Sunday, November 28, 2021

One Last Thing


As the final touch on most of my scarves, I like to trim the little fuzzy bits off the ends of the fringe.  During wet finishing, some yarns tend to 'melt' and get quite untidy looking.  I've tried various places in the studio to do this job and it's just one of those tiring and exasperating things that I find necessary but difficult.

However, today I tried something a little different.  With the new loom and more space in the studio to move around (usually) it occurred to me that I could place the scarves draped over the back beam of the Megado and sit on the small stool I use when I'm beaming warps onto the loom.  The added advantage was that my supplemental lighting was already in place for beaming so I could illuminate my work area and I could sit quite comfortably while I did the task.

My plastic bins fit nicely under the beam and caught all the fuzzy bits as they were clipped off and it didn't take long before all six scarves were done.  Now that I've worked this out, I think that last final touch will be a lot easier to do and I won't procrastinate so much about doing it.

At any rate, I'm quite pleased with how these scarves are turning out.  The different rayon yarns are giving a range of different weights and touch.  I've managed to clear several cones of enough yarn that there is too little to weave with, so those have been put into my knitting stash.

But I also have quite a large inventory of scarves, so I've been thinking about the dribs and drabs of 2/16 coloured cotton.  I've just now ordered 16 pounds of natural white and that should be more than enough to use up the fine linen I was gifted, plus the 2/16 coloured cottons.  I have a LOT of a mid-range turquoise and may grow tired of seeing that colour long before I use it up, but at least I can make a dent in it.

The goal is to continue to use up as much as I can and I'm very near clearing those shelves off.  It will feel like progress when I do!

I'm still thinking about the 2/20 mercerized cotton.  There isn't really enough to do a mix of colours so I may be playing with small stripes again.  But first I want to see some real progress on cleaning some of my shelves off.

Little by little.  Progress, even a tiny amount, is still progress.  Winding up with some nice scarves is kind of the cherry on the top.  My goal at this point is to bring some into the guild sale next Saturday.  So I'm going to try and finish the current warp (three more scarves to weave), get them all fringe twisted and wet finished.  I'll have to stay focused.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

November Blues


before hard press

after hard pressing

I really love the magical transformation that happens when my woven webs get wet finished.  This scarf came off the loom quite stiff and dull looking.  It was only as the hard pressing continued that it began to shine and develop drape.  From feeling a bit coarse, it now feels quite silky and lovely against the skin.

It never ceases to amaze me that the true nature of the cloth develops when it hits the water and in some cases gets compressed.

They were a little bit more damp than I prefer, so I may run them through the press again a couple of times tomorrow when they are fully dry.

The compression does several things - the obvious one is the development of the shine, of course.  But it also increases the stability of the cloth as the warp and weft threads lock together under the compression.  It makes the cloth thinner, which can be an advantage if one is planning on sewing with the cloth, or hemming it.

I only did 6 scarves today.  There are two more to fringe twist and I may do those tomorrow and then do another batch on Monday.  In the meantime I need to trim the fringes and get the care/price tags on these six.  Three scarves sold at the guild sale today and these ones are quite different from the ones at the sale already.  Plus, they won't sell in my basement!  :D

The 3rd dose of the vaccine I had on Friday didn't knock me flat, but it did make me feel very tired.  I'm not sure I'll weave tomorrow, although I would like to get the current scarf complete so I can cut those three off and work on the fringe twisting.  We still have two more weekends of the guild room sale, plus one Saturday at the arts complex in a pop up sale.  It would be nice to have some new designs to present.

It looks like where we are is not going to be horribly affected by the parade of atmospheric rivers making landfall over the next few days.  But times are going to continue to be difficult for many BC people between the pandemic, plus the climate emergencies - flooding, landslides, roads washed out, etc.

We have no where to go so we are sitting at home as much as possible.  I have a hair cut booked for Thursday and will be happy to get shorn, but that's really all that is on my calendar for the coming week.  I'm hoping to finish the current warp and get the next one into the loom.  Hopefully I'm over the 'worst' of the vaccine response and will be able to steam ahead.

Stay safe everyone.  Pay attention to alerts re: driving and stay home if you can.

Friday, November 26, 2021


 "flawless" doesn't mean "no errors were made at any point in the creation of this thing" it means "no errors are readily apparent upon inspection or use of this thing", the mistakes no one knows you made that don't effect the final outcome literally DO NOT MATTER

Someone on Twitter did a thread on flaws/mistakes and the above was just one of the tweets she wrote about being 'not perfect'. Her twitter handle is Anna Phylaxis and her thread summed up pretty much everything I think about when I think about 'perfection'.

The current warp on the loom is a perfect example of something that is filled with flaws/errors of judgement/mistakes, but to all intents and purposes, the resulting scarves are just fine.

So first big mistake on my part: in the process of using up my stash, purposefully NOT buying more yarn, I am combining tubes of yarn that have different amounts of yarn on them on the spool rack for sectional beaming.

The heavier tubes provide more drag, therefore more tension, than the ones that are nearer to empty. The end result is that those ends are tighter than the rest of the warp.

However, I'm getting a clear enough shed, and nothing has broken as a result of the different degrees of tension/length on those ends. And, once the scarves are cut off the loom and cut apart, the tension difference is minimal. I fully expect that wet finishing will take care of the little bit of difference there is. And if not, it should not be particularly noticeable - and, if noticeable, not detrimental to 99.9% of the people who will pick up these scarves and try them on.

Next? One of the ends broke as I was beaming the 3rd section (of 12). I could not determine which one had broken and rather than waste time and effort looking for it, decided I would simply adjust the width of the selvedge threading. Which I did before I began threading when I realized that my senses had not been deceiving me, a thread really had broken. Instead of 30 ends in the bout, there were 29. So, yes, quick edit to the threading, correct the first inch and off I went.

When I cut the first 3 scarves off the loom, the difference in tension could be easily felt and in some cases seen in the loom, but cutting and re-lashing evened out some of the issues, enough that I felt confident enough to carry on, in spite of the fact that 10 of the 12 sections are missing a green end in the colour combination of green, navy, brighter blue, two shades of a light lavender.

Weaving the first scarf I mis-fired the shuttle and broke an end. Instead of fussing about it, I simply tied a length to the original thread, got it through the correct heddle and pinned it to the cloth. I will fix it now that it is off the loom - as in needle weave the broken end into the cloth and ignore the knot. Because the weft is textured and I very much doubt anyone will be aware of the knot in the scarf.

Am I going to throw these scarves away? Mark them down as 'seconds'? 'Flawed'? No. No, I am not. I have accommodated the errors and fixed the ones that could be fixed. None of them will affect the function of the textile.

Mastery does NOT mean 'no mistakes'. It means you know how to fix or disguise them so that they don't matter. You know how far to push your materials or equipment. You know how to bend the rules properly - so that you can achieve things such that anything NOT ideal, doesn't matter.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Teachers Appearing


Seems like a snowflake is appropriate for today's post.

So, I've been thinking a lot about teaching.  How one presents material.  How students process material.  Thinking about the teachers I've had - some of them really fabulous, some of them, not so much, most just kind of in the middle.

I have to say I was very lucky to have mostly really good teachers.  My first three teachers were all female and grade 1 and 2 were excellent.  Grade 3, was enthusiastic and mostly encouraging.  Grade 4 was a bit more challenging but a nice man and when things were not going well he would decide we'd done enough work for the day open the piano and we would sing (he was also one of the music teachers and led the school choir).  I liked him well enough but was mostly bored, for reasons.

Grade 5 the teacher tended to be a lot stricter with the boys and give some of the girls lots of leeway and I didn't like his favouritism.  I was also sick a lot that year and missed some crucial lessons and never really caught up.  It was not a good year for a lot of reasons.

But Grade 6.  Oh my, what a wonderful teacher I had for grade 6!  He was Welsh and not afraid to examine things like the White Man's Burden and challenge the students to look at the inherent racism involved in that little slogan.  He challenged us to think for ourselves, but always in a most gentle way.  I'm sure we were a challenge with more than 40 students in the classroom, but I never felt he was ignoring anyone.  Having Mr. Rae for my teacher in grade 6 taught me more than just what was in the curriculum - he also shone a light on how to think for myself.  And he didn't coddle the girls, or the boys.  He just seemed to open doors to learning.  

As I moved into junior and senior high school, I had a lot more teachers because now teachers taught specific subjects and we moved from class to class, with changes in who might be in the various classes.  I learned a lot more about a larger pool of human beings as I needed to interact with more people, but on a more superficial level.

Some of my teachers were fabulous.  Some, not so much.  And again, most somewhere in the middle.  And I learned more than just the curriculum as I dealt with very different personalities.

I also learned a lot about teaching and what I connected to with the teachers, and what put me off.  Some I just sat back and did what I needed to do to pass.  Others were a struggle.  But some?  Some lifted me out of my blue collar working poor life and showed me another way of being.  That poor didn't mean stupid - or ignorant.  And I will always be thankful to the teachers who not only allowed me to read whatever I wanted when my work in class was done.  I am pretty sure my grade 7 teacher was well aware that when I sat way back in my desk I had a book tucked into my desk that I was quietly reading.  He also never objected when I asked permission to go to the school library, just round the corner.  I would come back with a new book to read, like a cat who got the cream.

So when I started to teach, I confess I was not a trained teacher, but I had a pretty good idea of how to string information together to show someone how to do something.  I also wrote reasonably well, and could generate class handouts.  Drawing has never been my strong suit but I can usually manage a few simple line drawings.

The more I taught, the more I understood what people needed to have presented to them.  The more I failed to connect, the harder I worked to find a different way of presenting the information.

I drew on my experience of being a student in school, pulling on my memories of what excited me about learning something and how my really good teachers presented information.

So, clear explanations.  A little self-deprecating humour.  Asking questions, to help people think about the course content.  Can they connect the dots?  Giving people time to process before loading them up with yet more information.

I came to realize the perhaps the biggest gift I could give to a student was to encourage them to think.  Then when they made a comment, ask them more questions.  How?  Why?  What?  Push them to think processes through to conclusions.  And never say that my way was the only way or the best way.  

Give them agency over their own learning, and their own practice.

The more I learned the more I understood just how vast the knowledge of weaving (or spinning, etc.) truly is.  

The more I interacted with other weavers/spinners I liked and respected, the more I grew to appreciate their journey of learning - how had they come to that point in their lives?  

For the longest time I thought about the saying that when the student is ready, the teacher would appear.  As a student I found this to be true.  It was only when I was more firmly rooted in teaching that I realized the teacher was always there.  It took me (the student) to recognize them and open my heart and mind to what they had to teach me.

Today I got another scarf done (finished one, began the next).  Since I'm only needing surface attention at the minute, and no pressing deadlines, my thoughts have been wandering down different highways and byways, and it's been interesting to note which stones are turned over and examined.  And which pathway beckons.  It's been kind of fun having a good wander around in my own mind.  Asking questions of myself, mostly.  But also thinking about students and the classes that are set to launch in January/February.  I'm sure I will learn lots from the new crop of students I am hoping will discover me.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Two Faces


It might be a little hard to tell in this photo, but the current scarf is showing off the distinct differences in the faces of the cloth.

There are fewer shafts being raised than left down for each pick, which means there is more warp showing on the underside and more weft on the top.  When you combine that with high contrast between the warp and weft, with a smooth yarn, the weave structure shows up a lot more.

I hesitated a bit before trying this colour, but in the end I'm pleased with it.  There is some purpleish yarn in the warp about the same shade and wasn't sure how that would look.  Sometimes you just have to weave it.

This is scarf number four of this warp.  I'm using a smooth 2/8 Tencel in this shade, then an egg plant purple, and then a dark green which is also in the warp.  The effect will be more subtle for both of those since the hues and value of the next two wefts is more in line with the warp.  The pinkish/purple stripes in the warp will likely show up more.

The last three scarves will be done in a finer slightly slubby rayon.  I haven't checked the bin yet, but pretty sure I have three candidates that will work as weft.

And I've decided on the next warp in this series - 1/3 green, 2/3 black.  Because I have that and plenty of it.  The choices are getting a little harder as my options reduce, both in candidates for warp, and for weft.

Today we have had some 'weather' and I have been happy to stay home.  Tomorrow isn't going to be much better so the plan is a repeat of today - weave two sessions, potter around the house.  Plus a 'new' library book just came home from the library.  It might be a good idea to sit and have a pot of tea and a long read.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Little Things


In my self-challenge to use up stash, I'm working with a bunch of different rayon yarns.  The photo I posted yesterday was of a weft yarn that was a flake, but not a very smooth yarn, overall.  As such, the fuzzy surface of the yarn tended to obscure the weave structure.

This morning I changed to a different rayon flake.   This brand is a bit thinner but also a lot smoother.  As I wove I could more clearly see the design beginning to reveal itself.  The weft is a very dark, nearly black, navy blue and that coupled with the navy blue and forest green in the warp creates a background where the lighter value warp colours begin to show through, not unlike an oil slick on rain puddles.  I'm quite liking it.  Enough to do another one with this yarn?  Probably, but I will change the treadling so that it isn't identical.  OTOH, I still have buckets of other yarns I could also be using, so time will tell.

Over the years I have challenged myself, pushed hard to make my horizons more flexible, expand my knowledge.  When I chose to 'retire' I assumed I would jump back into more exploration, dig deeper into a bolder approach to weaving.  Hone my design skills by making bold decisions, leap off tall cliffs into deep ends of pools.

Instead I find myself enjoying the little things.  The subtle things.  Like a film of oil slick on a puddle of water.  These quiet little discoveries will never rock anyone's boat, but they are bringing me great satisfaction when they come, quietly, tiny gifts in a season that has been fraught with so many other things demanding my time and attention.  My grief over the state of the world.  My disappointment in so many people who just don't seem to much care about others.

My focus on stash reduction still challenges me, but in small ways, not grand ones.  Trying to figure out how to use up as much of my yarn as possible, largely so that my friends don't wind up cleaning up my 'mess' has begun to feel a lot more important that any deep dive I could do into a weave structure.  There are plenty of others doing the excavating, but only me using up my stash!

In the end, everyone needs to find their comfort zone.  At times I have found my comfort in stretching my weaving chops further, deeper, bending 'rules' until just before they broke - if I was lucky - or up until they did break - if I wasn't.  

But I always learned something.  

Over the past years there is one lesson that I have learned over and over again.  I am not perfect.  I will make mistakes.  I will have 'failures'.  But those failures matter little in the scheme of life.

This morning I saw a video from Tik Tok.  I don't belong to that platform but sometimes see videos shared to Twitter.  This one was someone talking about mistakes in textiles.  She talked about an example of sprang dating from something like the 1200s where the creator had made a simple mistake and not entirely centred the motif in the cloth.  And that every reproduction that has been created reproduces that error.  The person who originally made that piece of textile had no idea that their error would live on in perpetuity.  And that maybe we should all just ease up on ourselves a little when we are not perfect.  The illustration provided reminded me once again that no, indeed, I am not perfect.  And it's fine.  Another person talked about the fact that when we make a mistake we don't actually need to learn anything from making it.  And in return I shared that just yesterday I broke a warp thread.  What I learned from that was that I can still flub a shuttle throw.  Fix it and carry on.

And ultimately if that scarf survives for 1000 years?  That mistake will still be there and no one will actually much care.

Do what brings you joy, even if the result isn't 'perfect'.

Monday, November 22, 2021

One by One


I have great hopes of this design because it looks quite different depending on the angle at which the cloth is viewed.  

The warp is 2/16 bamboo (Brassard) and the weft various rayon yarns from my stash.  Because yes, I'm still working on using up my stash!

The weft is textured - a rough kind of 'flake' - and overall thicker than the warp threads.  As such the weft tends to dominate the warp when viewed from face on.  But walking away from the loom I could see that as the angle of viewing changed, so did the appearance of the cloth.  So I am hopeful that once wet finished this will be quite a subtle but interesting cloth.

That is not say this warp has been without incident!  Rather it has been a bit challenging as I made a few oopsies in the processes.  Operator error, combined with pushing the yarn to it's limit led to some interesting two-step shuffles as I put the warp into the loom and got it ready to start weaving.  And then broke a warp end due to a shuttle 'mis-fire'.  Again - operator error.

But this morning I finished scarf #1 and began #2.

I've sorted through my stash.  Again.  Picked several yarns as being good candidates for using on this warp.  And now it is just to sit down and do the weaving.

The warp has some tension 'issues'.  I had already decided to cut off and lash on after each group of three scarves, so that will help even out the tension problems.  But nothing that seems to be proving catastrophic.  So far.

In the meantime I've reviewed what I'm doing and decided on the next warp in this series.  And targeted an array of different wefts that can be used on that one.  It would be nice to use up all of something, but then I'd have a big stack of one colour combination, which isn't great for selling.  Having a variety of different colours, woven on different coloured warps, will give people a much bigger choice.

We still have three more weekends of the guild room sale, then the pop up sale at the art centre.  For that I'm thinking of getting the silk/rayon scarves tagged/priced and  place them on consignment with that facility, plus whatever I put into the guild pop up sale there.  Beyond that, I'm not pushing to get these scarves done, but if they are, they can go into the sale(s), too.

But before that can happen, I need to weave, fringe twist and wet finish them.

So - back to the loom.

Friday, November 19, 2021

A Confession


In a continuing effort to use up my stash, I beamed the next scarf warp today.

Given the challenge to not buy any more yarn until I've made significant progress in using up some of what I have, the task is to try and figure out how to combine the colours in ways that don't always seem obvious to me.  In fact with this one, I went through at least 7 iterations (I lost count).  Finally late the other night, I decided to completely re-do what I had finally settled on and create an overall stripe.

The draft had been settled a couple days before:

In keeping with wanting drafts that are simple to thread, not terribly big motifs (or big enough that the entire draft is the width of the warp - which I haven't actually done for this series - yet) and that will lend itself to various tie ups and treadlings, I think this will do.

The stripes do not mesh with the threading at all - I never even tried to make it fit.  There are 12 stripes in total (30 ends per section for 12 sections) but the warp will be sleyed to 32 epi bringing the width down to around 11" in the reed.   The finished width will be approximately 10".  How wide will depend on the thickness of the weft.  I have several different rayon yarns I'm hoping to use on this warp and will begin with the thickest because that will be the widest based on the fact that it is thicker and won't draw in quite so much.

How do I know this?  Experience.  And remembering when I go to do it, or something similar, the next time.

One of the technical issues is that the spools are different levels of 'full'.  In other words, some are getting close to empty while some are full.  The fuller ones will beam at a higher tension that the less full ones and this can cause the heavier ones to wind on at a higher tension.

So - my confession.  I know this will happen.  And?  I don't much care.  I did my best to ensure each ribbon went into the section as flat as possible and under firm enough tension that the upper layers won't cut down into the lower ones.  And I've worked with this yarn often enough that I know it will tolerate some tension differences without breaking.

If the tension appears to be causing a problem, I will cut off once the scarf I'm working on is done, then re-tie (lash on to be specific, this is a slippery yarn) and even out some of the tension differences.  I have plenty of warp to play with and can cut off and re-tie twice.  I may do that anyway because the result should be 9 scarves based on the warp I cut off the loom today.

Lashing on is a good way to deal with a yarn that is slippery or where you want to minimize loom waste.

And in case anyone is wondering, the yarn comes off the 'usual' way - it's just not under tension right now and it looks a bit strange.  It'll sort itself out when I'm threading.  And I really wanted to show the stripe sequence in the photo.

It might have been the Dalai Lama who advised to learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly.  Whomever it was, they were correct, in my humble opinion...

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Six Months


Every six months I get checked at the cancer clinic.  I am incredibly fortunate in so many ways but I must say, the days leading up to the appointment get stressful because I never really know what the verdict will be.  

The bottom line is that I am living with cancer.  It's just really slow growing - which is good!  And right now it is so slow I am considered to be in remission - as in no treatment is required.  (Thank goodness because every cancer drug I've taken has had pretty massive adverse effects while it works to keep me alive - talk about a mixed blessing!  So I'll take 'remission'...)

But there is nothing quite like having a couple of health issues that remind you on a regular basis that you have a 'best before' date.

So it was today.  But I'm still in remission, so that was good news.  Doesn't mean the cancer is cured because at this time it isn't considered to be curable.  OTOH, it is so slow growing that we joked about how people with this type of cancer don't die of it, but with it.

Once again I am reminded that I need to prepare myself for changes in my body, my life.  

There was a thread on line in a group about how the poster wished a group of really knowledgeable teachers would get together and teach in depth classes.  They didn't like a class they had taken because level one was 'boring'.  They wanted something else, and named a group of people she would like to see get together to produce something.

Well, folks, I am here to remind all y'all that I wrote a book addressing many of the subtleties of the craft.  But there is only so much that one person can do, so I also support the idea that people who want to know more, learn more.  

There are many ways to learn, and even when someone like me writes a book, things will be left out.  Because a book only conveys so much.  Plus not everyone can learn by reading alone.

A number of people the person wanted to learn from already teach.  At least two have teaching studios (that I know of) so they are trying to get the information out.

More teachers are moving on line, including me.  But after thinking about the filming we did last month, I know we didn't cover every little detail.  My approach has been to focus on principles so that students can apply them, rather than try to cover every single variable.  The student participates in their learning by applying the lessons.  Those lessons might be boring, but sometimes you just have to do the work.

Post production on my two classes continues, in spite of the pandemic, in spite of the environmental disaster of the past few days in my province.  The production team are not in the affected areas, nor am I.

Once the classes launch, in the new year, I will continue to work with this team because they are young, enthusiastic, and have skills I am too old to even want to try to learn.  This team also have a vision for the future that I am hoping to contribute to as their plans develop.  

While learning on line is perhaps not ideal, neither is learning in person, if the teacher and student don't mesh well.  Or the course content wasn't what the student hoped for.

It is said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  In reality, the teacher was always there, the student just needed to recognize them.

In the meantime, if people are looking for more in depth classes, Jane Stafford takes a deep dive into the craft.  Tien Chiu and Janet Dawson are working hard to bring good content to students.  Others continue to work in person, in words, or on line, like Robyn Spady and Daryl Lancaster.  There are others, as well.

Above all, we should always remember that we are here to create joy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Zoom Zoom


Today I signed the agreement to do another Zoom guild program - just need to scan and email it.  I thought about what I wanted to say while I wove today.  Right now the loom is behaving (I may regret saying that 'out loud') and the yarns are as well,  This gives me time to think about other things as I need only surface attention to the act of weaving.

With a pandemic continuing and environmental disasters happening, not to mention my reluctance to deal with dark o'clock flights, I cannot see myself traveling in person to teach again.  However, I do still have things I would like to share with people and Zoom presentations seem to have reached a level of acceptance, which gives me hope I can continue using the internet.

I've sent my documentation off to the team for post production, and they continue to work on the editing, then the format (they have graphic designers), then eventually the captioning will be added.  They will set up a mechanism for me to maintain contact with people taking the class on line.  

Once the two classes have been settled, I expect that we will begin working on the seminars that I developed and have been running - informally - on line.  I'm quite excited about doing those because they really do delve into the nitty gritty of the craft.  They are for people who want to understand more about the principles and are intrigued by all the facets of the 'it depends' considerations.

Get a group of 10 weavers together and ask for feedback on something and you will get 12 or more answers.  Because so much depends on the specific circumstances involved.  Learning how to anticipate those variables will help people to understand a reasonable approach.

And right now?  Helping people understand those really keeps me going!

In the meantime, in the face of current events, I keep weaving, using up my stash as best I can.  I'm nearly done the current warp so I started pulling yarns for the next.  Same quality of yarn, but I had to really stretch myself in terms of what colours I would put together.  And then hope I had enough yarn to use as weft without winding up with fugly fabric.  Time will tell.

Stay safe everyone.  Stay weaving (or knitting or spinning or whatever you do with fibre).

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Winter Comes


It's not unusual to have snow on the ground by mid-November, and this morning we woke to a small covering that really helps brighten things up, given it's a really dull grey day.  No idea if the snow will stick this time, but it's definitely coming.

Yesterday was day one of the guild room sale.  We had a slow but steady trickle of people come in.   Mostly individuals, or small family groups.  Everyone was happy enough to show proof of vax and wear their masks.  

Several inquired about classes and we explained that we are trying to set up a 'buddy' system, one on one or one on two.  Once the sale is over and we clear out the display apparatus and inventory, we can re-arrange the room to allow for small 'classes'.  And of course there are several drop-in times where people can come in, in person or via Zoom.  

I also need to get back to setting up the Sunday Seminars.  But people are busy or distracted and sometimes getting timely answers is more challenging than others.  But I'll be reminding people that I need their info for the website soon.  

In BC we have been struggling with growing numbers of covid and if we can't suppress the growth of the virus soon, our fourth wave will morph into a fifth wave.  Not something I wish to see happen.  So Doug and I are booked for booster shots Nov. 26 (we qualify based on our age) and I expect to 'celebrate' by sending another donation to UNICEF for vaccines to go to other countries who are having difficulty find first shots, never mind third.  I see my privilege for what it is.

Otherwise, life for me keeps ticking along.  I try to get to the loom for two sessions a day.  Yesterday I didn't, of course, since I was out all day and no spoons left to weave when I got home.  But I did get a small hand dyed skein of a fine rayon flake wound onto bobbins.  When I'm done the current scarf, later today, I can roll right on into the next.  Since the new yarn is finer I will add more interlacements to the tie up which will help keep things nicely in balance.

In other news, I finished the first drafts of the documentation for Sweet Georgia and will review those today, then if they read ok, I'll email them on to the post production team.  It sounds like they are on schedule for release in January and February.  I will let people know when they launch.

Winter is generally a time for quiet, for rest, for reflection, for preparation for the coming year.  This year especially I will continue my routine of staying home as much as possible, limiting my social interactions to the internet, and just generally try to avoid catching - or spreading - a virus that has caused so much illness all around the world.

My focus will continue to be to weave down as much of my stash as possible while encouraging other weavers to continue the learning journey, however they can, in spite of a pandemic.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Annual Guild Room Sale


This morning we begin the guild room sale.  The photo is of hand knit shawls, mostly wool, some with other yarns included, like silk, or bamboo rayon.  Some are lighter weight, suitable for summer, some are heavier.

The guild has members who do a variety of textile crafts, from spinning to dyeing, to knitting, to crochet, to felting, to weaving and embroidery.  It seems if you do one textile craft, you do several.

The variety of things ranges from wearables to house hold textiles to whimsical.  Functional to art.

The booth at Studio Fair had a great variety of things to choose from and while we did well there, a lot of inventory is left.  We are hoping for more sales to come, which will help individuals buy more yarn, books, classes, and the guild to keep paying the rent on the room.

We are hoping for a return to more in-person events, but in the meantime we are looking for ways to help people learn, either through the informal drop ins or one on one assistance.

So far I've assisted two people from out of town or otherwise unable to get to Studio Fair or the guild room by being their 'personal' shopper, taking photos of what is available, then mailing their choices to them.

Just about to head to the guild room to get myself set up and ready for the day.  I've got my knitting bag because it was the easiest to organize and I can set my knitting down and assist someone without worrying too much about setting it aside.

It's a grey gloomy day.  Winter is definitely around the corner.  

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Stash Diving


I am over the halfway mark on this warp and the cloth on the beam is getting thicker.  When I finish this scarf, I will cut off and remove what is already woven, then lash on and keep going.  I figure I should get 7 scarves from this warp.  This one is #4.

There aren't as many different options for weft as I was thinking, and my options for warp are somewhat limited as well.  Not that I'm out of yarn,'s getting harder to combine what I have into a warp that I feel happy about, and then figure out if I've got enough yarn for weft for those combinations.  It seems I have a bunch of dark values, and a bunch of light values, little in between and not enough of anything that goes with other things.  

As this series proceeds, things will change - they have to.

For this warp, however, I have enough options to keep going and not repeat any weft colour.  It will mean shifting into the Tencel, which is fine.  Just means I fiddle with the tie up and treadlings.  Right now I'm also planning on changing the threading for each warp, but that may change if I come up with something I really like.  As in not too complicated and open to being easily changed in the tie up and treadling.  The warps will be about 11" in the reed, so I can't get terribly complicated with just 352 ends, give or take.  Or I could go with something that doesn't repeat across the width.  That is also an option.  Time will tell.

After several months of really demanding challenging warps (with a few easier ones for respite) I'm really enjoying this run of scarves.

So far the loom is behaving and so is the yarn.  And I'm using up stash, some of which is so old there were dust webs on the tubes.  Which admittedly isn't all *that* old, given the amount of fibre dust I produce.  But when I pulled that box out and saw the webs on the tubes, it was a reminder that I really need to get my stash woven down.

It's a bit daunting, needless to say.  But I'm making progress.  The added bonus of cutting off halfway is that I can begin fringe twisting, as soon as tomorrow night if all goes well.   My goal is to have these done in time for the guild's pop up sale at the art centre consignment shop.  And keep making more scarves for the rest of this month and into December to try and use up as much of this yarn as I can before I run out of ideas.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Sectional Beaming


The photo is from a while ago - last spring as I recall.  But it shows my studio bobbin rack, which I prefer to the smaller racks where the tubes sit horizontally.

The set up here is not ideal insofar as the tubes are not equal in how much yarn is left on them.  Since part of the tension applied comes from the drag pulling the yarn off the side of the tube, the fuller tubes go on slightly tighter than the more empty ones.

Part of understanding what matters and what doesn't, is simply trying things and observing what happens.  

Over the years I've had to deal with a miscellany of different yarns in different amounts and hope they will play well together.

Turns out that mostly?  They do.

Of course you have to be confident that the yarn will withstand the tension involved in beaming sectionally, so tender yarns might do better if taken from the top of the tube rather than the side.

But needs must, and sometimes I've simply made the decision to 'sacrifice' a bit of yarn to see if something was going to work.  Or not.

Over the years I have settled on yarns that I prefer to work with, gotten to know them really well, and understand what they will tolerate.  And what they won't.

So my latest warp is much like the one in the picture.  A mixed bunch of tubes of various weights which means that some of the ends are tighter than the others.

The yarn is wound on firmly enough that there is very little 'give' if I press down on the sections.  This is important because the yarn needs to be tightly enough wound that there is no leeway at all for the upper layers to cut down into the lower layers.  How much?  Depends.  Each weaver needs to experiment to find out what all those variables look like for them.

I've worked with the Brassard 2/16 bamboo before and I know how much variation the yarn will tolerate and while I can feel the different tensions in the web on the loom, I also know that it will all equalize once the scarves are cut off and wet finished.

I would be a little more 'careful' if I was producing yardage, but I'm not, and I know that the magic in the water will resolve the kinds of tension issues currently in the web.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

On to the Next


Another blast from the past, in part because I'm using essentially the same combination of yarns in the current warp as was used in this one.

The warp is 2/16 bamboo (from Brassard) and the weft will be various rayon yarns I have accumulated over the years.  A scarf takes a lot less weft than a shawl, so I'm hoping to use up some of the colours that are too little for a shawl, too much to toss.

This week is a bit busy, but yesterday I did manage to finish setting up the Megado, generate the file and take it to the laptop I use to run the computer dobby.  

The first weft was a fine silvery grey and while I should have probably added more interlacements to the tie up, decided to just go with a ppi slightly higher than the epi.  

The next scarf will be woven with a somewhat thicker rayon slub in a dark purple and might wind up slightly less picks per inch than ends per inch.  

I am not even trying to hit 'perfect' angle for the twill - close is good enough.

The craft fair went well for the guild and yesterday Doug carried all my stuff up the steep stairs to the guild room.  Today one of the guild members will start setting up the items for sale.  I'll drop in and see if she needs some help but only briefly as I have appointments.

I also need to focus on the documentation for Sweet Georgia.  I've just finally done a couple more pages, then printed off the instructions for the 'sample' we did in the video.  My instructions were a bit skimpy and I need to expand them for less experienced weavers.  

Perhaps I'll feel like weaving later this afternoon.  I hope so because only another 400 picks will finish the grey scarf off and it would feel nice to finish one thing today.

In order to keep myself on track I tend to break weaving down into stages so that I can have a feeling of completion/satisfaction when I finish a stage.  Otherwise it begins to feel like I'm not getting anywhere.

So this warp should produce 7 scarves, and I'm nearly done weaving one of them.  :)   The next warp will be the same combination of yarns, but I'll likely come up with a different threading draft because I only have a few colours for weft and I'd like to make them look different.  I may also change the accent colours to something different in future warps.  

The goal is to work from my stash, not buy more yarn.  We will see how that goes!

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Know When to Fold Them


Pretty picture of a rayon shawl to offset the 'disaster' from yesterday.

So, yeah, still not perfect.  Still have things go horribly awry.  Still learning.

My intention was to beam a silk warp but my first mistake was not taking a closer look at the yarn I intended to use.  It was not 2/20 or even 2/30 but 2/60.

But it was even worse than that.  Some of the spools were actually much finer than 2/60, quite possibly 2/120.

Oh well, I'd used this yarn before and it was fine, so onwards I went.  Designed a draft.  Crunched the numbers to determine length/width.  Eyeballed the spools, figured I had enough yarn to go ahead.

Set up the loom with the appropriate number of sectional strings, set up the spool rack, set up the tension box.

Started beaming.  Snap.  Snap. Snapsnapsnap.

Before I'd gotten half way through beaming the first section it was obvious that the yarn was not going to work well as a warp. 


Hmm.  When *had* I used this yarn last?  It had been mostly stored in a cardboard box for...damn, close to 30 years.  


Given the age and the not ideal storage, it appeared to have not aged particularly well.  

I looked at the spool rack with the 48 spools on it.  I looked at the beam with all the strings hanging loose.  Multiplied that by 12. 

Picked up the scissors and snipsnipsnip.

The spools got put into a plastic bin and I tossed the bit of yarn I pulled off the beam.

Normally I have several planned warps in a queue, but I've been kind of busy of late and - knowing the silk would take a lot of time - thought I had lots of time to plan the warp after the silk one.  I do have a proto warp in the planning stages, but it is going to require several days of prep, winding the yarn from skeins onto spools and I wanted something I could work on now, not in a week or so.

Last night I dug through another box of yarn (only about two years in storage, but dust web accumulation meant that obviously I needed to deal with that yarn!) and figured out I had plenty of spools to do a simple scarf warp with that.  I won't be using the cashmere for weft, but more of my fine rayon stash.  Goodness knows I have a lifetime supply of that yarn to use up.

Instead of pushing on I chose to fold and get a new 'hand'.  There are enough stressful things in life - I didn't need to add working with an aging yarn as warp to the mix.

In the meantime, work on the on line classes continue.  I started working on my documentation for the first class and will continue picking away at that over the weekend.  Doug is working shifts for me at the craft fair and the treasurer reports decent sales for the first day.  I'm grateful to guild members who have worked to make the guild booth look attractive, providing things for sale (the guild takes a small commission on sales so the income will help pay the room rent) the people who are in the booth helping people make purchases, and spouses who have helped tote heavy loads into (and out of on Sunday) the venue and up the steep stairs to the guild room so we can set up for the guild room sale next week.

Many hands make light work, as they say, and no 'man' is an island.  Let's focus on the positive and put the negative behind us.

Friday, November 5, 2021

It's the Little Things


Today I finished that stack of scarves.  All that is left is to tag/price them.  Overall they turned out although I still see room for improvement.

Saw a meme on FB yesterday.  New dressage rider asking when you got better at dressage.  Answer?  Never.

And that isn't wrong.  Oh, of course one improves, with time and persistence.  But even as our skill grows, we see how there is still more to be done, improvements yet to be made.  Mistakes to be dealt with.

The other day a student emailed asking if I still made mistakes.  "Oh hell yes" was my response.  Just in this stack of scarves.  One has a treadling error.  Several are inconsistent in beat.  Are they 'ruined'?  Only good to be thrown out?  No.  Not at all.  Because the 'mistakes' that I see clearly are more than likely not obvious to most anyone else anyway.  

In the overall scheme of things, those errors are little.  Even smaller when working with fine threads.  Since I have trained my eye to see inconsistencies, of course I see them.  I can't NOT see them.

And so I finished that stack of scarves, sighed a little at how imperfect I still am, still working at becoming 'better'.  Trying to work out bugs in equipment and processes.  Understand my materials at a deeper level.

So these scarves will be offered for sale.  Some people will notice that they are not perfect.  Others will think they are 'perfect' as they are.

In the meantime, I'm getting encouraging emails from the Sweet Georgia team and already looking at ways to continue the journey of teaching.  

Because after doing lectures/seminars via Zoom for almost a year, there are things I don't like about how that works and they have more experience than I do, I asked for and got a recommendation for an app that I could use for on screen illustrations.  Sometimes a good diagram just arrows right to the heart of something that words alone cannot.  I'm just not sure how I am going to be able to set up in my cramped quarters to make it happen.  

It goes to show that if you really want to do something, there is generally a way to make it happen.  And sometimes it's just something 'little', a new way of looking at things, or in this case, potentially a new app for the ipad and a two camera set up.  

It's all very nerve wracking, truly, but little by little.  Just like with weaving.  One pick at a time.  One towel, one scarf, one more presentation, working the kinks out.

Sometimes it truly is the very littlest of things.  And not being overly hard on oneself because once again something isn't 'perfect'.  Good can be 'good enough'.

Time to set up the studio for the next warp.  And another try at being 'good enough', this time with even finer threads.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

When Things Change


After fringe twisting 16 scarves of 2/20 silk at 27 epi, my hands are not at all happy, nor is my neck or back.  It's just not a good position for me.  In the future I will have to remember that fringe twisting needs to be done in much smaller batches.

In the meantime, I've been working on the next warp, also silk.  I had been thinking it was also 2/20 or 2/30 silk, but upon opening the bin quickly realized it was 2/60.  Plans had to change.

So I crunched the numbers, worked out a new plan, then as the fringe twisting progressed became reluctant to apply that finish to these scarves.

A friend was also doing some 'fine' scarves and deciding on how to dry finish them and realized she wanted hems, and I thought, why not me, too?

Back to the drawing board (Fiberworks) and some adjustments and I now have my final plans (barring anything untoward happening when I weave the header).

It's a fairly simple threading and one that I use frequently, adapting as required.  So there is a straight progression at each selvedge, then a run of advancing points (Wall of Troy expanded to 16 shafts), then a run of a four end advancing twill.  Repeated for the width of the cloth.  

The hems will be woven in white silk, something heavier than the 2/60, because the epi is quite open at 48 to allow for the cashmere to be woven and a little fulling applied to keep the cloth stable.  Goodness knows I have silk aplenty!

I also have several different weights of cashmere and can easily adapt the tie up to provide more or fewer interlacements as required.  If necessary treadling sequences can change as well.

In truth I have a lifetime supply of fine cashmere AND silk.  I've already dug through my silk stash and collected all the dyed 2/30 skeins.  I think if I wind the skeins onto plastic spools and blend them thoroughly I can get a warp about 22 yards long or so, which should give 7 scarves.

Anyway, just finishing up scarf #16 - plus the four I wet finished yesterday I didn't get pressed.  So, time to get back at it.

Monday, November 1, 2021

New Tool


Look what arrived this morning!  It was scheduled for Nov. 5, but turned up at 10 am this morning.

It's smaller and lighter than my old one, but that one wasn't working reliably anymore and this one will be easier to move around, if I need to.  I'm planning on setting up a pressing station, where I can sit to do the job.  Since the bed is smaller, pressing will take longer, and sitting to do the job will likely become ever more important.

There are two more scarves to be twisted, but I actually have enough to do a load of scarves now, so I'm going to sort through and group the colours for a load and get them into the washer/dryer this morning.  Rather than take the time to set up my pressing station this morning I think I'll set up on the worktable, in part because the scarves will be long enough I need to vacuum the floor before I begin pressing.  They won't reach the floor if I use the work table.   And I'm eager to see how this new little guy works.

It also means I can have some scarves ready for the weekend.  No guarantee they will sell, but they surely will not sell in my studio!  

Time to get moving.  Lots to do this week.