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.

And stalled.

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



This morning's Sunday Seminar was with Deborah Robson talking about Shetland fleeces and textiles.

It was a fascinating overview of the characteristics of Shetland fleeces - which are varied - and a peek at some of the textiles that Shetland is so famous for.

Shetland is definitely one of those places in the world I would love to visit, but being able to have a taste was greatly appreciated.  

It was also heartening to hear that the Shetland textile traditions are not just being preserved, but are changing and growing with younger (than me!) practitioners exploring the crafts and keeping them not just alive, but living.

Deborah talked about a well known person who does the very important job of grading the fleeces, and how he now has a younger apprentice, ensuring that the quality of the fibres will continue to be assessed for spinners who understand what they want in a fleece.

In many ways I thought about my own stay upon this earth and how we need to do the same in weaving. I have found the Olds master program helpful in finding like minded students who are willing to dig deep into the craft and keep it alive and living - growing, changing, evolving.

During this time of living pandemically, being able to reach those people via Zoom has been enormously satisfying to me.  While I do love to teach in person, being able to continue the passing on of knowledge remotely means that I can continue to reach out and actually touch many more people than what I can do in person.  

For anyone interested in these Zoom presentations, each one can be done in about 2 hours and given as a guild presentation, via Zoom.  Or I can add more to the Saturday Study Group on Facebook.  The third presentation is coming this Saturday, the first two remain accessible via private link.  If anyone is interested, send me a message on FB and a friend request, and I can add you.  Or, if you know someone already in the group, they can add you.  

In the meantime Deborah says she is working on more books.  I've asked to be notified when they are ready so I can spread the word.

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

Not Broken


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.

Et cetera.

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

Zooming Along


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

Moving On


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

Bad Day


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.