Saturday, September 25, 2021

Plodding

 



Today was a pretty typical autumn day for us.  Wet and chilly.  And the birch trees (mostly) are putting on a show.   The mountain ash are still mostly green, but it's a tired green.  They are filled with berries though, which looks very nice.

It is just one week until we set out for Vancouver and much still needs to get done before we leave.  Tomorrow I have a Zoom in the morning and then I need to seriously clear some room in the studio so I can begin gathering my stuff for the trip.  In many ways I'm taking a big chunk of my studio with me.  And let's not talk about personal things - clothing, meds, etc.  

Before I do anything though, I need room to stack the boxes and bins (once I've packed them).  And all of that, all of that preparation, is going to take time and energy.

I did make some progress on the weaving.  It looks like I'll be playing yarn chicken with the current warp, though.  There are still 2 more samples to weave, then cut off and re-sley.  The next set of samples will be shorter, in no small way because the epi/ppi will be changing from 28 to 45.  But still, I'm nervous about being able to weave them on whatever warp is left when I'm done with the 28 epi samples.  Or if I'll have to dress the loom again to finish them off.

The three I wove today were fairly simple and now that I'm getting the hang of following the colour changes on the laptop, things are going more smoothly.  I was grateful I felt up to weaving the third one because that leaves just 2 more to do at the 28 epi/ppi.  I'm planning on finishing those on Monday.  And then see if I have the energy to deal with the bobbins hung off the back because I was short 3 ends on either side of the centre stripe.

However, I am also waiting to get the filming schedule for the longer class and will have to spend an hour or so combing through that, watching for inconsistencies, or anything that looks out of place.  But seeing the Call Sheet laid out will help me focus on the structure of the class and get my butterflies flying in formation.  I hope.

The Zoom tomorrow is the last of the series for the Olds students.  I have no idea if they want to stay on as a group or if it is time to just stand by the side of the nest and wave goodbye as they launch into the future.  There is still the other group, so I won't be without obligations/students right away.  :)

And, if all goes well, I will have a new crop of students in the new year.

The days plod on, the seasons change.  I keep weaving, as much as I can.  It's all good.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Spinning

 



With weaving (plus teaching/writing about weaving) being so labour intensive, oftentimes with months of input before any kind of return comes into the bank account, I became pretty proficient at having large numbers of projects partially underway.  Oftentimes I would feel like the guy on the Ed Sullivan Show with his sticks and spinning plates.  How many could he keep balanced before they would topple off and crash to the floor?

This past summer I've been working on a number of projects, all in process, all requiring some attention in order to keep them moving forward.  

The distressing thing is to finally have to admit to myself that I can no longer keep more than just a few of these kinds of projects humming along.  I just don't have the energy or mental wherewithal any more.  

It's been...sobering.  OTOH, it was part of the reason I 'retired' (for certain values of).  I just didn't have the physical stamina or mental acuity to keep doing craft fairs, haring all over the country to teach, plus the writing and marketing of myself and my work.

Paring back what I was doing became essential, but even so, opportunity knocked and I took on the Next Big Project.  I also took on a commission, which has proven to be challenging and more time consuming than I hoped/expected.  Both of those projects have time lines that I can't miss and this has put pressure on me in addition to my health issues.  The past three months have taken more out of me than I hoped.

But!  I am managing - just - to keep both of those things ticking along and both will be done soon enough.

As the year progresses, covid continues, and hopefully things will improve.  With hope and optimism, the local Community Arts Council has determined that they can produce their craft fair, with as much protection as possible.  They have moved the event to a much larger venue so booths can be spread out further apart.  Participants and customers will have to show proof of vaccination, and indoor mask mandates are currently still in force.  I'm not expecting to attend because I'm still taking every precaution to prevent exposure to the virus.  New advice is indicating who might be possible to get a booster, but at this point I don't 'qualify' under the terms I read on the government website.  

However, the guild also plans on a guild room sale on the weekends following Studio Fair and that I feel I can participate in personally.  (Doug has offered to work shifts at Studio Fair on my behalf.  I still have lots of inventory I would LOVE to sell!)

At the guild AGM, several members said they were really enjoying the Sunday Seminars.  I may be convinced to book more in the new year.  I thought of another speaker I would love to have and who would have lots of interesting things to say about textiles.  But I'll wait until after my current crop of deadlines are done.  One more study group this Sunday, then two in October and what ever Zoom meetings are left will move to the new year.  

Autumn is definitely in the air.  And time marches on.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Perfect. Or Not.

 



Hard to believe that is me.  Significantly younger.  I'm wearing a silk outfit I wove and had sewn and wore too little to justify the expense of making it.  I kept 'saving' it for 'special' - until I out grew it.  

I've been thinking - a lot - about my younger self.  There is a 'thing' on Facebook that asks what you would tell your younger self if you could.

I'm not sure I would have any message for the me that was me when I was in my 30s.  I was pretty bull headed, as my mother would put it.  I'm not so sure 30 year old me would listen to 70 year old me.

Have I had a 'perfect' life?  On no.   Hell no!  Have I had a life of challenges?  Hell yes!  Have they been worth it?  To be determined, I suppose, by someone other than me.

I am a master weaver - even have the piece of paper that says so.  Does that mean I never make mistakes?  Hell no.

This week I have been working through a complex project on behalf of another weaver/designer/teacher and it has been...challenging.

People process information in different ways so I have to interpret what they want.  Then, because I want to work as efficiently as possible I tend to try to crunch the data so that I can work as ergonomically and efficiently as possible.

Part of doing that is re-interpreting the data and coming up with a way of looking at it that makes sense to me.  So I reviewed the draft, made some adjustments, wound the warp, then beamed it.  Yesterday I threaded the warp and discovered I was short 3 ends on either side of the centre stripe.  

Sigh.

So I wound three ends onto a bobbin and threaded them in where they belong.  I don't think it will work to leave them all on one bobbin, but right now the two bobbins are containing the ends so that I can finish setting up the loom.  Then, if necessary, I can separate them and hang them individually.

Mastery doesn't mean you don't make mistakes.  Hopefully you just recognize them when you make them and can figure out a way to fix them.

So I suppose I would say to my 30 year old self, if I could, 'don't worry - you'll figure it out'.

And please.  Don't anyone tell me I should have smiled.  I was then (and am still now) experiencing chronic pain and that day I was not feeling well.  I was just managing to hold things together and was, frankly, exhausted.  

But being bull headed, I was determined to do what needed to be done.  And that, I think, is worth remembering when I look back on my life.  

I survived - as a weaver in the 20th and 21st centuries.   And I will continue to weave for as long as I can.  Perfect, or not.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Decisions, Decisions

 


I only have one of these towels left.  I enjoyed weaving them, and may well revisit the design again in the future.  I still have a significant amount of solid coloured 2/16 cotton left, but not really enough of anything to make a warp.  So the thought is to buy enough white yarn to put on a long warp and use up the solid colours as weft.  But that's in the future.  

Right now I'm up against several deadlines.  All of the projects looked quite do-able in June/July, but now it's mid-September - over half way, really - and suddenly all of them are coming together at once.

I'm still not feeling great, for a number of reasons, but I try to work every day on some aspect of at least one of the deadlines.  Sometimes a little bit on several of them.

Like yesterday.  I realized that I'm booked to do a Zoom on Sunday and I'd done no preparation for it, whatsoever.  I got the warp that is going into the Megado prepped so that Doug could help me beam it (I wound the warp chain on the board, but it was going into a beam with sectional dividers).  I worked again on the draft, cleaned up the studio as best I could to make room for the beaming, tried to work out the best (most efficient) way to get the warp beamed, then poked away at the Power Point for Sunday.  When Doug got home it took about 45 minutes or so to beam the warp, discuss a slight modification to the loom to make things easier for me in the future, and prepared the warp for threading.  (It would have taken less but I was also working out the system for doing it, sometimes needing to switch out lease sticks or stop to think through the next step, which is different from beaming on the Leclerc.)

Today I'm wet finishing a batch of samples and will prepare them to go into the mail.  Then I'll sift through the treadling drafts for the warp I'll start threading today.

If I were feeling 'better' this would all be very minor, but I'm still struggling to keep going.  

The local guild is having their AGM tonight, and we have some decisions to make given the continuing issues of covid.  I have students who would like to take a weaving class, there are people who would love to learn how to spin, and we just can't do much right now.  There was a drop in covid numbers over the weekend, so hopefully our province is finally getting a grip on controlling the disease, but things blow up very quickly if people get complacent, and several guild members (myself included) are immune compromised.  And I'm not comfortable leading a class in person right now.  

Next week I'll get the filming schedule, and I'll go through my equipment list again, and start pulling all the things that will go to Vancouver in the van.  But in the meantime I have a 7 yard warp with 636 ends in a complex colour order in a 'fancy' 8 shaft twill to thread and then weave in a variety of complex colour orders.

Back to elephant eating time.  One bite.  Another bite.  One more.  Chomp.  Chomp.  Chomp.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Autumn

 


This photo is from a few years ago, taken in October.  In September, the leaves are only just beginning to turn colour, but it has been chilly and damp and autumn is very much here.

Autumn is the time of year when many things begin after the summer hiatus.  School.  New year for some organizations.  

My local guild has, like many others, been very curtailed during Covid.  Members haven't been able to even meet in the guild room for months at a time.  And we were just beginning to make plans for the coming autumn/winter when covid put a kibosh on our plans as the numbers began spiraling upwards again.

It's hard to keep a leisure activity going when you can't do anything you are used to doing.  No drop-ins, no workshops, no community outreach.

But time marches on, rent has to be paid, regardless of a lack of income, and on line events only go so far.

However, the local craft fair is scheduled to go ahead the first weekend of November and the guild has a booth so we are hoping it will go ahead as planned.  After that, we expect to have a sale in the guild room for a few weekends (or by appointment).  Our members could use some income - and so can the guild.

I'm well into procrastination mode today although I have managed to pick my way through a few things.  I guess I'm like so many others - caught in the web of uncertainty with the federal election today and on going covid issues.  

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

One can hope.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Regrets...

 


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

Autumn seems to be a time for reflection.  All the dreams of summer, for summer, and yet time marches on.

Yesterday I did another Zoom meeting and this morning is a Sunday Seminar.  I still have to put away the stuff from my seminar, clear all the stuff from the top of the Megado.

I am also in the midst of preparing another warp to go into that loom.  Lots of colour changes will be involved.  I think I've got a reasonable cheat sheet worked out but it will mean extreme diligence during threading to get every colour in the correct place.

It is easy to feel sad at the changing of the seasons, especially when things have been difficult or challenging beyond one's capacity to deal with stuff.  I am gradually beginning to learn how to let go of my high expectations and celebrate what I did manage.

Still a difficult lesson.

I have some friends I use as sounding boards.  They let me rant and rail when I need to vent.  And I hope I am supportive of them when they need to vent, too.

Sometimes students express their regret that they waited so long to learn how to weave.  They voice their concern about learning it all.  I assure them they don't need to learn it all, just enjoy the process.

The thing is, the craft of weaving (spinning, knitting, etc.) is so all encompassing that no one person will ever learn it ALL.

So I go back to the elephant eating analogy.  Begin.  Begin somewhere.  Just...begin.  Choose something.  Reduce the choices so that they don't seem so overwhelming.  Don't feel over burdened the the vastness of it, just...begin.

Then?  Keep going.  Keep going for as long as you enjoy it.  Keep learning.  Keep on, keeping on.

And leave the regrets by the side of the road as you keep taking one more step, then another, then one more.  

The craft so long the life so short to learn (Chaucer paraphrase)

Friday, September 17, 2021

Versatile

 


All of the shawls in the photo were woven on the same warp.  By changing the weft colour and the tie up/treadling, the shawls were related but not identical.

I think this is the kind of thing that drew me to weaving in the first place.  I could set up a set of possibilities, then by making changes, sometimes minor, sometimes major, I could wind up with a variety of different designs.

But weaving is flexible and versatile beyond just this aspect.  

The archeological record is now pushing the horizon for the beginning of textiles to nearly 40,000 years.  Evidence of quite complex spun yarn means that prior to the date of that particular cordage, humans had been spinning for quite some time.  You don't sit down and make a complex 3D structure from fibres the first time you pluck a few fibres off a plant and fiddle with it.

Evidence of actual cloth is scarce and generally second hand - details in stone sculpture, imprints in clay, preserved through the centuries, designs on pottery, showing people spinning and weaving  sophisticated textiles 4000+ years ago.

In the 21st century it is not necessary for everyone to be producing textiles and for those of us who do, we can practice the art/craft to whatever level we desire.

Some of us like to take a deep dive, others just enjoy the time spent at the wheel or loom.  Either way, creativity is being exercised, skills preserved.

There is so much more I would like to learn about weaving.  I have no idea what the future holds or if I will have the time and energy to do another deep dive.  Whether or not I do isn't really relevant, although I do find myself drawn to some areas of textile creation and would like to know more.  OTOH, I can enjoy what others are doing and learn vicariously from them.

Embracing the role of 'elder' I do hope that I can continue to teach, in some way, for a while longer.  But life is uncertain, the future will unfold as it will.  The big thing, I think, is to stay flexible.  I've done deep dives in a number of areas - at this point in my life I just don't know if I have the energy.  But I will keep weaving for as long as I can.

I still have SABLE, after all.

(Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy)

Currently reading The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs