Saturday, November 30, 2013


two of the books on auction 

A few months ago, doing some research on weavers who had sadly gone on to where ever we go when we leave this plane of existence, I was checking Wikipedia for biographical info on people like Peter Collingwood, Mary Black, Allen Fannin, etc.  And found precisely nothing on Wikipedia.  The only weavers I could find listed there were Anni Albers and Jack Lenor Larsen.

It occurred to me that one way to improve the profile of weaving and weavers was to start pages on the internet 'encyclopedia' and link them to the subjects 'weaving', 'hand weaving' etc.

Not being particularly savvy when it comes to the internet, nor knowing any of these people particularly well, I have approached several people who might be in a position to begin such a project.  But it also occurred to me that anyone can start a page, not just someone who knows anything about the internet.

And so I am challenging the weaving community - we have been complaining for years about weaving getting no respect.  About the greying of the guilds.  About how we need to attract new, younger weavers to the warped side.  The gauntlet has been thrown down.  Who will pick it up?

Friday, November 29, 2013


My friend quietly slipped from this mortal plane to the next during the night.  Whatever there is beyond this existence, I hope that she has found peace...and maybe a spinning wheel and loom with every yarn/fibre imaginable at her disposal.  Warm the loom bench for me, Jean.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Going Once, Going Twice....

Peter Collingwood Macro-gauze, full view

Detail of finishing

A friend came today and helped get all the auction items listed on eBay.

The auction will run for 7 days beginning today around 1 pm when she hit 'publish' on the books.  The Peter Collingwood pieces will end around 9 am in 7 days time.

This has been a very 'strange' year with all the critical deadlines, traveling, friends facing health issues - and in some cases losing.  A reminder that life is precious and sometimes all too short.

Today is American Thanksgiving.  We have never made too much of holidays, partly because we don't have kids, partly because the autumn has always been so stressful.  Holidays like Thanksgiving were just another day to work and get ready for the upcoming sales.

So today I spent time with friends.  Lunch with one, a couple hours visiting with another and two more hours visiting with a third.  I even managed to weave a little.

Today was a good day.  A day to give thanks, regardless of how socially sanctioned it is.  A day to appreciate laughter - and a few tears.  To remember those who aren't still here to hug and share joy and laughter.  A day to be grateful for still being here.  Still able to play with string.  A day for thanksgiving.  Just like every day should be.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Where would we be without people willing to give freely of their time and energies?  A lot poorer, I'm sure.

On the other hand, it seems like the same few people always step up to the plate when something needs doing....

I seem to have a lot of 'volunteer' obligations going on at the minute.  Not that I'm doing as much as I ought to, time being a rather precious commodity around here, this time of year....

It was especially appreciated that two of the guild members pitched in last night and worked on recording the details of the books that are going up for eBay auction in the next few days.  Instead of doing their own work, they took the time to assess the condition of the books, set down title, author and rate them so that once I start entering the items on eBay I won't have to take the time to do it.

In fact, I called on another friend who said she was willing to come tomorrow and get started on doing that part of the job, which will allow me to dig into what needs doing in the studio.

eBay has changed their format so I will go through it with her tomorrow morning, then hopefully she can go ahead and do the auction stuff for me without any further input, but if needed I will only be a call away.

The auction came about because the guild had a Collingwood rug that needed to be sold.  A re-arrangement of the room meant we no longer had wall space to hang it.  At the same time a weaving friend in another community entered hospice.  Her son needed to put his mom in hospice and his dad in care.  A mutual friend started by helping him find homes for her many spinning wheels, looms, yarns and books.  And a Peter Collingwood rug AND macro-gauze.  Since I was going to do an auction for the guild rug, I offered to do hers as well.  Then when the guild received her books, many were duplicates to what the guild already had, some of which are out of print and still sought after.  So, what the heck - why not auction them, too.

What I forgot was how much time doing an auction was going to be.  Not to mention the sudden acquisition of my other friend's yarn stash!

But I was able to get photos of everything last night, today they were edited and saved for the listings.  I am not sure when the auction will go 'live'.  I have to review the eBay auction format, etc., but I am hoping to get everything dealt with before Christmas.

Here is a sampling of what will be coming up:

guild's rug - I believe it has horse hair and wool

Jean's rug - I believe it has mohair and wool


macro-gauze detail - beautifully finished, of course

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How we spent Tuesday

It took three of us 90 minutes to clear the basement of tools, wood, bits and bobs of wooden parts for various fibre crafts.

Doug will finish what tools can be finished and sell them. Possibly at Fibres West next March.

We may have to make a second trip as there is much more than anticipated (there always is!). Some of Dougs wood turning buddies will be gifted the hard woods as he doesn't turn wood. Perhaps they will turn some parts in return.

Tonight I will begin photographing the Peter Collingwood items and books that will be auctioned off.

I'd like to have the auctions done before Christmas so I can at least get this commitment completed by year end. There will be the yarn that is coming home in December to sort as well.

So far no plates have dropped. We will keep on juggling!
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Time Lapse

Set up took us from 5 pm to not quite 7 Pm. We are as ready as we can be for morning.

This show is smaller and no booth drapes are provided.

The weather is supposed to be good. Cold enough that outdoors will be chilly, not so cold to prevent people from coming. If they are so inclined, that is.
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Critical Mass

In many ways I feel as though my calendar commitments reached critical mass with the closing of Art Market.  It's not that my calendar isn't full to bursting but the last two shows of the season are small, closer to home, and should prove to be a lot easier than the last few shows have been.

I also realized that I was overly optimistic that I could actually have the last place mat warp finished in time for the show in Williams Lake so today I just cut them apart and serged them.  They will go into next year's inventory.

One of the reasons I wanted to get them done was so that I could begin weaving the samples for the Handwoven article.  The deadline isn't until Feb. 28, but with all that needs doing between then and now, the trips I have to make, decided that I'd at least get the weaving done now.  The intention is that I will do the experiments and write them up (while still fresh in my mind!) and send them off as soon as I possibly can.  Then I don't have to think or worry about them anymore until it comes time to do the final edits for publication.

In the next two weeks I still have to photograph the guild books for sale - although a friend has offered to help and I asked if she would do the entering on eBay.  If I can get the auction started by Dec. 1 or 2 I won't have to think about that until after I get home from sorting through my 'inheritance'.

Once we get the boxes of yarn home they will just get put in storage until much later as there will be zero time to even look in them for several months.

I should also know by then if the class at John C. Campbell Folk School will be going ahead, although the numbers looked promising.  Which means I have to get the warps for the two day workshop on Block Weaves ready and mailed off before Christmas.

We need to plan our trip - Doug will join me for a few days 'holiday' in Florida - the first holiday we've had in I can't remember how long.  A friend asked if this would truly be a holiday or a working trip in disguise.  I told her it was a bit of both....

March we are planning a Beginning Weaving workshop here in Prince George, plus we may be doing a fibre festival in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver area) as well.  I have to double check dates to make sure they don't conflict.  April I'm teaching in Tacoma, then giving the guild program to Vancouver guild.  And then, ta-DAH!  The project that cannot be named!  For which I have a whole lot of weaving to do in preparation for it.

In June I will be at Olds Fibre Week teaching the Level 2 weaving class, jumping into the truck and heading back to Tacoma where I will do a seminar at Complex Weavers.  If anyone signs up for it.  All of these teaching dates are subject to cancellation.

And that's just the first 6 months of 2014.  I still have to weave new inventory for the fall season, so it looks like I'll be slamming the warps through the loom(s) like mad all through July and August.

It's my life.  Obviously I love it or I wouldn't be booking all these things!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fumble Fingers

Two weeks away from the loom and I can't tell you how many times I dropped the shuttle this morning.  Obviously out of practice!

Which brings me to this thought - if you want to get really proficient at weaving, it is something that you need to do as often as you are able.  Even 15 minutes in the evening - after the kids are put to bed, after work, after...whatever claims your time...just 15 minutes to sit down, relax, commune with your loom and yarns and remind your body of the physical motions involved in whatever aspect of weaving you are working on at the time.

Weaving is physical.  It requires the physical effort of your body to happen.  No weaver, no weaving going on.  Even the AVL with all it's bells and whistles does not weave by itself.  It requires someone sitting there shuttle in hand (or flyshuttle cord in hand) with a foot to open a shed and hands to bring the beater forward.

So while I was exasperated at myself for being so clumsy this morning, I also knew that I needed to spend some time picking the shuttle up off the floor when it fell, remember the correct position of my hands and just practice, practice, practice....

Currently reading Critical Mass by Sara Paretsky

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Prairie Winter and Bean Counting

View to the south east as we left Olds, Alberta, home of the Olds Fibre Week celebrations, and where I will be teaching the Level 2 weaving class next June.  :)

The drive home was long, especially with both of us tired from two weeks of long trips, hotel beds and long hours on our feet.  I am so grateful Doug is happy to do (most) of the driving and actually enjoys being in the booth (which I don't!)

But now it is time to put my Bean Counting hat on and analyze the results of the 3 largest sales that we do.  The results were unpredictable (as they always are).  There are a million reasons for people to not buy a 'luxury' item (which a hand woven textile most definitely is).  Any bobble in the economy - global or personal - and people will zip their wallets up tightly.  So it is always a gamble to pay big bucks for a booth space at a high end show, the costs of travel, the wear and tear on the body to drag your booth and product hundreds of miles (literally!) as well as the wear and tear on one's psyche when people look you in the eye and say in all honesty that they can't afford your prices.

My problem (or challenge?) is that I have devoted my life to the construction of textiles.  I have invested my entire being in trying to design and execute the best possible cloth I can make and I can do it with a fair degree of efficiency.  I love what I do but I have not (yet) won the lottery.   The only way I can continue to bring my fibre dreams into reality is to try to sell them.

And so I will most likely do most of the shows next year that I did this year - excepting Seattle which for a number of logistical reasons just isn't working for me - and taking in the feedback I received from the public try to come up with more attractive textiles that I hope will entice people to purchase.

Because quitting isn't an option!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Out Of My Control

The weather, that is...

Today is Saturday, traditionally a reasonably busy day during a craft fair.  But a weather front moved in during the night, the temperature is cold, the wind blowing the light snow horizontally and there was no line up at the door when the show opened.

I fluffed the display after Doug vacuumed the floor and we are spelling each other for breaks.

As I've said before, I'm an introvert and this final essential interaction with the public is the most challenging aspect to being a weaver who must sell her product.  It is even more disheartening when the crowds don't materialize and there is no one to even try to sell stuff to!

OTOH, what the inclement weather does is filter out the lookie-loos so I need to stay upbeat, smile on my face and trust that the serious shoppers will make their way downtown, hopefully to spend some time in my booth, too.

It isn't over until it's over.  Thankfully today is a 'short' day; we close at 6pm, not 9pm.  I see some serious vegging happening this evening.  Maybe even a great big steak for dinner?   

Friday, November 15, 2013


Spent a few minutes this morning changing things around.  It's always a good idea to change the display to keep it looking 'fresh'.   Different markets respond to different colours but red always seems to snag the eye more effectively than other colours.  So I changed the displays to burgundy (because there weren't any red shawls left) and the other to yellow/orange.

Now it's a waiting game.  Waiting to see if the public comes.  Waiting to see if they like my work well enough to buy it.  Waiting for another 11 hour day to end.  This is the hardest part for me but the job isn't done until the weaving is sold.   With any luck the sale season will be successful enough to allow me to keep pursuing my passion. ;)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A New Week

And a new show.   Coming to you this time from the convention centre in downtown Calgary, Alberta.

The plastic wrap will be removed from the carpet in the morning.  There are still people setting up, some crates and hand trucks in the aisles.

I sold so much red I don't have much left to display so I went with blue to start.  It is always interesting to see which colours sell in a market, and which don't.  I don't remember if there was a particular colour at this show last year so I will change my displays to see what attracts attention.

The weather is supposed to be fairly nice for this time of year so hopefully people will come.  And ultimately buy?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


A blessing that initially appears to be a curse.

One of the things I enjoy about craft fairs is meeting other creative people.  As artists we are balanced on a knife edge - months of isolation as we plunge into the creative process and weeks of high density interaction with the public as we try to sell our work.  Along the way we sometimes have an opportunity to get to know other exhibitors a little bit.

So it was with Savannah Grace.

I'd passed her booth several times but wasn't quite sure what she was all about.  First, I didn't know what Sihpromatum meant.  Nor did I understand what growing boobs in China had to do with anything.  Her booth always seemed to have lots of people around it, so I would just walk on by.

But one day, in the exhibitor lounge, I sat across from a 20 something woman and we started chatting.  Hearing a little about her story, I stopped at her booth and bought a copy of her book.  It didn't hurt that I was getting nervous about running out of reading material, and here was a book that intrigued me after hearing about it from the author. :)

It's a coming of age story.  And after meeting Savannah I am looking forward to hearing more about her journey.

I rather suspect you might to.

For more info:

Monday, November 11, 2013

All Over

Well almost. Doug has gone back to the hotel to get the van. Then into the queue to enter the loading area. And then we have to figure out how to push/pull the cart there with the aisles filled with crates and carts.

I'm hoping to be out of here by 9 pm but what can I say? I am an optimist after all! I am also hoping for dinner yet sometime tonight.
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Sunday, November 10, 2013


As items sell the display changes. Today I am in a teal mood?
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Reading List

Second Watch by J A Jance
Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson
Dead and Buried by Stephen Booth (currently)

Waiting in the wings Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear and the core curriculum for Olds Fibre Week level two.  I will be teaching level two next year. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Old Codger

One of the things about getting old(er) while continuing to travel the craft fair circuit is that you have years more experience than some of the younger exhibitors.

Having done as many shows as we have, we have fine tuned our booth equipment, tools required to set it up and maintain it, and how the display goes together.

We have also experienced the vagaries of the marketplace, lived through the unadorned comments of the public and know how to pace ourselves in order to get through the, in many cases, killer hours.  I mean, how many people expect to work 11 hour days with no guarantee of income at the end of the day?

We have learned that there is no way to predict what will sell and what doesn't.  For example, for years I could not sell place mats.   For the last three years demand has been growing and I nearly sold out before I ever got to Vancouver.   Lesson is, next year I'd better make more.   And then possibly watch them sit, unsold...

Day one, everything but the new scarf line sold.  Eeps.

Day two, they were almost the only thing thing that did.

The biggest lesson is that you can't predict, nor is the show over until it's over.   In the meantime do your best to stay up on your feet, engage with the customers, and stay optimistic.  No one wants to talk to a grumpy puss.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lull Before...

After a somewhat stressful day yesterday we have been able to have a leisurely day today.  We got to the hall by 10:30 am or so and started setting out the scarves, shawls, tea towels and the few place mats that are left.  We did get another couple dozen mats done during Studio Fair but there really aren't a whole lot of them.  We will soon see what, if anything, people are prepared to buy!

If we had more energy there are numerous things we could do here in Vancouver.  We could go see Granville Island, the art gallery, museum, shopping.  But we are tired, and none too sure that people will actually spend their money in my booth.  I hope, but....

What we have seen so far of the show is good.  There are craftspeople from across Canada with a huge variety of products.

I haven't seen the brochure yet but I hear there are something like 300 exhibitors.  The hall is filled with the hopes, dreams and designs of all of these people.  Here's hoping customers come and find a place in their lives and their gift list for some of them.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Always Something

One of my personal challenges is that I am very allergic to scents.   I thought I had specified in my application that I needed to be far away from food or scented products, but apparently I missed that.  I knew we were across the aisle from food.  I could live with that.  What I could not live with was being right next to a booth of heavily scented soaps and bath products.

I tried.  I really did.  But within 30 minutes my eyes were swelling and my voice was cracking.   I went in search of the show organizer and pleaded my case.  I told him I knew that it was very late to be requesting a change but if there was anything at all he could do?

Bless his heart, he managed to rearrange things and we swapped booths with another exhibitor.

It took a couple of hours before things got settled but we have all day tomorrow to finish setting up.  Today we got the booth structure up and quit at 6 pm.  We will go back tomorrow morning and set out the textiles.  It should not take more than an hour, and then we will take the rest of the afternoon easy.

And I will make sure from now on to specify 'not near scented products'!

Monday, November 4, 2013


Life is full of unexpected events.  Some are fun.  Some are interesting.  Many are positive, some are not.  A few are bittersweet.

Last week I found out that my friend who died last summer bequeathed her entire yarn stash to me.

Once our shows are done we will drive south and spend a couple of days going through her rather extensive collection, choosing what I can use and hopefully finding new homes for the rest.

I am touched beyond saying that my friend has given to me the collection of treasured choices she made over the years.  All her hopes and dreams of fabric she thought she would one day make with it.

Now it will be up to me to honour her and her creativity.  To remember her laughter and joy, the delight she took in the creation of cloth.  The potential locked within the threads she has left behind.


Friday, November 1, 2013

More on Studio Fair

A little better look at the booth.

I pay extra for a corner booth which gives good visual exposure and flow through traffic.  We bought a new mirror this year - I was tired of the 'fun house' effect of my old mirror - which was not free standing and a pain to try and install somewhere.  A local store had free standing mirrors on sale in August so I decided it was time to have a better view for the customer.  No point turning them off by making them look short and fat.  :(

When setting up a display, don't overlook the power of colour.  Notice the concentration of red in the furthest 'back' corner.  While red will draw people in, the most popular colour is generally in the blue/purple range.  But that colour preference can be regional, too, so it's a good idea to have a good range of colours.

As much as possible get textiles up off the flat.  Since I somehow managed to produce an abundance of inventory, we had to set out extra shelves to help display much of it.  There are still several boxes of overstock behind the drapes.  I noticed after I took the pictures that one of the drapes was up, showing the box that is supposed to be hidden behind it.  :)  Oh well, this was before the show opened, and I did set it to rights before the public started coming in.

So far the attendance has been lower than expected but the sales have been happening so it would appear the 'serious' shoppers managed to make it.  I'm keeping fingers crossed for a good article in the newspaper tomorrow and hope more people come.  The weather has been lovely so perhaps people are doing last minute garden stuff.

I'm trying to get the loom set up again with another place mat warp - once again they have proven popular.  My first sale of the day, the customer said her old Laura Fry place mats were 35 years old and while they were still usable she really felt it was time to update.  :)   The customers who were purchasing just as Doug came to relieve me were updating their place mats after only 22 years....