Sunday, February 28, 2021



Today is the last day of the longest shortest month of the year.

So far this winter we have not had much in the way of snow, which is not good.  The snow pack in the mountains is low which could lead to drought this summer.  With drought comes wildfires.  There is snow in the forecast for tomorrow but after that?  It seems to be rain for the most part.

Doug will go out soon and move the snow off the driveway and sidewalks.

This weekend I have 3 Zooms.  Yesterday I did a 3 hour (plus) presentation for a guild.  Today is more casual and I'm not leading it, just hosting it.  I have a scarf I'm about halfway through knitting so I think I'll focus on that.  See if I can get it close enough to 'done' to cast off.  If not, at least I will be that much closer.  

Then tomorrow a one hour presentation for another guild.  So I have left my Zoom set up in place, which means I may not weave today, either.  

The 'best' place for me to do Zoom is in my studio, using the laptop that runs the Megado.  I have to clear enough space to have room to sit and have any books or whatever at hand to share.  That means moving my weaving stuff out of the way.  It's not ideal, but I have finally figured out the best way to light the area so again, I'm not going to move the lights back to where they belong until after the meeting tomorrow.

Next Sunday will be the next Sunday Seminar, this one with Deborah Chandler talking about textiles in Guatemala.  People can still register if they want.  Generally registrations close at Friday midnight before the seminar.

It is also tax season here.  I'm waiting on a couple more forms before I can take my papers to the accountant.  We talked about what a nightmare tax season is right now.  But she was ever helpful with a couple of questions I had, which I appreciate.  So I will try to remember to bring a couple of tea towels for each of them when I go in.  Why not?  I have plenty!

I am reading If I Knew Then by Jann Arden.  Thoughts on becoming a crone, aging - gracefully or disgracefully, as one prefers.  While I am 20 years older than she is and have been a crone for a while, it is only lately I feel that I have grown into that role.  If I can't be a good example, I'll be a bad one.  You get to choose which.

My thoughts this morning are all over the place.  I am once again dealing with a sinus headache.  I take a medication that is keeping me alive but one of the adverse effects is sinusitis.  Yay.  On top of my environmental allergies, I wind up with sinus issues pretty much year round, some months worse than others.  But never mind, I'm still here, still talking about weaving.

During the break in the Zoom yesterday, the group apparently were already full up but I had another hour plus to go.  I assured them I understood, and that was the reason I was recording the presentations - so they could review them later as the information they had absorbed got absorbed into their foundation of knowledge, making room for more.  And yes, I could have talked about the things I was discussing a lot longer.  A number of things I'd intended to present didn't, because I ran out of time.

The thing is, there is always something more to learn.  Weaving is complex.  It is multi-layered.  And change one thing?  Everything can change.

Time for me to go do something productive.  Not sure what, yet.  But Something.  Who knows, maybe vacuum the studio?  It's been a while.  I don't do it daily or even weekly.  Instead I save it up so that when I do it it becomes a Big Deal.    But I'm not supposed to vacuum at all, so I do it as infrequently as possible.

Time to stop rambling here and ramble off to the studio and figure out what comes next, perhaps?

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Begin Again


Yesterday I managed to get the latest warp threaded and sleyed.  I could have easily tied on before stopping for dinner, but instead I left it for the Zoom presentation this morning.  

No matter how much I tell people that tying on isn't something that particularly needs to be fussed over, some people just don't realize that I don't.  Fuss, that it.

All things being equal, if I have beamed with tension, tying on should take a matter of moments, not many minutes of fussing, painfully trying to get it 'perfect', for the warp to be ready to weave.

In fact, I have begun to think that the more the tying on is fussed over, the worse it can get.  Kind of like selvedges.

So generally speaking - beam with tension (however you achieve that - a short warp need not be tensioned as much as a longer one - it depends) and the warp sleyed, I have about 24 bouts (groups) of thread tied in a slip knot.  (24 inches in the reed, one bout per inch.)

See the tail hanging down, especially on the group to the far left?  All I have to do is pick up the group that is to be tied - by the tail - give it a gentle pull and the knot will slip right out.

I then split that group into two and tie it around the bar.  Then, pick up the next group, rinse repeat until all of them are done.

The Megado has a breast beam that moves slightly so the first knot pulls tension on the group, bringing the breast beam into place.  

I don't alternate right/left, I don't begin in the middle, alternating towards the selvedges.  I start at the right hand side and methodically work to the left.

Once all groups are tied, I test the tension, then beginning roughly in the middle of the warp I pick up the tails of the group, pull them towards the beater, tighten.  I continue this from the middle to the right hand side.

Generally that is sufficient to begin weaving.

I will demo how I do this for the group and if they wish I can even throw the first few picks to show how I deal with beginning.

A warp is a consensus with all the threads working together.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Decisions, Decisions


On a quest to use up as much of my stash as possible, this is the next warp in the queue.

Right now the priority is the cotton flake in my stash.  It's bulky (comparatively) and takes up a shelf (or did) in my storage room.  As it happens, precisely because it is bulky, it is disappearing rather quickly.

One half pound tube weaves about 3 towels of a generous size - about 20 by 36 inches.

But getting combinations that please me is getting harder and harder because I am constrained by the fact I am working entirely from my stash.  No buying big 'bunny eared bags' of yarn from Brassard!

There is enough of the rose flake to weave all of this warp with some left over.  The rose is a challenging colour to work with because it has yellow in it.  When put with other colours, the rose can become 'muddy' in appearance.  I used it to weave two towels on the previous green warp and the result is dull, although passable.  I'm glad I only did the two, though.

Given the tendency for the yellow to turn the rose blah, I decided to push that tendency and will use it on this beige warp.  The rose should look like a pale brick shade and the whole cloth look fairly South Western.  Not a palette that speaks to me, personally, but I think should look fine once it's been woven and wet finished.

In the course of working with these colours, I added and subtracted various shades of beige to make a mix that I could live with.  I'm also trying to use up my 2/8 variegated and tried several different ones with this combo until I went back to my first choice - a mix of peach, yellow, blue and green in pale to mid-range tones.

Last night I was thinking about the kinds of decisions I make when doing a warp like this and I harkened back to Dorothy Liebes, a well known textile designer of her time.  She worked with architects and people like Jack Lenor Larsen and Marielle Rouseau-Vermette (sp?) studied with her.  

She had a mantra which I cannot now remember, although I had it memorized for many years.  It was all of the things she would put into a warp.  The list was about contrasts - shiny/dull, smooth/textured, etc.

I cannot now find it anywhere, so if anyone remembers her little saying, let me know...

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Everything Changes


We have had a fairly mild winter this year, apart from the recent Polar Vortex that brought very cold temps to places, some of which don't normally get much cold and are ill prepared for it.

Last night we had a bit of a storm blow through, but the snow pack didn't increase much here.  However it brought enough to cover the dirt and freshen the view out my window.

I do miss the colder winters we had 'before'.  The temps might have been crisp, but they came with clear blue skies and brilliant sun.  These seemingly never ending grey days get depressing.  Especially when we are staying home as much as possible.

On the other hand, the hours of daylight increase daily and there is an intimation of spring.  Still lots of winter left in the season, though.

Yesterday I cut the warp off the Megado and ran the 8 towels through the washer/dryer.  First order of the day will be to press them and set them out to finish drying.  Then I'll set up the spool rack and start beaming the next warp.  Who knows, I might get it done yet today.

But it is also tax season and I need to go through my papers and get them ready to go to the accountant.  And one more year will be done and dusted.

We talked this morning about how complex this year will be for people trying to figure out the taxable benefits the federal government has provided.  And other tax issues.  I am grateful that I can afford to have an accountant deal with these things.  For us nothing has changed much since we only really have our state pensions.  But we are doing ok.  For the time being we have 'enough'.  It is one of the biggest changes in my life, closing my business...I no longer scramble to get enough income to cover the costs of running said business.  It has been such a load off my mind.  Small business owners have been kept scrambling, trying to figure out how to survive, financially.

With the arrival of vaccines, things should begin to ease somewhat, I hope.  We are already seeing the effect of getting the most compromised vaccinated insofar as death rates seem to be reducing.  But vaccines all by themselves are not 100%.  For myself, with a compromised immune system, I've been told that the vaccine will help, but not as much as if I were 'healthy'.  So I will continue to isolate and wear a mask when I go out.  

I'm looking forward to spring and ice free streets.  I would like to get back to walking again.  After so many months of therapy, I am finally beginning to see some improvement in my physical fitness.  But when I walk, especially during pollen season, I will most likely wear a mask.  Not because of covid, but because I'm allergic to environmental things like dust and pollen.

Life is a constant reconsidering, reflecting, reassessing circumstances and changing behaviour, I find.

Change one thing and everything can change.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A Rare Trip

  I just now returned from getting my hair cut.

I see a hair dresser who works from home and we talked about what she has needed to do to keep seeing clients.  There was a period of time when all hairdressers (among others) were shuttered, not allowed to see clients/patients.  When they could re-open, there were regulations they had to meet for sanitizing between clients, not having a waiting room with several people sitting.  Wearing masks.

My chiropractor installed a plexi shield for their receptionist, but also cut down how many patients they saw in a day so that there was no crowd in the waiting room.  They also removed half of the seating to make sure there was 6 feet of distance between anyone, in case of more than one person waiting to go in.  Now as soon as the room has been cleaned the client is put into the treatment room.  Again, minimizing the time the receptionist and client spend in the outer office.

My hair dresser and I talked about how we would most likely continue to wear a mask in the future, especially if we had a cold.  I said that - in the unlikely event - I would fly somewhere, I would wear a mask.  I can't count how many times I have caught a cold on a flight because someone on the plane was sneezing and hacking, not covering their mouths, spreading their germs for everyone to share.

We talked about how much we missed getting together with friends for a coffee/visits and agreed the polar vortex cold snap had been a bit of a shock, but how much we appreciated the blue skies and brilliant sun that came with it.

The days are obviously longer in terms of daylight, which helps remind us that February is nearly over.  OTOH, there is a big snowstorm predicted for the province set to arrive soon, possibly tonight.  So winter isn't nearly done, yet.

I have one more towel to weave on the current warp, then cut/serge and pop into the washing machine and dryer.  They will get pressed tomorrow - or later this afternoon.  It will depend if I get caught up in the Power Point presentation for this Saturday (and subsequent study groups - this Saturday is a guild 'workshop' - via Zoom).  I need to get cracking on it as doing it this weekend means the deadline got moved up a lot sooner than it was scheduled for presenting.

Plus I still have to finalize the column for Handwoven (and hope they approve).  If I put my mind to it I could fine tune the one they turned down and offer it to another publication.

But all of that means I have to stop procrastinating and go do something, other than sit here at the desktop.  I do have a couple of emails to deal with so I'll tackle those first so I don't forget.  And then go weave that last towel and call that warp done.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Daily Grind


From time to time I chat with other weaving teachers and we share 'war' stories about the travel 'adventures' we have had over the years.  I have mine, too.  Living 'remotely' in the middle of a very large province with my only option for flying out of town meant decades of 6 am flights just to leave from here and get to Vancouver before I hopped on at least two more (sometimes three) flights to get to my destination.

After 9/11, it became ever more onerous to fly anywhere with additional 'security', long line ups, extra scrutiny meaning more bag searches.  Like the time my weaving shuttle was cause for all sorts of consternation.  A wooden shuttle.  I learned to pack that in my checked baggage.  Along with my toothpaste, which was taken away from me on that same baggage check.

While on the one hand I was awed that I could travel great distances in order to reach an audience, it was the constant grind of having to deal with setting up tours, booking complex flights, then dealing with ever earlier check ins and searches, dragging a couple of large and heavy bags through mostly gigantic airports I as made my way around the continent.

With increasing age, health issues that seemed to stack up on one another, the lack of sleep, the constant back-of-the-mind concern about food allergens, plus things like scents (eventually making my workshops scent-free zones), I got tired.  Tired on top of the fatigue of chronic health issues.

There is a saying that goes, if you don't find the time to rest, your body will eventually choose the time to rest for you.  (I paraphrase)

Indeed.  So it will.

I started weaving in 1975 and have been weaving ever since.  I started teaching in 1975 and have been teaching ever since.  My choice to 'retire' from traveling to teach came as a result of my body telling me it had had enough.  Finally I had to listen and moved to shut down my business in 2019, officially closing the parts of my life that had focused on selling my textiles via craft fairs and hopping on planes to go teach.  As it happened, getting that accomplished by Dec. 31, 2019 meant that when the pandemic hit, I was not seriously affected because I had been turning down teaching events and craft fairs for a while.  

What 2020 meant was me trying to reconfigure my life as a 'retired' person who was also dealing with being cut off from in person interactions with my friends and students.  It was a double whammy.

But I had had to isolate myself before so living in constrained circumstances wasn't that big a deal for me.  A bigger deal was the on going flood of bad information about the pandemic measures plus the worsening politics in so many places, including Canada.  (I am someone who has constantly scored on the liberal leaning end of the political quadrant, wanting to see safety nets for people, like a living wage, universal health care, equity/equality for all, regardless of skin colour, etc.)

All around me I could see people struggling with the restrictions and lack of educational opportunities.  So I did what I usually do - I looked for solutions.

The first thing I did was mine my own resources and hearing about Zoom, suggested we do textile seminars to engage our own guild members.  Receiving enthusiastic support the events grew and now we have monthly seminars that anyone, anywhere, can register to attend.  Speakers come from many different countries (March speaker is Deborah Chandler, currently in Guatemala).  Check out the website for upcoming seminars.  Prices are in Canadian dollars, so if you are in the US, you have a currency exchange discount making this seminars one of the best deals on the internet.  Even if I do say so myself!

Then I heard the consternation of the Olds College students and started a study group for them.  This meant buying Zoom software and learning how to use it.  Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks.  I won't say I have the best production values, but I do my best.  

Once word got out I was doing study groups, others expressed interest, so now I have three on-going.  There is still room in the Saturday group if anyone is interested.  (You have to be on Facebook  in order to get the group info.)  

My daily 'grind' these days is to try to write encouraging blog posts and FB posts.  I do my best to counter the disinformation being spread by presenting the best information I can re: the pandemic.  I continue to write this blog even though people tell me blogging is 'dead'.  My page view numbers would tend to disprove this.  There are other people also writing regularly - like Daryl Lancaster.

Then I try to spend at least two hours a day in the studio.  Weaving provides me with mental and physical 'therapy'.  Chronic pain is lessened if I can weave to the point of generating endorphins.  So even if I am feeling poorly, I will force myself to the loom for the benefit of doing something physical.

The weather this winter has been...interesting...and not in a good way.  After a summer of grey dreary days, we have had a winter of more grey dreary day.  The temperatures have, apart from the recent polar vortex, been too warm, the street icy.  My massage therapist said I am not to go walking and risk a bad slip, never mind a fall, and undo all the progress I have made in the past year.  So I stay home.  And will continue to stay 'isolated', physically distant from others, even after I get the vaccination.  

I am hoping that spring will bring nicer weather and then I will get back to walking and build up some physical fitness.

The time has come for me to listen to my body.   Take care of it.  We only get issued one and this one has been rode hard, put away wet, way too often.  

But 'retired' doesn't mean that I do nothing.  I will continue to teach on line for so long as people want to know what I have to say.  I will continue to weave, even at a reduced pace, for as long as I have yarn to use and am able to get to the loom.  I will continue to look for solutions to the problems I see around me.  

Monday, February 22, 2021

Books and Information


From time to time I get to talk to other weaver-authors about books.  A recurring theme is what happens when a book goes out of print?  We talk about 'traditional' publishing and the advantages/disadvantages in going that route.  We talk about self-publishing and the advantages/disadvantages of choosing that route.

But when the hard copies have all been sold, what then?  Do we try to do a second print run?  Can we even manage the logistics and expense?  

And what about when we die?  What happens to those books then?

Not to be morbid, but just trying to work out how to manage my 'literary estate'.  Because none of us are immortal.  (Not sure I would want to be, honestly!)

Doing a second print run of Magic was impossible - at least with actual samples.  In that case I chose to make a digital option available because the technology had advanced to the point where that had become feasible.  In the end, it also became possible to have a print copy.

When I contemplated doing The Intentional Weaver, I knew I did not want an actual physical print run, although I was convinced to do a short run (350 copies) and sign them for any who wanted them.

Now I do not have physical copies as such.  Instead I direct people to to purchase the books in physical or digital versions from there.

Just recently I have had these rather open ended conversations with two author/weaver/friends.  Open ended because none of us really has an answer.  

But I asked one of them what happens when books are no longer in print but the information is still valuable?  What do we do then?

We only have to look at books from people like Atwater, Black, Tidball, Davison and company, to know that these books are still valuable.  They might be 'dated', they might not have pretty colour pictures, but there is still information in them that people find helpful.

In some cases the family has taken over the copyright and continue to make the books available to the weaving community.  But I don't have a 'family'.  Another friend urges me to designate someone to be my literary executrix.  Something I think about but still haven't managed to work out.  Ultimately, such a job would be a responsibility that not everyone would want to shoulder.  So I sit and do...nothing.

As I contemplate my personal library of books, many sit there for months without my opening them.  At other times, when I'm preparing a class or an article, I may dig through them to find just the resource I need to confirm or enlighten myself about a particular aspect of weaving.  A couple of months ago I did a survey of some of the books in my library - the end of December, beginning of January I did 13 blog posts looking at a bunch of books that I routinely return to, over and over again.  

It is what I hoped for in terms of writing Magic in the Water, and at times people assure me that they do.  I know weaving folk find it valuable because it is offered for (re)sale so infrequently.  Many times it is an older weaver downsizing and selling off their weaving books.  

While I hope The Intentional Weaver will be similarly helpful to folk, ultimately it will be the weavers who determine if I've managed that.

Things have changed greatly in terms of information dispersal, just in my lifetime.  The pace of change continues to dazzle and amaze me.  Whether either of my books will continue to be useful?  Only time will tell.  And who knows where the technology will lead us.  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Behind the Scene


Every person suddenly finding themselves working from home doing on line meetings has had to figure out where to set up and how to manage this new situation, new technology.

As I prepare for this morning's meeting, I have begun gathering the things I need.  My set up is crammed into the tiny bit of space I have in front of the Megado.  I use the laptop that runs the loom because it has a camera while my desktop doesn't.  I sit on my weaving 'stool', clear the weaving caddy off the tv tray next to the loom to put my resources for the meeting.  

Today I will also be using the small whiteboard to draw diagrams on so there is a box of dry erase markers and the eraser.  I may go get some textiles to show as well.  The last two meetings I have run over to my storage area to grab some.  But maybe they aren't needed for today's presentation, which will focus on equipment.  

Which reminds me, I will be talking about temples so I should bring the smallest one over from the shelf behind where I sit.

It is quite amazing to me how much technology can be packed into such a small space.  I remember spirit duplicators, Gestetner stencils, Kodak slide projectors and overhead projectors.  I even remember life before electric typewriters.

And yet, here we are.  I can prepare a Power Point presentation.  The software now provides 'themed' slides so that I don't produce just text on a white background.  Some are quite lovely and pleasing to the eye - but may be distracting - so I use ones with just a touch of colour, in calming shades, making the text and photos I use the focal point.  I can even choose virtual backgrounds, but decided the best background is actually my shelving of yarns behind me.  :)

I log on to the internet, wirelessly, from next to the loom and get to talk to people all over the continent.  I can record the meeting (well, not me, but the technology will if I punch the correct button), then upload it to You Tube for the participants to view later.

All things that were undreamed of in my childhood - except for the science fiction I devoured.

I sit in my studio and reach out to dozens of people who, like me, find the ancient craft of turning thread into cloth endlessly fascinating.

We live in 'interesting' times.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Rolling into the Weekend


Bored with weaving the same thing over and over?  Change the colour of the weft.

There is more than likely enough weft in the dark hunter green to weave one more towel, but that would make an uneven number of towels.  That wouldn't be a deal breaker except then I would have an odd number of the other colours.  Again, not necessarily a deal breaker, but I kind of want to have 4 of the lighter green and two of the rose, so the left over tubes of the dark green will go into my little box of left over yarns that I use for things like headers and cut lines.  

While I have way too much in that box right now, I kind of hate to just throw it away, so I'll keep it until such time as I manage to use some of it up and/or into a deep cleaning mode.

Changing the value of the weft gives the cloth a completely different look.  It's nice to see some spring colours - a break from the darker value of the green that I've been trying to use.  That spot on the shelf is now empty!

While I've been picking away at these towels, I have also been developing more warps of the same quality of cloth.  For warp 2/8 cotton, for weft cotton flake with hems of 2/8 cotton.  I'm enjoying the fatter yarns because they are going away faster than the 2/16 cotton.

I will re-visit the 2/16 later because after I'd woven almost all of the fine linen I had, a friend gave me some tubes of linen she was trying to get moved on into someone else's stash.  Who can turn down really good quality fine linen?  Not me!

So I now have 3 warp combinations collected with a fourth that will use some of the blues in the bottom bin on the weaving bench.

There is also a place mat warp wound, which I may try to get into the small loom over the weekend when the laptop is 'cooking' the data for the Zoom meetings.  Two this weekend, one Saturday, one Sunday.  The following weekend?  Two again.  

Today we had sun and with the fresh snow, the day was quite literally brilliant.  It is only mid-February and winter may not be finished with us - yet.  But the days are getting noticeably longer, and spring doesn't feel quite so far away now.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Taking Care of Business


Dreams are funny.  They are made of nothing but intent and vision.  Without the intent, there is just the vision.  The glimpse of what can be.  The possibility, not the reality.

So taking care of business becomes the energy through which dreams are then turned into the reality we envision.  Sometimes we fine tune the vision as things become clearer.  Or we give up.  The energy, time, money that are required become too taxing, too onerous.  Or other things happen and there simply aren't the resources to make it all work.

There are many pithy sayings - fall down seven, get up eight - is one of them making the rounds.  And it is true - up to a point.

What if the reason you fell down on the 7th time was because you broke your leg?  Do you, can you, just get up?  No, of course not.  Time must be taken to heal, to rest, to recuperate before you can even think about getting up again.

Like when I broke my ankle.  Not one but two bones, both displaced, requiring surgery and no weight bearing for 6 weeks.

I spent a lot of time during those six weeks fighting with my desire to get up and get going and quite literally not being able to do so. 

On the other hand, I had a loom that I could actually weave on because I had air assist and it was my right foot that controlled that so in the end, as soon as I could bear to have my foot down for any length of time I finished threading the loom (and getting into threading positions was fun - not!), and before I was able to walk, I was weaving.

Then, when I got the clearance to put 60% of my weight on my foot, the very first thing I did was bump down to the studio (it was the safest way to manage stairs - on my bum), crutched over to the Leclerc Fanny, and start treadling.  Breaking many of the adhesions that had formed as my ankle healed. 

I cried, dear reader, I truly did, it hurt so bad.  But in the course of treadling the loom, I did more good for my foot than if I'd done several weeks of physiotherapy, because I needed to open that shed in order to weave.  So I let the tears form and roll down my face and kept going, knowing what was happening, knowing that pushing through at that time would get me functional a lot faster.

A few weeks later the physiotherapist confirmed I had done the right thing and that he wished everyone with a broken ankle had access to a loom.

So in the end?  I got up again.  And continued to get up again through further health issues.

Even now I am still weaving.  Still getting up again.  But now my vision has shrunk, if you will.  I have fine tuned it based on my new reality.  

What drives me now is that weaving is providing not just physical exercise but a boost to my mental health.  If I can weave and generate endorphins I feel better for it.  Plus?  I'm stubborn enough to want to weave down my stash.

What I will do with all the stuff I'm making I don't know.  Because we are in the middle of an pandemic and options are limited.

But that is something that can be dealt with later.  

In the meantime I continue to weave.  To dream my fibre dreams.  To get up, albeit it more slowly, more carefully.  Because I'm stubborn that way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021



One more towel and I will cut off, cut/serge, run through the washer/dryer and then hem - the first 8 towels.

Some weavers have a cutting off  'ceremony'.  I never bothered, although I certainly see why someone would want to.  Ringing a bell, having a glass of wine, whatever.  My 'ceremony' was more a sense of satisfaction that that one was done - because I was already thinking about the next one, or three - or more - that were in the pipeline.

Human beings tend to look for reasons for things.  Sometimes we can figure those out.  Sometimes, though?  It remains a mystery.

As I approach the halfway mark of this warp, I am already working on the next ones.  Each of them is proving to be a bit of a challenge because I am working only from my stash.  As stash reduces, choices diminish.  This forces me to reach further and further outside of my comfort zone.

This stretching of my creativity is a good thing.  I admit to a certain level of complacency over the years.  To now push myself to work outside of my comfort level, even if it is just within my colour choices, is positive, even if uncomfortable.

But ceremony is a very human thing.  We mark anniversaries of various kinds.  We acknowledge  milestones.  There are societal ceremonies, cultural ceremonies, familial ceremonies, personal ceremonies.

And perhaps that is what has been the hardest to deal with in this pandemic times - being thwarted in our 'normal' ceremonies that mark special occasions, special achievements.  If someone has never been denied or thwarted in this kind of thing, it must seem horrible, unbearable.  The concept of a 'movable feast' is new to them.

With the disruption to human activities, we may find ourselves coming up with different ceremonies.  We may find that we are more resilient than we thought.  We may find new ways to be, to act, going forward.

This morning we have warmer temperatures and sun.  The predicted snow for this week seems to have dissipated.  We are now halfway through February and winter is not necessarily over.  But for today I will enjoy the sun.  And reaching the halfway point in the current warp.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Percolation Time


So far I have completed the first warp in the new series of towels and am nearing the halfway point on the second.  There are two more bins of yarn/warps waiting in the wings which is time to start building the next warp.

Seems I was very optimistic about weaving when I ordered some of the variegated 2/8 from Brassard and I have several pounds of the pastel blue/pink yarn sitting on the shelf.  One of the warps in waiting already has blue with this variegation in it, but...I have more.  Plus more solid blues.  

The warp in waiting is paler in value with a very pale blue, a very pale grey and a mid-range blue as the base.

This one I am emphasizing the dusky mauves in the variegated and the base will again be the mid-value blue of the other warp.  What will change the most will be the weft colour.  On the other warp I will use up the various blue flake yarn I have and perhaps use the rose if there is any left.  Or, since I seem to have a great deal of white, I may use that on the warp in waiting.

On this warp I will use charcoal.  Or white.  To be determined.

Changing the value of the weft will make a quite dramatic difference in the finished cloth even though the warps will be quite similar.  Much will be revealed in the header when I 'test' the different colours.

My plan to begin using the finer rayons in my stash has been put on hold in favour of making deeper 'cuts' to my stash in the name of progress on that front.  Plus fringe twisting was going to conflict with my desire to spin - an activity that has been put on hold due to equipment issues.  I am hoping to have a functional spinner again sometime soon, but now that I've begun on this series of towels, I'd like to keep whittling away at that yarn in my stash.  Fatter yarns just take up more room and it would be lovely to see that area diminish.

As stash reduction proceeds, I hope to begin removing shelves from the shelving units Doug added extra shelves to in order to store more yarn on them.  Ultimately, I hope to begin to remove shelving units altogether.

Since I am no longer production weaving (the way I used to do) I don't need this depth of yarn stash (I keep telling myself) and as the stash goes away that should give me more latitude about what I will make.  

Don't get me wrong, I will continue to have a stash - I am just hoping to fine tune it somewhat.  In the future yarn orders will no doubt be smaller and more specific to an area I want to explore.

So I have many pots on the back burners of my mind.  In the meantime, I am enjoying setting up a series and just going with the colours I have on hand.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Saying Yes


When I became a weaver, it was because I said 'yes' to something that was so far fetched, so anachronistic, that any other person would have automatically said 'no'.

A handweaver?  In the 20th century?  Come on!  Seriously?  

But I said 'yes'.  

When I changed my life so dramatically, I had little inkling of where that simple acceptance of something the universe was nudging me towards would bring into my life.

Initially I thought I would production weave for 25 years, then teach for 25 years.  That would bring me to 75 - if I made it that far.  Family history indicated that I might not, genetics being what they are.  Plus that seemed like a long time away. 

Any yet, here I am, nearing that particular milestone.

In any event, I started teaching the same month as I began weaving class, so instead of 25/25, it has been nearly 50 years of doing both, juggling both.  They were actually complementary because one was seasonal, so the other could be as well.  I was in charge of booking teaching dates, so I booked during the weaving 'down' time.

Was I afraid?  Yes, actually I was.  Because I didn't know if I could do it.  I didn't know if I could earn enough money by doing it.  I didn't know if I had the skills.  

As I plunged in, I began to see where I was lacking in knowledge and set about filling those holes in my knowledge.

I had some background to build on.  I had determination.  I had stubbornness.  

I knew enough to be 'dangerous' as they say!  But I also was willing to admit I didn't know and ask for help.  It's quite amazing how helpful people can be when you go to them and say, can you help me understand this thing?

Sometimes I went to get professional help - ie taxes.  Teaching.  Marketing.  The local printer who did the print job on Magic.  Video production.  Yes, I could learn how to take/edit video, but I didn't want to.  I just wanted to get the information out there.  Having taken a video class, I knew enough to know that I just didn't want to spend my time learning how to do all that well, so I pitched the idea to Interweave Press and in the end they agreed to send a crew here so we could use my facilities, my tools.  Having taught a lot, developed lesson plans, knowing basically how video works I could prepare my materials, my space and a timeline for taping that was out of sequence in terms of the process but made better sense in terms of taping the processes.  More...efficient.  In the end we accomplished two DVDs in three days.  The camera person said he didn't actually think it could be done but I had done my preparation well.  I took that as a high complement.

Now here we are in a pandemic where everything has slowed and in many cases stopped altogether.  But!  We have the internet.  (I know, not all.)  We not only have the internet but a number of platforms that make doing on-line events a possibility.  While on-line can never replace in person, it is at least something.

So I said 'yes' and started exploring that aspect of continuing to teach.

As I re-do my teaching approach and materials, I find myself digging ever deeper into the craft.  I decided to not teach technique as much as the underlying principles.  Yesterday I said that a) I don't know everything and b) there are no definitive answers but that I would help understand the variables and then?   They would have to choose the appropriate way for them to go on.  

Because change one thing and everything can change.

I have also learned when to say 'no'.  I have learned where my boundaries are.  What I am willing to do, and what I am not.  I am, however, open to suggestion.  So as the Zoom meetings continue, I continue to learn how to make the on-line experience better - for myself, and hopefully for others.

Old dogs can learn new tricks.  It may just take us longer.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Brain Dump


diagram from The Intentional Weaver

When I launched The Intentional Weaver, a few people said they would like a 'brain dump' of my thoughts and processes.

Um, no, no one wants *that*!

I came up with the above diagram to try and explain how my thoughts constantly zip from one bubble to the next, always going through the centre filter of intended cloth.  

What kind of cloth am I trying to make and how will the changes I made in one bubble or the other affect the finished cloth?  Each change will tweak the final results, but in a way I want it to, or not?

But I had done my best to lay out the content of each of those bubbles in as orderly a fashion as I could.

Now I am dealing with putting together Zoom presentations, largely using Power Point.

Doing a slide deck of static images, snippets of text, trying to link them up coherently in a process that is dynamic?  Yeah.  Challenging.

But I figured I could do it for my former students in part because they had already had in person thought process sharing, were used to my 'voice', my way of speaking, my approach to teaching.

As I got further into the process, I realized that I could also do this for people who did not have that relationship with me.  And so I opened a study group. When that filled, I started another.  All will have the same Power Point presentations, but I'm quite sure each will differ based on my thoughts du jour and the questions that are asked.  

I didn't want people to blithely join a study group or enter part way through, so I chose to make the groups 'hidden' on Facebook.  The recordings of the Zoom meetings get posted to You Tube, unlisted.  That means no one can find the group or the videos using a simple search.  They have to be a member of the group on FB, then the link to the recording is only posted in the group.

So far I've done two presentations for my previous students.  Late last night I checked views for each.  The first one has 49 views, the second has 36.  Now, obviously I'm not interested in getting thousands of views, but in a group of 60, that many views tells me that my decision to take the time to post the recordings is something that is adding value to the experience.

Now if you ask 10 weavers what the solution to something weaving related is, you'll likely get 27 answers.  Because the correct answer will depend on the particular circumstance.

So I urge everyone who wants to 'master' the craft of weaving to learn as much as they possibly can from as many different teachers they can.

In the meantime, I have to go get ready to Zoom again in 90 minutes.  That means getting the laptop ready, logged on to the internet and Zoom.  Set up the space where I do the presentations.  Gather the things I want to show/share.

I will dump as much of my brain as I can on the subject of our 'common' materials in 90 minutes.  Listeners will have to sift through the results to find out what they need to pay attention to.  And then they can review at a later date to pick up more.  Because we can only absorb so much information before our brains tend to shut off further input while it processes the first bit.

There is still space in the Saturday group if anyone is interested.  First Zoom is next Saturday if you want to join in.  

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Testing, Testing


As part of the stash busting focus, there are times when a certain yarn in a certain colour begins to run low.  For this warp, the colours are a turqouse green, a paler green and two ends of a variegated cotton with the two colours of the warp plus shifting into a darker blue even into a mauve.  The warp colours were loosely put into 'stripes' with one end of the variegated in the lighter value, one into the darker.  And then not only was no effort made to keep the stripes solid, I purposely blended the two colours moving them each one thread into the other, sometimes more.  

The effect is a stripe but a very blurred one.

In the header I tested a couple of different options.  I wanted to see how the variegated wove as weft.  Still mulling that over, but could use in the hem.  But I don't have enough of this dark forest green flake to weave the entire warp so I tried a rose.  I'm not entirely sure I will be happy with that, but will wet finish the header and see how it finishes.  Because sometimes a combination that looks a bit 'raw', a bit 'off', works once the threads have settled and been given a good hard press.

I had intended to take a photo of that, but forgot and just carried on weaving which puts the header buried under the first layer of the towel.

The plan for this warp is to use up the forest green.  Use up the pale green flake.  There should be enough flake in a darker green close to the turquoise green in the warp to make one towel.  Whatever is left will likely be woven with the rose.  The rose tends to muddy the warp colours a bit, turning a bit brownish, which is not a deal breaker if the overall effect is ok.  I will judge once wet finishing has been applied.

Sometimes you just have to do the sample.

PS - the undulations you see in the upper layer?  Are not from uneven beating but from the thick/thin areas of the yarn.  The twill line is obvious in the bottom layer.  

Friday, February 12, 2021

I Had A Plan


As I get deeper into teaching on line I am reminded of the above diagram - what I *think* my plan will be and how it *actually* is.

There is a theme meme going around the internet that shows two images - one with 'how it started', the other with 'how it's going'.  

I am in the midst of the 'how it's going' part.

Teaching isn't just opening one's mouth and letting words fall out.  

(Well, it can be, but generally that's not the best way to teach a group.)


Every teacher has a lesson plan.  We spend quite a lot of time, usually, coming up with The Plan.  If the knowledge we want to convey is extensive or deep, it may take a number of sessions to set it all out in a way that makes some kind of logical sense.  At least to the teacher.

And that sense is pretty highly tuned after years (decades?) of presenting various aspects of the information, in various formats, for various groups, within different lengths of time.

(For example, my Zoom presentations are intended to be 60 minutes, usually go to closer to 90.  Today someone asked if I could do one of my Zoom presentations in 30?)

If anyone thinks that a teacher just blithely says to themselves, oh, I'll teach that, then starts a Zoom meeting (or walks into a guild room) and just wings it?  Rare.  Very, very rare.

So, length of time.  Given the time limit, a teacher has to consider which points they will make.  What do they need for examples to illustrate those points?  Do they need to incorporate demos?  How will they do that?  What equipment will they need to hand, especially if they are on a tour, doing multiple topics in multiple locations?

For a Zoom, how many cameras (views) are available?  One?  How to make the most of it?

For a longer presentation, what gets added in?  If the program runs long, what can be left out?  Questions from the audience will also direct what gets covered.  Sometimes the tangents are the most interesting bits of any presentation.  And sometimes tangents knock some of the prepared material out of the presentation.  Because time limits exist.

After years of teaching in person, I am well practiced at my information delivery.  I have built on that experience as I pivot to on line presentations.  Doesn't mean I just pick up the mic and start talking.

Now I have to consider how being on camera affects what I can do.  What I can show, how I show it.  The viewpoint is close in, close up.  No large physical demos of body mechanics.  So, photos then.  Videos, maybe.  

Power Point presentations are my friend at the moment.  I've gotten pretty good at generating them.  Setting out what I want to cover, the steps I will take to get from one point to the next.  But it takes time. And mental concentration, which is tiring.  And communication via the written word plus photos still needs to be clear.  Being able to show the slide and expand on the concept is useful.  But when I'm talking, people can't always be reading.  So just having the live presentation isn't ideal.

But Zoom allows for recording the live meeting.  So then depth can be added because I'm not just relying on the actual slides.  I can add commentary, knowing that people will be able to link to the video to review and even pause it to read the slide content.  Or if they can't make the live presentation, they can still get the recorded version.

Good, good, all that sounds good.  Except now I needed to purchase the program, learn how to operate Zoom.  How to generate a meeting.  Share the link.  Record the meeting.  Process the video, upload to You Tube.

Surprisingly, that part is going relatively well, given that Zoom has built basic functionality into their platform.  For which this 'old dog' will be eternally grateful.

It still takes time, and I still make mistakes, need to do 'do overs'.  And while I'm processing the video, I choose to not weave because I'm doing it all on the laptop that runs the Megado.  I thought I could do other stuff, but mostly I pace the studio, fretting in case anything goes wrong and I damage or lose the file.  Chew nails until it's finally done and posted.

And then - how to run the groups?  I know FB is 'evil incarnate'.  But it has a level of functionality that I can use without too much extra effort to learn how to do it.  So, Facebook it is.  

Have you noticed we haven't gotten to the actual Zoom meeting yet?

Teaching is so much more than what you see happening in front of you.  

Essentially, my philosophy is that a good teacher will show you where to look, not what to see.  My intent is to show how the principles of the craft work, letting students choose to use - or ignore - them as they find appropriate.  I don't hover in real life and I will sometimes ask questions, not because I don't know the answer but because when you don't know *what* you don't know, you don't know *that* you don't know it.  So I ask the question to spur people to think about the question because having the question is the first step in figuring out what the answer might be.

When I wrote Magic in the Water, I wanted people to understand the principles of wet finishing.  That was a large chunk of weaving knowledge that wasn't being shared widely.  It was fairly simple in terms of planning because it was just one slice of the craft.

The Intentional Weaver was much broader and deeper in scope.  I tried to distill the important bits.  Now, I'm taking slices, in much the same was as I did for Magic, and peeling more layers back, hopefully in a way that makes sense to people.

Will I succeed?  Who knows.  That will not be for me to judge.  All I can do is try to convey the information and let others do what they will with it.

Currently reading Battle Ground by Jim Butcher

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Organizing Stuff


I bought a whole bunch of these plastic bins about 20 years ago.  They were initially purchased to help organize and sort the pages for Magic in the Water.  Since then they have proved to be very helpful in various ways.  Since they are clear, I can see what is in them, unlike cardboard boxes.  They protect better against critter damage plus they aren't so large I can't lift them onto and off shelves.

They have also become useful for sorting and organizing yarns for warps.

Sectional beaming (usually) requires that you have the same number of ends as you want per inch.  (There are exceptions I'm not going to explore right now.)

For the 2/16 warps, that meant 32 or 30 (it depends, sometimes more, sometimes less) was pretty standard.  For the 2/8 warps, I'm using 20 ends.  So, 20 yarn packages.

Pulling yarns and keeping them together in a bin does a couple of things:  I can choose colours then let them sit for a while and let myself decide if I'm going to like the combination.  The above combo has been adjusted a few times.  The rose in the bin is an alternate weft choice, not part of the warp.  What is missing from the warp choices is the variegated yarn that comes on cones and needs to be wound onto a couple of plastic spools to make beaming easier.

The weft for this warp will be first the dark green I didn't use up on the last warp, then a bit of pale green the same as the lighter value green in the bin (enough for two towels), then whatever warp is left will be woven with the rose weft.

The threading will be the same as the last warp - a large 'fancy' twill.  The weft is a cotton flake so anything very fancy would wind up obscured, so I'm keeping the overall design fairly simple - just a centre ground of large point progressions, 'fancy' twill borders at the edges.  The selvedges are straight progression.

The bin below is blues/greys and I'm waiting for an upholstery sample to see if I can do something for a person who is wanting a table runner to go on their dining room table.  And another bin has neutrals pulled - a variety of beiges, a darker olive green and dusky purple.  Those will be woven with a charcoal black for weft.

As I work through these warps I will be looking for other combinations.  I still have a few pounds of white cotton flake, so expect to see some warps coming through with white as weft.

But these bins help me in determining if I am satisfied with the combinations I've pulled - is there a pleasing ratio of value?  Is there an accent colour to provide interest?  More crucially - do I have enough yarn to do a warp?  When I don't have enough yarn packages of the colours I want to use, then I reach across to see if there is something else I can add.  Or if the tubes are full, I can wind off onto plastic spools, like I'm doing with the variegated.

And now that I've decided to add variegated to the mix, I will revisit those other two warps and see what I have to go with them.  Pretty sure I do.  Because I have lots and lots of yarn!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The March North


I am not a 'morning' person.  Never have been.  But during the winter I get to see dawn and it is a potent and poignant reminder of the cycle of life.  The slow steady shift of the sun's position as it heads towards the winter solstice, then the steady march back in the early weeks of the new year.

After months of too many grey dreary days, the cold has set in via a polar vortex and we finally have brilliant sunny days.  The light cuts like a knife through the gap between the house and garage.  Something I only see for a few brief days either side of the solstice.

Last December I made a comment on line that as quickly as the sun goes away, it comes back and someone, bless their heart, replied "No it doesn't."  

Well, okay, perhaps there is a slight difference, but what does that tiny difference make when I see the sun creep steadily across the sky in the mornings?

The point is, life cycles.  The sun moves across the sky.  Seasons change.  Winter comes, then goes.  I get to enjoy the changing colours, the seasonal delights of brittle mornings (because this brightness comes with extreme cold, usually), the slow awakening of spring, the cautious entrance of new shoots of blossoms, then into summer with its intense palette, then the steady slide back into fire-y autumn to settle once again into the cold of winter.

On this cold day in my part of the world, I send love and light to all who are hurting.  All who are worried about what will happen over the next weeks and months.  All who need to be reminded that nothing stays the same.  Everything changes.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  Keep going.

{{{hugs}}} to all who might need one on this 10th day of February, the month that was wisely made the shortest of the year.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

It Isn't Finished...

 ...until it's wet finished...

Changing from 2/16, which I've been using almost exclusively for a year to 2/8 cotton, I made a leap and estimated what the take up/shrinkage rate was going to be.  And was out.  By a lot.  But not in a bad way.

These green towels (not quite correct colour, but close) turned out longer than anticipated.  Which means that these towels are quite long.  Instead of changing anything, though, I'm just going to call them 'towels'.  They are more than large enough to use in the kitchen, but could also be used as hand towels in the bathroom.

We own so many hand woven 'tea' towels that we have started using them in the bathroom as hand towels.  

Of course this bit of cloth could be used for other things.  It's just...a piece of cloth.  What we call it doesn't limit it to that particular use.

I have had people buy my 'towels' and use them for vest fronts.  Even a skirt in one case.  While I didn't design them for those functions, who am I to say 'no'?  

Someone asked me if it didn't bother me people put my textiles to a use other than what I'd designed them for.  The answer is 'no', it doesn't.  If the person buying the cloth has decided it is appropriate for some other purpose, that is up to them.  Once they have paid for it, it's theirs to use as they see fit.  Yes, even to mop up the floor.  Or dry off the dog.  Or whatever.

I won't get 18 towels out of this warp.  And that's just fine by me.  The purpose is not to have X number of anything, but to use up my yarn stash.

Someone asked me what I would do when I used up my yarn.  Heh.  That won't happen anytime soon.  I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

In the meantime?  I have another 3 warps pulled that will be the same quality as this one.  There is another place mat warp pulled and when that's done, I expect I'll be done weaving that quality of cloth.  It's just too hard on my body.  I still have variegated 2/8 cotton I'm not sure what I'll do with.  I may wind it onto spools and use to make more towels like the above.  Because I quite like how these turned out.

There is also a gigantic quantity of rayon of various qualities and colours.  I could make scarves for the rest of my life just trying to use up that.  Not to mention the silk.  

People wonder why I spend so much time weaving when I'm 'retired'  It's because of my stash.  I don't want to leave hundreds of pounds of yarn for someone to get rid of.  At least finished textiles have a wider market?

Dunno.  But weaving is also physical - and perhaps more importantly right now - mental therapy.  So I will continue to weave.  Maybe when the pandemic is over people will be interested in buying some what I've made.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Winter Arrives


It's almost noon and it's warmed up.  To -18C in our carport.  

So far this winter, it has been overwhelmingly grey, dreary, too warm, too little snow.  We finally got a bit of snow and this week?  Winter has arrived.  It is supposed to continue like this for the rest of the week.  Polar vortex in action.  The sun is more than welcome, too.

Along with the cold, the relative humidity indoors has dropped to 25%, in spite of running the humidifier on high for the past week.

I have nothing to leave the house for, so I'm not going to.  Self-isolation?  Oh yes, I am doing that!

The lack of humidity means that things generate static electricity, like my hair, like yarn.   Using the electric bobbin winder is going to spark every time I wind a bobbin, yes, even the cotton, at this level of humidity.  The computer assist on the loom is grounded, so it should behave ok.  But just walking across a carpet means a shock when you touch something.  We have little carpet in the house now, so that happens a lot less.  

Yesterday I wound a warp on the warping board when the humidity was at 30% and that went ok, but a silk one might have been more of a problem.  In that case I will actually mist the warp to keep it co-operative.

I won't put the cotton bobbins in the humidor, they should be okay, but if I were weaving with linen, they go into one just because linen behaves so much better if there is a higher level of humidity in the fibre itself.

The initial flurry of getting the study groups organized is mostly done and now it's on to the slog of writing the Power Point slides, getting the information organized - in my own mind - taking the photos I want to include.  I have taken photos of diagrams from several books - with credit, of course.

Today I need to tackle some stuff on line - submit the info to the National Archive re: The Intentional Weaver, collect my tax info from the Olds College website.  Stuff I really dislike doing.  But deadlines, er, loom.

I also have a column to write for consideration of Handwoven magazine.  The deadline is March 15, but I'd like to get the first draft down.  Assuming I would need another mat warp to take photos for that, I will be dressing the smaller loom for the last mat warp I had planned to do.  Some time.  Seems that time is now - or at least, very soon.

And of course - weave.  I'm over the halfway mark on the current warp and while I really like the results, am anxious to put the next one into the loom.  Hopefully before the end of this week.

But to that end?  I need to get dressed and go do something productive.  Getting dressed sounds like a good first step.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Another Week


Sunday has become the 'standard' for a new week - Sunday through Saturday.  We are so used to this that one time I bought a pocket planner that had Monday as the first day in the calendar layout and it caused me so much confusion I replaced it with my usual 'norm'.

The hours seem to creep by, and yet here we are at another Sunday.  Where did that last week go?  I barely left the house - on Thursday (to deal with personal maintenance issues) - and yet so many of the things that I wanted, needed, to do...are still undone.

This morning, scrolling through Twitter, I was reminded that the entire population of the world is dealing with a flood of stress hormones.  These hormones interfere with brain function.  So no, it's not just me.

In a few minutes I have to go to the studio and get set up for another Sunday Seminar and then the afternoon will be spent getting the video uploaded to You Tube.  I have some minor tasks that I can be doing while that happens.  Mostly it's sitting around waiting for the progress bar to creep across the screen.  I'm getting better at walking away and leaving the laptop do it's thing.

But I also have several things on my to-be-done list that really need to be put on the 'done' list.  So this week I will be focusing on that.  Deadlines loom.

Beginning this week I am going to be in the throes of Zoom meetings.  Every Sunday for the next few months I am involved with Zoom, either hosting or attending.  Plus one Saturday a month.

I appreciate the chance to stay in touch with folk, even if it is at long distance.  I appreciate the opportunity distance learning provides so that I can continue to learn from others.  I appreciate the chance to reach out to others who also want to learn.

The pandemic continues.  But so do we.

Sending best wishes for the coming week, and a nod to whomever made February the shortest month.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Paused/Not Paused


This shelving rack is now full - part of the production I accomplished during this time of pandemic.

Just because 'normal' is on hold, doesn't mean that things don't happen.  

I am privileged, and I know it.  I have a home, relatively secure income (retired), a craft I love and that I am no longer trying to earn an income from doing.

I am also no stranger to self-isolating.  From the time I broke my ankle, to chemo, to post surgical recovery, I had to figure out how to manage with not being able to weave or go out of my house (much).

My surgery happened in January, and with the cold and icy roads, I didn't feel 'safe'.  I didn't want to slip and fall, nor potentially cause damage in a car accident, even a minor one.  My body was 'broken' and had to heal before I felt able to leave the house.

So the pandemic, while disappointing in terms of the things that got cancelled, didn't much affect me.

Eventually, realizing that this was going to go on for a fairly long time, I decided to learn new technology and fought my way through getting more-or-less comfortable with Zoom.

I'm still not entirely comfortable, but so far?  It's working the way I need it to.

One of the reasons I hesitated as long as I did before attempting anything on line is that trying to teach a hands on craft is extremely difficult.  I don't have access to a team.  My digital video camera is too old and doesn't have high enough resolution to get really good close ups.  I don't have the space to set up to video, no lighting expert, make up expert, sound tech, no editor.  Really *good* video gets done by a team of specialists.  Nor can I be in front of the camera and behind it.

When I shifted my focus to the principles, things began to make more sense.  Here was an approach that I could make work, given my limited technology and resources.

So I have become a one person 'team'.  

The benefit to me on a personal level is that I find myself bringing the information into much greater clarity than previously.  The more I fine tune the Zoom presentations, the more I come to really consider all the layers of knowledge that are involved in the creation of textiles.

The first group got underway in January and the other two will begin this month.  I am working on the next programs and finding the process stimulating, intriguing, and in some ways exhausting, but in a good way.  

Without the 'pause' of the pandemic, I would never have even considered doing this.  Sometimes the detour is the best route to take.

Friday, February 5, 2021

This Time of Pause


nearly half way through

One year coming up.  Our province started addressing the reality of living in a pandemic almost one year ago.  Pause was pressed.  Businesses shuttered.  Schools shut down.  People were getting sick, too many dying.

Events were cancelled.  Classes were cancelled.  This time last year I was teaching a beginning weaving class.  There was enough interest that we did two and anticipation was that at least some of those people would join the guild, take up weaving.  Paused.

Instead the world was asked to stop.  Stop going out to socialize.  Stop meeting in person.  Stop hugging, laughing, singing, in person.

Some of us were able to pick up this new way more easily than others.  Personally I don't have children or grandchildren so didn't have that pull on me.  Neither do either of us have living parents.  We hunkered down.

My recovery from some physical ailments was also put on hold.  When the covid limitations began to be eased a little during the summer, I found a new massage therapist (previous one took the opportunity to officially retire during the initial closures) and set about working on my body again.

Through it all I was able to continue to weave - at a reduced pace.  I only try to get to the loom/studio for about two hours a day, with a longish break between the two hours.

But there is no need for me to be in 'production' mode.  Other than trying to use up my yarn stash, there has been little opportunity to sell anything, so my 'inventory' continues to grow.

I had planned to set up an on line shop, but then the USPS started to have issues, mail was being held up even before the Christmas rush happened.  So I didn't bother, in the end.  I may still go ahead with that, once the postal systems recover from the avalanche of mail from the holiday season.

In the autumn I began to embrace on line technology.  There was - and is - a learning curve and I'm still very much at the slippery end.  But again, making slow progress.

After weaving for over a year with 2/16 cotton as my warp, I'm now working on the 2/8 cotton.  It's thicker.  It gets used up more quickly.  Builds up higher on the beam.  Tubes empty faster.

Per my count there are 7 towels on the beam which is now built up an inch thick.  I'm not sure if I will get 18 towels off of this warp, but I don't mind too much.  However many I get, it's stash reduction.

Today I will weave two more towels, then cut the web off the loom, separate and serge the towels and get them into the washer/dryer so they can be pressed tomorrow.  Then I'll have hand hemming to do during the Sunday Seminar.  (Carol James talking about Sprang - still time to register before midnight tonight.)

Things continue to be cancelled now, in 2021, because the pandemic continues.  Yes, vaccines are beginning to roll out.  Numbers are still too high in terms of people being ill, dying.  (And yes, I know people who have lost family members - it's not a hoax.)

Recommendations to not travel continue.  Those who do are required to quarantine upon return, at their own expense, in a hotel.  The government is trying to prevent the growth of mutation variants that are being seen in other countries.  And clamp down hard on those that are already here.

While we do have vaccines arriving, there is still a need for people to not socialize.  Not gather in person.  Wear a mask when they go out.  None of the recommendations are 100% effective.  But used in concert, bring better protection than none.

In the meantime I am continuing to reach out, teach, as best I am able, on line.  Other people are also doing the same - Janet Dawson on Craftsy, Tien Chiu with her courses on using colour in weaving, Jane Stafford's on-line guild, Abby Franquemont, Daryl Lancaster and her daughter, amongst others.  Just because we can't meet in person, we can meet on line if people have the internet bandwidth.  It may not be perfect, but...

Stay home if you possibly can.  Wear a mask, over both nose AND mouth if you have to go out.  Maintain physical distance.

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay covid aware.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Details, Details


various aspects of cloth construction - diagram from The Intentional Weaver

As I go through my resources, scrape together my thoughts, generate the slides for the Power Point (PP in future) presentations for the study groups, I am reminded over and over how much fine detail there is in weaving.  Or any hand craft/technology, for that matter.

(I kind of get exasperated with modern day writers who loudly bleat that our ancestors didn't have 'technology'.  Yes, they did.  It just doesn't meet 21st century assumptions about what technology is.)

In terms of weaving, human beings have been playing with string and sticks for a very long time.  One article I read recently is pushing that to around 40,000 years ago now.  

That very first stick?  That - *that* - was technology.  It was a tool, and it required skill to use it.

Since then the technology has been refined, changed, re-invented.  And the production of string/cloth has also been refined, changed, re-invented.

Now, making string/cloth by hand is seen mostly as quaint.  When I first started weaving people were perplexed about why I would want to.  I mean I could walk into a store and buy pretty much any kind of cloth I wanted or needed.  Why would I want to make my own?

That, dear readers, is personal to every person who gets a loom and picks up a shuttle (or spindle/wheel).  Interested in my story - check the very beginnings of this blog from 2008.

The realization I'm focusing on right now is how complex, how detailed, how layered, the technology has become over the centuries.  Just comparing the different kinds of looms - and there are lots of them - makes me realize how clever human beings can be.

As a piece of engineering, a countramarche loom is pretty fine, as is a computer assisted loom like the AVL or Megado or any number of other looms I could name.

diagram from Marianne Straub's book

Voila, the 'guts' of a countramarche loom are a wonder to behold.  Sticks and string, all held in a finely tuned balance.

Almost everything there is about weaving is based on a spectrum from beneficial to not beneficial.  I won't say good to bad - bad is a judgement made when something doesn't work out - I've moved too far to either end of the spectrum until it 'failed'.

Each PP is an opportunity to stop, reflect, refine my own thinking about how cloth comes into being.  It is a chance to wonder anew at the complexity that is possible.  And to remind myself of just how little I know in the grand scheme of things.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021



Yesterday someone referred to me as an 'influencer'.  I nearly spewed my coffee.  Because I am in no way an 'influencer' the way the term is used in the 21st century.  

At least, I don't think I am.

But I thought about what the word 'influence' meant.

According to the Oxford Concise Dictionary, "Action of person or thing upon another, perceptible only in its effects".

And I have to admit, I do try to influence people.

My first area of trying to influence people was most likely wet finishing.  I even went so far as to write a book about it.

Another area of influence has been to work efficiently/ergonomically.

Over the years I encouraged people to buy my textiles, my books, hire me to teach.  My efforts at education continue, even though I am 'retired' from travelling to do so.

On a personal level, I would like to also encourage people to build community, not just within the weaving world, but beyond it.  Be kind.  Build bigger tables, not walls.  Celebrate when someone does something grand, or even just satisfying.  Our society gets so focused on the 'grand' gestures that we forget that the day to day 'ordinary' acts of kindness can seem small or inconsequential to us, but might be huge to the person you are being kind to.  

None of us know the load another person is carrying, but rest assured, we are all labouring under the huge weight of these 'interesting' times.

For the past year I have also tried to influence people to accept the current pandemic measures.  We are all getting weary of it.  We are longing for the restrictions to be lifted.  Life to return to some semblance of 'normal'.

But here's the thing.  If we don't continue to follow the essential basic measures?  The pandemic will continue.  And, as it continues, the virus will mutate.  It already has.  Someone posted a meme the other day that said "A virus can't mutate if it can't replicate".  

We need to stop the spread and we do that by staying home as much as possible.  Wear a mask (double up for extra protection) when we do go out.  Don't gather with people outside of your bubble.  Wash your hands.  Get the vaccination as soon as it becomes available to you.

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay covid aware.  So that we CAN meet again in person next year.