Saturday, January 28, 2017

Pushing Limits

One of the things I like about working in series is that as I work through colour options, I find myself becoming more bold in the colours I put together.

While this warp was wound a long time ago, it is an example of what happens when I start to run out of colours in my stash, or I find myself wondering 'what would happen if'.

I'm still not sure about this particular colour combination.  I don't personally like lime green, but I have a cone of it and it needs to get used up.  I'm not sure about the addition of the burgundy with the lime green, greyed green and dark green.

I am completely out of my comfort zone with this warp.  But it's wound, so I'm weaving it.  We will see how it looks once woven.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Nitty Gritty

Today I again sorted through mom's jewelry.  In the end I kept just one necklace with a bunch of tiny opals, which will go with the other opals to a local jeweller who has expressed interest in taking the opals from their setting to make a pendant, which I will wear.  

The rest will go to a local antique store because most of it is costume, not 'fine'.  There are a couple of rings that are nice, but since I work with my hands I don't wear fancy rings.  Keeping them would be pointless.  

Many trips to the women's shelter and thrift store have almost emptied the apartment.  Mostly what is now left are things we will keep. 

After a month of hardly getting to the studio, I told Doug yesterday I want my life back.  The only things left now are to finish emptying the apartment and file mom's income tax.  It is time to focus on the studio. 

First rayon chenille warp in the queue. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Upstairs, Downstairs

This is part of my stash in the studio.  Bins piled six deep in places.  Wound warps waiting to be woven.  Sixty yards still on the AVL.  It's all overwhelming.  

But the siding guy is pretty much finished, so at least the noise and commotion is about done.  At least until spring when the rest of the driveway gets dug up, the water line gets replaced, and the new driveway gets poured.  

If I look at the entirety of what needs doing I can't face any of it.  So I try to eat one bite a day.  Today I dealt with some of the piles of paper on the table and now I'm trying to decide if there is anything I can do in the studio.  I'm thinking it is time to address those unwoven warps.  At least that would free up some of the plastic bins.  And woven yarn takes up less space than when it is on tubes.

My story. Sticking to it. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017


My living room.

There are times when Life Happens and priorities have to be changed.

I have barely made it to the loom so far this month.  Most of my time and available energy has been focused on getting mom's apartment cleaned out.  What with the renovations, running a business out of my home and now bringing things we want to keep from the apartment, we now officially have goat trails upstairs as well as down.

I have been trying to distribute the things we are not keeping directly from the apartment but there are things we do want to keep - we just don't have a place to put them given the current disruption due to the renovations.

The past week I have made a herculean effort to try to get my dining room table cleared off and was finally able to clear a small space so that I could tackle my year end, pay the sales tax(es) and write out cheques for pending bills.

More will get cleared off tomorrow.

I still haven't opened Christmas cards - mom's nor ours - partly because my usual practice is to open and write out replies.  Since I am having a hard time trying to think of a reply that is...appropriate...I just haven't gotten to that pile.

Yesterday a trailer load of household goods went to the local women's shelter, mom's china was picked up by her god-daughter and today more will be picked up by a friend.  There is a load of stuff to go to the thrift shop and then there are sewing things I'm keeping, and other items Doug thinks he can use in his workshop.  He just has no where to put it right away.  But everything has to be out by the end of this month, so he will have to do some shuffling.

The siding is almost done so we are hoping that the noise and clamour will soon end.  

Today I am going to get to the loom and try to finish off the last four towels.  If Doug can't press tomorrow, I may have to go on Monday.  Because the deadline for having those done is coming up very quickly now.

The lull I was hoping for this winter just didn't happen.  But that's Life.  You just gotta roll with it.

Currently reading Distilled - memoir of Charles Bronfman

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bear of Little Brain

Even at the best of times, my house is cluttered.  But this is the state of my dining room table.  A box of needles and crochet hooks from my mother's stash - anyone need some straight needles???

Piles of paper to do with her estate, funeral arrangements, condolence cards (which I haven't had the strength to open), Christmas cards (ditto) - both ours and hers - bills (both ours and hers) yet to be paid, a box of cards I purchased to send to distant friends and relatives, some of whom may not have heard the news, my year end...and on it goes.

I am drowning in paper and things that need to be done, sooner rather than later.  

Just to add to the chaos, the weather has warmed up and the siding guy has returned and is hammering on the walls.

There is also a firm deadline in the studio that needs to be met, but at least I was able to start the weaving.  I'm hoping Doug can go pressing next week so I can get the hemming done.

I am still not in a fit state to be making life changing decisions but I have confirmed a workshop in October, and just sent an email to Olds College asking when the satellite classes here in May will be up on the web site.  May and June of this year are going to be incredibly busy if all the classes scheduled go ahead, but it is very heartening to see the interest in the Olds Master Weaving program growing.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Sheila's Christmas Cactus

My friend Sheila has a lovely Christmas cactus.  There is something encouraging about a cactus blooming so prolifically in the 'dead' of winter.  It reminds us that spring will come again.  That life will begin anew.

This winter has been challenging on several fronts - the never ending construction, the long weather delays, the mess/rubble from moving things away from where they belong to...somewhere.  Then mom's death, meaning more rubble and dealing with the finalizing of her affairs.

Sheila's cactus, blooming so brilliantly (I have seen this plant in real life - I'm sure the photo doesn't do the depth of colour justice!) reminds me that all of this will come to an end and that spring should see the completion of the construction work and the completion of mom's estate.

We have until the end of this month to finish clearing out her apartment, so I have been going over nearly every day, sorting, sifting, throwing things away - and only bringing the things we can actually use back to the house.  Because I was already drowning in the ordinary rubble of my busy, complicated life, and then the added construction mess.

Friends have been very supportive and I have had numerous offers of help.  But when it comes right down to it, I am the only one who can sort through mom's piles of papers and photos and mementos because I am the only one that knows - or thinks she knows - the history.

Since this branch of the family tree ends at this twig, I have sorted the family photos into mom's side and dad's side and given them to the elder cousins on each side.  I am only keeping a few photos that are of special sentiment.

But I have also warned Doug that once all this mess is cleared away, we need to take careful stock of our own rubble.  It is time to make some decisions about the things we have kept and if they are truly useful.  If not, they need to go.

In terms of the studio, I am slowly coming to some conclusions about the direction I need to take if I am to accomplish some of the things I would yet like to, and first on that list is to weave down my stash.  

There is also the upcoming conference here in 2019 that needs to begin planning for, but that will have to wait for a couple of months while I fight my way through this current situation.

But today I am going to spend some time in the studio.  I won't likely get back into the regular routine until the apartment is clear, but I am going to try for at least an hour a day.  The warp on the small loom has a firm deadline, so I at least need to get that finished.

This year is 'new' in ways that I didn't really expect.  No doubt 2017 is going to be interesting.

Currently reading When the Music is Over by Peter Robinson

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Begin Again

In the vein of 'begin as you mean to go on' I got the next warp beamed this morning.  This warp has a firm deadline and what with everything going on right now I need to work on it at least a little every day.  Once the loom is set up it should not take too long to weave off, then wet finishing, including a good hard press, hemming, finishing press.  Ordinarily I could whap an 11 meter long warp off in a couple days, but I'm out of practice, out of shape and dealing with life - and death.  My goal is to work in the studio an hour a day.  I may not make it every day because the coming week is fraught with appointments - both personal and relating to mom.

My cousin came to visit today and we talked about the impact mom's death has had on the family.  She was the last of her generation and with her goes much of the family history and stories that she remembered and was all too willing to share.  

Mom was a do-er, a fix-er, a problem solver.  Frequently when family members ran afoul of problems, be they health, legal, emotional, mom would pick up the phone and figure out how to fix the situation.  Dealing with various family crisis made her stronger than people knew.  She wanted people to be happy and worked tirelessly, finding medical help, translating from French to English and back for family members whose English wasn't great, even including in court on several occasions.

She had more education than most of the family, dropping out of school in Grade 8, was fluent in two languages, wasn't afraid to ask questions.  But when I was 16, she went back to school and got a certificate in pre-school education.  She worked hard and sweated bullets to become qualified, eventually setting up her own pre-school.

Mom was talented with her hands, too.  She supplemented the family income in many ways, by working outside the home, and in it.  When my brother was born he was very ill so she couldn't work outside the home and instead babysat, baked and decorated cakes, knitted for a local shop, permed family members hair (yes, I had a 'poodle' cut at one point - I AM that old).  She sewed clothing for all of us, and before tv entered our home there were many nights sitting around the table hooking rugs.  Mom still has a footstool with a hooked top that we made.

I begged to learn how to knit and she taught me when I was 5 or 6.  She would cast on for me until I got old enough and had enough manual dexterity to learn how to do it for myself.  When I was a little older I had a string of episodes of tonsillitis and she taught me to embroider as a way to quietly pass the time in bed.  At age 12 she showed me how to sew and for many years if I wanted something 'new' I would buy the fabric and make it for myself.

While I took ballet lessons she sewed not only my costumes but a friends, drove me to classes when the weather was inclement, helped make paper 'carnations' to decorate the vehicles for the ballet students in the parades, drove me and my friend to rehearsals and performances.

She and dad were adamant that my brother and I get an education.  They wanted us to go to university, but it was not meant to be.  But they instilled in us a love of reading and learning.  I took to it faster than my brother, but even he came to the love of reading as a teenager.

Mom and I had our differences, but she showed me how to be a strong woman, able to take care of things and others.  When she would shake her finger at me, wondering where on earth I got my stubbornness, I had to press my lips firmly shut or I would have been unable to stop from asking her if she had looked in a mirror recently!

As my cousin and I talked about mom this morning, I told him that now she was gone it would be up to us to become the family 'historians', to keep the stories alive.

Now that I am officially an orphan, it is time to assume the mantel of mentor...