Sunday, December 3, 2023
Saturday, December 2, 2023
Friday, December 1, 2023
Tomorrow would have been my brother's birthday, were he still here.
Tomorrow would have been the launch of my latest (fourth) book, in part a nod towards his memory.
But things happen.
And we, who are left, who are still here, go on.
My relationship with my brother was complex. A (much) younger sibling, suddenly arriving to usurp my place in the home, sick with some unspecified illness which demanded nearly all of my mother's time and attention. I had to learn to live with that change in focus, share my parents with a sibling, learn to get to know him as a person, although that took a while because he needed, first, to survive his infancy, and then to become the person he was meant to be.
And so I was going to launch my fourth book on his birthday as a nod to what he left me when he left - a level of financial security I'd never had before, in large part because he was a good money manager and he didn't live long enough to spend it himself.
For the longest time I barely touched 'his' money, only paying off my immediate debt, then used some of it to travel.
Because he loved to travel and I knew he would approve.
Perhaps part of his love to travel came from me? Because he was just 13 years old when I left for a trip to Sweden, travelling by freighter from Montreal to Oslo, then stayed away for 3.5 months. Months where my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and then it was my brother's turn to bow to the vagaries of life, learn how to adapt. Change. Deal with loss.
This is not a unique story. Every one of us goes through something similar as we confront the challenges of living. Changing. Growing. Hopefully learning.
I'm well into my 70s now and feeling the pinch of time as I deal with my battered body. Last week I filled out a trauma/injury survey for my physiotherapist and suddenly became aware of how much battering this body has sustained. I'd never considered dental issues a trauma. Before. And yet. One of my earliest memories is of having an abscessed tooth extracted - while it was still infected. Not much in the way of anti-biotics in 1954. My mother brought me to the dentist. He took one look, shot me up with novacaine (which didn't actually deaden anything) and then pulled the tooth.
As I looked back on my life in order to report all the injuries and/or trauma I've dealt with the list grew longer and longer - and I still didn't list everything. Some 'injuries' were too slight to bother with, I thought. Trolling through my memory, remembering each incident, reliving it (to some extent), becoming consciously aware of the injury once again, was interesting. And, I am hoping, helpful to aid in further healing.
But I am also in my 70s now, and I honestly don't know how much healing I can achieve. I don't know how much longer I can weave. Or write. Will I retain my wits? Or will they depart, along with my physical 'fitness'?
So I'm feeling pressure. An imperative to weave down my stash. No longer a desire, but becoming a need. To write. To share my stories. to share my knowledge, most of all.
Do I have more to say? Dunno.
The only thing I can do, is...keep going...for as long as I can. Marking time doesn't mean standing still, after all.
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
This morning I got comfortable in my recliner with morning coffee and ipad and opened my inbox to a 'surprise'.
People sometimes tell me how much I have helped them, and when they do, well, cockles definitely warmed. Since I woke up with (another) sinus headache and was feeling particularly groggy, I opened an email with some anticipation of a weaver wanting a question answered.
Instead, my day - perhaps my entire week - got made brighter. I quote:
"Although I am just a weaver in my spare time, I wanted to send you a message of saying thank you for your wisdom which transcends beyond the loom. I absolutely love your book and I also have watched your course on Handwoven a few times.
As a lecturer, I teach my students how to write undergraduate dissertations. Hence I am quite often confronted with questions such as “what referencing system to use” and “shall I use British or American spelling” or “how do I present my data”. In these instances, I always quote you (giving you due credit of course), with the simple but useful words “if you cannot be perfect, be consistent”. Indeed the students find this very useful and it surely helps them to get more autonomy with their decision-making. This is something I have often struggled to teach them in the past.
At our session yesterday, I resorted to your wise words again, but the students have adopted them already to a point where I only need to say “if you can’t be perfect” as they instantly respond with “be consistent”. I have explained to them before where I got this from and that it comes from a very efficient weaver who has perfected her craft and approach. In fact in my next writing group session with them I am going to draw the parallels between good and efficient weaving and academic writing.
From one teacher to another, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for developing these useful and easy to remember guides that are so useful for many disciplines. You can now know for sure that they are being passed on at (name of college redacted) London to a new generation of Business Management graduates who I hope will hold on to them for other challenges they will encounter!
I wish you all the best!
With cockles completely warmed through, it's now time to go to the loom and toss a shuttle a few hundred times. :)
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
We are at that time of the year again. While this photo was taken a few years ago, and we don't have much in the way of snow - yet - we are nearing the winter solstice.
A time for reflection, a time for clearing out the 'old', a time for considering what is to come.
As such I have done some thinking about the latest 'book' project.
Since I spent the majority of my life creating things I hoped people would purchase - textiles, classes, magazine articles, books - when a roadblock popped up preventing progress on the latest 'book', I had to think about whether or not to hold 'em, or fold 'em.
Did I continue to wait and see if the roadblocks cleared? Did I pursue other options? Did I just ditch the whole effort - an effort of several months on my part, and the alpha assistance of a friend who read my rough draft and helped me clarify my thinking?
To just ditch it seemed wasteful of both of our time and effort.
But mostly? I felt that what I had to say *might* be of interest to a small circle of people.
So, what to do?
Reality set in and it became apparent that the cost of getting the information into a 'real' book would mean it would be expensive - as a 'real' book.
However, it is the 21c and we have other options.
Now the plan is to revive the project and 'publish' it as a pdf only and sell on my ko-fi shop site. The site allows for digital products, not just actual physical ones, and I'm already offering Weave a V there as a physical product. Since the information in this effort will be of limited interest, it seems like keeping the publication as simple as possible and keeping the price as low as possible is the way to go.
I will be dragging out the thumb drive with the files on it and doing a read through. There has been enough time go by that I should have perspective enough to attempt a grammar/typo editing, and re-order some of the chapters so that they flow 'better' (one or two are out of chronological order), and then see about offering it digitally only. Since this IS the 21c, I will include some photos, but will keep them limited to illustrate points, not eye candy/inspiration.
There are still a few wrinkles to iron out, but it feels like a plan. And, given I continue to deal with chronic pain, it seems like having a 'light' duty task will take some of the load off of me until I see if I can make some gains in my physical condition.
With the end of the mercerized cotton in sight, it begins to feel like a watershed moment. My goal to downsize and use up stash continues and I have some ideas percolating for the next few warps. Enough to keep me busy for another six months or more. And once those are done, I will turn to my rayon stash and see how much of that I can weave up. I have a plenitude of scarves and zero shawls, so I'll be considering another warp for shawls. The big roadblock for shawls is the fringe twisting, but I can do it. I just have to make myself. And I would sure like to use up some of the fine yarns and turn them into something else.
I don't do New Year Resolutions. I make plans, then work towards getting those plans completed. Seems like I've got 2024 sorted.
Anyway - stay tuned about the next 'book' - still some details to sort out and plenty of work to be done. Sort of like weaving. Just because the words are there doesn't mean it's 'finished'...
Monday, November 27, 2023
I love twills. I love big, fancy twills. Once I had a dobby, I loved working with such twills, of which there are many.
Twill weaves generally have 'lines' - but not always. There are broken twills, advancing twills, combinations are nearly endless.
The 'easiest' twills are those based on a straight or point progression. But, once you understand how the line can be interrupted, reflected, repeated, mirrored, well, big rabbit warren.
Advancing twills are fun because you get all the benefits of twill but they are relatively simple to thread. They tend to go in directions that are predictable, and they can get really quite large.
One of the stepping stones to understanding this was the progression of the draft known in NA as Swedish Snowflake.
From when David Xenakis took the draft from Margaret Atwater and re-aligned it so that the twill lines were made more visible, I jumped off that to expanding the twill lines after reading through Zilinski's information on advancing progressions (or as he called them 'step' twills).
As I played around with the progression, I wondered how it would look expanded to 12 and 16 shafts. The problem with expanding to 16 shafts is that the motif became so large it was too big for the intended purpose I wanted to use it for. So then I had to make choices about how to expand it and still keep the essence of the motif. And of course, adding or subtracting interlacements via changes in the tie-up will also change the look of the motif.
Rooting around to find this draft to share with another weaver, I realized that the recent explorations I've been doing can be almost directly connected to the explorations I did back in the day when I played around with the Swedish Snowflake draft - expanding to 12 and 16 shafts, condensing to 4.
I used this draft with silk warp and a wool/cashmere blend with the colours very close in hue/value. the motif was a 'ghost' - it was there, but it wasn't the dominant feature of the cloth. But one warp of it was 'enough' and I moved on.
And now I'm back, once again playing with advancing twill, but this time I'm advancing the entire 4 thread twill 'block', once again pushing, pulling and tweaking the twill 'line'.
I've got the next draft ready. I've gone back to something very simple after playing with curves and different sized elements in the design. Sometimes bigger designs can start to be a bit 'fussy', although the colours I've been using are very similar in hue and value so that 'busyness' of such designs becomes less obvious.
Sometimes a designer just does something because they want to know what happens, when. Then, when they find out what happens, they decide to move onto something else.
So it is in this case.
We are into winter now, even though there isn't much snow - yet. I have a tea towel I purchased while at Vav in 2017, woven from a fine linen, in damask. The design is woven on a white warp with a coloured weft - in my case I chose the black weft - and the 'stark' black lines delineating the trees against the white background inspired this. The trees in my neighbourhood have all lost their leaves and the branches crisscross each other and on grey days, they are very much like the lines in the design here - bare branches, rubbing against each other, all set against a stark sky.
While I love the big fancy twills, sometimes something simple is just thing. The warp will be the last of the very dark blue combo and the weft will be white.
In the meantime I am mulling over the designs for the new colour - a combination of blue and green of the same value. Which should do interesting things depending on the colour(s) used for weft. I'm thinking of 'water' - how it flows, ripples, moves...