Sunday, July 25, 2021

Not 'Perfect'

 



Started weaving on the current warp this morning and while I would not claim these towels are 'perfect' they actually turned out quite close to how I thought they might.

In the end, they are a bit darker than I expected, partly because the linen is more of a brown than the 'usual' beige of a good quality linen.   But this isn't 'best' quality, it is very much tow.  It is a bit slubby, quite a bit hairy, lots of chaff in it, feels coarse to the hand, and closer in colour to the dark grey cotton in the warp.

But in the end, I'm pleased with the results.  There is just enough difference in the colour of the linen to the rest of the warp that the weave structure shows up.  Having used this yarn previously I know it will break in nicely and make good all purpose towels as they are used.  Like a good wine, they will improve with age. 

Also in the 'not perfect' file?  I made several errors while threading.  Somehow I missed two heddles entirely, and one point progression was the wrong way...I threaded /\ instead of V and those six threads had to be pulled out and threaded properly.

But once I got going the linen, which had been wound two days ago and put into a humidor, wove off quite well with just a couple of times having the weft wrap around the spindle of the shuttle and jerking to a stop.  

The linen is a bit thinner overall than the cotton and the ppi is a bit higher.  The twill angle in the loom is somewhat lower than 45 degrees, maybe 42?  It's not enough to make much of a difference in the appearance of the design, though, plus that will shorten the length somewhat, which is fine, as well.  The cotton towels had turned out a bit on the long side for tea towels but since they were also thicker, hand towels can be longer.  These will be more 'proper' tea towels.  But!  They will also serve as hand towels.

The colours were threaded randomly, plus the four variegated yarns add some extra striping where the colours 'pool' in the warp.  As I weave, that pooling will happen fairly randomly.

But over all, I'm pleased enough.

Currently reading Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Pushing Boundaries

 


Yesterday I got some studio clean up done and beamed the above warp.  Colours are not competely accurate on my monitor - the values are actually somewhat darker.  And I ran out of two of the variegated spools and didn't have more so had to substitute a different colourway which looks different, but oh well.  They will still be towels that will dry stuff.

The weft will be a hairy tow linen which also has a fair bit of chaff in it but I have used this linen before and after several times through the laundry, the cloth broke in nicely and I quite like the quality of cloth that developed.  Of course this warp is 2/8 cotton, not 2/16, so it will not be identical, but close enough that the towels should behave nicely.

This will be the 'last' in the current series.  I'm not sure there is enough of the tow linen to weave off the warp, so the back up weft will be something else from my stash.  I have some cottolin from Brassard - four tubes of it, which should be plenty with some left over. 

But overall, I'm pleased with how the warp looks on the beam.

The colours are a dull olive green, a dark grey with a red undertone - slate, I think Brassard named it -  lavender and one strand of a blue.  There are four ends of a variegated deep rose through to pale with a kind of purply blue.  I subbed a variegated with more blue than rose in it.  I'm calling it a design element to have one edge of the towel be not identical to the other.  People will judge the towels for the way they are and like them - or not.

This is not a colourway I would have actually worked with 20 years ago.  The colours are not 'mine' - too dull for my taste.  But I think they look good together and should look nice in a setting that has a lot of neutral colours - stone, granite, wood.

In many ways my career has been all about pushing boundaries.  Boundaries set by society, parents, friends (in some cases).  Elements of the weaving community.  When I decided to do the Guild of Canadian master weavers program, it was partly to satisfy my own desire to learn more, but also?  To indicate to the weaving community at large that I had been tested and found acceptable.  That I actually knew something about weaving.  Because I wanted to teach and the test program was a way I could get some kind of credential that others would accept because they could easily access the testing materials and see what I had to do to pass the program.

Doing a course is as individual as each person.  Not everyone wants to 'prove' anything to other people.  Sometimes it is purely for personal growth.  Sometimes it is a good reminder - especially on 'bad' days - that something has been achieved.  My final Master certificate hangs on my wall for that reason.

There are many ways to learn in the 21st century, and after the pandemic there will continue to be ways to learn on line for those who cannot easily access in person classes.  On line may not be as good as in person, for many reasons, but if you have difficulty travelling, don't have the budget to attend a school, learn easily from viewing video, on line can be a good way to move forward in your craft practice.

The pandemic forced me to examine where I am in my life (retired, for certain values of) and to figure out how I could continue to teach.  The study groups have been one way for me to continue serving my community.  But the production values are not great.  It irritates me that the lip sync is so often out of kilter via Zoom.  Sort of like a typo in the written word - it hits me bang in the eye and annoys me.

But that is what I currently have, so I continue with the scheduled lectures.  Just another boundary to push against.

No one knows what the future holds.  I try to focus on what I can do now, today.  And try not to worry too much about tomorrow, all while making plans and doing the prep work for the Next Big Project.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Firming Up

 


Ah, the bumblebee, that insect that isn't supposed to be able to fly - and yet, somehow does...

So, after many months of studiously working at reducing my stash, I will today order some yarn.  Seems I will need to do some sampling for the New Big Project.  

Sampling new-to-me yarn means that I am developing something new, in partnership with...well, someone else that I will not reveal right now because many a slip between cup and lip.

The Big Project is embryonic at the minute, but an email last night firmed up some things.  We now have a firm date for the co-operative part of the Project to begin.  Because I am not going it alone with this but working with a team.  A really lovely team to collaborate with and I'm quite excited to be here, now, able to move forward with like minded people.  Especially with experienced people who have the technology skills I don't have (and don't actually want to acquire at this point in my life - I'm a weaver, Captain, not a technology geek!)  

But it means new yarns.  

Which is not a hardship, far from it!  Just that I need to buy more yarn in order to do my research.  And by research, I mean weaving samples. 

I need to understand the nature of some of their yarns so I can work with them appropriately.

Even if the project falls through for some reason (see lip/cup reference above) I won't feel that I have wasted my time (or money).  Because I will have expanded my horizons/knowledge working with new-to-me yarns.

So this morning I will be going to their their website checking to see what they have and placing my order.  While the end of September seems like a long way away (it isn't!) there is much to be done.  Not to mention other obligations.

I am old enough, and produced enough Big Projects on my own that I have a pretty good idea of what needs to happen in the next 8 weeks.  And of course there is still wildfire season and covid that may interfere with our plans.  

But there is no point freezing and doing nothing.  Being prepared means doing the work now so that when the time comes, it will be full speed ahead.

As for announcing the New Big Project?  That will happen when it is appropriate.  When launch date has been set.  When it is time to begin the marketing.  In the meantime, I will share my excitement and enthusiasm for this project here.  Because the intention for this Big Project is that it will be on-going and involve many of my favourite things.

But I'm not working solo, I'm working with a team, and therefore I will not spill the beans before the time comes.  Just know that plans are being made, good stuff is being worked on (and by good, I mean stuff that *I* think is good) and hopefully 2022 will see some great things coming.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Little by Little

 



Today I should be able to cut the latest warp off the loom.  My next warp on the Megado will be another 2/8 cotton warp, with a single (tow?) linen weft.  I'm assuming tow because it is quite hairy.  It should be quite absorbent and make good hand/kitchen towels.  

The cone of linen is one of the last cones from my friend Lynn's yarn stash.  I still have a few cones of yarn from her, but the 700 pounds of yarn I brought home is largely used up now.

She loved fine yarns and a bargain and routinely bought yarn just because it was a good price.  So she had a LOT of yarn.  Added to MY 'lot of yarn' meant there was a lot of weaving that had to be done to use up mine and hers.

I found this last lonely cone of linen when I was trying to re-organize my shelves over the winter and since I was on a tea towel binge, decided it was time to use it up.  But I like to work in batches and I had a lot of my own yarn that wanted using so the linen got set to one side.

Today I've done the 'last' in the current series (also using up some of Lynn's yarn for weft) and the one with the linen for weft has come to the surface.

But first I need to clear away some of the clutter in the studio.  My work table is full of stuff, the place where I set up the spool rack to beam warps onto the Megado is filled with my espinner (for plying that 16/2 cotton of Lynn's), plus I need to start crunching numbers for the next Big Project.

The good news is that I can get the kind of wool yarn I want locally.  Given the looming deadline, being able to get yarn right away and not wait on mail order means I can take a couple of days to prep the studio for the new direction.  

In the meantime while I wait on word about the Big Project, I can finally get that warp into the loom and use up the linen.

In the photo above, there are several shelves of 2/8 cotton.  After weaving a bunch of towels using 2/8 cotton, there is less left than that photo shows.  Still lots, though, so I will be thinking on what to do with it.

However, I feel like I need to use up some of my other yarn for a while.  I have literally hundreds of tea towels/towels and low on scarves.  There will be no craft fairs locally (that I want to participate in) and instead the local guild is looking at doing a sale in the guild room.

We are currently smoke free as the wind has shifted somewhat, but lots of t-storms in the forecast and things can change at any moment.  I try not to think about what can happen and focus on the 'now'.  But it is never far from my mind that we can wind up under a smoke plume again.

In the meantime, I continue to weave.  And think.  And plan.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Logistics


 

One of the things I had to do as a budding production weaver was learn how to estimate time required and plan out the best course in terms of actual production.

I learned how to work in batches.  How to set up my studio as best I could given the space constraints.  Plan ahead so that I could order in yarn so that it would arrive when I needed it.

When it came to planning workshops, I had to think about what the workshop was meant to teach, then figure out appropriate warps, develop class handouts, and the timing so that everything that needed to be done would get done.  That meant estimating how much time *other* people would need to do the weaving.

Eventually, after talking with other instructors, I developed an approach that mostly worked.  I would have 12 'basic' warps, and if there were more than 12 participants I would start doubling up the slower weaving warps.  Then when class started, I would tell the participants that were were 'only' 12 warps and that they did not need to weave on all 20 of the looms in the room.  The looms then got labelled with the number of the warp with the duplicates clearly identified.

This seemed to work well.  Being clear about my expectations of what people would accomplish took a lot of pressure off of most people.  It didn't always work, depending on how may type A personalities there were, and how competitive they were.

As I put together my Zoom lectures I have to keep in mind that a two hour presentation of really in depth information is pushing listeners to their limit of being able to absorb what is being shown.  However, there is the recording for them to go back to and review, so again, it seems to be working.

Now I'm working on another format and having to once again think through the length of the presentation, what I want to convey, how best to do that given the format.

I am further working with a much reduced level of energy and a lack of adrenaline (in comparison to what I used to draw upon) to sustain me for several days.  But I'm pretty committed to being able to teach the stuff I think is critical for people to know.  Call it my 'legacy', if you will, but somehow people need to understand the principles of the craft.  At least some of them.  At least enough so that the information is not lost to time, needing to be learned over and over again going forward.

Perhaps it is my ego at work here, but I'm going to give it my best shot and if it means I need a couple of weeks to recover afterwards, well, I AM supposed to be retired, after all?  

Monday, July 19, 2021

Zoom, Zoom

 


The past three days I had one Zoom meeting on Friday, then one each Saturday and Sunday.  I was also dealing with allergy hang over from the wildfire smoke we have been having on and off.  Generally it takes my body three days to clear an allergic response and after a reduction in smoke (here) over the weekend, I'm feeling a little more functional today.

There are times when I wish I didn't have Big Ideas that turn into Big Projects.  Especially the past few years when I've been dealing with chronic health issues that won't actually ever get much better.  The job now is to work to keep them from getting worse.  The pandemic and the wildfires and the extreme heat are not helping me, and millions of others from living our fullest lives.

However, the internet is here and we are able to reach out to like minded people literally around the world.  Between the Sunday Seminars and my Zoom study groups, I have really enjoyed being able to talk to people in different places.

This week I will be working on the latest Big Project for me while I help another weaver with hers.  Once again I'm back to planning, working out logistics, and...ordering yarn.  Because the Big Project will require sampling yarns that I don't normally work with and I need to understand how they work!

Developing cloth AND classes takes work and with my limited well of energy these days, it will take all of the six weeks or so to do both my research/preparation and weave for my friend.

When I shut down my business and 'retired' from travelling to teach, I did it because I was having more and more health issues that were robbing me of my energy.  The past year I have made a slow but steady recovery in terms of my physical health but it's fragile.  My body has been rode hard, put away wet too frequently, and now I have to work at a much slower pace.

But I still get excited by learning, by exploring, and by sharing my knowledge.  So I am learning to do this at a more measured pace.

Zoom may be the name of the portal, but right now I'm much more tortoise than hare.  And I'm learning to be ok with that.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Opening Doors

 


I think that if I could sum up my life in one sentence, it would be that I was constantly looking for the next door to open, then go through...

Sometimes it would open, and sometimes it would close before I got through it.  But always, always, there would be another door.  Somewhere.

One of the reasons I chose weaving (or weaving chose me - sometimes I wonder) was that I could be my own 'boss'.  I could make choices. 

Sometimes the choices weren't much fun, but were necessary to accomplish the end goal.

Sometimes the choices were scary.  Stand up and give a keynote speech to a few hundred people?  Um, ok.

And then sweat bullets until I figured out what to say.  

Do the Guild of Canadian Weavers master weavers certificate?  Sure.  I can work hard.  I can take constructive comments.  (And mostly they were.  Constructive, I mean.)

Self publish a book?  No problem.  Once I had the massive financing in place that made it possible.  And then carried a huge debt load for years before I could get it paid off.  (So for those who assume I made beaucoup de bucks on Magic?  That income barely covered the debt I ran for over 10 years to get it 'born'.)

The pandemic brought new problems.  But I'd 'retired' from teaching and doing shows just as covid was hitting our shores and so it didn't affect me much.  And I had lots to attend to, shutting down my business and dealing with yet another health issue.

The past year has been getting comfortable with the reality of being 'retired' and yet finding other ways to continue my desire to educate weavers as to the principles of the craft.  Once again, I was addressing a niche in the niche market of weaving.

I have had to come to grips with being an 'elder' in a community where I used to be one of the younger ones.  Since I still want to teach, encourage and support, I plunged into the 21st century technology - as best I could.  Several friends stepped up to help me navigate things like Zoom.  Since I'd always rather be weaving than dealing with internet and learning new software, the hand up was welcome.

Today I am poised at another door.  Will I go through?  Depends.  I'm not sure I'm capable of expanding any further than I have done to this point in time.

On the other hand, I never thought I would/could self-publish one book, never mind two.  I never thought I could give one keynote speech, never mind several.  I never thought I might teach all over the place, and yet I did, more and more acting as my own travel agent as my trips became more complex.

And now?  Now I'm about to go peer through another door.  See if what lies on the other side is something I feel I can do.  Or not.


(Dear reader, she looked through, liked what she saw, and tentatively put the first foot across the threshold.  Details as they become share-able.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Words

 


how it started



how it's going

When I was young I read.  Voraciously.  Gradually I came to the realization that I wanted to write.  But what?

I tried.  I wrote stories and essays in school.  I even took a creative writing class.  And discovered that I didn't actually have anything original to say.

I had a pen friend in high school and into my early adulthood.  We exchanged those flimsy blue air post forms monthly.  I even traveled to Sweden to met her and lived in Sweden for 3 months.  (I say I lived because I didn't stay in a hotel but student residence, needing to buy my own groceries, take city transit, get around on my own, with some help from my friend and the other students still in residence over the summer.  In a foreign language, using a whole lot of facial expressions and gestures and a sprinkling of nouns.  But I digress.)

When I took up weaving I began to write articles.  First for the local guild newsletter, than tentatively submitting for publication.  Plus workshop handouts, fine tuning the language I used, always with the intent to communicate clearly something that was most often best conveyed by actions.

Part of the master weaver certificate was a monograph for the final level and I drew on my experience of writing essays in school in order to first define the purpose of the monograph/research, then set up the investigation of the topic I chose.  I received enormous encouragement and assistance from a number of people who helped push me over the final 'hill' to complete it.  One of my mentors actually proposed co-writing a book but didn't want to address the topic in the way I felt needed to be done to reach my target audience.  So I politely declined.  They took it well and continued to help with other aspects of weaving.  And - I think - actually respected me for standing up for what I felt needed to be done.

Then the internet came along.  I joined in 1994 to promote the conference I was chairing.

By then Magic in the Water was beginning to be formed and was published in time for Convergence in Vancouver, 2002 - a deadline I knew I could not miss.  And then I thought I had said everything I wanted, needed to say.

Except...the internet weaving groups were growing and there were so many people who rather desperately wanted to learn and were having problems accessing good information.

Eventually some really good teachers began creating content for the internet, first on You Tube, then on their own websites or other platforms.  Including me.

And still I wrote.  


Handwoven cover with my scarf

It is a little embarrassing at times to think about how many times I have said essentially the same thing, over and over and over again, trying to find a different way to say it.  Because not everyone learns in the same way, or has the same background to build on, or even uses the same language.

Weaving does have its own language (as do the other skilled crafts) and if you don't have access to learning that language it becomes even more difficult to learn.

In 2008 my life was shaken, HARD, and turned upside down and I mostly withdrew from the internet for a time.  Several people had been urging me to start a blog and as I came out the other side of major life changes, I finally started this blog.  

As I began to feel better, I put more energy into teaching after having had to take a hiatus due to Life Happening.  My focus changed from production to more teaching.  Needing to sell Magic, I also started selling yarns, doing fibre fairs as well as craft fairs.  And I enjoyed meeting new weavers and interacting with them.  

Eventually I began teaching the Olds College program and after a particular demonstration, one of the students asked if there was a book that had all the info I'd just presented.  Doing a quick mental trolling of my memory banks, I realized that no one book had all of that information.  And I realized that I did, in fact, have a second book in me that needed to come out.

Life did not actually become easier in the early 2010s.  In many ways it became more difficult, and I did the writer's tango, starting, stopping, side stepping, adding flourishes, editing them out.  A job that should have taken two years took more like 5, and only because I hired an editor to do the final push to whip that manuscript into publishable shape.  And then self-published, like I'd done with Magic.  (link at the bottom of the page.)

For the past year and a bit I have tried, via this blog, to encourage people to follow COVID protocols, and stay hopeful while everything (it felt like) shut down - workshops, classes, guild meetings, fibre festivals.  I tried to provide good information, and encouragement to hang in, hang on, keep moving forward.

In the end, it's all just words.  But I reflect on my younger self, really wanting to play with words.  And I think if I could talk to my younger self, I would tell her to hang in, hang on, that she would one day write.  It is up to others if I've done a good job.  I just need to write.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Weaving Rainbows

 


Rainbows - the symbol of hope, for many.

I am right now weaving some colour gamps and working with such bright colours has been a bit of a tonic for me.

While I can't complain about the grey dreary skies we had last summer, instead we have swung to the other extreme.  And now we are living in the shadow of the threat of another massive summer wildfire event.  Because it isn't just in the north right now, it's all across the province as it bakes under record setting high temperatures and no rain to speak of.  And not just here, but all across the western provinces.

Yes, we get thunder storms, some of them generated by the wildfires themselves, but they don't produce much rain so instead we have a cycle of wildfire initiated by a thunder storm, which grows exponentially, generating more t-storms, which cause more wildfires, which grow exponentially, which cause more t-storms and ...round and round we go.

We are - so far - safe from the fires themselves here, but instead are living under a plume of smoke.  Again, not horrible, not as bad as it can get, but enough to cause breathing problems for folk with lung issues and allergic reactions for those of us who have that reaction to smoke.

So playing with brilliant rainbow colours has been lovely and keeps me going back to the studio, which is also a few degrees cooler than the main floor.  But even it has warmed up.

This week is apparently more of the same.  In the meantime we cast anxious glances at the sky to see if there are any rain clouds to be seen.  We stay out of the heat/sun as much as possible.  Wear masks against the smoke as well as covid.  

And hang on to hope.

Monday, July 12, 2021

A Little Help from my Friends


 

Once again I'm reminded that people interpret information differently and what I can see in my mind's eye may be quite different from how someone else processes the information.

And that's the thing, isn't it.  Communication can only happen when people see things in different ways, but are able to communicate what the information means to others.

Right now society is being inundated with information, many of it just plain wrong (or wrong headed, at least) or not the whole story, or being filtered through different experiences than others have had.

Just because something isn't true for you, doesn't mean it's not true for someone else.

Just because I process something better in one way, doesn't mean someone else needs a different lens to see the same information in order to understand it.

Working with other weavers/students I have had to come to an understanding that saying the same thing, but louder, doesn't help the listener if they need a different perspective to understand what I'm saying.

It is one of the things that keeps me writing this blog, because I keep trying to help people understand what is happening via text (mostly) when what we are dealing with is not exactly text friendly.

Trying to explain physical processes, or how threads interlace, or how a loom functions, when those things are best done in other ways has been a challenge.  Mostly I manage to make it work, but some days I might not be feeling well and my personal processing powers are faulty.

And sometimes you just have to ask for help.  You have to communicate with another person and say, here's a problem, I can't seem to fix it, do you have any suggestions?  And sometimes that is all it takes.  Sometimes just articulating the problem is enough to find my way to a solution.  Sometimes the person I asked for help goes "sure hold on let me crunch this" and then be grateful when a few minutes later they hand you the solution.

I am grateful to my students for showing me how many different ways people can approach a problem, and helping me to understand better how they process information so that I can help others based on learning more about different ways of looking, seeing, and expressing the information.

I am grateful to my friends who respond, even when I know they are busy.  

We all need help, sometimes more than others.  We get through this life by helping and being helped.

And that is always a good thing to remember when we see so much that is wrong in this world.  Lift up, don't beat down.  




Sunday, July 11, 2021

Reflections

 


This morning I was up early (for me) and as I walked into the living room with my morning coffee saw this lovely sight on the floor.

As the sun moves across the sky it casts a different image on the floor and wall during its journey.

The past few days we've had smoke pall but today was much nicer.  It's also not quite as hot, so that was also pleasant.

I have put weaving on the Megado on hold while I deal with a project on the Leclerc but what I have been learning over the past couple of years (it's been just over 2 years when I made the decision to 'retire') is to stay focused on what I need to do in the moment and not fuss too much about all the other things stacking up that also need my attention.

'Retiring' - as in closing my business - freed up a lot of time and mental energy because I no longer needed to do the administrivia of keeping a business ticking over - bills to pay and tracking finances being the biggest irritation.

After about 18 months of weaving tea towels I can't quite believe I have yet more yarn to use up - weaving tea towels.  And yet, here I am.

The pandemic took a lot of pressure off me as well as I was being 'forced' into a new way of life.  Even if I *hadn't* retired (as in doing shows, traveling to teach) I would have been forced into stopping those things.  Since I'd already made the decision, the reinforcement of needing to isolate and stay home just kind of took a lot of pressure off of me.  Events I'd thought to attend as a member of the public got cancelled - conferences, workshops, even teaching for Olds - all cancelled.  So there was no need to leave my house if I didn't absolutely have to.

So I got comfortable with a much slower paced life.  Generally I get up around 8 and lounge around most of the morning, then spend a couple of hours in the studio before stopping to make dinner and do handwork (or not) in the evenings.

I'm not producing much.  But neither do I need to.

Now that I'm beginning another trip round the sun, I have thought about the coming year.  Thought about pandemics, and the nature thereof.  Thought about human nature and behaviour.  And pretty much decided that my life isn't going to change much in the coming months.

I do have some samples to weave for another teacher/weaver, and I do have some plans for more on line teaching.  But those may - or may not - come to fruition.  I have reached the stage where - if they fall through - I won't be terribly sad.  At little sad, but that's ok.  I am also old enough now to know that something else will come along.  Either someone will contact me, or I'll come up with another Big Idea.

But I no longer NEED to do these things.  I only need to WANT to do them.

And if that means I'm getting 'old' or even 'grown up' well, that's just another stage in life, part of the cycle of birth, living, and...not living.

One of my mentors died a few weeks ago and I found out yesterday.  So perhaps endings are just front of mind today.

Anyway.  Time to get to the loom.  Someone is counting on me to get this woven.  And I don't want to stand in their way by delaying getting the weaving done.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Begin Again

 



Even when you know quite a lot, you don't know everything.  Maybe I should add this to my list of 'Laura-isms'...

I'm doing some sampling, using a yarn I have worked with before, but am not particularly experienced with.  As such I followed a recommendation, even as I wondered if it would work, wound a warp, beamed it, threaded/sleyed/tied-on and started weaving.

My inner voice was correct.  It was not going to work.  Not even close.  I tried a few different things and finally just cut off what I'd woven, resleyed it to higher epi, (making two sleying errors in the process because my nice tidy bundles were gone and it was so much harder to keep track of the threads) tied on and started weaving again.

But now the warp was too narrow for purpose.  

The value of the yarn in the warp was maybe $10.  My time?  About 4 hours to that point.

But I had more yarn.  Lots, in fact.  And yes, it's a fairly price-y yarn, but the results were not sufficient to the purpose.  Rather than press on and use up that warp, I opted to cut it off and will wind a new one, wider than the previous one so that I can proceed with the higher epi and the end result will be appropriate to the purpose.

If there is one thing I have learned in my life - don't hang onto a mistake just because you have spent a long time making it.  Much better to take the knowledge and begin again based on the new found knowledge and get to a successful result because you are working from a place of increased information.

So that is my 'job' today - wind the new warp and get it into the loom.  If I can manage it, start weaving.  Maybe tomorrow after the Sunday Seminar I can weave the first 'sample' and finish the rest of the first sampling on Monday.  By then I should have the information for the rest of the samples.  But now we know what epi is going to work, and which one doesn't.

With the level of wildfire smoke outside I won't be going anywhere until I absolutely have to.

Last night we had a huge thunder storm bang and crash around us for hours.  The Purple Air site says our air quality this morning is poor and we've turned the air filter we bought a few months ago onto 'high'.  I may have to start using Benedryl, although I try to keep that for when things get 'bad'.  

In other areas of the province, more wildfires were sparked by rolling t-storms with at least one more town under evacuation as of bedtime last night.  Perhaps more.  I haven't paid much attention to the wildfire reports this morning.

We are beyond time to deal with climate change.  Some areas of the province are experiencing drought, almost all of the province is dealing with heat extremes, glaciers are melting which is causing flooding in some areas.  

Interesting times.  Interesting times.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Another Trip Round the Sun

 



This photo is from a few years ago, but it's not great outside this morning.

We have four wildfires to the west of us, which means it's all blowing our direction.  Since I'm allergic to smoke, I'm going to eventually start feeling sick - if the fires continue and the smoke sits like a chicken on her nest over us.

We have watched the climate change beginning in the late 1990s when the pine beetle invasion began.  It started in one of the largest provincial parks where the policy is to let nature take its course.  Not that there is much to be done against the pine beetle.  Normally Mother Nature deals with it by killing the larvae with extreme cold.  Well, we weren't getting any - at least not at the correct time or the correct level of extreme, for the correct length of time.  Our winters were becoming ever more mild.

Many people were thrilled with this gentle (seeming) warming trend.   They welcomed the warmer temps because they hated the cold.  (Which begs the question, why were you living north of the 50th latitude then?  But I digress.)

Over the years we have had to change our approach to living here, in this place, as we began to deal with far more grey dreary days and overcast, wet soggy snow instead of powder, dangerous roads due to ice from the constant freeze/thaw as the days warmed up above melting then froze again after sundown.

That was winter.  

In summer?  Dry bush due to the stands of dead trees (pine beetle kill at first, now spruce bud worm) and the barest spark, either lightning or human caused (cigarette butts tossed out of windows, hot boxes on train wheels, campfires not put out properly, whatever) meant more and more wildfires, going wildly out of control in extremely difficult terrain.

And here we are.  Once again under a pall of smoke, far too early in the year.  Made worse by temperatures unheard of - in JUNE - not August when we would expect hot weather.

So far this summer we have had temperatures in the very high 30s and two days at 40 C.   One small town literally burst into fire, cause still not known.  Lytton set a new world record at just under 50C - it was primed for exactly what happened.  Residents of the town had about 15 minutes to evacuate, nearly all with just the clothing on their backs, many leaving pets behind because they couldn't find them before they had to leave.  Two people died (that the authorities know about - there may be more - chaos reigns while people try to reconnect with family and friends.)

And of course, the ever present pandemic, making things even more difficult.  How do you suddenly shelter a 1000 people when the advice is to not gather in large groups or risk spreading the virus?

So today I completed another trip round the sun.  On Facebook I was urged to set up a fund raiser for a cause important to me.  I chose to not do that for a number of reasons.

Instead I urged people to donate to a cause important to them.  There are so many.  

We have weathered the pandemic in reasonably good shape, but we are old and have no children or grandchildren to worry about.  We are housing secure (as much as anyone can be when wildfires rage).  We have food enough and have been able to get more when we need it.  

But as climate change and the pandemic continue, supply chains may become disrupted.  Around the world there have been 4 million deaths due to covid documented - and many statisticians are saying that number is low due to the difficulty of collecting the numbers from places where the government has fumbled the pandemic response, or is covering up their ineptitude (or willful negligence), or that people are completely overwhelmed just trying to survive.

We have made some donations this year - Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF (for better vaccine distribution around the world), plus some local non-profits.  We have offered assistance to friends who were struggling.

Because when you have enough, build a bigger table.

If anyone is so inclined, choose a non-profit that is trying to help make things better and donate some money to them - if you have it.  

Bear in mind that this pandemic and climate change are linked, if not directly, then by the very fact that they are happening at the same time, each making the other more difficult to deal with.  

I never really wanted to live in 'interesting' times, and yet, here we are.

Thank you to all who have sent birthday greetings.  My most fervent wish is that we will all be here in another 12 months.  


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Hitting the Wall

 


I appear to have - in many ways - hit the wall today.  OTOH, as someone pointed out, that wall is there to lean against and rest, so while I haven't been doing 'nothing', neither have I been flogging myself to go weave.

Instead I am working on some other projects that are/were in the background.  One has come to the foreground now and I have been sifting through the documentation, working with another person, so make sure they get what they need.  The bad news is that their deadline is now (ahem) looming and I need to NOT make any mistakes.

So I am taking some care to go through their emailed instructions to make sure I know what part I need to play in this project.

Another is still simmering in the background, but just now added a Zoom meeting to my calendar for 10 days hence to discuss further, now that we've had time to think about it.

And, oh yeah, did I remind y'all that my Birthday Bash Special is live?  Check it out on my ko-fi account (link below).

In addition to that a friend needs some help right now so while Doug is playing point on that, I still need to provide information.  He figures he's got everything we need to contribute lined up and now the wait to see if it all works out.

I was doing ok with the heat until the humidity took a leap up.  It's not super very high, compared to some, but it's 'high' for us and today has been a struggle.

Today I needed to see my chiropractor and a list had been growing of a number of small items I needed to stock up on, plus some other things that I felt I needed, so in addition to getting my neck crunched, I braved one of our smaller 'department' stores.  Of course it's been weeks since I've been in and they have rearranged their aisles to better deal with pandemic protocols (fewer aisles, more room, etc.) so it took far longer for me to find what I wanted and by the time I was done there, I was just done, period.  I was actually quite relieved that nearly all the people in the store were wearing masks.  I think I saw two that weren't.

After a break to rest and deal with emails and Fiberworks, I am just about ready to tackle heading to the studio.  I need to find a place to store the new handheld vacuum I bought, which should make keeping the studio floor clean easier, and edit a warp colour order I've been playing with, then send a photo to the person the samples are for, and then?  Then I am going to sit and listen to some music and finish filling the next bobbin of the 16/2 cotton.  

And that, my friends, is about all I'm going to accomplish today, I think.  Hopefully I can sleep better tomorrow and finally get to the point of cutting off the current warp and wet finish the first half.  That warp is going to have to wait while I deal with this other warp as a priority, but honestly?  There's no rush other than my desire to get it done.  

Monday, July 5, 2021

Flexibility

 


I learned a long time ago that it did not serve me well to assume that my plans were written in stone.  Many times I have been in mid-stream with a project and had to pivot to change what I was doing.

So, while the spinning is a pivot, of sorts, it is all part and parcel of weaving down my stash.

I inherited a great deal of yarn when a friend died and I've had a bunch of fairly fine open end spun cotton, not sure what I could or should do with it.

Turns out is is the 'perfect' colour to use as weft on the current warp (spools still in the spool rack).

But plying 16/2 cotton takes time.  A *lot* of time.  Since we downsized my studio last year, I actually have a bit of room in the studio and with another reorganization,  I was able to set up one of my espinners to do the plying.  Just a bit of a scale - it takes about 45 minutes to half fill one bobbin on the espinner.  

So it is taking quite a long time to get enough of the yarn plied in order to weave with it.  In fact, I was thinking that I'd weave off what I've done - and can do tomorrow - and will need to stop and just ply yarn for several hours.

But today another project, one I agreed to tackle a few weeks ago and for which I received the  yarns last week came calling.  I should have the instructions for *that* project tomorrow - just about the time I cut off the first half of the current warp on the Megado and wet finish that.  Since it will take several days to get the 16/2 plied, pivoting to the Leclerc loom and that project will actually allow me to continue at the comfortable pace of half a bobbin a day without feeling restless and as though I've 'wasted' my time.

Since that project will be woven on the Leclerc, I can leave the espinner set up behind the Megado and work on it at my pace while still weaving on the other loom.  And by the time I finish the project on the Leclerc, all of the 16/2 should be plied and I can hop back on the Megado.  Unfortunately, there is so much of the 16/2 cotton that I will need to do another warp in the turquoise/green in order to use up as much of the 16/2/2 as possible.  (No that number is not a mistake - two 16/2 plied together is written as 16/2/2)

Flexibility.  

It's a good thing!

Sunday, July 4, 2021

My Projects

 



My life has been filled with Big Projects.  Some of them were financially successful.  Others?  Were not.

But the Project itself felt...worthy... to me and so I invested my time (and in most cases $$$) getting them done.

A few years back I encouraged Kerstin Fröberg to translate her monograph to English and add information for rising shed looms, then published it.  I still have copies if anyone is interested.  $25 inc postage to the US and Canada.


The Intentional Weaver is also self published and available on blurb.com.  If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you will find the link to the website where this publication can be purchased, either hardback or PDF version.  Also?  This one:



Another Big Project - two actually - are the DVDs that I did with (then) Interweave Press, still available via Handwoven/Long Thread Media as on line workshops.

And of course, I'm still weaving.  My Birthday Bash Sale continues until midnight July 9.  Link in the lower left hand corner of your screen.  (Or my screen, at least.)

Other projects were time sensitive and long over - conferences, mini-publications with samples, and the on-going Sunday Seminars

I am also hosting study groups on line and investigating other opportunities for continuing with on-line teaching in the coming year(s).

What all of this Big Project activity means is that my house and studio are in a constant state of upheaval.  I used to moan about the clutter, the mess.  Now I just do the Big Project and try not to fuss too much about the clutter and mess.  It's a constant state of flux and things get done and Big Projects come to a conclusion.

And then?  Then I'm usually off on the spark for the next Big Project.

And so it goes.

Currently reading A Quantum Life by Hakeem Uluseyi



Saturday, July 3, 2021

Plus ca Change...


 

Things change.  Priorities change.  Life changes.  My studio changes.

And so I am in the midst of a re-organization of my studio.  Again.  And may need to do it again later in the summer, because reasons.

I have been steadily working on weaving down my stash but a few home truths have had to be faced.  I don't actually want to weave all of what I have.  But would anyone else want that yarn?  Sigh.

If I could just get rid of one whole category of yarn, that would free up many board feet of shelving, which would give me room to store what I *have* woven.  I'm running out of space.

I also need to decide about keeping some of the equipment I have needed for the years, but really don't much need now.  OTOH, I hate to get rid of stuff that still works and I do still actually use the photocopy machine from time to time.  Not to mention that's a nearly new toner cartridge and they are VERY expensive.  Be nice to actually get some of it used up.  But it needs to be moved because I need the space it currently occupies for something else. 

And so it goes.  Dominoes.  Move one thing and other stuff has to move.  And where does THAT stuff go?  So today my studio is in upheaval and I'm feeling distracted and overwhelmed with it all.

The annex was such a catch all for so many years.  Need more space?  Doug would build another shelving unit for the annex and we'd cram more stuff in there.  Don't have that option now.

The heat here is beginning to lessen, but a lot of people have learned some hard lessons the past few weeks.  Climate change is real and almost beyond fixing.  Some experts are saying the best we can do is mitigate the negative effects on lives.  But it's a big tangled mess and I don't know if we can get some solutions in place before a lot more people die - from heat exhaustion, from wildfires, from flooding, from pandemics.  They appear to be all tied in some way to the change in climate.

Or so it would appear.

In the meantime, this little worker bee will do the best she can to keep going, living a small footprint (knowing full well she is much more privileged than many).  

So much 'interesting' life right now.  The more things change, the more they stay the same?

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Canada Day

 


Canada Day.  

Today we mark the 'birth' of a nation, but all too often, we do not tell the complete story of how this nation came to be.

I rarely 'celebrate' Canada Day - but then I rarely 'celebrate' any day designated to be 'special'.  That includes Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This year we are being forced to come to grips with a more complete history of Canada and the racism that underlies this country.

Personally I have had family members who attempted to justify residential 'schools' as being somehow 'good' and 'just' and 'best'.  In my heart I knew that they were not.

But the residential 'schools' are just a symptom of all that has gone into the formation of this country.  If we are to truly be a country that embraces all, then we need to face our history.  All of it.

Truth.

Then Reconciliation.

So today I do not 'celebrate' Canada Day.  Instead I remind myself that when we know better, we need to do better.

Today will be a time for me to reflect on what the 'Canadian Mosaic' truly means.  That we, as a country, a society, a culture, need to reflect on how we see others.  What we value as a nation.  In a nation.

The past year and a half has been made more difficult because a small segment of the population has chosen to move further to the 'right' and forgotten that we need to care for each other.

And that lighting someone else's candle does not extinguish our own.

Today I mourn with the original peoples of Canada and all they have lost.  I mourn with the people who came more recently as refugees and found racism in their new home where they expected safety.  I mourn for the earth, which this week especially has shown us that she is sick of human beings and giving us a louder, more urgent, warning of what is to come if we don't stop soiling our nest, our home, our ONLY home.  I mourn for those who lost their lives (and livelihoods and health) due to a pandemic that could have been mitigated by the simple protocols of self-isolating when sick, wearing a mask, keeping distant.  Getting a vaccine once they became available.

Instead we have just come through the worst heat event in recorded history, a thunder storm yesterday sparked wild fires, many in remote, hard to reach areas.  One small town, in the news for three days setting new extreme heat records, pretty much burned to the ground as a lightning strike caused a wildfire that engulfed them in just a few minutes.

There is little to 'celebrate' today unless we also stop, pause, reflect, and since we know better, do better.

So for those people who are now able to meet with a larger bubble, I hope that you will enjoy your day.  But let us not forget the reality of where we are, in this place, in this time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

July 2021

 




From the bin to the spool rack, the next warp is in the works.

After much thought, I decided to not use that bleached white for weft.  I should do a burn test on it to confirm it is, in fact, cotton, but if so it is mercerized cotton and fairly 'stiff'.

5/2 mercerized cotton (or Perle if it is DMC brand cotton) was engineered for embroidery.  Therefore it is dense due to the fibres being aligned parallel, then firmly twisted.  As such, it has less bend or drape to it, and - most importantly for a towel - less absorbency.

In a rummage in my yarn stash I was reminded that I have four cones (about 1 pound each) of 16/2 cotton of the right shade of turquoise.  

This yarn is thinner than the warp, but 2 strands of 16/2 cotton plied together will be about the same thickness as the 2/8 cotton, and I have a spinning wheel, so...

Right now we are in the  middle of an extreme heat event.  This is more serious than a 'wave' and high  temp records are being shattered up and down the west coast of North America, all the way up into the Arctic.  Not just on North America, either, but in the north on the other side of the globe.

Fortunately my studio is in the basement and I'm able to go down and get some relief from the heat.  Yesterday I reached the end of the last warp and got set up to beam the next.  I'm playing a bit of yarn chicken with this warp.  I'm pretty sure I have enough of the main colour to wind the warp, but I won't know until I actually do it.  So I'm thinking of reducing the length a bit, which will mean one less towel.  However, since I'm not entirely sure I will have enough of the 8/2 and 16/2 yarn to do 16 towels, one less might just be good planning.  Or a lucky happenstance.  

Beaming the next warp today is a lucky happenstance because today is supposed to be even hotter here than yesterday, but the forecast says the heat dome we are living under will begin deteriorating and the temperature begin to go down tomorrow.

So today I will begin beaming and maybe even threading.  I may not start weaving until Thursday though when the temps are supposed to be merely hot instead of extreme.

Currently reading The Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Potrel  (need to check the spelling of her name) while I wait for my next library book.  I'm finding the book dense with information and I tend to read it in short bits so I can think about what she is saying.  Just now reading about mathematics and weaving, and seeing familiar names - Carrie Brezine, Tien Chiu - and getting a little frisson of delight at nuggets of information.  Yes, I will do a 'proper' review but I'm only at about page 55 or 60 with a lot more to come.  Lovely!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Easy Button

 



One of the road blocks to my doing more on line content is the technology.  (There are others, but...)

I've done some video work and have a basic (very basic) understanding of some of the things that need to go into creating visual/on line content.  Such content is usually done by a team of experts (or at the very least, trained, people).

During this time of covid, I dabbled a bit and eventually started the study groups but they are done on a figurative shoe string, and only because companies like Zoom were developing prior to the pandemic and were able to step up quickly to offer on line services.

But that meant I had to learn how to use their site (and pay for their services) and figure out a way to make what is essentially a static lecture work to teach a hand's on activity.

I chose to focus on people who already knew the basics and were interested in fine tuning what they were doing.  So that a simple description, perhaps with a photo, would be sufficient for them to pick up the nuances.

Other teachers had been working on presenting on line classes using video.  Rather than compete with them, I preferred to recommend them and do my own thing.

I have done some 'video' work (converted to 'classes' by Long Thread Media) and when the crew arrived here I had done my homework.  We were able to film two different topics in the course of three days of very intense work.  We filmed out of sequence in order to make the job go more quickly and the editor dealt with sequencing when they got back to their studio.

In the end I was satisfied, even as I saw sections that I wish had been done 'better'.  But knowing how to storyboard, set up a filming schedule to pitch to the crew, have my samples organized, have the processing worked out with multiple 'samples' at various stages already organized made things go smoothly enough that we were able to finish and the crew returned home on schedule.

In the end, the result needs to look as though it was 'easy' to get to that point.  The lightning needs to be good.  Camera angles show what is necessary to be seen.  Audio should be, well, audible.

I could, if I had more energy, learn how to do the film editing.  I could, if I had more money, buy a better video camera, better lights, tripods, etc.

But I can't clone myself.  I can't be on camera and behind it at the same time.

So I will continue with the study groups for the scheduled topics.  And in the meantime, I'm tentatively exploring other options for the future.  If anything will come of that exploration - or not - remains to be seen.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Not Set in Stone

 


Posted the Birthday Bash details yesterday.  Today there are just two of the pale green towels shown in the above photo left.  Most of the colours have lots, but some are low numbers, in part because I was using up yarn stash and just made as many as I had yarn.

This morning as I sat and had my 'jitter juice' (as a cartoonist labelled it recently) I thought about the next warp.

Initially I thought I would have plenty of the dark variegated yarn, but as I near the end of the current warp, so am I nearing the end of that yarn.  There won't likely be enough to weave on the next warp, so I have been looking at alternatives.

I have a giant tube of what I think is a 5/2 mercerized cotton in bleached white and had thought I could use that on the next warp.  But the more I think about it, the less inclined I am to use it.  5/2 Perle cotton is quite stiff and thicker than 8/2, so the towels wouldn't be great.  Probably that yarn should be used for table runners or something that doesn't need absorbency or drape.

There is a partial cone of a solid turquoise 8/2 cotton in the right shade, but that will only weave a few towels.  What should I do for the rest of the warp?

I have a bunch of cones of 16/2 cotton in the correct colour, but it's finer than I want to use on these towels.

But ah-ha, I have a spinning wheel.  Instead of using a doubling stand, which would work but be a bit of a pain, I can ply two strands of the 16/2 together.

We talked about how much fibre dust that would create in the house and instead - since it's summer and no rain to speak of in the forecast after highs of 40+C on Mon-Tues, the temps are supposed to go down to the mid-30s.  Which, while hotter than I like, is at least do-able to be outside.

Most of the pollen should be over by then as well, so Doug will set up a table in the carport to protect me from the sun and I'll spend some time outside plying yarn.  I have 6 bobbins for the Device and plan to just go straight from the spinning wheel bobbin to the weaving bobbin so it should go fairly quickly once I get going.  And, doing the plying outside, the fibre dust would be kept as low as possible.  While weaving I have a fan with a filter on it next to the loom to help remove dust from the air.

I've woven enough of my cotton yarn stash that I'm having to carefully consider my options.  I think that's a 'win' in the stash reduction olympics.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Blue Blazer

 


The next week is going to see record breaking temperatures here.  On Wednesday, I have an appointment with my massage therapist and it is supposed to be 40C.  I'm reluctant to go except I'm not doing well in the back department.

Yesterday we made a temporary adjustment to the Megado that I am hoping will help with the pain in my hip/glutes/lower back.  Last night I felt pretty good but woke up this morning with pain in my hip again.

Then someone posted on Facebook asking what age you are, as opposed to what age you *think* you are.

Well, I am completely aware of my chronological age.  My body is constantly telling me it's been rode hard, put away wet far too many times.  But I also think about the fact that if I hadn't worked ergonomically for my life, I'd be in far worse shape than I am.

Part of the massage treatment has been coming to grips with just how much pain I am in.  Not just from my back and the nerve pain associated from two partially collapsed discs, pinching the spinal nerve, but from all the wear and tear of working at a very physical job for 40 plus years.

I am old enough now that I am no longer expected to work for an income so I work at my own pace as much as I can.  And try to not beat myself up when I can only manage a fraction of what I could when I was, say, 36.  Which is the age I have always felt myself to be, to be honest.

When I was a kid, a day that had a blue sky and really blisteringly high temperature was a 'blue blazer'.  I am grateful beyond words that we have a/c.  During this time of continuing pandemic, when I am still pretty much isolating from others, being able to stay home and stay relatively comfortable is a great privilege.  One I do not take lightly.  

The problem is, we are getting this temperatures in JUNE, not August.  It is very concerning that we are dealing with these temperatures this early in the year and I hope that this is the peak, not just the start of 6 weeks of intolerable heat.

In the meantime, I have yarn.  I have a loom.  And I have power.  Yesterday I put a couple of bottles of water into the freezer, just in case we do lose power.  It won't help much, but it might help keep the freezer cool enough to not lose the meat we have in there.

But climate change is real.  It's happening.  It's been happening for a while.  And it is time to deal with it.  Between the heat extremes and the more severe storms, the next decade is going to become even more difficult.  A 'blue blazer' might become the standard here, not the record breaking exception.

Friday, June 25, 2021

A Work In Progress

 


Yesterday I reached the estimated halfway point of the current warp, cut off what had been woven, separated the towels and got them into the washing machine.

With such a dark hue, I tossed a couple of Colour Catchers into the machine and after the first wash (with 'extra' rinse) noticed they had turned every bit as dark as the towels.

Back into the washing machine for another wash cycle (with extra rinse) and more Colour Catchers.  This time they were about half the value of the previous two, so I left those in the machine, added two more and ran just the rinse cycle.

After that, the two new ones were just 'blush' so I deemed the web 'done'.

About 20 or so minutes in the dryer left the towels a little bit more damp than I usually aim for, but the afternoon was shot and I didn't feel like weaving so I went ahead and pressed them.  In the end they weren't all that damp and pressed up fine.

The transformation was interesting.  The cloth is mostly plain weave with fine 'lines' of 2:2 twill running through to make a medallion design.  After wet finishing the cloth developed a nice texture and I'm pretty sure these will work well as towels.

Tonight there will be hemming to do.  One of the reasons I wanted to get these done now is that we are still having light well into the evening and they will be easier to see to hem.  


Here is the draft for the current warp.

I have more of the 8/2 cotton so my next warp will be set up with the same draft.  Hopefully next week.

Back in the 1980s I installed house a/c because at the time I was earning my income from weaving and couldn't weave once it reached 90F or so.  Once the studio warmed up, there was no way I could keep going.  Now we are facing 100+F temperatures early next week with 90+F temps either side of those record breaking days.

Staying home in the cool of the a/c, working in the studio, sounds like a plan to me.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

45 Degrees

 



The other day I saw a question from a fairly new weaver asking about getting a 45 degree angle on their weft and the answer was to do the best they could.

Ahem.

It's impossible.

The photo is a tea towel I wove, about 24" in the reed, finished width of 20.5".

When I folded it so that a 45 degree angle could be shown, the photo shows what that 45 degree angle would look like in the shed.  The side height of that angle is 20" tall.  Therefore, for that 24" in the reed warp?  The shed would have to be in excess of 20 inches long in order to lay the weft into the shed at a 45 degree angle.

I *think* people conflate the 45 degree angle suggested as the ideal for a twill line in the cloth with the angle the weft should take in the shed.  When that is clearly impossible.

(The cyan triangle is my little 45 degree gauge I use to check my twill angle.)

So what should a new weaver do?

First of all, understand that the angle that is used should be appropriate for the cloth being constructed.

My general angle of weft in the shed can be as low as 5 degrees, to around 15 degrees.  

It is much more important to NOT trap the active/live end of the yarn in the selvedge.

So.  Once the shed is opened, throw the shuttle, giving a tiny 'tug' on the weft yarn to seat it around the selvedge.  

Then let off any pressure on the bobbin and as you bring the beater forward, lift the hand with the shuttle just enough for the beater to pass beneath your hand.

As the beater comes forward to press the weft into place, the weft will find a natural balance point through the cloth and the actual *angle* it has been laid in doesn't much matter.  

There are even times when I will keep tension on the weft in order to increase draw in - for a particular purpose.  

But mostly, I just try to be as consistent as possible and allow the weft to find it's natural place in the cloth and not bother too much about the actual angle.  But if a guideline is needed, around 10 degrees.  

If you don't have a protractor, you can make a rough one by folding the little 45 degree angle in half, which will give about 22 degrees, then fold the 22 degrees in half for about 11 degrees.

Rather than fuss too much about angle of weft, though, I would encourage new weavers to learn how to wind a 'good' bobbin (yes, under tension, smoothly wound), practice their shuttle handling skills, hold the shuttle in the cradle of their fingers using their thumb to break the cast off of yarn, lifting their hands so the beater travels beneath the hand, and be as consistent as possible every step.

Developing a good rhythm will help as each movement flows smoothly into the next.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Fallow Means Resting

 


chrysalis

There are times when I don't have much brain power, for whatever reason.  During those times I find that when I have a series I'm working through, I can do the physical aspect while not needing to draw upon brain power.  Of which I may have little to none.

Over my lifetime I have dealt with one health issue after another, not knowing at times what was causing my physical distress.  As one health professional put it, when one's primary symptom is fatigue, that doesn't narrow the field much.

But I also do a lot of back of the burner kind of thinking.  Where an idea will pop up - usually a Big Project of one kind or another - and I park that thought in the back of my mind where I will let it simmer.  From time to time I poke at it.  Add a little more information.  Stir it around.  Let it simmer some more.

And so it is right now.

I have just finished a series of warps, all the same quality (dimensions, weave structure, yarn quality) during which time I wasn't required to think very much.  Most of my time was therefore directed at poking at the Zoom lecture series I've been working on, wondering where to go, what to do, when they are finished.  

I have three groups right now, one of them two lectures ahead of the other two.  So I get to test drive the lecture with the one group, then if I need to make corrections or additions, I can do that for the following ones.

All of the information I'm including is stuff I consider essential if someone is to truly master the craft.  But get 10 weavers in a room and ask a question and you'll likely get 20 answers.

So I encourage people to read lots of books, watch videos by other people, think through their own particular situation.  Because it depends.  It really, truly does.

Thinking about the pandemic and my own personal health issues, I am becoming more and more convinced that my travelling (in person) days are over.  But!  I would like to pass my knowledge on, as best I can, to others.

So while the Zoom lectures have been simmering, I was also letting a somewhat smaller pot simmer back there as well.

Lo and behold, an opportunity to explore that idea further and yes, it is just as complicated/complex as I thought it would be.  Frankly, when I read through the recommendations?  I hesitated.  Do I have enough energy to do this?  Perhaps.  Do I feel comfortable enough in front of a video camera to do this?  Um, not really.

The years have not been particularly kind to this body and a camera always adds visual pounds on top of what is actually there.  Not to mention I have worked with my hands all of my life and they show it.  I am reluctant to tape myself doing stuff close up and personal because my hands are not 'pretty'.  This body has been rode hard and put away wet.  And it shows it.

OTOH, when I was having chemo wondering why I wasn't losing any weight the clinic nurses told me to celebrate that I had 'resources'.  Because chemo is not kind to the body and people dealing with cancer and chemo need all the resources they can get.

So I work on my attitude towards my body.  And remind myself that people will participate for the knowledge I have, not for my physical appearance.

The caterpillar undergoes a massive sea change in it's form when it is in chrysalis form.  Fallow means 'resting', not unproductive...

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Checking My Perspective

 


view from the loom bench (colours are darker irl and harder to see what is happening)



view from the side of the loom (colours are more accurate)

There are times when our 'usual' viewpoint really doesn't tell the story.  So it is with weaving. 

When I sit at the loom to weave, my view is close up and only from one direction.  With this particular warp, I really cannot see much of the weave structure because the colours are overwhelming my view.  The way the threads weave together becomes very subdued.

When I am weaving something like this, then, I tend to get up from the loom and walk around it.  As the direction of light changes, as my perspective and angle change, I can begin to see more clearly what the cloth actually IS, not just what I experience from one, very narrow viewpoint.

So it is with life, too.  We get so accustomed to our 'usual' view that we forget there are other viewpoints.  That other people may have completely different experiences in society, in life.  And we tend to forget that their views, their experiences are just as valid and 'real' as our own.

Right now the United States and Canada are having a moment.  It is a moment where we can stop and listen to other people when they share their experience.  We can get up from our usual seat and begin to examine our society from different angles, step back and allow other people to share their reality.  Acknowledge that we can learn, change, grow, as we know more fully what is going on.

As human beings we tend to believe that our experience, our 'normal' is everyone else's.  If we don't experience something, then it doesn't happen.  But some of us became aware that the world is much larger than our own small personal bubble.  And some people are working to reduce the damage done by systems that oppress others.

Do the best that you can and when you know better, do better.  But before you can know better, you need to accept that you don't know everything.

I'm working on the listening part.  I'm working on knowing better.  I'm working on the doing better.

I'm walking around situations trying to get better light on them in order to see them more clearly.

I'm checking my perspective.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Suddenly Summer

 


After a winter that seemed to drag on forever, and spring break up that appeared it was never going to end, suddenly we have summer.

The coming week is supposed to hit 30 degrees plus (that's Celcius, not Fahrenheit).  I cannot say how grateful I am that we have a/c and I may skip walking when it hits that high.  I have books.  I have yarn.  I have a body that is protesting my doing much of anything right now.  

I also have a bunch of photos to take for my 'birthday bash' special and get things organized for July 1-9.  I know how to do it, I just don't like doing it.

This is the part I like the least about making stuff - getting it moved on out to someone else's home.  But my shelves are now filled with tea towels and I really need to free up some space.

With a new Big Project looming (heh) I may need to do another re-organization of the studio.  It will be easier if I can put things away 'properly' instead of bins stacked in every corner.

On the other hand, I've done a really good job of using up my cotton yarns, so there is that.

This coming Sunday I have no Zoom meetings.  OTOH, July 4 I have one and I need to finish writing the Power Point for that.  Sounds like sitting in front of the computer for a few hours might be a good hot summer activity.

Today I will press the last of the towel series I just finished, then if my back feels up to it, I'll try weaving one towel.  I have no lack of things I could be doing, just a lack of spoons to do any of it.

But never mind.  I'm still here.  Hopefully my back will settle and I can get back to weaving.  Because I still have Way Too Much yarn.  

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Solstice

 


Last night 9:50 pm


We don't usually get to see spectacular sunsets because we have a big hill to the west of our house.  But this weekend is the solstice and this was the view east out my 'office' window, last night at 9:50 pm.

At this time of year the setting of the sun means a long lingering in-between of not full daylight but far from dark.  According to one weather app we currently have about 17 hours of daylight.  Of course the opposite happens in winter - about 17 hours of dark.

As we wend our way through the cycle of the pandemic, we are currently (here) fairly safe.  Most of my (local) friends have gotten at least one vaccine dose, many of them their second.  Or at least have their second booked.  

But there are lots of places where things are not going well.  Yesterday I found out that Yukon is having a surge of cases again, which is very concerning, given their geographic remoteness and limited health care options.  Fortunately they are also among the most vaccinated as the federal government recognized that aboriginal communities were being hit hardest and mobilized the military to help with the vaccine rollout, during winter, in the far north.

But it was a reminder that the course of the pandemic can change in a moment as new variants come.

The sooner everyone in the world gets vaccinated, the better.

Climate change continues to bring extreme weather.  Tropical storms are more severe.  Heat indexes have had to be revised - upwards.  While it is hard to focus on more than one emergency at a time, we cannot overlook the fact that climate change and new diseases may be linked.

Generally I call myself a pragmatic optimist.  There are days when it has been difficult to stay optimistic in the face of so many...'interesting'...things going on.

So I take a step back from time to time and regroup.  I try to keep weaving - except my body is having issues with doing stuff right now.  

In a few minutes I need to collect my thoughts and get ready for another Zoom presentation.  If I can at least keep teaching, keep helping weavers to understand the craft, it doesn't so much matter if I can't make it to the loom myself.  I guess.

But for me weaving is also about maintaining my mental health.  So I curb my irritation at a back that hurts and try to show myself the same compassion I would show to others.

In the meantime I have books.  The weather report says summer has arrived.  Finally.  I will focus on taking the good where I can find it, even if it means a deep dive into the clouds to find the silver lining.

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay covid aware.