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. ;)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What If?

Continuing to ask what if?   This time combining stripes of different weights of rayon chenille.  Tweed is 1300 ypp, solid blue and grey is 2000 and medium blue is 1450.   If it works I'm hoping for a sculptural effect.

And for those who have asked, the scarves are 8" wide, 66" long plus fringe, and priced at $100 plus shipping. 

Grand Forks, BC

Grand Forks, BC is nestled in the south east 'corner' of the province.  It is a lovely little town with a vibrant arts community.  And a weaver's guild.

I have been asked to teach there this year.  The only dates that worked for both the guild and me are the Nov. 28/29 weekend.  Which doesn't give a lot of time to get things organized, so I'm putting a head's up here in case anyone in the area is interested.

Topic is to be determined, although they are considering Mug Rugs and More with a Friday evening lecture A Good Yarn.

Contact Sue at to get details as they are decided upon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Crunch Time

The first show of the season is this weekend.  Doug is packing up all the inventory we have ready and I'm juggling the dry finishing with getting more woven.  As usual I think I can do more than I really can.  Guess at my advanced age I'm not about to learn that time is finite and there are still only 24 hours in a day!

Tonight I will take this bucket to guild drop in and trim the fuzzy bits off the end of the fringe.  Tomorrow they will get tagged and priced so that they, too, can get packed, ready for set up Friday evening.  It isn't looking good that I can get any more shawls ready but I might get them done on the weekend.  If Doug will do booth duty I could still trim and tag the dozen new shawls that are woven and wet finished.  If not, they will be ready for the shows in Vancouver and Calgary.  

I just wish my stash looked like some of it had been used up.  I still have waaaaay too much yarn!

Currently reading Fools Quest by Robin Hobb

Monday, October 19, 2015

Election Day

It is said that if people don't learn from history, they are doomed to repeat it.  But first they have to know what the history really is.

The truth is, women in Canada have been able to vote for less than 100 years.  For some of us, that is within our grandmother's lives.

Democracy, as it is currently practiced in North America, is a very new concept.  And suffrage did not come to everyone at once, nor did it come easily.  Women (and other 'minorities') were considered too mentally 'feeble' to wield the power of the vote.  It took courage for women to request, then demand the vote, up to and including being beaten, restrained, jailed and forcibly fed when they went on hunger strikes to make their point.  Some died as a result of the brutality inflicted on them.

Voting in Canada is done by secret ballot.  While it is currently a right, it is even more importantly a privilege.  Voting is the primary way an individual can make their opinions heard by the government.  Politicians are first and foremost concerned with getting (re)elected and votes are what do that job.

Having a secret ballot means that no matter who tries to coerce or frighten someone into voting their way, when the voter is standing with ballot in hand, no one is looking over their shoulder watching where they place their 'X'.  And they do not have to report or justify who they voted for to anyone.

Yes, I voted today, as I do most every election.  I have missed a few due to being out of the country.  It's a responsibility of citizenship I take very seriously.

I'm hoping to watch the movie Suffragette at some point.  It will be painful, but every woman from age 16 up should see it so that they understand why voting is so very important.  If the movie is too graphic, any history of the suffragette movement would be interesting reading.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Up Close and Personal

This rather messy looking pile of...straw? actually a really close up view of cottolin (purple) and cotton (pale blue) woven together.  It is hard to make out but the purple yarn is a two ply - if you look really closely, you might be able to see the one ply of purple on the surface with the other ply in the background.  Look for the shadow of the ply.

Cottolin is a blend of cotton and linen.  In terms of fibres, they have different characteristics.  Some people think that blending them together improves both; others think it brings out the worst in each!

Cotton fibres are from the seed pod of the cotton plant.  When harvested the 'tube' of fibre collapses into a flat ribbon which twists.  The pale blue fibre in the foreground probably shows this the best.  (Do click on the photo for a bigger view.)

Linen fibres come from the stalk of the flax plant and fall into the category of 'bast' fibres.  In order to blend the two fibres, the flax fibres are cut up into a shorter length, close to the staple length of the cotton.  In the photo, the much darker fibres are the flax while the lighter shade of purple are the cotton fibres.

In preparation for the Next Big Project, I bought a little digital microscope.  This is about as far as it will go in terms of magnification.  It's still not enough to easily see the structure of the fibres.  However, there is a possibility of getting some images from a scanning electron microscope.  I'm hoping to get cross sections of the fibres as well as just an enlargement of the fibre.

Knowing the inherent characteristics of the fibres means having the knowledge to choose materials wisely.  The more I know about the fibre, the better.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Upping the Ante

With my health issues taking most of my time and energy lately, I confess my weaving has been...well, I had enough challenges on my plate.  So I stuck to the tried and true, the stuff I didn't have to think about much, that was pretty well ingrained in my thought processes.   Sticking to what was easy for me meant that weaving was mostly about the therapy, not about the intellectual challenge.

Re-visiting rayon chenille scarves, I felt I needed to be more challenged.  I had kind of burned out of doing the 'usual' and started thinking about options, if only to make them more interesting to me.

Since I want to weave the stash down, the first challenge was to see what I could do with what I have on hand.  Since some colours are low enough there might not be enough for weft, the first decision was to use some 2/16 cotton for weft.  This would do two things...the rayon chenille would only be used for warp and the cotton would make a lighter weight cloth.

The initial prototype scarves were acceptable but a bit predictable.  As I started weaving the warps, surface attention was given to the weaving allowing my little grey cells to mull over other options and I came up with a further modification to the stripe sequence I had designed.  

This option isn't easy, in fact it takes quite a lot of concentration to wind.  But I was able to do it, which tells me I am continuing on the healing journey since my addled brain was able to not only come up with something decidedly different AND accomplish my objective.  

I am not back to where I was, yet, but feel that I am making progress.  Thank you for your support and encouragement.  It is very much appreciated.  

Currently reading Murder Road by Stephen Booth

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


One of the things about most of the writing that I do is that the articles/blog posts, etc., have a very narrow focus.  Even Magic in the Water was focused on just one (broad) part of the weaving process.  The sample collections were narrow in that they were about just one fibre.  Blog posts, of course, are generally narrow because of their short nature - usually less than 1000 words.

Contemplating writing a book about everything I know about weaving?  We are talking hundreds of thousands of words, very likely hundreds of pages.  It's a daunting task, Herculean, really.

The overwhelming nature of the goal can seem, at times, impossible to accomplish.  Beginning seems pointless because it starts to feel like it will never end.

But it is rather like weaving.  To a new weaver a 10 yard warp seems like it is a huge thing and that they will never get to the end.  But the end does come, and the warp does get woven.  Only if the weaver sits down at the loom and carefully throws the shuttle, one pick at a time, though.

So it is with writing.  The big difference is that in writing the set up is just the smallest part of the task.  Writing an outline really doesn't take very long.  The broad strokes are easily set down on a pad of paper or a spread sheet, or however one best handles that sort of information.  For me, I like to see the relationships between the points so I tend to jot notes down and draw arrows, circle important things, number them for priority.  But not everyone processes information that way.

But as I say, that's the easy bit.  The hard part is elaborating on those topics, getting the correct information (lots of researching, checking various 'experts' to try to find a consensus - because none of those 'experts' hold opinions, right?), trying to organize my thoughts so that concepts are written down in an order that others can follow (a little like leaving a trail of crumbs for someone else to follow - or a thread like Theseus looking for the Minotaur).

As one becomes more 'expert' in a craft, it is easy to assume that others already know what you know.  There is an assumption of a foundation of knowledge, especially in a craft that is so broad as well as deep.  It is that very nature of illuminating the already understood that I hope to deal with - explore the subtleties involved, the layers of knowledge that only come with experience.

It is said that experience cannot be taught, only, well, experienced.  But one can explain principles, make suggestions for variations, point out where things might need to be done differently so that people can recognize for themselves that, oops, here is an exception to the rule and something needs to change to accommodate it.

There is also all that underlying knowledge that people don't know they need to know and because they don't know it, they wind up with unsatisfactory results - choosing inappropriate materials being one of them.  Not understanding the role that spinning plays in how yarns will behave.  Why knitting yarns maybe aren't the 'best' choice for weaving in every situation and why they need to be handled a little bit differently if they are used.  And so on.  And on.

So much to say.  So much desire to help others understand.

And that is why I am going to continue with this Herculean task.  It won't be right away, even though I did make a start in Tennessee - 9 whole pages of single spaced text with 'holes' for information that needs to be added because I didn't have my resources to hand and need to look stuff up.  Because while I may know a lot, I don't know everything.  I don't hold all of this knowledge in my head.  What I do know is how to consult an index.  I do know that fact checking means consulting several sources because sometimes even an 'expert' gets it 'wrong' - or not entirely right.  I know that because at times I am wrong, too.

And that is always a humbling but educational experience.  Discovering that I am 'wrong' means that now I can be 'right'.  That once again I have learned something new.  Getting bumped out of a rut may not be comfortable, but comfort in all things at all times is, well, over rated, I think.  Learning is much more interesting, much more exciting.  I'm quite sure that as I go through the process of writing this (threatening to become a massive) missive, I am going to learn, and learn a lot.  In fact, I already have.

Nine pages...and counting

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cold Snap

Not being someone who can usually just sit with no handwork to do, I brought several balls of hand spun yarn and a pair of needles with me and last night finished off another donation for the Cold Snap Music Festival.  

Even here the trees are beginning to change colour and it is getting chilly at night.  Winter is coming, and that means people will need some nice warm wooly things to help them keep warm.  

On the Big Project front I have managed a few pages of text.  There won't be much time when I get home, but at least a start has been made.  From now on, it will be hit the ground running until the last of the shows is over. 

This interlude has been just the thing I needed.  Just the right mix of 'work', down time and lots of laughter with fibre folk.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

In the Beginning

The ice has broken.  It's probably crap, but it's a start...taking suggestions for content.  What would you like to see covered by moi?  Won't guarantee it will fit, but...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Time Out

I've been away from home and studio for a week, now, and I'm missing the loom.  Fibre work this week has been knitting.  I am finally using up the last of the yarn I spun a few years ago by making scarves and cowls for the Cold Snap Music Festival which takes place sometime in January.  I forget the dates, off hand, but a search will no doubt turn up details.  

Mary has been spinning and today I asked if I could use her computer and start generating text for the next Big Project.  I managed to write a one page Forword and a one page Introduction.  These two pages are helping me focus on what I want to accomplish with this suspected massive missive and may wind up getting cut entirely, or heavily modified.   But I needed to set my thoughts out in some sort of tangible way to see my way clear to what I want to accomplish.  

Now I am letting those thoughts settle into my conscious and sub-conscious while I consider format and content.

Tomorrow we are planning a quiet day and I may start going through some of my files.  I only have hard copies here and the information will need editing so I might be able to work on those pages and get them shaped into something I like before I leave.  I'm sure that once I really get going things will tend to fall into place, but...

Tonight I will carry on with the latest scarf, two rows of one yarn, two rows of the other.   I think it is looking pretty good, and will hopefully keep a starving musician warm during the festival in January.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What Day Is It?

It's Holiday!

If it is the Duck March, it must be Memphis, TN.

From the roof of the Peabody. 

The mighty Mississippi.