Monday, March 31, 2014

Of Lipstick and Pigs

My studio is a working studio.  As such I'm not terribly concerned about how it looks, but what comes out of it.  Being a 'starving artist' I could not afford much in the way of 'decorating' when the studio was built as I was much more concerned with moving in and being able to weave.  When a friend offered me her cast off shag carpets from two bedrooms she had just redecorated, I didn't care what colour they were, just that they were large enough to fit at each end of the studio.  They have been on the floor ever since.

The area in between the two main areas of the studio eventually became covered with an array of miscellaneous scatter mats but they had worn through in places and visually?  I had to admit they looked pretty bad.  Especially with the crew coming May 5 for the Big Project.

Still being a 'starving artist' I can't afford to replace the shag carpet - I don't have the money and I most especially don't have the time to shift everything out of the way to put new 'nice' carpet down.  So instead we compromised and bought a remnant of carpet to replace all the bits of scatter mats.

Of course there were still mounds of stuff to be moved out of the way so once again things have to get worse before they get better!

Doug is cutting out one of the pieces of plywood as a squeak has developed right where I stand to wind warps and he will try to secure the floor at that point.  I don't need to have that sound happening while I am doing the demo of warp winding!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Yesterday I mentioned I was feeling overwhelmed.  This is not an unusual feeling for me, I quite often get myself in over my head.  Very familiar with the deep end of the pool I am.

It is one of the hazards of being self-employed.  You wind up pursuing several different options because you never know which one(s) will pan out, which will wither and die.

It seems that for the bulk of this year I have been weaving samples.  Which would be fine, but they are samples with very specific requirements.  They are not the full expression of my creativity, but to satisfy requirements of a very precise nature.  Normally this is not an issue for me - the problem comes from the fact I haven't had time to do anything else.

Even the warp on the AVL is prototype weaving for a designer and I'm not convinced she can sell these items for a price that will make it worthwhile for either of us.  But she is confident, so I have been working away on them, trying to get them woven and off the loom so they can be wet finished and mailed.  She needs them by mid-April so there is no time to waste - deadline looms!

One of the reasons I chose weaving for a career was that I wanted to do the stuff that I wanted to do.  The reality is that I have to do stuff that other people want.  Mostly I'm okay with that but the past few months have been all about everyone else's needs.

I'm looking forward to getting to my needs.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cluttering Up

 video camera, plastic tub, samples, tripod as well as other stuff on either side - clutter central

I'm feeling just a tad overwhelmed at the minute.  I'm sure the grey day outside isn't helping.

While attempting to deal with some of the paperwork on my desk I suddenly remembered the extension of the experiment for Handwoven.  I'd woven some samples in December, did an experiment with them, wrote it up and forwarded to their offices, well in advance of the deadline.  Then I was asked if I could extend the experiment.  The samples were woven before I left on my trip  in January, but ran out of time to do the experiment and they have been languishing on my work table getting covered by more, um, urgent matters.  Realized that the absolute deadline was coming up rather quickly so I'd better get cracking on that.

On my desk also awaiting my attention are teaching contracts, a show contract and an application to teach at a conference.  Simmering on the back burner are topics for my new 'job'.  The first one is written, simmering for a day or two before I re-read and edit.  It is due on Tuesday - not sure when it will go 'live', but I'll announce here when it does.

Taking on another 'job' right now is a little bit of madness, given my current schedule.  But it was an offer I could not refuse.  It will provide a modicum of income but more importantly, I hope to reach a wider audience with my pithy comments.

Followers of this blog number almost 300 (298 to be exact).   It is lovely that so many of you check in, some of you daily. I know because you've told me so.  The new venue will likely provide a much larger readership.  Is this my ego, wanting a wider distribution of my opinions, knowledge, experience?  Partly.  But mostly it's because I'm hoping I can help someone, somewhere, struggling - help them to feel more confident, lessen their battle with the craft, become a better weaver - whatever that means to them.

Stay tuned...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Neglected No More

Finished the worsted sample for the Big Project this morning and then got back to the sadly neglected AVL.  For the 'last' sample for the BP I want to use the AVL - for a number of reasons.  While I can beam a 2/16 cotton warp on the small loom, it's the case where I want to double dip, so to speak.  In other words, I'd like to use up some of the legacy stash and to do that a really long warp is going to be required.  Much easier and faster to dress the warp sectionally and do at least 30 yards.  That length isn't really practical on the Leclerc Fanny.

Before I can do that, I have to finish off the warp currently on it.  So far I've managed two sessions this afternoon and the plan is to go back again after dinner and do another.  I'm hoping to get this warp done by Monday, but I also have personal stuff to do on Sunday so that day may evaporate in terms of weaving.  Realistically it will likely be Tuesday before this warp will be done.

But hope springs eternal.

On the 'spring' front, I actually went for a walk today!  The sun didn't stay out but it was dry and the wind wasn't howling out of the north.  Unfortunately there is more snow in the forecast so we aren't quite there yet, but at least it looks promising.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Matter of Control

click on the photo to biggify it

Started weaving the worsted sample this morning.  Since it is white on white and difficult to see clearly what is going on, I checked my threading/sleying with a contrasting colour.

I keep ends of bobbins for this purpose - in this case it's a royal blue 2/8 cotton.  There was nothing to fix, so I began with the white weft.

For this yarn - a 2/28 worsted (that's not a typo or me being Canadian, that's the size in the butt of the cone and how it was sold to me by the US supplier - I've been told that worsted preparation puts the ply first, then the 'count' number, and since this is a worsted yarn using the numbers in this fashion would be the correct way to express the size of this yarn) I chose to go with 32 epi.

When I started weaving, the weft was beating in more closely than 32 - probably closer to 38.  I briefly thought about re-sleying, then decided that if this cloth was being woven for the purpose of a scarf, I would want something with more drape than a 36 x 36 density would provide.

Instead of re-sleying, I adjusted my beat.  I think you can clearly see the curve as I went from 38 (or whatever it actually was) to something closer to 32 ppi.

The trick now, of course, is to go back to the loom and retain that muscle memory of the lighter touch required for the 32 ppi.  If you can't be perfect, be consistent!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Go Ahead - Leap!

I'm sure you've heard the meme - Leap and the net will appear.

It is scary looking into that chasm.  It seems like a long way down.  What if that net doesn't miraculously appear to at least break the fall if not out right save you from the consequences of that risky decision?

So it was with some trepidation I made the decision to leave off doing fibre festivals selling yarn.  So it was when I decided to not do 'real' books anymore.  (Not that I couldn't do them, the shipping costs were killing sales.)

So, especially, was it when I made the decision to become a professional weaver in the first place, knowing very little about being a weaver or being in business for that matter.  So it has been, over and over again throughout my career.

Each time I made the decision to leap, however, a net did appear.  As a consequence I have had a varied - and very fulfilling - life.

As mentioned previously, I'm no longer in my 30's, but double that.  Over the past 6 years I have had to come to grips with the fact that I am not a young immortal.  The myth of my good health broke with a bang. (It is just about exactly 6 years since I found myself in emerg being assessed for coronary artery disease and 3 years since the lymphoma diagnosis.)

But I still love weaving.  I love teaching it.  I love writing about it.

And that net I mentioned?  Less than 24 hours after posting yesterday, an offer I could not refuse dropped into my inbox.  It came completely out of no where (as far as I'm concerned) and while it doesn't pay a lot, it pays a little, steadily.

The contract is already signed, I'm just waiting on a few more details before I do the reveal - and permission to do so, of course.  The other party may wish to wait until they are ready.

In between taking care of that bit of business I started dressing the loom with one more sample for the Big Project.  It's a worsted wool and it very clearly shows that residual twist has been left in the yarn.  This is common with worsted yarns and makes them a little more, um, challenging to work with.  It took some care to beam the warp, although once everything was straightened out it didn't take too long.  It is also a bit hairy and densely set so that also presented some challenges for beaming.

But worsted cloth is stable by the nature of how densely it is set, not by fulling during wet finishing.  This is going to be a true worsted cloth so it has to be built that way in the loom.  Knowing that it was going to take some care, I didn't hesitate to carry on in spite of the challenges.  The bit of extra attention to the details of dealing with this fine, twisty, somewhat hairy yarn will be worth it for the results.

And sometimes you just have to go ahead and leap into the deep end....

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Little by Little

One by one, the samples for the next Big Project are getting done.  This morning I cut this one off the loom.  The green is much more intense in real life - the flash washed the chartreuse out I guess.  But never mind, it's done and the linen behaved beautifully in spite of the arid conditions.  When I started weaving yesterday the relative humidity was less than 50% - sub-optimum conditions for weaving with linen.

One of the reasons I used this yarn was that I recognized it as a very good quality 2 ply line linen.  As such it will transform quite nicely during wet finishing and should be a lovely textile when done.

On a personal note, remission continues with my next check up in 6 months.  So I'm free and clear for a while and can concentrate on what I want to accomplish instead of the niggling worry in the back of my brain box.  With the Big Project coming up in exactly 5 weeks and a 2 week road trip smack in the middle of that, I need my focus!

Off to contemplate a worsted fabric.  Not 'worsted' as in knitting terms, but 'worsted' as in suit fabric.

Currently reading The Likeness by Tana French

Monday, March 24, 2014


And we're back, leaping into the to speak.  The chartreuse warp is ready to weave.  In fact, after I took this photo I decided I wanted to test to make sure I didn't have anything to 'fix' before I began in earnest so I tossed a few inches of a contrasting weft just to make sure that when I get back from the clinic I can go ahead and weave without further ado.

The thing with long road trips is that quite often I'm too tired to even read - as was the case on the trip home yesterday.  I spent a fair amount of time with my eyes closed (I was the passenger!) letting thoughts percolate to the surface of my awareness.

What I was mostly aware of was how much I hurt.  The fall a couple of weeks ago didn't break anything physical.  It broke something else entirely.

I'm 63, soon to be 64.  I have been doing "this" since I was 25.  The "this" has changed over time, a rotating carousel of either dyeing, spinning, weaving, writing, teaching in various percentages and formats.

Next year I can collect the state pensions - as meager as they will be they will actually bring in more consistent money than I've earned by weaving, etc.  While they won't replace my income from weaving entirely, they will make my financial situation more tenable.  I can afford to 'retire' from doing some of the things that I've been doing and which no longer bring me much in the way of enjoyment.

A couple of years ago I made the decision to stop importing and dyeing yarns for sale.  At the sale this weekend I realized that I was at a crossroads.  Enough of my inventory had sold that I either bought more to continue selling yarn at fibre festivals...or I didn't and would stop doing those kinds of shows.

Given how heavy yarn is (the Ford F-150 or whatever model of pick up they were advertising is wrong in so many ways!) and how many times we have to shift it, packing boxes, unloading them, packing the van, setting up the booth and setting the yarn out, only to take it all down again in two days and drag it all back home and unpack it?  I'm done.  We will do the vendor hall at Olds Fibre Week in June and then...I'm done with all of that stress, mental and physical..

The Big Project in just (ack!) 5 weeks time, will potentially offer me more opportunity to teach remotely.  I'm pursuing this idea further and once I know more, I will happily do the Big Reveal.

What I enjoy the most about doing fibre festivals as a vendor is the interaction with new (and experienced) weavers.  That I will miss very much.  But I have this blog.  I have the internet chat groups, my You Tube video channel.  I have email.  I have teaching dates for '14, '15 (still to be confirmed) and even one in '16.  This afternoon I find out if I am still in remission.  Even if I can't teach in person, I can still teach 'remotely'.  And I can take students here in the studio, one at a time.

I am not done with weaving.  I am just changing what I do in order to change my results.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Back to Winter

Leaving the lower mainland we are heading north and back to winter.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Another One Bites The Dust

Never did remember to take photos once the show started.  It was quite busy on Friday, not so much today.

We came down with the van loaded to the roof liner.  It isn't quite so full going home.   Of course I just had to buy a little stuff my own self!  Since I once again have a spinning wheel, it seemed reasonable to buy some fibre to spin on it. ;)   I got three lovely batts from one vendor, then succumbed to the clouds of cashmere at another booth.

It was lovely to talk to the attendees and other vendors.  So nice to meet old and new fibre friends.  At times I feel as though I live a very long way from most other people.  That's probably because I do!  So getting together with and talking to other fibre/fabric fans always feels like such a treat.

But I will be back in the area again in about three weeks. I wonder if that's too soon to see some textiles made from yarn bought at Fibres West this weekend?

Currently reading Sanctum by Denise Mina

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ready To Go

Just waiting for the customers. The hall is colder than I expected so I hope lots of people come to keep us busy!
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Let the Show Commence!

Set up started at 1 pm today and we were hard pressed to get everything out on display.  In fact, we didn't.  There are several boxes under the shelves as over stock and hopefully lots will sell so we can put that out on Saturday.

My seminar is going ahead although I'm not sure how many participants.  At least four but there were a flurry of sign ups that happened this week so there may be more.

In addition to yarn I have some tea towels and scarves and Doug has a variety of different bobbins for spinning wheels, small weaving and spinning tools.  We brought the Glimakra warping mill but there is no place to set it up.

The hall is full of all manner of fibres, yarns and textile goodness.  Today the weather was fine, so we are hoping for good crowds.  A number of the seminars are full, but some still have room.  Come by booth 41 and say hi if you can make it.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


We arrived in the lower mainland after dinner and wonder of wonders the rain stopped so we didn't have to drive in rush hour in the wet.  We had quite enough wet on the journey down, everything from snow, sleet, hail as well as rain.  I'm hoping for more dry tomorrow for set up and Sat. Evening for tear down.

My seminar is going ahead so Doug will be in the booth by himself Friday afternoon.  Say hi if you are there.  Don't want him to get lonely!

Currently reading Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


next warp with scratch notes, draft and yarn ready for warp winding

Making slow but steady progress, next up is a linen sample for the Big Project.

In many cases I have been able to combine my 'sampling' with ordinary production.  But I don't normally weave a lot of 100% linen fabric so this one is going to be purely for project/teaching purposes.

This is some of the lime green linen Lynn had in her stash.  Although the colour doesn't do a lot for me, in terms of learning?  The colour really doesn't matter much.  It is also a very good quality of linen, probably dating from the 70's, given the shade of lime green.  But much too nice to not use, so it will go into the mix for the BP.

I've been running the humidifier steadily for some time now but it is still fairly cold and the relative humidity 'low' for linen (52%).  But I'm hoping that if I can get it wound and beamed today by the time we get home next week things will have improved in the relative humidity department and it will weave off nicely.

If it is still too 'dry', I also have the rest of the warp on the AVL to get finished, so one way or another I'm going to have to jump right onto my production as soon as I finish some personal 'maintenance' appointments on Monday and Tuesday.  By then my butt should be better too.  At least the posture required for weaving doesn't put any stress on my tailbone, so I've been able to weave quite comfortably.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Upcoming Road Trip

It was supposed to rain today so Doug got the van loaded yesterday.  It is so full he had to leave 3 bins of stuff at home!  There is just room for one small suitcase each and everything we bring has to fit into our respective suitcases - no hang up for spare clothing.  I'm not sure I can even fit my attache case in - if I do it will likely be under my feet in the front.

I really hope there will be lots of people at Fibres West and that my yarns, textiles and Doug's spinning accessories will be snapped up!

The bad news is that my laptop doesn't run a Power Point presentation.  I'm hoping I will be able to borrow one for my seminar Friday afternoon.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Little Pretty

What with one thing and another, a little blast of 'pretty' was very welcome today.

I had intended to take photos of the class and some of the things they accomplished over the two days but once I'm in teaching mode, I'm not in blogging mode, I guess.  Long story short I forgot all about it the instant I walked into the room.

While my fall earlier this week could have been significantly worse than it was, I think I bruised my tailbone so the low grade pain I've been experiencing has sucked the energy out of me.  In combination with spring break up, grey dreary skies most days, a funeral...well, life kind of happened, never mind my plans.

I love the brilliant jewel tone palette, so after dinner while Doug started loading the van I went to the loom and wove the first scarf on this warp.

The big advantage to the samples for the Big Project is that I can simply use some of my standard production.  For the rest, I can stash bust.

It's all good.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Scary Things

Yes, this warp might appear to be a little scary.  Click to biggify and see just how tangled it is!

But these tangles don't scare me.  When I took the first photo, it was about 12 minutes to 6.  It took about 5 or 6 minutes to get the warp looking like this:

And by 6:15 I was back upstairs with the 10.5 meter long warp beamed, the cross transferred, the lease sticks set into the Angel Wings, studio shut down for dinner.

Just knowing that I have the warping valet, will be tensioning the warp for beaming and that this particular yarn can be brushed with little ill effect means I can confidently go ahead and deal with it.

Biggest lesson?  Don't let our fears control what we will - and will not - do.  Unless of course bodily harm might be a consequence!

Number Crunching

When I learned how to weave I didn't realize how much math would be involved.  Not just for calculating the various processes involved in the creation of cloth, but all the other things.  The bookkeeping, for one.  Producing projects for publication.  Yarn orders.  Finances.  Then there is this blog.  

Blogger provides a variety of statistics associated with things like page views.  The thing that surprises me the most is how many older posts get read.  I suppose that is due to readers clicking on the tags to follow a 'thread'?   Anyway, the best thing about the blog?   Meeting people when I travel who say they read it.  It is great fun to connect with like minded people who are as fascinated about weaving as I am. 

Currently reading A Question of Identity by Susan Hill

On to the next BP sample warp...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Post Splat

After my pratfall yesterday I decided to take it easy today.  I tried weaving, but realized one session at the loom was going to be plenty.   Apart from that and winding another sample warp, I spent way too much time messing on the Internet.  But if, as a self employed person, every day is a potential workday, likewise every day is a potential day off.  And as a self employed person, I can decide to take a weekday off.   I don't even have to phone in sick!  ;)

Hopefully tomorrow I can do a little bit more, but I am going to take it slowly...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Doug has been working steadily getting large mill cones wound into smaller packages to sell.  It is just one week until we leave for Fibres West where we will have a booth to try and sell yarn, some textiles and publications.  

I had a very productive day yesterday and had hoped to carry on in the same vein until we left but this morning I slipped on a patch of black ice and made a perfect two point landing - tail bone and head.  

I don't think I will be doing much weaving for a few days.  Otoh, it could have been worse.  I could have broken a wrist...

Currently reading The Gifted One by Gail Bowen. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Love Affair

My love affair with twills is long standing but lately it's been herringbone twill.  Different yarns, different proportions, but it has been holding my interest for a few warps now.

This is another of the sample warps for the Big Project.  I need to sit down with my notebook and make sure I get all of the warps needed woven in good time.  Just in case one (or more!) don't look good, or don't work out.  Always nice to have a back up plan.  Or two.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

De Nile

Instead of doing what I should be doing I am ignoring the buckets of hemming.  

Monday will be eaten up in errands etc., so I won't get much loom time.  But I finished the wool sample tonight and hope to dress the loom with the silk warp tomorrow.

As predicted it warmed up and we appear to be in the midst of spring break up.  The snow pack was visibly smaller today, thankfully!  

For now I am going to have another cup of tea and see if I can't make a bigger dent in that pile of hemming!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Guest Post - Mary Underwood

Cautionary Tale:  Beware of Little Old Ladies Weaving Dishtowels

Mary (left) and Alice 

In the summer of 1998 I would sit next to Alice Griswold in a class for 'advanced weavers' taught by Randy Darwall.  I wasn't in the advanced ball park -- not even in the parking lot - but because we were evaluating each other's work, I figured I wouldn't hurt anybody.  In fact, I'd get to see what advanced weaving looked like.  And…they needed people to fill the workshop.  Win/win.  Make that win/win/win.  At the end of the day Alice (then 86 years old) told me she was starting a new weaving class that fall.  Would I like to come?  Of course I would!!  I imagined I'd be learning to weave dishtowels from a little old lady -- and that was just fine.  I noticed that Darwall kept deferring to Alice, but I didn't put anything together at the time.  I also would come to realize that weaving dishtowels can be really hard.

That fall my father came to the end of his life and I was consumed with trips home to Ohio.  I couldn't think about weaving.  And didn't, until the League of Michigan Handweavers conference in the summer of 1999.  I signed up for a course called "Weaving Solutions":  a weaver with 50 years experience explains problems and how to fix them.  Mistake is my middle name.  Perfect course.  I didn't recognize the instructor's name until I ended up in the cafeteria line the night before -- right behind Alice.  And realized I was in her class.  The amount of information she offered was stunning.  At the first break I rushed up to her and said, "I need you."

Monday morning I got a call.  "Mary, how can I help you?"  It was Alice.  By September I'd found 5 weavers to start a weaving class, coming to Alice's house all day Saturday, every Saturday for one year.  The first day of class Alice gave us a tour of her basement, and set the 90" Crompton and Knowles power loom into action.  We were blown away.  And Randy Darwall?  Alice was a primary source of silk for him.  She wove couture fabric, reproduction blankets (for the Smithsonian), short runs (600 yards) for interior designers and would have draperies in the Twin Towers.  She and her husband, Howard, in their later years, created a weaving business.  Alice would go on to share her self-taught weaving knowledge by teaching.  Two of us would continue as students, and we recruited two other weavers.  Alice was our mother hen.  We were the chicks.  The Chicks (Ellen Willson, Nancy Hedberg, and Pat Peters) would continue studying with Alice until she passed at the age of 97, in 2008.

It was during one of those classes that Alice, whose library is now in the Michigan State museum archives, pulled out an Oscar Beriau book:  "Home Weaving", published in 1947.  She found one of the projects there very helpful in designing leggings for a voyageur event at Fort Michilimackinac, in Michigan.  There was something about the book.  Can't even say now what it was, but I loved it.  Alice's Canadian neighbor gave it to her in 1950, when Alice was beginning to learn weaving.  It was her first weaving book.  I wanted one badly, and when Alice and I traveled together we always stopped at used bookstores, looking for more books for her library.  I was searching for Beriau, with no luck.

In 2001 I took a "weave of absence" from my speech pathology job to study with Alice.  During that fall I discovered eBay and found a Beriau book.  Sent for it.  Excited to find some of the patterns I loved in Alice's book, I found none of the ones I liked.  It was an earlier edition.  I got on line again and found another.  Got it, and there were the drafts I loved.  I kept searching.  It must have been the time when many old weavers were downsizing -- because I was able to find entire collections along with many mangles to rescue.  The French editions had a few colored or tinted photographs of fabrics and there were some differences in the drafts offered and/or the threadings.  I got sucked into research.  (Never got much past plain weave with Alice….)

From the start, with advice from Alice, I wanted to gather people together to reproduce the Beriau drafts and to then make their own 'new' drafts.  And my research started in earnest.  I began finding and interviewing individuals in Québec.  Without the help of Annette Duchesne Robitaille and François Brassard, in Québec, I would have gone nowhere.  My research has been aided by many, many individuals, with a healthy dose of dumb luck.  I put everything on hold to go after anyone I thought might still be living.  The story of that alone would be a book.  In fact, it will be.  I'll include the journey and the history in the book I'm now ready to start writing.

I would take Alice along to Quebec for my first interview with M. Leclerc.  She was 91 then.

It was with great joy that I got the news from Beryl Moody that my proposal to start a Beriau sampling group through Complex Weavers was accepted.  That will launch with the spring journal.  And Laura Fry, who early on jumped in to offer a sample, will be the very first!  Thank you Laura!!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Leaning Tower

Part of the challenge of weaving for an income is just how much work it actually is when done on a 'large' scale.

Weaving aside, because the actual shuttle throwing is only a very small part of the process, there is a great deal that is required once the threads are interlaced.

While I may be known for my pithy comment than it isn't finished until it's wet finished, that is easier said than done.

Because even once the wet finishing is done, there is still more required.

Once the warp/web has been cut from the loom there is (for tea towels and place mats) the cutting apart and serging.  Then a trip through the washing machine and dryer.  Once that is done, off to Puff (the industrial steam press) for the initial hard press.

Then the bucket of textiles comes home where it resides on the sofa beside me and I try to do a little hemming each evening.

After hemming, they go back to Puff for a finishing press.

But lo, we still aren't done!

Labels with care instructions have to be printed out and affixed to the care tags.  Then the tags get attached to the textile along with the price.

And then - finally! - the piece is ready to be sold.

Doug has been very busy doing the pressing and so I am now faced with five buckets of textiles piled up behind the love seat.  The stack will topple over soon if I don't deal with it, so that appears to be the next task that has gone critical.

PS - anyone who wants to buy from me can email me at laura at laurafry dot com and let me know what they are interested in.  If I have something appropriate in stock I can send photos of what I have on hand...

Currently reading The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dream to Reality

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

attributed to Goethe

I met Mary Underwood a few years ago now, and she had a dream.  She had been researching Oscar Beriau - a Canadian I knew very little about.  She was looking for weavers to weave up the drafts in his books and I offered to contribute.  Well, many moons went by and finally I have started weaving my sample.  Watch for a guest post from Mary in a while where she will share her dream, and eventually what she has discovered about this extremely interesting man who quietly had an enormous impact on handweaving in Canada - and beyond!

I have to confess I am extremely nervous about my own next Big Project.  Things just became much more real today.  Even signing the contract - although that committment made the BP 'real' still didn't come as close as the next step - finding out today that yesterday the crew booked their tickets for May and making appointments for meetings to hammer out the details.  Ack!  This is scary!

But - I have a dream.  The BP is a project I have wanted to execute for a very long time, but knowing that I did not have the skills or budget to bring it into reality I honestly thought I would never have the opportunity.  This is even scarier than producing Magic in the Water.  With that project I knew that I had the skills and was young enough that I could finance it.  Now I'm much older - and potentially wiser - and relying on other people to bring this project to its conclusion.

I'm nervous I won't do a good job.  I'm nervous people won't like the end result.  All those stage fright butterflies are skittering around in my tum and the thought squirrels are bouncing off the inside of my skull.

But you don't succeed in making your dreams into reality but not trying.  By not answering the knock when Opportunity comes calling.  By getting so wrapped up in fear that you don't at least make the attempt.

So now I need to gear up, pull my big girl panties on, stiff upper lip, give it the old college try!  What's the worst that can happen?  Failure?   But giving up on a dream?  How can I possibly do that?  Time to be bold.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Snap, Crackle

In spite of running the humidifier for several days, this warp proceeded to crackle and the threads splay outwards away from each other anyway.  So out with the spray bottle to tame the wild static electricity!

After winding I sprayed the entire warp chain, then put the box and all into a plastic bag in hopes of the fibre absorbing some of the moisture.  But I rather suspect I'll wait until the humidity has increased before attempting to dress the loom and weave it.  My hands are rough from the dry weather and with the tendency of the silk to cling onto everything?  I'm going to exercise a little patience and wait for better weather!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Moving Right Along

or I would be if I weren't procrastinating...

Sample warp being dressed on the loom while more warps await in the wings.

Yes, my studio is messy.  It's 'creative chaos'.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it...

Sunday, March 2, 2014


This morning I went back to the warping board to start winding warps for the Big Project.  Unfortunately the long spell of cold weather (from -20 to -30C) means that the relative humidity has plummeted.  When the cotton developed static electricity during winding I carried on, gritting my teeth.

Thankfully I was able to get the short warp (5 meters) wound without too much tooth loss, and happily switched to the wool.  But even the wool became unruly with static!

Finally admitting defeat I set the humidifier up to try to raise the humidity level in the studio before tackling the silk.

While that is going on, I'm going to try to get my ledger up-to-date.  It's getting woefully behind and the end of this month I have to remit federal sales tax so I'll need to have everything caught up by then anyway.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Critical Condition

With the arrival of March, my next crop of deadlines has just gone 'critical'.

Doug is winding the box of skeins on the floor onto cones so that I can weave samples with them.  He is also winding pirns to be woven on the AVL lurking in the background.

In the foreground, I am winding warps for the beginning weaving class in two weeks.  Got all four done and will start dressing the looms on Tuesday.

Now that those warps are ready and Doug has enough cones for me to wind warps, in no particular order:

Supplemental samples for Handwoven 'experiment'
Sample for study group
Samples for the Big Project.  At last count 8 warps.  Some of them can be done from existing warps (painted scarf warps), but the rest all have to be done from scratch as it were.  Since there will be several wool or mohair warps, those first have to be coned off.  Lots of prep work before I even get to the weaving.

Sometime in there I have to finish the 20 yards on the AVL for delivery mid-April.

Also somewhere in there, preparations for Fibres West following hard on the heels of the weaving class.

And then in April, the workshop in Tacoma, plus 3 guild presentations in three not-exactly-close locations.  And then...and then...the Big Project.  I am going to be so glad to see May 9 when the BP - or at least my part in it - is done.  May 9 also happens to be our wedding anniversary *and* the anniversary of my angioplasty.  Sounds like a day to celebrate!.