Thursday, December 30, 2010

Improvisation and Creativity

some of the yarns for John C. Campbell that I hope to get woven off while there....

The above URL is a link to an article about improvising while playing music. I found the article quite interesting and learned more about some classical composers than I knew before.

But I started thinking that all acts of creation are really human beings improvising. Before we can improvise we must have a foundation of knowledge - we must understand the limits of the materials we are working with, how to use them to their fullest, perhaps even push them beyond what might at first thought may have seemed a limit.

When I was first learning how to weave I was almost paralyzed by the limitless possibilities that were available. So many yarns, so many colours, so many different textiles that could be made! And let's face it, my base of knowledge was pretty limited so there was also the fear of failure - of making a textile that wouldn't perform as it ought to.

Fortunately I don't fear failure all that much, preferring to consider each failure a lesson and another brick in the foundation of my knowledge. Even if the lesson is "Well, I won't do that again!" It was all the other stuff that I found daunting. What weave structure? What density? What colour?

The way forward was through the doubt and the path I used was to set creative limitations. The first limitation was that I had to make a functional textile and make it with as much beauty as my limited knowledge of colour and design would allow. I found that by setting up limitations (four shafts, twill, cotton = household textile) I could, little by little, see the possibilities by taking each step at a time. (four shafts, overshot, cotton = household textile of a different quality)

Each step forward was linked to the step I had just taken. Where I went next was sometimes not known until I actually got there. The goal was always a functional textile.

I've said elsewhere that I consider my 'failures' to be stepping stones. Each step forward has been interesting and not always the destination I thought I was heading towards. At times I had to cut and toss things that were simply not working out.

Sometimes I just experimented to see what the materials could tell me about themselves.

When I look back on my career, I consider that most often any creative leaps were improvisations on where I had been before. But those leaps were always based on my current knowledge, that each element in the new cloth came from somewhere so that I built on what I knew, allowing me to extrapolate where I might - potentially - go next.

The journey continues........

Currently reading Needles and Pearls by Gil McNeil

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Breaking Barriers

two scarves from latest painted warp - done - well, woven, anyway....

Human beings really like to be in their comfort zone. They really don't like being uncomfortable. Not much surprise, really, as if you are feeling uncomfortable it probably means that you are experiencing a certain level of 'danger'. And we all know that survival of the species depended very much on avoiding danger!

But as a creative person, it is necessary for us to sometimes leave our comfort zone, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

For example, learning something new is uncomfortable, especially for adults who wrongly suppose they are supposed to know everything already. :}

One of my mentors always said that if we aren't making 'mistakes' we aren't learning anything. The challenge being, of course, to understand that a 'mistake' in weaving is not terminal. Nobody is going to die because a warp didn't act nicely in the loom, the weft wasn't quite the right colour, the drape of the cloth wasn't as luscious as envisioned.

The last couple of days I've had a chance to visit with some friends and I confided that I was having a really hard time breaking through the barrier of getting words down on paper for The Project. As we talked about it I remembered that I started Magic in the Water about 6 times before it gelled. As soon as I realized that it didn't matter what I wrote, just that I wrote something - anything! - with no thought that those first few words would be writ in stone, suddenly the opening of The Project fell into place.

This morning I opened a Word file (Word was open anyway for another job), wrote down the title, the introductory quote that I knew was going to open The Project and wrote the first sentence.

19 whole words. Wow! Count 'em. 19 of them!
But they are down, and they feel right. And I know that now I can slip through that barrier and begin.

Gimp and Boucle'

When I was learning to spin, I was told that the yarn on the left was called a 'gimp' and the yarn on the right was a 'boucle' (accent over the e').

Since I'm not really a spinner I don't know the finer points of distinction in how they are constructed but they are both spun.

To my eye the biggest difference is that the loops in the boucle' have lots of air in them. They are a true loop.

The gimp has a much stiffer hand which leads me to believe that it has much more twist in it. It *looks* like there is a core around which the tightly spun silk is spun. The little knobs have no space or air in them and they are like a little bead in comparison to the loop in the boucle' which is very soft and lofty.

The two yarns have very different hands. The mohair loop is lovely and soft; the silk gimp is harder and much more textured to the touch. They both weave up nicely - I don't think I've had a broken end in either yarn - but they make drasticly different qualities of cloth.

Some people feel the silk gimp and they do not find it tactilely satisfying at all. They wonder what on earth you could make that would be nice. They decide that it isn't a good yarn.

But it actually makes quite a nice shawl set at 10 epi and woven square in plain weave. The little 'beads' of the gimp help hold everything together - although the cloth is 'delicate' - I think it's actually quite A Good Yarn.

Currently reading A Play of Piety by Margaret Frazer

Monday, December 27, 2010

More Smiles

some of the painted silk gimp warps....

some of the silk gimp dyed for weft for warps above....

The dye god(dess) smiled again today. 10 pounds of silk gimp dyed, most of it successfully.

I don't try for a truly solid colour - generally I like a slight variation in value but a couple of the skeins have too great a value change for effective weft. On the other hand, they will also knit up quite nicely so I may just toss those into my creative figgiting pile to be knitted into the scarves that I donate to worthy causes.

Just before I left for the guild room the phone rang and my latest student asked about getting more yarn for her scarves. I brought some yarn to the room and we made the skein into a ball and she started winding a 5 yard warp for two scarves. Her family were so impressed with the first scarf she made she had requests. :) Nice to have an appreciative family. Even better, her dh came and took measurements and will make her a warping board, wider lease sticks that I find work more efficiently for the method of dressing the loom I use and now teach, sticks for warp beaming and a bobbin winder for her. What a keeper! :D

So all in all, a very productive day. So happy to cross the dye day off my list, even though I still have about 30 pounds left to do, at least I've got some weft for the painted warps - some of which I'll take to JCC to work on there. And Sharon assures me that she has a naked loom so I can weave while she's at work, too.

Can we say 'bus man's holiday'?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Setting Goals

last four painted scarf warps.....

I always work best when I have deadline pressure bearing down on me. Doesn't matter if the deadline comes from outside or from within - no deadline, no pressure to get anything accomplished. :}

So I learned a long time ago that I am a person who needs to set goals with a time frame. Not much point for me in saying I want to do such and such if I don't also set a date for completion.

Not that I always meet the arbitrary date but without it I rather suspect I'd get a whole lot less accomplished.

One of my favourite quotes is from, I believe, Alice in Wonderland "If you don't know where you're going, any road will do."

Or another one, source escapes me "If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there?"
And so I have long term goals, mid-range goals, and short term goals. Generally I have a list each day of what I want to accomplish before the day is done. I have lists for the things I want to accomplish this week. And then there are the long range goals, generally associated with events for which I must be prepared - teaching workshops, selling at craft fairs and so on.

Really BIG projects (writing a book, for instance) are sometimes difficult to get started on. Why? Well, partly because I spend quite a long time staring at the elephant wondering which bit I should chew first. Partly, I think, because it takes me a while to work through the sequence of tasks that need to be done in order to eat that elephant.

I'm not a person who thinks quickly. Mostly I tend to let big projects simmer for quite a long while until I get a really clear picture of all of the steps required to get me to completion.

In the meantime I make lists of smaller jobs that I know I can accomplish. I even use the Big Job to spur me on to getting to some of the smaller jobs I may have been procrastinating about completing! :O (Oh the psychological tricks we play on ourselves!!!!)

I leave for John C. Campbell Folk School on Jan. 7. Before I leave I want to:

Weave the scarf warp currently on the loom plus the 4 that are left.
Dress the AVL with a prototype warp of 2/20 merc. cotton
Finish transcribing WeaveCast 55
Dye Day (tomorrow) - 10 pounds of silk gimp

I also have to pack my bags and prepare the yarn I'll be weaving at JCC.

Last but not least - I hope to write the introduction for the Big Project.
We'll see how I do.

Currently reading Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs

Friday, December 24, 2010


latest painted warp - done!

I was originally going to title this post "Isolation". Creative people many times work in isolation, all alone in their studios, working on their 10,000 hours of practise learning their craft. Whether you are a musician practising scales, a writer getting those words down, or any other craftsperson - a potter throwing mugs, a glass blower blowing glass, a weaver making yards and yards of fabric - most of the time you are all alone while you do it.

But I started thinking about the word "isolation" and realized that the word is far too negative in its connotations because what the practising craftsperson is doing is working in solitude while they explore their materials, hone their skills, experiment and fail - or succeed - until they get it 'right'.

As I mentioned in my previous post, an artistan must be self-motivated. It's not much fun to do the work of learning, especially when you are new and things are not turning out the way you want them to, but the only way to achieve success is through the process, being analytical, trying things differently, exploring various options.

Once you have gained a certain amount of proficiency, you still have to do the process. The warps need to be wound, beamed, threaded and then woven off.

Then there is collaborating. That is a different thing altogether. It can be a wonderful experience - to collaborate with another creative person. Sometimes they have a completely different perspective, bring different knowledge to the association, and voila - new insights can occur.

What I'm talking about is the day by day getting up from your chair, going into the studio and doing what needs to be done.

Not all of it is interesting. In fact a great deal of it may not be of interest at all. But the bottom line is - no warp, no weaving, no cloth. And so, regardless of how much time it takes, it is necessary to go wind that warp, beam it, thread it, sley it, tie it on and then pick by pick, weave it off. And for me that happens in solitude - just me and my cd player - going through the process, making cloth.

Currently reading Ill Wind by Rachel Caine

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Of Dreams and Plans

2nd scarf on painted red/blue warp....

Scene: neighbourhood greasy spoon where Doug and I used to walk for coffee.

Time: January 2, about 10 years ago

Waitress (pouring coffee): So, did you have a nice holiday yesterday?

Me: No. I worked all day.

Waitress: You did?! How come?

Me: I work for a b*tch.

Waitress: No kidding! Who do you work for?

Me: Myself.

This is a true story. I hadn't planned it - it just came naturally to my lips. And I had to think about that for a while. Why do I drive myself harder for me than I would for any other boss?

I work hard because I have dreams. I have incredible fibre dreams that simply will not let go of me until they come into (pun warning) material being. I get so caught up in the dream of taking this thread and turning it into that cloth that I work many more hours a day - on average - than I'd ever think about doing for someone else in some other job.

I've told the story elsewhere about my commenting to Doug that a person could weave fabric and earn some money. But what on earth led me to believe that I could do that? I had absolutely no training in textiles other than as hobbies, mostly taught to me by my mother.

The dream had taken root by the time I expressed that observation.

But dreams only come true when you execute them. In order to make them happen you have to make plans. You have to have a goal and you need to know the in between steps that will get you to that goal.

I wasn't that smart when I first started to weave. The lessons have come the hard way - through trial and error. Lots and lots of error. Both in the weaving, and in the learning of the business of being a professional creative person.

Dana Stabenow had a quote on her Face Book page the other day "In order to be a writer you must embrace rejection." I think that is true for every person relying on their creativity for their income, whether in whole or in part.

But when you have a dream you want - need - to make happen, there are a few things that are necessary.

You must be highly self-motivated. When there is no one else cracking the whip, can you set aside all the distractions and show up for work? Can you work with purpose, all day, every day, in the face of negativity and rejection? (Just try surviving your first few craft fairs to experience the negativity and rejection!)

You must believe in your own dream. If you don't believe in it, why should anyone else?

You must act confident, even when you aren't. You have to have faith. You have to be an optimist.

You must hone your skills both as a designer and as a craftsperson and never forget that you are doing this first and foremost because you must but also because you need the income.

You must be somewhat selfish, putting your needs before others at times, because if you don't do the work, no one else is going to do it for you.

You must take the time to educate yourself, be analytical, and willing to change when you realize that the approach you are taking isn't working out as well as you'd hoped.

And while I could go on at length, last but not least for now? You must never give up.

Monday, December 20, 2010

...and the Dye God(dess) Smiled

half of the yarn I dyed today....

The other half of the yarn is spinning out, soon to be hung (by the chimney with care?)

Things went exceptionally well today. Both the cyan and magenta dyes set, almost immediately, all the dye vats exhausted and the yarn rinsed clear right from the get go. I worried I'd be there forever but all in all, I was finished much sooner than I hoped or expected.

Perhaps it was the phase of the moon, or the humidity was just right, or - who knows - it's the solstice? Whatever reason I'm very grateful to get this lot all done. I may go back and dip dye some of the skeins to get some true varigateds, not just semi-solids, but for now all of this yarn is now officially 'not white'.

What's left is the silk gimp. A cool 30+ pounds left (better than the 50 pounds I was thinking!) I've got enough skeins wound for another dye day but I need to go buy a new timer (my measuring cup, timer and measuring scoop disappeared from the guild room) and another case of vinegar from Costco first. While I made do with the alarm on my Blackberry, a small kitchen timer works much better.

I'm not a dyer, just like I'm not a spinner. I can go through the motions. I can make yarn 'not white' and I can get a continuous thread accomplished. But I am not knowledgeable about these crafts. I admire and respect people who really know what they are doing and I know that if I spent more time learning I could maybe get more proficient at each. But for now I'm happy just to get a little continuous thread, preferably 'not white'.

My main focus is weaving. What I have learned over the years is that in order to sell textiles, cloth with lively colours will sell much faster than white. So I dye protein fibres. I don't really want to deal with fibre reactive dyes so I buy my cellulose fibres already dyed. There are so many talented dyers - it's nice to support another craftsperson.

Currently reading Somewhere Inside by Laura and Lisa Ling

Sunday, December 19, 2010


electric skein cone done, 9 to go

Requiring creativity in my life on a daily basis, I chose to become a weaver as my career many moons ago. I love being a weaver. I love working with threads every day. I love it when people buy my textiles and choose to bring them into their lives or the lives of their loved ones. I love teaching and writing about weaving.

There are many things - just like in every other job - that I don't much care to do. But they are things that must be done in order to realize the larger goal of working with thread and textiles as my career.

There are also consequences of being a professional creative person that I don't much like.

One big consequence is financial.

Let's be clear. I'm not independantly wealthy. I am not married to a wealthy man who can support his wife in her creative pursuits. The income I bring in to the household is needed.

It's the same for other creative people. For every Dan Brown there are thousands of writers who aren't getting huge contracts for their books. For every Jon Bon Jovi there are thousands of musicians who are just scraping by. For every Robert Bateman there are thousands of artists who can barely afford to frame their paintings.

Now I am better off than some creative people I know in that I do have a partner. To make it on your own with no other support must be incredibly challenging. It's hard enough with the two of us, and that Doug is supportive in terms of driving to shows, helping with show set up and sales and making/maintaining tools. To do all that all by myself - well, I just don't know if I could.

People who don't understand the life of a creative person have no understanding of the sorts of things that go on in the background. I have done the local high end craft fair for over 30 years. So often people walk by and comment "Oh, you're still weaving? Well, how nice you have something to keep you busy."

It's all I can do not to grind my teeth to powder. Busy? If you consider that for many years I worked 60 hour weeks, 52 weeks a year, oh yes, I'm keeping busy. :}

People who don't understand what is necessary to keep a creative business going tell me that I am successful. Well, to a certain value of success, yes, I suppose I am. I'll never forget the day Doug's step-mother commented that Doug and I were rich. I told her that if by 'rich' she meant that I set my own hours and could take time off to have lunch with her, then yes, I supposed I was rich. But the fact was that at that time we were living well below the poverty level.

Because I travel a lot, people assume that I am wealthy. The reality is that the only time I travel is when a guild (or several) pay my way to teach. Or we drive long distances to attend a show/conference to try to sell yarns, books, textiles.

The reality is that we sold just enough product to cover the show expenses in Vancouver - notice I say show expenses, not the cost of the materials or the time Doug took off from work, using his holiday time to cover his time away from work. Not my time away from the studio. Not my time to make the product.

But we made some valuable contacts at the show which may (may!) bear fruit in the future.

Craftspeople and farmers - the most optimistic people on the face of the earth. Next show, next season, will be better.........

So why do I do this if it's so challenging? The reality is that I can't not be creative. And face it - after so many years of being self-employed I'd be the world's worst employee. You want me to show up, every day, on time, with a smile on my face? Ain't gonna happen! Because the only place I want to be is at a loom...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Making Headway

a portion of my store room with scarves/tea towels...

I've managed to break through the lethargy that has been plaguing me this week and unpacked all the boxes (well, not all, I left scarves in two boxes for ease of storage) and put the textiles onto the shelves in my store room. Ideally I ought to go through everything and re-arrange it but that may, or may not, happen anytime soon.

There are still a couple of plastic buckets with more scarves/tea towels in them but room is running out on the shelves so they will likely just stay where they are. Not 'away' because there is no more 'away' to put anything.

There is a load of skeins soaking in the washing machine with a second load to go in tonight. That will give me 49 skeins to dye on Monday. This yarn is a merino, bamboo, silk blend that I imported from China and it had some problems - too many for me to try and sell to others so I've gradually been dyeing it and getting it woven or knitted. These skeins are the last to be dyed and I have A Plan for them so it will feel really good to get them dyed and woven.

Plus I've started skeining the silk gimp. I have a bunch of warps to dye and weave and need weft to weave them off with so I'm hoping to get some of that done before I leave for NC/FL.

Speaking of which I now have my flights all arranged. I'll need to stay overnight not one, but two nights en route to Atlanta. I don't trust getting out of here on a 6 am flight - successfully - at this time of year so I'll fly to Vancouver on Friday and overnight there, then overnight in Atlanta so that I will make the shuttle to John C. Campbell Folk School in plenty of time. That also gives me a bit of a cushion in case of weather delays.

Frankly I get a little neurotic trying to travel during the winter - I've had too many close calls with flights delayed or re-routed to ever feel sanguine about winter travel. If I were going on holiday it would be no big deal - just another adventure. But when I'm supposed to be somewhere with people counting on me to be present - it's a whole nuther story in terms of stress levels......

Found a new author in the Strange Brew short story collection and got one of her books out of the library yesterday. I'm going to have to rein in my tendency to take lots of books out of the library because I leave in less than 3 weeks and I've loads of things to do before then. Anyway, she has several series but the one that appealed to me is the Weather Warden series. Her name is Rachel Caine and the first in the series is Ill Wind.

And now it's time to get back to the skein winding. I have a lot to do before I have enough for a productive second dye day, hopefully between Christmas and New Year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Post Show Slump

Like a re-chargable battery it seems like the older I get the longer it takes me to re-charge after a big expenditure of energy. :} And it seems like I've been running pretty much full tilt since September.

So since getting home Monday night I've done very little other than read (one book was overdue at the library and I wanted to finish it), watch video clips on You Tube and play Zuma Blitz on Facebook. :(

But I no longer worry about these periods of low energy. I understand that wells run dry and need time to re-fill. Batteries run low and need to be re-charged. It's the same with me and, I suspect, other people - especially those relying on creativity for their income.

I haven't been a total slug. I did get my banking done and the November ledger balanced, reconciling it to my chequebook. A job that can take an enormous amount of time but went fairly smoothly this time. Thankfully. Doing the number crunching isn't one of my fav jobs but absolutely necessary. Year end is coming soon, too, so I need to get my books ready to take to the accountant.

I've also started working on the trip in January and things are beginning to fall into place. I'll get to visit with Sharon in NC (hi Sharon!) after all and another friend in the Tampa area in between the two FL workshops. So on this trip I'm actually going to have some 'holiday' time. And hopefully some warm weather. :D Warmer than here at any rate.

We were approached at OOAK by two other shows so we'll be investigating those for next year. OOAK was okay but quite a few customers wondered why we weren't doing the other older more established show in Vancouver so we'll see if my work gets accepted by their jury. If not I can always return to OOAK. The show in Calgary Doug used to do eons ago also approached us so we'll look at their show dates and prices. The good news there is that they have changed venues and move in/out will be much simpler than the previous venue.

I've also decided on my next warp for the AVL - even have all the yarn I need on hand so more stash busting will happen. Always A Good Thing! For part of the warp I'll be doing a prototype for a craftsperson who approached me at OOAK and I'll need to use a temple. Thank goodness I borrowed one the right size from Syne Mitchell - that was intended for another project but I can make good use of it for this one! (Thanks Syne - you're a life saver!)

There are still some errands to run today and tomorrow and hopefully we can finish unloading the van - there is stuff to be delivered to the annex and stuff to be picked up and brought here but I haven't felt like battling the parking lot there to deal with it. And it will wait.

For now I'm off to pick up my mother as we need to do a Costco run and much better to get that over and done with today rather than next week.

Currently reading Strange Brew, edited by P. N. Elrod after finishing No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong. I'm really enjoying KA's writing - her approach to her subject matter - the supernatural - is a bit different as she writes via the different characters in her universe. And if you're wondering about the red maple leaf on the spine of her book, that's how our local library indicates a Canadian writer........did I ever say how much I love my local library????

Monday, December 13, 2010

Work in Progress

Let me begin by explaining that these pictures are not great - I just took quick snaps when I had a second during set up....

So many people don't understand what goes into setting up a booth at a high(er) end craft fair that I thought I would talk a little bit about what goes into it.

So from the empty area I showed a few days ago - Doug with the hand truck piled high with booth apparatus, electrical box, cash box, product, etc., etc., - here is the booth after the apparatus has been set up. It took us about an hour to get to this point, at which time we called it a day (after a 10 hour drive) and went looking for dinner.

Doug built the wooden shelving/racks and behind the black draping is a grid wall in a /\/\/ type of formation. The black draping has been sewn to the top of the grid wall and we use 4" hooks to hang the scarves from. I also have a couple of metal stands called mondi's. In this instance we tied the mirror to the smaller one and set it up on the bottom shelf at the short end of the 'L' shaped booth (I had a corner space).

At this stage the overhead lighting is still on and the scarves look a bit helter skelter. Each /\ has a different design in it with a few more stacked on the shelf below for additional colour selection.

Now the short end of the 'L' has been done except for our coats still draped on the tall mondi. All of the product boxes store under the drapes in the booth. At this show part of your booth rental gives you a 10' by 2' area behind in which we stored the booth apparatus boxes, our boots, the complementary umbrella from the hotel (a necessity in Vancouver in December!) and other miscellaneous tidbits.

And here you see a quick shot of the booth right before opening. The overhead lights are now dimmed and we have adjusted our lights to spotlight the scarves. The large mondi has a red shawl on it. Every day (or as each shawl sold) I changed the display on the mondi and around the mirror.

One day I offered to show a customer some of my overstock and another lady grabbed the red scarf on the top of the pile and bought it! :D

There are many approaches to display and touring around a show like One of a Kind will give loads of ideas. Many people are as creative with their packaging and display as they are with designing their product.

But essentially I feel there need to be a few essentials when you put together a booth to sell your hand made items.

1. Your display should enhance your product. If you have a very refined product and a very rustic display, I think that the customer gets a mixed message about what you are trying to do.

For my display we try to make the booth itself as inconspicuous as possible in order to let the scarves take centre stage. Other approaches would likely work just as well, but this approach is comfortable to me. The booth also breaks down fairly quickly into several boxes for transportation in the back of the van.

Have a tall stool to perch on. If you are sitting 'down' in a chair, people will assume you are resting and will not want to bother you. Make eye contact and say hello to people. Do not ask "May I help you?" as the answer will almost always result in an automatic "No thanks, I'm just looking." Instead offer a piece of information - such as "These scarves have been hand-painted" or "I have more colours in overstock if you don't see the colour you like" or "Please touch or try on - I have a mirror so you can see how you'll look" or something neutral but inviting.

2. You *must* have your own lighting. There were several booths at this show that had either no supplemental lights, or only one or two lights. Those booths looked very dim and not terribly attractive. People are like moths. They will go where the lights are.

3. You should have some sort of provision for writing up your sales. This can be a clip board you carry, or a small section of the booth. For this show we took a 5 x 10' booth so we didn't set up our usual cash drawer. I also anticipated that the vast majority of sales would be by credit card, and this was so. We took a very few cash sales and no cheques at all.

4. Business cards with our booth number were left on the shelves for people to pick up and some of the 'be-backs' did indeed come back, card in hand. I even arrived home to a phone call from one customer who bought a scarf and wants a second. I'll phone her back tomorrow once we get the van unloaded. Neither of us can bear doing that tonight. :}

5. A sign with your name is essential. Several of the booths at the show either had no sign, or only an ambiguous name and a couple of them I really had to look hard to figure out what they were selling.

6. Clothing should be properly labelled. In Canada that means there must - by law - be a label with fibre content and care instructions. IMHO clothing should also have a size listed! There were several booths where I was interested in the garments but could not find a size anywhere. Granted I could tell the garment I had in my hand was too small, but I'm a big enough person that I don't like to ask if they have the item in size XL - especially if the person in the booth is obviously a size S. :(

7. Last but not least - I truly believe that items for sale ought to have the price on them. If there is no price I always assume that I can't afford it.

There are lots of other considerations, but that's about all I'm capable of tonight. We didn't sleep well at the hotel, the drive was long and the road home - for the last four hours at any rate - very dark. We still have to unload the van and figure out where to store everything. But this is the last show of the season and 3 weeks away from winter in January sounds more and more attractive! ;)

Currently reading Divas Don't Knit by Gil McNeil - if you like British humour I give this 5 stars for funny - had me laughing and sharing bits with Doug

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The foyer

This is the entrance to the new Vancouver Convention Centre. The floor has large 'carpets' made of glass tiles. Very weaverly. ;)
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Clean slate

And so it begins
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Monday, December 6, 2010

Older and.....Wiser?

Doug stayed up til midnight last night packing product. He' perfectionist? So he's very careful about packing everything well so that it arrives in a state to be displayed. Much more careful than I am. :}

While he did that I did my best to tackle the mess in the kitchen. In a few minutes I'll drag the vacuum out and see if I can get the floors tidied and then mop the kitchen floor down.

I now understand very well my mother's flapping around cleaning just before we set off on a trip. I now understand that she couldn't face the thought of returning to the mess!

The last few trips I've not pushed and pushed myself to do more, get just one more warp woven, wet finish one last load, squeeze one more thing in before departure. Do you think I'm finally gaining wisdom? Or just too old to expend the energy being frantic????

Today I had a short list of things I wanted/needed to get done and after sleeping in (thanks to Doug leaving quietly at 6:30 am for work) I managed to get everything done then came home for lunch. I've got a large pot of home made soup in the fridge so I had some of that for lunch and will have it again for supper. We'll freeze what ever is left for when we get home.

We still have to pack our personal items and load the van. Doug gets off work at 4 pm and we'll see if he needs a pick-me-up nap or if we get that done before full dark. Departure will be around 6 am tomorrow morning with load in between 6 and 9 pm tomorrow night. Wednesday we have all day to set up, which ought not take us more than 3 or 4 hours. Once that's done we can rest up for the killer hours - 10 am-10pm Thur/Fri/Sat, with the show closing at 5 pm Sunday. It takes us about 2 hours to pack up and out. We'll leave Vancouver as early as we can manage Monday morning, perhaps waiting until 9 am to miss the worst of the rush hour traffic, and be home late Monday evening.

Ah, the glamourous life of the wandering craftsperson!

I'm bringing a bunch of books with me. Don't know how much time I'll have to read - certainly the 9 hour trip will give me some reading time - and since the due date is rapidly coming up on some of them I really want to read them over the next week.

Currently reading Sara Paretsky's Body Work with the following in the queue:

Dancing for Degas by Kathryn Wagner
Bad Boy by Peter Robinson (17th in the series, I think)
Duel at Dawn by Amir Alexander (sub-title: Heroes, martyrs, and the rise of modern mathematics - told you I seem to enjoy weird science!) :)

I will leave at home No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong and Strange Brew, a collection of short stories. I also bought a compendium of novels by Kelley Armstrong because they had it for cheap at Costco. That will likely go with me in January. I like to bring a bunch of paperbacks that I can leave in airports or at my hostess's house as I finish them.

In addition to that I think I'll bring my Project notebook and get some of my recent thoughts about that on paper.

On the health front (TMI, no doubt!) I've decided I can't tolerate the metal plate in my ankle so I've talked to the surgeon's receptionist and will phone in February when I get home from Florida for an appointment to discuss having it removed and how long it will take to get that done. Initially I thought it would be fine but the last month it's been really bugging me. Talking to others who have had the same thing, the reports seem to be that you reach a state when it's just not all right any more so my experience is not uncommon, and probably why the surgeon made such a firm assurance that if it bothered me he'd take it out. :)

I'm hoping that by the time I hit my next birthday my health issues will all have been dealt with and I'll be good for another 20 years. One lives in hope........... :^)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Clearin' Clutter

I suppose that while piles of product in process probably don't really qualify as clutter, until they are put onto the shelves ready to be sold clutter is actually what they are.

So it was with a great deal of satisfaction I surveyed these piles of scarves, all of them woven since the end of September, ready to be wet finished. I even did the fringe twisting on the 32 scarves in the background myself - a job I usually hire out. But deadlines were looming, my fringe twisting elf moved away and I was trepidatious about shipping them to her and getting them back in time for One of a Kind next week. Not to mention the extra expense of shipping.

Unfortunately after I'd finished patting myself on the back for getting all that twisting done, I found another bucket with four shawls and 8 rayon chenille scarves, also needing fringe twisting. So instead of clearing the table off (I do the twisting on the table so I can sort-of watch tv while I'm doing it) it is now more cluttered than ever because the shawls are nearly 4 times the width of the scarves. Oh well. Only four of them. I doubt I'll get very much of that done before we leave on Tuesday for OOAK, but at least they are now in the system, so to speak, and ought to be done before the end of the year.

In the meantime the AVL sits nekkid, but I'm dressing the small loom with one of the last 8 painted scarf warps. These ones are Tencel and Bamboo and should not be nearly so tangled so I'm hoping to get as many of those woven off as I can by the end of the year, too. I think I counted 8 warps - should be able to weave those off without too much trouble. The twisting? That might take a little longer. :}

Year end is looming - a good time to finish some things that have been cluttering up my studio, store room and thinking.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Book Review

I'm a hunter. I hunt weekly at the public library for good authors. In the case of Laurel Corona, she found me - via this blog. Who knew that sharing my musings with the world would bring me a new story teller!

I love stories well told. I love it when authors manage to craft words into an emotion, trigger a memory, or bring a greater understanding of the human condition. I especially love it when they set their stories in a culture that may be familiar - or unfamiliar - and mix in a dollop of what it means to be human, to be creative.

After reading Penelope's Daughter a few months ago I checked the local library for Corona's The Four Seasons. They didn't have it but were willing to bring it in on inter-library loan. The local library is pretty good about buying new books, but it's December and their book buying budget for the year is about used up and since this is an older title, they didn't want to purchase it for their collection. :(

The story takes place in Vivaldi's Vienna beginning in the late 1600's into the early 1700's. A great deal of the story line embraces the music of the time in a way that makes me want to listen to Vivaldi's music. I'm not well educated about classical music - most of my knowledge about music comes from accordian lessons, then choir and then ballet. My listening preferences are generally rock music (the rhythm is great to weave to!), some folk, some classical jazz - pretty eclectic, really - but not a lot of classical music.

So for this story to make me want to listen to Vivaldi is saying a lot.

I'm going to quote two passages from The Four Seasons just to give a flavour of the power of Corona's observations and wordsmithing:

The end of the motet began with slow, melancholic notes on the low strings of Maddalena's violin, accompanied by a cello and a delicate pizzicato on the other strings. "Gloria Patri, et Filio..." Chiaretta began. When they reached the next words of the doxology, "et Spiritui Sancto" she hung on to the last note, allowing Maddalena to pick up the beginning of the melody before her voice fell off. Then, when Maddalena reached the same point, she held her last note while Chiaretta picked the melody up again in the same fashion, making transfer after seamless transfer between voice and violin, over, under, around, like fabric woven by an invisible hand. Chiaretta's voice climbed higher, and Maddalena went with her like an echo. Then they were together again, finishing in unison, their music rising and falling like the sound of God breathing.

A couple of pages later:

"Et Jesum benedictum," Chiaretta began, wrapping her arms around herself as she melted into the beauty of the simple tune. "O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria." The most sincere of love songs to the Virgin Mary filled the chapel, though it felt no louder than a whisper, and at the end the music simply evaporated.

Chiaretta felt drops of perspiration making their way into the small of her back as she opened her eyes. The fading last note of a composition always sucked something out of the air in the chapel, creating a momentary vacuum before the music was entirely gone and the ordinary world restored. But this time that void in sound was not there. Rising up from the floor of the chapel was not the sound of shuffling feet, clearing throats, or murmured exchanges of approval in a place where applause was not allowed. She looked through the grille and saw the entire congregration on its feet clapping.

Maddalena came up and put her arms around her sister. "You were perfect," she said. "Look at them!"

"So were you," Chiaretta said, her voice hoarse with emotion. Together they left the balcony while the audience, having recovered its decorum, watched in silence as their silhouettes disappeared.

If you don't know a lot about music it doesn't really matter. There is a glossary in the back of the book but the context explains enough (and perhaps I know enough about music terms to begin with) that the story flows in and around the musical terminology. And for us fibre fanatics, Maddelana is also a lacemaker so lots of references to lace. :)

The really good news is that I won't have to wait long for the next book - Finding Emilie will be on the book stands next spring. And Laurel Corona is well along the path of her next book. I shall look forward to both with great anticipation.