Saturday, December 31, 2011
Since the Big Project is about choosing yarns appropriate for the final purpose of the cloth I decided that fabric samples alone were not going to be enough, that I would also have to include samples of the yarn used as well.
The question then became how to efficiently handle making lots of little bundles of yarn. The obvious choice is to staple the bundles to the pages. Yes, I could drill holes and lark's head them through the holes. Anyone want to volunteer to spend the hundreds of hours that would take? Anyone want to pay someone to do that? Didn't think so. :D So, I will staple the bundles and those who want to lark's head instead are welcome to make that change. I know of several people who pulled the staples from the samples in Magic and sewed them to the pages instead. Makes perfect sense, especially if you live in a humid climate, but if I'd done that the book would have been over $1000, not the price I actually charged! I ruled out glue because glue eventually dries out and then the samples fall off the pages.
Since the sectional beam was used to dress the loom I left the spools used on the rack. Using one of my 6" wooden rulers as a guide I am tieing a knot in the end, then a knot every 6" or so. I'm doing this in groups of 5 knots. More than that and the length of 'string' becomes cumbersome to handle. Once I've got all 30 groups done I'll cut them apart. Then when I staple the samples to the page I'll also have all the little bundles ready to staple as well.
A 6" sample of the yarn might be a bit generous but yarn is cheap (relatively speaking) and I wanted people to get a good sample they could examine and even deconstruct if they wanted in order to better understand the properties of the yarn being used.
The baby blanket samples are in the washing machine and the first batch are just now ready to go into the dryer. Tomorrow I'll press those along with the place mats and tea towels I've managed to hem. It feels good to see some real progress being made.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
I hesitated to do the Big Project Reveal so soon but have made sufficient progress that I feel as though it is well on the way.
The first two samples have turned out the way I wanted them to, #3 is on its way to reaching material form (pun intended!) and #4 is actually further along in the design process so may get bumped up the queue.
So what is the topic? This project grew out of the Workshop in a Box turned lecture/seminar/workshop called A Good Yarn. What I am doing is taking a variety of fairly commonly available cotton yarns and designing projects for which I think they are particularly suited. The text pages will talk about the specific characteristics of cotton fibre/yarn with the aim of helping people who want to know these sorts of things choose appropriate yarns for their cloth. Fibre geeks I suppose I could call us. :^)
I brought the stand for the electric stapler home the other day and cleared out a corner for it to live in. Not entirely clear - the table still needs to be cleaned off and the buckets of bobbin lace - although they may wind up living under the stand! (Doug has just returned with the stapler and set it up immediately so that is good to go.) As soon as I cut the finished #1 samples apart I can start stapling.
The format for this publication will be very similar to Magic in the Water. The samples will be stapled to card stock but this time I'll also include samples of the yarn used. Drafts are primarily for 4 shafts, although I may include a couple of 8 shaft drafts.
The pages will be printed via a laser printer (I think - I still have to explore actual options). There will be no binder, partly to keep the cost of publication down, but also to reduce the shipping cost. Most people can get their hands on a 3 ring binder, after all. And as someone from Europe pointed out, their standard paper size and ring configuration is different than in N. America. The sample pages are already drilled for the N. American standard so they will come with that format.
I am making 150 copies (give or take) so if you want to be first in line, let me know. (email laura at laurafry dot com) I'm taking names of people who are interested and will contact them first. Price is still ball parked at between $50 and $60, depending on cost of printing. For this you will receive 10 projects illustrated with before and after samples of the cloth, draft and wet finishing info. (Well, I could hardly leave that out, right???)
With fewer and fewer guilds including samples in their newsletters and the cost of producing a publication with actual samples in, I'm hoping there will be enough interest to carry on with several more topics (potentially: silk, linen, the rayons)
Please let your friends know. 150 copies is all there will be - first come, first served!
Currently reading Inheritance by Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
None of these textiles were woven with a floating selvedge or temple. In my experience - depending on yarn size - a 3 or even 5 thread float at the selvedge is not a problem.
Rather than worry about a textile having a plain weave selvedge I would far rather see weavers focusing on being consistent. Learning how to hold and throw their shuttles well. Learning how to advance and re-tension their warps. Learning how to beam their warps so that they go on under consistent tension. Learning how to wet finish their cloth. Learning fibre characteristics so that they can make appropriate choices for their textiles. Learning at least enough theory to make changes to the project notes found in publications - or recognize when there is a mistake in the printed format.
But none of that is necessary if the weaver is enjoying what they are doing and are happy with their results. If they aren't, then perhaps they need to dig a little deeper and learn more....
Speaking of which, there are now 7 students enrolled in the John C. Campbell Folk School class in March. I'll take up to 12. It also looks like the workshop in Durham is a go with a few more empty spots. Not sure about Sarasota or Asheville.
Currently reading The Midsummer Crown by Kate Sedley
Sunday, December 25, 2011
12 sheep a baa-ing
11 shearers shearing
10 carders carding
9 spinners spinning
8 dyers dyeing
7 winders winding
6 weavers weaving
5 golden fleece....
4 empty looms
2 bobbins full
And a warping board with a new warp!
To all my fibre friends - I wish you the very best for the holiday and the coming year - may your looms never be empty, your stash always full and your mistakes all fixable.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
I'm really quite pleased with the baby blanket/big project fabric. When I want to do a large diamond, I use a herringbone threading/treadling sequence rather than an extended point twill. What happens when you reverse the twill direction on an 'ordinary' point twill is that the outside warp ends fall out of the woven cloth. If the distance is only 3 picks it's not a big deal, but when you want to do a large goose eye of an inch or more, it's a problem.
So, rather than do an extended point twill I use a draft such as:
(A little preview of what will be included in the Big Project - a little present for the holiday!)
As for the sample for the workshop, I'm not happy with the spacing of the colcolastic so tomorrow I'll cut the header out and resley.
Friday, December 23, 2011
I scored a box of colcolastic yarn this week. I've been looking for a supply for a while so it was great to receive the box so I can add it into my workshop. The really nice thing about the colcolastic is that it is lycra with cotton and it comes in colours unlike the wool/lycra I've been using. It's also strong enough to be used for warp without too much trouble, While I did use the wool/lycra as warp myself, it was a singles yarn so I didn't like to put it into the warp for workshops.
So, while the pirn winder chugged out pretty much perfect pirns, I wound a warp to test drive for the workshop in March. It's ready to be rough sleyed and put into the loom. Again - tomorrow.
Currently reading Three Day City by Margaret Maron
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Normally when I sit down to blog I know pretty much exactly what I'm going to say. Not today. Today my thoughts have been flitting through my brain like squirrels, here, there, everywhere.
Today started out quite normally - for what passes for normal around here lately. But then a flurry of things happened and I totally lost my focus.
The good news is that I got in to the doctor's office early afternoon. He agreed with my diagnosis and I came home with 'magic bullets' which will hopefully finally once and for all, kill the bug that's been bugging me, off. It seems to me that the 'cold' I had in November wasn't an ordinary cold and it never really left - just changed locations from my lungs to my sinus'.
Plus I got the lab results showing that I do actually have some nutritional 'gaps' - quite a few, in fact, 3 of which have 'fatigue' listed as their primary symptom. I'll have to wait for the new year to hear the treatment plan but I'm feeling as though I am on the right track and that I really will start the new year much healthier than I've been for a rather long time.
We settled our Christmas Day activity - dinner out at 4 pm and I'll help mom with her Christmas letter and cards tomorrow. Since she's not heard anything about surgery we are assuming that it won't happen now until the new year.
And I think (I hope!) I've got a good enough photo of the roses on her wall. I'll go tomorrow and make arrangements for an enlargement. It might not be as large as the original, but I don't think mom will mind too much.
Once all that was done I stared at my pile of paperwork and decided that it could wait another day or two. With the holidays upon us I don't think people are too worried about hearing back from me. I only have one thing that's critical and I'll see about working on it after dinner. Who knows, once one thing is done I might just steam roller through the rest.
Or maybe I'll weave some more. The first 4 mats are done which means that this 9 yard warp is about 1/3 woven. Tomorrow I'll number crunch for the next Big Project warp and maybe get that beamed, too. Or maybe Wednesday as it may take a couple of hours to deal with mom's cards. I'll see how the day goes.
Currently reading Season of Darkness by Maureen Jennings - the first volume in a trilogy set in England during the 1940's. The tv show Murdoch Mysteries is based on her original mystery series set in Toronto in the late 1800's.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
I won't say that the scarf is done as it still needs to be hemmed, but here it is after wet finishing.
Although southern guilds aren't keen to have wool in the Magic workshop - they have very little call or use for wool - a little bit used to create shrinkage differential or 'collapse' effects might be tempting. :)
With only one scarf (and a towel) in the washing machine, fulling didn't really begin to happen by the end of the 4 minute wash cycle with hot water (and our water is very hot as we keep the water heater turned up quite high just for my wet finishing), the regular cycle agitation and spin.
When I took the scarf out of the machine I wetted it out thoroughly and tossed both it and the towel into the dryer for about 30 minutes, checked on it a couple of times and took it out still damp after it had reached the degree of 'collapse' I thought would work well in a generous sized scarf. The length is a bit longer than antiticpated (remember too long can be made 'right') but some people like very long scarves. Since this is primarily a teaching sample, not a prototype for production, I'll hem it as it is and call it 'done'.
Currently reading A Good Hanging - a collection of short stories by Ian Rankin. Not sure how I missed this title as I thought I'd read everything he'd written but it will do until his next title becomes available.
If there is one bit of advice I would love to give to every new weaver it is this: Pay Attention!
New weavers often get frustrated with their results - the cloth coming off their looms isn't 'perfect' and they don't know why. Rather than sit down and analyze what they are doing and change it, they get fed up.
As an 'old time' weaver who started weaving long before the internet, my first inclination is always to head for my books for assistance when I run into a problem. I was incredibly fortunate in that I had an actual teacher who was able to show me things, but not everyone was that lucky. Frankly I can't imagine learning how to weave from a book, or even a video for that matter. But I digress.
Once I got the basics from my real live teacher I spent many months studying what I was doing and the results I was getting. I did not expect to learn everything about weaving in a weekend. Somehow I knew that learning to weave was like getting to the heart of an onion - it was going to take the peeling back of many many layers until I became proficient.
Ultimately the adage that sums it up best for me is the one that says: If you keep doing what you've been doing you'll keep getting what you've been getting.
Unfortunately if you've been doing a physical activity for a long time, change isn't done at a snap of the fingers - there is muscle memory to be erased and a new position or motion to be repeated until it becomes the new 'default' mode.
But in order to decide if you need to change something, you need to pay attention. Are you physically uncomfortable? Maybe you need to sit at a different height or a different distance from the edge of the bench. Maybe you need a different seat altogether - an adjustable office chair, a large ball, a tall barstool might fit your body and loom better.
Threading killing your back? Maybe you need to remove the breast beam (if dressing the loom back to front). Maybe you need to raise the shafts. (I found a shoe box raised the shafts on a Baby Wolf to the point where I wasn't killing my neck to thread the loom.)
Threading takes forever? Maybe you need to use a different method of threading. Yes, there is more than one way to thread the loom and more than one way to hold the hook.
Not happy with the way your cloth is turning out? Maybe you are not making the best choices in your yarn selection in terms of fibres or colours. Maybe you need to learn how to wet finish differently to get different results.
Before you can improve, though, you need to pay attention.
And don't forget my You Tube channel.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Again, the bottom bit is woven with the wool as weft. The results are interesting but not 'collapse'. The top bit is with the Tencel as weft and voila! Collapse!
After serging the ends I tossed the sample into the hottest water my hands could stand, then balled it up and rolled it vigorously as though I were making a large meatball (if that makes sense - it's the only analogy I could come up with).
As it cooled, I hotted it up again, several times. This is the result of around 3 minutes of 'rolling'.
The Tencel shed some fugitive dye but it doesn't look like the wool picked any of it up - although it's hard to tell, especially in the part where the Tencel is the weft.
I decided to hem the scarf as any fringe is going to look really odd with the wool fulling and the Tencel not.
I also calculated how much dimensional loss (approximately) and worked out that I should weave somewhere between 90 and 100" for a scarf. I'll probably do 108 to allow for hems. Besides, too long is easy to fix (especially when the 'finish' will be hems on the ends) while too short simply can't be fixed at all.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Although I've worked with 'collapse' weaves and shrinkage differential quite a bit, ultimately every time you change yarns you have to sample. If you don't you risk losing the entire project.
So even though I know from previous sampling that the white yarn (Henry's Attic Pony Worsted) fulls very well I've not actually combined it with Tencel before so while I suspect I'm going to get some sort of effect from fulling the wool, there are no guarantees I'll get the effect I'm actually going after.
I started with a combination set of 15 for the wool and 20 for the Tencel and my first sample is plain weave.
While plain weave will have to be fulled much more energetically than a twill structure, I wanted the best visual blending of the colours of the two different yarns. The reason I'm using white is because I don't have any dyed and I've no time to do any.
While I suspect I'm going to get the most fulling with the wool weft, sometimes you can be surprised so I wove about 6" with wool weft and about 8" with Tencel. Tomorrow I'll beat the sample up good and see what happens. If it works I've got enough warp on the loom to weave a scarf. If it doesn't I'll be changing the parameters and weaving more samples. None of it will go to waste as the samples will become teaching examples. ;)
Currently reading Falling Backwards by Jann Arden
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
However I did finally flog myself to the studio and got a sample warp for the Durham NC workshop wound and rough sleyed. By the time I finished that it was nearing 5 pm and I was too tired to beam it. But that's the thing about weaving - it is very patient and will wait until you get a round tuit.
The workshop for Durham is Magic in the Water part II which focuses more on shrinkage differential effects. They don't want a lot of wool but I will include a couple just so they can gain experience with fulling. I had to contact my supplier to make sure she was still carrying the wool yarn. As soon as I got confirmation I was able to continue with this particular combination.
We are now nearly half way through December and I will have to have the warps for Durham ready very soon after the holiday so it's time to review the workshop and get everything ready. I also need to review the one day workshop A Good Yarn. I realized in Quebec that the handouts rather desperately needed editing.
And I got some good news today. I had been labouring under the impression that my maintenance treatments would take place every 3 months (what part of Oct. 14 to Dec. 14 equaled 3 months I don't know) but that means the 3rd treatment is not in the middle of the March 'tour' after all, but during February.
I also realized that I get back to Seattle the Sunday before the Seattle guild meeting on the Thursday of that week. I had planned to stay a couple of days with my friend so I may just ask if she minds if I stay a couple extra days to attend the meeting and leave the following day. Since I'm gone more than 3 weeks (one day over!) I have to buy extra travel medical insurance anyway so I might as well buy an extra week and stay for a visit?
Currently reading Gently by the Shore by Alan Hunter - somehow I managed to come home from the library today with even more books than I returned to them - I'll look forward to at least 3 hours of reading at the clinic tomorrow.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Finally got the first sample warp off the loom today and set it up for cutting into samples. I'm not entirely sure how much warp was left when I began weaving them, but if my math is correct (always a moot point!) there should have been exactly enough to do the samples (before and after finishing) for the first sample.
However many samples I wind up with will be my 'print run'. How's that for flexibility? So, before I set up the loom for the next sample I need to cut up the loom state samples and see how many there will be. No point doing extra samples if they aren't needed - that's just plain wasteful. On the other hand, a few extra are nice just in case of oopsies.
Since this warp didn't start out to be samples it's going to be a bit of a challenge to cut up. If I'd been clearer headed I'd have added 3 coloured yarns to the warp to act as cut lines but I didn't think of it. In order to help me cut the vertical lines, then, I put a piece of masking tape down on the table and marked off on it where the cut lines should be. The horizontal cut lines aren't as obvious as I'd like, either, but if I'm careful I ought to be able to mark the cut lines and then cut without too much difficulty.
Needless to say 3M is going to be benefitting from this project as I'll need miles of tape again. Sure wish I'd bought shares when I first started weaving!
The red 'thing' on the right is my Chicakee cutter (electric rotary cutter). I have to get Doug to clean all the blades - it looks like he never found that round tuit after my last bout of sample cutting several years ago. Hopefully he can do that tonight after his staff party. They never go very late - the store opens again tomorrow at 7 am, although thankfully he doesn't start until noon.
The next task will be to clear out space in the studio for the electric stapler. I have a corner I think I can fit it into if I shift a bunch of boxes currently living there.
While I'm doing those things I also need to redesign a couple of the warps for the workshop Magic in the Water part II, for Durham, NC which focuses on shrinkage differential effects. Those will go onto the Fanny.
Next week is going to be a bit - um - scattered, I suppose - as I go in for #2 of the maintenance treatments so I'll spend time at the lab on Tuesday and several hours at the clinic on Wednesday. It's also getting close to Christmas so there are some social events I plan on attending. Not likely to be much weaving going on, at least until I can one or other of the looms dressed.
With 10 samples scheduled for the Big Project and one already woven, things are looking like they are well in hand. :) I received the yarn for the next two warps last week. I'll be ordering the rest of the yarn next week as my supplier usually closes shop for a couple of weeks in January.
Currently reading - 3 of the George Gently series by Alan Hunter
Friday, December 9, 2011
But life, as they say, intervened and she never managed to pursue art the way she would have liked.
Her creativity has taken many forms - cooking, baking, knitting, sewing, stitchery, rug hooking, flower arranging and eventually she took up quilting which she still does. But she never lost that appreciation for, and drive to do herself, drawing and painting.
After my father died she re-did the master bedroom, buying white French Provincial furniture and painting the walls. On the wall at the foot of the bed she painted these large bright cheerful roses directly onto the wall.
When it came time to re-paint the bedroom a number of years later she talked to Doug and he installed a frame around the painting so she could continue to enjoy the roses she had painted. She can no longer do any painting or drawing due to arthritis and shaky hands.
Now mom has moved out of the house and she misses her roses. Doug is hoping that he can cut the wall board out of the wall (the room is finished with a product called donacona - I'm not sure how that is spelled, but it was a common finish before sheet rock became the standard for walls). He says it is still available and he should be able to just fill the hole in the wall and repaint.
But just in case it all goes horribly awry, he took a photo of the roses today and I'll find out how much it will cost to make a photographic poster.
We are still waiting to hear when she will have her surgery - it's been dragging on longer than they estimated so we are hoping that it will happen soon. She is getting a bit antsy that the surgery will happen at Christmas but I told her that if that is the case her Christmas present this year will be a new heart valve. :)
Reading The Pirate King by Laurie R. King (finished this morning and started Shatner Rules by William Shatner)
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I got online and googled and ended up at your video. All I can say is thank you! I went back to the loom and practiced keeping my hands off the edges and just throwing the shuttle and keeping it above the beater bar and away from my body. What a difference!
It really warms my heart to get messages like this. I truly hate to see people struggling with the techniques of the craft. Most often they don't even know there might be a 'better' way than what they are doing. When you are self-taught, you do the best you can, not knowing any different.
Recently I saw someone demonstrating weaving. She was obviously a very talented weaver from the work on display but....she was sitting way too low. I wanted so badly to go over to her and explain that she needed to have her bench higher so that she didn't have to hunch her shoulders in order to throw the shuttle.
But - and this is a big but - I have done this before and been rebuffed. Some people have actually gotten angry about my trying to help them. :(
And so I think long and hard now about trying to offer my help to others. Much better to just post videos to the internet and blog. That way people who want to know more can hopefully find what they need and I'm not offending someone who doesn't realize that what they are doing is going to be harmful to them down the road and risk offending them by offering to help.
The benefits to working more efficiently are that you get more done with less effort, you do less harm to your body (which will come back to haunt you as you get older - ask me how I know!) and ultimately the quality of your textiles will be enhanced as you work more consistently.
I am really happy to be doing more workshops about issues of efficiency. When I first started beating my drum about working more efficiently/ergonomically there was a certain level of hositility from some people. Ultimately it is up to each person to decide if they are happy with their results and whether or not they feel the need to change.
The next opportunity for people to take a really indepth workshop is at John C. Campbel Folk School in NC in March next year. The class is starting to fill - and it's a great environment - a real creative retreat. I'll also be doing a shorter version for the Sarasota guild in Florida, just prior to JCC. Then in 2013 I've been contracted (again) to do a short version for NEWS.
And of course, people can come here to my studio for a 3-5 day weaving camp experience. Maybe during the Cold Snap Music Festival in February? ;^)
Monday, December 5, 2011
Writing about being in the business of designing, making and selling hand woven textiles has brought up many memories as I wander down memory lane, and not all of them are pleasant. Let's face it, in order to be a person who sells their own designs in a field as competitive as that of textiles requires a huge amount of ego - and humility.
What has been a recurring theme over the years is that of making a profit. So many people think that 'profit' is a four letter word. For some reason, because we enjoy what we do, we aren't supposed to make any money (i.e. a profit on what we sell). We are supposed to be content to get our materials cost back and a little extra to buy more materials. We somehow don't deserve to make a profit because we are supposed to be satisfied with the enjoyment we have experienced during the making of our cloth.
This attitude was challenged at a meeting I attended of a craft co-op. Why were we not supposed to earn a respectable income, the questioner asked. Do lawyers and doctors not enjoy what they do? And yet everyone knows they have to earn a respectable wage.
But the myth of the starving artist persists, and often it is the artist (or artisan) who promotes this myth by not asking enough for their products. They discount their time. They ignore the overhead expenses involved in being in business. They wave these things away with the comment that they just do it because they enjoy it.
If we don't respect ourselves, why should anyone else respect what we do?
At one craft fair a man came by and leaning on my booth (never a good idea - a booth is not meant to be leaned on!) rather presumptuously told me that he was going to buy 14 placemats and only pay $90. I looked at him and said "I don't think so." (At the time my mats were retailing for $8.50 a piece)
His jaw dropped and he sputtered "But I'm going to buy fourteen mats!"
"Well" I replied, "fourteen mats doesn't equal $90."
"But, but, I'm going to buy FOURTEEN of them!"
"You know" I said "a lady came in yesterday and bought 14 mats and 14 napkins and she didn't get a discount. I don't think it would be fair to her to give you one."
"Well, I can't afford to pay full price for your mats!"
I don't remember what I said in return, probably something along the lines of "I'm sorry" but today my response to this sort of interaction is a smile and "I do understand about restricted budgets."
My ego was offended at the manner in which he approached me and the attitude that I would consider giving a perfect stranger a discount just because he assumed he'd get one. I also knew that my mats would sell elsewhere for full price so why should I give my time away to him?
But another part of me also knows that no show is guaranteed to be successful. The public will vote on the quality of your designs and craftsmanship with their dollars so I try very hard to not have expectations of sell out shows but to be grateful for whatever sales I have.
My ego also appreciates the positive comments that the public proffer, but ultimately there are no calories in compliments so I don't let them go to my head. If I'm at a show where all I hear is "oh you have such nice scarves" but the sales are few I try very hard to not let myself get depressed - if my work is so nice why isn't anyone buying it? - because it is precisely the answer to that question that I need to find. Doing a show where the sales are not good keeps me humble and keeps me looking for newer, better designs.
And I try not to brag when I've had a good sale because the next one could be a bust.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Recently I met someone who is involved in the Cold Snap Music Festival and she mentioned that she was looking for donations of warm winter gear for some of the musicians who come to town unprepared for the sometimes rather cold weather that we can get. I offered to send some of my creative fidgeting her way.
But I wasn't really happy with my usual knitting which is okay but not terribly inspired. I rummaged in my storage area and found 3 skeins of hand painted wool boucle' - all various shades of blues/purples - and decided to knit these instead.
The purple-ish one is more blue in real life. I cast on 50 stitches and just knit from one end to the other - again nothing terribly inspired - just let the yarn itself be the focus. One scarf is done and the second is nearing completion. I'm hoping to get all three done before Christmas and drop them off for the festival. Then I'll go back to my usual bundled weaving yarns. I'm sure I can get a few more scarves knitted for donation to the Salvation Army this winter. St. Vincent de Paul got a bagful the end of October.
And I'll have worked on stash busting some more.
Currently reading The Law of Angels by Cassandra Clark
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
One of the things weavers new to selling their work don't understand at first is the aspect of marketing/selling and how much time winds up in the details of getting their textiles ready for sale and then actually offering them for sale to the public.
It is legally required in Canada and the US (and I assume other countries) that textiles be labelled with fibre content and care. In Canada, household textiles and fashion accessories can be labelled with a simple hang tag. Garments must have 'permanent' labels (with permanent defined as 10 cleanings or launderings).
It is one reason why I don't make garments - I don't want to have to deal with the issue of permanent labels. To buy commerically made labels generally means an order of at least 100, more usually more than that in order to get a decent price and since I often change the yarns I use, I'd be constantly running into the problem of changing fibre content.
Getting the textiles labelled takes time. The system I now use is that of a paper hang tag with my name, logo, a little marketing promotion on the front with a small hote drilled in the top of the tag. On the back I apply a label with general washing instructions and then hand write in the fibre content as required. Once the labels are ready I use a stem gun with 1 inch stems to attach the labels to the textile. Sometimes I price them at the same time, sometimes I leave the pricing for later.
This is just one of the unseen - and largely unpaid - jobs that newbies to selling don't take into consideration in their pricing formula.
Most new sellers come up with a price that will cover the cost of their materials with maybe a little extra for their time to make the cloth but they don't cover things like overhead (all the expenses that continue regardless of whether or not one is actually making something), and the myriad expenses involved in marketing.
The problem with marketing is that largely it is more expenditure of time rather than money, although money can also be spent - the aforementioned tags/labels, booth fees, travelling to and from shows, website fees when selling on line, banking fees (including Paypal, Art Fire, etsy, eBay fees) and so on and so forth. It is these expenses that get covered in the retail mark up portion of one's price calculation.
If the weaver does not have a retail mark up in their formula, then they will be working for nothing, or else working at a loss as those expenses are not covered except for coming out of the weaver's pocket.
From time to time people ask me to submit articles for guild newsletters on the business of selling. From time to time I give seminars - usually discussing pricing issues. I'm wondering if people would be interested in a small publication geared toward business issues of selling weaving......?
(Yes, that's a handwoven tablecloth on my table - Swedish Snowflake, woven double width in order to get a cloth wide enough to cover my table properly. And yes, it was a once in a lifetime project, never to be repeated!)
Sunday, November 27, 2011
...is sometimes a good thing.
Got some pressing done today and as it's a fairly mindless task pressing is, my mind tends to wander. With the Big Project sort of dominating my thought processes I was worrying away at the logistics of getting everything done - text written, diagrams to include, samples to be woven and so on. And of course the assembling of the sample pages and text pages.
For Magic I had my brother's basement rec room. I don't have that option for this project. Nor will I have my mom's basement as we are hoping hard that her house will sell quickly.
One option is to re-organize the annex and set up an assembly station there. Which means that I'm going to have to hang on to the annex for a while longer - first to press the samples (so much easier to do on the big press, even though all of the samples for Magic were done on the small flat bed press), and then to assemble the pages.
As I was thinking about all of those things, including the samples I want to include, it suddenly occurred to me that the current warp on the AVL pefectly fits the parameters of one of the samples I want to do. Even better, there is just about exactly enough warp left to actually weave that sample! And I had been fretting about not having gotten more of this warp woven by now. :}
So tomorrow, instead of carrying on with the towels I had planned - I can always make more towels later, right? - I will redesign the treadling to weave the samples and begin weaving those.
Wow! Progress on the Big Project before December! Maybe I can make the May deadline for the Alberta conference after all????
Currently reading Brute Strength by Susan Conant
Friday, November 25, 2011
Today I cut off what I've woven so far on the beige towel warp. Considering I've been sick with a cold, progress is...satisfactory. I'm trying very hard to not get on my own case for having done 'only' this much.
I have, after all, done a bunch of administrivia and cleared a lot of the paperwork I'd been procrastinating over off my desk. :)
Today I mailed the contract for HWSDA next May. Only one seminar, but since I don't know for sure if Doug will be able to come with me and I'll have a vendor booth I figured I'd better not apply to do more. The call for instructors for Mid-West 2013 also came through today but as it's the same week as ANWG and I've already applied there, I can't apply to Mid-West, too. Another time perhaps. Of course there's no guarantee I'll get to teach at ANWG, but it would be too embarassing to get accepted at both and have to turn one of them down. :(
One of my jobs in the next little while is to review and update my workshop topics. I already know I have to update Magic in the Water part II so I've pulled some yarns for a new warp for that workshop. I'll weave the sample as soon as I get the towel warp done. I need to order more yarns for that, too, so I'm going to try to get all the yarn orders done at once. I have to watch my budget, too!
I've also been thinking that I ought to move up publication date for the sample packet to co-incide with HWSDA. Unfortunately my energy levels still aren't great so I haven't done much about that - yet. Instead I set out a jigsaw puzzle and I've been vegging fiddling with bits of coloured cardboard. But I am hoping that my energy will start to come back now that I'm pretty much over my cold.
A dozen towels are in the washing machine and I'll go press them on Sunday along with the rest of the place mats I finished hemming and whatever else I can manage to get ready by then. These towels are particularly exciting because they have the Fox Fibre yarn for weft and the colours should develop to a much greater degree than the loom state.
In the meantime it's back to the loom to weave the 2nd towel of the day. We'll see if I manage 3 or not.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
I think this is my favourite of the wefts I've used up until now. Although the weft is actually natural, it looks very bright against the beiges of the warp and puts me in mind of icing sugar on baked goods. :)
One of the blogs I follow is The Textile Blog. Today John posted a very thoughtful post called The Dynamics of Craft. I found it quite interesting.
It is something that people who want to sell their work ought to read and consider, I think.
What do we offer the marketplace that is different or unique from industrially produced goods? Industry produces everything we might require, and then some. I remember reading somewhere that in it's heyday, the British wool (worsted) industry produced enough cloth for every man in England to buy 3 new suits a year. Talk about market saturation!
So what makes what we make worth someone's while to purchase? My tea towels are no better or worse than much of what is readily available in the shops in most any medium to large town. What makes my towels diffferent is my design sensibilities - how I have chosen the yarns and the colours and put them together and the size I choose to make them. I'm not copying someone else's design, I'm making up my own.
My approach to design falls within my personal preferences. Do I prefer symmetry? Assmymetry? Do I prefer blues rather than greens? Do I prefer cotton and linen rather than some other fibre? I have acquired a stash of yarns (a palette, if you will) - yarns that I like in colours that appeal to me. I tend to work from this stash so my textiles will have a certain similarity - a style, some would call it - that makes my textiles pretty recognizable if you are familiar with what I make.
Just like Yves St. Laurent or Coco Chanel had a distinctive 'style', so do most creative people.
From time to time we challenge ourselves to push the boundaries of what we usually do. That is generally when we have our 'failures' - in the vein of "Well, I won't do that again" type of failure. But learning what doesn't work is just as valuable as learning what does work. Sometimes even more valuable. Because in the end if we don't have a failure or two, are we really pushing the boundaries or are we actually continuing to stay in our 'safe' zone?
Market saturation is one spur to trying new and different things - a new item, new colours, new yarns. But we have to be willing to 'fail' in order to succeed.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
There is no secret to what I do. It has taken a lifetime of concentrated study to get to the level of mastery that I have achieved. To quote Jamie and Adam of Mythbusters, I'm what you might call an 'expert'. The difference is that I encourage people to try what I do at home.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The greenish shade in this cloth is actually more blue in real life - I just can't figure out how to adjust the colour in my new camera software. :(
From time to time I will weave for another weaver. Sometimes it is in trade for their services. Sometimes they simply don't have the time to do the weaving themselves. Sometimes they don't have the equipment to execute what they need to have done.
In this instance, it was time that was lacking so I offered to weave a sample for Trish of Indigo Moon using a new-to-her yarn of BFL (Blue Faced Leicester) super wash in a fingering weight (knitting term). The yarn has 400 meters per 100 grams or 430 yards per 3.5 ounces (or just under 2000 yards per pound).
The yarn was engineered for knitting, is a four ply with a fairly tight twist so it's plenty strong enough for warp. Since it is a knitting yarn it has a fair amount of stretch, but not so much that it is difficult to weave. I did have to be careful letting off the tension or too much warp would come forward.
With two colours - Celestial Blue and Divine Purple - I used a Fibonacci sequence to design a stripe. I used 15 epi (I have a 15 dent reed but this could also be woven on a rigid heddle loom using two 7.5 dpi heddles). The picks per inch were around 10 in the loom under tension which relaxed to around 12 ppi afterwards. I didn't so much beat as press the weft into place.
The warp was wound at 3 yards in length and I lashed on to save yarn, hemstitching at the beginning and end to make a short fringe. I wove about 80 inches (under tension) which relaxed to 74" off the loom. The warp was just a hair under 9 inches in width with 132 ends; 8 inches off loom.
After wet finishing (hot water, rinse, rinse, rinse to remove some excess blue dye), it was tossed into the dryer for a few minutes until just damp and given a hard press on low heat.
The measurements were now 70" long by 7.75 inches wide.
The weave structure is plain weave and the cloth has a little bit of crispness but a fairly smooth feel. The cloth shows mild tracking which imo looks quite nice, giving the cloth a little visual texture.
The colours are not completely level so the cloth has an abrash appearance - the slight variation in the colour is not truly variegated as such.
I'll mail the scarf to Trish tomorrow so she'll soon have a woven sample for when she does shows, selling her yarns.
Currently reading Dare to Die by Carolyn Hart
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
While I love being somewhere other than here to teach or learn or sell, sometimes the getting there is more than I can handle.
Planes are delayed - or don't leave at all - causing all sorts of havoc when I generally need 3 or 4 different planes to get me to where I'm going.
I've arrived late - extremely late - like at 2 am with a 7 am wake up call to teach at 9 am - and this on top of a 2 hour time zone difference. I've arrived without luggage, meaning I had to give the guild program in my travelling clothes and no samples to illustrate the presentation. I've even arrived at a completely different airport from the one I was scheduled to arrive at. Without luggage. Again.
When driving, Doug did one season where, after arriving in Vancouver every single road out of the Lower Mainland was either flooded or washed out and he didn't know until the morning of his departure if he could make it to Calgary. He did - dodging washed out bridges and potholes.
One cruel February every single pass through the Canadian Rockies was closed due to avalanches and it was only on the morning of our departure that Hwy 16 was opened. We nearly expired of hypothermia as the temperature dropped to something like -50F in the mountains and the heater in our poor little van simply could not cope.
I've gotten sick from inadvertent exposure to allergens and had to pull myself together to present a coherent lesson or man my booth at a craft fair with a nasty cough/cold when all I really wanted to do was crawl under a table and pull the tablecloth down over me.
And so it has happened with this trip. While my booth was not right next door to booths with scented products, it was close enough that I began to have problems with my allergies - which eventually turned into a nasty cough and cold. Since I wasn't alone on this trip I asked Doug if he would drive me home and do Calgary by himself. Bless his heart, he agreed.
Instead of heading east to Calgary this morning, we turned north and headed home. Doug drove through rain, sleet, a spatter of snow and blowing backwash from big trucks as well as some good driving and things were going well until...about 20 minutes north of Quesnel where we encountered a long line up of traffic, mostly large trucks.
Doug walked to the big truck behind us to find out if the driver had a cb radio and knew what was going on. Apparently a vehicle had had a run in (literally) with a moose and the road would be closed for a couple of hours. We discussed turning back to Quesnel, although there didn't seem to be much point as there isn't really a viable alternative to Hwy 97 - or at least one we were willing to attempt in the dark - with a tight deadline looming.
Fortunately the road was opened sooner than anticipated and we were home only a couple of hours later than planned.
But he will be leaving tomorrow morning heading for Calgary all by himself. I am feeling very bad for ducking out on him - and once more not being at Art Market in person - but the thought of waiting on potential customers feeling like Typhoid Mary just didn't seem very attractive. I think he'll do better without me hacking and coughing in the booth....
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
I have posted the poem In Flanders Fields previously which was the inspiration for the wearing of a poppy in remembrance. As more countries adopt the poppy it might be a good idea if they knew more about the origin of the tradition.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Yesterday was not quite the worst ever day of sales I've had, but it was a very close second. Since this is not an inexpensive show, it was highly distressing. Not that I wasn't getting all sorts of compliments on my work. Compliments were to be had in plenty. But sales? Not so much.
So what do you do when your work is 'rejected'? The very first thing you do not do is get depressed. All too easy a response, believe me!
The first thing to remember is the statistic given in the marketing course I took back in the mid-90's. For every sale there are (on average) 26 non-sales.
The next thing to remember is to read between the lines - so to speak - and analyze exactly what people are saying.
Ok, one of the things they were saying was that my prices were too high. Given the multitude of scarves I'd seen at the mall priced at $15 each last week, I could see that response coming a mile away.
So, ignoring the 'too high' comments, what was the next most common response? "I love your scarves. I wear mine all the time."
Hmm. Okay, they already owned one (or more) of my scarves.
What is the message behind this comment? Very likely the message is that the market here has become saturated. Everyone (or nearly everyone) who wants one of my scarves and who can afford to buy one, has already purchased.
The market for placemats got saturated here years ago - I routinely have people come into the booth saying that the placemats they bought from me 10, 15, 20 years ago still look like new. Today I had a lady come in who was wearing a scarf I wove back in the 1980's. Her comment? "I just wash and wear it, it never wears out!"
There are a million reasons for someone to not buy your product. When the market becomes saturated, it is time to move on - time for me to dream up a new product. Or face more 'rejection' the next time I do this show.