Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No valet? No problem

I'm dressing the guild loom with a tea towel warp using a couple of vinegar bottles to provide tension during beaming. :)
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Monday, November 29, 2010

Admin Work is Also Work

This afternoon I've just invested about 2 hours in uploading information on the Diversified Plain Weave scarves to my Art Fire store, then creating a 'collection'.


Collections are a new sales tool Art Fire recently introduced and until now I haven't had sufficient inventory to create one. You need a minimum of 12 items plus 4 more items to fill in when the collection items sell.

I was going to wait until after I got home from One of a Kind before I did this, but decided that if I'm going to take advantage of Christmas buying, I'd better do it now and just put my Art Fire store on vacation mode while we are in Vancouver.

And while intellectually I know that doing this sort of work is still work, it always feels like I haven't really accomplished anything.

But when you are trying to sell your textiles as part of your income, the fact of the matter is that your job isn't finished until you've sold them.

After two hours of peering at the computer and fighting with a dying camera battery and websites that freeze up in the middle of trying to enter data little wonder I have a headache and that all I really want to do is go have a nap. We won't discuss the 4 hours of sleep I got last night, no doubt contributing to that urge. :}

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Neverending Warp

with broken end repair threads hanging from the back of the loom.....

This is beginning to feel like the Neverending Warp! Of course it is the third 40 yard warp in DPW all black, so perhaps I'm justified in feeling this way. But it seems like very time I start a new scarf I think to myself "This one and one more and this warp will be done."

Well, I've thought that 3 times, now, and there is still warp left!

I have my references and materials to begin work on The Project but since Deadlines Are My Friend, I've sternly told myself that before I can begin on The Project I must
(must!) finish this warp! The reason I need to finish is two-fold - I want some of these scarves for One of a Kind Vancouver in 10 days and some of these scarves are gifts for a few of my everyday heroes.

Stacey Harvey-Brown http://3.ly/Wg9z blogged about hidden talent and heroes today which set me thinking about the heroes in my life and how grateful I am they are with me. I don't always let these people know how much they mean to me so it was a wonderful opportunity to use this warp to make some of them personalized scarves.

Waiting for a few days before beginning The Project was also a good idea because I've let some of the organizational aspects of doing The Project simmer in the back of my mind and have come up with some solutions - which ought to make The Project move along a little more smoothly. It's also helped to flesh it out and given me a clearer view of my objective. Always A Good Thing!

With One of a Kind coming up so quickly I'll likely leave both looms naked until I return. By then I will know whether or not I should put another 40 yard DPW warp on the AVL as the well from which I draw my inspiration appears to be a little low at the moment and it would also be nice to see if any of these scarves sell to make it worth my while to do another run of them. :}

So let me finish up this rather rambling post by encouraging everyone to let their everyday heroes know how much you value them. This time of year, it seems like a natural thing to take a few minutes to show your appreciation of their example and presence in your life.

Magic: 37

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Getting Ready for January

in with the new, out with the old......maybe....

I really love the grey carry on case. It has travelled with me for literally thousands of miles, to Europe several times and all over the continent for nearly 20 years. :)

But all those miles have taken a toll on it and although you can't see it, it's got a big hole on the other side where Doug did his best to patch it. But - just like it's owner - it's getting old(er) and a bit tattered around the edges!

And there is one thing I don't actually luv about it - it has no wheels. There have been way too many times as I rushed through one huge airport or another with a tight transfer that I really, truly wished it had wheels!

After 40 years of marriage Doug and I tend to find something fairly pricey that we have been lusting in our heart after and name it our Christmas gift. This year Doug chose a tool storage chest he'd been eyeing for a while and which he thought was on sale for half price. Turns out it was the cheaper version that was on sale, which he discovered after he'd already got permission from me to get it for his Christmas present. Feeling magnanimous I told him to get the one he really wanted anyway.

Which gave me permission to be a bit spendy on my own gift! ;) Right? I mean it's only fair?

Well, the carry on case I really and truly lusted over is the new version of the grey suitcase I'm about to retire, but it was hugely spendy and I just could not justify spending nearly $400 on something that is literally going to get kicked around the continent. So I settled for the cheaper one pictured above.

But I don't think I'm going to toss the grey one out yet. I don't always travel by plane, after all. :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Baby Steps?

the cover of Magic in the Water....

one of the project pages from Magic....

Does anyone not know what Magic in the Water is? It's a 2 inch ring binder filled with information on what wet finishing is and how to do it. The 'meat' of the book is the project pages where you see the completed project in a full colour photo (taken by Joe Coca, the official photographer for Handwoven), the draft used with suggestions for fewer shafts if many have been used, an explanation of how the cloth was wet finished with not just the finished state sample but the loom state as well. Samples cover cotton, linen, wool (both woolen and worsted), alpaca, mohair, Tencel, silk. Techniques include things like brushing up a nap, how to do on-loom twisted fringes for woolen blankets/scarves, one way of how to do a four sided fringe for cotton, warp sizings etc.

If weavers learn through examining fabrics woven by other handweavers (or industry), then there is much to muse over in Magic.

I've just decided with the holiday season upon us I would do a special offering - order Magic by the end of the year and get a free hand woven tea towel as a special gift from me to you (or go ahead and re-gift, I won't mind!) http://LauraFry.artfire.com

With my intention to reduce the amount of stuff I have, I thought this would be a perfect way to make a baby step in the right direction. Find new homes for some of the last copies of Magic, and give people a present which will also help to clear some of the inventory from my storage room.

So please, even if you have your own copy of Magic - spread the word?

Wishing everyone the best for the coming holiday season.....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


my 2011 calendar....

I really wish I were better organized than I am, but (you saw that 'but' coming a mile away, didn't you?)........but I'm not.

People who are not organized always have a million reasons why not. I think we spend more time thinking up excuses than it would take to simply get organized! But the fact remains that I live - and work - with a level of clutter that many people would find hard to deal with. Heck, even I find it hard to deal with!

Having 3 years worth of health issues to distract my attention really hasn't helped, either. There have been days (weeks, truth be told) that I just couldn't face the reality that I probably belong on an episode of Hoarding.

It doesn't help that I live with a DH whose level of tolerance for mess is even higher than mine, but that's just one more excuse.

With some forward movement on the health front, plus the start of a new major project, I've done some thinking about what needs to happen for me to get a grip on my disorganized life.

The first thing I need to do is to stop doing so many things. Between production weaving (and trying to sell the fruit of my looms - sorry about the pun - just couldn't resist), retailing yarns and fibres, publishing teaching aids (books, cd's), writing said teaching aids, teaching - all of which require copious reference materials, space to store yarns, products, etc., etc. plus my 'hobby' activities (knitting, spinning, bobbin lace, reading, jigsaw puzzles) - well, you get the picture. And all of this being done out of a fairly modest home.

DH also wants to retire as soon as possible - right now that's about 16 months from now IF the Canadian government in their wisdom doesn't push the minimum age to collect full pension to 67 - which means I want to pare my business expenses as much as possible before then. Which means letting the steam press and annex go. I don't know if we'll be able to sell the boiler that drives the press, but I'm pretty certain the press (made of cast iron mostly) will simply get delivered to the scrap yard and sold for whatever the metal is worth. Hopefully for enough to cover the cost of delivering it to the scrap yard.

But there's all that stuff stored there, too - yarns, books, left over samples from Magic, looms (two of which should really find a new home) etc. And then there's all the booth display apparatus that has to live somewhere.

So in order to make this happen, I need to finish skeining off the rest of the yarn that needs to be 'not white' and get as much of it dyed as possible in December after One of a Kind - which means I really need to get skeining NOW!

I need to sell the rest of Magic (down to 40 copies, plus the abridged copies which number around 60), Weave a V (haven't even recovered the cost of publishing that yet), decide to throw out the rest of the samples from Magic just to free up that space, sell as much of the retail yarns as possible (Fibres West March 18/19, and HWSDA conference in Calgary in June) and think hard about getting out of yarn sales. Getting out of fibre sales is a given - they are far too bulky and way too little profit in them.

As for teaching - I have one shelving rack with my binders holding the handouts (which get reviewed and edited every time I teach them), plus all the yarns I have specially for teaching those topics above and beyond the yarns for production, the numerous buckets of samples for each topic and which I have toyed with tossing out on more than one occasion. But if I'm not going to be in high production (and given this economy, will selling hand wovens really be economical?) then should I focus more on the teaching instead?

Then there's writing. Although I would love to write and be published, it would be best if I could get paid for that. There is only one major publication that pays for articles and there's no guarantee of getting a project accepted there and the once a year (or two years) I've had an article published isn't enough to pay the electric bill to run the computer.

So what do I actually wind up cutting out? Since the chances of winning the lottery in Canada are about 1 in 14 million, I guess that's even worse odds?

Currently reading The Waters Rising by Sheri S. Tepper

Saturday, November 20, 2010


a fan of scarves showing my selvedges....click on the image for an enlargement

People quite often exclaim over the straightness of my selvedges. They want to know my secret, or assume that I must have some trick up my sleeve for getting ruler straight selvedges (most of the time, depending {there's that word again} on weave structure and yarn).

The secret to getting straight selvedges is no secret at all. Or at least, I've not kept how I do what I do a secret. I've been active on the internet since 1994 (anyone remember bulletin boards and usenet groups?) telling people what I do and how I do it. (Check the labels here or my You Tube channel for video clips.)

The 'secret' to getting good selvedges is learning the physical skills that need to be utilized and using 'good' tools/processes.

What those tools are will depend on the individual - their physical size, their personal hand/eye co-ordination, their equipment.

But to gain proficiency at something like weaving or any other skilled craft, the practioner must understand the essential theory behind what they are doing, be analytical about how they are doing it, and practice, practice, practice with a self-awareness of what they are doing, gauging the success of their results and tweaking their processes, sometimes changing their tools for ones that will work better for them.

Instead they rely on what I call 'magical thinking' - if I use this trick or this tool I will magically get good selveges without my having to do anything else.

Getting good selvedges requires a succession of steps, any one of which if not done well, will lead to poor selvedges.

First you must beam the warp well and under tension. The longer and wider your warps, the more crucial this step becomes. If your warp is 'cigar-shaped' on the back beam, you will have problems with your selvedges. (Unless you build that shape properly so that the outside threads don't slide off causing them to be shorter than the middle ends.)

A short narrow warp simply doesn't have the length and breadth to show poor beaming techniques because it's all too soon done. So a weaver who has consistently woven short (less than 5 yards) and/or narrow (less than 15 inches wide) warps who decides to put on a longer/wider warp will suddenly run into problems that s/he has never experienced before and cannot figure out what went wrong. They've been weaving for years and never had the problem before, after all!

A weaver should know how to hold and throw the shuttle efficiently. I know, I know, many people aren't interested in being efficient. What these people don't realize is that holding and throwing the shuttle efficiently simply means that you are doing this process in a way that will lead to good selvedges and a good consistent beat. In other words, they will get a better quality cloth.

Some people don't even know that there is an efficient way of holding and throwing the shuttle. I so often see shuttles being thrown (or should I say shoved) 'backwards' or even upside down. When I mention this to the weaver I generally get a blank look and a response of "I didn't know there was a 'right' way to hold the shuttle."

Again, if the weaver is only weaving on a narrow warp, how s/he holds the shuttle doesn't matter as much as when they try to weave a wider warp.

I watched a sheep to shawl demo one time where the weaver held the shuttle 'overhand' which meant she could not get the shuttle from one selvedge to the other as it could only travel 3/4's of the way across the web which meant that she was reaching into the shed to retrieve it. The net result of this? The handspun alpaca warp was stretching at the selvedge and I could see that the selvedge was starting to pull apart from the repeated stretching and abrasion due to fishing the shuttle out of each shed.

Over and over again I read/hear people being advised to leave sufficient slack on the weft. This is absolutely true - as far as it goes.

But over and over again I see weavers leave a nice lovely angle on their weft pick and then as they beat they pull the hand holding their shuttle towards their body which effectively shortens the weft pick and results in excessive draw in. And they get frustrated because they don't realize what they are doing and continue to do the same thing. Or they make longer and longer 'bubbles' in their weft which results in loops forming at the selvedge which in turn results in loose selveges ends and then..........poor selvedges.

Since I have begun having private students come to learn how to weave I have been delighted that they all appear to be 'natural' weavers achieving good selvedges on their very first sampler. It occured to me during a recent bout of insomnia that perhaps in addition to being naturally adept they are also benefitting from my tutoring. They are learning from the get-go how I hold and throw the shuttle and they are very quickly achieving selvedges that are generally consistent and pretty straight right away.

Ultimately if a weaver is happy with their results there is no need for them to change what they are doing. If they are not happy with their results, perhaps a good analytical look at how other weavers achieve their results will get them closer to the results they desire.

For a complete look at what I do and how I do it, CD Weaver III pretty much sums up everything I do except for how I now sley the reed. Since I've posted extensively on that technique (learned from Syne Mitchell who learned it from Peggy Ostercamp) I don't feel the need to upgrade the cd for that technique.

My advice? Get Peggy's new book and look at how she does what she does. Or buy CD Weaver III and try out a few of the things I do and see how they sit with you.

Christmas is coming - ask Santa for either of these resources and be open to trying something different if you aren't happy with your results.

(CD Weaver III is $60 on my website - if you order before Dec. 6 I'll include the sample packet set for free - this combination is $75.00 plus shipping on my Art Fire store.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Book Review(s)

What can I say? Guess I must have a secret corner in my soul of a geek because I often find myself picking up books on weird science/history........

I just started How to Mellify a Corpse by Vicki Leon this morning and reading the Foreword realized that I'd already read a couple of her books before - a couple of the Uppity Women series.

"In Latin, the root of our word 'destiny' meant 'that which is woven or bound together with threads.' " - reference to the Fates that spin our lives, measure them, and cut them thus ending our lives.

Anyway, I had a conversation with a potential customer at the craft fair. Turns out he was an engineer and we got started talking about books and I gave him a short list of books I'd enjoyed beginning with Jacquard's Web, which has been around for a few years and I read long enough ago I don't recall the author.

From there we went on to Ken Alder's The Measure of all Things - the history of the development of the metric system during the French revolution. Penny Le Couture's Napoleon's Buttons, a layman's (woman's?) introduction to everyday chemicals in our lives was equally fascinating to me.

When I started reading Leon's book this morning I started thinking about other 'weird' science/history I've enjoyed.

There was Honey, Mud, Maggots and other Medical Marvels by Robert S. Root-Bernstein. He's written other titles and a quick Google or search on Amazon will give you a list of those.

Simon Winchester has written many titles, of which I've only read a few but enjoyed them all. Of particular interest was The Madman and the Professor. Again Google for a complete list.

I also enjoy historical fiction, especially those authors that have taken the time to get the culture and technology correct. The most recent of course was Laurel Corona, but also Lindsey Davis and her Falco series. I love Davis' sense of humour and have learned so much about the technology in use 2000 years ago.

If you like layered stories, Dorothy Dunnett is one of the few authors I've actually re-read and would do so again if I could get all of the books in the two series so that I could romp through them one after the other and had about 3 months in which to do so. I first encountered her with her stand alone book King Hereafter which gives enormous insight into Viking culture in around ad 900 or so. Her Niccolo Rising series profiles Nicolaus, who begins as a dyer's apprentice in Bruges and then takes him on an amazing journey throughout the then known world and parts of the 'dark' continent - into Timbuktu and darkest Africa. If you're at all interested in the role alum played in European economy, the first in the series deals with that. Other books look at commodoties like sugar and gold. The time frame is around 1460-90 or thereabouts and one of the books takes place in Iceland around the time of the huge volcanic eruption and the race away from the pyroclastic flow.

The Lymond series takes place in the years preceeding Elizabeth's accension to the throne in England. One of the books uses textiles as trade goods with Russia as part of its plot line.

Sharan Newman has a series set in 1100's Europe, and of course there is Ellis Peters, around the 1300's if memory serves. It's been a while since I read her series.

There are other titles niggling round in the back of my brain, refusing to come out. Needless to say, I'm a very good customer of my public library!

(A Perfect Red and Travels Through the Paintbox - two more titles that may be of interest to weavers/dyers.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Weaver

Click on the picture for an enlargement and check out those selvedes!

Nicole arrived shortly after 1 pm and we reviewed how to hold and throw the shuttle (she'd done a bit last Tuesday at the guild room) and the quirks of my particular loom. It's a rescue loom and has a few eccentricities in terms of advancing the warp.

I'd set the loom up with a fairly thick wool at 10 epi and Nicole wound some bobbins (again we'd reviewed that last Thursday with Sarah) and she set to weaving some plain weave. Then I showed her the treadling variations I'd printed out for her and she wove about 6" of each.

Then I showed her how to weave with an open beat with a very fine wool as well as a boucle and she did a bit of that.

Then she chose one of the treadlings from the sampler, I showed her how to hemstitch and she wove a table runner (about 36"). She was running out of time so I hemstitched the other end of the runner, gave her instructions for how to wet finish (well, you didn't think I wouldn't, did you?) and she left with nearly 3 yards of woven web for her afternoon's efforts.

And some aching muscles. :)

She'll come back Friday and we'll do a scarf warp for her, but this time she will have to wind her own warp and dress the loom with supervision.

Currently reading Wildfire in the Wilderness by Chris Czajkowski (I've met Chris on the craft fair circuit where she sells her books. This is just one of several she's written about her experiences living in the wilds of north/western BC.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010


All of the above shawls were woven on the same warp....

The above photo isn't great - took it with my Blackberry and the focus is 'off', but it shows the drape and the slight irridescence of the fabric quite nicely.

The shawls in the above photos were woven quite a long time ago. It took a while before they rose to the surface of the fringe twisting pile and Mizz B delivered them to me last weekend at the craft fair. They went through the washer and dryer yesterday and I've just returned from pressing them.

The warp was a stash busting affair with lots of small odds and ends of lots of different colours. In the end I just went along with a mantra shared with me by my friend Betty - Value is more important than hue.

The warp was an unlikely combination - a mixture of green/blues and reds. Nor were some of the weft choices 'safe' ones. But there are times when you just have to step up to the cliff's edge and live dangerously. And in the end, these shawls are unsual in their colours. While they won't necessarily suit everyone's taste, I'm hoping they find a new loving home next month at One of a Kind Vancouver.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

End of the Line

A few months ago I posted a photo of the box of painted warps to be done. Today this is all there is in the box.

Today I wove 3 scarves, and just now beamed the 3rd last warp.

I have really enjoyed making these scarves, in spite of having to wrestle them onto the loom but it is time to move on. In a way it's kind of scary because the painted warp scarves have been popular. I've made dozens and sold many of them. In fact it was kind of shocking when I packed up at Studio Fair at how few scarves in this series were left.

Which is good! Don't get me wrong. But it's a bit of a gamble discontinuing a line that has sold well when there is no clear candidate for the next good selling item.

On the other hand, I learned my lesson when we were earning our only income by making textiles for the table. Even though I had seen the writing on the wall, I continued to make placemats, runners and napkins until well after the market for them had collapsed.

At which point I was left with no income because I hadn't taken the time to do product development and come up with something new for the market.

When I first started making scarves from Tencel and bamboo, there weren't a lot of other weavers using those fibres. Now there are many.

My goal is to weave these last three warps (there is one on the loom, remember) before One of a Kind in Vancouver so that I will have a good range of scarves for people to choose from. There are 8 more painted warps which will be made into shawls, also - I hope! - in time for OOAK.

And then I'm moving on. Not sure what direction yet, but that's part of the fun.

Currently reading Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong

Friday, November 12, 2010

Word of Mouth

One of the most powerful marketing tools a creative person can benefit from is 'word of mouth'.

What does that mean? Pretty much what it sounds like. Get people talking - in a positive way - about your product, letting their friends know you think the product is A Good Thing for them to invest their money in. :)

Recently I was asked to read and comment on a new work of historical fiction by the author, Laurel Corona.

Corona, like other authors in the 21st century, is facing the challenge of getting enough people to buy her book to make it worthwhile for the publisher to consider publishing further works that she writes. Not to mention any royalties that may accrue based on sales. To that end she has a FaceBook page and no doubt a Twitter account.

When I took a marketing class a number of years ago (my how time flies), one of the methods of marketing that was addressed was word of mouth.

The presentor gave some statistics. If a customer is unhappy with your product s/he will more than likely tell an average of 26 people about their negative experience.

If the customer is happy with your product, they will more than likely tell on average about 11 people about their happy experience.

Why the disparity? Mainly because anger is a form of energy and if a person is unhappy they are likely angry and that anger will fuel their desire to dissipate their anger by venting (telling lots of people about it, garnering sympathy for their plight) and from a sense of warning others of the danger in buying that product.

Creative people - whether or not you are making up stories or cloth - generally don't have a big budget for advertising. There is the added complexity of the new age of information - how many people actually watch commercials on tv, listen to them on the radio, or read them in a newspaper/magazine? How many instead rely on their friends to give them a head's up about a great new product? How many of us tweet or post on Face Book.....or have blogs?

The most effective advertising/marketing of creative works is done to a target market. So authors try to get reviews posted to Amazon. Authors writing technical works (like weavers) try to get mentions on the chat groups. Weaving teachers try to get good reviews on chat groups and in guild newsletters.

So you, dear reader, must not underestimate the power of your endorsement of a writer, teacher, or creative person who is trying to earn an income by their creative efforts. If you get a great new weaving book, or read a novel with textiles/weaving in it, attend a fantastic lecture or take a fabulous workshop - tell your friends.

And continue to watch this space for books I enjoy reading. :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

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.

Lt. Col John McCrae MD 1872-1918
Canadian Army

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"When you don't know....

what you don't know, you don't know that you don't know it....." (Judith MacKenzie)

So today I dragged my sneezing, sniffling, aching body all over town looking for books on colour theory, all to little avail.

I finally found this one at the local library, but it is so very basic it's of little use for my purpose.

So I did what I had to do and went to Amazon and bought two books, spending $35 gambling that they will have sufficient colour theory/terms/vocabulary in order for me to do the research I need for my proposed ebook.

Which will be, yes, about using colour in weaving.

Many new weavers have a hard time choosing effective colours, partly because colour behaves in strange ways in a woven structure. If you don't have an intuitive sense of how to choose colours, it's a bit of a crap shoot at times.

But if there are so few resources for weavers who are insecure about colour use, how are they going to learn? Extrapolate that to any aspect of weaving - fibre characteristics, yarn characteristics (no, they are not the same), how density affects the fabric, and why certain weave structures behave in certain ways.

If you don't know you should know this, how are you going to learn?

I'm quite confident that weaving will not die. It's programmed into our genes. People who could construct textiles to protect them from the elements survived better than those who didn't or couldn't.

But at what level will the craft survive? Even if a weaver is only interested in dressing the loom and throwing the shuttle s/he should at least be aware of fibre characteristics and how choosing the appropriate yarn will enhance their efforts. They should understand why density affects their cloth and what they need to do about it and so on.

In my not so humble opinion, of course.

My post yesterday was in the way of being a devil's advocate. I hoped to stir up some discussion and get people thinking about the resources currently available, and which resources were lacking.

With my current health issues and no resolution in sight, yet, I've been thinking more and more about writing. I am hopeful that Syne Mitchell's skills as editor and publisher (and writer, of course) will translate into a successful boutique publishing effort which will help fill the void I see in the current weaving climate. That is to bring awareness to new weavers that while weaving can be done on a kit or recipe level, it can be so much more, too. While I understand that delving into the technology of weaving is not for everyone, I am convinced that every weaver should at least have a basic understanding that there is more and where to find the information when they want to find out about it.

While in Albuquerque I presented a one day workshop called A Good Yarn. At the end of the day one of the weavers in the group asked "Why don't weavers know about these things?"

Why, indeed.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Mt. Finishing - good thing Mizz B got 7 more shawls fringe twisted as I sold all except one this weekend....

It was an interesting weekend.

Saturday Mizz B came to mind my booth so that I could attend the 70th bd of a dear friend. While there I was chatting with some of the other weavers in the crowd and it came out that I was the 'baby' of the group. Not something you really think about when you're 60. :)

(You hear that Syne? 60 is young in the weaving world!)

On Sunday I had a chat with one of the other exhibitors. Actually I'd had much the same chat with a couple others during the weekend. The one where we all confessed to feeling very tired after a 20 or 30 year stint of designing, making product and schlepping it across the country to sell it. Because it isn't good enough to just make it when you're dependent upon sales of your hand made items - you're not done until the customer has paid you for it and taken it to a new loving home.

At any rate, the chat on Sunday morphed into an analysis of the change in the nature of craft fairs - how there were fewer and fewer designer/makers around - potters, glass artists, woodworkers, weavers. We wondered where the next generation would come from because it seems like the majority of 20 somethings have no interest in throwing a thousand mugs, or weaving a hundred placemats (or scarves etc). They want a product now and they don't want to have to spend years honing their skills to get it.

Or at least, that's how it seems. Especially when we looked around the show and counted up the number of food booths, the number of personal care product booths, the jewellry (strung beads) and other things that aren't counted in amongst the 'traditional' hand crafts.

(Mizz B is most definitely the exception and I treasure having her in my life.)

The feeling that people don't want to spend time learning the craft comes partly from the proliferation of new weavers who have no interest in sampling (they can't 'afford' to sample) and want instant success with proven 'recipes'.

Part of that sense comes from my experiences on the internet chat groups and other feedback I've personally had.

For example. After reading multiple posts from people who either don't have a local guild or, due to family/work commitments can't make it to meetings, I offered to start a study group list. The deal was that people could join the list (run through my website) for free, but if they wanted to participate in the sample challenge/exchange, I requested that those people pay a fee to help cover my expenses.

One person emailed to tear a strip off of me. Who, she fumed, did I think I was asking to be paid for something freely available at local guilds?????? (I'm paraphrasing here because I no longer have that email, but that was the gist. And she went on at great length to let me know I was not amongst her favourite people.)

There were many things I could have said in reply, but I chose to ignore her email and carry on with the plan.

So I know that there are some people who do want to learn. Who do want to understand. Who are willing to put the effort into honing their skills. But will there be enough of them to keep the craft alive and healthy? If the only designing (making up of recipes/kits) is being done by a tiny minority of weavers, will general knowledge - as thinly scattered as it currently is - eventually fade away?

Weaving has been going on by human beings for in excess of 30,000 years according to new archeological finds. Will it last much longer?

Just finished Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins and started The Madness Of Lord Byron by Stephanie Barron

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Studio Fair Day 2 Dawning

This is a view similar to the one I took yesterday but a little closer - and better colour because I brought my camera. The phone camera washes the colour out too much.
I wasn't happy with the placement of the mirror (which I 'hid' with some wool scarves) but it was about the best place for it in terms of allowing people to actually see themselves in it and for lighting. In Vancouver (One of a Kind) we'll just have a 5 x 10 booth so the mirror will go at one end of the booth rather than in the centre because we just won't have sufficient room for it there.
The good news is that the crowds were much thicker today and people seemed to be spending a little bit of money. But this area has been hit hard by the sagging economy and they are being very careful where they spend.
After thinking about the hang tag issue for a couple of days, and also because I know the paper I'm using has gone up considerably in price *AND* because the format of my cards is now going to be much too expensive, I've decided to look into some light photogrey paper and just have one ink colour instead of black and silver. While I really liked the look of the silver outlined butterfly, it's just gotten too difficult/costly to continue with.
So my next order of business cards/hang tags I'll talk with the printer about options for paper. He's already told me that he's deep sixing the offset press which they used for my cards, so it's time to update. I think if I can get a light enough value of grey - almost a silver - that should work nicely.
But that's a job for next year.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Set up proceeds

About two hours into set up.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rules of Engagement

from this....

to this - in about 40 minutes.....

Just beamed another of my 'scary' painted warps. These warps are made up of one strand of soy protein and one Tencel wound at the same time and painted. The soy protein shrinks significantly more than the Tencel and the warps get very beat up and tangled. They are about 10 yards or so long, 9 inches in the reed.

While I was beaming it I thought about the "you can't's" associated with weaving. One of the first ones I heard was "You can't use a brush on your warp."

Since I'd been successfully using a brush on my warps for about 2 years at that point I was a bit perplexed. Why can't I? It was working just fine for me.

So I thought about the yarns that were being used in the loom room, and realized that the fine singles linen and the softly spun woolens they were using would not react well to being brushed. I had already figured out using a brush on the brushed mohair used as an accent yarn for a couple warps wasn't a good idea because I realized very quickly that brushing just made the mohair more unruly. I also learned very quickly to not use a brush on a textured yarn that would allow the brush tines to catch and pull at those yarns.

But to not use a brush at all? I knew from experience that I could. And using a brush on these painted warps is essential if I'm to get them on the loom in any kind of efficient manner at all.

Yes, I could just finger comb them - but it would take hours, not minutes.

Other admonitions came to light as I continued to weave and meet weavers from different cultures/regional areas.

"You can't weave on an all black warp." Well, I did that for years, about 200 yards a month weaving fabric for a fashion designer. The secret there is to have sufficient light so that you can see what you are doing so I had lots of supplemental light in order to thread, sley and tie on. After that I found that I didn't need much more than the usual lamp I have on for every warp.

"You can't use textured yarns in the warp." Well, that depends on the yarn. If it has been spun so that the rubbing of the reed doesn't affect it, it's just fine. The only thing to watch for is that the lumpy parts go through the eye of the heddle. Even then, being careful when advancing the warp will allow the yarn to pass through.

"You can't use a singles as warp." Once again I'd been successfully using singles wool as warp, and certainly used singles linen for warp. If it passes the snap test, it should be okay as warp. Except for the linen - if you live in a very arid climate, using a singles linen might be a bit dicey. When I'm using linen for warp here, I always run a humidfier near the loom. If you wet the yarn, wet it for the whole length of the warp. A dry linen can tend to beat in differently than a moister one. I found that out by starting to weave a singles linen warp/weft on a rainy day, then tried to finish it on a dry day - the cloth beat in differently when the humidity changed dramatically.

"You can't get good selvedges without a floating selvedge." I never use a floating selvedge. I choose to not use weave structures where such a selvedge would be necessary. There are so many different weave structures that can be woven without a floating selvedge I'd rather choose one of those.

"You can't get a good selvedge without a temple." I use a temple when the weave structure calls for it. Using a floating selvedge and/or a temple slows down my weaving rhythm. If I don't need to use them I don't. (see above) However, if a temple is necessary, I will use one in order to get the results I require for that particular cloth.

One "you can't" that seems to be pretty much gone is "You can't use a fly-shuttle/auto-cloth advance/dobby/computer and call your weaving 'hand' woven". I don't think I need to comment on this. I'm just grateful that people are getting over this one.

"You can't weave an unbalanced (1:3) weave structure on a counter-balanced loom." If the loom has 'horses', you can weave any weave structure you want. If the loom has rollers, the shed isn't as large if you are pulling 1 shaft down while 3 go up, or vice-versa. But if you are willing to deal with the smaller shed, you can weave these on a roller counter-balanced loom, too.

I'm sure there are other "you can't's" that just don't spring to mind but those are the ones that I thought about today.

My list of absolute rules in weaving are four:

1. Never use a knot where a bow will do.

2. If you can't be perfect, be consistent.

3. A thread under tension is a thread under control.

4. It isn't finished until it's wet finished.

All else depends.

Monday, November 1, 2010

'Tis The Season

One view of the booth at UNBC's Artisans of the North last weekend....

I have mixed feelings about displaying my textiles. UNBC is a smaller show, mid-range quality rather than higher end pricing and as such the booth rental fee is very reasonable. In return you don't get booth draping, though, so you can see right through my display to the space behind.

Plus I'm not sure I'm happy with my bright white hang tags. They don't look quite so bad in real life. Somehow the flash seems to bounce hard off of them and they stand out more in photos than when looking at the booth in person.

OTOH, my stuff is for sale and people need to be able to find my price and care instructions easily so hiding that information seems counter productive.

I've gone through the banking stuff and am ready to head to town to pick up books at the library, do my deposit and check the mail box. I think Doug forgot to do that so it will likely be crammed full of stuff to be tossed into the recycle container at the door. I'm glad the post office got smart and provided the box a few years ago. If people could see how much of their expensive advertising didn't even make it out the door they might think twice about sending out bulk advertising. OTOH (there seem to be a lot of hands around here today) if you don't get the word out somehow, how will people know you exist and find you if they want your products?

The past couple of years I've spent money on paid advertising in various venues. Unfortunately I can't track any sales from any of it so I've discontinued such ads - at least until I decide what direction to go with my business. Seems a waste of money that I can't actually afford right now.

Thursday we set up for Studio Fair - the higher end fair in town. Mizz B will be in town and will do booth relief for me Fri/Sat (I hope). It will be good to see her and what she brings to sell in the guild booth.

My cold is better so I'm hoping the stress of the week won't delay complete recovery so that I can clear the decks next week, figure out what I'm doing for One of a Kind Vancouver and the other things on the back burner.

Currently Reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins