Sunday, March 31, 2013

Under Pressure

With the pressure of getting the warps to be painted completed, the work table is now available to do other things - like continue the samples for AGY: L&H.

There is added pressure to get cracking on the publication for several reasons.

Doug got up on the roof yesterday because the ice dam over our back door reached critical mass and he spent some time breaking it up and giving the roof a careful inspection.  Turns out it ought to have been replaced at least two years ago - it's in much worse shape than he realized.

If I'd known that two months ago I would not have planned the trip across the pond as the roof is going to cost about what the trip is...but I didn't, and the tickets are now purchased (if not paid for - that's what plastic is for, right?) and can't be cancelled without a big penalty.

With my back, neck and shoulder is such 'delicate' condition, it is also a really good idea to bring as many of the AGY:L&H samples with me so that they can be cold mangled on Kerstin's big mangle.  I can do it myself with my small cold mangle, but it requires a fair amount of physical effort - in all the muscle groups that are protesting.

There are 5 samples woven, #6 is on the AVL but it is going to be hard pressed on Puff, not cold mangled, so that means I have to get the last four samples woven on the small loom before I leave on April 23.  Piece of cake?  Probably.  Hopefully.

I get home on the 17th of May (with any luck a new roof and repaired chimney all present and accounted for) and I need to leave for ANWG by June 19 at the latest.

So long as I don't have any other critical commitments to deal with, I ought to be able to tape/cut the before samples, cut the afters, tie the yarn samples, Doug will staple them and I have to write the text.  Since I've also been sending the text files away to be edited, I need to allow time for my editor to go through the files (she says she goes through each file 4-5 times), get the pages printed and then assemble it all between the time I get home (jet-lagged with a 9 hour time zone difference, plus my Rituximab treatment on the 22nd).

I will also have tasks associated with conference preparation, although not too much as I'm only presenting seminars.

Ready?  Set?  GO!

Saturday, March 30, 2013


next warp for AGY: L&H - 16/2 linen in natural with fine stripes of half bleached - the green is the yarn used for tying the warp

A few days ago The Yarn Harlot started a bit of a discussion about patterns and how much information they should contain.

Like knitting, weaving is a technology with it's own language and skill set and designers generally assume a certain level of knowledge of anyone following their directions.  How many people do we know who, confounded at the direction to 'use tabby', didn't and then were horribly disappointed in their results?  Or simply didn't know, and were happy?

Since we don't know what we don't know, we don't know that we don't know it.

Which is where the A Good Yarn series came in.

This series is not for the rank newbie.  It assumes a certain level of knowledge of the reader.  In developing the series, I wanted to address people who were - shall we say - Beginner Plus*.  In other words, they knew how to dress their loom, could do the basic math to develop the right size of warp (width and length) for their intended project, knew the formula for working out how much yarn to create that project, and could follow basic directions like 'use tabby'.  Or how to get the number of epi as stated in the notes.  How to follow a threading and treadling draft and to translate it into a liftplan if they have a direct tie up loom (and also knew what that term meant).

The series is about furthering knowledge, filling in the holes in that foundation and assuming that people want to know more about the subtleties of how to create a cloth suitable for their purpose.

If we don't know the basic characteristics of our materials, how can we choose appropriate yarns?

So Linen and Hemp will continue as I have begun.  The samples will be documented so that readers will know how I achieved the quality of cloth but ultimately it will be up to the reader to decide if that yarn and combination of threading, tie up and treadling is suitable for their purpose and work out the details to achieve their goal.

I had intended to have L&H ready for ANWG in June.  A quick look at my calendar this morning leads me to believe that once again I have been blatantly optimistic.  Between now and then I have the workshop in Langley plus the trip to Sweden and England.  That doesn't leave a lot of time to finish weaving the intended 10 samples, write the text, have it edited, printed and assembled.

So, we will see if I make it....

*some would consider this set of skills Intermediate

Friday, March 29, 2013


Yesterday Doug got the pressing done and this morning brought home the scarves.  They still need to be trimmed and tagged before they are 'ready'.  I also want to carefully examine them and decide which weft I will concentrate on using.

Of course the one I like best so far is the finest weft (Bambu 12, equivalent to a 2/16 cotton for grist) which means the most weaving.  :-/

I am almost done winding the warps to be dyed so I am going to concentrate on those and see if I can't get that job crossed off my list entirely.  Once they are packaged up ready to be delivered I can go back to weaving for A Good Yarn: Linen and Hemp.

The warp on the AVL will be used for that plus I have two more designed, just waiting for the warping board to be freed up to wind those.  I don't know that I will get the two warps woven on the small loom before I leave for Langley, but that's the plan.

Once I get home from there I will have less than two weeks before I leave for Sweden.  I need to really focus on where to best spend my time.

In the meantime spring seems to have finally sprung.  The snow on the ground is rapidly diminishing although the snow piled high in banks along the roads is going to take a while.

Currently reading Breaking Point by C. J. Box

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Just got word a few minutes ago that the towels I submitted to Handwoven have been accepted for the May/June issue.

It's always nice when that happens - a lovely affirmation that I am doing work that other people like and enjoy.  :)

The above photo isn't exactly what they look like, but is a close cousin.  I built on this design to create the design for the towels I submitted.  (For anyone in my classes in Jan/Feb, I had siblings and closer cousins for show and tell.)

I still don't have all the details, but enough information to share the fact that I am now associated with the Olds College fibre program, specifically the Master Weaver classes.

Today I got the Competency Profiles which I need to go over carefully to find out what areas of weaving I need to brush up on.

Weaving is a huge pool of knowledge and no one can be a true 'expert' at every facet of it.  But one person can become very good in several areas and have a working knowledge of the rest.

My field of specialty (or perhaps I could claim 'specialities' by this point) is mostly in the making of 'balanced' cloth - not so much weft faced or warp faced, not so much the compound cloths such as lampas and double/triple/quadruple layers.  But I have done some of almost all of those at some point.  If I'm going to be an effective teacher, I need to re-visit some of the weave structures I have dipped into but not explored in particular depth.

In some ways it feels like I am starting all over again, not as a student, but in terms of refreshing my foundation of knowledge.

And I find that terribly exciting!

As I find out more, I will share.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Self-employed, Self-imposed

one pile diminishes...

one pile grows...

Although I'm storing the warps in a single box, it will be far too heavy to lift and carry so once I'm completely done winding warps I'll re-pack (and count how many there actually are) into more manageable (iow, smaller) boxes.

At knitting drop in this morning we talked briefly about being self-employed and working to deadline.  Something near and dear to my heart.  I don't get anything done unless I make a deadline, artificial as it may be.

Some of my deadlines are outside of my control - i.e. teaching dates (once agreed to), sales events, and so on.  But essentially the day to day stuff of my work is self-imposed.

I am a hard task master.  When I set myself a deadline and I miss it due to procrastination - or whatever - I can get quite cross.  Over the years I have had to ease up some and give myself a break from the relentless pushing one part of my brain insists on.  But it's a tangled web (on a pun-streak these days I guess, but most textile puns are so darned apt!) of satisfying that creative drive (for me it's more than just an urge) and the physical demands of the craft.

Let's face it, my job list yesterday was deceptively simple with just two things listed.  But winding 5 warps?  That's not a 'one job' task.  That was a five job task.  And threading 1280 ends?  That was not an insignificant effort.

So when I didn't finish threading the warp yesterday I was, quite frankly, disappointed in myself on the one hand, and pleased that I'd gotten as far as I did.  So I cut myself some slack and went ahead and dropped in to the book store to knit and chat a while this morning.

I haven't actually written a job list for today although it's almost identical to yesterday's - wind 5 warps, finish threading that warp.  Plus wet finish the 7 scarves and one shawl so that Doug can go pressing tomorrow.

So far today I've done the shawl, the four pink/orange scarves are in their final rinse and one warp has been wound.

How do I decide what to do?  Partly it is how desperately I want something to be finished.  Partly it is how much of an obstacle one of the tasks is.

Right now the warp winding is actually in my way of doing anything else because the two bins are sitting on my work table.  Yes, I could move the bins onto the floor, but then they would still be in the way and I'd wind up tripping over them.  So those last warps are what I'm going to focus on for today, in between trips to the washing machine and dryer.  If I were threading, I'd have to keep getting up from the loom interrupting my threading focus and then get settled back after each trip to the laundry room.  Somehow it just seems more efficient to stay at the warping board where I can actually hear the machines and have a shorter walk to go deal with them.

Looms are patient.  That warp will wait for me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Another Job List

With so many deadlines looming (pun definitely intended!) I decided I'd better get myself on a more productive track and the way to do that was to make an obtainable (hopefully!) list of tasks to accomplish each day.

I'm pleased to say that I actually achieved completion of yesterday's to-be-done list, and even a tiny bit more.  I did not list fringe twisting and managed to finish one scarf and begin the last one, as well as get the AVL ready to begin threading.  Because that job is on today's list.

Today is a 'short' day because Tuesday evenings I go to the guild drop in.  Not sure what I will bring to work on there, although the fringe twisting does not end with the last of the painted warp scarves - I still have more shawls to be done - so probably I'll bring some of that.

As for today I will be sending the above photo to ANWG for the Instructors Exhibit called Bordering on Magnificence.  I'm not sure the above shawl qualifies, but it's very red and has an undulating design - an effect I particularly enjoy in woven cloth - so it should be visually dynamic if nothing else.

At any rate, with a 'short' day (made shorter by sleeping in and dealing with some more administrivia that arose over the course of the day yesterday), the job list today just has two items on it:

Wind 5 warps
Thread all 1280 ends of the cottolin warp

Since the threading sequence is very simple, I'm not anticipating any particular problems - if I just get stuck into the loom, find my round tuit, and do it.

Currently reading A Country to Rant About by Rick Mercer

Monday, March 25, 2013

Details, Details


2/16 cottolin warp ready to thread

pattern for proposed summer tops - short sleeves and probably shorter length (cottolin is 'grabby' and I don't think I want that around the hips!)

Today's job list:

Wind five 10.5 meter long warps (10 inches wide) - one down, four to go
Weave rest of linen warp (about one yard)
Follow up NEWS Faculty Exhibit inquiry
ANWG confirmation arrived which means dealing with:

   Exhibit forms (decide what to send, measure, write descriptions, etc., find out when and where to mail, etc.)
   Housing form
   Travel form
   Accounting form (for payment)
Re-write workshop description for John C. Campbell and email

As you can see much of today is going to be spent on the type of administrivia which is essential (because conference/teaching planning is all in the details) and which will take up much of my day.  These sorts of tasks are the 'hidden' cost of being a self-employed teacher.  For weaving instructors who make their income from teaching, it is the sort of thing that must be done for each and every teaching event.

Not to mention workshop topic development, preparations for each workshop, banging out the details of the actual travel, answering questions from participants and so on.  The daily fee that an instructor gets paid while teaching has to extend to the hours spent in writing up proposals, sending in the breadth and depth of information conference planners are now requiring even before you are hired (which is an enormous amount of time and effort in the hopes that you will 1) be chosen and 2) that your offerings will actually get sufficient enrollment to go ahead - months in advance of any sort of payment...but I digress).

Now that the institution that I applied to for teaching has accepted me as an instructor, I'm hoping that their staff will deal with much of this administrivia and that, other than ensuring my travel arrangements are suitable, will just have to arrive and do what I enjoy - passing on my knowledge and experience to other like minded students of this ancient - and still current! - craft.

But somehow I rather doubt that is going to happen.  :-/

I'm still waiting for details of what teaching for this institution will entail - once I have that information I will share.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Springing Forward


first 3 scarves from the finer of the two yarns, fringe twisted and ready to be wet finished

close up of two of the scarves...the gold is one scarf, the teal/plum/pink is a second - this warp was threaded in an extended Wall of Troy twill

I have slowly been getting the fringe twisting done on the painted warp scarves.  The plan is to have them ready to show the dyer when I see her on April 8 so she can see what I've done with the warps.

I have also gotten serious about the warp winding.  With postage rates skyrocketing, it will save me a good bit of money to deliver them in person.  Apparently my hostess lives only a few blocks away from the dyer, so that is working out rather well.  Sometimes you do get lucky!

The weather is being obstinate about letting go of winter.  The last two nights have been cold - for spring - although the cold weather brings the sun and with it the spring melt.  So I shan't complain (too much!)

This afternoon I'm going out for a couple of hours to make lace and Doug has agreed to beam the next warp on the AVL.  When we had only the studio for income, one of his jobs was to wind the warps on the sectional beam so while it may take him a while to remember the subtleties, I'm confident he'll do a fine job.  And that frees me up to continue to wind warps to be painted and work on the samples for AGY:L&H.  The next one will be 16/2 in both natural and half-bleached with a singles linen for weft, woven in plain weave.

The warp going onto the AVL will also be used for AGY:L&H, fabric for summer tops for me (if I can get them sewn) and samples for the Seattle Weaver's Guild bulletin.  There will be a lot of 'waste' as I'm cutting the tops on the bias, so some of that 'waste' will be used for the guild samples.  ;)

Saturday, March 23, 2013


When I bought these yarns my initial impulse had been to mix them up thoroughly.  When they arrived (always a challenge ordering yarns from sample cards) I felt that the colour values were too disparate and it would just look like a jumble.  So instead, I'm going to make four end stripes in this sequence (probably).

The plan is for cloth for summer tops for myself.  The pieces will be cut on the bias, which should look more 'interesting' than having the cloth simply have the stripes go up and down (and might even be a tad more flattering for this well rounded body - she says, wistfully).

I have a closet full of handwoven clothing, none of which currently fits me.  I am also getting tired of just wearing t-shirts, especially when I'm teaching.  It seems inappropriate that a weaver doesn't have any hand woven clothing to wear!  It will mean brushing up my sewing skills but since I have other things that need doing - like a new apron for the AVL - it seems like a good idea to drag the sewing machine out and do it all at the same time.

With being away for a month then having my back seize up on me, I really feel as though I've 'lost' a lot of time already this year.  When I book events, generally 6 months to a year (or more) in advance, it all looks very do-able.  But then the days slide by and next thing I know I'm bumping up against critical deadlines.  I start to panic and generally need a good pity party until I remember that, oh yes, these things are all things that I have chosen to do.  They are self-inflicted.  Or self-imposed.  Whatever.  I've done this to myself and if I'm not happy about it, I really need to look at my own self.

Which then reminds me that I enjoy this.  I really do.  I just need to stop wasting so much time on Face Book, etc.  :-/

Currently reading The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon

Friday, March 22, 2013

Those Old Deadlines

Asked Doug to mail a couple of parcels for me today and was shocked at how expensive mail to the UK now is.  Since I'll be travelling there next month I'll bring some of my publications with me in hopes of selling a few along the way...if nothing else I can mail them within the UK which will be a lot cheaper than trying to mail them from here.  :(

A careful examination of the calendar revealed that although it still looks like winter outside, it is far from it.  Sudden realization dawned that in order to complete the warps to be delivered to the dyer by April 8, I will have to wind at least 3 warps a day, preferably more.  Yesterday I did manage 3 and today I've done two more, so I'm hoping to get one more done this afternoon.  I still have to pack for the workshop in Langley and do other stuff, like maybe, weave?  I'm working on sample #4 for AGY: LandH with #5 waiting in the wings to be dressed on the AVL.

Now, however, my shoulder needs a rest from all that hand waving so I think I'm going to try to weave a bit.  More hand waving, but in a slightly different configuration, so hopefully it will be fine.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Procrastination Pool

Proof that I do actually weave once in a while?  Or just that I don't vacuum nearly often enough?  

Had to change the tie up from the last A Good Yarn sample so down on the floor I went.

This sample is a bit challenging to weave because you can't see the pattern while sitting at the loom.  If you click on this photo you might be able to just see the undulating twill that is resulting from the advancing twill I threaded yesterday.  The samples are separated by plain weave for 'hems' woven with a finer singles linen.  The twill body is drawing in more than the plain weave so the hems will flare slightly after wet finishing but if you can't be consistent.

In spite of the lovely sunny day I found myself wallowing for a rather long time in the pool of procrastination but I finally managed to get myself to the loom.  Once I did I managed a yard in relatively short order given the 16 pick treadling repeat and having to unweave a few times.

Now it's time to tackle a few of the other things on my to-be-done-sooner-rather-than-later job list.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Procrastination Rules Today

So instead of threading this warp, I'm blogging about how I would be doing it, if I were actually doing it...  

The threading repeat is a fairly simple one - an advancing twill that flips in the centre.  Normally I could do this without a visual aid, but today I'm really dragging and procrastination is making me very - um - distractable?  So here I am, once more on the computer and instead of writing that article (with deadline looming) or threading or winding warps, I'm blogging...again.  :}

I printed out the draft because I want to thread it in unequal sections.  Something that the iWeaveit app won't do.  So it's back to 'old school'....

Fiberworks software allows you to set the size of the font you can print out a draft, and since it is a fairly small repeat at just 32 ends, I set it for 5 per inch - the largest I could get and still keep the draft all on one line.  I could have set the printer to print landscape but that seemed too complicated for me to handle today and 5 looked large enough to easily read on the tv tray I set beside the loom to put my stuff on.

Then I threaded one repeat looking for logical 'breaks' - groupings that made visual sense to me so that I could do the threading 3 or 4 ends at a time and see the progression, both in my mind's eye and on the paper.

Once I had one group done, I drew in the breaks with a thicker blue pen so that I could easily see where the breaks were, pull the next heddles into alignment and thread each 3 or 4 thread group and tie them into a slip knot.

Once I have the entire repeat done, I tie the entire repeat into another loose slip knot so that I can easily check each group for accuracy if needed.

The other 'check' on my threading is that by the end of each repeat I should end on an 'even' number of ends.  In other words, if by the end of the repeat I have a single end instead of a pair of ends next in line, I've made a mistake somewhere. (The warp was wound two ends at a time.) With each repeat tied off, it's an easy matter to go back and double check the repeat I've just done to see where I've gone wrong. 

Or at least that's the theory.

First Day of Spring?

I think today, March 20, is supposed to be the first day of spring.  Yay?

However, my yarn order arrived today.  I still haven't finished putting the yarn from the trip north away so my studio floor is rather cluttered with bags and boxes of the stuff.  The bags of white yarn are the two types of rayon which I'll use to wind the warps to be painted.  

In behind the bag on the left the bag of 2/16 cottolin is peeking.  I rather suspect that that yarn will go into the AVL next as it will serve several duties (so to speak).  It will become the #5 samples for AGY: Linen and Hemp (remember I did say I'd be extending the linen and hemp with some cotton partly for the sake of adding in some colour, partly because the bast fibres are more expensive than cotton), some fabric for a few summer tops (which I hope to get sewn in time to wear at this summer's conferences I'll be attending) and perhaps for the Seattle Weavers Guild bulletin.  A friend is in charge of gathering samples and gave me a head's up she's looking for volunteers.  

OTOH, my store of energy seems depleted and I can't seem to force myself to do much.  We'll see if the new yarn will light a fire beneath my feet!

Could we have a little sunshine soon, too, puuhlease?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Multipurpose Tool

At guild drop in listening to music on my ipad while using it to weigh down one of the painted warp scarves in order to twist the fringe.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

That Old Magic in the Water

The colours in the photo are not quite 'true' as the greens look more yellow than they really are, but the good news is that the sleying error filled in quite nicely during wet finishing and these towels will not be relegated to 'second' status after all.  :)

When something as simple as getting the cloth good and wet, then agitating it thoroughly will cover up a mistake, what's not to love?

Got home yesterday in good time as the weather wasn't as bad as it might have been but I was completely shattered and did not accomplish a single productive thing last night.  Today I've managed to do my bank deposit, pay some bills, check the post office for the yarn for the painted warps (not arrived yet), drop books off at the library and pick up some more and have lunch.  And that's about it.  So far.  But the day isn't over yet and I'm hoping to get the next linen warp for AGY:L&H into the small loom this afternoon.  Tonight I'll head for the guild room for drop in and see if I can't get the fringe on one or two of those painted warp 'sample scarves' done because I'd really like to see how they develop after their magical journey through the water and hard press.

And one of these days I really have to get at that short 'article' I've promised...deadline is March 25.  My how time flies!!!

Currently reading the Tintern Treasure by Kate Sedley

Monday, March 18, 2013

Southbound Scenes

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Fort St John

The guild rented a large room at a hotel for the workshop so we had plenty of room to spread out.

They did lots of weaving and got excited about lace weaves. They were talking about making lace weaves their next study group topic.
Great group, lovely weekend. :)
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Friday, March 15, 2013

Road trip

Some scenes along the way.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 14, 2013

Indulge me while I whine, just a little.  This was the view from my studio window at around 5:30 this afternoon.  Yes, it's March.  Almost half way through March, in fact.  And not only is there still a huge stack of snow on the ground, more fell today.  And continues to fall tonight.  It is supposed to stop - or at least diminish somewhat and become light flurries - but what it all means is that the drive to Fort St. John is going to be 'interesting'.  So interesting that the group up north offered to postpone the workshop.  Instead Doug agreed to do the driving - he's much more experienced at winter driving conditions than I am - and my hostess extended her offer of hospitality to him as well.  So we will head off in the morning - not too early, in hopes that the snow ploughs will have had time to do their job and clear the road north.

I would have postponed except that the weather forecast is for on again, off again snowfall.   It is supposed to continue for the next 14 days, and in fact get worse as temperatures rise and the snow turns into freezing rain....

Most of the day was spent on personal errands and business administrivia.  I ordered care tags from Staples as I was completely out, with inventory sitting needing tags.  I'm not thrilled with them but they were cheap and quick - they should be ready by next week.  Unfortunately they may look cheap so I may take the time to talk to one of the local printers and see if I can get somewhat nicer looking tags for the scarves.  The 'cheap' tags can go onto the placemats and maybe the towels.  Or not.  I may just keep them in reserve for times like now when I'm entirely out.

I did manage to wind the next sample warp for A Good Yarn:  Linen and Hemp.  Another linen warp which will have a weft of two ply slightly slubby yarn made up of one ply cotton, one linen.  The intended purpose of the cloth is for placemats, which I think this combination will work well for.

Here is the first half of the warp wound and waiting for the second half which I just managed to complete before dinner.  It is ready to go into the loom as soon as I get home next week.

Now, however, it's bedtime and I need to finish packing....

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Nearly done the third sample for A Good Yarn:  Linen and Hemp.  I ran out of bobbins just two bobbins shy of completing the weaving and since they need to 'soak' up some moisture decided to stop for lunch and finish packing the yarn for the trip on Friday.  So close and yet so far!

It is looking good for me to get the bulk of the samples for L&H woven before I leave for Sweden on April 23.  Therefore I will bring as many of them as possible to be cold mangled on Kerstin's big heavy duty mangle which will lighten the physical effort required to do all of the samples to the finished state that I desire for these very dense yarns.  Yes, I could do them by 'hand' but with my shoulder now acting up after my back went 'out' a couple of weeks ago, it seems more sensible to let the equipment do the work rather than make my body do it.

And I should have an announcement to make shortly.  I got the 'job' I applied for but am now awaiting details so that I can share them here.  Hopefully by the time I get home from the trip north.

As for other teaching opportunities, so far I'm only booked for John C. Campbell Folk School next January so I'm not sure what else will come along.  Most regional conferences are held in the 'odd' numbered years and I didn't bother to apply to Convergence for next.  So '14 may be a 'light' year for teaching, or perhaps the new position will rapidly fill my calendar up.

I have found over the years that when my calendar is empty like it is for next year there is usually a reason for it.  Let's hope the reason this time is a happy one.  :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sh*t Happens

Question:  How can I weave a whole 20 yards without noticing a sleying error?

Answer:  Rather easily apparently.  :P~

So I have a dozen towels with a sleying error.  Will it close up enough during wet finishing so that they are not seconds?  Only time will tell.  They are now in the washing machine soaking to develop the colour of the Fox Fibre naturally coloured cotton I used in the weft.

In the meantime I did make some progress.  Got the small loom set up with the next warp for A Good Yarn: Linen and Hemp.  Didn't think to wind the bobbins last night and get them 'soaking' up some moisture so did that this morning while I've been doing other stuff.  Like finding mistakes...

I wound as many bobbins as I had empty, put them into a plastic bag with a soaked paper towel and am now ignoring them while I work on other stuff.  I'm sure my impatience will over rule my sensibility soon because it's looking rather good and I'm anxious to get started.  Patience?  Moi?

Decided that since the relative humidity is rather 'low' in terms of working with linen that using a temple is the better part of discretion.  Thanks to Syne Mitchell for the loan of this 'baby' temple which perfectly suits this 20" wide (in the reed) warp.

I also put the humidifier on to help raise the relative humidity near the loom.  Hopefully this warp will come off the loom with no 'issues'....

Currently Reading Who I Am by Pete Townsend.  Not sure I will finish it.  Depends on whether or not it gets 'tedious'.

Monday, March 11, 2013


The pile of boxes is growing on the patch of floor in the living room I use as a staging area while getting ready for road trips.

I've been invited to bring yarn for sale on the trip to Fort St. John, so part of my time the past few days has been spent coning big cones onto little ones for re-sale (I try to buy larger 'mill' cones because they are cheaper than smaller yarn packages, but that means making smaller cones to sell to weavers who don't weave quite as much as I do!)

Doug and the son of a friend spent part of yesterday afternoon applying labels to the cones and started packing them up into smallish boxes.  With my back so 'tender' my usual 50 pound boxes didn't seem like a wise idea.  :-/  Even so, the smaller boxes are 20+ pounds.  So much for the Ford truck commercial that insinuated that if you were only ever carrying 'yarn' you didn't need such a sturdy truck as their tough whatever model it was.

Realized that I really don't have a lot of lace samples anymore so tossed the Mug Rug binder into my suitcase because I have a couple of lace samples in that.  I still need to finish packing up the rest of the teaching aids, including the large charts of drafts/drawdowns I had made and laminated.  I couldn't find them for the trip south, then found them immediately I came home.  Fortunately I made do without them.

Now, however, both looms are bare so I need to quickly get at least the small loom with a warp onto it  I've got sample #3 for Linen&Hemp worked out.  I'm going to weave a wider and therefore shorter warp because my neck is not happy with me, so less 'heavy' beating (required for the all linen fabric) is again, desirable.

While I am very happy to be alive, I wish my body didn't need quite so much coddling.  :^)

(the reason for the glare in the upper right of the photo is that the sun is shining brightly and bouncing off the snow - yes, we do still have that much snow!!!!)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Full Sized Samples

A shot of the loom showing as much of the warp as possible - the colours go into a deep purple/pink which you can just see if you squint - or click on the photo to biggify

Patient?  Moi?  Um, er, that would be a 'no' I guess because instead of weaving off the last 5 towels on the AVL, I threw the second painted warp onto the small loom last night and started weaving this morning.

I am really glad I did a 'full sized sample' of the warps I was considering having painted.  The first one was made with a larger rayon slub and a 2/8 size smooth yarn.  The second warp was only the smaller smooth yarn, which feels quite wonderful slipping through one's fingers.

However, that lovely feeling appears to be partly due to a slight fuzziness.  This slight fuzziness meant that the warp threads wanted to latch on to each other and started to snag and snarl as I was beaming it.  So, not a good way to go, considering that I want to have a new production line!

Going full sized was a good way for the dyer to test out how much work would be involved and it gave me a good deal of valuable information in terms of the weaving.  So the three scarves off of this warp will wind up being one-off's, so to speak.  I may not offer them for sale but use them for donations.  For several of the shows I do the participants must donate an item for marketing purposes.

The other word for a full sized 'sample' is 'proto-type'.  It's what happens in industry when a new product goes into production.  Making a proto-type is one way to de-bug the process as much as possible so that when actual production begins, it goes as smoothly as possible.

I'm glad I tested this yarn combination before making the committment to weaving lots of warps using it.

Yesterday I ordered the yarn for the other combination and as soon as it comes I'll start winding warps so I can deliver them when I head to Langley early in April - and save the cost of shipping them.  Every penny saved and all that....

Currently reading The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear

Friday, March 8, 2013

Scarf #3

I wasn't sure the camera captured the lovely subtlety of this warp until I downloaded the picture, but this is pretty close.  The lower part is actually a stronger orange, which I think you can just sort of make out.  It is transitioning to a deeper slightly purple pink which likewise doesn't really show true to life in the photo.

This scarf is being woven in plain weave using Bambu 12 in a mid-range slightly 'off' red (towards a browner tone).  The beauty of this colour is that it almost disappears into the cloth while making the warp colours stand out.

As I've mentioned before, weaving plain weave well is one of the most technically difficult weave structures weavers can attempt.  When using a weft of high contrast to the warp, every little inconsistency in the beat will glare.  On the other hand, plain weave really shows off the skill of the dyer as she captures the lovely gradients of colour and the shifting from one hue to the next.

We had a fairly long conversation today, getting to know each other a little better.  We now have to sit down and have a good long think about whether or not a collaboration is going to be economical.  Regardless, I'm hoping to meet with her in person on my trip south next month.  But first I have to get the warps woven off, which means I have a lot of work cut out for me, what with the road trip north coming up rather quickly and all the preparation that needs to be done before I leave.  :-/

The yarn order from Brassard has arrived, much of it has to be coned off and labelled/priced and oh, yes, packed up and loaded into the van.  At least I'll have lots of traction (although with a front wheel drive, that argument doesn't really work!)  :^)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Scarf/Sample #2

Got started on the second scarf/sample.  I had thought to use a blue/red but when this part of the warp came up over the beam I realized that wasn't the best choice and switched to an orange/red.  After the bit of olive/sage green the warp morphs into a rather bright pink so the orange/red weft should spark off that in rather interesting ways.  Who knows, there might even be a bit of iridescence?

And Away We Go...

The shorter of the two warps going onto the loom using my trusty warping valet

Beginning to weave - weft here is Bambu 7 Wine.  The warp was threaded in a straight draw and is being woven in a point progression.  The weft is actually somewhat darker in life than shows in the photo.

Too anxious to wait until the towel warp was finished I dressed the loom with the 9 meter long warp this morning.  (For the curious minded, it took about 75 minutes to rough sley, beam, thread, sley, lash on and get to this point in the weaving.)

I will be trying three different wefts to see which quality of cloth I like the best - Bambu 7, 2/8 Tencel and Bambu 12.  The first two will likely be twills, the Bambu 12 a plain weave.  And yes, I'm doing full sized 'samples'!  

Once again the universe has brought me the lesson of patience.  The other day I moaned about not hearing back from the job interview.  A few minutes ago I downloaded my email with a message saying that I'd been chosen.  No further information than that - just enough to know that I'm on the list and I'm sure more information will be coming shortly.

This is a 'part time' position so I'm sure there are all sorts of details to work out plus I need to go to the institution for some training at some point.

And I have also heard that the towels are being photographed for Handwoven today.  Still no guarantee they will make it in.  The issue will need to be assessed by the content committee (as I understand it) for whether or not they fit nicely with the theme and the other articles/projects under consideration, but still - some nice positive news today.  

Currently reading A Play of Heresy by Margaret Frazer

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Painted Warps

I have been anxiously waiting for the arrival of these two painted warps and this afternoon they came.  :)

Now to decide exactly how I will weave them.  The Leclerc Fanny is empty right now so obviously one of these warps will go onto that loom - I want to test the yarns and density along with the wefts to see what sort of quality of cloth results.

One warp was wound with a heavier rayon slub and a smoother yarn about a 2/8 size.  The other is all of the finer weight.  Both look great but I need to decide which combination is best for my purposes.

OTOH, I might just do some of each?

Decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Time and Tide...

...wait for no (wo)man.

the end of one towel (on the bottom) in green with the hem showing and the beginning of the next (on top) in 25% brown Fox Fibre colour grown cotton - the line of darker colour is shadow from the weaving on the top

Bucket of linen yarns, some of which will be used for A Good Yarn:  Linen and Hemp.  The spools to the right are 16/2 natural linen (from Ireland if memory serves - I would have to check the price list to be sure).

Now that I am coming out of the fug of pain I am hyper aware of the fact that time marches on and the tide waits for no one.  :(  I 'lost' almost a week of my time which was short enough to begin with so I'm trying very hard to not panic.

The workshop for Fort St. John is as ready as it can be - I just have to wait and see what the weather will hold for me as I drive through the Rocky Mountains there and back again.  Unfortunately, spring brings 'variable' weather patterns and the Pine Pass can be a challenge.  But I will just have to wait and see for that.  Mother Nature will do what Mother Nature does and humans just have to cope!

With my back 'out', my neck and right shoulder went into sympathetic spasm, so now although my back is almost back to normal, my right shoulder is paining me, too.  At least it should ease up soon - hopefully all in time for the long drive (about 7 hours, depending on weather) each way.

We applied for a booth at Olds Fibre Week in June but are on the waiting list.  If we do get a booth Doug will be there by himself as I will be teaching at ANWG in Bellingham.  Or at least I hope so - won't hear back from them for a few weeks yet if my seminars are a 'go' or not.

I still haven't heard anything back from the job interview I had 5+ weeks ago so I'm assuming I didn't get chosen.  I just wish prospective employers would have the courtesy to get back to the interviewee yay or nay.  Or at least say when they will be selecting the person so that you know when to stop hoping. :(  Silly me forgot to ask during the interview and there has been no response to my email asking.

It has been a bit of a surprise to me how much I've enjoying doing the A Good Yarn series.  By scaling back on the number of copies the work and stress levels are much less.  Less expense, less time involved, fewer copies to try and sell.

Once I've finished AGY:Silk I may very well carry on doing similar publications but with either a product or a weave structure theme.  Either would work.  Who knows, maybe I'll do some of each?  :^)

My trip to Sweden and England is fixed - I now have tickets in hand.  Life may get complicated for my friend, but I'm hoping that if it does I can be there with her to  help in any way I can.  The only obligation I have is to be in Scotland May 4 - once that one day workshop is done we can return immediately to Sweden if necessary or just mosey about England until it is time to return for my flight home.

I'm still waiting to hear from Handwoven - if they have accepted the towels for the May/June issue.   Plus the two test warps should be here any day from the dyer.

Seems like I've been doing a lot of waiting lately.  More lessons in patience?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Shipping Woes

So.  Canada Post radically changed their shipping categories in February and I have had to make some decisions about doing mail order.

If you biggify the above photo you may be able to see that an item that I have been selling for $20 just cost me $23.94 postage to ship.  This amount does not include all the other costs of shipping (padded mailing envelope, drive to post office, time involved in writing up customs forms, waiting on line etc.

(I know in the US you can have mail picked up, but that isn't really an option for me.)

Even though I still have a few cones of the 'energized' and lycra yarn, I have had to make the decision to stop selling this specialty yarn via mail order.  When the shipping is more than the price of the item it no longer makes economical sense to try and sell it 'remotely'.  Whatever yarn I have left will just go to whatever shows that we do in person, or it will get used up for workshops.

But this decision has caused me to reflect on selling on Art Fire, which is where I've sold this yarn for the past couple of years.  If I can no longer economically sell yarn or tea towels in my Art Fire store, why bother to have it at all?

So I am seriously considering cancelling my Art Fire shop and just continue to market and sell my publications via internet sales groups or my contact list.

Since there is no longer a 'cheap' category to ship items, there is no longer any need to keep the Linen and Hemp publication as small as possible.  With just a few dollars separating the cheapest rate from ordinary expedited mail, I may as well go for a significant publication and make it worth while for people to pay the shipping to receive it.

I have already determined that the print run for L&H will be 50.  Right now I am thinking of going back to 10 samples (before and after wet finishing, of course!), including a binder and plastic pocket pages for the text pages.  I will decide on a price for the whole package in the next little while after I finalize the 10 samples to be included.

With just 50 copies, be sure you are on my contact list.  I will send out a notification closer to publication date.

AGY:Silk will likely be about the same in terms of format and price - possibly a little more expensive due to the cost of silk yarn.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunny Day

What a difference a little sun can make!  Not to mention that the slow recovery from my out-of-whack back has made significant progress.  :)

I got started on the towels using the Fox Fibre colour grown organic cotton this morning.  The colour difference at this point is minimal, but this is the 50% coloured cotton and it should darken quite a bit in the wet finishing making this cloth a lot more visually interesting.

The underside of the cloth because the design shows up better in the 'shadow' of the upper layer.

You can just (possibly?) make out the pattern and the bit of hem at the end.  The hem won't actually be visible on the right side of the towel as it will be folded under.

And today I am heading off to lace again.  I started this very simple Torchon bookmark last Sunday and hope to finish it off today.  We are going to do a lace-along with a much more difficult pattern.  We're hoping that our collective intellect will assist us in tackling a much more challenging design.  Between the three of us, we've had more than enough physical and emotional challenges the last few years but we're feeling like we need to up the ante, so to speak.  

Between our respective travel schedules we haven't been able to meet as often as we'd like and this year seems to be following a similar path.  But what the heck.  We might as well travel while we can, right?  :)