Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Re-inventing Myself

Image result for Louet Megado

I've vented on here several times about my declining physical 'fitness' and health. 

Over the past few months I have also been fighting with an elderly AVL Production Loom which is showing signs of also being worn out.

Thing is, I am not done weaving.  I'm not nearly done weaving.  I want to weave and so I had to come up with a plan that would allow me to continue to weave.

When Louet premiered the Megado, I had the opportunity to weave on it at a conference I was attending.  I was impressed with the other Louet looms I had seen and at times woven on in workshops, so I was curious about the Megado.

For one thing, the Louet looms are well engineered.  I had woven on one while Doug had the flu and he had no idea I had been weaving it was so quiet.  The loom was in my dining room, so if he was going to hear it, it was close enough to bother him as he slept, trying to recover from a rather serious flu.

So I was familiar with the 'floating' beams, the small footprint and how quiet they were.  However, I was also familiar with the AVL and how noisy it was so I wanted to see if the Megado had continued it's engineering in that regard.

They did not disappoint.

So as I thought through my options, the Megado kept rising to the top of my thinking. 

It's not a cheap loom and they are not readily available on the second hand market, which kind of tells you about overall customer satisfaction.

So I gripped my credit card tightly and ordered one.  I just managed to time it so that the loom ought to arrive sometime in August or early September.

Since I am pretty much over fighting with looms, as soon as I can get the current warp woven off, the AVL will get disassembled and we will inventory the parts that others might be interested in buying because perhaps they have a loom that is wearing and need new gears.  Or more shuttles and pirns.  Or heddles.  I have about a bazillion heddles.  Plus the dobby bars I kept in case of failure of the compu-dobby. 

Life is too short to fight with equipment, and I can't take money with me.  My brother would approve of my spending my inheritance on something to ensure a better quality of life...and weaving...

Come and Get ‘em!

Three weeks to the conference and final detail crunching proceeds.

Part of the staging for the conference was pulling the boxes of books out and stacking them, ready to be packed up for the vendor booth I have at the conference.  I have 55 copies of The Intentional Weaver.  They will be available for sale during the conference.  I will also have copies of Weave a V.

Written by Kerstin Fro:berg and published in English here, it's a look at weaving a V-shaped shawl using double weave.  She includes information for both sinking and rising shed looms and general information on double weave as well as details on double width weaving, including tips on dealing with the fold.

If you can't come to the conference you can order The Intentional Weaver and Magic in the Water here

If there are copies of The Intentional Weaver left after the conference, you can order a signed copy directly from me.  People outside of Canada don't have to pay the GST but shipping is $20.

When purchasing in my booth, I have to charge applicable taxes.  For textiles, the taxes consist of 5% GST plus 7% provincial sales tax.  If you are from outside of Canada I can mail purchases to you and not charge the tax, but shipping starts at $20.  Cheaper to just pay the tax. There is no provincial sales tax on books, so just 5% on those.

Today I'm working on the exhibits, looking at what we need for display apparatus.  With the loan of display stuff from a local textile artist I think we will have enough display equipment to display everything.

I am also waiting for emails from several people about personal stuff, while my inbox balloons to nearly 8000 items.  I will be grateful when the conference is over and I can start deleting stuff.  Right now my desire is to just select all and delete but I can't do that.  Yet.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Too Many Hats

The beginning of staging for the conference

All of my life I have worn too many hats.  This year has been no different except that I took on way too many hats given my current state of health.  But five years ago I was in pretty good health (I thought).  I was in remission from cancer and cardiac seemed to be well in hand.

So to tackle co-chairing another 'major' conference seemed like it would be easy-peasy.

Life has a way of tossing curve balls and I got hit with both barrels (apologies for the mixed metaphor).  By-pass surgery in 2015, the return of the cancer last year.

My energy levels are much lower than I'm used to having so I'm struggling to get everything done that I want to do let alone what needs to be done.

In addition to general conference organization there is the vendor booth and teaching of four seminars.

Fortunately Doug is a very real support and participant in doing shows so he is doing most of the lifting in terms of the vendor booth.  And I mean that literally.  There are boxes of books, set out on the living room floor - the beginning of the collection (or staging) for the booth.

Ignore the bin - it's the contents of my desk I cleared off and have not, lo these many months later, had the inclination to sort through and toss or keep (if keep, where?????)

So I don and remove hats frequently throughout the day.  This morning I'm getting the comp copies ready to give to those people who substantially helped with The Intentional Weaver.  Since several of them will be at the conference I decided to a) save the postage and b) hand them over personally.  Maybe I'll get a hug.  :)

And no, I'm not doing the conference all by myself.  This weekend I forwarded some files to a friend who is a great administrator and loves spreadsheets and organizing data.  She will take care of the exhibit paperwork, labels and awards, act as 'secretary' when Mary and I do the jurying.

A member of the committee will print out the numbers for the models to carry in the fashion show as well as her duties of treasurer, and a guild member has been very helpful with getting the fashion show booklet printed.

Other committee members have been spending many hours on their areas of responsibility.

My biggest issue is that I no longer have the energy I used to have.

Of course I'm also still trying to weave for the craft fair season, do the marking for the Olds classes - there are two who are VERY late and will simply have to wait until after the conference is over.  They will be marked before Fibre Week so they have gone ahead and registered for their next level.  I have every confidence they will both pass.

Then there is getting ready to teach level one again at Olds in July (and possibly Yadkin Art Centre in NC August, if they get enough students for level one and two to go ahead.)  And I can't find my sample book so I can place my order for the yarn needed for the students.  :(  It isn't in the file drawer where it is supposed to live so I can only assume it's buried somewhere in the studio.  (weaving gods help me!)

The past month has made it abundantly clear that Things Need to Change.  I turn 69 this year.  I know people who retired at 55 to do the things they wanted to do.  When you have had the job you wanted and you love it and want to keep doing it, it doesn't make much sense to 'retire'.  On the other hand, when it becomes increasingly difficult to do everything you want to do, it is time to make some changes in what it is you actually want to do so that you can do them!

So some decisions have been made since the new year.  It seems like monthly I make a few more.  I keep chipping away at the things I do not have the time and energy for and try to hang on to the things that I feel I need to keep doing.

I need to preserve whatever energy I have for the things that mean the most to me.

I find myself going back to the original 'plan' I had when I first began weaving.  Production weave for 25 years, then teach.  Well, as it happens I did both at once.  Time to let go of the production weaving and focus on the teaching and learning.

Also time to face the fact that I am 69, in not great health.  Time to think about what happens in 10 or 15(?) years, especially in the face of so many people I know dying, at relatively 'young' ages.  Time to think about needing to have assisted care.  My gigantic AVL will never be appropriate in assisted care, but another loom might.  So I have decided to purchase a Megado with electronic interface because if I'm going to dig more deeply into the formation of cloth I will want more than four shafts and an electronic dobby will help with complex treadlings.

The AVL has served me well.  But it is showing signs that it also needs to be retired.  I will continue to limp along with it for a few more warps but expect it to be sold off for parts when the time comes.  It's too big and too worn for me to even think about selling it and it will have to go away for the new loom when it arrives, sometime in the new year.

The industrial steam press and the industrial pirn winder will go to the scrap yard.  The metal in them might pay for the truck-with-crane that will be needed to move the press out of the annex and onto the truck bed.

The annex will be given up, in no small measure because the rent has been increased - again, which means I need to squeeze everything there back into here.

I plan on doing the Art Market craft fair one last time and make that my last big out of town show.  I will continue doing the two shows here I've done for the past - in one case 4 decades - while I still have sufficient inventory to make them worthwhile doing.

Mentoring will become more and more important to me and I hope to continue teaching the Olds program in some fashion.  It gives me great joy and satisfaction to see the light come on in student eyes and see them go on to keep the craft alive and fresh with good solid information being passed on.

I am going to try to remember that my goal is to hang some hats up and leave them there, rather than wear them.

Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Editing. It’s a Thing

Spent the hours I allot to the conference work the past few days mostly chipping away at details and then crunching the data for the fashion show.

Found some errors, made some, fixed some.  All of them.  I hope.

Managed to keep the fashion show 'program' to two sheets of paper which will get folded in half to make a small booklet.

The fashion show is a modified 'tea room' style.  People entering items into the fashion show are to model themselves, or provide models.  They will carry the number of their position in the line up while I read the commentary and the audience will be encouraged to talk to the makers to discuss the garments after the show is over.

Just another way we are hoping to encourage people to socialize, connect, come together. Confluences.

My desk is messy.  I actually got a lower grade in 'Office Practices' from my teacher because she observed that my desk in class was always messy.  She said it would have been higher if I would just learn to be more organized.

Yes, Mrs. Pitchko, it was messy and I thank you for your class where I learned a great deal about typing/editing, double entry bookkeeping, how to plan large projects, proof read and format large documents, leaving white space and spacing for ease of reading.

But yes, my desk was 'messy' - and it still is.

Without your class, writing numerous magazine articles, preparing workshop handouts and self publishing not one, but two, books would have been a lot harder.  So I will take that C and thank you for your class.

I thank all the typing teachers that came before Mrs. Pitchko and also my English teachers, especially Mrs. Dallamore who taught us how to read for editorial bias and to think about what was being said and how the writer was trying to influence how we thought about a topic.  I learned that editorial bias didn't just live in editorials, but in all forms of communication.  I learned about focusing on what needed to be said, and how I needed to say it.  More proof reading and editing, typos and so on.

I try to explain to my Olds students how important communication is and encourage those who are not confident writers to take classes if they can.  No matter how many people in our audience, good communication is required if we are to pass on the knowledge of the craft - be that verbal, visual or written.

So yes, editing is a thing.  A very important thing.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


ignore reflection of me in the glass in the frame...a gift from a friend

When we held the 1995 ANWG conference here, my co-chair very much wanted to include bobbin lace in our workshop line up.  We engaged an instructor and when the time came to confirm or cancel workshops, I had only two people signed up for the workshop I was supposed to be teaching, and the lace workshop needed one more person.

"Cancel my workshop and I'll sign up for the lace.  I'm not that interested so if I'm called out to deal with conference issues, it won't be a big deal."


At the end of the workshop, I walked out with $150 worth of lace supplies.

I enjoyed it.  It was weaving where warps could turn into wefts and you built your loom as you built your textile.  I wound up making quite a lot of Torchon lace.  At one point I was trying to make a pattern out of a book and asked a question on a lace group, hoping for some insight into a difficulty I was having. 

The next morning someone emailed me directly and offered help.

That person was Jacqui Southworth.  She had lived for a time in Brunei and learned how to make lace from the Dutch ladies she got to know, then went on to take the City and Guilds lace program getting her certificate.

After that initial email, we settled into a daily correspondence.  She was planning a trip to Vancouver Island and asked if she could come for a visit and we could meet in real life.

While she was here I got tips from her and we found we not only had lace in common but other things - jigsaw puzzles for one.  Dorothy Dunnett's books.  Travel.

A couple of years later I went to Sweden and she suggested I swing by to England to visit with her, so I did.  She took me to Gawthorpe Hall, which has a pretty amazing textile collection, as well as other points of interest.

As we drove around England, Eric at the wheel,  we talked about traveling and I suggested that next year, if they arrived in Calgary on such and such a date, I could pick them up when I was done at the conference in Olds (about an hour north of Calgary) and I would drive them through the Rocky Mountains and they could have a visit with Doug and me.

So they arranged to meet in Seattle (Eric was working in Singapore), then they flew to Calgary where I met them and drove them here. 

After that we would meet in real life every few years, in Florida where they bought a house to get away from English winters.  2.5 years ago Doug and I both went to visit as he'd never been to England (other than a layover in Manchester on a trip to Greece).  Again Eric drove us around to places of interest - like the textile mill in Styal, Hadrian's Wall, etc.

Just before we left Canada to visit with them, Jacqui got the news that her cancer was terminal.  I offered to stay at a hotel instead of with them, but she said we would provide welcome diversion.  Plus, since I have been dealing with cancer (different kind, similar dynamic) we found quiet time to talk about the experience.  I hope I provided some support as she sought to find out what her treatment was going to look like and how to proceed.

Once home we continued our daily emails.  We talked about what she was going through and although she wasn't one for expletives, she didn't seem to be offended at my routine 'Fuck Cancer' responses.

Yesterday she slipped the surly bonds of earth.  She is no longer in pain. 

I hope she is finding lots of lovely lace makers and supplies so she can make lace again while she keeps an eye on her family from above.

A couple of Jacqui's hand painted bobbins, turned by Eric.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Yesterday a friend emailed and asked if I was ok - that I'd been sounding 'down'.

I told her I was.

I have a shit ton of stuff going on right now - the conference is only the part I've been sharing - and I've been having a hard time, what with one thing and another.

She let me vent, validated that I was walking a rough road (not that she isn't, herself) but just being able to sum up all the stuff that I've been dealing with made the load lighter.  Then I was able to go back to conference work I'd been struggling with and finally feel like I was making some headway. 

Today I dealt with some personal stuff, and then this afternoon I got back to the conference data and again sorted through it and chewed the next bite of the elephant.

Doug fought with technology and by 4 pm had finally sorted out the issues with the cell phones, the ipads and the Square.

Just getting that finally functioning  has been a huge load off of me.

This morning while in a waiting room my cell phone rang.  Normally Doug is the only one that phones me, mainly because I don't give my number out much, but my conference co-chair has it so I answered.  It was a local florist asking if I was home to take a delivery.  I said no, I was out, but would be home after 1 pm.

Just now this lovely arrangement was delivered and the friend I had been venting to yesterday and another mutual friend were the angels who sent the flowers.

I cried, dear reader.

And the arrangement looks fantastic next to the transparency woven and given to me by a third friend who has nightly been sympathetic and supportive.  Others have also been there for me, letting me vent.

Friends.  They lift us up when we are down.  Extend a helping hand, even when we don't realize we need it.

Thanks, y'all.  You are the wind beneath my wings...

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Snail Mail

I used to love getting letters from friends.  For many years I had a pen friend in Sweden, and eventually went over there to meet her.  Several times, in fact.  We stayed in touch until we were in our 30s and then life got busy and we stopped writing.

But I always look forward to getting mail - especially the 'not bill' kind.

I've had a bit of a rough time for the past year or so.  Rougher than usual, that is.  My friends have stayed in touch via email or FB message, which I love and look forward to. 

But one of those friends went into hospice about 4 weeks ago, and she is too ill to stay in contact and it has become a waiting game to hear how she is doing.  I hate to bother her husband for updates, but I'm left wondering.  She is in England, so not really feasible to go to her, and totally impractical considering the conference is happening in (yikes!) just over four weeks. 

This past week brought two unexpected envelopes.  One is a lovely letter from someone who just wrote out of the blue to say she had given one of my tea towels to a friend and kept one for herself and how much she enjoyed using hers.

The other is a close friend who I email with nightly (as I used to do with my friend in England) with a 'just because' card of a little kitty.

Our friends lift us up when we slump.  Sometimes they may know we need  a lift, sometimes it's just serendipity. 

Either way, it's much appreciated.

Sometimes a little bit of snail mail can be just the thing needed.  Or even an email or FB message.

The thing that joins us as human beings is that we struggle.  We may be in actual physical pain, or battling emotional 'demons'.  We may look like we are fine but none of us knows what another person is going through.  Just know that everyone has struggles.

If I have any goal in this life at all, it is to help others.  If I can answer weaving questions, I will.  If I can give/send a hug, I will.  If I can be an example (for good OR bad), I will offer myself up as a training opportunity (although yesterday there was one too many of those, given how much stress I'm dealing with!) 

Over the years I have learned that I will never feel better for putting someone else down.  Instead I will always feel better - about myself, about the world in general - if I can help someone else.

Time to share this again:

And a big thank you to friends who light my candle when necessary.