Sunday, May 19, 2024

Making Plans

 


There is a saying that goes:  If you want to make God laugh, make plans.

Since I always prefer to see folk laugh...

Yesterday I hit the 2/3s mark on the current warp.  Today my goal is to finish towel 7 (on this section), cut off and re-tie.  And then somehow get the last 5 or 6 towels woven before my next injection on the 29th.

But I'm hurting.  Quite a lot, actually.  It's not as bad as it could be, but it's grinding, never ending.  Since the only way out is through, I grit my teeth and try to get to the loom twice a day, ignoring pretty much anything else.

I still have to finalize the article I've been working on.  Somehow there just isn't enough oomph left in me to do the last things that need doing.  But maybe today?  Because I have a tight deadline on the next article, which has been started but still needs to be finished, photos sourced, resource list created, etm.

The linen from Lithuania should arrive soon, and I need to think about what colours to order in to use as warp.  In the meantime, I *have* generated a fairly 'simple' threading for a shawl warp and decided to just do enough for 6 shawls.  Which will barely make a dent in my rayon yarn stash, but never mind.  The goal is to get them fringe twisted and wet finished, ready for the craft fair in November.  And then go back to tea towels.

We have had some cooler weather and even a little bit of rain.  Not nearly enough to end the drought, but enough to hopefully knock back the fire danger a little.  More importantly, the northern part of the province got a good soaking rain, and that has helped in the fight to keep those fires from burning down one town.  So far.  But as the wildfire service warned, that fire as well as others not very far away, are still not 'controlled' and anything can happen.

The other exciting thing that has happened is news that my new glasses are ready.  Given it's a long weekend and the Costco parking lot was jammed when we drove by, I'm going to wait until Tuesday to go pick them up.  But hopefully that will help with the eye strain/fatigue.

So there are a few things coming up in the next two weeks that *ought* to make life a little bit better.  Time will tell.

In the meantime, I make plans.  Do I hear the faint echo of a distant laugh???  Oh well.




Thursday, May 16, 2024

A Good Day

 


Weaving is a bit like watching paint dry.  

I put on enough warp to do around 18-20 towels (depending on the length and if I have any oopsies).

So the loom looks pretty much the same for about 3 weeks.  Nothing new to see, just same old, same old.

Today I had red light laser therapy on my feet and lower back.  My feet seem to be 'stuck' and not getting any better - but neither are they getting worse - so I keep going in hopes that they really are improving, just so slowly that I'm not noticing.  As for my back, no idea if it is helping but if it is slowing the deterioration, that has to be on the plus side.  I go in two weeks to get another injection in my back and hope to set up a schedule of every four months, instead of waiting until I'm dealing with pain, then waiting for an appointment.

But today was a 'good' day, comparatively speaking.  The loom is behaving with this warp after I 'fixed' a few minor issues, and the fine linen is behaving beautifully after steeping for a week or so in the humidor.  And I've been able to weave around 1000 picks in 45 minutes, which isn't half bad.  That includes the time required to stop, advance the warp, change bobbins, and take a sip to keep myself hydrated.  That's an average of around 22 picks per minute.

Not bad for an old lady with a bad back.

Today as I was weaving, only needing surface attention, I thought about the next warp.  Instead of tea towels, I need to get some shawls woven, so I've been mulling options.  I think I've got something I'm willing to put into the loom, just need to get it into Fiberworks and double check it's going to look ok.  

I already have lots of the Brassard 2/16 bamboo, and a large variety of other rayon yarns to use for weft.  I may make each shawl a different colour and keep the weave structure the same.  Or not.  It depends.  A 24 yard long warp should let me weave about 7 shawls.  I weave them 90" long, plus 12" for fringes, plus take up and loom waste.  And a little extra to test weft colours or to fix oopsies, plus cut off and re-tie once or twice.

While I am weaving that warp I'll be thinking about which colours to bring in to use as warp for the white linen currently winging its way here.  It should arrive by the end of the month.  The yarn from Brassard usually takes about two weeks, so I need to make up my mind soon and get the order sent in.

I'm toying with doing a gradient - blue/grey base with accent colours that shift along the width of the warp.  It would be subtle, but I think it might be 'interesting'.  Interesting enough to justify the extra time and effort?  Maybe.  Still cogitating.

It's also a good day because we got a few more rain showers.  Not much.  Not nearly enough.  But some.  And some is better than none, so I'll take it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Refuge

 


There is no sun today, and I'm glad.  I'm glad because it is cloudy, and it was raining when I got up.  A nice, slow, steady rain.  Rain that will - hopefully - sink into the parched earth and reduce the danger of fire.  Rain that will fill the aquifers, the lakes and rivers and reduce the level of drought that has been worsening over the past few years.  At least a little bit.

There are days when I am of this earth, but - quite frankly - don't want to be in it.  After years of people taking care and isolating - something that didn't particularly bother me, being reasonably self-sufficient and on the introvert side of personality traits - being left 'alone' isn't a hardship for me.  

But as the years have inched by, the political situation creeping ever further to the far far right, there are days when it is far too people-y.  On those days I wrestle 'sarcastic me' to the ground, and generally head to the studio and try to do something that will take my mind off of what is happening in the world.

I put the music on, pick up the shuttle, clear my mind (or try to) and weave.

For 45 minutes I have respite from reality.  A break from the worrisome prospects of what will happen in the coming months and years.  And I have woven another part of a tea towel.  A most mundane thing that isn't, on the scale of things, monumental or even important.

But I have exercised my creativity, used my skills, my knowledge, and brought something new and different into the world.

And some days?

That has to be enough...

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Oops.

 


Yesterday I cut the first 7 towels off the loom.

I gotta tell ya, weaving with this linen from Lithuania has been lovely.  

When it arrived it was a bit thinner than I had expected (still not great at converting metric to imperial - my bad), but thinner can always - in a pinch - be made thicker, right?

But instead I mulled it over and decided I didn't want a thicker towel - thinner towels are just more absorbent, more flexible, just more...tea-towel-like...than a thicker cloth.

So I bought 36 tubes of 2/16 cotton, beamed the warp, designed a weaving draft based on one from Ars Textrina #14, tweaked it to make it 'fit' what I wanted better, added borders, added hems, etc., and then in the tie up added some plain weave to help stabilize the somewhat thinner linen.

When I was getting close to being able to weave I wound off as many bobbins as I had available and stored them in humidors (see previous blog posts on how I prepare linen for weft - topic 'humidor') to 'steep' for at least 3 days (or longer - longer is better when it comes to linen).

The warp went onto the beam quite smoothly, although I did have some hiccoughs while threading and sleying.  Nothing terminal and soon fixed.  (Just really annoying!)

Since then I've managed to get to the loom pretty much every day for at least one session and the loom is co-operating, too, so this whole experience has been very enjoyable.

So much so, I went back to the etsy site where the yarn is being sold to see if they had half-bleached.

They had what they called 'dyed white' under two different listings.  The description appeared identical, but the price was different.  One listing was being offered at a much lower price.  I mulled it over and thought that perhaps the lower priced yarn was from an older batch and they were just trying to move it out.  As I thought and looked at their other offerings and then went back and forth between the two listings for the white yarn, I noticed that a number of people had the cheaper yarn in their shopping carts.

A really good psychological tool for marketing, because it spurred me to put some in my cart, too.  And thought some more.  And decided that if I was going to buy more yarn it made a lot more economical sense to buy more than a kilo, given shipping and whatnot.

So I ordered.

Five kilos.  

Yes, yes, I know I'm *supposed* to be weaving down my yarn stash.  But I'm not buying this on spec, I have a plan for it.  (Seriously!)

Once the current warp is off the loom I will put a shawl warp on and get some of that excess of rayon yarn woven down and while I'm doing that I will think about which colour(s) to order in from Brassard of the 2/16 cotton.

Because I'm not done with weaving yet, and I'd rather weave with yarn I like than with yarn I don't.

And since it takes a long time to do the fringe twisting, I kinda need to get those shawls done now so that they are ready for the craft fairs in the fall.

My story, sticking to it.

(If you want to buy some tea towels, there are plenty in my ko-fi shop.)


Monday, May 13, 2024

Hubris

 


sample for article #2 - edge treatments

"It isn't bragging if it's true" a friend once told me.

But I still have a hard time with putting myself, my knowledge, 'out there'.  It feels like 'tooting my own horn' - a no-no in my childhood home.

We weren't supposed to 'brag' about ourselves, all while being told that we weren't 'good enough'.  (Why wasn't that B an A?)

So I have 'impostor syndrome'.   On the one hand, part of me is confident that I actually know something about weaving after being a professional weaver for 40+ years.  On the other hand, a lot of people know a lot about weaving - what makes *me* special?

And face it, a lot of people have written about weaving, taught it, practiced it, won awards doing it.

I squirm a bit thinking about the fact that I, too, have written a lot about it, taught it, practiced it, even, yes, won awards for it.

And yet. 

And yet.

But I'm also tired.  I 'retired' from being a 'professional' weaver in 2019 for a lot of reasons, one of which was the chronic pain and fatigue I was living with.  Deadlines, always my 'friend', became an onerous burden.

And I was tired of writing to someone else's style guide, to their deadline.

I struggled to keep going, and eventually wound up writing again, after having produced two books that were mainly technical - textbooks, if you will.

Over the past 18 months or so, I wrote two more.

I could write when I felt like it, choose the words I wanted to use, take the photos I felt needed to be shown to illustrate what my words were describing.

When I finished the last book in February, there was a huge void in my daily schedule.  Instead of being productive (I would generally write in the mornings while I had my coffee), I doom scrolled and wasted the morning.

I thought about writing, but other than writing here, for my blog, I couldn't think of anything else to say that warranted being published.  And when emails came (I'm on a couple of publication email distribution lists) saying they were looking for articles, on X, Y or Z topics, none of them resonated with me.  Or the deadline was tight and I didn't feel like trying to squeeze the time to a) write the text and b) weave the samples.

So I declared (to myself and/or the universe, if there is anything out there that listens to mere mortals) that I would only write what I wanted to write, in my own style.  People could come here and read.  Or not.

I felt a bit like a petulant adolescent - I donwanna do what you want, I only wanna do what *I* want.

And so the past few months have passed, with me pretty much ignoring the weaving community as a whole, just answering a few questions here and there, usually because someone tags me to get my attention in a group, or emails directly.  And then I do my best to help, which I don't feel like I always do, but when I can't, I can usually point someone towards resources that may.

A few weeks ago someone approached me to write several articles for them.  Since they wanted articles on things that are near and dear to my heart, AND I hadn't actually written that particular viewpoint very much, I agreed.  I've sent the first off, and the 2nd is being alpha read (I don't always trust my brain to catch typos/grammar issues, and a friend has been invaluable in the role of alpha reader).

Yesterday another person contacted me and asked if I would write about a technique.  I felt the topic was too narrow, so I suggested expanding it and they agreed.  It's a tight deadline, but given I just finished (or nearly) the 2nd article for publication 1, I felt I could squeeze this other one in.

The thing is, both of these publications seem to want what I want to write.  When I asked about word counts, both said, essentially, as many as you need to explain the topic.

And here's the thing.  Because both publications are asking for things I feel are important, I already have photos or samples I can photograph - I don't need to weave anything.

Will anyone else but me be interested?  We'll see, I guess.

I try to never fall into the trap of thinking I know everything, because change one thing, and everything can change.

But that said, I do happen to know quite a lot about weaving.  And if there is a chance anyone else wants to know what I know, I feel an obligation to share that.

I sort of feel like Peter Collingwood, though, who got tired of teaching and decided to write a book about weaving rugs thinking he would never have to teach again.  Instead his invitations to teach essentially doubled.  Same thing happened after Magic in the Water.

Well, I am done with travelling to teach, but we now live in the age of the internet, and I can teach remotely.  And I can write.  So I guess I keep on, keeping on...


Sunday, May 12, 2024

Struggle

 


It feels like my life has been a constant struggle since...I can't even remember when.  My entire life?

So I'm used to things not being comfortable.  Or going smoothly.  Or having to stop and re-jig what I want to do because it just isn't working out the way I wanted it to.

To be honest, this warp started out just like that.

I made not 1, not 2, but *3* threading errors.  Simple ones, fairly easily fixed with the addition of tied in repair heddles.  Just...annoying.

I suspected I had a sleying error but could not find it, only to discover - in the process of fixing the threading errors - that somehow I'd overlooked a bundle of 5 ends and never sleyed them.  Right smack dab in the middle of the warp.

Again, fairly easily fixed, just time consuming.  And irritating.  

But I started weaving again, then noticed that in the process of fixing the threading errors, I'd introduced a sleying error.

GAH!  Again, fairly easily fixed when I got to the cut line.  So, one towel has a very minor 'error' in it which may actually disappear in the wet finishing.  Or not.

But once all that was dealt with and I actually began weaving, I was surprised - and ever so grateful - to have things start to go smoothly.

(I hesitated to actually write about this in case I invoke the 'curse' that comes with the hubris of thinking I'm doing something 'right'...)

Anyway, I just finished towel #5 on this 24 (or so) yard warp which should yield around 19 or 20 towels.

The fine linen is behaving beautifully, having been steeped in a humidor for over 3 days.  My selvedges aren't perfect, but they are 'good enough'.  

And I'm enjoying my time at the loom, not needing to fight with the yarn or the loom - just sit and toss the shuttle and beat the weft into place.

I am enjoying it so much that I am seriously considering buying more of this fine linen to make more tea towels.  And trying really hard to *not* do that because I am *supposed* to be weaving down my stash, not adding to it!

However, it looks very much like this warp will use up the kilo of linen and then I may consider finally putting a shawl warp into the loom.  I prefer to fringe twist finer threads, especially for something like a shawl, and that takes time.  It actually takes longer than hand hemming.  I'm out of shawls, and I still have way too much yarn in a variety of fine rayons that I need to weave down.

But the jury is out on which direction I will go.  At the rate of one towel per day (on average) it will take me another two weeks to finish this warp.  

I have time to cogitate.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Books, Books and Still More Books

 



These are the books still available for sale from Allison's library.

If you are interested in one, the price listed is just for the book.  Shipping is an additional $22 (if you want more than one I will estimate the shipping for a larger parcel - frequently 2 or 3 books can go for the cost of one book).

If you are in Canada, I can accept etransfer, cheque or Paypal.  If you are in the US I can accept Paypal (and if you are in the US, you get the exchange rate discount - just saying...)

 

Alto, Palmer, Weiland.  Sewing Ultra Suede Brand Fabrics.  Soft cover $30

 

Buxton, Judith.  Selected Canadian Spinning Wheels in Perspective.  Soft back.  $30

 

 

Clarke, Leslie J.  The Craftsman in Textiles.  Hardback.  $20. 

 

 

 

Fannin, Allen.  Handloom Weaving Technology hardback $30 (2 copies)

Finlay, Victoria.  Color.  Hardback  $30

Hollister, U. S.  The Navajo and his Blanket.  Hard Back.  $30

James, George Wharton.  Indian Blankets and their Makers; the Navaho.  Hard back.  $30

Larsen, Jack Lenor and Mildred Constatine.  The Art Fabric; Mainstream.  Soft back.  $50

Larsen, Jack Lenor and Mildred Constatine.  Beyond Craft; the art fabric.  Hard back.  $50

Larsen, Jack Lenor.  A Weaver’s Memoir hardback.  $30  two copies

Larsen, Jack Lenor and Jeanne Weeks.  Fabrics for Interiors; a guide for architects, designers, and consumers.  Soft back.  $30

Laughlin, Mary Elizabeth.  More Than Four.  Coil back.  $30

Mayer, Anita Luvera.  Clothing from the Hands That Weave.  Coil back.  (water damaged, will give away)

Mayer, Anita Luvera.  Handwoven Clothing Felted to Wear.  Coil back.  $30

Mera, HP.  Spanish American Blanketry.  Paper back  $20

Moorman, Theo.  Weaving as an Art Form; a personal statement.  Hardback.  $30

Pendleton, Mary.  Navajo and Hopi Weaving Techniques.  Soft cover.  $30

Proctor, Richard and Lew, Jennifer.  Surface Design for Fabric.  Soft back.  $30

Ranshaw, G. S.  The Story of Rayon.  Very old – 1930s?  Cardboard cover.  Worn.  (will give away if anyone wants it)

Samuel, Cheryl.  The Chilkat Dancing Blanket.  Soft cover.  $30

Sanders, Nadine and Joyce Harter.  Weaving that Sings.  Soft back.  $30

Sutton, Ann.  Ideas in Weaving.  Hard back.  $30 (may not be sold, awaiting payment)

Van der Hoogt, Madelyn.  The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers.   Signed. Coil back.  $50

Waller, Irene.  Designing with Thread.  Hard back.  $30.  (may not have sold – awaiting payment)

Worst, Edward.  Foot Treadle Loom Weaving.  Soft cover.  1976 reprint  (would give away if anyone wants it.)