Friday, May 31, 2019


Still sifting through conference data, picking 'nits'.  Those troublesome details that may not seem very large, unless they affect 'you'.  So we are going through again and again, trying to resolve as many issues as we possibly can to make the check in process as accurate and painless as possible.

Unfortunately my email server is in the throes of issues and I cannot at the minute send or receive emails.  So, picking nits it is, making a list for when service is restored.  And if not, I can always use my gmail account, although it isn't obviously from me and may not work for everyone.

So onwards we go.

But we are close enough to completing this part of the process that I have begun poking my head above the proverbial parapet, peeking at what lies ahead beyond the conference.

Before I can open the next door of opportunity - whatever that may be - the door of the conference needs to close.  I need to stay focused on the conference.

But the future tantalizingly lies before me, just beyond that door.

I am in the midst of making some pretty major changes in my life.  I have been on the verge of doing something about my future, dancing forward and back, this way and that way, unilaterally saying one thing today and changing my mind tomorrow.

It's been confusing (for me and my long suffering spouse) as I try to work out what my new normal is and how I can still effectively live a life that will bring satisfaction without over taxing my much reduced energy levels.

This morning I found myself articulating for the first time of cutting out something else from my goals.  I kind of shocked myself because it is a thing that I enjoy doing (mostly).  But after I thought it and shared it with a friend that I was contemplating it...I found myself actually quite comfortable with the thought of letting that go, too.  A person doesn't have to hang around 'forever' - they can step aside and let the next generation have their turn.

Ordering the Megado was a huge break through for me and I am savouring the thought of getting back to doing more experimentation - yes, more 'sampling'.  Will I write more?  Quite possibly.  Will I do magazine articles?  Maybe.  Will I do monographs?  Depends on the level of my experimentation and how much I learn.  So many people are doing really excellent work in exploring the more complex approaches to weaving design - Margaret Coe,  Bonnie Inouye, Marian Stubenitsky and others are taking cloth design and construction to a new level.

Do I have anything to contribute?  Who knows.  It's been decades since I had the time or mental acuity to look at stitched double weave, networked drafting, diversified plain weave, deflected double weave, shrinkage variables to create special effects, in any meaningful way.

But that's the thing.  Being 'retired' means I don't have to worry about so many things.  Doesn't mean I won't weave - I enjoy it too much.  It just means the pressure of deadlines will be lifted.

Just need to get through the next 3 weeks, then the next six months of other obligations.  And in the meantime?  Look forward to the arrival of the Megado.  She says, peeking over the parapet at what lies ahead...

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Of Tunnels and Lights

Today I broke through the tunnel wall of one of the larger jobs of conference data processing

It is exactly two weeks today when people start arriving.  A few are actually arriving sooner, but the numbers of instructors and registrants begin pulling/flying into town in exactly two weeks.

The committee is gearing up to do the kinds of things that could not be done any sooner than now. 

While we have been thinking about this event for five years. the vast majority of the work could only be done in the past 12 months, with much of the final details needing to wait until, well, now.

For the past few days I have been sifting through each individual person's event choices - workshop and seminars - and collating them into one check list which will go into their check in envelope.

We knew there were some issues, which I will now follow up on - several people have only got one or two seminars on their list - is that all they wanted, or did something fall through the cracks in the internet???

Another addition to the fashion show will have to wait until tomorrow (she sent it - it didn't arrive until now) when I can insert the items into the program and commentary and then the fashion show programs with the garment line up will be printed, ready to be handed out.  Numbers for the models to carry are also being printed out and the Civic Centre staff suggested a much nicer room set up than what I had been considering.  There will be a cash bar at the back of the room - just saying!

We are still collecting items for the instructors.  Right now I'm scouring the town for hot plates.  Doug's step sister provided one, which will help.  But I need to go over the hot plate requests again and see if any can be shared or if everyone who needs one, needs it all the time.  The dye workshop needs five for the two days, but some are only for a part of a workshop, some are for one or two seminars.  So hopefully instructors can pass on to someone in a different time slot when they are done using one.

Rides for the instructors to and from the airport (for those who need them) are arranged.  There are taxis and shuttles to and from town for those who need them.  And of course car rental places at the airport.

People staying at the two hotels downtown are advised to leave their vehicles in the hotel parking lots.  Otherwise parking is limited to three hours.  The lot next to the Civic Centre has free parking for three hours, but you must 'register' your vehicle, and if you stay for longer parking can be purchased for a reasonable sum.  The machines will take credit cards as well as cash.  Read the instructions on the machine and know your licence plate number.

Time to go sift through the registrations that need to be follow up on.  And maybe have a cool drink.  It's warm here today.  Summer seems to be making an 'early' appearance!  But bring layers.  It can still be cool to chilly in the evenings in June.

Monday, May 27, 2019


I've been wading through conference data for the past few days and got started 'early' this morning.

It's time for a break.

Break time musings:

Do people realize how many surnames begin with the letter M?

Do people realize how much checking needs to be done to make sure every detail is as correct as can be made?  (Some do, and thank you for your expression of solidarity in dreaming Big Dreams!)

Do people realize it is just two weeks until people start arriving for the conference?

Am I ready?

Hell no!

However, I ought to finish generating the individual listings of workshop/seminars sometime tomorrow.  It's taking 30 minutes or so to process one page of registrants and about 5 hours of sifting left to do.  I am trying really hard to make accurate lists but everyone will be encouraged to check for accuracy when they get their goodie bags and make changes right away, if I've made mistakes.

I will check with Staples again to see if the envelopes I ordered to put the paper work in have arrived.  They keep sending me a survey to fill out based on that order - which I have not yet received, even though they said it was shipped ages ago.  :( 

I was going to print out the fashion show program today when I went to Staples, but got an email yesterday - someone's entry apparently fell between the cracks so I invited her to send her info.  Now I have to add her which means editing the file.  Again.

Instructors have helpfully updated their equipment requirements before I got too far along in gathering what everyone needs, so Mary will help with that when she arrives.  Some dear hunny dos will load everything up to deliver to the facilities.  I just need to find out where the heaps of stuff can be delivered, on the Tuesday.  If they can provide a room where we can deliver them, the teachers can go there and collect their equipment?  Note to self - follow up on that thought...

We discovered yesterday that the art gallery doesn't open until 10 am so the workshops and seminars there have to have their times changed.  Since they have pretty much the same open hours as the library, all of those will at least be consistent.  And it should not impact anyone's schedule because we left lots of time between seminars.

At some point I need to dig through my own store room to collect the stuff *I* need for the seminars I'm presenting.  Again, Mary can help with that.  If we can deliver to the hotel on the Tuesday, Doug can load everything up in the van before he loads the stuff for our vendor booth.

Yes, I'm juggling too many balls, trying to keep too many plates spinning...


Friday, May 24, 2019


Two and a half weeks.

2.5 weeks.

17 days.

And counting.

This morning Birthe and I sat down for a long conversation with a reporter from the local newspaper. 

We talked about how human beings have been working with fibre for going on 38,000 years.  That we know about.  (The Golden Thread by Kassia St. Clair)  We talked about the string skirts of the goddess figurines.  We talked about how for generations upon generations, everyone knew how labour intensive making yarn and cloth was and how it became the perfect metaphor for Life.  So much so that it is a recurring theme in 'fairy' tales.

We talked about the relevance of textiles in the 21st century.  How there has been increasing interest and growth in knitting, spinning, felting and weaving.  And how we have tried to offer all of these in some fashion at the conference.

We talked about the talent here in Prince George, British Columbia generally and western Canada.

We talked about so much more - and could have talked for days.  I mean, me, literally, could have talked for days! 

Then I came home and delved back into the data crunching for the conference.  And once again saw the similarity of crafting a conference and crafting a textile.

You begin with the overall idea, start to look at the whole thing, then at how you need to break it down into smaller and smaller bits so that you can sort out the details.  And then, once you have those individual details, how to weave/stitch/knit them together to create the large project/event you wanted to bring into being.

If the interview is available on line, I will post a link.  Very curious to read what his take on our conversation this morning was!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Re-inventing Myself

Image result for Louet Megado

I've vented on here several times about my declining physical 'fitness' and health. 

Over the past few months I have also been fighting with an elderly AVL Production Loom which is showing signs of also being worn out.

Thing is, I am not done weaving.  I'm not nearly done weaving.  I want to weave and so I had to come up with a plan that would allow me to continue to weave.

When Louet premiered the Megado, I had the opportunity to weave on it at a conference I was attending.  I was impressed with the other Louet looms I had seen and at times woven on in workshops, so I was curious about the Megado.

For one thing, the Louet looms are well engineered.  I had woven on one while Doug had the flu and he had no idea I had been weaving it was so quiet.  The loom was in my dining room, so if he was going to hear it, it was close enough to bother him as he slept, trying to recover from a rather serious flu.

So I was familiar with the 'floating' beams, the small footprint and how quiet they were.  However, I was also familiar with the AVL and how noisy it was so I wanted to see if the Megado had continued it's engineering in that regard.

They did not disappoint.

So as I thought through my options, the Megado kept rising to the top of my thinking. 

It's not a cheap loom and they are not readily available on the second hand market, which kind of tells you about overall customer satisfaction.

So I gripped my credit card tightly and ordered one.  I just managed to time it so that the loom ought to arrive sometime in August or early September.

Since I am pretty much over fighting with looms, as soon as I can get the current warp woven off, the AVL will get disassembled and we will inventory the parts that others might be interested in buying because perhaps they have a loom that is wearing and need new gears.  Or more shuttles and pirns.  Or heddles.  I have about a bazillion heddles.  Plus the dobby bars I kept in case of failure of the compu-dobby. 

Life is too short to fight with equipment, and I can't take money with me.  My brother would approve of my spending my inheritance on something to ensure a better quality of life...and weaving...

Come and Get ‘em!

Three weeks to the conference and final detail crunching proceeds.

Part of the staging for the conference was pulling the boxes of books out and stacking them, ready to be packed up for the vendor booth I have at the conference.  I have 55 copies of The Intentional Weaver.  They will be available for sale during the conference.  I will also have copies of Weave a V.

Written by Kerstin Fro:berg and published in English here, it's a look at weaving a V-shaped shawl using double weave.  She includes information for both sinking and rising shed looms and general information on double weave as well as details on double width weaving, including tips on dealing with the fold.

If you can't come to the conference you can order The Intentional Weaver and Magic in the Water here

If there are copies of The Intentional Weaver left after the conference, you can order a signed copy directly from me.  People outside of Canada don't have to pay the GST but shipping is $20.

When purchasing in my booth, I have to charge applicable taxes.  For textiles, the taxes consist of 5% GST plus 7% provincial sales tax.  If you are from outside of Canada I can mail purchases to you and not charge the tax, but shipping starts at $20.  Cheaper to just pay the tax. There is no provincial sales tax on books, so just 5% on those.

Today I'm working on the exhibits, looking at what we need for display apparatus.  With the loan of display stuff from a local textile artist I think we will have enough display equipment to display everything.

I am also waiting for emails from several people about personal stuff, while my inbox balloons to nearly 8000 items.  I will be grateful when the conference is over and I can start deleting stuff.  Right now my desire is to just select all and delete but I can't do that.  Yet.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Too Many Hats

The beginning of staging for the conference

All of my life I have worn too many hats.  This year has been no different except that I took on way too many hats given my current state of health.  But five years ago I was in pretty good health (I thought).  I was in remission from cancer and cardiac seemed to be well in hand.

So to tackle co-chairing another 'major' conference seemed like it would be easy-peasy.

Life has a way of tossing curve balls and I got hit with both barrels (apologies for the mixed metaphor).  By-pass surgery in 2015, the return of the cancer last year.

My energy levels are much lower than I'm used to having so I'm struggling to get everything done that I want to do let alone what needs to be done.

In addition to general conference organization there is the vendor booth and teaching of four seminars.

Fortunately Doug is a very real support and participant in doing shows so he is doing most of the lifting in terms of the vendor booth.  And I mean that literally.  There are boxes of books, set out on the living room floor - the beginning of the collection (or staging) for the booth.

Ignore the bin - it's the contents of my desk I cleared off and have not, lo these many months later, had the inclination to sort through and toss or keep (if keep, where?????)

So I don and remove hats frequently throughout the day.  This morning I'm getting the comp copies ready to give to those people who substantially helped with The Intentional Weaver.  Since several of them will be at the conference I decided to a) save the postage and b) hand them over personally.  Maybe I'll get a hug.  :)

And no, I'm not doing the conference all by myself.  This weekend I forwarded some files to a friend who is a great administrator and loves spreadsheets and organizing data.  She will take care of the exhibit paperwork, labels and awards, act as 'secretary' when Mary and I do the jurying.

A member of the committee will print out the numbers for the models to carry in the fashion show as well as her duties of treasurer, and a guild member has been very helpful with getting the fashion show booklet printed.

Other committee members have been spending many hours on their areas of responsibility.

My biggest issue is that I no longer have the energy I used to have.

Of course I'm also still trying to weave for the craft fair season, do the marking for the Olds classes - there are two who are VERY late and will simply have to wait until after the conference is over.  They will be marked before Fibre Week so they have gone ahead and registered for their next level.  I have every confidence they will both pass.

Then there is getting ready to teach level one again at Olds in July (and possibly Yadkin Art Centre in NC August, if they get enough students for level one and two to go ahead.)  And I can't find my sample book so I can place my order for the yarn needed for the students.  :(  It isn't in the file drawer where it is supposed to live so I can only assume it's buried somewhere in the studio.  (weaving gods help me!)

The past month has made it abundantly clear that Things Need to Change.  I turn 69 this year.  I know people who retired at 55 to do the things they wanted to do.  When you have had the job you wanted and you love it and want to keep doing it, it doesn't make much sense to 'retire'.  On the other hand, when it becomes increasingly difficult to do everything you want to do, it is time to make some changes in what it is you actually want to do so that you can do them!

So some decisions have been made since the new year.  It seems like monthly I make a few more.  I keep chipping away at the things I do not have the time and energy for and try to hang on to the things that I feel I need to keep doing.

I need to preserve whatever energy I have for the things that mean the most to me.

I find myself going back to the original 'plan' I had when I first began weaving.  Production weave for 25 years, then teach.  Well, as it happens I did both at once.  Time to let go of the production weaving and focus on the teaching and learning.

Also time to face the fact that I am 69, in not great health.  Time to think about what happens in 10 or 15(?) years, especially in the face of so many people I know dying, at relatively 'young' ages.  Time to think about needing to have assisted care.  My gigantic AVL will never be appropriate in assisted care, but another loom might.  So I have decided to purchase a Megado with electronic interface because if I'm going to dig more deeply into the formation of cloth I will want more than four shafts and an electronic dobby will help with complex treadlings.

The AVL has served me well.  But it is showing signs that it also needs to be retired.  I will continue to limp along with it for a few more warps but expect it to be sold off for parts when the time comes.  It's too big and too worn for me to even think about selling it and it will have to go away for the new loom when it arrives, sometime in the new year.

The industrial steam press and the industrial pirn winder will go to the scrap yard.  The metal in them might pay for the truck-with-crane that will be needed to move the press out of the annex and onto the truck bed.

The annex will be given up, in no small measure because the rent has been increased - again, which means I need to squeeze everything there back into here.

I plan on doing the Art Market craft fair one last time and make that my last big out of town show.  I will continue doing the two shows here I've done for the past - in one case 4 decades - while I still have sufficient inventory to make them worthwhile doing.

Mentoring will become more and more important to me and I hope to continue teaching the Olds program in some fashion.  It gives me great joy and satisfaction to see the light come on in student eyes and see them go on to keep the craft alive and fresh with good solid information being passed on.

I am going to try to remember that my goal is to hang some hats up and leave them there, rather than wear them.

Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Editing. It’s a Thing

Spent the hours I allot to the conference work the past few days mostly chipping away at details and then crunching the data for the fashion show.

Found some errors, made some, fixed some.  All of them.  I hope.

Managed to keep the fashion show 'program' to two sheets of paper which will get folded in half to make a small booklet.

The fashion show is a modified 'tea room' style.  People entering items into the fashion show are to model themselves, or provide models.  They will carry the number of their position in the line up while I read the commentary and the audience will be encouraged to talk to the makers to discuss the garments after the show is over.

Just another way we are hoping to encourage people to socialize, connect, come together. Confluences.

My desk is messy.  I actually got a lower grade in 'Office Practices' from my teacher because she observed that my desk in class was always messy.  She said it would have been higher if I would just learn to be more organized.

Yes, Mrs. Pitchko, it was messy and I thank you for your class where I learned a great deal about typing/editing, double entry bookkeeping, how to plan large projects, proof read and format large documents, leaving white space and spacing for ease of reading.

But yes, my desk was 'messy' - and it still is.

Without your class, writing numerous magazine articles, preparing workshop handouts and self publishing not one, but two, books would have been a lot harder.  So I will take that C and thank you for your class.

I thank all the typing teachers that came before Mrs. Pitchko and also my English teachers, especially Mrs. Dallamore who taught us how to read for editorial bias and to think about what was being said and how the writer was trying to influence how we thought about a topic.  I learned that editorial bias didn't just live in editorials, but in all forms of communication.  I learned about focusing on what needed to be said, and how I needed to say it.  More proof reading and editing, typos and so on.

I try to explain to my Olds students how important communication is and encourage those who are not confident writers to take classes if they can.  No matter how many people in our audience, good communication is required if we are to pass on the knowledge of the craft - be that verbal, visual or written.

So yes, editing is a thing.  A very important thing.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


ignore reflection of me in the glass in the frame...a gift from a friend

When we held the 1995 ANWG conference here, my co-chair very much wanted to include bobbin lace in our workshop line up.  We engaged an instructor and when the time came to confirm or cancel workshops, I had only two people signed up for the workshop I was supposed to be teaching, and the lace workshop needed one more person.

"Cancel my workshop and I'll sign up for the lace.  I'm not that interested so if I'm called out to deal with conference issues, it won't be a big deal."


At the end of the workshop, I walked out with $150 worth of lace supplies.

I enjoyed it.  It was weaving where warps could turn into wefts and you built your loom as you built your textile.  I wound up making quite a lot of Torchon lace.  At one point I was trying to make a pattern out of a book and asked a question on a lace group, hoping for some insight into a difficulty I was having. 

The next morning someone emailed me directly and offered help.

That person was Jacqui Southworth.  She had lived for a time in Brunei and learned how to make lace from the Dutch ladies she got to know, then went on to take the City and Guilds lace program getting her certificate.

After that initial email, we settled into a daily correspondence.  She was planning a trip to Vancouver Island and asked if she could come for a visit and we could meet in real life.

While she was here I got tips from her and we found we not only had lace in common but other things - jigsaw puzzles for one.  Dorothy Dunnett's books.  Travel.

A couple of years later I went to Sweden and she suggested I swing by to England to visit with her, so I did.  She took me to Gawthorpe Hall, which has a pretty amazing textile collection, as well as other points of interest.

As we drove around England, Eric at the wheel,  we talked about traveling and I suggested that next year, if they arrived in Calgary on such and such a date, I could pick them up when I was done at the conference in Olds (about an hour north of Calgary) and I would drive them through the Rocky Mountains and they could have a visit with Doug and me.

So they arranged to meet in Seattle (Eric was working in Singapore), then they flew to Calgary where I met them and drove them here. 

After that we would meet in real life every few years, in Florida where they bought a house to get away from English winters.  2.5 years ago Doug and I both went to visit as he'd never been to England (other than a layover in Manchester on a trip to Greece).  Again Eric drove us around to places of interest - like the textile mill in Styal, Hadrian's Wall, etc.

Just before we left Canada to visit with them, Jacqui got the news that her cancer was terminal.  I offered to stay at a hotel instead of with them, but she said we would provide welcome diversion.  Plus, since I have been dealing with cancer (different kind, similar dynamic) we found quiet time to talk about the experience.  I hope I provided some support as she sought to find out what her treatment was going to look like and how to proceed.

Once home we continued our daily emails.  We talked about what she was going through and although she wasn't one for expletives, she didn't seem to be offended at my routine 'Fuck Cancer' responses.

Yesterday she slipped the surly bonds of earth.  She is no longer in pain. 

I hope she is finding lots of lovely lace makers and supplies so she can make lace again while she keeps an eye on her family from above.

A couple of Jacqui's hand painted bobbins, turned by Eric.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


Yesterday a friend emailed and asked if I was ok - that I'd been sounding 'down'.

I told her I was.

I have a shit ton of stuff going on right now - the conference is only the part I've been sharing - and I've been having a hard time, what with one thing and another.

She let me vent, validated that I was walking a rough road (not that she isn't, herself) but just being able to sum up all the stuff that I've been dealing with made the load lighter.  Then I was able to go back to conference work I'd been struggling with and finally feel like I was making some headway. 

Today I dealt with some personal stuff, and then this afternoon I got back to the conference data and again sorted through it and chewed the next bite of the elephant.

Doug fought with technology and by 4 pm had finally sorted out the issues with the cell phones, the ipads and the Square.

Just getting that finally functioning  has been a huge load off of me.

This morning while in a waiting room my cell phone rang.  Normally Doug is the only one that phones me, mainly because I don't give my number out much, but my conference co-chair has it so I answered.  It was a local florist asking if I was home to take a delivery.  I said no, I was out, but would be home after 1 pm.

Just now this lovely arrangement was delivered and the friend I had been venting to yesterday and another mutual friend were the angels who sent the flowers.

I cried, dear reader.

And the arrangement looks fantastic next to the transparency woven and given to me by a third friend who has nightly been sympathetic and supportive.  Others have also been there for me, letting me vent.

Friends.  They lift us up when we are down.  Extend a helping hand, even when we don't realize we need it.

Thanks, y'all.  You are the wind beneath my wings...

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Snail Mail

I used to love getting letters from friends.  For many years I had a pen friend in Sweden, and eventually went over there to meet her.  Several times, in fact.  We stayed in touch until we were in our 30s and then life got busy and we stopped writing.

But I always look forward to getting mail - especially the 'not bill' kind.

I've had a bit of a rough time for the past year or so.  Rougher than usual, that is.  My friends have stayed in touch via email or FB message, which I love and look forward to. 

But one of those friends went into hospice about 4 weeks ago, and she is too ill to stay in contact and it has become a waiting game to hear how she is doing.  I hate to bother her husband for updates, but I'm left wondering.  She is in England, so not really feasible to go to her, and totally impractical considering the conference is happening in (yikes!) just over four weeks. 

This past week brought two unexpected envelopes.  One is a lovely letter from someone who just wrote out of the blue to say she had given one of my tea towels to a friend and kept one for herself and how much she enjoyed using hers.

The other is a close friend who I email with nightly (as I used to do with my friend in England) with a 'just because' card of a little kitty.

Our friends lift us up when we slump.  Sometimes they may know we need  a lift, sometimes it's just serendipity. 

Either way, it's much appreciated.

Sometimes a little bit of snail mail can be just the thing needed.  Or even an email or FB message.

The thing that joins us as human beings is that we struggle.  We may be in actual physical pain, or battling emotional 'demons'.  We may look like we are fine but none of us knows what another person is going through.  Just know that everyone has struggles.

If I have any goal in this life at all, it is to help others.  If I can answer weaving questions, I will.  If I can give/send a hug, I will.  If I can be an example (for good OR bad), I will offer myself up as a training opportunity (although yesterday there was one too many of those, given how much stress I'm dealing with!) 

Over the years I have learned that I will never feel better for putting someone else down.  Instead I will always feel better - about myself, about the world in general - if I can help someone else.

Time to share this again:

And a big thank you to friends who light my candle when necessary.

Friday, May 10, 2019

If It Was Easy

  • Image result for Staples Easy button

There are days - many days - when I wish I had a functioning 'easy' button.

Life isn't always 'easy'.  Weaving isn't always 'easy'. 

Organizing conferences isn't 'easy' either.  

On the other hand, doing something challenging, 'hard' even, and managing to accomplish it?  Pretty darned satisfying.

But today?  I kinda wish I had an 'easy' button.

Or at least a 'round tuit'...

A friend says that it is much more satisfying to say "I did a thing" than to say "I am going to do a thing."

She's right.

Come six weeks from now, I will be able to say "I did a conference."  (Again.)  

Time to get back to the data crunching.  Or go thread a loom.  Or something...

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Old as you Feel

Yesterday I found myself saying "If you are only as old as you feel, I feel 'old'."

And it's true.

I just didn't expect it to happen so young.

Today is our 49th wedding anniversary.  Today is 11 years since my brother died and I was 'saved' from dying the same way - undiagnosed cardiac blockages.  Eight years since the cancer diagnosis.  Can it only be four years since triple by-pass surgery?  It seems like much longer ago than that.

It's been 44 years of weaving at a production level, learning as much as I can about the craft - the physical skills, the theory - and how to convey that information to others.  And wearing out my loom - and body.

I turn 69 this year.  I have been dancing with 'semi' retirement for several years.  As I enter my next decade, it may be time to focus on 'full' instead of 'semi'.

I feel old.

But!  Being 'old' isn't a 'bad' thing!  Being 'old' means I have had a lifetime of experiences, a lifetime of memories, a lifetime of learning.

Being 'old' means I don't have to pay much attention to societal expectations, conform to other people's views of how I, as a female member of society, 'should' look, dress, behave.

Being 'old' means I don't have to worry too much about the future because I have a lot less of that in my future.

Life comes, does it's thing, dies.  None of us gets out of here alive.  So, best we should live while we are here.

Just finished reading Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence, vol 3 in his trilogy of The Ancestor.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

May 9, 2008

Ancient Forest - rare interior rain forest about 90 minute drive from my town

Today someone reminded me that my wedding anniversary is coming up.

On May 9, 1970, Doug and I married.  I was 19, soon to turn 20.  We have been together ever since, through thick and thin.  And yes, there has been plenty of both.

On May 9, 2008, I had three stents installed.  When the doctors found out it was our wedding anniversary, they wished us well and told Doug he now had a 'brand new wife'. 

Well, not quite.  Instead of returning to full health, I started a journey of adverse drug effects and instead of a life where I could easily continue what I had been doing I felt like I was bumping along the bottom of the barrel, making some progress at times, not, at the others.

And yet, and yet.  Here I am, this much older, still here, still putting one foot in front of the other - as much as I am able, on any given day.  So many others have transitioned on to whatever comes next, if anything does.

As my activity horizons have shrunk over the years, I have had to come to grips with not being able to weave the way I was used to, think the way I was used to. 

For the two years prior to the stents, I had been feeling as though the sand was running out of my allotted hour glass of life.  Since the stents I've dealt with cancer and more cardiac.  Facebook co-operatively reminds me of my 'memories' of the time I recuperated from the broken ankle, the chemotherapy, the various and sundry drug adverse effects, by-pass surgery, and now once again the cancer journey.

My well of energy seems to be running dry.  I look at all my stash - the dreams I had when I bought all that stuff.  I mourn my loss of energy and desire to jump into the studio and toss a shuttle.

Yes, I do still want to weave - I just find it harder and harder to weave like I used to.

Right now all my energy is pretty much being spent on the conference.  (Getting sick with a nasty cold didn't help!)  We are five weeks away from welcoming fibre artists from western Canada and the Pacific northwest (and beyond) to Prince George.  I want them all to have a good experience and enjoy their time here.  I spend about two hours a day working on the conference and try to get at least a little time at the loom as well.  (And no, I'm not the only one working on the conference - my blog, my stories).

But my goal of 'semi' retirement is looking less and less workable.  The rent on the annex has gone up to a point where my semi-retired income is not going to cover the rent for long, so the steam press needs to go away and the rest of the stuff stored there needs to be moved out so that I can stop that monthly expense.

Dealing with that is an 'after the conference is over' job. 

Bottom line?  I am still here.  I can still weave.  I do still want to teach (some).  I'm not done with this life - yet.

We went out for dinner last night.  That may be as much 'celebrating' we do as a nod to the date coming up.  With my traveling to teach so much, all special events have been declared movable feasts. 

I am considering the conference one giant celebration of life as well as fibre arts.  If it's a party, I want it to be a great one.  Many of the people attending are friends, some of them virtually, some of them in real life. 

It's gonna be a time (as they say in Newfoundland).

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Comes a Time

I took a workshop on how to make bobbin lace at our last ANWG conference in 1995.  Since then I've worked at it on and off (lately more off than on).  It is something I enjoy for the mental stimulation and the fact that it is still weaving, just that you build your loom as you create your textile, warps can turn into wefts, you can tie knots, make loops, add in colour at will.

But I'm mumble-mumble years older now.  My eyesight continues to deteriorate (gave up cross stitch a couple of decades ago) and my neck doesn't like to be bent over.

My lace making friend is in hospice and somehow the desire to continue to make lace seems to be leaking out of me.

I am going to be making up my mind whether to offer my lace making supplies at the conference here in June.

I have several pillows of various types (cookie, filled with sawdust, block made with styrofoam, a roller pillow) and my friend in hospice has, over the years, given me a lot of her painted bobbins.  Not to mention others I acquired along the way.

There are several shelves full of books including the very latest 3 volume set that I had hoped would serve to inspire me to start making lace again.  I paid $40+ each for them, then put the loose pages into plastic pocket pages in binders.  They would be a bargain at $120 for the three.

But a part of me wants to hang on - for the memories of my friend as I use her bobbins, the many emails we exchanged over the years (we emailed nightly for 27 years - until she entered hospice a couple of weeks ago).

I'm torn.  But the conference would also be a really good place to try to sell my bins full of stuff.  And I need to remove them from the annex, so sooner would be better than later.

I haz a sad today...

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Ups...and Downs...

need more shawls so that design idea is simmering until after the confence - probably similar to these

Most of my energy the past while has been used up on the conference and/or dealing with the nasty cold I had.  I'm pretty much over that now, but friends tell me this variety comes complete with a lingering cough.  Add to that the rise in pollen and my allergies and I just don't have much energy.

After not weaving for the better part of two weeks, I'm also dealing with loss of muscle tone and weaving on the AVL is pretty physical.

This morning I dealt with the fall out of the latest seminar cancellations - I'm hoping that's the lot and I can begin on the other aspects of conference organization.  As usual I'm wearing way too many hats, but it looks like we have found a young person willing to assist Doug with the load in and out to the vendor hall, and Mary says she will help with the final 'fluff of the inventory if I'm too busy.

But I'm also low on brain power so after working on the conference this morning, then pushing myself to weave two towels (looks like maybe three more to go) I think it may just be nap o'clock.

The next tea towel warp is crunched and ready to get slammed into the AVL just as soon as this one comes off, I have tentatively got two designs for rayon chenille scarf warps crunched, the first colourway selected.

Now to lay down and re-charge.  I may not sleep, but I think it will refresh me anyway.

Maybe I'll feel mentally able to start working out what list needs to be tackled next...

Friday, May 3, 2019

Life, Interrupted

I'm not done this warp yet, but Doug says he can go pressing on Sunday so I cut off what I've got woven and started cutting/serging the towels apart.  He'll do a small load of scarves but that isn't really enough to make it worthwhile to fire up the press, so he will also do a load of towels.  Not sure how many he will be willing to do, so I just cut off at the cloth roll at the back of the loom and taped the rest back on so that when I feel able, I can finish off the last few towels.  I think maybe four, but that remains to be seen.

The past while I have been thinking a lot about Life, and What's It All About Alfie?  (You have to have seen the movie with Michael Caine to get the reference.)

So many people I know are dealing with huge Life Happenings.  I mentioned previously a friend is in hospice and every day I wonder if I'll get the email saying that she has slipped away to whatever comes next.

But others are dealing with chronic health issues - either their own or their partner's.  Some are doing their best to cope with other things, like jobs, income generating, family members going through some rough times.

Some things are seen as 'positive' in this society, some, 'negative'.  But either way?  They can prove to be very stressful.

My own journey right now is trying to find a new way to balance my life - and last month the rent where we have the press and store excess inventory/stash went up.  They had been threatening for some time that an increase was in the works.  I have to make some decisions about all of that but really, until I get through the next six months I just don't have the energy to tackle what needs to happen.  What I do know is that I can't afford to continue renting the annex so by the end of this year Puff will have to go away and all that stuff stored at the annex?  Will have to be shoehorned into my studio.  Somehow.

Then I got sick with a nasty virus and not being a patient person, found myself raging about not being well enough to get to the loom, think clearly, deal with problems as they arose with the conference.  This morning I finally came to the realization that these sorts of things are not actually Life, Interrupted, but just another pot hole in the Road of Life.

Everyone gets dealt jokers as well as aces in their hand, and it is what we do with them that counts, not that we have a crap hand.

It's also a good lesson to know when to walk away and stop investing time/energy in something.

Yesterday I dug through the box of variegated rayon chenille and started working with one of the colourways that doesn't appeal to me.  Might as well use that up and get it out of my way first, right?

At any rate, I examined the colours of the variegation, started analysing which solids I had on hand that would go with it (because the point is not to buy more but use up what I have) and then design a stripe sequence.

As I worked with the cone trying to match solids with it, I felt a 'rough' patch on the cone.  The cone of yarn had been damaged in some fashion - I don't know how.  Maybe something spilled on it.  Maybe it was stored poorly.  I don't know.  It just felt rough and there was no guarantee that, once the scarves were woven, that the roughness would or could be removed during wet finishing.  It wasn't a 'full' cone - less than a pound.  I tried unwinding the yarn to see if it was just on the surface, then realized the damage went all the way down and under the cone so that the yarn had damage pretty much all through it.

I held the cone, felt the roughness.  Thought about investing the time/energy into making scarves that might wind up 'flawed'.  Walked over to the recycle bin and tossed it in.

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.

Thank you Kenny Rogers.  Lesson learned.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Many Hands = Light Work

When things look tangly, before order is established***

It may seem like I'm doing the conference all by myself, but that's because I'm constantly talking about it!

In reality, an event like a conference of this magnitude cannot be done by one person, and I have a great committee working alongside of me, every step of the way.

Birthe Miller is co-chair.  She has been sounding board, facilitator, facility negotiator.  She arranged for the discount codes on the two airlines, and block booked the hotel rooms.  She has helped form policy and also developed and maintained the official conference website.  She is the person who receives all the info emails sent through the website and distributes them to the appropriate person, or answers the questions herself.  I'm probably forgetting a bunch of stuff.

Wendy Knudson is the treasurer.  She has developed the budget and keeps track of all the expenses.  She advises on financial matters, has charge of the bank accounts for the conference and oversees payment of the bills.  She also is a great sounding board and give feedback on policy.

Serena Black worked tirelessly last summer/autumn getting the details for the instructors information confirmed so that she could then set up the registration at Eventbrite.  She has crunched numbers and provided the information I need to keep track of numbers in workshops/seminars.  Provided feedback on policy. 

Grace Morris is dealing with the vendor and guild booths.  She has been negotiating with the display company for the booth dividers and other amenities the vendors will require.  Sounding board and policy feedback.

Elizabeth Gibbs is covering a number of different fronts - liaise with the art gallery, marketing locally and generally filling in holes that she sees that are needing to be dealt with.

Two guilds offered to help and Sheila Carey provided assistance with her guild who assembled the name tags while Alison Irwin volunteered her guild to weave the award ribbons while contacting people to see if they were wanting to sponsor a cash award.  She did a spectacular job as we have received nearly $5000 to reward the people who (are registered for the conference and) submit an entry.  Some of the awards will be used for the guild booths and fashion show.

Now that the clock is ticking down, I have begun requesting volunteers for various things that need doing.  This morning I sent a newsletter request for people to assist with providing items for our guild display to be mounted in the stair well of the public library for the month of June, and people willing to pick up and/or return instructors to the airport.

Other tasks will soon be coming up as the days whip off the calendar.

So no, I'm not by any means doing this by myself.  I just talk about it more.  A lot more, apparently!

***to finished!