Monday, October 31, 2016

One Down

The first show of the year is done.  Turns out my suspicion that I didn't have enough place mats was correct.  Sort of.  All of the matching table runners plus the stand alone runners all sold.  Every single one.  Another case of a cloudy crystal ball!

Today I am struggling to get back to the studio, partly because it is such a mess, I can't think.  Considering the degrees of mess I normally deal with, that's saying a lot.  However it looks like the disruption of the renovations will be brought under a semblance of control in November, so hopefully I can begin the new year with things a little more organized.  

Currently reading Her Again, a bio of Meryl Streep.  

Friday, October 28, 2016

Adapting Tools

Our tools need to be able to do the jobs required of them.  Sometimes that means changing them to make them work better.  

The Leclerc Fanny has breast and back beams that lift off.   This is very useful if you need to sit closer to the shafts for threading.  Since I have long arms, I never remove the breast beam, anyway, so when I started using the warping valet Doug added a piece of wood that fixes the beam to the loom.  In this photo I have just inserted the rough sleyed reed into the beater.   The third lease stick is still taped to the back of the reed, holding the loops.  The warp has been centred in the beater, using the measuring tape affixed to the bottom of the beater for that purpose.  

The next step is to move the third lease stick to the back beam and transfer the loops to the apron rod.  Then the warp will be passed under the breast beam and over the warping valet, the loops smoothed and equalized.  Then the warp will be beamed.  

The photo below shows the 'bumpers' he also added to keep the beater further away from the shafts.  At rest the beater was so close to the shafts my fingers would get jammed into the heddles which was not only annoying, but meant I had to weave more slowly.   A block added to the castle with a furniture 'foot' did the job quite nicely.  When the 'foot' wears out and needs replacing it will be a simple matter to replace it, and the loom will continue to function as I need it to.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Power of Intention

The power of intention.  Makes for a great motto, but what does it mean?

For me it means I have a goal that I am working towards.  In life.  In weaving.  I intend to make something - a particular something.  In order to accomplish my goal, I have to have certain skills.  Particular knowledge.

How do I obtain those?  I have to stumble around at the bottom of the learning curve until I figure out what I need to know in order to get from intention to material.

The above photo is of a sample warp.  I had an objective in mind, but I wasn't sure how to achieve that end result.  And so I put a sample warp on.  And I wove it.  I experienced how the materials felt as I worked with them.  I observed how they reacted when I changed one thing, and then another thing, and then another.  I tossed it into the water to see what would happen.  And then, and only then, did I actually attempt to make...something...using these materials in this particular arrangement.

Some of the Olds students are working on their homework and asking questions.  This is part of an answer I sent to one of them this morning:

Above all, document what you have done.  Because I don't necessarily just want to see 'perfect' (although that is always lovely to see!), I want to see the student work through the exercise, draw conclusions and observe the changes that happen when something is changed.  And perhaps, after doing the initial sampling, the student will do another one, based on their initial conclusions, so that they can produce results that come closer to 'perfect'.  Change one thing, everything changes.  When analyzing the samples after wet finishing, comment on when you might use that particular combination, or why you would never use it.  Document, document, document.  We always think we will remember, but we don't!

Why am I such a staunch supporter of the Olds program?  Because it hopes to make the students think.  Mastering a craft such as weaving does not mean coming to class, being told what to do, doing it, then passing the course.

Rather, the mastery of something like weaving means understanding the principles.  Gaining the knowledge of what happens when by actually doing the thinking, the analyzing of the results, figuring out how to more closely meet the parameters of the exercises.  Honing the physical skills required in order to get the results desired.  All of that.  But mostly to learn how to think the process through in order to get the intended results.

There is a reason I am calling my proto-book The Intentional Weaver.  I hope to distill some of what I have learned in 40+ years of stumbling around at the bottom of the learning curve (why do I keep typing that word as 'curse'????) until I figured out how to more-or-less, most-of-the-time-but-not-always get results I am happy enough with to put my name on and offer for sale.

With this publication I hope to explain some of the principles that go into the construction of cloth that the weaver wishes to have as their result.  Not so that I can tell people how to get their results, but how to think through the process in order to get their own results by following their path.

Right now all writing is on hold while we get through the next four weeks of show season.  This is the time of year where I 'harvest' the crop I have been working on - all the weaving I have done for the past 10-12 months will be on display and for sale in hopes that I earn enough money to get me through the next 10-12 months.  So the writing will have to wait for a bit.  In the meantime I'm still thinking it through.  Still analyzing what has been done so far.  Still honing, polishing, thinking what else needs to be included.  Definitely not forgotten.  Just one more step in the process of being...intentional about what I want to have result.

In my heart I know that anything I produce - not my weaving, not my writing - will not satisfy everyone.  I'm quite sure my book will be...controversial...because I have walked my own path, made my own mistakes.  My path will not be for everyone, because most of all, what I hope, is that people will make their own path.  Because change one thing, everything can change.  In weaving, as in life.

Currently reading A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Drape!

One of the things that people find appealing is a textile that feels good 'in the hand'.  A textile that bends and flows.  That drapes lovingly around the body.  

I have been working with various forms of rayon for quite a few years, now.  Rayon was developed to mimic silk, without the price of silk.  It drapes well, feels substantial (at a good density for the yarn) and takes dye to a brilliant depth of shade.  It can also have a luxurious sheen.  

It was an enormous relief when we were finally able to get some of the new scarf design wet finished.  There are still some left, which may not get done in time for this year, but there are enough for the upcoming show season.  And who knows?  There may be time next week to get the rest done before show two and three...

Friday, October 21, 2016

Crunch Time

Down to the final crunch before the first show of the season.  The van will get loaded next Wednesday, and set up begins Friday at 4 pm.  

The first show is not exactly small, with over a hundred booths, but it takes place in the corridors of the university.  The building is attractive, lots of natural light in most areas, and it has a more...intimate...feel to it, much like the craft fairs when I was just starting out 40 some years ago.  

It is just two days, over the weekend, and then we have three days before we set up for Studio Fair.   This show has around 70 booths and takes place Friday through Sunday. 

Once we pack up Sunday night we will have one night of exhausted sleep, then a 450 or so mile drive to Vancouver.  If we get up and onto the road early enough and arrive before 6 pm we can drive into the hall to off load.  If we don't, we will have to offload onto the loading dock, then carry everything to our booth from there...a much greater distance.  Tuesday we will do actual setup and Wednesday the doors will open. Circle Craft runs for five days, always incorporating Remembrance Day in their show dates.  At 11 am on the 11th of November, a minute of silence is observed to remember the men and women who have fallen in service to our country.  

We are trying to get the shawls I wove last spring ready, plus the new scarf design.   The white place mat warp still isn't threaded.  I'm going to try to get it woven, but they may not make it through the finishing...wet finishing/pressing, hemming, final pressing.  

There is little time left and all I can think about is how glad I will be to get the next four weeks behind me!   Not that more deadlines aren't following close behind, but...

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Craft of Writing

When I was much younger...(do you hear the music?)...I dreamed of becoming an Author.  I even took English Lit 101 in hopes of honing my writing skills.  But my stories were stilted, my characters lacklustre.  Instead I turned to writing long rambling letters, first by hand, then on my old Bison 8086 computer, using Wordstar as my word processor.

I found changing from writing longhand to composing on a keyboard a real brain twister.  Composing on a keyboard seemed to draw on a different part of my brain and writing these long rambling letters helped hone the process of getting from thought to words on the paper.

As I became more adept at composing on the computer keyboard I started writing more articles that I would then submit for publication in various magazines.  Much to my amazement, some were accepted.

In 1994 I got access to the internet via a Freenet portal.  I immediately joined a Usenet group for textiles and started writing long detailed responses to questions, particularly about wet finishing, partly because it was obvious to me that the lack of knowledge about how and why wet finishing needs to be done was...vast.

Out of the back and forth discussions, first on Usenet, then weaving on, then Yahoo groups, the idea of doing an actual book grew.  Not just an article here and there, but a real book.  One with covers, table of contents and index.  And samples.  Lots and lots of samples.  Because the purpose of wet finishing is best seen and felt.

It was a very expensive proposition.  In the end 900 copies were made, plus 100 with limited samples as they began to run out.

This month the very last copy of Magic found a new home.  I had been hanging onto it because it was 'missing' one sample.  But with the renovations at the house, trying to downsize stash and reduce expenses, reduce clutter, I was faced with the reality that this last, lonely copy needed to go live elsewhere.  And so it found a home with someone who has been greatly supportive of my writing - gradually taking over more and more of the alpha editing tasks required for someone trying to write technical articles and, yes, books.

So now Magic in the Water is truly Out of Print - in a hard copy presentation.  It is, however, still available as a digital file with photos of all the samples, both before and after wet finishing, included in the file.  It can be purchased through Weavolution

Purchasers need to 'join' the site but it's free to do so.  Then go to the Magic in the Water group and follow the directions.

I am now down to the nitty gritty of my next publication.  The bulk of the text has been written, a group of beta readers have provided valuable feedback and I am now trying to consolidate the suggestions, including re-writing several opaque passages.  I am also recruiting people to work through some of the weave structure information and design/weave projects based on the included weave structures.  No, I'm not doing all the weave structures; mostly I'm concentrating on those included in the Olds College master weaving program.

A technical book such as the one I am trying to provide does not happen overnight, or easily.  Technical writing means writing with the greatest degree of clarity possible in order for the majority of people to understand the principles and theories.  If I were to do all the projects myself this book would take not two years but more like double that.  I am grateful so many have stepped up to offer their help and support.  I am all too aware that this book will not satisfy all.  But as has been famously said, (and I paraphrase) You can satisfy some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.

Anyone interested in contributing a project should email me laura at laurafry dot com

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Planning Stages

Hard to believe, but I'm already working on my 2017 calendar...

So far all dates are tentative, subject to change, but here is what is in the planning:

(November 26/27, 2016 - Mug Rugs and More, Prince George Fibre Arts guild room)


May 13-18 Olds Level One, Prince George
May 20-25 Olds Level Two, Prince George

The Olds classes* are usually five days, but I prefer to do them in six.  This gives an 'extra' day to the students to absorb the very dense information 'dump' during the class(es).  The classes in Prince George are also smaller - max of 10

June 5-9  Olds Level One, Gaelic College, St. Ann's, NS (on beautiful Cape Breton Island)

June 16-22 Olds Fibre Week.  I'm not sure if I will be teaching there yet, but hopefully Level One

June 28-July 1 ANWG conference Treadle Lightly at Victoria, BC  I'm booked to present two seminars

October 21-22  Lace Weave workshop with Olympia, WA guild.  Looking for another group to book the weekend prior in order to share travel costs

*Remember that if you pass a level, you can take the next level at a different location if it is more convenient for you.  You do have to pass the level in time to register for the next level.  Check the Olds College website in the new year for registration information.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Inside AND Out

After two plus years of trying to get work done on the exterior of the house suddenly it is happening.  Not one, not two, but three different sub-trades showed up this morning.

It is doubtful that everything will get done before winter brings a halt to working outdoors, but we should be first in line in the spring to get the rest done.  What that means, however. Is that we will be living in a construction zone until the weather co-operates, sometime in March or April, until it all gets done.

It seems I have been trying for ten years to get my stash under control, excavate Clutter Mountain, feel better organized in a space that has too little room for that to happen.  Now the chaos has been ratcheted it up even further.  Hopefully by the end of next year we will be able to set the house to rights.  Of course I also have an extremely heavy schedule next year with weaving for sale, teaching (especially if all the Olds classes I've set time aside for, go) and finishing The Book.  

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 10, 2016

What A Mess I'm In

Before I left we cleared as much as we could from under the windows and left the studio heaped with clutter.  Now that I'm home, I have to clear everything out of my way so I can work.  While almost everything needed got woven, I'm low on white place mats, so I need to get a couple of warps woven, wet finished, hemmed, final pressing done, then tag/price them.  

The van needs new winter tires installed before it gets loaded because we have three shows, back to back, and a 460 mile or so trip to Vancouner and then back again, in November.  

I also have a workshop the end of November to teach.  And 2017 isn't looking any less stressful.  I may build a blanket fort in December and retreat to it with Fiberworks...until, oh, I don't know, July?  Maybe the work on the house will be done by then?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Pushing Boundaries

The workshop with Bonnie Inouye finished yesterday and in order to cement some of the techniques we learned I have been working on a series of drafts that may very well find its way into my production schedule for next year.  

There are many things about weaving that make my little heart go pit a pat, and this workshop kind of rang a chorus of bells...fine threads, smooth fabric, complex looking cloth, all variations that can be woven on one threading.  Just changing the colour (hue or value) can drastically change the look of the design.  

I also have a huge stash of fine threads that need using up, so I can reduce stash and not even buy more yarns (or at least, not much) to weave with.  Truth be told, I may have to buy some yarn for warps, but weft?   I've got so much, and you get such a lot of play value when using 2/20 or finer threads!

The trip has been great.  I actually know people in the Nashville guild so it was great to see them again, plus make new friends.  I hope I can make it back again.  

On the home front, the basement windows are being replaced this week, so the studio can be put back together when I get home.  I've still got 60 yards on the AVL that needs to be woven before I can even think about this new direction.