Monday, May 16, 2022



When is something an issue in weaving?  

When you aren't getting the results you desire.

This morning I read through a thread on a weaving group where people were worrying about beaming issues.

Some of the things they were discussing would IMHO cause grief.  Others?  Might not be that big a deal.  They wouldn't really know until they were weaving.

But here is what I saw in the photos.

One warp that appeared to migrate from one side of the loom to the other.  The person was using a rough sleyed reed not a raddle and I suspect the reed was sliding sideways during the beaming.  Sometimes reeds are loose enough in the beater that they can slide in the grooves.  That could account for the warp shifting sideways and making a 'cigar' shape on the beam.

Insufficient warp packing.  Sticks with multiple layers between each layer of sticks so that the warp was beginning to take on a cigar shape.  With insufficient tension, the threads can roll sideways and upper layers cut down into lower layers.  OTOH, it wasn't so great that it might be a problem during weaving.

Loops in a warp indicated that the warp had been beamed with too little tension.  The weaver commented that they hadn't placed the sticks well.  My opinion was that they had used far too little tension while beaming so that the sticks couldn't work well.  The slack in the warp due to low tension manifested itself in loops on the beam.

Some of the issues the weavers were discussing would absolutely cause a problem during weaving.  But others would be minor and probably not cause too many problems.

Since no one asked me for my opinion I didn't give it.  For one thing it would have required too much of my time and energy to try to address each and every issue being raised.  And goodness knows, I've already written thousands of words on just these issues on weaving groups, blog posts, and a book...

I'm not the only one.  Peggy Ostercamp has written a series of books addressing various technological problems, giving a variety of solutions - because frequently there isn't a one size fits all answer.  It's weaving after all - it depends!

Then of course there's the whole issue of changing something and having tried and true processes no longer work.  Change the width, the length, and things can go pear shaped.  What works on a narrow/short warp may no longer work when you scale up.

Change the yarn - from a highly elastic yarn to a non-elastic yarn and things can go 'wrong' very quickly.  

Change the weave structure and/or the density and yup, things can become different and issues can arise.

People do the best they can.  They try to figure out the why, which is great.  But sometimes they come to a conclusion that doesn't really answer the question.

As always, if someone *wants* my opinion they can contact me.  My goal is to help people and encourage them to keep trying.  But weaving is complex and sometimes it's hard to know what is going wrong and how to fix things.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

On Honours and Recognition


I don't do what I do for awards or honours.  I do what I do because it satisfies a deep need within me to explore, to answer the question "What if...?"

OTOH, it's always nice to be recognized by others.  I just never let it go to my head.  Because as quickly as someone can be held up, put on a pedestal, they can be knocked off of one, too.

Weaving is a constant dance with success and failure.  We think.  We dream.  We experiment.  We fail.  Sometimes repeatedly.  And once in a very rare while, we succeed.

When I submitted the above articles to Handwoven I had no idea they would choose my textiles for the cover of the magazine.  For a long time I was hoping to make it a 'hat trick' (maybe you have to be Canadian to get the reference), but it never happened.

And it's ok.  I don't need a third cover to hang on my wall.  

But some days?  Some days it's a nice reminder that I can do stuff.  And that some people have recognized that I can do stuff.

This morning someone posted a link to a New York Time Obituary.  Apparently they run a series on 'overlooked' people - people who made a contribution that they never did an obit for previously.  This time they did one for Junichi Arai, a textile genius.  A term I do not use lightly.  He was innovative, daring and not afraid to fail as he worked with unique fibres to create textiles in new ways, from new materials.

He was the juror for the Convergence 2002 yardage exhibit, sponsored by the Carnegie Institute (I think, memory may be faulty) and I decided I would enter a piece to see if I could get some feedback

The warp was silk, the weft a very fine rayon chenille.  2000 yards per pounds as I recall.  I knew it was subtle, woven in a fancy twill, and likely would not draw the eye because at a distance it would just look white.  A piece of white fabric hung in a gallery with white walls?  I knew it wouldn't look like very much from a distance.  But I was interested in Mr. Arai's response, not the casual viewer.

2002 was an extremely stressful and in many ways punishing time for me.  I had timed the publication of Magic in the Water so that I could take a booth at the conference and sell the book.  I had also begun buying and reselling yarns because I knew I couldn't afford the booth with the book alone.  I had also applied to teach and was accepted to do a one day workshop and several lectures.  Then I offered to do the informal fashion show, because I was 'young and had endless supplies of energy'.  (HA!)

So during the conference I was constantly on the go - teaching, scrambling to get to my booth to help my then studio assistant, preparing for the fashion show, running to see which ever exhibit I could get to, grab a bite of food, run, run, run.

On one of my dashes from the convention centre to the hotel one of the conference organizers stopped me in mid-dash to congratulate me - Mr. Arai had given my fabric second place.

Later I overheard a couple of people talking about the yardage exhibit, grousing because that white 'sheet' had gotten second place for goodness sake!

You get lifted up, then knocked down.

But I hadn't done the fabric for their opinion.  I had done it to see if Mr. Arai had an opinion.

I never met him.  But he had an enormous impact on me.  The weaver who thinks.  Dreams.  Experiments.  Dares to fail.  And sometimes succeeds.

A belated thank you to someone who all unknowingly made a lasting impact on this particular weaver, and many more, with his innovation and daring to dream.


Friday, May 13, 2022



You'd think after this many years putting together something like a marketing package for a presentation to a guild would be dead easy.

And it will be, once I get over my lack of desire to do it.

I know, I know, it's necessary.  Be nice if everyone in the weaving world would already know who I am so that all the guild would have to do is say "Laura Fry will be doing a seminar" and all their guild members would rush to register.

But even my ego knows that isn't about to happen!

So I've been distracted with some other stuff and my promise to get the package of information to the guild got kind of buried under other obligations/deadlines and only late last night did I remember - oops, I promised to do something.

However, the dust has been clearing (a little) and just before bed I remembered.  But I had other things scheduled for today and frankly I ran out of spoons.  So, tomorrow then.  Top of the list, priority.

I did manage to do all the rest of the things on my to-be-done list today.  Not that the list these days is very long or extensive.  But I still only have a limited amount of spoons and weaving always comes first.

The tea towels I wet finished yesterday got pressed.  Three were seconds, to the degree that I cannot sell them.  So they will go to locals, willing to do the pressing and hemming.  And I don't have to pay postage to send them somewhere.

After lunch I tied on the warp, wound bobbins, and then wove a towel.  It looks fine, but the yarn isn't stretching quite as far as I expected.  So I'll only get two towels out of this first colour not three.  Not that that is a bad thing, given my goal of using up as much of my stash as I can.  Eyeballing another colour and I think I can finish off this section of the warp with that one, and then finish the last section with another colour.  And that brings down my 2/16 yarn stash considerably,.

The next warp is designed, I just need to tweak the treadling to make it long enough for a towel.  That won't take long when I get to that point, which is at least a week away.  

Sunday morning is the next Sunday Seminar and I really want to attend that one live.  It is Abby Franquemont and she will talk about the reconstruction of the burial textiles that was done.  Should be fascinating.  

And in the back of my mind the marketing materials for the guild presentation are percolating, simmering on the back burner.  I'll get to it.  Hopefully tomorrow.  Sunday for sure.  Along with the final draft of a short article for the School of Sweet Georgia.  

It's all good.  Even when I don't really wanna do it.  I know it needs to be done.  I just need a minute.  Or a day.  I'll get there.  Wish that damned button worked, though.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

May Flowers


I had to reduce the size of this image to fit it all in because there is quite a large repeat happening which doesn't show up until you get the design shrunk down - or get far enough away from it to really see what is happening.

And this is why I keep coming back to the loom!  These delightful surprises when you put something onto 'paper', generate the tie up and treadling and something appears that absolutely surprises and delights.

So this one is definitely going into the queue as my next tea towel warp.

When I bought weaving software it was still pretty controversial in handweaving circles.  Some people felt that using software would be detrimental.  That people would not understand what was happening unless they did drawdowns by hand.  Or at least that was one argument.

What I found was that I didn't spend any less time generating drawdowns.  What I did was make a whole lot more of them.  And because I could make them quickly and fairly easily, I felt no qualms about deleting the ones that didn't please me.

So the above?  I'm well into hour two of messing around with twill progressions,.  Fine tuning.  Tossing the ones that I didn't like out.  Starting over.  Trying again.  Adjusting things.  

Using weaving software has made me a better designer as I am less inclined to keep a draft just because I'd spent hours making it.  

And now?  Now I feel compelled to get to the loom and weave another towel.  That will make 8 on the cloth beam, tension is getting more difficult to reset when I advance the fell, and it is time to remove the nearly 10 yards of cloth on the loom and start the next section.  

Because this draft delights me and I'm looking forward to getting it into the loom.  But first?  I have to finish weaving the warp currently on the loom.

I'm calling this one May Flowers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

No One Reads Blogs


I have been told repeatedly by People Who Know that no one reads blogs anymore.

Which kind of makes my blog an outlier, then?

I am constantly amazed at how loyal a following I have with this blog.  When I started writing it in August of 2008, it was partly a celebration of life, partly the story of how I became inextricably tangled up in the threads of this amazing craft.  (All puns definitely intended.)

I have shared my life, both successes and struggles, and found overwhelmingly that people have kept coming back and been supportive and encouraging.

One of the ways I process what is happening in my life is to write it out.  Sometimes I don't even know what I think about something, but something happens, and I write about how I feel about that thing happening.  Sometimes I surprise even myself where I end up.  

Sometimes I only write about what is happening after I have been through the worst and come through the other side.  

Sometimes I report from my bed - like when I fell and broke my ankle - and shared (some might say 'over shared') what was happening.

Many of the people who used to write blogs have given up, for whatever reason is important to them.  But I have kept going.  Why?  Because you, dear reader, keep showing up.  You read what I have written.  Sometimes you comment, sometimes you don't.  But the numbers keep growing, and I keep writing.

Until no one comes anymore, at which point I may continue just because I figure out how I feel about things when I write it out.  

I'm currently reading a small book of essays about various things, including living with chronic pain.  Given how much of my life these days is given over to coping with chronic health issues including pain, I wasn't sure I would find such essays of any particular interest.  But I am finding the first one incredibly affirming.

Sometimes it helps to know that you are not alone in your thoughts about growing old/decrepit.  Sometimes it helps to see how other people, coping with similar issues, manage to keep going.  To find value in their lives and a reason to pick oneself up and buckle on the harness of life and just...keep going.

The little book of essays was written by Luanne Armstrong and is called Going to Ground.  She has written a lot of books and I may look for more of her essays.  Always helpful to find a kindred spirit.  And thank you to the friend who shared this author and book with me.  I'm very grateful.

Sunday, May 8, 2022



Aware of (ahem) looming deadlines, I checked the Olds College website this morning and levels 1, 2 and 3 of the master weaver program  next month are confirmed.

So now I need to work out how much (more) yarn I have to order.

It has been my practice to take the skeins of wool yarn for the class and turn them into cones to make things easier (more efficient) for the students to do the in-class weaving assignments.

I also wind their first warp for them.

Recently someone was a wee bit shocked that I would go to 'all that work' to make the student experience easier.  More beneficial.

It just made sense to me that I do this because otherwise?  There would be 12 people waiting to use a warping board to wind their warps and a lot of time spent (and frustration)  avoided so that each and every student would be able to jump onto the class work as soon as my initial lecture was complete.

I was a production weaver for 40 or so years.  I have the tools (still) and the expertise to use them.  By doing this pre-class preparation, the students can focus on what they need to learn, not be hanging around waiting, feeling anxious.  Because the five days is heavy duty information and the best way to learn new processes and set the knowledge is to get right at doing the job.

I warn them that it will be 5 days of trying to drink from an information fire hose.  That it is completely expected and normal to feel absolutely overwhelmed the first couple of days.

The class manual has a list of in class exercises for them to work on and given the (usually) wide range of skill levels amongst the class, it just really works 'better' (imho) if the students work through those on their own time while I focus on the stuff I feel is essential to convey, in person.

What this means is that I do not follow the manual from page 1 through to the end but jump around from section to section.  Some students find this disconcerting, but this sort of jumping around is part and parcel of the weaving process, once you start designing your own projects, not just following the directions determined by someone else.

My goal is to help students begin to see how all those disparate pieces begin to link together to get the results they want.

I do at least two major lectures a day, sometimes 3, depending on the schedule and how the days go by.  And then the students are largely left to do the work as outlined in the manual in the order they wish.

The final day there are oral presentations to be done, so during the week I also remind them to read through the parameters of those presentations in order to be prepared to give them.

The program is intense and it's a lot of work.  But it's also one way to really dig into the craft and begin to understand the principles.

OTOH, not everyone wants to spend 5 intense days at a college so I am happily settling into SOS developing content for them.

The SOS classes/lectures are by and large based on the lectures I developed for my Olds students during the pandemic, and some longer form classes with video footage, based on the topics I have been teaching for decades before I started teaching for Olds, many of them rolled into the Olds class(es).

I feel the biggest leg up I can give the level 1 students is the knowledge to analyze their processes and their results.  To think through the principles.  To recognize when something isn't working, and hopefully determine why so they can change their approach, or equipment, or their materials.  To help them be more ergonomic to reduce injury and efficient so as to not waste time.

All of these I have focused on for at least two decades.  It felt right to bring that experience and knowledge with me to the Olds College master weaver program, and now to SOS.

It seems right on this day, which is Mother's Day, even though I am not a 'mother', to reaffirm my commitment to my students to help them as much as I can, for as long as I am able. 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Samples? Check!


Single strand of Harrisville yarn

GIST Array woven, up close and personal

Scarf woven from GIST Array

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

One of the things I wanted to do was install my digital microscope onto my new laptop, but the microscope only had a CD and the new laptop didn't have a CD drive.  But, my old laptop had a CD Drive, so I copied the file from the CD to a thumb drive on it and installed the microscope onto the new laptop using the thumb drive.

That makes it sound easy, but it took a while.  Then I tried to figure out how to share my new laptop screen to the classroom smart screen at the Olds College.  Which also took a lot longer than I hoped.

So even though I'd gotten the last two samples woven earlier in the afternoon, it was after 4 before I got two of the samples wet finished and only just now finished giving them a hard press.

The yarn tracked in the plain weave sections, which I had pretty much expected.  And it's fairly stiff at 20 epi, so for maximum drape and softness, weaving this yarn in twill would be my recommendation.  However, if someone wanted to weave garment fabric for a tailored garment, the plain weave would work well, I think.  And the tracking would make the cloth interesting because it tracked consistently, so it looks like a really 'fancy' twill.  

To test the microscope I looked at a single strand of Harrisville which clearly shows that the dark grey colour is made up of mostly dark black with some lighter fibres to give the tweedy appearance.  You can also see how disorganized the fibres are in comparison to the GIST Array in the middle photo.  A function of how the fibres have been prepared and spun,.

I'll be writing up my process of working with the Array for the School of Sweet Georgia, plus I had enough warp to weave them a set of samples for the store.  The samples that I wet finished are drying now and I should be able to get them into the mail next week so they will have them to show their customers.  Nothing like being able to, feel the actual cloth.

One thing that did kind of surprise me is that the natural didn't shrink as much as the dyed Array.  You can just see the rippling in the stripe of white yarn across the warp in the weft in the above photo.  Since it's a scarf, I'm not too bothered by it, but I might if the cloth was intended for sewing a garment.  If the white was used not in a solid stripe but mixed in with other colours, it would be fine, but in the stripe it tends to behave as it wishes.

Anyway, I now have enough information to start getting the warp ready for the Olds class.  I'll do that just as soon as I hear from the college.  I'll also place an order for the rest of the yarn needed for the class.  Once it comes, I'll turn the skeins into cones to make it easier to work with.  I don't want my students to be spending the coin of their time wrestling with skeins when I have a cone winder and can make things easier/more efficient so that they have more time for learning.

Last I heard the class was full with a waiting list, but I don't want to spend more money before I've got the confirmation.  Truth be told I should have waited to buy the Array for the class, but I wanted to sample it and I was in the store so it was just too tempting to buy the yarn then and there and save the shipping.  :)

Currently reading Murder with Peacocks by D. Andrews

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Pushing the Boundaries


The last couple of days have been a bit busy, but I did get started on weaving the scarf on the sample warp.

It's going about how I expected.  The epi is 20, which is a bit open for twill and so the beating in of the weft is not as consistent as I would like.  But I'm about 3/4s done the scarf and the recipient will be delighted with the colour and not pay too much attention to the fact that this scarf is far from 'perfect'.

The value scale is quite close and it's difficult to tell some of the steps apart so I've had to set up a system to keep track.  Even so sometimes I forget which direction I'm going with the steps and I've had to unweave because I picked up the wrong shuttle, or woven the twill in the wrong direction.  I'm changing direction with each colour change, which may not be visible in the photo.

The threading is a herringbone or Dornick twill which changes direction and skips a shaft in the threading and the treadling, which means when the twill line changes direction the selvedge threads don't drop out of the cloth but stay weaving in.  The maximum float length is 2.  What it means is that no true plain weave is possible, but that's ok because the scarf has no plain weave in it.

When I do the plain weave samples, I don't care if there will be two ends weaving together.  At that point it's just a sample.

So my theory that 20 would be good for plain weave, but 24 would likely be better for twill has pretty much been proved.  OTOH, the drape of this scarf should be really nice given it is being woven at 20 epi.  Of course this is a narrow warp and for a 36 or 48" wide warp, I'd likely go with 20 epi.  Because change something like the warp width, and sometimes the epi needs to change, too.

But I wasn't sure and only weaving it would tell me that.

Sometimes a sample is 'just' a sample.  Sometimes?  It's a scarf.  Or a tea towel.  Or a napkin.

Array is fairly expensive, but so far it's looking good for weaving clothing, if someone is inclined.  It's strong.  It comes in a vast array of colours, with 4 step values of the hues.  It's hard to find fine wool yarns that can be used for clothing, so this yarn is looking good for making really nice cloth for shawls, or garments that need to be cut/sewn.  I'm looking forward to seeing the final results after wet finishing, which will include a good hard press.

Sunday, May 1, 2022



What is quality?

Most people take the word quality to mean *good* quality, not bad.  But the word 'quality' isn't inherently good or bad.

It's always a good idea to choose a yarn suitable for the purpose of the intended cloth.  Yarn all by itself isn't good or bad - it just has built in characteristics that make it a good or bad choice for what you want to make.

The yarn going into the Leclerc right now is the right hand one in the photo.  It's finer, smoother, stronger than the yarn on the left.  Does that make it a better quality?  Not really.  The difference in the fibres used, how they have been prepared for and spun will make a big difference in how they behave but also?  In the quality of cloth they will make.  Will one be good and the other bad?  No.  They will just be different.  They will each be 'better' AND 'worse' at some things than the other.

Neither of the yarns is 'cheap'.  They are not typically found in most knitting yarn shops because they are not knitting yarns.

They are *weaving* yarns.  That doesn't mean you can't knit with them, just that they have been engineered to be used in a loom.  They have less elasticity than the 'usual' knitting yarn.  They are two ply, not 3, which for many years had been the standard for knitting yarns (not so much lately).  

Each of the above yarns will create a lovely fabric if the weaver works *with* the inherent characteristics, not against them.

So the one on the left was built with the intention that it be fulled.  The one on the right, while it *can* full, was not the primary feature.  The one on the left is loftier, hairier, and weaker than the one on the right.  The one on the left can be used as warp, but the one on the right is a lot stronger.  The one on the left will make a warmer cloth, the one on the right a cooler one - because it has less trapped air to act as insulation.

Learning how to assess the qualities of the yarn and use it appropriately is the focus on my presentation A Good Yarn.  Sign up for School of Sweetgeorgia and catch the live lecture on Wednesday, May 4 or view it later because it will be recorded.

The cloth in the photo above is the left hand quality - Harrisville.  I wrote about it for Handwoven a few years ago.  It can make a nice blanket, shawl or outer garment quality of woolen cloth.  The yarn on the right is GIST's Array, a worsted yarn.  I'm going to start weaving my first sample with it today.  I'm expecting it to make a nice garment type of cloth.  It's finer, more tightly spun, will withstand abrasion better than the Harrisville.  And I think with a good hard press as part of the wet finishing process, it might even feel quite nice against the skin.  But only a sample will tell me that for sure.

Friday, April 29, 2022



I have been so focused on getting my stash woven down I have been letting my other deadlines slide.  Of course I've always worked 'best' under the pressure of deadlines, so...

But April is nearly over, next week it will be May!  And I have things I need to take care of before June.  Weaving, being labour intensive, means that I have to get cracking and deal with getting ready for the Olds College class in mid-June.  Part of that is sampling the new-to-me yarn I got earlier this month while I was at Sweet Georgia Yarns.

One of the challenges with weaving is finding 'good' yarn.  Even better if that yarn comes in an array of colours.  

I don't weave much with wool these days, but level one of the master weaving course means weaving with wool and fulling it.  One of the class assignments is to create a value gamp, so you need at least 6 steps in the value of a hue and it has to be wool.

Since a percentage of the level one students are usually a bit less experienced, some of whom may have never woven with wool, I try to find 'friendly' yarn.  Many of the finer wool yarns that come in value gamp steps are extremely elastic/stretchy.  This makes them more challenging to weave with if you have never encountered a yarn with a lot of elasticity in it.

I've been using Harrisville yarns in part because it is meant to be fulled, in part because it doesn't have a lot of elasticity.  But it doesn't have a great value scale so I've fudged by reaching into the next hue for the darker values.  

Array (from GIST) is now being carried by Sweet Georgia, and the grey scale comes in a five step value package, plus you can buy natural white as an individual cone.  So I bought that for the class.  However, I also need to sample it so I did a two birds one stone thing and bought a set of their lime green value scale (plus white) which gives a five step value scale.  On this warp I will weave my samples in preparation for the Olds class and the grey scale, but I bought enough I can make a scarf for a friend who absolutely *adores* lime green.  

Yesterday was a pretty good day and after weaving two towels and taking a short break I wound the lime green warp.  I had re-designed this warp at least 6 times.  Array is not a cheap yarn and I wanted the scarf to turn out well but I don't have a lot of 'extra' yarn.  So I took my time combining the value scale concept and the stripe sequence in a way that was pleasing to me (I am not actually a fan of lime green, but I think this is going to look nice!) and stayed within the confines of the yarn I had available.

The changes in the value from one shade to the next are slight, so I will be needing to keep track of each step as I weave the gamp.  This should make a really nice gradient.  

The yarn is strong.  It's 'worsted', smooth, compact, and will full.  So it will be interesting to see how it is after a very light fulling and a good hard press.  It won't be merino soft, but it will be a lot friendlier to weave with than a sproingy (technical term) merino yarn.

And yes, it's a bit spendy, but worth it imho to have a less stressful weaving experience, plus the very lovely gradient of colours to work with.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

"Poor Man's Damask"


May be a little hard to see, but I've switched to white weft on white warp and while I'm sitting at the loom I can't really *see* what I'm doing.  It is only when I get up from the loom and look it from an angle that the pattern becomes visible.

Yes, I'm still weaving twill blocks (or turned twill) and this is sometimes called Poor Man's Damask, especially when woven white on white.

Damask is woven with satin weave and as such is very shaft hungry.  Usually it is woven on a drawloom or Jacquard in order to get those really fancy designs.  If you 'only' have a shaft loom, it's a lot harder to get very fancy with satin weave structures.  Satin also takes a *much* higher epi/ppi than twill blocks, so using turned twill to create motifs is a lot cheaper and quicker than satin.

Selvedges can be an issue with it (as mentioned in my previous post) but I don't fret too much so long as they are 'reasonable'.  

(Each weaver has to decide for themselves what level of 'not perfect' they are willing to live with.)

The next warp in this series will also be twill blocks but after than I think I will go back to 'fancy' twills.  Selvedges on a 16 shaft fancy twill can also be a problem, but again, usually not anything I'm too worried about.

My goal is to use up the 2/16 cotton this year.  (I *thought* it would be done by now, silly me!)  Once that's done, I have several boxes of 2/20 mercerized cotton.  More tea towels.

Am I bored with tea towels yet?  Nope.  Each warp is a different threading and I'm limiting how many of each motif I weave in each colour.  That is about to end as my dyed yarns are actually disappearing.  However, I have about 3 kilos of that turquoise I showed in my previous post, and a whole bunch of natural white.  Given all the other things I need to work on, weaving on the Megado will slow down for the next few months.  But I haven't forgotten my goal of reducing my stash.  It's just going to take a bit longer than I thought it would.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Not Up to the Challenge


When weaving 1:3 twill blocks, sometimes the selvedge doesn't want to weave in nicely.  For this warp, I doubled the four outside ends in the heddle (keeping them the same density as the rest of the cloth in the reed) but the pulling of the warp combined with the weave structure means that the selvedge ends tend to not want to pull in nicely to the body of the cloth and I'm left with 'loopy' selvedges.

This is NOT perfect.  Or ideal.  Or even acceptable if I were planning on entering them into a juried exhibit.  

But I'm not.  I'm just weaving up my yarn stash and trying to get it done as quickly as possible.  I don't have the spoons for fussing about it and frankly?  These loops really aren't going to much affect the function of a tea towel.  They might (might!) wear out more quickly, but should still give good service for several years.

I happen to like weaving twill blocks for the crisp motifs.  The 1:3 twill is easy to weave since fewer shafts rise than sink, therefore it takes less physical effort.  One down side is the selvedges tend to curl.  Where there is more weft than warp in the block the cloth will curl up.  Where there is more warp than weft in the block, the cloth will tend to curl down.  Much like the knitting.  If one side is all knit and the other all purl, the knitted cloth will curl to the purl side.

Wet finishing reduces that curling - in both knitting and weaving.  Unfortunately it doesn't always solve the 'problem' in it's entirety.

I do notice how much the wet finishing tends to camouflage minor inconsistencies, though, and so it is with these towels.  The high value contrast shows up my inconsistent beat, but after wet finishing and a good hard press, the minor 'streaks' are not jumping out at me.

So, here's to imperfection.  In spite of minor bobbles, these towels will still dry dishes.  I have another 3 or so kilos of this teal/turquoise yarn.  I may switch to a fancy twill for a while so that I'm not reminded so obviously that I'm *still* not perfect.

"Let go your perfect offering.  There is a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in."

Leonard Cohen

Thanks for the reminder Leonard.   

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Goat Trails


This morning Facebook showed me a memory from six years ago when I was preparing for a workshop with a guild.  It showed the Leclerc with a warp beamed but waiting for threading and baggies with weaving drafts and yarns to be used for the workshop warps all laid out all over the floor.  There was about 15" of walkway between those and the shelving unit on the other side.

I stopped letting students use their own yarns when I did a couple of workshop on wet finishing, specified that people needed to use wool that would full and have a couple show up with their looms all dressed with acrylic.  So much for experiencing fulling.  :(

It just became a whole lot easier for me to provide the yarns (for an additional materials fee) and make sure the students experienced the workshop in the way that *I* intended.

But it was an enormous amount of work.  

At the time I was also weaving for production, planning for upcoming shows to sell my work, writing articles to submit for publication.  My studio was crammed wall to wall with...stuff...and my studio had a couple of goat trails through it.  It was a constant shuffling of bins, boxes, and equipment as I juggled the deadlines and dealt with the logistics of it all.

Most of this type of work is completely invisible to others - unless you've done it (or something very similar).  

In addition there was the constant self-promotion and fielding questions, setting up teaching tours (always cheaper for two or three guilds to share my travel costs), and so on.

Over the years I designed and made weaving kits, self-published booklets with woven samples in addition to the two 'real' books I did, made a CD in a very early effort to produce digital 'workshops'.

And I did all this - and more - for 4 decades.

When I 'retired' I wanted less stress in my life.  Getting rid of travelling to teach was a no-brainer.  That sliced a big chunk of mental scrambling out of my life.  No more being a travel agent, a booking agent, ordering in yarns for teaching, being a photocopy centre, assembling 'kits' for workshops and then mailing them out to the workshop organizers.  Then making sure I collected the material fee when I got there if the guild hadn't done it for me.

Constantly promoting myself.  Which, given I'm essentially an introvert, wasn't an easy thing for me to do.  Still isn't, honestly

So now I'm 'retired' - for certain values of - and I have to say...I don't miss the goat trails.  I don't miss the constant scramble of looming (pun intended) deadlines.  The pressure to be 'on' all the time.  The dark o'clock flights.  The adjusting to different time zones.

But I'm not dead yet, and I do still have goals.  So while I AM 'retired' it's the craft fair circuit and travelling to teach that I've officially retired from.  I'm finding that I can manage - just - to develop online content, with the very talented team at SOS.  

So even though there are still challenges (buying a new laptop and trying to get it set up before the first lecture on May 4) I am managing.  Mostly.

I am officially a senior citizen, have been for a while.  I ride the health roller coaster, even if I don't want to, because I still feel the need to share my knowledge with anyone who wants to know what I know.  Or what I *think* I know.  Because I'm still learning.  The deeper I dig, the more I understand that I don't know, *can't* know, everything.

And that is just fine by me.  It's why I drag myself from my bed each morning.  Because I never know what the day will bring, and what I will learn.

And I really don't miss the goat trails.

Reading the latest book by Donna Leon, Give Unto Others

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Self Promotion


I forget to promote myself and the things I've done.  I get caught up in what I'm doing now and ignore what I've done in the past.  So here's a friendly reminder about the books I've been involved with.

The two books I wrote and self-published are available on (or com if you are outside of Canada).  There is a link on this page at the bottom if you are ever looking for either title.  Magic in the Water sometimes becomes available second hand, through guild/estate sales or someone downsizing.  I find it hard to believe that 20 years later it is still valued.  

The Intentional Weaver is also available through Sweet Georgia Yarns.  I signed 10 copies when I was in Vancouver earlier this month.  (Their website says 30 in stock but I'm pretty sure there are only 10.)

Weave a V was written by Kerstin Fröberg and I encouraged her to translate it into English, then had it printed in Canada.  And yes, I still have copies for sale.  Price including shipping to Canada/US is $25.  

Right now my focus is on the first SOS lecture, set to launch May 4.  People who join SOS have full access to all of their offerings.  They have a number of instructors for a variety of textile crafts and in addition to the classes, there are articles plus forums where members can ask questions.  

I am also taking bookings for guild programs (60 minutes) or lectures/seminar (120 minutes).  My fee for a guild program is $150 and the lectures are $250.  

There are two more topics in the works for classes with SOS.  I just can't seem to make myself sit down and do the thinking and number crunching.  However that will have to change very soon!  I have always worked 'better' under the pressure of a looming (pun intended) deadline.  Apparently I still haven't learned to start early and avoid the pressure!  

However, I am looking forward to these two topics.  I need to start by dragging out all my bins of teaching samples and sorting through them to see what else I need to weave.

Anyway, if people want to contact me, I just renewed my domain name and website so the easiest way to reach me is to email

Friday, April 22, 2022

Magic in the Water


This morning I received a nice email from someone who had my book, but wondered if I had a DVD of the topic,  I pointed her in the direction of Handwoven, where they have the topic as a 'workshop' on line.  But of course, I also have the class on School of Sweet Georgia.

Because sometimes you need to *see* a process being done, not just read about it.

Given the time, energy and money it took to produce this book (with before and after samples) I am pleased that people still refer to it, still value it.  It is now 20 years old and the whole concept of wet finishing is still not very well understood.  Although I hope that my constant harping on it online has at least raised awareness that it is something weavers need to pay attention to.

As a brand new weaver I understood that what I was taking off the loom wasn't...good.  It was unstable, raw.  And in fact, industry still refers to the web fresh off the loom as 'grey or greige' goods, not cloth.

Once off the loom, the web is inspected and any repairs needed are done, and only then does it hit the water for that wondrous transformation, from web to actual cloth.

I'm pleased as punch that I am still being asked to do guild programs, and now to work with the School of Sweet Georgia.  I was very happy to do the DVDs for Handwoven but I continue to learn.  So for anyone who wants to see fulling in action, there are my video clips on You Tube, but if you want more extensive information, check out the workshops on the Handwoven website, or join me at SOS.

after wet finishing

before wet finishing

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Deeper Understanding


Harrisville and Gist yarns

Over the past year while I was developing my lecture series, I had to think about ways to inform people remotely.  I didn't have the capacity to do live video teaching, and besides there are others already doing that - and doing it very well - like Jane Stafford.  

I had no desire to 'compete' with those people in what is a rather small niche in a niche 'market', so I decided to focus on principles of the craft.

To say I am pleased that the School of Sweet Georgia picked up my lectures and are adding them to their course offerings would be an understatement.

As part of the school, they also publish articles by their various instructors and in our meeting at the beginning of the month we talked about the lectures and I showed them a blog post I'd written.  They asked if they could publish the blog post, but I wanted to do something more detailed, terms of the information I feel needs to be made more available to those who want to know more.  

Once I got home I looked at the blog post and dug through my resources, expanded the information in the post, added more photos, more examples and more information on the count numbering systems - imperial and metric.

People who have registered for SOS have access to the article along with all the other articles that have been published by the instructors and it's really a very good resource that might go unnoticed.

This morning I got an email from Handwoven and they also have an article on the numbering systems.  I am really pleased to see that other instructors are getting good information out.  I probably didn't cover the topic in complete detail so it's always a good idea for people looking for information to read what a variety of people have to say.  

Understanding our materials means we can make good choices when we plan our projects.

The first lecture, A Good Yarn, will look at yarn characteristics.  It's more of an overview, so if people want to know more detail, there are other resources.  My go-to resource is the book by Jackman and Dixon, A Guide to Textiles for Interior Designers.

If anyone is interested in following along with my classes for Sweet Georgia, you can register here.

Once a member, students have access to ALL of the school content - workshops in spinning, dyeing, weaving, felting, knitting, crochet.  Plus the articles as mentioned and beginning May 4 my lectures.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Giving Up Guilt


Given the fresh snow yesterday (that still lingers) it seemed appropriate to use this little 'snowflake' design that I wove a bunch of years ago.  The warp was 2/16 bamboo (from Brassard) and black rayon chenille and the weft the same (different colours for weft).  Diversified Plain Weave, as I recall.  It's been a while.

Been thinking a lot about 'the rest of my life'.  Things change when you begin to see an end date.  In 2008 when I had cardiac issues, I still had hope I could return to my 'old' life once I recovered.  And I did.  Mostly.

Broken ankle?  Ditto.  It took a long time, but eventually I was able to go back to what I had been doing.  A few more aches and pains, but no matter.  I was no stranger to those.  Just pile a few more on.

But then cancer.  And I fought my way back to functioning.  More cardiac issues and by-pass surgery.  I began to shrink my activity horizons and started cutting back on what I had been doing.  Dyeing yarn for sale was the first thing to go.  But I kept traveling to teach whenever I had the opportunity, even though I'd begun to loathe the dark o'clock departures, the 3 to 4 flights to get to where I needed to go, the time zone changes.

By 2019 I was losing ground physically.  My body was quite obviously breaking down, not just because of the weaving but the cardiac, cancer, adverse drug effects, whiplash injuries, etc.

The next thing to go was traveling to teach and shutting down doing shows to try and sell my textiles.  It seemed huge to me to cut that part of my life out.  And it was.  I'm still dealing with the shift in mindset after 40 years of doing that.  

I simply cannot do what I used to be able to do.  But I still have (most) of my mind, my knowledge.  And I still want to teach.  So I have swung quite happily into teaching on line with Sweet Georgia.  

Yesterday I was asked if I would write an article for a publication and after thinking about it for all of 20 seconds, I sent 'yes' as my answer.  The deadline is Aug. 15, which is good because the next few months are a bit hectic.  Not for my old self, but I'm not my old self anymore and I know the current spur of energy may not last once the pain begins to return.  So I'm going to have to pace myself and make sure I don't run myself ragged trying to do what I used to be able to do, given this is a reprieve, not a cure.

My main focus will continue to be to weave every day I can.  Yesterday I took 'off' because I had appointments and errands to run and I didn't get home until 3 pm.  I decided at that point that weaving was not in the cards.

And that's the biggest thing about being 'retired'.  I don't have to pushpushpush anymore.  I can listen to my body and rest when it says it needs it.  I have given up guilt, not just for lent, but hopefully forever.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022



We were warned last night that snow was coming - and it did.

Now it's not unusual for us to have an April snow dump.  We have even had snow fall in May, more rarely June, but it's been known to happen.

But it seemed very depressing to get up this morning and instead of seeing (brown) lawns, a thick layer of white covered everything.

Thing is, it's temporary.  It's a blip.  It will likely be gone by later this afternoon once it has warmed up and started raining.

We live in a place where there are seasons and they cycle through, sometimes predictably, sometimes, not so much.  

But I do admit to a moment of disappointment when I looked out the window this morning.

I have a 'busy' day today with appointments and errands to run.  I hope I can weave at least one towel when I'm done all that but I'll see how many spoons I have by the time I get home.  And remind myself I am supposed to be retired.  If I don't get to the loom one day, it's not critical.

There are other things I can be doing, like reading my library book, or thinking about an article I've just been asked to write.  Or plan my sampling for the new wool yarn I got with the intention of using it for the Olds class in June.  I've heard through the grapevine it is full with a wait list, so probably it will go ahead and I need to be prepared for that.  

One of the things on my to-be-done list is to go through my bins of samples.  I've 'lost' my lace samples, which is totally annoying because I just used them for a Zoom presentation the end of February, then put them...somewhere...I don't know where.  But I need them for later in the year and I'd rather not have to re-weave them!  Plus the samples for the Olds class.  And just...feel more organized as I begin to do the lectures for SOS.

So even if I don't feel like weaving, there are other things I could be doing.

I'll ignore the snow as much as possible, will drive carefully because we, like many others, took the snow tires off our vehicles, thinking we were done with snow.  Too soon, apparently.

Sunday, April 17, 2022



Spring comes to us later than places further south, but come it does.  We have had a number of sunny days the past while, a welcome break from a winter and pre-spring that seemed to be mostly grey, dreary and pretty depressing.

But the sun promises the flourish of returning life.  Sap is running, buds are forming, wee bits of green are showing their promise to return.

Yes, there are still 'bad' things happening in this world.  Far too many of them, it seems like.  But for now, for this time, we are okay.  We are battening down the hatches again with the rise of covid into a 6th wave, isolating as much as possible.  We will continue to wear a mask when we need to go out.  I'm hoping to begin walking again, try to regain some of the fitness I've lost over the past year.  Now that I have a 'wardrobe' of masks, I will walk wearing one - which will help filter out the allergens in the air - dust, pollen, wildfire smoke - if we have another bad summer of wildfires.

Human beings are very adaptable, although you wouldn't think so given the objections to new circumstances the past few years.  So we will continue as we have been doing - isolate, mask, get the next booster as soon as we can.

In the meantime, I have my weaving.  I'm just polishing an article for the School of Sweet Georgia.  ln some ways I feel like a broken record because I say the same things over and over again.  But not everyone has heard what I say, so I keep saying it.

My goal is to help people.  If they understand the principles, they can make appropriate choices.  

Honestly I didn't think I would still be teaching, at least not to the extent that I am.  Being able to teach from home, no dark o'clock flights, long travel days, all the stress and uncertainty of whether or not I would make it in time.  Now I just have to remember time zone changes and be at my computer at the appropriate time.

So yes, I bought a new laptop on Friday.  I even managed to get it set up so I can do Zoom and loaded Fiberworks on it.  It will be a back up should the current laptop running the loom break down but will make doing Zoom a lot easier. 

And next month, I'll be doing it again - sharing what I think I know with others.  But I never ever assume that I know it *all*.  I still learn.  There are still whole areas of weaving I know little about.  And that's ok.  Weaving is a craft that has been practiced for thousands and thousands of years.  Knowledge arrives, and sometimes?  It is forgotten, to be discovered again in another time, another place.

We learn.  We grow.  We learn more.  

So on this sunny day I think about the cycles - seasons, lessons.  How we learn something, then circle back in order to deepen our understanding.  How the only correct short answer in weaving is 'it depends'.  And so it is with life.  We learn, make more mistakes, learn more, maybe change our minds, based on the increased level of knowledge about the subtleties involved in weaving, in living.

And onwards we go, always onwards. 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Working Meditation


Yesterday I threaded the next all white warp of cotton for tea towels.  Now to tie on, wind bobbins, get started.

I'm back to my 'default' length of 60 turns on the beam (about 25 yards or so) and should get 21 towels out of the warp.  The next design is a bit longer than some other designs so I'm not exactly sure how many there will be.  

But!  This warp should go a long way towards using up more of the dyed 2/16 cotton.  Except for the turquoise green.  I still have  a LOT of that left - about 3.5 kilos if I remember correctly.  That will produce a LOT of turquoise green towels, so expect my timeline to be a bit 'boring' if you tire of the same colour all the time.

And that is something I hear frequently - that someone will find out I put on long warps and weave multiple items all the same.  "Don't you get bored" they ask.

No.  No, I do not. I may tire of something, in which case I will go work on something else.  But bored?  No, not really.

I have been reading a series by author Tamora Pierce.  Her books are geared to the teen market, which is not a deal breaker for me if the stories are well written.  And I find her The Circle Opens series engaging for a number of reasons.  A large part of the story is young mages growing into their powers and learning how to control their power - and their emotions.  Pierce shows human beings, being human.  Making mistakes.  Learning.  Growing.  

I have enjoyed the series well enough that when I discovered that the local library did not have two of the books in the series I bought them from a second hand book site, where I found both titles for under $6 each (as opposed to $50-75 on Amazon).  Doug is waiting for them to arrive and in the meantime reading another favourite author, C. J. Cherryh.

Cherryh's Foreigner series also has children, although the story is not centered on them.  But again, young people making mistakes, learning, growing.  Both authors show the good and bad sides of human nature, but both are firmly on the side of human beings learning to be more compassionate, more inclusive, more kind.  That is the kind of quality I like to see in my fiction as I also aspire to grow in that direction.

Pierce includes a significant amount of craft work in her series - textiles, metalwork, gardening, cooking.  As part of the book I just finished - Cold Fire - one of the teenaged mages discovers two younger people who have the capability to work magic and she must get them training in their particular skill.  She winds up being responsible for their meditation.  One of the youngsters finds sitting quietly and calming herself works well.  The other?  Does not.  So that one needs to come to her inner peace, inner calm through movement.

And that's the thing about humans, isn't it?  We are all different and what works for one may not work for another.

I have always considered weaving to be - for me - a working meditation.  I've tried 'traditional' meditation and could not do it.  Like the youngster in the story, I could not find my centre, my calm, by sitting quietly.  But I find it very easily sitting at the loom, shuttle in hand.

So, no, I don't get bored weaving the same thing over and over.  It is my happy place.  My space to just be.  I need to shut out the cares of the world so that I can feel the rhythm of the process.  Listen to the loom.  The yarn.

As Wayne Dyer (and others) have said, we are human beings, not humans doing.  But some of us get to the being more quickly through the process of doing.  

Friday, April 15, 2022

Old Dog... tricks.

Honestly, I had zero desire to buy *another* laptop!  Truly, I did not want to learn how a new laptop worked.  Get it set up.  Deal with finding all my web site links, remember passwords.

And I am.

I have a laptop, but it's pretty much dedicated to running the Megado.  It also developed that it no longer holds a battery charge, in spite of a brand new battery.  I can only assume that there is a broken connection that prevents the laptop from charging/running from a battery.  And given I am (supposedly) retired, I didn't want to spend the money to try and get it fixed.  Not to mention the downtime while it was in getting looked at.  Because I keep it plugged in all the time and it runs the loom and that makes me happy.

But!  I'm getting busier with Zoom presentations and I'm not happy with my laptop set up as it is for doing those.  Throw in the need to shut it down to unplug, move it elsewhere, then plug it in, start it up again, etc., and...I began looking for something that would do the Zoom presentations that would be more portable.

The final justification was that if my old laptop finally gave up the ghost I would already have another laptop as back up, already with Fiberworks on it, and it should be a simple thing to swap the old one out and put the new one in.

I had thought to go with something cheaper, but it seemed like the cheaper ones were cheap at the expense of computing power and given the primary purpose of this laptop is teaching, presenting Power Point slide shows, connecting to the internet wirelessly, and it seemed like folly to be too stingy.  Plus this one had pretty good reviews on the sites I checked.  AND it was on sale.  Not a huge sale, but nevertheless.

It was still more than I had planned on spending so I guess it's a good thing I booked another Zoom presentation this week, and may be booking another with a guild as well.

It's checking for updates, and then I'll begin setting it up.  But for now?  I have a loom to thread.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022



Around this time of year I am awake early enough to see the sun as it shines through the fanlight in my front door.  As the sun moves through the sky, the sun flowers flow across my floor and up the wall.

When it feels like life is too much, this tiny reminder of the beauty in the world is welcome.

This morning the above tweet appeared on my FB timeline shared by a friend.  It was a timely reminder that we must not lose all hope, even in the face of things happening beyond our control.  Bad things happen, yes, even to good people.  There are those who believe that these bad things happen for a reason.  Sometimes that reason is that people can be cruel and nasty.  And we are seeing a lot of that these days.

But!  And here's the thing.  Cruel and nasty is just as temporary as good and kind.  I prefer to surround myself with people who are good and kind.  I try to be good and kind, even when I'm stressed beyond breaking.  When I am, I'm probably not nearly as good and kind as I would wish to be.

So when I'm struggling with cruel and nasty goings on in the world, I try to remember to hope.  

Hope that things can get better, if we work at it.  Hope that the sun will shine, flowers will grow.  Hope that we can move beyond cruel and nasty to good and kind.

I am fortunate in that I am pretty much surrounded with people who are of the good and kind variety. 

I am not oblivious to what is happening in the world right now, far from it.  But I also know that I cannot keep going if I allow the things I cannot control to take over my life, my thoughts.

Weaving continues to be an important part of how I manage to get through the day(s).  Weaving has been, at times, my profession, my meditation, my exercise, my physical and mental therapy.

And from time time I get to see sun 'flowers' flow across my floor.  They remind me that even in the midst of chaos there is still beauty to be found in this world.  And hope gives me the strength to keep going, even after being knocked down.  Again. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Deep Dive


Left - Harrisville Tweed (Shetland); Right - GIST Array

While I was in Vancouver, I shopped at Sweet Georgia yarns because I am not familiar with all of their yarns and before I can design projects for the classes I'm doing, I need to know how the yarn will behave.  

It's not always easy to find fine wool yarns that will weave up nicely without too much coddling, so I am very interested to put the GIST yarn Array to the test.  

In the photo, the yellow tweed (yellow with white) weaves up nicely.  It's a yarn that was spun to be wet finished including fulling and while it feels a bit coarse on the cone, it actually turns out well after fulling and a good hard press.  It might feel a bit prickly to someone with sensitive skin, but can be used to make outer garments for cold climates and even a scarf if given a good hard press with a twill weave structure.  Even plain weave finishes up nicely, though, just saying.

But for those with more sensitive skin or who want to make a lighter weight cloth, there are fewer options so I was intrigued with this yarn from GIST labelled a tapestry yarn.

I did a quick snap test of the yarn while there and it seems plenty strong enough but I was also curious to take a closer look with the aid of my digital microscope.

The Shetland is spun 'woolen' fashion - the fibres are carded not combed, the yarn is lofty with lots of air in it and the fibres are disorganized with lots of fibre ends poking out.  

The Array is spun in 'worsted' fashion - the fibres are combed, not carded, they tend to be organized - as in parallel to each other and I think it's fairly clear to see that the yarn looks more compact with fewer stray fibre ends poking out.

That means the Array feels 'nicer' and I think once woven up and given a good hard press as part of the finishing process it will feel quite nice, even next to the skin.

The yarn comes in packages of four tubes (except the grey/black value scale which comes in 5) of a value scale of the hue.  The tubes are one ounce or about 210 yards each.

There are 3360 yards per pound and the size is given as 2/12 *worsted* spun.  (Note the mill puts the ply first as I mentioned in my post about the 2/16 - 16/2 cotton.

Now, why does the mill call this 2/12 not 2/8?  Because wool uses a different base for how many yards per pound than cotton does.  Worsted base is 560 yards per pound for a worsted yarn while woollen uses a different base.

And this is why people get confused.  You have to know the 'key' - the number of yards per pound for the fibre and type of prep and spinning that is being used.  And why the numbers alone don't give the whole story of the yarn.

The yarn count is not indicative - all by itself - of the inherent characteristics of the yarn!  

If you are looking for how many yards per pound in the imperial 'count' system, M. P. Davison has a chart in the front part of her 'green' book.  I'm sure there are others.

More and more, mills are turning to the metric system.  It is less confusing because regardless of the fibre or method of spinning, the measurement is made in terms of meters per kilo (or 100 grams).  It's much more sensible in every meaning of the word.  Certainly far less confusing!

I'm preparing an 'article' for SOS on these things so if you belong to the school, you also get access to various articles written by some of the instructors.  

Also?  If you want to know about this and other 'arcane' things about weaving, my first lecture/seminar, on just these sorts of things, goes live on May 4.  If you want to join, you can sign up for a month, a quarter or a year here and get access to all of the resources available at SOS.  Including moi, where I pop in several times a day in case there are questions.