Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A Room for Everyone

I've spent the past two days - much of it, anyway - working on the room assignments.

I had done the initial room assignments based on what we *thought* would be popular, with high numbers of students, and using the largest rooms for those teachers/topics, then assigning the rest into the smaller rooms based on how many I thought would be interested.

Turns out I was right for some, wrong for others.

Not to mention I found out yesterday - after spending nearly three hours on the task - that one of the larger rooms I had been counting on was no longer available.

The good news is that one of the rooms that I thought was smaller was actually larger than I thought it was.

By the time I found that out I had mush for brains, decided that sinus congestion, fatigue and trying to sort out a complex scheduling situation were not compatible and declared myself done for a Monday.

This morning I still have sinus congestion but had at least slept a reasonable amount, and started again.  Being fresher, I was able to see my way through the morass of information and two hours later I have an updated room schedule.

A couple of the classes might be a bit full, but hopefully not uncomfortably so.  And we're all friends, right?  We're all adults and we know how to play well together, right? 

We did have to cancel a few things due to low enrollment but those people affected have been switched to other seminars/workshops.  And there is one last opportunity to change things during check in.

Several workshops/seminars are full, but many still have room for more, should anyone suddenly find themselves able to attend. 

Our web mistress will be updating the website shortly with the cancellations.  We have had a few more vendors join us for the Market Hall, we have around $5000 worth of awards for people registered for the conference entering either the exhibits and/or fashion show.

Instructors are booking their travel and I will be letting the hotel know when to expect the arrival of those staying at the Coast Hotel.  (Locals will be sleeping in their own beds.)

We are officially 6 weeks (SIX WEEKS!) away from the conference.  Working on this for five years means a kind of surreal sense that it is still a long ways away - but it's not.

I will be spending a lot of time at the desktop generating lists - materials we are to provide, audio visual we are to provide, class lists, room listings for each building so registrants can find the room they are looking for (with floor plan so they know where the room actually is), so on and so forth.

I will also be writing up the fashion show commentary, arranging for the numbers for the models to carry and the printed program.

Through all of these details, I keep thinking about how organizing a conference is similar to designing a textile.  Lots of details.  Lots of considerations.  Lots of confusion.  Lots of complexity.  At times feeling like it will never work out.  But often times, how stepping away from the problem will bring clarity, and then?   Next thing you know, it's done.

I think there are lots of reasons that making textiles is so frequently used as a metaphor for life.  Look how many 'fairy' tales there are with spinning and weaving are profiled - Sleeping Beauty, Rumplestiltskin, The Swan Princes, and many, many more.

Monday, April 29, 2019


photo taken at the Ancient Forest 

...I've had a few...

I have several friends dealing with serious health issues while I keep being dragged down by some sort of virus I caught two weeks ago.

This morning I finally feel like I might have come through the worst, but feeling stuffed up, drippy nose, mild sinus headache, tired, achy, has left me with little energy to weave.  So I haven't touched the loom in far too long.

On the other hand, spring seems to be arriving and with it, another milestone...six weeks until the conference begins.

I am sorry I won't be heading out to Cape Breton for teaching, but with conference work ramping up, I'm also kind of relieved I won't be away for three weeks.  Or even one, if the class in Tenino had gone ahead. 

Sometimes the universe really does know what is 'best'...

Homework from Olds students came in a flurry in April and I hear there are a few more boxes to come in May.  I always tell students to aim for January, but they likely won't meet that.  I asked them to not send homework in May, but, here we are, the end of April with more to come.

All of that is to say, I find myself struggling to find the energy to do much of anything while in the back of my mind I know one friend is in hospice and her journey will soon end.  Conference details eat up whatever mental functionality I might have.  The loom calls to me and I ignore it.  I'm so close to finishing that warp, with the new one crunched, ready to go on.  Four more towels to finish - and I am going to continue to ignore it today and maybe tomorrow, too.

In May I also go get my blood checked to see how my cancer is doing, so the emotional roller coaster carries on.  Mostly I can ignore it, and really I don't expect to hear that I need to decide on treatment - yet.  But I've been so sick, it also makes me wonder about the cancer...

Some of the student work has been exceptional, which gives me hope for the future of the craft and lifts my spirits.  Gloria Steinem has said something about passing the torch - I paraphrase - no, I'm not passing the torch, I'm lighting more torches because the only way to improve things is by shining a bigger light, so I'm keeping my torch, thank you very much, and lighting up more.  I feel very much like Ms Steinem right now, hoping to light more torches.

I have reached the slogging through details part of conference organization.  I'm going to deal with a few things I need to do for myself, clear the dining room table, concentrate on the nit-picky job of reviewing room assignments, then start working on what each instructor needs in those rooms.

It's not the kind of thing I enjoy doing, but I'm just enough of a control freak that I will do it to make sure the teachers have what they need to do their jobs.

So I will be making lists, checking them twice (thrice, as many times as necessary).  At least this cold has ebbed enough I can find a couple of neurons to rub together.

But I am also at the 'what on earth was I thinking when I agreed to organize a conference' stage of conference planning.

So, yes, I have a few regrets...

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Stars and Roses

It is a source of continual amazement to me how things interconnect in weaving.

One of the things that students study in level two of the Olds program is overshot and one aspect of that weave structure is how the central motif of so many overshot designs are called 'stars'.  More fascinatingly, how 'stars' can be turned into 'roses'.

Now I'm not a big fan of weaving with two shuttles so I never did do much overshot over the years.  But as part of my master certificate from the Guild of Canadian Weavers I had to learn how overshot worked, and do the star to rose conversion.

It can be difficult to tell them apart, but once seen, cannot be unseen.

In the above draft, I was playing around with a traditional draft from Pat Hilts work on the old weaving draft book about Gebrochene twills.

Over the past few years I have been using overshot motifs as the starting place for weaving tea towels, converting the four shaft motifs of several popular overshot threadings into twill blocks.  I have 16 shafts, so I can do that.  It was, in fact, this very book that showed me the link - it has the 'Wandering Vine" or "Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws" motif rendered in a twill block version.

Ah-ha! I said to myself.  If it can be done with that motif, it can be done with any four shaft overshot motif.

Paging through the book late the other night, I spotted the above threading showing both star and rose motif in the same cloth.  I thought it would look great on the 2/16 cotton warp with the singles linen weft I need to use up, so fiddled with it and came up with the above version.

If you can't see the two different motifs, then I direct you to look at the top right hand corner where the border turns into the motif.  The star sits first, then the rose and then they alternate across from right to left, ending with a rose.

The stars all connect along the twill line.  The roses are rounded and look like a flower.  (A pansy to me, but also a wild rose.)

Most of the 'work' that I did with this threading was to determine the number of repeats I wanted, fit the borders in to 'frame' the body of the towel, fiddle with the tie up. I don't claim this as original work, but inspired by or based on, the work of Marx Ziegler as presented by Patricia Hilts in Ars Textrina, volume fourteen, 1990.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


People don't realize just how physical weaving can be.  This morning I read about another weaver being told of muscle tears.

Repetitive motions can cause injury.  If someone weaves like the above mentioned weaver or me, the risk of injury increases as we age.  I have been forced by my overall health to start slowing down.  Having a drug that caused muscle pain and weakness just made it even more obvious that I needed to dial back the effort and hours at the loom.

With my music/dance/sport background, I came to weaving understanding my own body and able to self coach myself into 'better' more ergonomic movements.  But no matter how ergonomic those motions, keep doing them - usually in the face of a looming deadline (sorry/not sorry about the pun) - and the weaver risks setting up inflammation.  If the weaver continues to weave, they risk injury, such as muscle tears.  So why do we keep on?  Because we have always previously been able to keep going with little to no effect other than feeling a bit more tired, a bit more achy for the long hours at the loom.

When I advise people to wear some sort of protection on their feet beyond socks, I get a chorus of "NO!  I have to feel the treadles!"  Or variations thereof.  In that case I tell people, don't weave for long periods of time or you can set up inflammation in your feet and recovering from inflammation in the foot is particularly hard because we still need to walk.

So today I step up onto (one of) my soapbox(es).

Sit in the 'waterfall' position.  Hips higher than knees.  Sit forward, perched on the edge of the bench, on your sitz bones, not on your tailbone.  Engage your core muscles to protect your lower back.  Sit straight, not rounded through the upper back.  Sit high enough that when you are in the waterfall position your elbows clear the breast beam.  If you don't you will hunch your shoulders and then the shoulder girdle and neck muscles can spasm.  And believe me, that is no fun at all.

Soft tissue injury can take weeks to heal.  If you want to keep weaving, take rest breaks.  Do stretches.  See a deep tissue massage therapist to help release any muscle spasms.  Pace yourself.

Steps off soapbox...

Chart courtesy of a website that provide free educational materials.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Sunday's Child

Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child is full of grace
Wednesday's child is full of woe
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is happy and wise, and good and gay.[1]

I was born on a  Sunday and learned the above rhyme as a child.

While I very much doubt that the rhyme really has any predictive attributes, I have always aspired to be that Sunday's Child.

When I'm sick, however, all of that goes out the window.

It started with my voice going 'funny', then coughing, then nose running, accompanied with low grade sinus headaches and lethargy.

One of my life lessons has routinely been 'acceptance with grace'.  I think I'm getting the 'acceptance' thing.  Still working on the 'grace'.

What do those words mean to me?

Acceptance is acknowledging that I am sick and not functioning very well at the minute and it is time to step down from my expectations of doing even the little that I had managed to recapture after a year of adverse drug effects.

'Grace' to me means not whining about it.

Not doing too well on that front.

I am so close to finishing the 50 yard warp - like maybe 5 yards (four towels?) left to do.  I had planned on being able to cut that warp off the loom today.  But it isn't going to happen.

Instead of kicking the metaphorical tires of my energy levels, I am going to try to work on things that don't require a lot of physical energy, which means hemming towels and fringe twisting.

And let the conference work simmer until I get more responses from the people I emailed over the weekend.  

(Just deleted a whiny sentence.  Still working on that 'grace' thing...)

Sunday, April 21, 2019

About that Elephant

colour gamp with earth tones - colour gamps don't have to be rainbow - just sayin'

Well, Life Happens, sometimes more co-operatively than...others...

I have caught a cold.  So far it isn't too bad and I've been able to keep going.

Today I have sent official letters for American presenters to show when they cross the border.  I have let them know their numbers and given them email contact info for the students in their workshops.

One person who is doing a hand's on two part seminar needed her student email contacts too, so those also got sent out.

Eventually I got dressed (yes, all of that was done in my jammies!) and got to the loom to weave one towel.

That meant a late lunch, some procrastination, then back to the loom for a second towel.  It is now 'official' - two more navy towels will finish off the rest of the navy linen (except for some dribs and drabs).

Back to the desktop and dealing with 10 people who had some of their choices cancelled because there just were not enough people signed up for them to run.  We really hated to cancel, kept hoping for a few more to register but had to finally bite the bullet and make some hard decisions.

It's now 4 pm here and I am 'stick a fork in me, I'm done' state.  Time to go cast on another shawl (I finished knitting the one I have been working on last night) and then maybe do some hemming.  Because the current warp will be coming off the loom soon and I've barely touched the first dozen towels that Doug pressed two weeks ago.

What can I say.  I've been a wee bit busy.

OH, yeah - just about forgot - after we confirmed with Janet Dawson her workshop Gamptastic! was a 'go', we had a cancellation.  Since some local guild members had offered to supply a few looms for her workshop, if you are a weaver and didn't want to drag a loom to Prince George?  We can probably fit you up with one.  It will even be dressed.  All you have to do is arrive with your favourite shuttle. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019


Every craft, every endeavour that we do as humans, has 'jargon' attached to it.  Since weaving (and spinning, and knitting, and, and, and) all require specialized tools, knowing what these tools are called and the names of the processes involved in the craft makes communication more specific.

It's really really hard to ask a question when all you have are 'the pointy thing' or the 'lever thing' to refer to when asking a question.

So for anyone wanting to learn how to weave, I generally suggest that they get a book out of the library and go through the glossary to learn what all the words of the language of weaving mean.

In the back of The Intentional Weaver, I included a list of books I have found useful over the years along with some websites.

I'm not saying you can't learn how to weave unless you know the language, I'm just saying that to ease communication it might be a good idea to learn some of the language.

You don't even need to know it all before starting, but it will help to learn if you know what the books or the presenter is meaning when they use words like 'reed', 'beater', 'fell line', 'pick' and so on.

It also helps to know how to spell those words.  Especially things like 'treadle', 'heddle', 'brake'.  And my favourite... 'dyeing'.  (I've got a story about 'dying' and 'dyeing' - maybe I'll tell it one day.)

'Dressing the loom' to me means the entire process of getting the warp into the loom - from rough sleying or spreading it in a reed or raddle to winding on to threading, sleying and tying it to the front of the loom.

Others take a narrower definition and only consider the beaming to be 'dressing'.

Some of the older books, especially those from England, will have the English terms, not the more modern ones.  So you might see 'batten' instead of 'beater' or 'heald' instead of 'heddle'.  But once you know the 'American' version, the 'English' words taken in context should make sense.

If you are one of my students I will offer the words and supply a definition to put the word into context.  Then I expect you to make an effort to learn the words.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

To Everything There is a Season

We tend to forget that for every beginning there is an ending.  When we are reminded, it can be difficult to cope with the feelings that the reminder brings with it.

In weaving there are lots of beginnings and endings.

Warps end.  Thread ends. Shuttles empty and need to be filled.  Projects come to completion and we are either satisfied with our results...or we are not.

Endings can be fraught with emotion.

As we head into true spring life has served to remind me that there are also endings.  Spring rolls into summer, which rolls into autumn and then...winter.

But as life is a cycle, there is hope.  Spring comes again with the promise of new life.  A friend has goats and they are popping out babies.  Chickens are laying and hatching.  Trees are beginning to leaf out and there are little hints of green showing up in my 'flower' beds.

I have not done as much as I intended - or  hoped - over the winter.  But the current warp is significantly reduced and I'm down to about 7 or 8 more of the navy towels to weave.  That yarn was way thinner than the turquoise and therefore wove a lot more yardage!  But that cone is now empty as all the navy yarn is wound onto bobbins, currently steeping to make them more co-operative.  I'm already planning the next warp.  It was supposed to be a shawl warp, but I'm determined to get this fine linen woven up.  Besides, I think weavers will be more inclined to treat themselves to a half linen towel than a shawl - those are mostly intended for the autumn craft fairs, anyway.

Early bird registration for the conference has ended, and while we will gladly accept 'late' registrations tonight we need to make some decisions.  Better get back to crunching numbers.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


One of the challenges in the Olds curriculum is that of weaving double weave, both double wide and double width.

The top sample was woven by one of my students, the lower one by me.

The fold in each of these textiles is visible in the photo.  Well, that's the point.  It isn't visible.  One can speculate where it might be, but in real life?  It really isn't visible and the only way I can tell where it actually is?  I need to fold the cloth in half.

Recently I read a discussion on line about how horrible weaving double width is, that it is impossible to ever get a decent fold and it's essentially a mad waste of time for anyone to ever do it.

I'm here to say it can be done.  I show proof that I'm not the only one who can do it.  In fact several students this year completely rocked the fold but their homework has been returned.  This one will be returned to the student at the conference.  I'm hoping she will allow me to display her work during the seminar on the Olds program.  But I have to ask first, and I haven't, so I'm not saying whose it is.  I'm sure that if she reads this blog post she will recognize her work.  

Even if you can't get the fold 'perfect', there are ways to disguise it.  In the upper photo the fold shows one way to partially disguise with the colours of the stripes, plus a really nice fulling of the wool yarn.  Although I think she was playing it 'safe' because even without that, the fold was invisible.

In mine, the warp was 2/16 cotton, 36 ends per layer for a total of 72, and the weft was linen 20 (I think - it's been a while)  There was no 'disguising' the fold.  I've mentioned this project previously and the best I could do weaving this cloth was 9" per day.  Because every shed had to be checked, and two of the four routinely cleared, then the fold had to be very carefully laid in.

This warp was a once in a lifetime project.  And I do not regret doing it.

Saturday, April 13, 2019


One of the things I find challenging, yet very satisfying, is to mark the homework for the Olds College master weaving program.

Have I done a good enough job explaining things?  Have I given them good information?

Of course there are times when very experienced weavers take the class(es) and I don't feel like I offer them very much.  But perhaps they, like me, wanted to 'test' themselves to see if they really know what they think they know.

I have been blessed to follow one group through two levels.  Now many of this group were already very well established weavers and it was a challenge to discuss principles with them on a much deeper level.  But that forced me to dig deeper into my own foundation of knowledge/experience.

After teaching this program for a number of years I feel that I have grown, not just as a teacher, but as a weaver.

This year is especially challenging because I'm also flailing about the conference.  Finding time to do both things has been stressful, and as mentioned previously, I have discovered that there very much is a bottom to my well of energy.  :(

When I look back (hindsight is so accurate?) I feel that my health issues began to become critical in 2006.  That's almost 15 years (more because I only became aware of the symptoms then - when I think back they were there for at least another 5 years, just weren't really adversely impacting me) of a slow leak of energy.

Major surgery, then a recurrence of the cancer the past few years, has just served to drain my reserves even further.

If I can do one thing in this life, I hope it is to encourage weavers to learn more.  To change their minds when they find that is appropriate.  To explore.  To expand their horizons.

I do my best to support those who are less experienced and to challenge those who already are, to do better.  Aim higher.  Dig deeper.

I have caught up on the current harvest of boxes of homework.  I know there are more to come.  Several have had Life Happen and they are either changing which class they go to next or taking a gap year to continue to work on what they have learned.

If nothing else, I hope that people feel that they have benefited from the class(es) and feel more confident in proceeding.

Each one...teach one...(or more)

Friday, April 12, 2019


There are levels, and then there are levels.

The above is an enlarged view of a two ply yarn of cotton and linen - or as it is sometimes called 'cottolin' or 'cotlin' or some variation thereof.

The thing is, if you look at this yarn from a 'normal' viewpoint, it looks like a perfectly standard fairly smooth yarn.

When you see it very close up, it doesn't look nearly as neat and tidy.

This would be a metaphor for me, right now.

After years and years of cramming one more thing, one more deadline into my life, my schedule, neatly jockeying my way through the morass of obstacles and hurdles, I find myself frazzled.

Now I'm no stranger to the feeling - just that I'm finding it harder to cope, emotionally, with the whole ball of wax, the tangle.

The past few years have left me - apparently - depleted in the energy resources department.  So today I find myself ignoring everything save the things that have gone pear shaped and/or critical.

I find myself sitting in the chair in the window ignoring everything else.

Today I had lunch with a friend - one of those slightly older women who mentored me during my early years that I referred to recently.  I found myself telling her that I'm looking forward to 'retirement'.  That 'semi-retirement' didn't seem to be working very well.  That I am looking at the calendar and counting down the days to the deadlines (ahem) looming and looking forward to having them behind me.  At looking forward to getting by the next set of critical conference tasks so that we can figure out what needs doing next, and by when. 

Then, like the true friend that she is, she asked, what can I do?  How can I help with the conference?  So we talked about a few things and we found a job that is perfectly suited to her, so there is one thing that can be handed over to someone who will do as she has promised and take that little bit of weight off my shoulders.

Our female friends are the 'sisters' we have chosen for ourselves.  I don't have a biological sister, but I have been blessed with a large number of chosen sisters.

Thank you - all of you.  I love you all, more than I can say.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Each One, Teach One

Interest in weaving as a craft waxes and wanes.  I started weaving in the mid-70s when weaving was in an upsurge.  I found myself in the midst of a group of (mostly) women who were intrigued by the craft and the unexpected nuances that could be discovered in the exploration of the craft.

I quickly got to know several of these women who became role models and mentors.  (I was 25 when I started - they were in their mid-30s to mid-40s)

Four of them dove into the Guild of Canadian Weavers master weaver certificate and with the excitement of discovery and challenge the program provided I was inspired to begin the program myself a few years later.

Three of the four continued on to achieve the final level and certificate and all were supportive of me as I started the program myself.  When I flagged they encouraged me to get back at it.  They wanted to see my explorations and when I passed a level, they oo'd and ah'd.  When I finally(!) passed, they gifted me with a lovely book by Jack Lenor Larson "Material Wealth".

I always taught, right from the beginning.  Weavers who had kept the craft alive during the down part encouraged me and others to pass the knowledge of the craft along.  For those too shy to teach classes, the encouraging phrase was 'each one, teach one'.

Today I spent another couple of hours at a local high school.  The teacher said she had 6 or 8 students on her list but only three showed up.  Two could only stay for one hour and then had to leave.  The third one?  I left her with the guild table loom and a warp she had wound for a scarf.  In the two hours we talked a bit about tapestry, then I showed #3 how to wind her warp, then we beamed the warp together and I showed her how to thread.

There weren't enough heddles on the first four shafts so instead of just using four shafts, I showed her how to thread a straight draw over all eight.  When you are new, there are no preconceptions that 8 shafts are any more difficult than 4.  It's all just a mysterious blur no matter how many shafts are there!  So I don't tell beginning weavers that they shouldn't use 8, I just get the loom set up and get them started.

There wasn't time for her to finish threading before next class, so we talked about when she would be available and it turned out that Friday morning she didn't have any classes so her homework is to finish threading the 200 ends by 10 am Friday.

She says she likes the detail of the process and we talked about weaving being a working meditation.   That frequently I go to the loom precisely because I'm frustrated with the way Life is Happening and I go to the loom to centre myself.

If we can get her equipment, I think we may have found one more.  Maybe she will teach one, too.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Book review - part 2

To see the entire quote, right click and open in a new tab, then click on the tab

I have been slowly, thoughtfully, chewing my way through The Golden Thread by Kassia St. Clair.

This morning the paragraph beginning "While it is often assumed..." stopped me cold.  What she is saying is that the people who were captured, brutalized, de-humanized, were in large part put to creating the trade goods that would send slave traders to Africa to capture and enslave more people.

Quote is on page 169 of the book.

Ms St Clair provides lots of footnotes and citations for anyone who wants to research further.

There is a myth that Europeans were 'civilizing' the people living on the African and North/South American continents, when in fact all continents had indigenous peoples with highly complex civilizations.

There are many books that expand on those civilizations.  While we don't know what we don't know, there are plenty of resources out there that are available.  Choose books that don't espouse the 'white savior' complex, or attribute ancient artifacts to aliens. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Variations and Options

A threading draft is just a set of pre-programmed options which may be executed in a variety of ways.

The above photo is a sampler I did for the GCW master weaver certificate.

The requirement was to take a 'traditional' overshot threading, weave a repeat of that, then weave it in 'rose' fashion, then in 'monk's belt' fashion.  (There were other options as well, but this is what fit on the scanner flat bed.  Besides, it's the 'star' and 'rose' fashions I want to talk about here.)

I covered this more extensively in The Intentional Weaver so I am just going to cover a few points.

Not every overshot draft can be effectively converted to 'rose'.  If you look at the above photo, the top design has very strong diagonal lines running through the entire motif.  The middle sample, has very strong circles in the design - the 'rose'.

The conversion can also be 'tricky' because the treadling sequence depends on exchanging blocks in the design.  This can be done by not changing the tie up and treadling it, or by changing the tie up and following the 'star' (traditional) treadling. 

But the underlying threading has to be able to exchange those blocks to create the circles or 'roses'.

It is possible to take a 'rose' threading (M. P. Davison has a section on rose designs) and convert them to a star, too.

An overshot threading can be woven in other weave structures.  If the design has small units/blocks, it can be woven in a 2:2 twill, lacey, honeycomb along with others.

Overshot is characterized by areas of floats (generally considered the design/motif), half-tones and plain weave.  Larger sized designs may have very long pattern floats, so sometimes the pattern float is tied down so that there is no plain weave area as such, but only the floats and half-tones. 

When going to overshot on eight shafts, it is possible to have no half-tones at all, or weave the overshot motif in double weave so that you don't have long floats, but still retain the motif.  Much like I have been taking overshot motifs and converting them to twill blocks (because I have the 16 shafts needed to do that.)

I frequently use the traditional Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws motif for tea towels.  It's a fairly large motif which has a strong graphic look to it. 

The warp on the loom right now is the  Canadian Snowflake twill (derived from the 8 shaft Swedish Snowflake into a four shaft twill) which I converted into twill blocks.

Once someone understands the potential in a threading draft, they can play with it and manipulate it to create unique textiles.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

In the Fullness of Time

after wet finishing and brushing

before wet finishing (loom state)

Patience has never been one of my attributes.  I have a plan, I want things to fall into place.  NOW!

Over the years I have had to curb my impatience and just let things develop in their own time.  So I tend to cope with uncertainty with distractions.

Waiting for word on a project?  Oh let's work on that other one (or two, or three...)

Unfortunately repeated health issues and the brain fog that comes with them mean I can no longer multi-task like I used to be able to do.  The tendency has been - of late - to wait and fret for deadlines to come - and go - and not accomplish much of anything at all.  Getting old(er) has not been easy.  On the other hand?  I'm still here - so many aren't.  And since stopping the cancer drug I am feeling so much better.

So it was with a sigh of relief that I read the email yesterday, saying I was booked for level one at Olds College Fibre Week in July.  I will know soon about Tenino, WA.

The early bird registration for the conference ends April 15 and a lot of uncertainty will be addressed when we crunch the numbers of those signed up for workshops and the conference proper. 

I know that our conference instructors are also impatiently waiting for word on their numbers and I want to give them their class lists as soon as possible.  (If you are planning on registering, please do so as soon as possible so that we can give them accurate information.)

We have extended the deadlines for the exhibits, partly because we have been overwhelmed with the generosity of guilds sponsoring awards.  We have a significant number of awards to hand out!  To be eligible for an award, you must be registered for the conference, deliver the item(s) and pick it/them up.  You can still enter exhibits if you are not attending, but assign someone to deliver and return to you.

April is well begun.  Teaching takes preparation and so I'm also watching registrations for Yadkin in NC where I'm booked to do level two and then one; September is the John C. Campbell Folk School.

After that it will be full steam ahead for the craft fair season.

And poof - the year will be gone...

In the meantime, I need to practice patience while events develop in the fullness of time.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

And On We Go...

The conference registration is ticking along (we'd love to see more people sign up - it's gonna be a time!) and it is time to lift my head up out of that particular deep well and start looking beyond mid-June and to what comes next.

Now that I'm beginning to feel better - for however long that lasts - I am looking forward to possibly teaching at Olds Fibre Week (to be confirmed - or not - depends on registration - as do all events, including the conference).  Fibre Week has been moved to July which means that if I'm there I will be celebrating my birthday with fibre friends. 

In August I'm booked to teach level two and one (in that order) at the Yadkin Arts Centre which is in North Carolina, then back to the John C. Campbell Folk School in September.

In the meantime there is marking from last years students to be done.  There is a flock of boxes en route so I will be checking the mail box daily to make sure I grab them as they arrive.  I will mark in order of arrival.

Feedback from students is that level one is challenging but the lessons learned are significant.  If anyone is thinking of doing the program, consider the fact that it is a college level certificate course and that with the increase in satellite programming you can take it on either coast now.  This year level one was presented on the Sunshine Coast north of Vancouver, level two is scheduled at Tenino, WA (near Olympia), Cape Breton is offering levels 1-3, North Carolina is offering all four levels in August and of course, at Olds, AB during Fibre Week.  Even if you only ever take level one, you will learn a lot of stuff - things that don't normally get addressed in workshops because there just isn't time.  (If you can't take the program, I suggest my book which covers some of the curriculum - it's why I love teaching level one because I've been preaching this level of knowledge for years and finally got it down on paper...)

The other advantage of a core curriculum is that students can move from campus to campus - for example the level one class here launched a couple of people over to Olds for level two.  Level one at Olds launched someone over to Cape Breton and to Yadkin.  And so on. 

Here, spring is coming along with all the rites of spring - the woodpecker hammering away on the metal cover of the street lamp, the dust advisories, the flooded streets.  Spring Break Up - the season that lasts too long...

Monday, April 1, 2019

Book Review - The Golden Thread

Worm Spit and Surf Dragons to NASA

I'm about half way through this book and feel like I can give a definite thumbs up.

“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”

Sir Francis Bacon

Kassia St Clair has written a book that can be read as a taste of history, devoured for it's attention to detail, or chewed thoroughly to understand the role of textiles in human history.

By choosing select textiles to take a closer look at, she has provided insight into the development of textiles and various creation techniques.  From the agriculture, to the processing, to spinning, weaving, and so on, she makes a strong case for knowing the roots of textiles because they so firmly provide support to human beings on our journey through time.   

I have a reasonable understanding of textile history but it was a broad look.  Ms St Clair takes a deeper look at pivotal textiles.  She begins with the earliest known textile finds.  Elizabeth Barber-Wayland talked about textile history in her book Women's Work, the first 20,000 years.  Since that book was published, archaeologists have pushed back that date to around 34,000 years.  It may go back even further, but since textiles degrade and go back to dust, often times the only evidence of human textile work is in remains of things like pottery - the impression of a spun thread impressed into the clay.

From the earliest finds, Ms St Clair then talks about the mummies of ancient Egypt.  Again, I knew a little about them, but she goes into much greater detail than I had learned previously.

Discussing the Silk Roads (there was more than one) she then moves on to Vikings.  I had always assumed that Viking ships had linen sails.  I was fascinated that their sails were made from wool.  Her statistics of the degree of effort to make sails for the fleets of 'dragon boats' was pretty astonishing.

I'm just beginning the chapter on the wool industry in medieval England.  

It seems like I learn something new on every page.  For me this is a book to chew thoroughly. 

I was gifted this book by a friend.  It will no doubt be consulted frequently as I teach/write. 

If you are as interested in the history of textiles as I am, other books you might enjoy are:

Anything written by Elizabeth Wayland-Barber (she has several)
Else Ostergard Woven into the Earth (I think she has updated her finds on the Greenland textiles with a more recent publication but I haven't found it - yet)
Peter Collingwood The Maker's Hand

There are groups who gather who are discussing their findings - Complex Weavers has a study group and there is a group on Facebook devoted to Historical Textiles

There are individuals who have studied specific cultures - from Deborah Chandler and Guatamala, to Paula Gustavson and Salish Weaving, Pattern and Loom by John Becker (Han dynasty and beyond).  Cheryl Samual and Raven's Tail and Chilkat weaving.

People who study specific cultures usually take a deep look at that particular culture and how textiles developed within that culture, given their climate, needs and resources available to them through history.

At our conference we have several events - Sarah Wroot will look at spinning to weave based on her research into historical fabrics.  Dr. Susan Pavel has studied Salish weaving and was a resource person for the UBC Musem of Anthropology exhibit last year focusing on Salish textiles.  Sue Perron will talk about ceinture fleche' the finger woven sashes used by the voyageurs.  Maureen Faulkner will share her textile collection (India, Indonesia and China)

I look forward to reading the rest of the book - in small bites so that I can savour the information.