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

Merry Christmas To Me

When Doug asked me what I wanted for Christmas I told him there really wasn't anything I needed - or wanted - other than a new winter coat.

We take winter rather seriously around here (in spite of the too mild temps we've been having the past few years) and a good winter coat is a necessity when temps can dip to -20 or even -30.  Even though we haven't been having those kinds of temps, winter just lasts so very long here you wind up wearing a winter coat for months.  And my current coat was deficient in several areas. 

Since a coat is something that I need to try on and make sure it fit I set off for the mall this afternoon and spent a frustrating couple of hours trekking from store to store. 

It was nearly impossible to find any kind of selection of coats in my size and I decided that either the shops have determined that 'large' people don't need coats or all the 'large' women had scooped them up before Christmas and left the dregs for me to fumble through.

I finally found one coat that would do - except that it didn't have storm cuffs (and I'm tired of having cold arms) and it was rather more money than I was willing to spend, even on sale.  However it did actually fit (arms were long enough, shoulders broad enough) so I made a mental note and thought I'd try the other mall and see if there was anything at The Bay.

Back out into the sleety snow and another half hour of trying on whatever coats I could find in my size.  (Seems they had the same problem with sizes.)

After trying on nearly every coat in my size I was ready to give up and head back to the other mall but I made one last sweep through the department and found a coat that I actually liked.  It was a silver grey with a very light silver around the collar fading to a darker steel grey at the bottom.  It was a bit longer than I'd prefer but what the heck, figured I may as well check the size.

Oh my!  My size.  So I doffed my coat one more time, put on the coat and yes, it had storm cuffs, the sleeves were long enough, it had enough slack that I could wear a sweater with it and it was on deep discount.


I even got a further discount when I got to the till.  :)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


A few days ago I posted this photo with the comment that I wasn't happy with the spacing of the colcolastic yarn and that I was going to resley the warp.

So last night I started re-sleying.  To remove the header I just cut the weft and pulled it out rather than unweave it.

When nothing much is changing, just squeezing the yarns together in the same reed, I don't pull all the threads out.  Instead I just move each bout of threads over one at a time.  I find this makes it much easier and keeps the threads under tension and controlled until their turn comes.  I loosen the knot of the next group and then just stick the hook into the next empty space grabbing the threads from the next dent to be moved.  It only takes a few minutes and it's done.

I expect I'll weave this sample warp off today - IF I'm happy with the new spacing - and go through the workshop warps to see how many need to be updated.  I've got a supply of 10/2 mercerized cotton now so that will probably be added as it is a yarn commonly used by US weavers.

As regards the colcolastic yarn, it is more fragile than I expected which is a bit disappointing, but now I know that I will take more care handling it as warp.  I will suggest back to front beaming and lashing on rather than tieing knots as I did originally.  These things are good to know so that people understand how to handle the yarn. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Big Project Reveal

top of the big bag of yarn that arrived yesterday - yum!

stapler stand

cutting up sample #2

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


3 thread 'float' on selvedge 2/8 Tencel warp/weft 24 epi

3 and 5 thread 'floats' on selvedge 2/20 cotton warp with 2/16 cotton weft 32 epi/ppi.  The 3/1-1/3 twill causes small 'scallops' at the edges.

3 and 5 thread floats on selvedge 2/20 cotton warp with mystery weft 36 epi/ppi

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 Days of Christmas

a weaver's Christmas wreath?

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

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

3 shuttles

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

One Winner, One....Not

herringbone diamonds

needs tweaking

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:
This is just one repeat - if you keep repeating the threading/treadling, you get large diamonds as in the baby blankets. 

(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

Prepping and Proto-typing

box full of pirns ready for weaving tomorrow

proto-type warp for Durham NC workshop

Today was slow but steady progress - the loom got threaded, sleyed and tied on, ready to weave.  By the time I got pirns wound it was too late to start so that will happen tomorrow.

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.

bamboo 12 and wool/lycra in the warp

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

Keeping Notes

from this...

to this....

It occured to me today that I have not begun to record the information for the Big Project samples.  Duh!  While I always think I'll remember, I never do, especially after a few warps have passed over the beam.

So I spent some time thinking about what sort of notes I need to record and how I'll go about doing that.  Some people devise spreadsheets or have elaborate notekeeping apps they use.  I'm a lot more basic than that.  I'll set up a new folder in Fiberworks to keep the drafts and then use Word for the notes.

Right now I'm just working on whatever sample is ready to weave given my inventory of yarns and other considerations.  For example, I need a couple of baby blankets for gifts and since a baby blanket project was on the list for the Big Project, plus I wanted to use up some of the yarn I had on hand, this is the result.

The photo also shows an example of warm/cool colours and how warm colours advance, cool colours recede.  Even though the ratio of warm (pink/orange) is the same as the cool (grey/blue) the pink/orange stripes look wider than the grey/blue.  Not only that, while the yarns are in fact flat on the beam, can you see the slight slant?  That the pink/orange part of the stripe looks higher than the grey/blue?

Since this warp is so wide I don't need such a long one but since I need 'extra' baby blankets I'm beaming 20 yards.  It won't get done before Christmas, but will be done before the new year. 

Monday I'll be at the press tackling that mound of wet finishing that is crying out to be dealt with and then I'll have a mountain of hemming to do. 

Currently reading Mystery in the Minster by Susanna Gregory

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thought Squirrels

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

Recycle, Reuse

As a child of the 50's, I knew my parents were all too aware of the necessity to make do, reuse, recycle so when the 70's and 80's came along I heartily endorsed the lifestyle of composting, reducing waste, using things up.

I weave - a lot.  Therefore I have a lot of thrums.  For many years I gave them to school art classes until the teachers begged me to stop.  They had more than enough!  For a while I threw them away, consoling myself with the thought that at least they were natural and would eventually return to whence they came.

And then I found out that the local Salvation Army had a textile recycling program.  I stopped in at the thrift shop and asked if they wanted my thrums.  The answer was a resounding yes! 

So I set a bin under one of the tables in my studio and began collecting my thrums to give to the SA.

Last summer a friend asked if she could have some to give to her mom because her mom took old yarn and spun it into novelty yarns.  I was happy to do so.

And then she gave me some skeins of the yarns.

Some of the skeins of handspun novelty yarns

It took me a while to decide what to do with the yarn.  It was fairly thick so it seemed best to treat it like I would rag strips and make some thick mats.  Yesterday I beamed a 2/8 cotton warp for placemats and thought I would begin by using up the box full of handspun yarn.

The yarn is far too thick to use a regular shuttle and bobbin.  Here I'm loading a couple of stick shuttles with it.  I don't know if you can see it in the picture but the shuttles are shaped like a thin wedge.  The best way to load these shuttles, I've found, is to figure 8 the yarn around the spine or thick edge of the wedge.  The shuttle and yarn then forms a thick wedge that will fit into the shed without too much difficulty.  I just tie a slip knot and put it over one end of the shuttle and then start winding the figure 8.  The majority of the yarn sits on top of the shuttle so that it is mostly wood on the back or bottom side.

And here is the first mat with the second shuttle just begun.

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.

Pay Attention

The end of the scarf with one more sample, this one woven in twill.  Notice the little 'waves' in the fell.  This is due to the difference in characteristics of the two yarns - the wool has a much higher elasticity than the Tencel.  Since the whole point is to have a cloth that 'collapses' this difference is not a problem and in fact after wet finishing, the white wool will be shorter than the Tencel causing the bubbling in the purple stripes.

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

After Sample

.....and here's the 'after' sample.  :)

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

Little by Little

I have spent rather more time the last two days fighting with issues of electronic technology than I'd like and find the battles to be rather wearing.  Well, that's my excuse for frittering away a couple of hours this afternoon playing games on Facebook rather than doing something productive. 

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

And So It Begins...

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

The Roses

When my mother was a young teenager she wanted very much to study art.  But this was during the Great Depression (as it was called) and her parents could not afford to pay for lessons.  So she got herself a job in order to pay the 5 cents a week she needed for art classes.

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

Honing Skills

catching the shuttle - thumb is used as a 'brake' to prevent the bobbin from feeding off too much yarn

preparing to throw the shuttle - index finger has moved to the point of the shuttle to propel it through the shed

Today I got an email from someone who found my You Tube channel and watched the video clip on throwing the shuttle:

Selvedges have really been my bug a boo. Yesterday I was getting so frustrated that I was ready to scream.

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

Profit is Not a Four Letter Word

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

Cold Snap Music Festival

One of the things I do at the end of the day is sit for a while, watch a little tv and knit.  A friend calls my knitting creative fidgeting, and I can't deny it.

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