Monday, July 30, 2018

Helping Hands

Many hands make light work.  This was something my mother believed in and throughout my childhood I watched her in action, helping others.

I saw through her example that helping friends and neighbours was a good thing to do.  And goodness knows, we all need help at some time in our lives.

This morning I saw my doctor for a routine prescription renewal.  I'd been having fairly high levels of stress, what with The Book, editor arriving on Wednesday, the house - but more importantly the studio - a mess, then the AVL compu-dobby breaking yesterday.

I am not shy about posting on this blog about my anxieties and I have to tell you all - the messages of support, both public and private - have really helped me stumble through the last little while.

At any rate, when we discussed the new blood pressure medication he'd added in response to bp numbers that had suddenly gotten way too high (likely an adverse reaction to the Ibrutinib - a well known and documented adverse effect), he was somewhat astonished that such a low dose was being so effective.  As I got up to leave, he called me a 'strong woman'.

I don't know how 'strong' I am.  I am stubborn.  And maybe that's just one facet of being 'strong'?

Strength is a funny thing.  Usually when we refer to someone being 'strong' it is physical strength.  But there is also emotional strength.  There is strength of character - doing what is 'right'.

We - as human beings - also have the strength of our relationships.  We are all interconnected.  And when someone is being dragged down by Life Happening, our friends/family can lend us the strength to pull ourselves back up again.

And so it has been throughout the past few years.  I have been helped, over and over, by words of encouragement and actual physical assistance.  The friends who have been the beta readers for The Book, giving the gift of their time and opinion as well as their encouragement to carry on.

We are not an island unto ourselves.  We are part of community.  That community can give us assistance when times are tough.

We are our brother's keepers.  It costs us nothing to be kind.  To help.

To all those who have helped me, a most grateful thank you.

Currently reading A Bigger Table; building messy, authentic, and hopeful spiritual community by John Pavlovitz

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Too Clever...

...for my own good?

As mentioned previously, when things are going (mostly) right, I get a chance to think.  And since I'm thinking about Bronson Lace and all the ways one can weave it, it suddenly occurred to me that, with the loom set up the way it is, I could actually weave a sample with the hearts aligned in this fashion. 

Now I couldn't do it loom controlled, completely.  Just the top and bottom rows would be loom controlled.  But I could - if I were so inclined - weave the sideways hearts in pick up, and make a cloth that had a border of hearts all the way round it.

But I won't because I'm running out of time before my editor comes. 

Nice to know that my thought really would work, though.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Over Thinking

Bronson Lace framed heart motif

With such a complex project, the tendency to over think takes on new and over whelming dimensions.

In my desire to share All The Things, I have tried to think of All The Things I want to share.  At some point, it is necessary to say...enough.

No one person will ever write The Definitive Book on weaving.  The craft is simply too large.  Others have done fantastic jobs of looking at the craft through a wide lens.  It was never my intention to write The Compleat Book of Weaving, just to share some of the tips and tricks that I've learned over the years.  I wanted to address the principles - the whys of things - which are too frequently not addressed in so many books.  (And yes, I have read a great deal of the literature available out there!)

I no longer buy 'beginning' type books so I can't say I have read every single book currently available.  But I do teach a lot.  I do participate in on line groups (less now than in previous years - one only has so much time/energy.)  I see a lot of people flailing around, trying to figure out why things are such a mess.  So difficult.

On this blog I have tried to explain that weaving does not have to be difficult.  Challenging, yes.  Fraught with tangles and messes?  No.

So, once again I am trying to cover All The Bases as I wrap up the samples for The Book.  And realizing that I do not have to be All The Things to All The People, All of the Time.

This week I made the decision that I do not have to have actual projects for All of the Things.  I can mine my extensive sample collections and just have photos of the weave structures.  Because at some point readers - if they are not already - will have to take the designing reins into their own hands.  Or not, as they choose.  But there are also lots of places to get instructions for actual projects. 

I do not have to do it all (even though I'm not because friends are contributing some of them).

And that is the taste of freedom from over thinking.

Thursday, July 26, 2018


In the Concise Oxford Dictionary, hubris is defined as "Insolent pride or presumption".

I think of that often as I struggle to complete The Book.

I also think about all the authors out there who have also had the hubris to think someone - anyone - is interested in what they have to write.  Truth be told, many authors don't find a publisher, and even if they do, don't necessarily sell very many copies.

So, why do it then?

Honestly?  I really don't know.

Except...enough students have told me that not only do I have techniques they want to learn, they say I can communicate them well enough that they can understand them.

But still.  It takes a great deal of effort, time and, yes, money, to publish a book.  For this one I am self-publishing, partly because I don't think there will be sufficient readership (purchases) for a 'regular' publisher to take it on.

I had 1000 copies of Magic printed; I made 900 copies with 20, then 22 actual fabric samples.  There isn't a publisher in the world who would have done what I felt needed to be done to really illustrate what wet finishing was, and how to do it, including actual cloth, for a price anyone would be able or willing to pay.  I'd worked in a library, I'd worked in the copy centre of a school, I had published newsletters, and I had a really good idea of just how much work was involved in bringing such a publication into reality.

Nearly two decades have gone by since I spent the better part of four years on the initial work of Magic (plus all the years that followed, marketing it).  I'm now on year five of this book, partly because I kept giving up and shelving it for chunks of time while I dealt with health issues.  I'm now beginning year six - and so close to being 'done' (as far as my input goes) I can taste it.

On the other hand, while part of me thinks I have something of value to contribute to the weaving community, the business person part of me keeps questioning whether or not I'll actually make any money at it.  I have already invested several thousand dollars plus all my time, with more to come as I pay an editor to polish the manuscript and make it look as appealing as it can.  Because in this day and age, Gestetner copies are not sufficient - books also have to have eye appeal as well as good information.

At this point I have invested so much into this project that it is no longer a matter of hubris, but wanting to at least recoup the finances that I've spent on it.  If it goes beyond that?  I will be relieved.  But I have also reached a point where the doubt, the not knowing, has become a huge hurdle.  I need to carry on because I've come too far to stop.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Is it possible for eyes to breathe a sigh of relief?  It felt like mine did when I put my new glasses on!

I have been feeling so tired that I've been trying to rule out the things that cause 'tired' and I was reminded my glasses were two years old.  Usually that means I need a new prescription, and sure enough, I did.

Hopefully the new glasses with their less 'severe' looking frames will help me see that things are looking up. 

It also looks like I could use a hair cut, but my hair dresser is out of town, so I will just have to make do, with my do.

Vision can also be internal.  Having the vision required to design something - like textiles, for instance.  Or a conference.  Or a book.

As I wove a book project yesterday I realized that once again I was 'cheating' - and quite consciously so!  So I messaged my editor and we agreed that I should leave the warp on the loom to take photos to include with the instructions for the project.

The other loom also has a warp that will be used to illustrate a technique, which means that once those two are woven to the point where they need to be for the photos, I will turn my attention to the AVL.  On which is another warp which could also be utilized for the book.

There are two more book projects being woven by friends, plus my editor and I will 'mine' my sample collections for other textiles that could be used.  Which means that these three warps will pretty much be the last weaving I will do for The Book.

And once again, a sigh of relief happens.

This morning I also met with one of the conference committee and we reviewed the entry forms for the various conference events.  And the registration website.  I am almost at the point of being able to turn a whole whack of conference work over to two of the committee members to follow up on. 

Another sigh.

I long ago realized that no one person has to do All The Things.  I am so grateful for willing helpers who shoulder some of the load on these big projects I envision!  I am really looking forward to completing The Book, The Conference.  And being able to focus on envisioning textiles.  And maybe helping others see how to visualize their own.

Currently reading A Taste for Vengeance by Martin Walker

Monday, July 23, 2018


One thing I have learned in my life is to be flexible.

The count down is on.  My editor arrives on Aug 1.  I need as many book projects completed as I can possibly get done before she gets here.  Well - that's my arbitrary goal.  Because I need goals.  I need deadlines.  If I don't have them, nothing gets done.  Because there are always distractions.  Books, mostly, but...

So I got the Take Two warp into the loom yesterday and started weaving that project this morning.  And then realized that I wanted to do something for which I had insufficient treadle ties for.  Except!  I had ordered more and they are actually en route!

Rather than try to cobble something together I switched my plans and started on the next project in the queue.  That one only requires four shafts and I have an 'empty' four shaft loom handy.  Win!

I also had yarn on hand so I'm working from the stash.  Win-Win!

The warp is for scarves and I've wound enough warp to make two.  One can be used as a gift for a friend that loves red and black.  Because why not?

With my goal of semi-retirement, the focus of my weaving will be shifting.  I don't yet know how, or what direction I will go, but production for craft fairs is going to take up less and less of my time and energy in a few years.  So gifts for friends will likely be more common.

But right now?  Getting the book projects done is top of my to-be-done list.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

It's Just String

Allen Fannin used to remind people that what weavers do is make someone else's 'raw' materials.  As weavers we are just another stepping stone in the production chain of getting raw fibre into something useful.

If you are hand weaving, you are automatically making 'slow' cloth.  The biggest investment in hand woven cloth is the labour that goes into getting it from the animal's back, or the plant, processed into yarn, then from yarn into cloth, then from cloth into...whatever it is meant to be.

I remind myself of this by saying "it's just string".  Especially when I - who am not yet and never will be, perfect - have another oopsie.  Like I did yesterday.

The clock is ticking down on getting the book projects done, so yesterday I decided that my first priority was to deal with the next one.  One of my favourite weave structures - Bronson Lace - was ready to go.  I'd wound the warp on Friday and beamed it - all that was left was to thread the (narrow/short) warp, sley, tie on and start weaving.  Piece of cake.  Right?


The yarn I'm using is a new-to-me 2/10 unmercerized cotton from Ashford.  I'm using a borrowed loom which has a square rod to tie onto.  The yarn, which is slipperier than Brassard's unmercerized cotton didn't want to hold its knots on the square bar.  Decided to cut off and lash on.

I was very tired from not having slept much the night before and - without checking the warp beam to see where the warp packing was - because on my Leclerc the warp packing pretty much unloads without my having to check on it - the borrowed loom has a different configuration and the warp packing tends to pile up for a while before coming far enough over the warp beam to drop by itself - anyhoo - I grabbed the scissors and snip-snip-snip and the warp slithered out of the reed and heddles to dangle from the warp beam.  Sans cross.

At that point I took a break, had a snack, then removed the $5 worth of warp from the loom and tossed it into the recycle bin.

I could have 'saved' it.  But the aggravation level of dealing with a warp that no longer had a cross outweighed the cost of the yarn.  There is plenty more - the warp weighed about 80 grams.  There was lots left on the cones.  Another warp was wound and rough sleyed.

I came to weaving with an awareness that life is uncertain, that time - whatever time we may have - is precious and not to be 'wasted'.  I'm also not a patient person.  Even though I am very efficient when it comes to weaving, there are still things that I'd rather not do.  And spending an hour to salvage $5 worth of yarn is not one of them.  Even though it will take an hour to wind a new warp and get it beamed, I'd rather spend my hour starting anew than fussing with saving a warp that just isn't - in my life/studio - worth it.

At long time ago I came to the conclusion that I can always make more money to buy more 'string'.  Once the coin of my time has been spent?  There is no getting more, by hook or by crook.

But each of us has to decide - do I spend my time doing this?  Or that?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Warping Valet/Trapeze

There is a perception that in order to use a warping valet/trapeze you have to have a lot of room.  I use one in large part because I have very little room.

You can see in this photo that I have another loom in front of the Leclerc.  There is - at best - three feet between the breast beam of the Leclerc and the other loom.  There is just enough room that I can have my loom bench at the Leclerc and a narrow 'path' between the two looms.

The other loom doesn't have a ceiling rod to use, so Doug made a 'trapeze' for me out of two 2.x4s and a closet dowel.  That loom has at most three feet between the breast beam and the wall in front of it.

One of the things many people have difficulty with is getting their warps beamed 'well'.  There are many different approaches to getting this part of the process done.  Over the years I have found that beaming with tension is a key component of getting warps that behave. 

One recommendation for beaming is to stretch the warp out for as far as you can, then put weight onto the warp chain and drag it along the floor.

When you have only three feet in front of the loom, the sections you can beam are very short. 

Weighting the warp as it hangs off the breast beam means even shorter sections. 

By routing the warp chain up and over a valet or trapeze, longer sections of warp can be groomed and then beamed.  This makes for a better job (as far as I'm concerned) and it also makes the whole process more efficient.

I have had so many people contact me to say using such a device - either ceiling mounted or the 2x4/closet dowel - have made weaving much more enjoyable as it no longer is a chore of hours. 

Here is a video I did of me beaming a 9 meter long place mat warp.  Notice the clock.  This clip was done all in one go and was not edited in any way. 

9 meters.  About 10 minutes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


There have been some lovely surprises of late.  This card with a tiny bobbin lace medallion that arrived for my birthday.  I am trying to think how to protect it and possibly incorporate it into my life.  I was thinking of maybe a key fob - one of those plastic ones that can come apart and have something put into it.  Any suggestions?

Another book project arrived today, too.  When I asked people if they would help (in return for credit in the book, a copy of said book, not to mention my undying gratitude) all I said was "Which weave structure would you like out of this list?" and then gave them free rein as to what to do.  Their efforts have far exceeded my expectations.

Yesterday I got an email from someone thanking me for doing The Efficient Weaver DVD.  She said she'd been weaving for decades but had always struggled with getting her loom dressed.  After changing her process she now finds that she can dress her loom with far less difficulty and stress.

It is feedback just like that email that keeps me going, keeps me pecking away at The Book, keeps me getting onto airplanes, yes, even the red eye, and flying across the country.  Which is very large.  From Vancouver BC to Sydney NS is - well - more miles/kilometers than I actually know, but - long.  (I actually prefer the red eye to getting up for a 6 am departure.)

When I took a workshop with Peter Collingwood back in, oh, 1978?, he mentioned that he wrote his book on rug weaving so that he wouldn't have to travel to teach in person any more.  Instead he got more requests to teach than before.  I found the same with Magic.  But I honestly don't expect to ramp up my teaching when I finally get The Book done.  I have made peace with the fact that I really don't want to scramble, setting up tours, dealing with booking flights and all that.  Instead I have chosen to focus my time and energy and let the students come to me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Last table runner warp - colours are actually darker than shown

Life is full of unexpected things cropping up.  I've had a bunch of them the past month, but all have been dealt with and hopefully things will now proceed in a much smoother fashion.

My astrological sign is Cancer.  Cancer is a water sign.  And in one way I do conform to that fluidity.  When confronted with obstacles to a goal, I tend to go under, around - or at times - over, in order to make it to my goal. 

Sometimes that still doesn't work and I have to choose another path, another course entirely.  A detour, if you will.  Sometimes I realize that the original goal wasn't the best thing to be aiming for and I need a new goal.  A new destination.

The next four or so months are fraught with deadlines.  One of those is the photography for The Book.  I am just waiting to hear when my editor can arrive.  In the meantime I am steaming ahead with getting these table runner warps woven.  But since it appears that she may arrive very soon, once this warp is done I will have to switch from weaving the book projects and jump into studio clean up and prep work for the photos that need to be taken.

Everything still needs to be done - I just need to change things around in order to get there.

I came to weaving with this attitude already.  It has been no great hardship when I run into problems in weaving to recalculate.  Sometimes my goal was found to be lacking and I had to toss out that idea and change things in order to make a textile that I was going to be happy with making, but also putting my name on it for sale.

That is what weaving samples is all about, really.  Will this particular combination of factors result in the quality of cloth I desire?  If not, why not?

All my life I have been driven by two questions.  Why?  And Why Not?  I must have driven my mother mad given the number of times she answered those questions with "Because I said so!"

But that was never enough for me.  I wanted to know why something was necessary.  And I wanted to know why I couldn't do something differently. 

My career of creating textiles for sale has been informed by those questions and the answers to them.  Likewise my teaching is guided by them - telling students my experiences of what happens when, and exploring alternatives to accepted wisdom.

Like a Life GPS - sometimes the route needs to be recalculated.

Monday, July 16, 2018


One of the biggest hurdles I've ever faced was producing this massive missive.  It went on for literally years.

First I worked on obtaining the master weaver certificate from the Guild of Canadian Weavers.  I thought that goal was the biggest hurdle I'd ever attempt.  It was just the prelude to first writing, then illustrating - with actual samples - the principles of wet finishing.  And then marketing a fairly pricey book.

I've never shied away from tackling Big Projects.

I have chaired - or co-chaired - something like four conferences.  Or maybe five.  I forget.

But usually I'm smart enough to not attempt so many Big Projects all at once.  But right now?  Not only am I in the midst of trying to wrap up another book (lord, help me) I'm also wrangling another major conference (major in terms of textile arts) into shape.

Along with health issues.

So, why, I ask myself, do I keep doing this to myself?  I honestly don't know.  Except that they both seem somehow...important.

Yesterday someone said on Twitter that an author never 'finishes' writing a book - they just *stop* writing the book.

And so I am in that place.  I am 'done' writing the book.  At least I'm done writing the text of the major part of the manuscript.  What is left are the projects that will help illustrate the weave structures I want to use as additional insight into understanding weave structure theory.

Because sometimes people need to just follow the directions so that they can see how it all goes together - yarn selection, density, colour choices, weave structure.  And of course, wet finishing.

There will be no actual samples in this publication.  I have been using as a test to see if that is a good route to go and after six months of having Magic available for sale there, I'm pleased with it.  So we are carrying on with the intention of posting The Intentional Weaver for sale there as well.

One of the reasons for publishing this way is that people will have a choice - they can download a digital version (pdf) or they will be able to order a hard copy.  So far customers who have purchased the 'magazine' version of Magic have said they were pleased with the quality of that hard copy, and I have been pleased with their professional standards.  They pay what I am owed within five days of the end of the month. 

Today I am dressing the loom with the 'last' of the table runner warps, with the intention of finishing it tomorrow.  And then I will be going through the manuscript again, checking to see which weave structures I already have projects for (in part because some friends have jumped in to help by designing and weaving projects - love you all!) and deciding which ones still need to have a project.

I am also chasing down details for some of the conference instructors so that their info can be posted to the conference website.  We have had some technical issues with the website - and Internet Explorer will no longer display the website so people will have to use another browser.  Nothing we can do about that since IE is no longer supported.

I am hoping to hear soon when my editor can come to take the photos for the book - and once those are done my part in 'birthing' this book will be pretty much over.  Then it will be in her hands to mash it all together.

While I have a lot of hubris, I don't have enough to think I can do this last crucial part on my own.  At this point I have zero perspective left in order to assess if the manuscript is acceptable.  It's time to have fresh eyes - and professional editor eyes, at that - to polish this project and take it to the finish line. 

And I will concentrate on the conference and the craft fair season.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Mindful Practice

What does that mean, 'mindful practice'?

Practice without being aware of what you are doing, what you need to get better results, is just practicing 'bad' habits.  It does very little good to cement poor technique firmly into the memory.

A friend once said that I got more weaving done on a 'bad' day than she did on a 'good' day. 

Part of the reason for that is the simple fact that I have spent decades - literally - mindfully practicing what I do, changing things as I realize that I could do them 'better' and taking the time on the slippery part of the learning curve to make better processes work for me.

For the past few weeks I have been struggling with adverse drug effects that are sucking the energy right out of me.  Getting to the studio is difficult but I force myself to do as much as I possibly can.  Because I have a lot that I want to do and time marches relentlessly on.

Today I did a little time study.

I wove a 72" table runner (22 ppi x 72" = 1584 plus 122 picks for hems = 1706 picks) in about 55 minutes.  That included stopping to wind three more bobbins.

1700 divided by 55 minutes = about 30 picks per minute.  That also included stopping to change bobbins and advancing the warp.  So, my weaving rhythm is actually higher than that.

So far today I have woven 7 feet in the morning (same ppi) plus the 6 feet I just did.  After laying down for half an hour, I am about to head for the loom again and see how much I can get done before it's time to make dinner.

For people who say they will never be as fast I as am, I ask...why not?  What I do is not a secret.  Why I do it as quickly as I do is because I've practiced.  So can anyone else.

For those people who say they don't want to be as fast as I am, I say...there is no reason you need to.

Do what makes you happy.  That is all there is to it.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Getting Started

Newer weavers sometimes ask me how they can get started in terms of teaching.

In this day and age, there are all sorts of opportunities that were simply not dreamt of when I started.  The internet is a powerful tool for getting your name 'out there'.

If the person isn't a teacher by training, I suggest that they begin by teaching locally, building their topics, developing guild programs, making up the samples needed to illustrate what they are presenting.

If they are already experienced teachers, they can start by submitting articles to publications.  There aren't all that many now, but there are some.

They can apply to conferences.  'Cold' applications need to be well presented.  If you aren't a 'name' (and even if you are, conferences need things like a bio, headshot, a brief summary of your experience and some photos), then you might have to work a little harder to convince a committee to add you to their roster of instructors.

A conference is not cheap.  Not for the organizers, and therefore not for the participants.

Personally, I am approaching the organization of the ANWG conference here next year by increasing the fee being paid to the instructors to more closely align with where fees should be (IMHO).  The fees paid to the instructors should not be the smallest line item in a conference budget (again IMHO).

With that in mind, we looked for people who were well known internationally, nationally, regionally, locally.  Our objective was to have 'name' instructors that would (hopefully!) draw people based on name recognition.

We also wanted to have people from the region in order to keep the travel portion of the instructors fee as low as possible.

We also have local people who have not taught outside of our area, but who have good solid information to present and we wanted to give them a forum.

Since I have been involved in the weaving community, both teaching and publishing, for a rather long time, I know - or knew of - most of the people on our teaching roster.

I was aware of their stature in the weaving/spinning/textile community.  Some of them I know just from brief encounters at textiles events (but more importantly, reports from their students).  Some I am just getting to know and look forward to getting to know them even better.

Becoming known in the textile community is not something that happens overnight.  Like a seed, it takes time to sprout and grow.  And rejections are all part of the process.

So, over the years, I started out by teaching locally.  Then I started contacting guilds further afield.  I submitted articles to magazines.  Eventually I was accepted to teach at a large conference where my name got shared further afield.

When the internet became a 'thing' I joined textile chat groups and started answering questions. My name got bandied about even further afield.

In 2002 I launched Magic in the Water and many more guilds began contacting me.  Since then I have published sample collections and self marketed them, much like I did Magic.  I have written more articles for Handwoven (next one is due out in the next issue - Sept/Oct).  I have done DVDs for Interweave, and a few on line 'seminars'.

There is no one road to getting known in the textile community.  Sometimes a little controversy generates even more interest - not always positive!

I rely on this blog to keep my name in the forefront and no longer belong to very many chat groups.  There are only so many hours in the day - so much energy to get what I need to do, done.

When I took a marketing class a long time ago, it was explained that 'marketing' was just sharing information.

Want to get started?  Share information.  In what ever way you are comfortable.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Self Care

So what happens when 'self care' comprises two opposing urges?  When you feel so tired you can't even, but you are desperate to get stuff done, projects finished, goals met?

Nothing.  Nothing happens.

You don't 'rest' because you are busy beating yourself up for just sitting, doing literally nothing.

You don't actually accomplish anything.  At all.

One of the challenges right now is to get through the next 11 months with everything that needs doing, done.

Not all of my deadlines are arbitrary, of course.  The craft fair season begins - and ends - on specific dates.  As does my teaching schedule.  As does the conference.  And things are about to get very real on all of those fronts.

The book, on the other hand, is very much an arbitrary deadline.  The dates for photographing the projects is still to be determined, but sometime soon-ish.  But otherwise?  Totally and completely arbitrary.

Me, being me, needs to have a deadline.  Otherwise, things with firm deadlines will stampede over the other stuff - if I'm not very careful.

So - opposing urges.  To just sit and maybe read a book, possibly nap.  Or to get stuff crossed off my job list so that it is done, done.  And I can stop thinking about it, stop worrying about it, cross it off my list of stuff that needs to be done.  Which would actually make me feel a whole lot better about it all.

I need to deal with the goat trails in my studio so that the book photography can happen.  In order to do that, I'm trying to weave down the warps that are already wound.  I'm trying to go to the guild room once a week to spin in order to use up some of the heap of fibre stash taking up room in my studio.  I'm trying to knit down stash that is too much to toss, too little to weave with.  I'm trying to stay on top of the conference administrivia.  In a couple of days I will have to deal with my business sales tax report.

And I've 'wasted' two hours (so far) today feeling too tired to do any of it - even though it will make me feel better if I do just go do it.

So.  Onwards.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Another Trip Round the Sun.

Celebrating another trip round the sun by...dressing the loom again.  :)

As I have been reflective about my weaving, I have also been reflective about my life. 

Over the years I have made mistakes - and hopefully learned from them.

I have tried my darndest to think about the end result of decisions that I make - both in weaving and in life.  Sometimes I'm right.  Sometimes I'm not.

With each journey around the sun it becomes more and more apparent that our time here on this orb is limited.  I don't really want to spend whatever time I have left on doing things that don't - in some way - enrich me and others.  And by that I'm not just talking about money, but on a more personal level.

I like to surround myself with people who are positive, who see a problem and immediately move to try and fix it.  I want to have people around me who can laugh and see the silliness of the things we do.  Who look for silver linings.

Not to say I don't sometimes fall into a funk - but the people in my life generally allow me my funk while not allowing me to wallow in it.  They remind me of the rainbows that come along with the silver linings hidden amidst the clouds.

Over the past few months my health issues have been a daily challenge.  Right now most of my problems are a matter of comfort, nothing dire.  But with an aging body, comfort becomes much more important.

A little while ago I made the decision to stop accepting guild workshop/program dates.  Today I had to review that decision and then send an email saying 'no'. 

But it was good to reflect on that decision, review the reasons why I'd made it, and find that all of those reasons were still valid.

That doesn't mean that I won't change my mind in the future.  But I'm no spring chicken anymore.  My energy is limited and I need to be a lot more cautious in 'spending' what energy I have.  It takes me longer to recover from stress - and traveling to teach is nothing if not stressful.

Right now I have three major 'projects' I am working on - The Book, The Conference, The Craft Fair Season.

Regarding The Book - I hired a book editor to help me 'birth' the thing, plus I asked some of my friends if they would contribute book projects.  Both of these things have made it possible for me to stay on the goal of getting the book finished - hopefully by the end of the year.

Regarding The Conference - I have a small but dedicated group here working hard on getting the details sorted.  We meet with the Civic Centre again tomorrow.  I believe we have a small but excellent group of instructors booked and a venue that is user friendly - all within a very small geographical footprint.

Regarding The Craft Fair Season - this year we will do just three shows, this time with a gap between show #2 and 3, which will give me time to rest and recover before heading off to Calgary and Art Market.

As for the Olds program, I'm hoping the homework from the four classes I taught this year will start showing up by January.  By then the conference should be mostly dealt with and registration - scheduled to begin sometime in January - should flow smoothly through the hosting web site.  With so much conference preparation able to be done via the internet, I'm hoping that the administrivia will be minimal.  In any case, I've got a volunteer who will help with the organization of the information and mind the registration booth.

No one knows how long they have here.  I believe that we should make the most of the time we have.  Focus on what brings us joy and eliminate what doesn't.

I still want to teach, but today I confirmed once again that I would rather focus on teaching the Olds curriculum because it most closely aligns with what I feel is important for people to know.  And why I am once again trying to set what I know down in the format of a book. 

Table Runners

These table runners have been woven with 2/16 cotton warp and 2/18 naturally coloured organic cotton. 

Approx 19.5 x 60”. Two available. 

Approx 18.5 x 73”.  One available. 

$120.  20 x 130”.  One available. $120.00

20 x 122”.  One available. 

19.5 x 104”.  One available. 

20 x 114”. One available. 

Also Weave a V.  $20. 

If interested, all prices in Canadian dollars.  Payment by Paypal preferred, to Laura @  Canadians can pay by interac e transfer.   Same address.  Or VISA/ MasterCard.  Email me to arrange payment.  

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Birthday Week Bash

Two available.  $32 each

One each colour.  $32 each

Two available.  $32 each

Above 80% cotton 20% linen

One available.  100% cotton. $28. 

7 available.  $32 each.  Snails Trails and Cats Paws traditional design.  2/16 cotton warp, 2/16 votyolin weft.  80% cotton 20% linen

8 available.  Snails trails and cats paws traditional design.  50% cotton.  59% linen.  $38 each

Table runners will be posted tomorrow.  

Buy two items and receive free shipping. 


I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed today.  Wondering if I could clone myself, and how long it would take to get my clone up to speed.

There are three more table runner warps to be woven.  All of these completed ones (in the bins) to be tagged/priced.  The book projects.  The conference.

Anyone want to come be my unpaid intern for a couple of weeks?  I'd love to be able to sit and read a book, make lace, knit, do some puzzles.

Retirement is beginning to look more and more attractive...

Saturday, July 7, 2018


2/8 above and 8/2 cotton below - two completely different quality of yarns - because all the numbers mean is how many yards per pound (approximately) each has, and say nothing about how they were prepared for and spun.  They will produce completely different qualities of fabric because they are completely different qualities of yarn.

When I was just starting out as a weaver, it was pretty much an exploration with very few maps.  So I read - voraciously - and wove samples - unendingly.  I tried things, adjusted things, used every different kind of yarn I could afford.

Mostly, I reflected.  On my results, on my processes, on what needed to change in order to arrive closer to my goal.

Eventually I enrolled in the Guild of Canadian Weavers master weaver program.  This program is not a teaching program per se, but a testing one.  Part of me wanted to know if my experience was true beyond my own personal experience.  I was looking for the principles of the craft.  Things that were true in their application, not just in the specifics.

When it came time to do my research paper, I chose an aspect of wet finishing, partly because so little had been published about it.  And yet, it was the final step in bringing those individual threads into one cohesive cloth.  Partly I chose it because I wanted to know if I understood the principles or if my experience was only true for me.

I was very fortunate in that I had several people encouraging me to continue.  Two of them were instrumental in helping me understand those principles - Allen Fannin* and Tom Beaudet**.

(Eventually this research paper evolved into Magic in the Water)

Both had extensive experience in the construction of textiles - Allen from a similar sort of self-study I had done, but much more extensively than I had managed with an emphasis on industrial processes.  Tom is a textile engineer, making his living in the textile industry making everything from industrial to medical textiles and lots of other textiles in between.

Both agreed to look at what I had written to that point in time and both gave me excellent feedback as well as encouragement to continue.

Now I find myself in the position of trying to distill my very particular weaving experience into a format that others may be able to benefit from.  It is not an enviable position because so much depends on the readers and their perspective.  Their experience.  And how it may be similar - or differ - from mine.

Over and over again I rely on cliches - If you can't be perfect, be consistent.  Never use a knot where  bow will do.  It isn't finished until it's wet finished.  A thread under tension is a thread under control.  Change one thing and everything can change.  And of course everyone's favourite - It depends.

Recently a student shared another that I told her I was going to steal:  If it looks wrong, it is.

I forget which student it was - if it was you, let me know and I'll be sure to give you credit.

Bottom line - when it comes to the creation of textiles, Your Mileage May Vary.

*Allen Fannin - author of Handloom Weaving Technology.  When he died he was working on two books, which never were finished.  I mourned his untimely death due to a road accident and the loss of his knowledge that never made it into print.

**Tom Beaudet - with his grand daughter, writing and teaching weaving at his studio.  He recently published notes from his time studying the creation of textiles and is now offering kits as well as lessons

PS - it is this very variability of everyone's personal experience that is making writing The Intentional Weaver so difficult - my experience is particular to me.  Other people, using different yarns, different equipment and different processes will have a different perspective.  I am not saying those people are 'wrong' and that I'm 'right' - I am simply trying to share what I have done and the results I have achieved.  But I know that some people will be disappointed.  So I say again YMMV - partly because someone else is on a different path.  But it is also emotionally very difficult to know that people will be disappointed.  I am trying very hard to let that emotional attachment to my experience - my words - go and let people take what they will from what I am writing.  Not all who wander are lost - and everyone is on the path that they need to be.

On the other, other hand - when the book is available, I would appreciate people who find it of value to let their friends know.  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Change One Thing

I have been working on this series of table runners for a while now - with a large break in between due to my travel/teaching schedule.  I'm very happy to be making good progress on this warp, with three more waiting in the wings.

With something like a dozen different colourways, I will choose one to be a Book Project.

The warp is Brassard's 2/8 cotton for warp, with a cotton slub for weft.  This particular one is a cotton slub I inherited from my friend Lynn, so won't be used.  Instead I'll choose one with Brassard's cotton slub.  Because I'm trying to use yarns for the book that are (currently) readily available.

For this particular design I have set the warp at 24 ends per inch.  Previously I've done towels with exactly this same combination of yarns set at 20 epi.

Now which one is correct?

They both are.  Because I am aiming for two different qualities of cloth.  A towel needs to be more flexible and more absorbent.

A table runner needs to be sturdier, to lay flat and smooth, and perhaps even be less absorbent, therefore resisting spills a bit better than a less dense textile.

Change one thing - in this case the epi - and you get a different quality of cloth.

Currently reading The Disappeared by C. J. Box

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Time Marches

My Device arrived in February and I've barely had time to become friends with it. 

This year - like almost every year - has been crazy with things that need doing, Right This Instant.  Or the next.

Right now I'm juggling - in no particular order - inventory for the craft fairs (first of the four table runner warps will go into the loom this afternoon), the conference (details of the workshops and seminars, plus ramping up marketing), The Book (book projects).

Add in some fairly important physical maintenance, and I have not had the energy to also spin.

But that changes tonight.  Since The Device is so portable, I have decided that Thursday guild drop ins I will carry The Device up to the guild room and start tackling that heap of fibre in my studio.

Because the end of this month the photos for The Book will be taken, and I need to clear some room so that there are fewer goat trails and more space to set up camera and lights.  Plus I'm out of hand spun yarn.  Not that I don't have yarn to knit with - I have also been stash diving to see what I can use up to make the shawls I use as gifts and donations to worthy causes.

It is also my birthday in less than a week.  I will be having a birthday sale of tea towels, just in case anyone is interested.  Usual deal - buy two items and receive free shipping.  Included in the sale will be Weave a V.

Not included will be Magic in the Water.  That you can purchase at Blurb

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Guest Post - Rachel Dalton

Conservation VS Wet Finishing in Textile production

by Rachel Dalton, July 2nd 2018.

I have always been interested in historic textile production and the connection it had to the lives of the weavers, spinners and dyers that produced stunning cloth and clothing. As a weaver I strive to reproduce these items and admire their stamina and fortitude with every shuttle throw and threaded heddle. However, I was never happy with my finished results.

before wet finishing - individual threads are obvious and unstable

after wet finishing, the cloth is stable and cohesive

I worked for many years creating and reproducing historic textile clothing for both living history groups and museums. The nuances of a seam placement in relation to to the jacquard print, or shaping a garment again fascinated me. I am a trained museologist and have worked on conserving textiles and artifacts. I've re-woven threads of a raveling WWI nurses uniform under a microscope and stabilized textiles. Creating a conservation plan and executing was both part of my training and my job. Inspecting minute details of the cloth was required and would change both the execution of the conservation and the outcome. Cloth that had been woven 100 years ago was well worn and fragile, but one could tell it had been well used and stood up to the rigors it had been woven to withstand. In my own weaving I attempted to reproduce the patterns and styles I was well acquainted with. The cloth was never appropriate. It was too loose, the fibers remained independent of one another in a single piece of cloth. A complex clothing item was never going to be possible with the items that I was weaving. I chalked it up to inexperience and a forgotten knowledge taken to the grave by the textile masters of yesteryear.

Youtube was well perused and so many books were bought and absorbed. Magic in the Water was purchased and watched repeatedly. I watched as Laura took out life's frustration on her web while wet finishing a piece. How the piece changed in her hands to a homogeneous, cohesive fabric. I filled my water bath and added my web. I followed the steps outlined and waited, with baited breath..... my piece was still not 'finished'. Wet finishing was my kryptonite and I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. When I attended Lvl 1 of the Master Weavers program taught by Laura in Cape Breton in May of 2018, I thought I was a pretty decent weaver in my own right. I learned SO much, but was anxiously awaiting my "light bulb" moment.
Wednesday afternoon, Laura pulled out the samples, the blue scarf and the buckets of water. Here, here was Magic in the Water being presented before me. I watched and repeated the steps with my own samples I had woven that week. Laura watched and evaluated as I carefully placed my samples in the water and allowed them to fully saturate. As I cupped my hand and worked across the surface of the fabric drawing the water gently through the fibers to cleanse grease and dirt. As I carefully rolled each piece in a towel to remove excess water and gently flopped each piece onto the table as Laura had demonstrated. She watched as I looked at my sad little piece, that was not magically becoming what I needed it to become. She watched as I stared at it, willing it to do something - anything. She watched as my conservator brain couldn't absorb her knowledge.
After I worked the process as I did, she approached and offered insight. I reworked my pieces as she suggested while she watched from a slightly closer distance. This time, when I gently flopped my damp web onto the table to full it, she laughed at me! I was informed I was too gentle and the fiber needed to be taught a lesson. She gave me the authority to beat the snot out of my web. And I did. And it worked. It was my lightbulb moment. I was over the moon. I literally danced in the middle of the room. I hurt my shoulder fwacking the fiber so hard. I ran down to the weaving room, finished weaving the remainder of my samples and ran back to wet finish them and hot pressed each piece which flattened the fibers and made it shine. The wet finishing had worked. I couldn't stop petting it. I could cut into that fabric and create a garment. I could sew an item for my home, my children or a museum. It could be used and passed on. I found a hot press and bought it on the spot.
Textile conservation was NOT the same as continuing the creation of a textile with wet finishing. Conservators are tasked with doing as little as possible to a piece to protect it from itself, outside influences and time. Reworking threads and gently washing a piece to remove years of grime which can affect the stability of fibers on a microscopic level. To mitigate risk of a piece to ensure it's possible to display and research. For the retention of the knowledge of the makers or the idea it supports. Wet finishing is not necessarily the opposite of this idea, it's a concept that a woven piece off the loom is no more a finished fabric than the skein of yarn used in it's creation. Wet finishing is yet another step in the process to create a fully functioning fabric.
When wet finishing, you're not "washing" your fabric as a finished piece would be washed. The original makers would wet finish the piece that I was now conserving. This is the concept I was completely missing. A handwoven wool blanket or coverlet wouldn't be bashed against the table repeatedly or thrown into the washing machine for fear of felting (as we’ve all had happen at least once to that one hand knit sweater). I label all of my hand woven items with washing instructions, "hand wash in cold with gentle detergent and lay flat to dry". Wet finishing is not conservation and it’s not washing a dirty, used piece. It’s yet another step in creating the finished material.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Balancing Act

English has a big problem - it uses the same word to mean multiple things.  So it is with English weaving terminology which sometimes makes it difficult to understand.  That is where context comes in.

So, the word balanced in weaving. 

We use the word to describe a textile that has the same number of ppi and epi, given the same yarn is being used in warp and weft.

But the other meaning typically refers to how the design looks in the cloth.

Balancing a weave structure means understanding how the weave structure works; in other words, how to make borders, side to side, top to bottom.  The motif should be 'complete' not cut off part way through.

Typically weave structures like overshot, lace weaves, Summer and Winter, and on and on are routinely 'balanced'.  Twills can be balanced as well although not always.

When it comes to twills, balanced does not mean that the twill line begins and ends on the same shaft.  If that is the case, one of the outside ends will not weave in and will have to be treated as a floating selvedge, or simply left off.  With twill you want the twill line to begin on an even shaft and end on an odd, or vice versa. 

In the draft above I have taken the sequence we call Wall of Troy and added straight draw to each selvedge, then in the treadling.  The straight draw frames the Wall of Troy and makes the cloth look 'complete'. 

I also like to 'frame' the design to keep the focal point in the middle of the cloth and adding such a frame helps to do this. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Wet Finishing

On page 1, paragraph one, in J. T. Marsh's book An Introduction to Textile Finishing, Marsh states "The term 'finishing' in its widest sense has been held to cover all the processes which fabrics undergo after leaving the loom or knitting machine; from this standpoint, finishing would include bleaching and dyeing, which, indeed, are sometimes regarded as wet-finishing processes."  This book was first published in 1947.

In the book Cloth Finishing:  Woollen and Worsted by J and J. C. Schofield they state in their preface "The present work has been developed from the author's "Scouring and Milling (1921) which was itself extended into "The Wet Processes of the Wool Industries (1925).  This book, published sometime after 1925, runs to nearly 700 pages of detailed information on the wet finishing processes involved in bringing wool, both woollen and worsted, to its finished state.

While the effects of wet finishing can seem magical the processes are well documented and there is nothing mystical about them.

The point is that during wet finishing, processes may be applied that will never be applied again, unlike simple 'washing'.  This is why I use the term wet finishing to describe the process of transforming the web cut from the loom into 'real' cloth.

So what do I mean "processes may be applied that will never be applied again."?  I am specifically referring to milling or fulling of woollen fabrics.  I am referring to brushing to raise a nap.  I am referring to a hard press (instead of ironing).  Industry may apply other finishes as part of the wet finishing including carbonizing, mercerization, calendering.

These steps, which may be necessary once, are not part of the routine 'washing' of finished cloth.

Another case of choose your expert?

before wet finishing

after wet finishing, including brushing

For more information on wet finishing, Magic in the Water; wet finishing handwovens or the dvd/download from Interweave Press