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.