Sunday, January 30, 2022



Another dreary day in a string of them.  Weather forecast says possibility of sunny on Tuesday, then right back to more of this.

Winter is not done with us yet.

Nor is covid.  Nor shingles.

Even though I've been through this sort of thing before, even though I was warned this was going to be a slow recovery, the reality is...depressing.

Each day crawls by with me feeling unable or unwilling to do much of anything.  So I don't, because I know that pushing too hard right now can actually set me back.  

I'm having flashbacks to by-pass surgery, which took place almost exactly six years ago.  I admit I didn't feel much better then.  But recovery went more quickly and six weeks didn't seem like forever as I could feel the energy returning.  Oh yes, there were the usual bumps and holes, but I'm also six years older and been through the mill a few more times.

And I know all of this, intellectually.  It's just the emotions I am going through right now that make this particularly hard.

I feel guilty I didn't recognize what was going on sooner.  Doctor warned me that I came in very 'late' for treatment and it was going to be hard to root the virus out of my eye.  And dammit, she's right.  It's going so dreadfully slowly and I still feel 'off' and every day seems like Groundhog Day.  I have to look - hard - for every tiny bit of progress.  And barely find any.

We are still dealing with covid here, too.  Experts are saying the current wave ought to peak in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime I feel like I have to stay home, not leave the house (except for doctor appointments) and not have visitors.  At least during my other health recoveries, I could have some company.

Thank goodness for the internet!

Today's sliver of light was the fact that I was able to finish pressing the last of the scarves.  They are now hanging on the drying rack to finish drying.  They were nearly dry, but I don't want to set any wrinkles in them, so they will hang over night.

Tomorrow I will see if I feel 'safe' enough to trim the fringes.  If not they will get folded and stacked up and set aside until I do.

Casting around for something else 'light' I could do, I'm wondering if I feel up to hemming yet.  With my lack of depth perception, I'm  But neither do I feel up to beaming a warp.  So I don't know what will occupy my limited energy tomorrow.  

But I am becoming heartily sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.  Just saying...

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Wrapping up January


It's been hard, having to accept that my usual rate of progress is so curtailed.  But progress has been made, and I need to remember that.

I managed to get some scarves wet finished and pressed but given my current lack of depth perception, decided that NOT trimming the tufts from the ends of the fringe might be a better approach.  At least until I can focus and have some depth perception.  So they got folded and piled up on the shelf.  Since then I have been working my way through the rest of the scarves I managed to weave in December and early January.  I've only been able to manage 3 or 4 at a time, but the last load of 5 scarves is currently in the washing machine and I've just now pressed three more scarves.

The rest are being neatly draped over the back beam of the loom.  A visual reminder that trying to beam another warp right now is most likely Not A Good Idea.

My priority right now has to be to heal from this regrettable episode in my life.  So I wander through my day, picking at this and that or just sitting in the recliner feeling sorry for myself.  So Very Sorry.

Healing seems to be incredibly slow, but everyone tells me it will be.  I know that one of my brushes with shingles took at least 6 weeks to resolve.  And this one?  Is far, far worse.

However, I find myself with a tiny bit of energy, so I keep picking away at what I can do and gently shove the rest aside as irrelevant until I am much better than I currently am.  Right now I'm thinking that it will be weeks yet before I can see properly given that intense focus (see what I did there?) my eye doctor is paying to me.  

On the other hand, the class via Sweet Georgia seems to be going well.  No questions to answer today - so far.  But the questions to date have been really good ones.  I just wish I felt better and could think more clearly.

I am still not processing things well but we have a schedule and alarms and a cheat sheet to make sure I take my medication on time (within a few minutes) and the correct ones at the correct time.

Doug has been very supportive, doing all the outside errands, driving me to appointments.  I don't feel I am 'safe' to drive yet.  Still feeling 'off' and lack of focus means I should not be driving for my own - and others - safety.

However, like spring, I feel a stirring.  A desire.  A yearning to return.  But it's only the end of January.  Spring - for us - is still a long way away.  And the snow coming down and in the forecast for the coming days reminds me.  We are not done with winter yet.  Neither are we done with covid.  And nor am I done with shingles.


Friday, January 28, 2022

Living in Another Country


Not sure why, but I started thinking about - oh lots of things - today.

I was in my 40s when I learned about the 'curse' May You Live in Interesting Times.  It took me a while to figure out how negative it might be to have 'interesting' things going on around you all of the damn time.

And here we are in 2022.  Interesting...

As part of my musing I thought about why I might be sympathetic to immigrants.  It's true I read voraciously when I was a child.  As I read I didn't discriminate and look only for books about people like me but read everything I could get my hands on.  

My parents came from European roots and so did all of our neighbours.  My mother, of French Canadian stock.  Her ancestors arrived in Gaspe in the 1700s sometime.  My father was German by language, although their immigration papers said Belarus as their port of departure.  I have no way of knowing how they wound up in Belarus - or when.  But they spoke German as their first language, arrived in California to stay with my grandfather's brother, eventually making their way into Canada by way of North Dakota.  Two of dad's sisters were born on the prairies and dad was born here in mid-BC in 1919.  

Neighbours came from England, German background, Polish, Ukrainian.  There were a few Scots, too.

So I was familiar with a variety of different cultures - all European based.  I heard lots of different languages being spoken around me.

At the age of 12 I acquired a Swedish pen friend.  We exchanged blue flimsies every few weeks.  And we kept writing, even after grade 7 ended until eventually I suggested to my parents that I take a gap year and go to Sweden to meet her and see something of the world.  My year after grade 12 was spent working every hour I could and saving every penny.  As the year progressed my pen friend and I made arrangements for me to arrive.

In those days flying was dreadfully expensive, especially to go to a country like Sweden which wasn't really a tourist destination, so I looked around for other options, finally settling on a freighter company that took passengers.  They had a regular route from Montreal to Norway and given that all my meals were included in the 10-12 day journey, it wasn't horrible in terms of cost.  And I could take the passenger train from my town to Montreal and stay with my aunt until it was time to board the ship.

In the end departure was delayed several days due to a longshoreman's strike, but they let the 4 passengers board and fed them.  It made the actual stay on board longer but I had sent a telegram to my friend letting her know my updated arrival date.  In the end I actually arrived two days earlier than expected as we had a bit of 'weather' that pushed us across the Atlantic faster than expected.

All of which is leading up to the fact that I lived in Örebrö, Sweden for the better part of four  months.

I never did learn how to speak Swedish.  I could learn nouns, but the grammar defeated me.  And besides, I was living on the university campus and the students staying there over the summer were happy to practice their English.  And chuckle at my attempts to actually speak Swedish.  It became easier to just learn a few key phrases and employ a whole lot of facial expressions and body language.

It was somewhat surprising to me that I had a very European look about me.  As long as I kept my mouth shut, no one knew I wasn't Swedish.  Or French. I also looked older than my 19 years, which may have had something to do with it.  I don't know.

Anyway, having the experience of living in a different culture with different expectations, norms, standards AND language, I gained an enormous amount of respect for all those people I had known in my life who spoke with a heavy (or light) accent, moving to Canada (or from Quebec to an English first province) and managed to survive.  Even thrive.

So when people talk about 'those' people who are a different culture, different language, different skin tone, different whatever?  I simply cannot understand how or why people don't think they are worthy of the utmost respect.  Because I have had the experience of living somewhere other than Canada, in a different language, and I KNOW how difficult it is.  I had the protection of looking like I belonged, while so many have some kind of obvious 'difference' about them.  And I still struggled to get around, go shopping, feed myself, entertain myself.  I had an incredible opportunity to observe without being observed.  To take time to think about what I was seeing and how it was different - or  not - to what I was used to experiencing.  I felt very much like a round peg in a square hole.  *I* was the different one.  And it was hard.

In my town we still have a lot of immigrants, new ones, some of them fleeing very terrible conditions, trying to deal with the stress of the terrible conditions they managed to escape, the desperate flight, hopefully to safety, then winding up in a country that has cold winters, different religions, different language(s), different foods, just...different.

I respect them all.  I think they are brave beyond most Canadians understanding.

I wish I wasn't seeing the growth of the alt-right here, too.  My father, with his German affiliation, still served in the Canadian Army during WWII to fight fascism/Nazis.  He didn't talk much about the war.  He dealt with PTSD (as it is now called) and was sickened by what he saw in Europe.  I am pretty sure he wasn't part of the liberation of any concentration camps, but he was part of D-Day and the army that went on to help liberate Holland.  

In the core of my being, I know that all humans are part of the same family.  Right now I'm having a hard time dealing with the growth of fascism around the world.  I have no idea how to stop it or understanding of the people who think they are better than someone else for whatever reason they have come up with.

I guess I just got lost in my thoughts about all of these things and chose to write it out as I usually do when I'm trying to figure something out.

I'm sad to say I have come to no conclusions.   Except that I would really like some boring times.  No pain.  No stress.  No wondering what will happen.  Just...peace and love for all and some 'boring'.

Please and thank you.

Regular programing will resume...maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Rocky Road


While I am no stranger to recovering from health issues, neither do I much enjoy it.  

One always hopes that the road will be a nice lovely straight line towards the goal (good health) but in actuality, it's rather more 'interesting'.

So I continue to struggle with the shingles, feeling pretty much like crap, still doing eye drops 8 times a day, pills and two other drops three times a day.  My left eye continues to be dilated all day long which makes focusing on anything a challenge.  

I thought today I could do without the patch, but realized just now my eye is watering and shutting and I need to keep using the patch.  Probably until they stop dilating my eye.  

(stops to apply patch to left eye...)

The last time I remember being so sick for this long was when I was 12 and had my tonsils out.  I was so sick I barely got out of bed for a month.  Well, it's been two weeks now since the diagnosis, and while I am feeling slightly better, between not being able to see properly, no depth perception, and needing to take medication every two hours, with apparently months more treatment to face, on TOP of the other health issues I was already having...

Let's just say I play a very tiny violin with the saddest song you ever heard.

Yes.  I AM feeling sorry for myself.  I will be blunt.  I am feeling VERY sorry for myself.  It isn't fair that I have shingles and even less fair that it is in my eye.

So the rational, adult part of me keeps reminding the rest of me that Life Isn't Fair and I need to just keep on keeping on.  Just like I have in the past.

Part of the reason I am feeling so disgruntled is the simple fact that while I begin to feel better I also feel more resentment that I am feeling so unwell.  That just getting up in the morning to face another day of dealing with the pain and the awkwardness of no depth perception, and the worry over whether or not I can keep the vision in that eye becomes a huge burden.  And I don't like it.

But just like covid doesn't care what someone thinks about it, shingles (another damn virus) doesn't give a damn what I think about it returning again.

So I call on the strength I have as a Very Stubborn Person, and I get dressed.  I make extremely modest plans for the day.  Plans that I don't always manage to complete.  But an inch is better than a centimeter when it comes to progress.  So I inch along, part of me raging at the unfairness of what is happening to my body.

And I thank all the gods that be that I am old enough that I'm not required to show up at work somewhere and be pleasant.  Because I am not in a pleasant frame of mind right now.

Stubborn is as stubborn does.  And right now whatever energy I have is going towards not turning into a lump of misery.  I may be a lump of raging misery, but the stubbornness that my mother railed against is what is going to get me through this time.  

So I put three more scarves into the washing machine - red scarves, with a red that is guaranteed to bleed - along with some other red items, and I will press the two scarves from yesterday.  And who knows, maybe press the scarves from today.  We will see.

I am able to read a little bit so I have gone back to reading Victoria Finlay's book Fabric.  And I am finding that enjoyable and distracting when I can read.  I fiddle with jigsaw puzzles.  I move from chair to chair because even that little bit of activity helps my back.  Because just because you get sick with one thing doesn't make the other illnesses you are dealing with go away.  They just keep burbling along.

On a brighter note (literally) the sun has made an appearance and it is not yet snowing.  So I am going to appreciate the sunshine outside and continue to isolate due to several virii in my town plus my own personal hell.  And just keep going.  Like Churchill supposedly said - when you are going through hell...keep going.  And I agree.  Who the hell wants to stop in this place, in this time?  Doug kindly reminds me when the next two hour med time arrives.  He even set up an old cell phone that chimes every two hours for when he isn't home and to make sure I don't forget.

If you were looking for something inspiring today, I'm afraid I'm all out.  Must be supply chain issues.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Little by Little


We are having a bit of 'false' spring today.  The sun has peeped out a bit and it's quite balmy - for us, for January.  The air felt positively spring-like, but it's only January and we all know it is temporary.

I am beginning to feel a wee bit 'better' (for certain values of) but the dr says my eye is not healing very well.  I get to go back again next week.  So for one more week (at least) my left eye will remain dilated all day long.  I'm wearing a patch to keep it closed because trying to focus on anything to do anything means I'm having to battle an eye that is dilated and not wanting to focus in the same way.

Since one eye is patched, I have zero depth perception, so I have to be careful about going to pick up or put things down.  On the other hand my balance is improving, and I am starting to be more active.  Which is good because I was losing physical fitness and just walking up and down the stairs was a bit of a challenge, in part due to the depth perception.  Where *were* my feet in relationship to the stairs, anyway?

I set up the puzzle board and have been picking away at that and in the evening I have managed to do a bit of knitting.

But today I actually feel I have made more than an inch worth of progress, physically.  I feel like I could actually do something, if I weren't isolating at home, and not quite ready to attempt to do much of anything.

However, I did decide yesterday that wet finishing another half dozen scarves might be a possibility because I can sit and do the pressing.

So I am going to go down to the laundry room and run a batch of scarves through the washer and dryer and by the end of the afternoon I hope to be able to get the pressing done.  If nothing else at least I can do some and whatever I don't get to can wait in the plastic bin to wait until tomorrow.

Every inch of progress inch of progress.  And right now?  I will take it.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Jan. 21, 2022


tonight's sunset

So, 2022 was supposed to be a new start.  A more hopeful year.  A better year.  I last posted on Jan. 12 about the launch of the SOS class, anticipating that I was going to have a great time, interact with students, and things were just going to keep on being 'fabulous'.

If you are wondering about radio silence, it's because Jan. 12 was also the day I was told that my sinus headache wasn't a sinus headache and I didn't have pink eye, I had a *severe* case of shingles that had gone into my left eye.  

The next few days disappeared in a haze of pain and fistfuls of pills and multiple eyedrops.

I did manage to monitor the Q&A for the class, but it wasn't the joy I had been expecting.  

It's a really long story no one needs to hear - except that I have been too sick to even think about weaving.  I have managed to stumble along and yesterday was told that I am healing well, but this will be a long road to full recovery.

Here is a Public Service Announcement:

If you have ever had chicken pox, hie thee hence to a pharmacy and get the two shot shingles vaccine.  I had gotten the one dose, then assumed I was protected from another bout of shingles (I'd had two, years ago) and frankly missed the signs of it happening.  Until it was nearly 'too late'.

If you have never had shingles, please take it from me, you don't want to.  Ever.  Even a mild case, never mind a 'severe' one.

I have been holding off cancelling/postponing some Zoom meetings, but even though my healing is going well according to the doctor, I'm still feeling very ill.  I've cancelled all local appointments, hunkering at home trying to stay out of the cross hairs of covid, a cold, whatever is happening out in the big cold world.  Fortunately everyone has been very understanding and at this point I have two Zooms scheduled, the last Sunday of this month and the first of the next.  I'm going to cancel the one and re-book the other for another date, further down the Recovery Road.   Because it seems to have a lot (and I mean a LOT)  of valleys and mountain peaks.

I am beginning to feel well enough that I can read a bit, and I have some jigsaw puzzles so the next job I plan to tackle is clearing off the dining room table so I have something else to distract me, and a different place in the house to sit, which I'm hoping will help my back.  Even getting to the specialist in Vancouver has had to be postponed because of the shingles, so my back still hurts and I'm not much nearer getting it 'fixed' - if it can be.  But at least I'm on their patient roster and they will contact me in March.  Hopefully to the news that the doctor thinks she can help me.  And then maybe in April be able to travel down for an in person assessment.

But it's been a really rough couple of weeks.  

Currently reading The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny.  It's riveting and asks some pointed questions about societal values.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Launch Day


So today is launch day for the SOS class, The Intentional Weaver.

It was meant to be a happy day for me, and instead I'm still dealing with a body that seems bent on making me miserable.  I have an appointment - in person - with my family doctor, this afternoon, and I really hope he has something to help me.  Because I've been looking forward to this day and it's being 'ruined' by feeling ill.

Ok - whine over.

Felicia Lo was my on screen student and she has done a You Tube video talking about experiencing being a student.  She talked about how when I do the various tasks involved in weaving I make it look so 'easy' and how we talked about students might feel intimidated when the same techniques don't come easily to them.  And she agreed to be the student to show that when you learn something new it is going to feel awkward.  And the solution for that awkwardness is, in fact, to do them with intention.  With mindfulness.  Paying attention to the motions.

She asked her viewers to share some of the awkward things they have experienced, in part as a way to acknowledge that feeling awkward is a normal part of learning something new.  That you only gain proficiency by steadfast mindful practice.  

Sometimes I will answer a question on line and people will be amazed that I am able to put my finger on exactly what the problem is, and suggest a solution.  The thing is, the reason I know about these solutions, and the situations, is that every single one of them has happened to me.

Weaving is not difficult, but it is complex.  There are a multitude of steps tht must be taken, in order, so that you wind up with good results.

There are principles to be learned so that you can more easily diagnose a problem, then knowing the principle, make an appropriate fix.

The one I share about my own journey was the time I neglected to go over the back beam of the loom while dressing the warp.  The warp travelled directly from the beam up to the heddles.  When I treadled, I could not get a shed.

Doing this once was bad enough.  But I did it twice in a row.  So now when someone says they have their loom all dressed but can't get a shed, I look for signs that they, too, have neglected to go over the back beam.

I have even neglected to go over the knee roller on the AVL which meant I wasn't getting good sheds as the springs were being impeded from working properly because the apron was in the way.

Mistakes happen.  They are part of life, part of weaving.  My hope with writing the book and doing these classes is that people will learn the principles and fixes to problems.  And not be upset if they make a mistake.  Because we are only human.  

Sometimes we aren't feeling well and we aren't thinking clearly.  Sometimes we are stressed or distracted, and not paying full attention to what we are doing.  Sometimes it has been too long since dressing the loom last time and we forget things like knee rollers and back beams.

Embrace the journey of learning.  Accept your human-ness.  Take pleasure and satisfaction when things go right, but don't beat yourself up when they go wrong.

And PS - while setting up the loom for the taping, I showed how to check for a clear shed and discovered that oops - I'd crossed threads between the heddles and the reed.  This was not a 'planted' error (although I'm not beyond doing such a thing), but a mistake I actually made.  In the end I was glad because it showed that I just dealt with it and carried on.  That yes, I do still make mistakes.  Being a 'master' weaver doesn't mean you don't make mistakes, just that you don't panic, you just fix them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Down Time


Seems whatever was ailing me yesterday is lingering, although I am feeling 'better'.  However, I'm still not feeling great and trying to decide if it is folly to attempt to beam that next warp in the queue.  I think I should be ok if I take it slow, and it's better than sitting in the recliner feeling sorry for myself.

The sun has come out finally, and the temps have risen.  The streets will be a mess, especially if it starts snowing/raining.  But for now I am appreciating the sun glancing across the fresh fallen snow.  Winter really can be quite beautiful.

I have a list of things I want to do but don't feel I can manage half of them, so the best course of action is to simply choose one.  The rest will wait.

Because that's the thing, when you are one person who does pretty much everything (with support and assistance from a spouse when needed.)  Everything will wait.  Everything *must* wait.  Until you feel better enough to try to do them.

One of the great gifts of 'retirement' is that I no longer have critical deadlines.  I have my desires.  I have my intentions.  I have my goals.  But it no longer much matters for most of it when I get at them.

Speaking of which, the SOS class launches tomorrow.  I should be better enough to engage with anyone asking questions by tomorrow (today is better than yesterday) so I'm looking forward to discussing all things weaving with new (to me) folk.  Or maybe even some I already know, looking for a refresher.

Anyway, it appears another quiet day is required, so I'm not going to push too hard.  But I'd surely love to see that next warp getting beamed, even if I can't do it in one day.

It will wait.

Monday, January 10, 2022





It is really hard at times to get accurate photos of textiles.  (Probably true generally, but textiles is what I mostly take photos of!)

Yesterday I got another 6 scarves wet finished, including a good hard press.  Once the compression was done, they really took on a lovely sheen and even though in several cases I was working with colours beyond my comfort zone, I'm pleased enough with all of them.

Some of the designs actually turned out better than I'd hoped.  Which happens so rarely.

This run of scarves was challenging on many levels.  Working within a severely limited range of colours, trying to figure out how to make them play nicely together, not really knowing how they would look after finishing.  I really had to stretch myself.  I am happy with the results and they do 'work' at both distance and closer up, when you can begin to see the different colours in the warp.

While I think they look good/interesting, the final judgement will be made by the person who buys them.  If anyone does.  

Because there is no guarantee that anything I make will sell.  And there is only so much I can afford to give away.

Given the difficulty of getting 'good' colour shots, I won't be offering these on line.  

The current tea towels, however, are destined to be sold on my ko-fi shop or on consignment locally.

I had great plans for what I was going to do today, but my body has other ideas.  So I am having a 'quiet' day, trying to stay mobile without attempting to do 'too much'.  Since most of what I'm working on this afternoon does need to be done at some point, it's just shifting my list to another day and moving 'quiet' things to today.

Sometimes one just has to listen to their body.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Weaver's Bottom

"Nick Bottom is a character in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream who provides comic relief throughout the play. A weaver by trade..."

It has been said that Nick Bottom got his name as a play on words because so  many weaver's had 'weaver's bottoms'.  It was a known work related injury.

  "Ischial bursitis (weaver's bottom or tailor's bottom) can result from sitting for long periods on a hard surface..."

Over the years I have sat on a number of different kinds of benches/stools etc.  Since I started weaving with the express purpose of making an income by doing the craft, I spent hours every day at the loom.  It didn't take me long to realize that loom benches are *hard*.  I have had a variety of cushions or pads at the various looms I work at and recommend that people consider such for themselves if they intend to do more than a session or two a day.

The bursa can become irritated and then inflamed.  Once inflammation sets in, it can take weeks rather than days for it to clear up again.  So I always took care to pay attention and use some kind of padding on my loom bench or stool.

I can say that I have never had weaver's bottom, nor have I had carpal tunnel - both things that I knew were an occupational hazard.  

During my years of production weaving I have had other injuries, usually outside of the studio (whiplash, twice, for example) but by and large I've managed the repetitive stresses of weaving reasonably well.

But do something long enough and a body can begin to wear out.  And of course just living takes a toll as well.

In the end, the current 'injury' I am dealing with was not caused by the weaving itself, but associated tasks required in running a studio.  Hefting 40-50 pound boxes of yarn, dragging 50-75 pound suitcases around, getting into and out of cars at the airport, thumping them up and down stairs at my hosts or at the guild rooms, up a set of stairs.  The years I spent dyeing yarn, moving *large* pots of water and large skeins of fully saturated water around.  Not much wonder my back would ache at the end of the day.

It is one reason I advocate for people to understand the processes and how their body functions and to work ergonomically - so that they reduce the chance of developing repetitive motion injuries.  So much better to avoid them than take the weeks/months to heal from them.  Because the older I get, the longer it takes to heal.  And sometimes now, I never do get back to where I was.  

So I cut back on doing the heavy lifting I used to do without a second thought.  I make sure I take rest breaks (which have gotten longer, meaning fewer sessions at the loom per day).  I have a massage therapist and a chiropractor (one for my lower back, one for my upper, because each end of my spine has something different 'wrong' with it.)

I keep weaving because the weaving itself doesn't seem to make anything particularly worse and I weave not just for the physical exercise, but for the mental health.  And because I have so damn much yarn!

Working ergonomically is one of the things I will discuss in the SOS class launching next week.

Let's keep in mind that weaver's bottom is no joke, even though Nick Bottom, the weaver, might have been a bit of a joker.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Details, Details


It's quite hard to see, but in amongst all the cotton fibres, I *think* I see some linen.  Enough to cast doubt on this yarn being 100% cotton, at any rate.

Cotton fibres are routinely between 3/4 of an inch to about 1.5".  After harvest they go from round tube to flat twisted 'ribbon'.  Linen fibres are longer and more rod like.  

Yesterday I mentioned that I wasn't going to use both yarns in the same tea towel and by that I meant I would not want to use both as weft in the same textile.  They will behave differently.  The one with linen will lose less width than the 100% cotton.  And, because of the difference in twist, they might look markedly different as well.

So the suspect tubes have been set aside and I'll use them together to make one towel.  Anything left over (which likely won't be much) will get put into my recycle bin.  

The difference between the two yarns of the 'same' colour tugged at my eye without my paying too much attention because I was busy sorting about 50 tubes of yarn into colours/dye lots.  It was only when I began looking at each pile of the 'same' colour that I paid more attention to that tiny difference I had noted without actually thinking about it.

In the end it took me a good 20 minutes of looking at the two yarns under the microscope to see if I could tell more about the yarn.  But if I had used the two different yarns randomly, I could have wound up with three towels that were...strange...with different shrinkage rates and looking 'odd' due to the difference in twist.  Instead I'll have 3 perfectly find towels.

Training one's eye to see such fine details is all part of mastering the craft.  Know your materials.  Understand their inherent characteristics.  Be prepared to make adjustments when you spot potential areas of concern.

Above all?  Keep learning.  Pay attention to your inner voice.  Sometimes it has an important message you need to hear.  When in doubt, do something different.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Looking Closely


In sorting through my yarns, I had quickly sorted by colour but when I went to use one of the colours, I took a closer look.  

When I examined the yarns, they looked different to me.  Although the colour seemed really close, one of the yarns was more shiny than the other one which also appeared to be more lofty, even though when I compared them side by side, they seemed about the same thickness.  Close enough to say they were both the same count.

But I kept coming back to the two lots of tubes and the more I thought about it the more I came to the conclusion that there was some sort of 'invisible' difference.

I wondered if the loftier one was actually cottolin.  Since my digital microscope can (barely) get close enough to distinguish linen fibre from cotton, I dragged it out today.

There does appear to be some linen fibre in the one strand, so I'm not going to use these two yarns together as weft in a towel.  However the biggest difference is in the number of twists per inch.

I think you can see from the photo that the upper thread is more tightly twisted than the lower one.  The lower one is also hairier (if that's a word) and it's the one with what looks like linen fibres in it.

While I can't guarantee this is so, I've separated the two yarns out and will not use both in the same towel because they could very easily behave and/or feel quite different, just based on the degree of twist.

Always listen to your inner voice.  Sometimes it might not be correct, but if it is...

Monday, January 3, 2022

Hunkering Down


The temperatures warmed up for the weekend, but the wind was blowing and snow drifts built up.  Doug spent much of the weekend clearing snow.  Just in time for more snow to come down.

Now that the holiday season is (more or less) behind us, we enter the dark days of winter.  It is time to hunker down.  Time to pull back and rest.  Time to hibernate - a bit.

The weather forecast for here is more cold weather.  When it comes with wind, it becomes dangerous as the wind chill makes everything more difficult.  Add in falling snow and the roads become difficult to travel.  Plows try to keep the roads clear and that usually means sidewalks get covered.  If you are someone who has mobility issues, this is a very challenging time of year.

I am fortunate enough to be able to isolate as Doug has been cheerfully (more or less) dealing with the majority of errands outside of the house.

I am also fortunate in that I have a studio full of yarns I'm trying to use up and don't need much of anything.

As I look back at the past few months, I can feel some sense of satisfaction.  I have managed to move some inventory via the guild sale opportunities.  Unfortunately I've been making more!  But that's the thing.  Stacks of woven textiles take up less room than tubes/skeins of yarn.  So I AM seeing progress on the stash busting front.

I'm pleased enough with the current towel warp and have been adding more empty tubes to the recycle box.  I've managed to reduce the heap of fringe twisting down to just three scarves.  I've sorted the 2/16 cotton and made a priority list of which colours to use up first, and sorted the close dye lots into their respective piles.  As much as I can.  Any dye lot issues will be ignored since a slight colour change will in no way reduce the effectiveness of a towel to dry.  But so far, I think I've only woven in one dye lot difference.  It's slight, and who knows, it may diminish in the wet finishing.  

Progress is being made on the on line class.  The editing got done before Christmas and the tweaking continued over the holiday week.  Written documentation is being generated, and final touches will be done over the next while.

I continue to make progress on the weaving with two towels per day.  Today I hit the halfway mark and will cut off what I've woven so far, then tie on and keep going.  As the cloth roll builds up, it becomes more difficult to tension the warp and my knees start to bump into the built up beam.  Just so much easier to cut off and re-tie.  The little bit of loom waste has been factored in and well worth sacrificing a bit of yarn for better weaving.  IMHO.

Today I will also sort through my tea towel inventory and decide which pattern to upload to ko-fi first.  Seems I do still have some Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws towels.  Looks like six of them with cottolin weft.  So those will be first, I think.  Be nice to get them to new homes - and free up some space on the shelf.  One of these days I'll take a photo of my shelf - one of them, anyway.  I have two right now and at the rate I'm making new textiles, that will soon return to 3?  

This winter I am again ducking and avoiding Covid as it rampages through the world.  While I miss getting together with friends, I'd rather stay home for a while longer until it is safe(r).

January 2022 seems like a really good time to just stay home, stay focused on reducing my stash, and looking forward to the on-line class with SOS.  (The link should give you a 15% discount coupon for a 3 or 12 month membership in SOS.)

Sunday, January 2, 2022



Some of the tubes of 2/16 cotton yarn that I sorted the other day.

Normally I store the tubes of cotton standing up on their end, but these are small enough that they don't want to stand, so they lay flat.  As such, they tend to take up space and roll around.

There are also several shades of beige which can be very difficult to tell apart, so I carefully looked at them in natural light so separate them into their own piles.

Now this is not all of my 2/16 cotton yarn.  The less empty tubes that can stand are still on the shelves.  They are going to take longer to empty and I wanted some 'instant' gratification so decided to begin with the nearly empty ones and clear them off the shelves.

The dark emerald tubes might not get used on this warp.  It's a twill block design and I'm thinking the high contrast of this and other darker value colours will not look as nice as I would wish.  So I've been looking at fancy twill threadings.  The contrast will still be high, but will be more forgiving in terms of slight imperfections in beat.

And I am reminded all over again at how much play time one gets from finer yarns.  I've used up just two of the colours and already woven a quarter of the first warp.  

Still lots more to go!  Who knows, I might even have to buy more white to finish this off.  

The other goal for today is to take photos of current stock and post the first photo to my ko-fi store.  I'd like to find new homes for some of the tea towels already made, plus mail seems to be moving here again now the xmas rush is over (and our highways open to commercial vehicles).

I don't make resolutions.  I form intentions.  Resolutions have always seemed so either/or to me.  You resolve to do X and if you don't do that, you might as well give up.  Forming an intention is more flexible.  I didn't manage X today, but I will take another stab at getting to it tomorrow.

So - I intend to keep working away at reducing my stash.  It's been a long haul, but I'm finally beginning to see some progress as shelves thin out of yarn.  More room for the dust buffalo to roam, but I'll worry about corraling those another day.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Here We Go Again


Looking through Facebook 'memories' I see a lot of weaving happened over the years.  Yes, even on holidays.  Because when your work is something you love to do, you do it every day you can.

Yesterday I continued with the tea towel warp and cleaned off a bunch more tubes.  Most of the first colour were pretty empty, likely less than a filled bobbin.  It felt good to clear off some space on the shelf and toss the empty tubes into my little recycle container.  They will likely go into the bigger paper recycling bin for our household recycling but sometimes teachers will ask if I have any they can use for art supplies so I tend to keep them separate until the bin needs emptying.

It is also becoming apparent that this first warp is not going to use up as much of the yarn as I'd hoped.  Because while I have little left to make a warp, there are miles and miles of this yarn left for weft.  So I'm beginning with the colours that have the least left so I can clear those tubes away.  And besides, I can weave directly from the tube, so no need to wind bobbins.  Win-win!

Last night I dug out one of my resource books with lots of patterns.  I've found a few I think I can tweak to my purpose.  And I'm becoming less concerned about the high contrast of the warp/weft.  Such a high contrast will tend to highlight every little inconsistency, but at this point I'm not too worried about 'perfection'.  A functional tea towel will do.

But I may change from twill blocks to a fancy twill, which will make slight imperfections in beat less obvious.  Still pondering.

The weather here isn't very pleasant.  It stopped snowing but the wind continues to gust and blow snow sideways.  So glad I have nowhere to go, nowhere to be, other than at home, soon at the loom.

I have been gradually reading Victoria Finlay's book Fabric and will do a proper review when I get a bit further into it.  But so far?  I am really quite enjoying it.