Friday, August 17, 2018

Don Holzworth, 1956-2008

When my younger brother died, suddenly, much too young, at work, we were all stunned.  At the reception after the service, I managed to say a few words and ended with this:

"I can think of no better example to follow than Don's.

Be brave enough to dream big dreams.
Be bold enough to work to make them come true.
Live life with love and joy.
And every day, try to be a better person."

It recently occurred to me that those words could just as easily apply to me.  That perhaps, in some small way, I was an inspiration to him, just like so many of his friends told me that day.  They made a point of coming up to me to tell me how much Don respected me.  How much he looked up to me. 

At the time I was puzzled as to why that might be.  Yes, I was his older sister, which led to some interesting and funny things while growing up.  But look up to me?  I shook my head.

Ruth asked me about what day I wanted to aim for to hit publish on my book.  Don's birthday was on December 2, and so the words fell out of my mouth - December 2.  There were many reasons for that date, but it could have just as easily been Nov. 30 or Dec. 1.  But as I said the words, they felt right.

Since shoving the ms at Ruth and waving it goodbye, there have been a lot of emotions to process.  Things I'd forgotten about - or hadn't realized - have come percolating to the surface of my thoughts.

It suddenly made sense that in some small way I had been an inspiration to him.  Because in so many ways, I have lived my life to those same things I attributed to him.

In school I took on the job of publishing the school newspaper.  Worked on the yearbook.  Was part of the group that organized the giant march from our old school to the brand new one we'd been waiting for to open.  I was modelling my mother's behaviour in many ways.   She worked tirelessly for the church, helped family members with all sorts of things, usually medical or legal, partly because she had the most education of any of the other family.  Plus she was fluently bi-lingual and wound up translating in court or hospital for family/friends whose English wasn't the best.

She continued throughout her life to work hard on behalf of the hospital auxiliary, CNIB, and countless other charities.

So I was no stranger to the social responsibility that my mother felt and passed on to me.

When I graduated grade 12 I had no idea what I wanted in terms of education.  My parents were not wealthy and could not afford to send me to Vancouver to take a B of A.  And I didn't want a BA degree anyway because about the only thing to do with one was become a teacher.  I certainly did not want to be a teacher!  (ha.  at least not a teacher in the school system, turns out.)

I told mom I wanted to go to Sweden to meet and visit with my pen friend.  She talked it over with dad and they offered me the deal that if I worked hard and saved my money and didn't squander it, I could live at home rent free.  Deal!

And so I investigated how I might do just that.  I'd gotten a job with the telephone company as a long distance operator (yes, I am that old - switch boards were still a thing), which paid very good money, especially for a recent graduate from high school.  I was so stingy you could hear the change in my purse whimper.  And by the end of April I had enough money to go.

Now I didn't do the 'usual' thing and fly over.  Nope, not me.  Instead I took the train from here to Montreal, visited with mom's sister and her family and then boarded a freighter that took a small number of passengers.  And sailed from Montreal to Oslo, Norway.  There I boarded a train and headed east to Orebro, Sweden.  Where I arrived with just my purse and no Swedish money - because I didn't know that if you 'checked' your luggage, it came on the overnight freight train.

(There is a lot more to the story, but another day - perhaps.)

While in Sweden I also took a bus tour of Europe, landing in Germany, over to Belgium, France, through Monaco, north-west Italy, through Switzerland, back to Germany and then returning to Sweden.  Where I then took my first plane flight ever from Stockholm to Vancouver. 

In 1975 I gave up a rather well paying job to become a weaver.  My brother was 13 when I set off to Sweden, 18 when I abruptly changed course to become a weaver.

He saw me stick it out, through some really skinny times in terms of income, through injury, through recovery, and onwards to write a book and self-publish it. 

Those were some mighty big dreams.  And I was stubborn enough to make them happen, one way or another.

So.  Second book, needing a publication date, preferably before Christmas.  Checking the calendar, American Thanksgiving this year is Nov. 22.  I will go back to Ruth's where we will do one last look-see at the ms, hopefully sieve any lingering typos out, make sure photos are captioned properly, diagrams correct.  And then, in honour of my 'little' brother, hopefully hit publish on Dec. 2.

Hope you're proud Don.  I was of you.

Royal Hudson steam locomotive, charted by Don, edited and woven by me, sewn into a jacket by Darlene Wainwright

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Language Matters

If Facebook is an oracle it had a message for me today.

First was an audition where a young woman sang a song she wrote after losing her hearing, called "Try".

Then Janis Ian posted about 're-wiring, not retiring'.

I chewed them over for a while because I felt there was a valuable lesson in those two posts that I needed to pay attention to.

The past few years have been one health issue after another.  Over the past couple of weeks I have had conversations with some friends about my lack of energy, my abundance of 'tired'.  How difficult I'm finding dealing with stress.  And that I am looking forward to 'retirement'. 

But that's not actually true.  I am not at all looking forward to 'retiring' from what I love to do.

All my life I have dreamt big dreams and worked to make them become reality.  At times I have had to re-tool my approach, adjust my expectations.  And I realized that this latest phase of my life is just another time of adjustment.  Re-wiring.  And that above all, I need to try to find my way through the pitfalls of my life and work toward my goals.

It may take me longer.  It may require naps.  But forward is the only way to go.

This magnet is on my fridge, purchased when I thought I had all my health issues under control  It reminds me to keep going.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Warps in Waiting

Earlier today I wove a couple of tea towels, but as much as I would like to get that warp finished, I am also getting concerned about my other craft fair inventory.  I'm very low on scarves, and since I have boxes and boxes of various kinds of rayon in my stash, I switched to winding warps.

Now, when I say I have boxes and boxes, that doesn't mean I have a lot of choices for colour.  In fact I have depth of stock in a limited range of colours.  Since I'm wanting to have as large a range of options for customers to choose from, I'm winding warps just long enough for two scarves, changing the colour options in each warp.

For some of the warps I will use two different wefts in order to increase the options even further.

People come to a craft fair to get unique items, not see dozens of the same thing in the display, so even though I'm making the same quality of cloth, it's a good thing to have a wide range of colour combinations for them to choose from.

Since stash reduction is a priority, I'm forcing myself to work with what I have on hand.  This also forces me to be a lot bolder in the combinations I put together.  And that is also A Good Thing.

Will I like any of these scarves, personally?  Not necessarily.  They just have to be appealing and look good generally.  But as it happens, most of what I have left are 'my' colours.  So I'm taking the opportunity to play with how they go together. 

But time is running out, quickly.  I leave on the 27th for TN/NC, back on the 8th, then leave again for a week after (our) Thanksgiving, coming home to the first craft fair of the season.

The goal is to have as many of these scarves ready as I can possibly get ready. 

Fingers crossed!  Because I also have about 8 hours of conference planning to do and shifts at the fall fair this weekend.  And we have been in the smoke plume from the wildfires throughout the province for a week.  It's getting more and more difficult to keep going.  

Monday, August 13, 2018

Mining the Stash

Nine boxes.  I was thinking there were six. 

Well, I am going to try to use some of this up.  But first I need to see what is actually in those boxes.

This is yarn from the fashion designer I used to weave for.  She retired when she hit 65 and offered me her yarn to buy at a huge discount.  Since I was familiar with the yarns she used, I foolishly said yes.

Of course I was recovering from by-pass surgery, beginning to feel 'normal' again, no problem, I can buy some of your stash!  And then I sent Doug back for more...

Now, what to do with it?  Now that I'm three years older, dealing with adverse effects from the medication that is keeping me this side of the grass/snow.  Tired All The Damn Time.

Since I'm low on scarf inventory, I've been proto-typing scarves.  They won't be *fabulous* but they will be classic.  And being rayon (mostly) they will have great drape, and not the silk price.  Although I did manage to use up some (most?) of my silk stash earlier this year. 

Since I have taken a booth at the ANWG conference, mostly to sell books, I will also offer textiles.  Who knows, maybe some of these soon-to-be scarves will grace the booth, not just tea towels?

Anyway, it's lunch time.  After lunch I will start to paw through these boxes and see what there is in them.

Currently reading Craeft by Alexander Langlands

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Birthing a Book - the back story...

Kerstin Fro:berg's Weave a V, which I published in English

I am - and have known - a number of people who have written and published books, either via more traditional publishers or by self-publishing.

Personally I have done the self-publishing route for a number of reasons.  For Magic, it was the logistics of getting a book with actual fabric samples into the hands of readers.

Having been involved, either directly or indirectly, in getting books 'born', I can tell you that it isn't easy (if it was, everyone would do it) and it costs a lot.  There are the actual out of pocket expenses that are, for the most part, hidden.

For Magic, it was pretty obvious that a fair chunk of change went into the materials for the samples.  But what wasn't perhaps so obvious was the number of hours of labour that went into it as well.  Not just the writing, and there was plenty of that, not just the cost of the yarn, and it wasn't cheap.  There was the designing of the presentation, which went through a number of iterations.  There was the investment in the binders.  The meetings with the printer.  The cost of the paper.  And the actual printing.  The hiring of a top notch photographer, the models for the garments.

There was the assembly.  My brother allowed me to turn his rec room with billiard table into an assembly line.  From 2002 until his death in 2008, Magic lived in his basement as we assembled copies as they sold.  It was only in the months following his death when we had to clear his house out in order to put it on the market that the last few copies were finally dealt with and assembled, then put into storage elsewhere.

How many hours?  Who knows.  There was me, obviously.  There were the many hours my then studio assistant was paid in order to weave more samples, then help with the wet finishing.  There was my mom and several friends who came to help with the assembly line.  There was Doug who became VP of assembly for a year.  Or more.

There was the marketing.  Paying for ads (it took selling three copies to pay for one ad in Handwoven).  

There were the special shipping boxes.  The hours of filling out customs forms, dragging bins full (at first) down to the post office.  There was the booth at Convergence in Vancouver when Magic was first launched.  And then every fibre event I could drive to afterwards.

There were the three copies I donated to libraries - and a couple more to worthy causes.

All of this is why I have decided to go the digital/print-on-demand route for The Intentional Weaver.  Do you have any idea at all how much room a 1000 binders, the pages to go in them, the samples stapled to the pages, take?  My brother's basement.  His entire basement, except for the laundry area.

With the internet developing the way it has done, with print-on-demand websites, the decision to go this route instead of looking for a traditional publisher was quite easy.

On the other hand, I have spent at least as much time, if not more, getting this book to this stage as it took to get Magic to this stage.  Well, no, Magic still took way more effort because of weaving, wet finished and cutting apart the samples.  But that aside?  Yes, more hours writing, certainly, in large part because Magic was quite narrow in scope and this one is much, much broader.  Therefore it's taken much longer to get my thoughts in order, decide on what I want to include, then edit, edit, edit for clarity.

On top of that, TIW has been delayed repeatedly as I dealt with one health issue after another.  I first started thinking and planning this book at least 6 years ago.  Well, longer ago than that, but the initial idea fell through for a number of reasons, and I shelved the idea then.  Then I focused on getting the DVDs done, thinking that would be all that I really needed to do.  But no, that wasn't quite all of the story, either.

But then I had to put my life on hold while I dealt with the by-pass surgery, the recovery from that, adverse drug effects, over and over again.  And then the house renovations, mom getting sick, my feeling something wasn't quite 'right' with me - which it wasn't.

Through it all my friends encouraged and supported me and, when I found myself about 10 months ago completely unable to carry on by myself, I contacted someone I knew who did technical editing and cried 'uncle'.  

She agreed to fit me into her editing queue, and, well, here we are.

I share this story, not to elicit sympathy.  Because I know other authors have similar stories.  We write because we must.  There is something about setting the knowledge down in words that becomes compelling.  Imperative.  

So when you read a book that you feel is valuable, the best thing you can possibly do is to tell people that you think it's worth the purchase price and why.

Which is one reason why I list the books I'm reading here.  If I record the title/author in this blog, it's because I feel it is worth my time and effort to read it.  

Saturday, August 11, 2018


Yes, I did indeed make a threading error, leaving out a repeat of a block. 

Once seen, cannot be unseen.  But, on the other hand, the 'flaw' won't in anyway affect the ability of the tea towel to dry dishes, so I'm not fixing it.

I am, on the other, other hand, dealing with another loom issue.  While the dobby head seems to be fixed, one of the shafts was not perfectly straight and because it was dipping downwards on one end, the warp ends on that shaft were not lifting as much as they should be doing and I realized well into towel number three (the first one after the dobby fix) that I was getting really (really!) long floats on the back side.  Which, in this case, is going to be the 'correct' side of the cloth.

After complaining about the issue, Doug has effected a temporary 'fix'.  I'm too tired to weave now, plus it's time to make dinner, so it will wait until tomorrow to see if it is going to allow me to weave without stopping every fourth pick to make sure I have a clear shed.

The first three towels will go into the 'seconds' pile.

Still not perfect...

Friday, August 10, 2018

Last Time?

So.  Here I go again.  For the 'last' time?

I made the decision earlier in the year that I would not accept workshop bookings from guilds.  It had all just gotten to be...too much.

Too much scrambling trying to find several groups in a regional area to keep travel costs lower.  Too much travel agent type work, trying to make sure I could get from place to place.  Without too many (unpaid) days between events.  Too much financing of said travel costs.  Too much inventory of yarn I don't normally use, but needed for the workshop topics.  Too many binders of drafts, which always, always, need to be edited specific to the workshop.  (This one every loom is a table loom so I had to go through and convert every single draft to liftplan.)

Too much administrivia.  Too much.

This workshop is in BC, so travel isn't horrible.  (It will still take all day to get there, because of going from one small airport to another small airport, via Vancouver airport.)

Better yet, my host/ess are friends of decades and it will be wonderful to go a couple of days early and have a visit.

In the end we have 17 students, a pretty full class (I will take up to 20 for most topics, depending on a room the correct size for that many students and looms.)

It's also a topic I thoroughly enjoy (lace weaves), plus the guild program on the Monday will be on wet finishing.  But that means a checked bag, filled with examples.  :)

The guild has also offered to help with the conference, so I will be delivering some of the materials they will need.

There is a certain level of nostalgia as I commit to making this workshop the last guild workshop I will do.  (Yes, I've already turned down a guild this summer, in spite of really wanting to go where they were!)

I have just a couple more commitments - other than Olds classes - to finish.  And then next year I will be going through all my teaching samples and sorting them into the various Olds curriculum levels, which will make preparing for those classes so much easier.  Right now my samples are scattered all over the studio as we emptied boxes and bins looking for textiles for the book.  I really need to put them all away again - just can't face that job right now.

All of the workshop materials need to go into the mail on Monday so that the drafts and yarns can be distributed to the participants and they can get their looms ready for the workshop the weekend following our Thanksgiving holiday.  That may seem 'early', but it's summer, people are away, as I will be for two weeks the end of this month, beginning of next.  So this really had to be done before I left.

I won't miss the constant juggling of my schedule, keeping an eye on these sorts of deadlines.

Who knows, maybe I'll even get to make a few jigsaw puzzles over the winter?

Currently reading Beautiful Scars; Steeltown secrets, Mohawk skywalkers and the road home - a memoir by Tom Wilson.