Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Friends are those who, when you only see the darkness, will light a candle for you.  When beset by doubts, they will lift you up.  When you need a hug, will hold you in their thoughts if they cannot physically reach you.

To everyone who responded to my survey - thank you for responding.  You have lit enough candles to help me see my way...

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

No Perspective

As I mentioned previously, after wringing my brains out for the better part of four + years, off and on, I became completely devoid of of any kind of perspective on what I had done.

Today I took a wee look at the manuscript and - while there is still work to be done - and I'm not entirely sure - still - that it is going to be of use to people, I'm in way too deep to stop now.

Ms Editor has 'notes to self' sprinkled throughout and I can see where she is going with those notes.  However a book is a static thing and weaving is active.  How well will my words and the photos illustrate what I am trying to convey?

I just don't know.


However, I do have the DVD that was done for Interweave Press.*  I am hoping that between the book, the DVD, the video clips I've loaded onto You Tube and these blog posts, that people will be able to figure things out and find the best practices for their own approach to weaving.

Ms Editor has commented that it might be possible to embed live links to the You Tube videos for the pdf version and/or provide the URLs for the print version so that people can go look if they want to see the actions.

And this is one reason why I hired professional help.  I have learned over the years to do some things on the internet, but this sort of thing (embedding video links, publishing something like a book for on line purchase) is way above my pay grade!

Several people have asked about the print version of the book, what kind of format it will be.

We are looking at 8 x 10" page size and there are options for soft cover and hard cover.  Of course hard cover will cost more, but it might be possible to have three or four formats - a pdf/Kindle, soft cover, hard cover.

Each format would have it's own price of course and some time and effort will be required to figure it all out.  I think each format also needs it's own ISBN number and once the ms is 'done' and sent out to the review readers, perhaps there will be time to get those things sorted out.

As mentioned previously I have been convinced to offer a pre-publication opportunity.  It won't exactly be 'pre-publication' as much as it will be a chance for me to order in a significant number (thank you to all who took the time to respond on my survey) of printed books and have them shipped to me for signing.  I would then ship to those people who 'pre-ordered' from me.  Printing a larger number of books takes several weeks so they would be shipped out sometime in late January, early Feb, depending on when they arrive here.

There may also be an additional incentive to purchase directly from me in the pre-pub opportunity - still working on that.

Once the actual ms is completed and sent out for the reviewers, there may be more tweaks to be done based on feedback, plus I may have opinions/feedback of my own.  Apparently I have opinions.  I'm sure you'd never have guessed!

My flight to meet for the final view/editing is booked for Nov. 27, which was my father's birthdate.  We are still hoping to push publish on Dec. 2, which was my brother's birthdate.  That will give several days for the two of us to sit and review the entire thing and then...leap...

And before I forget -

One of the things I have been asked about is wholesale orders for shops.  Once I have final pricing figured out, I will work out a wholesale price for shops and they can order from me as part of the pre-pub order that I will be putting in.  Stay tuned...

Currently reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

* wait until a sale comes along, which they do especially around holiday time...

Monday, October 29, 2018

Thoughts on Publishing a Book

My little library with electric stapler used to staple the samples into Magic in the Water

One of the things I did in high school was take typing and a class called Office Practices.  The latter class looked at various things one might do if they were working in an office -  double entry bookkeeping, using a calculator (before there were digital ones), maintaining files, working on large projects that required research (pre-Google).  I also acted as editor of the school newspaper, writing and typing the content onto Gestetner stencils.

When I left high school I worked a variety of jobs, mostly office work because I had the training in terms of typing, filing, bookkeeping, developing a budget, reading financial statements and so on.

So when I became a weaver I already had experience in running big printing jobs, researching for big projects, knew how to touch type at a fairly decent correct words per minute.

It wasn't that big a stretch to begin developing class handouts for workshops and writing magazine articles.

Over the years, I was involved in conference planning and execution, flying all over the continent teaching, organizing materials and handouts for the classes.  In other words, developing and executing multiple Big Projects.  Frequently concurrently.

I started the Guild of Canadian Weavers master weaver program, where once again I had to think through and successfully execute the course requirements, then for the final level research and execute a paper.  In those days it was called a monograph.  (Several published books were developed out of the monograph master weavers wrote for the guild tests - Linda Heinrich, Jane Evans, and mine being just three.)

So it wasn't that huge a leap from monograph to deciding - at the urging of many - to turn my research on wet finishing into Magic in the Water.

As part of that publication I decided that the most valuable thing I could do was provide before and after samples to illustrate the change that happens when you do a+b+c and then wet finish it so that people could see and touch the loom state and the wet finished samples.  I felt that this would convince people of the necessity of doing wet finishing (and maybe help them understand why I use the term wet finishing instead of 'washing'.)

At the same time as I was planning, writing and weaving the samples I was also production weaving for a fashion designer as well as myself.

I will be completely honest.  Not only was it hard physically, it was hard financially and emotionally.

Eventually I stopped counting how much the creation of Magic actually cost because it had grown like the proverbial Topsy and to really know just how much it cost in terms of money was too scary.  By then I had invested too much to stop and denial was the only way forward.

My goal was 1000 copies.  I started with 20 projects, before and after samples.  Typical warp was 40 yards, 48" wide.  Eventually I would add some more as I tried to sell all of the copies.  In the end I sold about 900 complete (or enhanced) copies and 100 went as reduced project samples copies (or donations.)

When asked when my next book would be I would say "Not in this lifetime!"

And yet.  And yet.  Here I am.

This time the internet is a thing.  Websites for on line publishing are available.  The topic doesn't require actual samples, but colour photos are 'easy' and people can have a choice between pdf or print-on-demand.

The content of The Intentional Weaver is not meant to be a 'how to learn to weave' but tips on how to get better results by explaining - as best I can - the science of textile creation.  Of explaining how things work.  Whenever I have taught I find that if people are told why something is happening, they can better understand how to change what they are doing in order to get closer to what they are aiming for.  How to make intentional choices instead of just doing anything they can think of.  (Which isn't bad, just not my approach to textile design - others may have differing opinions.)

By helping people understand the mechanics of the equipment, the inherent fibre characteristics and how spinning can affect those characteristics, how the change in density will affect the function of the cloth and basic info on understanding weave structures, I hope to help people along the slippery end of the learning curve.  To make things less frustrating, more enjoyable.  By providing information on ergonomics, to reduce discomfort and even possible injury.

But most of all, I hope to encourage people to learn as much as they can and work with intention - if they feel that is appropriate to their practice.

I spent the better part of four years (in between various health crises - my own and my mother's) wringing my brain out onto the paper.  It was about this time last year (likely on the way to the cancer clinic to find out that yes, indeed, the cancer was back again) that I found myself in tears, completely unable to even look at the manuscript.  The decision to hire a professional editor was not made in haste - it was another level of expense I would have to build into the investment I would need to make into bringing this information to people.  But again - I had spent too much time and energy to give up when I was now close enough to see that I could not afford to stop, again.  As I had with each health crisis.  This was just one more and I didn't have to do it All By Myself - there were resources out there who could help.  And I needed the help.

So I turned the manuscript over to Ms Editor and I focused on weaving the textiles that I felt needed to be included to understand the weave structures I felt needed to be in the book.  And let the editor do her job.

The Intentional Weaver is, in it's way, almost as big a job as Magic.  There will not be samples, partly because I don't think I will live long enough to produce another Magic!  But I could write as completely and clearly as I could about the things that all weavers should (imho) need to know if they want to design and create their own unique textiles.

I have intimate knowledge about what goes into producing a book from a self-publishing point of view.  The concept through to planning, writing (editing, editing, editing for clarity), the photos required, the samples to illustrate, all the way through to marketing, shipping, so on and so forth.

I had originally vowed to not do any shipping this time because I was all too familiar with how much work shipping Magic was and with the website willing and able to do the shipping for me?  Why on earth would I do that.

Except people wanted to buy directly from me.

So I had a chat with Doug and he and I will do this as part of a pre-publication effort.  My editor has also encouraged me to do pre-publication offer as well as friends - it was not an easy decision, but with the support of Doug, we can do this together.

The website does no marketing as such for their authors, but they do provide marketing advice and some tools.  Since I have done this before - it is not my first ro-dey-o - I will likely put most of my effort into my known marketing connections.

I have asked several people if they will read the ms when it is ready and if they like it, provide a cover blurb.  Because it will be helpful if potential buyers have not just my perspective and word, but honest feedback from others.

For anyone not familiar with publishing, there is much work done that never sees the light of day.  People sometimes ask why books cost so much.  Why can't authors/teachers just share what they know?

Bottom line answer to that question is...authors/teachers have to eat, keep a roof over their heads, pay the electrical bill to keep their computers running, keep their vehicle running so they can take stuff to the post office, etc.  I don't know of a single weaving/spinning author/teacher who is independently wealthy.  So we have to charge for our work.  Because that is what writing/teaching is - work.  It is our work.  Our profession.

And as much as I would like to share for free?  I cannot.  You do have my word, however, that whatever price I put on it will be as low as possible.  The reality is that the retail price has to cover the investment I have and will make in terms of making the book, the percentage I will have to pay to for their service of providing bandwidth for the book, the print-on-demand price of them doing the printing, the financial fees (banking, Paypal, credit card fees) - and all those 'hidden' costs that businesses pay just to stay in business, like sales taxes (GST will be charged for in Canada purchases), accounting services, and so on.

This past weekend saw our first craft fair of the season.  I started the season low on inventory.  And while I didn't get as much weaving done as I'd hoped due to the fall and tearing up my knee pretty badly, I cannot focus on that.  There are two more shows to do.  I won't likely be able to get any weaving done now until after we are home from Calgary.  At which point it will be time to pack and leave for the final push for The Intentional Weaver.

We are still on track for Dec. 2.   And I fight against the doubt, uncertainty and fear of doing another book.  But my mother always called me stubborn.  And so I persist...because yes.  I am stubborn.  And I will do this thing.  I'm in too deep to stop now.  Sink or swim time...

Friday, October 26, 2018

Table of Contents

Page two of the Table of Contents.

If you heard a squee, that was me, downloading the professionally edited rough draft of The Book.

I immediately hied myself to Staples, where I printed it out in all it's full colour glory.  And gulped at the price.  It was a cool $125 to print it out, double sided, hole punched, full colour, currently 204 pages, 160+MB file.

Given that, plus we still don't know final cost via the website, my checking the prices of other weaving books...and I'm going to have to go higher than planned in terms of retail price. 

Ruth has done a great job of detailing the contents on the contents pages (there are three), which should make finding what people are looking for a lot easier.

There is still work to be done but at some point you just need to see it on the page, especially if the whole point is to offer print-on-demand.

We are more or less set up for the first craft fair of the season.  Taking a closer look at the binder full of pages is going to have to wait until next week. 

But it feels like a huge hurdle has been cleared.

Currently reading Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Swimming Upstream

A reminder today that even though it feels as though I'm swimming upstream, the stream will end, the deadlines will come - and go - that I can only do the best I can do.  And that I don't need to do it all by myself.

As women, conditioned to taking care of everyone else, we forget to take heed of the flight attendant - when the oxygen masks drop, put yours on first.  If you help everyone else before you help yourself, you won't be able to help anyone at all, very quickly.

One of the reasons I love the fibre community is that it is comprised of a large number of strong, capable women.  Women who take care of each other.  Who encourage and support each other.  We are very much a community.

Tomorrow will be fraught for me.  I have to get to the lab to do the blood work needed before my cancer clinic appointment.  I have a flu shot booked for 11:30.  And Doug will be unloading and starting the set up of my booth at the university by himself while I go to the clinic for my three month appointment and Rx renewal.

In terms of my health, well, what can I say.  I'm living with cancer.  For me it's a chronic condition, much like people living with other chronic conditions.  I have daily medication to take.  Medication which comes with a list of adverse effects that curtail my life.  On the other hand, I am living with cancer, not currently dying from it.  Truth be told, my cardiac issues will likely take me out before the cancer does.

The next six weeks are a pressure cooker of deadlines.  However, I have lived my life with a rolling thunder of deadlines so that is not new.  What is new is the constant feeling of being unable to do much.  Of feeling fragile.  Tired.

I would say I'm getting old, which is true, but most of my issues are related to adverse drug effects.  So I must daily remind myself that I am not lazy, I'm tired.  I must remind myself to be careful in the words I choose.  I am not a slug, I am resting.  I am not giving up, I am rationing my energy.

I choose to encourage, support and be a cheerleader for others.  I recognize that I am now old enough to mentor younger people.  I have done enough, seen enough, traveled enough that I can begin to step aside and let those with more energy step up.

Wayne Dyer talked about the stages humans go through.  Mentoring was one that he felt was perhaps the most valuable.  So I choose to embrace that role.  Which is one reason why I am so determined to get the book out into the wider world.  So that those who find it useful, will be helped.

As always, Weave Like a Pirate - Accept the things I share, Adapt to make them more appropriate for you, or Reject as being not helpful.  AAR.

But most of all, I embrace my friends who have helped me in getting the book to this point.  I literally could not have done it without you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


One of the most difficult things about writing a book - any book - is the fear.

Will readers be disappointed?  Will I deliver content that they want to read?  Will they be satisfied with the price they have paid for the book?  Will they tell their friends it's good...or bad?

I am not alone in feeling this.  I follow a number of authors on line and most of them, in one way or another, have to grapple with this fear of failure.

A work of fiction takes - typically - a year, sometimes longer.  Technical books can take a lot longer.  A friend was involved in writing a textbook for higher mathematics on a rather esoteric aspect of the science and it took them (there were three as I recall) three years from conception to publication.  She got the first actual in print books last month.

An archeologist I follow on Twitter is in the process of writing a book on latest developments in her science and it took her a year to write it with publication date next August (last I heard).

It's been a while since I've purchased a weaving book and when I went looking realized that publishing a book in such a small market means that prices simply have to be higher.  As I've gone through the publishing website crunching numbers I was trying very hard to keep the price as low as possible, but realized that it was going to take forever to pay off the cost of publishing the book. Feedback from people who have commented here and on Facebook has encouraged me to go a little higher.

But every time I notch the price up...the fear returns.  Will I price myself completely out of the market?  Will early purchasers be disappointed?  Will they tell their friends to not bother?  Sell their copies at huge discounts, just to get rid of it?

Ms Editor says she is very near completion of the ready-for-review version of the ms.  We have asked three people to read it and - if they feel it worth it - provide a cover blurb.  Another has agreed to read and provide an introduction.

My friends have kept me going forward on this project, helped me push through the fear.

And you, gentle readers, have responded to the survey in a way that a) warms my heart and b) ramps up the fear.  Will you all be disappointed?  Or will you find it helpful?  Only time will tell...

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


The photo is a scanning electron microscope image of a single silk filament.  It is finer than a hair and deceptively strong.

Our world, our society is made up of strands of connections in so many ways.  None of us is singular.  We all interact with others, sometimes forming close bonds with them, sometimes lives becoming twined with another.  As the silk filaments are grouped together, they grow first into a yarn, then several of these yarns may be twisted into something larger - and even stronger - than just itself, all on it's own.

Well, my project has done much the same thing.

It started with an idea.  An idea that grew and expanded, originally from fewer than 100 pages to now?  Potentially over 200.  It has grown with the input and energy of others.  First my alpha readers who gave me crucial feedback.  And I continued to add information as I thought of other things that really needed to be between the covers of one book.

Much of what I know I have learned by trying things.  Sometimes I failed.  And rather spectacularly at that.  But each failure was just another step on the journey of learning.

I always thought of Edison who, when asked how it felt to fail to find a filament for the light bulb more than 600 times responded that he had not failed!  He had found 600 plus ways of NOT making a light bulb filament!

Today I worked on the bibliography.  Ms Editor has already begun pulling book titles out of the manuscript but that was just the tip of the iceberg.  So today I rummaged through my library and tried to format the information in a way that would cause the least amount of work for her.  I'm not sure I entirely understood her directions, but I worked on it for nearly 90 minutes and ended up with another page - more with the actual font that will be used.

So the book grew by at least another two pages, just today.

And that didn't include any magazine articles, DVD's or other media.  Which I am still thinking about and may - or may not - include.

However, when I talk about the input others have had into this project?  I must also acknowledge all the people I have learned from.  All the class instructors, the authors, the workshop/seminar leaders, the people who exhibited their textiles at conferences and who talked with me over meals.  My friends who contributed projects for illustration and inspiration.

All of those people are also a part of this project.

Learning a craft is seldom done without some sort of input from others.  And with their contribution to my foundation of knowledge, this publication is growing.  Just like Topsy.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Six Weeks

The deadlines have been rolling by and it suddenly occurred to me today that it is (gasp!) six weeks to anticipated lift-off aka publication day.

(looks around desperately for a paper bag to breathe into...)

With that realization now a conscious thought instead of an 'in denial' thought, marketing the book has been much on my mind.

I know a lot of people are like me - they want to have technical books on real, actual paper.  I know this because about 60% (or more - I've lost track) of the sales of Magic in the Water via the Blurb website have been print-on-demand rather than the pdf download.

As I wove this afternoon, I thought about that fact and also that I will have a booth at the conference where I could sell actual print copies.  The conference will have an author signing event, so they could even get a copy signed.

Then I thought about all the people (I hope!) who might want a paper copy but won't be able to attend the conference.  And I thought that I could possibly order in enough copies to sell actual books - signed for those who want that - starting in January.  Because I rather suspect with uploading the file on Dec. 2 that it might be impossible to get printed copies in any quantity prior to Christmas.

So I'm going to set up a poll (if I can remember how) and see how many people might be interested - sight unseen, which I know is a bit of a leap of faith - in either picking up a copy at the conference, or who would be willing to pay shipping on a signed copy in the new year.

I'm getting very nervous about this whole project.  I know there is still much work to be done, but I've already bought my tickets to go to my editor to do the final edits.  So I'm sweating bullets until I hear she has finished and turned the ms over to the beta readers who have agreed to read it and see if they feel ok with providing a cover blurb.

(where is that paper bag...)

Saying you are interested doesn't mean you are committing to actually buying.  I'm just trying to gauge interest and see if it is feasible to bring in some copies to sell...

OK - I have spent 20 minutes trying to get a poll set up.  The gadget Blogger used to provide apparently no longer works, and the alternate poll site doesn't seem to want to open an account for me to set one up and embed into my blog.

Sooooo....I tried several different things and finally found a site I could navigate without spitting nails.  



I took a 14 week course on marketing back in the 1990s.  One reason I took it is because I'm not - never have been - good at blowing my own horn.  I am an introvert, plus I was taught that 'ladies' never put themselves 'forward'.  Conditioning that reinforced my introverted side of not wanting to be in the limelight.

The very first week the presenter defined marketing as the simple act of sharing information.  Suddenly marketing started to make sense to me.

With the rise of the internet my introvert self has had a much easier time in terms of 'sharing' or marketing myself.  Because of course my products are an extension of myself.  And since my stated aim right from the get-go was to sell my products, the job isn't done until the products have been purchased.

'Selling' a conference is no different.  It is a product, a commodity, that we hope people will purchase.  But a conference is so much more than merely a product.  A conference is also an experience.  An opportunity for like minded people to network.  To share their knowledge, to learn from each other.  It is a chance to receive valuable feedback from others who know something about what you are trying to accomplish.  A chance to shine in the exhibits.  To talk with others where you don't have to justify your passion.

Now that the bulk of the planning has been done, it is time to start marketing the conference.  Based on the information the instructors have sent, I have been first drawing up a schedule that I hope will allow people to attend seminars but also visit the exhibits.  I have also been receiving requests for meeting space for special interest groups.  And I have been working on blog posts which will be posted on the 'official' conference blog over the coming weeks.

Because I am heading into craft fair season, and even though I'm not doing as many shows as I used to, my current health issues have made my energy scarce.  Blogger allows me to write posts and schedule them for publication later.

So far I have 5 posts scheduled which will go live on Saturdays over the coming weeks.  I will continue to share information as I can get it done and scheduled.  If you aren't following the conference blog, or the conference Facebook page, those are probably the easiest way to stay in touch.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Passion - a long ramble

As we continue to work on the conference I have had time to think about this community of textile creators.

One of the things that appeals about conferences is the opportunity to meet other like minded people in real life.  To have actual conversations as we fondle each others cloth.  Exchange the 'weaver's handshake' (gently rubbing the cloth between your fingers).

What brings us together is our passion for textiles.  Our curiosity about how threads are made, then turned into fabric.

Material used to be a trade good.  Anyone interested in how this can play out, Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Series has one book of the series where an expedition to Russia is mounted with cloth in the hold to be traded for Russian furs.  In North America, Hudson's Bay blankets were traded for beaver pelts.  And so on.

Human beings have been playing with 'string' since the dawn of humanity.  Elizabeth Wayland Barber has a number of books about historic textiles and the role they played in human development and history.  The first one I read was Women's Work, the first 20,000 years.  Since that book was published the date for using yarn/textiles has been pushed back even further.

Creating cloth is a labour intensive process.  While there is no need for people to create their own as industry more than provides all the cloth humans need, there are other reasons for people to continue to keep the craft alive.

Research is showing more and more that people who make things stay 'healthier' than people who don't.  (Can't find citations at the minute but I'm sure they are easy to find with a quick Google search)

There is the simple pleasure of feeling the yarn running through your hands.  There is the meditative quality of creating one stitch, throwing the shuttle for one pick, one after the other.  I use weaving as a working meditation.  Weaving has helped me deal with stress, been instrumental in recovering from injury and also helped to pay the bills.  Spinning I do just for the fun of it and because I enjoy blending different colours to make unique yarn I then knit with.

Not everyone wants to make their textile practice a 'job', however, but there are plenty of other reasons to make cloth.

You can go right from the sheep's back or garden plot to ensure the fibres you use are appropriate for the quality of cloth you want to make.  You can dye it (before or after spinning) to get exactly the colours you want to work with.  You can use fibre prep and spinning techniques to make yarn with exactly the qualities you want.  You can then use knitting, crocheting, nalbining, weaving, etc., to make the cloth you want for the purpose you wish to fulfill.

Any hand made textile is slow cloth.  Even if you are uber efficient, you will still be vastly slower in making that cloth than industry.  Working ergonomically means you don't stress your body while doing it.  (the side benefit of ergonomics is increased efficiency - just saying)

In order to do all of those things, you must have a passion for it.  If you don't have that passion, it's just another kind of 'work'.

People who don't share that passion with me just don't understand why I do what I do.  Case in point - I have been doing a local show since before I actually started weaving.  I have missed just one year due to health issues.  After about 20 years of setting up my booth and offering my hand woven cloth for sale, some people would see me in my booth, take a second look and say "oh!  you're still weaving!"   "Yes" I would say, "I am."   I can't tell you how many times the response to that was "Well, I suppose it keeps you busy."   The first time that happened I was flummoxed.  I stammered out that yes, it did keep me very busy.  After 40 years or so of doing this I don't get that comment very often any more, thankfully. 

But yes, being a professional hand weaver has, indeed, kept me very busy.  I have drawn from my passion to work to deadline, keep coming up with new ideas for designs, burnt the midnight oil to get things ready for shows and other deadlines, like my publications, traveled far and wide to teach, woven for other weavers. 

Weaving for other weavers?  Why yes.  Yes, I do.  Because they know that I will be able to meet deadlines while they work on other stuff.  So yes, I wove for 9 years for a fashion designer.  I have woven for other weaver/designers on special projects.  I have written articles and woven projects for publication in magazines, beginning with The Weaver's Journal, SS&D, Heddle, the Ontario Handweavers Guild 'newsletter', Handwoven and others.  And I have self published books, partly because I had information I wanted to share.  I want to help make the creation of textiles less confusing, more interesting - for those who share my passion.

And so I press on with getting a second(!) book to the 'printer'.  At this point I have turned the ms over to a professional editor that I trust, in no small measure because she also spins and weaves, and am letting her do the job of the final polishing.  Because at this point and some nearly six years of working on it I have zero perspective left.

I told a friend this morning that I had wrung my brains out and onto the paper.  I have tried to cover all the 'it depends' issues that weavers face when they set about to make a textile.  I cannot tell them what to do in every circumstance so I have tried to give the background information that is needed to make good choices.  What anyone does with that information will be up to them.

It is actually painful to me to see weavers in photos sitting too low, inviting injury, working in such a way that can lead to injury.  Choosing inappropriate yarn for the project they want to create.  Not understanding the factors that need to be considered.  That every quality of a cloth is on a sliding scale.  That you can take one yarn and create a library of different qualities of cloth.

Over the years I have settled on a range of yarns that I trust to make 'good' cloth.  My palette of yarn choices is relatively small and I work within the quality that those yarns will produce.  It is just a very thin slice of the weaving 'pie'.  On the other hand, I have experimented with a lot of other yarns so I have a pretty good understanding of a wide range of different yarns. 

Someone recently commented that putting on lots of short warps is beneficial to a new weaver.  I agree with that because while weaving is not particularly difficult, it is complex.  The processes, the equipment, the choices of yarns can be very confusing.  By dressing the loom with shorter warps and doing as many warps as possible until the process of dressing the loom is understood and becomes second nature will be beneficial.  Learning how to think about your results analytically will help make appropriate choices in the future.

Weaving, especially as a hobby, should not be painful.  It should not be frustrating.  It should not be cause for tangles, tears and blue language.  Understanding the principles will help make weaving much easier, and vastly more pleasant.

Understanding the mechanics of the craft, including the equipment, will make the whole activity much more enjoyable and allow for full range of the passion of creating textiles to develop.

So I have been thinking a lot about the instructors we have lined up for the conference.  And I'm thinking that I need to sit down with them and invite them to share some of their passion with people considering attending the conference.  If I can find time when we can do that, I will - hopefully - begin writing up profiles of them for the conference blog.

Because the best thing about a conference is meeting - in real life - others as passionate as we are and having face to face conversations and give each other the 'weaver's handshake'...

Thursday, October 18, 2018


In the most recent issue of Handwoven, I have an article about Bronson Lace

One of the things I did was to use two different colours, one in the warp, one in the weft.  They are closely related, and the difference in colour really doesn't show in the photos they included in the article, so I've posted a close up here so that people can see how the two closely related but slightly different values look.

The pale value will 'advance' while the darker value will 'recede'.  Therefore the centre block will have a somewhat three dimensional look to it - subtle, but there.  Closer, the difference is much more obvious.

This is something that weavers can do to make their textiles more visually interesting.  Rather than use exactly the same colour warp and weft, two slightly different values of the same hue can provide more depth to the cloth.

Using two - or more - hues of the same value (blues to greens, perhaps), well mixed will also make a cloth have more life to it than one with only one.

Quilters have a saying that colour gets all the credit while value does all the work.  The phrase I use is that value is more important than hue.  Which is really just a different way of saying much the same thing.

If you find the whole issue of colour confusing, you might like to sign up for Tien Chiu's new on-line colour class.

Tien has been working hard to try to help people who are not intuitive colourists understand how colour works within a woven textile, with hints and tips for how to combine colours for effective textiles.

Tien is teaching a two day workshop and seminars at our conference next year.

Currently reading Red Sister by Mark Lawrence.  First in a trilogy.  Looking forward to part 2 - Grey Sister.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


While I was out of town, total page views of this blog rolled over the 1.5M mark.

Several friends have asked me that, now I'm 'officially' semi-retired (if I keep saying it often enough, I might actually come to believe it?) what's next?

Well, frankly, I don't know.

So, what does 'semi-retired' actually look like to me?

It means I no longer try to import and sell my own hand dyed yarns.  Stopped doing that a few years ago when I had to decide if I imported more or just dyed what I had and either sold it or wove it up myself.  In the end, I wound up selling some, but weaving most of it.  I still have some left - too much to give away/donate, too little to try to weave it.  It may show up in my 'worthy cause' shawls that I've been knitting and donating to fund raisers for organizations/causes I feel will benefit by selling or auctioning the shawls.  (The latest batch will be going to my local guild to sell at the craft fair and/or the guild room sale, this autumn/winter.)

It means I no longer take booths at fibre festivals and try to earn some money by selling weaving yarns.  Gave that up soon after I gave up the dyeing.

It means that I have been cutting back on the craft fairs that I do.  This year, two local, one in Calgary.  Plus the guild room sale where I can deeply discount discontinued lines.  I may do Calgary again next year because the timing of that show means we get a week to recover from the two local ones that are back to back weekends.  My ultimate goal is to stop doing any shows but the local ones by 2020 when I turn 70.

It means that the workshop and guild program I just did is intended to be the last guild event(s) I do.  I will continue to teach via the Olds College for a while yet, but that all depends on whether or not they want me as much as whether or not I can do it.  But I want to save whatever teaching energy I have for the program.

Now, I may, from time to time, offer a workshop with the local guild.  No traveling involved.  Which means no trying to find two or three guilds to form a tour, no financing the cost of the trip for several months (in some cases), no stress of worrying if I'm going to make my flights.  Hopefully no more face plants hurrying to the next gate.

I may from time to time, accept a booking with a conference or other event if it suits me to travel to that area and if I can combine the trip with visiting with friends.  In other words, a true working vacation. 

And of course there is still the conference here which is taking up a rather lot of my time and will continue to do so from January to the end of June.

This autumn I had another article in Handwoven.  I participated in two "Look Books" with Interweave Press.  I think I will have an article in SS&D's winter issue (no email saying what I sent was rejected, so...)

I continue to work on The Intentional Weaver - Ms Editor requested more text just before I left for Vancouver Island and after falling and hurting my knee badly enough I could not weave, there was time to provide the additional text.  We are still on track for publication Dec. 2.  We'd better be - my tickets are already purchased so I can meet with her and we can do the final edits and polishing.

There is still way too much yarn in my stash, so semi-retirement is going to look a lot like stash reduction continued. 

However, I may also work on the part of weaving that attracted me in the first place - looking at the different ways thread can be made to move through a textile to produce design.

I may feel inspired to write more articles for publication.

I may just find that sitting in the recliner with my feet up reading some of the heaps of books on my hearth looks mighty fine!

I may find that making jigsaw puzzles, sipping tea suits me down to a T.

What I will continue to do is to be as supportive of weavers as I can be.  That means amplifying their publications (Heddlecraft) or on-line classes (Jane Stafford's on-line guild, Janet Dawson's Craftsy class, Tien Chiu's on-line class on colour in weaving) and so on.

I will continue to encourage weavers to learn as much as possible about the craft, either by answering emailed questions, or who knows?  More small publications such as the A Good Yarn series.  I think I still have card stock for stapling samples to and the electric stapler with staples.

But all of those decisions are going to have to wait.  They can simmer on the back burner while I deal with the next 8 or so months of Big Projects - the craft fair season, getting the book published, the conference over and done with.

But one thing I can promise - I will no doubt continue to use this forum to explore my own thoughts on all things weaving.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll make 2M?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

That’s a Wrap

The end of the day, the workshop nearly done.  

The topic was lace weaves but we (I) wandered far from the topic on more than one occasion.  Because weaving encompasses so much more than just getting the threads woven.  So I did my usual soap box routines...ergonomics, position and posture, wet finishing.  Because these things all affect either our ability to keep weaving, or the integrity of the cloth.  Because it is all of a piece.  

This was the last guild workshop I intend to do.  It was bittersweet.  The Weavers taking the workshop ranged from fairly new to weaving for a long time, per usual.  But they were all of good cheer and we laughed and learned.  And I almost (almost!) started to regret my decision.  

It was the best kind of workshop and I will miss the experience.  But having limited energy, my resolve to focus on the Olds classes tapped me on the shoulder to remind me that this is where I need to place my time and attention.  

Tomorrow is the guild program which will be on wet finishing.  Someone asked if it would be a repeat of what I had just done.  I assured her I had plenty more to say.  Someone asked if I had more stories.  Oh my, do I have stories!   I hardly scraped the surface of the stories.  

Tuesday I go home again.  I have a big stack of work that needs doing.  I have a knee that isn’t healed yet so the one thing I won’t be doing is weaving on the small loom.  

Bottom line is, I have enough inventory for the first show.  Truth be told, I probably have enough inventory for all three shows.  

So I am not going to fuss about weaving too much when I get home.  

I will do what I can.  I will try not to regret what I cannot.  

It is time to step aside and let another generation take over.  

It’s a wrap.

Monday, October 8, 2018


This weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada.

While there are many (too many!) things that still need improving in this world, it is always a good idea to stop for a moment and recognize that there are still things to be grateful for.

Randomly opened a book of quotes titled A Grateful Heart and this one was revealed:

Give us thankful this the season of Thy Thanksgiving.  May we be thankful for health and strength, for sun and rain and peace.  Let us seize the day and the opportunity and strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments but by its possibilities, and let us ever remember that true gratitude and appreciation shows itself neither in independence nor satisfaction but passes the gift joyfully on in larger and better form.

W. E. B. Dubois.

While life is never always perfect, all of the time, and we may not have everything on that list of Debois', it has been my journey through life to try to find the silver linings in the clouds, to recognize that I have some of those items most of the time, and to be grateful for those that I have, while not moaning (too loudly) about those that I do not.

There are days when that is far easier said than done.  The past week has been one of those times.  The past year has been particularly challenging for a number of reasons, and falling (twice!) was, well, rude.

On the other hand, all of the medical people I dealt with in the aftermath have been absolutely wonderful.  From the clerk at the walk in clinic who sent me home to wait my turn instead of keeping me in the packed waiting room, the doctor who carefully tended the wounds, the wound clinic staff.  And my knee is getting better.  I can walk more easily, with less pain.

I was even able to change my seat selection on both flights tomorrow from a (cramped!) window seat to one in the aisle so that I can stretch my leg out when appropriate.  Both flights are short - 60+ minutes on the first, about 50 on the second.  I have long layovers both going and coming home, so no need to hustle my butt to make the connection.

Choosing to not weave allowed me to rest and let my body heal while working on conference and business administrivia.

During this season of thanksgiving, I was reminded of some of the wonderful people in my life as I grew up.  National Teacher's Day reminded me of the gift of teachers who were, by and large, really great teachers.  I learned so much from them, some of it even having to do with the curriculum!  But also how to think about other people and their experiences.  Critical thinking.  Recognizing emotional trigger words.  And how to stop myself from becoming ensnared by people who were trying to influence me and bend my thinking to their agenda.

I remembered to be thankful for many friends and acquaintances who have enriched my life in ways I could not list as it would take too long.  Just know that I value all of you in my life, whether it is in person, or on line.

Professional people have helped me develop as a weaver, teacher, business person by helping me wend my way through the learning curve every time I tried something new.  Authors have shared their knowledge in books and articles, allowing me to spring board from their information to asking 'what if...' and carry on in my own journey of learning.

Authors who write fiction have helped me see the viewpoint of others with different experiences, and authors who write memoirs have shared their experiences allowing me a glimpse into their reality.

Gratitude for my family, both near and far, who helped shaped me into the person I am today, both by how they treated me and the gift of their DNA.

Gratitude to the partner in my life, especially the past few days, helping me ease through the daily chores, driving me to appointments, and so on.  And so much more.

So no, things aren't perfect.  There will always be more that needs to be 'fixed', improved.  There will be things like falls, injuries and general health issues - more as the years go on.  Probably my biggest challenge right now is to work out what my new 'normal' is going to look like.  What I can realistically expect that I can do.  Hobbling around for the past few days has been difficult, but also a time to think.  I have been trying to do that for several years, but my inner 34 year old keeps telling my 'in real life' exterior 68 year old that I can do more than that body really wants to do, given the past 10 or so years. 

On the other hand, I am still here, unlike so many.  I get more chances to do things, albeit more slowly than I am used to, but still.  The rest of my immediate genetic family is gone.  The twig of this branch of DNA stops here, with me. 

But hopefully not for a while yet.

In the meantime, I remind myself to be grateful.  I did not break a bone.  I just tore up some skin, which will grow back.  More slowly than a few decades ago, but it will heal.

I can still go on my trip.  I will have a few days on the island before I have to teach.  By then I might be able to walk a lot more easily - today is already better than yesterday.  My hands are coming along and I can knit.  I have packed some simple knitting and a stack of tea towels that I will be able to hem. 

And I have books to read.

When I add it all up, the check marks in the positive column are far more numerous than the ones in the other.

Sending my best wishes to everyone, on this day that reminds us to find gratitude.  In spite of everything.

Currently reading Red Sister by Mark Lawrence.

Sunday, October 7, 2018


Autumn is well advanced for us now.  The glorious fall colours are mostly over their prime.  Now comes the interlude between that burst of colour and the coming winter season.

This morning it is raining.  A steady, gentle rain, welcome because summer had so little of it.  But it brings a chill that seeps into the bones.

My plans were to weave up as much as I could before I left on Tuesday, but the fall I took on Wednesday has nixed that idea.

Two falls in five weeks has shaken me up well and truly and while I could have woven on the AVL, my hands were also torn up and my neck and shoulders were tight and sore.  Weaving on the AVL would have been possible...but over all a bad idea.  My body needed time to rest and heal.

Instead I have been vegging and doing not much of anything, trying to keep my foot elevated as much as possible. 

On the other hand (heh) there was time to work on things I had been putting off - my sales taxes, conference budgeting, and today I printed out the awards from the conference last year and will work on a list of potential awards for ours.

Things are getting better.  I have a bag of dressings to keep my injury clean and protected and a follow up appointment with the wound clinic the day after I return home.  But there doesn't appear to be any infection developing.  If it does I will go to a clinic and get medication.  My immune system is compromised and I cannot ignore infections.

It is Thanksgiving weekend here.  I thanked the nurses for working the holiday.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Pride Goeth...

Two face plants in 5 weeks.  I think there is a message in there somewhere.

It looks bad, and it is, but mostly because my immune system is compromised due to the cancer drug and the medical professionals looking after me are taking every precaution.

My knee is scraped up pretty seriously and the heels of my hands are tender.  So - all that weaving I was going to get accomplished before I left for the Island? 

Not gonna happen.

OTOH, I have administrivia for both the conference and my business to get done, so yesterday I worked on the budget for the instructors and today I will be working on the awards list for suggestions to give to the guild assisting us with that part of the conference.

And I will just ignore the fact that I won't be getting much else done for a while.

I go back Sunday morning for the dressing to get changed and then Tuesday I leave for Courtenay.  I'll be asking to pre-board.  Because steps are difficult and I'm walking sloooowly.  But I also have a few days to rest and recuperate before the workshop.  And I'll be staying with friends who I know will give me good hospitality.

But I also think I need to stop and think about my life and why the universe seems insistent that I really must slow down!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

In Spite of Everything

I use this blog as a diary.  A place to work through my thoughts - which can oftentimes be quite scattered and need to be corralled.  A way to sort through the emotions of a situation to discover what I actually think about something.

This summer has been...challenging.  In addition to the general stress of living and trying to keep my business running, there is the on-going struggle with adverse drug effects.  Then nearly four weeks of smoke pall.  I'm allergic to smoke and was aware that I was struggling with that, but not how much until I left for a couple of weeks and my body was able to breathe again without also inhaling what is, for me, a fairly significant allergen.

The drug I'm on has a list of adverse effect and I am having a lot of them, the most annoying one the sinus drainage, the second most annoying one (the two flip-flop on the list daily, sometimes hourly) is the feeling of being too tired to do much of anything.

I told a friend last night that once again I am in the position of trading speed for longevity.  Because the drug is working to keep the cancer under control.

Over the past few evenings I have been reading some of my posts from 2013 and into 2014.  When the hope and optimism was high.  I was in remission from the cancer, didn't need any drugs beyond the small amount of blood pressure medication I was on.

Until the wheels fell off late 2013 and in June of 2014 I was informed I was on the list to become a member of the 'zipper' club.

It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster as I re-lived those months.  And those emotions.   The high of being in remission.  The low of facing major surgery.

Well, I made it through all that and once again thought it would be smooth sailing.

And here I am.  Still.  So many aren't.  Because during that time period several people I know lost their battles with cancer.  But here I am.  Benefiting from modern day science/research, taking what my oncologist called a 'miracle' drug.  A drug that targets just the diseased cells and leaves the healthy ones alone.  I only have to deal with a list of annoying adverse effects.  A trade off I am (sort of) willing to deal with.  Because what is my choice?  To stop taking the drug and let the cancer have it's way with my body.  And I'm not ready to let that happen, yet.

So in spite of everything - the stress, the big projects (when will I learn?), the tired, the constant sinus drainage (and all the other adverse effects which are merely annoying), I managed to keep weaving.

Yes, I had to work hard to make myself go to the loom.  Yes, I was less productive than I would have liked to be.  But I did it.  And I have a respectable amount of textiles woven, some of them ready to be tagged/priced and put into inventory.

The above photo isn't all that I've done this summer and into September.  There are shawls as well, and tea towels, and table runners.

I will be going into the craft fair season with a reasonable amount of inventory.  The conference is coming together.  The Book is being worked on.

And I keep going.  In spite of everything...

Monday, October 1, 2018


The colour of these shawls is more green than grey but apparently my ipad didn't 'read' it that way.

When I fringe twist, I don't hemstitch on the loom.  I just weave in 'waste' yarn to keep things in place until I can get the twisting done.

After wet finishing, I then trim the frayed bit off to make the fringe look neater.  The untrimmed fringe is above, the trimmed below.

Doug got a lot of pressing done yesterday so today I'm trying to 'finish' as many things as I can because he needs to start packing the inventory up into shipping boxes for transport to our first show - Artisans of the North at UNBC Oct. 27/28.  The following weekend will be Studio Fair Nov. 2, 3, 4.  Both of those shows are here at home.  We then have a week to prepare for the show in Calgary - Art Market, Nov. 15-18.  The 'final' show of the year will be the guild room sale.  This is where I will deeply discount end-of-line designs, 'seconds', as well as offer some current work at 'regular' price.

In between Calgary and the guild room sale I will head off to visit with my editor to do the final line edits, make sure everything is as 'perfect' as we can make it and then - deep breath - push publish.

Once I'm home from that trip I have promised to weave some more samples for Tien Chiu's on line class 

In the meantime work on the conference continues.  We are still looking at opening registration sometime in January.