Saturday, July 31, 2021



The pile of yarn grows on my dining room table.

Doug has kindly agreed to turn all those skeins into cones, which will make working with that yarn easier.

In the meantime, I am steadily picking away at the warp on the Megado.

As my health has diminished, my mental faculties have also dulled.  I hate to admit it, but I can no longer multi-task like a boss.  So instead of doing much with the above yarn, I have been weaving towels, trying to clear that warp off the loom and out of my head.  Once I've done that I can begin crunching numbers and working out what needs to happen with this yarn.

The yarn is all for sampling for the Next Big Project.  I have worked with some of the yarn before (the Briggs & Little) so really all I need to do with that is weave it for the wet finishing demos.

The rest is new to me.  The cotton is fairly well known, in part because I've woven with cotton in various formats for many years.  But it is thicker than I usually use and a new brand.  On the face of it, it looks like a really nice quality of cotton.  I had assumed it was mercerized, but upon closer examination, it just seems to be a really good quality of unmercerized cotton.  It has a nice degree of twist and a bit of lustre, which is why at first glance I assumed mercerized.

I have worked with a two ply of cotton and linen before, but again, a different brand.  This yarn also looks like a really nice yarn to weave with.

The white skeins are a wool and silk blend, firmly twisted and the silk is giving the yarn a firmer hand, which would be nice for knitting and should also work well for weaving.  Only wet finishing will determine the best approach.

And so before I go full bore preparing for the NBP, I need to weave some samples and get them into the water and process them some.

All of that is going to require more brain power than I can muster while I am also working on another warp, so hence the drive to get the towel warp off.  Then I can properly focus on the NBP.

These yarns are not the only yarns I will be using for the NBP.  They are just the ones I am not entirely familiar with, or didn't have in my stash and needed to acquire.  I will also be diving into my stash for other yarns.

There are memes around showing a graphic of an iceberg with about 1/10th of the berg visible above the water line and a whole bunch of berg invisible below.  Weaving is a lot like that.  The finished cloth is the culmination of effort that is not visible - unless you already know what goes into the creation of a cloth.

So it is with Big Projects.  Lots of preparation that goes into each one, more than the vast majority of the population will ever understand - unless they have done something similar.

With energy waning, I cannot do such projects by myself anymore.  I am delighted to be working with a team.  My big concern right now is the covid fourth wave.  Will BC get it suppressed in time for my deadline?  

Dunno.  So I work towards the best, preparing myself mentally for everything to come crashing to a halt again.  

Time will tell.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Thinking, Thinking


I return to this graphic (our plans vs reality) a lot as a reminder that I need to have the plan but also need to be flexible enough to make my way through whatever obstacles I encounter along the way.

So I continue to pick away at what I'm working on while allowing my back burner to simmer, cooking, hopefully bringing any issues I need to anticipate to the surface so I can make plans for them and not be thrown off my path when they try to knock me off my carefully constructed plan.

A friend and I have discussed 'executive functioning skills' a few times and I really wonder if that is what weaving is all about.  Figuring out what you want - in life, in weaving (knitting, whatever) and then making a plan but preparing for distractions and even (god forfend) the occasional disaster.  I need to read up on 'executive functioning skills' and find out more about them.

The warp currently on the loom is a prime example.

The weaving draft was simple enough and I'd worked with it several times already so it was familiar.  But when I got to the 'end' of my ends, I had two left over.  That had never happened with the previous warps, so I *knew* I'd made a mistake somewhere.  

Instead of going back and checking thread by thread, I continued and started to sley the warp.  And very quickly discovered the problem.  Very near the beginning I had somehow managed to leave two heddles empty.  Oh they were there - end in them.

The fix was easy enough.  I grabbed two spools off the spool rack and simply threaded them in where they were supposed to be, then continued sleying.

But it means I am dealing with a couple of spools hanging off the warping valet (bar mounted to ceiling at the back of the loom).  The bar is high enough that I can easily let down enough length to weave a towel, so my routine now includes, weave a towel, adjust the hanging spools, take a break, weave a towel, let down the spools.

It also means I have two 'extra' threads at the left selvedge.  I could have tossed them off the back beam, but then I would have had to deal with those loose ends and frankly no one will ever notice.  

Today I will finish the last of the tow linen - and it looks like I will have just exactly enough to weave two more towels.   Whatever is left over will get stripped and tossed.  

The rest of the warp will get woven off with a hemp yarn that I suddenly remembered yesterday while I was weaving, thinking about the yarn I had intended to use - cottolin.  But I wasn't liking that option much and was casting my mind around for something else.  I could have used 2/8 cotton, that would have been fine.  But this warp is a good one to use up some of that hemp, so that's what I'll use.

Yesterday as part of my 'end of the day' I wound off one cone of the hemp onto bobbins and got it into a humidor.  When I finish emptying the bobbins with the tow linen, I'll wind more of the hemp and get it steeping too.  Hemp is so similar to linen that I tend to treat it exactly the same and getting the moisture content  higher in the fibre will make it more co-operative and it will weave off easily.  Since I don't like 'fighting' with my equipment or yarns, it's easy enough to do.

Plastic tub with a small amount of water in it, another smaller tub floating on the water, bobbins are wound and stacked inside the small tub and the lid covers it.  The yarn can ten absorb moisture out of the higher humidity air inside the humidor.  High density yarn such as linen and hemp have the bobbins wound just about level with the bobbin flanges.  Any fuller than that the bobbin begins to weigh enough that the selvedges can become stressed and either pull in too much or even break.  Depends on the yarn, but it's just easier to fill them less full than chance breaking selvedges...

Thursday, July 29, 2021



I don't like photos of myself.  Especially as I have aged - and expanded, shall we say.  It's hard for me to view photos but especially hard to see video of myself.

So most of my video clips on You Tube show very little of me and focus on my hands.

Doing the DVDs for Handwoven/Interweave (now Long Thread Media) were very difficult.  I was having health issues and quite frankly, felt like crap the entire time.  (Turned out I was having cardiac issues and hypoxia and less than a year later I'd be having triple by-pass surgery.  Which 'fixed' that problem, but other health issues linger.)

Offering to do Zoom lectures took a great deal of my mental energy and I really dislike seeing myself on screen, usually with the camera looking up my nose.  If I lift the laptop up higher I can't see the keyboard.  So I try to not think too much about camera angles and just get on with it.

Over the years I have tried to go with the technology.  Developed Workshops in a Box, producing CDs with information I deemed essential.  And watched the technology change so rapidly much of the effort became 'antiquated' very quickly.  

So I went back to writing.  Books seem to have longevity other methods of communication lack.  

I look at my library and see books written in the late 1800s, information from the 1700s re-interpreted for modern audiences, others written in the 1900s and now the 21st century.

As I age, I wonder what impact I will have made on the weaving community.  How I might have done things 'better'.  Reached more people.

Then chide myself for an over blown ego.

Yesterday I renewed my medications by phone - because covid.  Doctors are not seeing people unless there is something that needs to be seen in person.  For people like myself with chronic issues with nothing much changing, there is no need to go in person so I'm glad to be able to just phone in.

But we chatted a bit about changes and what I was doing personally to try and reduce the effects of my biggest issue.  He sounded tired and stressed, and I worry about the effect the pandemic is having, not just on me but health care workers and people with developing health issues they hesitate to go get checked because the health system is so over run right now.

We know about the bubonic plagues of the middle ages.  Reports of the disease ravaging entire countries, laying waste to entire villages, still exist.

I wonder how reports of this pandemic will be seen in the future.

As you can see, I think.  A lot.  Sometimes it's good thinking.  Sometimes, not so much.

So I return to the studio and work on my Next Big Project.  There will be more yarn arriving for more sampling.  In the end, will what I do actually matter?  Who knows.  I just feel like I have to keep on keeping on.  Keep trying.  Keep encouraging people to learn more.  Explore more.  Fail more.  And then learn from those failures so they can improve and grow.

There is nothing I can do about posterity.  All I can do is keep going.  The future will determine if what I do lives on.  Or not.  

Wednesday, July 28, 2021



Yesterday the box of yarn I ordered arrived.  About $200 worth.  Yes, that little pile of yarn is close to $200.  

What will I make with it?

A better weaver.  One who has never woven with any of these particular yarns before, and therefore needs to understand how they will behave, both in the preparation and in the loom.

The white skeins are a blend of BFL and silk, the three cones in the middle are a fairly thick cotton and the smaller cone by itself at the bottom is a yarn made of two plys, one linen, one cotton.  

The BFL/silk combo is a bit stiffer than expected, but that will simply make it a good candidate for warp in weaving.  Until I can get a sample woven, I won't really know its true nature because it will likely develop into something quite nice after wet finishing.  The density is high, the twists per inch are fairly high, it doesn't seem to have a whole lot of elasticity, so I'm expecting to enjoy this yarn.  We will see.

The 100% cotton is mercerized and - as I say - thick, at 3/2.  It should weave up into nice table textiles - place mats, table runners.  Maybe small curtains.  Cotton performs well in sunshine, standing up to sun degradation reasonably well (although the dye may fade).

The cotton/linen 2 ply?  Well, that is a very interesting yarn.  It is somewhat finer than the cotton and I expect I might try a 2/8 cotton and use it for weft on that as well as a small sample on the 3/2.

Once my sampling is done, I'll create some small items and test my conclusions.

What do I expect at the end?  Will there be something useable?  Perhaps.  But I'll have expanded my knowledge.  And if someone asks me about how to handle these yarns?  I'll have answers with some knowledge to back my opinions, not just give them my best guess.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Not 'Perfect'


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But over all, I'm pleased enough.

Currently reading Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Pushing Boundaries


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 23, 2021

Firming Up


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

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

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

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

But it means new yarns.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Little by Little


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 21, 2021



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 19, 2021

Zoom, Zoom


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 16, 2021

Opening Doors


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 14, 2021



how it started

how it's going

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And still I wrote.  

Handwoven cover with my scarf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Weaving Rainbows


Rainbows - the symbol of hope, for many.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And hang on to hope.

Monday, July 12, 2021

A Little Help from my Friends


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 11, 2021



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Begin Again


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

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

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

But now the warp was too narrow for purpose.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting times.  Interesting times.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Another Trip Round the Sun


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

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

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

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

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

That was winter.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because when you have enough, build a bigger table.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Hitting the Wall


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 5, 2021



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It's a good thing!

Sunday, July 4, 2021

My Projects


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so it goes.

Currently reading A Quantum Life by Hakeem Uluseyi

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Plus ca Change...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or so it would appear.

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

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

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Canada Day


Canada Day.  

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

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

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

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

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


Then Reconciliation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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