Sunday, June 13, 2021



Mount Robson on a sunny day

In the 'normal' times, I'd be heading off to Olds for Fibre Week about now.

But the times are 'interesting', not 'normal', and so I'm staying home.

Yesterday I finished the 10th warp of towels using up the cotton flake.  Today is a Sunday Seminar, and my studio is a bit of a mess in dire need of tidying, if not exactly deep cleaning.

Yesterday I also got the 2nd vaccination against covid and so far I have a tender arm, but not much else in the way of after effects.  Which in a way isn't good because I don't know how effective the vaccine will be for me and my compromised immune system.  All I can do is take the best advice I can get, which is to have the vaccine, and hope for some protection.

Today, then, I'm taking things 'easy' (so to speak).  Once the seminar is done I'll be working on setting up the studio for the next (short) series of towels.  This time the goal is to use up as much of some 8/2 variegated cotton I inherited.  I'm not exactly sure how far each large cone will go, but I'm pretty sure there is more there than needed for a warp or more of towels.  And if there isn't, I have other options that can be used.

I'll vacuum the floor and get all those bits removed from the carpet.  I'll also move some bins so that the filtered fan can be run while I'm weaving in hopes of reducing some of the lint that will fly off the very loosely spun 8/2 cotton.  Keep as much of it out of my lungs as possible.

If there is time and energy left after that, I will begin setting up the spool rack and get things ready to begin beaming the next warp tomorrow.  Beyond that, I'm not sure that I will do much of anything except maybe walk (if it's not raining) or read my library book (because I have four at home and I want to read all of them!)

I have been enjoying the longer daylight hours but the solstice will soon be upon us and the days will begin to shorten again.  Soon enough it will be winter again.  Funny how the days seem to drag and the weeks to fly by...

Saturday, June 12, 2021



As with many other tasks in my studio, cleaning up tends to be done in 'batches', not every single time I make a 'mess'.

So, today I am hoping to cut the current - and last in this series - of towels off the loom, get them cut apart and serged and into the washing machine/dryer.  

With all of that cutting/serging (160 towels) an accumulation of bits lives on the studio floor by the foot pedal for the serger.  Each warp produces a small amount of these 'bits'.  Not enough to bother me into dragging the vacuum cleaner out, so they get left where they fall until the series is done.

I know not everyone will have the tolerance for 'mess' that I do, and I don't expect everyone will let a mess like this go unchecked.  But I'm not supposed to vacuum in the first place (bad back) so I do it once in a while, frequently when I reach the end of a series as I hope to do today.

Yesterday I was reviewing one of my Zoom lectures, talking about efficiency, and how I have come to the conclusion that while I can make more money to buy more yarn, I cannot buy more time.  And so, instead of taking that 15 or 20 minutes each time I use the serger to clean up a few bits of yarn, I let them build up.  It doesn't take much longer to clean up a mess this big, and a smaller mess produced after one session of serging.

My studio (and house, to be honest) is littered with half done projects.  As a textile maker, I have dust buffalo, not bunnies.  And again, they tend to build up into a sizable herd before I deal with them.  I used to apologize to people coming to the house and now I mostly just don't invite people over.  I don't have to feel as though someone is judging me for my 'mess'.

When I was a kid, my mother would set up her sewing on the kitchen table, and then put it all away every night so that we could eat there.  Now that I'm an adult, my dining room table gets used for all manner of things, rarely to eat on.  Neither of us is much bothered by this.  

I used to make a point of inviting company for a meal as an effort to force myself to clean up, and it worked - when I was younger, healthier and cared about such things.  Now I 'clean' when I feel able to and just meet people outside of my home.  

All of this is to say - if you come to my house, I trust you are coming to see me, not how clean/tidy my house is.  

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Wrapping Up


Yesterday I started the second half of the last warp of this series.  I'm pleased with the series overall, in no small part because I used up a lot of yarn along the way.  In the end there are 10 warps in this series, so 160 towels woven in the past few months.  Not anywhere near what I'm used to doing, but what I can manage these days.

Does this mean I'm 'done' weaving?  Not by a long chalk.  I already have the next two warps pulled with ideas for more.  More towels!  Different yarn combinations.

As I work through this chunk of my stash, I see the 'end' of a useable amount of yarn and rather than buy more now, I will be turning towards other types of yarn.  There is a rather large amount of fairly fine rayon to be used up.  I don't much feel like making shawls, so I'll work on scarves.  I should get to that point by the end of summer.  Maybe sooner.  It depends.

For far too many years my goal has been to produce for sale, and I've done that.  Now I have shelves full of towels and some placemats.  Hopefully by autumn shops will be looking for inventory and the local craft fairs will be back.  I need to check to see if the big one is actually going to go ahead or not.  The guild takes a booth there and I will have plenty of inventory for them.  Plus I've been helping with the guild sale in December, and will likely be involved in that, as well.

Over the years I have played with various ways of getting thread made into cloth.  I've ignored techniques that interested me for a number of reasons - either they were too time consuming, or I wasn't sure people would buy cloth in those techniques.  Now that I'm not primarily weaving for sale, I can begin to look at those more time consuming drafts and maybe explore more.  Or not.

But if I can stay on track, the last warp in this series will come off the loom on Saturday.  

Then?  On to the next.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

In Real Life


A few years ago I got to know about a person because of their on line posts, then briefly met them in real life at a fibre event.  There was no time to do more than chat because fibre events are, by their very nature, not conducive to having any kind of in depth conversation.

Last night I had a Zoom 'meeting' with that person, and it was lovely and delightful and rare - and I found myself wishing I could do that sort of thing more often.

Then this morning on Twitter, two other fibre folk were saying the same thing - how much they missed hanging out with each other and they should really get together via Zoom (or whatever platform) and erase the miles and time zones and enjoy each other in real time (if not actually in 'real life')

And suddenly I felt...lonely.  Wanting more interaction with people who are as passionate about fibres as I am.  People who dig deep into the craft, then joyfully share their discoveries.  People who aren't afraid of making mistakes - because that's how we learn.  I wanted more one-on-one time with some people.

Last night we talked about how this pandemic has begun to open opportunities to interact with people in a new way, people we might never have come to know because of the aforementioned thousands of km and time zone changes.  

The problem is, most of the people I would love to interact with are busy as beavers trying to scratch out a living and there is little time, energy or opportunity to sit down, even across the miles via the internet.  They have on line classes to teach - or prepare for - they only have so much energy, so much time, and they have to use it wisely.  

My schedule is no longer crazy with travel and classes which means I have even less interaction with folk about textiles.  And after a year plus of not getting together with fibre folk, I find I'm missing it.  

The Sunday Seminars have really helped as I have had a chance to learn from others about textiles/techniques I know little about.  They have kept me engaged and inspired.  And the next one is coming up THIS Sunday.

Stefan Möberg will talk about some of his projects that I find intriguing.  He has been working to develop a Swedish tweed, using Swedish wool.  He also managed to acquire a Hattersley loom, and has been working to get it set up and reliably running.  Plus another project that I find very interesting and would love to know more about, but we'll see if he has time to discuss that one as well as the other two.

There are seminars booked through to October, then three more in 2022.  If interest in this series continues, I will consider adding more, but it will depend on there being enough interest to make them profitable enough to pay the speakers (and a little left over to help pay the guild room rent.)

Stay tuned...

Monday, June 7, 2021

Interesting Times


This is a photo from a park within city limits of my town, taken one autumn not long ago.  The little waterway that fills earlier in the year making a 'path' from one river to the other and a little island of the land to the left is mostly dry as the water level goes down.  Right now the park is closed due to spring runoff/high water and some of the low lying homes near the rivers are under flood watch.  

I've lived in this town all my life.  I am well aware of the cycles of the seasons.  It is comforting to watch the transitions of one to the other.  It is home.

Since I was very young I have read, avidly.  I mostly read whatever books I could get my hands on and I read pretty much indiscriminately.   My mother gave me free rein to read pretty much whatever I wanted to read (although I'm pretty sure she would not have approved of Fanny Hill - even though I found it distasteful and didn't actually finish it).  

If a book caught my attention on the first page, I pretty much read it.  If it didn't, I'd set it aside.  \

It was only years later that I found out that the library phoned my mom and asked if she knew what sort of books I was taking out and if she approved!  She did and I never knew until I overheard her telling a friend.

Many of my teachers approved (or didn't disapprove) of my pulling out a book if I'd finished my classwork before others did.  And so I continued to read, everything and anything - fiction, non-fiction, it didn't matter.

As it happens, I still do.

I don't remember when I heard the phrase "May you live in interesting times" and had it described as a curse.  I remember being taken aback by it, then understanding the full intent of it.  Because much of what I read about was people, living in 'interesting' times.

We are currently in a state of 'interesting' times, in many ways, pretty much all round the world.  As I remember the stories set in other times, stories of war, conflict, plagues, I can't help but think we are currently in very 'interesting' times.  Throughout history human beings have gone through tumultuous times, 'interesting' times, times that have caused upheaval and change.  

I have no idea what societies (because there are many) will look like in the next few years.  But I do feel as though we (human beings) are poised at the peak of changes.  Will they be good changes?  Will they be helpful changes?  Will they be welcome changes?  The answer to those questions will vary according to the person.  And just as with the seasons, human beings will go through another watershed as we navigate the current 'interesting' times...

Currently reading Can It Happen Here? by Michael Adams.  Written in 2017, I'm going to go to his website and see what he is observing now

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Making Progress


Yesterday I started weaving the last(?) of this series of towels.  The cotton flake is going down quickly and I'm not a fan of playing yarn chicken, so I expect that this warp will be the last of this design.

Overall I'm pleased on several fronts.  I've gotten practiced enough at doing it that it hardly seems to take any time at all to set up the loom.  AND the last tweak I made to the tension box filling seems to have worked and there are practically no areas of concern re: tension with this warp.  The couple of very slight tension difference areas is truly not really distinguishable now that I'm four towels in.

I wanted to show the 'right' side of the cloth because the back side is predominantly white.  The 'right' side is much more interesting and I'm pleased with it.  Must be time to move on, right????

This afternoon I had some more technology issues, with Power Point this time, but managed to punch enough buttons in the correct order, or something, and was finally able to save the file to a thumb drive in order to transfer it to the laptop.  Now that I have the password changed, and carefully recorded, I'm hoping I won't have any more problems.  Time will tell!

I also poked around in Zoom and figured out what a few more of the tools are for, which answered my need for a 'pointer' of some sort.  Turns out I have two to choose from, and I can even change their colours.  

But my deadlines keep rolling.  This Sunday - two hour Zoom, next Sunday 1 hour Zoom, the following Saturday and Sunday, back to 2 hour Zooms.  The content for the rest of the Zoom study groups needs to be finished and now I seem to have Power Point working again, maybe I can get them done.

But folks, I gotta tell ya, I'm tired.  I'm going to put the idea for the short video clips on hold for a while and take some of the pressure off of me.  If and when I feel up to doing any, I can record and caption them, then save to You Tube for future release dates.  When I'm already pouring so much energy into the long form presentations, I just don't seem to have any energy left over to do the short form.

Plus I'm trying to get towels posted to ko-fi for July.  

The weather has been too grey, too wet, too...much...going from chilly to hot, then thunder and buckets of rain.  Yesterday it was almost literally - don't like the weather? - wait 15 minutes.  I didn't feel up to walking.  Today the breaks in between the buckets of rain have been longer, and I finally got a short walk in after doing the two towels and finishing the set up for tomorrow's Zoom.

And I'm delighted, intrigued, and challenged by The Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Postrel.  More on that book when I'm further into it.

Thursday, June 3, 2021



Change one thing...

So this is the 10th warp in the current series.  It is 2/8 cotton at 20 epi.  As such I was having some issues with beaming these warps.  No matter how hard I tried, the bouts didn't seem to go onto the beam well - not even/level in the section.  This lead to mild issues with tension as the threads, especially at the edges of the section, went on differently than the middle.  Hard to explain, but I'll try.

The number of ends in the section and how I spread them out in the final reed of the tension box were too narrow.  In an effort to keep the 'ribbon' of yarns going into each section flat, the edges of the ribbon were not building up at the same rate.  The yarns piling up in the middle also had to go on top of the cord that attached to the bout to pull the ribbon into the section, meaning the middle of each section built up ever so slightly higher than the edges.

In the end, when I cut the towels apart and wet finished them, all evidence of this tension/length issue disappeared but it annoyed me that I wasn't doing a better job.

Over the course of the series I have, several times, adjusted how I filled the last reed in the tension box and on this warp (the last or second to last in this series) I think I may have finally figured out how to better spread the yarns out.

Of course I have other warps planned that will use the same yarn at the same epi, so I will have several more warps to test out this approach.

The slight difference in build up was made worse due to the small circumference of the beam.  Every little inconsistency was magnified as each rotation was about 15" instead of the 36" I was used to on the AVL.  Any slight discrepancy on the AVL had more distance to even out.  I will find out when I begin weaving this warp if I've cracked it.

Persistence.  It's a thing.