Sunday, January 31, 2016

Throwback Sunday

This is the second of the two articles from the newspaper my friend gave me a while ago.  This one is from 1999 and shows my then studio assistant modeling an evening gown I wove and a friend sewed up for the ANWG conference fashion show in Bozeman, MT.

It was interesting to read through both articles and see how little my attitude has changed.  And to think about how much has happened since 1997 and 1999.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Throwback Friday

Recently a friend gave me a couple of newspaper clippings she had saved for me many moons ago and recently found.

This article was done in 1997 and published just a few days before my birthday.  :)  It brought back many fond memories as my aunt (mom's sister) was visiting and I was able to show her this exhibit of my work at a local art gallery.

As I read the headline, I was reminded of how much has happened since 1997, and how little has really changed.  I still feel as though I could keep weaving for whatever is left of my life and still not know it all.

Currently reading The Patriarch by Martin Walker

Thursday, January 28, 2016


The above textiles were woven for A Good Yarn:  Linen.  They are primarily linen, although some of them are combined with either hemp or cotton.  As such they share some characteristics, but there are subtle nuances because of the different combinations of fibres.

I think it is this aspect of weaving that continually attracts me to keep exploring, keep pushing boundaries...keep learning.

I've got the broad strokes - I have my preferred methods, processes and equipment which don't change very much from day to day.  I have my comfort zone in terms of what I like to make and which yarns I prefer to use to make them.

But there are times when I do choose to try different things.  Not as often, perhaps, as I should, but often enough that I am very aware of the nuances in using the different fibres.  The inelasticity of linen compared to the huge elasticity of some wools, for example. 

I like to contrast matte and shiny yarns for effect and I like to create the illusion of curves within the grid of the cloth.

Weaving is like that - simple but complex.  Bold but subtle.  Structured but flexible.

Weaving satisfies me on so many different levels - intellectual, creative, disciplined, free.  I need to use math regularly (thank goodness for calculators), visualize, break through creative constraints, make mistakes - and learn from them.  Weaving has been for me intellectual stimulation, educational, therapeutic.

Weaving has allowed me to weave a life.  

And for that I remain continually grateful.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


I really love delving into books, especially ones as eye appealing as this one.  

It only arrived a couple of days ago and therefore I've not read it thoroughly but so far I'm liking what I see.  

What I have read is clearly stated with good illustrations.   While the book is geared toward the rigid heddle loom, basic principles are given which will transfer seamlessly to a treadle loom, should the reader decide to expand in that direction.  If not, there are plenty of suggestions for making the most of a rigid heddle loom.  

The photos are clear and plentiful and overall, it is an attractive presentation. 

Others who have had the book longer than I have are pleased with the information on using more than one heddle, which makes the loom more versatile for those who want to explore weave structure, but there are plenty of ideas for a more organic approach for those more interested in colour and texture.  

For those just entering the wonderful world of weaving using a rigid heddle loom, I think this one is a very good investment.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Saw this at the craft fair in Calgary and convinced Doug to buy it for my Christmas present.

Today he got it hung, which was a bit of a challenge on the brick wall.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bad Hostess

Word of warning...since my work is also my play, I assume my visitors like to 'play' with me.

Mary and I have made a significant dent in the hemming pile.  We are a little over half way through the 50 towels Doug pressed last week.  Of course there will be 20 more to do soon.  But that will finish the cotton slab/linen two ply for weft.  There will be a little left, but that may run away in Mary's suitcase.  ;)

Currently reading Unsinkable by Silken Lauman

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

363 days

I've used up three of my lives now, I think.  It was 363 days ago that I prepared for surgery - a fairly major surgery that left me weak as a kitten, but 'saved'.

It's been a long year in many ways - the recovery was long and challenging.  At times it was down right difficult, but I kept reminding myself that what I was going through was temporary.  That things would get better.  And they did.

I'm still not back to where I was before my body started to deteriorate - that slow steady decline that 'robbed' me of what physical fitness I had and sapped my energy.  I don't feel as though I am nearly back to where I was.  And I'm resigned to never - possibly - regaining it.  But, on the other hand, people have said that it took them up to three years to feel as though they had completely recovered from by-pass surgery.  So there may still be room for improvement.  And I can weave - so what if I can't walk up four flights of stairs anymore?

That sense making me feel that if I have goals, if I have a bucket list, I need to address them.  I need to work steadily, with focus, towards achieving what I would like to achieve.

Progress has been made on several fronts:

A good dent has been made in the text for The Book

The Olds College website has details of the level one class here in Prince George in May and I'm hoping there will be sufficient registrations that it will be a 'go'.  (It is also being run in North Carolina with Jean Curry teaching so if you are interested but on the east on the link and scroll down.)

There will be a 'beginning' weaving class here in April, and the Edmonton Guild has asked me to teach in June.  Plus there is the Olds Fibre Week later in June, where I may be teaching as well.

Stash has been woven down to the point where entire boxes have been emptied.

On a personal note, Doug and I will be taking a holiday in March, visiting friends in NC (and possibly at their cabin in TN), then again in September we are planning on touring round Nova Scotia.  We have always said we wanted to travel.  Better do it now.  I might be teaching on Cape Breton, too.

After getting through cardiac issues, cancer, then cardiac issues again, I have spent a lot of time thinking about Life and what is Important.  In the end, material goods are ephemeral.  Knowledge passed on to future generations will have some chance of surviving.  And so, in spite of my Inner Critic wondering what on earth I'm doing writing yet another book about weaving, I carry on in hopes of helping others.  Sharing what I've learned seems to me to be the best thing I can do.  Encouraging others to be creative, helping them to overcome the obstacles they might encounter on their journey of learning.  Lending a hand, an ear, a bit of assistance in figuring out what might be going 'wrong' and how to make it 'better'. 

To me that seems the most valuable thing I can do right now.  Because to light someone else's candle does not diminish my own...

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Creative Decisions

Since I'm running low on colours I want to use for this series of towels, I wound up with a value difference that was greater than my eye liked.  I knew the weft for the towel body would make the difference less, but I wasn't happy with either of the solids in the warp for the hem weft.  So I used something else entirely. 

The two larger tubes are the colours in the warp.  The smaller tube is what I used for the hem.  The colour is about the same value of the brown/tan, but more greyed.  It brings the value of the pale grey down so that there is less value contrast and helps the hem to blend in better with the body of the towel, I feel.  The towel body is a bit 'brighter' so the hem is less obvious to my eye.  

That's my story...sticking to it...(Colours not completely accurate in photo)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Satellite Program Live!

*New* Off Campus Offerings!

On a trial basis, Olds College is offering Level 1 of the Master Weaver program off campus.  Currently, we have two locations:
The first is at the Yadkin Valley Fibre Room, in Yadkinville, NC.  May 2 - 6, 2016.  See their website for details and registrations.  Jean Curry will be instructing this initial offering.

The second Level 1 class is in Prince George, BC.  May 21-26, 2016.

Location:  Guild Room, 2880 15th Ave, Prince George, BC, Canada

Time:  9am-4:30pm
Instructor:  Laura Fry
Tuition:  $595     Materials $65     Marking Fees $160

Registration:  Contact our registration desk at 1-800-661-6537
For both classes, be sure to have your Supply List ready!

Two great opportunities for the Olds Master Weaving program.

To register for the Prince George class phone the college.  Check the website for the supply list (not sure the link above came through), or if you are interested in the North Carolina class with Jean Currie, register with the Yadkin Valley Fibre Room.

For people out of town, we can try to find a B&B in Prince George.  Let me know.  We also have some floor looms available for students to use, as well as a couple of table looms, or bring your own table loom.

Currently reading Never in Anger by Jean Briggs

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


It has taken a large number of warps but I am almost finished the cotton slub/linen yarn.  I have just finished filling the humidor with bobbins for the next warp and once that is done, one more warp will finish this cone plus the bits of some tubes of the same yarn.  If there is any warp left after that, I have some nice cotton slub that will go well on whatever is left of the warp...if there is any.

I had estimated that the yarn would produce about 90 towels.  It seems to have been even more than that.   Closer to 120!   No wonder I ran low on yarn for warps...

Needless to say, between weaving more warps than expected and Life Happening, I'm running 'behind' where I had hoped to be before my company arrives on Saturday night.  But since she is a weaver I don't think she will mind if I spend some time at the loom.  Heck, she might get to weave a tea towel or three herself!  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Organic vs Linear Learning

The box is definitely getting emptier and it is getting more...challenging to come up with colour combinations I find pleasing in sufficient quantity.  But I am nearly finished that last cone of cotton slub/linen for weft.  

Today I got back to The Book and generated another 2000 or so words...and lots of drafts for examples.  

People learn in different ways and a craft can be learned in various ways, too.  Weaving is very linear on one level, but can also be organic.  For me it breaks down into two parts:  process is more linear; quality and design of cloth is more organic.  

Determining appropriate quality of cloth is pretty much an exploration through trial and error, building on previous experience.  The only way to gain experience is to do.  As famously is said, do, or do not, there is no try.

As much as someone can explain what to do, until the student jumps in and does for themselves it is merely intellectual understanding.  

That doesn't mean that intellectual understanding is meaningless, just that you need both that theoretical understanding AND the actual experience to truly know what is going to happen.  Or at least know with 90% certainty, because there is always that bit of the unknown when trying something new or different.  

One of the reasons I am so supportive of the Olds College program is that it is attempting to provide the linear intellectual information while encouraging the organic.  The thing that seems to be most lacking in terms of learning weaving these days, imho, is that intellectual, linear information.  It is one of the things I am hoping to provide in The Book, at least to an introductory level.  Because when you don't know what you don't know, you don't know that you don't know it. 

And because learning is also organic, my hope is that once students have some linear knowledge to build on, that they will continue in whatever organic fashion best suits their need in terms of learning, building on a solid foundation.  

Friday, January 8, 2016

Scratching Below the Surface

There is a philosophy that many people have expressed in each their unique way, but which pretty much means the same thing.  It is a philosophy I subscribe to.

Pablo Picasso puts it this way:   Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

Dalai Lama XIV says:  Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.

While it is possible to learn a craft, a discipline, by simply leaping into the deep end, willy nilly, the results will likely be less than hoped for, less than expected, less than desired.  

So, to all those new weavers coming into the fold, welcome to the wonderful world of weaving.  I strongly recommend getting in touch with a good teacher, take a class, scratch well below the surface.  Because weaving is multi-faceted, layered with subtle changes that can drastically affect the outcome of crossing weft through warp.   

Not all yarns, looms, tools or processes are created equal.  And when one thing changes, everything can change. 

If you don't have a weaver available in person there are on line resources.  I recommend Janet Dawson's Craftsy class.  She will get you grounded in the basics and you will learn the vocabulary of the technology, which will make asking questions...and understanding the answers...easier. 

If you prefer books, check out Peggy Ostercamp.  She has a website with lots of hints and tips.  

And of course, my own endeavours at education.  My paper publications are out of print but occasionally appear for sale on eBay etc.  In addition to the DVDs there is the webinar A Good Yarn I did for Interweave.  And of course the video clips on my You Tube channel.

Pursuing weaving can be a lifelong exploration.  I have been at it for 40 years now, and I still learn new stuff.  How exciting!  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Comfortable Rut

The past few weeks, weaving has been more therapy than anything else.  At one point I told Doug that I was going to the loom because at least there I had some control over what was happening.  

Being the holidays, it was a case of hurry up and wait...something I am very bad at doing.  

I hasten to assure you, dear reader, that what needs to be is being done and things are calming down at casa Laura, including Laura.

But what the stress did was cause me to lose concentration and efforts at writing fell through the cracks.  I'm far behind my anticipated word/page count for January, but I made such good progress in December, I'm still hoping I can get back on track tomorrow so I can go over the bulk of the text in 
March with my personal editor/weaver/assistant. 

The thing that has kept me sane was the comfortable rut of these never ending, seemingly, towels.  And yet, progress happened there, too, in spite of everything, as another huge cone of the cotton/slub linen weft got used up.  

Just a few more appointments and hopefully things will return to what passes for normal in my warp and weft world.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Material Limitations

Here is the next warp in this series ready to go into the reed and then the loom.

One of the benefits of working so frequently with the same quality of yarn is that you become very familiar with its characteristics and limitations.  

What do I mean by limitations?  By that I mean I know the quality of cloth it will produce given weave structure and density.  I know how 'perfect' I have to be in terms of process.  I understand when I can let an inconsistency go, or if I have to deal with it.  I know how it will behave in the wet finishing.  And feedback from my customers lets me know how well it performs.  

If I want to change the quality of the cloth I have a pretty good idea of what changes to my process, equipment and techniques need to happen in order to get something desirable.  

This knowledge did not come from the first or tenth time I used this yarn, but from constantly trying different things and then analyzing my results.  

Knowledge comes from trying this, trying that, then comparing the different approaches within the context of developing a quality of cloth.  It's called experience, and experience is personal.   Understanding how far to push and still get what you want is part of what keeps me coming back to the studio, over and over again.  Because when you change one thing, everything can change.  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Pushing the Limits

One of the things working in a series does is make me push the limits of my comfort zone. 

I don't have an intuitive understanding of colour, rather I have had to work at it by experimenting.  Mostly I have had to take a deep breath and just jump into the deep end.  

Sometimes I have been very pleased.  Other times?   Not so much.  

As I begin to run low on colours, though not yarn, I am being forced to be more and more adventurous in terms of the colours I am putting into this series of towels.  My challenge in particular is to use up a whole lot of the two ply cotton stub and linen yarn I inherited from my friend.  Since the yarn is so brown, I have been sticking to the more neutral beige yarns as much as possible.  But I'm running out of the variegated yarn I'm using as the accent colour so I finally came up with this combination this afternoon.

Only time - and weaving it - will tell if I've made a good choice.  Sometimes you just have to throw caution, and doubt, to the Winds!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Day One

A new day, a new year - so to speak.

Really, every day is the first day of the rest of your life.  It's just that we seem to set this one day apart as 'special' when every day is unique, filled with potential to be, if not wonderful, at least peaceful.

I don't make 'resolutions', as such.  I try to live a life of intention.  I intend to live each day the best I can.  To be the best person I can be (even though I fail miserably at times).  I intend to spend part of each day weaving, creating, encouraging - even, dare I say it - enabling others to also be creative.

My wish for each and every one of you is to live life in joy, whatever that means to you.