Monday, September 30, 2019

Nitty Gritty

I try not to post more than once a day and I am...

While Doug and his helper worked at the other end of the studio, I wove on the Fanny, thinking hard about where the heck I was going to put All The Stuff.  Next to me sat the Woolhouse Margaret, a loom that I, personally, haven't used in too many years to count.

Not that it isn't a good loom, for what it is - 24 shaft lever loom.  It's just that I haven't needed to use it in ages.  When I first got it, I actually used it quite a lot.  At the time I didn't have a small loom so the Margaret was something I could use to weave quick samples for the AVL or even do things beyond what I could do on the 16 shaft AVL.  And I did use it, quite a lot in fact, for everything from 2/40 linen through to rayon chenille.

One of the things I intended was for it to be my retirement loom.  But now?  Now I have the Megado and really if I want to keep weaving, which I do, I'd rather do it on the Megado.  With my whiplash injuries using the Margaret with its levers arrayed across the front even gets to be problematical.

So, as I sat weaving on the rayon chenille which only required surface attention, ruminating about where the heck I was going to put All That Stuff and the Woolhouse kept snagging the corner of my eye.

Finally I sighed and made the inevitable decision - it was time to sell it.


24 shaft Woolhouse Margaret, comes with stand, WhichOne, and one 10 dent reed.

I do not want to be shipping this loom.  It's fairly large and awkward.  My preference would be for someone to come pick it up.  However, delivery could potentially - for a price - be arranged within a 500 mile driving radius of Prince George, BC.

If it has to be shipped, there will be an additional charge for crating and shipping to be paid.

If interested, email me laura at laurafry dot com

(I did have someone contact me several years ago expressing interest.  Unfortunately I've forgotten who that was.  Still interested?  Contact me asap.)

Taking Stock

In the midst of the major overhaul of the studio it was time to take stock of where we were at and what else needs to get done.

Yesterday after getting the Megado and my laptop talking to each other, it was time to make some more decisions.

With the desktop not seemingly able to connect with the loom, that computer became surplus to requirements.  Then the cabinet it lived in was no longer needed for that purpose.  However, Doug suggested that it could be turned into a cabinet to house all my CDs (and cassettes - yes, I still play music cassettes - or did - I may give them up now) and that in turn could free up the rack most of the CDs currently live on, thereby freeing up about 6 square feet of space for more functional shelving.

We discussed placement of the cabinet where it would make more usable space for me to work and store boxes.  Because I took a look at the annex and was dismayed at how much more stuff needs to be emptied out of that before I can give the landlord notice that I will be moving out.

I have been whittling away at my stash, getting rid of dribs and drabs of yarn, doing the best I can to use up what can be used through knitting shawls.  I've made good progress but knitting is slower than weaving.  Except that some of the yarn is too little to weave with, too much to throw away.  So, I knit.  Knitting is also portable so I can bring my bag when I go to guild or my rare visits with friends.

Doug's helper is coming today and they will continue with the adjusted layout in the studio.  If Doug can also get the sectional equipment sorted as well, I expect to be tossing a test warp onto the Megado in the next day or two.

But I realized last night that there is just 3.5 weeks left until the first sale of the season.  I am woefully under prepared.  But I am officially running out of time, so all I can do is what I can do.

I did let the Studio Shop know that after the craft fairs I will be bringing more stock in, just in time for Christmas sales.  Since I am shutting down my business, but will still have inventory, one way to cope with left over stock is to sell on consignment or on line. 

So watch this space for announcements of things for sale beginning late November.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Lift Off!


Even though I've been weaving with a computer assisted dobby for ages (early 1990s?) changing looms meant changing dobby and changing how that dobby connects with my computer.

I love the elegance of Fiberworks, have been using it since the beginning to drive the AVL and really wanted to be able to use Fiberworks to drive the Megado.

The desktop I was using?  Had other ideas.  It stubbornly refused to connect to the loom. 

Fortunately I have options, to whit a laptop which also has Fiberworks installed on it.  I use it for teaching the Olds program so having Fiberworks available on it was a must.

After much backing and forthing with Dave van S, we finally got the loom and the laptop to work together with the loom's built in computer, but my preference was to use the desktop/Fiberworks and Dave kindly offered to try and help me with that.  But he was on the road and it took a couple of days for our schedules to line up.

This morning he called and we tried and tried to get the desktop to talk to the loom and just could not make it work.  Since I have a love/hate relationship with that particular computer, I had already decided that if we could not get it functioning today I was going to just switch to the laptop.

After repeated attempts to get the desktop to behave, Dave commented that I didn't have Fiberworks on my laptop.  I assured him that I did.

So I swapped out the desktop for the laptop and within just a few minutes the laptop was connected and the loom was live! 

Now the desktop can go into storage as a back up, the computer cabinet will be turned into something else, and I can start getting the Megado set up with a test warp.  Hopefully tomorrow.

For now I am taking the rest of the day off.

Huge hat tip to Dave and Jane for all the times they stepped in to help.  I think Dave has more patience than I will ever have and I am grateful beyond words.

Saturday, September 28, 2019


The general rule is that the fell line should be contained within the 'sweet spot' - approximately 2" right between the breast beam and the reed.

There are times, however, when it helps to adjust where the fell line will actually be.

In the above photo, the fell is much closer to the breast beam than I would ordinarily position it.  The entire sweet spot needs to shift closer to the breast beam in my experience.


Well, rayon chenille is textured.  The fell doesn't open cleanly and I find that by moving the sweet spot closer to the breast beam the shed opens 'better' so that the weft can be beaten into place.

I know that a lot of people advise not using a great deal of tension with rayon chenille, but I find that by using a somewhat higher tension on the warp and moving the fell, I can get a decent shed, seat the weft around the selvedge end and beat the weft into place.

Now this might not work on a jack/rising shed loom.  A counter balanced loom forms the shed by sinking the shafts you want down while simultaneously raising the rest.  This makes a shed that has equal tension on both sets of ends - those down and those up.

There are other instances when moving the shed seems to help - any yarn that is hairy; any yarn that is textured; any warp that is extremely dense.

It is also possible to adjust shed geometry by inserting lease sticks and shortening the distance between the fell and the back beam.  Another way to adjust shed geometry is to increase the height of the back beam.  This seems to particularly help on a rising shed loom when weaving linen, especially if the overall length from breast to back beam is short.

Like any other tool, there are times when you might consider adjusting your equipment, or adjusting what you usually do with it.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Shed a Little Light

With the studio re-arrangement and loom re-positioning, one of the things I need to figure out is the placement of my supplementary lights. 

The work table is now rolled up against a wall, which means I'm working in my shadow.  However, Doug put a second lamp holder on the other end of the table so I can turn on two lamps when I'm working on it - something I have already done.  With the days getting shorter and what daylight we have grey and dreary, I really need extra light. 

Not to mention I also have 'baby' cataracts which are going to limit my vision further as they 'ripen'.

Today is another grey dreary day although it started out nicely enough.  But to thread this mostly black warp?  One lamp simply wasn't enough.  Fortunately I have some lights on clamps and was able to put one at the back of the loom so that I can more easily see the threads at the cross.

The past couple of days have been fraught, what with one thing and another.  Right now I'm trying to work out when I can have a conversation with Dave from Louet because the computer assisted dobby doesn't seem to want to talk to any of my devices.  We have to do some long distance trouble shooting, but between my schedule and his, we are having a bit of a time working out when we can do this.

I'm not unhappy with the customer service I have been getting - both Jane and Dave have been right there for me when I needed them.  It's just that I had appointments this afternoon, and he's traveling tomorrow, so it might take a wee while to be able to have the time to see why it isn't working.   It's all a huge disappointment, and still not having the Megado up and running at the end of September means my production schedule is shot all to hell. 

The more I think about the looming deadlines, the more I'm thinking I need to just cancel Calgary, but I will hold off on that decision until doing my inventory tonight, then see if the loom wakes up tomorrow.  Or whenever we can get it going. 

The other thing that ate up my time this week was a hearing test.  After weaving for 44 years, with various pieces of noisy equipment being used - pirn winder, bobbin winder, cone winder, air compressor, electric rotary cutter - my ears have been assailed by a lot of noise over the years.  I began thinking my hearing might be a problem about a year ago, and the indicators began piling up when I began to take notice.  So I went in for a hearing test and yes, it appears all that noise has taken a toll on me.

The audiologist was kind of surprised when I told her I was pleased it wasn't worse, given my work.  I think she was even more surprised when I told her that I'd routinely worn hearing protection when I wove  on my big loom.  The AVL fly shuttle with the plastic 'hammers' was very noisy and Doug recognized right from the get-go that my hearing needed protection and got me suitable ones.  I'm quite sure that without them my hearing would have been much worse many years ago.

The segment of hearing that I have lost centers on the soft consonant sounds, making words that sound similar sound even more similar.  I find that in a noisy environment, I am having more and more difficulty hearing people around me talking and I was starting to tune out..  While my hearing loss isn't profound, it is significant - the sharp dip at just that area in the spectrum was pretty effective in letting me know that I was going to have to get hearing aids, sooner rather than later.   Given my schedule, I opted to wait for a couple of months and will consider them a Christmas present.  :-/   Knowing that I am having some difficulty hearing means that I will be more careful in group settings and if I can't hear, just let the person I'm talking to know.  It is clear to me that if I'm going to continue teaching, I need to have hearing aids.

But all in all?  It's been a bit of a rough week.  Really sucks getting decrepit.  On the other hand, we live in the 21st century and have technology that will let us continue.  So, cataract surgery at some point, hearing aids before the end of the year.  Pretty soon I'll be the bionic woman!

Currently reading Amazons by Adrienne Mayor

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

One Step, Two Steps

We continue on our progress to do the studio re-organization and get the Megado up and running.

I finally felt able to work my way through the manual for the computer dobby set up.  It was a bit confusing because they provide so many different formats in order to run the loom.  Which is great, but it took a while for me to work my way through the manual and figure out what it is I wanted to do.  Or at least find the method I wanted to use.

I didn't want to use the wifi hookup, for reasons, but a direct cable.  Turns out that was pretty much the last option they gave so I had to read through a lot of stuff I didn't really understand to finally find what I was looking for.  Then I had to locate the cable they said they included - Doug had put it 'away' - only to discover it was too short for my space requirements.  Doug suggested 12 feet but Staples only had an 11' in stock, so it may mean shuffling the computer cabinet or loom so that they can live closer to each other.   I'd kind of like to have less of a gap between the two to discourage walking around the loom in that direction, so when he gets home I'll ask him about shifting one or both.

Doug's helper got the sectional rake staples installed yesterday.  When I put them in the other day I found them very loose - and we aren't anywhere close to 'dry' season here.  I was worried that the staples would just fall out while I had a warp on the beam.  That would have been a disaster for the tension, so Doug and helper worked on opening the staples slightly so that to go in they had to be pinched together and should now stay in the holes. 

Since I got home I have had a huge flare of pain and my hands were suffering so instead of my taking on the task of doing the staples I had to ask for help.  I have no idea what is going on with my body, but I'm not enjoying it much.  However I'm taking Aleve and hoping that the pain flare is related to my gut issues and once that settles, so will the inflammation in my body generally.

The two guys emptied all the boxes of silk and put it on the shelves for me, too.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with it all but that is a job for next year.

Other progress was that the new apron was installed on the Leclerc Fanny.  I was going to dress that loom this morning until I remembered I need another apron rod, which Doug may buy today, along with a rod for the Megado - because I want an apron on that loom, too.

What I have accomplished this week was to almost complete the hemming of the place mats Doug pressed on Saturday.  My hands settled down enough that I could do that, thankfully.  There are still something like four dozen more to wet finish/hem but I'm still very low on inventory in spite of those waiting in the wings.  I have seriously been thinking of cancelling the Calgary show in November, in no small part because I have so little inventory and I've been sick enough plus the looms still aren't running.  Even if I felt well enough.

But the loom is nearly in its place, the computer cabinet is ready for me to test the dobby as soon as I finish running the cables, the rods will make at least one of the looms functional, maybe today.

Tomorrow evening on my way to guild I'm going to go to the annex and do a quick inventory and see just how much I do - or do not - have ready to go.  There is a bin of tea towels that just needs their tags/prices which I could drop off and get it out of my road here.  It won't take long to affix the labels.  A job for this afternoon?

I am sick to death of the heaps of loom parts and clutter everywhere.  I just have no time to go through all the bits and pieces, list them, then see if anyone is interested.  I may just tell Doug to load it up and take it to the landfill.

My patience, never very thick to begin with, is wearing very thin.

On the other hand, I will be weaving on the Leclerc very soon, and hopefully on the Megado in a day or two.  I still need to work out how I'm going to thread it.  And if I'm going to be able to work with the Louet tension box or if Doug needs to add the AVL rail to the Megado. 

Still a work in progress...

Monday, September 23, 2019

Silent Spring

Silent Spring was first published in 1962.  I was 12.  I remember the furor it caused with environmentalists sounding alarm bells and pretty much everyone else ignoring it although it did eventually work to have DDT banned.

In high school, my teachers talked about the fact petroleum was a limited resource.  There was even an effort to come up with an electric car, which got buried.

Then came the phosphates in the water.  I still remember sailing down the St. Lawrence River with the suds on the surface of the water.  I vowed then that I would find detergent without phosphates, and did when I got home.

Over the years various people would ring alarm bells about the environment but by and large, North American society (at least) pretty much ignored them.  Many people seemed to be stuck in acquiring more, more, more, never mind the cost to resources.

At the same time people were voicing concern about forests and plastics were thought to be the savior of the forests.  Instead of paper bags, cardboard take out containers, etc., plastic was the solution.

Until  now we are literally drowning in plastic.  Oceans are full of it, micro-plastics are getting into everything including our bodies.  People are urged to not use plastic straws which is well and good, but how about all that plastic packaging that seems rampant?  I saw a product on line - I don't know if it was a joke - but there was a large plastic package with an egg shaped cavity for a raw egg without the shell.  Seriously?

I started 'digesting' compost in the early 1980s when Canadian Tire offered a small 'green cone'.  Our garbage reduced by nearly 1/3.  Later our city offered free composters which were larger and I got one of those.  It actually makes compost and Doug routinely uses the compost in the yard.

Eventually a group of people worked to set up recycling in the area and now there is a province wide recycling program.  I just wish I felt more confident that all that plastic really was getting recycled.

In 1992, Severn Collis-Suzuki addressed the Rio Earth Summit and made an empassioned plea for those in power to do something about climate change.  She was 12 years old at the time.  I was astonished at her bravery to stand up in front of all those men (because it was still mostly men) and argue for them to consider the future of the planet instead of the bottom line.

I wonder what she thinks of Greta Thunberg, Autumn Peltier, Saoi O'Connor and all the rest of the children who are speaking up, begging for their futures.  Still.  Again.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Pillars, Posts

A bout of insomnia last night left me with a brain that was fizzing, not letting me sleep.  Instead of beating myself up about long past things, I set about thinking of how I wanted the studio set up.  I twisted and turned things around and around again, trying to think how best to utilize the space.  In the end I didn't change much of anything at all.

But there were also things that had been shoved into that end of the studio to get them out of the way of other things, so this morning I poked and shoved and started moving things in order to get other things into their final (for now) placement.  I can't move the loom, so haven't been able to move it away from the wall.  The computer cabinet is up on a dolly and I can't lift it down by myself, but it will go pretty much where it has always lived, just maybe a few inches closer to the back wall, which will give a narrow storage space behind it for bits and pieces of things.

I measured the circumference of the warp beam just so I know what it is, but still have to test the Louet tension box.  This morning I was going to make the apron for the front of the loom, but I can't get at the front of it so that will wait.

There are a variety of stools of various heights.  The black one is closest to 'best' height so I will keep that and likely dispose of the shorter one I'd been using at the AVL.  I have two low stools and right now I don't know which - if either - will work for threading.  The Louet has a much higher front profile than most looms.  One of the other taller (but too short to weave with) stools might work better, so I'm not getting rid of anything yet.  Which means I have an accumulation of *stuff* that keeps being in the way of what I want to do.

There is a low, three shelf rack that I used beside the AVL and will likely use for this loom.  It's handy to hold bobbins, measuring tape, drink, miscellaneous items, but it needs to be cleaned off.  A job for later today perhaps.

The silk yarn I expected to use for my test warp is finer than I remembered, but the cashmere is quite a bit thicker so I can get away with 60 epi - which is what my spool rack will hold.  I need to count out how many spools I have, then figure out how long/wide a warp I could wind.  At 2/60 or so, the partially filled spools have a lot more yardage on it than it would appear at first glance.  It would be nice to empty some of those spools.  Stash reduction, and all.

It is another grey wet day, dreary, and I'm sleep deprived.  I've not been well for two weeks and I'm sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.  However, there are tiny signs of improvement.  So I think I'll go clean off that shelf and when Doug and his helper are here tomorrow, get them to set those pieces I can't move on my own into place.  And set up the desktop.  And who knows, maybe even see if I can get the dobby to fire up.  The instructions are a little...funky...I may be asking for help.

Currently reading Death in Ecstasy by Ngaio Marsh.  First published in 1935 it is showing its age.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Shaping Up

It may not look like much has happened in the two weeks I was away, but believe me, there was lots happening.  It is mostly in the background or in corners.

If I had been at home, Doug and I would have been at cross purposes as he re-sized shelves, moved things (again) from pillar to post, shuffled things out of his way.

The work table got re-sized as well, which meant I would not have been able to work on it for several days, and it is integral to my being able to work efficiently in the studio.

So I didn't feel too terribly guilty about simply leaving him and his helper to get on with it.

Yesterday I finished moving the 2/16 cotton so that it is now in the studio, not the store room, and yesterday I puttered trying to figure out what was the best thing to tackle.

Since I came home with some kind of gut issue, I didn't feel up to weaving, but this morning I managed two place mats and don't feel too awful for it so I'll try to eat something (clear liquids only) and see if I feel up to weaving again this afternoon.

With the 2/16 cotton out of the store room, I set out what place mats I have for inventory, and man, am I low!  However, Doug is off pressing two dozen today and while my energy is curtailed, I figure I can binge watch some of the programs I enjoy and Doug doesn't and sit and hem, if I don't feel up to anything else.

There is still plenty of shifting, unpacking of boxes, and moving things here and there to be done.  I'm not entirely happy with the Megado TexSolv cord system for the 'apron' so I'm thinking of making one.  I have the old AVL apron which could be cut down.  I also bought a new apron for the back beam of the Fanny, and as soon as the current warp gets cut off, Doug will install that.  But then both looms will need rods.  Doug has an event on Sunday so he's scrambling to help me and get ready for that.

But the new shape of the studio is beginning to reveal itself.  I'm hoping we can get the Megado up and running next week when I'm feeling better and Doug isn't so busy.  I just don't have the mental wherewithal right now to even contemplate it.  Not to mention it's barricaded behind yet more heaps of stuff looking for their 'forever' home.

Change is stressful.  The only way to get through it is...just keep going.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Home Again

At the folk school I talked about how I used to do place mats three at a time across the width of my 60" AVL.  Here is a photo showing the type of mats I used to make.  All white warps, with the weft colour changing for each in a type of undulating twill that sort of kind of looked like willow leaves, so it was called "Willow".    Nothing like going for the obvious.

The fringe was short, just about the length of a cotton staple - around one inch.  The mats were woven with fugitive warp and weft ends to create the fringe, colour coded so that they could easily be seen to be removed for stitching.  Two or three threads from the fringe areas would be removed, then one line of straight stitching would be sewn around all four sides of the mat with about an inch overlap of the ending over the beginning.  Then after wet finishing the corners would be clipped so that they looked neat and tidy, and...finished.

The very first trip through the washer released a tonne of lint.  We had to make sure the filters were cleaned after every load, sometimes between the wash and rinse load.

But once they were wet finished, including a hard press, there was a 'normal' amount of lint only and customers continue to report that they use their mats daily and that they 'still look like new' - decades on.  I'm sure they don't, but they are happy...

I'm still dealing with health issues and not at my best.  All of my plans to hit the ground running have to be put on hold until I can get my body functioning properly again.  I have been advised by a nurse to stick to a clear liquid diet for at least two days and see if that brings things back again, and if not I guess I'll be phoning my doctor's office on Monday to try and figure out what the heck is going on.

It seems to have started with a food allergen, but that appears to have kicked off something else entirely.  This getting old schtick sucks.  Well, the decrepit part does.

I woke up early but didn't feel like doing very much of anything other than putter.  I need to get to the bank to deposit a couple of cheques.  I also need to see how much of a payment I can put against my VISA balance.  It's seriously gotten out of hand and I really hate going into craft fair season this far in debt because when I do, it seems all that happens is that I barely cancel that debt out.  On the other hand, it all makes shutting the business down even easier.  If I have nothing in my bank account, it makes it easier to close it?

I don't know.  It seems like even though I'm doing everything in my power to retire, shut down, downsize, the universe keeps kicking me, as though I'm not doing it fast enough.

The trip home went ok, and I arrived only a little bit late.  It was actually a good thing the last leg of my trip was delayed because the customs hall in Vancouver was slammed and even though they were moving us through as quickly as they could, there were just SO MANY people it took time.  I arrived at my gate 10 minutes after boarding was supposed to begin, but they were still waiting for 'our' plane to arrive, which did just after I got there.

So last night I slept in my own bed, and have lounged in my own space.

I did start unpacking last night in no small part because I needed some of the personal items in my suitcases.  One of the baggies with the 'gel' items had something leak, but fortunately it didn't seem to go anywhere other than the bottom of the baggie where a couple of hotel shampoo tubes were.  I rescued the top contents and tossed the rest. 

My laundry was put into the laundry bins - I did do a load of laundry at Mary's, but of course those clothes are wrinkled, so I may put them through again.

I really need to go down and see all the progress Doug made on the studio re-organization while I was away.  He's worked very hard on that and some other things and will deserve the praise for getting it done.

I had just so hoped that I would come home rested from two weeks away from all the stress and visiting with friends and...I'm sick.  I'm not a happy camper.

Currently reading Mind for Murder by PD James

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Count Down.

Since I’m still not feeling well, I have spent the last two days very quietly.  We have talked and Mary has dealt with things that needed doing.  After a week away the yard needed some attention, plus she has a weaving project that she is working on.  

I’ve been ensconced in the arm chair in the living room, either scrolling on the iPad or at times, knitting.  I’m now over half through this shawl, but running out of one of the yarns.  I have some purple at home which should do for a border along the edge of the shawl.  

I had a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of commercially spun yarns.  Nothing of any great quantity, so nothing I cared to use up weaving.  But I got into a rhythm of knitting shawls, mainly because I didn’t want to toss it.   I have been gifting them to friends or donating to worthy causes.  The last batch went to the guild and I expect to give them the rest.  

Some of the yarn had gotten attacked by moths, but that is much less of an issue in knitting.   Since the yarn is mostly wool, I would just spit join and keep going.  

After lunch I tackled packing.  Still a few more things to deal with.  One carry on will be fairly empty.   I’d rather it be empty than the checked bag.  Those get slammed around so much, I don’t want it crushed.  I bought it new about two years ago so I don’t want it getting damaged.  Yet. 

I’m over half way through my book, might finish it if I can’t sleep.  But I’m hoping I will be able to get at least some sleep.  The alarm will go at 3 am so that I can get through security in time for my 6:15 flight.  I actually paid to upgrade my seat on the Chicago to Vancouver leg.  I’m feeling unwell enough I didn’t want a window seat for 4+ hours.  Creature comfort is far too important to me than saving a little money.   If I wasn’t unwell, I would have toughed it out, but decided I needed a little more comfort.  So I snagged an aisle seat in the exit row which was empty.  Nothing else much was.

And I think this is all part of my reluctance to fly now.   Planes are full, or over full.  The last couple of trips at least one leg was asking for volunteers to delay.  Overhead bins fill to over flowing and leg room seems to get less and less.  Not to mention the actual seats seem lumpy and uncomfortable.  Or maybe it’s just me. 

Whatever.  Not really wanting to make long trips much anymore. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Recovery Mode

Sitting quietly this morning, contemplating.  

Thinking about how much I hate six am flights.  Hoping I never have to take another.  After Wednesday, that is.  Thinking about food allergies.  About how much I am going to appreciate getting home, in spite of how much I have enjoyed visiting with distant friends, sharing what I know with eight more people.  

Thinking about all the work that waits for me when I do get home.   Not really wanting to do any of it.  Wondering if I have any local friends willing to come and empty boxes of silk, put it on shelves, move cotton to its new home.  

It is said that you are only as old as you feel.   Well inside me is still an energetic driven 30 something.  Unfortunately actual physical me is 69 and this body has been rode hard and put away wet too many times.  The folk school bought new chairs for the weaving studio and they were awful, some of the most uncomfortable chairs I’ve sat in.  It might have been ok for an hour, but not a week long class.  Today on top of gut issues I’m dealing with a muscle spasm in my back.  

So how old do I feel?   OLD.  

These few days of no obligations are very much needed.  The best thing about staying with Mary is that we don’t feel we have to entertain each other continually.   She does what she needs to do and I can sit quietly, contemplating, and it is good.  

Im doing a load of laundry so I don’t run out of clothing, although it looks like I actually brought enough.  I may drag my knitting or my book out while Mary unpacks and gets herself organized.  And sit and enjoy the sunbeam coming in the window.  

Saturday, September 14, 2019

John C Campbell Folk School

The Efficient Weavers came through!   There were 10 students who came to work on their skills with the goal of getting them to the next level.  

All were invited to bring two wound warps, one for a scarf, one wider like for tea towels.  They could choose to work with yarns they were familiar with or with something completely different.  

We started Sunday evening getting to know each other, talking about the craft of weaving from general terms through to more detailed.  

Over the course of the week I stood on my usual soapboxes and gave my usual speeches.  I demonstrated my techniques and encouraged all to find out which were ‘best’ practice for them. 

Most dressed their looms twice, although not all.  Some were working on longer/wider warps.  

Two had taken classes from me before and had come for a refresher.  Others had followed me on social media so were aware of my usual rants.  

This is the last class I will present at this location.  As part of my moving further towards ‘retirement’ I made the decision to no longer teach for guilds.  Long distance travel with the attendant stress of missed flights, getting enough guilds collected to do a tour and the hazards of finding safe food to eat just aren’t worth it any longer.  

If  Olds College wants to keep me on the roster, I will carry on teaching that program for so long as my health allows.  

As much as I love my distant friends, it’s just no longer something I’m willing to do.  Yes, I ran into an allergen Saturday night, then again Sunday, and most likely repeatedly during the week.  I wasn’t at my best, for which I feel bad.  Much better I switch to doing something from home where I can control my food and hopefully sleep.  

I would save this trip was my farewell tour, but one event doesn’t make a tour, as such.  It has been a bitter sweet last class, though.  

For those people who have followed me on this blog and other social media, I thank you.  Knowing you are out there, interested in what I have to say encourages to keep posting.  As I move from production Weaver/wandering weaving teacher to retired Weaver, I have no idea what the new year holds.  I’m sure it will be interesting.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Last Ones

Just before I left, Doug got the last 11 tea towels I managed to weave on the AVL pressed.   I worked so hard on these towels wanting to not have skips in them.  I even unwove, not just once, but several times, trying to have some towels I could sell.   Not an inconsequential thing on an AVL with auto cloth advance, at 32 ppi.

And yet...those 11 towels are now eight because Doug found two towels with skips and I found another.   Any regret that may have lingered about getting rid of the loom evaporated, for good and all.

I still have some of the fine linen left and I will do more towels on the Megado, but I am low on scarf and shawl inventory so I will try to boost that before I go back to tea towels.  

The class has been delightful, as always.  I will miss coming, but not the travel.   

On the home front Doug has made progress.   The industrial sewing machine went elsewhere this morning and Doug will go back to shifting things in order to set up more shelving.  The work table has been made smaller.  The loom nearly together, just a few last things to do.

I’m hoping to be over my allergy issues before I head home so I feel like jumping onto what needs doing.   

Clearing up some ‘lasts’ so I can look forward to some new things in the new year. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Quiet Time

I’m in Tennessee having a few days of quiet before we head to John C Campbell folk school.

This trip went smoothly, although I’m tired of the six am flights, with another to get home.   I realize that really, I’m just tired.  Too many health issues.  Too much stress.  Too much chaos.   Even though I fought the decision to officially shut the business aspect of the studio down, it has become increasingly obvious that it is the right thing to do.

While it was a difficult decision, it was the correct one.

The class at the folk school is small with just five.  Pam had scheduled me for 2020, but given the low numbers of this class and my lack of desire to fly such long distances we agreed to cancel it.  I will miss connecting with the people I have come to know here, but can stay in touch through the internet.  

I still have no idea what the future holds.  With the studio business closed, there will be ramifications in terms of our income, but there will be fewer expenses, too.   Hopefully all will be manageable and we can continue our modest lifestyle. 

Change can be very stressful and this one is huge.  Earth shaking in many ways.  As usual I had plans for the next four months but quiet reflection reveals that many of those plans will fall by the wayside.  

My inventory for the three craft fairs is low, but should be adequate.  I don’t want a lot left over anyway.  There is an outlet in town I can sell on consignment and I could sell on line if I decide to spend the time to research and deal with the administrivia involved.   I may write more, for magazines or short run self published monographs.  There are options to pursue.  

Health issues will continue but hopefully can be managed.  

While I’m away Doug continues to get the Megado put together.  As soon as I get home I can figure out how to operate it.  I’m still unsure about the computer assist and if the desktop I used for the AVL will connect or if I will need to use the laptop.  But I have options. 

Doug will also keep working on the studio reorganization and I will be able to move yarn around to where I think I want/need it.  Since the goal is major stash reduction, as things get used up, how things are arranged may change.  The goal is to have everything out of the annex by the end if the year so that I don’t have that monthly bill, but given the possibility of surgery on my foot that may get extended to the end of January.  

Mostly I am getting comfortable with the concept of a lack of rolling deadlines.  That will be the biggest change of all.  Hopefully the reduction in the stress of the constant scramble to pay the bills will leave more time and energy to figure out a new path.  Because I’m the kind of person who needs A Plan.  I just have to figure out what that plan will look like. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Labours of Hercules

Doug has been labouring like Hercules the past month.  With my impending retirement, changing big looms (AVL->Megado), shutting down my business at the end of the year, a massive studio re-organization needed to be done.

All of that had to be done while I continued to work trying to increase my inventory in order to have enough stock to do the three craft fairs I'm scheduled to do in Oct/Nov.

With my back compromised, I can no longer lift heavy boxes so Doug has really stepped up to the plate and with the assistance of a younger person, the two of them have shifted boxes from pillar to post and another pillar, only to move them again once the shelving got moved from the annex to the studio.

The top shelf has my current silk collection.  I inherited silk from Ingrid Boesel, plus another friend, plus my own inventory.  That's about 10-12 boxes of silk yarn of various grists, qualities, colours.  The goal is to have another set of shelves on the other side of that wall on which the contents of those boxes can be emptied so that I can actually see what I have and therefore use it.  But first they needed to come here so that the shelves they were on at the annex can be moved here and set up in the other room.  Pillar to post.  Pillar to post...

The one thing about the annex is that we can (or they can, because I'm not doing the actual lifting and toting) move boxes and bins to the annex to get them out of the way so that the things I am ready to deal with can be brought here.  At times it seems that there is more time spent moving boxes here, there and everywhere than actually seeing things organized!

The correct computer assist will be arriving on Thursday while I'm headed south.  Doug will mount it and finish setting the Megado up so that I can test it as soon as I get home.  Some of that silk will be used for a test warp.  I was going to put a shawl warp on, but decided a shorter, narrower warp would be a good idea.  I'm not entirely sure I'm going to love the Louet tension box for sectional beaming, so Doug has come up with a way to adapt the AVL tension box rail so that I can use the AVL tension box if I don't like the Louet.

Because one thing I have learned over the years?  I can get Doug to modify my tools so that they work better for me.  If he drills a hole that later needs to be filled?  He knows how to do that.  If something isn't working the way I want it to?  He can usually figure out a way to make it better for  me.

And doing the studio re-org?  The biggest gift of love one partner can give to another.

He listened when I told him I needed to stop production weaving.   He listened when I told him how I needed the studio arranged and is making it happen.  Of course it is taking far longer than either of us hoped, but in the end, I will go into retirement and a new way of weaving being able to move without tripping over boxes (I hope) but more importantly?  I will be able to see what I have so I can use it.

So a huge hell yeah to Doug and Darian.  I am so grateful I have you in my life.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Handwoven's Book Review

I've been waiting for my copy of Handwoven to arrive (I bought an ad in the most recent issue) but with the change over from F&W to Long Thread Media I don't know if I'll be getting an advertisers copy.

A friend sent me the book review, which I am going to quote here, with full credit to the magazine and the reviewer:

Weavers love to weave.  Second to that, they like to read about weaving.  They also love to talk about  weaving with other weavers or, if none are about, with any marginally willing victim in the room or even the occasional cat.  The Intentional Weaver by Laura Fry fills that need for discourse.  A conversational text, it reads like a one-way weaving chat with a more experienced mentor.

The book is positively brimming with homespun (no pun intended) wisdom:  "If you can't be perfect, be consistent," and "A thread under tension is a thread under control."  The Intentional Weaver is  good-natured and kind, and while it is not perfect - there are some out-of-focus photographs and no index - you won't mind a bit.  These are quibbles about a worthwhile and readable book with much to teach.

A career weaver, Laura Fry shares important information that people - and books - often don't.  She begins with the physicality of weaving and moves to fibers and yarns followed by information - including drafts - on the most common weave structures.  Through the whole of the text, there is excellent advice not often given.  My favorite?  "Never use a knot where a bow will do."  There is also a discussion on designing and happily a series of projects.  Fry is generous in crediting others and in pointing to other resources throughout the text and in the bibliography.

As Laura Fry says in her lovely "Final Words," which admonishes us to follow our own journey to a life of creativity and friends, "It's all good."

Reviewed by Sharon Airhart

Scroll down to the link at the bottom of the page or go to Blurb and do a search for the title or my name.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Power of Positivity

When I made my cancer diagnosis public, a lot of people rushed to explain to me how I needed to be positive. 

Positivity is a great way to approach life, but positivity does not mean that you cannot feel sad - at times - grieve - at times - be discouraged - at times.  To me positivity means that I can feel down, but that I don't let myself get 'stuck' in a blue mood. 

One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was going through a really tough time was to go ahead and feel what I was feeling but not to stay there.  I was to sit down at the table with a timer set for 15 minutes.  During that 15 minutes I was to write down every thought that came to me - in longhand, not on a keyboard.  As I wrote I was to feel what I was feeling and express what those emotions were.  All my fears, my worst scenarios, all the things the voices in my head were saying.  Acknowledge that I felt like a failure, a bad person, how I said something I regretted.  Just stream of consciousness - write it all out.

When the timer went DING!  I was to set the pen down, get up and go about my day.  Then when all those clamouring negative voices tried to intrude into my thoughts, I was to say STOP!  And continue to say STOP every time those voices tried to grab hold of my thoughts and derail me from doing what I wanted/needed to do.

Once the negative voices were exiled I had a really hard time with the silence.  I realized just how many years those voices had been a steady background noise in my head.  At first I didn't know how to handle the silence from the constant stream of criticism.  It was unsettling, unnerving.

The way I coped with the silence was to play music in the studio.  Or audio books.  Replace the voices of negativity with stories, spoken or sung.

Gradually I was able to cope with things going 'wrong' by not beating myself up but digging deeper into the situation/problem by looking for the solution or the lesson.  Because there always is one.  Sometimes the solution is to toss what I've done away and start over.  Sometimes the lesson is that I really didn't want to do that but it was an interesting diversion.

Over the years I was able to focus on what I really wanted to do, what really mattered to me. 

Positivity is not ignoring the things that are wrong in this world.  Positivity is working to make things better, not just for me, but for everyone.

There is a meme that says if you have enough, don't build a wall, build a bigger table.  I have lived my life working in a very low income profession.  My wants and needs are modest.  I have 'enough' now.  Enough for a comfortable life - as long as I don't squander my resources.  And by resources, I'm not just talking about money, but my time, my energy.

Restructuring my life means finding a new way to work.  A new way to think.  A new way to spend my time and energy, when both are dwindling.

When I look back at my life as a weaver - which I did recently - it was a good reminder of what I have done.  What I have accomplished.  I look forward to mentoring people who want to learn what I know.  I don't know everything.  Someone asked last week about a problem they had - I offered my suggestion, which ultimately didn't work for her, but she figured out a work around that got her results that would 'do'. 

Positivity doesn't mean that you know all the correct answers, just that you may be able to shed some light on a situation.

As I enter my next stage of life, there may be times when there is once again a deafening silence.  No crammed calendar, no critical deadlines to juggle, no pressure to create inventory for sales that I will not be doing.

I have been subscribing to podcasts - which I have not had the time or mental focus to listen to right now - I have dozens of CDs and cassettes (yes, I still play cassettes!).  If I find the silence in my mind too loud, I can adjust my input.

Or I can think about some of those questions that I don't know the answers to and think about experiments I might do, explorations I might take.

This morning as I sat in the window soaking up some weak sunlight, I thought about archeology and textiles and some of the research that has been taking place in the past few years.   And I remembered the textile collection at Louisburg, NS.  And all I have to do is apply for a research permit in order to closely examine the textiles.  The commute is a killer, but...textiles dating from the 1700s, still unexamined.  Now there's a rabbit hole that might bear closer inspection.  Unless I can convince a local to do it as part of their Olds final level.  (gauntlet thrown....)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Autumn in the Air

September 1.  Labour Day.  In BC school starts on Tuesday and we are off, heading away from summer and into autumn.  And then winter.

This morning I had plans.  Oh I'm sure you are surprised to hear that!  But, yes, I had plans.  But then I looked out the window and found myself content to sit and read for a bit.  And that bit turned into a bit longer than a bit.

I miss the adrenaline and drive I used to have.  I do.  On the other hand, I don't mind too terribly much.  It's peaceful.  It's quiet.  The daylight hours are shorter and coming home from guild the other night, I had to turn the van headlights on.  Our long summer days are done and we are rolling down into winter.

I like the seasons.  Each one brings something different, something special.  The colours change, the light changes. 

Life is like that, too.  As we grow up we go through changes in terms of decisions that we make and priorities that are important to our lives.

The past few years I have had to accept that my life is also changing.  I am in the autumn of my life.  What that will look like, I don't know - can't know.  So I am leaving myself open to whatever happens.

I have done what I can to make this time of my life interesting, fun and enjoyable given my health issues.  I watched mom as she struggled with more and more physical limitations.  Other folk I know have managed to maintain an active lifestyle well into their 90s.  What my 70s will look like is to be determined. 

What I do know is that I will weave as much as I can.  It is just that now that I'm in the autumn of my life what I weave will be different from the summer heydays.  Because I don't need to do that anymore.  There will be time for quiet contemplation, for exploration, for learning and growth.  And time to support and encourage students, to the best of my ability.

A small part of me harbours regrets and disappointment about certain things but I turn my head to the future and open the door to whatever lies ahead.