Thursday, June 20, 2024

Memories

 


Grief is a funny thing.  You experience a loss, maybe several, maybe a whole lot of losses, and you deal with each one as they come.  You compartmentalize the emotions until the rawness of the loss begins to lessen.

But it never really goes away.  It just gets filed away in a dark corner of your mind, your heart, and you carry on.

The loss that nearly 'broke' me was my younger (and only) brother.  His sudden and very unexpected death from massive cardiac issues kickstarted a roller coaster journey for me as his dying saved me from the same thing.  And, because I was going through it, my spouse finally recognized *his* symptoms, and he got 'saved', too.

Mostly when I think about my brother now, it is not terribly painful.  But I had to go through survivor guilt and make a way forward wondering why him, not me.  I was older, after all.  

After I had the angioplasty that 'saved' me, I talked to the cardiac nurse and spent a good hour going through a questionnaire to find out what I had done 'wrong', given cardiac issues/high cholesterol (which mine wasn't, actually) had been discovered and are generally accepted as a 'life style' issue.  In the end, she tapped her pen on the paper and said "Well, you were doing everything right."

I looked at her and said "Why am I here, then?"  Meaning why do I have cardiac issues.

She gave me a long look an said "You can't beat genetics."

It was the same when I was diagnosed with cancer.  I don't have the gene that most people who develop this cancer have, plus I have multiple allergies, which the oncologist said was 'protective' against this type of cancer.

Again "Why am I here, then?"

"Bad luck."

And sometimes that's all it is.  If it isn't genetics, it's bad luck.

Bad luck that I've had injuries - double whip lash, a fall that injured my SI joint and probably led to the damage to my discs when I hit the concrete making a one point landing on my lower back.  I suppose I should be glad I have a thick skull and didn't wind up with concussion on top of it.

The problem now is that I remember my previous body.  I remember what I used to be able to do, and now cannot.

And I have to deal with that every single day.  I am trying really hard to NOT complain because other folk have way worse things they deal with daily.  

But the fact remains.  I cannot any longer do what I used to be able to do.

Tuesday I had errands to run.  At one point I dropped my car keys when I was fumbling in my purse preparing to pay for a purchase.  I stood there and sighed.  And then muttered "The floor gets further away every year."

The young clerk gave me a startled look and I bent over and managed to pick the keys up.  But squatting down?  Beyond me, now.  Thankfully I am still flexible enough that I can bend over and (just barely) touch the floor.  

But never mind.  I *am* still alive.  My brother isn't.  I vowed that because he couldn't live his life to the fullest, into 'old age' and I can, I will.  In spite of injury.  In spite of loss.  In spite of challenges.  I will live.  Until I don't.

And so I will go back to the loom and weave another towel.  I will finish setting up the experiments for the article I'm writing.  And I will keep on, keeping on.  

Acceptance isn't giving up.  It is staring reality in the face, finding out what is possible, and what, sadly, is not.  Acceptance allows me to continue, to find ways around, in order to accomplish what I want to do.  Because just because I can't squat down and stand back up doesn't mean I can't bend over and stretch to pick up my keys.  I *can* still do that.  I just have to do some things differently, is all.

Time passes, things change.  Doesn't mean I don't miss my younger body and sigh a little when I can no longer do what I used to do without giving a second thought about doing it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Experimenting

 


When I decided to retire from doing craft fairs in 2019 and then in-person teaching (because of Covid) some of my friends wondered what I would do instead.

I had no ready answer for them, other than that I thought I might like to take a deeper look at weaving.  Deeper than I had been able to do for a while.

I'm no stranger to sampling, and experimenting; I just wasn't sure what route I would take in that exploration.

A few detours arrived and I enjoyed the journey.  They allowed me to examine certain things in more depth, which I enjoyed very much.  I also wrote 2 books(!) because it seems like I hadn't said everything I wanted to say in the first two.

So much of my energy has been needed to just keep going lately that there hasn't been a lot of time nor energy for anything beyond the mundane.  But I *can* still weave, so there is that.

I've been on the naltrexone since November and it takes the edge off the pain - not completely, but enough I can (mostly) cope.  The more important thing is that I have my brain back, now that it isn't clouded by opioids, and I can think again without trying to peer through the drug haze.

A few months ago I found myself stating, quite firmly, that I wasn't going to 'pitch' articles to publications but only write what I wanted to write.  I'm old, I'm fairly stable financially (for reasons that are beyond my control, but for which I am grateful), and with covid NOT over, I won't be traveling or teaching in person any time soon.

So I mostly just sat with my thoughts and did the best I could to get through each day.

Time passed, and I waited to see if my muse was going to appear with a whip and insist I needed to write more - what that might be, I had no idea, but they had shown up previously so I was confident that if they wanted me to write, they would bring the seed of an idea that would spark my interest.

Well, my muse didn't show up, but 3 different publications contacted me in the space of 4 weeks, asking for articles.  They were very specific about what they wanted me to write about and every one of them was right in my 'zone' of wanting to write about those things.

Two of the articles were so specific I had to come up with experiments to make sure I could write about them.

One was a very short deadline, and I tackled that one first (it will appear soon - will let folk know where and when), one had a very open deadline but two of the topics were things I knew well and didn't need to weave any actual samples for, and the third was very specific in what they wanted.  And for that one I needed to weave samples and do some experiments.

So I shuffled my weaving schedule and piggy-backed the samples onto warps that I had planned to do 'down the road', and instead brought them forward to do immediately.  Bonus for having enough yarn on hand to weave the samples (and enough samples in my teaching boxes for the rest).

Both of those topics are, shall we say, broad enough to require some digging, but specific enough I needed to produce examples to illustrate the topic.  Both are wet finishing related, but aspects that I had never had time to really, thoroughly explore.

The first set of samples (topic 1) that I needed to weave are done, with one sample started for topic two.  I've decided on my approach to the experiment I will run for topic 1, counted up how many samples I will need to explore the options, and purchased a product that I haven't used, until now, but was recommended and which I will try, to see if it works as advertised.

In the meantime I am weaving off the rest of the warp I used for topic 1 samples, have pulled the yarn for topic 2 samples and will throw that at the loom as soon as the current warp comes off.  I have enough yarn for a 3rd warp if I find, in my actual experimenting, that I need more samples.

And then the rest of the samples should already be in my teaching bins, so I need to collect the bins and sort through them to see what I have.

I have written down the first experiment and just need to do the wet finishing and run the experiment.  For the second topic I finally figured out how I would go about doing it, worked out a way to document the different samples and be able to identify each one so I can make comparisons.

Because only after the wet finishing happens can I begin to examine the results, make comparisons and then possibly come to some meaningful conclusions.

In the meantime, I keep weaving, even at a slower pace than I would like.  I have mixed feelings about what is happening to my body, but since I can keep weaving, that is what I will do.  And when I can't weave anymore, maybe I can keep writing?

As for when the articles will appear?  There is usually a 6-12 month lead up time from when someone is asked to write an article and when it will appear.  Stay tuned!

Monday, June 17, 2024

A Close Look

 


This is a 'linen tester'.  Why is it called that?  No idea.  But it's a really useful tool if you want to take a closer look at your textiles.

I have one that is a little bit different.  It has the inch scale, but it also has a 1/4" and 1/2" scale.  The viewing area is 1" by 1/4" by 1/2", which is helpful when working with finer threads.



I also have a digital microscope.  I wish I'd bought the higher resolution one, but the change in price between viewing at 5 times and higher than that was a significant price difference.  And, not having a whole lot of money at the time, I went with the lower resolution.  Much to my regret, at times.

Not everyone wants to get so up close and personal with their threads, but I find that if I am to truly understand my cloth, I have to understand the materials - the threads - I am weaving.

When we scale up - or down - things change.  The dynamics of the threads in the weave structure change, just like changing the weave structure will change the results.  Just like changing the density will change the results.

And, because I always want to know more, to know why - if that is even possible - I like to take up close and personal peeks at my cloth.

Especially now.  Why?

Because just in the last 3 months I have had 3 different publications ask me to write about weaving.  Deep dives.

I'm stoked.  Truly.

My body may be breaking down, but I still have my brain (in no small part due to the fact that I am NOT taking opioids for pain relief right now).

Truth to be told, the last injection doesn't seem to have done much and I'm still living with pain.  But it doesn't seem to matter if I weave or not, so I will keep weaving.  And for so long as I can keep thinking, I'll keep writing.  I guess...


Sunday, June 16, 2024

A Little Progress

 


Having made some progress over the past couple of days, I decided I'd better get the next draft ready.  I'm not sure I'll actually do this one as it is very similar to the other one, so I'll think on it for a bit.

In the meantime, I've decided to do one more warp with 2/8 and the 'mystery' yarn, partly because it weaves up so quickly, but mostly because I can weave the rest of the samples for the articles I'm writing on it.  And then I can do the wet finishing, analyze the results and write the articles.

Besides, I'm enjoying how quickly 'fat' yarn weaves up!

It will also give me a little time to think through how many samples I will need, read some resources and then get cracking.  My goal is to have both articles written, proof-read (if my alpha reader has the time), finalized and mailed off by the end of August.  That will give them plenty of time to do their end - the editing, photographing, formatting, etc.  And then get the galley proof (as were) to me for a final read through.

Just like with weaving, the prep work in publishing is all iceberg - what you get to see is only the tiny tip of the effort involved.

I have been given permission to say what magazine these are for, but Impostor Syndrome popped up and quashed that suggestion - at least until after they approve what I submit!  So, one more reason to get them done 'early', because I don't want to say anything until I know for sure they like what I do...

The stacks of books are in my office, but I think I'm going to bring some of them out to my chair in the living room.  Maybe read them instead of playing Scrabble Go or doom scrolling on the iPad.

We have had several days of grey weather, and bouts of rain.  Everyone is trying really hard to not be upset at the rain, we so desperately need it.  Yesterday another small town in the northern part of the province was issued with an evacuation order.  So far we have not had much in the way of smoke, in no small part due to the rain.  I won't actually be too disappointed if we have a cool, wet summer, after the awfulness of last year.

Onwards!

Saturday, June 15, 2024

No Hare, Just Tortoise

 


My days of frantically keeping the plates spinning are pretty much over.  These days a typical day will consist of a leisurely morning, a couple of hours of weaving, then puttering, dealing with other things.

Lately, that 'puttering' has been mostly writing - thinking about, researching, weaving samples where required, then getting words generated.  

I find that this is a schedule I can get behind!

There are other things that need dealing with, life being what it is.  But in the 'golden' years of my life, I think I can be more-or-less happy if I can keep getting to the loom a couple times a day, then maybe write some articles.  Getting paid to write articles is nice.  It covers the cost of the sampling, but mostly it keeps my mind thinking, picking through options, trying to understand how the craft 'works'.

Yesterday I also started doing an inventory of my tea towels, preparing for my big sale in July.  Sales of everything, everywhere, seem to be very slow.  I'm not the only creative person to notice this.  All my friends trying to earn an income from making stuff are scrambling to keep the wolf away from the door, food on the table and a roof overhead.  

One thing about being immune compromised and wanting to avoid crowds, we don't spend much money on concerts, dining out, travelling hither and thither.  Given my progressing physical issues, staying home is looking pretty attractive, to be honest.  So I spend money on small things - this week I received my latest order of jigsaw puzzles, and a couple more books to add to my to-be-read pile!  

Today's not-weaving tasks include trimming the fringes on the 3 shawls ready to be done, running the next three through the washer/dryer, dealing with a personal 'problem' which requires me to get online and register for a service (I really don't like doing that sort of thing, but hopefully it won't require a lot of effort to accomplish!) and then start listing the rest of the guild books I'd like to see re-homed.

None of these things has a hard and fast deadline, just my own desire to get them done and out of my hair.  Like I said to my spouse this morning, I can't wait to the last minute before a deadline because there is no more hare, only tortoise left in me.  Slow and steady wins the day.

In the end, I suppose that is going to have to be 'enough'.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Draw In

 


top layer hem is 20/2 cotton, bottom layer is 2/8 cotton

Using up as much of my stash as I can, sometimes I run into issues that I need to make adjustments for.

In the case of the 'mystery' yarn I'm weaving on this 2/8 cotton warp, I needed to weave a sample to test for how the hems would react.

The mystery yarn is a tad thicker than 2/8 cotton so I decided the best approach would be to weave in plain weave hems.  The fabric would be thinner and once hemmed, the hems would not be super thick.  But I needed to test a couple different yarns to see how they would play with the mystery yarn.

Since I was weaving samples for an article I'm researching on the front end of this warp, it was easy to weave a test piece to check which yarn was going to work 'best' as hem weft.

I wove one hem with 2/8 cotton (one of the colours from the warp) - about 3 inches, which is what I tend to allow for hems - wove about 12 or so inches of the towel body, then wove the second hem with some 20/2 white cotton I got from the same person who had the mystery yarn.

In the loom the 2/8 didn't look like it would be too 'off', while the 20/2 looked like it was going to draw in more - although that wasn't a deal breaker.

It was after wet finishing that the true picture emerged.  The 2/8 cotton did not draw in nearly as much as the towel body.  The 20/2 drew in the exact amount needed to keep the hem the same width as the towel.

Once I had the sample wet finished, including a hard press and complete drying, I was able to work backwards to determine how long to weave in the loom to get the size of towel I wanted.  Then I edited the treadling to reflect this information and began weaving.

I found it interesting to note that both the 2/8 and the 20/2 yarns tracked in the plain weave, but I don't consider tracking any kind of 'flaw'.  Besides, once the hem has been folded up and sewn down, I doubt anyone will notice.

I have two gigantic cones of the mystery yarn, and two kilo cones (I think - maybe just two pounds) of the 20/2 white.  Since both need to be weft (imho) it looks like there will be more of these at some point.

Today I need to inventory my tea towels, clean up my my ko-fi shop and get ready for the sale next month.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Legacy

 


In this day of mis- and dis-information, starting up a new magazine is a vote for the future.  

Humans have been playing with string since the dawn of time.  The craft is vast, and broad, and deep.  To try to encapsulate the bones of the craft in a periodical is brave and bold, and honestly?  I wish I were 20 years younger so I could really dig in and participate more than I am able to do.

I have been around since the time of Interweave.  And by that, I mean the magazine.  I loved that magazine and was very sad when it went away.  I wish now I'd kept those magazines when I downsized my library.

In the Kickstarter video Jacey and Lisa say they want to collect as much information as possible and make WEFT a kind of 'encyclopedia' of weaving knowledge.

When they said that, I thought about the folk who have attempted this before - S. Zielinski, Elmer Wallace Hickman, Mary Black, Russell Groff (by publishing so many 'monographs'), Shuttlecraft (who also published monographs) and Heddlecraft (there are likely more, but those are floating around top of my mind.)

But things change.  Knowledge and understanding grows.  And I'm pretty sure that WEFT will find a place in the weaving world of value and add to the foundation of knowledge.  Small publications go out of print, or become difficult to find.  Or the information gets 'stale' because new innovations come along.

I well remember when I let my friends know I was buying an AVL with fly shuttle, dobby and auto cloth advance.  And how I would be told I could no longer call myself a 'hand' weaver.  Then when weaving software was developed and people who used it were 'cheating'.

But things change.  Acceptance grows, and look at us now...40 shaft computer assisted dobby looms, even small(ish) Jacquard mechanism looms, all part of the larger hand weaving community.

I think what excites me about WEFT is that they say they want to look deep into the rabbit warren of the craft.  Because if you don't know *what* you don't know, you don't know *that* you don't know it.

So, while not everyone will be excited about the deep dive that will happen in these pages, at least they will know that it exists.  And that is the first step to learning and understanding.

I, for one, could not be more excited.  

For my own particular deep dives, my books remain available at Blurb (Magic, Matrix, Intentional Weaver) and my ko-fi shop for my bio as a production weaver (and the lessons I learned, which is probably worth the price I'm asking for the pdf, all by itself!)

In the meantime, I have articles to write which requires some rabbit warren diving, some sample weaving, a lot of thinking and a bunch of wordsmithing.  I will have to be patient and wait until April 2025 to see what WEFT will contribute to the world of weaving knowledge.