expensive as a 'real' book than most people will want to spend.)

Yesterday I messed around and yes, I can upload a file and offer to sell it.  I used an essay I'd written for publication but it wasn't accepted.  What the heck, it was about writing books - and it was there, never before seen in public.  It's only 5 pages, so I put $1 price on it, just to test the site.

Then I wondered if I could upload a larger file, so I just now tried Magic in the Water.  Lo, it seemed to work!  Since I already sell that on blurb (as either print or digital) I didn't hit publish on it.  But ko-fi didn't reject the file as being 'too large'.

So now it's ball back in my court.  I've had some other things that needed doing this week, but I should be able to open the file and do another read through.  There are some things that need changing, it needs formatting to *look* like a book.  But I've got a title, I've got a couple of options for a cover, I've got chapter titles and I've got Word.  I need to get Adobe so I can convert the Word file to a pdf.  Unless I can arm twist a friend to do it for me. 

But - and I say this with some trepidation - IF this works, there is a possibility that I could publish other things.  Some of what I would like to publish are the handouts for the Workshops in a Box I wrote. I spent a lot of time crafting those handouts, and the information is still solid.  Unfortunately those files are saved on CDs.  I'm not sure if I saved them before I tossed all my CDs, but it's worth digging through the files?  I have a vague memory of transferring some files to a thumb drive.

Since it looks like I am going to have to limit my weaving to no more than two sessions a day while we try to get my body working better, *and* I'm feeling better enough that just sitting is annoying, writing is another way I can keep 'weaving', even if it is only words.

And who knows, I might just publish that bio I wrote in 2019 as I faced 'retirement'.  I keep thinking about Emily Carr, who when she could no longer paint, turned to words, and kept creating...

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Pivots

 


We are at that time of the year again.  While this photo was taken a few years ago, and we don't have much in the way of snow - yet - we are nearing the winter solstice.

A time for reflection, a time for clearing out the 'old', a time for considering what is to come.

As such I have done some thinking about the latest 'book' project.

Since I spent the majority of my life creating things I hoped people would purchase - textiles, classes, magazine articles, books - when a roadblock popped up preventing progress on the latest 'book', I had to think about whether or not to hold 'em, or fold 'em.

Did I continue to wait and see if the roadblocks cleared?  Did I pursue other options?  Did I just ditch the whole effort - an effort of several months on my part, and the alpha assistance of a friend who read my rough draft and helped me clarify my thinking?

To just ditch it seemed wasteful of both of our time and effort.

But mostly?  I felt that what I had to say *might* be of interest to a small circle of people.

So, what to do?

Reality set in and it became apparent that the cost of getting the information into a 'real' book would mean it would be expensive - as a 'real' book.

However, it is the 21c and we have other options.

Now the plan is to revive the project and 'publish' it as a pdf only and sell on my ko-fi shop site.  The site allows for digital products, not just actual physical ones, and I'm already offering Weave a V there as a physical product.  Since the information in this effort will be of limited interest, it seems like keeping the publication as simple as possible and keeping the price as low as possible is the way to go.

I will be dragging out the thumb drive with the files on it and doing a read through.  There has been enough time go by that I should have perspective enough to attempt a grammar/typo editing, and re-order some of the chapters so that they flow 'better' (one or two are out of chronological order), and then see about offering it digitally only.  Since this IS the 21c, I will include some photos, but will keep them limited to illustrate points, not eye candy/inspiration.

There are still a few wrinkles to iron out, but it feels like a plan.  And, given I continue to deal with chronic pain, it seems like having a 'light' duty task will take some of the load off of me until I see if I can make some gains in my physical condition.

With the end of the mercerized cotton in sight, it begins to feel like a watershed moment.  My goal to downsize and use up stash continues and I have some ideas percolating for the next few warps.  Enough to keep me busy for another six months or more.  And once those are done, I will turn to my rayon stash and see how much of that I can weave up.  I have a plenitude of scarves and zero shawls, so I'll be considering another warp for shawls.  The big roadblock for shawls is the fringe twisting, but I can do it.  I just have to make myself.  And I would sure like to use up some of the fine yarns and turn them into something else.

I don't do New Year Resolutions.  I make plans, then work towards getting those plans completed.  Seems like I've got 2024 sorted.

Anyway - stay tuned about the next 'book' - still some details to sort out and plenty of work to be done.  Sort of like weaving.  Just because the words are there doesn't mean it's 'finished'...

Monday, November 27, 2023

Following the Lines

 


I love twills.  I love big, fancy twills.  Once I had a dobby, I loved working with such twills, of which there are many.

Twill weaves generally have 'lines' - but not always.  There are broken twills, advancing twills, combinations are nearly endless.

The 'easiest' twills are those based on a straight or point progression.  But, once you understand how the line can be interrupted, reflected, repeated, mirrored, well, big rabbit warren.

Advancing twills are fun because you get all the benefits of twill but they are relatively simple to thread.  They tend to go in directions that are predictable, and they can get really quite large.

One of the stepping stones to understanding this was the progression of the draft known in NA as Swedish Snowflake.

From when David Xenakis took the draft from Margaret Atwater and re-aligned it so that the twill lines were made more visible, I jumped off that to expanding the twill lines after reading through Zilinski's information on advancing progressions (or as he called them 'step' twills).

As I played around with the progression, I wondered how it would look expanded to 12 and 16 shafts.  The problem with expanding to 16 shafts is that the motif became so large it was too big for the intended purpose I wanted to use it for.  So then I had to make choices about how to expand it and still keep the essence of the motif.  And of course, adding or subtracting interlacements via changes in the tie-up will also change the look of the motif.

Rooting around to find this draft to share with another weaver, I realized that the recent explorations I've been doing can be almost directly connected to the explorations I did back in the day when I played around with the Swedish Snowflake draft - expanding to 12 and 16 shafts, condensing to 4.  

I used this draft with silk warp and a wool/cashmere blend with the colours very close in hue/value.  the motif was a 'ghost' - it was there, but it wasn't the dominant feature of the cloth.  But one warp of it was 'enough' and I moved on.

And now I'm back, once again playing with advancing twill, but this time I'm advancing the entire 4 thread twill 'block', once again pushing, pulling and tweaking the twill 'line'.

I've got the next draft ready.  I've gone back to something very simple after playing with curves and different sized elements in the design.  Sometimes bigger designs can start to be a bit 'fussy', although the colours I've been using are very similar in hue and value so that 'busyness' of such designs becomes less obvious.

Sometimes a designer just does something because they want to know what happens, when.  Then, when they find out what happens, they decide to move onto something else.

So it is in this case.  



We are into winter now, even though there isn't much snow - yet.  I have a tea towel I purchased while at Vav in 2017, woven from a fine linen, in damask.  The design is woven on a white warp with a coloured weft - in my case I chose the black weft - and the 'stark' black lines delineating the trees against the white background inspired this.  The trees in my neighbourhood have all lost their leaves and the branches crisscross each other and on grey days, they are very much like the lines in the design here - bare branches, rubbing against each other, all set against a stark sky.

While I love the big fancy twills, sometimes something simple is just thing.  The warp will be the last of the very dark blue combo and the weft will be white.

In the meantime I am mulling over the designs for the new colour - a combination of blue and green of the same value.  Which should do interesting things depending on the colour(s) used for weft.  I'm thinking of 'water' - how it flows, ripples, moves...

Onwards.