Monday, June 26, 2017

Road Tripping

Tomorrow I will repack my bins and cases and get ready for the ANWG Conference taking place in Victoria, BC.  Mary and I leave Wednesday morning.

We will mosey southwards, taking a more scenic route through the interior of the province, along the Sea to Sky Highway and stay overnight in Squamish, then try for a fairly early-ish ferry from Horseshoe Bay over to Nanaimo, driving south to Victoria.  I have to be at the ANWG Board meeting on Thursday evening and connect with the rest of my guild's members to deliver things for the guild booth.

Friday morning Mary wants to see Butchart Gardens, so perhaps we'll get there for a couple of hours.  Only time will tell.  There will also be shopping and exhibits to see.

The trip is a bit fraught because I am (again) wearing too many hats.  Hostess.  Chauffeur.  Conference host (for 2019) with meetings to attend, both Board and General.  And of course, two seminars to teach.

In addition there is the guild booth advertising our upcoming conference and the Olds College info booth, both of which need warm bodies to woman.

On Monday we will head to Richmond and have a lazy day because Mary leaves on a very early flight which means at least a 4 am wake up call, perhaps earlier depending on when her shuttle for the airport leaves.  I will start heading east and north once she is on the shuttle, hoping to miss the worst of the Vancouver area morning rush hour, wending my way home.

Once here there are several pressing things that need doing including finish the four more tea towel warps, the rest of the warp for our conference, various maintenance things like dental surgery and hope that my broken tooth can get fixed before we leave for Europe.

I also have the flash drive with the latest edit of The Book, my mom's 'memoirs' to deal with, design and weave off a table runner warp and hopefully a shawl warp.  I've been ignoring the bin of rayon chenille scarves I wove when?  December?  January?  They still need fringe twisting plus the towels that Doug will wet finish/press will need hemming and their final press, tagging/pricing.

But I need some down time, too, so after the surgery on the 14th, I'm planning on taking about 3 days to do quiet stuff - like the fringe twisting, hemming and maybe, just maybe build a jigsaw puzzle - or two!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Little Help from my Friends

Today, in between dealing with Life, unpacking, sorting, beginning to re-pack (for Victoria and ANWG), get ready for Mary's one day workshop The Empress' Tea Cup (silk, silk and more silk) we wound up with a few minutes in which we could retreat from the madding crowd.

Mary sorted through the 2/8 cotton, getting colours sorted (a good colour exercise) and neatly stored on the shelves.  She made so much room with her sorting, she was able to empty two bags of yarn and put it on the shelves, too.  That particular goat trail is now a wee bit wider...

While she was doing that, I wove the first tea towel on the warp I left ready to go when I left for Olds last week.  

What a delight to have such willing and helpful hands!

I still have a bunch of paperwork to deal with (student submissions to be printed out, travel/expense form to fill out so I can get paid for the class in Cape Breton), craft fairs to apply for or sign contracts and submit deposits.

Some of the administrivia will have to wait until July to be fitted in around the rather busy schedule that has somehow managed to create itself for July, including recovery from dental surgery.  I'm hoping it won't take more than a few days but if it takes longer I have spinning, knitting, hand hemming and a big bag of jigsaw puzzles I am looking forward to working on quietly.

This year has been slipping through my fingers and some of my goals are not likely to be met.  But I will give it my best.  Ultimately whatever gets made, gets made.  And in the meantime, my cotton shelves look very pretty.  And neat.  And tidy.  

PS - Mary is available to teach in the Lower Mainland around the middle to the end of May next year if anyone wants a great spinning workshop...

Thursday, June 15, 2017


The above is a close up of wool fibre.  The scales are very apparent seen this close up.

Thinking about teaching the upcoming class while I dress the loom once again.  I like to leave a warp ready to go so that I can just jump on the loom as soon as I get home.  Especially after a glance at my calendar for the coming months.

I have dental surgery scheduled in July with additional work to repair teeth that have been stressed over the years.  Dry mouth from medication has taken it's toll as well as, well, age.

Then we are going on holiday for three weeks in September, I have a workshop that looks like it's a 'go' in October, a visit with a friend in TN plus a consultation with someone who will help with formatting and laying out The Book, returning home just in time for the craft fair season to start.

So time has gotten very crunchy.

The Olds program is much like the above magnified image - only under close examination can you see the 'bones' of the fibre.   In the same way, we look at the craft of weaving for the things that are not obvious, that need to be closely examined so that we can understand our materials, our equipment, our processes.

We frame this information within the context of our own abilities (and disabilities), our own environment, our own aims and objectives, our equipment and budget.

Because it all depends.  What do we want to do?  What do we want to make?  What kind of practice will satisfy our sense of creativity, our design aesthetic?  Are we more interested in an intuitive approach or a more intellectual one?  Do we want to revel in the colours/textures or explore the nuts and bolts of the craft?

There is room for everyone in the craft.  What I hope to accomplish is that everyone walks out on day 5 knowing more than when they walked in.  And if they don't, they probably had a really good grasp of the craft to begin with.  But sometimes it's just good to know that your observations and practice are in keeping with your goals.

For now I'm going to try to finish dressing the loom.  And then have a good long think to make sure I haven't forgotten anything.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Me, probably off on a tangent...

So what are the odds of everything going smoothly when I travel to teach?  50-50.  Either they will...or they won't.

And when they don't, they usually don't in a rather spectacular fashion.

I've grown used to things not being ideal.  You learn to get flexible very quickly, or you would drive yourself bananas.

So I make lists, check them twice (thrice, more) hope I remember everything.  But usually I forget something.

Like the time I forgot my little travel purse on the kitchen counter.  I managed to phone Doug and get him to pick it up and deliver it back to the airport at the very last second.  But I was the absolute last person on board.  I think the only reason they didn't leave without me is that I'd already checked into the gate and they knew I was there - somewhere.

The time I had a massive allergic reaction (several times) and threw up all night and was brain dead or near as, the following day.

The time I got food poisoning.  

The time my plane couldn't depart due to fog, mad scramble to re-book, bought a ticket on another airline because their plane had radar and could take off in the fog.  Of course that meant I didn't get reimbursed for the second ticket out of town, had to have the original airline rebook on all the flights I missed, arriving at last at midnight with a two hour drive to my hostess' house falling into bed at 2 am with a 7 am wake up call.

The time a conference seminar assistant didn't realize she needed to pick up the class handouts so I had to do the entire complex topic with no references for the students.  Lots of air drawings that day.  And I did a terrible job because I didn't have my handouts, which threw me for a loop.

A friend asked if things didn't get better.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Read Daryl Lancaster's blog for some of her adventures with travelling.

So why on earth do I keep doing this?  Well, I'm not.  I have stopped taking bookings for guilds. (Unless I get arm twisted with a reason for me to make an exception.)

I have cut back to only teaching the Olds master weaving programs (with, as mentioned, a few exceptions).

But yes, I have done this for a rather long time.  I have been teaching since the month I quit my 'real' job in order to become a professional weaver.  My first workshop was a spinning workshop - coincidentally the very same night my father died.

I drove to smaller towns and villages in the region.  I have white knuckled my way through snowstorms, white outs/blizzards, black ice, pouring down rain and thunder storms.

I have flown all over the place in good weather...and bad...sometimes missing flights, arriving late, arriving at a completely different airport with people on the ground scrambling to get me.

I have arrived without my luggage.  More air drawings, until it caught up to me.

So, then, why?  Why keep doing this?

Well, I could be flippant and say I'm 'warped'.  But the fact is I am passionate about weaving and I am passionate about trying to help people understand the craft.

The next two trips are both driving.  I am hoping for good weather, but it either it will be good...or it won't.  Either way I will hit the highway Friday am as early as I can for the nearly 500 mile drive and hope it goes smoothly.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


This trip is a little different from my usual.  Olds College puts teachers up in their student condos which have kitchens...but no dishes.  Since three of my roommates are flying in and I'm driving, I am also bringing cups, cutlery, coffee and tea makings.  I will be adding extra blankets because the beds only come with the standard issue college thin bedding.  I guess students at an ag college are a lot sturdier than 'elderly' ladies!

Since my three roomies are also from the southern US, I am also bringing shawls because spring has been very chilly this year and they will seize up from the cold!

Trying to pack for a complex trip in the midst of continuing renovation work is stretched my tolerance for unexpected things to the breaking point.  But I am working my way through my packing list, remembering more things that will be needed, both for class and making our stay at the college more pleasant.  

I still have to pick up the spinning wheel for Mary to use, but that will be tonight at the guild pot luck.  There is an even bigger heap of stuff at the annex that needs picking up and the van will be crammed with bins and boxes.

We are very near done with the last of the renovations and then it will be cleaning up the aftermath.  But most of that is outside and once my studio is back to rights, I should be able to go full steam ahead - at least until my dental surgery.  I'm hoping for quick healing and back to my production schedule, all too often interrupted the past year.

I guess I have to come to the realization that I am now establishing what my new 'normal' is and learning what my limits are, physically.

But I am still on this side of the grass, and so far?  It's a Good Thing.  Even given my current state of irritability!

Currently reading Cold Earth by Anne Cleeves

Monday, June 12, 2017

Renovation Hell

The work on our house was extensive, but required.  Unfortunately renovations rarely go smoothly, and such has been the case with ours.  The latest adventure occurred over the weekend.

During the trip home I phoned to let Doug know everything looked good for getting home on time.  At which point he let me know that the sewer line had been broken the day before and we had no sewer use.  He'd turned the house water off so that we didn't forgetfully run water.  I told him to book a room at a nearby hotel.  I was arriving home at midnight (4 am according to my body clock after spending a week in Cape Breton) and all I wanted to do was be able to brush my teeth, wash my face and use the toilet so I could fall into bed.  Any bed.

On Sunday the excavator returned(!) to open the hole and voila, found the broken pipe.

The crew to repair the pipe has just arrived and hopefully the repair will be simple and quickly executed and the city inspector will come quickly to test the system and allow the hole to be filled back in.

But dear friends, I am tired of the drama.  I am exhausted from an overload of stress that began last summer, waiting for the reno work to begin, then have it extend over the winter and now into spring to be completed.  I am reeling from Life Happening - or not, such as the case may be.

I would just like to say - give me some boring.  To the universe, now literally 'shitting' on me, please stop!  I still have dental surgery to get through once I get home from Olds/Victoria.  A little peace and quiet is desired.

So if you believe in such things, pray for things to go smoothly today, through Olds and Victoria and my dental surgery (and subsequent repair to my other teeth that need it.)

Because I'm done.  I am just really, really done.  I give.  Uncle...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Gaelic College, St. Ann's, Cape Breton (NS)

Morning started grey and gloomy, a disappointment given the forecast had promised sun.

But lots of things were happening in the studio.

We are a small group of 8, most from the 'local' area, but one from Newfoundland and one from Ontario.  It's an enthusiastic bunch and we've had laughs, confusion, information overload...and it's only day 1,

Best of all, the sun finally made an appearance.