Saturday, September 24, 2022

Goat Trails

 



This was the state of my studio up until a few minutes ago.  Much of the rubble on the floor has been moved to the other end of the studio so that nearly everything is in one heap.

I've tagged everything so that I can - hopefully - find what I'm looking for when I begin setting up the filming studio at School of Sweet Georgia next Friday (and Saturday if I need that much time, which I may).

I'm juggling two completely different and separate topics, which will actually get filmed concurrently in order to minimize camera set up changes.  I'm really hoping my pain and chemically induced brain fog will have lifted by then.  Based on the last injection, it took 3 days for everything to clear my system and give me my brain - and executive functioning - back.  Fingers crossed for the same, this time.

In spite of a constant realization that this will be the 'last' time I do this, or that, my brain simply won't stop and I came up with an idea I am going to pitch while I'm down there.  I don't know if they will be interested, but I'll talk to them and see.

 I am trying to arrange my life to reduce stress and right now, travel is a huge part of the stress of doing these online classes.  

'If' is a really small word that encompasses universes, galaxies.  If wishes were horses, beggers would ride.  I took that admonition to heart as a child and so I have always worked, worked, worked to bring my goals, my dreams, into reality.

My goals and dreams are now much smaller, but it appears that in spite of brain fog, I still have them.  Even as the thought popped into my head, my conscious self said 'wait, WHAT?"  But where ever those dreams are born insisted I approach SOS and so I have collected documentation and samples and will ask.

But honestly?  I am tired of the stress.  The chaos.  The goat trails.  I am going to try and convince the dreaming part of my brain to be less - less ambitious, less enthusiastic, less, I don't know, driven?  Creative?

I have also decided on the direction I want to go with the 2/20 mercerized cotton I still have in my stash.  Given my eyesight and not being able to see that size of thread very well, I am going to invest in some 2/16 natural cotton and use it for warp, with the 2/20 mercerized cotton for weft.  The mat and shiny combination should look good.  And I can still see the 2/16 - at least more easily than the 2/20, so there is that.

I have already generated a draft based on that combination and just need to decide if I only order in natural white, or if I buy some blue to use up the bin of various blues, including the cones from Robin and Russ - you just *know* how old those are - likely nearing 40 years.  Long past time to use it up and being that old, I'm not inclined to try it as warp.

I'm going to take a break from sorting and packing and start threading the warp I just beamed yesterday.  Would be nice if it was at least begun so I didn't have to do it all when I came home.

But man, I am looking forward to getting rid of some stuff and making the goat trails wider, if not fewer.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Doing the Right Thing

 


If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

I continue to work on staying safe from covid.  For me, being immune compromised, getting sick from covid would not be good.  It would not be 'mild'.  It would not be a 'nothing burger'.  It could, in fact, be fatal.

We are 2.5+ years into a pandemic, one that far too many people have decided isn't real, doesn't exist, is all a figment of someone's fevered imagination.  In spite of the daily deaths that would - in any other circumstance - have caused people to pause.  But here we are.

So I advocated, quite loudly, at a recent guild event for all people attending guild events to attend wearing a mask.  

Since then I have seen more and more reports that the majority of people would be fine with mask mandates, they just don't want to buck the majority.

I'm here to tell you, that if you are part of the majority of people who would be fine with a mask - WEAR THE MASK!

Don't wait for government to tell you.  You already know it's the 'right' thing to do.  So do it.  Do it even if it means that you might be the only person in the room doing it.  By your example you will encourage others to ALSO put on a mask.

So please.  If you belong to a weaving guild, protect your fellow guild members and wear a mask.  Be the example.  Be the lone voice if that's what it takes.  Protect our elders, their knowledge and experience.  

There are still too many people getting sick and some of them are dying.  Far too many are dealing with the long term effects of Long Covid.  

Protect them - and yourself - by wearing a mask at guild events, workshops, conferences, exhibits.

Even if you are the only one.  Because it's the 'right' thing to do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Coming Down to the Wire

 


We make plans.  The universe laughs.

Hope springs eternal.

Even as I despair of meeting my (self-imposed) deadlines, a tiny part of my brain is thinking, thinking, thinking and even as I say "I'm done" that little kernel wonders, what if...?

The taping for the next two classes will soon be history and filed under 'things I have done' instead of the 'things I will do' category.  Vowing they would be my last online classes a few weeks ago, the other night (damn insomnia) I was unprepared for that little part of my brain to send out a teaser 'what if'.

And now, of course, like an ear worm, I can't seem to put it back into the little box it popped out of, like an evil jack-in-the-box, tempting me to consider, to propose, to start thinking about the whole thing more, adding this, adding that, planning warps to exhibit the principles.

Every time it drifts through my conscious awareness, I push it back, push it away, shove it aside.  And yet...here it comes again.

I may yet decide to roll with it.  Or sanity may prevail and I'll let it die of a lack of oxygen, a lack of energy to do All The Things required to make it happen.

After 40+ years of weaving I have a broad base of knowledge.  As the years progressed I focused my attention on certain aspects of the craft that I felt needed to be promoted more (wet finishing, ergonomics) and let go other things about cloth construction that interested me.  

Lately those things have begun to reappear.  They are, in fact, facets of wet finishing, largely the special effects that come about *because* of wet finishing.  How weave structures that depend on the deflection of the threads in the cloth develop to their full potential in the wet finishing and other approaches.  In fact I used to offer a workshop with that very focus.

And now I find myself revisiting it - even as I threw away the workshop notes thinking I would never need them again.

Ironic, right? 

Oh well.  It may all come to nothing.

But the fact that this is happening, right now, tells me I'm not done yet.  Even as I come down to the wire in terms of my health, energy and drive to accomplish things, a part of me wants to do 'more'.

Time will tell if I can scrape up the will to actually *do* more.  Or if I will be content simply weaving down my stash.

In the meantime, there will be two more SOS classes launched in the new year and the lecture series continues.  I have a couple of bookings for guild presentations.  The topics are listed on my (new/refreshed) website




Two garments, woven for my master weaver monograph, exhibiting significant fulling


Sunday, September 18, 2022

So Far, So Good

 


Today is day 5 since my covid 'contact' and even though the covid positive person and I were both masked, AND there was a HEPA filter between us, I am being very very careful.

I have worked hard for 2.5+ years to avoid being 'caught' by this virus and the last thing I wanted to do was have an encounter with someone positive for covid just days before we leave for Vancouver.

So this week has been stressful as I wondered if her mask had worked, if my mask had worked, if the room filter had worked and hopefully because all three were there and hopefully working, I would be 'safe'.

It was with a huge sense of relief that I saw the Control turn red and nothing else.

However, rapid tests are famous for false negatives, so I will test again tomorrow.

The thing is, this past week we were also under a cloud of wildfire smoke, and because I'm allergic to smoke, I was having sinus issues and a slightly sore throat.  So I just didn't know - had my luck run out?  Or was it, in fact, 'just' allergies.

Running on hope, I continued to weave, worked on my teaching aids for the class, and hoped so hard I could almost taste it.

People who are not immune compromised seem to have no idea, or if they do, very little concern, for people like me who would not have a 'mild' infection in spite of multiple vaccinations.  Because our immune system just don't work properly.

People who have had a life saving organ donated take immune suppressants so that their immune system doesn't attack the 'foreign' tissue in their bodies.  People with cancer generally have compromised immune systems because of the treatment they require to save their lives.  Personally my cancer is OF the immune system - half of it simply doesn't work.  People with inflammatory diseases have immune systems that don't work, either.  And the list goes on.

We live IN SPITE of our compromised immune system, but catching a virus like covid would be far more deadly for us than for someone with a healthy immune system.

And why it was so irritating (and still is) when covid minimizers whiff away the fact that someone died because 'they were sick anyway'.  As if we weren't living perfectly fine lives until we caught covid.

I am egotistical enough to think that I have worth through the knowledge I hold.   That the weaving community might be 'less' when I'm no longer in it.  And why I am working so hard on these classes for SOS - a repository of some of my knowledge.  

Maybe I'm deluded, but it sure would be nice if the people around me would wear a mask without complaining about how uncomfortable they are and help keep me from getting sick from an airborne virus.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Lemons -> Lemonade

 


After the disappointment of the 'too old' mercerized cotton, I returned to a more robust yarn, and one that I have enjoyed weaving with for a very long time.  It was 'comfort' weaving during a time where there is much to be stressed about.

Still on a mission to weave down my stash, I have a significant amount of 2/8 cotton left and there was plenty to quickly toss 20 tubes onto the spool rack and get a warp beamed with the goal of using up the heavier weight single linen yarn that *also* needs using up.  

And it was on my list of things to do 'next' so it didn't take all that long to get the warp onto the beam.  The added benefit was that it is a lot easier for me to see and this warp actually went on with no mistakes (that I am yet aware of, at any rate!)

The photo doesn't do the cloth justice, being taken from below the breast beam and poor light, but I think you can see that for 'beige' it's interesting in a subtle way.  

The two faces of the cloth are not 'balanced' insofar as you see more warp on one side, more weft on the other.  With the heavier linen weft, these towels will make great 'sauna' towels (they will be lovely as exfoliant towels providing a really good rub down!)

I went with 20 epi even though that is a bit on the open side for density but included plain weave to add stability and contrast.  The open density should provide drape while the plain weave will provide body.  And linen being linen, the more these towels get used, the better they will become.

There will be nine more sleeps before we leave and I have slowly been pulling my teaching aids together, generating more visuals to help explain things.  With an on line class, I have to be extra thorough in my explanations because there won't be the usual feedback from students in the moment.  So I have to cover the bases and anticipate areas where some may need a clearer expression of what is happening and why.

In the meantime, life goes on, summer turns into autumn, and my goals remain the same - weave down my stash and try to share as much as I can about what I know - or at least from my experience.  My hope is that people will take my experience for what it is, and then move forward on their own time, in their own direction, and add to the body of knowledge.

Because I by no means know it 'all'.  No one can.  What we *can* do is pool our knowledge so that we all benefit.

And turn 'lemons' into 'lemonade'.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Autumn

 


Yesterday I grabbed a photo of the mountain ash trees across the street, laden with berries.

When we first moved to this house, the trees were small.  The area had only been 'developed' for a few years and the small trees the city had planted in front of each house were young.

Our lot had a number of coniferous trees in the back yard, all of which are now gone.  A single large pine tree isn't very stable and over the years many in the neighbourhood had fallen over, taking fences, and porches with them.  So we cut ours down.  Doug planted some plum trees in the back yard and has been harvesting plums from them - until this year.  The climate has  changed and we've noticed those changes.  None of them have been for the better.

So these trees across the street, which would in years past be filled with birds feasting on this bounty?  No birds.  We used to have song birds and lately?  None.

We were lucky this year because we didn't have a lot of forest fire smoke  - until this week when we kept getting urgent notices about the really bad air quality.  We have a/c and a filter and haven't noticed much of a problem (except my sinus drainage ramped up, so...)

We are heading into winter.  But winters aren't the same, either.  Too warm.  Freezing rain instead of light fluffy snow.  Driving conditions become treacherous more than ever.  Instead of roads cleared of ice/snow because the temps are cold enough to keep them that way, not this freeze/thaw nonsense of the past few years.

And covid continues.  

I'm not looking forward to the upcoming trip because we'll have to be so careful.  We'll bring our air filter, eat take out, not visit people we had been planning to visit.  Because you just don't know when you'll encounter someone who may not know they are positive for covid and oops!  Immune compromised system can't handle the virus and if that happens to me, it will in all likelihood NOT be mild, in spite of vaccinations.  

Just this week there was a positive person at the guild meeting - because she didn't know she was positive.  Fortunately everyone was wearing a mask, or we could have a dozen guild members potentially sick with covid.

So many people have just given up doing any kind of preventative measures.  They think it's inevitable and everyone should just get it and get it over with.  Problem with that, is that you can catch covid multiple times - just like you can can a cold - and the more times you catch covid, the risk of Long Covid rises.

The Black Death was a mass extinction event.  Covid is going to prove to be a mass disabling event.  Someone gets covid once, were miserable for a few days, but seemingly recover.  What they don't realize is that covid may have left 'easter eggs' in their body which will blow up in the future.  Because covid is not a respiratory illness.  It gets into the blood and can go anywhere (and everywhere) in your body, cause micro clots, which means the risk of stroke rises, inflammation in organs including heart AND BRAIN.  For men it can mean penile disfunction.  

So no, I'm not about to voluntarily get it and get on with my life.  I will continue to avoid covid LIKE THE PLAGUE IT IS.

Once this trip is done, I will be mostly staying home and avoiding people because as winter arrives, more people will be gathering indoors and if someone doesn't know they are positive, any indoor gathering can become a covid event.

So I'm glad I insisted at the guild meeting that we must ALL wear masks.  Or it could be a dozen people sick, not just the one who was positive and didn't yet know it.

We are living in 'interesting' times, and no idea when it will get better.  But I do know one thing - living with covid does not mean ignoring it.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Continuing Saga of the Never Ending Stash

 


Yesterday I finished threading the 2/8 cotton warp, got it sleyed, tied on, generated a treadling and wove the first towel.

The half bleached linen (slightly slubby and hairy) yarn is working quite well on the mixed beige warp and I'm pleased with the results.

It kind of looks like a pastry dusted with icing sugar.  (Maybe I was hungry while I was weaving?)

Since the linen is on average thinner than the cotton, it was a bit 'daring' of me to go with 20 epi, except that the linen is so stiff in relation to the cotton, plus the texture and the hairiness of the linen, that I figured it would not want to beat in anywhere near what a cotton yarn of the same grist would do.  The stiffness of the linen will give the cloth overall body (I'm anticipating, based on previous experience) and while the resulting cloth is too heavy to rightly be called a 'tea' towel, I'm thinking these will make really nice hand towels.  Perhaps, even, a good sauna towel.  

My goal with this is to make something that has flexibility (hence more open density) but that will wear well (hence the plain weave incorporated in the tie up).

In the draft above you can see the body of the towel (the upper part) and then the hem area.  I don't really have anything compatible to use for the hems, so the hem weft will be the same yarn, but woven in a straight progression rather than the advancing progression of the towel body.

Even without changing the tie up, just making this small change will create a cloth that is less bulky for the hem to be turned.  This cloth is definitely heavier than the towels woven with 2/16 or 2/20.  

However, it looks like this one warp might just use up the majority of the linen.  If there is any linen left over, I will put one more 2/8 cotton warp on and do the same thing to use up the linen, plus two tubes of a 2 ply - one ply cotton, one ply linen - plus if there is still warp left on the second warp I have some textured cotton that can be used to finish the warp off entirely.

This week I've been working on the classes for School of Sweet Georgia, and expect to continue on that this afternoon after an errand run, including a clothing store to look for two identical tops to wear for the filming.  The filming crew has suggested that we interleave the filming of the two topics in order to reduce camera set up time - IOW, for the scenes that need an overhead camera angle we film all of those at once for both.  Which means I will have to be able to switch from one topic to another instantly.  But for continuity, both classes will need the same 'wardrobe', so I'll need two tops to make the switching easier.

The problem is, I didn't like the tops I wore for the last class and don't want to wear them again, but neither do I have two tops of the same colour/design that are acceptable so I need to buy some.

Since I really dislike shopping for clothing, send good shopping vibes!

My studio is also being used as a staging area as I begin to pack what I need for the trip and quite frankly I will be more than glad when I'm home again and all of this is in the 'I have done this', not still in the 'I will do this" category.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Quick Pivot

 


The sunlight was washing out the colour so I took the photo with shadow on the warp so you can see more of the colours.

When I realized I could not continue using the 2/20 mercerized cotton in my stash for warp as planned, I had to quickly pivot to something else.

Given my success at weaving down my yarn stash, I was very limited in my choices.  Plus the fact that I'm reserving a bunch of my 2/8 cotton for the sectional beaming class so I couldn't use any of that yarn, I had to work with what was left.

Which was mostly beige.  Not exactly my favourite colour, but needs must.

I was going to add a variegated yarn to spice the warp up some, but I didn't feel like taking the time to wind spools or cones, so instead I just included a pale green and a couple of light peach ends along with about 6 or 7 various shades of 'beige'.  Some were more yellow, some more brown, and two ends are a 'stone' - a dark brownish grey.  

I have several pounds (5?) of a single linen what is a bit slubby and slightly thinner than 2/8 cotton.  Since linen is so stiff I went with 20 epi and will weave it in a 'fancy' twill with some plain weave in the tie up to add some stability with what is a relatively open set.

These towels will be more hand towels than tea towels, but should wear in nicely.  I've had some feedback from people saying that they have been using my part linen towels, and after a while they really develop into a lovely cloth.  Which is my experience as well.  Linen really does need to be used, not stored in the closet for 'good'.

I say I did a 'quick' pivot, but that's not really accurate.  Instead of making the decision immediately, I had to stop and take a break, clear my mind of the disappointment of having threads snap, left right and centre, look at what I had on hand and then finally, some hours later, make a decision.  The brain fog from the pain/pain medications means I have to take time to let my thoughts percolate.  I don't want to rush into a decision about a longish warp before I have had a chance to think things through.

But I will tell you something for free - I do miss my brain working 'properly'!

So I am going to say one more thing about brain fog.  The reports about Long Covid brain fog are truly concerning.  There are now so many people who have been infected with this disease, many of them dealing with fatigue and brain fog, cognitive disfunction, plus so many other health issues and the advice now is to not get it at all, or, if you've had it, do everything in your power to NOT get it again.  The more times you get infected with covid, the risk of developing Long Covid or having other hidden health issues that will manifest in the coming years goes up.

Given my already precarious health, I will be continuing to wear a mask when I go out, advocate for air filtration, and get every covid vaccine because it has been shown that the vaccine will offer protection against severe illness and Long Covid should I be unlucky and catch it.

Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay covid aware.  Living with covid is NOT ignoring it, but living with mitigations like filtration - personal and general, isolating when sick, getting vaccines.


Monday, September 12, 2022

When Disaster Strikes

 



This is the current state of my studio.  If you read my post yesterday, you may be wondering why my spool rack is empty, and so is my warp beam.

You might remember I had some issues with the black and purple on one of my previous warps - and I speculated that the yarn, which had been stored in ordinary cardboard (acidic) boxes for far too many years, had most likely deteriorated.  The black being the worst was set aside to be used only for weft.

Well this morning I tried beaming the warp with the dark forest green, purple and blue, and immediately had broken threads all over the place.  I made an adjustment, thinking that would solve the problem, but nope.  Multiple broken ends in the forest green and purple in the second section as well.

Needless to say, those two sections got cut off and into the recycle bin.

Now I'm taking a break while I think through my options.  

There aren't enough tubes of any colour, or even combinations of pleasing (to me) colours and I'm stymied.  I had intended to do at least two more warps of this 2/20 mercerized cotton and...I'm stuck.

At this point I'm thinking about what I have in my stash, wondering if I have anything at all that could be used and coming up blank.

Obviously it is time to take a break, have lunch, let the situation simmer in the back of my mind for a while.

My other options are also limited.  I MAY have enough black 2/16 bamboo, but I'm not sure how well that will marry with 2/20 cotton in a towel.

I do have 2/8 cotton so I *could* put a warp of that into the loom and use that thicker singles 12 linen.

But this has kind of knocked me off my rails and I need time to think.

So I will.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Begin Again

 


Weaving, like life, is an endless round of finishing things, then beginning again.

So it was today.

I wove the last two towels and cut the warp off the loom.  When I looked at how much warp was left, it was touch and go if I'd get another towel, so I decided to 'sacrifice' it.  As I stripped it from the loom, one of the sections was 'short' by one turn so there was no way I could have gotten one more towel.  Well, I might have squeaked one more out of the warp but I was in no mood to try.

So off it went!

By dinner time I'd cut/serged the 6 towels, fixed the two that had a broken end, collected *some* of the things for the sectional beaming class, then set up the tension box for the next warp.

This is the warp that is inspired by oil slicks on water - dark blue, purple and a mid-range blue, in 'rough' stripes.  Again I won't pay any mind to whether the yarns stay in their lane or not, which blurs the stripes and makes them look less rigid.

(My story, sticking to it.)

It took a while to get things set up but the spools were already in the spool rack - I'd done that while waiting for a Zoom meeting to start on Wed.

The threading draft is prepared, I'll print that out tonight.  Who knows, maybe I will be able to start threading once the warp is beamed.  It's been taking me about 3 or 3.5 hours (plus a break) to beam these warps once they are ready to go, so if I can get moving early enough there should be time to begin threading before the day is spent.

I've already decided on the warp to follow this one, and then I *may* do another red one and weave it off with red weft.  I'll see how Xmassy I'm feeling once I get to that point.

While my goal was to use up all my linen, I decided to leave the heavier single yarn and use it as weft on 2/8 cotton.  I think it will be a better match than this 2/20 merc. cotton.

Once this warp is up and weaving, I will be spending more time getting ready to head for Vancouver.  I still need something to wear for the taping (not happy with anything in my closet), plus I need to finalize the two warps that I will be demoing on for the two topics.  I'm going to need some time to think and plan.  With just 16 more sleeps before we leave, I need to shift my focus next week.  The warp will wait patiently for me until I get back.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Delayed Gratification

 


As a child, there was frequently a jigsaw puzzle on the coffee table and while watching tv or just wanting something to do (especially in the winter) we were encouraged to sit on the floor and work on the puzzle du jour.

I know a lot of people think making a jigsaw puzzle is a waste of time, and on the surface I can see how they might think that.

But puzzles challenge a child to begin to recognize shapes, analyze a piece, examine what has been built to see if they can find a match, hones their eye to recognize tiny changes in colour/shape, or follow a line, grouping like with like.  There are many reasons building puzzles are good for human development, including developing fine motor skills.

I credit my early (and continuing) building of puzzles for developing an eye for detail, something that has been extremely helpful in my weaving, especially for picking out errors!

I make puzzles because it engages me on a creative level.  I bring order out of chaos - not a bad feeling these days.  I work on a puzzle at my own pace, in my own time, as I feel like doing it.  It doesn't have an end date, or an expiry date and I can take it apart and put it away and make it again a few months/years down the road.  Or trade them with others who also enjoy making them.

It's the perfect activity for an introvert...just saying...

As an adult I put puzzles away because they were a distraction and the only logical place to make one was on the dining room table.  Which was frequently needed for other things.  (No, not eating - fringe twisting, tagging, shipping!)

Then I became friends with the neighbour across the street - who also loved jigsaw puzzles.  Their family made puzzles from Xmas day until the end of Feb or mid-March - a winter activity.  And I began to make puzzles again, with her.  When she died in 2016, I no longer had a coffee/puzzle making buddy, and I decided to start making puzzles by myself.

From time to time I would clear the table off and set out the board Doug made for me, which can be picked up and moved if we should need the table for something else, without my having to take apart the current puzzle.

During the pandemic, and my latest spate of health issues, I've been making puzzles more frequently.  They don't tax me physically, keep me engaged mentally, and when I fiddle with the colourful pieces, I tend to put any worrying thoughts out of my mind.  When I don't feel like I can absorb anything by reading, I can just go zen with a puzzle.

Making puzzles is a lot like weaving.  You know the end result you desire (the photo on the box), you sort through the variables (the pieces) and you begin to match them up until after a while, you have reached the 'end'.   The picture is complete.  You're done.  Move on to the next.

Exactly like weaving, actually.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Clearing the Decks

 


Since I am getting close to finishing the current warp (maybe next Monday?) it was time to work on the next warp.

I've been playing with twills and ratios of point progressions.  Then I was using an advancing progression to weave them.

For this warp, however, I had a slightly different vision in mind - that of an oil slick on water.  How the shimmer and sheen of the oil casts a rainbow effect on the surface and how those colours ebb and flow, especially as the angle of observation changes.  Like iridescence.

Since my goal is to use up what I have and not buy more, I have had to push my comfort zone and work with colours that I might not have chosen if I had a broader range to select from.  As my yarn availability dwindles, I have had to push harder to come up with something I might like.

At this point in time I have too little of any one colour to use as warp (40 epi means 40 yarn packages to beam sectionally) so I've been combining different colours in different ways, beginning with the 2/16.  For that yarn I started making 'stripes' because when you have very different values, trying to blend them altogether can get very 'busy' looking.

The breakthrough for me was realizing that I didn't have to thread the stripes in rigid order, but just encourage the yarns to stay close to their area.  I'm letting the different coloiurs migrate into the adjacent stripe which creates a softer focus, a less rigid appearance.  So far it's been working so I've been continuing with that approach for the 2/20 mercerized cotton.

The next warp will be darker value colours and I'm really trying to get them woven before the days get shorter/darker.  We are heading into winter and our winters have been warmer and more overcast, which means less light.  Since I'm having issues seeing such fine thread, especially in the darker values, I feel a lot of pressure to get this warp into the loom as soon as I can while we still have some brighter days.

OTOH, I also have class prep to do.  The bulk of it is done, now it's fine tuning and details.  And less than 3 weeks to get it all done.

Once this warp is in the loom I will begin packing for the trip because I'm bringing my spool rack and yarn for one class.  I also have to wind a couple of warps, one for each class.  And gather my teaching samples.

So I am feeling a LOT of pressure to finish the current warp and get the next one into the loom.  

I'm hoping to at least begin weaving on it before we leave, but honestly?  If I don't, I won't be terribly upset.  Winter is coming and there will be lots of time to weave when I'm feeling better.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Behind the Scenes

 


This is what you don't see on screen when I do a Zoom lecture.

My work table does multiple jobs, including the 'desk' where I sit to do the lecture.  As you can see there is a lot of light that comes in the windows, and I used to sit with the windows at my back, and then I would have to block them because they would overexpose everything behind me.  When I bought the new laptop, I decided to set up facing the windows instead.  Which means I don't have to fiddle around blocking the windows.

Since the table is more frequently used for other stuff, some of it lives there: the serger on the far right, and the small press which has been shoved to the far back left.  There are a bunch of small items behind the serger as well.

The loom's back beam has been temporarily used as somewhere to stack my woven samples as I finish with them, the small tv table to the right holds the other items I used in the course of the lecture.

There are more things to either side of the laptop, within reach, plus my drink.  Since I talk pretty much non-stop for 2 hours, I need to wet my whistle!

Doing these lectures means thinking through the important part of the topic, having examples handy, be able to demonstrate things (if appropriate) and not be fumbling around looking for stuff.  

Until someone asks a question you didn't prepare for and then I  hop off the stool and grab what I need to answer the question!

The other things in the picture are more to do with what I'm working on than the lecture - the bin of yarns lower right are what's left of the last warp.  While waiting for the meeting to start, I emptied the spool rack and put the yarns into the bin, then loaded the rack with the tubes for the next warp.

The shelving to the left is the yarn I'm currently working with plus some other stuff that needed a home for a while and that seemed the most convenient empty space when I needed some.  For example on the lowest shelf is a stack of 'seconds' that I may or may not finish, may or may not gift to someone in their current state, or wet finish and hem before I gift.  To be determined.  In the meantime they needed a place to live until I made up my mind.  The two other racks further to the left also store yarn and other items that I use - not frequently - but I still want handy just in case.  Or in the case of the yarn, remind myself I still need to use it up.

Now to clear all that clutter up.  I could still weave one towel today but I am running low on energy, so maybe it would just be 'better' if I took another day of rest (or afternoon of rest - the morning was kind of busy!) and started fresh in the morning.  

I do still have a library book that is due back in two days to finish.  Hmmm....

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Vadmal

 


Once again I have seen someone state with absolute certainty that 'vadmal' (or vadmel) is made by weaving a very open cloth then fulling it significantly.

Based on my research into wet finishing and fulling, my extensive experiments into fulling a great variety of woolen cloths, same yarn, different densities, creating different qualities of cloth from lightly to heavily fulled I suspect that weaving it open was not done.

Traveling to Sweden and being privy to the research done by a Swedish weaver who found a masters thesis detailing (in the 1940s) how vadmal was made, based on the memories of people still living who had participated in the making of vadmal when it was still a home industry.

Going to Norway to use a vadmalstampp to full cloth I'd woven, then observed how the webs brought by the rest of the group responded to the hammer mill.

So - my experiences with weaving extremely open to very dense woolen yarn than fulling it have given me some insights.  When I wove extremely open, the web was exceptionally unstable and distorted even in the loom.  There simply wasn't enough stability for it to create anything but a hair pulling experience as the threads moved, shifted, gathered too closely together, then slid too far apart in various areas.

However, I had been told that in order to weave this quality of cloth you *had* to weave 'window screening'.

Then in the water, the cloth took forever to full and stabilize - which was not unexpected, but the final nail in that coffin (so to speak) was the extreme dimensional loss.  Massive shrinkage.

For all the headache of trying to weave a consistent unstable cloth only to have most of it disappear in the wet finishing did not seem like something my ancestors would have suffered gladly.  Unless there was good reason.

Then the masters thesis, interviewing elders who remembered how their elders made vadmal - it was anything but window screening - quite the opposite!  The fulling was 'extreme' because such a dense cloth was going to resist fulling.  However, in the end, dimensional loss wasn't huge, but within more acceptable ranges.

Based on this information, I offered to bring a significant length of cloth to full in the hammermill in Norway.  We'd been told to bring 100 meters of cloth to make it worth our while to rent the mill for the weekend.  So I suggested that the other five decide how much each of them would bring and I would bring the rest.  When I left for Sweden, I had two large suitcases filled with 15 meters of cloth each, plus my carryon with my personal items.  

Since there were two 'basins' and I had two pieces of cloth (and because I didn't speak Swedish and didn't realize what was going on) the rest voted and declared me the winner of the first spot.  I think they figured if I was crazy enough to bring 30 meters of cloth, I'd be crazy enough to go first and work out how the mill worked.  :D

I had access to a very nice fairly fine Swedish woolen singles - finer than commonly available in North America - and used that yarn.  I'd woven with it previously, used the 2 ply version in Magic in the Water, in fact, and had experimented with fulling it at a more 'normal' density.  For this experiment I increased the epi and wove it more densely, although not as high as I would have done if I was trying to make actual vadmal.

It was a compromise between the ancient and the modern.  Besides, I'm Canadian, not Swedish or Norwegian, so I figured I could do whatever I wanted.  :D

The cloth was fulled in the mill for 90 minutes.  In the end it would not, to my mind, qualify as vadmal or even wool melton (probably the closest modern cloth equivalent) but it was a nice quality of fabric that could be cut and sewn without it falling apart, was stable and still had a nice drape to it.

Some of the others brought webs woven with thicker 2 ply yarns, one in particular had read the modern literature stating 'window screening' and woven hers in that manner.

As the hammer mill pushed and pummeled her cloth, the threads slipped and slid and the cloth became uneven.  She'd made enough that she could cut around the gaps, but the others were non-plussed (I wasn't - I had a pretty good idea that would happen, but it was already woven, not much point my saying anything.)

One person used a worsted wool, which didn't much want to full but did after a long hard pummeling in the  mill.  The others did less extreme webs and got decent - although much thicker than they expected - cloth.

Because part of the fulling process means that the web will grow thicker as it shrinks warp and weft-wise.  

I decided to check a couple of books in my library.  One is Fabric Science - the textbook that used to be used for the textile school in Syracuse, NY.  Since I know wool melton is the closest modern cloth we have to the quality of cloth made called vadmal, I checked the definition of melton.  Fabric Science says:

Heavyweight, closely woven woolen fabric, completely fulled i.e. felted) with nap.  Used for coats and uniforms.

I checked a much older book - Groziki's Watson's Textile Design and Colour.  I have the 7th edition but the first one was published in 1912.  It goes into more detail saying:

A woollen cloth which is heavily milled, so as to form a firm foundation, and the fibres are drawn on to the surface by raising, but in the cropping process, which follows, the fibres are reduced in length so as to form a short, dense, non-lustrous pile.  Usually woven plain or broken 2-and-2 twill - about 160 to 95 tex warp and weft, 10 to 14 ends and picks per cm in the loom.  Contraction abut 35 per cent in width and 25 per cent in length.

A rough conversion puts this yarn at around the same thickness as a fairly common cotton yarn - around 2/8 or so - with 10-14 epcm or less than 1/2".  (If I've done the conversion incorrectly, let me know and I'll correct it.)  

Not open.  Not even close to open.

I have also had the fortunate happenstance of being able to examine very closely samples of 'standard' woolen cloth from the 1700s.  I wasn't able to do a comprehensive examination, but I would say these fabrics are likely very similar to the cloth described as melton - or vadmal.  

Further reading Else Ostergard's book Woven into the Earth and her extremely detailed study of the textile finds from the permafrost burials in Greenalnd from the 900s to the 1400s - the time when 'vadmal' would have been a very common quality of cloth.  Details of the yarn - how it was spun, and speculation on how it was woven.

I find the specification of dimensional loss of the warp and weft for melton (in my experience it is frequently different warp and weft-wise) of 25 to 35% right in line with the experiments I have done.

So everything I have found suggests that vadmal was NOT woven 'window screening' open, but rather more densely and then heavily fulled using mechanical assistance.  There are many records in England, for example, detailing how many hammermills there were in existence in medieval times and Ken Follett, in his book Pillars of the Earth, details how the hammer mills thumped continuously fulling the cloth being made in the area, then used as trade goods.  England made much of it's money for centuries exporting their woolen cloth, and it would seem that Scandinavians did for many years as well.

As for weaving 'vadmal' now in the 21st century?  I would suggest NOT weaving it 'window screening' open, but choose a more appropriate density based on the thickness of the yarn.  Then weave some samples.  Experiment with density, weave structure and duration of fulling.  

Choose your expert.  Then become knowledgeable enough to be your own expert...


Plugging On

 


draft of single end huck showing the warp and weft floats that will shift out of position to form holes in the cloth - hence lace - one warp and one weft float have been indicated in a different colour to highlight them

After several weeks of 'back of the brain' thinking, last night I began printing out the drafts I will be using in the SOS class on lace weaves.

I've only ever taught the topic 'live' where I can - in real time - get feedback from the students and ensure that they are understanding the theory/concepts.

It has been a challenge to think through all the years of teaching 'live' and remembering the 'sticking' points in the students ability to grasp the information in a meaningful way.

One of the definitions of a lace weave is that it is a cloth with a plain weave foundation having floats arranged such that the floats will move to areas of least resistance.  This shifting causes 'holes' to open in the cloth - hence 'lace'.

After trying a number of options (and using up a fair amount of ink in the process because I had to print the drafts out to see if the selected colours worked - and many of them didn't) I finally found a colour combination that I hope will be enough to stand out on camera.  And there will be a 'back up' on line because I will leave all the drafts for the crew to photograph and post on the SOS website for the reference of the students.

In the end I only got 5 useable drafts printed, but now that I've worked my way through the options and found the ones that seem to be working the best, the rest of the drafts should go without too many challenges.

I've been thinking a lot about learning and how we process information.  For a number of years there was the theory that different people process information in different ways.  Recently I've seen articles debunking this theory.  On the other hand, I have witnessed a classroom wherein some of the people understand concepts from a spoken explanation, some need to see the information in graphic format and some of them need to sit down at a loom and watch the threads move.  That seems to me to be pretty solid evidence that people do learn in different ways.

This theory was introduced to me early in my career and having the experience myself of learning 'better' some days one way, some days another, recognizing that all of the different ways were generally helpful, I have tried to incorporate various ways to show/explain how things work.

Presenting material in a video class presents challenges in how the information is portrayed/offered.  And as I work my way through the information, I try to remember to have different ways of explaining how a weave structure works, how to take someone through the process step by step, making sure that they understand.

And why I'm willing to hang around the SOS forums to answer questions and make sure people are understanding the concepts.

Teaching online isn't for everyone.  Learning online isn't for everyone.  But it is another arrow in our quiver of tools.  

And right now?  I am good with that.

Using the link above in the first paragraph should get you a discount on membership.  When you join SOS you get access to ALL of the offerings, not just mine - so far two video classes and as of Sept 7 four lectures with more to come.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Focus

 


“We choose to go to the Moon,” Kennedy said. “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Now I'm not saying that anything *I* do is in the realm of putting a human being on the moon, but I don't let the fact that something is 'hard' stand in the way of my *trying* to do it.

Like the GCW master weaver tests.  Like being a professional weaver in the latter part of the 20th and early years of the 21st centuries.

Like learning as much as I possibly can about how to create textiles of different qualities and designs.  

Or putting what I know into written form - articles, books, developing workshops, filming classes.

None of those were 'easy'.  As they say, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

This morning I read a blog (Tien Chiu) and listened to a vlog (Felicia Lo) and they both talked about doing big things.  Sweeping things.  Hard things.  But in different ways.

What really struck me, though, was their laser focus.  Their intent to reach their goals.  To keep doing the hard things and do the best they can.  Maybe even win a record (Tien) or just accomplish a sweeping goal (Felicia).

I thought about my own life and the things I have accomplished - self-publishing Magic in the Water is probably the biggest, and certainly one of the hardest, things I've ever tackled.

Other things simply pale in comparison.  Write articles for magazines?  I'll share a secret - I've written far more articles than ever got published.

Taught at conferences?  I've been 'rejected' more times than I've been accepted.

Given keynote addresses?  At times in front of hundreds of people?  Once you've gotten up in front of a small group of people to express an opinion, doing it for hundreds is just a matter of scale.  

In my last Olds class, I told them that as students in the master weaver program the expectation was that at some point they might find themselves speaking publicly.  I saw cringes happening and told them that there was really nothing to be nervous about.  That mostly they just needed to speak from their passion.  I shared that I'm an introvert but that I always speak from my passion.  Then asked them if they sensed that that is what I do.

And they agreed.  They recognized that I DO speak from my passion.  I encouraged them to 'practice' by doing guild programs.  Writing articles and submitting them for consideration.  And be prepared for rejection every time they did.

If I ever allowed myself to be discouraged because another article had been rejected, I never would have written one book let alone two.  I would never have started this blog.  And frankly?  I'm astonished how many have joined me in my continuing adventures.

Felicia talked about how it is easy to become overwhelmed when she tries to do All The Things.  And how she is trying to stay focused on her current goals.  

And that is essentially what I try to do.  So my current goal of weaving down my stash?  That has been my focus for a number of years.  Am I bored of doing that?  Not at all.  Because I focus on one category of yarns and weave as much of it as possible, until there really isn't enough to do something with.  Then I either give the dribs and drabs away, or I shelve what is left until I decide if I want to keep using that yarn in the future.  Or not.  If I do go back to it, I'll buy more yarn, but in a different way.  Less bulk, more choices.  In other words, instead of ordering 10 tubes each of 5 colours, I might order 4 tubes each of 20 colours.  Because I no longer need to weave in quantities.

Right now I'm working through the 2/20 mercerized cotton and fine linen stash.  I'm satisfied with my progress even though I'm finding it increasingly difficult to *see* the fine threads.  And once I'm done with the 2/20 cotton, I will go back to a more 'comfortable' thickness.  The very fine silk yarns I inherited?  I may begin plying them together so that they are thick enough I can see them to use them.  

Gradually I am seeing empty spaces open up on the yarn shelves.  I'm also having fun stretching my creativity to use up what I have, not buy in more yarn (yet!)  

But mostly?  I credit the years of honing my focus to keep going, even in the midst of a large project, so stay on track, to keep going even when I get tired.  I've learned to take breaks and stop pushing to the brink of exhaustion, especially now that I'm older and it takes longer to recover from injury - I make sure I don't injure myself in the process.

Ultimately we choose.  We choose to do what we do.  Every day we make choices.  Sometimes they are made for us (injury/illness).  And then we have to change our focus from the making to the healing/recovery.  But even after the broken ankle, the chemo, the by-pass surgery, and yes, even now while I wait for pain control assistance, I keep my focus.  Two towels a day is my goal.  Until the warp is done.  Then dress the loom, and begin again.  

Next week I have to focus on the class prep for the two classes I'm doing for SOS.  The time I haven't been actively working on them has not been wasted - instead I've been thinking through what I want to do, say, and need to illustrate the topics.  I have them 'set' in my mind now so it is time to sit at the computer and start generating the drafts to illustrate the lace weave structures.  I may not get to the loom for a couple of days, but the class deadline is now officially 'looming' and my focus will shift to that next week.  That doesn't mean I won't go back to weaving two towels a day once the class prep is done - it just means I'm aware of the time passing, how much time I need to do the class prep and I need to shift my focus to get that done.

Focus.  Especially when something is hard.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Invisible

 


a 'second' in the making - shorter than planned with a crossed thread causing long floats.


In the continuing theme of 'still not perfect' I got the next warp set up and ready to weave.  There is a sleying error in there somewhere.  One dent has 5 ends in it.  

Do you think I can find it?  Nope. Not at all.  And I tried!  For nearly 20 minutes.

Problem is my eyesight isn't great right now.  Not sure if it's the baby cataracts (eye doc says not likely) or the shingles (possible) or just aging eyes, generally, but I'm having a lot of trouble focusing on 'fine' things.  Like this 2/20 mercerized cotton.  Especially in the darker colours.

After trying - and failing - to find the error I decided I would just live with it.  I mean, some cultures will put a 'mistake' in their cloth on purpose to appease the god(s).  (Surely if the error is on 'purpose' it's not a 'mistake'?  But I digress.)

At any rate, at 5 pm I gave up the hunt for the 'missing' end and decided I'd get started weaving and have a wee look this morning.

So I wove the header and nope, still couldn't see it.  So I started weaving.  I'm pleased with the fine linen I'm using for weft.  The bobbins had several days to 'steep' in the humidor and were behaving quite nicely and so I kept going.

Until I was about 3" from the end of the towel when oops.  My eye caught a problem.  Not the dent with 5 ends in it.  Oh my no, nothing so simple.

It was a pair of crossed ends between the heddles and the reed.  After weaving nearly an entire towel, the threads had loosened to the point where they were sagging in the shed.  

Why didn't I see them sooner?  Well, the warp is 960 ends with 4 per dent.  The two ends were white, in the middle of a white area and the weft is white.  And it's only visible on a few of the sheds.  Basically invisible.

So I wove another section of waste yarn, cut the two offending threads, put them in their proper dents and pinned them to the web again.

And wove the second towel.  Still haven't found that mis-sleyed end, though.

The pattern is pretty subtle when I'm sitting at the loom.  It shows the most in the blue stripes due to the high contrast between the blue and white.  But the overall undulation is pretty obscure.  Until the cloth is the 'right' angle - like the front of the breast beam.

I'm pleased enough with this warp.  The current weft looks like it will be enough to weave 4 towels, with a smaller tube of a different linen yarn that will most likely weave two towels.  After that I have two more small tubes of linen that I may use on this warp, then work on the 2/20 bleached merc. cotton stash.  It's wound onto plastic spools and I can use my lazy kate to wind from the spools onto the bobbins.  Be great to use that yarn up, too.

Depending on how much warp is left I may use a dark blue merc cotton for weft as well.  But first I have to see how far I get with the linen and white merc. cotton.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Expert

 


It's been interesting the past few years, to see how society has evolved from trusting scientists to arguing with them.  As if a few searches on You Tube or Google equals an 'expert' level of knowledge about something.

I hesitated for a long time to accept the mantle of 'expert' when it comes to weaving.  It took several years before I added the qualification to my business cards and hang tags. 

It took even longer before I felt I 'owned' the designation.  Because the one thing you learn when you take a deep dive into a subject is how much more there is to learn.  That you don't know it 'all'.  And just how conditional what you know actually is.

I'm now old enough that I don't much care about titles.  None of what I have done was done for the ribbons or my CV/resume.  In fact I stopped tracking my 'accomplishments' back in the 1990s.  when it grew to over 3 pages, I figured no one would read it anyway.  And I was tired of keeping it up to date.

Either people know who I am, or they don't.  And a 10 page resume of all the workshops I've taught, the magazine articles I've had published, the awards I've won, become just one more chore to keep current.

But.

But.

I DO know things.  I know quite a few things - about weaving, making cloth, wet finishing it. designing a cloth to serve a function.

Do I still make mistakes?  Of course I do.  The warp I cut off the loom last had a threading error I didn't spot until I'd already woven six towels.

Yesterday I pressed them and yup, sure enough, it's still there.  It's pretty minimal and won't actually much affect how the towels will function.  But!  They are not 'perfect'.  

Does that make me less of an 'expert'?  Not really.  It just makes me human.  A human with eyesight that is aging at the same rate as the rest of my body.  And frankly after the shingles in my eye?  I'm just grateful I didn't lose the sight in that eye entirely.

All human knowledge hinges on specifics.  My reality is different from someone else's.  I am not the 'only' expert in the field, nor do I pretend to be the 'final' word in anything.

I still learn.  I still make discoveries.  I experiment and sometimes those fail.  But I've still learned something by trying them.  That is, after all, how we learn.  We push the boundaries of current knowledge.

There are times I work to the 'less than ideal' knowing that in the end it isn't going to  make much of a difference to the finished cloth.  'Mastering' the craft means understanding the materials, equipment and processes and when you can bend the 'rules' - and get away with it.

So - choose an expert.  Learn as much as you can from them.  Then choose another expert.   They will have different experiences, learned different lessons.  Ultimately become your own expert.

And if you want to learn from me, I'll be hanging out at the School of Sweet Georgia.  Or you can buy my books.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Multi-tasking

 


My entire life has been spent working on multiple projects at once.  I've had to develop a high degree of prioritizing, what equipment needs to be available, when, pay attention to my yarn inventory and my product inventory.

Teaching was the same kind of thing but trying to 'herd' different variables.

So here I am, still, shepherding a bunch of different projects.  

I'd love to finish one of them so I can put the stuff that I need for them 'away', but that isn't always possible.

Like today.

I did manage to thread more of the current warp this morning and got to the 2/3s point when it was time to stop for lunch.  

After lunch I had a little bit of time that I might have sat and read or puzzled or just vegged, but I also had a bin of towels that needed to be pressed.  Even though I couldn't get the entire lot done, I could at least make a start.  So I did.  And got to about the 1/3 point before it was time to leave for my errands.

Since I'm isolating at home as much as possible, I tend to collect up all the things that need doing and try to get them all done in one trip.  So I left the house about 1:45, hop, skipped and jumped across town (doing a circle route to save gas), then finally rolled back into the driveway just after 4 pm.

I did take a wee break and had a snack, then went back downstairs to do *something*.  Given the pressing is the most intrusive thing I'm working on (AND I'll need my work table for lesson prep in the next few days) I continued with the pressing.  I'm now about 2/3s done that.

So, nothing 'finished' - just a little bit of progress on both of those fronts.

I tend to use the time when I'm doing something like pressing to think things through, so in the back of my mind I've been honing the teaching aids for the classes.  I'm pretty sure I know what I want to do, and I now have all the supplies I need to do them.  I have replacement ink cartridges (weaving drafts in colour tend to eat up the ink), a fresh box of printer paper, and the sticky tabs I wanted so I can label each draft to make sure I keep them in order and handle them by the tabs which should keep the paper from creasing.

I've also been thinking about all the 2/20 mercerized cotton I have and realizing how much yardage is involved, I will try to make warps with the dyed yarns until they won't 'work' then buy 40 tubes of white and do the same as with the 2/16 - put on white warps and weave off the dyed merc. cotton as weft on the white warp.  In the end there may be some all white towels coming down the pipeline, just so I can use it all up.

Pretty sad when you wind up buying more yarn in order to use up what you have, but I've done it before, and I can do it again!

But right now?  My studio has goat trails through it.  Again.  So I will begin by completing the pressing tomorrow so I can clear the drying rack, bins and the press out of my way.

Counting the Days

 


It is exactly four weeks until we leave for Vancouver.  The trip will be extended with several necessary things happening.

Probably the most important is the steroid injection which should relieve the pain I deal with daily, and which will allow me to record the two classes for SOS without the fog of pain/chemicals.  I'm hoping to get more information about what the future holds in terms of options for continuing care.  Given the state of health care, I'm also hoping to just book my next appointment now so that I don't have the long wait between jabs.

In the meantime I keep plugging along.  Right now I'm waiting for feedback from SOS on the filming schedule and if I can get into the recording studio to set everything up on the 'free' days between the jab and the actual recording.  But of course that will depend on if there is another class being recorded the week prior to mine.

Given I'll be in Vancouver for a couple of 'extra' days we are going to try and visit a couple of people, plus I will offer to sign the books Sweet Georgia Yarns has in stock.  So, if you want a signed copy of my book, stay tuned!

(Pretty sure they would be amenable to selling a copy and holding it for me to sign, because the staff are really super helpful.)  

Sweet Georgia Yarns

Today I have a bunch of errands to run.  Given I tend to isolate as much as possible (because Covid) the things that I need to do myself tend to pile up and then I wind up running all afternoon to get everything done before I crawl back into my burrow.  Until the next errand day.

Tomorrow the local guild executive will meet (in my carport, where we have a nice big table to sit at and there will be home made refreshments) to discuss the coming year.  What we can do, given covid, and how we can provide more services to our membership.  We've basically been staying active in very basic ways but we've had a few people ask about weaving/spinning/felting lessons and it would be good to grow our membership again.  Be nice to have more younger people participate, as well.

Over the past few years we have done our best to make the room more comfortable.  We bought a small room a/c which helps to cool the room down when we get hot days, and last year we bought a room HEPA filter.  The room windows open, and if we are aware and careful, we are hoping to begin offering small groups lessons on a more regular basis.

But it all takes some thought and lots of planning so the meeting tomorrow night to start working on the future.

Just like weaving.  Or life for that matter.

In the meantime, I keep weaving with a goal of two towels per day.  Yesterday I beamed the next warp and began threading.  I doubt I'll get it finished today, but hopefully can get another repeat or two done so that I can finish tomorrow.  Plus I wet finished the towels from the warp that was cut off on Sunday.  So there are an assortment of things that need to be done.  I'll try to push them forward a little today so there is less to do tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Far From Ideal

 


I wasn't entirely happy with how the 2/20 warps were weaving off.  I knew when I started on them that I was pushing the boundaries of 'ideal' or 'best' practice, and frankly?  If I'd only been doing one warp I would have simply gritted my teeth and done it, dusted my hands and moved on.

But I don't have just one warp's worth of yarn.  I have what is beginning to feel like a never ending supply of the stuff.

I'm being reminded - daily - of how much play time is involved with very fine yarns (8400 yards per pound or around 5-6 miles...)

As each warp went on - and came off - I was getting more annoyed at myself for continuing a process that I knew was less than ideal and with this one determined to change what I was doing (finally!)

So I set up this warp, with its various different sized tubes, so that the yarn would pull off from the end of the tube instead of the side.

When you pull from the side, the 'ideal' is to have all of the yarn packages be the same weight.  Then as you pull the yarn off of them, they all have the same degree of drag, exerting the same (or similar) amount of tension on the threads.

With some tubes full, some half full, and some of them nearly empty (yes, I'm trying to use up my stash!), the threads were going onto the beam at various rates of tension.

In the past this hadn't been a huge problem because the AVL had a beam with a one yard circumference.  The Megado has a beam of something like 14.5".

It was making a difference.

The AVL also had a much longer distance from breast to back beam which also allowed minor tension issues to resolve over a longer distance.  With the Megado and a shorter footprint, there was less room for the yarn to settle.  That coupled with the much smaller circumference was causing some problems.

I kept going because they weren't being transferred to the cloth, in part because I cut and serge the cloth, then wet finish them.  During wet finishing any tiny difference in tension seemed to be eased out of the cloth itself.

But I wasn't happy with how the yarns behaved in the loom.  The ends that were too tight (relative to the others) tended to 'float' in the shed and I'd hit them with the shuttle in the unclear shed - and sometimes they would break.  The ones that were too loose would sometimes sag and create a shed that wasn't clear and one symptom of this was the weft loops that kept developing.  If I saw them before I wove very far I'd back up and unweave, remove the loop, then continue.

Each thing by itself wasn't really a big deal and nothing I hadn't dealt with before.  But honestly?  I'm old and cranky and not much given to putting up with such things right now.

So today I set the warp up to be pulled from the end of the tube.  It seemed to be 'better' but once I started threading I could feel that again the fuller tubes and the ones that were more empty were beaming on at slightly different tensions.  

I'm hoping that overall the situation has improved and will wait and see how this warp weaves off before I decide if the change was an actual improvement.  Or not.

But the improvement I noted in the beaming may well be sufficient to continue doing it this way.  Fingers crossed it will extend to the weaving, as well.

Just now did about 1/3 of the warp, realized I'd made a threading error, back tracked and found the error and fixed it.  It wasn't very far back and didn't take all that long in the scheme of things, but I am done for today.

Time to make dinner and veg a bit.  Who knows, maybe I'll feel like hemming tonight.  I have 7 more of the first red warp to hem, the 'neutral' towels (18), and today ran the second red warp through so now there are 17 of those that will be ready to hem as soon as I press them.  They are 'steeping' in a plastic tub which will even out the damp/almost too dry parts and make them a lot easier to press.  Manana...

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Another Sunday

 


I'm coming down to the wire on the latest warp with just one towel left to weave.

I've been beaming sectionally for a very long time but when you push past the 'ideal' sometimes?  Things don't go smoothly.

So it is with my stash reduction efforts.  I've been setting up my spool rack to pull the yarn from the sides of the tubes, which is great when the tubes are all the same weight, as shown here.

But when they aren't?  The yarns will go onto the beam at different tensions.

I knew that would happen, but generally I can make it work.  With the towels, the tension differential isn't even apparent after wet finishing.  But it's starting to bug me.

Plus!  Plus I am about to go do a recorded class on beaming sectionally and I want to talk about why I use this specific spool rack and how it allows you to pull off the top (or the end) of the yarn package.

When you do that, it doesn't matter how full the tube is because the weight of the yarn package doesn't enter into the equation.

What you DO have to do, though, is apply more tension via the tension box.

So my next warp will be done that way.  I'll set up the warp so that I can take from the end of the tube instead of the side.  I'll work through (remind myself) of what needs to be done when choosing this option and hopefully get to do it once again before it is time to pack the rack up and drive it down to Vancouver for the purpose of doing the taping.

In order to that, however, I need to get this warp off the loom and get the next one on.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to weave I go...

Friday, August 26, 2022

Shoulders of Giants

 



Master Weaver Certificate holders and their monograph topics:

 

1955      Mary Black:  Tartans and Mary Sandin:  Linen

 

1958      Nell Steedsman:  Two Frame weaving

 

1959      Grace McDowell:  Box Loom Weaving

 

1973      Adrienne Whitelaw:  Ceinture Fleché

 

 1975      Mary Andrews:  Fundamentals of Weaving

 

1976      Sandra Feenstra:  Double Weaves and Dini Moes:  The use of Colour in Handweaving

 

1979      Judith Rygiel:  Stitched Double Weave

 

1980      Eileen Shannon:  Point Twill Treadling Variations

 

1986      Jane Evans:  Tied Latvian Weave; Linda Heinrich:  Linen; Noreen Rustad:  Beiderwand

 

1989      Anke Keizer-Bles:  Exploring the Moorman Technique for Clothing and Margaret Berg:  Multiple Tabby Weaves and Twills

 

1990      Sandra Fearon:  Shadow Weave Design

 

1991      Patricia Corbett:  Colour and Texture Variation in Knotted Pile; Ruth-Carrol, ; Gaye Hansen:  Twice warped – Twelve Techniques for the Second Warp Beam; Kay Reiber:  Summer and Winter – a System for All Seasons; Frances Timbers:  The Handkerchief.

 

1992      Valerie DePorto:  Design Dynamics of Multishaft Swedish Lace

 

1993      June Bell: Finnweave; and Mabel Verigin:  The Forgotten Weaves

 

1994      Margaret Hahn:  Opphamta

 

1995      Christine Hill:  Wool – Fleece, Fibre and Fabric; and Evelyn Oldroyd:  The Wonder of Weaving Silk

 

1997      Laura Fry – Transformations:  Fulling Handwoven Fabrics

 

1998      Carol Oberg:  Brain-based Learning in the Weaving Studio – process of regeneration

 

2001    Ruth Jarvis:  Ramie

 

2003*     Helene Ruel:  La Magie de l’Ikat (The Magic of Ikat)

 

 Today I learned that one of my mentors has died.  Eileen Shannon was a big encourager and supporter and part of a 'study group' that was working their way through the Guild of Canadian Weavers master weaver program.  They invited me to join them and encouraged me to work on the program as well.

I am grateful to Eileen (and Linda Heinrich, Noreen Rustad and Jean George) for including me in their group.  I learned so much from them, and still have Eileen's voice in my head 'What have you learned since we last met?' was her pretty standard greeting.  She normalized making mistakes as part of the learning process.  A mistake was never the end but the beginning of learning as far as she was concerned.

I lost touch with her a few years ago when she moved to Vancouver Island, and was very sorry to hear that she died the end of July.


*I'm no longer a member of GCW and not aware of any master weavers since Helene Ruel in 2003.  If you are self motivated, able to work on your own, want to test your knowledge and skills, the GCW still runs the program.  The test booklet is available and makes a good study guide along with Mary Black's book if you want to push the boundaries of your knowledge and increase your horizons.  It's not terribly expensive compared to other programs and you can work at your own pace.  Which is, in part, why it took me nearly 20 years to finish!  But I did.