Thursday, September 22, 2022

Doing the Right Thing


If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

I continue to work on staying safe from covid.  For me, being immune compromised, getting sick from covid would not be good.  It would not be 'mild'.  It would not be a 'nothing burger'.  It could, in fact, be fatal.

We are 2.5+ years into a pandemic, one that far too many people have decided isn't real, doesn't exist, is all a figment of someone's fevered imagination.  In spite of the daily deaths that would - in any other circumstance - have caused people to pause.  But here we are.

So I advocated, quite loudly, at a recent guild event for all people attending guild events to attend wearing a mask.  

Since then I have seen more and more reports that the majority of people would be fine with mask mandates, they just don't want to buck the majority.

I'm here to tell you, that if you are part of the majority of people who would be fine with a mask - WEAR THE MASK!

Don't wait for government to tell you.  You already know it's the 'right' thing to do.  So do it.  Do it even if it means that you might be the only person in the room doing it.  By your example you will encourage others to ALSO put on a mask.

So please.  If you belong to a weaving guild, protect your fellow guild members and wear a mask.  Be the example.  Be the lone voice if that's what it takes.  Protect our elders, their knowledge and experience.  

There are still too many people getting sick and some of them are dying.  Far too many are dealing with the long term effects of Long Covid.  

Protect them - and yourself - by wearing a mask at guild events, workshops, conferences, exhibits.

Even if you are the only one.  Because it's the 'right' thing to do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Coming Down to the Wire


We make plans.  The universe laughs.

Hope springs eternal.

Even as I despair of meeting my (self-imposed) deadlines, a tiny part of my brain is thinking, thinking, thinking and even as I say "I'm done" that little kernel wonders, what if...?

The taping for the next two classes will soon be history and filed under 'things I have done' instead of the 'things I will do' category.  Vowing they would be my last online classes a few weeks ago, the other night (damn insomnia) I was unprepared for that little part of my brain to send out a teaser 'what if'.

And now, of course, like an ear worm, I can't seem to put it back into the little box it popped out of, like an evil jack-in-the-box, tempting me to consider, to propose, to start thinking about the whole thing more, adding this, adding that, planning warps to exhibit the principles.

Every time it drifts through my conscious awareness, I push it back, push it away, shove it aside.  And it comes again.

I may yet decide to roll with it.  Or sanity may prevail and I'll let it die of a lack of oxygen, a lack of energy to do All The Things required to make it happen.

After 40+ years of weaving I have a broad base of knowledge.  As the years progressed I focused my attention on certain aspects of the craft that I felt needed to be promoted more (wet finishing, ergonomics) and let go other things about cloth construction that interested me.  

Lately those things have begun to reappear.  They are, in fact, facets of wet finishing, largely the special effects that come about *because* of wet finishing.  How weave structures that depend on the deflection of the threads in the cloth develop to their full potential in the wet finishing and other approaches.  In fact I used to offer a workshop with that very focus.

And now I find myself revisiting it - even as I threw away the workshop notes thinking I would never need them again.

Ironic, right? 

Oh well.  It may all come to nothing.

But the fact that this is happening, right now, tells me I'm not done yet.  Even as I come down to the wire in terms of my health, energy and drive to accomplish things, a part of me wants to do 'more'.

Time will tell if I can scrape up the will to actually *do* more.  Or if I will be content simply weaving down my stash.

In the meantime, there will be two more SOS classes launched in the new year and the lecture series continues.  I have a couple of bookings for guild presentations.  The topics are listed on my (new/refreshed) website

Two garments, woven for my master weaver monograph, exhibiting significant fulling

Sunday, September 18, 2022

So Far, So Good


Today is day 5 since my covid 'contact' and even though the covid positive person and I were both masked, AND there was a HEPA filter between us, I am being very very careful.

I have worked hard for 2.5+ years to avoid being 'caught' by this virus and the last thing I wanted to do was have an encounter with someone positive for covid just days before we leave for Vancouver.

So this week has been stressful as I wondered if her mask had worked, if my mask had worked, if the room filter had worked and hopefully because all three were there and hopefully working, I would be 'safe'.

It was with a huge sense of relief that I saw the Control turn red and nothing else.

However, rapid tests are famous for false negatives, so I will test again tomorrow.

The thing is, this past week we were also under a cloud of wildfire smoke, and because I'm allergic to smoke, I was having sinus issues and a slightly sore throat.  So I just didn't know - had my luck run out?  Or was it, in fact, 'just' allergies.

Running on hope, I continued to weave, worked on my teaching aids for the class, and hoped so hard I could almost taste it.

People who are not immune compromised seem to have no idea, or if they do, very little concern, for people like me who would not have a 'mild' infection in spite of multiple vaccinations.  Because our immune system just don't work properly.

People who have had a life saving organ donated take immune suppressants so that their immune system doesn't attack the 'foreign' tissue in their bodies.  People with cancer generally have compromised immune systems because of the treatment they require to save their lives.  Personally my cancer is OF the immune system - half of it simply doesn't work.  People with inflammatory diseases have immune systems that don't work, either.  And the list goes on.

We live IN SPITE of our compromised immune system, but catching a virus like covid would be far more deadly for us than for someone with a healthy immune system.

And why it was so irritating (and still is) when covid minimizers whiff away the fact that someone died because 'they were sick anyway'.  As if we weren't living perfectly fine lives until we caught covid.

I am egotistical enough to think that I have worth through the knowledge I hold.   That the weaving community might be 'less' when I'm no longer in it.  And why I am working so hard on these classes for SOS - a repository of some of my knowledge.  

Maybe I'm deluded, but it sure would be nice if the people around me would wear a mask without complaining about how uncomfortable they are and help keep me from getting sick from an airborne virus.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Lemons -> Lemonade


After the disappointment of the 'too old' mercerized cotton, I returned to a more robust yarn, and one that I have enjoyed weaving with for a very long time.  It was 'comfort' weaving during a time where there is much to be stressed about.

Still on a mission to weave down my stash, I have a significant amount of 2/8 cotton left and there was plenty to quickly toss 20 tubes onto the spool rack and get a warp beamed with the goal of using up the heavier weight single linen yarn that *also* needs using up.  

And it was on my list of things to do 'next' so it didn't take all that long to get the warp onto the beam.  The added benefit was that it is a lot easier for me to see and this warp actually went on with no mistakes (that I am yet aware of, at any rate!)

The photo doesn't do the cloth justice, being taken from below the breast beam and poor light, but I think you can see that for 'beige' it's interesting in a subtle way.  

The two faces of the cloth are not 'balanced' insofar as you see more warp on one side, more weft on the other.  With the heavier linen weft, these towels will make great 'sauna' towels (they will be lovely as exfoliant towels providing a really good rub down!)

I went with 20 epi even though that is a bit on the open side for density but included plain weave to add stability and contrast.  The open density should provide drape while the plain weave will provide body.  And linen being linen, the more these towels get used, the better they will become.

There will be nine more sleeps before we leave and I have slowly been pulling my teaching aids together, generating more visuals to help explain things.  With an on line class, I have to be extra thorough in my explanations because there won't be the usual feedback from students in the moment.  So I have to cover the bases and anticipate areas where some may need a clearer expression of what is happening and why.

In the meantime, life goes on, summer turns into autumn, and my goals remain the same - weave down my stash and try to share as much as I can about what I know - or at least from my experience.  My hope is that people will take my experience for what it is, and then move forward on their own time, in their own direction, and add to the body of knowledge.

Because I by no means know it 'all'.  No one can.  What we *can* do is pool our knowledge so that we all benefit.

And turn 'lemons' into 'lemonade'.

Friday, September 16, 2022



Yesterday I grabbed a photo of the mountain ash trees across the street, laden with berries.

When we first moved to this house, the trees were small.  The area had only been 'developed' for a few years and the small trees the city had planted in front of each house were young.

Our lot had a number of coniferous trees in the back yard, all of which are now gone.  A single large pine tree isn't very stable and over the years many in the neighbourhood had fallen over, taking fences, and porches with them.  So we cut ours down.  Doug planted some plum trees in the back yard and has been harvesting plums from them - until this year.  The climate has  changed and we've noticed those changes.  None of them have been for the better.

So these trees across the street, which would in years past be filled with birds feasting on this bounty?  No birds.  We used to have song birds and lately?  None.

We were lucky this year because we didn't have a lot of forest fire smoke  - until this week when we kept getting urgent notices about the really bad air quality.  We have a/c and a filter and haven't noticed much of a problem (except my sinus drainage ramped up, so...)

We are heading into winter.  But winters aren't the same, either.  Too warm.  Freezing rain instead of light fluffy snow.  Driving conditions become treacherous more than ever.  Instead of roads cleared of ice/snow because the temps are cold enough to keep them that way, not this freeze/thaw nonsense of the past few years.

And covid continues.  

I'm not looking forward to the upcoming trip because we'll have to be so careful.  We'll bring our air filter, eat take out, not visit people we had been planning to visit.  Because you just don't know when you'll encounter someone who may not know they are positive for covid and oops!  Immune compromised system can't handle the virus and if that happens to me, it will in all likelihood NOT be mild, in spite of vaccinations.  

Just this week there was a positive person at the guild meeting - because she didn't know she was positive.  Fortunately everyone was wearing a mask, or we could have a dozen guild members potentially sick with covid.

So many people have just given up doing any kind of preventative measures.  They think it's inevitable and everyone should just get it and get it over with.  Problem with that, is that you can catch covid multiple times - just like you can can a cold - and the more times you catch covid, the risk of Long Covid rises.

The Black Death was a mass extinction event.  Covid is going to prove to be a mass disabling event.  Someone gets covid once, were miserable for a few days, but seemingly recover.  What they don't realize is that covid may have left 'easter eggs' in their body which will blow up in the future.  Because covid is not a respiratory illness.  It gets into the blood and can go anywhere (and everywhere) in your body, cause micro clots, which means the risk of stroke rises, inflammation in organs including heart AND BRAIN.  For men it can mean penile disfunction.  

So no, I'm not about to voluntarily get it and get on with my life.  I will continue to avoid covid LIKE THE PLAGUE IT IS.

Once this trip is done, I will be mostly staying home and avoiding people because as winter arrives, more people will be gathering indoors and if someone doesn't know they are positive, any indoor gathering can become a covid event.

So I'm glad I insisted at the guild meeting that we must ALL wear masks.  Or it could be a dozen people sick, not just the one who was positive and didn't yet know it.

We are living in 'interesting' times, and no idea when it will get better.  But I do know one thing - living with covid does not mean ignoring it.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Continuing Saga of the Never Ending Stash


Yesterday I finished threading the 2/8 cotton warp, got it sleyed, tied on, generated a treadling and wove the first towel.

The half bleached linen (slightly slubby and hairy) yarn is working quite well on the mixed beige warp and I'm pleased with the results.

It kind of looks like a pastry dusted with icing sugar.  (Maybe I was hungry while I was weaving?)

Since the linen is on average thinner than the cotton, it was a bit 'daring' of me to go with 20 epi, except that the linen is so stiff in relation to the cotton, plus the texture and the hairiness of the linen, that I figured it would not want to beat in anywhere near what a cotton yarn of the same grist would do.  The stiffness of the linen will give the cloth overall body (I'm anticipating, based on previous experience) and while the resulting cloth is too heavy to rightly be called a 'tea' towel, I'm thinking these will make really nice hand towels.  Perhaps, even, a good sauna towel.  

My goal with this is to make something that has flexibility (hence more open density) but that will wear well (hence the plain weave incorporated in the tie up).

In the draft above you can see the body of the towel (the upper part) and then the hem area.  I don't really have anything compatible to use for the hems, so the hem weft will be the same yarn, but woven in a straight progression rather than the advancing progression of the towel body.

Even without changing the tie up, just making this small change will create a cloth that is less bulky for the hem to be turned.  This cloth is definitely heavier than the towels woven with 2/16 or 2/20.  

However, it looks like this one warp might just use up the majority of the linen.  If there is any linen left over, I will put one more 2/8 cotton warp on and do the same thing to use up the linen, plus two tubes of a 2 ply - one ply cotton, one ply linen - plus if there is still warp left on the second warp I have some textured cotton that can be used to finish the warp off entirely.

This week I've been working on the classes for School of Sweet Georgia, and expect to continue on that this afternoon after an errand run, including a clothing store to look for two identical tops to wear for the filming.  The filming crew has suggested that we interleave the filming of the two topics in order to reduce camera set up time - IOW, for the scenes that need an overhead camera angle we film all of those at once for both.  Which means I will have to be able to switch from one topic to another instantly.  But for continuity, both classes will need the same 'wardrobe', so I'll need two tops to make the switching easier.

The problem is, I didn't like the tops I wore for the last class and don't want to wear them again, but neither do I have two tops of the same colour/design that are acceptable so I need to buy some.

Since I really dislike shopping for clothing, send good shopping vibes!

My studio is also being used as a staging area as I begin to pack what I need for the trip and quite frankly I will be more than glad when I'm home again and all of this is in the 'I have done this', not still in the 'I will do this" category.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Quick Pivot


The sunlight was washing out the colour so I took the photo with shadow on the warp so you can see more of the colours.

When I realized I could not continue using the 2/20 mercerized cotton in my stash for warp as planned, I had to quickly pivot to something else.

Given my success at weaving down my yarn stash, I was very limited in my choices.  Plus the fact that I'm reserving a bunch of my 2/8 cotton for the sectional beaming class so I couldn't use any of that yarn, I had to work with what was left.

Which was mostly beige.  Not exactly my favourite colour, but needs must.

I was going to add a variegated yarn to spice the warp up some, but I didn't feel like taking the time to wind spools or cones, so instead I just included a pale green and a couple of light peach ends along with about 6 or 7 various shades of 'beige'.  Some were more yellow, some more brown, and two ends are a 'stone' - a dark brownish grey.  

I have several pounds (5?) of a single linen what is a bit slubby and slightly thinner than 2/8 cotton.  Since linen is so stiff I went with 20 epi and will weave it in a 'fancy' twill with some plain weave in the tie up to add some stability with what is a relatively open set.

These towels will be more hand towels than tea towels, but should wear in nicely.  I've had some feedback from people saying that they have been using my part linen towels, and after a while they really develop into a lovely cloth.  Which is my experience as well.  Linen really does need to be used, not stored in the closet for 'good'.

I say I did a 'quick' pivot, but that's not really accurate.  Instead of making the decision immediately, I had to stop and take a break, clear my mind of the disappointment of having threads snap, left right and centre, look at what I had on hand and then finally, some hours later, make a decision.  The brain fog from the pain/pain medications means I have to take time to let my thoughts percolate.  I don't want to rush into a decision about a longish warp before I have had a chance to think things through.

But I will tell you something for free - I do miss my brain working 'properly'!

So I am going to say one more thing about brain fog.  The reports about Long Covid brain fog are truly concerning.  There are now so many people who have been infected with this disease, many of them dealing with fatigue and brain fog, cognitive disfunction, plus so many other health issues and the advice now is to not get it at all, or, if you've had it, do everything in your power to NOT get it again.  The more times you get infected with covid, the risk of developing Long Covid or having other hidden health issues that will manifest in the coming years goes up.

Given my already precarious health, I will be continuing to wear a mask when I go out, advocate for air filtration, and get every covid vaccine because it has been shown that the vaccine will offer protection against severe illness and Long Covid should I be unlucky and catch it.

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay covid aware.  Living with covid is NOT ignoring it, but living with mitigations like filtration - personal and general, isolating when sick, getting vaccines.