Monday, August 30, 2021

August Ending


Yesterday I worried away at the filming schedule for the Next Big Project until my brain felt like old porridge.  Not wanting to think anymore, I took the silk warp I'd wound the day before, rough sleyed it, beamed it, then threaded/sleyed/lashed on.

I needed enough concentration to do that job that I didn't have any surface brain left to keep worrying at the schedule, which was exactly what I needed.

The warp was ready to weave on by 4:45 but other than weave the header, I decided I had done enough for the day.

Today I heard back from the team and the information I sent for topic 1 is now in their hands.  I promised to get topic 2 finished up and sent to them later in the week.  I only have one appointment on Thursday, now, so I can focus on honing the second topic.  I know they need time to do their jobs, too.

Of course as I was dropping off to sleep last night I remembered something I had forgotten to include, so will have to add that in - preferably before I forget it again.

I had to go to the lab today to get some blood work done and as part of my trip outside the house I braved one of the larger supermarkets** because it has a clothing department and they appeared (according to their website) to have gotten some new stuff in.  I made a list of four items, found one style of t-shirt (not on my list!) that might do.  I had the choice of precisely one colour that had three shirts in my size on the rack and then I looked for another 15 minutes for a 4th shirt - it didn't have to be the same colour or style but it had to fit the same requirements - solid colour only, no graphics or logo.  Beyond that, a colour that wouldn't make me look like death warmed over (beige, lime green, coral - not!), preferably 100% cotton, no lycra to cling to every contour of my body, long enough to cover me.  To my standard.  And sleeves, preferably short but something.

Eventually I found a dark navy blue shirt which *might* be ok - but I will see what else I have in my closet before I buy more t-shirts.  I have plenty, just not solid colour with no graphics or logo.

No stripes or other things that would cause strobing under the camera, like a small repeating pattern.  So in spite of my finding shirts I would happily wear, I couldn't because of the strobing effects.  And with potentially 3 days of filming for topic two, continuity means I need 3 identical shirts, because we will be filming topic two out of sequence.

This morning I managed to weave about 30" which meant I could roll a couple of lease sticks into the cloth roll to protect the woven web from the large-ish lumps of the knots.  If I don't do that right away, I usually forget.  The distortion will come out, but it's annoying to 'fix' them when putting a couple of lease sticks in to bridge the lumps is so easy.  /*\  

I have quite a bit of this dark royal blue with magenta and not much in the bamboo yarn that would go with it so I dug into one of my other bins for some of the hand dyed semi-solids I got a dyer to do for me.  Found exactly the right shade of blue with a very light degree of change in the colour so I'll likely do both of the scarves on this warp in that blue.  It's a rayon with a little bit of a slub in it and it finishes up nicely.  The scarves should have nice drape.  I'll see what other colours are in that bin for the next warp.

Over the weekend, I downloaded the application for mail-in ballots and that is ready to go.  I will be voting in this election.

**Yes, I was concerned about going into such a large store, but figured mid-afternoon on a Monday wouldn't likely be too terribly busy.  It wasn't.  There was also a large sign at the entrance saying masks inside were mandatory, and I don't think I saw a single person in the store without one.  And all appeared to be wearing them properly - covering both nose *and* mouth.  Which made me feel comfortable enough that I spent a good 20 minutes looking for something there so that I didn't have to go to yet another store!

Sunday, August 29, 2021



sleying the reed, with bundles of warp ready to be tied on to the apron - about 1" worth each bundle

Video clip

Time becomes more precious the less of it we have (paraphrase from Bonnie Raitt)

When I first started weaving it was with the intention of earning an income from it.  With that intention front of mind, I paid attention to the things, the processes, that took the most time.  As I became better at weaving, I began to see where things could be stream lined.  How spending a little bit more time at one stage wound up saving me a whole lot of time at the next.

One of the things I do that sometimes puzzles people is that I slip knot each group of threads as I thread them.  

On the Leclerc, which has four shafts, my usual group for threading is four or six ends.  When I have them pulled through their respective heddles, they get put into a bundle and tied in a slip knot.  The video clip above shows how I do that.  On the Megado, it is generally 4, 6 or 8 ends in a group that get slip knotted together in preparation for sleying.  It depends(!)

Now it takes a whole lot longer to explain and show what I do than it does to do it.  I think tieing the knot takes one second.  What it does, however, is save me a great deal of time when I sley the reed.  

People frequently assume that I have some sort of magical powers, or that I must spend hours every day at the loom in order to produce as much as I do.  

Well, I used to.  My productivity now is a small fraction of what I used to be able to do.  But I'm 'retired' (for certain values of) and there is little need for me to produce at the levels I used to be able to do.

But my efficient processes continue, in no small part because I don't want to work artificially slowly (as one friend put it).  

The aging process has already slowed me down, I don't see any benefit in working in ways that slow me down even further.  I can find other ways to spend my time than sitting cramped in front of a loom threading and/or sleying the warp.

I'm not saying everyone must do things my way.  I have fine tuned my skills for 4 decades.  People can only rarely pick up a threading hook and thread a warp as quickly as I can, even now with my aging eyes and growing cataracts.  

But here's the thing.  It isn't a contest.  I'm not the 'winner'.  So I share what I do.  I encourage people to find their own 'best practices'.  And above all, enjoy the process.  Because in the end, that is literally all we have - our lives, and living them to their fullest.

Do what makes you happy.  Make what brings you joy.  Invest your time in the way that brings you pleasure.

Saturday, August 28, 2021



I have never been one to shrink from a challenge.  I like puzzles.  I enjoy learning things.  I like sharing my passion with other like minded folk.  I've been called a story teller and I'm happy with that label.

But I have had a lifetime of it.  One of the questions I ask myself - almost daily lately - is...when have I done 'enough'?  When will I be satisfied?  When can I say I don't need to push myself anymore?  

These are all good questions and deserve answers.

But I don't have any.  Because I just don't know.

Are there still people who want to know what I know?  Are there still people who care about what I say?  Do I care if anyone does?

I have enough ego that the answer to that last one is...yes.

I care about helping people who are struggling to find stuff out - about textiles primarily.  I care about people who feel overwhelmed and at sea, not knowing the way forward.  If I can be a beacon, I try to shine a light.

But I've been doing this for 40+ years and I'm tired.  OTOH, I still see people referencing my information and expressing gratitude, so I keep going.  I keep trying.  I keep learning and then sharing what I have learned.  Because the journey to knowing stuff never ends, if you don't want it to.

I'm currently reading Finding the Mother Tree by Dr. Suzanne Simard.  In this memoir she writes about her childhood, growing up amongst the forests of BC, then trying to figure out why some forests thrived while others died.  Her journey through the humus and root networks of trees and fungi, as she dug deeper - quite literally - into how and why an ecosystem works and what allows it to fail is fascinating.

I'm particularly interested in how she crafted her research experiments - the things she hoped to learn and the things she *actually* learned.  And how she has had an impact on forestry in BC - and beyond.

Now forestry is a pretty niche area of expertise, not unlike textiles, really.  So I have been reading her book and absorbing her journey and thinking about what, if anything, I can contribute now.

It's been a pretty stressful few years.  I was reminded yesterday that it is just 4.5 years since my mother died - a period of time that feels eons longer on the one hand, and just yesterday on the other.  

Because those 4.5 years were filled with many stressful things - house renovations, travel to Europe, the death of another friend from cancer, finally finishing the writing of  The Intentional Weaver, dealing with my own health issues, shutting down my business, the pandemic.  The list goes on.

This past month I have had to come to grips with my own health, yet again.  Accept that what is currently affecting my life will never get better - it's chronic and not subject to being 'fixed' - all I can do is learn, as best I can, to live with it.

And so I am forging ahead with my Next Big Project, partly because it might be my last kick at the can to get some of my knowledge 'out there'.  

Since publishing The Intentional Weaver, I have sold a number of copies and every month - until this one - I have hit my payment threshold.  But not this month.  Not yet.  I self-published.  Any marketing I did was all me - and the people who chose to share the info with their friends.

So if you have found my information helpful - either Magic in the Water or The Intentional Weaver, you can do me the favour of a shout out.  The link to Blurb is in the lower left of the screen, or just go to Blurb and search for my name or the title(s).  They can be purchased as printed or PDF versions.

And if you are looking for a really good book, whether or not you are interested in forestry, do find Dr. Simard's book.  Highly recommended.

Friday, August 27, 2021

New Tricks


If it was easy, everyone would be doing it...

Over the years I have worked with spirit duplicators and Gestetner stencils.  Used a dictaphone to do transcriptions.  Typed on a manual typewriter and an electric one.  The height of technology was the Selectric typewriter where you could change the font ball.

Computers came along and I figured out how to use WordStar and eventually to compose on a desktop, which required a whole nuther part of my brain.  Now I can't imagine how I used to write magazine articles, generate weaving drafts, class handouts etc., without a desktop. 

I even got pretty good with Power Point and Word.  But the one thing I did not learn was Excel.

And now I have to.

As a weaving teacher my technology choices have changed over the years and I continued to learn how to make those programs work - as best I could.  But becoming technology proficient wasn't the end goal - it was just another tool and I learned enough to make each one do what I needed it to do.

But now?  Now I have to finally learn Excel.  And I'm not happy about that.  I'm a weaver, not a geek, Jim!

After pouting about that for a while last night, I got up this morning to discover that it wasn't a bad dream - no, no, I do still have to tackle Excel.  


When I set out on this journey, I had a pretty decent idea of what needed to be done.  I was already conversant with cut and paste options and pretty confident that I could get the information into a format for students to use effectively.

But as computers become more common, the production values went up and the expectation of the students to have quality handouts in their hands raised accordingly.

With Zoom meetings, those expectations seem to just keep going up.  Now weaving instructors are expected to have video with high production values as well as graphic artist level slides in their presentations.  

And I'm tired.  I'm supposed to be retired (for certain values of), not learning new technology.  (OK, old technology, but new-to-me.)

However, I have done the prep work.  I have the information in a format that *I* can process.  How hard can it be to enter that into a spreadsheet?

I guess I'll find out this morning...

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Wee Hiatus


I couldn't get a good/accurate shot of this warp on my camera.  The blue is pretty close, but the pale colour is actually a light lavender.  The weft is a blue about the same shade as most of the blue of the warp.   The weave structure is a herringbone twill.  While the warp is silk, I'm low on silk yarn for weft, so I'm using bamboo.  I've used this combination before and was satisfied with the results.  And I can keep the price lower than if it was 100% silk.

This week has been a bit...fraught...for a number of reasons.  My main goal was honing the filming schedule for the first topic and I've sent that off for approval.  The samples are packaged up and labelled, and piled up on the floor for the time being.  Once I've received word that what I've done is ok, I will begin packing everything and clearing the decks for the next deadline.

I had thought to start work on the second topic, but personal matters have kept me from being able to focus on what is a much more complex topic.  Progress is being made on that front, and I should be hearing about the ghost weaving I will do, next Monday.  I found myself at odds, not really wanting to do much of anything while Life Happened.  At it's own pace, as always.

In an effort to continue to reduce stash, I set up this warp and began weaving late yesterday afternoon.

Overall, I'm pleased enough with it.  I still have several pounds of hand dyed silk (of my own) plus some silk I inherited.  It's the same size, but only a skein of each colourway, so I will see if there are also solids I can put with it.  On the other hand, it's taking about 100 grams to wind a warp for two scarves, and the skeins in the inheritance are 100 grams.  It would just mean winding one end at a time, instead of two.  But I can do that - it will just take twice as long.

However, I may not get much more done before I have to switch gears for the ghost weaving.  I should be able to finish this warp tomorrow or Saturday which would leave a couple of days over the weekend to prep another and get it into the loom.

The good news is that the temps have gone down significantly, and progress is being made on the wildfire situation.  There are still way too many fires, some of them huge and still out of control.  But hopefully the high heat is over and things will begin cooling down.

Covid still grows, though, and school begins soon.  Hopefully the new indoor mask mandates will help curb the continuing growth.

My fervent hope is that covid will be enough under control that the trip to Vancouver can go ahead the first week of October.  But if it doesn't, well, other arrangements will have to be made.

I am also working on getting ready for the big craft fair, the first week of November, and the guild room sale that will happen after that.  I certainly have more than enough inventory, and I expect other guild members will as well.  We will just need to be aware of covid mandates - attendees will have to be vaccinated but I will also be wearing a mask when I work a shift, as will at least one other guild member who has lung issues.  

Between the world at large and more local concerns, I've had a lot on my mind.  I've been taking solace from puttering in the studio, continuing my quest to use up as much of my yarn stash as I can.


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Next Phase


Yesterday I finished weaving the samples I'd planned for the Next Big Project.  Today I started pulling samples I've woven for previous classes on the same topic as well as some of the tools I will need to do the demonstrations.

There are still more things to add - more samples, more tools - but much of the floor space behind the Megado is already taken up.

In some ways I wish that my samples had more cohesion - more visual compatibility.  But I'm not sure it matters all that much.  Something for everyone.  And the samples will be seen individually, not all at once like in this photo.

So the samples in the foreground are to *be* wet finished.  The samples in the background are *already* finished.  Some of them have loom state samples to go with the finished samples - an important reference to help people understand what wet finishing actually accomplishes.

Tomorrow I will begin the 'fine' sorting.  What I have.  What I want to do when.  How long to allow to do the demonstrations.  Once I have the schedule worked out - as best I can - I can start to pack everything into bins.  Once I've done that, I can add the rest of the things I want to bring - my copy of Magic in the Water, the box of samples that I did for the GCW certificate.  The other tools to put with this stack.

Of course I will need one of those tools before the first week of October - the small press.

Once this topic is fine tuned with approval from the team, everything can be packed away and I'll begin the next topic.  That topic will be mostly process, but will also need a bunch of tools packed up.  

Balancing between packing up a big chunk of my studio and continuing to work in my studio will be the big challenge.

I have another project that will begin on Aug. 30 and for which I will still need my studio to function.  Once I have the final instructions for that, I will have a better idea of how much time to allot for it and which tools I'll need.  But the press will absolutely be needed.

How did I learn to do all this stuff?  By paying attention, just like I learned how to weave.  I paid attention to how teachers conveyed their material.  I paid attention when it worked well, and when it didn't.  Not to criticize, because not every teacher is 'good' for every student, but I wanted to avoid pitfalls I saw while emulating the things that worked - not just for me but other students.

I also took classes in video production, was a camera person, learned how to frame a shot, how to pan, how to zoom in - and when one might want to do those things.  I learned that you need to hold a shot for x amount of time so that the viewer could focus in on the content and absorb it.  It drives me crazy when I see amateur video footage that pans wildly, left, right, up, down, never settling on one spot long enough to actually see what is happening.  

When I did my own video work back in the early 2000s, I kept framing tight and viewpoint static.  My video clips were short and to the point.  Not a lot of talk, lots of doing the process in as clear a manner as possible.

I know I have a tendency to 'drone' a bit, which is why I like an audience.  It reminds me that they need to hear a voice modulate, emphasize things that I consider important.  A little humour helps lighten the mood, and I use a mild self-deprecating kind as much as possible.  Because if we can laugh at ourselves, we will be endlessly entertained.  And I'm not so proud that I can't act as a bad example. 

Doing this sorting took less time than I expected.  I have a lot of samples, but many of them are simply 'repeats' and not necessary for the taping.  So I put them away and kept the 'best' of the samples to share.  One thing about having lots to choose from?  Lots to choose from!

Today was a lot cooler and the weather forecast for around here seems to be slowly sliding into autumn.  I can't say I'm very upset about that, given the number of wildfires still burning in this province.  And I'm hoping for some concrete news about covid tomorrow.  There are rumours that the province will hold off on reducing any more covid mitigations - at least until numbers improve a lot more than they currently are.  Hopefully the trip will happen and we won't have to worry about it so much.  But we will plan on eating in our hotel room, not in restaurants.  And, as much as I would like to visit the Museum of Anthropology at UBC if there is time, I'm going to skip that for now.  I'm just going to keep being cautious until things are a lot more improved on the pandemic front before I plan on going anywhere there might be a lot of people.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Winding Up


This weekend I have back to back Zoom meetings on colour for the study groups.  This is #7 in the topics planned.  So, over the halfway point.

As the months have rolled on, fewer people are attending in person, but catching the presentations that are recorded and posted (unlisted) to You Tube.  This has worked fairly well, I think.  

Power Point has come a long way since I first began using it, oh, 10 years ago?  They now offer various theme packages and I've been finding it helpful to use these recommended graphics to help make my presentations (hopefully!) more visually interesting than slide after white slide with words on.

Since people are so used to having more sophisticated presentations, it has become more of a challenge to upgrade my own approach, especially to a topic that generally needs some kind of dynamic visual aides.

Since I'm pretty 'old school' in terms of teaching relying on demonstrations, the Power Point slide shows are not 'great' but lend themselves to the topics that I have chosen to present this way.  Because go with your strengths, right?

I am also aware that 2 hour presentations are taxing, in no small part because I'm tossing a LOT of information 'out there'.  But Zoom doesn't really lend itself to doing multiple smaller parts so the hope is that people can go back to the recordings and review as often as they need to in order to absorb it all.

Across the spectrum of how to learn, it is becoming obvious that it is going to be a while before we get back to the 'way things were' - if we ever do.  Certainly I am not anxious to do dark o'clock flights anymore.  But I still want to teach.  I just have to figure out what, and how.

In the meantime, other instructors are far ahead of me in getting on line classes set up.   There are benefits to on line as well as deficits.  Hopefully once all is said and done it will balance and everyone can find a way forward.

In the meantime, I have two hour zooms today and tomorrow, and a practice zoom on Monday for a guild presentation next month.


Friday, August 20, 2021

Moving Forward


So, yesterday I signed and returned the contract for the Next Big Project.  All while casting a wary eye at the provincial case numbers of covid, which continue to rise in an alarming way.

The first week of October is far enough away that 'we' can still turn this around.  So I continue working on what needs to be done.

My responsibilities were laid out in the contract in fine detail, which is great.  I have a plan.  A blueprint.  A map to follow.  I would have done much of what was set out anyway, but they are a team, and they all need to know what I'm going to do so that they can do their jobs, too.  So instead of carrying my plan mostly in my head, I will need to set everything down on paper.

I'm nearly done the weaving I needed to do and once I take the final warp off the loom (Saturday now, because yesterday I spent a fair chunk of time checking over a four page contract and emailing with a couple of questions)

Once I'm done the weaving part, I will lay everything that I want to include in the presentation out - as in physically lay everything out, on the floor, so I can see it all.  The Big Picture.  Once I have the Big Picture, I can start to group the content into segments.  Once I have the segments, I need to start estimating the time required and also?  The staging.  What equipment will I need for each segment.  What other visuals - signage, labelling, additional visual aids.

And this is just for the one day taping.  

When I'm done with that, I will begin on the 2nd topic.  No actual weaving required for that one (beyond what I've already done) but lots of lists for equipment needs, visual aids etc.  Plus timing.

It's a good thing I have done time studies all of my career because I am going to have to work out how long it would take me to do something, then add in the time to explain what I'm doing, time for the on camera student to practice the process and more time to add additional pertinent camera angles.

And so on.

And this, folks, is why I could not see myself teaching on line when there was only me.  I have confidence in this team - I've seen some of the things they have produced so far and I'm happy with their production values.  After skimming the contract, I'm also happy with the level of detail they are working with.

But there is also a corner of my brain that knows that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, with a growing fourth wave, wondering if this will all come to naught.

In the meantime, our hotel room is booked and we will be talking to someone about taking care of the house while we are away, planning on how to load the van up with all of the Stuff I plan on bringing with me.

My innate pragmatism won't let me forget that I need to have a Plan B (C, D, etc.)  But my optimism will keep me on track.  Especially now that I have a firm deadline by which to be ready to roll.  The adrenaline can come any time now, please - I can use it to get me through the coming weeks.

Thursday, August 19, 2021



As with most words in English, the word 'master' does a lot of heavy lifting.

It can be a title.  It can be an adverb.  It can describe a process of becoming.  A way to accredit someone with in depth knowledge.  To pass a 'master' class is to - in some way - quantify their knowledge.  If they have this certificate, they should know the information covered by the granting of said title/certificate.

But one doesn't need to earn a degree or certificate to be a 'master'.  They only need to have the knowledge required to make good decisions.  To understand their equipment.  Their materials.  Their processes.  To be able to spot a mistake when it happens (or foresee it happening and prevent it), and then fix it when/if something goes wrong.  They will know the accepted 'rules' and be able to 'break' them effectively.

So I set out to challenge myself in the way that made the most sense to me - I worked on the Guild of Canadian Weavers certificate program.  

I also kept pushing boundaries, reading, working, above all *weaving* as much as I could, learning as much as I could.

But the GCW is a testing program, not a teaching program.

With the rise of covid, a number of people have jumped into teaching on line.  There were a few people who were already moving in that direction, but there are more now.  There are classes, workshops, some people working at setting up 'schools'.  It is quite encouraging to see that these programs are being supported.

One reason is that no one needs to travel.  Not the instructors.  Not the students.  Above all, if you have decent internet, they are accessible and I'm hearing from some people that they have never before been able to take a class because of their health.  

In the end it doesn't matter if someone gets a 'title'.  What matters is that we keep the knowledge alive and the craft growing.  I have a feeling that covid will not be our last pandemic and that as climate change gets worse, there will be less opportunity to travel as well.

Stay safe everyone.  Stay well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

More Progress


fresh off the loom

One of the things about getting older and living in a body damaged by time and, um, experience (a gentle way to say pushing it too hard for too many years) is coming to grips with new expectations of what can be accomplished in a day.

So even though it seemed to take 'forever' to get these two scarves off the loom, I did it.  And now the fringe twisting will begin.

I did a bit of a dive into my silk yarn stash and found the dark olive first and was ok with it.  It's definitely different and it works.  It just isn't to my personal taste.  But it looks good and I'm pleased enough with it.

The second scarf was woven in a mid-eggplant kind of purple, which went with the warp very well, although it isn't very 'exciting'.  But that's ok, too.  Again, I'm pleased enough with it.

I now turn to the last three new yarn samples I have.  The hope here is to get them all done by Friday.  But if I don't make it, that's fine, too.  I'm well ahead of where I wanted to be and quite enjoying the calm.  It's taken me a while to get used to not having RUSH deadlines and working by using the rush of adrenaline I used to count on to carry me through to a deadline.  

Instead I am working at a much slower pace and paying more attention to my body and it's need for rest.

Once I get these last yarn samples done, I will need a chunk of thinking time to block out the shooting schedule, manage the content so that it will be presented in smaller doses than I've been doing on Zoom.  I think a lot of people are finding the Zoom lectures difficult, in part because there is So Much information to absorb.  And with life returning to more 'normal' in many places, people are finding it difficult to set aside two hours to watch, either live or recorded.

So I'm looking for the possibility of doing the Zoom lectures with higher production values in smaller chunks as a 'class'.  I'm talking with the same team in part because I like their approach and the classes they have already been producing.  I like that they are flexible and encouraging and have the skill set I don't have - video production.

I am also a bit anxious at the growth of the fourth wave of covid, unsure if or how that might affect the schedule this autumn.  But if it does, I will swallow my disappointment and postpone until later - even into next year.

Because I now understand that progress is not to be made at all cost but only if it is safe.  I'm not doing in person presentations, but virtual.  And so I don't have to forge ahead willy-nilly.  I can hold back until it is safe.  I've always strived to be flexible, and so I am calling on my resources now to work on Plan b, c, all the way to z if I have to!  And so far the team is willing to work with me, support me and be there to pick up all the pre and post production that I cannot do myself, nor do I want to learn how.  I'm too old and too tired to learn all of that when I know enough about how it is done to realize that I don't have to do it all, by myself.

So, let's just say I am taking the time to enjoy the more relaxed pace and focusing on taking care of my body.  It's the only one I will get issued and it needs to last a few more years.

I still have way too much yarn to use up, after all!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021


stack of towels, hot off the press

One towel, back and front - similar but not the same

 I have a love/hate relationship with technology.   For the past few years I have found work arounds for things that keep the point of not working.  So I have been taking photos with my iPad, then emailing them to myself so I can save them to the desktop.  Today?  The email app on the iPad is not working.

Now I'm not sure if this is a permanent thing or a one day glitch.  Several websites seemed to be having difficulty over the past few days, so hopefully my email will start working again on my iPad.  If not, I'll have to work on another work around.

I did finally get the photos uploaded to ko-fi so I could list these towels in my shop.  I finally made the effort to get them pressed.  I'm pretty pleased with them, even though the linen is pretty rustic - coarse and stiff with chaff in it.  Having used the yarn previously, I know that with time and use they will improve and become quite nice.  But they will always be a little...rustic.

The yarn is a lower quality tow linen, but it is linen for all that.

There are 16 of the tow linen towels, and right at the top of the stack, 4 woven with a quite good quality of hemp.  Those are already feeling quite nice although they, too, will improve with age/use.  They are not yet listed in my ko-fi account though and when they do, they will be listed for the half linen price.

If you are interested in a half linen towel at cotton pricing, go to my ko-fi website (link to the bottom left of your screen) and click on my Shop.  Just 12 of these lovely teenaged half linen towels.  

They are a bit of a bargain.  :)

Currently reading Looking for the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard.  I'm only a few pages into it and already completely taken by the beauty of her words.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Making Plans for the Future


I wanted to have some silk to wet finish and since I have a, um, generous supply of it, went digging.  I found enough of one colourway to make a warp long enough for two scarves and started weaving the first one yesterday.  I nearly finished it, but my new way of living is to pay more attention when my body begins to object and instead of pushing through the last 20" yesterday, I stopped and will finish today.  The goal is to get this warp off the loom tomorrow.

Part of the challenge with a shrinking stash is finding colours I want to use together.  The warp is a dip dyed skein (four of them, 50 grams each) in fairly loud colours with that bright magenta and a blue that has quite a lot of cyan in it.  It's fairly brazen, really, and I searched around for a while until I found the weft for this one - a very dark olive.  It looks quite nice in real life - the camera was having trouble getting a good representation of the actual colours.  

The dark olive toned down the magenta.  A lot!  It turned the cyan into more of a teal.  I have enough of the olive I could have done both scarves the same, but if I'm going to think ahead to the autumn and the guild sale, I'd like to have more colour choices, so I dug around again and found a deep purple.  That should work well with these colours as well.

Because value is more important than hue.

I still have a lot of the dip dyed silk left but I'm low on solid colours to weave with, so late last night I quite literally threw my hands up, looked at my other options, and decided I will weave the silk as warp, then cross it will one of my rather large selection of rayon yarns.  Weaving something only half silk means I can keep the price lower and since I've done this combination before, I know I'll get a nice textile for my efforts.

Once this warp comes off the loom, I have three more yarn samples to test weave.  I aim to do one a day, and have all of the weaving for the Next Big Project done by the end of the week.  Then I'll keep going on the Leclerc (the Megado is being reserved for some ghost weaving I've been asked to do) and whittle away at my hand dyed silk and rayon yarns.  It means fringe twisting will be piling up.  However, since I am restricting how many hours I weave, I can be fringe twisting during the day and hopefully stay on top of it.  And then, of course, the wet finishing.  

But in the end I should wind up with a few more silk+ scarves for the guild sale.  I'm meeting with another guild member tomorrow night to discuss how we will manage the sale, given the continuing covid issues.

In spite of the world seeming to be going to hell in a hand basket, I will keep looking forward.  Planning for the future.  Hoping for the best (while preparing for the 'worst' - in this case postponing the NBP).

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Progress is Progress


Yesterday I got the silk warp into the loom.  I had enough of this colour to wind a warp long enough for two scarves and found a weft colour that should look ok on it.  If not, I'll have to go digging in my stash, currently mostly behind a pile of rubble.

I'm trying to plan out a schedule but I keep adding more samples so I have had to make some decisions.  I have three more yarns I'm going to sample and then decide if they get included.  Or not.  Yesterday Doug got the skeins wound onto cones which will make dealing with them easy.

Once I have all of my samples prepared, I will begin to structure the presentation.  Since I'm working with a team, I have to let them know what I intend to do and how long it will take to do it.  I can't just stand up and wing it, which is my usual approach.

This morning is the next Sunday Seminar and I don't know how much I will feel I can do afterwards, but at least I'm only hosting, not presenting.  So I would like to at least begin weaving and see if the weft yarn is going to work.  Or not.  If not, then I will have to move some of the piles of rubble to get at my silk yarn stash.  So most of the afternoon might get used up in looking for the 'right' yarn to use.

Or maybe I'll get started on the actual weaving.  

I won't hem stitch the scarves but fringe twist, so if the weft colour works, I should be able to just jump on it and start weaving.  

With a variegated warp, I've chosen a very simple weave structure - herringbone - and the treadling will be a straight progression.  Very simple.  Very easy.  

We had rain overnight in enough quantity that the smoke has been washed out of the air.  The wind also shifted and we are no longer under a smoke pall.

And progress is still progress, even if it doesn't feel like I accomplished very much yesterday.  Getting the warp wound and to the point of being ready to weave is still progress.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Interesting Times


The photo doesn't show the full picture.  The sun was actually a luminescent red (think traffic light red) but the camera couldn't seem to pick that up.  But the sky was pretty much that yellow/brown colour indicative of smoke.

We also had a couple of days of +30C temperatures and I was happy to mostly stay home and continue picking away at the samples for the Next Big Project.

To that end, I feel I have made good progress.  The really time consuming part - the weaving of the samples - is nearly done.  I have several more yarns to play with, plus I am going to use up some of my hand dyed silk and make a warp long enough for two scarves (I hope).

In the meantime, covid numbers continue to rise in western Canada and I'm preparing to have to postpone the Next Big Project.  We could still knock those numbers down, but I'm watching the numbers climb and preparing for the disappointment of postponing.

Postponing is not the end of the world, however, but a prudent decision that MAY have to be made.  We could turn the corner on this yet.  We will see.

BC is getting slammed by the four horsemen.  Well, three of them - extreme heat, fire and plague.

I could use a little boring.  I never appreciated how lovely a little 'boring' could be.

Currently reading Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming

Friday, August 13, 2021

Sampling is Research


Required weaving content - draft for single end huck

The past few days I've been messing about, working on the Next Big Project, whilst keeping a wary eye on covid numbers.  I choose to believe that we can, and will, grapple the Delta variant and stop it, hopefully before my deadline.  But I will have to make a decision soon in order to book a hotel and begin preparations for the journey.  But not quite yet.

For now I'm doing a fair bit of rummaging in my files because I am still doing the Zoom study groups.  And as part of the rummaging I found a Power Point presentation on lace weaves which I can take, just the way it is, and use for #10.  The final presentation will be on wet finishing, of course it will.  Because it isn't finished until it's wet finished.

Plus lace weaves are one of those weave structures that can change quite dramatically in the wet finishing.

So, a good way to end the series.

In the meantime, the heat is back with a forecast here of 30C and higher humidity than we are used to.  Yesterday I didn't get much done after both massage and chiropractic adjustment, but I did get the initial sampling done on the next warp.  I'm not used to weaving with such thick yarns so the weaving tends to go a lot faster than I usually experience.  At 12 epi/ppi, the inches add up very quickly.  

But I also have administrivia related to the Big Project and my goal today is to address the next step in that as well as - perhaps - finishing the current warp on the loom.

After that I have three more 'new' yarns to experiment with.

All of this sampling?  It's my research.  It's how I learn more.  It's how I add more bricks to my foundation of knowledge.  Sampling is never a waste of time.  

I'm hoping that some of the research I did for the Guild of Canadian Weavers master certificate can be incorporated into the Next Big Project(s).  Because even if you can't (for reasons of time or economics)  do the weaving/sampling for yourself, you can learn from the results of others who have.  Best, of course, is in person.  But next best thing is virtually - in books, photos, on line classes.  

In the time of a viral pandemic, we have to accept what is workable, what is do-able and stay focused on what is possible, not on what isn't.

Another point a number of people have made is accessibility.  Not everyone can travel to take an in person class.  A number of my on line friends have expressed gratitude for finally being able to connect with instructors on line because they have never before been able to attend in person.  Lack of funds, ability to travel long distances, whatever barriers were in their way were suddenly removed because everyone (pretty much) was learning on line.  And they benefitted from that.  

So I think there may be on going need for on line learning in some form.  In the meantime, I will keep a positive attitude, but figure out a Plan B, just in case the fourth wave keeps building.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Pandemic Plans


Pandemic times means pivoting to other ways of doing things.

One of the things I had done as part of 'retiring' from production weaving was open an on-line account with ko-fi.  As the pandemic ground on my inventory grew, with little opportunity to sell anything since large gatherings - like craft fairs - were cancelled.

Well, the large craft fair I do here has been cancelled again, and rightly so given the rise in the Delta variant.

However, I am trying to add listings to my ko-fi 'shop' and last night added the ones fresh off the press.

They, along with some other towels can be purchased there

Payment is easy via Paypal, or if you are in Canada, etransfer.

If you don't see something you like, email me - I have more.  Lots more!  I'm just trying to keep my listings a manageable size and at times suspend one design as I add others.

I'm actually really pleased with the above design.  There are now 7 of this one, with an additional 4 woven with the plyed 16/2 (not mentioned in my ko-fi listing but available) - a slightly lighter colour, but a bit thicker/sturdier than these with the darker 8/2 weft.

If they don't sell, I might just keep them for myself.  

In the meantime, work on the Next Big Project continues.  This morning I'm fringe twisting the scarf I wove yesterday.  Then a bunch of the woven samples will go into the washing machine to be fulled.  I thought long and hard about how much I could show in a day's worth of taping, and I think just one example of fulling or else there won't be time to talk about anything else.  Instead I will have lots and lots of woven and finished samples to show/discuss.

In many ways I feel like weaving all these samples isn't much different than a farmer honing their scythe.  Preparing to do the work sometimes takes as long as the work.  Longer, even!

Monday, August 9, 2021

Pom Poms of Encouragement


I've been having stress dreams again.  This time not related to travel, because I'm not - traveling that is.

Instead the dreams are vague, disturbing concoctions, all jumbled up with covid and climate change.  The two plagues upon us at the minute.

The weather forecast is saying temperatures are going up into the 30s again, which is very bad news for the wildfire situation, although this morning we are having a light rain.  Any little bit of moisture and cooling is welcome.

News out of the south east of the province is not good, nor the middle where the White Rock Lake fire is spreading so fast that people who were evacuated are now under alert and need to find somewhere else to go - along with the communities that took them in.

I try to compartmentalize things so that my worry for friends and citizens of this province doesn't overwhelm me.  I try to focus on the future - a future without covid, a future where we finally deal with the effects of climate change.  A future where it might be possible for people to travel to take classes in person again.  

And if not, at least be able to access information on line.

I continue to plod along with my plans for my own Next Big Project.

But then I dream.  And when I wake up, carefully pack those feelings of unease back into a box in the back of my mind.  

Lately they don't seem to go easily or willingly.

On a more positive note, I found a Power Point I had written a couple of years ago so I don't need to worry about the Zoom study group #10 and I can ignore that until September when it is time to present it.  In the meantime, I have the next sample warp on the loom.  The sample looks good so I'm going to go ahead and weave a scarf, fringe twist it, then wet finish some of the samples I've woven the past week.

Yes, I had lots of samples.  But I didn't have samples of *these* yarns, appropriate for the Next Big Project.  So I bought more yarn and wove some.

And I keep going, looking forward with hope, shaking the pom poms of encouragement to anyone else having stress dreams...

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Zoom Zoom


Just finished another Zoom presentation.  I don't know if the lip sync is better in the live presentation, but I'll ya something for free, vetting the recording is painful.  Or can be.

Today's recording was So Far from synchronized, I could not watch the screen much as the action on screen and what I was hearing in the audio was so far out of sync it was as bad as fingernails drawn down a chalkboard.

This kind of technology glitch is one reason I'm not willing to try and teach on Zoom in any serious way.  My study groups are by donation, not a set fee.  If a recording is so uncomfortable to view that you just can't, you haven't paid for something and then not received fair value for it.

And I don't feel obliged to refund anyone their money's a donation.  They get to decide if they make one and how large - or small - it will be.

But this sort of thing just reinforces my desire to NOT teach via Zoom.  The lectures are one thing, but to try and teach an actual class?  I just don't have the time, energy or technology chops to deal with it.

We are currently out from under a smoke plume, for which I'm incredibly grateful, but the temps are rising again.  It is, after all, only the first week of August, and we have plenty of days to come where we expect it to be warm.  The forecast is for more extreme heat to arrive later in the week.  People are being warned to be careful of the heat and others are dealing with heat *and* wildfore evacuations and/or smoke.

In the meantime, I have a new warp on the Leclerc and samples to weave.  But I'm tired and it's 4 pm.  I think I'm going to go lay down for a bit before I figure out what is for dinner.

All of my deadlines are beginning to crash into each other, so it was a huge relief when I found a Power Point I had written a few years ago that will address the 10th Zoom seminar.  That takes a big load off my shoulders.  

Nap first.  Think about doing something productive later.  

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Slow But Steady


stack of loom state samples to be wet finished

This little pile may not look very impressive, but represents the better part of 8 hours of effort, not counting all the thinking and planning, the winding of skeins onto cones, the rummaging through my shelves, the trip to the local yarn shop to buy the yarn.

There are a variety of memes going around, one with a cross section of an iceberg with the tip showing above the water and the majority of the berg below the water line.  Much of weaving resembles that sort of image - the actual woven cloth is only the last bit of effort that people can see.

The same is true for teaching.  Again, the hours of thinking, planning, working out logistics, acquisition of materials, all before any actual teaching can happen.

The two cones in the background are the next yarns that will be sampled.  I have enough yarn I can then take what I learn from the sampling and begin to make an actual item.  In this case, a scarf.

The deadline to have my materials (all of them, not just the woven samples) ready is Oct. 1.  I have several more warps to plan and weave, none of them very large, but the loom needs to be dressed for each of them.  The samples will be different fibres, different grists of the same yarn blend, different weave structures.  All to show the length and breadth of the topic.  And that's just for the one topic.

And all of this effort may come to naught, depending on Life Happening.

Add in that I'm ghost weaving for another weaver, also with tight deadlines...

We now have nearly 300 wildfires burning, small towns have been burned down, some entirely.  Another larger town is currently under evacuation alert and may very well need to move to safety if fire crews can't get it under control.

Plus covid.  It's a double edged sword right now with entire villages needing to evacuate in the middle of a virulent pandemic.

Interesting times.  Interesting times.

Can we have a little 'boring' now?  Asking for a species....

Thursday, August 5, 2021



Yesterday I started weaving the samples for the Next Big Project.  

I have been running numbers, examining the content, working out how best to present the material.  

This morning I woke up at 6 am and the thought squirrels immediately began running rampant through my brain.  Not able to shut them up (or off, or whatever) I finally gave in and got up.  

We have another hot day coming up and I will happily spend the time at the loom finishing this warp and then getting the next warp ready to weave.  I don't know if there will be time or energy to start weaving that one, but getting it into the loom will feel very good.

I am now at the point where I am having trouble fitting everything I want to say into the allotted time.  Because there are so many It Depends things to cover!

Nothing in weaving is set in stone.  It's all a spectrum.  It all depends.

If I do nothing else in my life, if I can convey that to a core of weavers who can continue to teach, I will feel I will have accomplished something.

I don't know that I have the spoons to do one more Big Project, so I am pouring everything I have (which isn't much) into doing this one.

And yes, I'm teasing.  It means a great deal to me to pass on my knowledge, and the way I do that is to let people know what I'm doing.  It will be up to them to decide if they are interested.  Or not.

I would also like what I do to be somewhat eye appealing, so I am hem stitching all the samples on the loom.  There are other things that can be done, from serging to gluing.  But for the purpose of these samples, hem stitching is the 'best' approach.  Never mind it takes longer to hem stitch than weave each sample.

People talk about not wanting to feel pressured to work efficiently.  For me it is the only way I can work.  Some people seem to think that working efficiently is to hurry.  To somehow not enjoy the process.  Not feel every thread pass through my fingers.

I can assure everyone that when I wound this warp - by hand - I felt every end.  When I beamed it, I did it manually.  I threaded every end into the heddles and every end into the reed.  My hands are throwing the shuttle for every pick and making each stitch in the hem.

The fact that I am efficient just means that I can do it in less time with less effort.

This is not inherently bad.  It is just a by-product of working with small motions instead of grand ones.  Knowing my processes so intimately that I don't have to stop and think, or forget things and have to backtrack.  Except of course when I DO forget, and then I have to fix that.  Fortunately I don't forget very often, and when I do I can usually come up with a work around.

With any luck and no fourth wave of covid, this Big Project will go ahead on schedule and be available in the new year.  

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021



When we gave up the annex we had to make room in the house for all the stuff that was stored there that we wanted to keep.  My inventory was, of course, one of those things.  I had hoped to participate in the craft fairs via the guild booth, but of course covid happened and sales were cancelled.  

In the meantime I have continued to weave.  It has been at a much reduced pace, but still, getting to the loom for two sessions a day means the cloth builds up.

One end of this shelving unit got dedicated to 'pantry' as we stocked up on things (because covid) and I had to find other places to store the new textiles.  So now I have this, plus shelves in two other places, also now filled with finished textiles.

And I keep making more.

Because I am on a mission to weave down my stash.

Right now I am also in the midst of preparations for the Next Big Project, plus I've been ghost weaving for another weaver.  So not only do I have my own yarn, I have yarn for the NBP plus yarn for the ghost weaving.

I think I'm doing 'retirement' wrong...

Both the NBP and the ghost weaving is taking some tap dancing in the goat trails that are currently the feature in my studio, and I'm feeling crammed, cramped, and verging on overwhelmed.  But yesterday I made a good start on getting a handle on the NBP and today I begin weaving the samples.

However, I also made the realization that I already have bins full of samples to use in the NBP so part of what I need to do is clear floor space to drag out the bins of  samples and get them sorted and figure out which ones I need and which ones I can set aside.  That, however, is easier said than done.

But first I need to weave the samples ready to be done on the Leclerc.  Yesterday I wound two warps and they should go fairly quickly as one warp is 8 epi, the other is 10, with ppi as close to the same as I can make them.  It will likely take longer to hemstitch them than weave them.

Which means I need to be making a start...

Being 'organized' means going and doing the work, not just thinking about it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021



Today was a little bitty day.  (A little bit of this, a little bit of that...)

It started with pressing a batch of towels, which took longer than 'usual' because they were a bit on the wet side.  Plus there were 16 to do, not 8 or 9, which has been my 'usual' batch of late.  However, the fact I was able to do all 16 in one go was an indication of slow improvement - although I'm paying for it now.  I should have stopped at 12, but by that point I was soooo close to finishing them all I pressed on.  (Sorry {not sorry} about the pun.)

After a long break for lunch I headed back down to the studio and started clearing a path through the rubble.  The press was cold so it got put away on the floor and I worked on crunching numbers until I figured out the best approach for the sampling I need to do.  Since I'm expecting more ghost weaving work to do as soon as next week I need to stay on top of my deadlines or I won't get everything done.

With numbers crunched and a couple of plan Bs for the two warps that are next, I wound the two warps, then rough sleyed one of them before I took another break.  My feet were really not happy by this point, but never mind.  That's what Tylenol is for, amirite?

It was a fairly short break because I wanted to beam the warp and maybe even get it threaded.  So again, I pressed on.

Sitting to thread was welcome and with such a narrow warp and 'fat' threads, the threading went quickly enough that there was plenty of time to sley, too.  At 8 epi, I would have used the 8 dent reed, but really the four was fine and took half the time.  

So there it is, all tied on, ready to go.

I couldn't face getting down on the floor to put the tie up back to my default - I had to change it for the last set of samples - so that will get done tomorrow morning.  Or maybe tonight when I go back down to shut the studio up for the night.

We had a bit of a reprieve from the smoke today but the temps are high, 28C last time I looked.  Might be higher now.  

I'm hoping to get the 8 samples I need woven tomorrow, but if I don't get all of them done I will make a dent in them.  And then the next warp, another 8 samples.  After that, I'll put a cotton warp on.  I've already decided on the threading, just need to crunch the numbers.  It will be a shorter warp as fewer samples will be required and should go fairly quickly as well.  If everything goes smoothly, the first set of sampling for the Next Big Project can easily get done in the next few days.  

She says, optimistically...

Monday, August 2, 2021

Endings, Beginnings


Today I will weave the last two towels on this warp.  There wasn't quite enough of the hairy tow linen to finish the warp, but the thicker hemp is weaving up nicely.  It will create a thicker, stiffer cloth, but should wear in nicely and do the job of drying things.  Hands, if not dishes.

But that's the thing.  Everything comes to an end.  I have learned to celebrate such endings because it means I can begin something new.  So I don't fuss about running out of things.  I don't worry about being in the position of having to set up the loom again.  Yes, I put on long warps, because the biggest investment of a weaver's time is dressing the loom.  

Rather than put on short warps, I put on 'long' ones.  However, these towel warps have been about 20 yards long and it takes me about two weeks to complete each one.  A pace much MUCH slower than my high production days when my minimum warp length was more like 40 yards and I could weave them off in about two weeks.  

It seems like a lot of people get really nervous about a warp ending because they are uncertain of how well they can dress the loom.  They wind up dealing with tangles.  Threading errors.  Sleying issues.  The whole process becomes a bit of a nightmare for them and robs the joy of weaving.

The solution (IMHO) is not to put on really really long warps so that you only have to dress the loom 2 or 3 times a year, but to put warps on the loom more frequently.  Because if you don't use it, you lose it.

I had that happen recently when I needed to use the Leclerc for some sample warps.  It had been months since I'd wound a warp on the warping board and dressed the loom by pulling it on using the warping valet.

The very first 'mistake' I made was not tying off the cross.  My weaving angel must have been watching over me because I'd only just pulled the bottom peg (opposite the cross) when I suddenly looked up and managed to tie the cross before the warp came off the board.  A clear example of how we forget steps in a lengthy complex process if we don't do it frequently enough!

So today I celebrate the end of the current series of towels.  I will now leave the Megado to gather dust while I work on the samples for the Next Big Project.  But since I only just wove on the Leclerc in July, I'm fairly confident that I won't be making any mistakes in my process!  I hope.  Time will tell.

Sunday, August 1, 2021



If it was 'easy' everyone would be doing it.  

And that's pretty much it, isn't it?  But sometimes we do things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.  (Yes, I'm channeling JFK.)

Human beings do tend to love a puzzle.  Well, some of us do.  We enjoy the challenge of thinking up some new thing, then seeing if it will work.  Sometimes we do things and wonder if it could be done another way, maybe a way that is less difficult.

Of course not everyone likes this sort of challenge, but they like the easier way.  To have the 'hard' bits worked out for them.  To have some assurance that their effort will be rewarded with some level of success.

When I was a kid I hated making mistakes in my knitting and my mom would encourage me to try again by ripping out what I'd done.   She didn't do that to punish me - I asked her to do it.  I could face the re-doing but not the 'destruction' of what I had done.  Fortunately she understood that the few minutes of her ripping out my work was actually helping me and as I got older it became easier for me to accept that my effort wasn't up to snuff and start over again without needing her to rip it out for me.

This lesson served me well when I began weaving.  I learned how to let go of something that wasn't working out, up to and including *throwing away* the 'failed' effort.  I had learned to accept that I needed to try again, but do it based on what I had learned in that first effort.

So it is with teaching.  As I craft the Power Point lectures, I am drawing on decades of experience doing presentations to groups of people.  But now I have to format them for on line delivery.  This has proved challenging in many ways.  But so far the feedback has been positive.

Now I am once again gearing up to expand my on line presentations.  It isn't that I have never done it before - the DVDs I did for (now) Handwoven/Long Thread Media were done a number of years ago.  2014 if I remember correctly.

So again, I am taking what I learned from doing those and applying those lessons to what I want to do now.

And no, it isn't easy.  I know a lot of weaving teachers, many of them forging ahead with classes on line.  When you are producing classes for a very small niche market, it's important to put out good information with production values as high as you can.  For me, this becomes too great a challenge to do it on my own so I am working with a team.  We are still working out logistics, but I'm optimistic enough to believe that together we can do this.

During the covid times we all had to practice being flexible and explore new options.  And while the end result may show nothing of the effort to make a good on line class, believe me when I say that good production values come from a team approach.  Because making a good 'video' requires experienced and talented behind the scenes expertise - from lighting/sound, to camera, to wardrobe and makeup, to post production.

My job is the content.  So I'm buying yarn appropriate to the topic(s) and exploring the nature of these new-to-me yarns.  It is being done under a fairly tight deadline, in the face of covid and currently something like 250 wildfires in the province.  

But in the end?  The goal is to make it look effortless.  And easy.

And I think about my father who always warned to be careful of anything someone made look easy.  Because it probably wasn't.