Sunday, November 29, 2009

Placemats part II

Second colour/yarn combo

Three yarns bundled together to make up the weft

It was so much fun weaving up the placemats I just kept on going until the cone of soft red cotton was all used up. I have no idea how many place mats are on the beam - when I got down to not-enough-bobbins-to-weave-two-placemats I just finished off the yarn making a table runner about 32" long under tension.

And then I grabbed the large cone of varigated cotton flake, combined it with some cottolin and the solid lighter red cotton flake for weft for the rest of the warp.

No, I'm not having any particular problems winding the three yarns together. If I'm going to do a lot I'll set up a doubling stand, but since two of the yarns are on spools instead of cones it's easier (what can I say, I'm lazy!) to just take them off this way.

I always set up my tubes to wind off counter clockwise - no particular reason except I started doing this nearly 30 years ago and it's now my default position. :} After all, if you can't be perfect, be consistent!

But now it's back to transcribing and tomorrow - colour gamp warp winding. I really needed a break and it's been great fun weaving the placemats.

ps - the yellow ribbon pinned to the mat is actually a measuring 'tape'. I love using ribbons because they are so easy to pin into and because this is not actually a measuring tape but simply marked out in 12" sections I can cut the ribbon to whatever length I want. Here it's 20" for placemats (Thanks Tien - really nice!)

Heading Towards Placemats

starting the placemats

So of all the choices of activities at my disposal today, getting that placemat warp started was the most appealing.

This is pretty typical of how I begin most warps. After tying on I weave a few picks of - generally - plain weave, then twill, checking for threading/sleying errors. I find using up already wound bobbins works well, and usually have quite a selection of them to hand. What is used is less important than it have a high contrast in order to make any errors really stand out.

Quite often the outside threads will tend to roll inwards so I will take a loop of the heading weft and wrap it around the rod. You can see in the photo that a strand of the white thread is going off to each side. This is not a mistake but done deliberately and helps in keeping the warp ends all in a nice plane.

Then I wove a few picks of the intended weft, a combination of a fairly thick soft cotton with a cotton flake in a slightly lighter colour both wound onto one bobbin. Just wanted to make sure the colours were going to look nice in the woven cloth.

And then I started the hem. Forty picks of a 2/8 cotton in plain weave. The end was tucked into the first shed of the placemat, which is being woven in a broken twill treadling on a straight twill draw. Between each placemat I will weave a contrasting thread to use as a cutting line.

I'm pleased with the results and eager to get some more weaving done. If all it takes is to weave for an hour or so each day to keep my bp well controlled, I can do that! :)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fringe Binge

Three buckets full of fringe twisting to be done

This is a view of my pile of fringe twisting that needs to be done. Yes, that's more on the table in the background.

As you can see, my living and dining room are not really living and dining rooms, but more work space. :( The only way I can deal with fringe twisting is to do it while watching tv. And there's rather a lot of it because I picked up everything my fringe twisting elf had because her life got too stressful to deal with my pile of ft.

Since I've got such a backlog of of it to do, plus the afghans that will be going onto the AVL next week, decided I needed to do something that didn't need to be ft'd!

So the next warp going onto the Fanny will be placemats. I'm low on appropriate yarns for mats, but decided some of the high twist bamboo would work just fine for warp with some cotton novelties as weft. And instead of fringes, I'll weave hems. At least it will be something different than ft! And more portable as I can bring hemming to coffee with friends or to guild meetings.

Got all the kits made except for the orders received today. Decided I needed a break from kits so I'll wind the placemat warp tonight. May even get it beamed as Doug is working until 8:30 pm.

The 'buy one, get one free' option on Art Fire works really well - except of course I didn't do it the proper way and allowed people to choose a different colour from the initial kit ordered! :D However, it was an interesting experiment and one I may repeat in the future. For now, however, the offer is over.

The good news is that my energy seems to have come back, even though my bp continues to spike for no known reason. :( If this continues I really will ask the dr to change my bp meds - perhaps my body has gotten used to the ones I'm on and they aren't working properly? Who knows.........sure would be nice to get a users manual with clear instructions on how to help one's body work healthy and well! :}

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Get Up and Go

Leclerc skein winder for winding yarn for quills - and a couple of proto placemat warps in amongst the rubble

For the past few months I have been 'suffering' from a serious lack of get up and go. I've been blaming this lack of energy on a whole list of things - the unremitting stress in my life, my health issues, adverse drug reactions, yadda, yadda.

Whilst whining about this last night over coffee with a friend and moaning about the diuretics and Plavix - the current suspected culprits - she commented that her mother had taken diuretics for much of her life and found that she very quickly became deficient in potassium and had to supplement it. My friend also said that if that was the problem, it would become very apparent very quickly once I started supplementing potassium.

As it happened, I had some bananas at home, so I ate one last night. This morning I was reasonably productive but was reluctant to give too much credit to one small banana. :}

However, feeling somewhat better, I decided to pick up some potassium supplements while I was at the store this afternoon and took a first tablet with dinner.

And have been working steadily for two hours getting quills wound for the kits. Plus I don't feel so fuzzy headed and - well - squashed is about the only word I can think of to describe how I had been feeling.........

My bp continues to fluctuate and spike for no real reason, which is worrisome but not terrible, so I won't think too much about it for now. If it continues to be this erratic by the time I see the doctor in January, I'm going to ask about changing out one of my bp meds and try something else. You know - the one that causes weight gain as an adverse effect? I'd sure love to lose some weight and nothing seems to help. So right now I'm blaming those pills......... :^)

The colour gamp kits are nearly ready to ship - should be able to get most of them into the mail tomorrow. After that I will start working on the afghan warp for the AVL, finish the rayon chenille warp on the Fanny (two more scarves), then begin making placemats. And start back on transcribing WeaveCast episodes. I've gotten very far behind on those. :(

I haven't seriously made placemats for many years - people still come up to me at the craft fairs and say their 20 year old placemats still look like new - but this year I had people coming looking for them so I guess it's time again. Perhaps people are wanting a new colour, if nothing else?

Currently reading The Night Visitor by James Doss (gave up on 13 1/2 by Nevada Barr - too gruesome for me)

Monday, November 23, 2009


four knitted scarves

Yes, there are four scarves here - there are two pink/purple scarves - one skein had a slightly darker purple than the other.......

In one of her books Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (The Yarn Harlot) talks about knitting and patience.

She points out that knitters are no more patient than any other person. It is not that knitters are inherently patient, but rather it is because they are knitting that they can be patient.

I can go along with that observation.

I try to never go anywhere that there is a possibility I might need to wait for more than a minute or two without a trusty book or knitting project. I can cope with waiting for quite a long time so long as I can read or knit while I'm waiting. Take those waiting coping tools away from me and I become a very unhappy camper.........

So, since Doug was with me on this trip I brought along both books and knitting. As it happened, it was slower than we'd hoped, and there was no need for both of us to be in the booth to wait on customers, so I wound up with a lot more knitting time than anticipated.

And I ran out of yarn! OH NO! Ack! What to do! I went to a couple of stores to see if I could find some cheap acrylic, but no, not a skein was to be found.

So I did the only thing I could do. I bought a skein of hand spun 2 ply indigo dyed wool from one of the other vendors! (Joybilee Farms - hi Chris!) And started another scarf.

Since the skein wasn't terribly large, I wound up ripping it out twice and starting over making the scarf successively narrower so that I could get a scarf that was long enough for the intended recipient. :} And still finished knitting it in the van before getting home.........

I also finished the one book I'd been reading and started the next. And then it got dark. And then it started to snow. Even though I wasn't driving - this time - I was not very comfortable with the road conditions. A cd of Tom Cochrane's Greatest Hits kept me reasonably distracted and we got home by 8 pm or so.

We were way too tired to deal with unloading, so left that for today. It's now unloaded, but I have no idea where I'm going to put the content of the boxes. :( Since I may have some customers come to look at textiles in the next couple of weeks, I have to re-organize the store room, and hopefully bend time and space sufficiently to get everything in there, looking neat and attractive.

A challenge for another day.

Currently reading The Shaman's Game by James Doss

Friday, November 20, 2009

Show Set Up

Ah the flurry of activity as the optomistic artisans set up!

It is nearly 9 am, doors open at 10. Our booth is nearly ready. I will start setting out the textiles while Doug takes the booth boxes back to the van.

And then it is just wait and see...
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oliver BC

We are here. Took 11 hours with good weather most of the drive. Only a bit of rain along the Falkland corrider.

We found the hall and the motel then a nice restaurant for dinner.

We set up at 8 am and open at 10.
Show time!
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Dangers of Distraction

Kerstin has been blogging about the dangers of distraction and not using one's brain here:

Today I found myself subject to the same sense of distraction while beaming another rayon chenille warp. I find I really do get much better tension if I use the warping valet, so even though they are just a small warp - 9" wide, 5 yards/meters long, I have been using the valet.

Well, I guess I've got too much on my mind today - my bp is still erratic and was up today (show stress perhaps? Lack of sleep?) plus the final flurry of preparations to leave either late tonight or early tomorrow (talked Doug into sleeping in our own bed tonight and hitting the road early - thereby saving the cost of a night in a motel, doing a brand new show where we have no idea if my weaving will sell or not).

Anyway - you can tell from the blithering that I'm a bit of a basket case and while beaming the warp I accidently let the warp slither off the rail of the valet.

Which would not have been terrible except that as it flipped over the rail, the tail of the warp grabbed on to and entangled itself thoroughly in the rest of the warp chain!

It very quickly became apparent that trying to straighten that pile of spaghetti was going to take far too long and be far too frustrating (never said I was a patient person!) so instead of trying to use the valet, I just dangled the warp chain off the breast beam and weighted it with the water jug.

Not a perfect solution, but much better than trying to straighten out 2.5 yards of tangled chain all at once. This way I only had to deal with about 18 inches at a time.

I use the lease sticks to help hold things in place - therefore the only section of the warp that I'm concerned about is the distance from the lease sticks to the reed.

So the warp is now beamed and ready to thread. But first I have to run to town and mail a parcel and pick some stuff up from my mom, then home for lunch. And *then* I can maybe take a few minutes of calm to finish setting up the loom before I try to muck out the kitchen and pack my clothing...........

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From One Extreme....

plain weave - alpaca weft

cotton warp, Tencel weft the other.....

Was tagging the stuff that was wet finished over the weekend, and these shawls followed each other in the pile - one woven in plain weave with that bane of a new weaver's existence - tracking showing up in the wet finishing - and the other woven in a multi-shaft twill. I don't remember anymore if the second shawl was 12 or 16 shafts. :)

But it kind of summed up for me the spectrum of what weaving can be if one wants it to be - as pure and simple as plain weave (which surely needn't be just simple - as Tien's article in WeaveZine pointed out) all the way through to as complex as one wants to tackle.

Truth be told, the multi-shaft twill above isn't even all that complex. It's just a drawn line over as many shafts as one has, changing direction every so often, then woven in the same order - tromp as writ - or in this case some variation of a twill treadling sequence. One doesn't even need a lot of shafts to accomplish something fancy - just the desire and the will to create the complex threading and then follow it with the treadling.

Since I have a Compu-Dobby, it isn't even difficult to achieve. Which is one reason why I got a dobby loom in the first place and then up-graded to the computer driven hardware in the second.

It's a matter of efficiency. The computer allows me the freedom to try out a whole lot more options for cloth design in the same amount of time I used to spend making one or two draw downs by hand. Instead of which I can take that same amount of time and run through 30 options.

So has the computer saved me time? Not in terms of designing. But efficiency isn't just about saving time, it's about being productive with what time one has available. So the computer has allowed me to expand my horizons and become a better designer.

And that, too, is efficient use of my time.

So many people believe that being efficient is all about saving time. Of being fast at what one does. But speed at the expense of accuracy is a false economy. So any procedure or piece of equipment that speeds up the process but introduces 'flaws' is not efficient.

On the other hand, there are methods and equipment that are more efficient than other methods and equipment. If a weaver has never been taught those methods or shown that equipment, they will do what they have been taught. How can they do otherwise unless they make a point of analyzing what they are doing and trying to do it more efficiently? Or seeking out other teachers.

For those people interested in learning more efficient and ergonomic methods, there are resources. Peggy Ostercamp has collected a vast amount of data on various methods one can use. Once one knows different ways of doing things - winding a warp, dressing a loom, holding and throwing a shuttle - it is then up to the student to choose those methods and tools that will work best for them.

Ultimately it is up to each person to choose how they work - slow or fast - and what tools and equipment that will best suit what they wish to accomplish.

Personally I want to work as efficiently as possible in order to try to bring into material form (pardon the pun!) the ideas I have swirling around in my head. Not to mention use up as much of my stash as I possibly I can buy new stuff to play with!

Currently reading The Shaman's Bones by James D Doss

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom

Picked up my new Ashford Rigid Heddle loom last night and decided that, even though I have no time whatsoever to get it assembled and try it out right now, to at least open the box.

I'm glad I did because I wanted two each of the heddles, but didn't make myself clear when I ordered it. :( So I've ordered two more heddles, which will hopefully be here by the time we get back from Oliver, BC and Doug has time to put it together. (That's the part he likes about my being a weaver - he gets to play with the equipment.) :D

My friend is going out of business, so we talked about my taking over her Ashford dealership. If I'm going to start teaching weaving on rigid heddle looms, it would be really nice to be able to supply new weavers with their equipment.

So after wallowing around for a few years wondering what direction to take with my weaving, it looks like a path has opened in the forest. Since I've picked up spinning again, too, being an Ashford dealer might be a very good thing to do.

Anyway, I've asked for more details about what it takes to have a dealership, so we'll see.

Currently reading the Hald book on ancient textiles - as predicted, it's intriguing but not terribly enlightening. Sample, sample, sample!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Flying Shuttles

Two types of flying shuttle

Industrial pirn winder

Whenever my warps are wider than 30" I turn to my trusty flying shuttles.

When Allen Fannin was alive he often salvaged equipment from mills that were either upgrading or shutting down. Thus the Whitin pirn winder came my way, along with half a dozen shuttles and about 1000 pirns that had been used in a fancy goods mill. I bought two heads, thinking I would set each up for different grists of yarn, but then decided that one suited the majority of my needs and we have just left the second head to use for parts if so needed. So far there is in excess of 1700 hours of winding time on the winder. (We track time used for servicing.)

The industrial fly shuttles are larger and heavier than the shuttles supplied with the AVL loom.

To compare - 41 cm vs 38 cm and 448 grams vs 352 grams.

When weaving the full width (60") on the loom, the lighter weight shuttles will sometimes lose momentum and not make it all the way across to seat themselves properly in the shuttle box. I'm sure they are fine on a narrower loom, but.....I only use the loom's shuttles when I have to use something unusually thick or textured - otherwise my first choice is always the heavier industrial shuttle.

Some people wonder if the heavier weight becomes a problem. Not with the fly shuttle. In fact, I found I had to exert much more effort with the lighter shuttles in order to get them from one side of the loom to the other than with the heavier ones.

And I just love the industrial winder. As long as I've set the tension properly and keep the carousel filled with pirns, it will chug along quite nicely thank you very much, winding perfectly filled pirns. Yes, I occasionally have a problem, but not anywhere near as often as when I have to hand wind pirns. For example, I didn't leave quite enough room at the tip of the pirns when I set the winder up yesterday and one of the pirns sluffed some of the yarn off the tip today. I gave myself a good talking to for being so careless. :^)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Z Twist

First skein of Z twist yarn

Well, in spite of being Remembrance Day, the craft drop-in was going on so I loaded up the spinning wheel and bag of roving, spending some time with other creative people and got the first skein of Z twist yarn done.

After mulling it over for a while I realized that I really want to have the S twist yarn be solid black otherwise the twist effect is going to get lost in the varigation. So I have to buy more fibre. :}

Let's face it, I am not a great spinner. I'm not even a very good spinner. But before I use the yarn that a professional spinner is doing for me I do feel I need to get some samples woven before committing the good stuff to a world of ignorance!

Since I'm actually more interested in the effect of twist in balanced yarns and not in collapse effects, the yarn will be set so that it isn't all full of corkscrew twists and latent energy. That will make warping the loom a lot easier.

When I work with energized yarn I generally beam the warp sectionally and use lots of masking tape to tame the wriggly threads. But for this I'm really a lot more interested in what happens when balanced yarns are used together.

I've read about this in various books, but never have attempted it myself. Oelsner writes about it, and I believe Judith Mackenze McCuin does in her book The Intentional Spinner.

Several people on WeaveTech recommended Margrethe Hald's book Ancient Danish Textiles from Bogs and Burials, and that arrived via inter-library loan yesterday. Have only glanced at it, and I've been told that there aren't instructions, per se, but pictures of cloth woven with Z and S twist yarns. So studying the photos will be intriguing if not enlightening. :)

But now I'm home and fed and it's time to fire up the AVL and see if I can get a couple more shawls woven. Or perhaps one shawl and one scarf, which will finish that rayon chenille warp.

Tonight is guild night and I want to see if there is interest in my presenting a workshop in the new year. My teaching calendar for next year is far too empty for my likes, so I need to fill it up. The advantages of teaching on home ground - no travel and my own bed at night!

And I'd like to finish today with In Flanders Fields, a poem written during WWI:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

John McCrae, a Canadian medical officer

When I was in school a millenium ago, every school child learned this poem - Lest We Forget.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Plain Weave - Again!

So I finally got to the AVL today. This poor neglected warp was put on the loom the beginning of September and ignored for two months!

And guess what? It's being woven in - ta-DAH! Plain weave! :D

The yarn is fairly hefty - for weaving yarn - at 2000 yards per pound. It's also a fairly dense yarn with a high percentage of bamboo and silk. The cloth that I wove earlier using it for both warp and weft were - well - okay - but not exactly the quality of cloth I really wanted for shawls.

Now 3 of them sold at the craft fair, so obviously some people loved them! But they still felt a little sturdy to me. And let's face it - you can't weave thin cloth from thick thread!

During one of the rootlings in my storage area I discovered a box of pirns with a black alpaca lace weight yarn on them, and a full cone of the yarn still to be wound. The weight seemed just about right to lighten this fabric up and so without doing any samples (yikes!) I went ahead and started weaving with the wound pirns.

There is enough alpaca yarn to do several shawls and since I've still got four large boxes of the Bamboo Rain, I will reserve some of it for the next shawl warp and probably use the Bambu 12 for weft on the rest of this warp.

My yarn order from Silk City came in last week, so I'm well stocked with Bambu 12 again.

I'm also thinking that since my 'new' winter coat isn't nearly as warm as my old one that I may keep one of these shawls to wear over my coat on days that aren't cold enough for my down filled stadium coat, but too cold for just my 'new' winter coat......

Currently reading Pythagoras' Revenge by Arturo Sangalli

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dear Fatty

Just wanted to share a quote from Dawn French:

My theory was that if I behaved like a condifent, cheerful person, eventually I would buy it myself, and become that. I always had traces of strength somewhere inside me, it wasn't fake, it was just a way of summoning my courage to the fore and not letting any creeping self-doubt hinder my adventures. This method worked then, and it works now. I tell myself that I am the sort of person who can open a one-woman play in the West End, so I do. I am the sort of person who has several companies, so I do. I am the sort of person who WRITES A BOOK! So I do. It's a process of having faith in the self you don't quite know you are yet, if you see what I mean. Believing that you will find the strength, the means somehow, and trusting in that, although your legs are like jelly. You can still walk on them and you will find the bones as you walk. Yes, that's it. The further I walk, the stronger I beocome. So unlike the real lived life, where the further you walk the more your hips hurt.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day Three and Over

The wall of Red (taken with the Blackberry - sorry)

This photo is a bit more orange than real life - the orange-y scarf in the centre of the wall is actually a gold and faded blue.

I realized that I had a lot - and by a lot I mean a lot - of red scarves when I was setting up the booth so I put them at the corner as eye candy. Never under estimate the power of the colour red to catch someone's eye and draw them closer.

But the real eye magnet in my booth was that rogue gold and faded blue scarf. I lost count of how many people made a bee line for that scarf! The good news is that two of the three I brought sold. :D

Sales were not as brisk as I'd hoped, but given the economy am not unduly disappointed. :)

And I got lots of compliments. The ones from the public are always nice, but it's the ones from other vendors that really mean a lot to me. They have a much better appreciation of the amount of work than Joe and Jill Public generally do.

Although one shopper won my heart when he commented "You've been weaving for a very long time, haven't you." Yup. ;)

One of the other vendors said that they do 125 shows a year (!) and my weaving was the best he'd seen. :)

After talking about shows on the Lower Mainland with him, Doug and I have decided to investigate doing One of a Kind. They will be in the new convention centre next year, mid-December (instead of early October, which is a really terrible time if you want to capture the Christmas market.) I don't know how well sales will go given Circle Craft is in early November, but perhaps they will be far enough apart that it will be okay.

At any rate, we did OOAK in Toronto a few years ago and they've got their marketing down pat so we'll apply and see if we get accepted. And Vancouver is drive-able, where Toronto isn't.

Still have to unload the van but Doug and I are catching our respective breaths and will deal with that shortly.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day Two

No photo today - must have jiggled when I took the picture with my Blackberry - it's sadly out of focus. However nothing much has changed as I decided the boutique look seemed to be working okay. :)

We were 'late' getting to the hall and the doors opened just as we slid in. It was heartening to see the line up of people waiting to get in, and it stayed fairly busy all morning. Sales starting happening almost right away - slow but steady.

I bought a new sugar bowl - ours has a broken lid - and some fridge magnets with great art work and even better mottos. We also looked at a metal tree sculpture for the mantel which will double as our Christmas tree. If there are any left by the time we get back to the booth, chequebook in hand. :}

Studio Fair is also a time to re-connect with people in town that I only ever see at Studio Fair. Including a cousin who was visiting for the weekend. :)

It's also a sad time because my brother would always come and visit - and I miss that. And him.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Studio Fair

Left side of booth (mirror behind scarf rack)

Right side of booth

Took these pictures before they turned down the lights this morning. Still tweaking the booth some at this point, but not much.

However, I may re-do it tomorrow. I went with a more boutique-y look - fewer things hung up, more things on the shelves below.

I'm not entirely sure I like the effect, although it doesn't seem to stop people from coming in and looking through the small piles on the shelves. :) So I may just leave it.

We are not having the crowds we had last year. OTOH, I don't know how many of those crowds actually bought anything as I didn't have a booth last year. (I just demo'd in the guild booth.)

I quite like my booth placement this year. May see if I can get the same location next year. Historically the booths were assigned by lottery, but there is new management so I don't know if that approach is still being used. I've been trying to convince the organizers to group the food booths and they seem to be doing that somewhat this year. I'm also going to point out that a booth full of textiles next to a booth of scented lotions is also A Bad Idea. :( Not just for me but the booth full of cute kid's clothing across from me.

I'm just glad I'm not next door to the soap maker at the front of the hall. I was next door to them one year and nearly asphixiated with my allergies kicking up a royal fuss. :( At least this booth has very mild scents in their lotions - I've doubled up on my anti-histamines anyway. :)

And yes, my hang tags are front and centre. My philosophy is that if it's for sale there ought to be a price on it. If there isn't, many people assume that if they have to ask how much they can't afford it. :}

The sale opened slowly but with steady people coming through - and much less sticker shock than last weekend. :)

Also heard of a smaller show in a community about 3 hours drive away that is supposed to be good. I'll look at doing that next year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Design

New chenille warp, new scarf design

And that's as much as I'm going to share of that one. :)

After months of feeling as though I was in the creative doldrums, I now have two solid new designs that I'm going to be putting into production. Both are rayon chenille, and both will - hopefully - use up some of the pounds of rayon chenille I have in stock.

So it's a win-win situation - I'll have the new designs I've been feeling that I've been needing, and I won't have to buy yet more yarn! At least not to begin with. If at all. I may take this opportunity to go out of rayon chenille altogether once I get my current stash used up.

Or not. :)

The first design is a simple pattern, a re-working of something tried and true - and all too easily copied. So I won't be showing those scarves on my blog.

From time to time I'm asked how I prevent people copying my work.

The answer is - I don't. I just move on. There is really nothing new under the sun, and anything I can dream up anybody else can dream up as well. It was one reason why I purchased a 16 shaft loom back in 1981 - yes, people were copying my work - sometimes blatantly (boy have I got stories) and at the time there were very few 8 shaft looms around, let alone 16 shaft ones.

I figured that most people who would invest in a 16 shaft loom would have plenty of ideas of their own and wouldn't be likely to copy my textiles.

As someone who earns their income by creating textiles to sell, I've learned that it's always a good idea to have one or two new designs to offer every year. The past two years I didn't have the energy or will to come up with much. It was enough just to be weaving.

So, quite frankly, my designs were not wondrous creative leaps. They were - I hope - just good cloth, well made.

I don't know if it was the last tweak in medication, the re-introduction of the Cardio Cocktail, or the phase of the moon, but the last week I have felt a stirring of - something - a desire to come up with new designs. :) So now I have two that I feel confident will be nice and I'm looking forward to getting them ready for the craft fairs ------next year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Matter of Pressing

Pressing today was a bit of a marathon as I scrambled to get shawls ready and some more red scarves. (This photo was taken with my Blackberry, so a little issue with focus - sorry.)

At the recent sale in Seattle, I was introduced to a customer who had purchased one of my scarves last year as a gift for a friend, and had intended to buy her another this year. When her friend turned the proposed scarf down, the customer bought it for herself. As she was telling me the story, she was stroking the scarf. :)

As we talked, she shared the observation that she could tell my textiles blindfolded - "They feel finished."

One of the things that distinguishes my textiles from some others is that I generally give them a hard press. Not all - collapse effects by their very nature are not pressed or you'd lose the 3-D effect.

Pressing can take as long as the weaving. (Fringe twisting can take as long as the weaving, too, so the finishing - dry and wet - can take much longer than the actual shuttle throwing.)

Why do I press? I have no proof of this but I believe that compression adds stability to the cloth. (The fact that industry presses - in some form or another - the vast majority of commercially woven cloth speaks loudly to me.)

Think of what you are using to make a textile - 3 dimensional nearly round rods. If they are not compressed and forced to notch into and around their neighbours they would be tempted to roll within the cloth. (If you are having difficulty picturing this, think about a log house and how much stability it would have if the log rounds were not notched to sit down into each other at the corners.)

Pressing also flattens the surface, enhancing shine.

My minimum pressing is generally side A, side B, then side A again. When I feel the cloth, I don't want to feel individual threads but a fabric.

While I'm thinking about wet finishing, thought I'd let people know that I am offering a special on Magic in the Water until Nov. 26 (American Thanksgiving). Please pass the word that if someone purchases Magic they will receive CD Weaver III *plus* the supplemental sample set that goes with it. I will be lowering the US price on my Art Fire store today to reflect the somewhat stronger US dollar.....

Currently reading Dear Fatty by Dawn French (British comedic actress)

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Joy of Being a Home-Based Business II

This is the current state of my living room. Yes, that's one of my spinning wheels, squashed in behind the pile.

We would have left all of this in the van for the 3 days in between the two craft fairs, but the tires and rims need to be installed on the van on Wednesday and we couldn't fit all of this plus the old and new rims and tires into the van - or at least not without potentially damaging the boxes and possibly their contents.

So, rather than carry all of this down to the studio (where there is no room for it there, either) Doug and I are treading narrow paths to our respective seats in the lr.

What I'm not showing you is the dining room, which is similarly boxed in - so to speak.

The empty box on the top of the pile will have to be put somewhere else if we are to watch any tv, but until I turn the tv on later today it will stay on the top of the heap. :}

So many people believe that because someone has a business that that person is raking in the cash and living the good life. What most of these people don't know and don't understand is that being a home based business means that a) you never wind up having much 'down' time - work is always staring you in the face b) that income is never guaranteed - you pays your money and you takes your chances (like the craft fair this weekend which brought in a couple hundred dollars less than the same show last year), c) that your house is always a mess because there simply isn't sufficient space for all the materials and supplies required for running a business while living in the same space.

OTOH, I can't ever see myself working at a 'real' job. I've been self-employed for far too many years. (You want me to show up every day? On time? And do what?)

I am very happy to be able to set my own pace, choose the job I want to work on (or not, suffering the consequences of missed deadlines), sleep in if I need to, or work until midnight to meet a deadline.

My health has never been great (allergens can blindside me, making down time necessary) and knowing that if I'm not feeling well first thing in the morning I can shift my schedule and work until midnight means that I can set my own priorities and do what I feel capable of doing on an 'off' day.

It also means that every day is a potential work day, and it's rare that I do nothing at all work related.

Of course I do love what I do, so it's not as great a hardship as it may be sounding!

So I continue to live with mess and clutter and narrow pathways through the house. :} And dream that one day my house will be neat and tidy and clean (no dust buffalo roaming the halls and congregating in the corners!)

Like another home based business blogger, I do feel guilty about the mess and hesitate to have company for fear that I will be judged and found lacking in the housekeeping department.