Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Taking Care of the Details

Yesterday was all about me - maintaining me in several ways.  Today I have been buzzing around trying to tie up loose ends.

With a very busy 3 weeks (or more) still to get through it would be easy to let little things fall through the cracks.

My goal of having a representative selection of the new scarf design is well underway.  I had managed to get 4 or 5 scarves done for the show at the U a couple of weeks ago, wove a couple more short warps when I could get to them, wove one scarf when I got home finishing that warp, dressed the loom again last night and wove one of the two scarves this afternoon.

Three scarves have gone through the washer and dryer, and 3 more of the new design are currently in the dryer.  I'll press all 6 at once later today.  Tomorrow they can be trimmed and tagged and delivered to the show on Friday when we incorporate the inventory brought back from the last show into the inventory already packed in the van.

We also dealt with renewing insurance (house and business) this morning, and I got an email re: the Handwoven article - they want more info so I'll try to pull that together today and/or tomorrow.  The deadline is Nov. 14 and I will be long gone by then so it must be done before we leave on Monday.

Doug wanted to get my attache case and his two small 'bags' for his cell phone and wallet repaired but the shoe repair shop was booked up so we'll get those repaired after the trip.  The van could have gone in next week for the new audio system, but we'll be away so that, too, will get dealt with when we get home.

Doug is gathering up stuff for the trip, obsessing about which lightbulbs to buy for the booth.  With incandescent lights going the way of the doh-doh, he wants to find the 'perfect' lamp to best show off the weaving.  Good lighting is so very important or else the colours will look 'dead' and unattractive.

My small fill-in order of yarn arrived and I've contacted the two people who also placed orders with mine, hoping I can deliver during the craft fair here.  Plus I need to fetch some roving from the annex for a couple other people to look at.

I still need to pack some copies of A Good Yarn: Cotton in case weavers at the two big shows want to buy while I'm in their cities, saving shipping.

Doug caught the laundry up on Monday and Tuesday and now we both need to figure out what to wear and pack our suitcases.  I also need to hit the pharmacy because I forgot to stock up on the Niacin (which I take instead of other cholesterol lowering medications, all of which I have adverse effects to).  Unfortunately the heavy snowfall caught everyone off guard and the roads here are a mess and the young immortals are still roaring around as though it is summer, not winter driving conditions.  So many of them still have not figured out that while they may have four wheel drive, they don't have four wheel stopping on the ice!

And Friday I get my flu jabs, guaranteeing that I am going to feel icky for the show.  I may leave Doug in charge as much as possible and hide out at home.  If I don't get the Handwoven stuff ready today or tomorrow, I will have to do it during the show.

Details, details!

Currently reading  Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

the view from my kitchen window at noon....

We missed the local excitement Saturday night as we were still on our way home from Seattle.  The 7. something earthquake off the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwai) was felt here in some places but no damage resulted.  We did run into the snowfall, though, and drove the last two hours home in the blowing snow, in the dark.  Which sort of cemented my inclination to stop going to do the Seattle Guild sale the end of October.  I've driven home just way too many times in similar conditions.  So for the time being, I'm thinking that this year has been my last at that show.

No substantive weaving info in this post - just a lot of rambling thoughts about life and living.  Nothing like a long drive to let thoughts chase themselves around in the back of the mind, examining various and sundry aspects of what is happening, what one would like, what one is actually dealing with on a day to day basis.

I have made no secret that I am dealing with a number of chronic health issues.  Many readers have thanked me for sharing my journey in this regard.  What I have really learned in the past four and a half years is that everyone - and I do mean everyone - is dealing with sh*t (pardon, but there is just no other word for it!)

No matter what I have going on, someone someplace is dealing with much worse.  This blog is just one way I can vent about my sh*t rather than burdening my husband with my frustrations because he's got his own sh*t and feels helpless about mine.  But let's face it, a gal has to vent occasionally!)

One of the things that happens when you have a lifestyle disease is that people assume that your lifestyle has contributed to the development of said condition.  It has been enormously frustrating to me to be confronted with this attitude when, upon sober reflection, each 'disease' has arisen in spite of my lifestyle.

Time after time I have gone through the questionnaires, done the reading, searching for why I have these things when I have been doing it 'right' - or as right as I can.  Face it, no one is that smart or strong!

So exactly what is my list of problems?

First and foremost, allergies.  Born with them, developed more as time went by.  My food allergies are in fact allergies - they are not 'just' sensitivities.  How do I know?  Had the tests.  When I consume an allergen the Ige response is initiated and the result is an immune system on high alert, a flood of histamines and an increase in inflammation.  (There are other responses that go beyond this but that is likely Too Much Information!) This inflammation can occur anywhere, often in muscles that are injured but also in my arteries, including my heart arteries.  This has exacerbated the genetic coronary artery disease prevalent in my family and from which my brother died at the tender age of 51 with a low level of cholesterol in his blood and no obvious signs of heart disease otherwise.

As a result of adverse drug reactions I now have hyper-tension (high blood pressure) made worse by my allergies.

As a result of the hyper alert immune system I have non-Hodgekin's lymphoma - a rather rare type (Small B Cell) which develops in people who have had continuous assaults on their immune system.

As a result of my allergies I have had chronic nutritional deficiencies which have led to other issues from time to time.

As a result of my allergies and nutritional deficiencies I now have osteopenia - a warning sign of encroaching osteoporosis.

All of these conditions are pretty much affected by lifestyle and as I looked over the list of recommendations each time a diagnosis came down the chute, I checked off most of them - healthy diet, check, active life, check, weight bearing exercise, check, non-smoking, check, non-drinking, check, etc., etc., etc.

So why the heck do I have to deal with all of this????  (Unfair!  Unfair!)

I got quite depressed in September when the osteoporosis was rearing it's head.  If I was doing everything right, then WHY?

Fact is, if I hadn't been doing everything right, I simply would not be here, now.  I would likely have died a few years ago and that is just about as simple and straight forward as it gets.  Because I have lived a 'healthy' lifestyle, these conditions were held at bay.  My healthy lifestyle has quite simply prolonged my life so that I am still here, still active, still able to do most of what I would like to do, and will probably be able to continue to do these things for a few more years.

How many more?  Well none of us has the answer to that!  Once again I bump up against the reality that life is short and precious.  We do not have time to waste feeling sorry for ourselves.  We can only do the very best that we can, each and every day.

"When you are going through hell...keep going"  Winston Churchill

Currently reading Heaven is High by Kate Wilhelm.  I picked up the last of the series currently available (a new Barbara Holloway novel is due out in December of this year) and will soon be up to date.  I've enjoyed Wilhelm's books so much that I will likely start reading her other mystery series.  I read the first one when it came out many moons ago so will likely begin with that one as a refresher, then track down the rest.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Seattle Sale

Here is a shot of the demo area.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


The drive this morning/afternoon was fairly uneventful and we arrived at the B&B sooner than we expected.  A nice walk in the nearby park, including a slog up to the top of the water tower for an almost aerial view of Seattle, then over to the cathedral to show Doug where it was and a quick trip to the nearby commercial area to run a couple of errands and have dinner. 

Tomorrow we'll be at the cathedral early so that I can meet my friend with my inventory and get checked in and then.....the fun begins.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Gaining Wisdom

By making mistakes and fixing the errors, we learn valuable lessons.  These lessons become what we call 'experience'.  Experience morphs into confidence because when we make the same mistake we know what to do to repair it.  Experience and confidence become the basis for wisdom.  When we are wise enough, we know that we will never know it all and accept our errors from which we continue to learn, become more experienced and confident that we will recognize a mistake, sometimes before we actually make it.  And if not, we are wise enough to laugh and put another notch in our belt of experience.

Currently reading Malice Prepense by Kate Wilhelm

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sunny on the Hill

Set up went fairly smoothly.  This is a small show so we didn't put all our inventory out.  Actually even at bigger shows we always hold stuff back to fill in holes as they (hopefully!) develop.

I left Doug there, came home and wove another sample for the designer - something less polished, less 'perfect' - I get the nicest rejection letters.  :^)

Heading to exercise class now, then back home to shower, eat and change in order to relieve Doug for a late lunch.

The space we're in is the cafeteria, lots of natural light, especially when the fog burned off about 9 am.  And the best thing?  No sign of the predicted snow flurries.  :D

Friday, October 19, 2012


Finished the tomato warp this morning and wound the next one - a mixture of browns, golds and sage greens along with Carob brown Bambu 7.

I had purposely let my inventory of Bambu 7 dwindle, thinking I was done using it in production so when I went to put together the yarns to complement the textured rayon I was stymied!  There wasn't really enough of anything to do my regular production warp of 4 scarves.

So how much yarn did I have?  There was enough of the teal for a warp of two scarves (partly because I'd lost 6 ounces of the textured rayon in the rat's nest winding it onto a cone).  There was enough China Red for a warp for 3 scarves.  There was enough Carob for a warp of two scarves.  And there was enough Onyx for another warp of two scarves.  Good enough for test marketing a new line.  If I can get enough of them woven before the last 3 shows of this season.

How did I know how much yarn was left?  Our old friend mathematics came to the rescue.

Bambu 7 is equivalent to a 5/2 cotton so about 2100 yards per pound.  (840 x 5 divided by 2= 2100)  Divide 2100 by 16 (ounces in a pound) for a total of about 130 yards per ounce.

I weighed the cone (taking care to minus out the cone weight) then multiplied the number of ounces by 130 yards.  Voila!  I knew approximately how much yarn was on the cone.

It was a simple matter to then calculate the yardage needed to do a warp for 2, 3 or 4 scarves and see how long a warp I could wind with the partial cones I had left in my stash.

The article for Handwoven just got sent - and then I remembered I'd not included the drafts!  So I'll get that done and sent off.  And hopefully I can dress the loom with the brown/gold warp and weave a scarf yet today.

Currently reading Death and Judgement by Donna Leon

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tomato Soup

I kept thinking about tomato/vegetable soup while weaving this.  Perhaps it has something to do with the weather or the colours (which are somewhat brighter in life) - who knows how the brain makes these tiny little connections?

Took most of the afternoon to deal with some administrivia and the article for Handwoven but that is pretty much done, just sitting on the back burner overnight.  I'll re-read it in the morning and decide if it needs any further tweaking.  Part of the challenge with writing for a magazine is that you are constrained by how many words you get to explain what you are doing.  A sort of 'creative limitation' if you will.  I think the samples are all dry now so I'll box those up tomorrow as well and make sure the box gets put into the truck for the trip south.  It will be much cheaper to ship while I'm across the border and will probably get there about the same time as if I mailed it from here Friday or Monday.

Started coning off the next rayon skein.  The last two are both 2 eight ounce skeins and I had no difficulty with the smaller format skein.  I'm pleased enough with the quality of the cloth that I will order some more of this yarn, hoping they can send the 2-fer yarn package.  I will also have to order in more Bambu 7 because I'm out of the colours I would like to pair with the variegated colours in these skeins.  :}  But I think I've got a good solid line for next year - the few I've gotten made now will test the waters, so to speak.

It's time to load the van for a show, so of course it's raining.  One of the weather apps is forecasting sn*w for Saturday so we'll see which one is correct.  The first sn*w of the season is always such a shock to so many people and the U is up on top of the hill overlooking the town.  We have winter tread on both vehicles and it looked like the tire shop at the bottom of the hill where we live was doing good business all last week but you just know there are still way too many vehicles out there on the roads with poor winter tread on.  :(

Doug will load the van tomorrow and once the boxes are all off the floor I will try to run a damp mop over it.  I just know it needs it.  Since I really want to crash when we get back from Calgary if I do the floors now that chore won't be hanging over my head when I get back.  I now understand why my mother would run around like a headless hen getting the house tidied before we'd go on a trip...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Progress on Several Fronts

This photo shows the unpressed cloth on the left and the pressed cloth on the right.  The unpressed cloth is nice enough but after pressing it gleams.  I confess I'm a magpie so anything shiny is always more attractive to me than something that isn't, but I just feel the colours look so much richer after pressing.

Worked on the Handwoven article most of the afternoon yesterday and part of this afternoon.  I think I've got the explanatory text pretty much done although I'll proof read and edit at least once more, probably twice.

All that is left now is to take the final measurements of the various samples, write up the project notes and box everything up.  We will leave for Seattle early on Tuesday morning and I don't want to be messing around trying to finish this up over the weekend or on Monday.

I did do one thing which I don't know will make it into the magazine - as part of getting to know the yarns that were sent to me I tested one of them to see if it would full.  I had to work very hard to get it to full as much as it did, which wasn't a whole lot.  That's the butterfly on the left.

The butterfly on the right is the yarn I had on hand and I worked it about half as long as the one on the left and it's pretty much a solid mass.  I can tug some of the strands apart if I really work at it, but although the two yarns are both merino the one of the left has been treated to prevent fulling.  It is what is called a 'washable' wool.

Which of course just means that you can toss the cloth into the washing machine several times before it will start to full for all wool is 'washable', you just can't agitate it every time you clean it or you'll keep adding fulling.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rat's Nest Update

And this is how that rat's nest of a skein looks woven.  The colours are fairly close to true in this photo and I'm very pleased, even though the two scarves that I will get from the truncated skein are much more expensive in terms of how much yarn I threw away.  I should have had enough yarn for 3 scarves.  :(

I am pleased enough that I will try ordering more of this yarn but I will ask nicely if they can supply 2  eight ounce skeins instead of a single pound skein.  Out of the four colourways I ordered, two were one pound skeins and two were 2 eight ounce skeins.  I'm wondering if the dyer realized that people were losing too much yarn in the unskeining process.  I know the pound skein is more economical for the dyer, but very expensive for the weaver (or knitter) if others have experienced the same tangled mess I did.  Since I'm a pretty experienced weaver with lots of good equipment, I don't think I'm alone in facing this sort of rat's nest.

Just about to go record the details of the samples for Handwoven and do the wet finishing.  Then lunch and a quick trip to town.  I'm expecting a rather large cheque that I desperately need to pay the bills plus a wayward parcel that USPS seems unable to deliver in spite of my having the correct mailing address.  Out of the hundreds and hundreds of parcels I've mailed all over North America, this is the first time I've run into this problem.

Currently reading Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King

Sunday, October 14, 2012


It took Doug all day yesterday to carefully fold and pack all the inventory we had in the store room.  Although we don't need it all for the first show, which is really quite a small show comparatively speaking, once we load up the van it won't be unloaded again except for when we are actually doing shows.  When we leave for Seattle the van will get backed into the carport and we'll take the truck south.  

I can't even begin to tell you what the total retail value is in the 11 boxes of inventory but it's more than I care to think about!  Since we do travel to do shows, I have business insurance but not nearly enough to cover the loss of all that inventory - perhaps enough to replace the yarn.  But with insurance so terribly high I have not increased the coverage for travel.  The chances of something wiping out my entire inventory are pretty slim, but it's not something I'm willing to gamble on - hence the insurance policy.

I also have a million in liability coverage for my booth - for one thing it is required by some of the large shows, for another it is just a good idea in case someone trips over your carpet or something and winds up hurting themselves in your booth.

And here is the finished cloth.  There was too much to be done with a hand iron, too little to fire up a wounded Puff, so I brought my little Elna flat bed press home and got the cloth pressed this afternoon after lace.

I am actually very pleased with how it turned out.  Now to see if the designer is, too.

This warp is also a great example of how very light values advance and darker values recede.  There are exactly 2 yellow threads on the outside of the narrow stripes on each side, with 4 threads side by side in the larger stripe.

And yet look how those pale yellow threads pop right out!

Also made some progress on the Handwoven article - the weaving part.  I'm hoping to finish the weaving tomorrow and get cracking on the writing.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wholesale Considerations

two different qualities of cloth for consideration

Doug and I have been talking some about the possibility of the contract work for the designer so the thought of selling wholesale has been on my mind quite a lot.

So, why would one even consider selling on wholesale, which is generally about 50% of the retail price?

There are a number of reasons.

The designer will need the cloth delivered to her during the winter in order to get her product made in time for her 'season' which is the summer.  Winter, once the craft fair season is done, is essentially dead in terms of income.  Having some guaranteed income in Jan/Feb or even into March, would be amazing.

Working on contract means that you get an order, you make the stuff and you get paid.  No waiting around for just the right customer to see your product and buy it.  No taking photos, posting to the internet, listing on Art Fire and waiting to see if there is any interest (i.e. purchases).  No placing the product in a shop on consignment, waiting for it to sell and then get paid by the 15th of the month following the sale.  No shop wear or shrinkage (shop-lifting).

Little to no marketing costs.  No hefty booth fees to pay in March for an event happening the following November.  No long drives with all the attendant costs of gas to get there, eating out, hotel bills, big city parking.  No sleeping in strange beds in rooms that may - or may not - be quiet, trying to figure out where the bathroom is tonight, in the dark.  No white knuckle drives on winter condition roads, wondering if you are going to arrive safely or wind up in the ditch, hoping a tow truck will happen by - because you know there isn't any cell service in the mountains.

So yes - I am keeping fingers crossed the designer likes my cloth enough to buy.  Yes, I know that her minimum order is 50 meters.  Yes, I am willing to weave 50 plus meters of cloth (because I have to allow for the shrinkage during wet finishing) of entirely the same thing.  I have done it before and I know what I have to do to get the job done.

I don't expect to be run off my feet working for this person so I am hoping that I can continue - at least for another year or two - to travel to teach, to do a few craft fairs in the fall, to produce another 'book' or two.  Having a wholesale client will allow me a lot of freedom to work on the 'book(s)' because I won't be scrambling to find the money to pay the bills when there isn't any income.

But ultimately there are no guarantees.  All I can do is show the designer my cloth, see if it is acceptable,  then make my plans if it is.  And wait for God to laugh - or not.

Currently reading About Face by Donna Leon

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Activities

weaving the cloth with the back side up - it's VERY red!

working on the Handwoven article

This morning I finished threading the scarlet warp, ran to town to pick up the parcel with the yarns for the Handwoven article, started sleying and had lunch.  After lunch I visited with my neighbour, finished sleying, tied on, generated the liftplan and wound bobbins.  

Then Doug needed help on the roof of the garage (not my favourite place!) but since it had stopped raining he wanted to get that dealt with before it started again.

Back in the studio I opened the box of yarns, worked out tentative epi for each, then started rooting through my books to check for a photo and technical information I wanted to include in the article but needed to refresh my memory.  Amazingly I found what I was looking for, although it was more theoretical than I remembered, but at least I have the citation.

Finally powered up the loom and started weaving on the scarlet warp.  Dare I say everything is going smoothly, or would that be tempting fate too much?

Doug has gone off to watch football with a buddy so I'm on my own for the evening.  I'm going to make some dinner, watch a bit of tv my own self and then see if I can get started sorting out the text for the article and perhaps even weave another yard on the scarlet.

For Louise Penny fans - filming has started on bringing her Inspector Gamache series to tv.  No air date yet, but it will be interesting to see if the series measures up to the books.  In the meantime I'm still on the list for The Beautiful Mystery at the library, hoping to be able to read it soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

With a Little Care

From time to time someone will casually mention on a chat group that 'you can't weave unbalanced weave structures on a counter balanced loom'.

Unfortunately they rarely qualify this statement to say that on a cb loom with horses you can weave anything you want to weave.  The injunction is mainly aimed at cb looms with rollers like my Leclerc Fanny.  And even then, if you have a Leclerc Fanny or Mira and a 'shed regulator' you only need to adjust the level of your warp and again you can weave pretty much anything you want to.

Even on my elderly Fanny without a shed regulator I can still weave an unbalanced weave with a little care.  I'm weaving samples for an article for Handwoven and chose to weave a couple of weave structures with 1 against 3 or 3 against 1 lifts/sinks.

The Fanny is much happier lowering 3 than raising 3, but I still managed - with a little care - to get my samples woven - waffle and huck lace.  A low profile shuttle would have made things a little easier, but I was too lazy to go to the other loom to get one.  A wider warp would have been more of a problem, but for this narrow 10" sample warp, I managed just fine.  :)

The photo above shows one shaft being lowered, 3 being raised.

Currently reading Best Defense by Kate Wilhelm

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Contents Under Pressure

Since coming home from down south I have been...grumpy...which is probably the polite word for how I've been.

While cutting samples for AGY: Rayon apart this morning I realized that there had just been way too much pressure of one sort or another and I needed to dial back on that or else my health was going to suffer (not to mention my marriage!)

I have done everything I can think of to stabilize my health and with my family doctor on side I feel that there really isn't anything more than can be done except keep an eye on the several chronic conditions I am living with and make sure that my immune system is as healthy as can be.  To that end I will be getting both a flu and pneumonia vaccination as soon as they are ready - early in November.  I'd hoped for earlier because I'll be well into the show season by then, but there's not much I can do about the arrival of the vaccine.   I'll get the shingles vaccination once I'm done the last of my Rituximab treatments next spring.  I will also get the results of the bone density scan, probably next week, and find out what we should do about the early signs of osteoporosis.  :(  I had always assumed that I would never have problems with that because I have what are classified as "big" bones.  However it was pointed out that it doesn't matter how big your bones are if they are porous.  :P~

With problems with Puff over the weekend putting me even further behind I found myself fretting about the samples for the designer and Handwoven, AGY:Rayon, the upcoming shows etc., etc.  As I cut the samples apart I reviewed the 5 that I have got ready, the two in the pipeline and wondered what I would do for the other 3 to make a total of 10 samples.

And then I realized that any additional samples would just be variations on the yarns I've already used, so why not stop at 7?  There may be other advantages to having fewer samples - a smaller packet to mail might mean a reduction in postage (although there is no guarantee on that - I can't figure out final cost until the package is completely finished so I can weigh the parcel) - but certainly a lower selling price reflecting the fewer number of samples which would possibly make the package more attractive to buyers.  So I will finish the last two samples as planned and who knows?  AGY:Rayon might even be ready in time for Christmas.  Stay tuned!

I did manage to beam the warp for the Handwoven article but was not happy with the first sample.  Since I'm short of weft I am going to unweave the 6" I did and will begin again with a different weave structure.  The sample warp for the designer is beamed and I'm really quite anxious to get to that warp.

Working with another creative person for a purpose I have never tackled before has given me license to really let loose and work with colours completely different from those I generally use.  After discussing with the designer her product and examining their website it was obvious that saturated bright and bold colours were the ones she liked to work with, so I chose a brilliant scarlet red as the main colour, blue, green and a touch of yellow for the stripe.  I am hoping to have two qualities of cloth to show her in Vancouver and then we'll see if I get a contract.  If so, her minimum order will be 50 meters.  Good thing Doug not only knows how to run the press, but how to repair it!

The good news there is that a replacement part is only going to cost $35 plus shipping (and duty if it gets caught by customs).

Tonight I'll trim the scarves/shawls we pressed on Monday, tomorrow I'll price/tag and then everything that I can do I will have done to be ready for the first show on Oct. 20/21.  And then it will be a 5 weekend marathon including a 600 mile trip (each way) to Seattle, home again for the 2nd show here, then drive to Vancouver (about 480 miles), from Vancouver to Calgary (not sure on the mileage on that trip) and then home from Calgary (about 480 miles from there to here).

I've promised myself that I will be allowed to crash for at least a week once I get home.  I've got a stack of jigsaw puzzles and I intend to work my way through a bunch of them while catching up on the tv shows I will have missed during the craft fair 'season'.  Luv my PVR.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Giving Thanks

With a grateful heart I give thanks:

for this life with all it's challenges and lessons and that both of us are still here to enjoy a beautiful day.

for finding my passion 'early' and the courage and support to pursue it

for the places I have been able to travel to and the people I have met along the way

for a future - however long that may be - in which I can continue to play with thread and share what I learn about making cloth

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Working Out Who is Boss

At times Doug was curled into a fetal position in order to see and work in the cavity but in the end he prevailed.  Doug is the boss of Puff (my name for the press)!  With any luck at all he can actually get some pressing done tomorrow.....and I can work on the list of things I intended to do today....

Keeping God Amused

I had a plan.  It was a good plan.  I was going to get soooo much accomplished this weekend.  Can you hear the chuckling now?

Doug offered to take over the pressing this weekend, which would free me up to work on the samples for Handwoven and the designer.  Great!  I was looking forward to having the 5 buckets of textiles pressed ready for the next step - trimming the fringes of the scarves/shawls Tuesday evening at guild, spending Wednesday getting everything tagged and priced so that Doug could start loading boxes with inventory on Thursday.  The van was going to have it's winter tread put on sometime during the week so once we loaded the van for the first show on Oct. 20/21 it would just get loaded back into the van ready for the next sale.  Everything was going to go smoothly.

Hear the chuckling yet?

We went up to the annex and I reviewed what needed to be done to the shawls/scarves, the finishing press for the tea towels and the yardage for the 'after' samples for A Good Yarn: Rayon, then came home to tackle some of the stuff here.

Well, it was lunch time, so why not start with that?

I hadn't even finished eating when the phone rang.  "The press has broken down, I can't get the press to release the cloth.  Come now!"

Off I went - by the time I got there Doug had figured out how to release the top 'jaw' but obviously it had to be fixed before he could continue so the boiler got shut down and he ran looking for parts and pieces to cobble a fix together.

The press is very old and made from cast iron so getting a replacement part is not really possible and even if it were, we need the press back up and running today!

I will be heading back up there in a few minutes to act as mechanic's helper.  In the meantime I started cutting apart the loom state samples for the rayon chenille Diversified Plain Weave sample for A Good Yarn: Rayon - and ran out of masking tape.

Surely you hear the laughter now????

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Rat's Nest

Shortly after this photo was taken I finally gave up trying to salvage the rest of this skein.  I'd spent the better part of 2 hours winding it off and decided that I have enough yarn for at least one scarf warp and that was enough of an investment of my time in this skein.

I don't much like one pound skeins, especially when they are slithery textured yarn as this is.  In fact I thought the put up was 2 eight ounce skeins, so imagine my dismay when I discovered that of the four skeins I'd bought two of them were in fact one pound.

The first one pound skein wound off without too much difficulty but this one started misbehaving right from the get go and by the time I realized the squirrel cage swift wasn't doing a good job of controlling it, it was too tangled to try the umbrella swift instead.  So I carefully put it onto the Leclerc metal swift but in the end the loose ends tangled around the handle and the cross arms as well as themselves.

I threw away 6+ ounces of yarn with deep regret because the colourway is really pretty and I'd been looking forward to winding a scarf warp with it tonight.  Instead I have a sore back from constantly bending over the swift to untangle the yarn.

I can always make more money (to buy more yarn), I cannot make more time.
I can always make more money (to buy more yarn), I cannot make more time.
I can always make more money (to buy more yarn), I cannot make more time.

Currently reading The Unbidden Truth by Kate Wilhelm (and that's what I'm going to go do, right now!)


This is a squirrel cage swift.  I find that it works much better than the more common umbrella swifts that are available.  The skein behaves better in this orientation, so even when I'm using an umbrella swift, I will mount it with the axle horizontal rather than vertical as seen in every ad for them I've ever seen.  :)  Notice that I am taking the yarn off the bottom of the skein, preferably from the outside of it.  The skein is placed as low down on the swift as possible.  If it is up higher there is a tendency for it to tip if a snag develops.

And this is a Silver Needles cone winder.  It's not as good as an industrial cone winder but actually works quite well for doing small numbers of cones.  If used for any length of time the motor tends to overheat, eventually shutting itself off until it is cool enough to run again.  But for winding off of a skein, it does work.  I do find that placing the winder in this orientation when winding directly from a skein it works better than having it come from the side as I would if I were winding off of a cone.

The winder should never be left to wind off of a skein unattended.  If the skein is a dense or slippery yarn, the upper layers of yarn can cut down into the lower layers and snag.  The motor will stop winding, but does not shut off and therefore the motor could burn out if left stuck like that.  For yarns like rayon it is sometimes necessary to help the swift unwind so that the motor doesn't labour unnecessarily.

When we got the cone winder it did not have a vent to help cool the motor, so Doug cut one into the top and filled the hole with a piece of screening to help prevent fibres from being sucked into the hole - or anything else, like unwary fingers.

So while I tend to put off coning skeins off, it is necessary if I'm going to wind a warp.  If I'm just winding from the skein for weft I will take the yarn directly from the skein onto the bobbins.  I got the skein onto cones and will wind the 'sample' warp for the Handwoven article sometime today, in between running loads of textiles through the washer and dryer.

Friday, October 5, 2012


After driving to Quesnel and back (90 minutes each way) today I felt like doing exactly.....nothing.  And that was pretty much what I did for the rest of the afternoon.

I did make a large pot of soup from the leftovers in the fridge which will feed us for the next few days because I have a feeling that after I'm done pressing on Sunday (and possibly Monday) I will feel like doing precisely.....nothing.

However, after examining the heap of textiles to be wet finished I realized I'd better begin tonight in order that I can have it all ready to be pressed on Sunday.  There are 6 loads to be done and the scarves may need several rinses depending on how much fugitive dye is left in them, so I began with them.

Tomorrow I will work on finishing off the last 2.5 yards of Diversified Plain Weave and hope to get it off by evening.  (Doug is having a buddy over to watch football - a perfect opportunity to work all evening.)

I have also decided on title and first sentence of the article for Handwoven so I will work on that, too.  In between I need to cone off the skein of yarn for the first sample, figure out how long a warp to make and maybe even wind the warp.

In other words, I have heaps of things to be done and ignoring them all really wasn't particularly helpful.  OTOH, I've learned that when my body and mind rebel like this, I'm further ahead to take the day off than force myself back into the harness, all good intentions aside.

I don't expect to get all the pressing done Sunday.  In addition to the above heap, there is also a large heap of tea towels needing their final press.  The goal is to get all the pressing done this weekend, trim the scarves and shawls Tuesday at guild and then Wednesday tag everything so that Doug can start loading the boxes with inventory for the first sale - UNBC's Artisans of the North, October 20/21.  There are 5 sales on 5 consecutive weekends before I can take some time off.  I have armed myself with heaps of jigsaw puzzles so I can veg and do something completely different.

(The rest of the sales in order:  Seattle Weaver's Guild sale, St. Mark's Cathedral meeting hall, Oct. 25-27; Studio Fair, Civic Centre, Prince George, BC Nov. 2-4);  Circle Craft, Vancouver, BC Nov. 7-11; Art Market, Calgary, AB Nov. 15-18.)

But my 'down time' won't be for very long because by mid-December I shall have to be getting the Jan/Feb workshop materials in order.  Not to mention continuing with A Good Yarn: Rayon and samples for the designer, if she likes my samples - which still have to be woven.  Heaps.

Currently reading The Girl of his Dreams by Donna Leon

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Medusa Deadlines

To make things easier I cut the woven web from the apron rod (and beam), insert a plain beam and tape the cloth down to it.  You can't see it in the photo but I usually weave enough length that I can turn the raw edge under so I'm not taping to that but to the fold of the cloth.  Makes it easier to remove the tape from the web.

I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed right now as a Medusa head of deadlines looms over me.  Weaving this sample is very slow going - using two shuttles is more than twice as slow as weaving with one.  Plus the weaving rhythm is not regular - two picks with one shuttle, one with the other.  It's very difficult to get into my usual weaving zone so that everything flows smoothly.  It's a hop, hop, skip kind of thing and more often than I like I find myself with the wrong shuttle in my hand for the shed that is open.

But that is what this weave structure requires and the resulting cloth is so worth it!

It looks like I may be able to submit an article for Handwoven - right now I'm just waiting for final go-ahead - and therefore for the yarns to arrive.  I have a feeling it is going to be a huge push during the local craft fairs in order to get it all done.  So I'm trying to marshal my thoughts about the text - what I want to say, how I want to say it.  I've got the title but not the first line, which usually is my key to being able to write with focus and purpose.  And since Doug is now officially retired and willing to man my booth, he may wind up doing that while I'm scrambling to get the article done.  :^)

I'm also undecided if I ought to place a fill in order of bambu 7 from a local supplier in order to try to make the new scarf design.  Even if I get them woven, can I possibly get them finished in time?  But the longer I wait the less likely I'll be able to weave them at all unless I have enough to do a few short warps, just to have a taste of the new design in my booth.

There is also the sample warp for the designer - I'd really hoped to have cloth ready before the show in Vancouver so that we could actually have something to handle and discuss - she is going to try to come to the show to meet me in person.

Plus the weaving drafts for two of the workshops in February need to be reviewed, although that can probably wait until after the last show of the season - but that pot is very quickly coming to a boil.

The running back and forth to the van dealer this morning didn't help - first to be told there was nothing wrong, only to have it not stop playing on my second stop - so back to the dealer I went.  The good news is that they are ordering in a new audio system.  The bad news?  It won't be here until next week, and me with a 1.5 hour trip (there and the same back) to make on Friday.  I may stick the fuse back in and chance having 3 hours of the same cd for the trip.  Probably won't be Leonard though!

Currently reading Clear and Convincing Proof by Kate Wilhelm

Monday, October 1, 2012

Staying in the Now.....and Then

Although I try to live in the now, the work I do means that I must keep an eye on the future.  And so this week I have been reviewing my schedule for early 2013.

Some classes take more preparation than others.  Some classes need to have materials sent ahead of time and with the Christmas mail 'rush' and holidays coming up, those materials have to be sent early enough that people can prepare their looms, but hopefully not so soon that they get delayed in the mail.

My first trip in 2013 begins in January.

Jan. 20-25  Weaving Boot Camp  John C. Campbell Folk School

Jan 26-27  Magic in the Water  ditto

Jan. 29-30  Warping Fast and Weaving Smart  SEFAA in Atlanta, GA

Feb. 1  Guild program  Nashville TN

Feb. 2-3  Focus on Lace  Nashville TN

Feb. 9-10  Focus on Block Weaves Memphis, TN

These classes/workshops are now all accepting registrations.  I don't have links for Nashville or Memphis, but email me and I can give you email contacts for them.

My teaching schedule is pretty much full for 2013 so I'm looking for dates in 2014.  I try to find 2 or 3 groups to book me, especially if I'm travelling to the other coast as the getting there is so very expensive and it helps if several share the costs.

AVL and Elbows

I remembered to mount the cheese grater beam for this sample of Diversified Plain weave using rayon chenille and bamboo.  After weaving enough that the apron cleared the beam I wrapped the cheese grater on either side of the web with cloth to prevent the weft from catching on the metal and creating loops at the selvedge.

Many people complain about the cheese grater beam but it is necessary when weaving rayon chenille because the sandpaper just doesn't grip the nap of the cloth.  You need the deeper projections of the metal to reach past the nap and grip the woven structure.

Weaving at the AVL it is really important to sit high enough.  If your elbows are lower than the sandpaper/cheese grater beam you run the risk of abrading your elbows if you don't hunch your shoulders sufficiently to allow them to clear the beam.  With the metal you can literally wind up bleeding for your craft.  :^)

But perhaps more important is that if you are sitting too low the amount of foot pounds needed to open a shed, especially with multiple shafts rising, is such that you can very quickly start to have lower back problems.

We need to preserve our bodies from harm.  We only get one on our lifetime.  :)