Thursday, August 30, 2018

Quiet Time

We are having a bit of a quiet day so I’m fringe twisting.  Mary had a twisting tool so I didn’t have to bring mine.  I only brought four with me, but my hope is to Weave four more as part of demonstrating what I do.  

Who knows, I might even get them twisted before I head home.  I have most of Friday afternoon and evening to work on them. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Not Entirely Unexpected

With a very tight connection at O’Hare, it wasn’t entirely unexpected that I missed my flight in spite of a mad dash from concourse E to C.  

I may be getting too old for this much fun. :(

Sunday, August 26, 2018

New Normal

It feels like my 'normal' for the past 10 years is trying to weave down my stash.  So what's new about that?

Well, my energy levels, for one thing.  One of the adverse effects of the cancer drug is to feel tired.  Even on the lowest possible dose I feel tired all day long and this summer has seen me struggling to overcome that feeling and carry on anyway.

The good news is that the fatigue brain fog is gone, and now that I'm well into the new scarf design, the colour combination possibilities just keep coming.  I currently have six warps wound waiting to go into the loom and ideas for at least another dozen.  I just happen to be out of time right now to do much because I leave tomorrow for a two week trip.

While I am very happy to get out of here and hopefully away from the smoke, it is with a pang as I leave these unwoven warps to await my return.  (Yes, I have packed one wound warp and yarn to wind another - because where I am going there are looms and one of them has my name on it.)


One of the ways I am finding to cope with the Tired is to try let go of my expectations based on my old 'normal'.  My body is not well and in order to stick around I have to take this drug with all its adverse effects.  As usual, if there are 10 adverse effects, I will have 7 of them - to a greater or lesser degree. 

I have also been dealing with the stress and emotional reaction to writing a book, smoke allergy and conference planning.  The fact that I am getting anything done in the studio at all needs to be seen as great progress, not as a failure on my part because I'm not able to weave 3+ hours every day anymore.

So I post here a photo of two of the cones that have been emptied - one yesterday, one this morning.

Every journey begins with a single step.  Every cone emptied is a step in the right direction.  Because it is all progress.  And accepting that this is my new 'normal' - for now at least - means I don't beat myself up because I cannot do what I could, even five years ago, even three years ago.

Currently reading A Tale of Three Cities by Bettany Hughes.  I don't have time to finish it so I may have to request it from the library again once I'm done all this traveling!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Wheat from Chaff

I read a blog by Jim Wright for a number of reasons.  He's a writer and a political commentator, beholden to neither end of the political spectrum.  This morning his blog talked about information overload and how difficult it is to separate the wheat from the chaff.

In context of my adding to the overburden of information, I started thinking about what I was hoping to accomplish by writing and (self) publishing another(!) book on weaving.

I've told the story elsewhere about doing a demo during a level one Olds class and having a student ask me which book the information I provided could be found.  And realizing that none of the books I was familiar with contained all of the things I had talked about in one place.  And that it was time for me to sort through what I understand about weaving and write it down.

This book isn't intended to be The Compleate Book of Weaving - others have done a more thorough examination of how cloth is constructed.  What I am hoping is to provide information for those people who would be interested in the type of information I feel is important, but may not be able to take a class that covers it.

There are people who will disagree with my conclusions, and that's only to be expected.  Someone weaving rag rugs, or velvet, or on a Jacquard, or tapestry, will have a different experience from what I routinely do.  Who is correct?  Why, all of us.  Because change one thing and everything can change.

What I, as well as other authors, struggle with is the people who will be disappointed in what is offered.

The internet is a double edged sword.  Someone like me can use the internet to get the word out about my publication, I can post it to a website like we recently did with Magic in the Water so that people can go there, choose a pdf or print-on-demand format and buy the book.  On the other hand, people can also write reviews of the book, some of which may not be flattering.

Even the video clips I uploaded to You Tube have their fair share of thumbs down 'comments'.

But what I am hoping to do is plug some 'holes' that people may have in their foundation of knowledge so that they can make the whole process flow more smoothly.  To encourage weavers to be more thoughtful about what they are doing.  To sit in a way that will not encourage injury, and work more efficiently so that they can accomplish what they want to do without the bottle necks that inevitably crop up - or at least be prepared when they ramp up their intentions.  What a weaver may quite successfully do on a short/narrow warp may begin to fall apart when they want to go longer/wider.  Establishing 'good' practice right from the beginning means a much more pleasant experience in the years to come.  In my opinion, of course.

I don't expect people will do exactly as I do.  Feedback from students lets me know that they take in what I say, then tailor their processes to better suit themselves.

And that is a Very Good Thing.  But I am also aware that this publication is aimed at a very tiny niche of the weaving world and not everyone will find it useful.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


Both of my looms have developed a patina on the beater top where I alternately use right and left hands to bring the beater forward and back.

This loom was a rescue loom but I don't remember the patina being this obvious when I first brought her home, so the patina here likely reflects the many hours of weaving we have done together.

This marking doesn't bother me.  I find it comforting, in a way.  A reflection of our journey together, making textiles.  Mostly tea towels, place mats, shawls, scarves.  Even a few rugs.  A partnership between tool and tool user.

To me it reflects many hours spent together making cloth.  My happy place.

The finish is wearing off on the left hand side a wee bit.  Probably because of my wedding band.  If it gets bad enough I may ask Doug to refinish the beater top.  But for now, it's just a mark of our work together.  Work that I hope will continue for many years to come.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Choose One Thing

This summer has been challenging for a long list of reasons.  We have been dealing with daily smoke, better or worse, for going on two weeks.  I rather suspect that the smoke is getting to everyone.  Nerves are getting frayed.  Children and people with lung issues (or allergy to smoke) are being urged to stay indoors.  So our altogether too short summer has been shortened even further because people can't do the usual summer activities - gardening, boating, fishing, just enjoying the sun while it's here.

The smoke has created some pretty amazing effects in terms of the sky, from blood red suns to spectacular sun rises and sets.  But it is also eerie and unsettling.  Not to mention knowing our neighbours are being hit hard.  Evacuation orders are in effect and last I heard our town had 3000+ evacuees, some of whom have lost their homes, livelihoods, animals.

Since I was already struggling with adverse drug effects and the toll of a very busy spring, I have not bounced back to even my 'usual' level of energy.  Far from it.

On the other hand, if I allow myself to succumb to my feelings of 'don wanna', I just wind up feeling worse.  It seems the more I try to take it 'easy', the more tired and dispirited I feel.

So I try to choose one thing to do per day.  If I just wind myself up and get to the studio, I not only feel better physically, I feel better emotionally.  Because from now until the end of the year it is one rolling deadline after another.

And then, of course, registration for the conference is scheduled to begin sometime in January.

The bulk of my contribution to the conference is pretty much done - for now - or will be in a few days.  There will be more to do in the spring, but my efforts were largely geared towards the shape of the conference, approaching instructors, working out their details and so on, deciding on the events that will happen.

To that end, I think the committee has done a great job.  Some of the committee members are out of town on holiday and hopefully by the time they get back the smoke will have abated.  I know my upcoming trip will allow me to breathe deeply and get away from it all for a couple of weeks.

Today I chose to weave a tea towel in the morning.  After lunch I wound bobbins for the next batch (it was time to change colours) and then I wound some more scarf warps.  It has helped, playing with colour.  Since I am not allowing myself to buy more yarn, I am forced to work with what I have.  Some colour combinations are easy, some are a little more daring.  I'm being forced to push the boundaries of my comfort zone in terms of colours.

But that is A Good Thing.  And so is using up stash!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Don Holzworth, 1956-2008

When my younger brother died, suddenly, much too young, at work, we were all stunned.  At the reception after the service, I managed to say a few words and ended with this:

"I can think of no better example to follow than Don's.

Be brave enough to dream big dreams.
Be bold enough to work to make them come true.
Live life with love and joy.
And every day, try to be a better person."

It recently occurred to me that those words could just as easily apply to me.  That perhaps, in some small way, I was an inspiration to him, just like so many of his friends told me that day.  They made a point of coming up to me to tell me how much Don respected me.  How much he looked up to me. 

At the time I was puzzled as to why that might be.  Yes, I was his older sister, which led to some interesting and funny things while growing up.  But look up to me?  I shook my head.

Ruth asked me about what day I wanted to aim for to hit publish on my book.  Don's birthday was on December 2, and so the words fell out of my mouth - December 2.  There were many reasons for that date, but it could have just as easily been Nov. 30 or Dec. 1.  But as I said the words, they felt right.

Since shoving the ms at Ruth and waving it goodbye, there have been a lot of emotions to process.  Things I'd forgotten about - or hadn't realized - have come percolating to the surface of my thoughts.

It suddenly made sense that in some small way I had been an inspiration to him.  Because in so many ways, I have lived my life to those same things I attributed to him.

In school I took on the job of publishing the school newspaper.  Worked on the yearbook.  Was part of the group that organized the giant march from our old school to the brand new one we'd been waiting for to open.  I was modelling my mother's behaviour in many ways.   She worked tirelessly for the church, helped family members with all sorts of things, usually medical or legal, partly because she had the most education of any of the other family.  Plus she was fluently bi-lingual and wound up translating in court or hospital for family/friends whose English wasn't the best.

She continued throughout her life to work hard on behalf of the hospital auxiliary, CNIB, and countless other charities.

So I was no stranger to the social responsibility that my mother felt and passed on to me.

When I graduated grade 12 I had no idea what I wanted in terms of education.  My parents were not wealthy and could not afford to send me to Vancouver to take a B of A.  And I didn't want a BA degree anyway because about the only thing to do with one was become a teacher.  I certainly did not want to be a teacher!  (ha.  at least not a teacher in the school system, turns out.)

I told mom I wanted to go to Sweden to meet and visit with my pen friend.  She talked it over with dad and they offered me the deal that if I worked hard and saved my money and didn't squander it, I could live at home rent free.  Deal!

And so I investigated how I might do just that.  I'd gotten a job with the telephone company as a long distance operator (yes, I am that old - switch boards were still a thing), which paid very good money, especially for a recent graduate from high school.  I was so stingy you could hear the change in my purse whimper.  And by the end of April I had enough money to go.

Now I didn't do the 'usual' thing and fly over.  Nope, not me.  Instead I took the train from here to Montreal, visited with mom's sister and her family and then boarded a freighter that took a small number of passengers.  And sailed from Montreal to Oslo, Norway.  There I boarded a train and headed east to Orebro, Sweden.  Where I arrived with just my purse and no Swedish money - because I didn't know that if you 'checked' your luggage, it came on the overnight freight train.

(There is a lot more to the story, but another day - perhaps.)

While in Sweden I also took a bus tour of Europe, landing in Germany, over to Belgium, France, through Monaco, north-west Italy, through Switzerland, back to Germany and then returning to Sweden.  Where I then took my first plane flight ever from Stockholm to Vancouver. 

In 1975 I gave up a rather well paying job to become a weaver.  My brother was 13 when I set off to Sweden, 18 when I abruptly changed course to become a weaver.

He saw me stick it out, through some really skinny times in terms of income, through injury, through recovery, and onwards to write a book and self-publish it. 

Those were some mighty big dreams.  And I was stubborn enough to make them happen, one way or another.

So.  Second book, needing a publication date, preferably before Christmas.  Checking the calendar, American Thanksgiving this year is Nov. 22.  I will go back to Ruth's where we will do one last look-see at the ms, hopefully sieve any lingering typos out, make sure photos are captioned properly, diagrams correct.  And then, in honour of my 'little' brother, hopefully hit publish on Dec. 2.

Hope you're proud Don.  I was of you.

Royal Hudson steam locomotive, charted by Don, edited and woven by me, sewn into a jacket by Darlene Wainwright

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Language Matters

If Facebook is an oracle it had a message for me today.

First was an audition where a young woman sang a song she wrote after losing her hearing, called "Try".

Then Janis Ian posted about 're-wiring, not retiring'.

I chewed them over for a while because I felt there was a valuable lesson in those two posts that I needed to pay attention to.

The past few years have been one health issue after another.  Over the past couple of weeks I have had conversations with some friends about my lack of energy, my abundance of 'tired'.  How difficult I'm finding dealing with stress.  And that I am looking forward to 'retirement'. 

But that's not actually true.  I am not at all looking forward to 'retiring' from what I love to do.

All my life I have dreamt big dreams and worked to make them become reality.  At times I have had to re-tool my approach, adjust my expectations.  And I realized that this latest phase of my life is just another time of adjustment.  Re-wiring.  And that above all, I need to try to find my way through the pitfalls of my life and work toward my goals.

It may take me longer.  It may require naps.  But forward is the only way to go.

This magnet is on my fridge, purchased when I thought I had all my health issues under control  It reminds me to keep going.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Warps in Waiting

Earlier today I wove a couple of tea towels, but as much as I would like to get that warp finished, I am also getting concerned about my other craft fair inventory.  I'm very low on scarves, and since I have boxes and boxes of various kinds of rayon in my stash, I switched to winding warps.

Now, when I say I have boxes and boxes, that doesn't mean I have a lot of choices for colour.  In fact I have depth of stock in a limited range of colours.  Since I'm wanting to have as large a range of options for customers to choose from, I'm winding warps just long enough for two scarves, changing the colour options in each warp.

For some of the warps I will use two different wefts in order to increase the options even further.

People come to a craft fair to get unique items, not see dozens of the same thing in the display, so even though I'm making the same quality of cloth, it's a good thing to have a wide range of colour combinations for them to choose from.

Since stash reduction is a priority, I'm forcing myself to work with what I have on hand.  This also forces me to be a lot bolder in the combinations I put together.  And that is also A Good Thing.

Will I like any of these scarves, personally?  Not necessarily.  They just have to be appealing and look good generally.  But as it happens, most of what I have left are 'my' colours.  So I'm taking the opportunity to play with how they go together. 

But time is running out, quickly.  I leave on the 27th for TN/NC, back on the 8th, then leave again for a week after (our) Thanksgiving, coming home to the first craft fair of the season.

The goal is to have as many of these scarves ready as I can possibly get ready. 

Fingers crossed!  Because I also have about 8 hours of conference planning to do and shifts at the fall fair this weekend.  And we have been in the smoke plume from the wildfires throughout the province for a week.  It's getting more and more difficult to keep going.  

Monday, August 13, 2018

Mining the Stash

Nine boxes.  I was thinking there were six. 

Well, I am going to try to use some of this up.  But first I need to see what is actually in those boxes.

This is yarn from the fashion designer I used to weave for.  She retired when she hit 65 and offered me her yarn to buy at a huge discount.  Since I was familiar with the yarns she used, I foolishly said yes.

Of course I was recovering from by-pass surgery, beginning to feel 'normal' again, no problem, I can buy some of your stash!  And then I sent Doug back for more...

Now, what to do with it?  Now that I'm three years older, dealing with adverse effects from the medication that is keeping me this side of the grass/snow.  Tired All The Damn Time.

Since I'm low on scarf inventory, I've been proto-typing scarves.  They won't be *fabulous* but they will be classic.  And being rayon (mostly) they will have great drape, and not the silk price.  Although I did manage to use up some (most?) of my silk stash earlier this year. 

Since I have taken a booth at the ANWG conference, mostly to sell books, I will also offer textiles.  Who knows, maybe some of these soon-to-be scarves will grace the booth, not just tea towels?

Anyway, it's lunch time.  After lunch I will start to paw through these boxes and see what there is in them.

Currently reading Craeft by Alexander Langlands

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Birthing a Book - the back story...

Kerstin Fro:berg's Weave a V, which I published in English

I am - and have known - a number of people who have written and published books, either via more traditional publishers or by self-publishing.

Personally I have done the self-publishing route for a number of reasons.  For Magic, it was the logistics of getting a book with actual fabric samples into the hands of readers.

Having been involved, either directly or indirectly, in getting books 'born', I can tell you that it isn't easy (if it was, everyone would do it) and it costs a lot.  There are the actual out of pocket expenses that are, for the most part, hidden.

For Magic, it was pretty obvious that a fair chunk of change went into the materials for the samples.  But what wasn't perhaps so obvious was the number of hours of labour that went into it as well.  Not just the writing, and there was plenty of that, not just the cost of the yarn, and it wasn't cheap.  There was the designing of the presentation, which went through a number of iterations.  There was the investment in the binders.  The meetings with the printer.  The cost of the paper.  And the actual printing.  The hiring of a top notch photographer, the models for the garments.

There was the assembly.  My brother allowed me to turn his rec room with billiard table into an assembly line.  From 2002 until his death in 2008, Magic lived in his basement as we assembled copies as they sold.  It was only in the months following his death when we had to clear his house out in order to put it on the market that the last few copies were finally dealt with and assembled, then put into storage elsewhere.

How many hours?  Who knows.  There was me, obviously.  There were the many hours my then studio assistant was paid in order to weave more samples, then help with the wet finishing.  There was my mom and several friends who came to help with the assembly line.  There was Doug who became VP of assembly for a year.  Or more.

There was the marketing.  Paying for ads (it took selling three copies to pay for one ad in Handwoven).  

There were the special shipping boxes.  The hours of filling out customs forms, dragging bins full (at first) down to the post office.  There was the booth at Convergence in Vancouver when Magic was first launched.  And then every fibre event I could drive to afterwards.

There were the three copies I donated to libraries - and a couple more to worthy causes.

All of this is why I have decided to go the digital/print-on-demand route for The Intentional Weaver.  Do you have any idea at all how much room a 1000 binders, the pages to go in them, the samples stapled to the pages, take?  My brother's basement.  His entire basement, except for the laundry area.

With the internet developing the way it has done, with print-on-demand websites, the decision to go this route instead of looking for a traditional publisher was quite easy.

On the other hand, I have spent at least as much time, if not more, getting this book to this stage as it took to get Magic to this stage.  Well, no, Magic still took way more effort because of weaving, wet finished and cutting apart the samples.  But that aside?  Yes, more hours writing, certainly, in large part because Magic was quite narrow in scope and this one is much, much broader.  Therefore it's taken much longer to get my thoughts in order, decide on what I want to include, then edit, edit, edit for clarity.

On top of that, TIW has been delayed repeatedly as I dealt with one health issue after another.  I first started thinking and planning this book at least 6 years ago.  Well, longer ago than that, but the initial idea fell through for a number of reasons, and I shelved the idea then.  Then I focused on getting the DVDs done, thinking that would be all that I really needed to do.  But no, that wasn't quite all of the story, either.

But then I had to put my life on hold while I dealt with the by-pass surgery, the recovery from that, adverse drug effects, over and over again.  And then the house renovations, mom getting sick, my feeling something wasn't quite 'right' with me - which it wasn't.

Through it all my friends encouraged and supported me and, when I found myself about 10 months ago completely unable to carry on by myself, I contacted someone I knew who did technical editing and cried 'uncle'.  

She agreed to fit me into her editing queue, and, well, here we are.

I share this story, not to elicit sympathy.  Because I know other authors have similar stories.  We write because we must.  There is something about setting the knowledge down in words that becomes compelling.  Imperative.  

So when you read a book that you feel is valuable, the best thing you can possibly do is to tell people that you think it's worth the purchase price and why.

Which is one reason why I list the books I'm reading here.  If I record the title/author in this blog, it's because I feel it is worth my time and effort to read it.  

Saturday, August 11, 2018


Yes, I did indeed make a threading error, leaving out a repeat of a block. 

Once seen, cannot be unseen.  But, on the other hand, the 'flaw' won't in anyway affect the ability of the tea towel to dry dishes, so I'm not fixing it.

I am, on the other, other hand, dealing with another loom issue.  While the dobby head seems to be fixed, one of the shafts was not perfectly straight and because it was dipping downwards on one end, the warp ends on that shaft were not lifting as much as they should be doing and I realized well into towel number three (the first one after the dobby fix) that I was getting really (really!) long floats on the back side.  Which, in this case, is going to be the 'correct' side of the cloth.

After complaining about the issue, Doug has effected a temporary 'fix'.  I'm too tired to weave now, plus it's time to make dinner, so it will wait until tomorrow to see if it is going to allow me to weave without stopping every fourth pick to make sure I have a clear shed.

The first three towels will go into the 'seconds' pile.

Still not perfect...

Friday, August 10, 2018

Last Time?

So.  Here I go again.  For the 'last' time?

I made the decision earlier in the year that I would not accept workshop bookings from guilds.  It had all just gotten to be...too much.

Too much scrambling trying to find several groups in a regional area to keep travel costs lower.  Too much travel agent type work, trying to make sure I could get from place to place.  Without too many (unpaid) days between events.  Too much financing of said travel costs.  Too much inventory of yarn I don't normally use, but needed for the workshop topics.  Too many binders of drafts, which always, always, need to be edited specific to the workshop.  (This one every loom is a table loom so I had to go through and convert every single draft to liftplan.)

Too much administrivia.  Too much.

This workshop is in BC, so travel isn't horrible.  (It will still take all day to get there, because of going from one small airport to another small airport, via Vancouver airport.)

Better yet, my host/ess are friends of decades and it will be wonderful to go a couple of days early and have a visit.

In the end we have 17 students, a pretty full class (I will take up to 20 for most topics, depending on a room the correct size for that many students and looms.)

It's also a topic I thoroughly enjoy (lace weaves), plus the guild program on the Monday will be on wet finishing.  But that means a checked bag, filled with examples.  :)

The guild has also offered to help with the conference, so I will be delivering some of the materials they will need.

There is a certain level of nostalgia as I commit to making this workshop the last guild workshop I will do.  (Yes, I've already turned down a guild this summer, in spite of really wanting to go where they were!)

I have just a couple more commitments - other than Olds classes - to finish.  And then next year I will be going through all my teaching samples and sorting them into the various Olds curriculum levels, which will make preparing for those classes so much easier.  Right now my samples are scattered all over the studio as we emptied boxes and bins looking for textiles for the book.  I really need to put them all away again - just can't face that job right now.

All of the workshop materials need to go into the mail on Monday so that the drafts and yarns can be distributed to the participants and they can get their looms ready for the workshop the weekend following our Thanksgiving holiday.  That may seem 'early', but it's summer, people are away, as I will be for two weeks the end of this month, beginning of next.  So this really had to be done before I left.

I won't miss the constant juggling of my schedule, keeping an eye on these sorts of deadlines.

Who knows, maybe I'll even get to make a few jigsaw puzzles over the winter?

Currently reading Beautiful Scars; Steeltown secrets, Mohawk skywalkers and the road home - a memoir by Tom Wilson.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Two By Two

When it is feasible, I wind warps holding two threads. Winding two ends at a time means winding goes twice as quickly as winding one at a time.  I prefer a 2 x 2 cross, especially when the yarns are textured, as in this warp.  Textured yarns may tend to grab onto their neighbours and this can sometimes cause problems during beaming.

This warp is two different yarns, both rayon, both 'wobbly', both textured, one more than the other.

When winding a warp with a 2 x 2 cross, the ends must be kept together.  If the loop is separated, this will prevent the cross from being transferred.

With this warp at 16 epi, wound two at a time, I am using a four dent reed putting four ends per dent.  If the warp was wider (this is a 'short' reed, plenty long enough for the 12" wide warp) and I had to use the longer 8 dent reed I would still put four ends per dent, but would then leave an empty one in order to achieve the spacing needed for the cloth.

During threading I will be random in how they go into the heddles.  I find this gives a more interesting look to the cloth as the threads do not alternate, but sometimes the ends might be side by side, or alternate. 

The only thing I do with this yarn is make sure the end in the outside heddle at the selvedge is the less textured of the two yarns because that one is stronger than the more textured one.

This warp is another prototype warp.  I will wind up with two scarves that I will weave with two different wefts.  After wet finishing I will choose which weft I will put into production.  While I'm pretty sure I know which one will be the 'best' weft, I won't know for sure until I get the scarves woven and wet finished.

Sometimes you do need to do a 'full size' sample.

Plus I need to weave down my stash, so I'm trying really hard to only work from my stash!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

After the Party...

...comes the clean up.  And the return to reality...

In one way writing The Book was a trip down memory lane as we mined my sample collections for textiles to serve as illustrations for the weave structures I chose to write about.  Partly it was an exercise in a certain level of anguish - what to include, what to cut?  With the stated aim of not trying to write a 'how to weave' book but a 'how to weave better' book, I didn't really want to repeat everything Mary Black wrote about in her tome. 

What I wanted to do was explain some of the whys that don't get discussed as well as some of the background information that isn't usually included in most 'learning to weave' presentations.  So my approach was to say "here is what I do - choose what might work for you".

It was also a way to share my designing thought processes, which I did for one of the projects.  I didn't want to flog the horse (so to speak) but just share some of the back and forth thinking that I do in terms of designing a textile for a particular purpose.  As the purpose changes, so does the thinking about the various considerations.

In the heat of the moment, boxes and bins were opened and turned out with samples being selected or rejected as we felt suited the purpose. 

Now I'm left with heaps and piles of samples that need to go back into their appropriate bin/box.  Which means sorting through them all again to make sure they go back into their proper place.  Mainly so that I can find them again, next time they might be needed.

Today is being particularly challenging because on top of continuing to deal with the adverse drug effects, the emotional let down of completing (my part of) a rather large project that took way longer than it should have, but was delayed due to health issues, we are also facing an invasion of wildfire smoke that is getting, quite frankly, awful.  Others have had it worse for longer, so I am trying very hard to be thankful it has taken this long to get this bad, but my allergies are kicking up a fuss and I feel wrung out for a number of reasons.

Not to mention knowing very well that not everyone will be pleased with what I've done.  I just hope that all those people who say they can't wait will not be disappointed.  But that anxiety isn't unique to me - it's true for pretty much every person who has ever set pen to paper (fingers to keyboard).

However, a firm publication date has been chosen.  I have booked a flight to visit with Ruth the end of November where we will go through the ms one last time looking for typos, things left out (we cut a bunch of stuff as being available elsewhere), make sure the last few additions go into the ms gracefully. 

What is left?  Final photo edits and the insertion of the new photos into the ms replacing the old and in some cases slightly blurry, ones.  Drafts to illustrate some weave structures.  Project notes for several projects. Two more contributions by friends to be received and processed.  Final text edits that we didn't get to, because photos were the priority - Ruth can do text edits at home but had to do the photos here.  A cover needs to be designed.  The ISBNs for the different formats have been applied for and then included (usually on the back of the title page with the rest of the publishing info).  A friend has agreed to write an introduction and three people have been approached to consider writing cover blurbs.  So they have to have copies when the ms is closer to 'complete' so they can review the ms fairly, then write their blurb (if they feel comfortable doing one).

So - while we are at 95% completion, there is still quite a lot left to do.  Considering I am now into the sixth year of trying to get this book 'born', another three months is basically 'not much'.  But that last 5% is absolutely necessary.

However, with the purchase of my flights there and back, and a 'firm' publication deadline, I can now look at what is next on my job list.

In no particular order:  workshop drafts/yarns to be prepared and mailed for the workshop in October.  Craft fair production.  Continuing to develop new textiles - if not in time for this year's craft fair season, next.  Get ready to leave on the 27th for TN and NC.

Oh yeah.  And clean up the studio so I can actually do those things.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Mary Andrews

Early on in my career I had the opportunity to study for two weeks with Mary Andrews at the Banff Centre of Fine Art.  She was strong and independent, generous with her knowledge.  At the end of July she died at 102.

Jane Stafford has written a moving tribute to Mary in her latest newsletter.

It was while at Banff that I became intrigued with Bronson Lace (and huck and Swedish, but mostly Bronson).  When I got home from Banff I spent hours hand drawing drafts because personal computers were not readily available.  In fact I purchased my very first desktop by going into the computer shop with the system requirements for Fiberworks and purchased a system that would run it.

But that came later.

In the weeks following the class at Banff I took up Mary's challenge to really understand what was happening with the threads and how weave structures worked.  I continued to learn how to make designs in different structures.  I, like Jane, learned how the Fibonacci series could be a useful design tool.

Mary modeled how curiosity could lead one down interesting pathways and be a lifelong practice.  She wove well into her 80's until she couldn't any longer.  But she inspired many in western Canada - and beyond.

Thank you, Mary.  

Monday, August 6, 2018

Til It’s Done

Getting some of the book/inspirational projects finished this morning.  The above is a pinwheel design on four shafts, woven from Tencel (a type of rayon).

Rayon in general is a very dense fibre which holds a lot of water.  As a result, when rayon is fully saturated it feels very stiff and not very appealing to the touch (in my opinion).

However, when it is dry it is very flexible and feels very silk-like, mainly because it was engineered to be as much like silk as possible.  In fact it was originally called 'art silk' until more accurate labeling laws became a thing.

This is a scanning electron microscopic view of rayon.  It's pretty smooth and pretty dense.

This photo was taken with an 'ordinary' digital microscope at about 800 times magnification.  On the left is Tencel, the right is cotton.

Both yarns are cellulose but being extruded rayon (Tencel) fibres can be very long while cotton fibres are much shorter.  Both are spun to the same number of yards per pound (3360) or a 2/8 count.

You can clearly see how much thinner the Tencel is than the cotton because of the difference in density.

With the Tencel holding water, not really wanting to release it, it takes longer to dry than cotton.

This morning I was pressing two Tencel scarves.  When I started the scarf I was pressing was wetter than it should have been for efficiency.  What that means is that I had to get it dryer before the fibres would begin to react with the compression, flatten and smooth.  It also took quite a while for the drape of Tencel to begin to manifest.

Instead of my more usual side A, side B, side A pressing, I had to continue to press.  How many sides?  Don't know.  Until it was 'done'.

In other words, when the cloth flattened due to the compression, I felt whole cloth between my fingers as I rubbed the cloth between them, and the lovely drape had developed.

The second scarf got tossed into the dryer for a further 10 minutes or so and that one went much more quickly - maybe 5 sides.

By the way - that difference in thickness means that at times a higher density than the same count of cotton may be needed, especially since Tencel is also slipperier than cotton.

Sunday, August 5, 2018


patina from hundreds of hours of weaving

As I work on the final(?) edits for the book, it feels like picking my way through a minefield.  What to say?  What to leave out as being redundant (because this isn't the only book on weaving and there are plenty of other resources available).  How much information to share in terms of how I design my textiles?  Do people need to have All the Information or just enough to spring board their own creativity?  Do I really know things other people don't know?  (I doubt it.)  But!  I have put myself into the position of trying to write it down.  I have chosen to try to find my way through the hazards or writing a technical manual and find the words to pass on some of what I know to others.

Writing this blog has been good practice for this.  I have posted - almost daily - for ten years (yes, really!) now. 

The blog began as a way to document my recovery (I hoped) from a fairly serious health issue and how - through weaving - I could rebuild my life.  Which is why I chose the Weaving a Life title.

For 40 mumble years I have woven, almost every day, or written about weaving or taught weaving.  It is such a big part of my life I cannot imagine not having it continue to be part of my life for a long time to come.

But it is also time to modify my approach.  After this many years of production weaving, which to be honest, takes a physical toll, plus 10 years of various and sundry health issues, my body is wearing out, breaking down.

The production of this book has begun to feel like a final push to condense what I know in a format that will - with any luck at all - provide advice and information that may last beyond my ability to travel to students.

Both Magic and this book were in large part a labour of love.  But they were also another income stream. 

As I dial back on production weaving I am hoping that the books (and DVD's) will continue to provide information to help people make their weaving less stressful, easier, more joyful and help offset the fact that I cannot weave like I used to, don't really want to travel long distances and do craft fairs with all the travel and hard physical labour of setting up, working long hours on concrete floors, tearing down again. 

My plan for the immediate future is to reserve my reduced energy (thank you adverse drug effects - nurse practitioner observed that the cancer drug really doesn't much like me - yeah, I know!) for teaching the Olds program.

I have in the past taken private students.  I would be open to doing that in the future, too, but it's not something I'm going to work hard to make happen.

Weaving a Life.  Yes, I have.  And will continue to do so, to the best of my ability.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Still Not Perfect

Once again weaving has administered a reality check - nope, still not perfect.

After working on The Book for so many (cumulative) months, I am just about at the point where I am so *done* with it. 

If it weren't for the fact Ruth is here, right now, polishing, polishing, polishing, it would be so very easy to just toss it all and say I just don wanna any more.

But I am also so close I can taste it. 

My ego has been taking a kicking though, as I look through my samples, weave more, discover that over and over again I am so far from 'perfect' it isn't even funny.

A big part of me wants to write the 'perfect' book that everyone will find helpful, useful, a'classic' of the literature.  Another part of me knows very well that that is an insanely ridiculous thing to even think of.

Of course all of this isn't helped by a loom that isn't behaving very well, introducing 'errors' into the cloth that are nearly impossible to see...until after wet finishing.

Yes, there is enough warp left I could re-do it.  On the other hand, some judicious cropping will make those mistakes invisible.

In the end it isn't perfection that is important.  It is the sharing of knowledge.  And even imperfect samples can still convey concepts and solid technical information.

So I'm not going to re-weave the sample.  And I'm going to practice being ok with that decision.

Friday, August 3, 2018

In Progress

In my initial thinking about how to illustrate The Book, I had naturally(?) assumed that all of the textiles ought to be brand spanking new.  To this end several friends stepped forward to contribute projects, winning my undying gratitude!

But as I thought about the whole project I realized that I didn't have to make absolutely new examples for every single thing.  In fact, a single project wouldn't necessarily show some of the depth and breadth of the weave structures under examination.

Ruth, able book midwife, agreed that mining my collection of textiles I use for teaching would be a fine thing to do.

As I dug through my boxes and bins, it suddenly occurred to me that the perfect suite of samples already existed, in large part - the samples I did for the master weaver certificate.

So much of what informs me as a weaver and a teacher is the work I did towards achieving the certificate.  The program is broad in its approach to understanding woven structure and in order to obtain certification, I was forced to weave things that I wouldn't have willingly done on my own.

Things requiring two shuttles, for instance.  (Because weaving with two shuttles pick and pick is three times slower than weaving with one.  Trust me on this.)

So I wove overshot, crackle, summer and winter, double weave, etc.  Since none of those samples was for sale, not being able to execute them as quickly as I was used to didn't matter so much.  They weren't production pieces, they were not (and never will be) for sale.  (Some have been gifted, but that's a different thing altogether!)

This morning I dragged the boxes with my GCW samples out and left Ruth to dig through them while I attended to some personal maintenance.

Now I need to press the creases out of them so good photos can be taken.

I knew I hung on to those samples for a reason.  I just had no idea at all, at all, that I would be attempting to write another book for which those samples would be, in a word, perfect.