Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back "Home"...

Crossed the border this afternoon around 1 pm or so. Will stay with friends for a few days, taking in the Ponderosa guild spin in on Saturday.

The drive yesterday and today was pretty good all in all. I had a bit of rain yesterday until I got through the mountains and came out the other side - the 'dry' side of Washington State.

Today the clouds threatened but apart from a couple of stray spatters, it was dry all the way. And no snow, thankfully. I avoided the roads through the higher elevations, just in case.

Had a short visit with Chris and family at Joybilee Farm, and arrived in Kelowna around dinner time.

Currently reading Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron

Monday, September 28, 2009

Next Stage

It took about 5 hours, but all my stuff is tagged and inventoried for the
Seattle Guild sale. :} If I didn't have so much stuff, it wouldn't take so long, but there you have it. :^)

Heading off to the next stop on my extended road trip. I'll stop at Syne Mitchell's for a bit and drop some stuff off, then head for central Washington, then on Wed. head north.

The bad news is that snow is predicted for tomorrow at the higher elevations in southern BC. Hopefully by the time I get there on Wednesday it will have melted. (She says with fingers and toes crossed, making typing a challenge!)

I'm actually going to Kelowna the long way round, partly so that I can stop at Joybilee Farm and visit with Chris, and also to avoid the road construction on the usual route via Osoyoos and Summerland.

Once in Kelowna I will visit with friends for a day or two. Maybe three if the client who just contacted me actually gets in touch and wants a meeting on Friday or Saturday. If I stay until Saturday, I'll join in the Ponderosa Guild's spin in - with a borrowed spinning wheel. Of course I have no spinning fibres with me, so I may have to offer to spin some of Allan or Sheila's fibres. Either that or buy more if there are vendors. :^)

Another Year, Another Fair... history. Given the economy the fair did okay. Sales were down overall for everyone, not just me. The up side to that is that I have plenty of inventory for the rest of the current show season. :)

What I need to do, however, is come up with some new product. I really haven't done much in the way of really 'new' work for a few years. Given my health situation, I suppose that's not surprising.

But it's becoming clear that I am going to stick around for a while and rather than just concentrate on simple stash reduction, I need to work more on design. If I'm going to keep weaving (which I am) then I need to engage the little grey cells, now that they seem to be more or less working again, and start stretching them with new design work.

Today I pack out, re-tag for the next sale and then head for the highway tomorrow.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Road trip

Grrrr. Fog + construction equals slow driving. :(

The fog finally lifted and the sun is supposed to shine for the rest of the day. :)
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Friday, September 25, 2009

Neutral Colour Gamp

For the past few weeks I've been high into procrastination mode. Today I finally figured out why - I'm waiting on word about a significant project and have been on tenterhooks wondering if it is going to go ahead with the co-operation of another person, or.....not.

I am terribly deadline driven, and with this project up in the air I find myself waffling. Nothing else that needs doing holds as much interest to me as this Major Project. The other person in question is also someone I admire greatly and could learn a lot from, so my interest in doing it is somewhat selfish. :}

So I have been playing a lot of computer solitaire (!), knitting my silly scarves from left over yarns from weaving, reading and distracting myself by doing video clips and posting here - a lot!

However, I have managed to make a little headway on the colour gamp kits. The Earth Tones kits are posted to my Art Fire store ( and I'll be completing the Neutral kit today.

That said, my store will be going on vacation mode tonight as I head to Seattle area once more, this time to pack out the show at the Puyallup Fair, and inventory everything in preparation for the Seattle Weavers Guild sale Oct. 22-24.

Currently reading 206 Bones by Kathy Reich

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Walking the Line

The twill line, that is.....

Since I tend to do a lot of different twills I keep my treadles tied up in a straight twill draw. In this video I am weaving a straight twill.

If I were weaving a broken twill, I would simply alternate my feet - treadle 4, treadle 2, treadle 3, treadle 1.

But for a straight twill, it's a straight forward treadle 4, 3, 2, 1.

Notice the position of my feet. The foot that is not being used gets parked on the hinge area of the treadles, about half way between the two treadles - you can just see my left foot about half way between treadle 1 and 2.

The foot that is being used slides forward. The forward movement depresses the treadle. I do not lift my foot, but use that lovely hinge we call the knee.

As I change from treadle 4 to treadle 3, I rest my heel on treadle 4 pivoting my foot so that the ball of my foot moves over onto treadle 3, then my heel follows and the treadle is pressed down.

To depress treadle 2, my left foot slides forward as my right foot slides back to rest on the hinge between treadle 3 and 4.

When that shed is finished, my left foot heels and toes over to treadle 1, then slides back to the hinge while my right foot is sliding forward to depress treadle 4.

To weave a broken twill, my feet alternate sliding back to the hinge and forward to depress the treadle.

Learning a treadling sequence is like learning a dance step. You need to keep the sequence in order to weave the different dance steps - plain weave, straight twill, broken twill, Wall of Troy (twill variation), etc.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Seattle Weavers Guild Sale

October 22-24 is the annual Seattle Weavers Guild sale. If you are in the Seattle area, this is a fantastic opportunity to see some amazing textiles.

The Seattle guild has over 300 members from the area. Talent and inspiration abounds. Not to mention great buys.

The hall is set up like a huge department store - but this department store is all hand made textiles. There are incredible baskets (Marilyn Moore), rugs of all sizes and descriptions, tapestries, household textiles (Robyn Spady, Jan Paul), bobbin lace (Lois Gaylord), fashions - accessories and clothing, and even a department for yarns - hand spun and/or hand dyed.

Truly a feast for the eyes - and hands.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Colour, Colour,Colour!

In spite of on-going procrastination tendencies, I did manage to dress the loom and weave off two gamps this afternoon. :}

The hem-stitching took longer than the weaving - as is often the way. So often the finishing takes longer than making something........

The three yard warp is a generous length for two gamps. If one didn't cut off and re-sley there would probably be plenty for a table runner woven with - perhaps - black - or some other very dark colour to 'pop' the brilliant colours.

But as a learning exercise, I think I've got the numbers sorted. There is plenty of weft on the quills - rather than try for squares in the twill gamp, I just wove off all the weft on the quills and there was easily double than what was required.

The hold up now is waiting for the fill in order of yarn to come and double check the new colours. In the meantime I will work on the paperwork to go with the kits and on Monday get Karena to wind the "neutral" gamp warp. It's also a sort of grey scale with natural in the centre, then going to dark brown one direction, black in the other.

My target is to have the gamps ready for sale by mid-October. Something for the Santa List?

Of course about the time the yarn arrives next week, I will be leaving again. I won't know until next week exactly when I'll get back as I may be meeting with someone about a joint project - it will depend on her schedule. If the meeting is on, I'll also swing through Kelowna and visit with friends over night. The days are getting short enough, and I'm finding it more and more difficult to drive in the dark, that I don't want to do 14 hour drives in one day once the long summer days are done.

Minimum Input, Maximum Output

Colour gamp test warp

One of the things I try to do is have the maximum amount of output for the least amount of input. What that means is that I try to do the various tasks associated with weaving with the fewest hand motions possible.

Two years ago, I watched as Syne Mitchell sleyed a warp. It was a colossal duh moment. She was sleying in much the same manner as I threaded. How could I not have seen that sleying could be done in much the same way?

When I got home from that trip, I immediately put the new (to me) manner of sleying into practice. It took about 6 warps to erase the old muscle memory and make this way of sleying into my new default. Yes, I had skipped dents, or doubled dents the first few times, but seriously? - I had those at times with my old way of sleying. :}

Notice the positioning of my hands. My left hand pretty much stays behind the beater, while the right hand stays pretty much in front of the beater.

What makes this method work is the hook. It is made by Harrisville and has a smaller hook on one end for threading, and a larger hook on the other for sleying. It costs just $10.95 US and is worth every penny as far as I'm concerned.

The hook is held downwards instead of upwards. It is gently rounded and never (or rarely) splits the ply of the threads. (It can split the ply of a very gently twisted yarn such as the Bambu 7.)

To sley I separate the threads into their groups, then put the hook through the appropriate dent, capturing the threads for that dent. The hook then keeps that loop of threads on the shank while it dips into the next space to grab onto the next group of threads. Then all the threads are pulled through at once.

I can do up to four dents in one pull. This particular warp the threads have been tied into groups of four, with two threads per dent so I'm just doing four ends (two dents) at a time here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Colour Gamp Kits

Yesterday the yarn order for the colour gamp kits arrived. This morning I sorted through it all, dividing the yarn up into plastic bins - one for each of the kits.

Unfortunately I wasn't happy with a couple of my colour choices, so I have to order in more yarn to make the gamps look nicer - to me.

There will be four gamps - Rainbow (saturated - in the middle bin on the right), earth tones (bin in the foreground), Neutrals (sort of grey scale - middle left) and Pastels (on the top).

Each gamp will have 9 colours. Each kit will have a pre-wound warp, and paper quills with sufficient weft to weave two gamps. The warp will be enough for two gamps - possibly one in plain weave, one in twill. Or two weavers could share the warp and each have a colour gamp.

The challenge now is - where to store it all.

I'll be posting info to my Art Fire store as soon as I have woven the samples. All four kits should be ready mid-October.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Throwing the Shuttle

I got started thinking today about how I throw the shuttle - what parts of my arm/hand actually get used.

It seems to me that there is only a very little wrist flex once I get up to speed. That the motion comes initially from the shoulder, bringing the hand closer to the selvedge. Then a slight rotation of the lower arm from the elbow and that the majority of the propulsion actually comes - not from the wrist - but from the index finger.

Unfortunately it would take a high speed camera in order to slow the movement down sufficiently to really see what's happening.

Of course a wider warp could change everything..............

Time Warp - wanna come to my studio?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stash Reduction, Daily Exercise

2/8 cotton warp with cotton/linen slub for towel body, 2/16 cotton for hem weft - note cutting line - two picks of twill
Got home from doin' the Puyallup about 9 pm last night. Today I tried to get organized - banking and such - and in between wove on Fanny working on the tea towel warp I left on her.
The bad news is that just before leaving on the trip my blood pressure went wildly upwards, not even coming down after exercise, with a 'resting' pulse rate of 102. Not exactly the numbers we want to see. So I started half a tablet of the diuretic daily, hoping that would do the trick.
Unfortunately, this morning my bp still wasn't good, but I'm going to continue on half a tablet for a few days and see if it is just the stress of travelling that pushed it up. Seems like I can't live with them, and I can't live without them. I've got a doctor appointment on Monday for the arthritis I suspect is developing in my left foot. I don't doubt he will have words about my bp, too. I just hate the thought of having to take yet more chemicals to counteract the adverse reactions to one chemical! :(
I'm still thinking about what the future may hold and what path I want to meander down, but right now it would appear that my two priorities are to continue with stash reduction and make sure that I get at least an hour's worth of weaving in, every day. Having two looms, I ought to be able to keep them going in tandem so that I can always have loom time - each and every day. When I'm home that is.
Tonight I finished off the cotton/linen slub I bought at ANWG in Spokane this June. :D
There is enough warp for two more towels on Fanny, but I'll spend tomorrow morning at the guild room talking with a new weaver and getting her started on one of the guild looms. And possibly start getting ready for the next Study Group. I've been dressing a loom with the weave structure of the month, present an evening lecture on that structure, then they sort themselves out to weave a sample on the prepared warp.
Karena dressed the AVL while we were away, and got the warp about half threaded. So I'll try to finish that off tomorrow too. I've also promised someone some samples for an article she's writing so as soon as Fanny is empty, I'll put the first of those warps on. Since it's something I already had intentions to do - sometime - having a firm deadline means I'll actually get to that now. :D
My friend The Deadline.

Book Review

A few months ago I watched a program on tv called The Musical Brain profiling the work of Daniel Levitin and his research into music and brain development at McGill University (in Montreal, Canada). Last week I noticed his latest book The World in Six Songs on the library shelf and took it out.

Started reading it this morning and am finding it fascinating. He makes a case that human beings have a deep need to be creative - whether that be through music or other artistic pursuits - and that that need has been pivotal in human development, both biologically and culturally.

I know that needing to be creative is what drives me. In fact that creative imperative is what got me started on the road to being a weaver.

It is also interesting how much music plays a role in my life. I always thought it was because the home I grew up in always had music playing - whatever was on the radio - country and western (not my favourite genre), classical, pop - whatever. I thought I had just grown up surrounded by sound and that was why I always have music playing in the studio. I do know that for many years - as my energy flagged - I used music to bouy me along and keep me functioning. Even now I will often times choose music depending on how I feel. If I'm tired and need energy, it will be rock, (Bryan Adams, 54:40) if I'm in a more contemplative mood, it might be something softer, Corinne Bayley Rae, for example, or Molly Johnson, Holly Cole or even Liza Minelli. Lately it's been a lot of Leonard Cohen, too.

But now I'm thinking that my need for music is as great as my need to be creatively expressive. And that that is just plain good.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day Three... over for us. We worked the mid-shift today.

Sundays are generally slower with more 'lookers' than buyers. Today followed the norm.

It was a treat to visit with some of the Seattle guild members. They were doing their Sheep to Shawl demo today. It was a particular delight to have a short visit with Syne Mitchell and family who dropped by for the demo. :)

Tomorrow we start heading north. We'll stop in Bellingham for a visit with Doug's niece Shannon. We haven't seen her for a year, so it will be lovely to visit with her and Pete.

And then it's homeward bound on Tuesday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day Two...

...has dawned, another lovely day with temps in the 80's. Who says the Pacific Northwest rains all the time???? :D

The nice thing about staying with a friend is that I have internet access and this morning received confirmation that I am booked to teach in Missouri next May. So I'm looking forward to - hopefully - teaching there. As soon as I get home I'll update my Schedule Page.

They wanted a Beginning Weaving class, so that will be 3 days, followed by a two day class on Twills. Anyone who takes the Beginner Class can roll right on into the Twill class if they wish. During the 5 days, they would dress the loom at least twice, hopefully three times, which should give them a good grounding in warping the loom, back to front.

The first day of the Fair was - as usual - busy, busy, busy! Don't know final sales figures yet, but early indications were that the Artists in Action area got off to a good start.

Personally I'm pleased, but of course that was just day one of a 17 day show. So we will see how it continues.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Set Up

is done - unfortunately my back went into spasm 5 minutes after we got there. Getting old is not for sissies!

The good news is that the weather is co-operating. It wasn't raining during set up and it's not too hot. Or at least, not yet. I haven't checked the forecast for the weekend. But better warm than wet and raining. :D

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Road Trip

We took the trip south in two stages - the highway has 6 major construction zones which could potentially add an hour or more to the trip. In reality it went fairly smoothly, but rained on and off for much of the drive.

But we're here. Now to gather up all my stuff, take it to the Fair and get set up. Doug will help with carrying the boxes in, and then pricing everything. :) That will make things go much faster and I might even have time left over to read my book, or fringe twist, or.....nap?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Square One (and Two)

Here is the end of square one and the beginning of square two.

Yes, that's a temple in the upper right corner. This yarn is stretchy, more akin to a knitting yarn than a weaving yarn, and as such the draw in begins to affect the selvedges creating issues. Less of a problem when I'm using a hand shuttle and can adjust the tension of each pick, but I'm using the fly shuttle so the tension is constant. Any less tension on the shuttle and I'd probably have loops at the edge. :(

So even though I really don't like to use the temple, in this case slower by the inch means a better quality product.

If Doug could just figure out how to attach the roller temples to the AVL I'd use them all the time. But so far any plans for installation have meant major surgery on the loom and a level of down time I'm not willing to deal with. I wish we'd found ring temples instead of roller temples. Ring temples are much smaller and wouldn't take up so much room.

In the meantime, I'm left with two options. Not use them and weave more quickly - and have too much draw in with this yarn - or use them and weave more slowly and not have to deal with broken selvedge threads. A third option would be to use the hand shuttle, but at 37" in the reed, that level of stretching and reaching would mean neck issues that I really don't want to deal with!

Choices - and consequenses. That's what Life - and Weaving - is all about.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Goin' With the Flow

Sometimes things morph.

The Plan for this warp was to weave some squares for shawls, fairly small ones at around 30" square. Something lower price points.

But then I remembered that Doug's niece - a fiery red-head - loves pink and orange as a colour combination. And since we'll be visiting her on the return trip from Seattle, I needed a hostess gift. :D

I started out to make a big cozy shawl, but then I had 'extra' weft yarn leftover and just continued on weaving. Shannon can decide for herself if she will use the fabric for a shawl, vest, or? She's very creative and talented so I'm sure she will think of something.

So now that I've veered off on a tangent, I'll go back to Plan A tomorrow. But now I've got a deadline - get this warp off on Monday, wet finish the fabric for Shannon on Tuesday so we can pack it with us on Wednesday.

Re: my website - today I purchased the next size website package so that the videos won't use up my bandwidth in a day or two. :)

Now that I've gotten friendly with the video camera, I see more videos coming. I actually shot one this afternoon, but hadn't noticed that the battery was nearly dead, so it didn't turn out. However, I'll try again on the next warp and get it to Allan to include on my website. Putting them on my blog is okay, but I think I actually get more traffic to my website, so..........might as well keep all the 'educational' stuff in one place?

Currently reading Regenesis by C. J. Cherryh (I had a read-fest this morning and finished the Nevada Barr when I *ought* to have been sleying and starting to weave!)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Next Shawl Warp

Next shawl warp

I had originally purchased this yarn - a blend of merino wool, bamboo and silk - to re-sell, but there were some problems with the shipment and I don't feel comfortable offering it to others. :(

So now I have to figure out how to use it up myself. Once again I'm working on stash reduction.

I finished the first shawl warp last night, and even though it hasn't been wet finished it's looking good on the beam. Good enough that I decided to go ahead do another shawl warp. Again this will be a fairly simple twill, the weft will likely be either one of the pinks or corals. I may be bold and go with a light purple for one of them, just to see how it looks. ;)

This time I wound the warp a bit shorter (15 yards instead of 20) so that I could have a wider width, this time for squares instead of rectangles. One benefit of this wider warp is that I can use the fly shuttle instead of a hand shuttle. The down side is that the yarn is a bit too thick to use in the industrial shuttles, so I have to use the AVL shuttles instead. But since the warp isn't the full 60" width, the lighter weight AVL shuttles should not be too bad.

On a personal level, I convinced my doctor to let me stop taking the diuretics last week, and my bp has responded by leaping upwards. He wants me to start taking them again, but now it's too close to my departure for Seattle, so I begged off until I get back. (I can't change any medications for 7 days before leaving the country or my travel medical insurance is voided.)

In my heart, I'm hoping that by the time I get back on the 15th my body will have gotten used to not taking them and that it will settle down again. My bp had actually been excellent - even a bit on the low side - which is why the doctor allowed me to stop taking the diuretic. :}

I've just not been feeling great for the last couple of months, and was hoping to reduce the amount of chemical intervention in my system. The good news is that since stopping the diuretic I've been able to sleep through the night, which I'm hoping will help alleviate some of the fatigue that's been plaguing me.

Barbara commented on my reading. Well, I do a whole lot of things rather than clean house. :) Reading is one of them.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

FTB vs BTF Debate

Coral weft

The annual (bi-annual?) debate on front to back or back to front beaming is raging on at least one of the chat groups I belong to.

It generally begins by a frustrated newbie posting a) they've dropped their cross, can they salvage it; b) their warp is a snarled knotted mess with broken ends, what can they do; c) they hate dressing the loom because it takes forever; d) they are having terrible tension problems and sometimes wind up hanging several pounds of bling off the back beam trying to 'fix' it.

In regards to the dropped cross, I never have understood why so many ftb'ers hold the cross in their hand. Even when I dressed the loom ftb I always used the lease sticks. No danger of losing the cross when it is held in the lease sticks.

And the truth is that I did dress the loom ftb for quite a few years. I even taught that method, thinking that it was easier for a beginner to understand what was going on.

What I didn't realize was that some people become so emotionally invested in the first method they use that they don't ever want to learn another method with all the ham-fisted, fumble-fingered clumsiness that comes with being a 'beginner' again.

It gradually came to me that ftb works for some of the people, some of the time. Btf works for most of the people, most of the time. I now teach that.

The process, whichever way it is done, requires a lengthy series of steps that have to be done in a particular order. For me, though, ftb became limiting, and I began to encounter more and more difficulties with finer threads, longer and wider warps.

My main focus has always been to work as efficiently as possible. With finer threads, longer and wider warps, btf became the method of choice. And now I use that exclusively, no matter how fat the threads, how short or narrow the warp. For me btf is hand's down faster and easier. A narrow warp gets pulled on with one hand holding the warp, the other cranking the beam. Wider warps get weighted with water jugs.

Some people find the thought of attaching the jugs (or bricks, or whatever) down right silly. But for me they make beaming a warp very fast and easy - well worth the time it takes to attach the weights. A thread under tension is a thread under control, after all!

Bottom line is - if a weaver is happy with the results they are getting dressing the loom ftb, there is no reason for them to change. But if they aren't, then they need to know that there is more than ftb - that btf has been around for centuries, used for fine silk to fat wool and everything in between. Knowing both methods allows the weaver to choose which they will use, when.

Currently reading The Mystery of Imperial Purple Dye by John Edmonds and Borderline by Nevada Barr

Dye Day

Yesterday I went up to the guild room and dyed some more of the silk skeins. I didn't get all 48 skeins done as I ran out of steam plus I had to finish getting ready for the first study group meeting that evening. I'll try to get them posted to Art Fire when they are dry.

Four people showed up and we discussed point twill. Since I put a 5 yard warp on, that means they each have about a yard to play with for samples.

We looked at various ways to weave a point progression, including a single end huck and waffle weave.

The next meeting will be Oct. 7 and we'll look at huck lace.

My website is 'down' because bandwidth has been exceeded. My webmaster is away for a week, and then I leave for a week, so it may be down for a couple of weeks until I find out what needs to happen to get it back up and running again. I may have to pay for more space - it may be a simple matter of re-booting the site. I really have no clue. So - stay tuned!

Currently reading The Moneylender of Toulouse by Alan Gordon