Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Equipment Modifications

Jean asked for more info on the modification to the AVL tension box.  Remember that cutting the top off the reed will weaken it and leave sharp pointy bits that will scratch unwary arms and hands. 

The top photo shows the gate partially open.  Doug made a wire that pivots on the closed side of the box and fits into a hole in the base of the tension box.

This photo shows the gate closed with the wire in the hole in the base.

This photo shows the tension box from the end.  You can see how the tines have shifted and moved at the top but they are still in the correct alignment at the bottom, which is where the yarn travels.  The wire is anchored and swivels around a nut/bolt.  The gate is closed and you should be able to clearly see it near the base of the reed.  Click to biggify.

Finished weaving the warp on the small loom this afternoon.  This photo shows the hem area woven in plain weave with a couple of twill picks to make a cut line so that I don't have to stop and grab another shuttle with a contrasting yarn.  Click the photo to see more clearly.  In this photo I've partially cut the two mats apart.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Round Tuits

three yarns I have used to make 'collapse' fabrics

table runner showing hem in plain weave, body in broken twill

Slowly, slowly energy is returning and I am beginning to deal with things that have needed to be done for some time but for which I never seemed to have a round tuit.

A number of years ago I got some yarn from a mill.  A couple of mills actually.  The single 6 cotton was a mistake shipped by one of the mills to me back in, oh, must be the early 1990's.  Recognizing the potential for collapse weaves in the highly twisted single, I kept one of the cases and returned the two others sent in error.  Fifty pound cases. 

I messed around with the singles 6 cotton and got some nice effects, but you do realize how much 50 pounds is, right?  Yes, I still have lots left!  In a further effort to bust my stash down to some sort of reasonable size, I finally started the cone winder chugging and have been breaking the large mill cones down into more manageable size - about 6 and 3/4 ounces.  That's about 1900 yards per cone.

I also got the rest of the last of the wool/lycra coned off so I have around 8 cones (approx. 6 ounce cones) of that left.  As near as I can remember that's a NM 28 so lots and lots of yardage on those cones, too.  The lycra is 2% of the mix and can be dyed, as I understand it, with the same acid dyes as wool.

Since the lycra is activated by the wet finishing, it is recommended that you weave first, dye later.

Last but not least I have some one pound (nominally) tubes of singles 40 (I think - another mill error) high twist wool.  If you have a copy of Magic in the Water, this is the same yarn as used for the scarves in project 19.

I'll be listing the yarns on my Art Fire Store shortly or you can order from me directly.

On the weaving front, stash busting proceeds there, too.  I have a bunch of wound warps which were intended to be dyed and woven up as scarves but that never did happen.  It took me a while to figure out what to do with them - I can only sell so many white scarves, after all.  :)  On the weekend I took two of the warps, rough sleyed them side by side and dressed the loom with them.  The warp is 22" in the reed and so the placemats will have hems top and botton instead of on the ends, but I don't think that will be a problem.

If they turn out, I'll likely finish the rest of those warps in this manner.  I can sell a lot more 'white' placemats and table runners than I can scarves!  And they will finally be woven up and another box will be gone off my studio floor.

Last but not least, I'd like to thank Syne for the book recommendation of The Sharing Knife series by Lois McMaster Bujold.  For some reason I'd never gotten around to reading Bujold so her work was new to me.  Imagine my delight at all the textile references - and accurate ones, too!  If you like a story that acknowledges the value of textiles to society, you might enjoy this series.  I'm on the 3rd volume now, looking forward to finishing it.  There are four books in this series.  And I'll likely be looking for more of her books now that I've finally gotten a round tuit for that, too.  :^)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wet Finished

cones of Fox Fibre yarn and wet finished towels

Friday evening I finished weaving the beige warp with the Fox Fibre weft and ran the 19 towels through the washer/dryer on Saturday.  Today I went and pressed them.  Over all I'm quite pleased with the results although the colours aren't 'my' colours.  Actually the brown ones would look quite nice in my kitchen with the cork floors.  ;)

The cloth is slightly more weft emphasis on one side, and slightly more warp emphasis on the other.  Personally I like the warp emphasis better so will hem them so that that side is the 'right' side.

My energy is slowly returning and I celebrate each day that it is.  Today I beamed a warp onto the Leclerc Fanny for placemats and table runners.  I'm trying to use up some warps I'd intended to have painted for scarves but that never happened so two warps are wide enough for placemats woven width-ways.  It means hems on the top and bottom of the mat instead of the ends, but I don't think that will matter too much.  And it uses up the warps.  Stash busting continues.

I also got the warp for a guild member wound and will go up to the guild room Tuesday night and get some help extracting the loom from the 'herd' of looms so I can get that warp dressed for Ruth's friendship coverlet.

And last, but not least, I started beaming another tea towel warp, this time in two shades of blue, mixed thoroughly.  The weft for this warp will be a singles 6 cotton with lots of twist energy.  I'll probably do a couple of different treadlings, one in advancing twill, one in waffle weave.  With the twist energy in the weft, the waffle weave ought to pucker up well.

I've used this yarn for collapse effects and it works quite well if given sufficient room to torque.  I have lots of it and have been thinking of coning some off the huge mill cones and offering it for sale.  Perhaps it's time I got a round tuit and did just that.

Currently reading The Sharing Knife, part II by Lois McMaster Bujold - this series has lots of references to spinning and weaving for anyone who enjoys that in a story

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sectional Beaming, pros and cons

Many of the processes and tools involved in weaving are quite specific in their advantages - and disadvantages.  One of these processes is that of beaming sectionally.

This is what a sectional beam looks like.  In this case the sections are one inch (nominal) in width.  Of course the metal staple that divides the sections one from the next takes up some room so the actual width between staples is somewhat less than one inch.   About 5/8" if I remember correctly.

Sectional beams commonly come in one or two inch wide sections.

The advantage to sectional beaming is that one can beam a very long, very wide warp without assistance.  Sectional beaming is helpful for somewhat fine, somewhat fragile threads.  Beaming sectionally is also useful when working with yarns that have twist energy in them.  Since the warp is beamed with tension, there is a great deal of control getting the warp onto the beam with minimal tangles.

But there are a number of disadvantages while using sectional beaming, too.

One of the disadvantages is that you need a yarn package for every end in a section.  For example, if you have a beam with 2 inch sections and you want to dress the loom with 2/20 mercerized cotton at 36 epi, then you will need 72 yarn packages.

This is a Leclerc spool rack.  When I bought it, it would hold 50 yarn packages.  Doug added an additional rail which allows me to beam up to 60 ends at a time.  Generally this is more than enough for my one inch sectional beam.

The yarns are run through a tension box.  This is an AVL tension box which has the great advantage of a swiveling reed at the front which allows me to 'size' the width of the ribbon of yarns going into the section.

Doug modified the box by cutting off the top of the gathering reed and installing a 'gate' that prevents the threads from popping out.  Having no top on the gathering reed means that I can very quickly load it.

He also made extra tensioning dowels so that if I am beaming off the top of the yarn package I can apply addtional tension to the threads so that they go onto the beam very tightly.  When pulling from the side of a tube or spool, generally the weight of the yarn package is a factor and only two dowels are needed to apply appropriate tension.

Another disadvantage is that if you want a striped warp, it is more efficient to design a stripe that fits into the size of your section.  In other words, if your stripe doesn't fit your section, you'll need to remove the yarns and change them in order to get the colours where you want them.

If I want a stripe larger than an inch, I try to make the overall stripe repeat some multiple of 1 inch.  Then I fill all of the sections with the first colour combination, remove the yarn from the tension box and spool rack, then load the next combination and fill that colour and so on until all sections are filled. 

This can be quite a challenge as for example when I wove a tartan that did not fit within a one inch repeat.  Of course each different combination also needs as many yarn packages as required for the size of section that your beam may have.

Fortunately it is possible to beam an ordinary warp onto a sectional beam so there are times when I will do that.  I've got a 'slide' show on my website showing how I do this.  Click on Education then on Warping Valet.  By using the warping valet it's very easy - but you can run the warp over the top beam of the loom, too.  It's a little awkward but can be done.

Ultimately the success of beaming sectionaly is to beam the warp under firm tension.  No warp packing is required - no sticks, no paper.  When the warp is beamed tightly enough the threads cannot cut down into the lower layers.

One hint - if you do not have a tension box with the front swivel you can use Leclerc 'fingers' to guide the threads into the proper section if you have a Leclerc sectional.  If you have a loom other than a Leclerc, it is also possible to use tubing to do this job.  Depending on what sort of dividers you have on your loom you can use a size of tube that fits your dividers.  Apply the tube to one side of the section you want to fill, then bend the tube over to the divider beside it.  Then do the same to the other side of the section.  Unfortunately I don't have photos of this because I don't need to do it. 

Some bad ASCII art:

^    ^
| |_| |

where the ^ represents the tubing going from one divider to the next one beside it and the section to be filled is in the centre.

Currently reading The Sharing Knife (part I) by Lois McMaster Bujold (thanks for the recommendation, Syne!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No Reservations

My oncologist turned into Santa Claus.  When I got to the clinic it was to the news that today was the first treatment of the maintenance protocol.


There are no adverse effects from the monoclonal anti-bodies.  :D

I will get a treatment every 3 months for the next 2 years, but the really rocky part of this journey is over - for now.

Many thanks for all the good wishes and positive thoughts.  I have no doubt they helped!

Next challenge - getting mom through her surgery recovery........

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Dancing (with some reservations)

Happy Dancing!

I am doing the Happy Dance - with a little caution, since I do not yet have all the answers I was looking to get today at the clinic.

The oncologist pronouced my response to treatment as 'excellent'.  He is following up with the BC Cancer Agency today to find out if they will allow the maintenance protocol as a continuation of my treatment.

The prospect of remission increases from two years to six with the maintenance protocol.  He is hoping to have a positive answer by the time I go in to the clinic tomorrow.

Send all positive thoughts to the BCCA!  You can bet I'll be thinking hard at them all day today while I do my happy dance.

And enjoy the video clip.  We all need a little happy dancing in our lives.  :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fox Fibre Towels

green weft begun with small sample showing developed colour

I have totally lost count of how many brown towels I wove but one cone is now empty.  :)  This afternoon I switched to the green which doesn't look like much on the loom, but once the colour developes should look really nice.

My energy finally came back around Friday and I've been managing to weave without too much difficulty.  On Sunday I even managed to weave four towels instead of the two I'd been doing previously, so that felt really good - for a number of reasons.

On Saturday I attended a seminar on chemotherapy and the presenters emphasized that it is really important to get exercise if you can.  Their recommendation was to walk but if I'm going to exercise, I'll weave, thank you.  :)

Since my mood Sunday was pretty bleak, weaving was exactly the right thing to do.  For me weaving is an aerobic activity and the production of endorphins helps elevate mood.  Plus seeing 4 yards more roll  up on the beam was a great mood elevator all by itself.  Exercise also helps reduce blood pressure and mine has been higher than it should be the last few days.  Not sure if the jabs have been spiking it or if it is just the stress of the chemotherapy itself.  Whatever the reason, I am very anxious to complete the treatments so that my body can find equilibrium.

I am done the jabs for this cycle and tomorrow I hope to get some answers i.e. progress report based on the CT scan I had 10 days ago, whether or not I'll be getting the maintenance protocol (if he's got an answer yet) and if the jabs worked so that I can have #7 on Wed.

I have also gotten some contingency plans in place in case I can't weave on the AVL - placemats on the Fanny and a possible warp for the rigid heddle loom.

If nothing else there are still several buckets of shawls to be fringe twisted or knotted, loads of books thanks to a friend who passed several bags full of paperbacks on to me, jigsaw puzzles and naps.

I sort of feel like a marathon runner - I'm 3/4's the way through and the 'wall' is looming.  But like they said at the seminar, the only way out is through.  In other words:

  Thank you Mr. Churchill.

Currently reading Grey by Jon Armstrong

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: Yarn

Ever hear of the genre called 'fashionpunk'?

Me neither.

I stumbled upon this book in the public library.  Naturally I just had to pick it up!

When I consider a new-to-me author I'll read the first page and if it grabs me, I'll grab the book and hie myself to the check out desk.

The very first sentence of the book reads:  I woke early, suffocated by a sweaty and prickling sense of apprehension - exactly the feeling of wool against the skin on a warm day.

The central character is a tailor in the futuristic world of Seattlehama, a city 'woven' around the rim of Mount Ranier, surrounded by acres and acres of what sounds like monoculture crops.  On page 59 he muses:

For years, I had been pure grey.  I assiduously removed all colors from my work, even at the microscopic level.  My yarns were finished in such a way never to refract a tiny rainbow.  My weaves and knits were created so that moire' patterns would not create interference colors.  To white fabrics I added oxygenated films to instantly ameliorate possible stains.  To blacks, I endlessly checked that there were not hidden tints introduced in the twists of the yarns and the mathematical dance of twills.

The world of Tane Cedar is filled with fabrics, woven and knitted, and futuristic technology where cloth is used, not just to clothe people, but to build their world in innovative ways.

This book is not for everyone but if you like science fiction, steam punk, novels by people like William Gibson (Neuromancer), you'll probably find Jon Armstrong's books intriguing.  Although Grey was published first, Yarn is a prequel to Grey so I'm reading it first.  And wondering when Armstrong's next book will be coming out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Weaving Zen

There is nothing quite like weaving when everything is going smoothly.  :)  Today I found myself in harmony with the loom and decided to tape a video clip.  I'd hoped that my left hand would be more visible so that viewers could see how I catch the shuttle between my index and middle finger, then shift my index finger to propel the shuttle back across the web - but there just wasn't enough room between the loom and the wall to get the camera at just the correct distance.  Sorry it didn't work out.

Getting a good weaving rhythm is a confluence of a number of factors.  First the warp has to beamed firmly and evenly so that you get a good clear shed.

Then the bobbins have to be wound well - again with firm tension so that the built up layers can't cut down into the lower layers of yarn.

Holding the shuttle 'underslung' allows it to be caught and thrown in an ergonomic manner.  The shoulders are relaxed and a little bit of a flick of the wrist combined with the push of the index finger can shoot the shuttle across quite a wide web.  In this instance it's not too wide - just 24" in the reed.  This is a width I find quite comfortable to hand throw.  More than 30" wide and I start to feel the strain from having to hold my hands out further from my body.  More than 30" in width I generally switch to the fly shuttle.

You might notice that at a certain point in the cycle my hands are not holding onto the beater at all.  I don't weave with an overhead beater so I'm not sure that this is possible on one of those but on an underslung beater there is a time when it passes the pivot point that it will naturally fall towards the fell or away from it. 

I have a few other video clips on my You Tube channel here where I talk through what I am doing and weave more slowly.

And here is a better view of the cloth:
Here you can see the cut line I weave in on the lower level to aid in separating the towels once they are off the loom.  It's the white line.  One of the advantages of the Compu-Dobby is that I can generate the entire treadling draft and include a blank pick to let me know that the next two picks are to be woven in a constrasting colour for the cut line.

And here is a close up of the cloth.  I threaded the large motif once along each edge of the cloth.  Once the cloth has been wet finished and the brown Fox Fibre yarn has developed the darker colour, the design woven into the cloth should show up much more clearly. 

That, at least, is the plan!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rising to the Challenge

here is the 2/20 merc. cotton warp all beamed and ready to be threaded

brown and green Fox Fibre yarn on cone and small sample soaked in heavy concentration of washing soda and detergent - wow! look at the green!

One of my weaving mentors always said that if we weren't making mistakes we weren't learning.  Her words struck a chord with me and I've never fussed too much about the mistakes I've made. 

Oh sure I get disappointed and exasperated at myself when I make stupid mistakes - those dumb mistakes that we all make when we just don't think through something or forget a lesson from the past.  You know what they say - if you don't learn from history you are doomed to repeat it.

I've done plenty of repeating and I get annoyed with myself when I do.

But I don't ever let the fear of failing keep me from trying something new.  The mistakes we make along the path simply let us know when we are straying from success and allow us to make changes that will bring us closer to the desired results.

And sometimes trying is the only way to find out if that direction is truly the way you want to go.

It was fun working on the baby wraps but what I discovered is that they take a lot more 'engineering' in terms of the sewing than I'm really happy about doing.  And so I think I will return from that interesting detour and go back to the more 'ordinary' things that I've done in the past - tea towels, scarves, shawls and so on.

I have also had to do a lot of thinking about the coming months.  The last two cycles are going to get yet more challenging from everything that I've been told and so it is going to be important to keep stress - good and bad - to a minimum.  Mom's surgery is going to be stressful for her and us as we do our best to help her through her recovery.  And of course there is the upcoming craft fair season to be dealt with.

Since I earn my income from weaving (doing it and teaching it) these shows are a critical part of my income for the year.  While Doug is willing to work the shows, there is still the weaving, wet finishing, tagging and pricing to be done.  I've tried to stay on top of that but a quick riffle through the storage area showed me that not everything is priced.  I will have to start packing things up early in October so that everything is ready for the show season. 

Weavolution, the weaver's social network, is doing something interesting this year.  Called Halloweave, a number of group leaders have issued challenges to people to stretch their wings and dare to try something different.  I'm not participating in any of the challenges (see above about stress) but I'm trying to be supportive of those people who are willing to participate.  You can find out more information on their website here

It doesn't cost anything to join.

Currently reading Home Improvement; undead edition edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunny Sunday

Silk scarves after pressing

Managed to get the pressing done today - 8 silk scarves (whoops, really lost count!), 7 silk gimp shawls, 2 larger shawls and a small rectangle that may become a baby 'blankie'.

This afternoon I met with a lace making friend and we both talked lots and made (a very little) lace.  We're both having some issues with numbness in our hands - different reasons, same affect - so mostly the afternoon was about catching up since our last visit.

Once I got home I ruminated on the next warp some more, decided that the blue really would not fit nicely into the cloth I was seeing in my mind's eye, then realized there was much less of the pale grey than I thought I had and removed that, too.  So the next warp is a mixed blend of the pale and medium sort of beige colours and the sage green.  The warp is mostly the palest beige with the sage green as the least amount.

The weft on these tea towels will be the two darkest of the Fox Fibre colours - 100% green and 100% brown.  The blended colours of the Fox Fibre yarns darkened much more than anticipated so I'm expecting the 100% colours to get even darker yet, relying on the contrast in values to pop the fancy twill up as the design element. 

Since I haven't actually done a sample, I am fully into the 'full sized sample' club on this warp!

But now it's time to go to my friend's across the street for a tutorial on how to give myself the jabs to stimulate white cell growth.  Another milestone on this journey.  :)

Currently reading Wheel of Fate by Kate Sedley

Friday, September 9, 2011

Piling Up

As warned my energy levels are dipping lower and taking longer to come back after each cycle, but I'm officially 3/4's of the way through this challenge and the end is in sight, espcially since there will be no more delays.  I've got the vials from the pharmacy and I begin the injections on Sunday to stimulate the production of white cells.  One or another of my friends (both nurses) will oversee the first time and make sure I'm doing it right.

This week has been stressful but a number of issues have been either dealt with, or at least progress has been made.  My mother's surgery will take place sometime in October, she has a health management team in place, co-incidentally the same team as Doug's step-mother, and they have been great to us knowing everything that has been going on.  Along with all my friends I feel very supported and able to continue on this journey to achieve a positive result.  So many have contacted me to share their success stories - it has meant a lot to hear about them.

While I have not been able to weave nearly as much as previously I have managed to weave a scarf a day most days and the end of the silk warp is also in sight.  It looks like 3 yards left with #9 just begun so I ought to be able to finish that warp off tomorrow.

With the next warp a fairly complex threading it will be a very good idea to get the loom set up again before the next cycle on the 21st.

I've also managed to make a further dent in my fibre stash and have a few more skeins spun up.  There is a little bit of the green/purple pencil roving left so I'm going to try to finish that off tonight and then prepare the skeins for sale and get them mailed on Monday.   The pencil roving has been really nice to spin - I'm thinking I might need to get some more, but the only supplier I know is in WA state. I do, however, have friends there who could likely get some for me.  :)

The first sale of the fall season began today.  I'm hoping that people are going to be open to buying things, but one never knows until the show is done. 

We are enjoying a very tardy bit of 'summer' weather here.  The weather website says the current temperature is 26 C and the a/c has been running this afternoon.  The sunshine is very welcome although the changing colours of the leaves on the trees prevent us from believing it will last very long.

As I look back to mid-February this year has been a mixed bag.  But the hope is that once this challenge is done I will be better than ever and healthy enough to help my mother with her health issues and that we'll both begin the new year in a much better situation.

Speaking of hope, I've learned - this time for real - to take each day as it comes.  To not worry too much about goals or expectations that put demands on me I can't meet.  To stay focused on hope - that things will be better.  That health will be the result.  That there will be many more years of weaving, doing it, teaching it, writing about it. 

After all, it's a beautiful life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Looking Ahead - Cautiously

possible yarns for next warp - tea towels with Fox Fibre weft

possible draft for towels

I think I'm on scarf #7 with a possibility of either 9 or 10 scarves on this warp.  The silk warp went onto the loom at 20 turns (nominally 20 yards) and I've been weaving each scarf about 72" plus the fringes so with loom waste, samples, etc., I'm pretty sure the warp will only give me 9 scarves.

Therefore, it's about time I started thinking, at least tentatively, about the next warp.

I'm finding each cycle is knocking the stuffing out of me a little bit more, just as warned, so I decided to do something a little less challenging than the baby wraps.  Not to mention that early feedback from field tests is indicating that a bit more tweaking needs to be done in terms of construction, so before I invest any more time and materials in making more wraps I want to fine tune them.

One of the things I concentrate on when designing cloth is the function the fabric is to perform.  I've never worn a baby wrap so I have no personal experience of the wear and tear they need to withstand.  I did the best I could with the limited knowledge of wraps that I had but it seems they need to be constructed (and by this I mean the sewing, not the weaving) to be more sturdy than what I did with the first batch.  I've asked for one of the test wraps back so I can apply a couple of options and then give the wrap back to the tester for more feedback.

In the meantime I realized that in spite of weaving dozens of tea towels the last 5 years I have very few left in stock so it seems tea towels are the way to go.  :)  I gave free tea towels away with purchases of Magic and there are not a lot left on the shelf.  I do have half a dozen or so more to hem, but....

Since I have a great deal of Fox Fibre yarn to use up the next warp will be a mixed or blended one (not stripes) of different colours. 

While I do have more 2/20 merc. cotton on hand, the colours are too dark in value for this warp.  If I went with the darkest value colours I feel the tea towels would be too dark to be appealing.  So I'll keep those darker values for baby wraps, if I decide to continue developing that textile.  Actually I'm not entirely sure I'll put that blue in the warp.  It's just dark enough that it might make the cloth look streaky.  Which is one reason why I'm thinking about the next warp now so I can mull over my options. 

If I drop the blue I'll probably increase the green and darker beige.  With such a fancy twill weave structure I don't want visual stripes or streaks, but rather a more blended colour appearance.  Then I'll use the darker value Fox Fibre shades so that there is some contrast between the lighter value warp and the darker value weft so that the weave structure shows as the pattern in the cloth.

Currently reading In A Gilded Cage by Rhys Bowen

Monday, September 5, 2011

One Step At A Time

100% cotton baby wrap with 2/20 merc. cotton and 2/16 natural white weft

Pale green Fox Fibre 'colorganic' weft

Pale brown 'colorganic' organic cotton weft

I finally got the first 3 baby wraps completely finished.  All that's left is to add my hang tag with care instructions.  But they are now listed on my Art Fire store.  Now to see if anyone notices.  :}

I'm not sure how effective Art Fire truly is for selling stuff.  It seems like most of the sales I've made via Art Fire have been through my own marketing via sales lists and promoting my products myself.  But at least it gives customers a venue for seeing my work and paying via a secure site through Paypal.  And it doesn't cost a huge amount - the monthly fees are reasonable.

I don't mind paying a flat fee.  At least I don't feel like I'm being nibbled to death by fees here there and everywhere like on other sales sites.  If I don't list and promote my stuff and I have no sales it's my own fault.  Sometimes life just gets a little overwhelming - like it's been the past 6 months and I just haven't had the time or energy to deal with listing stuff and keeping on top of it all.

The big detraction for selling stuff on line is that colours don't always show 'true'.  Such is the case here.  I have done my best to capture the true colours of the cloth, but it all depends on how each person's monitor displays the colours, too.

I have two more wraps to finish.  I'd hoped to get them pressed today but another crap night means I have very little energy today.  I'm over the worst of the current cycle and things should start to improve again.  And tomorrow I should finalize funding for the injections to stimulate my white cell count, which means that there should be no further delays and I'll be through this particular life challenge by the end of October - or as soon as my immune system recovers.  I had a CT scan on Friday and am hoping for the very best possible news when I go in to the clinic again in two weeks time.

Oh, yes, nearly forgot.  Digital Magic is now ready.  Web Master is just getting the page on my website ready to take orders.  I will be contacting the list of names shortly - just as soon as the Paypal page is set up on my website to take payments.

Step by step - that's all we can do.  :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Perfect or Good?

Turns out some of the 2/30 silk I have on hand has already been used for other projects I guess because several of the colours I'd hoped to use on this warp are insufficient for a scarf.  Oh well.  More yarn to go into the bobbin lace bag.

It seems as though at times people get hung up on the idea of 'perfection'.  That everything that we make must be 'perfect' and if it isn't we feel like a failure.  This sort of attitude is counter productive because as soon as we start feeling like a failure, we can't seem to get beyond that and we don't even try.

So, while I always strive for perfection, I know that I can accept good.  That essentially the tiny 'flaws' that prevent me from labeling my work 'perfect' are oftentimes not even on the horizon of others who view my work. 

In terms of selling my textiles, the biggest question is "will it perform it's function"? 

So, no, these scarves are not exactly perfect, but they are good.  Good enough I can put my label on them and offer them for sale. 

I have brought the best of my knowledge to the loom and I am doing my best to be consistent.  Because if you can't be perfect, be consistent. 

Currently reading The Busy Woman's Guide to Murder by Mary Jane Maffini (comes with organizing tips - just what I need!)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Change of Plans

As I was weaving the first scarf with the tussah silk it occured to me that this yarn would go very well with the 2/20 mercerized cotton for baby wraps.  And since one large cone of yarn takes up less room than a couple of dozen partially filled spools of silk, I'd switch to the 2/30 silk.  And then when I was weaving the white on white scarf, I remembered the rest of my silk stash and discovered not one or two already dyed 2/30 silk yarns, but 6 differently coloured yarns.  Which means that I won't have to do any dyeing after the weaving is done.  Win-win, no?

And stash reduction is stash reduction after all. 

For people interested in how to hem stitich, I have a video clip showing how I do it on my You Tube channel here .

As I was weaving today I got thinking about the admonishment to 'practice, practice, practice'.  While this is good advice, it leaves out something crucial, in my opinion.  It is that element of analytical thought while practicing.  After all if you keep doing what you've always been doing, you will keep getting what you've always been getting.  So it isn't enough to just keep practicing by rote what you have always done, but to be thoughtful about what you are doing and the results you are achieving.  I call it purposeful effort.

Perhaps this comes from my background in dance where the instructor was constantly monitoring and making tiny adjustments to body position, or the field events I was involved in during high school, or the classes in hap ki do and tai chi - all of which reinforced the notion that there was a constant feedback from brain to body and back.  But I am very aware of my physical effort and tuned into how tiny adjustments can make big differences in my results.

When I started weaving in 1975 there were no end feed shuttles available for hand weaving so I learned how to weave well with a boat shuttle.  Even when hand end feed shuttles became available I found that I actually have more control over how I lay the weft in with the boat shuttle.  End feed shuttles are not great for highly textured yarns, especially if they have a bunch of hooks for tensioning.  And there are times when I want to moderate how the weft lays in the shed depending on density and so on.

But learning how to do these things did not happen automatically.  I had many hours of learning when and how to make these adjustments depending on the yarn being used, density, weave structure, and so on.

It is up to each individual to take into consideration their particular set of circumstances and physical abilities, learn how to control their own bodies and therefore their results.  And yes, that comes with practice, practice, practice - utilizing purposeful effort.

Currently reading The Stolen Voice by Pat McIntosh