Friday, January 27, 2012

Math and Me

Math has never been my long suit - not even simple arithmetic.  Every once in a while I make a truly magnificent oopsie.  Weaving dishes up another serving of humbility pie!

Knowing that I'm not good at crunching numbers, I actually worked through the equation of how many ends I needed for this warp for the Big Project several times.  Seems like I simply repeated my mistake, several times, because I was short 16 ends.  I double checked my threading, using my system of grouping ends in their constituent repeats and confirmed that my threading was, indeed, correct.  I was really and truly short 16 ends.

Stopped and thought about it for a while.  This warp is, after all, for samples, right?  Could I live with the fact that one selvedge would be radically different from the other?

Much mulling produced the answer - no.

So I wound another warp chain of 16 ends, threaded it through the appropriate heddles, ran it around the back beam and up and over the warping valet.  Messed about with various weights until I got the right amount to provide sufficient tension and started weaving.

It's not a pretty sight, to be sure, but it's working - well enough. 

For curious minds, it took about 2 pounds of weight for the little chain.  And the really nice thing about the warping valet?  By running it over that, the yarn package is nice and close and the 'drop' is much longer than if I just weighted it off the back beam - no constantly running to the back of the loom checking to see if the weight needs to be dropped. 

I've got over a yard woven so far (the warp is 9 meters long).

Currently reading Raisins and Almonds by Kerry Greenwood

Thursday, January 26, 2012


threading for huck lace with plain weave 'borders'

first section of 24 ends (plain weave) threaded - each group of 4 ends is tied in a slip knot, then the 6 knots are tied in a big slip knot seen at the right hand side - on the left is the first repeat of point twill

next repeat of point twill established with the 6 heddles set out ready to be threaded - each orange section is knotted together as it is completed and then... entire repeat is bound off when completed

Thought I might share how I thread a more 'complicated' threading although this one isn't particularly - it actually breaks down nicely into manageable chunks.

If you look at the draft, I've used an orange marker to show the major divisions of the threading - the first mark (top right) shows the plain weave border.  The next orange marks show the major sections of point twill separated by ends of plain weave.  The green marks show the smaller chunks that get threaded and tied first. At the end of the chart, I will repeat from the beginning which will make huck lace boxes surrounded by plain weave 'borders'.  So the first repeat has been done.

I don't actually mark my drafts like this any more because I can do it visually, but I did this when I first started.  I also used various other methods to keep track, and still go back to those depending on how complex the threading becomes.  Usually I print out the draft in its entirety and as each section is completed I'll mark it off with a pencil or coloured marker as I go.

Some people really love to colour their heddles.  I don't find that works terribly well for me because then I have to 'translate' the numbers of the shafts into which colour the shaft is.  It's a lot easier for me to just follow the numbers in the draft.  For this four shaft loom I don't number the shafts but I do have the shafts on the AVL numbered so that I can make sure I'm pulling the heddles from the correct shaft.  I've probably got a photo of that in my blog somewhere but I think you get the idea.

For extremely complex threadings, some people find that if they 'treadle' the threading, they reduce the mistakes.  Some people treadle one shaft (heddle) at a time, others do it in groups, e.g. an advancing twill with a 5 end advance might be threaded (treadled) with each group of 5 ends ( then and so on).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Changing My Mind

I wasn't terribly happy about combining the plum with the greens and a quick rummage through the stash revealed a lighter greyed plum that will look much better, as far as I'm concerned.  So this combo is next in the queue for the small loom - as soon as I thread/sley/tie on/weave the lace sample awaiting me on the Leclerc Fanny. 

Just now finished cutting the towel warp off the AVL - and only just in time as it looks like my yarn order arrived today.  However I was parked much too far away to pack the parcel to the van so I opted to leave it until tomorrow when I can maybe get closer to the door.  Unless someone has sent me a present.  :^)  The card doesn't say what the parcel is, just that I've got one to pick up.

But it's also time for me to pack up the class materials for John C. Campbell Folk School and get them into the mail so I expect that some of Thursday will be spent deciding what I want to weave/demo while I'm there, wind whatever warps are necessary and get it ready to go into the mail soon - just to make sure it arrives in time.  I'd rather it got there much too early than a day late!

I also realized that I only have one more weekend before my company arrives so I am going to have to clear enough of the rubble away that they will not feel as though they've entered an episode of "Hoarders"....

Currently reading Death Before Wicket by Kerry Greenwood (a little too much information about cricket, but I'm ignoring that....)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Food For Thought

Simon Winchester seems to have a talent for finding interesting 'characters' and telling their stories in an informative and engaging way.  I've read several of his books and will look for more of his titles.  I'm fortunate in that my local library has quite a few of his books.

In this one we meet Joseph Needham, scientist, researcher, writer and ultimately, historian.  His fascination with China turned into the opus Science and Civilization in China - a task so monumental that it continues long after his death.

In the Appendix of Winchester's book he has a list of some inventions developed by Chinese minds and their approximate dates - some of which far pre-dated similar developments in Europe.  Unfortunately it is only a partial list and doesn't have weaving inventions but does include these:

Silk, earliest spinning of:  2850 BC
Silk reeling machine:  AD 1090
Silk warp doubling and throwing frame:  10th century AD
Spindle Wheel:  5th century BC
Spindle wheel, multiple spindles:  11th century AD
Spindle wheel, treadle-operated:  1st century AD
Spooling frame: AD 1313
Trip hammers, water-powered (as in a fulling mill):  AD 20

In other news, I've received confirmation of the workshop at the Sutherland Weaving Studio in Asheville, NC (A Good Yarn) and Sarasota is still looking for more participants for their two workshops (The Efficient Weaver 1.5 days and A Good Yarn 1 day). 

The trip is shaping up nicely and I'm looking forward to visiting with a friend on the way home in Seattle area and attending the March meeting of the Seattle Weavers Guild.  I'll be gone a month, which Doug isn't terribly happy about, but I'm looking forward to very much.  If nothing else, spring should be arriving by the time I get home and the days, which are lengthening nicely, should be much longer.  Although we have had a few brilliantly sunny days in Janurary, there have been all too few of them.  Today we are back to overcast, blustery wind and blowing snow.  And temperatures that are far too mild!

A good day to stay home and maybe finish that towel warp? 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Refining Technique and Weaving Boot Camp?

Weavers learning my 'method' of beaming sometimes get very nervous about the part where the loops of the warp need to be transfered from the 3rd stick to the apron or cord at the back beam.  I realized that it would be a very simple matter to utilize the 'angel wings' as a 3rd hand.

3rd stick with warp loops - stick is tipped upright so that it is easier to see the loops

apron rod being interleaved with the loops of the warp and the apron

apron rod fully inserted into the warp loops

3rd stick removed - warp is now completely installed onto the apron rod

a couple of minutes (at most) and the pigtails in the loops are smoothed out and the warp is ready to be beamed

warp travels under the breast beam, over the valet and each chain is weighted with a jug of water - elapsed time from inserting rough sleyed warp in the beater to the warp completely beamed and ready to thread - about 20 minutes - the warp is 9 meters long, 544 ends at 24 epi (about 22 1/4 ")

Purrington's angel wings are not required for this - any method of supporting the stick would make the job of transfering the loops much less stressful.  I just happen to have the angel wings installed on this loom.

Pam Howard and I have been discussing my returning to the John C. Campbell Folk School next year in January.  She has suggested another week long course but a different topic than The Efficient Weaver, which we will have given twice after my trip there in March of this year.

Thinking about what I could offer I wondered about a Weaving "boot" camp where people could come and rather than have a set curriculum, they would let me know ahead of time what they wanted specifically to learn and I would act as a weaving coach.  Lectures would be given to reflect the needs of the students.  For instance, perhaps people wanted to know how to read and design with profile drafts.  Or there was interest in fibre characteristics and how to choose yarns wisely for the intended purpose.  Or there was interest in wet finishing, generally, or for shrinkage differential (more commonly known as fabrics that go 'bump').  Or people wanted to know more about how colour acts in woven structure.

The week long class would allow people to hone in on where they wanted to improve and give them an opportunity to focus in a concentrated manner on working towards mastery.

What do you think?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


warp for Big Project #4 ready to be rough sleyed

Confidence:  Firm trust; assured expectation; self-reliance; boldness, impudence; telling of private matters (as a secret) etc...

Have been thinking today about why I started blogging.  The answer is a rather long list beginning with the thought that, in August 2008, I was over my health issues and finally on the road to recovery.  How wrong I turned out to be.

At any rate, I started blogging partly as a celebration of life, partly because I wanted to share my weaving experience with others without running afoul of those whose experience differed from mine, partly as a boost to my confidence which positive feedback provides.  Blogging also allowed me the freedom to post photos, drafts and diagrams along with my text which chat groups (be they on yahoo or elsewhere) doesn't.  It allowed me to ruminate upon other things going on in my life than just weaving - e.g. sharing what I am currently reading.

I knew that some people valued my experience from feedback received while I was travelling to teach so I had confidence that those people would welcome my pithy comments.  Blogging also allows me to share things in this semi-private forum that I no longer share in public forums (like how long it takes me to do some of the processes involved in weaving).

Ultimately my blog became therapy as I did the cancer detour and badly needed the support of more than just my family, who were stressed out enough as it was without my turning to them when I felt weak, helpless as they felt already.

But just because a person is confident in some areas of their life doesn't make them confident in all areas.

Most recently I 'published' a booklet on my experiences dealing with the marketplace selling my textiles.  It was with a certain degree of trepidation I pushed the 'send' button and I have been kind of waiting with bated breath for feedback.  One person said that it was 'thorough', which pleased me because I tried to at least mention everything I could think of about being in the business of selling hand woven textiles.  But the email I got this morning from Karen Donde of Sutherland Weaving Studio really warmed my heart:

"Ok, opened the file and couldn't stop reading. Goose bumps. I sure hope we get some time to talk in person in March.

Thanks for sharing all this experience. The download was $8.95; the lessons learned...priceless.


There are still spots available in the one day workshop A Good Yarn being held at Sutherland Weaving Studio March 17.  I'm looking forward to meeting Karen, her weaving partner Barbara and weavers in the Asheville NC area for the first time.  :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

When Things Go Wrong

Got about half of the warp woven this morning and everything is fine.  It's not 'perfect' - but then what in life is?

I have always been the kind of person who when things go wrong looks for a solution.  This has been particularly valuable in terms of weaving because, quite frankly, things are all too frequently going 'wrong'.  When they do, there is no point in gnashing one's teeth and weeping (although a little venting is sometimes required).  A few explicatives may be used, but then it's onwards to find a fix that will allow one to carry on.

This is a lesson that is important in life, too.  This past week has held its share of 'bad' things but life happens and you just have to get on with it.

Perfection is a journey with lots of lumps and bumps along the way.  All we can do is keep on trying.  Even though these place mats are a little 'off' in terms of what I intended the end user won't know that.  They will just judge the mats on their merits and like them - or not.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dangerous Distractions

We all know (or should) that driving while distracted is dangerous.

Turns out trying to dress the loom while distracted is also dangerous.

I found myself this afternoon fighting procrastination plus a high level of distraction while dressing the loom with the next place mat warp.

With 2/3's of the warp beamed, I had a moment of extreme distraction and suddenly my lease sticks were no longer holding the cross.

Now this isn't terminal for me because I rough sley the reed - it's just very annoying!

Deciding that I was near enough the end it should not matter (famous last words, those that include 'should') I carried on beaming the rest of the warp and then picked up the cross again from the reed.

Now I have a 4 by 4 cross rather than a 2 x 2 cross, but since I was going to be threading this warp with the colours randomly in the heddles, this should (there's that word again) not make much of a difference.

So what is distracting me?  A list too long to mention - some of it good, some of it not so much, some of it just puzzling, needing to be straightened out at some point, some of it planning for my trip away in March.  Still no word on mom's surgical date and at this rate it may all happen while I'm out of town so I need to make some arrangements regarding care for her - home nurse, personal hygiene, meals and light housekeeping and so on.  And rely heavily on my dear sweet husband to pick up the slack for me if necessary.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


showing the 'right' side of the cloth

showing the 'wrong' side of the cloth

The colours in these photos are not 'true' - the first one was taken at the back/bottom of the loom as the cloth rolls up on the storage roller.  It is dark down there so the colours appear darker and bluer.

The photo showing the 'wrong' side of the cloth are up at the business end of the loom and appear washed out from the flash and more yellow.

But the photos do show the difference in how the cloth looks, one side to the other - more warp showing on one face, more weft showing on the other.

This is because the weave structure is 1:3/3:1 twill blocks with only one block showing warp while the other 3 blocks show weft as it is being woven.  I got into the habit of doing this when treadling was done by leg power - the fewer shafts to raise, the easier it was to weave.

So, whenever I can, I design my treadlings to raise the fewest number of shafts even when it means I'm weaving the cloth 'up side down'. 

I find I get better sheds, and if it's easier for my leg, it's probably easier for the loom, too.  It's the old "minimum input, maximum output' adage.

Currently reading The Man who loved China by Simon Winchester - I've read a number of Winchester's books (thanks for the recommendation Kerstin) and generally enjoy whatever he's tackled.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I know I blogged about this before - even found the photos I took - but can't find the actual post so here it is again....

When beginning a new warp I use some scrap yarn and throw 3 picks without beating.  It doesn't really matter what sort of yarn although something with a little 'tooth' (not slippery) works best.

Then I gently squeeze the beater forward until all three picks are nicely lined up.

With pick number four (the shuttle is on the left hand side of the loom) I take the scrap weft around the rod and pass it to the right hand side.

With pick number 5 (the shuttle is now on the right hand side of the loom) I take the scrap weft around the rod on the right hand side and pass it back to the left hand side.

And then I pass the shuttle back to the right making a total of 6 picks to prepare the warp for weaving.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To Market, To Market

Today I racked up some success....and some failure.

I did figure out how to create a .pdf file and finished the final edits of the pamphlet (not sure what else to call it - at 14,000 plus words and 45 pages, it's not a 'book') on the things I've learned about being in the business of making hand woven textiles to sell.

But I could not figure out how to list this publication on Art Fire and make it be 'free shipping'.  Since I don't want to be charging shipping for something that will be an emailed pdf file, I have finally given up and will just sell it via my website or by email request and send people a Paypal invoice.

So - if you are interested in my pithy comments email me.  The price is $8.95 and you need to be able to receive an email attachment and open the pdf file.

Currently reading Break Down by Sara Paretsky

Monday, January 16, 2012

Making Progress

Place mat warp with two of the colours from the towel warp - the greyed blue and greyed green

I'm enjoying the blue green warp on the AVL so much and, since I have yarn left over on the tubes after beaming that warp sectionally, I decided to do some blue/green place mats, too.

This week is fraught with appointments so I don't know how productive I'll be in the studio, but I did manage to weave two towels this afternoon, then threaded/sleyed/tied on and started weaving the mats after dinner.  In the photo you can see the medium brown yarn I used to begin weaving, to spread the warp out and erase the V's at the beginning of the warp.  I've described previously how I did this, using just 6 picks of weaving to begin.  Then a couple of picks of the cotton in plain weave, two picks of twill to create the cut line and then the first hem.

Tien Chiu sent me the ribbon measuring 'tape' which I have cut to various standard lengths, in this case 20", and which I pin to the cloth to measure how much I have woven.  (I think she said she got it at a Joanne's store.)  I measure under tension, but it doesn't really matter, just so long as you are consistent.  If you always measure without tension, then always do that.

Remember, if you can't be perfect, be consistent!

T-shirts available at:

Currently reading Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Test 2

This time a small file


Got a new phone last month and kept forgetting to test the camera. With a rather long road trip coming up thought I ought to do that.

Friday, January 13, 2012

On Relaxing

The Yarn Harlot did a post today on 'relaxing'.  Her point is that so many people believe that 'relaxing' is sitting doing nothing while she believes (as do I) that 'relaxing' is when you are doing something you love.

One of the things that drew me to weaving was the fact that it was amazingly physical, especially weaving on a production basis.  I've mentioned before how well intentioned people, knowing nothing about weaving except their romantic notion of what a weaver does, would urge me to attend an aerobics class.  Upon which I would giggle somewhat hysterically and explain that I already did about 5 hours of aerobic activity a day.  To raised eyebrows and unvoiced (usually) skepticism. 

I've also mentioned elsewhere that my retirement plan is to keep on weaving.  Why would I 'retire' from something that I love to do?  How many people, after all, can't wait for 'retirement' in order to pursue their love - weaving?

Weaving is also a form of working meditation for me.  When I don't weave for an extended period of time I get rather un-relaxed.  When I travel I usually pack a stack of hand hemming at the very least.  When I drive somewhere I usually bring a bag of knitting to occupy my hands in the evenings as well.  You never know when the hemming might get finished and there I'd be - nothing to do with my hands!

One friend calls my knitting, fringe twisting, hemming, 'creative fidgiting'.  I have to agree with that.  Another friend calls weaving my 'happy place', and I have to agree with that, too.

I've just spent a half hour getting the loom re-adjusted for the next towel and woven one (pictured above).  While I am now taking a rest break, it's not what I would call 'relaxing'.  I've just had a half hour of that.  :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I know this looks rather a jumble but there is method to my madness.

Although I still have not had the A Good Yarn one day workshops confirmed at Sarasota and Asheville, doing the prep work is going to be time consuming so I figured I'd better get started on it.  I'm winding a whole lot of skeins and my neck isn't best pleased if I do too much of that all at one go.  On the other hand, I can't use my work table for anything else until I get the winding done, so I do feel somewhat under the gun to get it finished and cleared away.

Normally I bring the box of cones, balls and tubes with me but with so many topics, such great distances to travel and airlines being the way they are with limiting luggage and weight, I decided to wind off small skeins - two of each fibre for the two workshops.  This will give the participants some options as they go through and attempt to identify the yarns during the hands on part of the workshop.  They can then cut up one of the skeins and everyone can have a sample of the yarns for their notebooks.

With so much photocopying to be done I'm thinking of just taking all the master copies to Staples and getting them to run the copies rather than me stand over my photocopy machine breathing in the toner fumes.  :)

And if the classes don't 'go', the skeins/handouts will be ready for the next time I do this topic.

The place mat warp is nearly done - 3 more mats to weave, I think - the next mat warp is wound and I need to get back to the AVL as I want to have some of the towels I wove cut off so they can be wet finished on Saturday and pressed on Sunday.  Not to mention the editing that still needs to be done.  For that, though, I need to be in the right mood and lately my distractibility has been a little too high.  Editing requires that I be able to focus and concentrate. 

And of course, with company coming next month, I really, seriously, need to get my house tidied so that they will have a bed to sleep in and a place to sit in the living room!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's Okay, But....

greyed plum warp with natural weft

next plum warp will try some green...

Started weaving the plum warp today and it's okay but a little bland.  I had been thinking of adding some grey to the plum but decided that I'd go with a darker greyed green instead.

That should add some depth and visual interest to the warp. 

This week I'm trying to sort through priorities - I've got skeins to wind for the one day workshops A Good Yarn, handouts to edit, pamphlet on being in business to edit, notes to write up for sample #3 for the Big Project and decide on #4 (probably 10/2 merc. cotton in a huck lace), year end stuff to tackle.  And all I really feel like doing is sitting reading, or weaving.  :)

The week is half over and I need to start crossing things off my to-do list.  Soon.  Very, very soon.

Currently reading From This Moment On by Shania Twain

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Going on Faith

I'm quite enjoying this warp.  The colours are soft and remind me that spring is coming - although not any time soon, in spite of yesterdays weather! 

This warp is getting a bunch of bits of yarn from my stash used up on it.  This weft is 22/2 cottolin - of which I had one a a bit spools.  I'm not entirely sure I like it on the loom although it looks more appealing in the photo so perhaps I just need to wait until it is wet finished. 

In the meantime I'm going to use up this oatmeal cottolin and have faith that once they are done I'll like them more than I do on the loom.

And then I'll switch to the cotton flake and change the treadling again.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back to 'Routine' - sort of

My warping 'station' - additional overhead lights for this somewhat dim studio space.
Notice that I tie the cross on the four 'arms' of the X not at the waist.  Choke tie is about 1 yard away from the cross.  On this 9 meter long warp there are:  1 choke tie (near cross), 1 counting tie (near the bottom end - opposite end from the cross - which could be used for a raddle if I used one of those) and two other ties to keep the warp chain tidy.

After winding I remove the last peg at the bottom of the board and simply drop the warp into a small box.  The cross is hanging over the edge of the box in preparation for rough sleying.  Notice also the reed laid across the bottom of the warping board.  The yarns come straight up off the spools (or cones), threaded through the reed.  This means the threads are always coming straight off the yarn package so there is no extra drag or tipping over of cones during the winding.

Today I finished packaging up the yarns and drafts for Durham and will head to the post office shortly to mail the box.  They should have it in two weeks so will have time to wind their warps and dress their looms.  My hostess has offered her loom for an 'extra' warp and I've offered to dress it on the Friday with one of the more 'fragile' warps as I will have an extra day (the guild program is Friday evening).  I didn't want to chance flying in on the Friday in case of travel delays.  Been there, done that too often.  While I've never actually missed an event due to travel delays, it's been awfully close a few times and it's just way too stressful - for me and for the event organizers!

We finally achieved some sunshine today.  If it weren't for the wind howling it would almost be shorts and short sleeve weather.  March weather in January - which means we'll likely get January weather in March.  Well, I won't be here - hopefully I'll be enjoying spring in NC/FL in March.  :)

Currently reading Blood on the Tongue by Stephen Booth

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Durham, NC, Here I Come....

Today I started working on the drafts and yarns for the Magic in the Water (part II) workshop for Durham, NC.

My workshops change with each group as I try to tailor the contents for each one - a southern group doesn't want a whole of wool, for instance!  So for this workshop I changed several of the drafts that called for wool to something else.  There will be a little wool for some of the shrinkage differential effects, but those warps only have a bit of wool in them so should be interesting to the participants, and possibly even something they might try for those effects.

Although the group has a whole lot more eight shaft looms than what are usually available, not all of the drafts require 8 which should make weaving a little faster.  For those weave structures that are really slow to weave, I set up duplicate looms.  In this workshop there are four warps that are duplicated.

My goal is to have everything for this workshop ready to mail out next week.  Since I am doing 4 different groups with 5 different topics, I will be mailing as much as possible ahead of time, which will make for a rather large box going to Durham.  :)

I usually bring cones of yarn for the A Good Yarn presentations, but I think I am going to have to wind mini skeins as I am doing this topic as a guild program for Durham, and two one day presentations for Sarasota FL and Asheville NC.  With so many flights the danger of the airline losing my luggage increases with every flight I take and I don't want all my eggs in one basket, so to speak.  :}  So, once the drafts/yarn packages are done I'll drag out my skein winder and start winding skeins.

The handouts for A Good Yarn need deep editing so that will have to be done next and then I'll get back to the pamphlet on being in business. 

I want to get all of these things done in the next couple of weeks because I am going to have company from a travelling weaver in February, and then March will be here and I won't be.  ;)  And sometime soon we are hoping mom will be getting her surgery.  I'm keeping fingers crossed that my cousin's wife will still be willing to travel with her.

Currently reading Sidetracked by Viven Lougheed

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Knowledge and Soapboxes

A gamp of various wefts for the rest of the warp.  Colours are not true - the greyish one is actually a soft greyed lavender which looks very pretty on the warp but not so great in the photo....

There has been a lively discussion on one of the chat groups about recipe weavers vs weavers who draw upon their own creativity and the relative merits of each approach.

I started wondering how many weavers throughout history really were designers rather than weavers who learned how to weave one particular quality of cloth and wove that as their profession pretty much every day.  They probably knew every hint and trick about how to weave that quality of cloth and were experts at producing perfect cloth within that quality.  But how many of the thousands of weavers who were journeyman really knew very much about the ins and outs of cloth construction on a broad basis?

Modern weavers are amazingly lucky in that we do it because we love it.  Whether we do it from 'recipes' designed by others or start from scratch, choosing our own colours, yarns, set, weave structure etc., is really neither here nor there so long as we are enjoying what we are doing.  Even as someone who does this as my profession, I'm primarily doing it because I love it, not because it's the only way I have of putting food on my table or keeping a roof over my head.

I could go do something else much more lucrative in terms of income than weave!

What does concern me, however, is that general knowledge about cloth construction might get 'lost'.  Who, then, will design the recipes for the others?

Judith MacKenzie has a great quote (which I have probably used before but bears repeating) "When you don't know what you don't know, you don't know that you don't know it."  (Emphasis mine)

I joined the internet community in 1994 and almost immediately came to realize the lack of knowledge about wet finishing.  (Well, I knew that from attending conferences, but the internet allowed me to speak about the necessity for wet finishing and sharing how to do it in a public forum.)

In the years since I have spotted other areas where there is a distinct lack of knowledge, especially on the internet.  Much of the knowledge is contained in books, but as someone pointed out to me, the new generation doesn't go to books as a first line of knowledge source, they go to the internet. 

And so I have found myself straddling several soapboxes - wet finishing, of course. Issues of efficiency.  Fibre characteristics.

The only way I can see of encouraging new weavers to realize that they don't know something is to constantly (gently!) harp on about what they don't know.  Eventually those who want to know more will learn where to find out more and hopefully pass on that knowledge to others.

So I continue to climb up onto my soapboxes and natter on about the aspects of cloth construction that I feel are under represented in the weaving community.

Currently reading Death in the Dark by Kerry Greenwood

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Finding My Voice

the two 'faces' of the cloth - the white side will wind up as the 'back' side but it's easier to weave as there are fewer shafts to lift this way...

Before I started weaving I did many textile crafts, learned at my mother's knee - almost literally.  In spite of knowing that she designed many things herself, I worked from patterns.  Oh sure, I'd change the colour, adjust the size a bit, but essentially I followed the work of someone else.

Until I met weaving - or should I say, my weaving instructor who would not allow us to simply follow someone else's design.

At first the design decisions were daunting and even a bit frustrating (just tell me what to do, don't make me figure it out, dammit!) but suddenly I began to see that everything was in my control.  I could choose what colours and where they were placed.  I could choose what set which would affect the drape of the cloth.  I could choose what weave structure.  I could even control how that weave structure was laid out in terms of the threading sequence and I could absolutely control the treadling sequence to get the design to happen where I wanted it to.

The more I learned, the more I knew - with a certainty - that there was so much more to learn.  How exciting!

Once I learned how weave structures worked in theory I could apply that knowledge to creating my own cloth.  Weave structures have been around for thousands of years - there's not much to change in how threads interlace.  There are only so many ways to make a set of threads go over and under another set of threads, after all.  But when you add in colour, texture, density, well the options are limitless.

The greatest gift weaving has given me is that of finding my own creative voice.

Currently reading Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher series - a recommendation from Dana Stabenow

Sunday, January 1, 2012


grateful for when warps turn out the way I want them to....

With the dawn of a new day and year I find myself looking forward to 2012 with a great deal of gratitude and optimism.  Not to mention a huge dollop of relief that 2011 is over!

I am grateful that the lymphoma was discovered so early and that the oncologist didn't let any grass grow under his feet dealing with it.

I am grateful for the friendship expressed in good wishes from so many people, many of whom I've only met via the internet.

I am grateful the journey wasn't more difficult than it was and that remission came 'early' so I didn't need to have the last 2 chemo cycles.

I am grateful the oncologist successfully made the case for me to receive the maintenence protocol which will extend remission for several extra years.

I am grateful that the underlying cause of my continuing fatigue appears to have been indentified and that I will start treatment for that soon.  Not to mention the discovery that my immune system is seriously compromised from additional nutritional deficiencies (which no doubt led to the lymphoma developing in the first place).

I am grateful that I can still weave and write and teach and will have the opportunity to do more of that this coming year.

I am hopeful that this year will finally bring good health and fewer 'challenges'. 

I am hopeful that mom will get a surgical date soon and that she will pull through it to have better health, too.

I am hopeful that I will meet some of you in person as I travel this year.

2012 - the year of gratitude and optimism.........