Sunday, December 27, 2015

Mining the Stash

It is no secret I have a stash that never seems to diminish, although I can say I have made inroads.  

But I still have yarn I purchased to re-sell and some of it is not in colours that make my heart sing.  However, they ARE in my stash, so I need to use them up.  Some how. 

So, this warp.  Colours are not quite so far into the yellow as shown in the photo, but...not my favourite.  

Why do I work with colours that don't appeal to me very much?   Partly it is a challenge.  Can I still make something nice even though I'm not using my favourite colours?  Mostly, can I use up this yarn without buying more to go with it?

Right now what I am trying to do is use up a rather brown yarn for weft, so my warps of late have been a lot more beige than I find appealing.  But the cones are getting used up.  And that is all to the good!

I just wish my lack of focus hadn't caused me to make a mistake while winding this.  It isn't terminal, just a time consuming pita. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Work = Play

So, I am back to weaving with yarn of relatively high linen content - during winter - with low ambient humidity. 

Yesterday I dressed the loom with another tea towel warp on the small loom and wound bobbins for weft.  The weft yarn is a cotton slub plyed (plied?) with a singles linen.  It's fairly co-operative but not so much when the humidity drops as it does here in the winter.  The filled bobbins were placed in one of my humidors and allowed to 'steep' overnight.  Hopefully by the time I get to the loom, the yarn will have picked up enough moisture to be friendly.

Wait - did I just say I worked on Christmas Day?  Why, yes, I did.  I finished the red place mat warp in the morning, had lunch, then rough sleyed and dressed the loom before we left for Christmas dinner. 

When your work is your play...every day is a potential work day.  Or play day.

I also pushed through the next stumbling block on the writing and started the next section.  I have pretty much covered setting up the loom (the way I do it) and have begun discussing weave structures.  I'm hoping the next bit goes fairly quickly because I have published articles on various weave structures and should be able to mine my own writing for content.

Word count stands at 19,000 and 40 pages - without the photos/diagrams that will be added later.  Given the space needed for those, the page count is actually nearly double that, I think.  I won't know for sure until they get added in.

A friend is coming for a visit in exactly three weeks (yay!) and my goal is to have enough written that she can take a look and give me some feedback.  I'm also waiting for feedback from a brand new weaver, to see if any of it makes sense to her.

Currently reading Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday

I have a vague memory of this day, December 1955.  I was only 5 (and a half - that half is so very important at that age!)

I remember the theatre filled with children, the excitement for the coming Christmas Day, but feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all.  Which, I think, shows on my face.

This year several of my friends are dealing with hard stuff.  Stuff that gets even harder as the season is supposed to be about being happy.  But life isn't always built of happiness, and sometimes life is just plain hard.

So for all my friends, I offer my wish that you find peace.  I send my thoughts and best wishes for a life that isn't quite so hard.  That everyone finds some contentment in the coming days and weeks ahead. 

I hope that people will be kind to each other and whether it's Merry Christmas or Seasons Greetings or whatever you believe in, that life will be kinder in the coming year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Break Over

Got my yarn order yesterday so it's time to get back to work.  This warp will be more place mats, some for a special person, in a special size.  The rest will go into inventory. 

I seem to be taking a break from writing today.  There were appointments and errands and this warp to deal with.  

We will be having a very quiet holiday so I'm hoping there will be chunks of time to spend at the computer.  The writing seems to be going fairly smoothly so my hope is to continue with my goal of an hour a day...until it is done.  

The illustrations are then going to take a while, but it is looking good that this project will stay on track.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


This folks, is a photo of page 30 and 31 of The far.  That's 31 pages of single spaced text, lacking copious numbers of photos, diagrams and potentially links to video clips.

I am at the point where I am trouble shooting selvedges in order to help people figure out why they might be having issues with them, and at the minute my brain is mush.  Toast.  

On the other hand I feel as though I have made significant progress.  Enough progress that I actually feel as though I am going to be able to do this, for realz, as a young friend says.

A really nice realization to come to on this, the first day of a 'new' year.  

Now I think I need some studio time.

Currently reading Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin

Sunday, December 20, 2015


I am not a big fan of New Years resolutions which seem to dissolve by February.  But I find myself, halfway through my 65th year, thinking about life.  What it means to be alive, living a life of, hopefully, meaning.  What it means to live a life of mixed parts service...and selfishness.  What it is that gives meaning to MY life.  Even, on some days, of how I would like to be remembered, when all is said and done.

To me the solstice is more truly the beginning of a new year and I find myself resolving to live a more focussed life.  I have taken steps to remove things from my life that cause the bad sort of stress.  Fired myself from things that were not bringing pleasure.  Reflected on what is important to me now that I am more than halfway through my sixth decade.

The past few years have been potent reminders that I have used my body and it is showing signs of the wear and tear.  I am watching my mother becoming increasingly frail, having to give up her much loved crafts because she simply can't do them anymore.  

And so for the time being I have decided to concentrate on teaching and passing on my knowledge.  I intend to do that via the book I am trying to write, the Olds College program, for so long as they want me, and on the Internet by answering questions, whether that be in personal emails, chat groups or here.  

And I will weave as much as I am able.

Next warp...more tea towels.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Satellite Launch!

Got word yesterday that the satellite weaving program has been approved for Prince George, BC May 21-26, 2016.

Registration will begin in the new year, perhaps as soon as the end of the first full week of the new school year (January 8 or so).

Class will begin on the Saturday morning, run through the May long weekend and into the following week.  For those folks who work, that means they won't necessarily have to take a full week off work.

Class will be held in the Prince George Fibre Arts Guild room.  The guild has a number of floor and table looms, so you don't have to bring one.  (There may not be enough looms to go round if the class fills, so do bring your own if you have one that is portable.)

As I understand it, because this is a college course for credit the tuition can be used as a deduction on your income tax (Canadians).  Check to make sure before claiming it, of course.

The weaving program via Olds consists of four levels plus an independent study.  It is not a 'learn how to weave' class but assumes that people know how to dress their loom and the basics.  The program endeavours to ensure that everyone who takes it has a good grounding in the principles of textile creation. 

Homework is assigned and marked and each person must 'pass' one level before going on to the next.

The class here needs a minimum of six to 'go'.  There are a total of 10 spots (which will make the room...cozy...but we're all adults and we will play together nicely.)  If anyone is interested in signing up, I suggest they do so quickly.  We have tried to get the word out early enough that folks who need to apply for vacation time will have the time to get that into the works.

I am very excited about this opportunity.  This will be the first time the college is offering weaving as a satellite program.  I am honoured that they have agreed to have it here in Prince George.

Friday, December 18, 2015

'Tis the Season

Woke up this morning to fairly steady snow so it's beginning to look a lot like winter.

With the solstice just a few days away, I always feel as though the turning of the diurnal cycle is the 'true' beginning of the new year, much as our far away and long ago ancestors must have felt.  I don't live all that far north, although it's a lot further north than many.  Our town is just far enough north that we really notice the shortening days of winter.  Our reward is the long days and short nights of summer.

But, back to the 'new year' thoughts...

For many years, by the time Christmas and the New Year arrived all I could do was just get through the season.  For a weaver (or any other craftsperson dependent upon the Christmas craft fairs), the veil of exhaustion from a year's worth of production then a couple months worth of (sometimes frantic) show schedule, collapsing for a few weeks before entering the fray again was the top priority.  
As I have gotten older, it seems to take longer to feel rested and able to enter the fray all over again.

All of the above had a factor in my decision to write The Book.  If I have an income from some other source, I won't need to do so many shows.  We won't have to white knuckle our way through the Rocky Mountains - in November - there and back again.

But I also have a more...altruistic...reason for writing The Book.  I want to share some of what I have learned with others.  I want to do it in a way that makes sense to new-to-the-craft weavers.  I have shared hints and tips frequently here and other places on the internet, done the two DVD's, produced a large book with woven samples.  I am no stranger to writing.  

Thing is, writing The Book is much more difficult than writing blog posts or the occasional article for a magazine.  There is a stream of logical thought that needs to happen so that people can easily follow the process.  If they can follow my thread of thought, they will more easily be able to understand the processes.  

Weaving is not a straight forward craft.  (I doubt any of the traditional crafts are, but I'm most familiar with weaving.)

There are layers and layers and layers of subtlety.  Everything depends.  Things change when equipment, materials and intended function change.  How can I convey that subtlety without losing people in their journey through the many twists and turns my thought processes take when I design a textile?

Writing The Book feels very audacious.  When I get tired, I get discouraged.  When I get discouraged, I find it more difficult to find the thread to follow without getting lost my own self.  How can I guide someone else through?

And then I think about all that I have learned and I don't want that knowledge to just...get lost...when I'm gone.  And so I go back to the text and I pick through the threads of my thoughts and try to weave them into a coherent story.  The story of cloth.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Time Off

Time away from the loom means muscle loses it's tone.  Therefore when coming back to the loom, muscles need to be exercised and built up.  After being away from weaving for nearly six weeks, it is taking me a while to get back into the swing of things.

It takes about 65 minutes to weave one shawl.  Normally I would just weave for 45 minutes and take a break, but decided that I would weave each shawl complete before stopping.  So, not only am I out of practice with muscles that need re-conditioning, I'm pushing myself further per session than usual.  Not a particularly good idea, so rather than three weaving sessions a day, I'm just doing two.  At least for now.

Weaving is full of repetitive motions.  Repetitive motions, taken to the extreme, can cause increased inflammation, then injury.  It is a very good idea to follow the guideline of "feeling the pain?  STOP!"  There is no such thing as "no pain, no gain" in weaving.

Many weavers are not in the flush of spring but well into the autumn of their lives.  They may already have sustained injuries to soft tissue (I have had two whiplash injuries, for example) and stressing those tissues to keep weaving after pain begins is a very bad idea.

Learning how to sit with good posture and position at the loom is the first step.  I am constantly explaining to people in workshops that they are sitting too low.  They don't understand why it is a problem until I explain how such a position is 'bad' for their bodies.  So indulge me while I step onto one of my soapboxes...

You must sit up on your sitz bones, not your tail bone.  This involves a pelvic tilt.,

Sit so that your hips are higher than your knees.  Sit on the edge of the bench so that just your buttocks are supported.  If you sit further back on the bench so that your legs are partially on the bench, the bench can cut off the circulation to your legs.  Plus you don't have the same leverage to treadle.  Sit high enough that your elbows clear the breast beam.

Depending on the loom you use, you may have to make some adjustments, but aim for the above.  And watch my You Tube video clips or get The Efficient Weaver for more tips on shuttle handling and treadling (on a front hinged type loom - a back hinged loom will require a different approach to treadling but the rest still applies.)

My heart aches for people who injure themselves weaving, just because they don't know how to sit properly, or are using methods that promote injury.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Getting My Groove On

Not quite right for colours but as close as I could come - side facing me as I weave

Back of the cloth - less of the brick red weft showing
Decided to ease back into the weaving since I'd been away from the AVL for so long, so I only did two sessions at the loom today.  They were, however, long sessions because it takes about 65 minutes to weave one shawl.  And since the upgrade to Fiberworks has changed how it behaves in comparison to how it used to behave, and I keep forgetting and wind up losing my place causing a treadling 'error', I decided I'd just weave a whole shawl in one go. 
Normally I only weave 45 minutes before taking a break, so weaving for 65 minutes before taking a break was tiring my poor muscles, which are out of training so to speak.  Instead of doing my usual three sessions at the loom, I decided it would be kinder to my body to just do two, and hope that tomorrow I might be able to do three.  I'd really like to finish this warp on Thursday so that I can deliver them to the fringe twisting elf that night.  But we will see how it goes.
Currently reading A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sale - Part Deux

It is a very grey and gloomy day today and these towels look more 'yellow' than in real life.  They are really more on the blue side of green.

Wave - 50/50 cotton/linen warp is 2/16 cotton at 32 epi, weft a finer linen.  There are four and the price is $38 each.

Zig-Zag.  Woven on the same warp as above.  There are three left and the price is $38 each

Blooming Leaf design in twill blocks.  Warp 2/16 cotton as 32 epi.  There are nine and price is $36 each

Confetti.  Woven on the same warp as the two at the top of the page.  There are seven.  Price is $38 each

Woven on 2/16 cotton warp at 32 epi.  Weft is a tow linen so heavier than the above towels.  There are 7 left and the price is $28 each.

Payment can be by Paypal.  Yes, I will send to the US (free shipping if two items are purchased).  If you pay me in US $, that will help cover the international banking fees but I won't quibble about payment in Canadian $.  My Paypal account is tied to my email address of laura at laurafry dot com

If you prefer to *not* use Paypal, I will accept a cheque in US $ from people in the US or I can accept VISA or MasterCard.  I will bill in Canadian $ and the exchange will be done on your statement in you are in the US.

I also have copies of Kerstin Fro:berg's book Weave a V

They are $20 (without shipping - $25 if purchased by itself including shipping in North America)  I even have a few signed copies - no extra charge

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Very Weaverly Sale

One of my favourite gifts from another weaver is something they have woven.  And I especially love hand woven textiles.  I think we have just one commercially woven tea towel left as even Doug has grown enamoured of them.  As I use each one I remember who made it and they feel close to me, even though physically they may be very far away.

While the tea towels pictured are not everything I have on hand, they are ones that I'm pleased with, and I hope others will be too.

Buy two items, get free shipping.

Cats Paws and Snails Trails, rendered in turned twill blocks.  50/50 cotton and linen, warp is cotton as 32 epi, weft is linen at 30 ppi.  Price $38 each.  23 left.

Two different shades, two different fibre contents.  Upper more pale towel, 80% cotton, 20% linen.  Lower, darker shade 50% cotton, 50% linen.  Warp is 2/16 cotton at 32 epi.  Can't remember ppi.  As the weft was quite a bit thicker, it might be 24 or 28 ppi.  Price $28 for the darker, $34 for the pale.    Darker:  16 left.  Paler:  19 left

Another 2/16 cotton warp at 32 epi.  Linen was a bit thicker so ppi might be 28.  50/50 cotton/linen.
Price $28 each.  Pale:  6 left.  Dark:  3 left.  (Someone said the darker ones looked like long horned steers.  Once seen, cannot be unseen.)

Seeing a trend here?  2/16 cotton warp at 32 epi, thicker tow linen at maybe 28 ppi.  50/50 cotton/linen.  Price:  $28.  4 left.

These are 'true' tea towels to my mind.  While the others with the thicker weft are nice, they are a bit thick in comparison to the Cats Paws and Snails Trails at the top, and these 100% cotton towels woven from 2/16 cotton warp and weft.  The design doesn't show up because of the same colour being used for warp and weft, but it is another turned twill block design in Pine Trees and Snow Balls.  Price $32.  4 left

These towels turned out quite nicely using 2/8 cotton for warp and a 2 ply yarn made from a singles cotton slub and a singles smooth linen.  They have quite a firm hand, but should soften up nicely after a few uses.  20 epi, woven in plain weave with 2/16 cotton hems in plain weave,.  Four colour ways to choose from:

Top of the picture Sage - 9 left
Next down  Salmon - 6 left
Second from bottom peach/blue - 8 left
Bottom - peach/beige - 5 left

Price $32 each

There is also a selection of blue/greens using a finer linen for weft.  If anyone is interested in those colours I can take pictures and post tomorrow.  If you are a fan of orange/beige, there is a selection of those as well, some with cotton warp and weft, so cheaper than the linen weft ones.

The sale will run until Dec. 31, 2015.  Since I can't guarantee delivery before Christmas anyway, might as well let it run until the New Year in case Santa brings $$$?

Monday, December 7, 2015


Testing Internet Explorer to see if I can load pictures from there...

To Sale, or Not to Sale?

I'm in a bit of a quandry.  I usually have some sort of 'sale' this time of year, but since I'm having trouble loading photos to my blog, it's a tad difficult to post pictures of what I have available.  :(

Is there any interest in a 'buy two, get free shipping' offering of tea towels?  I *might* be able to load pictures from my iPad - I managed it once, although it was a bit of a pain.  I could also do a written description of what I have, then send jpgs by email to anyone interested?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

No Luck

Still haven't been able to load pictures onto Blogspot from my desktop.  I got a message a couple of days ago saying that it was now a simple matter of dragging and dropping the selected image.  But it doesn't work for me.  Neither does the old way of selecting the image and clicking on the button on the drop down screen.  It looks like, if I want to load pictures, I will have to do it on my iPad and the app.

The guild sale went fairly well.  I have a couple more people who need to connect with me and then I will sort out the 'discontinued' stock, divvy it up between three 'worthy' causes, and deliver this week so that people in need will at least have a scarf to put round their necks.  Even though the weather has been far too warm for December, that is sure to change at some point.

I was quite amazed at how much knitting I got done this year.  I guess I got a lot more knitting done during recovery, before I could start weaving, than I realized.

So far I've put two loads of scarves through the washer and dryer of knitted scarves, and there will likely be some woven items as well, once I've sorted through the inventory.

There is still a stack of handspun wool scarves that I knitted that need to be wet finished, but they aren't needed until January when they will go to the Cold Snap Music Festival.  However, I'm trying to clear some long neglected tasks off my to-do list, so while I'm in the mood for wet finishing, I thought I would do everything that I could.

There are still a few more things that need to get done and my focus tomorrow will be to deal with them.  The time for procrastination is over.  I need to clear my desk (as best I am able!) and then clear my mind so I can begin writing.

In terms of weaving, I have 8 rayon chenille warps ready to be woven, an order of place mats on the small loom, ready to weave, and one shawl woven on the big loom.  Only 11 more to do.  My fringe twisting elf has finished all the shawls she had and is waiting for more.  I will have to find my 'round tuit' and get cracking!

Currently reading North of Normal by Cea Sunrise Person

Friday, December 4, 2015


Well, blogspot seems to have 'improved' things and now I can't add pictures from my desktop to my blog.  I will have to figure out the 'new, improved' way to do that.

But not today.

Upon getting home I kinda, sorta, crashed.  Despite my best intentions, I have not accomplished what I need to do and energy is just not there.  So I've spent way too much time vegging.

Today is fraught with taking mom to a medical appointment, then a long awaited lunch with a friend, then mad dash to the annex to select the stuff for the guild sale tomorrow, then drag everything up the 23 stairs to the guild room.  (I don't know if it's 23 steps - it's longer than a 'normal' staircase.  I may exaggerate for emphasis.)

I did manage to dress the small loom with a place mat warp yesterday.  It's an order, but I told the customer that they would not be ready in time for Xmas.  Still, I'd like to cross that off my list.  I also got the big loom sleyed, tied up and even wove one shawl.  And pulled weft for the next ones.  Even wound bobbins!

There have been additional stressers since getting home - dear friends with sudden medical emergencies, deaths and grieving to deal with.  In other words, Life, writ large.

So, my intention to begin writing in earnest this week has been postponed to next week.  By then I'm hoping I will have more mental acuity, current crisis' will be dulled if not over, that I will be able to focus instead of...squirrel!

The guild sale begins tomorrow at 10 am until 4 pm, rinse, repeat on Sunday.  I have Larry (Canadian Production Wheel) and a bucket of batts to spin.  I will also bring knitting for when I need a break from spinning.  If I were really energetic, I would get my lace cushion organized, but I don't think I'm quite ready for that.

I also bought a bunch of new jigsaw puzzles.  Well, they were on sale, how could I not?  So I've promised myself that as soon as I get my ledger sorted out and the provincial sales tax remitted I will set out the puzzle mat and take some time to fiddle with bits of coloured cardboard.

Currently reading Madder Crimson by Tyler Enfield  (which is strange in an interesting way and I like his use of language)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fund Raiser

My local guild has produced a 14 month calendar to sell to raise funds to help pay for the rent on the room.  They are selling for $25 (including shipping).

If anyone is interested, a cheque can be sent to me and I will arrange to have them mailed out.  The deadline for orders is December 15.

Back of the calendar showing the photos from the monthly pages.

Felted sculpture from one of the monthly pages

The page of dates has nice large boxes for noting appointments.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Home Again, Home Again

This time, to stay for a while.

We woke this morning to clear skies and what eventually turned into a brilliant sunny day.  The days are much shorter than the nights now, and will get even shorter until the solstice in about three weeks.  Fortunately, it comes back as quickly as it goes!

I am taking a 'quiet' day today.  There is a stack of administrivia that requires immediate attention and if I can clear that off my desk quickly, my studio goal for the day is to finish setting up the AVL and maybe even start weaving.  I left a 40 yard warp on the loom for more shawls.  I'm pretty sure that if I had had more colours to choose from that more would have sold.  I simply ran out of time, so this batch will be the start of next years production.  

While I managed to sleep well enough last night, I'm still feeling a bit befuddled, so I will take today to unpack and get organized with a goal of beginning to write tomorrow.  And then, hopefully, every day that I can, given appointments and commitments.  There is still the guild sale this weekend, but that is the last major commitment of this year.

For me, for many years, the new year doesn't begin on January 1 but when the show season is over and the winter solstice arrives to bring the returning sun.  This year is no different. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Back At It

We got home about 9:30 last night after a long drive with less than wonderful weather and road conditions.  Unfortunately we have a tight turn around and leave again Thursday morning for a weekend workshop this weekend.  It is an almost 600 mile drive so I expect we will stop somewhere along the way, not do it in one day.   This time of year, roads can be dreadful and I'd rather not assume I can make it in one go.

Spent the morning doing bookkeeping, then errands.  This afternoon I pulled teaching stuff but will go up to the annex to pick up finished textiles as examples.  Then the guild room for a few minutes, but I won't stay long.  

With an hour or so 'spare' time, I thought I might be able to finish threading the warp I left half done.  Not sure I can get it all finished, but it will be closer than it was. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Well, Calgary's Art Market is done.  Sort of.  Doug is at the hall waiting for a turn at the loading dock.  We are hoping that he won't have to wait too long because there is a storm front moving in and we would like to get going as early as we can in the morning.  It looks like we will have 'weather' all the way home.  

The show was slow enough that there was time to talk to the neighbours and get to know them a little bit.  That's always a nice perquisite when doing shows.  The public so often has no idea what goes into being a crafts person trying to sell their work.  The other exhibitors are my 'tribe', regardless of their craft.  

I am hoping the weather isn't terrible because I would really like to get home by tomorrow night.  It is going to take a concentrated effort to get everything that needs to be done, done, before we leave again on Thursday.  I really have to learn to say no, but it always seems so...manageable...until reality sets in!

So, teaching next weekend, then the guild sale, and that is the last event of the year.   I need to take a little time off and I'm thinking that stack of jigsaw puzzles might be just the thing to tackle for a couple of weeks.  I'm pretty much caught up on the handwork until I get some more weaving done.  But I also want to dig into the writing so the weaving will slow down a bit.  And that is fine, too.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Day One

Beginning to feel a wee bit like the movie Groundhog Day...except the neighbours are different.  

The craft community really is a community and the big regret as I have cut back on doing shows is losing that community.  

Tweaked the booth display.  It probably doesn't look terribly different but as things have sold...or emphasis has changed.  

So, with fewer place mats and still loads of tea towels, the mats got condensed and the towels spread out more so that they can more easily be seen.  Or at least, that's the hope.  

But there is just no telling because what has sold so far today have been shawls and scarves.  Not one mat or towel.  Tomorrow could be entirely different.  

And it isn't over until it's over. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Done In

Close the Trans-Canada Hwy for 13 plus hours, stacking all the transports that drive through a mountainous,windy, twisty road into a miles long convoy, sprinkle with civilians, some of them fellow craftspeople with heavily loaded vans or trailers, sprinkle liberally with adverse weather conditions.  Let the tractors wear chains (please let them be wearing chains), chewing the compact snow into something approximating washboard, add rain, sleet, at times blowing snow and we were all shaken, not stirred.  

A drive that would, in reasonable conditions, take about five hours, took 8.5.  

We arrived at six am, Alberta time with a loading time of 10-12 noon.  We may, or may not, make it.  

Too much stress, too little decent food, way too little sleep.   I sure hope the trip home is more pleasant, not to mention the 1.5 day drive next week to teach, then home again.  I am about done in.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


We are holed up at the Revelstoke Tim Horton's because the road east is closed due to an accident.  It is snowing wet snow, the road has been slushy and/or full of broken compact snow.  We are still five hours from Calgary...when road conditions are good.  Which they are not.  

There are parking lots filled with all the regular transport traffic that routinely runs along Highway 1.  When the road opens all of the traffic that has been sitting idle since the road closed at 6 am this morning is going to be anxious to get to where they need to be.   Including us.  

I expect there are other craftspeople who are also stuck, but hopefully comfortably ensconced somewhere there is hot coffee and wifi, like we are.  

We have been doing the Calgary show for several years, always in the knowledge that the weather can be nasty.   We have been fairly lucky with driving conditions but after this trip I may decide it is just too stressful.

In spite of the time off after surgery in January I managed to get quite a lot woven.  If I do one less major show next year, I won't have to work quite so hard at the weaving, which would give me more time for writing.  Plus I'm booked to do some teaching (in western Canada) next year.  

I am going to have to think long and hard about what direction I want to go and where I need to put my attention.  Driving through the Rockies in November isn't really very high on my list right now.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Well, we are 3/4's of the way through.  This show is five days, followed by a two day drive through the mountains, then set up all over again with a four day show.   The schedule is a tad gruelling and I really don't know how many more years we can continue.  Otoh, the customers are generally appreciative, sales were ok (one always hopes for more!) and I still have way too much yarn and ideas I would like to bring into material form.  

So I have already applied to return to Circle Craft next year. 

We will leave in the morning after rush hour is mostly over (like most big cities, traffic is always heavy here) and drive as far as we can, stopping somewhere along the way.  Right now roads are not great, but hopefully by the time we get to the mountains the ploughs will have done their work and we will have a good drive.  I'm hoping to see the Rockies...the last two years the mountains were shrouded in cloud.  But it's November, and we will just have to deal with whatever Mother Nature delivers. 

Time to get ready for bed.  We aren't done, yet. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Day Four


A little different angle so that the corner display can be seen.  The mirror is on the inside of my booth.  When it was on the outside, too many people who were not customers were using it, preventing my customers from using it.  Sometimes you have to be a little 'selfish'.  You always have to bear in mind human behaviour.  

Doug had offered to set the corner rack up with four lights instead of two.   I think next year I might do that.   The rack really isn't lit well enough. Live and learn.

Usually Saturday is pretty busy at this show but there are no guarantees.  So far, today has been extremely slow.  I don't know if that is a reflection of the events in Paris or not.   There are always a million reasons for someone to NOT buy, especially something considered a 'luxury'.

But the event isn't over until it is over.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Day Two

This morning I changed the 'corners' of the booth.  Yesterday I was in a 'blue' mood but upon reflection felt that made the display a little dark.  So the front corner got made over with a dark magenta shawl and somewhat softer pink scarf. 

The shawl at the left got changed from the dark teal to a brighter blue.  

As sales happened yesterday the scarves got changed out.  Some of the mat colours sold out so that set of shelves got switched around, too.

Today it was a fairly typical Vancouver November day...rain.  It was much quieter than yesterday but sales have been ok for a weekday.  Traffic may pick up when offices close.  several of my shawls have sold.  People may be thinking before they buy, but they have been spending.  While one always hopes for more, it's not over until it's over.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Circle Craft

The shawl is more of a teal, less yellow.

Day 1 is nearly done, just four more to go.

I slept really poorly last night.  Show jitters combined with ambulances roaring out on calls all night long made for a restless night.  Just what you want for show opening.   Not!

The weather was quite nice and we had decent crowds earlier in the day, some of whom were inclined to purchase.  But there is a big weather system moving in and rain predicted for the rest of the week.  Hopefully not so nasty to prevent people coming downtown.

The show is lovely, as usual.  I've only walked some of the aisles, but there are many familiar faces.  This show has a fairly high percentage of clothing designers due to the fashion programs in the area.  But there are also plenty of the more traditional crafts, pottery, wood, glass, jewelry, etc.  this year there is only one other weaver, so it was good to catch up with her.  It will be interesting to see if the new younger weavers get to the point of production before us oldsters completely give up and/or give out.  I know my body is protesting years of production weaving.

But I have all that yarn....

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


We got the booth set up relatively quickly this morning.  Returning to the hotel around noon, Doug took the opportunity to nap, so we had a late lunch.  And then he napped some more.  I read my library book.  It started raining, so there wasn't much incentive to go sight seeing.  

Wednesday is Remembrance Day in Canada, and there are still employers who close for business so traditionally November 11 is a busy day for this show.   For the first time the show will open at 9 am instead of 10, so it is going to be a very long day.

There is no telling if the people who come will be inspired to purchase my work but I have good booth placement right on the main aisle, the booth is full of colourful things, and we are as ready as we can be.  

Show time!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Going 'Dark'

Well, we are off tomorrow - two craft fairs, back to back with a two day drive in between - through the mountains - to get from one to the other.  Then home for two days and off again to teach at Grand Forks.  Another 1.5 day drive there and back.  Not sure how much time or energy I will have to post from the road.

The house and studio will be left in the capable hands of a new weaver who gets to play in my studio while we are gone.  :)  She came today to beam her cushion warp (based on Janet Dawson's Craftsy class).  There wasn't time for her to do more than that but I'm confident she can do the rest on her own.  She also got to use the warping valet, which I think she is liking a lot.

It has been very mild here so far with no idea of what we will come home to - it is November, after all!  I just hope we have good driving conditions.  It's about 450 miles to Vancouver, 660 miles from Vancouver to Calgary, then about 480 miles from Calgary home again.  Most of it through mountains, or high elevations.

It is the traveling that is the least attractive part of doing this - or at least the traveling in November part - because you just never know what the weather is going to toss at you.  The older I get, the less inclined I am to do all this road tripping during the winter.

We are almost ready to leave.  Just a few more things to deal with - packing, cleaning - and the alarm will go off at 6:30 am.  We will be leaving before the crack of dawn!

Currently reading Jim Butcher's latest The Aeronaut's Windlass - volume one of the Cinder Spires series.,

Friday, November 6, 2015

Never ending

Just cut a blue/black chenille warp off the loom with two more scarves woven.  Unfortunately weaving chenille scarves is beginning to feel like a never ending story.  The next warp - black and grey - is ready to be rough sleyed, six more warps are wound, ready to go, the next colour is at the warping board with four more colour combinations pulled, waiting in the wings.  

I guesstimated I had about 50 pounds of yarn before I started this production run.  I'm thinking now that it was probably closer to 75.  With each warp taking about 12 ounces of chenille, I have a lot more weaving before I see any appreciable reduction in my stash.  


Thursday, November 5, 2015


The studio has reached a level of controlled chaos that is getting a little uncomfortable.   On my work table are yarns pulled for more rayon chenille warps which will not get done in time for this year, but which will get wound, ready for me to work on next month for next years sales.  When I emptied the box and bin of yarn, I vowed to keep all the chenille on the shelf and in order to do that I'm going to have to use up more of it.  

In addition, the workshop in Grand Forks is going ahead, which means I have to get the drafts and yarns into the mail tomorrow at the latest.   Fortunately it only needs a few tweaks per request.  Mostly it is just take care of the details...about a two hour job, maybe three.

The AVL has sat, neglected since September.  There is a 40 yard shawl warp on it, also destined for next years inventory.   I had high hopes of getting a few shawls woven, but didn't.  It still needs to be threaded, sleyed and tied up, which may, or probably not, get done before we leave. 

 Friend is going to house sit in order to play in the studio.  I have just let her know it will be available longer than expected.  We will have just two days to turn around after the Calgary craft fair and leave for the workshop.  

When you are self employed, it is really hard to turn down work because you never know when more will be offered.  I'm so grateful Doug is willing to do the drive because that will give me some time to reset my brain from selling to teaching.   I always enjoy the being there.   It is so often the getting there that isn't much fun.  Especially in the winter, going into the mountains.  All the more reason to get The Book written!

Currently reading Badlands by C J Box

Monday, November 2, 2015

End of the Line

See that rats nest of yarn in the foreground?   I reached the end of my patience fighting with the rayon chenille yarn at the selvedge and as soon as I finished one scarf, cut the rest of the warp off.  Life is too short to be fighting with yarn.  It's not a great loss...less than six ounces of yarn. 

My problem is that I think the next warp is going to be equally challenging.  The black I used at the selvedge was stiff and felt pretty nasty.  It may suffer the same fate.

Snip, snip!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day Two

overall look at the booth

close up of painted rayon warp scarf

close up of bamboo warp, Tencel weft shawl

close up of bamboo warp, rayon weft shawl

Since today was Hallowe'en, I figured it would be pretty slow after around 4 pm.  And so it was.  So I took some photos.  

I rarely remember to get 'beauty' shots of my textiles.  Mostly my blogging is just sharing what I'm doing with people.  But I also need photos for media and promotion.  I think the last one shows the iridescence of the plum shawl rather well.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Show Time, part two

Studio Fair Set up went fairly smoothly and I got home early enough that I was able to finish the magenta warp.  Tonight I've managed a bit of fringe twisting.  Still hoping to get them wet finished in the morning.  That will give me a pretty good colour selection.  

Another thing about working in series is that the more different colour combinations I do, the more daring I get.  I think I'm going to be having some fun with rayon chenille for a while longer. ;)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Working In Series

I like working in series.  Yes, that means that I am doing essentially the same thing, over and over again, with minor tweaks.  It means that once I have found a design I feel is working, in a general way, I can then begin making small changes in order to see how they affect the whole.  

In a stripe sequence such as this, I can change the colours, the values, the weft yarn.  All such changes are tiny.  Many people would get 'bored' but I find it endlessly fascinating how such small changes can make such a large impact on the cloth.  

But then I'm also the person who finds it challenging to weave plain weave, so take this observation for what it's worth.   ;)

Sunday, October 25, 2015


For me, year end isn't so much about December 31 but the end of the craft fair season.

All of my efforts for the year are pretty much geared towards the sales that happen in Oct/Nov/Dec.  If the textile isn't woven and ready in time, I don't stop pushing, I just push those textiles into the next year.

This year was challenging, there is no doubt about that.  But knowing the surgery was coming I was able to make plans for recovery and work my weaving into my physical therapy in a way that benefited me.  When I looked at the filled booth at the U yesterday, I felt a certain level of satisfaction that healing had happened, and recovery, while that isn't 100% yet, has been quite good.

Seeing the extent of my inventory means that I am satisfied that I have sufficient stock to make it through the next three shows without looking as though my booth has been thoroughly picked over.  I made more place mats than I did last year, and there is an excellent supply of tea towels.  Not as great a variety as I would like, but depth of stock of what I did make.

The supply of scarves is pretty decent and I still have shawls to finish, er, finishing, and which will be ready for the show next weekend.

Depending on how well the last 3 (four, if you count the guild sale Dec. 5/6) sales go, I might even have enough inventory left over that some of the pressure of making more will be eased.  If so, I will be ramping up efforts to write The Book.  I should have a good 5 weeks in Dec/Jan to write.  In that time frame, if I work at it every day for at least an hour, by the time Mary come in mid-January, I might even have something worth showing to her.  I also have a couple of alpha/beta readers locally and am waiting to see what my alpha reader has to say about the first 9 pages.  (Probably that they need heavy duty editing - I fully expect them to be crap because you have to sift through a lot of dross before you find gold).

Mostly at this point I'm looking for feedback on 'voice'.  Because once I've determined my 'voice' the words should flow more smoothly.  Or at least, that's my theory.

Writing a technical manual is - shall we say - challenging.  How to convey the information without being so obscure no one understands what you are trying to say?  Or too condescending?  (Do I really want to write a Weaving for Dummies?)  Too casual or too pedantic - either are not good, in my opinion.  So I want to strike a balance between sharing my experiences - which are admittedly subjective - with 'hard' facts - the stuff that is generally 'true' for most.

In a 'soft' craft like weaving - your mileage may most definitely vary.

So, I have assembled a team of people who I know will give me honest (but kind) feedback, people who have expertise I don't have, and shushed my Inner Critic (mostly).

I still have doubts that I can produce a 'good' book but I'm going to try.  Ultimately the buying public will be voting on how well I managed.  I'm also taking a huge gamble by self-publishing.  But doing it under my complete control means that I will produce something that I can put my name to, and not have to worry about someone else editing it and determining if those xxx pages are all necessary or not.  It will have as much information as I can think of to fit in, no cuts because it will cost too much.  I will control the finances I put into this and I will determine how much needs to be included.

Am I a control freak?  Why, thank you for noticing!  I suppose what I want is to write the book I wish had been available when I started to weave...

Friday, October 23, 2015


A solid two hours work got us to this point. 

Chenille Queue

So, I went and got my flu shot yesterday and I think he injected it into muscle tissue because I can hardly move my arm today.  It's much too sore to weave, so instead I pulled some more yarn for warps and wound two more.  I'm hoping that after resting it over the weekend I will be able to weave on Monday.  The Inner Critic is nagging me to push on through the pain, but a more sensible voice is telling her to shut her cake hole.  

In the background sits the AVL, abandoned since September.  I had high hopes of getting started on another shawl warp, but it will wait until after the craft fair season.  And the workshop at the end of November...if they can get enough people signed up for it.  

Truly, I don't absolutely NEED more shawls.  Of course there is still a pile waiting to have their fringes trimmed, tag and price attached.  They might not make it for this show, but they will be ready for the next, next weekend. 

This year has been...surreal...with the surgery and recovery, slowly working my way back to functional. I keep forgetting it is nearly the end of October...and the year.

I am really hoping that next year will be less fraught, although having decided to go ahead with a book, I'm sure there will be lots of stress around that!   Not to mention the Olds satellite program.  I have an appointment to discuss this further Tuesday morning.  

So, I appear to be up to my usual tricks...too many irons in the fire!  Guess I wouldn't have it any other way, or I wouldn't keep doing this to myself. ;)