Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hard Knocks

One phrase I don't hear all that often anymore is people learning from the School of Hard Knocks.  

It was a phrase often used in my childhood, especially by my father who never actually attended school.  He learned his ABC's and how to write (draw) his name, but otherwise learned via experience...or, the School of Hard Knocks.  

As I teach, especially the nitty gritty of weaving, I am reminded over and over again that I cannot give my experiences to anyone else.  I can explain principles, show students exercises which will give them similar experiences, but ultimately they will have to do the work of getting there themselves.  If I just tell them what to do, all I have done is taught them to follow someone else's directions, not to learn by exploring the concepts for themselves, not how to observe, analyze and draw their own conclusions.  

In other words, they need to try and 'fail' - or succeed - so that they can learn for themselves.  

The School of Hard Knocks isn't the easiest school to learn at, but it can be effective.  We learn to deal  with failure by failing and not allowing that failure to derail the learning process.  I have tried and failed at many things.   I will fail many more times.  How we learn is by not giving up, but getting up, dusting ourselves off and trying again.  And again.  And again.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Slow Cloth


Hand weaving, no matter how efficient you are, is by its very nature 'slow'.  

And so my pile of new design scarves grows...slowly.  

I have a whole bunch of warps already wound so it is really just a matter of choosing a colour for the next warp and getting it into the loom.  

The empty bins will get more warps as I wind more.  The are at least six more colour ways pulled, waiting for warps to be wound.  

It is almost July.  Reno work on the house looks like it will be starting sometime soon and there will be noise and dust and general upheaval.  I'm trying to get as much weaving done as possible so that if there is too much chaos during construction I can tuck my laptop into my case and head for the guild room where there will be quiet and the guild library for research.  

Always good to have a Plan B!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Bumps and Hiccoughs

So, here I was, all set to have my usual 'birthday' sale (generally July 1-9 each year) when a news release announced that the union and Canada Post are about to start job action and if the union begins rotating job action, Canada Post will simply shut down service entirely.  Not much point doing a 'sale' when I can't then ship anything.

Since the sale would have started this Friday (Canada Day) and run through to my birthday (July 9), it would appear that I won't be having a sale this summer after all.  Unless everyone decides to play nice?  I could then have a 'belated' sale once the dust settles...

If anyone is interested in tea towels or Kerstin Fro:berg's book Weave a V - email me laura at laurafry dot com and I will see what I can work out later.

(Usual terms of the sale are - buy two or more items, get free shipping.)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Confronting Chaos

Between the unpacking from Olds Fibre Week, the pending move out of the annex, the Reno/repairs to the house AND writing The Book, this is the current state of the studio.  

I guess I ought not complain as there is still a goat trail through?

The AVL is empty with a 100 yard warp scheduled for next, there are scarf warps wound for the small loom, edits to finish, text to be written, projects designed and tested, fringe twisting elf to be trained - for whenever I get the new line woven.  

There are craft fairs to be prepared for, teaching trips to be organized, and my mothers 90th birthday 'party' to be dealt with.  Since I am, in fact, out of town on the date, it will have to be a moveable feast.  I hope the family doesn't mind.  :-/

There is also wet finishing and pressing to be done, at some point and we won't discuss the hemming I didn't do while I was away.  

It is at times like this that I have to remember that this IS the life I chose...

Friday, June 24, 2016

Under the Gazebo

Olds Master Weaving Level One class (2016).

If we are looking a little frayed (or a little Fry'd), there is a reason!

Thanks for the photo Jean.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summing Up

How to sum up an extraordinary experience?   Do I talk about the campus, with its gardens?   The merchant mall?  (Yes, I exercised my plastic.). The fellow teachers?  Getting to know two of the spinning teachers?   Getting to know the other weaving teachers better?  Do I wax eloquent about the supportive and friendly staff?  The delightful presentation on the history of Cowichan sweaters?

No. Although there was all of that - and more. 

For it was/is the students, always the students, who truly make this week worth the 10-11 hour drive.  The van load full of much of my studio.  Connecting with the 'next' generation of weavers who are passionate about learning the nitty-gritty behind the craft.  Willing to risk 'failure' in pursuit of knowledge.  Diving into the complexity of what goes into making cloth, cloth suitable for its purpose, understanding that there are no definitive answers, that all depends, that there are many highways and byways to the destination.  That it is truly a journey.  A voyage of never ending discovery.  And that just when you think you know 'all' there is to know, you realize the goal posts just got moved.  Again!

And ultimately?  Those moving goal posts are not a frustration, but a challenge to be met.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In Progress

Today we ran out of the value gamp warp because instead of wimping out and not doing both plain and twill gamps, this enthusiastic bunch, did!   Since I had plenty more yarn, another warp was wound and the loom dressed this afternoon.  Since I was dressing the loom again with the valet, I invited the other classes to observe.  Much picture taking ensued, so I suspect there will be some cutting and drilling happening once some people get home.  

Tomorrow some wet finishing will be happening and then much mulling, thinking, analyzing will follow. 

I cannot give someone else my experience, but I can assist others to obtain their own and help with the analyzing.  I can also cheerlead, commiserate when things go wrong, assist with problem solving.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

The View From Here

Dusk is coming a bit early because the clouds are gathering.  No view of the full moon tonight.  

Day Two is officially over and progress is happening.  By 8 pm, six people had woven their value gamp and several were nearing the end of their first warp.  The class is information heavy and each person comes with their unique experiences.  Some have encountered parts of the info previously, some are less experienced.  It is a bit of a tap dance to make sure that those who need more attention get it without ignoring the others who appear to be steaming along independently.  

Tomorrow is Hump Day.  Another day filled with lectures and more learning exercises.  I don't doubt people are getting tired, so it will become more difficult to absorb even more.   But there are also glimmers of understanding, some of the in class pre-sample samples are very good, which looks very encouraging that people will be able to produce excellent work at home, away from the noise and distraction of class.  Makes my little heart go pit-a-pat!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Embarrassment of Riches

This is just some of the yarn I am trying to use up.  

So far I have woven a few warps of two scarves each, and wound six more.  And I haven't even scratched the surface because there are many more boxes of yarn still in storage...this was just an effort to design a scarf line and begin weaving it.  

The van is loaded with much of my studio tools so I decided to not do any weaving today.  Instead I have been trying to think what else I might have forgotten.  And so far remembered a couple of critical things!   Like the class manual with my notes and sheets for marking class exercises!  Oops...that would have been bad.  

The rain has stopped...for now.  So glad my route is east, not north as that highway is closed due to washouts.  Fingers crossed the rain has truly stopped.  

Still a few more personal items to pack, but I am nearly ready.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Making Choices

Now that I have decided on a quality of cloth, it is time to start building a 'line' of scarves. 

There are three other variegated colour ways of the Skinny Majesty so my line will be built around those colours.  To that end, each two scarf warp will have the variegated yarn along with a different solid Bambu 7.  Each warp will be woven with two different wefts so I wind up with no two scarves identical.  

I started warp 2 today but am running out of time so I will wind another warp for when I get home.  The year is slipping through my fingers far too quickly and I am feeling the pressure to get this new design woven so that the scarves can go to a fringe twisting elf.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Change of Mind

There is a meme on Facebook going around that says something to the effect that we should not stick with a mistake just because we took a long time making it...

So I changed my mind about what I was doing in regards to a new scarf design and put this warp on the loom this morning.  Sometimes Plan B really is 'better' than Plan A...

For the first scarf I used the same solid pale lavender in the warp in the weft and was quite pleased.  For the second scarf (there are only two scarves per warp), I used the same colour but in a darker value.  This subtly shifts the colour, making the really pale areas in the variegated yarn pop.  I think this may be my new scarf design.  

Monday, June 13, 2016

Plan B

After deciding I was happy enough with the cloth I wet finished yesterday, today I started digging through the yarn boxes to choose colours for warps.  And discovered that not all of the rayon yarn was the same grist.  I couldn't combine them without adjusting epi so I started looking at what else I had and made different choices.  First prototype warp is wound.  Second underway.  Need to finish the turquoise warp so I can test the new combo, which, in the end, might actually be 'better'.  

One hopes.  If nothing else I have a better choice of colours...

Currently reading Guy Gavriel Kay's latest.  Children of Earth and Sun, I think it is called.  It's upstairs and I'm not. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Little Cheating

I'm sure the photo below looks very, very 'wrong'.  All those crossed threads!  Goes against everything most people have been told about good practice.

Thing is, if you know and understand your materials, you know just how far you can bend the rules and still get the results you desire.

Now everyone knows I'm all about the efficiency.  In the photo below, you can plainly see that for one third of the warp the two colours are a) ABABAB, then b) AABBAABB then AAAABBBB.

Since winding one end of one colour then one end of the next, or even four and four is a bit of a pain, what I do instead is simply wind both colours at once (with a finger between them to minimize twisting, although many people say they don't bother and everything is fine), then when it comes to threading, I just manipulate the colours to be in the sequence I want them in.

The yarn is a highly textured rayon, very slippery.  The less I mess with it in the warp winding the happier it, and I, will be.

Currently reading Boar Island by Nevada Barr

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Begin, Again

Now that the warp on the AVL is woven, it is time to get back to Olds class prep.  I kept thinking I had three weeks.  Wrong!  I have (gulp) nine days!

So it is back to warp winding, sample pulling, teaching aid deciding, equipment packing, papers photocopying, and CD burning.  

I can't forget anything because there will be no running home at lunch to fetch things...

Monday, June 6, 2016

Minor Surgery

Surgical tools to fix...

Cables wear out, yes, they do.  

We invested in the correct size plastic coated airline cable, bought by the yard at a local wire rope supplier and the tool for cutting it/compressing the knurls.  The loop broke on shaft 14 so one end, dropping the shaft suddenly.  Fortunately the warp isn't 'tender' and no warp ends broke.  From break to fix was about 30 minutes...  

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Good Night, Edmonton

It is 10:20 pm, with about three weeks to go before the solstice.  Edmonton is about the same latitude as home so these long summer days are very familiar to me, and bittersweet because very soon the sun will begin its slow journey into winter with days as short as the nights currently are.  

The class was small, with just 10, but eager to learn.  I love it when new(ish) weavers want to Know It All.  So we strayed from the topic of the workshop as one question led to another and another...

The weather was wet and dreary for the drive out but promises to be lovely heading west.  

I have a lot of things on my job list, not least preparations for my 'large' class at Olds.  I forgot some things for this trip...I can't forget the things for the Olds class!

Currently reading The Waters of Eternal Youth by Donna Leon

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Road Trip

The drive east was wet on and off.  At one point, because it IS road construction season after all, we were stopped to let one way traffic go by. It wasn't raining at that precise minute, but it was still dreary.

The mountains are always majestic, no matter the season or weather so I quickly took a couple of pictures, front view and side.    We were stopped east of Jasper, still in the park, for bridge repairs.

There is very little snow left on the mountains, which doesn't bode well for the summer, so it was hard to resent the rain today.  It is badly needed.  

I made it to Edmonton relatively early, then the hotel had some glitches with the room keys.  Not just me, either.  Eventually got it sorted and now it is getting to be bedtime. 

It is almost 10 pm...

As we near the solstice it will stay light out even later.  ;)