Monday, November 30, 2020

Work in Progress


Here is a photo of the AVL tension box I have used since, oh, 1983?  Thousands of miles of yarn have traveled through this device.  It has been modified and we have worked together for literally decades.

When I got the Megado, I looked at their tension box and decided that I was going to somehow make the AVL box work on the loom and Doug made adaptations to the loom so that I could.

Changing looms meant changing some processes - because change one thing and everything can change.

I have been weaving pretty much exclusively on the Megado during the past year and I am still adapting my processes.  The longer you do something a certain way, the harder it is to change what you are doing when something changes!

So my minor tweaks have been done slowly, carefully, constantly adjusting and making further slight tweaks.

For this latest series of towels, the ends per section changed from 32 to 30, for reasons, although the warp then gets sleyed at 32.  As careful as I am while beaming, I was still having issues with the 'ribbon' of yarn not filling the section evenly so I tried this and that and kept tweaking over the summer and each warp.

The last couple of warps I made a more major change.  Instead of putting four ends in each dent of the tension box reed, I started putting 5, then leaving a gap in the middle to allow for the build up of the seine twine leader strings.

Yesterday I made a bit of a mess, in part because this was such a new tweak I forgot to leave the gap, but once that got straightened out, the warp began to go on quite smoothly.  It won't be perfect, but I have learned over the years that very slight differences will disappear in the wet finishing - at least on towels that get cut apart and wet finished separated.  It might be more of an issue with a longer textile.

In the end when I go back to 32 epi I may go back to putting four ends per dent and not leaving a gap.  Or maybe I'll try it for one warp and see how it works.  But 32 divides equally by four, while 30 divides equally by 5, so...

Weaving offers continuous opportunities to learn and change.  Lessons for Life, too.

Sunday, November 29, 2020



on the loom

after wet finishing

Wet finishing is the final step in bringing a collection of woven threads into being as 'real' cloth.

While on the loom, it was possible to clearly see the reed marks (no so visible in the top photo, but believe me, I could clearly see them), the threads will move to areas of least resistance (filling in those spaces from the reed), relaxing into their place in the structure, and then a hard press that mashes them together to increase stability and encourages better wear as it performs it's function.

Purple isn't really a colour I work with much, although I like it well enough.  But some people just love it so when I was clearing out my yarn stash I had to consider how to use up the few tubes of purple I had.  Eventually it came to this - purple on blue.  

This warp shows the 'value is more important than hue' adage.  You have to look quite closely to even see the purple because the value is darker than the rose, of course, but also darker than the blues.

In the end I wound up with 12 of these.  There are six more with a very dark greenish blue.  They got cut off the loom yesterday and run through the washer/dryer.  I'm all set up to press those and once done I will begin beaming the next warp.  The last of the royal blue with shades of emerald/turquoise.  Something much more to my taste.

I've been struggling a bit the past couple of weeks.  The appointment with the cancer clinic was more stressful than usual, in part due to the current events, no doubt.  When you are already loaded with stress, adding one more layer becomes heavier than usual, even if you are pretty sure everything will turn out ok.

Part of me realized how stressed I was when Thursday came and I remembered I had not posted towels for sale on ko-fi.  Figured I might as well skip the week so I posted these this morning.  

As usual $30 and I'll throw in the shipping for that price.  Still possible to receive in time for Christmas if that's important.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Fleeting Moments


One thing about living farther north is that during the winter I actually get to see the sunrise.  As the sun tops the hill to the east, it throws brilliant light onto the hill behind our house.  It got even more spectacular a few minutes later when the entire hill became bathed in the golden glow of the rising sun.

It was a good reminder that every storm will pass.  Nothing lasts forever.  Things change.

After about 6" of heavy WET snow yesterday, today we are being gifted a day with clear blue sky and sunshine.  Since I have to go out today, I'm not complaining!  Our street isn't in very good shape, but the main roads should be cleared by now and the route to the guild room is mostly on main roads.  Since I haven't been out of the house for a while, I'm looking forward to a bit of an excursion.

(I actually left the house on Thursday but wasn't able to get to my hairdresser, so I don't really feel like that bit of a drive counts because I didn't get to have time with someone else, just a rather frustrating drive!)

This week I started digging my spinning out.  I'm not entirely sure why I'm back to spinning - except that the universe keeps nudging me to do it.

For those new to the blog, I actually started spinning before I fell down the weaving rabbit hole.  Upon reflection, I'm glad I did because I started weaving with a basic (*very* basic) understanding of how fibres got turned into yarn.  The lessons learned at the spinning wheel underpin a lot of the knowledge I have about weaving.

When I became immersed in weaving for sale, teaching and writing about weaving, I got rid of most of my spinning tools and for many years did not have a wheel.  Then wheels began appearing in my life.  Gradually I was enticed back into playing with fibre.  But spinning had moved on, so to speak, and once again I'm an anomaly.  I prefer supported long draw and over the past few years I have acquired a blending board which allows me to make rolags without hurting my neck as much as cards do.  And while I will never be a technical spinner, I am having fun blending colours, making unique combinations, then spinning them into textured yarn.  I could get more consistent yarn if I worked harder at it - I know the principles - but I have plenty of fine smooth yarn for weaving.  This textured yarn is great for knitting.  And I get to play with colour in a way that is different from how weaving affects colours.

The past two years has been pretty fraught, one way and another.  Facebook reminded me that it was just two years ago I was back in California meeting with my editor with the final push to get The Intentional Weaver out into the public.  

I put the spinning away because I was just too busy, too distracted, too...tired...because there was just too much other stuff that needed doing.  And I needed the dining room table to ship the books (about 250 of them on the pre-publication special offering).  Once the book was 'done', the conference was in high gear, and once the conference was done, I was finally able to focus on me and how disfunctional my body was by that point.  And then it was shutting down my business, dealing with retirement, trying to figure out how to encourage my body to keep going, if not actually heal.

It's been a long journey.  But I have also lived a long time now.  I was never sure I would get to 70, although I hoped. I am.

Now I am learning to really double down and appreciate those fleeting moments of quiet joy, like the golden rays of the sun on a pristine hillside of fresh snow.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Snow Day


It is now well and truly winter here.  This is the sight that greeted me when I went into the kitchen to grab my juice and pills.  It had been snowing lightly all night, a wet snow from the looks of the depth on the branches of the plum trees.

And my first thought was - who needs to drag a tree indoors and decorate it when Mother Nature will do it for free?

And with all the school strike for climate posts on Twitter this morning I thought back to Christmas when I was a child.  With a simple string of lights, paper chains, a few ceramic or glass ornaments.  One year mom splurged on tinsel, which we then carefully removed and draped over the cardboard, saved for the following year.  And many years thereafter.

As an adult, by the time Christmas arrived, I was too exhausted from the effort it took to get textiles designed, woven, and to the craft fairs to care about having an indoor tree.  We tried, though.  We went from a real tree to an artificial one, and then even that became too much effort.  I finally compromised and bought an artisan made metal tree that sits year round on the mantle with hand woven decorations hung on it.  

I suppose that because we didn't have kids, the shine wore off Christmas pretty quickly.  All the race to buy this, that and the other, which - don't get me wrong - I used to sell my textiles, became wearying.

As I get older, I appreciate nature more.  I look out my window and see the seasons change.  The snow decorating the plum trees in our back yard, dusting the trees on the hill behind us.  Spring brings the new growth and sometimes the migration of songbirds - although not nearly so many these days.  Evidence of the Great Bird Disappearance.  Summer with the lush greens, then the slow slide into autumn and back into winter.

During this time of self-isolation, I appreciate the display Mother Nature provides, in part because I don't have to go out in it.  

Always a silver lining, even if you do have to dig deep to find it...

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Marching Onwards


Progress seems so slow at times.  But yesterday I began weaving with the dark green/blue weft and am quite pleased with the results.

Value is more important than hue, and this warp is showing how much light values tend to dominate what we see - the pale rose stands out proudly from the dark blues.

The majority of the cloth is, in fact, medium to dark blues, but that rose just pops right out!

I am well over the half way mark on this warp with just four more towels worth of warp left.  I'm not entirely sure I have four more towels worth of weft (in the green/blue) but the whole point right now is to use up my stash.  Exactly what I use is less important than just getting it used up!

I'm hoping to get this warp off the loom tomorrow, but I have errands to run this afternoon so may not get two towels woven today.  The morning is already slipping through my fingers and by the time I get home I may not have the energy to weave much.  But it will come off on Saturday.

The next warp is pretty (to my eye).  the same dark blue as what is in this warp, but instead of the paler slightly lavendar blue and rose, the stripe will be shades of emerald and turquoise.  The weft will be the dark blue.  And that warp should use up much of the rest of those colours.

Little by little.  One by one.  Labour intensive activities take time, and that's just a fact.

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Keep weaving.  Or whatever makes your little heart go pitty-pat!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020



The sun will come up tomorrow...

Tomorrow is another day...

Hope springs eternal...

We surround ourselves with platitudes to keep our spirits up.  To keep hope alive.  To keep doing what we need to do.

This morning the sun came up a little later, a little further to the south.  It pried a hole in the clouds (not really, I'm waxing eloquently here) and created a haze of golden glow on the sky.

This morning I talked with the nurse practitioner at the cancer clinic.  We talked about the roller coaster ride of living in De Nile for 5 and a half months, then two weeks of anxiety because - in the absence of obvious symptoms - I never really know how the cancer is simmering.   Will it be this time that I am told it's back?  Will I get the newest, latest drug?  How will my body react to it?  Chemo wasn't great but I managed to slowly claw my way back to some kind of normality afterwards.  The 2nd drug?  Well, I'm that much older now and I'm no where near where I would like to be in terms of energy.

But I'm still in remission, so there's that.  I am one of the few who has actually achieved remission on this drug.  (Special snowflake status confirmed.) 

It's been nearly two years since I stopped taking the drug and still no real sign that the cancer is doing anything but just burbling along, still there, still living with it, but not doing much other than just lurking.

So I'm cut loose for another six months.  I'm going to stick my head back in the sand, try to ignore it, work at doing what I want to do, as much as I can given the level of 'tired' I deal with on a daily basis.

The good news in all this is that in the time since I started the Ibrutinib, not one but two more drugs have come down the pipeline.  The first one is similar to the Ibrutinib, with similar adverse effects.  The newest one has a different set of adverse effects.  So when I need treatment again, she will hop over the similar one and try the newest one.

On the other hand, if my remission sticks for another year or so, there might be another newer drug to try.

So for today?  I will get to the loom and weave two more towels.  Yesterday I finished off as much of the purple as I could which means that today I will start working on that greened/blue.  There should be enough warp for six towels, and pretty close to enough weft yarn for six towels.  If the weft runs out?  I might declare this warp done, rather than scrap up some other colour for one towel.

Time will tell.

The sun will come up tomorrow...and I will continue to do what I can, when I can, for as long as I can...

Tuesday, November 24, 2020



some of the silk in my stash

Now that I'm nearly 'done' (for certain values of done) with the 2/16 cotton, I have been contemplating the rest of my yarn stash.

I love fine threads.  I love the quality of cloth you can make with fine yarns.  I especially love intense gem colours.  

But you get an awful lot of play value with fine threads.  In other words, it takes time.  Every thread needs to be beamed, threaded, sleyed, tied on.  Then every pick needs to be placed in the cloth.

So instead of 20 or 32 or 48 epi/ppi, fine threads might require 60 or 72 or 100 epi/ppi.

Unfortunately I simply can't see that well anymore.  (Old age sucks.)  So I stop frequently to appreciate this finefinefine silk and come to the same conclusion.  I need to ply it to make it thick enough to see, let alone weave with.

It has taken a year to (mostly) use up the 2/16 cotton yarn in my stash.  I can't even begin to think how long it will take to use up 2/60 and finer silk.  

I do, however, also have 2/16 rayon yarns.  So once the tea towels are 'done', more scarves will be made using up some of the 2/16 and unknown sized but fairly fine rayon.  I do have scarves, but they are a bit thicker - about 2/8 grist, crossed with 2/16-ish bamboo rayon for the most part.  And in the meantime I can be plying this very fine silk yarn.

A lot of newer weavers think that if you have a certain size as warp you must cross it with the same thickness of yarn.  I'm here to say that isn't so.  You might need to adjust the epi, but it can make a thicker yarn in the warp behave quite nicely when it is crossed with a thinner weft.

There are so many variables involved in the creation of cloth.  As a new weaver I found it quite confusing and overwhelming.  So many decisions needed to be made.  On the other hand, tweaking all of those decisions became quite fascinating.  Mostly the changes are very subtle and of course personal preference then makes one person like one combination better than another.

But that's the thing.  If you like it, if it meets your needs, it isn't wrong.  

And?  It's a journey.  A journey of exploration.  A deep dive into the kind of variables that can bring tiny changes to how a cloth feels.  Drapes.  Wears.

Because every decision is built on a sliding scale.

And learning is never a waste of time.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Winter Dawn


Winter solstice this year is Dec. 21.  On that day the sun will end its steady march to the south and begin the long sweep back north.  Our days will grow longer, our nights shorter.  

And the cycle will continue to repeat.

As I learned more about pre-Christian history (as in what life was like prior to Christianity), the more in tune I felt with the pagan rituals that Christianity absorbed and claimed.  So Christmas supplanted the festival around the winter solstice.  Some of the pagan rituals still exist today, mostly in the northern climes, where daylight gradually disappears and needs to be encouraged to come back again.

Where the sun rises moves, quite noticeably throughout the year.  Right now the sun rise is over the house in the centre of the photo.  During the summer I can't see the sunrise - if I should ever be up at that hour! - as it rises a few houses to the left and out of view of where I have my new recliner.

I don't know if it is just 2020, or my advancing age (and thank goodness for that!) or if it is the pandemic, the current political climate, or all of the above, but I find myself less inclined to do much of anything.  It takes very little to knock me off my rails and remain sat in the new chair.

One way I deal with such a lack of desire to do much is to...accept obligations.  Far enough in the future they don't feel too pressing.  Yet.  But close enough that I tend to be wary of the march of the days passing.

Last week I managed to get through my first(?) Zoom presentation.  Now I have to figure out how to actually teach via Zoom as I've agreed to a 3 hour mini-workshop.

Some of the time spent sitting in the new chair has been to consider how to teach remotely, a topic that I would normally only ever do in person.

So I have pretty much decided to just focus on the principles.  Give people the information they need to look at their own weaving practice and encourage them to self assess.  And then maybe when things are 'better' (re: covid) and they can meet in person, set up a local study group where they can help each other.  Who knows, maybe by February they will already be able to do that.

This week I have another appointment, this time to see the nurse practitioner at the cancer clinic.  I don't think that the numbers will be 'bad', but until I get the lab results I don't know for sure.  So I am feeling unsettled and my focus is shot.

However, I have a box of Olds homework to mark, and have been working on that.  A quick glance at the woven samples is encouraging.  Plus I hear there is one more box to arrive soon, and another who has asked for a further extension, so hopefully that will arrive soon, as well.

One of the delights of teaching the Olds program is to see how many truly dedicated and gifted weavers there are.  The fact that a lot of them want to take a deep dive into the craft is heartening.  

For today my three studio things (can't seem to manage much more than that) are to finish marking the homework and to weave two towels.  Anything beyond that will be a bonus.  But that's my goal.  It helps to drag me out of the chair to have a list of three things to accomplish.  If I didn't I might not get anything done at all.

Hibernation looks more and more attractive with every passing winter!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

One by One


After spending so much time on the puzzle, I thought I would share it once it was done.

A lot of people find doing such things - like making a jigsaw puzzle - is a waste of time.  I agree it is a way to spend time.  But a waste?  I guess that depends on your definition of what is productive and what isn't.

Jigsaw puzzles are like a lot of other things that take time.  If the person doing them finds some satisfaction in the making, then it's not really a waste.

Just like pretty much any craft...

I love tv and now the internet because they have introduced me to things made - in some cases - hundreds if not thousands of years ago.  When the technology we now have did not exist.  When things were made by hand.  Making glass, metal, pottery, fibre things did take time.  In some cases a lot of time.  But the people making them still took additional time to make them beautiful.

Metal and pottery items were decorated, either by carving into them or adding things - glaze, mosaics.

Buildings have been unearthed with incredibly fine mosaic floors, tiled walls, frescos.

I gave a talk once on National Women's Day and since I was speaking to a primarily union member audience, I talked about making things, by hand, slowly and with care.  And that while we needed our bread, we needed our roses, too.

And so I make things like jigsaw puzzles.  At the end of all the piece fiddling, trying them here, there, sometimes every damn where, the pretty picture exists to brighten my day.  

I nearly gave up on this puzzle.  It was difficult because the colours were blobby, there were no straight lines to build, the change in colours was extremely subtle and sometimes changed at the cut line.  So while I might be looking for a blue piece, it was a green one that actually fit.

But every time I sat down to work on it, I would find a handful of matches.  And so, having made progress, I would leave the puzzle board on the table, and try again the following evening.  And find a few more pieces that fit.

In many ways making a puzzle isn't much different than weaving.  I start with a vision of what I want to end up with (the photo on the box lid), then I make choices.  Then I keep at it, adding more things - choosing the warp colours, deciding on the weave structure, then, one by one, every weft pick gets laid into the warp.  And just like the puzzle, the weaving grows.

I have been telling myself that once the puzzle was done I would dig out my spinning.  Now the puzzle has been put away, the table has been (more or less) cleared, it is time to go digging in my spinning stash.  But I also have hemming to do.  

Yesterday I reached the halfway point in the current warp so I cut off the 9 towels, cut/serged them, tossed them into the washer/dryer, and they are now ready to be pressed.  And hemmed.  And pressed again.

Piece by piece, step by step, they are coming into physical being.

For people interested in possibly buying some tea towels, the local shopping has been shut down due to Covid, but I can still mail things.  If you are interested in seeing what I have, I can go up to the guild room and take photos (or check my ko-fi account ).   The photos posted there the past few weeks show towels that are currently here at home.  We are not taking down the guild sale because the closures are for two weeks, initially, and we may be able to continue in December...  But I can still go to the room and take photos if someone is looking for something in particular.  I might just have something to suit.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

A Day Off


Yesterday I pressed 'pause'.  I rarely go a day without doing some sort of task in the studio but what with one thing and another, I found I could not contemplate doing much of anything.

The studio was a 'mess' because I had done a Zoom presentation the night before.  In order to do that, I had to take the laptop that runs the loom, set it up on a riser on my work table, find textiles to show as examples, set up the drying rack to hang the garments, a side table for the smaller samples, rummage through my library for some books.  At the end of the presentation, the samples were heaped up where ever I had set them down, the garments were on the floor, the laptop needed to be put back.  And I couldn't face doing any of that.

So before I could even begin to think about weaving...the studio had to be put back in working order.

We had also bought me a new chair - a recliner - and needed to get rid of the easy chair, so I had gone with Doug to deliver it.  Then sat in the van for nearly an hour while he mailed some parcels.  And got thoroughly chilled.

So when we got home, I made a cup of tea, grabbed my library book, sat and read until it was done.  By that time it was 3 pm.  In other words, by the time I had sorted out the studio there were no spoons left to weave.

Instead I came back upstairs and worked on the puzzle for a while.

After dinner I had a choice - I could either do something productive (hem, knit) or I could continue working on the puzzle.  I was close enough that I thought I could finish making it too.  

And so yesterday became a day of 'finishing'.   I put the last piece of the puzzle in at around 9:30.  

Today I have a few errands to run, which I will do wearing a mask, and then weave one more towel.  That will get me to the halfway point on this warp which means I can cut off the 9 towels, cut/serge them, and get them into the washer and dryer.  Tomorrow they will get pressed and be ready for hemming.

And so the cycle goes.  Round and round.

But every once in a while?  It's good to take a day 'off''.  Press 'pause'.  Start again the next day feeling somewhat refreshed, ready to get back into the routine.

Currently reading The Long Range by C. J. Box

Friday, November 20, 2020

Dire Straits (TW - political/covid)


Mount Robson (BC)

No, not the band.  The situation we find ourselves in now.  "May you live in interesting times" the curse goes.  Well, here we are.  The straits we are in are most definitely dire...

I can't help thinking about the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic.  Thousands of people became ill and a significant number died.  This event happened close enough to present day that we still have excellent documentation about it - how many hospitals were overrun with patients, how many health care people were infected as they battled to provide care to the sick.  How many people marched, protesting the recommendation to wear masks, isolate, gathering in groups, denying the danger to themselves and others.

It is said that those who refuse to learn from history are bound to repeat it.  And here we are.

Canada is no stranger to the danger.  The west coast was hit hard, early, and did a decent job of flattening the curve.  But now the predicted 'second wave' has hit.  The two largest provinces have struggled to deal with it and have recorded high numbers of cases - and deaths.

In the meantime, people are struggling financially because businesses are not doing the kind of business they need to stay in business.  Even with the financial stimulus provided in the spring/summer, things are actually worse now, and people are tired.  Bored.  Fed up with the restrictions.

All very human.  But.  But.

The virus is not bored.  The virus is not tired.  The virus is just looking for a host.  Any host.  It doesn't care.  Any warm body will do.

And so more of the provinces are putting more stringent measures in place.  Mask mandates.  Group size limits.  If people had not fought wearing masks in the first place, things might not be where they are now.  But the political climate says that people have to protest such measures as being some kind of attack on their personal 'freedom'.  And that clarion call was heard here in Canada as well, where we are bombarded by American media.  And the internet of course.  

 And no, governments enacting measures to protect the good/health for all is not an infringement of an individual's freedoms.  Rather than just repeating some meme read on the internet, maybe stop and think a wee bit.

I suppose I'm old enough that the 1918-19 influenza pandemic is not ancient history to me.  I suppose I am old enough, know enough, to understand how a virus works.  How it can grow exponentially.  And that the best way to deal with it is to remove myself from the line of transmission.  

I suppose that because I'm an introvert, one who has had to, on several occasions, temporarily isolate myself while dealing with a health issue that this time was less onerous for me.

I am also without close family, so I don't have the tug of wanting to visit with g/kids.  But here's the thing.  I want to stay alive for a while longer.  My underlying health issues make it likely that if I should catch Covid, it will kill me.  Or at the very least make me extremely ill.  So the best approach is to not catch it in the first place.

Over the summer, reports of friends of friends catching - and in some cases dying - of Covid have now grown, both in number and in fewer degrees of separation.  Instead of a friend of a friend, it's now the friend's brother/sister, aunt/uncle, mother/father.

Politicians who are ignoring this threat to their constituents are the worst, imho.  They should have been listening to the medical professionals, the historians, setting an example through their leadership by wearing a mask, isolating when they had been exposed to the virus - and knew it - encouraging financial stimulus packages - rent moratoriums, unemployment support.

When this is over - and it will be at some point - it is our duty as citizens to remember the politicians who did not help.  The ones who actually harmed their citizens by down playing the pandemic and not providing adequate support.

With climate change percolating, still, I suspect we are going to see more of these events happening and that a 100 year pandemic will be rolling through more frequently.  Like the hurricanes - so many this year they had to go to Greek names.

Worried about the economy?  If governments moved stimulus to renewable sources, that could provide a big push to a financial recovery.  And might help the climate as well.

But first?  First, we have to survive.  Then we have to fix what is broken in our society.  Our world.  There is no Planet B.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Each One, Teach One


As a new weaver, I was fortunate to have a group of older, more experienced weavers who encouraged me and kind of took me under their wing.  Their mantra was 'each one, teach one'.

My goal was a little more expansive than that.  I fell into the rabbit hole of weaving and fell a long way down.

And I loved it.  It fed me in so many ways, but also challenged me, pushed me to grow as a person, not just a weaver.

Since I was already a bit of a writer, it was a fairly easy transition to begin writing about weaving for publication.  At the time it was short form - articles for publication.  I didn't really think about an actual book, not for many years.

Long time readers of this blog will remember that my first book (and I still amaze myself when I write that phrase) grew out of the monograph for the Guild of Canadian Weavers.  Again older more experienced weavers took me under their wing, encouraging me to get the information on wet finishing recorded, send it out into the world so that others would also know about the phenomenon.

When asked when my next book would be coming out my immediate and heart felt response was 'not in this lifetime!'.

And yet.

Over the years I began teaching more and more, especially after Magic in the Water came out.  When I was asked to submit my application to teach at Olds, I realized that the master program would be a good fit for me and I was delighted when I was hired as an adjunct teacher.

As the years went by, I realized I need to - write another book.

Not everyone wants to teach.  Not everyone wants to write - books or otherwise.  In the case of the second book it wasn't mentors who urged me to write, but my students.  It became a labour of love - love of weaving, love of my students.  It wasn't easy and it wasn't fun, but it was necessary.

And so I did it.

And that is pretty much the story of my life.  That I, and most people, will do things - not because they are easy, but because they are necessary.

If things like writing a book were easy, everyone would be doing it.  

But that doesn't mean that each person can't pass on their knowledge - whatever they are knowledgeable about.  Each one, teach one.  If not now, when?  If not you, who?

And so I wrote the second book - available via (or for those outside of Canada).  I organized conferences.  And for 2021, the seminar series

We are going through interesting times.  But they will eventually become less 'interesting'.  First we have to get through this time.  

{{{hugs}}} to all who need one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

And Onwards We Go


Doug dug out the driveway - again - yesterday.  Winter is definitely here.  And time marches on.

Today I have some personal errands to run so I don't know that I will get two towels woven.  I had another 'bad' night so am running on short sleep rations.  It's hard to focus and get stuff done, even stuff I would like to do, when I just don't have the energy.

I get tired.  And I think that is the way I know that I am finally 'old'.

My priorities have changed over the past two years.  Too many assaults to this body, in one way or another.  What little patience I ever had is long gone.

Over the years I mostly sold my textiles in person at craft fairs.  For about 10 years I would run a 'sale' on this platform, showcasing my towels.  I tried other things over the years - Artfire, Circle Craft on line site, probably a few others I've forgotten.

But textiles are hard to sell unless the customer already has some idea of the quality so I never made much money at it.  

Now there are no craft fairs (I'm 'retired' from doing those) and I'm feeling too old to fight with the technology to try and do something more extensive.  Plus the shipping and the uncertainty with the USPS.  So far all the parcels I've mailed since September have arrived, so that was good news.

I considered setting up a Patreon but didn't want the deadline of producing content for people subscribed.  So I set up a ko-fi account where people could send me 'tips'.  

Or more lately, I have been posting a tea towel of the week and people can purchase by buying the suggested number of 'coffees'.  That way I don't have to set up a payment option and fight with trying to figure out how to make that work on this platform.  (I tried, believe me, I tried, and left defeated.)

During this year of pandemic I have tried to keep this blog focused on helping people work their way through the current events, so rather than use the blog for sales, using ko-fi seemed like a good idea.  But apparently most people have missed the memo.

So if people are interested in possibly buying a towel (or more), use the ko-fi link and subscribe in order to get updates.  Scroll backwards to see previous towels.  I still have some of them, although I will check to make sure if asked.  Email is

And people can always email me and I will send photos.  On line shopping doesn't get more personal than that.  :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020



Marketing my own stuff has always been the most difficult part of being a professional/production weaver.

Over the years I was in business I tried a number of different things, including professional photography and postcards - when people still actually used them.  (Yes, I AM that old!)

During a course on marketing, one of the presenters said to think of advertising as that which you paid for (i.e. professionally done post cards, ads in the media) and marketing as sharing information.

Once this was explained to me, it became easier for me to share my story of how my textiles came to be.  It wasn't so much a plea to buy my stuff, but to engage the listener into a conversation about my textiles.

And that felt more comfortable to me.

I'd grown up in a home that taught that it was rude to 'toot your own horn'.  People were just supposed to know that you were doing good stuff, you didn't tell them you were doing good stuff.  And if they didn't know, well that was just fine and dandy.  The point wasn't recognition but to do 'good'.

This morning someone asked if I sold my textiles.  When I said yes, they commented that it wasn't easy to find out where.

Which kind of took me aback.  Because I'm plenty up front here and elsewhere that I make stuff to sell.  But likewise, I'm not great about telling people how they can buy my stuff.

Since I'm now officially retired from the grinding slog of doing craft fairs, my things are not easily available - unless you were already following me here or on my other social media platforms.  Like the ko-fi account I set up earlier this year, right before the pandemic hit.

The past couple of months I have been posting a weekly towel to ko-fi, then sharing that link with my Twitter and Facebook accounts.  But I guess that isn't high profile enough, or I'm not doing a good enough job of letting people know that I AM trying to sell my stuff that way.

I will be posting this week's towel to ko-fi shortly.  And as usual I will share the link on Twitter and Facebook.  But this time I will also share the fact that people can purchase through ko-fi.  

During this time of pandemic and on-line buying, don't forget that craftspeople are having craft fairs cancelled and are trying to sell their work on-line.  Not everyone is good at marketing their own stuff.  

45 years, and I still find it difficult to invite people to consider buying my textiles.  Guess I'll never manage to do it easily now.  But in any event - if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook - the link will be posted soon.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Leap of Faith


Yesterday I got started on the next warp, using a dark purple weft.  

To be honest, the first few inches I wondered if I had made a good choice or not, but theoretically it should work, so damping down my doubts I continued.  By the time I had about 6" done, I knew it was going to be fine.  This morning when I took the photo, I was pleased enough with the results that I will carry on and use up all four of the tubes of purple.  That should weave up 11 or maybe 12 towels.  Still unsure about which colour to use to finish weaving the warp.

It needs to be at least as dark a value as the rest of the warp - Value is more important than Hue.  but I'm getting low on choices, so it will need some mulling over.

I do have a dark blue, slightly green, that will work although I had been kind of holding it for the next warp which will have greens in it.  But I have other options I can use for that warp, so...

While blue/purple/pink would not have been my first choice for tea towels, I have friends who like that combination.  So maybe there are people who would be willing to buy some.

This whole stash reduction goal has provided some lessons, some reinforcement of knowledge, but most of all, mental health during this time of pandemic.

Once I had the numbers crunched and a design worked out, I didn't have to think much, just set up the spool rack, thread this very simple point progression, and weave.

It has been a nice interlude, but with my goal nearly achieved (potentially three more warps after this one), watching the gaps on the shelves grow larger, I think I'm just about ready to move on.

As mentioned in last post, the coming two weeks are a bit fraught (for reasons), and having something I don't have to think about much, just do and be, is just the thing for me right now.

Today I woke to more or less clear skies after several grey dreary days.  I will be heading to the loom after lunch with the goal of two towels woven for the day.  I won't make that every day due to appointments, but I will do my best.

I'm well over half done the jigsaw puzzle and I'm beginning to look forward to setting up my e-spinner and beginning to work on spinning my fibre stash.  I'm also eyeballing all that finefinefine silk, knowing it needs to be plyed at some point before I can use it.  (Gotta be able to see it to weave with it!)

In the meantime, evening work includes hemming the towels that are ready for that step, knitting up some of the acrylic yarns I was gifted (I donate them to charities).  

Last night I also came up with something I could do to mentor some folk.  Early stages yet, but since we are all sheltering at home, classes cancelled, I feel like I need to up my ante and figure out a way to help.  Still mulling over details.  But it falls into the 'if not now, when?  if not you, who?' category.

Or Beau of the Fifth Column's rule 303 - if you have the means, you have the responsibility.

Well, now that I'm getting comfortable with Zoom...I have the means, so therefore, I feel the responsibility.

Feeling at sea during this time of covid?  Try to figure out how you can help others - if you have the energy.  What I have found over the years is that if I'm feeling lost, trying to help others also helps me.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Stage 'Fright'


next warp ready to go - two shades of blue, plus rose

The coming week and week following are going to be personally stressful for me - in addition to the general malaise of the current events unfolding (pandemic, politics, the politics of the pandemic) I am also going to do my first (? only?) Zoom presentation for a guild.  Plus other things.

I'm not proficient at either Power Point or Zoom, and so I'm nervous about how - if - I will be able to manage to give something akin to an interesting presentation.  

On the other hand, I'm not the only person dealing with Zoom and Power Point, and I hear the stories of others and realize that it isn't just me struggling with wanting to be 'professional' in a situation that makes doing that, challenging.

I'm used to a little stage fright.  I admit the first few times I did stand up presentations to groups of people I was also nervous with stage 'fright'.  But as a child I had done things like sing in a choir, played in music festivals (accordion!), danced for audiences, done speech festivals.  So I wasn't entirely new to the concept of getting up in front of a sea of faces and just...doing it.  Nerves and all.

Nike had it just exactly right with their marketing slogan of Just Do It.

In many ways, stage 'fright' is just your body getting itself ready to perform.  A little adrenaline provides some energy, you learn how to focus or you stop putting yourself in that situation.  It's something that organizations like Toastmasters understands - give participants a 'safe' place to get up and try, then get feedback on how to do it better.

I considered joining Toastmasters when I was younger, but never seemed to have the time.  Instead I strode out in front of a lectern (when there was one), and just told my story, watching crowd reactions, learning on the fly.

The difference now is that I need to deal with technology which can fail for unknown reasons.  It's not me I'm worried about.  Much.  I think I've got this public speaking thing more or less worked out.  It's the added stress of using the internet and not knowing if the experience will be good for me, of course, but also for the viewers.

I accepted the date in part because I wanted to know more about what the seminar speakers were going to have to deal with so I could provide them with assistance where necessary.  As it happens, I can't do much because so much depends on the internet and if it works.  Or not.

So I am going to focus on doing what I can in the studio.  The next warp is ready to weave and I will begin after lunch.  In the queue after this one is another with the dark blue but with turquoise/emerald as the stripe, then a pale blue/grey, then maybe that autumn colourway I've been toying with and may or may not actually toss onto the loom.

By that time there will be very little left of the 2/16 cotton.  And so I may decide that this never ending cycle of tea towels is over and done with.  My stash of that type of yarn will be pretty well used up.  I may in the future buy enough white to do white warps and weave off the rest of the colours on the white.  Plus I have been given some linen yarn from a friend downsizing HER stash, and some linen on white cotton might look very nice.  I know it will make a great quality of cloth.

Given it is taking about 14-16 days to complete (weaving) each warp, that's about two months to seeing the end of the tea towels.  For now.  My completion date is now mid-January.  And after that?  Probably work on some more scarves and try to use up some of those rayon yarns.  I'm not sure I want to do more shawls, but possibly.  

Always something to look forward to.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

A New Dawn


A combination of living in the 'north' (not really but far enough that there is a significant difference in time of dawn throughout the year) and not sleeping well (menopause - the gift that keeps on giving) means that for a few months every year I have a chance to see the dawn.

We are living in the proverbial 'interesting' times right now.

There is political unrest in many places in the world.  More than we might be aware of, except for the internet and the ability of people to get the word out.  There is the pandemic, where over a million people have - so far - died.  Others have been left with long term chronic health issues.  People are risking their lives to tend to the sick and in some cases it seems in spite of government inaction - or confusing messaging, which amounts to the same thing.

It is easy to feel powerless and that things are pointless.  

Rather than let my feelings overwhelm me, I try to find things that I can actually do.  So I write.  Because I have always written - just more so during this time of pandemic.  Pandemic diarist - who knew?

I weave.  Because I need to feel as though I have some kind of control over my life.

I encourage others and work on ways to - hopefully - improve the lot of others, as best I can, in my limited capacity to do so.

When my brother died I experienced survivor guilt.  I was older than he was.  He was a well known (much better known than I ever knew) person in this town.  The church was filled to overflowing for his service.  I wondered at the 'justice' of taking someone who worked so hard to improve his world.  Too soon.  Much, much too soon.

In the end I decided that since I was still here, I needed to work to help make things better in my little corner of the world.  Do what I could.  When I could.  However I could.

After a string of gloomy, grey, dreary days, this morning I woke up - too early after a 'bad' night - and was awake for when the sun popped up over the hill and roof of the house across the street.

It reminded me that today was another day.  What I did - or did not do - yesterday was now in the past.  Today was a new day.  A new chance to do 'something'.  

Today I won't, in all likelihood, make it to the loom.  But I did get the loom ready to go yesterday and tomorrow I should be able to begin weaving on the new warp.

It doesn't matter that all I'm doing is weaving tea towels.  I am weaving.  And that is reward enough.

After months of feeling poorly, dealing with chronic pain, I am finally beginning to have 'not bad' days (as I put it to the massage therapist when he asked how I was doing) and that is progress, no matter how I look at it.

So I will take what I can.  Be grateful I am still here.  Still able to weave.  Still trying to help others.  My goal, personally, remains the same for now - three things.  I try to do three things each day.  I don't make it every day, but I have a goal.  I have something to look forward to doing.  And tomorrow is another day.

It's a new dawn.   A new day.  And I'm still here.  And if you are reading this?  So are you.  And I'm glad.

{{{hugs}}} to those who need one.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Interesting Times


craft fair set up from a few years ago

I have to say, I'm not feeling much regret about the decision to 'retire' and not do craft fairs anymore.

We are living in the 'interesting' times that are referred to in the curse 'may you live in interesting times'.

Pandemic.  Political unrest.  Not just in north america, but in many countries around the world.  Worsening climate changes.  One wonders what life will look like when all this (waves hands) is over.

We have an opportunity to make changes right now.  Changes that might be beneficial to more people.  To tear down institutional biases and make systems more fair and equitable.

This morning I saw a tweet from Dan Price - the CEO of a company in Seattle area.  He had made the decision a few years ago to draw less money from the company for himself and pay his employees a much higher rate of pay.  In fact, he decided that if he was going to pay his employees X per year, that is what his salary would be as well.  This morning he commented that his employees get unlimited time off and was surprised at how many people assumed that his employees would abuse that time off.  The thing is, it has been shown over and over again that an employee who feels respected and valued will be much more loyal than one who doesn't.

I have absolutely quit a job that was very well paying because the environment was toxic.  One of the reasons I decided to become a weaver was to work for my own self and not have to deal with male colleagues who were sexist.  And racist.  (Because if they were one, they were usually both.)

I could have made a lot more money working for someone else than I ever have working for myself.  But as long as I had 'enough' I was setting my own agenda, my own goals and directing my own work day.

In the end I have 'enough', and that is good enough for me.

But I admire and respect business people like Dan Price who build bigger tables.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Poppies for Remembrance


Fred William Holzworth, 1919-1975

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020



Yesterday I finished weaving the blue warp.  It took longer than hoped, in part because I was busy with getting the guild sale sorted out, in part because I had another box of Olds homework to mark.  This morning I will type up my notes, send the student their mark, submit the mark to the college.  So far as I know, there is one more box that will be sent on Friday the 13th.  

This month is proving to be a bit busier because of the guild sale and I have been having a harder time doing my two towels plus one other thing in the studio, but doing things for the guild is also important to me.  Covid has kicked the stuffing out of our 'usual' guild activities and therefore the budget.

The good news is that the possibility of a new facility came a step closer last month with funding applied for.  Now the wait to see if the funding will be granted.  In the meantime, plans have been drawn up and a time line developed for the renovations for the new site.  I will not regret the absence of a very long staircase to mount in order to get into the guild room.  When I broke my ankle I couldn't get there for months and other guild members have been unable to get to the room because of knee replacement surgery and other health issues.

What can I say - we were young - once.

I won't miss carrying heavy boxes or equipment up and down the stairs either!

Today my goals are more modest - cut the towels apart and serge/wet finish them, do the marks for Olds, set up the spool rack and tension box and see how many sections I can get beamed.  Tonight I will go to guild and pick up some things from the sale because I sold some tea towels - and they are at the guild room.  Beyond that, I'm not sure I will have the energy to do more.

The next warp will be the same blue with rose instead of turquoise.  The weft will be a dark purple.  Not sure what will be next after that is used up - there are 5 partial tubes and they may well weave off the entire warp - or most of it.  At 6000+ yards per pound, 2/16 cotton goes a long way.

After the blue/rose, there might be enough for a blue/green.  I will know better once the blue/rose is beamed.  And the final warp might be red/orange - a blast of bright autumn colours.  With each warp taking about two weeks, that will put me at the end of this year, and clear out the 2/16 to the point where there really won't be enough yarn left to do another warp.  Another milestone.

Worked on the puzzle for a bit last night and found a few more pieces to fit.  I am teetering on the edge of giving up or carrying on with it.  But I'm about halfway finished now so kind of loathe to leave it undone.  OTOH, I have other things I would like to do and I need the table to do them on.  I could just ignore the studio and work on the puzzle during the day - it's easier to see the subtle colour changes in daylight.  Except we have had a string of mostly grey days and need the overhead light anyway.  

Sunday I did a practice zoom meeting and learned more about how it works.  I may do a few more practice runs before the 19th, just to make sure I have a better idea of how to make it do what I need it to do.

In the meantime, covid continues, blithely running through the world population.

I know people are tired.  Tired of politics.  Tired of covid precautions.  Tired of not being able to socialize in real life.  Tired of events cancelled.  Tired of Zoom meetings.

But the virus is not tired.  It is not bored.  It will continue to seek a host.  Let's not allow it to make us a host.

Stay home if you can.  Wear a mask if you need to go out.  Maintain physical distance.  Meet in small groups (6 or less) in well ventilated areas.  

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay covid aware.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Little by Little


This puzzle is a challenge.  The colours swirl and blend, sometimes quite unpredictably.  There are no lines to follow, just blobs.  It is taking far longer than expected - or hoped - to get put together.  But each time I sit down to work on it I seem to find a few pieces that fit.  Or appear to fit.  Sometimes it's really hard to tell.  And sometimes I've had to remove a piece because it doesn't seem to fit after all and try another.

This morning I thought about how 'broken' our society seems to be right now.  I thought about the enormity of trying to fix what is broken - or doesn't 'fit'.  How overwhelmed I felt.  How powerless.

But then I found a cause I knew I could help with, and so I did.  And it felt just like fitting another piece into the puzzle.

No, my little bit of help wasn't going to fix the bigger problem.  But it made the problem less big.  And even a tiny bit of progress, is still progress.

I remembered that it isn't up to me to fix the world.  Only to try and help fix what is wrong in my world.

We are all connected.  We just maybe haven't figured out where in the puzzle we fit.  Yet.  That doesn't mean we stop trying.  It only means we need to look harder.  Work longer.  Try, try, try again.

In the meantime, I work on myself.  Peeling back the layers of my white privilege.  Paying attention to the words I use.  My attitude towards others, yes, even the ones I disagree with.  

I watch what is happening in the world and try to support those working for equality for all, not just a few.  I pay attention to what the politicians say - and do.  

I am not perfect.  But I try to see where I need to improve, and then to work towards that improvement.

My goal is to work from a foundation of love and acceptance, not fear and division.

Build a bigger table, not walls.

Love and light to you all.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

On Deadlines


'Retirement' means a re-ordering, a shifting in priorities.  Retiring right before a pandemic was, in hindsight, a very good thing to do.  Having purposefully not crammed my calendar full of opportunities to earn money, I had instead taken a step back and not booked very much of anything.  No craft fairs, no guild teaching.  So when events started to be cancelled, it didn't affect me much at all - because I had booked very little.

'Retiring' comes in many flavours.  One person I know was going to retire from working in April.  Her big goal in retirement was to travel.  With the pandemic, that was not possible, so she didn't.  I spent most of the summer just doing what I had set out to do - try to weave down my yarn stash.

By the end of this year I will have used up, as much as I can, the 2/16 cotton.  The shelving unit that had been full to bursting - with more yarn in boxes - is now showing large gaps on the shelves.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm not out of yarn!  For the 2/16, there is enough yarn left for at least 3 more warps.  Maybe four if I decide to work with those reds and oranges.  I think I've come up with something bright and cheerful and which will use up some of that yarn.  But I'm low enough on the reds that I might do a 15 yard long warp, not 20.

My calendar for November is fairly full, given my level of energy these days (not much) and I am pleased to say that day one of the guild sale went reasonably well.  Whether or not that will continue over the course of the 6 weeks, no one can tell.

As for the seminar series, registration has begun.  I am hoping to see more as the first one nears.  There has been a great deal of distraction with elections and politics.  In many ways society needs to do better.  So much better.  

And of course, the pandemic.  What an 'interesting' year it has been - with more to come.

Next year looks to be more of the 'same' - political unrest, pandemic measures.  I will continue to stay home as much as possible.  Wear a mask when I go out.  Weave down my stash.

The current warp is taking longer than I hoped to get off the loom, in part because of the guild sale, but also needing to get ready for my Zoom presentation on Nov. 19 and a few boxes of Olds homework have come in.  Several students asked for extensions and they are now getting their boxes to me.  I'm pleased so see them come.

It is also time to go in to the cancer clinic for a check to see how I'm doing with that little challenge.  While not expecting anything dire, I wasn't expecting the diagnosis in 2011 in the first place, so...

But as for deadlines, most of them these days are 'soft' or self-imposed.  I decided to do the guild program because I could do it from home.  But it has meant dealing with technology.  Today I'll do a practice Zoom run, try to figure out how it all works.  It will also give me a chance to know ahead of time what our speakers will be dealing with for the seminar series.  That way I can maybe anticipate what they will need from me/us.  

I also agreed to do something for another guild in the spring.  I need to sort out details for that - date, times, numbers.  

But my appetite for elephants is waning.  My energy is thin.  My self-imposed and accepted deadlines will become more flexible in the future, I think.  The number of plates I can keep spinning diminishes every year.  So I am easing into 'retirement', choosing smaller elephants.  Chomp, chomp.

Currently reading Song for a Dark Time by Ian Rankin