Saturday, August 31, 2019

When Plans Go Awry

There is a saying that if you want to make god laugh, tell her your plans.

I love plans.  I usually have lots of them.  Plan A, then B, C, D for when Plan A doesn't go as, well, planned.

This year (as so many before) has not entirely gone as planned.  There has been much backing and forthing, much re-thinking, much delay.  It's always this way, at least for me.  When I look back on my life, it has rarely gone according to plan.  Or at least, not without a great deal of 'waltzing' - two steps forward, one step sideways.

I am about to leave again on another trip and I had certain things I really wanted to accomplish before I left.  Instead the Universe has informed me that what I wanted and what I was going to be able to accomplish were two completely different things.  Again.

Since making the decision to shut down my business it has been a mad scramble to make room for a new loom, while deciding on how to re-arrange the studio, shift boxes and bins from pillar to post - repeatedly.  I have managed to get rid of some things, but others are still waiting to be re-homed.  Somewhere.

I found myself driven to complete another writing project which quite literally was taking up easily 5 hours a day at the end, in no small part because I could tell I was really close to finishing so then I wanted to 'get 'er done' and powered through.  But while I was at the keyboard, I wasn't in the studio.

Then the Megado arrived and we set to putting it together.  Well, Doug did, mostly.  We ran into a snag on Friday - you know, the Friday before a long weekend?  Seems like a theme running through my life - let's knock the wheels off Laura's cart on the Friday before a long weekend!

Jane Stafford and her staff, and Dave from Louet are doing everything they can to get things sorted out but it IS the Labour Day weekend and Dave is out of town.  He phoned to assure me that he would be on it when he gets home.  Ultimately it's disappointing, but on the other hand?  I really should have been weaving on the Fanny because I'm way behind where I *planned* to be in terms of production for the craft fairs.  You know, Plan A, which got derailed by other things.

I'm incredibly low on inventory and distracting myself with a writing project that may never see light of day was absolutely NOT what I should have been doing between NC and the up-coming trip.  And yet, here I am.

So once we put the loom assembly on hold yesterday, I puttered in the studio, trying to get some of the rubble dealt with.  Doug and I discussed a different layout for the work table and while I'm away he will modify the table so that it fits better in the new spot.  Ultimately it will make more room to move around and beaming warps on the Megado easier.

Four more months.  By the end of December, I will have completed the obligations I have for the business.  I have agreed to hang onto the annex until the end of January, with an option of perhaps the end of February, depending on whether or not I can get my foot 'fixed' in December.  I plan on having at least six weeks recovery time, which means I need to do everything possible before the surgery in terms of moving things from the annex here and trying to get the studio organized for 'retirement' activities.

If nothing else I have learned over the years that plans should never be written in stone.  That I should always remain flexible for when things go awry.  Sometimes my original plan isn't the best thing I ever thought of and being forced into reconsidering isn't always a bad thing.

I would love to have a functional 'easy' button, but Life isn't Easy.  Accepting that things may not turn out as planned, as hoped, and to be willing to reconsider is actually a good thing.  Like realizing that the spot the work table has been in for about 35 years is now not the best place.  Because things have changed.  And now Plan B will actually be better than staying 'stuck' with the idea that because the table has always been in a certain place it has to stay there.

Like being forced to stop working on one project and focusing on what I need to be doing instead.

Like allowing myself space to do other things because pretty soon I won't have the production treadmill to always take priority. 

Like not beating myself up because I wrote instead of wove.  Because it doesn't really matter if I don't get everything done right this second. 

Like not knowing what 2020 will bring, not having a calendar full of teaching obligations to work on and have income from teaching - in person.

Like considering things that are not efficient to weave because earning an income from selling my textiles will not be my priority going forward.

Like being somewhat apprehensive of how it is all going to work out, but accepting that Life is like that - no guarantees. 

Like reminding myself that I'm still alive and it's ok to be 69 and not in the best of health so retirement is definitely A Good Thing.

Like being encouraging and supportive of my friends and colleagues in their endeavours. 

It is the end of August.  There are four months left in this year.  And then I will shut my business down and then?  Who knows.  It is time for change.  While making the decision was not easy, it was time.  So for the first time in a very long time, I actually have no plans.  I have options.  Some I may pursue, some I may not.  And that's ok, too.

Friday, August 30, 2019


The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Each of the categories outlined in the above diagram may seem insignificant on their own, but taken together, represent how each of them affects and enhances the final cloth.

Experience is like that.  Experience is the sum of our life to this particular point in time.  We have made decisions and learned from them.  (Good decisions are just one way of discovering when we come closer to our goal - bad decisions lead to results we didn't desire!  Either way, you're learning and gaining experience...)

There is a meme on line that says that masters have made more mistakes than their students have even contemplated.

I tell my students that I am there to share all of my mistakes and let them know it is ok for them to make mistakes because that is how we fast track our learning.

As adults, people think they shouldn't make mistakes.  But one of my mentors always greeted me (and others) by asking what mistakes I had made since we last met.  That mistakes were how we learned.

So yes, even adults make mistakes.  What we need to do is not beat ourselves up because we made a mistake, but learn from it (them, because we will make many!)

Some people learn more quickly than others.  Some are timid about making a mistake so are reluctant to even try.  In order to help people be braver, I try to put it all into perspective - it's just string.  Some of it may be more expensive than other yarns, but it's still just string.  Whatever we may have spent on the yarn we are working with, we can always replace it, sometimes with something else because our first mistake may have been choosing a yarn that was inappropriate for our intended result.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes.  Sometimes the lesson is to not do that again.  Sometimes it is just data gathering, trying something to see if you are on the right track.  Sometimes it takes a few (quite a few) runs at it to get the desired results.

Some people don't like sampling because it is a 'waste of time'.  Then make functional samples.  A scarf can be a full sized sample.  So can a tea towel.

Make things.  Lots of things.  Learn from each warp.  Embrace the knowledge that comes with trying something new.  Trying something knew and 'failing'. 

Acquiring knowledge is not a waste of time.  Gaining experience comes with learning.  The more experience, the more easy it becomes to make decisions based on that foundation of knowledge. 

Yes, I do still sample.  Each new-to-me yarn will get sampled, one way or another. 

Mastery is not being 'perfect'.  Mastery is learning to recognize a mistake when you make it, know when to invest more time in fixing it, or cutting your losses and starting over.  Because sometimes it's better to just begin again, knowing what you did and what to avoid the next time.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Little by Little part ???

I'm beginning to feel like 'little by little' is my new mantra!

Doug started to assemble the loom but one of the things I wanted to do was add more heddles.  I had a pretty good idea that doing that before the loom was completely assembled would be A Good Idea, so this afternoon we started increasing the number of heddles on each shaft.

It isn't that Louet is stingy - it's just that I tend to weave with fairly fine(ish) yarns (not as fine as some, but still) and I'm not exactly sure where my new 'leisure' time is going to take me in terms of rabbit holes.  I've woven lots of tied weaves and while the loom comes with extra on shafts one and two, some tied weaves have four shafts for the ties.  Thinking ahead to possibly weaving at 36" wide with perhaps more than 32-36 epi, I thought it might be good to beef up the numbers on the first four shafts.

Since I also love fancy twills, there is a good chance that I might go further down the road that direction.  I've seen some really interesting things happening with colours and networked threadings, some deflected double weave, something christened Corris (by Margaret Coe - might need to find out more) plus I have Bonnie Inouye's workshop notes with lots of intriguing possibilities there.

So I ordered extra heddles, and today between the two of us, we managed to increase the number of heddles from 100 to 150 on shafts 1 and 2, 50 to 150 on shafts 3 and 4, and from 50 to 100 on the rest.

I'm pretty sure that will take me down any rabbit hole I decide to dive into!  But just in case, I have some extras...

However, I have also been warned that the Megado doesn't like to have 'extra' heddles bunched at the ends of shafts so I'm going to have to remember to intersperse any extras along the width of the cloth.

The Megado has many things in common with the AVL.  It also has many things that are different.  Both looms came as 'flat packs' (so to speak) and Doug is worrying away at the assembly, routinely consulting the instruction manual.  So far it's been pretty straight forward.  But he isn't rushing and that's fine by me.

The Fanny is now re-positioned and hopefully tomorrow I can clear enough of the work table off to rough sley the next place mat warp.  There are two warps wound, just waiting to get put into the loom.  I've worried away at some of the administriva.  The next writing project is in the able hands of my editor.  Packing for the next trip needs to happen, but otherwise?  I might actually feel like weaving on the weekend. 

And for those wondering, I do cut my heddles apart.  Did that on the AVL, and the shafts are 'tight' enough on the Megado that cutting them apart is going to make threading much easier, especially for any tied weave that I decide to explore.  I will also be writing on the top of the bottom shaft in at least three locations the number of the shaft.  I found this most helpful in threading the AVL with 16 shafts.  The shafts are so much closer and tighter fitting in the loom on the Megado, I'm definitely going to need a visual aid to keep track of the shafts in order to minimize errors.  The shafts aren't very thick, but should be thick enough to write a number on them.  Probably slanted orientation, not straight, just to further help me see them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Snip, Snip

I have been saying for years that I wanted, I needed to downsize.  When events in my life moved me to go from saying it to actively doing it, I expected to have some feels about it.  And I do.  Just not as much angst as I really expected, honestly.

This year has been pivotal in terms of making life changing decisions.  I was fully ready to do some of them; others?  Not so much. 

I wish the timing of some of the changes had been different, but on the whole, I am finding I am ready, more than ready, to cut some things out of my life.

Doug has been a rock, helping shift and move things from pillar to post.  Offering to make things.  Re-purposing what we already have.  My back won't tolerate the lifting of heavy boxes any more so we have been able to get assistance from a young fellow who can help Doug.  Yesterday they moved the large air compressor that ran the air assist for the AVL out of the studio and into the carport.  Doug will be offering that for sale in the coming days.

Someone will be coming to look at the industrial sewing machine.  If he wants it his sons will no doubt help carry that up and out.  We have had a nibble about the industrial steam press, but getting it to the interested party might be a deal breaker.  Time will tell.

Without my doing very much at all some of the AVL parts have been selling.  Once the dust settles we will do an inventory of what is left and see if there is any interest.  The loom frame was given to a young couple who make toys for children. 

But this week I find myself ready to start cutting other things from my life.  Yesterday I wrestled with the administrivia of any business - the books.  With just four more months of business to run, it was a real struggle to sift through receipts, enter the income/expenses into my ledger and try to balance my chequebook.  After feeling pressured by outside influence to shut my business down - and resenting it because I wasn't ready - I suddenly found myself more than ready to see the end of doing this kind of task.  I'd been faithfully doing this for 4 decades plus.  Four more months.  I think I'm ready.

I also found myself ready to stop doing other things that had been a large part of my weaving life.

Snip, snip.  I am cutting away the things that no longer bring me joy (some of it never did bring joy but were necessary!)

Marie Kondo got a lot of flak over her suggestion to get rid of anything that doesn't bring you joy.  I think she has been spot on.

Currently reading The American Agent by Jacqueline Winspear

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

It's Here!!!!!

Oh my goodness!  It's here!!!   Or will be, between 9 and 11 am tomorrow.  And we are so not ready.

I was wondering what I would use to distract myself from working in the studio today.  Seems I'll be finishing the clutter removal so that the boxes can be brought in. 


Monday, August 26, 2019


Before there can be a woven textile, there must be a warp.

A warp is the peak of all possibilities.  It holds the promise of the cloth it will become.  It sets the tone in terms of colour and texture.  It can be modified, but - unless it is weft faced - the warp will be part of the landscape, so to speak.  Even when it is invisible, it is still there, the backbone of the fabric.

The word 'warped' has so many meanings in English.  Many of the meanings can be related to weaving or not related at all.  So many textile words are used now to convey similar but different meanings. 

Computers grew, in some measure, out of weaving so perhaps it is not surprising so many weaving words were co-opted by computer technology.  Others were adopted by those in the space industry, still more by physics.

Ask a child today what a shuttle means and you are most likely going to hear about a shuttle taking passengers back and forth from the mall or the airport.  Ask a physicist about strings and no doubt you'll hear about string theory.  Or the fabric of the universe.

Fairy tales frequently use spinning or weaving as vehicles to hang the moral of the tale on.

Weavers blithely use the phrase that 'you have to be warped to weave' and purposefully use the word play of one of the other meanings of the word 'warped' while knowing that you really do have to get your loom 'warped' before you can weave fabric. 

Today I finished the first draft of my latest writing project.

I confess that I have been using the project as a way to procrastinate about what I am supposed to be doing:  warping my loom.  Instead I have been pounding the keyboard working on a project that I have little confidence that anyone will actually purchase.  On the other hand, I've got pretty close to 70 hours or more invested in it to this point.  I emailed the file to my editor and will let her decide if it's worth investing her time (and my money) into getting it honed into shape.  It's not a weaving book, although it's about weaving.  It's not a technical book, although it's not entirely without reference to technical issues.

Part of me became obsessed about getting it written and - if I was going to do it - I needed to get it done while I was still feeling the imperative to finish it.  I needed to do as I so often do - just sit down and start pounding the keyboard until I figured out what I was actually trying to say.

This time it wasn't a blog post, though, it's...a much bigger scale.  As of right now, it's 122K words.  That number may vary on what Ruth advises - cut?  Or add?  Or both?

I needed to write it out of my head or there wasn't going to be room in there for anything else.  And I really wanted to clear it out of my grey matter because as of today, the Megado is making its way across Canada.  I'm hoping to get an estimated day of arrival tomorrow.  I need a deadline to finish re-arranging the studio and I've been on tenterhooks, waiting for when the loom would arrive.

Tomorrow the Fanny and the ceiling mounted warping valet should be re-positioned.  I have two more place mat warps ready to go, and mumble mumble rayon chenille warps.  I have more yarn combinations pulled ready to wind more rayon chenille scarf warps, and then they can start getting put into the Fanny, too.

I also need to pack for my visit to Mary in early September.  I have too many threads, all tugging me in different directions.  My focus and sense of purpose is being constantly warped and instead of accomplishing anything in the studio, I've been seduced by the siren call of the thoughts tangled in my mind.

Hopefully now that I've done the first draft, I can set that project aside while Ruth does her editing magic, and I can get back to weaving. 

Wish me well on getting back on track...and warped...

Thursday, August 22, 2019


I am in the midst of another writing project.  Yeah, I know, I have so much time on my hands, why not spend an hour or two a day pounding the keyboard???

The project may never see light of day, but it has been an interesting exercise to rummage in the dark corners of my memory and try to set down my journey through this life.  I have made fair progress and this...obsession...with writing down what I remember doesn't seem to be going away.  In fact I spent several hours on planes poking at my ipad in the Note app adding more to my story.

I'm up to the early years of establishing myself as a designer/weaver and teacher with the writing starting to happen in various ways - teaching handouts, newsletter person for the guild and so on.

This morning a n exchange between a couple of people showed up on my Twitter feed.  Someone published a knitting pattern and it was being promoted when someone commented that they would wait until the pattern showed up on a free site.  The original poster asked why the second person wouldn't just buy the pattern and support an indy designer.  The second person lol'd and said that she'd get it for free from someone who bought it because once that person had purchased the pattern, it could be shared with anyone.

This back and forth reflected so much of what was going on 45 years ago in so many ways.  The attitude that as a weaver it was a hobby so I didn't deserve to get paid.  As a woman, I was being supported by my spouse so didn't need to make any money.  That my textiles could be copied and then the copier could replicate my design and sell it themselves.  That I was charging way too much money with the unstated 'who do you think you are, asking for so much money?'

There were other observations such as, well, you love what you do, so you shouldn't ask for money.  Or people would comment that they could make it themselves.  Or that a tea towel shouldn't be so expensive, I was charging too much, I'd never sell tea towels for the price I was asking.

The variations were pretty much endless, and at times felt relentless.

My initial reaction was to be highly indignant and offended.  Eventually I came to realize that what the comments were actually saying is that the person saying them had limited means and in many cases simply could not afford to buy my textiles.  It took a long time but I came to realize that their lack of financial resources was not my problem.

Their lack of respect of my skills, talents, and flat out courage to bring my ideas and product to the marketplace did rankle and I had to find a way to cope with such comments.

The first thing I did was never drop my prices.  I had to stay firm in knowing what I needed in order to keep my business viable, pay for the costs of the business, purchase materials and all the supporting things that were required, like care tags, market my work (booth fees and the travel to get to the shows, shipping product to my outlets), put food on the table and keep a roof over my head, and so on.

For me weaving was not a hobby, it was not something to 'keep you busy', it was my work, my job, my career.

The term 'starving artist' is used because it is in so many ways an accurate depiction of what the vast majority of creative people experience - lack of funds beyond the bare necessities.  Yes, we do it because we love it.  But in this society we also need to keep body and soul together.  People say that artists do their art as a 'side hustle' while they work other jobs so shouldn't charge so much, when in reality their 'day' job is the side hustle that allows them to do their creative work.

For many years my income was well below the poverty line.  My goal in life was to earn enough money that I actually paid income tax.  I was to meet that goal, but I was never much beyond the minimum income.

So eventually when someone would come into my booth, fondle my textiles and then say that my prices were too high, I would smile, nod and quietly say "I understand about limited income."

I had to refuse to make their financial issues my problem. 

At one point I joined a large guild in order to participate in their annual autumn sale.  When I arrived, my textiles were divided up and put into the appropriate 'departments'.  The textiles were categorized and scarves put with scarves, tea towels with tea towels and so on.

During the set up, several guild members came to quietly explain to me that my textiles would never sell at the price I was asking.  I thanked them and said that if they didn't sell at the sale there, I could sell them at those prices at home.  It was not a boast, it was true.  At home I had been weaving for a long time and had established a reputation for producing good quality.  People knew that my textiles did not wear out in a year or two, but lasted for a long time.

At the end of the sale I collected my textiles, and a few weeks later my payment arrived in the mail.  And the following year I was interested to note that some of the same guild members who cautioned me about not selling my textiles at my price?  Were raising their prices.  By the time I stopped doing that show, I wasn't the highest priced anymore, the guild members had finally begun to value their textiles and were putting more appropriate prices on their work.  And the public was buying it.

As weavers in the 21st century, we need to understand what it is we are selling:  our designs, our creativity, our colour sensibilities and our cloth.  If we don't value what it is we do, why should anyone else?

So purchase the pattern.  Make it possible for good designers to keep producing more good designs.  Support your local artisans.  Pay your teachers a decent amount.  Buy their books.  If you can't afford their books, request your guild library purchase them and provide reviews to your social media.

Value knowledge and respect it's worth.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Ripple Effect

Change.  Change one thing, and everything can - and frequently does - change.

Doing a major studio overhaul while also trying to stay on target for production is, in a word, challenging.  On the other hand, I want to get through this, not just anticipate it for the next 5 months.  I want my 'old' life to be wrapped up in a nice neat bow so that when 2020 arrives, I will be ready for my 'new' life.  As much as I can be.

Changing the studio in such drastic ways means that my old ways of working aren't going to continue to work very well.  This morning we started filling the shelves that Doug and his helper installed over the previous two days and all was going well until I realized that I wasn't going to be able to comfortably work at the Leclerc Fanny with the shelves standing so far away from the wall and into my work space.

When I asked Doug to help move the loom over, it meant moving a small set of drawers, which in reality will soon become redundant, but not yet, then trying to figure out where some boxes needed to go to get to the loom.  Since there is still no 'home' for the contents of said boxes, once again things got moved from pillar to post, temporarily.

Then as we were discussing the position of the loom I realized that since the valet had to be moved because the loom was moved, I could also turn the loom to a different orientation which would give me better working space with the new configuration of shelving that was happening at that end of the studio.

If we turned the loom, however, I would not have the valet to use today to dress the loom, so we just moved the loom over about 18" and the final placing of the loom and valet will have to wait a few more days because moving the valet will be easier with some help.  And his helper won't be available for a few days.

In the meantime, I really need to get a warp on that loom, so interim placing will happen and hopefully I can get a couple of mat warps done before the loom gets moved to it's 'final' position.

And so it goes.  One change after another, each one having a ripple effect which means that changing one thing isn't about changing that one thing but the domino effect that happens with every single change.

I keep my eye on what the end result will be and try not to get too fussed by the constant stream of changes.  Ch-ch-changes...

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Ms Megado

The photo is of a 32 shaft version but I decided to stick with 16.  I've been weaving with 16 shafts since 1982 when I got the AVL, and while there are times when more would be nice, decided that with elderly eye sight I probably couldn't see to accurately thread those last 16 shafts.  Not to mention the additional cost.  So, 16 it is.

This morning I got notification that 'my' loom is on Canadian soil and I should be getting a tracking number shortly.  I'm not sure how it's coming, but I assume by courier.  I'm just hoping we can arrange for some (younger) assistance for Doug to carry the boxes down the stairs to the studio.  And maybe even assemble it.

I'm not entirely sure I'm going to be happy with the Louet sectional beam tension box, so we kept the AVL box and rail and if I'm not, Doug has worked out a plan to install the AVL equipment on the Louet.  But I will do a test warp and try it to see.  I kind of desperately need shawls so the first warp will be 20 yards/meters of 2/16 bamboo (from Brassard) and I will try to use up some of my fine rayon stash as weft on the warp.  Then they will have to be fringe twisted and wet finished. 

I don't have much time on the slippery slope of the learning curve (accidentally typed 'curse' - oops?) so I'm hoping that it won't take long before I'm comfortable on the loom.  Ideally I'd like to have the test warp on and off the loom before I leave on my next trip, but that is most likely wildly optimistic!

The loom was purchased through Jane Stafford Textiles and the customer service has been great.

Doug and his helper are working on a shelving unit that will hold yarn.  The counter that held the photocopy machine was really taking up more space than necessary.  I think if I can get to the table in the opposite corner to clear it off, the photocopy machine can go live there.  But emptying the annex as quickly as we can means I need more shelving here so one wall will now have shelves floor to ceiling.  Then another couple of corners have also been cleared of what used to live there and will also get shelving.

In the meantime I work at using up as much stash as I can.  The less I have, the less I will be storing, and the sooner we can clean the annex out.  With the increase in rent earlier this year, it's getting way too expensive, especially as I shut my business down. 

Not doing craft fairs after this year means I don't need to be producing inventory, therefore don't need storage for it.  I won't need all the booth apparatus, either. 

As the decisions are made, the ramifications ripple through and I am anxious to get everything done as quickly as I can. 

Simplify, simplify, simplify.  I can hardly wait for a simpler life.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Aiming for Efficiency

cheat sheet

yarn package set up

Over the years I've tried various things to keep myself on track when doing certain jobs.

This morning I grabbed the stripe sequence I designed a number of weeks ago using the Fibonacci series (5:3:1:3) where the value for 1 is 2 ends.  This translates into a stripe sequence of:

Colour A - 10 ends
Colour B - 6 ends
Colour C - 2 ends
Colour B - 6 ends...repeat 7 times and finish with Colour A with 10 ends.  The information gets written on a post it note or piece of paper and affixed to the wall just above the warping board for quick and easy reference.

This yarn order makes the selvedge colour the same on both sides and creates a symmetric stripe sequence.

My yarns are set up so that I move from Colour A through B, then C, then back to B.

As I was winding the first warp, I wondered how it would look to swap colour B and C alternately across the width of the warp.  Hmm.

I ran out of the dark grey on the left (Colour A) so I will pull a different combination and try one warp with the colour order as given, then a second one alternating the two secondary colours.  This should provide a little more visual interest as the cloth will not be identical all the way across.  With 7 repeats, the two stripes on the edge will have the same colour sequence so there will be symmetry within the alternation, and I'm thinking it will look quite nice.

The repeat is a total of 24 ends.  To help me keep track of the number of repeats, my counting string will count repeats, not a certain number of ends.  This should aid in tracking the alternating colour stripes when I wind that warp.  Odd repeats will be ABCB and even repeats will be ACBC.

With any luck I can keep close enough track to not make any mistakes!

Doug arranged for a young person to come with his strong back to help with setting up shelving at one end of the studio.  We got up early because we needed to do some prep work so that when Doug's helper arrives, the two of them can jump right in and maybe, just maybe, by the end of the day there will be shelving along the south wall beside the Fanny and there will finally be some place to put a lot of the things that need to be put 'away' but have no where (currently) to go.  If so, we will finally be able to see some actual, concrete progress, instead of just shifting stuff from one corner to another.

We are both sick of the mess and clutter and I really need some order in the studio if no where else in the house.  I'm trying to get some production done, but right now the Fanny is the only loom I really have, and I can't get to it while Doug and his helper set up the shelving.  Of course there WAS a set of shelves along that wall - the rayon chenille that I am currently trying to work with to wind warps.  Right now all of the chenille has been removed and put into bins.  I am going to do the best I can to root through those bins and pull colours to wind scarf warps.

But I am mighty tired of all the clutter and rubble.  Truth is I should have waited until the end of the year to do the studio re-arranging, except that the Megado could arrive any day now and things needed to get done before that happened.  So I am scrambling to try and do what needs to be done while in the midst of a major studio overhaul.

Sigh.  It has to get worse before it can get better.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Home Sweet (Cluttered) Home

Yesterday I wended my way home again.  Missed seeing the Rockies as they were covered by cloud, but west of the mountains the clouds cleared and I got a good view of north east Washington state,  looking a lot like a very textured textile...

As usual the students were lovely.  I will carry fond memories of this week in North Carolina and look forward to seeing their homework when they submit it.

Now that I'm home, I am faced with the prospect of getting as much as possible done in the (about) 3 weeks before I set off on my next trip.

There are still AVL parts scattered all over the place, some stash  yarn which will be going to another weaver, re-arranging the studio in anticipation of the arrival of the Megado, perhaps even this week?

In between there are a couple more place mat warps to weave, a gigantic heap of mats woven, but awaiting their final steps - wet finishing, hemming, final pressing, tagging/pricing.

I have also been carrying on with a writing project, which may - or may not - see light of day.  But I seem to be a bit obsessed with doing it so if nothing else, getting the words out of my brain and set down seems to be cathartic and therefore useful to me personally.  In many ways it is helping me shape what my future will become by examining my past, and how I became the person - and the weaver/teacher - I am today.  In many ways that particular cycle of my life is being wrapped up and it seems like A Good Thing to record what I remember of my life now, before I move on to the Next Thing.

But everyone knows - before it can get better it must get 'worse' - and we have been living in the 'worse' for over a month now.  Every time I think things can't get any 'worse' than guessed it, it gets 'worse'.

Doug is arranging for a young person to help carry the boxes of the Megado down to the studio.  I worry about him and me doing it.  My back was giving me fits on the trip - too many uncomfortable chairs/seats - and the aches and pains I still have lead me to suspect that they may never get better than they are right now.  Which is pretty actively discouraging me from these long trips.  If I'm driving I can stop as needed and get out and walk around and the van has really good seats.  Airplanes, not so much, and they are cramped.  If I'm in the window seat I can't easily get up when my legs and back start squawking and I become very uncomfortable.  Age and medication have not helped in this, but on the other hand, I'm still alive TO squawk, so there is that.

Once the scattered loom parts are either claimed or disposed of, the clutter in the house will be greatly reduced.  I'm all for just loading it all up and taking it to the tip, but Doug is trying to re-home as much of it as possible.  I'm just anxious to get rid of the mess. 

Now that I'm home, I will get back to getting info to people who have expressed an interest in several items.  But not today.  Today is a day of rest and I will do only what I please.  I may please to weave, but that is to be determined.  I do please to empty my suitcases and put them away, which will get rid of a small amount of clutter.  But first I will finish my coffee, have a shower and then see what appeals.

But I would really like to tame Clutter Mountain before my next trip, knowing that when I get home from that we will be well into craft fair organization which will have it's own level of clutter...I won't miss the annual scramble to prepare for and then do the craft fairs, although I will miss being part of that community.  Ah well, time to step aside and let others take my place.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Hurry Up and Wait

So, I’m sitting in a hotel in Charlotte, NC.  I’m anxious to get home, in no small part because I got word on Monday my loom was wending it’s way across the Atlantic.  

Doug has been working on getting the studio ready for when it arrives.

My flight leaves at 1 pm and I go from here to Detroit, to Vancouver, to home.  All being well, I will arrive home around midnight.  By that point I will have been awake since around 3 am home time, and I hope to be able to fall into bed as soon as I get through the door.  

As usual the class was marvellous. There was the expected wide range of experience and the more experienced helped the others.  Everyone was cheerful, even when things got confusing.  And it is confusing, I readily admit that.  The manuals were upgraded and at times I found myself remembering what was in the old manual, which didn’t help.  But in the end we got through it and people who didn’t make a practice of sampling now see the value.  Which warms the cockles of my heart. 

Hesitation to wet finish is now overcome, I think.   More warmed cockles.  

I also recently found out that Long Thread Media will soon have their DVDs back.  They are gone from the Interweave website hopefully transitioning to Long Media.  Sign up for their email notices to get their news. 

I will be home for about three weeks before I leave again.   Lots to do between trips.  Send me energy.  Imma gunna need it...

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Hump Day


At the Yadkin Valley Art Center in NC, and we are just over the halfway point in the class.   Students are working there way through the learning exercises and light is dawning.   We are working at peeling back the complexity of the craft, revealing the principles.  

It is great to see them tackle the issues and problem solve.   I’m looking forward to getting their boxes of homework and seeing the progress as they work through their homework.  

So satisfying to see how enthusiastic they are and eager to learn.  Warms the cockles of my heart, it  does!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Wrapping Things Up

Over the past little while I have been slowly but steadily working my way through mat warps.  When we looked at inventory a few weeks ago and realized how few mats there were, it seemed prudent to get some more made.  Today I finished threading the warp I beamed and started threading yesterday until it was time to head off for a doctor appointment, then sleyed and tied on before stopping for lunch.  I have just two more mat warps planned but I won't likely get them both done before I leave Saturday morning.

Tomorrow is Thursday and I need to work on my packing again.  The weather there is supposed to be uniformly hot, much hotter than I'm really comfortable with, being a 'northern girl'.  OTOH, they probably have a/c so I should pack a light sweater.

Before I left I wanted to finish writing up the conference wrap up report and get it to the board.  We aren't quite done as the treasurer needs to finalize the books and get them audited, but the rest of the committee is already on to the next projects.  I've sent the draft to the committee asking them to correct any errors.  Hopefully they will get back to me so I can email the report to the board on Friday.

I had hoped to get a bunch of my knitted shawls wet finished in time for the fall fair but the floor remains cluttered with loom bits and there is no time for me to get the shawls wet finished and tagged ready before I leave.  So the guild will get them for the craft fair in November.  So much for getting rid of that mountain.  Well, soon enough.

The Megado should arrive in a few weeks.  I haven't received notice that it has arrived in Canada yet but it could be in the country soon.  Then it will have to travel across country here.  It might arrive while I'm away, or not until I get back.  Either way, it will come when it comes.

Doug was helping a friend today, which wound up taking longer than expected.  Maybe he can get back to my mess tomorrow.

I am just so fed up with the disruption, chaos and clutter.  On the other hand, progress has been made.  Not as much as I'd hoped, but still...

What I have managed to do is spend time every day (nearly) working on another writing project.  I have no idea if it will ever see light of day, but it just seems to be writing itself, so I'm letting it pour out.  It's quite amazing how much typing can be done when you just let it flow.  Of course it might disappear in editing - or get buried as being of insufficient interest to bother paying an editor and setting the file up to be published.

I still haven't seen the review of The Intentional Weaver in Handwoven, although I've seen some sales come through on blurb, so it must be an ok review.  Someone let me know today that she couldn't place an order and wanted to buy directly from me.  Thing is, I no longer have copies.  The only way to purchase it is through the website.  You can choose between hard copy or PDF and also get Magic in the Water while you're at it.  ;)  I suggest if anyone is having issues with the blurb website that they contact blurb to let their support team know.

Right now I'm in 'elephant eating' mode.  One bite, one deadline at a time...and hopefully I can get my last few commitments wrapped up.  By the time I get home from my trip it will be more than half way through August.

So much to do, so little desire to do so much of it.  Hopefully a new loom will provide a much needed boost of energy.  The plan - subject to change - is to finish the run of place mats, hopefully have the Megado ready to go as soon as it arrives and put a test warp on it.  I'm hoping the learning curve isn't too long or too steep.  I've got shawls that need to be made for the upcoming craft fairs...(chomp, chomp, chomp...)

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Looking Forward

Well, the Whitin winder has now left the building and is on it's way to it's new home

There are still many more things to be done in my studio, but as the dust starts to settle, I begin to look towards the future.

One of the things is what happens next in regards to The Intentional Weaver.  The review in Handwoven is in the latest issue, and I've seen some orders happen.  But I also recognize that books are expensive.  We went with the hardback to begin with because they are more durable.  Not everyone can afford to buy hardback.

My trusty editor and I have been mulling over whether it would be 'better' to just have the hardback and digital copies as we do presently, or if we should explore a paperback option.

She wondered if it would even be worthwhile to offer paperback.

My feeling is that there would be a market for a cheaper print version, but don't really know.

Things on that front are on hold for a while, in no small part because I have a busy travel schedule, but I will be home for about 5 weeks after my second trip and before the first craft fair happens.

I expect that by that time of the year I will have to make a decision and if we go with the paperback version I will have to see if Ruth has time in her schedule to render the files and load them to blurb.

What I have decided is that I will not order in copies to sell directly.  If we launch the paperback version on Dec. 2 (one year after hard back launch), it would mean that I would have to deal with orders, then shipping the books out.  Since I'm hoping to get my foot 'fixed', I'm going to be recovering from surgery and hopping about trying to deal with packages and mail and whatnot really isn't advisable.

So - what say you, dear reader?  We don't have a price because the file would have to be rendered on the blurb website in order to get their quote on printing, but it would be cheaper than the hard back.  How much cheaper?  To be determined.

Saturday, August 3, 2019


Doug has been working really hard on getting the studio sorted out.  It is a well worn but extremely accurate adage that says before things can get better, they have to get worse.  Sometimes a lot worse.

The loom tear down and studio re-arranging was proceeding nicely when Doug found a buyer for the Whitin pirn winder.  She decided the best time to come get it was now, not later, and suddenly all my carefully thought out plans got tossed aside in order to dig the winder out from behind the several years of accumulation that had been piled in front and beside it.

Since she will also get the shuttles and pirns, I had a good dig through the store room to find some I knew still had yarn on them.

When I was into production, I would wind plenty of pirns and have them ready to go.  If I didn't use the wound pirns up, it didn't matter because I had lots of pirns.  As in lots and lots.

Since I haven't used the fly shuttle the past few years, and only sporadically for about five years prior to that, those boxes of filled pirns had also gotten shuffled to the backs of shelves, into nooks and crannies.

The photo is actually part of the 'becoming better' stages.  With moving things around, floor space that hasn't seen any kind of cleaning in years was exposed so Doug has been vacuuming with his big shop vacuum.  It's that black and red thing with the hoses. 

Piled to the left are loom parts and the two fly shuttle boxes are standing against the wall to the left and back.

The white cabinet holds the computer that runs the loom, a boombox and other tools and it may stay where it is or get moved slightly.  We will decide once the Megado is here and assembled.

That pile of boxes?  Those are the boxes of pirns.  One of the boxes has fine cashmere on them, the rest are primarily 2/16 cotton.  Pounds of it, all told.  I'm going to ask if she minds if I keep those and use up as much of the yarn as I can because she says she won't use it and would just strip it off.  Which would take hours.  Plus it's wasteful.  So I'm hoping she will agree. 

Since I may be teaching not too far away from her studio in April (to be determined - I may have a conflicting commitment, plus the college may choose a different instructor), I will tell her I'll get them to her by the end of April.

That would give me the chance to use the yarn plus gives me a deadline by which I would have to do that.

Doug has made arrangements with a young fellow to help carry some things up out of the basement, including the winder, and once those things are out of the way Doug can begin bringing shelving from the annex to here.

My schedule is really full (given my energy levels) and I would really like to get as much moved out of the annex in advance of the end of the year as I possibly can.

I may have surgery on my foot in December, so the more I can do prior to the surgery, the less I will feel like I need to hasten recovery by dealing with moving out of there so I can reduce my expenses.

Retirement will only work if I can reduce the out-go because the in-come is going to go way down come 2020...

Right now I'm awash in the scramble to get all of this done and keep weaving for the fall craft fairs.

Just cut another place mat warp off the small loom, cut/serged them, and will now go dress the loom again with another.  I'm very low on inventory and to make the shows at least pay for themselves, I have to have more textiles to sell. 

I don't think I'm going to miss the hamster wheel of production/sales.

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Little Good News

Yesterday the news broke that Handwoven, Spin Off and Piecework magazines have been purchased by Interweave founder Linda Ligon, Anne Merrow and John Bolton.

After months of uncertainty due to the Chapter 11 of F&W Media (with dozens of authors losing big amounts of money, myself included), to find out that this team is now in control of these magazines is a huge relief.

One of my goals for 'retirement' is to go back to experimentation and exploration, possibly writing for publication.  I am now much more at ease about offering articles to Handwoven, knowing that the magazine is in good hands.

At this point the weaving (and spinning and quilting) community will need to take a leap of faith and continue to support the magazines.

Publishing in the 21st century is a risky affair.  So many people expect to get things for nothing, but nothing good or lasting comes from nothing. 

As a self-publishing author, I know the back room efforts it takes to publish books and monographs.  A magazine is doing it multiple times a year, dealing with multiple authors, not just one.  Publishing standards are higher than ever with the new technologies.

As soon as I found out about the purchase I went to the Long Thread Media website and signed up for updates.  I expect the transition to Long Thread will go smoothly and that the magazine will continue without interruption.

My de-stashing continues as people check in and either arrange to purchase things or decline so I can continue on down the 'dibs' list.  This Sunday the pirn winder will go and there will be room to bring in a shelving unit to go into that space.  The dresser at the other end of the studio will also get carried up and out.  Thanks to a young man who will help lift and tote.  And then more shelving can come over from the annex to here, allowing me to sort the recently acquired silk.  I have had someone ask about silk yarns and if I have something she is looking for I will happily send some to her.

I have also been eyeing that shelving unit of rayon chenille, wondering if I really and truly want to weave it.  I don't know how many pounds there might be - easily 50, quite likely more - in various colours.

Marie Kondo got a lot of flak for her clutter reducing advice, but frankly?  I'm finding it a good measure of whether or not I actually want to keep something or if I'm ready to let it go to a new home.  And rayon chenille no longer brings me much joy.   So...

And in the end, not finding the joy in something tells me that I am probably ready to let it go.  There is no point hanging on to something when someone else can find the joy.

As one internet meme says - 'sprinkle that stuff everywhere'.

A Little Good News by Anne Murray

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Wear and Tear

evidence of wear on the breast beam just under the threading/reed hook

"Things as imagined, things as they are, things as used, and things as discarded all have their own emotional resonance which weave and interplay with the others to form a complex embodiment of feeling in materiality” Hillary Davidson

The Leclerc Fanny was 'rescued' from an art centre in Alberta. Originally made around 1950, it had been well loved and used by probably two weavers previous to it making it's way to the art centre where it languished for an number of years until I bought it.

We drove out to Alberta in the winter - through the Rocky Mountains in February as I recall. I forget what year it would have been, but sometime in the late 1990s. For the past 20 or so years, I have woven miles of cloth on it.

I had been through several other looms, none of which were really working well for me so I had high hopes this would be my loom and it has been. In so many ways it has been a workhorse.

We upgraded it because it still had the original dog and pawl brake so Doug installed a friction fit braking system. I bought all new cords for it but kept the original aprons. The back apron is showing signs of failing soon and I may need to replace it. I have a length of cotton I had bought for the AVL that is left over and will work just fine. Once I have the time, energy and space to lay out a large piece of cloth and cut it to size, make the slits for the rod, sew the rod pocket and so on. The current apron has cloth 'tabs' that I love, but I'm not about to try and replicate those. Another sign of the age of this loom because anything after about the mid-1950s has a back apron more like the front apron pictured. OTOH, I could just order a new apron from Leclerc and not have to fuss with it.

Yesterday as I started threading the next place mat warp, the light reflected on the curve of the beam and I really noticed the amount of wear on the beam. Evidence of the abrasion the cloth makes each time the warp is advanced and tightened. Or at least that is what I assume because I don't remember the beam having nearly this much wear on it when I got it, new-to-me.

Or maybe I'm just in a state of hyper-awareness about my equipment - my tools of the trade. Maybe because I am in the process of downsizing and getting rid of so much I am paying more attention to the things I am keeping. Noticing that they, too, are getting old(er), wearing out.

Hillary Davidson is an historian who writes about the history of clothing/fashion. Her Twitter handle is @FourRedShoes. I always enjoy her observations about clothing and fashion and will look forward to reading more of the things she writes about. I think she may have a book coming out soon-ish.

This morning I was emailing with Dr Paulette Steeves who also has a book coming out next year. I mentioned to her that I will look forward to it and that once I've shut my business down I anticipate having more time to read.

The emotional resonance of downsizing has been getting to me and I find I haven't much mental wherewithal to read very much of substance.

But currently I am reading (in small bits and pieces) Sarah Parcak's book on the work she has been doing with satellite imagery.

I have always enjoyed reading about people of other times and places. Recently I've 'discovered' Adrienne Mayor and will be looking for her books. The local library has a couple of her titles and if I weren't so busy and out of town so much I'd put them on reserve. However, all of this disruption and the emotional resonance of getting rid of so much of the equipment and tools accumulated over 40+ years will be over soon enough.

I thought I would be sadder than I am. Maybe because I'm not quitting weaving, just changing my focus. I'm not going to be without a loom, but getting a new one. One that will - hopefully - allow me to weave for a good many more years.