Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day The End

The Seattle Weavers' Guild sale is history for another year. I have no idea where my sales are except that I did a little better than I expected but not, perhaps, as well as I hoped. I'll find out when I get my cheque.

Doug had a reasonable first day at Artisans of the North. I think we're both a little stressed and not a little tired and I'm looking forward to my own bed tomorrow night and a day or two of down time before we gear up for Studio Fair set up on Thursday. After that will be about 5 weeks before One Of A Kind Vancouver.

It was great to visit with friends I've made here in Seattle area and to see their work in person instead of just hearing about it or seeing photos. Textiles truly need to be seen in person.

The alarm will go off at 5:30 am and I hope to be crossing the border shortly after 8. It started raining just as we got back to Betty's tonight - I'm really crossing fingers that the 'scattered showers' predicted will actually be scattered. For now it's good night!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day the Second

In spite of the forecast for grey drizzle, the clouds evaporated and the day turned sunny and warm. The crowds continued slow but steady and most people who came bought something. Sometimes several somethings. :)

I hit the wall at 3 pm and found a quiet place where I could lay my head down on a table for a few minutes but overall I think my cold is on the retreat. I'm not nearly as tired tonight as last night, or the night before.

Tomorrow I'll work in inventory for the last shift - if they want me, germs and all - so I'll get a better idea of my sales at that time. Marjy has been doing a great job of keeping track of everything and was able to give me a first day total at 2 pm today when I went in to look at my file. I doubt I'll make the top 10 sellers this year, but whatever I get will be better than not doing the show.

Doug sets up tomorrow morning for the Artists of the North show and I'm hoping to be home by 8 pm Sunday. It will mean a 5:30 am wake up and hitting the road by 6 am. I'm giving myself some time to stop along the way and nap if I'm just too tired.

Looking forward to my own bed even though it's been great fun meeting my Seattle Guild friends, having a chance to sit down and talk to them face to face and be able to see their new work in person.

One more day.........

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day the First

The first day of the Seattle Weavers' Guild sale is pretty fraught. We begin by dragging all our inventory into the hall where it is spot checked for proper documentation. I had 9 boxes so the checker came to me rather than making me drag them all to her. :) Not terribly large boxes this year, but still....

Then we have the guild meeting and program. This year Teresa Ruch gave the presentation and talked about her years working in the textile industry and her observations about that experience.

And then the chaos begins! I ducked out along with Syne Mitchell and went for a business lunch where she went over my scratchy notes and examined my samples. We firmed up the topic a bit more and now I'll go home and start weaving samples in earnest in order to illustrate the concepts that will be presented.

By the time we got back the display apparatus had pretty much been set up and the merchandizing had begun.

It went quite smoothly today and most of the departments were pretty much done by 4 pm with just a few areas tweaking their displays.

Best of all, customers started to arrive at 4:30 (half an hour early). While it never got terribly busy, it was steady until 7 pm when arriving customers started to drop off. Those that came seemed to be spending - I saw numerous baskets half or even full to the top! We should have some idea of the sales figures in the morning when we return.

All in all, a good start - given the economy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Back in the Pacific Northwest

The flight back to Seattle was uneventful, other than the fact I never did find anything I could eat for lunch. Landing in Salt Lake I duly took note of the fresh snow. I did check the Weather Network before I left ABQ and it promised scattered showers on Sunday for the drive back to PG on Sunday. No snow - yet! (fingers firmly crossed)

I'm doing laundry (only took enough clothes to get me through ABQ) and dinner will be served shortly. And then I have hemming to do and a propective client who may come to look at my scarves. Since we have to be at the hall by 8:30 am, it will be an early morning.

On The Road Again

Just a few final things to do before we leave for the airport. The sun is shining - it's a glorious day. I'm heading back to typical Pacific Northwest weather - clouds and drizzle. :} Hopefully people won't want to work in their gardens and they will come to see the feast for the eyes and fingers at the Seattle Weavers Guild sale!

I'm sorry to be leaving Albuquerque. It's been a great long weekend, the people have been friendly and welcoming. I even got to see some lovely items at the guild meeting show and tell last night. One of the perks of travelling - I get to see work that other weavers have done. :)

Great group - enthusiastic and fearless - willing to experiment and try things out to see what happens when....

Currently reading Industrial Magic by Kelly Armstrong

Monday, October 25, 2010

Coming Down the Home Stretch

The two day workshop is over, as is the one day workshop. I talked way too much and have a sore throat tonight, so I'm hoping a day of rest tomorrow will restore things so that I can talk as much as I need to tomorrow night. :)

I have books to read, dvd's to watch if I feel like it, and book outline planning to do. It will be a quiet day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

ABQ Here I Am!

The flight was a little bit fraught as the plane in Seattle had some a/c issues and we were 30 minutes late leaving. With just 45 minutes layover in Salt Lake, I wasn't at all confident I'd make my connection. Or if I did, my bag with all the teaching samples etc., in it.

Kudos to Delta - both I and my bag deplaned in Albuquerque. :D

I got up early in spite of the hour time difference, and arrived at the door early as I'd misunderstood and came at 7 instead of 7:30 as requested. (I'm in the guest cottage.) My hostess Nancy kindly set me up with her computer and a cup of coffee and I'm easing myself into the day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

First Leg

The first leg of my journey is complete - 13 hours door to door. I got a late start because I had to drop stuff off at the lab - my hope is that by the time I get home there will be answers for me. If nothing else, a 'no' means something has been ruled out and the field of options narrows, right?

Anyway, starting later meant that I arrived at Seattle at the tail end of the rush home traffic and as a result the drive through Seattle on the 405 was less stressful than if I'd been there an hour earlier.

My friend's DH will drop me off at SeaTac tomorrow (today?) and pick me up on Wednesday. He got a *large* can of Tim Horton's coffee as a thank you. :D

I get to sleep 'in' tomorrow, but right now I'm heading for bed. Don't even think I can read so it's lights out. To dream sweet dreams of Albuquerque. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Road Trip

Finished the bookmark that was such a challange on Sunday!

Nearly ready. Still have to pack my meds and personal care stuff. Bringing a bunch of handwork to do because I may be able to get some done during the Seattle Weaver's Guild Sale. And lots of books in case I have time to read, although I have work to do on the ebook outline, too.

The good news is that the rain is easing and the sky to the south looks as though it is clearing. Pray for no rain (or snow!) either direction, please. :)

And a head's up for anyone (guild) interested in booking me to teach. Bookings made after May 2011 will have a new fee schedule. I will hold my current fee until May 31.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review - Penelope's Daughter

When you have a blog you don't really know who reads it unless they make a comment or in some way contact you.

It's no secret that I read. I read a lot, in fact. :D So when Laurel Corona asked if I would be willing to read her latest novel, I said sure!

It arrived in the mail yesterday and the cover immediately appealed to me. It is something I would have been drawn to, with it's air of mysteriousness as the young woman peeks through the partially opened door.

Next test - would the first page invite me to turn to the second? Well, yes it did.

I like stories with a rich use of the language, language that evokes a mood, brings an understanding of the characters, their humanity.

I also like the format. Each chapter is introduced with the musings of Xanthe at her loom. Chapter two has this paragraph as part of its introduction:

What was I trying to convince myself of by keeping everything within its allotted space? That events are finite, that stories have endings, that meaning can be constrained to one time or place, one set of circumstances? Now my weaving is as tall as I am and the threads hanging from the top are long enough to unfurl until they spread out on the floor. Memories have barbs with which to sting us again and again.

I am enjoying the story as it unfolds in a thoughtful manner as a young woman examines her past for clues to where her future may lead. As a weaver I'm enjoying the weaving of Xanthe's special textile as well as the story she is telling.

For more info about Laurel Corona, check out her website:
I may have to find another of her titles The Four Seasons. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beginning Again

This afternoon I went to Jennifer's where I met with her, Karin and her g/son Anthony to make lace. I had cut the teeny, tiny green thread off, wound bobbins and even started the red bookmark this morning and immediately ran afoul of the pattern. Since I had successfully done a couple of repeats of this pattern in the teeny, tiny threads, I was totally perplexed why it wasn't working in the 'fat' 2/20 red.

Finally I just bundled everything up and took it to Jennifer's where I undid everything I'd done and started over. Only to bungle it again. And again. And yet again! I mean, I've heard of Sudden Onset Alzheimer's - just never expected it to happen overnight!

It was a day for going backwards as at one point all four of us were unweaving our lace instead of weaving it. At which point it got funny and we had a good laugh and kibitz'd for a good hour until I finally "got" the pattern and started making forward progress, Jennifer unwove Anthony's spider, and Karin had unwoven what she'd done to the point where forward progress was going to be possible.

Sides aching, we called it quits, set dates for out next get together (late in November) and left.

All three of us have busy schedules but we make sure to have dates for at least two lace days coming up before we leave.

Community is important. If it weren't for this commitment to each other I think that Jennifer and I at least, would not make nearly as much lace as the little bit we do accomplish. Karin is much more dedicated to working on her lace in between our lace days.

We've known each other since 1995 when I taught a couple of classes at the local arts centre. (yes, I taught them both how to do lace which made it particularly funny when I was so completely stunned and Jennifer had to show me how to work the bookmark today.)

The internet community is also important to me. But I have come to realize how much time it takes out of my day. I have used my participation on the various chat groups I belong to as an excuse to not do other things that I ought to be doing. It's an expenditure of time that I have needed to rethink for a long time. While I was feeling so ill the last few years I didn't think - I just logged on and tried to answer what questions I could. When it was difficult to weave, or for that matter, even think about my own issues, it was satisfying to be able to extend a helping hand to others.

But I have neglected my own issues for too long. It's time to focus on myself for a time. My journey toward good health is not over yet and I have a busy time coming up. When I look at my calendar I see the following:

Oct. 21 drive 13 hours to Seattle
Oct. 22 fly to ABQ to teach a 2 day workshop, a one day workshop, give the guild program.
Oct. 27 fly back to Seattle
Oct. 28-30 Seattle Weaver's Guild sale (try to catch up with Syne for a meeting)
Oct. 31 drive 13 hours home
Nov. 4 set up for local craft fair
Nov. 5-6 craft fair
rest of Nov work on samples for ebook (if given approval for the concept)
Dec. 6 load van for trip to Vancouver (9 hour drive)
Dec. 7 drive to Vancouver
Dec. 8 set up for One of a Kind Vancouver craft fair
Dec. 9-12 show opens from 10 am-10 pm each day except Sunday - pack out begins at 5 pm
Dec. 13 drive 9 hours home
Dec. 14 unload van, do banking etc.

Then in January I will leave here on Jan 7 or 8 for N. Carolina
Jan 9-15 John C. Campbell Folk School
A short visit to Durham NC
Jan 21-23 Sarasota, FL
visit with friends near Tampa
Jan 28-30 Orlando, FL
Jan 31 fly home

In between these things I have to fit in visits to the doctor - given I get in to see the specialist any time soon, plus any tests that may be required.

And of course continue to weave the samples for the book, not to mention writing the text.

In addition to all of the above, there are my volunteer efforts for the local guild, the possibility of a private student in November, and oh, yes, keeping the house relatively tidy. I'll never win a good housekeeping award, but someone has to stay on top of the worst of the messes. :}

So instead of mindlessly logging on to the internet and reading the chat groups, I have made a resolution (an Old Year's resolution?) to pay more attention to what I need to do instead of things that help me procrastinate about them.

And then, when I have my surgery, hopefully early in the spring (I've set aside Feb-June because I don't know when that date is, yet) and I can't weave and don't feel much like doing anything else, I'll be more active in the internet weaving community again. :)

In the meantime I'll continue to share my fibre-y adventures via the blog and I will always answer emails as best I can. I won't be gone, just being quiet. Mostly.

(In honour of my commitment to do the things I need to do I started transcribing WeaveCast 53 today. I don't know that I will get it finished before I leave, but at least I started!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

And Now Back To My Regular Programming...

Two shawls, one with red/purple Tencel for weft, one with teal Bambu 7

I actually wove these shawls, lemme think - a year ago? More? But they have finally risen to the top of the wet finishing pile and are being readied for the upcoming shows.

This warp was a stash reducing mixture of 20/2 merc. cottons along with some miscellaneous other fine cottons. I may even have blogged about it at the time I wove it but there's been a lot of yardage over the beam since then so I thought it might be okay to talk about them again.

Let's be honest here. Neither of these colourways appeals to me as a personal fashion statement. But I can't help liking their boldness. The colour shifting from the centre to the outside, the almost irridescence of the colours - which is pretty difficult to photograph.

And yes, both shawls were done on the same warp. What a difference a weft colour makes, right?

My personal journey through weaving has been interesting - to me at any rate. :D

When I started weaving it was the structures that appealed to me. I loved the way the wefts and warps reflected light (and therefore colour) differently. That subtle play of light quite delighted me.

I felt insecure about combining colours and had to work very very hard to break through the colour barrier. What I have learned about colour combinations I learned by being bold enough to put colours together I wasn't quite sure would 'go'. Sometimes the combinations were a complete disaster. But surprisingly - to me - a lot of them worked. Well, I personally might not want to wear them, but they were nice. And quite often customers agreed with me and bought some of my more daring attempts.

The final break through was taking a workshop with Jack Lenor Larson. The topic was irridescence, and the way he taught the class was to set us a colour challenge, let us get on with doing it, then giving anonymous critiques. That is, he didn't know who had done what sample, and unless you paid attention to who posted which one, you didn't know who, either. Unless, of course, it was yours. :)

I was very intimidated by the class and the people in it. But over the course of the workshop I realized that the critiques of my samples were consistently positive. Hmmmmm. Maybe I did know something about putting colours together after all!

While I'm not stupid, I can be very slow at times. It took a couple of years before I felt confident enough to actually start working with colour. The format I chose was the good old rayon chenille scarf.

What do you do with rayon chenille, after all, but weave plain weave with it. How do you get pattern into the fabric? With stripes, of course. What followed was an intense period of weaving dozens (and I do mean dozens) of rayon chenille scarves in all sorts of stripes in all sorts of colours.

I began to feel like I did know how to work with colour after all. And after that swing from structure person to colour person, the pendulum swung back to the middle.

I now feel confident enough to combine colour and weave structure in what I hope is a pleasing way.

Whether the results are something anyone else in the world would like will be seen. But in the meantime it's been a heck of a ride!

Currently reading Death on a Short Leash by Gwendowlyn Southin


End of the warp..........

In a 12 hour period I received two emails of note. The first one essentially said I was too intimidating for one of the chat groups I had been participating in and I was ruining the group discussions.

The second one this morning said that the workshop the writer had taken from me several years ago was 'weaveforming' for her (and if that wasn't a word it should be.) :)

Between those two emails I had to do a lot of thinking, particularly about my presence on the web.

I had to come to grips with the fact that my willingness to answer newbie questions was not being perceived as helpful but as being intimidating. I can understand that people might get the impression that I was a nosey-parker butt-insky. I just thought I was being helpful, answering heart felt cries for help.

Such is the nature of human behaviour.

It has been difficult for my ego to accept that I have outlived my usefullness in certain social contexts. When my participation puts a damper on social intercourse instead being helpful, it's long past time to go.

So I immediatly left.

But my nature is to be helpful. I truly hate to see people struggling with something when there is - perhaps - an easier way to do something and I may know one of those ways.

I do not, never have claimed, that I know everything. Anyone reading this blog regularly will be aware that I delight in the discoveries that come my way. That I don't profess to be a know-it-all but am rather, a perpetual student.

That I chose weaving precisely because I understood from the outset that I would never, ever know everything there is to know about the creation of woven textiles.

But I do know a great deal about portions of the craft and I have always - since my first newsgroup in 1994 - been willing to try to answer any questions that I could or point people in the direction of potential answers.

Since it has been made extremely clear to me that this sort of giving is not welcome in certain areas, I have had to re-think and focus on what I ought to spend my time doing.

It seems to me that it is time to withdraw from the daily interactions of chat groups even more than I have been doing the last few years due to health issues. It seems to me that my time would be better directed towards 'real' writing projects. Once my health issues are fixed (at least I am hoping that they will be next spring) and I am able to book workshops, that one thing I could do is be more active in soliciting workshop opportunities.

Up until now I have waited until a group contacts me. Perhaps after my surgery I should start sending out brochures/flyers offering workshops and let people know I am ready, willing and able to come to them to teach.

Right now there is little I can do to chart a new direction in that regard. What I can do is focus my time and energy on developing the content for the proposed ebook I discussed with Syne Mitchell last month. I have started weaving samples for this book and hope to be able to meet with her again during the Seattle Weavers' Guild sale to show her what I've done so far and see if it meets with her approval.

And last, but certainly not least, come to grips with the fact that endings simply mean clearing out old stuff so that new stuff can come in. :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Know When to Fold 'em

Making bobbin lace is my hobby. I like it because the tools are minimal and the bobbins are pretty. :) Making lace is about as slow as slow cloth can be - barring perhaps tapestry.

I do it as a passtime and for relaxation.

Before I take my blood pressure I'm supposed to sit quietly for 20 minutes so recently I pulled out my lace pillow and have been puttering away making a little lace. (All my lace supplies got packed away last spring while Doug re-did the floors and I've only just dug them out again.)

Unfortunately when I pulled my pillow out last week, I couldn't find my stash of lace yarns or my prettiest bobbins so I made do with my student bobbins and some 80's cotton a friend gave me that I found in the same box.

Now 80's cotton is very, very fine stuff. Think 2/80's. Think 33,600 yards per pound. Approximately. Tiny, in other words.

The pricking I chose was one I'd done several times and enjoyed working. It makes a very nice pattern in the centre with plain weave fans.

Imagine my dismay when I got to the 3rd centre motif and ran afoul of a combination of things - teensy tiny pale green thread nearly invisible against the white background of the pricking, plus trying to see where to set the pins in the forest of pins already in place.

And this was an activity intended to lower my bp, not raise it!

After three attempts to weave the centre, unweave it, start again, etc., I asked myself why I was continuing.

The investment so far: Let's be generous and say 50 cents worth of materials. Three hours of winding bobbins and getting to the current state of affairs (about on hour of that unweaving and weaving again). Frustration level - much too high.

This morning I cut the bobbins from the scrap of textile and stripped them. Took a larger version of the pricking and pinned it to my pillow. Perhaps tomorrow morning I'll wind a 2/20 merc. cotton in red (so I can actually see the threads) and begin again. Since I found my pretty bobbins and my stash of threads I have a lot more options now. :)

Currently reading In the Shadow of Death by Gwendolyn Southin

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Show Time!

Got my discount coupons from One of a Kind Vancouver show yesterday. The show is being held in the brand new Convention Centre in Vancouver, BC Dec. 9-12.

If you are going to be in Vancouver at that time and want a coupon I can mail one (or three?) to you, or you can download one from the website:

One of the reasons I chose this show was that we'd done one they organized in Toronto several years ago. I was fairly impressed with their marketing - they seemed to have some effective tools in place including discount coupons for people to save money on the entry fee at the door.

They also track how many of the exhibitor's coupons get used. Not sure what they do with said information. Not being from Vancouver and not having a mailing list for the area I'm happy to pass them along to weavers or friends of weavers. :) Email me a mailing address if you want one that I distribute.....

I never did send any photos for the postcards/media campaign. I wasn't feeling well when that deadline snuck by. :( I'm not sure how many other textile craftspeople will be there. The show does have one regulation that I'm not in favour of - they have an exclusivity clause that says you can't do any other show in the area before theirs, so that lets the locals who have been doing Circle Craft, many of them for 20 plus years, out of the equation.

The exclusivity clause is something I understand - sort of - but don't agree with. Craftspeople are self-employed and ought to be able to decide for themselves if they wish to do two large shows in the same metropolitan area. If they feel they can afford the booth fees and have sufficient inventory to make doing them both worthwhile, that ought to be their decision.

But since I haven't done Circle Craft for decades and choose not to go through their jurying process at this time, I can live with One of a Kind's clause.

Currently reading Death in the Family Way by Gwen Southin

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Additional Thoughts on Samples

Realized that I had a few more thoughts on samples that I wanted to share.

The photo above shows the issue of Hand Woven that the Harrisville yarn samples are in, and one of the several sets of samples I wove for it. I will have them with me at ABQ and the tour in January if you will be there and want to handle the samples and examine them

I think if you click on the photo the enlargement will show the differences in the loom state (left) fulled (centre) and additionally fulled (right) than appears in this photo.

One of the things I discovered while doing a lot of sampling was that when fulling the more you full the more the dimensional loss will be. The more open (gauze-y) the set, the more you have to full and the more extreme the dimensional loss. A good argument (I think!) to not weave window screening when one is trying to do extreme fulling!

But let's look at attitude a little bit.

Many new weavers are anxious to make something they can use and proudly show off to friends. Why 'waste' time and money on making a sample? They can't brag about that to anyone but other weavers, many of whom wouldn't be impressed because they don't 'waste' time and effort on samples and sampling either.

So another more useful attitude needs to be brought into play. The attitude that knowledge for knowledge sake is well worth the time, effort and money. That no skill comes without purposeful effort. That 'perfect' is a journey, not a destination, but you are going to come closer to perfection the more you practice honing your skills and increasing your knowledge.

Many new weavers will ask on various chat groups and social networking sites "I have x yarn. Tell me what to do with it." (Or words to that effect.)

I no longer answer most of these queries. I don't know the yarn (generally a knitting yarn), I don't know the skill level (I assume extremely new and inexperienced), I don't know their physical skill level, I don't know what equipment they have or their tools.

The only proper answer to that question is "It depends...."

Many new weavers come from a pattern or kit mindset where they are given the yarn, the weave structure, density, dimensions etc. What they don't realize is that once they are done the weaving and wet finishing they should analyze their results in order to learn from the experience.

But many of them don't seem to understand that part of the process. :(

I'm not saying that every weaver has to weave every single yarn/weave sturcture/density on their own. They can obtain collections of samples and examine them.

What do they like about the results? What do they not like? What would they change? How would they make their next attempt at this particular design more about them and less about the designer of the pattern or kit?

It was that reason that I formatted Magic in the Water the way I did, with both before and after fabric swatches. So many new weavers have no understanding of the wet finishing process - what it is and what it does - that I felt the only way to really make the point was to have the before and after.

Examining fabric - any fabric, commercial or handwoven - will bring a great deal of knowledge to the new weaver if they open their minds to the experience.

And yes, scarves are samples too. Out of the 23 scarves I did before I got the desired results? None of them was a 'failure'. They were simply stepping stones in the direction I wanted to go.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Sample" Is Not a 4 Letter Word

Colour gamp in saturated colours, twill and plain weave

Colour gamp in 'neutrals', plain weave

So many weavers comment that they hate making samples, or they don't have enough yarn/time to make a sample.

In my universe samples are how I learn. They are equivalent to a potter firing hundreds of chips to test their glazes, a musician doing scales, a dancer spending hours at the barre, an athlete in training.

Samples can be done in several different ways. When I get a new-to-me yarn, especially a wool or other protein fibre that will full, I wind a 3 yard long warp choosing a set that seems appropriate for plain weave and weave about 12 inches. I may then switch to twill and weave some more. That gets cut off and wet finished. Then I'll re-sley, tighter or looser, depending on the results of the wet finishing and do it all over again. I may do this several times adjusting the epi/ppi and weave structure to see what happens when....

Handwoven published an article I did using Harrisville 2 ply showing the various samples I wove to learn the potential of the yarn. Jan/Feb 2009.

Other yarns I may wind a 3 yard warp and weave 6 inches to see how it looks and if I'm satisfied with what I'm seeing in terms of set/weave structure/weft colour may then go on to weave a scarf.

If I'm very confident that I know what I'm doing I may go ahead and put on a longer warp and weave a header to 'prove' the concept.

During the weaving of the header I am also checking for errors - threading/sleying - and to make sure my weave structure and weft are suitable.

Weaving - like other technologies such as pottery, metalsmithing, woodturning - rely on a set of physical skills and knowledge of the materials used.

Weaving samples is how a weaver gains an understanding of their materials. Purposeful study of what they have achieved and how to change the materials or processes in order to get the desired results is never a bad thing.

After a guild presentation I did a few years ago where I talked about weaving 23 scarves before I got the result I wanted, a friend confided to me an overheard remark --- "That Laura Fry weaves way too many samples!"

Laura Fry thinks that she doesn't weave enough samples.....

Currently reading I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

Friday, October 8, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude

Late blooming rose garden belonging to friends....(thanks for the pic, Allan)

This weekend is Thanksgiving (in Canada). It's an opportunity to remember to be thankful for everything good in life despite the bad things that may come along.

Since the past few years have been a bit of a challenge for me (interesting in the Chinese curse sort of way) I've struggled a bit with maintaining an attitude of gratitude each day. As I was thinking about Thanksgiving, listing to myself the things for which I am truly grateful, I thought that life was in many ways like a rose garden.

Rose bushes can have the most incredible blossoms with a riot of colours and a heavenly scent. But hidden amongst the leaves and blossoms are those thorns. A reminder that all that is good is balanced by not so nice stuff. But also that the not so nice stuff comes with some truly beautiful stuff, too, if we only stop to look for it and not focus on the not so nice.

So today was a day to think about the blessings in my life - my husband (who has his own thorns - we won't, of course, discuss mine!), my family (what's left of it), my friends (near and far and thank goodness for the internet), that my health has stabilized to the point that I can (and do!) manage to weave at least a little bit every day. I have a roof over my head (modest as it may be), food on the table, all the equipment I need and most of the yarns (plus I know where to get more if I have the money).

I am grateful for a doctor who listens when I tell him something is going seriously awry in my body and is willing to look beyond the usual suspects. I am relieved that we seem to have pinpointed the current issue and that I'm on the list to a second specialist, keeping fingers crossed that I can get in to see him/her quickly so that my surgical date will not be postponed too much and that both procedures - if necessary - can be done with one slice and dice.

Since it appears that things are going to get worse before they get better I am going to hold on very tight to the thought that thorns can be stripped away from the stems of those wonderful roses. That every cloud comes with a silver lining. And that my family and friends will make allowances for me when I forget and need to wallow and whine a little. I hope!

Currently reading The Resist3rs by Eric Nylund (We scoped an Advance Reader's Copy - how cool is that? - due out in April 2011)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Just finished cutting this off the loom. It's the last of the samples I'm providing the participants of the Magic in the Water part II workshop in Albuquerque.
The white yarn is a cotton with lycra in it. The pinks are Bambu 12 (about the same size as a 16/2 cotton). The cotton/lycra was set at 16, the Bambu at 32.
The weave structure is plain weave, and the weft was a very fine mercerized cotton I had in my stash - roughly equivalent to a 40/2 cotton. (The label is long lost but when I compared it to a 20/2 it looked about half as thick.)
When the cloth hits the water, the water will activate the lycra causing the white yarns to contract. In order to promote this contraction the cloth was woven fairly loosely. The more densely set the cloth the more resistence to the contraction. On the other hand, I don't want to weave it too loose or the cloth will not have structural strength. The silk gimp I showed yesterday can be woven much more openly because the knobs of the yarn help to hold everything in place.
Now I have to do the paperwork documenting the fabrics I'm providing in addition to the 7 they will weave during the workshop. This should provide the participants with a good over view of a variety of fibres and weave structures. They will have a binder of samples - before and after wet finishing - to study and refer to when the workshop is over.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

This n' That

Second warp for ABQ - this is a silk gimp set very loosely, woven in plain weave. Yes, that's the apron you can see through the cloth....

Close up - the breast beam is clearly visible through the open weave....

As mentioned in an earlier post, I'm weaving some additional samples for the workshop in Alburquerque so that the participants have a larger range of options at the end of the workshop.

With just 6 or 7 people, I worried that they weren't going to have a broad enough experience so I decided to weave 3 warps and include other fabrics I had in the studio that had not yet been wet finished.

They want to focus on fibres other than wool - not a lot of call for wool stuff in ABQ, apparently - but there will be a couple just in case someone gets the urge to make a blanket and full it. :)

I have been thinking a lot the past few days about the business end of being a weaver. A number of things have brought this to my conscious thought - spending 3 hours with Mizz B on Saturday discussing business details, reading a couple of posts from instructors who taught at Knit Camp in the UK and the stack of bills beginning to arrive this month.

This is a heavy debt month for me. I did it this way on purpose. Usually by October I start to see some significant cash flow as the fall shows begin in September. But I'm going to be away for 12 days at the end of the month - leaving before the bills are actually due but more importantly, before the income comes in. Which means I don't have sufficient funds to pay the bills before I leave.

My option is to go for some expensive short term financing (VISA card), raid our personal finances, or seek a 'real' loan from the bank. None of which I really want to do. I'm already in debt due to having to cancel a number of income generating events because of my health issues this year.

People who have never run a business have never experienced the challenge of being a very small business with a cyclical income (but all too steady outgo). You need a huge amount of faith to go into debt during the trough part of the cycle, hoping that there will be sufficient income during the peak part of the cycle.

People with small businesses such as myself (or any other weaver trying to earn their income through teaching/writing/selling stuff) rely heavily on word of mouth of satisfied customers. Buying advertising that does not result in business becomes an option that just doesn't make economic sense. But if you don't advertise, how will people know about you?

And so my presence on Twitter, FaceBook, and social networking sites such as Weavolution and Ravelry.

I just told Claudia that I could not renew my ad on Weavolution. I cannot track a single sale from the ads that I had running on the site. And while I would love to be more directly supportive of their efforts, the bottom line is that my toes are currently dipping into the red.

So why am I telling you all this? If you are a happy customer of someone like me, spread your happiness by word of mouth. Let people know when you have attended a fabulous workshop, received a terrific book, or bought some glorious fibre from a vendor.

Speaking of which I want to tell you about Mizz B. Her name is Bizz and she is a new weaver who has taken to weaving like the proverbial duck to water. Her grasp of concepts and execution of them amazes and delights me. She has started her own business selling her weaving as well as other products that she makes herself. Her personal approach to life is to reuse, reduce and recycle and she includes upcycled materials in her products.

Find her here:

Monday, October 4, 2010


close up - you can clearly see the holes in the cloth where the lace blocks are forming. The colour is not correct in this photo - see photo below

Sometimes it is hard to know how to thread a pattern. In this video clip I'm working with huck lace and plain weave. I break the pattern down into it's component parts - 5 ends of huck A, 5 ends of huck B, 5 ends of huck A, then four ends of plain weave or foundation ends. The next part of the pattern changes to Huck B, Huck A, Huck B, then four ends of plain weave.

The cloth will be woven in a design that creates little boxes of lace surrounded by plain weave.

The treadling will follow the same as the threading and I break the treadling down the same way.

The treadling is a 19 pick repeat. I have set the treadles up so that I 'walk' them - or alternate - and I count each pick 1 through 19, which gives me the first lace box, then 1 through 19 which gives me the second lace block.

Still reading Labyrinth by Kat Richardson, and she referred to St. Mark's as having a labyrinth in the floor. I wonder if I can get into the church during the Seattle Weaver's Guild sale and check it out????

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Head's Up

The current exchange rate between US and Canadian dollars is now more or less at par - in fact I lost money on the last bit I exchanged at the bank. :(

I will be changing the US $ price on my Artfire site in two days to reflect the new exchange rate which means that if you buy Magic in the Water before Wednesday Oct. 6, 2010 you'll actually be getting a discount on the purchase price.

I try very hard to keep the exchange rate in mind so that the price is equal between Canada and the US in order to be fair to everyone, but I've been losing money on recent purchases. I wish I were independantly wealthy so that I could be more generous but that is not my reality. :}

That said, I am willing to donate textiles to worthy causes. Weavolution recently had an auction of some of my tea towels and I've offered more so watch there for offerings and a chance to help out if you wish.

p.s. - there are currently 48 copies of the full meal deal left and about 50 abridged copies which I sell at a reduced me directly for the abridged version

Friday, October 1, 2010


Jenkins Kuchulu spindle - with a quarter for scale

I love hanging out with other fibre people. You don't have to explain that being warped is A Good Thing. In fact, they are as likely to be enablers as anything else.

Many people are unaware that I got sucked into the weaving world through the orifice of a spinning wheel. (For more of that story check out very early posts - I won't repeat here.)

So even though I seldom did any spinning after I got bit - hard - by the weaving bug, I always had a drop spindle for demos. Face it, an AVL production loom isn't exactly the easiest thing to drag to a demo! :^)

But eventually - largely because I wasn't very careful with it - the tip of my spindle broke and I was forced to cobble a fix together that worked, but wasn't very elegant. When I became an Ashford dealer late last year, one of the things I bought for inventory was a drop spindle. Two, in fact. An 'ordinary' spindle, and a Turkish spindle.

Syne Mitchell had blogged about her Turkish spindling, and I thought it would be fun to try it. But somehow I was reluctant to break open the package - because once I did that I wouldn't want to sell it - it would be 'used' after all. (Or trained, depending on your perspective?)

Anyway, while at the Puyallup Fair, one of the gals in the demo area was alternating between spinning on her wheel and a sweet little Jenkins Turkish spindle. Ooooo - want one!

Why? I don't know. I have no idea what I would do with a bunch of tiny little balls of singles handspun - truly! But.........want one!!!

I even went so far as to buy some pencil roving - a blend of wool and mohair - when I have bins of roving already (because I am, after all, a dealer for Ashford fibres, too!)

And then we went to visit with Syne Mitchell for a couple of days, so I asked her to clarify how to wind onto a Turkish spindle in order to make a centre pull ball. And she showed me the tiniest Turkish spindle I'd ever seen in person. Just 12 grams - that's less than half an ounce - and no, it's not a toy! She showed me how to start a leader yarn with the roving itself and how to wind on. And we sat and spindled for 15 or 20 minutes. And then she gave me the spindle! She very kindly packed it in a lidded container, cushioning it with yet more fibre for spinning.

And so tonight instead of working, I've been watching tv and spindling. The spindle is nearly 'full' already, but being a weaver rather than a knitter (ya, I know, I knit too, but my mindset is from a weavers' perspective) I'm loathe to stop until I can wind a few more yards on because I really don't know what I'm going to do with the yarn.

And I'm loving it. The tiny elegance of it, the fact that it makes fabulously thin - but strong - yarn. I may take the teeny tiny balls to the spinning wheel and navaho ply it. Or not. Frankly, even though the spindle is most certainly not a toy but a very functional spindle, I'm playing. And it's a lot more productive than all those hours I've been spending on Facebook playing Bejewelled Blitz! Even though I don't know what I'm going to do with the yarn. Yet.

Currently reading Labyrinth by Kat Richardson