Thursday, December 31, 2020



Four years ago today I was in the midst of wrapping up my mother's life.  The end came fairly quickly, all in all, and her timing was perfect - the end of the year and the end of - as she put it - a good life.

Time marches on, and here we are, marking the end of 2020, but not the end of the pandemic.  Not nearly the end of the pandemic.

The news is mostly not good as numbers continue to spiral upwards, people struggle to make ends meet, governments flail trying to strike the 'right' note between preserving their citizens and the economy.  Some countries are also trying to figure out how to make their systems more equitable.  Or not.

The calendar new year has held little meaning for me for decades.  My new year started when the craft fair season finished, usually mid to late November/early December.  By Christmas I was already well into plans for the coming year, so the date of Dec. 31 meant very little and I pretty much ignored Jan. 1 altogether.  As a self employed person, every day was a potential work day.

We live our lives building on what has come 'before'.  Things rarely happen out of the blue.  We sow our seeds, cultivate them, hope they ripen.  But harvest is the culmination of all of that work, not a surprise out of the blue.

The solstice has come to be a lot more meaningful to me in terms of a 'new year'.  

This time last year I was awaiting the arrival of a friend hoping for a nice winter for her to enjoy.  It wasn't great weather so we didn't get to go on nice winter walks, make snow angels.  This year is proving to be even 'worse' in terms of the weather - so far.  Much too warm, overcast days, dreary with it.  It doesn't much feel as though the daylight hours are increasing when each day seems to arrive in the gloaming and lights remain on to drive the gloom away.

It is during this time of dark that we have to hold on to hope.  Vaccines are arriving, people are getting them, and while it may not be very noticeable, the daylight does come a wee bit earlier, stay a wee bit longer.

Through the autumn and early winter, I put some plans in place, reached out to people, set up dates for events to happen - over Zoom.  The internet has been a great tool for staying in touch with folk and now we can even have meetings of people from all over the place, staying in communication, bridging the physical (and necessary) distance.

My crystal ball is cloudy and cracked.  I have no idea what 2021 holds.  But I do know this.  I will do what I can, when I can.  That includes my own weaving, but also encouraging others however I am able.

Build a bigger table.  Light another's candle.

Sending everyone my very best wishes for 2021 and beyond.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Power of Intention


In 2004, Wayne Dyer published a book called The Power of Intention.  At the time I was going through some tough times - I'd just spent years working towards the master certificate granted by the Guild of Canadian Weavers, then turning my final level monograph (as it was called then) into a book, (Magic in the Water) scrambling to get it ready for publication in time for the HGA conference being held in Vancouver in 2002.

I'd just come through another whiplash injury (1994) and then a clinical depression requiring medication (that resulted in weight gain that never came off when I finished my course of medication, leaving me with body image issues).

I had also been trying for 30 years to keep my business afloat during this time and I was - frankly - exhausted, and looking for answers.  A friend and I had been reading self-help books in an effort to figure things out.

Dyer's book came at just the right time.  It encouraged me to think about what I was doing - was I looking forward, or just reacting to what was happening as best I could.

2004 was my coast-to-coast-to-coast travel year.  I was home less than I was on the road.  There was time on planes and sitting in airports, or long road trips, to just think.  So I thought.  I thought about what I wanted to do, and what I did not.  

I had long before given up on new year resolutions.  They too frequently fell by the wayside as I reacted to things, and then I would feel guilty.

In the end, I found that focusing on intention rather than setting resolutions worked much better for me.  Intention became a soft focus, not a hard one.  It allowed for changing plans.  It allowed for looking at a situation and adjusting course, knowing that sometimes?  A detour will get you to where you want to go more easily than forging ahead.

I went back to my original intent when I became a weaver, realizing that all of those intentions still held true.  I wanted to set my own schedule.  I wanted to work creatively.  I even wanted to work physically.  I wanted the mental stimulation of the learning that goes along with working creatively.

As I began to focus on what was important to me, I also realized that after 30 years of weaving I was tired.  (Turns out I was also having health issues - there was a reason for my fatigue beyond a busy schedule!)

My intention to earn an income meant that at times I did things I didn't really want to do, in part because as an independent self-employed person, you did things because it meant money now.  And you never really knew if there would be money next year.  Or next month, come to that.

The more I learned about weaving, the more I understood how much intention played a role in what I did.  What I wanted to do.  And the more I focused on my intention, the less I worried about what other people thought of what I was doing, or me.

I never *intended* to write another book.  But somehow, that is where I wound up.  I discussed the project with a number of people, had the concept turned down by one publisher, decided that in the end self-publishing was probably the best approach anyway.  I knew I'd never get 'rich' from writing a second book - a niche topic for a niche market.  But it afforded me complete control over the content and how the material was presented (within certain constraints, just like weaving.)

By 2015 I was also feeling like I wanted to leave something behind that might be of interest (if not value) to future weavers.  In the face of some really trying times (more health issues) I worked on the manuscript for a number of years.  Finally decided that I really needed an editor and assistance with publishing on line and found the perfect person to help guide this project into being.

And I learned once again that I didn't need to do everything all by myself for it to count.  That I could hire the skills of another person to augment what I intended to have happen.  

Two years ago this week I was writing out address labels, customs forms, and waiting for the delivery of books for the pre-publication offer.  

This year I am working at figuring out how to make 'retirement' work for me.  Covid meant all my teaching for Olds was cancelled, and it isn't looking great for next year, with numbers growing exponentially.  

So no resolutions.  Instead the intent to keep weaving down my stash.  Encouraging new weavers to learn how to explore the wonderful world of weaving.  

May your warps be straight and strong and true.

(No, I don't have copies of either book.  The only way to get one is to order on-line from or if you are outside of Canada)

Yarn Chicken


Textile folk say that if you are concerned you don't have enough yarn and yet go ahead and begin your project anyway, you are playing the Yarn Chicken Game.

Now that I'm on the dregs of my 2/16 cotton, I tussled with the concept that perhaps, just maybe, pretty sure, I was going to run out of the scarlet red for this warp.  Since I would rather have fewer towels than narrow ones, I made the decision to beam a warp about 5 yards shorter than I have been doing.

I hit the halfway mark and decided to take a break, checked the tubes of scarlet red and yup, pretty sure I would have run out at the previous length.  So I think I'm good to go with this warp.  And this will be my last tea towel warp of this series, and for now.  Because I have other stuff that wants doing, as well.

But this fabulous RED warp is a good one to end on.  I toyed with this combination since August when I saw I was beginning to run out of options.  Yes?  No?  Maybe so?  In the end I pulled enough tubes to beam the warp, left the bin in a corner of the studio where I would see it out of the corner of my eye, and over the weeks and months became comfortable with this unusual red/orange combo.  OTOH, it's perfect to end the year with.  Plus I have a couple of friends who just love the colour red and could most likely use some tea towels, so even if they don't sell they will find a home somewhere.

It won't take as long to weave off and I may be done sooner than I expect.  Or I may keep the end of it to demonstrate on for a Zoom meeting I'm doing on Jan. 10.  Goodness knows, I do have another loom, AND a warp already wound (for a year, no less) that can be woven on that other loom.  In fact I wouldn't want to weave that place mat warp on the Megado anyway, because that warp requires a really hard pounding, and the Megado hasn't been built for that kind of punishment.  I might even do a few mat warps because guess what?  I have several shelves of 2/8 cotton, too.  And it all needs using up at some point.

I don't know if it is the string of really dreary days, the unseasonable weather, the short daylight hours, but I have really been struggling with feeling tired.  All The Time.  Maybe staring at this brilliant warp to weave it will help give me some energy.  

Regardless, I am looking forward to finishing this series and moving on to something else.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Understanding Our Materials


Once again I see chat on the on line groups about this or that yarn and people making assumptions, not really understanding their yarns, what the numbers mean, how different qualities of yarn come about, WHY they come about, perhaps.

Having come into weaving via the orifice of a spinning wheel, I arrived with a basic (*very* basic) understanding of fibres, twist, how different methods of spinning will produce very different results, even given the exact same fibre.

Spinning is the same as weaving insofar as everything is on a spectrum, from one extreme to the other.

How those extremes affect your cloth will depend.  (Bet you're surprised at that....)

So, back to my black and white photo of Brassard ring spun 2/8 cotton (top) and basic American quality open end spun 8/2 cotton (bottom).

While they both will have approximately the same number of yards per pound, it is quite obvious that they are not identical.

The Brassard cotton is denser, smoother, more tightly twisted, stronger, less absorbent while the American quality of 8/2 is less dense (will shed more fibre), weaker, more textured, less tightly plyed,  more absorbent.

See?  Spectrum.

One is not 'bad', the other 'good'.  One will be better than the other in certain circumstances.

New weavers rely on more experienced weavers to guide them.  But at some point every weaver needs to pay attention themselves.  Use critical thinking, analyze your results.  Come to your own conclusions.

Always admit that you don't know everything there is to know about the construction of cloth.  Always be excited about how much more there is to know, to learn.  Learn from 'mistakes'.  Results are just results.  It is what we learn from them that matter.

Happy weaving - and learning!

Monday, December 28, 2020



I forget when I last got rid of my empty tubes - August, maybe?  These have been emptied since.

Now obviously they were not full to begin with!  Some were very close to empty.  But the thing was, the emptier they got, they less they were able to stand up and had to be stored laying down.  And that takes up a lot more space than if they were standing.

For a long while, then, it felt like I wasn't making a lot of progress when in fact, I was making good progress.

And this is why I tend to make a daily list of what I want to accomplish.  Having a goal, made concrete by making a list (whether it is physical or just a mental one) reminds me of what I want to get done that day.

What I have learned over the years is to keep such lists small.  Make lists of less than what I might be able to do - and then when I accomplish more, it feels like a triumph!

If I make a list with 'too many' things on it and don't manage to get them all done, then I feel like I somehow 'failed'.  If I 'fail' too many days in a row, I start to beat myself up.  And that can begin a spiral into a very dark place.

As my physical health has fluctuated over the years, it has been a struggle to learn what I can actually do vs how much I *think* I should be doing.  It's a delicate balance at times.  I remember my 30s and how much I could do in a day.  I also have to remind myself that I am well beyond my 30s.  And that I am 'retired' (for certain values of).

This morning I thought about a cartoon that I read quite a while ago.  Lynn Johnston did the strip For Better Or For Worse.  Her character Elly decided that she wanted to go back to work for her own satisfaction.  After being a stay at home mom, she was feeling like she wanted to expand her horizons.

But Elly was struggling with doing All The Things at home when she was working and not AT home to do All The Things.  At one point her husband asked her why she thought she should be able to keep their home the same way when she was working out of the home and she said that she expected to be able to do it but she need everyone to pitch in or it couldn't get done.  They discussed the situation and finally he pointed out that no one else in the family expected the house to be kept to the same level of 'done' and in the end suggested that perhaps it was her that needed to adjust her expectations.

I think about that strip at times.  I see my friends expecting themselves to do more, be more, achieve more.  I see the same dynamic in my own self.  But I also see that my expectations are my expectations and if I am to manage my life in a way that is less stressful and more peaceful, perhaps it's me that needs to change my expectations.

So I am coming to a point in my life where I get up each day, write my little list of things I would like to do, but remain open and willing to adjust in the face of Life Happening.

And remind myself that I have accomplished things.  Bags of empty tubes are a testament to the fact that I have worked towards my goal of using up my stash.

I'm nearly done the blue/grey warp.  Over the weekend I did more social things than I have done for a while and didn't weave as much as my daily plan outlines.  But all that did was delay completion of the warp by a couple of days.  

The warp will come off tomorrow and the red/orange will then go into the loom.  And I expect that weaving that warp will empty another dozen or so tubes.  When I am done weaving the red/orange, I will re-arrange the 2/16 yarn on my shelves, which will provide space to put the 2/16 bamboo on the shelves where I can see it and that will make using up that yarn easier for me.  It will be out in plain sight, not packed away in boxes/bags.

My intention is to keep using up what I have.  The creative limitation of using what is on hand, not getting distracted by buying more yarn, will provide a challenge to make things that I like, out of what I have.  And continue to encourage myself to keep going by not having expectations beyond what I can manage.

If that is a resolution for the new year, I think I can handle that.

Sunday, December 27, 2020



boxes of textiles

put out on the shelves

For the past week or so Doug has been working on the new pantry area in the laundry room.  Last year this time, he installed this wall of shelves which we filled with the overflow from the annex.

As the pandemic hit and we started to lay in a small back stock of  food and cleaning supplies, we ran out of room upstairs so he suggested taking some of the new shelves to use as our overflow pantry area.  Flats of canned food, toilet paper (bulky), kleenex, hand sanitizer and so on.  As the weeks wore on, we realized my access to non-allergenic food might become insecure so we started slowly building up some inventory of things like Wasa bread (which I can eat), and other things like the tuna packed in water (no spices!) and so on.  As we built up our winter reserves, the studio stuff began to be moved elsewhere.

Some things I had to just bite the bullet and get rid of.  Other things got re-packed to take up less room.

Doug claimed more of the shelves for pantry and decided to strengthen the shelves which were not originally meant to carry much weight.  While all my inventory was at the guild room was the perfect time to do this job because it was out of the way.

On the 20th, we packed up my stuff from the guild room, but he was still working on the shelving so the boxes of textiles rode around in the back of the van until yesterday when he brought all the boxes in and after a Zoom meeting I unpacked the boxes and crammed everything back onto the shelves that are to be dedicated to storing them.  

However.  During November and December I continued making more tea towels.  There is another shelving rack in the studio proper filled with tea towels that need to be tagged/priced and then moved in with the rest of the inventory.  I suspect they won't all fit.

So the plan is to begin photographing them and listing them in my ko-fi store.  I'm waiting for the holiday mail rush to be over. Canada Post was slammed and run off their feet.  I really didn't want to add to the burden by trying to sell and ship towels!

This week I will finish the grey/blue and put the red/orange into the loom and that will be that for tea towels.  For a while.  I have more yarn (lots more yarn!) to use up and a new scarf design would be good.  Scarves also don't need to be hemmed.  They do, however, need to be fringe twisted.  I'd actually rather hem than fringe twist, but...gotta do what is necessary.  I am also low on shawls, so I might do another shawl warp at some point.

But it took me a year to use up my 2/16 cotton inventory.  I expect it will take quite a while to use up my rayon inventory.  While I don't have nearly as much 2/16 bamboo/rayon, I do have quite a bit of various kinds/types of rayon so the plan is to put on the 2/16 bamboo as warp and use up as much of the Tencel and various other kinds of rayon in my stash as weft.

I think that's 2021 sorted...

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Not Over - Yet


I lose track of the days, when I started something, so I don't remember exactly when I put this warp on the beam.  I've had a few days that, for one reason or another, I didn't make my two towels a day goal, so I'm not quite done with this warp.  Yet.  Four more towels to weave, Zoom meeting this afternoon, an extremely rare in person meeting tomorrow with a friend who has been as isolated as we have been.  She will come here, we will set out physically distant chairs in the studio and wear masks.  Just to be on the safe side.  Because covid.

Our Christmas this year is more brown than white and we woke to another grey dreary day.  There have been a very long string of those in 2020.  OTOH, maybe it was for the best.  Since it was pretty dismal outside there was less incentive for people to be out and about, gathering at the lakes or parks.

As is our wont, we had a very quiet day yesterday and will continue to have quiet days for the foreseeable future.

It's looking like I won't be able to get vaccinated any time soon.  Doug can probably get one before I do and he will, as soon as he can.  Because he does the most out-of-the-house errands and is potentially exposed to more people than I am.   The list of who gets the vaccine as a priority was posted last week and we both agree with everyone on that list getting it before we do.  We are retired, and right now, pretty 'retiring', willing to not go out, wear masks when we do.

I have begun spinning my fibre stash with no real goal except to convert the fibre to yarn.  As for evening handwork, the tea towels have kept me pretty busy with hemming so I haven't picked up my knitting for a while.  Tomorrow's visit means I will likely get some knitting done as well as today during the Zoom meet.  And I will think on what to do with my handspun.  I've got a tonne of shawls that I knitted with my commercial yarns so I don't really want to make more of those.  At least spinning the yarn first, before I can knit, means I won't be knitting nearly as much as just plucking cones/balls off my shelves, churning out one shawl after another.  Plus we haven't been meeting in person for stitchnbitch since Thanksgiving.

But I'm nearly done this pale grey warp.  I used up a bunch of nearly empty tubes by using up the leftover grey, then started on the same blue as in the warp.  I will have three partial tubes left, enough to weave another six or so towels.  But after the red/orange I am switching to other things.  Like finish off that grey place mat warp.  Then start weaving scarves.  

2021 will continue to be Weave Down My Stash.  Because that is far from over, too.

Friday, December 25, 2020



in my Xmas stocking

When you have fibre friends, you sometimes get fibre gifts.  :)  

I was certainly not expecting anything for Xmas this year.  Frankly our wants are few and our needs currently being met.  The past few years Doug and I have been buying things like concert tickets.  But 2020?  Our Cirque du Soleil tickets got cancelled and I don't know if they will ever tour again as I hear they are having financial problems - like so many others. 

So we didn't buy each other anything this year for Xmas, in part because so few musicians/performers are planning tours, partly because we have no idea when it might be safe to attend an in person concert.

However I did get gifts.  One friend gave me a gift bag with home made jam and a sheep ornament.  And this labour of love - a scarf, woven by the friend I have known longer than my other close friends.

I shared the journey of these scarves (she made more than one) so I know the work that went into them.  They are double weave, multiple densities in the warp and weft, linen and cotton.  Not the 'usual' choice for a scarf, but she made it work.  While it has body, it is not stiff and it will keep my neck nice and warm this winter.  The touch of red means this scarf will be a nice accent to several of my coats.  

Woke up to another grey dreary day.  A perfect day for heading to the loom and weaving a couple more tea towels.  I'm really liking the darker blue weft on the grey/blue warp, in spite of the dye lot differences that show up in the weaving, although not in the tube.  However, a dye lot difference will not impair the function and some friends might be getting some gifts in the new year.

Sending our warmest holiday wishes to all.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Happy Holidays


aerial view of Prince George - Rocky Mountains way off in the distance

With the arrival of the covid vaccines (first vaccinations in our town yesterday) it is beginning to feel like progress is finally being made.  Numbers have been in the 'not good' range here lately, but health care workers are getting the vaccine first so they will have some protection going into the new year.

Yesterday I read the schedule for who will get the vaccines, when, and I'm sure that is giving further comfort to people - because the not knowing is much worse than the knowing.  When you know, you can begin to make plans.

So far it's not looking great for a 'proper' winter.  Temperatures are remaining right around the freezing mark, which means it is pretty depressing, especially on grey dreary days like today.  While one can say we will have a 'white' Christmas, it's a pretty thin layer on the ground and no actual snow in the forecast until next week.  Even then, it might be freezing rain, not snow, which means the roads will be crappy to drive on.  

This winter of staying home is working well in several ways - fewer people on the roads, so hopefully fewer accidents.  Fewer people gathering, so less in the way of colds/flu.  And so on.

Yesterday I hit my target for what I wanted to do, even went a little bit further.  I am trying to spend less time playing games on the ipad so I'm getting a little bit more done.  OTOH, it was necessary for me to have some time away from thinking so I'm not beating myself up about it.  As my friends remind me, I AM supposed to be retired!

My lowest point was in August.  One of the ways I dragged myself out of my funk was to start putting the seminar series together.  Helping others in a more concrete way made me feel like I was driving back the darkness, just a little bit.  Then I offered to mentor a small group of weavers who were feeling at sea.  Having a targeted audience for my 'teaching' has also helped me.  Again, I feel a little bit more in control and feel as though I am helping others.

Since I haven't been able to teach this year, finding an audience to interact with has fed my desire to share my knowledge.  (I'm keeping the group small enough to manage - this is not something I'm planning on expanding upon.)

I had intended to do more writing for publication, but so far I really haven't worked on that at all.  Instead I've been trying to figure out Zoom, and just staying on track with my stash weave-down.

Yesterday Doug continued the re-organization of the pantry area, which meant I had to also think about my studio.  We discussed what I was planning and the timeline upon which I was working.  Sometimes articulating my goals reminds me what I want to do and gets me going to go do it.  

So in the immediate weeks ahead - finish the grey/blue warp.  Dress the red/orange warp and weave it off.  Dress the Leclerc with that place mat warp I wound almost one year ago.  Once that is done, it will be time to start working on the 2/16 bamboo and rayon yarns in my stash.  That should take me to mid-Feb?  

In the meantime I will also be spinning my fibre.  The down side to that is that instead of tidy bags of fibre, I am making big floofy skeins of yarn.  Then I need to figure out what to do with those big floofy skeins of yarn.  Something knitted - I'm thinking cowls.  Once I have more yarn and less hemming, I'll need evening handwork.  So mid-February.  

What can I say?  I need A Plan.  I work best when I have A Plan.  And Back Up Plans in case Plan A goes awry.

Wishing everyone safe holidays.  Maybe by July we can gather in person again.  If not?  We'll manage.  We just need to get through this covid time.

Stay home if you possibly can.  Wear a mask if you must go out.  Maintain physical distance when you do.

Stay safe.  Stay well. Stay covid aware.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A New Year


the 'last' tea towel warp (for now)

Yesterday I cut the first half of the grey/blue warp off the loom and it was time to get the next warp ready for the loom.

I have worried away at this warp for weeks, wondering if it will 'work' or not and finally the other day as I walked by the bin with the yarns in it, realized that yes, it will work and it will be just fine.  In fact, it is the perfect warp to begin the new year with.

In many northern climates, the solstice/beginning of the new year is celebrated with festivals that feature things like huge bonfires or fireworks.

This will be my version of that as this warp ought to go into the loom right after Christmas and will see the new calendar year in.

When I packed up my stuff from the guild room, I realized just how many tea towels I have woven over the past year and a bit (including the linen weft ones this time).  And I have sold some, so there were even more.  Since the sale began I've woven yet more so once we get the boxes unpacked I can begin looking to see how best to offer them for sale again.

With the huge holiday volumes of mail I decided to stop listing anything in my ko-fi shop and will wait now until after January before I begin again.  I also need a better way of identifying them so that when people look at my shop (which I do hope they will do), there will be a better way of someone placing an order other than the not very helpful labels I have done to date.

Organization.  It's a thing.  

It is this very kind of administrative work that I'd hoped to not ever have to deal with again, but since all the craft fairs I routinely do were cancelled, and there was only the guild sale, I didn't sell nearly as much as I'd hoped.  

With covid continuing it's rampage through the population there will be little opportunity to sell things locally so I need to up my game with on line sales.  I am hanging on to the hope that the pandemic will be enough under control that next year's craft fairs will be able to go ahead.

There is another good reason for finishing this series with such a bright warp (and it's even brighter in real life) is that while the solstice has happened, we are entering into the deepest part of winter.  Our summer was particularly grey and dreary, and so far winter has also been grey and dreary.  Something bright and cheerful seems like just the right thing to be doing in January.

But also?  This warp marks the 'end' of the tea towels (for now) as there is too little of any colour left, nor enough of several colours to combine - in a way that would please me.  So with this warp, I declare the end of this series.  Once this warp is done, I will rearrange the left over 2/16 yarn on the shelves which will make room for the next yarn that I will focus on easier to access - the 2/16 bamboo/rayon.  

This warp will be my 'bonfire', my 'fireworks'.  My pom-poms of encouragement that the new year come and bring with it a better year for all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A New Day


Sunrise today didn't look much different, and the one minute change in when it happened doesn't seem like much.  But, it's a new day, a new trip around the sun.

This morning someone referred to weaving language as 'weavespeak' and I think I'm stealing that.

Weaving has been happening since the dawn of time and the language of weaving has evolved over that time until it really has become a language of its own.  It is also a language that has been stolen in order to provide words for other, newer technologies such that if you ask a child what a 'shuttle' is, it won't likely be anything to do with weaving.  Or if you ask a young person what a 'thread' is, you are likely to be told it is a thread of conversation on the internet.  And so on.

One of the first things I do when teaching people how to weave is hand them a list of words that they will need to know in order to aide communication.  One of the first things I tell the Olds students is that they need to learn how to spell those words.  It's 'sley' not slay or sleigh.  It's 'dye' not die.  I do blame auto correct for much of the typos, but it is something to be aware of because exchanging those words will not lead to effective communication.  Especially the dye/die exchange.  (I have a story, best told in person.)

Weavers (and spinners and felters/knitters/crocheters/lacemakers etc) need to be able to communicate with each other in writing because much of our communication in the 21st century is done on line, in writing.  While context will generally give the meaning, it is still important (imho) that we maintain the lines of communication to reduce confusion.  New weavers may have only heard the words, so the more experienced amongst us need to set the example (again imho).

If anyone is to refer to themselves as a 'master' weaver, clear communication should be routine.  

There are other crafts where I have heard the words, but really have no idea how to spell them.  But I don't claim to be a master carpenter.  When someone refers to a kurf/curf/kerf I know what they mean when I hear the word.  But I'm not trying to write about woodworking.  While I knit, I haven't followed a pattern in decades and frankly?  I'm not sure I could now, not without spending time figuring out the 'code' of how to abbreviate what needs to happen.

And that's the thing.  For any craft we want to learn, the very first thing that we need to do is learn the language of that craft.  We need to read the beginning bits in the books to find out what the code is that is the short hand notation of what would take a lot more words to convey than that short hand notation.

As we head into the depths of winter, rest assured that the sun is returning.  We are heading into a new year.  There are still challenges ahead of us but we have to be adaptable.  When we make plans, it is always good to have back up plans in place.  If the bridge on the road ahead falls down, we may need to detour.  Flexibility.  I think that is probably going to be the word we need for 2021.

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay covid aware.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Winter Solstice (northern hemisphere)


Dec. 21 sunrise 8:28 am, sunset 3:51 pm

Today is the winter solstice (in the northern hemisphere).  It is the day when the sun stops its southward journey and begins to return.

In this year of The Covid, we have been plagued with a string of grey dreary days and rain with wind.  If ever there was a hint from Mother Nature to stay in and self-isolate, that was it for me.  I had been looking forward to walking again, trying to regain some of the physical fitness I'd lost over the previous couple of years of not being well enough to do much, laid plans and all that.

With the arrival of the vaccines beginning, with stricter restrictions on people gathering, mandating masks, I had hope that 2021 would see a lessening of the things that have made 2020 challenging.  But the numbers are still not great, here and elsewhere.  In some ways, things are simply getting 'worse' as nature does what nature will do - and the virus begins to mutate.

However, early reports are indicating that the vaccine will protect against this latest mutation, so now it is up to us, us humans, who need to use the intellect god gave us, and come to the conclusion that we really need to stop moving about, stop meeting with others, stop spreading the disease.

Today marks the beginning of a new year (for me at least).  The returning of the sun promises that a new year is on it's way.  

Yesterday we packed up my stuff in the guild room and started to clear out the items that were for sale.  It wasn't an amazing success, but it wasn't a failure, either.  Some things did sell, the guild will make a bit of money from the commission it charges, and I think nearly everyone who offered something for sale, did sell something.  At least, I hope so.  That part isn't my job, thankfully.  The treasurer will be crunching numbers and issuing cheques when she can.  It is the holiday season, after all.

Registrations for the Sunday Seminar Series are going well enough, given the holiday season, the uncertainty of the future.  

I have finished marking another box of homework, with one more in transit any day.  I think that is the last for the 2019 level one students.  

I've heard that Olds College will begin sending out contracts in January.  I've agreed to teach level one at Fibre Week again (if we are able to run it and get sufficient numbers).  Time will tell.

There are two on line seminars booked with two guilds, one in Feb., one in Oct.  I need to work on those.  Now that the sale is over and the seminars ticking along, it is time to focus on those.

The latest warp is looking fine.  I'm nearly done the pale grey, have pulled together the darker blue and should be able to use up a fair number of nearly empty tubes.  And that's the goal, after all.

Doug is rearranging the pantry area in the laundry room.  We have been modestly stockpiling the things that I need because of my food allergies.  I can't just eat anything and the things I rely on might start getting scarce.  So Doug has been adding a few extra packages to our weekly grocery shopping.  Now we are running out of space to store it so he's adding shelves and I am trying to rearrange my fibre stash (by spinning it - what a concept!)  Fibres are bulky so I'm trying to convert it into yarn, which I can then knit and move on out of the house, one way or another.

My goals for the new year?  Keep doing what I have been doing.  Stay home as much as possible, wear a mask when I go out.  Keep weaving down my yarns, using up my fibres.  Keep cheerleading others to keep moving forward.  Forward towards their goals.  Forward into their new year.

The fridge magnet reminds me that "when you are going through hell...keep going."  (Winston Churchill)

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Critical vs Critique


After reading some posts on social media this morning I am reminded about the difference between being critical, and offering a critique.

It is extremely easy to criticize someone.  It is much more difficult for someone to give a critique.  

What is the difference?

Someone who is critical tends to denigrate the person or make negative comments without the intent of providing feedback the person can use to improve their work.

A critique is focused on the work, not the person, and is an attempt to help the person see their work with fresh eyes.

I was privileged to attend a critique being given by Mariette Rouseau-Vermette at the Banff Centre of Fine Arts.  It was eye opening, both in terms of hearing what Ms Rouseau-Vermette had to say in regards to one of the student's work, but also?  To witness the reaction of the student afterwards.

What I heard was a gentle questioning of the student as to her intent and where that intent was not being expressed in the work being shown.  What I heard from the student afterwards was a tirade of emotion, based on her reaction to the critique.  The student was probably 19, had probably never had a critique done before and interpreted everything that had been said as criticism of *her*.

It was sobering.  And enlightening.

So when I give feedback to someone, I tend to come from the same place as Ms. Rouseau-Vermette.  I ask what the maker's intent was, try to find out more about what it was they set out to do.  In the case of marking homework, I point out areas that need to be worked on in the future.

But more importantly?  I try to be clear in my own mind about my own intent.

I was already doing that, to a large extent, but not in any clear way.  It was as though a light had been turned on, and I was able to see more clearly - my path, my purpose, even my customer.  Because my intent was, after all, to earn an income from making and selling textiles.  And ultimately teaching about them.

During this time of pandemic I have seen an increase in people who are also trying to earn an income being asked for donations.  Donations of product, but even more, donations of time.  Well, it takes time to make product, be that actual material items or course content.  So asking a professional textile person to donate their time?  Is taking money out of their pockets.  

Asking people to do their professional work for nothing?  Takes food out of their mouths now.

Believe me when I say, no one in the textile world is getting rich doing this thing that we do, and, during this time of pandemic, contracted events have been cancelled.  They have had to pivot to on line teaching, which means a bucketload of time to convert class materials and how information is presented from in person to on line.  Learning new technologies.  *Buying* new equipment.  Not an easy feat.  

Expecting, demanding, people with a high profile in the craft donate their time to someone/some event is not appropriate at the best of times.  When the answer is 'no', chastising them for not helping?  Not appropriate.

I have been the brunt of someone asking why I was charging a fee for a service I was providing.  I have had people tell me to my face my prices were too high.  I have had more than one person ask me who I thought I was, asking to be paid.  Which stings given how much time I have donated to the craft, how many places I have worked for less than my stated fee in order to support an event, how many things I have donated to fund raising auctions, how many emails I've written answering questions (then been told they didn't like my answer so they were going to ignore it.)

Abby Franquemont has a list of her fees on her website.  When I contacted her about doing the Sunday seminar series, I factored her fee into my budget, and am now promoting the hell out of the series so that I can pay her, and the other speakers their asked for fees.  What I did NOT do was ask them to work for free.  When one person said that she would, I asked if she was sure because I do not want to undervalue anyone's time and effort.  OTOH?  The series is also meant to be a fund raiser for the guild, so her fee will be used to help pay the guild room expenses.  And I will send her a couple of tea towels as a thank you.

Right now a lot of people are hurting financially.  And the professionals in the textile world are struggling.  If you can't afford to buy their books, take an on-line class, it takes but a moment to share their on line events.  

It costs nothing to light someone else's candle.  And two candles give more light than one.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

A Little Faith


Finally started weaving the latest warp.  

I admit to a little trepidation each time I set up the loom.  While I bring lots of experience with me, I never really know if what I have decided upon is actually going to work in the loom.

So while I was fairly confident that the yarns as chosen, with the threading draft I chosen, with the weft I'd chosen, would all play together nicely?  There is no way to know until they are actually being woven.

Even so, the first three inches I wasn't seeing something I liked very much.  But this isn't my first rodeo, and I know that it takes more before I can really tell so I pressed on.

By the time I hit 6" woven, I started to settle down, as the threads settled in.

By the end of my second towel, I was pleased, over all, with the results.

What had looked drab before now was beginning to show a gentle quiet confidence.  The green was beginning to show and give the blue and grey a richness, a warmth that I found comforting.

Just because something is handmade, it doesn't have to leap up on a stage and demand to be noticed.  Sometimes I do make things that have more energy, more personality.  In fact the next warp will be one of those.

But for the current crop of grey dreary days, this warp is providing some satisfaction with its quiet nature.  And it's small 'surprise' border of the added blue threads, nearly invisible when one looks at the whole.

Regardless, they will dry dishes.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Movable Feast


On my 16th birthday morning, I was informed that my job that day was to wash the floors.  I protested that it was my birthday!  As if that gave me a pass from doing what was necessary.

My mother gave me The Look (TM) and said she was well aware of that, but the floor needed washing and, as SHE would be at work, and I was at home, it was my job to do.

I pouted.  Truly, I pouted.  Even the gift of a dozen red roses when she came home didn't help much because my 'special' day had been ruined by doing something that needed doing when I had the time and means to do it and my mom didn't.

Gradually I came to understand that Life doesn't stop just because it is someone's 'special' day.  That a day is just a day, and we choose how to spend it.  Accept what is necessary with as much grace as one can muster, or be miserable.

When I started teaching, there were plenty of 'special' days I missed.  Birthdays, anniversaries.  Not just mine but mom's and Doug's.  They both understood that it wasn't The Day that mattered, but that we got together to celebrate, at some point.  Any point.  Because 'special' days can be moveable feasts.

For decades, by the time Christmas came, I was not terribly interested in all the work entailed - cleaning the house, putting up decorations, then needing to put them all away again, clean up the pine needles, etc.  So eventually we got a 'fake' tree.  But even so, the effort just seemed to be too much and we just stopped bothering.

We have our Christmas 'traditions' but they don't involve a whole lot of extra effort.  While mom was still alive we had taken to going out to the one restaurant in town that served Christmas dinner, but even so she stopped wanting to go because she just wasn't feeling well the last couple of years.  And since I have food allergies and can't eat half the stuff on the menu, it seemed like a real waste of time and money when someone else would surely enjoy the going out more than I did.

This year, the year of the Covid Christmas, we won't be doing anything different from our 'usual'.  We don't have much in the way of local family, so now mom is gone we really don't have anyone to get together with anyway.  And it's fine.  We don't mind.  Doug and one sister have figured out Facebook calls, and they might talk.  He might phone his other siblings.  If I think about it I might phone my one cousin.  But otherwise, Dec. 25 will just be another day.

Things have been cancelled left, right and centre in the year of Covid.  But there is a vaccine now.  There truly is light at the end of this tunnel.  But we have to get through the rest of the tunnel to get there.

We still don't know how long the vaccine is good for.  We don't know if we will need yearly shots, just like we do for the flu.  We don't know how long we will need to wear masks, maintain physical distance (but the projection is late summer before we reach 70% vaccinated).

That means that things will continue to be cancelled for the foreseeable future.  But if we are good, if we stay home as much as possible, wear masks when we go out, stop spreading the disease, then maybe, just maybe, people can have an old-fashioned (as in pre-covid) Christmas in 2021.

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay covid aware.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Winter Sunrise


The winter solstice is 4 days away.  The sun came up over the hill around 8:30 or so this morning - I wasn't watching the time particularly.  (Just checked and official sunrise was 8:25).

The weather has been 'too warm' for December and yesterday it rained.  That means the streets are covered with a layer of ice.  I'm hoping that by the time I need to go out it will have melted.

I was born and raised here and long for 'proper' winter - daytime highs of -10C and a foot or two of snow with streets clear of ice/slush.  Of course what I want and what I get can be two very different things.

Much like 2020.

No one wanted a pandemic.  Too few people believed that we would ever live through one.  And yet here we are.

Saw another video on line this morning, a couple of (white) males trying to enter a restaurant, refusing to wear a mask, claiming religious exemption from so doing.

What kind of religion endorses spreading a world wide pandemic?  What kind of religion insists that because they are 'washed in the blood of Christ' they won't get sick?  And then when members of congregations get sick they assume *someone* didn't pray hard enough?

As a child I was informed that God helps those who help themselves.

During a pandemic of a particularly nasty respiratory infection we do that by staying home, not going out to dine.  We do that by wearing a mask if we do need to go out.  We do that by maintaining distance, washing our hands.  We do that by not being sanctimonious jerks.  

God gave us scientists to study the best treatment for diseases.  Researchers who develop vaccines.  

Celebrate Christmas differently this year so that you can do it the 'old' way next year.

Stay the blazes home.  Wear the frigging mask.  Have the vaccine when you are told it's your turn (some people won't be able to for actual medical reasons.)

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay covid aware.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

By the Numbers


When I talked to a friend about burning through my yarn stash, she reacted with astonishment and lots of praise.  For one thing, she had actually seen my yarn stash when she visited in January of this year, and, being a spinner, was also well aware of the volume of yarn I had and how many yards that represented.

So when I mentioned to her yesterday that I was nearly out of 2/16 cotton, she shook the pom-poms of encouragement and appreciated how much work using up that amount of yarn entailed.  She's also a weaver, so she truly understands the work involved.

This morning I started wondering exactly what that would look like, so I did the math.  The numbers include the two warps still to be done - the blue/grey currently doing into the loom and the last one pulled, ready to be woven as soon as I can get this one off.

So.  2/16 cotton.  I didn't do an inventory before I started, just plunged in but given the overflowing shelving rack, crammed cheek by jowl with tubes, I have no doubt about the veracity of the following numbers.  2/16 cotton has approximately 6720 yards per pound.

Tea towel warps with about 780 ends per warp (this varies slightly depending upon design).

Warp length is approximately 20 yards for a total of 15,600 yards or about 2.3 pounds per warp,.

Weft based on about 1200 picks per towel (again this varies slightly depending upon design) - each towel has about 930 yards of weft and I have been averaging 18 towels per warp for a total of 16,800 yards of weft or about 2.4 pounds.

Since March (including the two in the pipeline) I have done 20 all cotton warps.  (Prior to March I was weaving the linen on cotton warps so those are not included here.)   2.3 plus 2.4 pounds is 4.7 pounds per warp for a total of 94 pounds of 2/16 cotton woven.

On the current warp it was a bit of playing yarn chicken but in the end the pale green went further than expected and I only had to start cutting in the pale blue for the last few inches.  So these towels will have a small border down one side where the green begins to run out and the blue gets introduced.

And you know what?  It's fine.  They will still dry dishes.  

Can't remember if I posted my current book - Firewall by Henning Mankell who writes the Kurt Wallender mysteries (among others).  I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy them because I tried watching the tv program based on the books and found them depressing.  But so far the book has been full of twists and turns and hasn't been too atmospheric.  Having been to Sweden and visited various places there I can 'see' the landscape and sometimes the public spaces mentioned.  I 'discovered' the Per Wahloo books back when he was still writing and enjoyed the landmarks of Stockholm.  The Wallender books are centred around Malmo, which I have travelled through but not spent much time in otherwise.  Anyway, I'm intrigued enough I requested another title from the library.  They don't have the complete series in their collection and inter-library loan is currently suspended but I don't think it much matters if these books are read in order or not.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020



With my stated goal of weaving down my stash, I am coming to the nubbins of a lot of tubes of the 2/16 cotton.  

When I put these yarns together, I knew I would be playing yarn chicken with some of the tubes, but seems there are more running out than will make it through this entire warp.  Several of the tubes have even less yardage on them than I hoped, and I was faced with the reality that I wasn't going to be able to replace those pale green ones with more of the pale green.

What to do?  What to do?

Well, there is no law that says a warp MUST be the same from selvedge to selvedge, so I shrugged and pulled out some pale blue tubes and as the green runs out they will be replaced with a pale blue.

I am over the half way mark of the width of this warp so about 1/3rd of the warp will slowly morph (or not so slowly - it depends!) from a medium blue stripe with 5 ends of pale green to a medium blue with pale blue ends.

And you know what?  These tea towels will still dry dishes.  

As human beings we sometimes have a very narrow definition of what 'perfect' is.  Sometimes it's a good exercise to let go of our 'perfect' offering and let the light in.

One of the things I did yesterday before coming up from the studio was to start collecting the 2/16 cotton tubes and clearing off a couple of shelves.  Then started setting out the 2/16 bamboo so that I can see what I have of that yarn.  Like the 2/16 cotton, the 2/16 bamboo also has over 6000 yards per pound.  I have many pounds of it, enough to make scarves for the rest of my life I think!  I also have a bunch of finer rayon yarns, plus some 2/8 Tencel that needs using up.  So I will be putting the bamboo on as warp, then weaving with various rayon yarns, also trying to use up that part of my stash.  

I think that's 2021 sorted...

Monday, December 14, 2020

Regular Programming


drying rack with blue/teal towels

The dive into my library was fun but even better it reminded me of why I have held on to some of those books.  I have culled my library several times, one time quite seriously, letting go of some books it actually hurt to send away.  But I needed the money and I had to admit I was never going to be able to use them to their fullest and it was time to let someone else have the benefit of them.

One of the things I've been doing during this time of pandemic is trying to think of ways to keep people looking forward - to what happens after the pandemic is finally knocked down.  (Personally I'm skeptical that it will be vanquished entirely - that we may very well need yearly vaccines, just like for the 'regular' flu, but I'll cross that bridge when we get to it.)  Hence the Sunday Seminar Series, among other initiatives.

So delving into my books was a great way to let newer - dare I say younger? - weavers know about books that they should watch for on second hand book seller sites, or in estate sales.

That while a book may look old and boring, it could very well have a treasure of knowledge they really want to have at their fingertips.

I  have steadily been weaving down my 2/16 cotton stash and the latest batch came off the loom yesterday, into the washer/dryer and through my little press this morning.  

The loom is now awaiting the next warp - pale grey and blue, then the last in this series will be red/orange - bright colours for the darkest time of the year.

Once those two warps are done, all of my 2/16 cotton will fit on just two shelves of one of the shelving racks, not filling every single shelf to overflowing.  Given that 2/16 cotton has an excess of 6000 yards per pound, I consider that I did quite well in weaving most of it in about 14 months.  Given my current health status, etc.

However, even that seems to be more stable and my massage therapist assures me that I should look forward to further recovery.  I know I'm not 30 anymore, but I'm hoping that my 70 year old self can still be 'better'.  Time will tell.

In the meantime I've settled into a pandemic routine that I think I can continue to manage - weaving two sessions per day with some other stuff that isn't weaving but still weaving/studio related.

I'm nearly done the marking for the last crop of Olds students.  Many requested and were granted extensions.  I have one box on hand, just waiting for written work to be emailed.  One person requested an extra extension due to ill health.  And one is kind of in limbo - not sure if that one is going to be sent or not.  

I have accepted two Zoom dates, one in February, one in October.  There is the Seminar Series once a month.  I'm mentoring some Olds students (no I'm not accepting non-Olds students).

But I'm also tired (fatigue comes with the cancer in spite of the remission I was told), and weary of the pandemic and lack of adherence to simple but effective measures like wearing a mask if someone needs to go out in public.  I more than understand that people are sick of the virus but the virus is not sick of us.

Dr. Henry will give the latest numbers at 3 pm today, but I've already heard of a small community to our west that is overwhelmed with COVID and getting some assistance from the military.  Hope they can curb the virus soon.

I am hoping that with the delivery of the first vaccine that COVID will soon be beaten back, but in the meantime...

Stay home if you possibly can.  Wear a mask if you need to go out.  Maintain physical distance.  Meet only in small groups (your bubble if you have one), in well ventilated spaces.

Stay well.  Stay safe.  Stay COVID aware.

Reading Drafts Part XII


Complete Book of Drafting by Madelyn van der Hoogt
Handloom Weaving Technology by Allen Fannin
Weaving and Drafting Your Own Cloth by Peggy Ostercamp

This will be the final post in this thread of books which morphed from 'reading drafts' to 'books in my library'.  It's a baker's dozen (one post was not numbered) of the type of thing I value enough to a) purchase b) keep on the shelves of my 'library' c) refer to often enough to want at my fingertips.

The books I shared in this series comprise perhaps 50% of my library.  The rest are more focused in their approach - books on colour/design, draft collections, general 'pretty' books for inspiration, more industry/technical tomes, anything else I find interesting.

When wanting to read a draft, the first thing is to understand what a draft is, what the information contained in a draft represents, do drawdowns to make sure you are understanding the information as presented.  Being familiar with a number of 'basic' weave structures will help to slot new information into the mix.

Above all, read the beginning bits, where the author will generally say what the symbols in their drafts represents.

There is nothing like the weaving community for splitting hairs.  Well, maybe every craft is like that.  Certainly weavers are masters at it.

But the thing is - when you know more, you can better understand the craft.  When you know more, you can modify your understanding of the craft.  Or you can keep a closed mind and not learn something new.

There are some things that are perennial occasions for opinions to be aired, some people will give the 'it depends' qualifiers, others will huff and puff about 'tradition' citing 'hundreds of years' when weaving has been happening for thousands.  And things evolve.  Knowledge grows (one hopes!)  Attitudes can change.

Just a for instance...

When I purchased my AVL Production loom with fly shuttle and auto cloth advance, I was informed by a string of people that I could no longer call my textiles hand woven.  They did not accept that I was still coming up with the concept, working out the details, dressing the loom, threading each end, sleying it, pegging each bar (doing the tie up) and throwing every single pick.  But in their minds I was no longer 'hand' weaving.

Ditto when computers came along.  Double Ditto when computer assist was introduced.  All within the last 40 years.

Going back further?  The development of the fly shuttle in the 1700s.  The development of the Jacquard/punch card looms.  Well within the 'hundreds of years of history' someone was gnashing their teeth over.

If people want to master the craft of creating cloth, an open mind is necessary (in my humble opinion of course!)  Remember that the only correct short answer is 'it depends', that the 'correct' answer is most likely not short and usually defined by the very specific circumstances in which the question arose.

Change one thing and everything can change.  A good teacher will tell you where to look, not what to see.

Happy weaving!

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Reading Drafts part XI


Helene Bress The Weaving Book

threading draft and photos of options

I would be remiss if I neglected this tome, put together by Helene Bress.  When I purchased it, it was $60 US (or $100 Canadian) and worth every penny.

Several weave structures are covered, and as usual, I hand drew down (because no weaving software yet existed) in order to better understand the relationship between threading sequence, tie up and treadling sequence.

As always - read the beginning bits.

And if there is no other message the readers of these posts takes, that should be the one!

Bress set out to explore the possibilities involved in several commonly used threading systems for four and even more shafts, then wove them to find out if they actually worked.  Because just because something is a possibility, doesn't always make 'good' cloth.  

And that's ultimately the bottom line, isn't it?  Are we making 'good' cloth?  Not 'perfect' cloth - GOOD cloth.  Is it good for it's intended purpose?  Only by putting the threads in the loom, weaving a sample, wet finishing it, then analyzing it, will we know for sure if we are on the right track.

So I did drawdowns.  Hundreds of drawdowns.  By hand.  In pencil, on graph paper.  And wove samples.  In order to learn.  To expand my knowledge.  To understand.

Two other smaller books I also did drawdowns from are:

I drew down every single given draft in both of these booklets and...found errors.  So even 'experts' sometimes get it 'wrong' - or make mistakes.

Bottom line? 

Learn as much as you can from as many different sources as you can.  When you know more, change your mind.  An open mind learns.  A closed mind stays stuck in whatever it has closed around.

While I have not presented all of the books in my library, I am going to stop this series with tomorrow's post.  I think I have given you, dear reader, plenty of fodder to chew on.  Books you may not be familiar with just because some of these date from my early years when I relentlessly searched for more information and brought home my treasures to pore over.  Books which may have fallen out of fashion but still have really good information, even if it means digging for it.

When we know better, we can do better.  

And suddenly Leonard Cohen's sage advice pops into my head:

"Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything.

That's how the light gets in."

Let the light shine into an open mind.  Grow your knowledge. Work to be better.  Accept 'good' and do not despair because you are not 'perfect'.  

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Reading Draft part X


John Tovey c 1969

reading different draft formats

John Tovey's concise book is crammed with really excellent information, some of which is rarely found in 'standard' weaving books.  I remember sitting down and reading it cover to cover, and while I rarely look at it now, I'm wondering why not after thumbing through it for this post.  

Both this book and the next are British, so be aware that some terms may be different from what we are used to now.

The section on twills is worth the price of the book - if you can find it.  (Not the 'new' price quoted on Amazon, but the paper back price.  Of course you might be able to find it cheaper at a guild sale!)

effect of spin direction on twill

If you are a spinner, you might find this bit of information on twist direction and twill direction interesting.

The book is 'only' 100 pages, but full of useful and not otherwise easily available information.

diagram showing live weight brake system

Marianne Straub's book is another slim volume with very interesting information packed into it.  I had forgotten that it was in this book that I first learned of live weight brake systems for looms.  We put one onto the Leclerc Fanny using information from other sources, but it was here I first saw one.  I found that this system doesn't work very well for any cloth requiring a heavy beat so I put it on and take it off as required.

First published in 1977 in Britain, I found it soon after learning how to weave and read it cover to cover.  I was only a few pages into it when I realized I was understanding how to use more than four shafts.  This book has 150 pages, and like Tovey, lots of clear line drawings.  She also describes how to read weaving drafts clearly.

Neither of these books are pattern books per se, but both are packed full of information that I absorbed and use in my weaving practice.

I don't know that I would pay the Amazon price but definitely one I would look out for at guild sales or other second had booksellers.

Friday, December 11, 2020

10 Days


It is 10 days until the winter solstice.

I cannot say I will be sad to see the last of 2020.  But the solstice will come in 10 days, while there are still 3 weeks of 2020 to get through.  (Like many of my friends, I may stay up on Dec. 31 just to make sure 2020 leaves the house.)

In many cultures, especially those in the north, (I don't know enough about those in the far south) there is a tradition of lighting a candle to put in the window.  The candle represents many things - that someone is home and giving those who are on their way home a light to follow.  It represents warmth and light and safety.

While the COVID virus continues to burn its way through humanity, our little household will continue to stay withdrawn from the fray, as much as possible.  We won't be going anywhere for the holidays.  If the weather smartens up and temps become 'better' (as in -10C during the day) and the roads become less icy, I might start walking again.  I'm feeling how much physical fitness I've lost this year.  The summer was grey and windy and wet and I found myself disinclined to go walking in the wind and rain.

Usually once winter properly arrives the roads get worn down to the pavement and it becomes quite pleasant to walk.  But not so far.  

Climate change - like the virus - is not a hoax.  We have been watching the weather change since the 1990s.  Now we routinely get weather that we would expect to have in Vancouver, not up here.  Rain in December?  Oops.  Not normal.

Trudeau has already begun making noises about that looming crises and it seems his team is beginning to work on trying to improve things in that regard.  One way to stimulate the economy would be to sink money into the alternative energy industries.  OTOH, who knows if I'll live long enough to see things get better.  Right now I would be relieved just to see less reliance on the petroleum industry.  

I suspect that life as we knew it will never return.  Hop on a plane and go to Bali for the weekend?  Not really an option.  Scoot on over to Mexico for a winter vacation?  Maybe not.  Buy a tonne of plastic holiday decorations?  Maybe making our own like we used to do - paper chains, strings of popcorn and cranberries to decorate with - might be a better option?

Most of all?  I hope the attitudes that I learned at Sunday School start to come back.  Some churches seem to have forgotten "It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."  

Or my favourite above - lighting someone else's candle does not extinguish your own.

Or my next favourite - if you have enough, build a bigger table.

Reading Drafts Part IX



page from Virginia Harvey's publication Park Weaves, based on Dr. Bateman's work

page from Weaving Innovations from the Bateman  Collection by Robyn Spady, Nancy A. Tracy and Marjorie Fiddler

Dr. Bateman did a deep dive into a variety of weave structures, and eventually Virginia Harvey edited his work and turned them into a series of monographs.

There have been many individuals who have, for their own intellectual interest, took the time and effort to do this sort of examination of how threads can go together.  Sadly many of them never made it beyond their own limited circle.

We are fortunate that Virginia Harvey belonged to the Seattle Weaver's Guild and that the guild remains active to this day.  That three of the current weavers then took the time to examine Dr. Bateman's work more fully means that we have this information to draw upon now.

Perhaps the down side to something like Park Weaves is that they are shaft hungry.  However, in the 21st century we also have access to multi-shaft looms with computer assist which can make simple work of things like tied weaves and others that are similarly shaft hungry and which would, in 'older' days, require at the very least a drawloom or an affinity for using a pick up stick.

Not that a pick up stick is any deterrent to someone determined to bring into being a design!  

The above design was rendered by my brother based on a photo of the Royal Hudson steam locomotive, which I then edited to make it weave properly, and then, using Beiderwand threading wove with a pick up stick in a modified Beiderwand treadling.  (Beiderwand is traditionally woven with two pattern picks per block - I just did one.)

As always - read the beginning bits in the book to understand the notation and become acquainted with the weave structure, then maybe weave a sampler to make sure you understand how the weave is supposed to work.