Friday, April 30, 2021
Am I Blue?
Thursday, April 29, 2021
A New Month
Yesterday I got this far by 4:30 pm and called it a day. There are a couple of minor tweaks but otherwise it's ready as soon as I get some bobbins wound for weft. I was going to do that last night but by the time I got downstairs I was too tired so left it for morning.
We are almost through another month with a fresh one beginning. May is a difficult month sometimes. It's no longer winter, although not quite spring. We are still having freezing nights so gardeners generally wait until the May long weekend to set plants outside. Even then, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the overnight temps and be prepared to cover plants.
One year ago BC was in the midst of what people were calling a 'lockdown', although it wasn't really. We were still free to leave our houses but because many businesses were closed there wasn't much incentive to go anywhere.
And that was the point - to NOT gather in groups, spreading the virus. Our town was still quite safe as covid hadn't really arrived yet. But it had in other towns.
I focused on doing what I needed to be doing, and that was mostly staying home and weaving.
My goal of weaving down my stash remains. Only difference is I'm now working on the 2/8 cotton and flake yarns. I'm moderately pleased that those are going down. The shelves of yarn are beginning to empty, replaced by woven cloth.
Eventually I may need to replace some yarn, but for now I'm not buying more, just working from my stash.
Tien Chiu and Janet Dawson have teamed up to bring on line opportunities for learning to weavers. They currently have a stash busting Weave A Long happening. If someone is looking for a community and a project, this might pique your interest. And may give you some creative ideas to apply to your own stash.
When I hit the wall yesterday, my first inclination was to go back to the studio and ignore the internet. That time of pause was helpful - indeed, it was therapeutic. But I also came to the realization that I was tired. Plus, my semi-annual review with the cancer clinic is in about two weeks and while I don't think the cancer is active enough to warrant concern, there is always that niggling of doubt. And right now, in the midst of a pandemic, other things don't stop and getting any kind of medical treatment right now is problematic. So there is that concern niggling away at me.
This blue warp will take about two weeks to weave off, and then there is another paler blue ready to go into the loom. Once that is done, I'll look at another beige warp and then another blue one. And then see how much of the white flake is left. Then I'll have to see what else I can do. I'm pretty sure there is more than enough to plan beyond what I've been working on. But I won't know for sure until I get this warp and the three cooking on the back burner done.
With about two weeks per warp, I have enough yarn to see me through the summer and another few dozen towels. Once those are done, it will be scarf making time. I probably have about 20 years worth of fine yarns for scarves.
I usually run a 'birthday' sale the beginning of July. Since I have been unable to face taking photos and posting to my ko-fi shop, I may concentrate on a gigantic sale in July. We'll see.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Over the course of my life, I've actually travelled a few miles. As a child we routinely did Sunday Drives wherever we could get to - and back from - home in a day. Mom would pack a picnic and we would set off.
As a child I needed medical care in Vancouver, and for a number of years we set off on the overnight Greyhound bus (overnight to save a night in a hotel) and we walked and bussed around Vancouver in between trips into the medical office.
At 16 mom put me on the train and I went from home to Montreal and back.
At 19 I took the train to Montreal again, but this time it was just the jumping off place in order to board a freighter as a passenger to disembark in Oslo, train to Örebrö, Sweden. While there, I also booked a bus tour of Europe. That meant another train trip - Örebrö to Stockholm to Malmö to catch the ferry to Travemunde, Germany. That tour did a circle - overnight in Brussels, then Paris, then Nice where we stayed for a week taking day trips to Cannes and Grasse (to visit the perfumery) and Monaco. Yes, I 'lost' a few coins in the one armed bandits in the lobby, just to say I'd gambled in Monaco!
The trip back to Travemunde and the ferry took us through Milan, then through the Alps (and I mean through, the bus boarded a train that went through a very long tunnel to get us to the other side of a mountain), then Hamburg before boarding the ferry and taking the train back to Örebrö.
On my travels I met very kind and helpful people, some of whom I stayed in touch with for a number of years before losing track of them.
As a weaving teacher I mostly travelled in North America, but also met kind and helpful people. Many of them also had interesting travel stories, one of them Winnie Nelon, who will be presenting a Sunday Seminar on May 16.
She has travelled extensively and collected textiles on the way. In the photo above there is a textile with an interesting story and it is one of the textiles she will talk about. (If I'm remembering correctly!)
We can learn much about different cultures by learning more about the textiles they make and use, and that is part of the reason I reached out to the people I did - they could shine a light on other cultures and their textiles.
I have begun booking people for 2022. Zoom isn't the best medium but it's actually quite easy for even 'old dogs' like me to learn 'new tricks'. And I've been having a great time talking to the speakers as we make our arrangements, then listening to their adventures.
Given Covid and how the pandemic is playing out, I suspect it is going to be another year before travel outside of the North American bubble is really recommended, so I'm looking at booking another 10 seminars for the coming year. There are names on my list of more people to contact but I'm holding off a bit. I have three so far with more I need to get in touch with.
I invite you to check out the guild website (link above) and consider registering for one of the seminars. The prices are in Canadian dollars, so Americans get the exchange rate discount. :)
In June Stefan Möberg will talk about a project near and dear to his heart and Janet Dawson will share her travels in Turkey. All are now available for registration. So far everyone has allowed the live presentation to be taped and made available for 30 days afterwards if you can't make the live date. Anyone registered will receive the link to the Zoom meeting the Friday before the presentation, then the private link to the recorded meeting.
I've been enjoying my armchair travels a lot. I hope you are too!
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Today dawned overcast and dreary with a high probability of rain later. Well the rain arrived and I opted to not walk today. I couldn't face the chilly wet.
However, I did manage to press the 8 towels that ran through the washer/dryer yesterday, then got the next warp ready to beam. It's hard to see in the photo but there are shades of blue - a darker somewhat greyed blue and a lighter value blue, sometimes called baby blue. There are also four spools of baby mix variegated with a little white, blue, pink, even a bit of green if I remember correctly. This warp will have a darker greyed blue cotton flake for half of it, then whatever warp is left will get woven off with white flake.
By the end of the day (4:30 pm) the warp was entirely beamed, the spool rack parked in its spot in the studio, but the yarn has not been put away in case I need any to repair a broken thread. Much of this warp will go into another mostly blue warp later, in part because I have a lot of blue and a lot of white flake.
Then I set up the loom in preparation for threading. The draft (threading only) is printed out and clipped to my clipboard, the reed and beater top taken off as well as the breast beam, the shorter stool in place. The bouts were taped to a long stick which is now ready behind the heddles. All that's left is to set up my task lighting. I may do that tonight when I shut down the studio.
I'm still running a humidifier, although that should probably be unnecessary soon, especially with close to a week of forecast rain. The humidity should start going up from the low 30s to above 40 soon. At least it isn't in the mid 20s anymore.
Tonight there will be hemming and who knows, maybe even some more fibre prep. The bin is nearly half full and should be at least 3/4s full by the time I've used up the dyed braid - mostly cyan, magenta and a wee bit of natural white. I will probably do one more braid before I put the fibre away and start spinning.
In case I don't want to do any of that, there is also another scarf on the needles. My goal is to get enough knitted that I can donate to St. Vincent de Paul, or other charitable organization. Or maybe put scarves on the sculptures that someone has been making warm hats for the past few years. Anyone who needs a hat can take one. If they need a hat, maybe they need a scarf. But regardless, I have no shortage of yarn to knit with, too.
And now that I am getting close to using up most of my 2/8 cotton and cotton flake, I'm thinking about what is next. To that end, I have set aside enough yarn for a 2/8 warp which will get woven off with an 8/2 variegated cotton. It's weak enough it could break and I don't like fighting with my yarn, so weft it will be.
Then there is another bin set aside with darker beiges and a large cone of fine linen in natural beige will get used as weft on that. I doubt either warp will use up the 8/2 or the linen, but they will make a dent in the cones, and that's all to the good. Since I had Fiberworks open to print out the threading for the current warp, I also generated a draft for those two stash busting warps. I'd thought about them for a very long time - months, to be honest - and am finally satisfied enough with my idea to go ahead and put it into Fiberworks. I'm not saying I won't change my mind, but right now I'm satisfied with it. I just have to think about hem weft yarn. I'm thinking of using the same variegated for the hems on those towels, and 2/16 cotton on the beige/linen warp. Or maybe, because linen doesn't lose dimension as much as cotton, I'll use the linen for hems on that warp. More pondering to do.
Monday, April 26, 2021
Back to Regular Programming
The warp in the bin on the top has been woven and tomorrow the bin on the bottom will be put into the loom.
It has been very satisfying to see my yarn stash diminish. Not so nice to see how much woven stuff I now have, and no shows to do to try and move it into someone else's home.
I had intended to start photographing things and posting them to my ko-fi shop last week, but somehow the week, which had no appointments or commitments turned into this week, no photographs having been taken or posted.
Last week was quite lovely. Spring seems to have arrived and we had a week of lovely blue skies. I even managed to walk nearly every day, in spite of the cutting wind. If you could stay out of the wind it was quite nice, but the wind had teeth so walking wasn't as pleasant as it looked to be, from the comfort of my home.
And yet, I felt I was making progress, so I mostly continued. This week isn't supposed to be as nice, but today dawned clear, sort of, so I'm going to try to remember to save spoons for a walk, even if it is just the short loop. Once you have lost physical fitness, it takes longer to get back, once you are 'old'. Bodies just don't recover as quickly once you hit that 'certain' age.
One of the beige towels is a 'second' - there were two dye lots of the beige flake, and in the end not quite enough for a full sized towel. It isn't very much shorter than my 'standard' length, but with the dye lot difference I will not try to sell that one but gift it to a friend who won't mind either 'flaw'.
Yesterday I managed to weave one towel with the white flake as weft, which leaves two to weave today. And then that warp will be done.
I seem to have adjusted my expectations of what I 'ought' to be doing every day, but my goal of weaving two sessions daily is mostly met, depending on what else is happening. This week is mostly clear with massage and chiropractor back-to-back on Thursday. I doubt I'll feel up to weaving after that. I may make more rolags/worms or not. I may walk or not. I try to pay more attention to what my physical body needs now.
When I was a child I didn't know very many 'old' people. People in their 70s were not all that common and many of my friends no longer had grandparents either. I had my mother's father, but he wasn't that much of a presence in my life. Now I have friends my age with great grandchildren and none of us think we are particularly 'old'. I wonder if my grandfather thought he was still young at 71.
I know that at heart I am still pretty much the same person I was at 41, which was about when I finally started to figure out who I was. But my body is not. So I have adjusted my expectations of what I can physically accomplish, while still wanting to do more. And that's probably the eternal human condition - wanting more, not knowing if we will get it.
Just a bit of Monday Musings...
Sunday, April 25, 2021
A Bigger Table - political rant
Just over a year ago when word began arriving along with the Covid virus, I paid attention. I paid attention for a number of reasons.
I am old enough to remember SARS and the devastation it caused in Ontario and other places. But I am also aware of history and knew that such pandemics become killing machines especially among densely populated areas. And of course, many of the world's densely populated areas are also areas of poverty with few resources.
Of course my primary concern was my own home. I'm only human, after all! But I soon found a website called Worldometers and one of the many metrics it was tracking was Covid. This website kept me apprised of what was happening around the world - who was managing well, and who wasn't.
We neighbour the United States, and I'd spent enough time in that country and knew a large number of Americans, had read up on political science and the differences and similarities between the two countries to understand that the pandemic was going to be a watershed moment in history.
Over my lifetime, Canadians have been inundated with media generated in the US to the point where many Canadians don't understand how the political system in Canada works. With the political dynamic in the US slopping over into Canada, I wasn't particularly surprised at the US style conspiracy stories finding their way into my country, too.
I have also been coming to grips, as a white woman, with the racism inherent in so much of our country, which seemed to be being exploited by these conspiracies.
The response to Covid by Canada has been checkered by the fact that health care is not a federal responsibility, but a provincial one. And a number of provincial premiers have platforms (if you can call racism a platform) that favour business and corporate entities over people, especially brown people. Even in a province that wants to help, there is a segment of the population that has drunk the tainted orange juice and insists Covid is a hoax, mask requirements are some sort of infringement on personal freedom, restrictions on businesses being open are killing the economy.
I have been appalled by the racism involved in touting the 'China flu' or 'Kung flu' and targeting people of Asian background, especially elderly people, with violence.
Politicians of the 'conservative' bent have done nothing but criticize, even when the federal government does something they previously called for action on, the complaint then became 'you took too long' instead of 'so happy to see you took advice'. Or even 'better late than never'.
I'm sick of politicians playing devil's advocate who do nothing but complain, but never come up with action to help the situation, instead sitting by and flouting the recommendations by health officers (non-essential travel during Christmas break, for instance) because they are some sort of 'special'.
"When they show you who they are, believe them the first time" has become all too applicable.
Things are not good right now, even as they get better in Canada. For those people who are living in a comfortable bubble, I urge you to pay attention to what is happening beyond your reality. If you, personally, are safe and have the means, I recommend looking for organizations that are actually helping other countries obtain vaccines and other medical supplies. If you have enough, and can spare something, there are non-profit entities that can use some money. Last week I donated to UNICEF Canada, in part because they had a matching donation grant from a third party, so my donation was doubled. It felt like a paltry sum, but if enough people give a little, it can add up to something significant and help others who are literally dying. Right now. Another entity I have donated to in the past and will likely do so again is Doctors Without Borders.
The bottom line is this - if the countries who cannot access vaccines do not get them very soon, the level of mutations in the virus will continue. If the mutations continue, the pandemic will continue in part because the vaccines may not be as effective against the mutations. (So far it seems that they are, but that can change.) If the countries who are struggling continue to have very active growth with high illness and death, it means the global economy cannot recover. It also means that all travel to those countries will have to be curtailed because people travelling from North America to other places can then become infected by those new mutations and bring them home, which will begin the cycle all over again.
Covid is extremely transmissible - which means it spreads very easily. We have seen this every time restrictions have been lifted and mass gatherings allowed. We are now standing under the tsunami third wave and countries like India and Brazil (and others, but those are number 2 and 3 in the world - the US continues #1) are having massive case counts and deaths.
At this point I'm assuming that the corporations who make the vaccines have made a tidy profit. I suggest that it is beyond time to hoard the vaccine and that countries who have a surplus should very quickly start sending that surplus to other countries. Let the companies who wrote restrictions into their contracts that this could not happen sue the country. Better to beg for forgiveness than ask permission.
It is time to build a bigger table and invite those countries who need medical supplies including vaccines to the same safety that we have here in Canada. And make sure that ALL of our communities are also getting the vaccines they need, too.
As has been pointed out, we are all in the same storm but some of us have good boats while others are cast adrift on leaky rafts. Life lines are needed to help those who are getting ill and dying.
World: 147,605,755 cases; 3,118,992 deaths
US: 32,797,213 cases; 585,941 deaths
India: 17,285,627 cases; 194,797 deaths - with nearly 1.4 Billion people in India, these numbers are going to get much, much worse.
The above numbers are from 11 am, April 25, 2021. A number of experts say that the numbers out of India are far too low because people are falling ill and dying at such high numbers the official count can't keep up. Long past time to send medical aid to India...
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay Covid aware.
Saturday, April 24, 2021
During my four decades as a professional weaver, I ran into some...interesting...attitudes. I was reminded of several times I ran afoul of the then Weaving Police as I upgraded my equipment in order to earn an income from my efforts.
I have shared - frequently - some of these anecdotes and challenges and my efforts to help people weave so that they don't injure themselves.
Last weekend I talked about looms and equipment with one of the study groups I lead, and realized that people might take offence at my 'bragging' on how fast I used to weave using the most efficient equipment I could afford.
Thing is, I don't really care how anyone else weaves so long as they are happy with their results. My goal for the past few years has been to help people understand how their bodies work so that they can continue to weave without sustaining injury.
Weaving ergonomically means NOT working to the point of injury. So there are approaches to weaving that will aid in being able to weave for many years. BUT, a person has to know that there might be a 'better' way, a way that will reduce stress to muscles and therefore limit fatigue, which can lead to inflammation, which can lead to injury.
My goal, right from day one, was to earn money from weaving. My approach then became to figure out how to do that without establishing inflammation in my body. Because without my body, there would be no weaving at all. And inflammation takes way longer to heal than a person might think. So best practice? Don't get injured in the first place.
My first 'obsession' was with how I sat at my looms. Developing good posture and position was paramount. Then shuttle handling. Once I had those firmly settled, I began looking at my equipment. I bought - and sold - several looms, none of them quite what I needed. As I wove more and began selling my work I was aware of the tendency of weavers to 'copy' the work of others. No big deal, except I was trying to sell unique designs and not have others do essentially the same thing and then undercut my prices.
So I was on the lookout for a more efficient multi-shaft loom when I found dobby looms, then scraped up my pennies so I could attend a conference and shop for a loom better suited to my needs. I rejected a lot of the looms at the conference, but then sat at an AVL 16 shaft dobby loom with a single box fly shuttle.
The sales person told me that it could be ordered with a double box fly shuttle and an auto cloth advance.
At that same conference I purchased two books - Production Weaving on a Fly Shuttle Loom by Laya Brostoff and Handloom Weaving Technology by Allen Fannin. I read both on the bus home and decided I had to find the money to buy the AVL. Using 16 shafts would mean less copying because at the time most weavers had four or maybe 8 but very few had more than that. Not to mention I loved fancy twills and was drawn to the idea of being able to peg long treadling repeats and weave more efficiently.
That was 1981 and I got the loom in Feb of 1982. At which point a whole lot of weavers - all of them older than me (the 'elders' in my community) informed me I could no longer call my cloth handwoven.
By this time though I was dependent upon earning enough money to pay for the loan to buy the loom and every time I took a 'real' job I would find myself in tears as I dealt with doing a job I didn't want to do, doing it just for the money I could earn. I reapplied myself to designing new textiles, figuring out how to sell them, price them, and continued to call my textiles handwoven - because they were. My customers weren't other weavers, they were members of the public and what I was actually selling were my designs and my skill at producing them.
I got pretty good at doing it, enough that at times handwoven textiles were our only income. And I wove. A lot. And I continued to refine my processes and equipment. And I got very, very fast at weaving. So fast that when I would tell people how much I could produce, they either didn't believe me or thought I was bragging.
The very first time I posted a video of myself at the loom weaving - on a regular handloom, not the AVL - the first comment was 'well, that was interesting but I don't understand why you speeded up the video.'
Um, I actually slowed down my weaving rhythm so that people could more easily see what I was doing.
Some people felt I was trying to brag, or claim some kind of superweaver status, or make out like I was trying to claim some kind of notoriety for being Speedy Gonzales or something. Like I was trying to make others feel bad because I was 'better' than they were.
That was not - and never has been - my intent. The very last thing I want to do is make others feel bad. I just want to show that people do not have to work artificially slowly just because they are using equipment that isn't designed well, or for them. Looms come in different sizes, and there are looms that are simply impossible for some weavers to comfortably work on. A very tall person is going to need a different loom than a very short person - or else accommodations are going to have to be made.
If a person is not aware of these things, they can wind up with a less than satisfying experience, simply because they don't know why something isn't working and they can't then make the necessary adjustments.
Over the years I have repeatedly gotten Doug to make adjustments to my equipment. From changing brake systems on the Leclerc Fanny to re-engineering parts of the AVL. When some people find out these adaptations have been made they are shocked and in some cases express concern that we would drill holes to add extra spacers to keep the beater away from the shafts, for example. A loom is a wooden machine and holes can be filled. Or maybe the next owner will find the adjustments helpful and will leave them.
I no longer publicly tell people just how fast I was able to weave (I'm much slower now, but I'm 'retired' and old, and injured) because I'm tired of people being offended as if that was my intent. But I do share that information with my students. I also make clear to my students that I'm not telling them this to make them feel bad, but to let them know that they can be just as fast if that is what they want. Because I share everything with them. Everything that I do, everything that I have learned.
This morning I said on Twitter that I do this, not because I am throwing down a gauntlet, but letting them know that the gauntlet exists and if they want to pick it up, it is completely up to them. There is no virtue is being able to weave fast. It is just a skill. But it is a skill anyone who wants to, can learn.
Skills are acquired through mindful practice, not by buying a silver bullet or planting magic beans. If people want to be more efficient, I can give them guidelines. If they don't want to weave faster, they don't have to. But frequently the side benefit to weaving more ergonomically, weaving so that injury does not happen, is more productivity.
If people want to interpret my attitude as arrogant, that is going to be their perception. It is not, never has been, my intent.
Friday, April 23, 2021
As expected, I got four towels each from the peach and the rose.
The peach is a lighter value than the rose and the towels look quite different. On the peach towel, where all the colours are approximately the same value, the overall look is more subdued with slight differences in hue giving the cloth some extra interest.
The rose was a darker value and therefore the warp is showing in greater contrast and most people would be hard pressed to tell these towels had been woven on the same warp.
I am about to begin the beige, which is an even lighter value than the peach, and then finish whatever warp is left with white, also much lighter value.
People sometimes wonder how I can weave the 'same' thing over and over again. I enjoy it. I have the technical stuff (width in reed, epi, tieup/treadling, dimensions) all figured out. All I need concern myself with is choosing the colours and then watch the cloth grow on the loom. I'm not constantly looking for more stimulation, so I can stay in the present moment and just keep weaving more and more of the same quality of cloth, playing with different colour combinations.
I could change things, but I'm happy with the quality of cloth that is being made, so I'm content to stay in a comfortable 'rut' and keep weaving down my stash.
There may come a time when I decide that I want to design something new and completely different every time I go to the loom. But for now? Now is not that time.
Thing is, whatever you do? If you are happy, keep doing that thing.
If it brings joy, keep it. If it doesn't, get rid of it. I suspect Marie Kondo has it right.
Thursday, April 22, 2021
No more bookkeeping. I don't miss doing my accounts! I truly don't miss it at all. It was always a pain in the patootie, but necessary to make sure all the bills got paid, all the taxes due were paid. Knowing where I stood financially was usually a spur to flail around and either book more teaching, submit another article to...somewhere...offer a sale on my stuff. Try and generate more income.
Now? I'm 'retired'. My business is closed. And I no longer have to keep track of my expenses. Of course I don't have to actually buy much of anything either because I don't have to produce a line for a string of craft fairs, or for workshop warps.
Today we submitted our personal income tax, so that's one more thing taken care of. I always like to get it done well before deadline. Last year the deadline was extended, but we still took care of it as soon as we could. This year has been extra confusing for accountants, keeping track of the taxable covid benefits and the non-taxable covid benefits. Since we are both seniors, living on state pensions, I don't think anything we received (which wasn't much, but still helped) was taxable, but whatever. It is still a relief to have it done.
After a storm overnight we are back to a blue sky sunny day. I will walk again later this afternoon. Progress can be measured in yards, not a greater length, but I will take every inch of progress over the back sliding I have been doing the past couple of years.
The second half of the warp is ready to go, but I have a Zoom booked for 1 pm, so I'm going to have lunch, then get set up for that. If it is cancelled, I'll weave a towel, then go for my walk. If the Zoom goes ahead, I'll walk after that, then weave one towel. The next colour weft is beige. I'm not sure if there is enough for four towels, although I think so. There might even be enough for 5. We'll see. Anything left of the warp after that will be woven with white.
the next warp is mid-value blues and there should be enough for 7 or 8 towels of the mid-value blue flake; the rest will be woven with white.
And so I continue, weaving my way through my stash, one bite at a time...
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Last night I started making more blending board 'rolags'. There are three 'layers' to them. I begin with an even covering of the grey, then do a layer of the hand dyed braid (primarily cyan and magenta) and then finish with a final layer of the grey.
The colours are bleeding through the layer of grey, and I'm interested to see how it will spin up - if the yarn will match my internal vision of what will happen as the fibres twist their way into yarn.
I'm hoping for a tweedy, heathery, effect but it may barberpole because I'm not blending the colours into a unified mass.
It looks like there is enough of the braid to make rolags to fill the little bin I store them in, which should then result in about four bobbins of single. Those will then get plyed with a commercially spun yarn - to be determined. I don't want to have the ply barberpole as well, so I'm thinking of using a grey rayon about the same grist as a 2/8 cotton (not quite, but close to). The grey ply yarn will 'hide' in the grey bits, and may cause a barberpole stripe when there is cyan or magenta. But I think that will look okay. What I will do with it is anyone's guess at this point - I'm just playing.
In a way it's another form of 'sampling'. Just doing stuff to see what happens, and then figuring out what to do with it based on the results.
The challenge will be to knit something that doesn't 'fight' visually with the effects of the colour in the yarn. So probably something simple, no fancy stitches. And right now? That suits me to a T. Knitting is my end of the day or stitch n bitch activity - not something I want to concentrate on. Whatever focus I have is reserved for writing/developing the Power Point presentations for teaching or weaving.
After what feels like months of grey dreary days we have had nearly a week of blue skies and sun and I have been walking. (I took the weekend 'off'.) Progress can be measured in inches, but progress IS happening, so there is lots of incentive to keep going. OTOH, I have a pile of library books to read, so the strategy is to keep rotating through things, getting a little of this and a little of that done every day. The old 'eating the elephant' kind of thing.
Reading Sharon Kay Penman's last book is bittersweet. I think I've read every book she wrote - large sweeping historical fiction, based on facts, made 'human' - because 'fiction'. I'm sorry she won't be around to write more books. However, there are lots more books in the world and I'm quite sure my problem will not be too little to read, but too much.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Two Bins Full
Yesterday I was able to get a filling replaced but it meant a very early morning and I felt tired and dragged all day. I did manage to get two towels woven, and I poked about in my spinning fibre stash and finally found the bump of the pale grey I knew I had...somewhere.
A local guild member has been having fun dyeing roving and I've accumulated quite a few braids so my intention is to use the braids to make 'heathers' (of a sort) by spicing up solid colours with the variegated braids.
The braid in the middle of the picture has quite a pale value and I kept thinking it would work nicely with the pale grey, so that is where I will begin. Hand dyed braids are also more expensive than solids, so using them for special effects seems like a good (financial) strategy to me. This approach also gives me unique looking yarn. I further customize my yarns by plying them with different commercially spun yarns.
Now, I know you are wondering: what is she going to weave with that?
Thing is, I'm not. These yarns are intended for knitting, in part because trying to weave with handspun means an enormous investment of time and I'd rather work with purpose bought yarns for weaving.
I had - for a time - completely given up spinning but then the universe kept delivering me spinning wheels so eventually I started spinning again. I use it as a more portable craft I can bring to demo days, but also allows me to knit small(er) items and gives me another portable craft for stitch n bitch or knitting in public days. Knitting with my own handspun is very satisfying.
On the other hand, I've managed to spin up way more yarn than I have managed to knit, while also accumulating buckets full of shawls, so now I'm looking for something else I can knit with my handspun.
When I learned to spin, back in 1974 or so, the primary method of spinning (here) was supported long draw. Roving was expensive, so I mostly either hand carded or used a drum carder and spun that way. It is a process/method that I still enjoy and prefer to use.
Since one of my stated goals is to use up my stash, that means fibre stash as well. So far I've spun up two large plus two small bins of rolags made about 3 years ago(!). One batch has been wet finished and another just needs to be done. Then I can wind the skeins into balls and eventually figure out what I'm going to knit with it.
Over the past few days I've made more rolags/blending board worms and filled two of the small bins ready to go. But since making them takes up the entire dining room table, I'd like to fill more of the bins so I can then put it away and bring out the spinning wheel. Since my spaces do multiple tasks, I don't like to just do a little bit of something, put it all away, over and over again. Once I get into my stride of the task, it just feels right to keep doing it until I have a stash, like the bins full of prepared fibres.
We woke to a nice sunny day again, although it stays a bit chilly. However it's lovely to see the blue skies and sun, and I'm making good progress walking so the incentive is high to keep going. I'm determined to reclaim at least some of my fitness.
Three more towels and then I can cut off the first half, wet finish and then there will be more hemming to do. I am, as they say, spoiled for choice!
Monday, April 19, 2021
I was up absurdly early this morning because the dentist phoned on Friday to say they had had a cancellation and could fit me in at 8:10 am today. Since that meant getting my disintegrating filling fixed two weeks earlier, I gulped and agreed to take the appointment.
The benefit was waking up to a sunny day and being able to enjoy more of it.
The downside is that my usual level of 'tired' is even greater and after sitting upended for an hour my neck and back are protesting.
Yesterday I didn't walk but I plan to, today. First I needed my magic bean elixir and now I'm trying to decide what to do 'first'. Choices, choices, so many choices.
I'm nearly out of the rose cotton flake and one more towel will finish that off. I've already wound peach bobbins so I'm ready to roll on.
Yesterday I finished off the purple roving and now have two small bins of 'worms'. However, I'm in blending mode now and have several more empty bins so I'm going to keep making more so that once I set up the Ashford spinner I can just keep spinning a bobbin a night.
The next Power Point is well underway, I just have to decide how far to go with it, or just switch to flashing actual textiles, which might actually be more beneficial than trying to explain things via a Power Point slide show.
My current library book is nearly 700 pages and I'm only at page 100. And it's due back at the end of this week. There are two more here at the house and one more waiting to be picked up so I could just sit in the recliner with my feet up and read.
The local stitch n bitch group I belong to seems to be opting for one more Zoom meeting before they try in person, and I arranged an in person, out of doors visit with a friend for early in May, once she's done with school and a few other things. By then my 'visiting room' (aka carport) should be a nice place to sit. She hasn't had her vaccine yet but is registered and should be hearing soon.
April will soon turn into May and summer will be here soon. And we are still dealing with covid and restrictions. Hopefully by end of summer things will be better.
In the meantime, let's not forget to take our little moments of comfort and joy when they appear on our stair landing, like my fan light rainbows.
Sunday, April 18, 2021
Some Sunday Thoughts
Two Zoom meetings this weekend, back-to-back. They are the same topic, so that helps. But it means that I won't be weaving this weekend in part because I need to make sure everything is working (sometimes Windows does an update and I have to re-start the laptop, which is slow as molasses in January) or Zoom has a glitch. So until the meeting actually starts there is a certain level of stress.
Not that there isn't stress doing this live, just, you know, life is full of things that stress us and doing meetings on line is just a different kind of stress.
I had Doug set the alarm for 8 am, then woke up shortly after 6 in the midst of a 'bad' dream. I'm no stranger to stress dreams but they seem to have shifted lately, from simply being frustrating (travel plans going awry) to other kinds of things. I suppose after more than a year of dealing with a pandemic with the threat of actual physical harm, dreaming about physical harm isn't a stretch.
Yes, even though we have had our first vaccine shot, uncertainty reigns and frankly I'm getting very frustrated with people as a group.
There are still individuals who provide joy and inspiration, of course there are. But the nightly news is...concerning...as numbers of cases rise and politicians seem to be constantly doing things that don't help and may actually make things worse.
Anyway, another Zoom this morning where I get to talk weaving for a couple of hours, so there is that to look forward to.
When I started weaving in my mid-20s I had no idea how much it would engage me, mentally, physically, emotionally. It turned into my passion, my avocation, not just my profession.
In yesterday's meeting we talked a bit about how weaving, like many other crafts, is an acquired skill and it takes time to learn how to weave, then how to fine tune one's techniques and processes, how we need to adapt things to best suit our circumstances. And to not let others dictate what is correct for us.
Since today's topic is the same as yesterdays but with a different group, my job will be to stay on track and say what needs to be said, not assume I've already said it. The Power Point presentation helps me keep my focus and to stay on track. The two hours fly by - at least for me - I can't speak for those listening! And I don't mind repeating things, over and over again because I understand how information must be layered in on top of what a person knows and not everyone knows the same things so the information gets absorbed at different rates, in different people.
We have had a week of rather nice weather but it seems it might be coming to an end. I didn't get out for my walk yesterday but I'm going to try to get out today, just in case the weather turns 'bad' again. And after a certain level of glee because I had no appointments or obligations this coming week, I now have a dental appointment (they had a cancellation and could take me at dawn o'clock Monday), one zoom meeting on Friday and potentially another on Thursday.
And April is nearly over - it seems to have evaporated very quickly for some reason. But every week that goes by more people are being vaccinated and hopefully we can slide through the end of the tunnel and begin to do 'normal' stuff again. I have a feeling 'normal' is going to look a bit different for most of us. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. It never hurts to think about 'normal' and what it is we actually want out of life.
Friday, April 16, 2021
The stack of books on my hearth hasn't changed one iota. Well the box is gone, but otherwise, the books are still sitting quite patiently on the hearth waiting for me to find the time/energy to read them.
Thing is, I personally am not patient. Over the years I have been a weaver I have had so many people comment that I must be really patient.
Patient? No. Persistent? Yes, I'll cop to that. Stubborn? Oh, most definitely. (ha - that came out as defiantly - and I'll cop to that, too.)
The thing is, weaving has engaged me - once I let it into my life - continually because it challenges me. It challenges me to think. Then think harder. Then weave samples to see if I thought things through adequately. This intellectual stimulation has kept me getting out of bed and going to the loom, even when I felt ill. In part because I was reliant on income from some source and I had chosen weaving to be that source. It has encouraged me to get up out of my chair to go to the loom because I wanted to feel better and the way I wove for most of my life was aerobically which meant my body would generate endorphins and those endorphins would reduce my pain levels.
Definite carrot/stick buzz happening. The reward for doing something was that I felt better for it, not just emotionally but actually physically. Even when that activity was, in its way, contributing to the pain in the first place.
It became a kind of revolving door. But with other benefits.
At the end of the day I could look at the cloth beam and see how many yards of cloth now existed because I had gone to the loom.
When I travelled to teach I had to have my game face on every day. In spite of allergens, in spite of travel 'adventures' (the time I ended up at a completely different airport because of airline issues, no suitcases, no samples, nothing but my carry on and the clothes I had travelled in.)
In spite of my detailed instructions about food, people would bring me 'treats' which I could not eat or I would be too sick to teach. In spite of explaining something six different ways and then repeating the same information yet again, trying to find another different way to say it. I was not patient but took it as a challenge to try and break through and bring understanding.
Not being a patient person, I worked at becoming efficient so that I could weave ergonomically and produce textiles quickly. People have observed that they aren't interested in my methods because they don't want to 'hurry' - not understanding that you cannot 'hurry' in weaving because that's when mistakes are made. And that is the complete opposite of being efficient. And that sometimes the fastest way to the results you want is to actually go more slowly.
Weaving has provided intellectual stimulation, pushed me to learn more, encouraged me to continue to hone my skills. It has kicked my ass on way more than one occasion, but also brought a community into my life that has provided encouragement and actual support.
So no, I'm not a patient person. But I also know how to wait, how to accept that sometimes things need to settle, other people need to do what they need to do. Working with others has let me let go of some things, like my expectations or desire to see something done right now and let what needs to happen, happen.
You don't produce a book like I did with multiple actual samples, self-publish, promote, ship and expect it to happen overnight. I still wish it hadn't taken as long as it did to sell all the copies, but never mind, I did it. But because I am not a patient person, I kept working on the marketing, trying to figure out ways to get them sold, not ever stopping and giving up until they were all gone.
Feedback tells me that all that effort - and expense (because believe me it was expensive to produce) - was worth it. Some people refer to Magic in the Water as a 'classic' in the field. If that is so, and it is still valued in 20 years, I will feel that I have made a contribution to the field by doing it.
But I was never, not once, patient while I was working on it. Just determined. Persistent.
So why do I have my stack of books-to-be-read for this post? It is said that books of that nature are very patient. So I use that photo to show my well of patience. That's it. That's all I have. Just books, waiting patiently for me to read them. One of these days. I had thought the pandemic would provide the time to do so, but instead I found myself distracted and brain fogged and I read exactly zero of those books. Instead I actually added a couple more to the pile. Because books! One never wants to run out of books to read.
On Wednesday we got our vaccines. Neither of us had much in the way of adverse effects - just that perhaps we felt more lethargic than usual and I was dealing with allergens that made me feel 'off' all day. I'm glad I had it Wednesday because I have back-to-back Zooms over the weekend. I'm feeling much better today, so my plan is to get to the loom and weave a couple of towels, then work on the Power Point on using colour in weaving. And walk. I am so out of shape that I'm still only doing the short circuit around the neighbourhood. But I know I will get stronger. Doesn't mean I'm not chaffing, though, because I'm not a patient person! However, I have been through this before, several times (broken ankle, by-pass surgery, chemo) and what I need to do is just - do it. Nike had it right all along.
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Colour in Weaving
Right now I'm (supposed to be) working on a Power Point about colour in weaving - how weave structure will affect how we view the colour among other things.
This morning I took the above photo in part to show that I had actually begun to weave this warp that is more than 50% beige with peach/rose/other colours in it, and how the rose weft shifts how we perceive it.
I could use this or another warp/colour in the presentation - it's not the best photo. I should have cropped out the shadow of the ipad at the bottom. But I wasn't paying attention when I sent the file to myself.
Once again I'm struggling with sinus headache and the amount of patience I have could be measured only with a scale too fine for home use.
As I looked at the photo, so many of the little cliches I use are right there in plain view. The rose weft is intensifying the rose and peach in the warp. The pale colours (a light peach and yellow) are standing proud. The blues have shifted to a more muted/greyed appearance and the beige slightly browns (or muddies) the rose.
But the result is fine. I am happy enough with it that I will continue and use up the last of the rose flake. And then I'll use up the peach flake. Whatever is left will be beige.
The beige is actually quite a bit lighter in value than either the rose or the peach, so the last towels on this warp should look quite different from the other two colours.
Sometimes weavers need to set aside their inner vision of how they thought the results would look and accept what is in front of them. Just because the results don't meet that internal vision doesn't mean that the results are 'bad' - just different from expected. If you don't really like what you see from the loom bench, sometimes getting up and viewing from a greater distance will provide insight.
Learning how colours interact, taking into account the scale (plain weave vs fancy twill, as above) and the distance at which the cloth will normally be viewed will give a different appearance for each. And none of them might be 'bad' or 'ugly' just different from what was expected.
So these towels will look - from a distance - primarily rose, but a slightly dull rose with glints of light provided by the lighter value peach and yellow. In certain lights the slightly greyed blue will give the cloth a warmer look
Sometimes we need to let go of our expectations and celebrate what is happening. And learn from each and every warp. Because they all have something to teach us.
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
One Step at a Time
Yesterday I got the warp threaded, sleyed and tied on. I even got bobbins wound and was ready to go by mid-afternoon. But by then I'd run out of oomph so instead of weaving a towel, which I could have easily done before dinner, I turned my attention to my fibre pile.
In my rummaging, I discovered a huge bag of hand dyed roving (Falklands) that I'd completely forgotten about. Normally I will take a dyed roving, add several colours to the mix and make something unique, but this roving had so many colours in it already I decided to just make the blending board 'worms' from the roving by itself. It will make a nice 'heather'.
The plan is to ply it with something else. I've been using various rayon yarns, usually textured, and so I'll make several different yarns using different rayons for the plying. I have no idea what I will use this yarn for - right now I'm just planning on making yarn, then deciding what it will be good for and if I have enough to make That Thing.
We have a busy day today, so I won't plan on weaving. If we get back early enough, I'll make more 'worms', maybe read one of my library books or work on the Power Point presentation I'm about half done.
We seem to have finally arrived at real spring and Monday and Tuesday I went for a walk. I may go for one this afternoon if I'm not tuckered out from errands. Since spring means lots of dust/pollen in the air, I have been wearing a mask. Even though my neighbours are being good about physical distancing, I'm wearing the mask against the pollen/dust, hoping that I don't have to deal with more allergic reactions and sinus stuff than I already am.
But this warp should be off the loom by the end of the month, and several more tubes woven off. Every step is progress, no matter how slow.
The thing I've been ignoring but need to deal with is trying to sell some of my towels. So the plan, now that we have decent light not dreary grey days, is to get some beauty shots of my towels and begin uploading them to my ko-fi shop. Stay tuned.
Currently reading The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Kay Penman who died recently. If you like sweeping historical novels, her books are excellent.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
I was doing quite well on the spinning stash busting front until things went pear shaped and I found myself stymied in moving forward until some things got dealt with. In the end I bought a new e-spinner, but Doug still wanted to try and repair my old one, so I put away all my spinning stuff and left him to work on the device which meant the dining room table was covered in parts.
Which meant I couldn't begin making blending board 'worms' until the table got cleared off.
While that was going on, with all it's attendant frustrations (for both of us), I moved on. There are still lots of things I need/want to do and so I carried on doing them.
I continued weaving, blogging, working on the Power Point presentations, answered emailed questions from weavers, watched the pandemic take off again, posted encouraging things to people to continue to follow covid protocols and not lose hope that we would soon have vaccines.
We reached an impasse on the e-spinner repair but finally managed to connect with someone who is has a small home business to repair them, a last consult with him and now we are waiting on one more part which should hopefully bring the device back into operation.
While waiting for that part to arrive - sometime this week, maybe, perhaps next - Doug cleared the table off of bits and pieces of e-spinner and I dug out my blending board, small bins that are the perfect size for holding the 'worms' and some fibre.
I'm still dealing with watering eyes, sinus congestion and chronic pain, although the pain is less, thankfully. But by the time I've eaten dinner I'm finding it hard to do much else. So I'm thinking I might start working on worms during the day on my mid-afternoon weaving break.
Yesterday I took my first walk in nearly a year. Even though my neighbourhood is small and everyone seems to be following physical distancing guidelines, I wore a mask. Not because I was worried about covid, but because I'm allergic to dust and pollen, and there is enough of that in the air that I'm hoping a mask will help keep my allergies from kicking in and making things worse for me. So even when we are done with covid protocols, you might very well see me continuing to wear a mask to protect myself against other things that are a 'danger' to me and my immune system. I've quite enjoyed NOT catching a cold or the flu this year.
Yesterday I managed to beam the next warp and it is ready to thread. I should be able to do that today and quite possibly sley and tie on. And who knows, maybe even get back on track with the spinning.
Monday, April 12, 2021
Yesterday I cut off the warp on the Megado, separated and serged the towels and got them run through the washer and dryer. I ran out of warp because I was trying to not waste so much yarn and made the warp two turns shorter. And then 'wasted' nearly a towel's worth of yarn because there wasn't enough left to actually weave another towel. I could have done a shorter towel, but I'd also run out of the black and green cotton flake so it seemed better to just finish that warp and move on to the next.
My favourite warp - the next one. :)
I'm nearly finished with the dyed cotton flake but have a few spools of peach, rose and beige, so this warp was designed with those colours in mind. This warp should use up all of those colours and any warp left over will be woven with white - because I have 6 large spools of white between 2 to 2.5 pounds each. Whole lotta weaving - although not that much because overall the flake is thick as much as it is thin. But still, enough for about 6 warps, depending on how much I use up when other colours run out.
For example, I have a blue warp that I will use up the last of the dyed mid-range blue - three tubes - and the rest will be woven with white.
Over the years I have learned not to get too 'married' to any idea because it isn't until it goes into the loom and the weft crosses the warp that I get a feel for the finished result. The final determination is in the wet finishing, of course.
However, I've used these yarns frequently enough that I have a pretty good handle on how they will weave up and how they will look/feel once wet finished. In fact my FB memory today was a photo of a table runner I'd woven three years ago using these yarns. I wanted the table runners to be thicker and sturdier than a towel, so those were woven at 24 epi and whatever the cotton flake beat in - probably close to 24 because I was beating firmly. Since the flake isn't consistent, my approach was to be as consistent as possible, for the table runners and now for the towels. But the towels are 20 epi, so the end result isn't quite as 'stiff' as the runners, so two different qualities of cloth, made with the same yarns in close to the same weave structure - both twills, the table runners 4 shaft 2:2 twill, the towels 16 shaft 1:3:1:3:2:2:3:1 for the tie up.
We have achieved blue skies this morning and the temperature is supposed to start rising. My plan for the day is to press the towels from yesterday, then set up the spool rack and begin beaming the warp. At some point I am going to put on my outside shoes, grab a mask, and take a stroll through the neighbourhood. Although my neighbours have been great about maintaining physical distance and almost none of them wear a mask to walk, my seasonal allergies are here and a mask seems like a good idea so that I breathe in less dust and pollen. Which should make my walking a lot more pleasant. Nothing like trying for increased health and get knocked back by a body that sees danger in every particle I breathe in.
So yes, I will wear a mask and see if I can walk without aggravating my immune system. I get my vaccination later this week but will continue to wear a mask in public and follow covid protocols. I may continue to wear a mask on public transport just because I have enjoyed NOT catching a cold or the flu. And that seems like a positive step to me.
With the apparent arrival of spring, I am looking forward to more sunny days and will try to walk more frequently. Cheer me on!
Sunday, April 11, 2021
Friday, April 9, 2021
When I get stressed, I start to procrastinate. When I procrastinate, everything I am stressing about seems to loom larger. So then I wind up with increased stress and problems that simply get bigger and more difficult to deal with.
And round I go.
Until I finally get a round tuit and start dealing with them. Usually a deadline begins to loom and pressure builds to finally deal with the issue I have been trying to ignore. Like an elephant in the room. Lurking. Hiding in plain sight, so to speak.
So yesterday I managed to finalize one elephant, and more or less resolve another that has been irritating me, and which should, with the arrival of a new part, get fixed next week.
Just knowing that a solution is finally approaching, I feel like a huge roadblock has been lifted and I can now proceed along that line/road/path.
I also pressed the first 8 towels of the 'stone' towel warp, and wove two more. One more today will use up the last of the black cotton flake, and I'll then begin using up the last of the forest green. Neither of those two colours will use up the entire warp, so whatever is left will have a beige cotton flake weft.
And then I pulled another bin of yarn for yet another towel warp of this design/quality. I don't know how much longer I will stick with this except for the fact there is still plenty of the cotton flake - I think I counted 6 two pound tubes of white. A half a pound of flake weaves three towels so I could do the math and work out how many more towels those tubes could make - and probably will now that I am getting close to using it. The next warp will use up the peach and beige flake, then start on the white.
There is a medium blue warp pulled which will use up the last of the blue flake, and then white. The warp I pulled yesterday is pale blue/grey and will be woven with white flake.
I told Doug yesterday that in some ways I feel stuck in a rut, but since my goal is to use up my stash, and I am accomplishing that, it's a good rut. And I can begin to see the end of it.
At some point I need to begin plying that oh so fine silk so that I can use it. But I also have a whole lot of fine cashmere, so my first dip into the silk will be for warp and the cashmere for weft. But I may not get to that for a while because I also have way too much rayon. And not a whole lot of scarves, so I may spend part of the summer (once the towels are done) working on my rayon stash. People have no idea how much play time there is in a fine yarn stash!
We woke to a fine dusting of snow this morning, but the weather app says +17C coming next week. I am gearing up to begin walking. I say it here so that I can't weasel out of doing it. :D
Finished reading the latest Donna Leon book - Transient Desires, currently reading Exceptional Canadians by Peter Mansbridge.
Thursday, April 8, 2021
A couple of days ago a friend posted this image on her social media. It was a timely reminder.
I had been feeling extra exhausted, extra tired, extra discouraged, for a number of reasons. The image reminded me that it was time to stop. To rest. To remove myself from the fray for a while so that I could recover.
Yesterday another friend commented on how much they appreciated my energy of helping others. By then I'd had nearly two days of not trying to help, not trying to cheerlead with droopy pom-poms and was beginning to feel like I could go on again.
There is so much that is broken in our world. So many people struggling for so many reasons. And now a year of living pandemically with all of the uncertainty and stress of not knowing if one will become ill (because the virus doesn't care who you are or what your current struggles are, you're a warm body) or finances, or vulnerable family members who may need care they can't get due to the pandemic.
My supply of patience, never large to begin with - think cup, not well - had dried up.
This little image reminded me that I was running low on oxygen and needed to put my mask on. I was running out of tea in my teapot and I can't serve others when pouring from an empty pot.
Over the two days when I chose not to post here, for fear of having my feelings turn into a gigantic whine-fest, I set some boundaries, dealt with one thing that was stressful, came up with a strategy to complete some things, and took time to just sit and read.
I am also not happy with the state of my health in terms of my weight. Lack of activity means increase in weight and I am not comfortable in my own skin. I have been haunting my weather app and next week it tells me temperatures should enter double digits, so I am gearing myself up to begin walking. Yes, even if it is raining. I do have a nice raincoat with hood and as my father used to say, I'm not made from sugar, I won't melt. I am also feeling better enough physically to contemplate adding physical exercise in the form a a gentle walk around the neighbourhood to my day. I will begin slow and then add the steep hill to my walk once I've built up some muscles, just like I did after my by-pass surgery. Start slow, work up to it.
We are entering a very difficult time now in regards to the pandemic. Vaccines are rolling out and into arms here in Canada and we get our first next week. But the pandemic isn't over yet, not by a long chalk. Variants are causing huge spikes in cases in my province and they are hitting younger people harder. People are tired of the uncertainty, worried about finances, worried about their jobs, their houses, wanting to go back to work and school and just get a hug from their loved ones.
Now is not the time to give in and stop following pandemic protocols. Now, more than ever, we need to stay the course.
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay covid aware.
Monday, April 5, 2021
This morning we seem to have achieved a version of 'spring' - the sun is shining and a wee rainbow came to visit me.
There are times when things are difficult and life sucks and we forget that we don't have to ignore the good things that still exist. With so much pain and sorrow in the world it seems somehow frivolous to have a moment of peace and contentment.
But Life isn't always just one thing or the other. It comes to us with all of the flavours, all of the subtleties, all of the nuances that exist, and even when bad things are happening, there can also be good things.
Right now things seem enormously awful in so many ways. As an individual, I sometimes feel overwhelmed, not knowing how I can help. How I can change things for the better. How I can find enjoyment, contentment, when I know so many others are grieving, hurting. I know the numbers, and find myself becoming numb.
And then I am reminded that things change. Winter departs. Spring arrives. The sun will shine. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually, we will have a nice sunny day and a rainbow will be splashed across my floor and wall.
I send reminders of rainbows to any who needs them.
Sunday, April 4, 2021
Yesterday I managed two towels, did a bit of marking, then started getting set up for the Zoom this morning.
I am limited in where I can set up and have settled on this little 'corner' in front of the Megado. It's not ideal. There is a window behind my head that wipes out the lighting and leaves me sitting in shadow, so I've been blocking the window. Which sort of works. Enough to be going on with.
The overhead light is too bright and slightly behind my head, so again I wind up in shadow, so now I move two task lights so that they bounce light off the white walls and turn the overhead light off.
If it is a very bright sunny day, I have to also block the other window in the space, or again, I'm sitting in shadow.
There is little room to put any of my teaching resources. I have a small tv tray to my right that I can put some things on, but it's too small for today's samples. So I carefully chose which ones I would use and decided on just one run of samples for a set of six, which are on the front of the loom. The warp is holding them there.
But I have some binders of samples, too, so they got put on the top of the castle.
I have no idea if this will work well enough, but it's what I have.
Because I'm sitting in front of the loom, I sit on my weaving stool. I've tried other arrangements, but with the laptop high, I also need to be sitting high. I need to be able to see the keyboard for one thing.
Today's presentation is about how vast the variables are in the creation of cloth. I'll be sharing some of my experiments and discussing why I did them, as well as how.
This morning I did not wake up with a nasty sinus headache, but I'm going to 'medicate' anyway, just in case anything starts in the middle of the presentation. I can't call in sick (well, I could, but...)
The thing with being self-employed is that there isn't anyone else to call. You're it. I've gotten used to teaching while unwell, it's nothing new. But at least teaching this way there is no dark o'clock flight to scramble to catch, no scrambles through huge airports to catch the next flight, no suspect food or people who don't realize their shampoo has a very heavy scent.
And now it's time to get dressed and wrap my head around what I'm going to say and how I'm going to say it.
Saturday, April 3, 2021
In spite of the technical difficulties, I'm quite pleased with how this is turning out.
Using black on a 'beige' warp might not be intuitively sensible, but I had accidentally done just this a while ago - used up a bit of black yarn on a bobbin as waste yarn for a header - and found the effect to be pleasing to my eye.
The cloth has a feel of granite or other stone about it and this warp in particular seems to have a liveliness to it, rather than a dull appearance. Of course, that's up close. I haven't really looked at it from a distance yet.
The addition of the variegated yarn means a kind of opalescent effect runs through it, and - barring the slight tension issues - I'm quite pleased.
Definitely not 'perfect' but 'good'. And I'll take good any day of the week.
Never being one to pay too much attention to holidays, I'd totally forgotten about Easter. When I booked Zoom meetings, I forgot about Easter - so I have one tomorrow morning. We won't be doing anything special - no hiding eggs, no buying chocolate bunnies, no heading off to church services. I can't remember the last time I attended church, other than for a funeral. More of them than weddings these days. But I wouldn't go to church right now anyway for any reason because I'm not going anywhere covid might be attending.
A certain segment of the population accuses people like me of living in fear. I'm not afraid of covid - I know how to protect myself from that. What I am afraid of is people who accuse me of fear while taking little to no protection against a global viral respiratory pandemic and therefore spreading it willy-nilly.
Our health officer has tried very hard to walk the line between locking down and letting people continue to live their lives. Our province got hit hard by covid right from the beginning and, in spite of restrictions, we are now in the midst of a third wave. We started a circuit breaker on Tuesday, no doubt in an effort to keep people at home, not travelling far and wide for the holiday. It's too soon to tell if it is working. We have variants of concern in the population and it's looking bad, even as vaccines go into arms.
I have no answers, other than...
Stay at home if you possibly can. If you need to go out, wear a mask. Do not gather in large groups, in poorly ventilated spaces, for extended periods of time. Gather via Zoom or Facetime, not in real life.
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay covid aware.
Friday, April 2, 2021
Well, I know the 'rules' but the other day I wasn't having a great day and I was pretty much just running on autopilot.
Normally 2/8 cotton rolls on without much problem, but this warp? Started giving me grief almost right away. It took me a long time to finally figure out what was happening, but I couldn't source the actual problem. It was just one end, going on under much higher tension than the rest. Finally it broke, and I tried to see what was happening, thinking the problem was in the tension box.
About 3/4s of the way through, I replaced the problem tube altogether, and when I did I finally twigged - the yarn had wrapped itself *around* the thread guide.
Well, no wonder it was behaving badly!
What this means is that in every inch section, for 3/4s of the warp, one of the ends is much tighter than the rest and this is going to be a wee problem. However, I am going to press on and if I need to cut off and re-tie every fourth towel instead of every eighth, well, that is what I will do. I will 'sacrifice' a little warp in order to get some towels out of it.
I have been struggling of late with a number of things and my analytical brain has been out to lunch. I know that this kind of thing happens. I'm just annoyed with myself for taking so long to figure it out.
Never mind. The warp is now threaded and today I'll sley it, tie on and start weaving. And the resulting towels will still dry hands. The goal is to use up my yarn stash. I can still do that with this warp.
Thursday, April 1, 2021
On a sunny day, the two lamps at the front of the loom are sufficient for me to thread. On a grey day - or at night - I also use a lamp at the back of the loom. While I can see without that back one, it just makes things easier if I can more clearly see the threads that I want to use next.
Illumination is always a good thing. Trying to see in the dark, without sufficient light? Not a good thing. The older I get, the more I need good illumination.
The past few years I have seen comments on line (and heard in person) that people should leave politics out of...whatever activity that seems to the speaker to be being wrecked by politics.
This morning I peered at my dictionary to get the actual definition of the word politics. The Oxford Concise Dictionary says:
Politics (of person) sagacious, prudent (of action), judicious, expedient, scheming, crafty.
I have always maintained that if an activity involves people, politics will be involved.
If we are to fully embrace humanity, in all it's flavours, we would do well to remember that the word politics includes sagacious, prudent activity, judicious decisions, and expedient action as the first four definitions of the word.
The more illumination we have about people's actions and behaviours, the better able we will be to decide if we agree with them. Or not. When they show you through their actions who they are, believe them.
The older I get, the less patience I have with people who scheme in order to advance their own personal benefit. The people who attempt to manipulate my behaviour through false information. Or attempting a guilt trip.
As an older person, I no longer respond to guilt. While I always want to give people the benefit of the doubt, I no longer appreciate the spreading of misinformation based in conspiracy theories that hold no water.
For the past 13 months I have repeatedly advised people to stay home if they can. Wear a mask (once they became more available). Wash their hands. Now I urge people to get a vaccine for covid.
I do this because these are the measures that will protect us from a viral pandemic. There is no cure for covid, like there is no cure for a cold. Prevention is the best approach.
We are now in a 3 week 'circuit breaker' attempting to knock back covid and the variants that have begun to appear. I have little patience for people who still refuse to wear a mask, gather in large groups, insist that it is their 'right' to do so.
I am old enough to remember getting measles, mumps, chicken pox 'naturally'. If there had been vaccinations, mom would have made sure I got them, like she did for small pox and polio. As an adult I got vaccinations to protect from tetanus, rubella, shingles (because I had chicken pox as a child and because I've had shingles twice - so far - as an adult) pneumonia and now the flu vaccine yearly.
Politics includes the sagacious decision to vaccinate against contagious diseases. Politics includes making sure that vulnerable folk get the vaccine as well as me. Getting as many people as possible vaccinated - all around the world, because this is a global pandemic - is expedient, if we are to combat this virus.
What is not sagacious or expedient is blaming a certain segment of the population for the pandemic. That's called racism. And that isn't wise, or kind, or even accurate.
The virus doesn't care. It just wants a home, any home will do. It doesn't care what colour your skin is. It doesn't care what your political leanings are (in terms of government). It doesn't care where you live or what language you speak. It just wants to replicate.
The sooner everyone - and I do mean everyone who can, because some people cannot for medical reasons - gets vaccinated the sooner we can address other things that are considered political. Like equal pay for equal work. Like equal opportunity to live safely in our skins, no matter who we love. Like giving everyone the chance to grow, have a safe home, safe drinking water. Equity in education and opportunity to work.
Politics, in it's purist form, may just be illumination to see into the murky parts of our lives.