Sunday, October 31, 2021

Inching Along


Down to the last two scarves, thinking about the next warp, picking up the various 'pieces', turning them over, looking at them from different angles.  Trying to decide.

So, the yarn I was planning on using was not, after all, 2/20 or even 2/30 silk, but...2/60.  I quickly re-calculated the epi to accommodate the different size, factoring in the weft I was going to use and then developed a threading that wasn't exceptional, pretty plain, really.  But it would do for a first warp.  Because it was clear there was enough of this yarn for at least two warps (about 20 or so yards long).

But a friend is also making scarves and we had been bouncing ideas off each other and over the past few days while I worked on fringe twisting and getting ready for the upcoming sales, I thought about the silk/cashmere I was planning on working with.  And found myself dreading fringe twisting 2/60 silk.


I mean, I could do it.  But I donwanna.

I also donwanna do on loom hem stitching.  

The alternative was woven hems.  The more I fringe twist these 2/20 silk scarves, the more I'm leaning into doing hems on the silk/cashmere.

Now I need to figure out what weave structure.  Because the draft I came up with doesn't do a true plain weave.  It will be back to the drawing board (software) to generate some treadlings, some variations, see what seems the best approach.  Right now I'm thinking a 2:2 tie up and a straight treadling, but until I see it on the screen, I'm just not sure.  I may also need to dig in my stash to fine a heavier silk to use for the hem.  Or just use the cashmere.  Not sure right now.  Could go either way.

In the meantime, I continue to pick away at the fringe twisting.  My new press should be here on Friday so there is some expectation that I might be able to deliver some to the guild craft fair booth.  OTOH, I can wait until I see it more or less set up on Thursday - see if there is room for some silk scarves.  Or just wait until the sale in the guild room.

But never mind.  Progress has been made.  And will continue to be made.  Even if it is just one inch at a time.

Currently reading A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Slow and Steady


I have made slow but steady progress on the fringe twisting pile.  I think there are five scarves left to be done, which still seems like a lot, but one bite at a time.

While I know lots of people love their battery operated twisters, or do it by hand, I have issues for which neither of those is a good option.  So yes, I know about the battery operated twisters, and no, I won't be spending money on one.  My preference.

But that's the thing about weaving.  There is almost always more than one way to do anything related to getting a textile created.

Some people call me an 'expert' and I will accept that (now) for certain levels of 'expertise'.  But what I am most expert about is how to do things for me.

That said, if someone likes my results, they might like to take a close look at what I do, just in case what I do resonates with them.

What I can say is that from the feedback I've had from people, a lot of what I do does resonate with other people, and yes, some of them have further tweaked how I do something to better serve their own needs.

And all of that is completely valid.

Someone recently asked me who my mentors were.  I had to stop and think, not because I didn't know who they were, but because there were so many.  Pulling the memories of my interaction with those people was a lovely meander down memory lane and I very much enjoyed sharing with the person who I had learned from.  Sometimes those lessons had nothing at all to do with creating a textile, except that the lesson was so applicable to living, it turned out to be a most valuable lesson in how to proceed through my life as well as weaving.

So I listed the people who had an ongoing influence in my life, not just a seminar or a two day workshop (although there were a couple people whose off hand comment proved to pave the way to enlightenment).  In the end I said that the entire weaving community had, in it's way, nurtured and mentored me.  

Now that my body is insisting that I 'slow down, dammit' I have been having lots of time to think about what lies ahead for me.  No conclusions yet, but hopefully the upcoming on line classes will prove to be helpful to others.  And allow me to encourage and support new weavers for some time to come.

Slow and steady.  Works in so many ways in life.

Friday, October 29, 2021



required pretty picture

Dare to be wrong.

There.  I said it.  Dare to be wrong, sometimes.  Dare to admit you were wrong.  Choose to accept that you were wrong.  

And then choose to make it right.

One of my mentors always greeted me with the question - what mistake have you made lately?  

She taught me to embrace my mistakes.  My 'wrong-ness'.  She showed me that being wrong is not terminal, it's just another stop along the road of learning.  Of becoming more fully human.  Of how to accept that not everyone is right, all the time, and from being 'wrong' we can learn to become more 'right'.

Somehow we have evolved into a society where no one dares to accept they were wrong about anything.  The more they refuse to accept their wrong-ness, the less able they are to change and grow.

I had to confront a young person once who did me a 'wrong'.  Somehow she had never learned in her 19 years to date, to accept responsibility for when she did something wrong and work to make it right.

I was just upset enough, angry enough, I quietly and calmly (in public so I wouldn't shout) pointed out all the ways she had been 'wrong' in the previous few weeks.  Pointed out her absence of sense and how her bad choices had caused actual harm to me.  And I kept pushing until she started to cry.

Ah-ha, I thought.  She's learned over the years that if she starts to cry, everyone lets her off the hook.  And then she continues to make bad choices, knowing she won't be held accountable.

As she quietly teared up saying how sorry she was and how bad she felt, I let her insincere apology (because it was, in that moment, insincere) run down.  

Then I said 'Fine, feel bad.  Feel bad all you like.  But what are you going to do to make it right?"

That startled the tears right out of her.  "What?!"  I repeated the question.  "What are you going to do to help make the harm you have caused me 'right'?"

For several seconds she sat there with you mouth agape, while I quietly sat, waiting for an answer.

Finally she stammered "I don't know what I can do!"

So I told her what she could do to help make things 'better'.  

We came to an agreement and a few days later she left.  As it happens she did not complete what I had set out as what was required to make things 'right' and I dusted off my hands and let it go.

Interestingly enough, I got an email from her about 10 months later, thanking me for all I had taught her.  I doubt she was referring to just the weaving.

I wish her well, and hope that she learned that mistakes are just mistakes.  That we can learn and grow.  And choose to make different choices.  Cause less harm.  We are all human, and life is a journey.

So, don't get too bent out of shape if you run into problems.  If you make mistakes.  Learn and grow.  Embrace your mistakes as the learning opportunities they can be.  If we just allow them to teach us.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021



At times it feels like I never actually *finish* anything.

So it was today when I did finally cut the 'last' silk scarf warp off the Leclerc and carried the 'last' two scarves up to the dr table and add them to the heap of scarves to be fringe twisted.

It may not look like much, but there are a bunch of scarves that are 'next' in line and some over the back of the chair at the end of the table which have actually gotten done, little by little.

My wrists aren't much liking fringe twisting these days so I can't just power through the stack.  Nor my neck.  Or my back.  Et bloody cetera.

But I'm also 'retired' (for certain values of) and really if these don't get done in time for the guild booth at the big craft fair?  They'll be done for the guild sale that follows.  

Plus my new press is supposed to arrive on Nov. 5 which just happens to be the first day of the craft fair.  So if it comes early enough there is the possibility that I could get a few done in time to be delivered to the booth on day 2.  Or I could use the old one as soon as I have a load of scarves ready - and hope it keeps working.  Something I'm not really wanting to test.

We will see.

In the meantime the weather continues to morph into full autumn.  Today we have a rare taste of sun with lots of dark clouds in the other half of the sky.  And the wind is gusting.  There are almost no deciduous leaves left on the trees and what few are, are looking pretty dull and tired.  Winter is not so far away.

As usual my dr table is cluttered with stuff.  With the pandemic, it seems like boxes of masks and wipes have found a home there, along with a big bag of Hallowe'en treats.  Doug is making a door 'cover' to dispense the treats again this year.  Last year it was quite chilly out and it really helped to have the plastic sheeting up, preventing the cold air from coming into the house every time he opened the door.

So he's tweaked it and will install one again this year.  The kids all seemed to find the mode of delivery intriguing.  :D

I know we are all sick of the pandemic, tired of the restrictions, and longing for more social interaction with friends and family.  We just need to be a little more patient.  If we all do the right thing, we will get through this.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Yearning Towards the Light


This morning I was informed by Facebook that this post contravened their standards on hate speech.
It appears that their AI screening of language objected to a word I used that some people use as a racial slur.  I apologize to anyone who was offended by the use of that word and I have changed the word to something else.

Of course if an actual human being had read the post they would have noticed that this post had nothing whatsoever to do with hate or a racial slur.  This is the single most powerful argument I can point to about AI taking over from actual human beings - they miss context.

After days of overcast dreary days, yesterday the setting sun found a crack in the cloud cover and the little mountain ash a few doors down the street basked in the glow.

The photo doesn't do it justice, truly.  You could feel the intensity of the sun as the leaves drank up the light.

And I thought about how so much of what makes life enriching is so often unseen.  Or unnoticed.  I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, and noticed the scene from the corner of my eye.  

The amount of time the scene lasted was but a few minutes.

And that is how life is, so frequently.  A chance moment in time.  One that could be missed, or not noticed because we weren't looking at the right place at the right time.

This morning I get to talk to some people about weaving, more specifically about ergonomics/efficiency.  When I reviewed the Power Point last night, I realized how little actual 'do this' or 'do that' I was going to tell them.  Because it depends. 

Each person needs to pay attention to themselves, to their equipment, their processes.  Find the path that is the correct one for them.  But first they need to be paying attention.  So much of what I will be talking about is the mindset that looks, that attempts to see.  Only by paying attention to the little things can we make meaningful changes to improve our practice.  Our lives.

Change can happen - if we not only allow it, but encourage it.  The first step is to be aware.  Pay attention.  Then start asking questions.  Trying different things.  Be willing to change, even if it isn't - at first - successful.  We need to be willing to not succeed in our first attempts, but pay attention to why and what needs to change to come closer to our goals.

We need to yearn towards the light.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

School of Sweet Georgia


Felicia Lo of  Sweet Georgia  has done a bunch of podcasts including this one from 2018 (I think).  If anyone is looking for a podcast to listen to, there are now 70+ to choose from.  She also does a vlog where she talks about her own personal journey in textiles, available on You Tube.

I noticed that the website now has my classes listed on their 'road map', The Intentional Weaver to launch in January, Magic in the Water in February.

With internet supports like Zoom, I can spend some time with students, answer questions, give feedback, give fuller explanations.  Because everything about weaving 'depends' - on your loom, your physical build (short? tall?) your physical limitations (eye sight?  manual dexterity?) your equipment (which loom?  Is it the 'right' loom for you given the previous...)

Since the pandemic seems to be in no hurry to depart, we have to embrace what IS possible, not mourn what isn't.  So while in person learning may be the 'best', on line might have to do - for a while.

My original DVDs with Handwoven are still available through them but these two new classes come with follow up contact with me - if that is of interest.  If not, I stand by the DVDs now streaming workshops on the Long Thread/Handwoven web site.

One of the advantages of the move to internet learning is the accessibility.  SOS (School of Sweet Georgia) is working hard to make the classes as easy to use as possible.  Closed captions can be activated, the classes are broken into shorter sequences and clicking on the 'chapter' headings will take you directly to the segment you want to watch without having to scroll through content to get there.

Personally I'm getting more comfortable doing Zoom presentations.  I still have no interest in teaching techniques per se, but conveying principles.  I will do that tomorrow for the Ontario Handweaver's guild conference where I'll talk about ergonomics/efficiency.  

I have recently been contacted by several guilds to do programs, and so long as I can talk principles, I have been taking bookings.  

My guild programs run about 60-90 minutes (because I have So Much to Say!) and right now I'm charging a fairly low fee of $250.  If anyone is interested in hearing from me about weaving things, I have 11 topics, most of them can stand alone, a couple are essentially two parts of one aspect of weaving.

The following list of titles sets out what I feel is important for weavers to know about and understand:

A Good Yarn; fibre characteristics

The Efficient Weaver: considering how to reduce fatigue and improve performance

Weaver's Toolbox: a look at equipment weavers use

Goldilocks Zone: good tension, bad tension

The Full Spectrum:  a look at the variables and why nearly every answer to a weaving question begins "it depends"

Form Follow Function: a place to start when designing - what function is your cloth to perform?

Colour Considerations: basic colour hints/tips

Decoding the Code: weaving drafts including profile drafts and 4 shaft twill variations

Looking at Twills: 4, 8 and beyond

Looking at Lace: Huck, Swedish and Bronson Lace

Wet Finishing: it isn't finished until it's wet finished

Contact me at

Friday, October 22, 2021



'No Man is an Island'

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 

This poem, written by John Donne a very long time ago, seems to be becoming more and more relevant as the world continues to deal with a viral pandemic.

The poem is a really good reminder that ultimately we depend on the assistance of others for our survival, as an individual, but also as a species.  

As a weaver, I have been helped, and try to help others.  Life is too big, weaving is too big, for one person to go it alone.  We get better, we do better, in co-operative groups.

My local guild has shrunk due to covid.  People just aren't going out - and I don't blame them.  I've barely attended drop ins myself.  

But we also need to look to the future.  How we can continue to grow the crafts, be supportive, help each other. 

Next month the guild will have a booth at the large craft fair, then for the following five weeks will set up 'shop' in the guild room for public days Sat/Sun and by appointment during the week.  After that, there will be a 'pop up' boutique at the shop run by the Community Arts Council.  I'm still waiting on details for that last - it only just happened and I'm focused on the other things right now.

Not all of our members make things to sell, but some of them do and this is one way we can help our members, and the guild because the guild charges a small consignment rate on sales.  We have rent to pay, magazine subscriptions to renew and so on.  

We are looking at setting up a 'buddy' system (each one teach one).  And again, still sorting out details, but hopefully we can get the ball rolling on learning again. 

We will get through this, and life in general, with a little help from our friends.  In the meantime, follow the covid protocols and if you haven't yet, get vaccinated.  

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Autumn Mist


As summer slowly slides into autumn, we wind up having fog in the mornings.  The cooler temps turn the humidity in the air into mist that usually burns off mid-morning.  This morning I woke up around 7 am and as I grabbed my morning pills and juice, turned on the coffee maker, the moon was bidding me farewell as it slowly sank into the west.

It was an ethereal sight and a gentle reminder that the earth continues to revolve, night turns into day, days into weeks, weeks into months.  Time marches on.

Time *keeping* is a human construct.  We measure the hours of our days in tiny slices, at times finding that every minute feels like forever, while whole days flash by before we can blink.

But the truth is...the seasons move at their measured pace and our frustration with 'progress' or lack of 'progress' is very much a human emotion.

One that I try very hard to not let rule my happiness.

The other day I posted a video to Facebook of me at the loom.  I was having a fairly good day and was enjoying the rhythm of the act of weaving.  It was very much a working meditation, peaceful and productive.

There are times when things go more smoothly than others, and I try to really sink into the process when it's going well.  I can set aside most of my cares and woes and just be present in the moment.

This morning, with the moon hanging overhead, softened by the autumn mist, I had another moment of peace and contentment.

The world may be heading for hell in a hand basket, but I have to remember that it is only the human world.  When we are gone, the earth will still be revolving.  The days will pass, sun rise, sun set, and the seasons will continue, with or without us.

Sometimes it is good to remember how tiny I am.  And remember that my purpose in life is to live the best life I can.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Pandemic Thoughts


A while back I did a series of small publications on fibre characteristics.  I called them A Good Yarn and covered cotton, linen, wool.  Mostly I did them because so few weavers had any real understanding about the very nature of the materials they were working with.

This past year when I tried to find a way to get through a pandemic and continue to teach, this topic was one that I turned into a 2 hour (approximately) on line presentation.  In the end I wound up with 11 seminars about various principles involved in weaving.  

As we stare down the telescope of forward thinking, I've been trying to figure out how to continue to reach out to weavers and while we are in this pandemic, I won't be doing any in person workshops, so I've been booking Zooms with some guilds.  This weekend, I'll be doing one on ergonomics for the Ontario Handweavers conference.  I don't know if they are still taking registrations, but maybe?  

This morning a guild asked if I could do a Zoom workshop.  I offered one (or more) of my seminars, in large part because I just don't have the equipment or skills to do a workshop, as such.  But I still have a lot (!) to say about the craft of weaving.  And I spent rather a lot of time first writing my book, then developing the seminars.

So if anyone is interested in booking me for a Zoom seminar (if anyone reading this has sat in on one, maybe mention if you thought it was worthwhile?) and I will work on a price.

The post production team at the School of Sweet Georgia continues to work on the editing and we appear to be on track for the class to go live in the new year.  Part of the reason I agreed to do this with SOS is the fact that I can interact with the students, answer questions, clarify things that may need further explanation.  An on-line 'workshop' perhaps isn't the 'ideal', but with forethought and care, I think we can make it work.  And I'm willing to try.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021


 I'm not a particular fan of fringes, but I know many people are so I had to work out an approach that I would feel comfortable about having on my textiles.

For some things I will hem stitch, then cut the fringe 'short' (about 1") after wet finishing.  

For other things, I will set up a way that makes it easy to do the fringe twisting, which is done before wet finishing.

In this photo, I have just finished one scarf and am about to begin the next.  When I reach the end of my tape (in this case 80"), I weave four picks with waste yarn of a contrasting colour to the woven cloth.

Then I use my handy dandy little wooden ruler which is 6" long, leave a gap of unwoven warp, and weave in about 1/2" of waste yarn.  This waste yarn does two things - I know where to cut to separate the two scarves, and I have something holding the loose warp threads in position so that I can more easily do the fringe twisting.

Then I roll the warp forward again leaving another 6" gap and weave 8 picks of waste yarn to begin the next scarf.

As the unwoven warp winds onto the cloth beam, the outside ends sometimes fall off the cloth roll, so I carefully put them back onto the cloth roll so that they will stay the same length and maintain the same tension as the rest of the warp.

Once the warp is done, I unroll the woven cloth and carefully separate the scarves along the cut line, then fold them up in order to carry them upstairs where I tend to do my fringe twisting - at the dining room table.

This photo shows another scarf that is partially done.  I cut the waste yarn in several places along the width of the weaving, then pull out one section of waste yarn at a time and fringe twist each bout until the free fringe is done.  Then I pull out the next section.  Repeat until done.

The weft tails tend to get included into the last bout (I work from right to left with the weft tail hanging out of the left side of the cloth) and everything is secure.  You should be able to just make out the cut line with waste yarn at the very bottom of the photo.  I don't pull the loose fringe out of that waste yarn until I'm about to do the twisting.

I use a small tool which works well for me.  Some people like to use the battery operated 'braiders', some prefer to just use their hands.  Do what works for you.

The final step after wet finishing (including a good hard press, usually) is to trim the little fluffy bits off the ends of the fringe.  They come out of the washer/dryer looking fluffy and - to me - a bit messy.  So I trim them off.

Personal preference will determine what you you.

Monday, October 18, 2021



Doug worked on the flat bed press for several hours Saturday, then again on Sunday.  It is now working - but I'm worried it will just continue to break down.  At 35 years of age, used way more than would be expected for a piece of domestic laundry equipment, it really doesn't owe me a cent.

Once it was working I managed to do the hard press on the samples I'd run through the washer/dryer, but even just standing to do that I realized that my ability to stand for extended periods of time is very compromised.  

I thought about continuing to weave, then wondering how I could manage the pressing.  Certainly doing it by hand with a hand iron was not really a good idea.

So I wrote about it on my blog, as I tend to do.  Writing about a challenge in my life frequently brings me to a point of understanding what needs to happen.  What path I should take.

I started looking on line at what was available for small flat bed presses, and after poking around for a while found one on offer at that would actually work for me.  It was about the same size as my Elna, with similar features, AND it was on sale.  It was also IN STOCK!  And they could ship it immediately.

The price was just about within my price range, but still, not an expense I had budgeted for, so I was musing aloud (so to speak) trying to decide if I could justify the purchase or I could manage without it.

I'd no sooner posted that when I checked my email and was stunned.  Someone had sent a rather generous amount via my ko-fi account.  I stared at the screen for several minutes, not quite believing my eyes, then emailed to ask if they had meant to send that amount - if not I would issue a refund.

The answer was 'yes' - they had meant to send that amount and thanked me for my encouragement to find ways to work ergonomically and the knowledge I shared.

It got dusty in here.  Very dusty.

Doug continued to try to get schematics and a parts list and suggested I wait to order a new press, but today's search didn't reveal anything very helpful so, recent donation in hand, I went back to and then couldn't find the one that I'd marked as being a possibility.   They did have a more expensive one, and again, because I had a bit of a cushion I was going to order that one (more expensive, larger, heavier, not really what I wanted, but still within my budget given the donation), except down at the bottom of the page, there was the smaller one!  I clicked on it and yes, it was still available, still on sale.  So I ordered that one.  Shipping was even free, something I had not expected.  

But now I feel a lot more secure about being able to continue to wet finish my textiles in a way that I feel is appropriate.  And I'll be trying to work out how to set up a permanent pressing station so that I can do the job sitting down instead of standing.

My brother had one of those inflatable 'clowns' with a weight in the bottom.  He could knock it over and it would keep standing back up again.  There are days when I feel very much like that clown.  Life continues to knock me over.  But dammit I will keep getting up again.  One way or another.  For as long as I can. 

Thank you to the person who reached out when I was feeling knocked over.  You helped me stand up again.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Use it or Lose it


There is a cliche' that says if you don't use a skill, you will lose it.

The thing I'm finding is that the older I get, the quicker it goes.

To learn a new skill I tell my students (and myself) to try, mindfully, to give it 7 warps to see if the new skill establishes itself as something to keep.  These warps should be done as quickly as they can to cement the new process in one's mind.

However, I'm finding that as I weave less, I dress the loom(s) less frequently, the more I have to stop and think about what comes next.

Which isn't a huge problem, just a little disconcerting.

Having big deadlines that distract from the routine doesn't help, either.

And so it was that today I had to stop several times, in part because that end of the studio still hadn't been put back to rights, in part because I couldn't find some things and had to go digging, and in part because I just needed to stop and think through the process to remember what I *was* supposed to do 'next'.

One of the big distractions was my little flat bed press not working.  Thank goodness it lasted through the taping or that might have become a big problem, but it waited until I got home.  And then just...stopped.

Doug worked on it yesterday and then again this afternoon and it is working now but it's old and been used hard, and...the next time it breaks might be the end.

I dug around and found a 'cheap' press on line and they say they can ship immediately and have it to me by Nov. 7.  I'm in a quandary.  Do l spend more money on a tool that I already own - but may catastrophically break again soon?  Or do I bite the bullet and buy one now, while it is available - or gamble the old one lasts for as long as I need it to?

It's not a pleasant feeling.

Part of me keeps asking if I really need 'production' equipment, but the thing is, I simply cannot physically stand to do a hard press with a hand iron anymore.  I may not be able to stand to use the small press anymore either so I'm looking around the studio wondering where on earth I can set up a 'permanent' pressing area where I can sit down to use the press - whichever press I will have.

But I've just finished pressing the samples I wet finished yesterday and they are on the rack to dry.  The goal is to get them into the mail Monday or Tuesday, then box up the rest of the yarns for that project and put them 'away'.  Until needed the next time.  Maybe in January.

In the meantime, I got the silk warp beamed while Doug worked on the press, and now I'm going to take a wee break, have a snack, then go sit and thread.  I should be able to do the threading and who knows, maybe even the sleying today and begin weaving tomorrow.

That's the plan, anyway.

Saturday, October 16, 2021



Over the summer I worked on my silk stash for a bit, but then other deadlines cropped up so I never got to weave off the last three silk warps I had wound.

Today we are halfway through October, well into autumn.  The weather is changing and will soon become winter.  With winter comes a drop in relative humidity as the cold arrives.

This morning I checked the relative humidity in the house and saw it had dropped to 44%.  I mentioned we should stock up on filtered water for the little humidifier I run in the studio when the relative humidity drops below around 40, definitely by 30%

With one thing and another I didn't get to the rough sleying of the next silk warp until this evening.  It took no time at all to discover the silk was already objecting to the lack of humidity.  It's hard to see in a 'static' (ha) photo, but believe me, those loops are practicing social distancing!

So my goal now is to attack the three silk warps and get them woven before the humidity drops much lower.  And if I have to, I'll drag the humidifier out to encourage the silk to be more co-operative.

Tomorrow morning is the last Sunday Seminar of 2021 and hopefully Doug will get my little flat bed press running again.  When I went to use it today, it started to heat up, then quit.  If I have to start doing all my hard pressing by hand I am going to have to set up my ironing board so that I can sit down to do it.  I cannot - at this point in my life - justify buying a new flat bed press.  Doug is working on it now and maybe by tomorrow it will be working again.

I am still mulling over continuing the Sunday Seminars on into 2022.  I have three booked, with a couple more people who might be approached.  But I have also committed to teaching virtually which will mean more time on Zoom.  So I will think on it and make a decision by the middle of November.  My right hand person is also extremely busy right now and she would be the person updating the guild website so she may not have the time to do anything before the end of the year herself.

I finished reading Lindsey Davis' latest Flavia novel, set in 1st century Rome - it's been returned and I can't remember the exact title - The Grove of the Caesars, perhaps?  Then I read a memoir by Michael Caine, Blowing the Bloody Doors Off, and started Michael Walkers Shot at Castle Rock.  His next one is already waiting for me at the library so I'm going to try and read a little bit every day.  The pandemic has interfered with my ability to concentrate and I have not been reading much at all, in spite of what I thought 18 months ago.  But I hear I am not the only one - it seems to be a common pandemic response.

But I'm going to try to beam the silk warp tomorrow afternoon and see if I can't make a start on getting the silk scarves woven, fringe twisting the others that I managed to weave before I got sidetracked.  

Always something to do!

Friday, October 15, 2021



Well, I guess I can go public now as the first announcement of the upcoming video classes I just filmed was made public today.

During the pandemic and my continuing health issues combining to shrink my horizons, I thought long and hard about how - or even IF - I could continue to teach.  And how that might be done with the most benefit to the students.

I've done video classes before and I stand by them - check out the Handwoven website.  But what I felt was truly missing from most on line classes was the actual learning part, something you get to see and participate in in person workshops/classes.

So when Felicia Lo contacted me in the spring and asked if I would be interested in doing classes for their School of Sweet Georgia, I thought about it.  For maybe a nano-second.  Felicia had interviewed me a few years ago and I had enjoyed her interviewing style a lot.  She asked good questions and listened to my answers.  It felt like a good conversation.

And almost instantly I realized that if she was willing to be the on screen student, those viewing the class would be a much better idea of what was involved,.

It is one thing to see someone who is proficient at a skill do it, but that doesn't actually give the viewer any idea of just what is in store as they try to learn the skill themselves.

I asked Felicia if she would be the 'student' and I would demonstrate, talk her through what I was doing, then coach her as she tried to adopt the new approach.

In the end, I think it went well.  Not to mention she has thrown herself into trying the new processes to see how they fit with her.  

The added attraction to working with Sweet Georgia is the interaction I will have with any of the students who register for the course.  I will be available for questions, further explanation if the video doesn't show what the student needs, advice about things that maybe didn't get covered (because believe me, you cannot cover everything to do with the 'it depends' spectrum in a 240 minute class), and just generally give feedback and advice.

On line isn't the 'best' but it can be made pretty good.  And again, added bonus is interaction with the students over time, not just a high pressured limited time frame.

We did two classes, Magic in the Water, of course, and The Intentional Weaver - both based on (you guessed it) my books.  Both have on screen student participation, both will have on going interaction with me.

Felicia and her team are producing a variety of classes, knitting, felting, spinning, dyeing and weaving.  They are trying to build a solid community of fibre folk, and I am pleased and honoured to be part of their efforts to help people learn and understand how textiles crafts work.

My classes are scheduled to launch in the new year.  I'll keep people posted - or check out their website.

Thursday, October 14, 2021



These are a series of scarves made from painted warps.  I worked with several indy dyers over the years and would send them photos or word descriptions of the kinds of colours  I wanted in the warps and then let them have free rein over how they dyed the warps, which I wound and sent to them.

It made more sense for me to wind my own warps so that they would conform to how I do the job of dressing the loom.  And since I'm not too bothered about 'messy' warps, this worked well for me for a number of years.

In order to make this approach work for me, I had to be aware of what the dyer needed to do and some sense of their pacing/timing in getting the job done, allow time for the warps to be shipped to them and back to me, for me to actually weave them, then fringe twist and wet finish them.

The work for each year's craft fairs began in the spring when I would crunch the numbers, take inventory, yes, including colours I was low on, order the yarn, wind the warps, get them to the dyer, then wait for them to come back, all pretty with their colours.

And then it was weave, weave, weave.  For a time I paid other people to do the fringe twisting, which worked, sort of.  But in the end it was just better if I bit the bullet and did the fringe twisting myself.

But that's the thing about producing in quantities large enough to fill a craft fair booth.

I had to know how long it would take me to receive the yarn order, when I could begin warp winding, allow time to get the wound warps to the dyer, and then back to me.  Then I had to gear up and begin weaving.  As the pile of unfinished scarves grew (about 4 every other day, including dressing the loom, on average) the fringe twisting had to be done.  Since it takes almost the same amount of time to fringe twist one scarf as it took to weave it...well, you get the picture.

Now, in my 'retirement' I no longer need to produce in quantities that will fill a craft fair booth.  People are sometimes rather astonished at the quantity of cloth I have produced over my 40+ year span of doing this as a profession.  But I could not have done it at all without learning how to be really efficient at getting it done.

Allen Fannin once told me (when I was going through a period of extreme chronic pain) that he was in pain every day and you just have to ignore that and get on with the job.

In some ways he was right.  When you live with chronic pain you just factor that into your life and either give up or keep going.  I always kept going.

Until it wasn't necessary that I wove to pay the bills.

Now I am learning how to pace myself in a different way.  Now, I weave for my mental health as much as anything else.  Weaving has always been a working meditation for me as much as an aerobic activity.  In my 70s it is now less physical, because I just can't do it that way anymore, but about the fact that I do still enjoy the whole process.  So I'm learning how to pace myself with the new reality of my current physical age, not my mental image of a 30 something person.

I'm just finished reading a memoir by Michael Caine and he talks a lot about finding balance in his life, how he looks at mistakes or failures as lessons to be learned.  And in many ways, this is how I've tried to live my life as well.  I never met a mistake or failure that I couldn't learn from!  

This week I should finish the ghost weaving I'm doing, and then?  Back to the Big Project to wrap up the rest of my contribution to the post production.  There are other things I have to do as well - the Sunday Seminar this Sunday, the Ontario Handweavers Conference the following weekend.  The local craft fair, for which I need to get the recent production tagged/priced.  Then the guild room sale for the five weeks following.

There are also personal maintenance appointments in there, but mostly I am holding off accepting more obligations beyond the two that are pending, one of which happens next year.

My well of adrenaline appears to be close to empty.  I will learn a slower pace.  But I will keep going.  Got way too much yarn to stop weaving now!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021



From time to time someone will contact me about doing something.  Usually it is something in the future, say 6 months?  3?  And that seems so far away.  Surely I'll be done what I'm currently working on by then and there will be plenty of time (and energy) to do those things, too.

Inevitably delays will creep in and what was 6 months away is now 4, now 3, week.  And instead of having a clear desk (or loom) I'm working on 3 different things at once.

In the 'olden' days, I'd just generate a little more adrenaline and sail through.  Now?  Not so much.  

The filming week was supposed to be the last week of September, but for reasons got moved to the first week of October.  I had to rearrange some Zoom meetings but everyone took it in good cheer.  Except I mis-remembered something I'd agreed to a year ago - incorrectly - and wound up needing to move one of the moved Zoom meetings because the previous commitment was made first.  

But I also still have things to do for the filming, and will continue to have more things to wrap up that project, all before it goes 'live', plus there are the Sunday Seminars (last one on Sunday until the new year), plus my study group (combined two into one), plus guild sales.  I've offered my craft fair apparatus because the guild will have a bigger space - AND my inventory, so they'll need my display stuff too.

Then the guild room sale every weekend for five weeks after the big public craft fair.

I still have things I'd like to have woven for the sales, but I'm also still working on some ghost weaving for another person.  However, I *think* I can get that finished this week.

But all of this activity reminds me that I am supposed to be 'retired', not feeling off balance and fumbling trying to make sure I don't mess up and forget something crucial.

So once again I am wobbling about continuing the Sunday Seminar Series.  I have three booked in the new year and was going to consider booking more.  But I've been doing them for 10 months (last one this Sunday, just saying) and I'm tired.  So I will think on it over the coming couple of months and see if I have the enthusiasm to continue.

Covid continues to be a problem where I live and I'm not happy about heading into winter with the new daily cases continuing to wreak havoc on plans - as long as covid continues to grow, I won't be attending any public things.  I will help set up the guild booth at the craft fair, but will leave as soon as I am able to limit my exposure to crowds of people.  And of course I will be wearing a mask while I am there.

In the meantime I am also preparing to mentor a group of students beginning in January plus two people contacted me last week, wanting me to do stuff.  I said I would, but don't really know the details - yet.  

But by and large I remain an optimist at heart.  We can still get covid under some sort of 'control' in the coming weeks.  IF, that is, Canadians were smart about Thanksgiving.  If not, we'll still be isolating for Christmas.  Then there is New Year celebrations.  And on and on we go.

In the end, what will be, will be.  And hopefully I can stay on top of my deadlines.

I think I can, I think I can...

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Random Thoughts


We got home last night around 8 pm after driving for nearly two hours in the dark, during rain.  It was a black and not pleasant end to the trip.

I was (and still am) very tired.  I am trying to sum up the experience, without being too judgmental of what I did.  In the end, I did the best I could under the circumstances.  Nothing negative about the people I worked with - just the fact that my body is old, been rode hard and put away wet too many times.  And physically, things get difficult.  I could have done better, if I had been feeling better, but things are what they are and sometimes you just have to keep focused on getting stuff done.

I am beyond grateful for the team I worked with, and will continue to work with during the next phase - the post-production.  We filmed out of sequence in order to get everything done in a timely fashion, and the person who does the editing will have to go through all that footage and make chronological sense of it to create a narrative that will make sense to the viewer.  Then captions will be added for those who find them helpful/essential.  There are other production items that will need to be added that will also aid in the student learning what they want to know.  Hopefully I've covered the bases.

The bonus for me is that I get to interact with the students, if they wish, and provide follow up and guidance if I wasn't clear enough during filming.  One of the nice things about a crew who also weave is that they monitored what I was saying and demonstrating and if they felt I needed to add more context or re-do, we did re-takes.  They also understood without my needing to explain what needed to be seen on camera.  Hopefully we managed to get it all.

So on this thanksgiving, I have much to be grateful for, and I am.  

That doesn't mean I'm happy about my current state of affairs, and I continue to try and make my life simpler and easier, in large part because I feel I still have things I need to do.  I just have to adjust my expectations of what those things might be and allow my body the space to move more slowly than I'd like it to.

I'm grateful for friends who care enough to speak firmly to me when they feel I am going astray - getting caught up in negative thoughts.  It's especially challenging right now as I continue to isolate as much as possible and don't have those special moments where we can sit and share a cup of something, chat, and laugh over the absurdities of life.

As I continue to live with chronic pain, I think about my father who had 6 plus years of it, with pretty much nothing tamping it down.  Even after medical staff finally just gave him as much morphine as they could, he remained aware to the very last breath he took.  

I know other people dealing with chronic pain, and everyone does the best they can but some pain simply cannot be treated with ordinary pain killers.  

Not too long ago Canada passed legislation that allowed people with severe chronic illness to choose the day of their death.  Yesterday someone I know made that journey across the rainbow bridge.  They had been dealing with cancer for 20 years with pain growing ever larger in their life.  People with such pain do not medicate to be pain free - they medicate to 'function' - as best they can.  This person had reached the point where in order to control their pain they were effectively comatose.   They were tired.  Exhausted, from the effort to balance medications, keep functioning to some sort of quality of life.  There was no healing for them, no getting better, just day after day of 'worse'.  Like my dad.

They worked with a death doula, submitted the request for end of life, then set about organizing a celebration of life - *their* life - where people could come and say goodbye, share stories, laughter, gratitude.  

They chose this weekend - thanksgiving weekend - to acknowledge that their life had been valuable to them, but that they were tired.  They choose a good day to die.  After the public gathering, they went to a more private location where all was made ready, and during a fireworks display, they went out with a bang, a blaze of glory, having said their goodbyes, their thanks to the family and friends who helped and supported them for so many years.

Some people with disabilities are worried that they might be pressured into choosing this road when they don't want to.  I understand their fears and I hope they never will be under that kind of pressure.

But for my father, who spoke often about wanting to stop the pain, wanting to drive into a bridge abutment, wanted to be free of a body breaking down with no end in sight but more pain?  I wish he had had that choice.

When mom was told there was no more hope or treatment for her and all they could do was keep her comfortable, she was transferred to hospice where they could do that more easily.  At first she instructed me to tell her friends she would not have visitors.  I told her she had to let her friends and family come say goodbye.  It was the final stage in a life lived fully - to know that you were loved and would be missed.  And so she reluctantly agreed.  And then drank in the love to help her make the final journey.

Both my friend and my mother left this life grateful for having been here, but both knew they had reached the limit of what they could do.  I know not everyone will understand, but I do.

We don't talk about death much these days.  Maybe we should.  So I'm going to say, right now, everyone should have a will.  If you write it down, including end-of-life instructions, your loved ones will know what you want to have happen if you become unable to say it for yourself.  

Having a will means survivors will know your last wishes and hopefully there will be no arguments about who gets what.  No confusion if you really did want to be intubated to prolong your life.  Or not.  Organ donation, if you are in a position to donate part of your body and you would like that to happen.  Making your wishes known is an enormous gift you make to your family.

So this weekend, I reflect and think about  my life and all the things I have to be grateful for.  All the experiences I have had.  The places I've been, the people I've met.  I have had a full life, and while I do have some regrets, even my mistakes have been valuable.  Because each mistake taught a lesson and I can be grateful for the lesson.

I am not advocating for everyone who is in pain to rush to end their lives.  I'm just saying that sometimes we simply cannot know what another person is going through and choosing such an exit means there is the chance to say goodbye, hug, laugh, cry and go out with dignity, surrounded by your loved ones - those who wish to be there.  So last night when I heard the fireworks, I sent my thoughts to my friend who was going out under their terms, choosing to go amidst family and friends and their loving presence.  And knew that they were pain free, for the first time in years.

Today I will begin putting my studio back to rights, I have a warp ready to sley, and who knows, might even begin weaving.  Or just take it easy and get back to the loom tomorrow.

It is good to be grateful, yes, even the little things, even when the big picture is crappy.  Sometimes I have to dig very hard for the silver lining in the clouds, but if I try, I can always find something.  Like the sun shining on the autumn finery of the trees I can see from my kitchen window.  The photo doesn't do it justice, honestly.

So, in honour of thanksgiving, I opened my little book of gratitude and came across this by Kahlil Gibran:

Peace be with you, Life!

Peace be with you, Awakening!

Peace be with you, Revelation!

Peace be with you, oh Day, who

Engulfs the darkness of the earth

With thy brilliant light!

Peace be with you, oh Night,

Through whose darkness the lights

Of heaven sparkle!

Peace be with you, Seasons of the Year!

Peace be with you, Spring, who

Restores the earth to youth!

Peace be with you, Summer, who

Heralds the glory of the sun!

Peace be with you, Autumn, who

Gives with joy the fruits of

Labour and the harvest of toil!

Peace be with you, Winter, whose

Rage and tempest restore to

Nature her sleeping strength!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Heading Home


Well, it is Thanksgiving weekend and I have much to be thankful for.  

The work done the past few days required about two months of preparation on my part and many hours on theirs.  All the post production is now in their hands with me providing any assistance they need.  

I think we did some good solid work in spite of my concerns, and frankly?  I was not functioning at my ‘best’.   But I gave it all that I could, given my current state of health.  

My friends tell me that I’m far too hard on myself, and I can’t argue that I’m not.   But my goal is to present the information with clarity.  The team assured me that I did that, so I have to trust their observation.  The rest is out of my hands until the classes launch, then I can be there to support the students.  

We talked about being able to present information people can access remotely, on their own schedule, which also means greater accessibility for people who live in rural areas, or have other issues that prevent travel.

But mostly I just want people to be able to learn.   To understand that there are many ways to accomplish what needs to have happen.  And not to injure themselves.  Privately we talked about some looms being noisy, and wearing hearing protection.   Yes, I have weaving related hearing loss.  I got hearing aids just as COVID arrived and since I have been isolating I’m still not really used to them.   Once COVID eases, I will go out more and hopefully find them less annoying when I hear my own voice. 

The past couple of years I have had to learn how to live with shrinking horizons, accept that I cannot push myself to exhaustion because I no longer have the resilience to bounce back.  My activities need to be more measured.  

We will leave in a few minutes and head North.  The weather isn’t great and there is a chance of snow at higher elevations.  

Once home I have some things to complete, then hopefully slip back into a less intense period of time, rest, take it easy.  By the time the classes launch I will be able to provide support to the students.  It will be an extension of what I have done previously on my own, and with zoom and other on line services, I’m looking forward to meeting a new group of enthusiastic weavers. 

So I am heading home, tired, anticipating some rewarding interactions in the new year. 

With gratitude to the team here, excited to be part of the journey with some eager students and most especially hopeful that we can move beyond COVID to a more positive 2022.

Thank you to all who have encouraged and supported me on my journey.  I look forward to whatever comes next. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Day 3

 No photos today.  

Day three and enormous progress has been made.  We will finish tomorrow (Friday), most likely ahead of schedule.  But it has been, well, gruelling.   We start at 9 am, then follow (as best we can) the rigorous schedule.  Of course we keep adding things as one of us thinks about it!  Which makes staying on track challenging.  

I’m not thrilled with my performance but at this point it is what it is.   And of course I always think I could have done better, if only…

They assure me that people want to, need to know more, and that is all it takes to keep me going. 

We should be done by noon, and then pack up all the stuff I brought down.  Too much stuff, but I didn’t want to forget anything and regret it once here.  

COVID continues to rip through my home health region.  However, being in my hometown means away from others, in my own bed, eating in my own kitchen.  Plus I left a warp on the Megado that needs weaving.  It has a deadline that will get crunchy soon.  

One of the things that we have briefly discussed is the future of classes.  The consensus is that the need for on line classes will remain.  A lot of people are exploring the possibilities.  It will be interesting, the next few years.  

But honestly?  I’m tired of ‘interesting’ times. I could use some ‘boring’ for a while…

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Under Tension


There has been discussion on a weaving group about temples.

Now most people know I'm all about efficiency and because weaving goes more slowly when using a temple some people express surprise that not only do I use them when I deem it necessary, I even have a variety of sizes that fit from narrow to wider widths.

My AVL was 60" weaving width, so I have one that goes right up to 60", one that will do a much narrower warp, and one that will do a medium width.

Most people misunderstand why one would use a temple in the first place, and many more don't use them to their effective 'best'.

People worry about shredding their selvedges.  And yes, this can happen, if the temple is not positioned well.  Using a 'standard' temple means the teeth should bite into the cloth about 1/4" from the edge, not into the selvedge ends.  

Temples will not prevent dimensional loss once the web is removed from the loom.

Temples will keep a tender yarn from drawing in at the selvedge \ and / while in the loom which will prevent abrasion on the selvedges during weaving.  Temples will allow for a more dense cloth to be woven.  By keeping the warp threads well spaced and the same width as the warp in the reed, the weft can be beaten in more easily.

Temples need to be kept as close to the fell as possible.  When people complain about the temples scratching the breast beam, sometimes the problem stems from not keeping the temple within an inch of the fell.

I did the video a few years ago when I still had the AVL and the air assisted fly shuttle.  When I use the temple I will count out how many picks in an inch, stop and move the temple to within 1/4" of the fell and begin weaving again.  The rhythm of weaving one inch, moving the temple, weaving one inch, moving the temple becomes part of the rhythm of weaving that particular cloth.  Yes, it's slower, but I get the results I want without fighting to get them.

Now, on the AVL I had live weight tension but on a loom with a friction fit brake, care must be taken to let off only a little bit of warp to advance.  The weight of the temple can otherwise let off too much warp and repositioning the fell can be a bit of a problem.

Yes, I might prick my fingers if I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing, but once I got used to using a temple, it rarely happened.  I have never scratched the breast beam of any loom that I have used a temple on.

To initially set the temple into the cloth, you have to do it over a distance, gradually spreading the warp out to the weaving width.  As the header is woven, there will be draw in and that narrow width needs to be gently spread out.  The wider the warp, the longer this will take, spreading the warp out about 1" on either side at a time.  It takes about 3" of weaving before the next spreading can take place because the new width needs to stabilize.  Patience, Grasshopper!

Some people prefer the metal temples and they have some pros, but also some cons.  Pro - they are nice and smooth, narrower in their profile so easier to see your weaving.  The wooden ones are lighter than the metal ones, but the wood grain can sometimes catch on very fine yarns, and being wider block view of the cloth.  I have wooden ones which I use, in part because they are cheaper than metal ones and I don't use them often enough that I felt I could justify the extra expense or deal with the heavier weight.  If I were weaving weft faced rugs, I might have made a different decision.

So, when do I decide it is necessary to use a temple?  

When using a tender yarn that will abrade if it draws in.

When wanting a denser cloth where the weft will not beat in as much as required.

When working with a very fine yarn at more than about 30" in the reed.  What I have found is that the draw in happens primarily at the edges and the yarns within 3-6" of the selvedge can become looser and looser until the shed is not clear and skips/floats happen.  (Very annoying.)

Generally I do nothing about the weft other than just beat it in.  On a balanced cloth with an open shed, the weft will draw as much length off the bobbin as required.  No bubbles are hand manipulated.  YMMV.

I am sure there are other situations when a temple would be beneficial.  These are just the ones I can think of, off the top of my head.

If I could afford them, I would install rotary temples, although most of the ones I've seen available for handweavers are pretty 'tall' and if I'm hand throwing the shuttle wonder if they would get in my way.  The low profile of the 'standard' temple suits me for as often as I feel I need to use one.  Now that I'm 'retired' (for certain values of) I don't feel I can justify the expense of buying a Fireside rotary temple, try to install it on the Megado, especially without trying it out before investing in one.

Friday, October 1, 2021

I Think I Can


If I had an 'easy' button, Life would sure be a lot...easier!

Instead I have stubbornness.  I have determination.  I'm not too bothered by 'failure' (although I'd rather not!)

Yesterday Doug and I sorted through the stuff going to Vancouver and by the time I had packed more compactly, crossed off all the stuff the team in Vancouver has promised to provide, there is actually a lot less that we need to fit into the van than I would normally take to Olds.  By quite a lot.  That's the nice thing about doing the taping in a fully equipped studio - they had a lot of stuff I would normally have to transport.

It felt good to take a bit of a breath and begin to think about life after Thanksgiving.  (October 11 in Canada).  I'm still only halfway through a fairly complex commission, so I spent much of yesterday winding the warp for the next step.  My goal is to at least get it beamed today and who knows, start threading tomorrow.  I may not get it finished, but having it begun will make for less pressure when I get home.

In November and December I will be helping with the local guild as they participate in a craft fair (and I can sell my textiles on consignment) and the guild room sale for the 5 weekends afterwards.  I don't want to work the guild booth at the craft fair because I'm still being very careful about crowds, but I can do the guild room sales where there will be far fewer people.  We can also ventilate the room fairly well and people attending will be required to wear a mask.

Otherwise, it will be back to my usual routine - weaving down my stash as much as I can.

There is a saying that if you think you can, or you think you can't, either way you are correct.  So I continue to think I can.  And I'm just bull headed enough to push through.  I'm also old enough to realize that I cannot any longer maintain the work schedule of my younger years.  So I keep my expectations more reasonable.  I refuse to give up entirely, but now I try to set goals that are more attainable.  More within my limits of energy.  

Letting go of what used to be is hard.  But sometimes?  Sometimes you just have to accept, acknowledge, and carry on - as best you can.

I think I can...