Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bucket of Textiles

Doug is sick with a nasty cough/cold and has been run off his feet trying to deal with all of his own stuff and what I can't do for myself as well, so I asked a friend to help me get the textiles ready for the up coming show at the Community Arts Council "Studio Shoppe".
There was one bucket of things from the sale last weekend and Loralee sorted through the storeroom filling two more. I don't know how much they want for the exhibit, so figured it would be easier to send lots and let them choose.
If I remember correctly the other artisan is a woodworker so I sent some tea towels and table runners as well as scarves and shawls.
It probably would have been a good idea to send a display rack, but that was just too much to contemplate considering I wasn't able to schlep it over there myself.
I'm trying to cross one thing off my to-be-done list everyday. This was a biggie!
Currently reading The Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Knitting to Pass the Time

Since one of the captain's chairs from the van is currently living in the, er, living room, it got used as the backdrop for this photo of my 'pass time' knitting. And yes, that orange shag carpet is actually going to go -finally - in May. :D YAY!
A major stash enhancement event was the acquisition of about a ton of yarn from a mill that was closing out. Some of that yarn was a very high quality acrylic slub yarn (the white and black in the above photo.) I have this yarn in 3 different colourways and have used it as weft for afghans.
But a 90 pound case (in one instance two cases of one of the colours) is one heck of a lot of yarn so for the last few years I've taken a cone and combining it with various other tidbits of left over weaving yarns, knit scarves that I donate to worthy causes (Salvation Army, women's shelter, emergency room, etc.)
It's my end-of-the-day-watching-tv type of 'creative fidgeting' (as a friend calls it) and it has been a life saver the last few weeks.
I confess I'm getting mighty tired of sitting all day long. :(
But I'm almost at the half way mark and things continue to look good so I'm hopeful that I'll be up and at 'em in a little over 3 weeks. :)
Currently reading Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Friday, March 26, 2010

No Pictures, Please!

As you can imagine, my days are pretty much devoted to 'nursing' my ankle. Since getting the moon boot, I've left it off as much as possible for the incisions to heal. It's looking much better today, but still a sight to make strong men flinch I think, so I'm not including a photo. :}

The swelling is coming down nicely, and my foot no longer looks like an over-stuffed sausage. It still feels like one, though.

I've been sort of watching a whole lot of tv, knitting some, hemming some, reading some, and put a puzzle out on the dr table. The fact that the sun has been coming out so I can bask in it has been an added bonus after so many grey dreary days this winter.

It's nearly half way through the 6 weeks (like a 5 year old will protest they are 5 and a *half*) and I'm sure that the next 3 and a bit weeks will zoom by very quickly in retrospect.

Like a friend says - it's much nicer to say that you have already done the 6 weeks rather than to say you will do 6 weeks.......(I'm paraphrasing, of course).

Once I can tolerate leaving my foot down I have a stack of paperwork to do, including the class instructions for the workshop in Columbus, Ohio the middle of May. What a pity I'll be out of town for the Great Rug Removal Adventure! :D Doug re-booked his holidays to mid-May so that I will be mobile enough to pack up the living room and dining room contents, which will get stored in one of those mobile storage bins that get parked in one's driveway.

And even though I'll be able to walk after 6 weeks, I've been told by others what have hobbled this road ahead of me that that doesn't mean I'll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound - actual recovery to pre-break function will be a year. Not something the surgeon chose to share with me. OTOH, since I require full mobility in order to weave, I still would have opted for the surgery.

What that means is that I'm going to get me a nifty fashion-statement cane and when I travel to Columbus (and perhaps even Complex Weavers/Convergence) I'm going to request pre-board and transportation between gates. The walk in the Vancouver airport alone will be a challenge, never mind what other airports I'll have to scurry through to get from here to there. :} Now I know why the temporary parking pass expires this December and not sooner????

Mom and I will have matching canes and limps for a while, I guess. :}

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Moon Dance, Anyone?

I got the wardrobe.....

This morning, rather early (for me and Doug, that is) I went to the hospital Cast Room and got the staples removed from the incisions, an x-ray taken to check on healing and then got outfitted with a 'moon boot'. Didn't ask how much the boot cost - didn't want to know. :} I'll wait til the bill arrives in the mail.....

No I can't put any weight on my foot yet. Another 3 weeks before I can even think about putting maybe half my weight on it.

But the boot is removeable and I'm to start doing gentle physiotherapy - mostly stretching and flexing the foot in order to keep the ankle muscles limber - as well as some gentle massage. And to let the incisions heal in the air.

Doug is about ready to start loading the van - just waiting on a few more items to pack up. I've woven some on the rigid heddle demonstrator loom so he can now package that up for transport, too.

I ventured down the stairs to the studio yesterday (bum bump, bum bump) and finished threading the last 2 inches on the AVL, then started sleying, but I can see that it's going to be a few more days before I can contemplate weaving. I'll aim for when Doug returns next week. :)

In the meantime I finished hemming a dozen placemats and a table runner, and have a stack of tea towels to do yet.

I'll get Doug to dig that stack of Terry Pratchett's Disc World books that I haven't yet read out of the guest room. That should keep me well occupied while he's away.

Currently reading Masqurade by Terry Pratchett

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Knitting Samples

I don't consider myself a spinner, even though I got sucked into the wonderful world of weaving via the orifice of a spinning wheel. :} (See my earliest posts for the story.)

I only ever learned how to spin woollen, not worsted, and I've not spun nearly enough to become proficient at it or taken the time to really learn the craft. OTOH, I'm grateful I came to weaving through spinning because I learned so much about fibre characteristics which made choosing appropriately for weaving much easier.

That said, becoming a dealer for spinning fibres sent me back to my wheels (how on earth a non-spinner acquired 3 of them in the first place is beyond me - guess the Universe knew what it was doing!)

With our first show as Ashford and Ashland Bay dealers coming up rather rapidly, most of my productive time the last week has been spent wet finishing the skeins of handspun (some done by me, some by a local spindler - thank you Margaret!) and knitting up some samples.

I'd hoped to have some woven examples too, but needless to say - that ain't gonna happen. :(

The beige sample is a blend of merino and nylon. I'd intended to knit a toque, but didn't have a pattern handy, so just did a seed stitch scarf. The fibre was blended on Ashford's Wild Card, about 90 merino, 10% nylon. Adding a little nylon will make the wool wear better, especially for socks. But I'm not much of a knitter these days, either, so I didn't try for sock yarn. I'm just not consistent enough for that. After it was spun I Navaho plied it. Someone sent me another video clip of Navaho plying that I'd like to study more because it looks much more efficient than the clip I'd found on my own.

The other sample, still on the needles and which I'm hoping to finish knitting today, is a merino silk blend. It was absolutely wonderful to spin! Since I spin woollen, Judith MacKenzie told me to spin off the fold and this blend was just lovely. I expect that if I spin for my own enjoyment this will be the top I choose.

This yarn was not plied, so again I used a seed stitch to prevent the yarn from torquing along the bias.

Doug has spent most of his free time gathering up and boxing the product for the show. He's got Tuesday off work to take me to the hospital to have the staples removed, after which I'm hoping I'll feel a lot more adventurous (and less pain). Then he'll load the van and he and his friend will leave early-ish Wed. am.

Set up is Thursday at 5 pm but they have other errands to run during the day so getting there a day 'early' is working out well for them.

I'm looking forward to a few days without pathways through the piles of boxes, and a dining room table on which I can lay out a jigsaw puzzle. :)

Doug has also suggested delaying doing the floors until I'm mobile again, and I can certainly see the wisdom of that. In fact, it turns out that I may be out of town for the rug removal, now, which suits me just fine!

If you enjoy books with music (and even a few mentions of weaving) as an integral part of the plot, Sharon Shinn's book Archangel might be a good read. It's a 'fantasy' and a romance (think of The Taming of the Shrew set in an alternate universe) but the author obviously knows a lot about music and a little about weaving.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kimono As Art

Yesterday Doug set off on a round of errands including the post office and came back with a parcel containing this amazing book.

Tien Chiu had blogged about seeing an exhibit of Itchiku Kubota's work and here on my doorstep was a taste of it.

Talk about eye candy as well as food for the soul! And probably one of the most thoughtful convelescent gifts someone could make to a textile person. Thanks Tien!

I've not managed to read much of the text yet - keep getting caught up in the images. This is most definitely a book to savour!

As is Jack Lenor Larsen's book Material Wealth. Another book I've never actually read because the images keep sucking me away from the text. :D Another gift from some weaving friends.

I will have to spend some serious time at the computer tomorrow. My local guild wants to nominate me for an award and they need a resume including all the books and articles I've written. Unfortunately I stopped keeping a detailed resume years and years ago. I figured no one wanted to read such a long list! For the past 10-15 years I've simply stated that I've written numerous articles for....and listed the publications.

But now they want the details! Doug carried up the Textile Arts Index which lists articles published up until the mid-80's and I guess I'll have to see if Handwoven has a searchable database/index. Otherwise it's page through the contents of the magazines because I honestly don't remember which issues I've had stuff in.

Well, all except the ones that my weaving was used on the covers. :}

Currently reading two books - one when I'm propped up in bed, one when I'm propped up in Doug's chair - part 3 of Spider Robinson's Lifehouse Trilogy and Archangel by Sharon Shinn. Nearly finished my pile of library books which means I can start on the books I own but have never gotten around to reading - cause there's no deadline on those, naturally! :DDDDD

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Inching Along

bookmark almost done

I'm surprised this photo came out - not the steadiest on my feet - I was expecting it to be out of focus or blurry cause I zigged or zagged when the shutter opened. :}

However I have managed to pick away at the bookmark the last couple of days. But I spent too much time with my foot down yesterday and am paying for it today. Since I can't take heavy-duty painkillers the best thing for me is to keep my foot elevated as much as possible, so I have been.

Of course having a good book to read helps!

While it's awkward, I've been able to do a little computer time and surfing, finding The Textile Blog by John Hopper.

One of the big holes in my knowledge is any kind of grasp of the history of art, especially textiles. This blog is great - little nuggets of information about textiles, their designers, their influences. Thank you John!

Currently reading A Night Too Dark by Dana Stabenow (set Spider's trilogy aside for the nonce)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Impossible

double weave bumblebees

Apparently, according to the laws of aerodynamics, it's impossible that a bee can fly. And yet it does. There are times when ignorance is most decidedly bliss!

As it happens this is the very fabric that sparked the idea that I could become a professional weaver. Why? I don't really know where that thought came from, except that I had been having a weekly 'tutorial' on what was happening in the weaving room each Monday night when I went to spinning class.

Linda was taking both classes - immersing herself in spinning and weaving - and her excitement fairly bubbled over telling me what she'd done the Tuesday before in the loom room, showing me her fabrics, her plans for the next warp, excitedly conveying her love for what she was doing at the looms.

From September until the following March I got spoon-fed tidbits of information on how to weave.

And then, that fateful day in March, my boss called me over saying that she'd received new fabric samples and they were from Sweden. Since she knew I had an affinity for Sweden, she knew I'd want to see them right away.

There were two of them, but it was this one that drew my fingers. I picked it up, turned it over, pulled the two layers apart and thought to myself "I know how they've done this. I don't know the details, but I know that they have woven two layers of fabric at once, pulling the threads from the bottom layer to the top and pushing the threads of the top to the bottom, to make the bees."

And that tiny kernel of knowledge took root and grew until I found myself musing aloud to Doug that I wondered if a person could weave fabric and sell it and make some money.
Bless his heart he said "Go for it". I pointed out our tiny house had no where for a loom. So we decided to sell our tiny house (I was making very good money for a woman in 1975) and buy something bigger.
By August we were moving into our new home, September saw me resigning my job (once the mortgage had been secured) and I found myself - at last - sitting in front of a loom, shuttle in hand. Home.< /div>
When I quit my job, my boss presented me with this sample, which I've kept now for 35 years. A reminder that there are times when the impossible is possible.

There have been many times over the years when I have wondered to myself what on earth I thought I was doing when I chose to quit a rather lucrative job to become a career weaver. All the uncertainty, the lack of steady income, the risk of going to shows, never knowing if anything would sell let alone cover the costs (never mind make a profit). And yet when I look back I don't think I'd change very much.
Oh there are a few things I've done I'd rather not - 'seemed like a good idea at the time' sort of things. But essentially I have had a rich and rewarding, not to say challenging life. Weaving a life, as it were. I've been places I never thought I'd go, met fabulous people, done things that seemed - well - impossible.
And yet - and yet - the bee flies - as impossible as that is supposed to be.
Just finished Thunderkiller by Margaret Coel and started The Lifehouse Trilogy (I think) by Spider Robinson

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Boon Companion

wither thou goest, I go....

Or more accurately, in order to go I go with thou........ :D

My doctor's receptionist was a peach when Doug phoned about getting a temporary handicapped parking permit and informed Doug that the Red Cross has a loaner program for mobility aids. He brought home this lovely blue beast which is allowing me pretty much full range of the upstairs. Yes, there are certain corners in the house I can't get into because the upstairs is also packed with boxes of product for Fibres West March 26/27. :}

After much thought and discussions with friends who are RN's, I've decided that an 8 hour drive - each way - on March 24 and 29 would not be in my best interests so I am working on arrangements to send Doug by himself to the show. I'll be at the other end of his cell phone to answer questions but all in all I think it's best I stay home for this one.

I'm very disappointed because I'd not done this show before and had been really looking forward to doing it. Doug did it by himself last year, too, because I was teaching in Boise, ID but them's the breaks. (I know, baaaad pun!)

Have not felt up to doing much of anything except read a bit and doze. Pain levels should start going down tomorrow at which time I expect to start feeling a little more adventurous. The dining room table is covered with stuff but hopefully when studio elf Mizz B comes on Monday she can be legs for me and fetch and carry. Then I can drag my bobbin lace pillow out and work on the bookmark that's currently on it. I might even give Mizz B some warp winding practice and get her to wind another wool warp for the rigid heddle loom. I think, with her help, I can get it dressed so I can weave on it.

Still shaking my head - once again - at how quickly life can get turned on it's head. How's that saying go? Man makes plans, God laughs?

Over the half way mark in First Lord's Fury - Mom is picking Dana Stabenow's A Night Too Dark up from the library tomorrow. God Bless good books! And good friends. Thanks for all the well wishes. Wish y'all were closer so you could come visit in person, but emails are A Good Thing. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Not Exactly the Bionic Woman

Soooo - I have a metal plate on the outside of the ankle and two screws on the inside. Doug called me a Bionic Woman, but since none of this enhances performance, just will get me back to 'normal'......

No, there was no ice involved in this. I did it in the kitchen - the second most dangerous room in the home. :( I stumbled, twisting my left foot and went down on it.

While many people complain about our health care system, I have had nothing but excellent care from the orderlies on through the nursing staff and the various doctors. And there seemed to be rather a lot of them! :)

I was extremely fortunate in being able to have a spinal block so I'm not dealing with the after effects of general anesthetic - just swelling from the injury and surgery which should subside after 3 or so days.

Tylenol 3's made me ill, so I have Tramaset (sp?) for pain management.

Many people assume that we have 'free' health care in Canada. Not so.

It just seems that way because if you are employed, the insurance premiums are deducted from your paycheque before you ever see it. :} They are considered a taxable benefit if your employer pays the premiums for you.

If you are unemployed or self-employed (as Doug and I were for 9 years) you pay the premiums yourself.

For example, the Tylenol and injection of anti-inflammatory I was given in emerg were covered under the insurance but the prescription for the t-3's Doug had to pay for. We bought the crutches ($19.00) and I'll be getting a bill for those in the mail.

Since I'm not to put any weight whatsoever on my left leg for 6 weeks (yikes!) Doug has talked to my family dr's receptionist and she is arranging for a walker and a temporary handicapped parking pass.

Doug has been a prince stepping and fetching although I rather suspect he will get tired of that long before the 6 weeks are up. However he had a similar break eons ago and knows what I'm going through - although he didn't have surgery and was able to walk on his walking cast during healing.

I'll be taking it 'easy' for the next 3 days. After that I should be in much less pain and won't need to keep my leg elevated at which time I can do things like make lace, do jigsaw puzzles, or just read.

There is also PixeLoom to learn and fibre-y dreams to dream.

Currently reading First Lord's Fury by Jim Butcher

Monday, March 8, 2010


I'm laying in emergency waiting for them to bring crutches.

I've broken my ankle in not one but two places and will have surgery to fix it tomorrow.

No weaving for me for a while.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thoughts on Painted Warps

painted warp with mauve weft

looking ahead at the colours to come

Originally I'd pulled a brilliant turquoise to use as weft on this warp, but once I got it on the loom realized that the shades were too greyed to go with the pure almost cyan of the turquoise.

Instead I used Kelp for the first two scarves, then switched to Mauve for scarf number 3.

The last section of warp has a lot of a greyed green in it so it will be back to the kelp for the weft on that one.

When I first started thinking about having Teresa paint my warps I sort of agonized over it. I should do it all myself, right?


I mean, I use commercially dyed yarns, why shouldn't I use yarns that had been specially painted for me by another artisan?

There is nothing quite like a painted warp and having another artisan do it for me has been a wonderful exchange of creativity. Besides which, Teresa is a talented dyer with a dye studio.

I'm not nearly so confident I could do as lovely a job as what she has been doing for me plus I really don't have the room to set up a dye studio that would accommodate 10 yard long warps.

There are times when - as artisans, craftspeople, whatever label one chooses - that we think we have to do everything all by ourselves. The thing is, the process of making textiles is such that there are a number of skilled jobs required. Some aspects of the process are much more interesting than others. While I can make yarn 'not white' I don't have the colour sense to create attractive colour combinations in a painted warp type of format.

I can work with already dyed yarns and combine them in interesting ways, but I don't really want to work with dyes the way Teresa does.

Neither do I want to take the time to sew with my fabric. I did it, it's true, but it really isn't where my heart is. So for a number of years a friend did my sewing for me.

My talent, such as it is, is in the taking of the yarns and combining them to create a textile. People say to go with your strengths. Well, I've determined that my strength is in weaving, not in painting warps or sewing.

Life is too short to mess about doing things one doesn't really enjoy. Especially when there are other talented people who do enjoy it and can do it so much better than I can.

Beginning weaving

It is 3:30 and all three students are weaving.

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Friday, March 5, 2010

Scary Warps on my Website

This cock-eyed photo is the last in the series I did in the photo essay on beaming a painted warp.

Go to my website
Click on Education (it's currently yellow, will turn red in a couple of days, then black)
Click on Articles (currently yellow as well)

I hope to start weaving on this warp tonight, once preparations for the beginning workshop are done in time for class tomorrow.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Scary Warps

bags of painted warps to be woven

Someone commented on Weavolution that when she saw the picture of the orange/green warp on my blog she thought it looked scary.

Actually that warp was rather contained in comparison to some especially after they've been kicking around my storage room for a while, getting pawed through, considered and rejected as the warp du jour. :)

The above photo more acurately represents how they really look.

I decided today to do a photo essay of beaming one of the warps. I'll ask my webmaster to post it to my website - way too many photos for a blog post.

The warp I dressed the loom with today is in the white bag. Thought it looked appealing with that little bit of mauve in with the turquoise.

Will let people know when it's up on my website.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Another Grey Day

scene outside my window at 3 pm today

We have not had what I would call a 'good' winter. Since the middle of January we have had far too many days where the temperature went above freezing during the day and below at night. What that means is that during the day everything melts making the roads wet and dirty and at night everything freezes making the roads icy.

We have also had far too many days without any sunshine. Every one gets grumpy and if they don't have SAD, they feel sad anyway.

Now that it's March I'm hoping that spring will come quickly because I'm very tired of things being icy and dirty. There's simply no point in getting the van washed because it will stay clean for five minutes - tops. :(

Inside I got the next painted warp onto the loom.

This warp has a lot of olive greens and some orange reds. The first scarf is being woven with a burgundy red which enhances the red and mutes the green. The colours are very reminiscent of maple leaves turning colour in the fall. The next section has a lot more green, so I'll be using Kelp to enhance the greens.

One of the scarves on this warp may be used as a hostess gift if we stay with Doug's titian haired niece in September. Just because I know it will suit her so well. :)

(When ever I stay with someone, I generally give handwovens for gifts. Hint, hint.)

For anyone not familiar with Weavolution, there are some amazing projects being uploaded there.

You don't have to sign up to take a look - it's free, anyway - but there are lots of things to inspire there. Some of the projects are wild and wacky, some just plain breath taking.

Currently reading Altered Carbon by Richard Morgon "Overhead soft bellied clouds panic towards the horizon like whales before the harpoon, and the wind runs addict's fingers through the trees that line the street." I do so love a well turned phrase. :) If you like Neal Stephenson, you'd likely enjoy Richard Morgon.

Monday, March 1, 2010

All Sorts

The last half of the painted warp has brighter shades - magentas, lime greens. It rather reminded me of Liquorice Allsorts - a candy popular when I was a kid. Don't know how common they are outside of Canada.

Since I didn't want to mute any of the colours I'm using black weft for the last two scarves. Good enough to eat?

And since I'll be finished this warp today pulled another warp out of the box:

Much more colourful than grey, don't you think?

I will also be beaming the next tea towel warp this afternoon - or at least, that's the plan. But I also have this mountain of wet finishing to do, so since Doug is working late tonight I may go up to the annex after dinner and press some more. Actually got a few placemats hemmed while watching the Olympic Closing Ceremony last night, but still lots to do!