Monday, July 30, 2012

Steaming Ahead

A good example of how changing the value of the weft will radically change how a warp will look

Warp for office curtains and tea towels beamed on Sunday - the colours look more green on my monitor than in real life - they are actually beige and a blue/grey


Lots of creative energy going on in the studio today.  My student arrived at 9 am and jumped right into weaving on the blue/grey warp I'd set up on the Leclerc Fanny.  It didn't take too long before she felt more or less comfortable at the loom - she was challenging a lot of muscle memory - and began on her towel.

In between observing (and nagging!) her I threaded the warp on the AVL.  It is a fairly complex 'fancy' twill so I thread in groups of 6, 7, or 8 depending on the sequence, tie each group into a slip knot and then tie each repeat into another bigger slip knot.  This helps me keep track of where I am in the threading sequence.  (total of 800 ends)

Tomorrow I'll sley and tie on and maybe even weave my 'sample'.  The weft for the curtains will be a very fine soy protein fibre so no doubt I'll have to check for picks per inch and tie up to make sure the cloth is turning out for curtains.

Currently reading Betrayal of Trust by J. A. Jance

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Fudge one place and you usually wind up having to fudge somewhere else.  So it is with this warp.

The yarn is 2/16 unmercerized cotton at 32 epi.  It is sleyed 4 per dent in an 8 dent reed.

Tossing two of the ends out of the left hand grey stripe means that the last dent would have contained 2 ends instead of 4.  From past experience I know that this will lead to a nasty selvedge as the density will be all wrong.

I could have just tossed the last two blue ends off the warp, but instead I chose to toss two grey threads from the second from left grey stripe.  This makes both of those stripes the same width.  It also gives me two 'extra' grey ends I can use - if I need them - for repair ends as the end of the warp comes up off the warp beam.  Not exactly the lesson I had expected to present to my student, but.....

A good teacher should be able to show how to get around these little bumps in the road, right?

Currently reading Cabal by Michael Dibdin

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pear Shaped

I'm blaming the phase of the moon.  Whatever phase it's in, it's the moon's fault.

Seems like when things start to go wrong, they keep going wrong.  It started with winding this warp -  distraction levels were far too high and I made mistakes winding the correct number of threads for the stripes and had to correct myself several times.

Today the distractions were continuing.  I didn't straighten out the loops in the warp properly and wound up with snarls and two broken ends in one of the grey stripes.

Now the set is 32 epi and the grey stripe is quite wide - how much difference is the loss of two ends going to make?  Considering that this warp is primarily a practice warp for my student, how bent out of shape was I going to let myself get about a couple of broken ends?

I decided that I wasn't.  Going to get bent out of shape, that is.  So I just ignored the two grey ends, pulling them out of the warp chain, brushing the warp from one end to the other because there were just too many loose threads to 'milk' out by hand without spending hours doing it.

It's ready to thread now and I'll start.  Thank goodness I'd decided on a very simple threading because I really don't think I could manage anything 'complicated'!  It's the phase of the moon.  It's wrong.

Guest Post - Peg Cherre

 Warping valet update:  After my first use of the valet with rayon (that was my blog post), I did another rayon warp.  Partly because I was into a rayon weaving mode, and partly because I specifically wanted to do another 'easy' warp while I continued to get the hang of the new process.  It felt less 'wrong' than the first, although still odd.

Then I decided it was time to try something more challenging -- after all, I really want to get to using the valet with rayon chenille, but didn't want to jump right to the RC shawl I have in mind (what if it messed up with all that yarn?!).  So I went with an unmercerized cotton warp.  170 ends, 9 yards long.  Not only was it an 8/2 unmercerized, it wasn't highly twisted, and was a tiny bit nubbly.  What better test than that?!

No surprise to you, I'm sure, but that unmercerized cotton went on like a dream!!  Not a snag, a twist, a snarl, or a frustration.  It wound as quickly as that smooth, shiny rayon had.  You KNOW that wouldn't have happened if I was working in my pre-valet, no-tension beaming mode!

Needless to say, I am a warping valet convert.  I'm getting out my screw gun and installing those hooks & eyes on my breast beam so I can lose the street brick.  And moving one of the eye hooks in my ceiling that I didn't place well, unfortunately - as I think I mentioned, I hate making big holes in lovely wood.  Maybe I can figure out how to put some wood putty up there in the old hole so it doesn't look nasty.  (Actually, I should probably move both hooks to make the valet be the best, but I can't bring myself to do that.)

You mentioned that you prepare your rayon chenille warps for the valet 1 thread at a time vs. 2, but you said you often have thin stripes that make this work best, as well as the specifics of RC yarn.  Is it safe to assume that you've tried 2 threads at a time and 1 works better?  Obviously twice as much time at the warping board, but it'd be time well spent if the RC beams as smoothly as the unmercerized cotton!



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Restoring Faith

Winding the warp for my student - cheat sheet posted above the board, ticking off each stripe as it is wound because distraction level has been particularly high today....see text below

Warp was wound in two sections, each of which will be weighted separately - warp is ready to be passed under the breast beam, over the valet and weighted

Yesterday my webmaster discovered that a hacker had broken into (if that's the word) my website and was using the contact form to send out spam via my website. The only way he could figure out to stop this 'thieving' was to shut down the contact form altogether, so he did that this morning.  This is not only irritating, it is terribly inconvenient because I routinely receive one to several emails a day via the contact form.

I understand why such people do these things.  They want something for nothing and hope that people will respond to their spamming and maybe benefit them in some way by so doing.  I just wish these people would be less selfish and not make life difficult for people who are honestly trying to earn an income, paying their bills, even possibly helping others.

And then I read Yarn Harlot's .blog.  I have been reading her blog for a couple of years now - I enjoy her writing, her sense of deprecating introspection, her commitment to being a creative person with her knitting and writing.  I also admire her fund raising efforts, especially her participation in the bike ride to raise funds for people with HIV/AIDS that she will be doing in a few short weeks (perhaps days, now.)

She helped restore my faith in the goodness and, dare I say it, niceness of most people, most of the time.  Thanks, Yarn Harlot.  I needed that.

But in the meantime, the contact form on my website no longer functions and will probably remain that way.  My apologies but I cannot condone or enable spammers to continue to 'steal' - bandwidth from me, possibly money from others.  My contact info via phone and snail mail still currently exists on my website - see 'contact information' to the left hand side of my website, and of course I can be PM'd on Facebook, Weavolution, Ravelry or emailed directly using my first name at my website address.  Hopefully that is opaque enough that spiders will not figure it out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Delayed Gratification

Not the last soy protein scarf warp!

It was with a great deal of satisfaction that I beamed the 'last' blue soy protein warp - I'd met my goal within the deadline I'd set for myself.  I could think about the next thing to do - after dressing the small loom with a 2/16 cotton warp for my student and beaming the 2/16 cotton warp for tea towels and curtain fabric, that is.

Digging through my stash to see what else I could use up, however, I found more cones of soy protein!  I wasn't done after all!

At least it wasn't as bad as first feared - the box held an assortment of yarns, not just soy protein.  So the end is in sight - four more warps wound four ends at a time (9 meters long) and four warps wound 2 ends at a time (5 meters).  That will give me an additional 24 scarves on top of the 48 from the first stage.  By the time I finish weaving them all I will have decent inventory - of this design - for the 4 major shows I will be doing this fall (along with several smaller venues).

In the end I probably won't have the number of different designs I like to offer - less width and more depth.  But with what I already have on hand, it should be sufficient.  It looks like I won't get much more done until after September when I get back from Puyallup and Texas.  We'll see how much I can do in the 4 weeks before the next sales event in October.  Gratification will be delayed!

Currently reading Force of Nature by C. J. Box

Monday, July 23, 2012


#3 scarf on this warp - the colours are pretty true on my monitor

Reading through Quiet there is a section on how introverts learn as compared to extroverts - how much - or little - stimulation each needs in order to learn well.  One of the interviewed experts talks about Deliberate Practice - something I call Purposeful Study.

There is a huge difference between practicing something without analyzing how effective what you are doing actually is in terms of your results.  If you simply practice something that isn't very effective over and over, all you are doing is cementing in place 'bad' work habits.  Habits that are extremely difficult to erase once they are firmly set into muscle memory.

Weaving is, on the face of it, very simple.  Anyone who wants to take the time to learn it can do it.  People who follow directions can produce lovely work.  But if you want to understand the subtleties of the craft to the point where you can make your own design decisions, a more purposeful approach needs to be taken, I think.

The question 'why?' must be asked, and then, 'what if?'   By constantly questioning results, the practitioner will gradually learn how the materials will react in different circumstances and how to control their results.  By accepting 'failure' (iow results that are less than desirable) the practitioner begins to learn what works and what doesn't.

One of my goals when I teach is to try to make the craft less mysterious.  Since I am an introvert, analytical, have done my 10,000 hours of Purposeful Study, I have a fair understanding of the nuances of the craft and, I've been told, can articulate those fairly well.  One of my students called me a storyteller.  After thinking about that for a moment I realized she was right - my story is the story of the construction of cloth.

When students come to my studio to study I offer them the opportunity to post on my blog as a guest.  I realized that some of the students that have studied with me elsewhere might also like a chance to guest blog.  If you would like to do that, email me your text with one or two photos of your work (the internet is a visual medium after all!).  I reserve the right to edit for length and typos.  :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I am currently reading a book recommended by a friend entitled "Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking" by Susan Cain.

I found it interesting that she observed that because you are an introvert doesn't mean you are shy, although  shy people are mostly introverts.

Personally I fell very solidly in the Introvert end of the spectrum of the Myers-Briggs personality test - which was no great surprise to me as I suffered from shyness most of my childhood and still fight against the urge to hide in a corner in social situations.  Those that don't involve weavers, that is.

The book is very interesting although I expect that the people who read it will be introverts.  :^)

This morning I finished the brick red warp on the loom and beamed the next warp (next to last!) which is a darker brown/brick red.  I am on schedule to finish the scarf warps in time to dress the loom with the tea towel warp for my student to start weaving on in a week.  Then, of course, they have to be fringe twisted, wet finished, trimmed, tagged/priced.  And sold.  The job isn't finished until they are sold....

This afternoon I met with a friend who makes bobbin lace and I finished the bookmark I started last time we got together.  Now the anticipation of which pattern to do next!  I'm thinking of offering one or two as auctions for fund raisers on Weavolution.  They are trying to raise money to fund the next round of improvements.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Variegated warp with natural beige soy protein as weft - the photo isn't true to life in terms of colour - the yellow is actually a pale orange, the red a scarlet

Often I will hear (or see written in chat groups) a new weaver confidently state that they are going to start with some easy weaving - plain weave.

While plain weave is simple in terms of weave structure, it is not so easy in terms of technical expertise required in order to weave it well.

Linda Heinrich (Magic of Linen) tells the story of attempting her plain weave sample for the Guild of Canadian Weavers tests.  Feeling that she would need to weave more than one or two samples to get it right,  she put a 7 yard warp onto her loom and wove it off.  And then put a second 7 yard warp on the loom and wove it off.  And then put a third 7 yard warp on the loom and only at the very end of that warp did she produce samples she felt were good enough to submit for the testing.

My father always warned my brother and I to beware of someone who made something they were doing look easy.  He never explained why but we understood what he was saying.

Weaving plain weave well is not easy.  The warp has be be beamed with 'perfect' tension, bobbins have to be wound properly so that they won't catch in the shuttle, every time the warp is advanced (unless you have live weight tensioning) you have to recalculate your beat because the tension never gets applied in precisely the same amount with each advance.  The weaver has to feel the difference and adjust for it.

After 35+ years of weaving I still can't get a perfect plain weave.  I'd say I come to within 95% or so.  Out of the 5% that isn't 'perfect', probably 2.5 to 3% will be taken care of in the wet finishing.  The rest?  Most people would have to look fairly hard to see the 'imperfection'.  The flaws in my cloth rarely get better if I try to get rid of them, in fact they start to become yet more obvious as I work and work and eventually overwork the materials.  So I've learned to let go and let be.

I recently got a very amusing email from someone who I will not name because I haven't asked permission to use the email (but I'm fairly confident I'd get permission if I asked!)  :)

Long ago, I happened across a YouTube video of you beaming a warp at a ridiculous pace with no visible effort.  I knew nothing about you at the time, it's worth noting.  I concluded that your beam must have ended up with all sorts of snarls and tension issues, as no one could possibly beam a warp with so little fuss.  No plucking and stroking?  Yeah right!  Totally fiction.

As I wound the beam last night though, it occurred to me that I hadn't plucked and stroked at all, and the entire warp (a mere 4 yards, but still!) beamed on perfectly in well under 10 minutes.  I'm on my way to being eerily good at warping the loom, thanks to you!  And this is only after 4 warps using this method... can't wait to see how it turns out after your prescribed 7!"

Dressing the loom should not be painful, a battle royale.  I share what I do because while it may look deceptively easy, it can be learned.  But perfection?  Very rare.  Part of the learning process is knowing when to let it go and let it be.

And if you look very closely at the above photos you can see tiny lines where I advanced the warp and didn't get the beat quite 'perfect'.  I'm pretty sure they will mostly disappear during wet finishing.  And if not?  Well, I did the best I could and it was time to move on.

PS - to minimize the visible lines in your cloth from inconsistent beating, use a weft the same value as the warp.  You can see from the photo that I'm using a weft quite a bit lighter in value.  The same would hold true for a weft much darker in value.  You know how I know....

Friday, July 20, 2012


With the completion of A Good Yarn: Cotton my attention is now focused on the next deadline, which is two-fold - inventory for the upcoming shows and the arrival of my student.  This morning I finally finished winding the last of the soy protein fibre warps and pulling the yarn for the student warp which has to be put onto the loom and ready for her to weave on by the 30th of this month.

In the back of my mind I'm also mulling over whether or not I should do another fibre publication and what that should consist of.  So far feedback has been positive for rayon and goodness knows, I've got lots of it on hand.  I will have to buy some for the samples, but probably not a lot.  Of course I still have to source other types of rayon yarns to see what is available.  I have rayon chenille, Bambu from Silk City (I will have to buy more of the size 12 as I'm nearly out), 2/8 bamboo and 2/8 Tencel from Brassard (and Halcyon) and I think Brassard has a couple of other rayons.  But since I don't buy a lot of yarns from the US unless I have to (avoiding customs/duty), I will have to find out what else is available commonly in the US

I also still have enough card stock to do one more publication about the same (10 samples, 150 copies) without having to invest in more of that kind of paper.

But very soon I will be thrust into a hectic travel/show schedule so there is lots of time to see how AGY: Cotton will be received and whether or not I invest 9 or 10 months in doing another publication.

Currently reading Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


This photo doesn't do the warp colours justice - the pale areas are a warm peach with rose highlights.

The controversy about the cost of shipping to the US has sparked a lot of thought and some suggestions from people.

One suggestion, that I did seriously consider before setting my price, was to charge more for the publication and less for the shipping.  In the end I chose not to go this route for a couple of reasons.  A) it would look like I was making more of a profit on the publication than I truly was and B) it would put into people's minds that they didn't have to pay the full cost of the shipping, that tiny independent businesses would subsidize their purchases.

If we want local yarn shops, small yarn/tool producers and independent publishers to stay in business the customers have to realize that we can only stay in business if we are honest with ourselves and with our customers.  I could have charged $65 for the publication and $10 for shipping to the US but the postage is much higher than that, never mind the rest of the costs. So I didn't go that route.

An alternate to the above would be to set a price including shipping.  But that means people in Canada would be paying more than they should for shipping and very likely those in the US would be paying less unless I had a two tier pricing - one price for in Canada, one for the US.

Another strategy is to produce a publication with fewer samples.  This would reduce the paper costs, the labour (weaving, wet finishing, cutting/taping/stapling/assembling) and might even bring the package down in size enough to qualify for 'small packet' pricing which is around $8 at the moment.

A further refinement on the above would be to provide the text files burned onto a cd and the samples loose, not stapled to card stock.  That approach would probably fit into a cd mailer and likely qualify for 'small packet' pricing, as well.

So, those are some of the thoughts rumbling around in my brain.  My goal with this publication was to fill a niche - provide actual fabric samples for study along with the project notes.  Unfortunately that sort of format is more costly to produce than an ebook.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Creative Urge

blue/purple scarf with dark blue Tencel weft

I'm currently reading Death of an Artist by Kate Wilhelm.

I first found Wilhelm as a science fiction writer but she also writes mysteries.  (If you like Louise Penny you will probably also like Wilhelm.)

Death of an Artist is provoking all sorts of thoughts, stirring up all sorts of emotions.  One of the characters is an artist (painter) who finds that nothing she executes is ever 'done', that she can always find more to do to a piece.  Therefore she cannot sell or even give away anything that she has created, although she has no objection to having her work on display.

Another character makes a wooden box which is a tour de force of in-laid design.  His wife rejects his gift of the 'empty' box, preferring diamonds.  Needless to say, the marriage fails.

As someone dealing with the creative urge - some might even say 'imperative' - in my every day life, these characters have a lot to say about living a creative life.

Having just launched a new publication I have been thinking about how the creative urge is insatiable and how much expressing one's creativity relies on not just one's own approval, but the approval of others.  I'm not just talking about compliments, which are lovely, but in someone actually offering their good hard earned cash in return for the results of that creativity.

I thought long and hard about doing another publication, especially going 'old school' (i.e. not just printing on paper, but including actual fabric samples).  I spent the better part of 9 months working on it and in the end shaved as much of the expense off of it as I could.   If I had included a binder, the price of AGY would have had to be even higher, although at $25 for shipping from Canada to the US, it's already causing controversy.

If I were independently wealthy I would not have to be compensated for postage, envelopes/boxes, packing tape, mailing labels, the gas to drive to the post office, parking fees.  If I were one of the 1% instead of the bottom of the 99% I could have subsidized the costs of shipping the publication.   But I'm not.  The fact that people are assuming that I am charging too much for shipping leaves me feeling very uncomfortable about doing any further publications.

I completely understand why the publishing industry is going more and more towards digital publishing.  But textiles can never be entirely captured in a photograph.

So I ask you, gentle readers, if you have ordered A Good Yarn and feel it is worth the purchase price *AND* the cost of the shipping when you have received it, please let the weaving community know.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Guaranteed Results

Weavers sometimes ask me if I don't get bored weaving the 'same' thing over and over again.  I can honestly say I don't.  It was, in fact, the one attribute that allowed me to know that I could be a production weaver.  I knew I could work hard - that indeed, I liked the physicality of weaving - and while I liked the challenge of designing new textiles I also knew that I could face the 'slog' of weaving them in sufficient quantities to make trying to sell them worthwhile.  Not having to think about what I'm doing I can just get into the 'zone' and use weaving as a working meditation.  Very soothing - as long as everything is going right!

The thing is, once I've done the sampling and developed a quality of cloth that I'm satisfied with, after that it's just a matter of different colourways, winding the warps, dressing the loom and weaving them off.  The results are guaranteed.  No worries!

Here are the four purples that have gone into the warp on the loom  now.  They aren't quite 'true' to life but close enough.

Here is the first scarf being crossed with a dark green.  The dye job is purposefully not level - there are areas of lighter green which faintly show in the woven cloth.  If you look closely you might be able to see some of the differences in shade in the photo below.  The dark value of green darkens the purples considerably but you can see the different shades in the warp.  The two cones in the centre of the photo above have areas where the dye is almost not there and the yarn is more the natural beige of the soy protein.

Below is the second scarf.  For this one I went the other direction in terms of value - the weft is a fairly pale lavender.

I'm not sure what I'll use for weft on the other two scarves on this warp.  The goal is to use up as much of my stash as possible so I'll be rummaging through my Tencel shelves to see what I've got left.  I think I've got a really dark purple that will be perfect on this warp.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Here We Go Round Again

Assembly, Part II.  And Done!  All that is left now is to haul everything back down the stairs and over to the annex for storage.

The guild room was somewhat cooler given the t-storm that rattled the rafters and the rain last night, but not by much.  Although I should not complain - it was 'only' 80F up there.  :}  It could have been far worse.

Worked on two more teaching contracts and will be sending those off today (email) and tomorrow (snail mail).  I think there is still one more group to finish workshop details for February, one group for March and then.....well, then there is May.

I'm seriously thinking of going to visit my friend Kerstin in Sweden and she's suggested a side trip to London.  So I have been toying with the idea of trying to find some guild program or seminar bookings while there.  But so far I've not done too much about it.  As an introvert it is very difficult for me to do what are called 'cold calls' - that is contact someone out of the blue* and ask if they want to hire me.  So if anyone in the UK knows of a group that might want to book me for a presentation.....? I can do Magic in the Water, A Good Yarn, The Efficient Weaver or talk about selling hand wovens although that may not be applicable in the UK as I'm not familiar with their sales culture.  :}  I can talk about being a professional/production weaver for 35+ years if anyone is interested in that, though..

As for A Good Yarn:  Cotton, it is now listed in my Art Fire Store.  Prices there are in US dollars.  If you are Canadian, contact me directly and I can send a Paypal invoice in Canadian dollars.  Since the currencies are pretty close to par at the minute the price is the same but you get to use your own currency which makes things a little easier?

And yes I can send across the pond.  Contact me for shipping details.

Now it is time for lunch, finishing off those contracts, dressing the loom with the next warp and so on.

*Someone once asked me how I decided where to teach.  I told her I go where I'm invited.  :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tackling the Queue

Today I finished stapling the last of the samples and hope to get up to the guild room early enough tomorrow before the room is set to 'bake'.  It rained tonight so that should have cooled things off somewhat.

In addition to that I've been tackling the paperwork on my desk, finished weaving the current scarf warp and wound more warps.  There are several more to wind and then, of course, they have to be woven.  All before my student arrives, with any luck, because I need to dress the small loom with a tea towel warp for her to begin with.

In the background of the photo you can see the spool rack with the next tea towel warp ready to go onto the AVL.  After noticing the rent in my office curtains, I realized that the warp ready to be beamed on the AVL would work for curtain fabric so I'll put an extra long warp on, weave off the yardage for the curtains, using up some very fine soy protein fibre yarn I've had kicking around the studio for far too long, and then switch over to tea towels.  I doubt I'll use up the soy protein, but the curtain fabric will make a small dent in it, at the very least.

One of my goals with the current run of scarves is to use up stash - the thick (approx. 5/2 size) soy protein that I dyed several years ago, but also bits and pieces of other yarn in my stash for weft.  In this I can say I have already had some success as I've used up a couple of skeins of hand dyed 10/2 Tencel I'd had dyed especially for me.  I think there are half a dozen of the skeins left which I hope to use up sometime soon on another run of scarves.  But that will be in the future as I doubt I'll get much more done than these scarves and the tea towels before I start traveling again.

What I will feel inspired to work on when I get back from WA and TX in September, I'm not sure, but no doubt I'll take another stab at stash reduction.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tour de France

The warp is more green in real life - this photo looks very blue

The other day I did something I've never done before - sat and watched the Tour de France with some friends.

The show had an interesting graphic that showed the elevations of the route for the day and I thought about how life could be expressed in much the same sort of graphic.

The deadlines we set ourselves would be the summits and our progress could be charted as we slog along to meet those deadlines, sometimes feeling like it is uphill all the way - then when the summit (deadline) is reached there is a short period of freewheeling until the next deadline rears its head and the slog begins all over again.  :}

With enough copies of A Good Yarn ready for sale I've been working on other things - paperwork stacked up needing attention on my desk for one and getting back to scarf production.  There is enough yarn left for 7 or 8 more warps and I got one on this afternoon and wove the first scarf.

The sewing is all done and there are 3 more samples to be stapled.  I'm hoping to assemble the rest of the 75 packets Monday or Tuesday and then move everything up to the annex for storage.  I want to put this project to bed (so to speak) before my student arrives on the 30th.  I'd also like to have all the scarf warps woven before she comes, but for that we'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime I'll continue to sit at the loom and work towards the next summit/deadline.

Currently reading Willful Behavior by Donna Leon

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Magazines have a long lead time - 3 to 9 months is not uncommon.  So I'll send an article off and then promptly forget about it as more immediate deadlines and current projects take up my brain power.

Getting an envelope with comp copies of Fibre Focus (the magazine of the Ontario Handweavers Guild) in the mail today was a surprise but a bigger surprise awaited me inside.  Not only had they given my work the front cover ---- they put another of my pieces on the back!

I've had front covers before but this is a first for the back, too.

A nice birthday week present.  :)

For more info on the Ontario Handweavers Guild

Currently reading - and enjoying the peeks into the textile industry near Leeds in the 1920's - Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


See that rent in the curtain?  It's not supposed to be there.  It just appeared the other day, sparking the thought that I really need to weave some more fabric to  make new curtains.

These curtains are old - I bought the fabric in 1974, just before we decided to move from our old house to this one and wound up using the fabric to make curtains for the 'office' a while back.

We have handwoven curtains/drapes in several rooms in the house.  Guess it's time for one more?

Now to decide what to do....and when!  Deadlines are looming and I've really got a lot of work to get done in the next 6 weeks.  Starting in mid September, I start travelling again.  Seattle Weavers Guild program on Sept. 15, workshop in Texas the following weekend, sales events.  I'm hoping that if no one messes with the curtains they will last another 6 months.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Difficult Day

Recently I found out that the railway museum which my brother supported as a volunteer and then as an employee and where, ultimately he died, is establishing a memorial for him.  Today I found out that they are planning on using my eulogy as part of that memorial.

My brother Don was a huge supporter of my efforts as a weaver and writer.  As I've written elsewhere he turned his basement over to be used as the assembly station and storage for Magic and other publications that I did subsequently.

Putting together A Good Yarn has brought back memories of my brother and today I've melted in emotion at the thought of the memorial finally coming together and that my words at the service will be used to honour him.

"I can think of no greater example to follow than Don's.
Be bold enough to have a dream.
Be brave enough to try to make it come true.
Live life with joy and love.
And every day, work to be a better person."

My younger - my only - brother (and sibling) taught me to be a better person.  He will always be in my heart, especially today as I pick up the text pages for A Good Yarn and finish assembling the first 75 copies.

How I wish he were here in person rather than spirit (although I know that he is) to enjoy this next publication with me.

detail of jacket I wove for Don - Don charted the design of the Royal Hudson engine - jacket was sewn by Darlene Wainwright and is now part of the railway museum collection

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rambling Thoughts

 One of several bins full of the first half of the assembled project pages

Today I worked some more on stapling the second half of the samples, sewed some more of the fringe on all four side samples, beamed a warp, spent way too much time on the computer and thought about how producing this sort of publication is probably a whole lot like giving birth (although I wouldn't know for sure as I've not actually had that experience!)

From the time of conception until today it has been just about exactly 9 months and apart from the month away in March I worked on this project nearly every day.

There were a number of reasons why I decided on 150 (in actual fact 145 copies to be sold) rather than more.  It took 10 years to sell the copies of Magic and quite frankly I didn't want to have to work that hard, finance the project for that long or have lots of copies hanging around for that many years until they finally sold.

If there is nothing else that I have learned the last four years is that 'tomorrow' is not a guarantee.  It's been a bit schizophrenic as I try to live my life in the now while being all too aware that if I am going to accomplish what I would like to do, I also have to plan for the future.  After all, there are events that I want to participate in and therefore things that must be accomplished in order for that participation to be of value for everyone - such as teaching events and sales opportunities.

Preparing for these events is not something that can be accomplished in a day or two.  The creation of textiles from scratch or even teaching about the creation of textiles - or writing a publication - falls squarely into the 'slow' movement.  Nothing about preparing for these events can be rushed or be completed in a short period of time.  The only reason A Good Yarn got done in 9 months is that I've done this before, had all of the equipment needed to do the job and by steadily applying myself to get down into the studio every day that I could - which means most days, holiday or no - and by having a deadline by which I wanted to get everything done, I was able to make that deadline - or near enough.

So I declare today, July 9, to be the 'birth' day of A Good Yarn:  Cotton.  Since today is my birthday, it seemed appropriate.  :)  

As some of you have surmised, this might possibly be the start of a series.  It will depend on how quickly AGY: Cotton sells whether or not I find it worthwhile to begin the next.

I am very grateful for the good wishes sent today and that I am still here, still weaving.  I'm on Bonus Time and I try to remember that every day is a gift - a gift that I should not take for granted - because so many people run out of time far too soon.

Currently reading Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Keeping On

I started by stapling 50 of each sample but realized I have more than 50 names on my contact list.  Since I'm an optimist, I decided that I'd better begin with 75 copies (half) so I've been doing 25 more of each in preparation to assembling the sample pages next week.  Hopefully Monday, although the forecaster finally seems to have got it right and the warm sunny weather they have promised has arrived.

Thankfully the a/c is working and the studio, which is in the basement, is nice and cool.

My proof reader has completed the project notes and is now working on the rest of the pages, I took some photos for the cover shot - still not entirely sure I like what I've got but I have to stop procrastinating - and we are planning on carrying all the samples up to the guild room Sunday night so I can spread out on the big work tables in the room.

Unfortunately the guild room always gets very hot when the weather is warm so I'm going to have to plough through as quickly as possible so that I don't bake up there.  My procrastination is 'punishing' me - if I'd got this all done a week ago the room would have been quite comfortable!

I did manage to weave a scarf today but there is still one more to go on this warp so perhaps I can get that done tomorrow in between stapling, contract details for a conference, etc.  I also have to do the sales tax return which means balancing the May ledger and entering/balancing the figures for June before I can do that.  Fortunately I've got a couple of weeks yet so that's been postponed until I can get the Big Project off the ground.  When you are a one person business, you have to get good at juggling to meet deadlines....

Long story short - I will be sending out details on July 9 with shipping to begin July 16.  So I've sort of nearly made my arbitrary deadline?

Currently reading Believing the Lies by Elizabeth George

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


It's beginning to look a whole lot like!

This weekend I finished wet finishing the last 3 samples, cut them apart, continued stapling (50 each to begin) and finalized the project notes.  This afternoon I printed out the pages, popped them into protective pockets and assembled what there is - so far.  And look!  It's a book!  Nearly.

Today I had all sorts of plans to jump on the writing of the fibre characteristics but two things happened.  Well, one didn't happen, more to the point.  I'm still waiting on an email from a supplier with details (if they know them and will share them) of how their yarns are spun.  I can speculate but it would be much better to have the actual information.

The second thing that happened is that cousins I have not seen in at least 10 years came through town and we (mom and I) met them for lunch.  It was great to talk to them, especially Nancy as she shared that she is learning how to weave (yay!  one more for the warped side!).

Afterwards I had to run around town and take care of some critical business and by the time I got home there was no more go in my get-up-and so I wound up having a snack and nostly played Mahjongg on the computer.

Now the afternoon is about gone and I think I'm going to go weave a scarf, finishing off that blue/pink warp and leave the writing for tomorrow.

Currently reading After the Ice by Steven Mithen - not sure I've got the time to finish this fairly lengthy look at history (500 pages) since the last great ice event - as much as I try to stay in the present moment there are a lot of details regarding future events - contracts for teaching in '13, finishing my own 'book', getting ready for the fall sales and the arrival of a private student at the end of this month....and only so much energy and time in the day....