Thursday, September 30, 2021



It is always interesting that trees, even of the same species, will sometimes turn colour at different times.

With the past few days of cooler, wetter weather, the colour has really come on in some of the mountain ash across the street.  But not all.  The one in the yard next to this one is still mostly green.  

And it's a good example of how not every individual in a species will develop at the same time.

A lesson we tend to overlook and should not.

So when I'm teaching, I am aware that not everyone in the room will learn what I'm teaching at the same time or the same rate of comprehension.  I tend to repeat things over and over again.

Sometimes people contact me and say that something I wrote recently resonated with them and are delighted at learning The Thing.

While I am always delighted to hear of such 'discoveries', I have essentially been saying the same things for literally decades.

At lunch one day at the John C. Campbell Folk School, the person sitting next to me shared that they are an educator, researching how people learn.  And what they are discovering is that if there are any 'holes' in someone's foundation of knowledge, they quite literally cannot take in any information that builds on the information that is missing - because it hasn't been learned.  Yet.

This resonated with me because I have seen the dynamic over and over again.  I will go into a classroom, usually with a vast array of experience and knowledge, some people very new, some with decades of weaving under their belt.  And time and again, the more experienced weaver will suddenly see something that they hadn't been able to understand previously, begin to make sense.

Sometimes it's fairly esoteric.  Sometimes it is really basic.  But they were missing the block of knowledge to build upon because they didn't have the foundation on which TO build.

Over the years I stopped feeling embarrassed about repeating things over and over and over again.  The way memory works is that information will go into the short term inbox, but in order to transfer that knowledge into long term storage, the mind must shut down more information coming in.  So the 3 or 4 sentences they 'miss' while that transfer takes place means that sometimes they simply do not absorb the information.  And so the hole continues, preventing the absorption of information that needs that kernel to build on.

I enjoy teaching people with a basic understanding of the craft because I hope to invest them with more of the subtleties of the craft and for that they need to have at least a partial foundation of knowledge to build on.  I also bang on about the same things, but hopefully examine them from different perspectives.  Because I don't know what someone is missing, I don't know what they have been told, I don't know what they need to take their next step in learning.  So I just keep sharing information that I feel really needs to be understood for a weaver to make good decisions.

Yesterday I finished gathering the materials for the taping next week.  Doug has done the laundry and next step is to begin filling my suitcase with what I will need for a week away.  Last minute communications with details have been examined, and I think we are as ready as we can be until I am there and the van is unloaded.  On their end they have crunched numbers, made up charts, schedules, attempted to estimate how long each segment will take so that we can re-stage for the different segments.  For 120 minutes (estimated) of finished presentation, we will spend all day getting the scenes staged, props to hand and filmed -with re-takes as necessary.  The wet finishing topic will flow fairly smoothly from one stage to the next.  The skills tape is estimated to be 240 minutes and we have 3 days scheduled to film that.  Given the nature of weaving, it will be filmed out of sequence, so then continuity is a consideration as well.  It will be four days of 9-5, very intense hours.

I'm glad Doug is going to be with me because I have a feeling that by the end of the week I am going to be limp as a rag.

But I'm looking forward to this happening and crossing all cross-ables to get it done.  The expectation is to have the classes ready for the new year.  When the class is ready to go live, I will be sure to share.  And I hope you all will spread the news, too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021



At just after 8 am this morning, the sun found a thin slice of clear sky to send a shaft of brilliant sun into the back yard.  The photo doesn't really do the reality justice.

The leaden sky background to the brilliant yellow/oranges of the trees visible in the back neighbour's yard and up the steep slope of the hill behind was stunning.

A perfectly timed reminder that, even in the midst of a whole lot of things slipping sideways, there is still something to appreciate and enjoy.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed with the brokenness of the world.  It is easy to stay focused on the things that are going wrong - or at least not the way we would want.  It is easy to be upset and stay stuck in wishing things were not the way they are.

But this morning Mother Nature provided a tiny sliver of a reminder that even in the bad times, we can still take a moment to stand in wonder at the window and appreciate that there is still beauty and hope and plant a tiny seed of gratitude for the little things in life.

Yesterday I 'finished' a section of one of the things I've been working on.  Today I package up the samples and send them off to where they belong.  Once I've done that I will turn my attention to packing.  Doug did a load of laundry and I can start filling my suitcase with personal stuff.

I've resigned myself to having a pandemic 'do' for the taping.  Not what I wanted, but things happen.  I could scramble to try and find another hairdresser but I'm never sure I'll get a good cut and a bad cut would be worse than what I currently have, so...

Now that I'm able to clear my head a bit and focus on the trip I am beginning to look to the future more purposefully.  Facing my personal health challenges head on means I can - hopefully - make better choices as time marches on.

Autumn is a prelude to winter, when I tend to withdraw, conserve my energy and try to make plans for the spring.  I have obligations for the next 3 months, but once we are home from Vancouver, the really BIG deadlines are pretty much done.  I will have to go out more than I have been, but that isn't necessarily bad.  Just that I will continue to be cautious.  Because covid isn't over yet.  

As for my own weaving practice, my goal is to continue to weave down my stash.  I've done really well the past two years, but I still have So Much.  Changing medication has given me my brain back and I can think again.  But mostly weaving remains physical and mental/emotional therapy.  

I have gotten to the point where I am willing to simply get rid of some of my yarn, and I will have to think about how best to do that.  There is too much to toss or give away.  I don't really want to sell it, unless I can sell the whole lot at once.  But I will think on that over the winter.  I could weave more of it down, but I'm not really enjoying working with that yarn any more.  But who knows.  I could change my mind, too!

Always something to think about.  And sometimes just sitting down and thinking about it brings a solution.  So I try to keep an open mind and see what opportunities come knocking on my door.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Endings, Beginnings


Endings can be poignant.  The end of the concert.  The play.  The class.  The job.  Whatever.  Endings mark a transition to something else.  Something new.  Something different.

Endings can be a source of dissatisfaction.  A surge of joy.  Endings can bring sorrow.  Or anticipation for what comes next.

Some people have asked me about how I feel at the end of a warp.  Finishing a warp rarely is a cause for angst because inevitably I have so many more in the pipeline my only thought is which one to do 'next'.

I focus instead on what happens now.  What do I need to do.  Which deadline is most pressing (usually) wins the coin toss.

Relationships can be bittersweet, too.  People move away.  Or just on.  When you get to my age if you haven't experienced the death of someone it is pretty rare.  And those are the hardest, I think.

I remember when my dad died at age 56.  One of mom's best friends was torn up.  It was the first death of a close friend she had dealt with in her memory.  My mom, who had had to deal with numerous deaths by this point couldn't imagine NOT having to experience that loss, even as she dealt with the loss of her partner, the person she referred to as the love of her life until she died.  In the end, she was a widow longer than she had been married.

During my life I have dealt with the deaths of family members and friends, but also?  All the other losses that people deal with.  Right now I'm dealing with the loss of my health - to a certain extent.  But the slowing down, the loss of energy, the requirement to take on less, do less, say no more frequently, has been a difficult one.

In previous decades, I could count on recovering, returning to my 'normal' level of activity, my 'normal' level of energy.

And now?  I just can't.

Learning how to accept help from others has been a challenge.  I am learning to ask for help when I need it.  I am learning how to conserve my strength and energy. I am beginning to learn how to say 'no' - and mean it, no regrets, no guilt.  

Have I stopped dreaming?  No, absolutely not.  There are still things I would like to do with whatever time I have left.  Even if it takes me longer than it might have done 10, 20 years ago.  

I think about my brother a lot.  He died at 51, and his death triggered my diagnosis, saving my life.  The opposite of survivor guilt is survivor responsibility.  He died, I didn't.  Why?  No idea.  But since I'm not dead, I'd better live my life as well as I am able.

Anyway, today was the last of the Zoom meetings for one of my study groups.  We are discussing about continuing on, in some way.  And one person made an offer of help for an event.  I will accept her offer, if I feel I have any chance of attending that event.

We get through this life helping each other.  Learning how to accept help as well as give it is just all part of living.

Saturday, September 25, 2021



Today was a pretty typical autumn day for us.  Wet and chilly.  And the birch trees (mostly) are putting on a show.   The mountain ash are still mostly green, but it's a tired green.  They are filled with berries though, which looks very nice.

It is just one week until we set out for Vancouver and much still needs to get done before we leave.  Tomorrow I have a Zoom in the morning and then I need to seriously clear some room in the studio so I can begin gathering my stuff for the trip.  In many ways I'm taking a big chunk of my studio with me.  And let's not talk about personal things - clothing, meds, etc.  

Before I do anything though, I need room to stack the boxes and bins (once I've packed them).  And all of that, all of that preparation, is going to take time and energy.

I did make some progress on the weaving.  It looks like I'll be playing yarn chicken with the current warp, though.  There are still 2 more samples to weave, then cut off and re-sley.  The next set of samples will be shorter, in no small way because the epi/ppi will be changing from 28 to 45.  But still, I'm nervous about being able to weave them on whatever warp is left when I'm done with the 28 epi samples.  Or if I'll have to dress the loom again to finish them off.

The three I wove today were fairly simple and now that I'm getting the hang of following the colour changes on the laptop, things are going more smoothly.  I was grateful I felt up to weaving the third one because that leaves just 2 more to do at the 28 epi/ppi.  I'm planning on finishing those on Monday.  And then see if I have the energy to deal with the bobbins hung off the back because I was short 3 ends on either side of the centre stripe.

However, I am also waiting to get the filming schedule for the longer class and will have to spend an hour or so combing through that, watching for inconsistencies, or anything that looks out of place.  But seeing the Call Sheet laid out will help me focus on the structure of the class and get my butterflies flying in formation.  I hope.

The Zoom tomorrow is the last of the series for the Olds students.  I have no idea if they want to stay on as a group or if it is time to just stand by the side of the nest and wave goodbye as they launch into the future.  There is still the other group, so I won't be without obligations/students right away.  :)

And, if all goes well, I will have a new crop of students in the new year.

The days plod on, the seasons change.  I keep weaving, as much as I can.  It's all good.

Friday, September 24, 2021



With weaving (plus teaching/writing about weaving) being so labour intensive, oftentimes with months of input before any kind of return comes into the bank account, I became pretty proficient at having large numbers of projects partially underway.  Oftentimes I would feel like the guy on the Ed Sullivan Show with his sticks and spinning plates.  How many could he keep balanced before they would topple off and crash to the floor?

This past summer I've been working on a number of projects, all in process, all requiring some attention in order to keep them moving forward.  

The distressing thing is to finally have to admit to myself that I can no longer keep more than just a few of these kinds of projects humming along.  I just don't have the energy or mental wherewithal any more.  

It's been...sobering.  OTOH, it was part of the reason I 'retired' (for certain values of).  I just didn't have the physical stamina or mental acuity to keep doing craft fairs, haring all over the country to teach, plus the writing and marketing of myself and my work.

Paring back what I was doing became essential, but even so, opportunity knocked and I took on the Next Big Project.  I also took on a commission, which has proven to be challenging and more time consuming than I hoped/expected.  Both of those projects have time lines that I can't miss and this has put pressure on me in addition to my health issues.  The past three months have taken more out of me than I hoped.

But!  I am managing - just - to keep both of those things ticking along and both will be done soon enough.

As the year progresses, covid continues, and hopefully things will improve.  With hope and optimism, the local Community Arts Council has determined that they can produce their craft fair, with as much protection as possible.  They have moved the event to a much larger venue so booths can be spread out further apart.  Participants and customers will have to show proof of vaccination, and indoor mask mandates are currently still in force.  I'm not expecting to attend because I'm still taking every precaution to prevent exposure to the virus.  New advice is indicating who might be possible to get a booster, but at this point I don't 'qualify' under the terms I read on the government website.  

However, the guild also plans on a guild room sale on the weekends following Studio Fair and that I feel I can participate in personally.  (Doug has offered to work shifts at Studio Fair on my behalf.  I still have lots of inventory I would LOVE to sell!)

At the guild AGM, several members said they were really enjoying the Sunday Seminars.  I may be convinced to book more in the new year.  I thought of another speaker I would love to have and who would have lots of interesting things to say about textiles.  But I'll wait until after my current crop of deadlines are done.  One more study group this Sunday, then two in October and what ever Zoom meetings are left will move to the new year.  

Autumn is definitely in the air.  And time marches on.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Perfect. Or Not.


Hard to believe that is me.  Significantly younger.  I'm wearing a silk outfit I wove and had sewn and wore too little to justify the expense of making it.  I kept 'saving' it for 'special' - until I out grew it.  

I've been thinking - a lot - about my younger self.  There is a 'thing' on Facebook that asks what you would tell your younger self if you could.

I'm not sure I would have any message for the me that was me when I was in my 30s.  I was pretty bull headed, as my mother would put it.  I'm not so sure 30 year old me would listen to 70 year old me.

Have I had a 'perfect' life?  On no.   Hell no!  Have I had a life of challenges?  Hell yes!  Have they been worth it?  To be determined, I suppose, by someone other than me.

I am a master weaver - even have the piece of paper that says so.  Does that mean I never make mistakes?  Hell no.

This week I have been working through a complex project on behalf of another weaver/designer/teacher and it has been...challenging.

People process information in different ways so I have to interpret what they want.  Then, because I want to work as efficiently as possible I tend to try to crunch the data so that I can work as ergonomically and efficiently as possible.

Part of doing that is re-interpreting the data and coming up with a way of looking at it that makes sense to me.  So I reviewed the draft, made some adjustments, wound the warp, then beamed it.  Yesterday I threaded the warp and discovered I was short 3 ends on either side of the centre stripe.  


So I wound three ends onto a bobbin and threaded them in where they belong.  I don't think it will work to leave them all on one bobbin, but right now the two bobbins are containing the ends so that I can finish setting up the loom.  Then, if necessary, I can separate them and hang them individually.

Mastery doesn't mean you don't make mistakes.  Hopefully you just recognize them when you make them and can figure out a way to fix them.

So I suppose I would say to my 30 year old self, if I could, 'don't worry - you'll figure it out'.

And please.  Don't anyone tell me I should have smiled.  I was then (and am still now) experiencing chronic pain and that day I was not feeling well.  I was just managing to hold things together and was, frankly, exhausted.  

But being bull headed, I was determined to do what needed to be done.  And that, I think, is worth remembering when I look back on my life.  

I survived - as a weaver in the 20th and 21st centuries.   And I will continue to weave for as long as I can.  Perfect, or not.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Decisions, Decisions


I only have one of these towels left.  I enjoyed weaving them, and may well revisit the design again in the future.  I still have a significant amount of solid coloured 2/16 cotton left, but not really enough of anything to make a warp.  So the thought is to buy enough white yarn to put on a long warp and use up the solid colours as weft.  But that's in the future.  

Right now I'm up against several deadlines.  All of the projects looked quite do-able in June/July, but now it's mid-September - over half way, really - and suddenly all of them are coming together at once.

I'm still not feeling great, for a number of reasons, but I try to work every day on some aspect of at least one of the deadlines.  Sometimes a little bit on several of them.

Like yesterday.  I realized that I'm booked to do a Zoom on Sunday and I'd done no preparation for it, whatsoever.  I got the warp that is going into the Megado prepped so that Doug could help me beam it (I wound the warp chain on the board, but it was going into a beam with sectional dividers).  I worked again on the draft, cleaned up the studio as best I could to make room for the beaming, tried to work out the best (most efficient) way to get the warp beamed, then poked away at the Power Point for Sunday.  When Doug got home it took about 45 minutes or so to beam the warp, discuss a slight modification to the loom to make things easier for me in the future, and prepared the warp for threading.  (It would have taken less but I was also working out the system for doing it, sometimes needing to switch out lease sticks or stop to think through the next step, which is different from beaming on the Leclerc.)

Today I'm wet finishing a batch of samples and will prepare them to go into the mail.  Then I'll sift through the treadling drafts for the warp I'll start threading today.

If I were feeling 'better' this would all be very minor, but I'm still struggling to keep going.  

The local guild is having their AGM tonight, and we have some decisions to make given the continuing issues of covid.  I have students who would like to take a weaving class, there are people who would love to learn how to spin, and we just can't do much right now.  There was a drop in covid numbers over the weekend, so hopefully our province is finally getting a grip on controlling the disease, but things blow up very quickly if people get complacent, and several guild members (myself included) are immune compromised.  And I'm not comfortable leading a class in person right now.  

Next week I'll get the filming schedule, and I'll go through my equipment list again, and start pulling all the things that will go to Vancouver in the van.  But in the meantime I have a 7 yard warp with 636 ends in a complex colour order in a 'fancy' 8 shaft twill to thread and then weave in a variety of complex colour orders.

Back to elephant eating time.  One bite.  Another bite.  One more.  Chomp.  Chomp.  Chomp.

Monday, September 20, 2021



This photo is from a few years ago, taken in October.  In September, the leaves are only just beginning to turn colour, but it has been chilly and damp and autumn is very much here.

Autumn is the time of year when many things begin after the summer hiatus.  School.  New year for some organizations.  

My local guild has, like many others, been very curtailed during Covid.  Members haven't been able to even meet in the guild room for months at a time.  And we were just beginning to make plans for the coming autumn/winter when covid put a kibosh on our plans as the numbers began spiraling upwards again.

It's hard to keep a leisure activity going when you can't do anything you are used to doing.  No drop-ins, no workshops, no community outreach.

But time marches on, rent has to be paid, regardless of a lack of income, and on line events only go so far.

However, the local craft fair is scheduled to go ahead the first weekend of November and the guild has a booth so we are hoping it will go ahead as planned.  After that, we expect to have a sale in the guild room for a few weekends (or by appointment).  Our members could use some income - and so can the guild.

I'm well into procrastination mode today although I have managed to pick my way through a few things.  I guess I'm like so many others - caught in the web of uncertainty with the federal election today and on going covid issues.  

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

One can hope.

Sunday, September 19, 2021



...I've had a few...

Autumn seems to be a time for reflection.  All the dreams of summer, for summer, and yet time marches on.

Yesterday I did another Zoom meeting and this morning is a Sunday Seminar.  I still have to put away the stuff from my seminar, clear all the stuff from the top of the Megado.

I am also in the midst of preparing another warp to go into that loom.  Lots of colour changes will be involved.  I think I've got a reasonable cheat sheet worked out but it will mean extreme diligence during threading to get every colour in the correct place.

It is easy to feel sad at the changing of the seasons, especially when things have been difficult or challenging beyond one's capacity to deal with stuff.  I am gradually beginning to learn how to let go of my high expectations and celebrate what I did manage.

Still a difficult lesson.

I have some friends I use as sounding boards.  They let me rant and rail when I need to vent.  And I hope I am supportive of them when they need to vent, too.

Sometimes students express their regret that they waited so long to learn how to weave.  They voice their concern about learning it all.  I assure them they don't need to learn it all, just enjoy the process.

The thing is, the craft of weaving (spinning, knitting, etc.) is so all encompassing that no one person will ever learn it ALL.

So I go back to the elephant eating analogy.  Begin.  Begin somewhere.  Just...begin.  Choose something.  Reduce the choices so that they don't seem so overwhelming.  Don't feel over burdened the the vastness of it, just...begin.

Then?  Keep going.  Keep going for as long as you enjoy it.  Keep learning.  Keep on, keeping on.

And leave the regrets by the side of the road as you keep taking one more step, then another, then one more.  

The craft so long the life so short to learn (Chaucer paraphrase)

Friday, September 17, 2021



All of the shawls in the photo were woven on the same warp.  By changing the weft colour and the tie up/treadling, the shawls were related but not identical.

I think this is the kind of thing that drew me to weaving in the first place.  I could set up a set of possibilities, then by making changes, sometimes minor, sometimes major, I could wind up with a variety of different designs.

But weaving is flexible and versatile beyond just this aspect.  

The archeological record is now pushing the horizon for the beginning of textiles to nearly 40,000 years.  Evidence of quite complex spun yarn means that prior to the date of that particular cordage, humans had been spinning for quite some time.  You don't sit down and make a complex 3D structure from fibres the first time you pluck a few fibres off a plant and fiddle with it.

Evidence of actual cloth is scarce and generally second hand - details in stone sculpture, imprints in clay, preserved through the centuries, designs on pottery, showing people spinning and weaving  sophisticated textiles 4000+ years ago.

In the 21st century it is not necessary for everyone to be producing textiles and for those of us who do, we can practice the art/craft to whatever level we desire.

Some of us like to take a deep dive, others just enjoy the time spent at the wheel or loom.  Either way, creativity is being exercised, skills preserved.

There is so much more I would like to learn about weaving.  I have no idea what the future holds or if I will have the time and energy to do another deep dive.  Whether or not I do isn't really relevant, although I do find myself drawn to some areas of textile creation and would like to know more.  OTOH, I can enjoy what others are doing and learn vicariously from them.

Embracing the role of 'elder' I do hope that I can continue to teach, in some way, for a while longer.  But life is uncertain, the future will unfold as it will.  The big thing, I think, is to stay flexible.  I've done deep dives in a number of areas - at this point in my life I just don't know if I have the energy.  But I will keep weaving for as long as I can.

I still have SABLE, after all.

(Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy)

Currently reading The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Learning Continues


One of the attractions for me about weaving was the potential.  The vast potential involved in choosing a yarn, developing an interlacement, combining colours, textures.  

It has been a life long journey of exploration and experimentation.  One that is still not over.

Weaving someone else's designs has proved valuable to me on many levels.  Interesting to note how other people process the information and then document it.  How they work with the processes involved.  In many ways this has been extremely helpful as a teacher, seeing how other people visualize and chart the information.

As I work through the Next Big Project, it has been enlightening to see how someone then takes MY information, charts, documentation, then applies their area of expertise to the project.  

One of the things I have had to fine tune is the concept of flexibility.  As I work with students, listening to what they are asking, then intuiting what their questions actually mean, shining a light on the process that brings greater understanding to them.  Constantly turning that mirrored ball to and fro, examining this bit here, then that bit over there and how they play off each other.

It's why every short answer to pretty much every weaving question asked depends.

This morning we had a meeting about the project and it was very helpful to have two other sets of eyes looking at the materials.  While one person was processing the information in terms of camera angles and set up, another set was working from more that of a student, questioning what needed to be shown.  My viewpoint was from the teaching aspect of course.  

But at the end of the conversation, I think we all came away with a much clearer idea of what will be needed on the day(s).

We also discussed further working together on other aspects of weaving that can't be covered within the framework that we are dealing with.  

This makes me very happy, to think that my knowledge will continue on, one way or another.  Not that I haven't taught a lot of people, but one person can only personally interact with so many people.  This project will hopefully reach a new audience, and allow what I know to continue.

When I 'retired' I really had no idea of what my future would look like.  I had a vague idea that I would like to continue weaving, but balked at the idea of more dark o'clock flights.  I also didn't see myself being able to do virtual teaching - I just didn't have the technology and skills required.

Now I'm working with an experienced team.  And hopefully everything will continue to move forward and the first week of October we'll get it done.  And talk about the future.

For now I have a list of samples to weave for someone also trying to teach from their point of view and needing help with the weaving end.  Because I support all efforts to get good information circulated, not just mine.  The sooner I get those samples done, the sooner I can start pulling the studio apart for the trip to the coast.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Pressing On


cold mangle seen in a small museum in Sweden

This lovely contraption has one job.  Apply compression.  It is made from cast iron, and the rollers are not padded, just covered with cloth.  It is not the same as the wringer/mangle on the old wringer washing machines.  It is a mangle whose sole purpose is to flatten the cloth.

Primarily used for linen, it can be used for any textile that we want to be flattened.

Why?  Why would we want that?

Because it helps add stability to the cloth, which is the unseen benefit.  Because it will make a fabric shine, which is the visual benefit.

Linen benefits especially from being mangled in part because it is a very dense fibre /yarn.  Linen is stiff and not very pliable.  Flax fibre is smooth and therefore tends to be slippery.  By compressing the warp and weft yarns into each other, it's a lot like notching the corners of a log building.  The threads lock into each other and stay where they are meant to stay, not able to slide around as readily.

We are half way through September and a bunch of deadlines are building up on me.  And of course some of those deadlines are proving to be more complex than anticipated.  I am therefore grateful I have few appointments this week, and none of the rest of them are outside of the house.

I have a Zoom tomorrow to hammer out details of the Next Big Project.  I think I'm ready but wanted to touch base with the team, make sure I'm bringing everything I need to bring, provided all the info they need.

I am still dealing with personal maintenance issues, not just the physical, but the mental/emotional aspects of an aging, injured body.

Bette Davis was so accurate when she observed that getting older wasn't for sissies.


Friday, September 10, 2021



Yesterday, after being out for much of the afternoon getting some personal maintenance dealt with, I came home and found myself with little energy.  In spite of having several projects on the go, I couldn't face working on any of them.

Eventually I decided that I needed to clear some things out of my life - at least to the point of not having to re-do the work when I picked them up again later.  So I grabbed some of the silk cones and began winding scarf warps.  Getting creative when the stash finally goes down can be challenging, so I picked through what was left, made some tweaks, and eventually got two warps wound.  There is enough for one more warp, and then I might consider myself done with my hand dyed silk yarn.  I'm pretty sure I know one or two people who could put whatever is left to good use.

Getting the warps wound is freeing up some mental space so that I can switch to the rainbow spectrum of yarns on the right hand side of my work table.  I crunched the numbers, edited it to resolve a couple of small issues, but felt too muzzy headed to carefully wind a fairly complex stripe sequence.  However, I did manage to make up a cheat sheet to take to the warping board, so I can begin winding the cotton as soon as I've finished the 3rd and last silk scarf warp this morning.

The month of September has turned into a rather busy time.  In addition to my own work, I'm doing some work for another weaver/designer, plus prepping the filming which is set to happen in early October.  I'm so grateful the brain fog has lifted, which has made all this prep work so much easier to cope with.

But we are still dealing with a pandemic, and in Canada a federal election which is getting quite ugly on many levels.  Ten more days of campaign to survive and then we find out what kind of nation we truly are.  It's all been rather stressful after 18 months of pandemic worries.

Today's place of meditation:

Holy Creator, thank you for artists:  visual, verbal, musical, kinesthetic, spiritual...Within their creative process may we recognize the divine in all creation and be moved to awe and wonder and worship.  Chris Glaser

Today I will return to the studio and carry on.  I have little to offer this world but my creativity.  I consider creativity positive energy, so I will do my best to plant some today.  And every day.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Moody Skies


This is the first week of school for kids and the weather is reminding us that time marches on.

Yesterday it was cloudy and cool, and even rained lightly for a bit.  Today looks like more of the same with big clouds in the sky.  Whether or not they bring rain is to be determined, but it is cool (currently 14C) with the sun poking through the thick clouds from time to time.  Leaves on the trees are beginning to turn and it is now fully dark by around 8:30 pm or so.  

This week I have a number of personal maintenance things happening.  Yesterday I had a filling replaced.  I told Doug the filling might have been older than our dentist.  I only exaggerated a little bit.  But being stood on my head for an hour has left me feeling off and in pain.  My body doesn't like sharp pointy things banging away in my jaw and my neck and shoulder are protesting.  It just so happened that I could get appointments today with both my massage therapist and chiropractor.  I'm hoping they can calm my neck/shoulder/back down.

Yesterday, not feeling like weaving, I managed to finish crunching the numbers for the next ghost weaving.  Once I got everything clear in my mind I was able to make up a 'cheat sheet' which will allow me to wind the warp.  But first I have to finish weaving off the silk scarf on the Leclerc.  Which I may not feel up to doing after all the maintenance.  However, I will see how I feel.

I'm also waiting for a phone call from my doctor.  I'm hoping he has the CT scan results and will have a referral to the pain clinic ready for me.  I told him I just want to be able to function.

In the meantime, covid continues to do what a virus will do - grow, mutate, claim lives.  The good news is that the vaccine is doing the job it is supposed to do.  Which means the majority of people severely ill in hospital (and dying) are mainly the partially or unvaccinated, not the vaccinated.   The best reason *I* can think of to get vaccinated.  The province continues to urge people who are hesitant to get the vaccine if they can.  

But all of that means I worry about getting to Vancouver next month.  We will drive, and will stop only for take out food and eat in the van.  And bring lots of masks with us, because we are still wearing masks when we go out.  And will continue until the case numbers go down - waaaaay down - from where they are currently.

So the September moody skies are very much a reflection of where I am, right now.  

However, I have deadlines.  I have obligations.  I can stay home while Doug does the majority of the outside errands.  My studio continues to be my 'happy' place.  And after this month my Zoom deadlines will begin reducing.   While I have enjoyed them, I also find them tiring.  However, getting off my previous pain medication means the brain fog I was living with has pretty much gone, so that, at least, is a positive.  I'll take them where I can get them.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Maintenance. It's a 'Thing'


Instead of juggling a multitude of deadlines (although I still am, just spaced out further apart) I find myself juggling more and more self maintenance appointments.  

Nothing fancy.  Nothing glamourous.  Just...keeping this body running as best I can.

I had high hopes of getting the current warp off the loom today but after an hour in the dentist's chair, I'm not so eager to go toss a shuttle.  Maybe I'll feel better in a bit.

This week is a 'short' one with Monday being a holiday.  But it's been full of stuff anyway.  

I've been working on project notes for some ghost weaving I'm going to be doing, but also trying to finish the silk warp on the loom.  Turns out I need that loom for the project after all.  (shrug.)  In the end it's fine because the silk warp is only long enough for two scarves, one of which I finished yesterday, the second I got to the halfway point before I stopped for lunch.

But all this maintenance is also proving to be a bit of a hit to the old pocketbook.  Sigh.

We are well into autumn, even though the trees are just now starting to turn colour.  The mountain ash trees are covered in berries although their leaves are still mostly green.  It won't take long for the colour to come on.

This weekend I have a Zoom on Saturday, another on the Sunday, another on the following Saturday and then one more on Sunday.  September ends with a last Zoom on the 26th.  That will most likely be the last one for that study group so the following months should taper off in terms of deadlines.

And then we will be packing for the trip to Vancouver, covid willing.

In the meantime, I need to keep going.  Keep working on the Big Projects.  Keep trying new things, different things.  Adjusting what I do, for how long and how frequently.

Currently reading Lost Boys by Faye Kellerman

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Marking Time


Time marches on.  The sun moves through the sky.  Seasons change.  Tides flow.

People make up lists of things to do, tick them off.  Become overwhelmed at everything that needs doing.  

Energy ebbs.

At times, projects take on a life of their own.  Working with a team means communication and feedback.  And sometimes you have to wait until you get that feedback.

I found myself with no particular project to work on, over the weekend, but still the giant stash that needs weaving down.  So while I waited for word on the two big projects I'm working on, I continued with the silk scarves.  I'm also waiting for a call back from my doctor, re: my prescription and the results of the CT scan I had last week.  As the time ticks on with no word, I am getting more anxious.  I know I'll hear back when the results come in - if my doctor hasn't received them yet, there isn't much information to pass on.  But I'd sure like to hear about the status of my new pain killers/Rx. 

OTOH, I heard back from the second project I am working on, so I've reviewed the documentation, printed out the information, and am about to head to the studio to begin crunching numbers.  It's not a particularly difficult weaving assignment but detailed.  So I'm going to have to work out a very clear way of documenting those details so I don't make any mistakes.  If I can get that done before lunch, I can weave on the warp currently in the loom I need to use because, not knowing when I'd get the information, I had dressed the loom again.  It's not a long warp, though, just two scarves, and that should come off the loom tomorrow.  About the time the project warp will be wound, ready to be beamed.

In the meantime, do I try phoning the doctor's office again or wait and see if their new call back system works and they call me...?

Time for some distraction.  Crunching numbers for the next warp will probably be enough to take my mind off of the waiting.  If I'm going to mark time, I might as well do something productive while I'm waiting...

Monday, September 6, 2021

What Matters


Instead of half a shelf full of cones of hand dyed silk, I now have...this.  The cones on the shelf are too little to make a scarf warp, and I'll have to come up with something else, find some other approach.  The cones on the floor are three different dye lots, each one with what ought to be enough for a scarf warp.

I've just finished threading the next warp.  It was the last of the royal blue/fuchsia variegated.  Which ran out before I finished winding the warp.  One cone still had yarn left on it, so I tied in a solid blue, commercially dyed, nearly the same as the colour of blue in the hand dyed yarn.  And kept winding.  And then the other cone of variegated ran out, with the warp shy four ends.

Now I could have spent who knows how long (too long!) rooting through the recycle bins for bits of yarn the right colour.  Or I could accept that a scarf warp, 10" in the reed at 27 epi wasn't really going to show that it was short 4 ends.  Even if it meant the right and left selvedges weren't exactly the same.  It would take another eagle eyed weaver to notice the slight difference.

So I could spend 15, 20, maybe more minutes of my time, or I could just accept that this warp will be short four ends.

Today I took 'off' for a while.  Long enough to finish the library book that is due tomorrow so that it, along with two others, can be returned.  And two more picked up.  Three if that third one in the queue gets processed.  

With a very busy time coming up (if all of the plates stay spinning on their sticks), today - Labour Day - seemed like the perfect day to just take some time to sit and read.  And not think too much about anything.

We all get old - if we are lucky.  I think maturity or wisdom, perhaps, comes with recognizing when something matters.  And when it doesn't.  

There is still time today to sley the warp, then lash it on and then wind bobbins so that I can begin weaving on the current warp tomorrow.  If I go start now.  Seems like a good thing to do to finish off a day in celebration of Labour.  And then continue on  my quest to reduce my stash by winding three more warps - the last three colours for which there is enough yarn to wind a scarf warp - and keep going, picking away at my stash.  Seems my week is planned.

Sunday, September 5, 2021



Another Zoom meeting under our belts.  Numbers attending the live presentations have fallen off, but that's ok.  I just loaded the recording to You Tube where people can view at their convenience.

And that's the thing.  We don't have to miss out when live events either don't or can't happen when it suits us.  Because Life Happens, and despite best intentions, sometimes you just can't get there in person, on the day, at the time.

As a teacher, I find doing on line a bit challenging.  I don't get that immediate feedback that I get when I'm there in person, doing it live.  But I've done this for a while now, and while at least one friendly face makes things easier, I have been known to do on line seminars before they became popular, due to pandemic interference in our lives.  So I'm not a stranger to talking into a microphone.  Hell, one of my first jobs out of high school was long distance operator for the telephone company.  I spent my entire day interacting with people by talking with them, trying to puzzle out what they wanted with only verbal cues.  

Teaching takes it up a notch, however.  When I came up with the on line study group idea, I figured I'd done enough Power Point presentations, both live and on line, I could manage.  

Just like weaving itself, giving a presentation on how to understand weaving is much the same.  Where do I want to end up?  What path should I take to get myself AND my students at the same place?  What visual aids should I have to illustrate my point?

Intellectual understanding is probably the easiest to deal with - physical engagement the most difficult.

But if someone really wants to learn, there are ways.  Books, of course.  I know a number of people who decided to learn how to weave, picked up a copy of Mary Black and stubbornly followed the text until they got it.

Other authors have done much the same - Mary Atwater, Elmer Hickman, S. A. Zielinski, and so many more.  

Today the group looked at lace weaves.  It warmed the cockles of my heart when several said they finally understood the difference between huck, Swedish and Bronson.

It may seem like hair splitting, but sometimes to really understand something you need to take it apart as much as possible, then build it back up again.

I'm still learning.  The samples I wove for the Next Big Project added to my foundation of knowledge as I worked with yarns I had never worked with before.  I won't say I learned something 'new' but what I learned confirmed my analysis.  Sometimes what I expected was even truer than anticipated - a thick 3 ply yarn really doesn't want to flatten, even when given a good hard press, for instance.  That cloth is thicker than I anticipated when I wove and wet finished it.  Doesn't make it bad, just slightly different than anticipated.

Since I seldom weave with a 3 ply yarn, that was 'new' information to me and a kernel of knowledge to add to my database.

It is a long weekend here, so a number of pots on the simmer will have to continue to simmer for a few days.  In the meantime, I have another silk scarf warp to wind and get into the loom

Saturday, September 4, 2021

September Dawn


It's September, Labour Day weekend.  My iPad camera didn't do this gentle dawn justice, but shows the movement of the sun from the north, on its journey to the south.

It started to rain, shortly after I took the photo.  A gentle rain which likely didn't bring much in the way of water, but no thunder, so that was good.  There are not too many wildfires in the area where I live, and our town has been spared much of the smoke plumes over the summer.

Yesterday, after working for several (more) hours on the filming schedule and other associated documentation, I took a deep breath and decided I needed to withdraw from the madding crowd.  I'd forgotten I had wound the next silk warp, but when I 'found' it sitting patiently on my work table, it was like my past me had given future me a gift.  

I rough sleyed and beamed the warp, stopped for lunch, then went down and threaded/sleyed and lashed on, weaving a few picks for a header.  Then I stopped for a break and started weaving.

By 4:30 I'd nearly finished the first scarf.  It's going more quickly because I'm using a slightly thicker rayon slub, so fewer picks per inch.  I'm not complaining!  I've used this yarn combination before and I know it will make a nice scarf.  And because only the warp is silk, I can price them lower than for 100% silk.

Today is a sort of rest day.  I will continue working on the current silk warp, then check my laptop is working, pull the samples for the Zoom on Sunday, maybe a few books.  

Until I hear back from the team, things will be quiet, which means probably until Tuesday, given the holiday.  I'm hoping I can finish this warp and begin the next over the long weekend.

I'm feeling a wee bit nervous about these classes.  I don't feel like I know enough about how to get content into a good format, but I do know how to thread ideas together.  So I've relied heavily on my past experience and the little bit I DO know.

In the meantime, covid continues, but the number of new cases in BC dropped on Friday, so fingers crossed the newer more strict measures will do the job and we can start tamping the virus down.  Selfishly I really want these to work so I can go to Vancouver and do the taping.  And then discuss with the team any further collaboration that might be possible.  

Time will tell.

In the meantime, we continue our slow steady progress to autumn, then winter.  Here's hoping for a much better 2022 with less covid around and more in person activities a reasonable expectation.  But if not, at least we have more options for on line things.

Friday, September 3, 2021



It was a lesson I learned a long time ago - to help someone else did not diminish me in any way.

The pandemic has been hard.  Oh, so hard.  People have had to scramble to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table.  All while dodging a virus that continues to make a large swathe of the population sick.

Since I am immune compromised I have been particularly observant in avoiding crowds, staying home as much as possible, figuring out ways to continue to support and encourage my students on line.  Just after the pandemic was grabbing hold, my computer died and needed to be replaced.  Then I bought Zoom - the professional package so I could host meetings (classes) longer than the 40 minutes the free version allowed.

I have spent literally hours writing Power Point presentations, then the actual time of doing them live, then uploading them to You Tube (unlisted, for my students only).

In many ways doing this has been good for me as I dragged myself through further chronic health issues.  It gave me a reason to get up in the morning and keep going.  

This summer I have also been re-writing my material to hopefully wind up in another on line class.  Even though I've done this kind of thing before, it's still a lot of effort to review, then re-write the material for another look at how threads get turned into actual cloth.  

As I pore through the books in my personal library, I am reminded of the countless weavers who have gone before, learning the technology that was available to them, recording the information for as long as the weaving community finds it useful, valuable.  I am grateful they preserved their knowledge for me to learn from.

And now I put my perspective onto the information, and hope to share what I know about textiles, how to turn thread into cloth.

All this week I have been at the desktop, sifting, sorting, thinking, considering.  Is this important?  Is this necessary for someone to know?  How can I explain it better than I've done before?  What examples will illustrate the process best?  Have I woven enough samples?  

And last but not least - will anyone be interested enough in what I have to say?

Because yes, Impostor Syndrome is a thing and I still question myself.

But regardless - I also know that sharing what I know takes nothing whatsoever from me.  Telling people my 'secrets' does not remove knowledge from me.  

So I will continue for as long as I can, to shine a light on the creation of woven cloth.  It is something I can do from the isolation of my studio, my computer, my internet connection.  And hopefully - covid willing - getting as much of what I know on tape as we can manage.

We are in the midst of an upsurge in covid where I live.  I am really hoping very hard that the numbers start to come down so we can drive to Vancouver the first week of October and get the taping done.  

Stay safe everyone.  If we ever meet irl, I'm a hugger.  But if you aren't, I'll respect that.  Just know that I am...

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Two Months


It took just two months to go from a very low case count to routinely running around 650-800 cases of covid.  Per day.

Today the BC health officer held a press conference to answer questions about what will happen now that numbers are rising, not just in a couple of hard hit regions, but the more northern, more geographically remote areas of the province.  Including my town.

The announcements of limited access to *non-essential* events to only people who have been vaccinated seems to have spurred renewed interest in people finally getting vaccinations, but yesterday also saw a slew of protests by the anti-crowd.  They targeted hospitals, making life difficult for people who are sick or needing tests that could only be done in a hospital.  And showing the utmost disrespect for the health care workers who have been working their asses off to try and help people who fell ill for the past 19 months - not just covid patients but anyone who has needed health care.

Thankfully my appointment for a CT scan was today but I left the house a bit early just in case there were any lingering pockets of angry protestors.  There weren't, and I sat and read my book.  The waiting area was not full, and some of the chairs had been marked 'do not sit here' to enable at least a modicum of spacing.  And of course, everyone was wearing a mask.  Properly.

I haven't heard the full report of the press conference, but our town has shown a sudden growth in cases over the past 10 days, which is all very concerning, especially with school starting next week.

In the meantime, I'm hoping that more stringent measures will 'save' Thanksgiving (in October in Canada) and (selfishly) my filming dates, the first week of October.

To that end I worked on the schedule again today and now I'm going to work on the weave-a-long project for the class.

I'm not sure I've done the spreadsheet correctly, but I'm going to send my more extensive notes (7 pages!) with more detail than is needed in the spreadsheet.  I figure they can take what they need and ignore what they don't.  But it's information that will keep me on track during filming.

I don't have a script, so I just wrote out a Coles Notes version of the topics I want to cover, in the order I want to do them.  The hardest part was estimating the times.  But just giving it my best guess, I have 236 minutes scheduled with an estimate of 240 minutes for the class.

Now, if I could only pretend I knew what I was doing when I did that.  (Impostor Syndrome is strong!)

At this point in time I am nearly ready for the trip.  There are still some things that need to be done, but the biggest part of the job is there.  I just need to find my written notes for the project, not just the drafts.  Either that or I do another yarn wrap to figure out epi, then crunch the numbers for width/length for an actual project warp, not just a sample warp.

Little by little, day by day.  We get through this.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Goat Trails. Again


The goat trails come and go but never disappear entirely.

However, I sorted through my hand dyed variegated silk cones (I used to import and dye and sell the yarn) to see what there was, if there was enough for a warp - or two - and what rayon yarns I might have to use as weft on them.  As it happens, there is enough for 5 more warps in addition to those I've already done.

This corner of the studio got filled with a bunch of stuff from other corners of the room in the latest shuffle which makes getting at the silk much more difficult.  And the reeds, stored behind that table on the right hand side.

I have lots of bobbin lace stuff I need to decide what to do with - do I keep?  Or sell on.  Will my eyesight improve enough after cataract surgery that I will be able to see well enough?  Or should I just bite the bullet and get rid of everything.  The basket under the table is just ONE of the piles of lace equipment/books I own.

Decisions, decisions.

In the meantime I have done the rough outline for the second filming, added in the items I'd initially forgotten, and now need to figure out filming times.  But first I wanted to finish the warp on the loom, which I just now did.  The two scarves are now sitting on the dining room table, waiting to be fringe twisted.

But that is also the space I need to spread out my papers while I gnaw on a pencil and figure out the details.

All well and good to come up with the concept, the devil is in the details, as they say, and it is time to wrestle with the devil!

As far as weaving goes, I now have a couple of opportunities to sell my work in Nov.  The large craft fair is scheduled to go ahead, no doubt with lots of covid protocols.   People who want to participate will require proof of vaccination as will shoppers.  I'm undecided if I will go help in the booth or not.  Much will depend on the level of covid floating around in 8 weeks time.  I can always take all the shifts for the guild room where there will be far fewer people and we can control ventilation better.

Anyway, there is good incentive to weave the silk scarves and have them ready for Nov.

In the meantime I am still waiting to hear about the ghost weaving I agreed to do last July.  So I'm pouring on the coals trying to finalize the filming so I can hit the ground running as soon as I get the details.  Yup.  Details.  More details to sort out.

The sort of details that I enjoy getting my teeth into and then winding up with something close to what I wanted.  Always something to learn.

Currently reading Not Dark Yet by Peter Robinson