Thursday, March 31, 2022



After re-calculating, weighing a tube, figuring out how much yarn was left, I found myself disinclined to play yarn chicken.  So I thought about maybe setting up the Fanny to weave on it while I waited for the yarn order to arrive.  But I really didn't want to do that, I really wanted to keep going with my 2/16 yarn stash reduction program.  I'm soooo close to being done with it, I can taste it!

As I procrastinated about beginning anything, it suddenly occurred to me that I could still beam another warp, just make it shorter!  Duh!

So I re-calculated, figured I had plenty to made a warp that should yield 14 towels instead of 21, and set up to beam another warp.

When I checked my email next, I got a message from Brassard - they shipped my yarn and it should arrive on April 8.  Since I'm away much of next week, it works out perfectly.

In the end I not only got the shorter warp beamed, I even managed to begin threading.  

Amazing what you can do when you break out of the 'box' of current thinking and look at what else you can do.  

This threading will give the design Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws, but it also gives this design.  The difference is treadling 'roses' or 'stars'.  Roses fashion will do Snail's Trails, but stars will produce this.  

I have a bunch of dark red 2/16 yarn to use up and this design kind of reminds me of Xmas ornaments, so I will use the red and the stars treadling.  And one more colour should get used up on this warp.


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Keep Going


I noticed this fridge magnet for sale in a shop not long after I had been diagnosed with cardiac blockages and was going through the hell of adverse drug reactions, the death of my brother and continuing to scramble to travel to teach, weave to sell, write for publication.  Life was very...challenging...and this quote caught my eye and reminded me that I most definitely did not want to stop where I was.  Whatever it took, I had to keep going.  So I bought it to remind myself to keep going.

It's been 2 and a half months since the shingles diagnosis and yesterday my eye doc finally declared that she was happy.  Healing was happening, finally.  It sounds like I will get to keep the vision in that eye although I'm still dealing with the fallout from the shingles outbreak and now patches of 'dry' that she is concerned about and which means I will be gradually weaned off the prescription eye drops but maintaining the dry eye drops while she continues to closely monitor my eye.

And the anti-viral meds.  She says at least six months, to make sure the shingles virus really has been overcome.  But she also warned that my immune system (which is compromised due to the cancer) is now severely compromised as it had to curb the shingles virus and get it under control again.  And no, the anti-viral drug I'm taking for shingles will not have much if any effect on covid.

All my focus on protecting myself from covid will have to continue and truth to tell, given the way covid has constantly been allowed to grow into really devastating 'waves' I may never feel 'safe' in public again.  I have certainly loved NOT having a cold or flu for the past two years.  

Truth to tell, there were several days in the early stages of the shingles outbreak that I almost gave up.  I was just too sick and too exhausted to keep going.  But the fridge magnet was there to remind me to keep going.  I needed to get through the mire and to the other side.

But I'll be honest - it was hard.  I haven't been that sick for a very long time.

The whole experience has left me feeling drained, with very little energy.  Once I started feeling better I concentrated on my weaving.  For a couple of hours a day I could focus on something else and even though I was tired afterwards, at the end of the day I could add up the fact I'd been productive and managed to weave one towel, then back to two towels a day.  It was a minor victory, but nonetheless, it felt like I might be getting through this time.

Today I will begin beaming another tea towel warp.  If I have done my calculations correctly there should be just enough yarn for another warp.  If I haven't, I will have to wait for the yarn order from Brassard to arrive.  But they say they are overwhelmed with orders right now and while they are working on their backlog, there will be a delay before they process my order.  

However, I DO have another loom, currently sitting empty.  And I've got about 50 pounds of rayon chenille that needs using.  So, I will see how far I get (hopefully all the way) today and decide what I will do once I know if I can continue with the tea towels or need to pivot to something else.  

I am SO CLOSE to using up the last of my 2/16 yarn, I was really hoping to be able to finish it off this spring.  But as with so many things in life, sometimes things happen and you just need to go with the flow.  Take a detour.  Choose another path entirely.

But whatever happens, keep going.  You really don't want to stop while you are in hell.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Cutting Losses


photo posted yesterday

green = correct, red = incorrect

A threading mistake wends it's way all through the entire length of a warp.  The tendency is to fix it right away, but I didn't actually see this one until I'd woven 2/3's of the warp.  In part it was because I started with very pale values for the weft and there was little contrast to show off the mistake.

As I wove and used up more of my yarn, I switched colours but was focused on the low contrast pale ones until I got further into the warp.

And then, I started using a higher contrast mid-range value turquoise blue/green.  Even then I didn't see the mistake right away.  It wasn't until I was correcting something else that needed fixing that I finally saw the error.

By then, with 2/3's of the warp already woven, with just about 8 towels left (maybe fewer) I chewed on the fact that the error was not an easy one to fix, nor a quick one.  And ultimately how much difference was it going to make?  If it had taken me this long to see it, others were going to have to look hard to notice.  Plus it was not a 'flaw' insofar as it was going to negatively impact the towel's ability to dry dishes.

I weighed how many spoons it would take to pull out nearly half of the warp (over 300 threads) and then re-thread and resley and decided there simply were not enough.

By then I wasn't sure how many more towels were left to be woven.  Given that I am also running out of the rose for weft there won't be enough for a sixth one in that colour.  So I may just sacrifice about a yard and a half of warp and simply not bother to weave a towel which would be a singleton in whatever colour I used.

How much loom waste I decide to toss into the recycle bin, it won't go to waste.  I give my loom waste to a friend who incorporates it into the art yarn she spins.

In the end I should wind up with 21 towels from this warp.  I think I can 'waste' a towel's worth of warp.  I won't try to sell these but will keep them for gifts.  Although I have been known to sell such 'flawed' towels at a deep discount, I just don't have the spoons these days to worry overmuch about them.  

Whatever happens, this warp will come off the loom, possibly today, tomorrow for sure.  And then it will be on to the next.  I'll be playing yarn chicken with the next warp.  I ordered more yarn but still haven't been notified it is on it's way.  When I did the math, it seemed like I ought to have enough on the tubes for one more warp.  But now I'm leery about whether or not I do.  Well, I can always begin and then wait for the yarn order to come in by weaving on my other loom.  I really ought to make more rayon chenille scarves, too.  It looks like about 50 pounds of that left to be used.  Sigh.

Monday, March 28, 2022



It seems that much of society has lost the concept of 'kindness'.  In so many ways, people are enraged at the actions of others, some to the point of physical violence.  On the other hand, sometimes verbal violence is worse, in part because it can leave wounds that never heal.

Making snide comments about another person's appearance - be it their weight, their looks, their hair - or lack thereof - isn't necessary.  And it most certainly is not kind.

But these types of things are just the symptom of a society that seems to have lost it's moral compass and it's capacity to be kind to others.

People come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and health.  Someone who is sick may not look ill, other than something superficial, like a loss of hair.  I didn't go entirely bald while I took chemo, but my hair got very thin, and I gotta tell ya, my image in the mirror was a constant reminder than I was not healthy, that I was doing something incredibly hard.  Because chemo IS hard - it is a fine tuned balance of poisoning the person in order to poison the cancer, without actually killing the person.

My hair never did come back in the way it had been, and I am reminded of my journey and all that has happened *because* of the chemo and other treatments that have similarly attempted to get rid of the cancer, without getting rid of me.

People who make fun of others for their appearance are saying a lot more about themselves than they are about the people they are mocking.  But their words slice, dice and leave unseen wounds that cut to the quick.

There are some 'comedians' I refuse to watch because IMHO they are simply cruel.  I won't give them my time and I certainly won't give them my money.

Bullies are everywhere and they seem to have gotten much bolder over the years.  Or maybe I'm just noticing them more.  And sometimes?  Bullies need to be reminded of how inappropriate their behaviour and words are.

So I don't condone the actions at the Oscar awards, but it sounds like the comedian has been nasty to this couple numerous times and wasn't likely to stop.  He used his power of an international platform to be nasty to someone - doesn't matter if she was privileged - he used his words to cut her.  And he suffered consequences.  Were they appropriate?  Perhaps not.  Will he now stop his harassment?  Possibly.  

As someone said 'sometimes you have to get their attention'.  Has his attention been 'got' now?  Maybe.  But somehow I doubt he will stop being mean, he will just switch his attention to someone else.

When they show you who they are, believe them.

Sunday, March 27, 2022



Once seen, cannot be unseen.

But on a scale of 1 to 10, how 'bad' is this mistake, this 'flaw'?  It isn't going to impede the function of the towel in any way.  And if you stand back far enough it pretty much fades into invisibility.

It's the kind of threading error that tends to hide until for some reason you notice it.  And then it's all you can see.  It's also the kind of error that requires re-threading from where it happened all the way through to the selvedge.

So I chewed on my lip for oh, about 30 seconds, decided I didn't have the spoons and left it.  

I would highlight it, but it's more fun to just leave it and see if your eye is trained well enough you can pick it out.

Mine is, dagnabbit...

Saturday, March 26, 2022



I spent about 40 years working as efficiently as I could in order to make the most of my time.  I learned early that while I could always make more money to buy more yarn, once I'd spent the coin of my time, it was gone.  Forever.

So I worked hard at being ergonomic and efficient (I define those as related but slightly different sides of the same coin - reducing extraneous movements means less wear and tear on the body and increases productivity.)

Over the years it became unfashionable to be 'efficient'.  Many people really don't understand the meaning of the word.  It means every movement is precise and necessary.  The movements are kept small to reduce fatigue on muscles.  Moving only as much as is actually required reduces how much energy is required and making small movements instead of large ones takes less time.

So the end result of working more ergonomically brings the added benefit of being able to do more in less time.

Some people whiff away any suggestion of learning to be more efficient with the comment that they 'don't want to hurry'.

Hurrying is the exact opposite of working efficiently because when someone hurries, they tend to skip steps, or they aren't paying attention to what they are doing and make mistakes.

So while I am very productive, I am not in any way hurrying as I wind warps, dress the loom, weave.  Rather I am using just the right amount of effort and motion to get the job done.

The more I learned and thought about how some people react to the word 'efficient' I tried to think about how to make what I do more understandable.  After talking with others I realized that what I do is work with intention.

I also don't get bored.  I can weave 22 tea towels all exactly the same.  Some people assume that because I do that, I must not be very intelligent.  On the contrary, I am actually fairly intelligent.  But also?  My time at the loom is not spent thinking about other things, wishing I was done with what I am doing, waiting for the clock to tell me I can stop doing this and go do something more interesting.

While I get tired, I don't get bored because when I'm weaving I am focused on what I am doing, and there is a subliminal conversation going on between me and the yarn, me and the loom, me and the shuttle.  It is a conversation that goes on in the foreground, and if all the answers coming back to me are 'it's ok, I'm fine', then I can put what I am doing physically in background and think about other things.  But I'm far from bored.

It is, I believe, a kind of working meditation.  I weave for about 45-60 minutes and often times I will look at the clock to discover that 30 minutes has gone by and I'm halfway through the tea towel, and then I sink again into my 'meditation'.

I set the computer dobby up so that when I'm done a tea towel, there is an empty lag to tell me I'm done.  Then I weave in two picks for a cut line, shut down the loom and go take a break.  And then I go back again.  If I'm weaving yardage, I put a 45 minute cassette into my boombox and when the music ends, I take a break.

These days I can only manage two sessions at the loom, but I try to get there twice a day.  Unless I'm dressing the loom.  I might go to the studio three times if I'm beaming a warp or threading.

People judge my output by their own rate of work.  They assume I must spend hours and hours at the loom.  (I used to but I'm now 'retired') but as one friend points out, I get more done on a bad day than she does on a good.  

In large part, my productivity is *because* of the effort I have put into working efficiently, ergonomically, paying attention, not using extra motion/energy, and my processes will all assist me in so doing.

Ultimately every weaver must do what is right for them.  But if they are having lots and lots of problems, can I suggest that they might consider what I do?  By reducing the tangles, winding and beaming will be less aggravating and time consuming.  By becoming more streamlined in terms of threading, less time will be spent sitting in the loom getting that job done.  I encourage people to find out what I do and then see if anything resonates with them.  I do NOT expect everyone to to it 'my' way, but by gaining an understanding of the principles of the craft, knowing how their equipment works, choosing yarns that are appropriate to the function of the cloth they want to make, they may find that they get more enjoyment out of the time they spend making that cloth.

And if not?  No worries.  Do what brings you joy.  Use the tools that fit nicely in your hands.  Weave the way you want to do.  But maybe, just maybe, a different process/tool/loom might work better, reduce frustration, and make the whole thing more pleasant.

If you want to find out what I do, I can be found at the School of Sweet Georgia  or my books here.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Shoulders of Giants


As a new weaver, I was keenly aware of how little I knew so I bought books.  Lots of books.  Books held knowledge and I wanted to learn.  Even though I had an in-person class in weaving, it soon became apparent that it was going to take a very long time to even begin to scratch the surface of what might be learned.

Eventually I focused on a smaller section of the craft so that I could take a deep dive into aspects of cloth making that particularly interested me.  And, of course, maybe earn some money by doing so.

As the years went by I had the opportunity to learn from many different weavers, sometimes in person.  I carefully saved my pennies so that I could travel to conferences or workshops to learn more.  The thread of knowledge from those elders (they were mostly older than me) was palpable and I felt the continuity of the passage of knowledge from one generation to the other, especially as I sought out more books.  If a book had a bibliography, I made sure to pore through it and frequently dropped off inter-library loan requests at my local library.

At one point I met the librarian whose job it was to search out the titles people requested and arrange for them to arrive.  I apologized for making so much work for her.  She immediately perked up and said that she loved when I brought in my request slips because my requests were never ordinary and that she had to really use her skills.

After that I never hesitated to ask for whatever I was looking for, especially when I started researching for my master weaver monograph.  

As part of that research I was able to fine tune what I wanted to do and really focus on something I felt would be of benefit to others.  And then, out of that effort, grew Magic in the Water.

It is now my privilege to pass on what I know to others.  I have entered the 'elder' zone, by dint of my age, if nothing else.  But I also feel that I know things, things that other weavers maybe would benefit from.

Talking to a few other weaving teachers, all around my age, we are all scrambling to cope with a pandemic and yet still reach out to students.  After months of feeling really crappy, wondering if I could go on, I decided that I must continue.

The trip to Vancouver next month will allow me to meet with Felicia Lo and her team to discuss further how we can continue to spread knowledge in the face of a pandemic that just doesn't want to let go (in spite of politicians telling us covid is over, believe me, it isn't.)

Time will tell if I will be counted as a 'giant', but that was never why I have done what I have done in my career.  The messages I receive from weavers who thank me for sharing what I know is enough.  But already I hear people refer to Magic in the Water as a 'classic' in the field and I see it re-selling for the same price I charged in 2002.  Sometimes even more.

In the meantime, I have The Intentional Weaver, in which I tried to distill as much of what I knew onto the page (link at the bottom of the page), and continue to work with School of Sweet Georgia to provide on line content.

As soon as SOS is ready to start airing my lectures, I will certainly let people know.  The first will be A Good Yarn - because we need to understand the inherent characteristics of our materials so we can make good choices.  (Primarily geared towards weavers, the principles apply to other textile crafts as well.)

In two weeks I will know if I will have less pain to deal with.  I appreciate your well wishes and suggestions for treatment.  In many cases I have already tried the suggestions and they proved to be unhelpful.  But it's nice to know so many people are thinking about me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Making Plans


Is that a light at the end of the tunnel I see?  Time will tell.

For the past few years I have been dealing with a number of health issues, which compounded have seriously impacted my life and how I live it.

I've tried everything I can think of and finally may have found some help.  I even have a date by which that help will be delivered.

Doug and I will drive to Vancouver to see a pain doctor who was very helpful and sympathetic on a Zoom appointment two weeks ago, who will do a nerve block on my spinal nerve.  Or at least that's the plan.  

Frankly I had no idea any such thing was a possibility or I sure would have looked into it sooner!  But now I know, and I seem to have found a very good doctor to do it, even if it does mean an 800 km drive to get down there - and then back again.

When shingles hit in January, I nearly gave up even trying to get 'better'.  If I were the inflatable punching bag toy my brother had, and who took great delight in knocking  over, I'd plum run out of 'flate'.  I didn't know if I could even pick myself up again.  

Shingles, on top of everything else I'd been dealing with - just barely - was the cherry on the pain pie and I honestly didn't know if I could keep on, keeping on.

I think the ONLY thing that got me through the first few weeks of shingles was the fact that the very same day I got the diagnosis, I had gotten a phone call from the pain doc's office wanting to book an appointment for me.  I had to postpone, but it was a slender little shoot of hope, that if I could get through shingles, I might have some help for the rest.

The pain doc gave me a clear assessment of what she thought was going on in my body, gave me a suggestion for pain control for the neuropathy in my feet, but also said that she would consider me for a nerve block for the pinched nerve.  This morning her office phoned and we booked a date for the in person exam.  From the way the person on the phone was talking, it sounds as though - after seeing the CT scan results - the doctor will go ahead and do the nerve block

Dear reader, I might have less pain beginning next month.

Constant pain is a suck on a person's energy, mood, ability to think.  Every decision has to be filtered through what you think you can manage on any given day.  I'm used to constant low level pain since I've had it most of my life, but the past few years has been an enormous challenge.  

For far too many, chronic health issues are an impediment to living.  If you know of someone dealing with any kind of chronic ill health - and in the wake of Covid, that list will grow - please understand that sometimes, as much as you wish you could do something, you just can't.

If you believe in such things, please hold me in your hearts April 6.  I really REALLY would like to get some of my life back.  I would like to keep teaching for a while yet, and to do so knowing that I won't be laid flat by the end of the class.

Monday, March 21, 2022



Progress.  It's a thing.

Progress comes in many forms, from the tiniest to the largest sweeping advances and everything in between.

Weaving is full of ways to measure progress.  

Every piece of woven cloth is measured, in multiple ways, multiple times.

We can focus only on the 'big' steps, or we can appreciate every little step along the way.

Life is also about progress and can similarly be measured in small increments or large ones.

Weaving looks 'simple' - and in many ways it is.  But it is also complex beyond imagining.  And each person can choose which approach they decide to take.

For years, decades, I measured progress in large increments.  In completed warps.  In numbers of items made, ready for sale.  I planned out months ahead, weeks, days.  But I also measured out quarter hours.  Got 15 minutes?  Wind bobbins.  Choose yarn for next warp.  Do quick n dirty inventory and start building a yarn order so there would be yarn on hand for the coming months.

Got 20 minutes?  Start working on another article to submit for publication.  Design project to illustrate it.  Or take photos for it.

Got 30 minutes?  Do some inspection/repair, get load of textiles into washing machine, press damp towels.  

Got an hour?  Weave.  

Now that I am no longer producing for sale as my focus, my attention is more on the smaller chunks of time.  I don't plan so far into the future.  But I am still aware of my long range goals and make sure that I have what I need when I get there in a few weeks/months.

And so last week I inspected my yarn stash of 2/16 cotton.  I counted up how many (partial) tubes of the 2/16 cotton, did the math and realized I didn't have enough of the white to finish weaving off what was left.  Last night I ordered another 16 pounds.

What I am left with is a whole lot of red, a significant number of different shades of beige and a much larger number of cones (different supplier) of a kind of turquoise.  It's a good thing that colour is among my favourites because there is going to be a whole of of weaving of that particular colour coming up.

The guild is participating in a Gourmet Show in June and my tea towels will go into their booth.  Hopefully some of my towels will sell.  Checking the calendar, and the size of my hemming pile, I started hemming over the weekend and now my progress on that is measured in how many towel ends I manage to do in an evening.  Given I weave about two towels a day, I have to hem more than two a night or I'll never catch up with myself (as my mother used to say.)  

Now that I'm feeling better, I find myself enjoying getting back into the rhythm of hemming.  Grab towel, pin, thread needle, stitch, stitch, stitch, then tie off.  Rinse, repeat.  It was quite satisfying last night to see how much the hemmed pile had grown over just a few evenings of getting back into the routine.

Progress.  In weaving that can be one thread at a time, or entire warps.  Time to celebrate the individual steps, not just the completed hike.

Sunday, March 20, 2022



The English language - with too many words, and too many words taking on multiple meanings.

So what does it mean when someone calls a cloth 'balanced'?

Well, that's the thing - what aspect of the cloth are they referring to?

I frequently design fabric that isn't identical on both sides of the cloth.  So it is with this one.  The sheds are all 7:9.  In other words, the ratio of threads raised and left down is not 'balanced'.  I do this for several reasons - I like the effect of having the two sides being somewhat different but also?  I lift fewer shafts making the physical effort to weave less.

But 'balanced' can also refer to the number of warps and wefts - are they equal?  Then we might call that 'balanced' as well.

This particular warp is weaving up fairly evenly with the twill angle very close to 45 degrees, in the loom.  But the warp has some light tension on it, so it is stretched.  When this warp comes off the loom and is wet finished, I expect the twill angle to be somewhat less than 45 degrees, which will mean the warp/weft ratio will not be 'perfect'.  Therefore, it will not be 'balanced'.

Does it matter?  

We have 'standards' and 'ideals' for a reason.  They give us something to aim for.  To encourage us to hone our skills, work to expand our knowledge.  But ultimately the 'test' of any cloth (to my mind) is - does it fulfill its function?  Does the tea towel dry dishes?  Does a shawl keep me warm?  Does a scarf keep my neck warm and add a splash of colour during the winter when things (here, at least) are generally shades of white/grey/black?

If you can't be 'perfect' be consistent.  And understand that some words have multiple meanings and why so many answers to weaving questions begin with 'it depends'...

Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws motif, sheds are 6:10 ratio - the other side of the cloth is white with green motif.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

March Snow


This morning we woke to wet that turned into snow.  Welcome to March where I live.

This week I got the next warp into the loom and started weaving.  I'm pleased enough with how it's going but realized that I still have a lot more yarn than I figured and that I am going to need to order in another 16 pounds of 2/16 white in order to finish weaving the rest of the dyed 2/16 cotton I own.  That means that I will have white 'left over'.  Not a big deal - I can always weave white on white.

But I also have a bunch of other fine yarns so it is time to go rummaging in the nooks and crannies of my studio, pull out the rest of the yarn I want to weave up and start thinking about how those might look.

Yesterday I started working on the next draft for when the current warp is done.  Since I average two towels a day and each warp is giving about 21 or 22 towels, it won't take long before the current warp is finished.

There is quite a lot of darker value colours left and I find block designs more pleasing with such high contrast warp and weft, so I messed about with a draft I found in Ars Textrina, changed the tie up to 'rose' fashion instead of 'star', then messed with the borders at the selvedge until I had something I was pleased with.  I still have to crunch the treadling to make it 'fit' my tea towel length, but after spending an hour at the computer, I decided to leave that until another time.  I don't actually need the draft ready until the next warp is beamed, after all.

Today is kind of wet, chilly and nasty out and I'm quite happy to return to the loom and weave my second towel.  I've got 4 yellow and white ones done and will do a more mid-value mint green next.  The motif will actually show while I'm weaving it which will be nice.  If the mint green is as far into a darker value as I want to shift, the rest of the warp can be finished in beige.  I've got at least 4 different shades of 'beige' that also need using up.  And most of those are more nearly used up than the red, rose, darker green so it would be nice to clear my shelves of more tubes of yarn.  I'm going to ignore the orange entirely and donate that to...someone who appreciates orange?  

Currently reading Tamora Pierce and really enjoying the textile references.  I'm on book 3 of the first series and we have already put the next four on hold at the library as we are both enjoying them.

Friday, March 18, 2022



In my quest to use up my yarn, I decided to use yellow on this warp with this design.  It's quite difficult to weave insofar as the contrast between the yellow and white is...not a lot...and when I'm sitting in front of the loom I really can't see the design at all.  In order to see this much of it, I had to side light the cloth, and even so, it barely shows in the photo.

However it does show up quite nicely when seen from the side so I'm confident that it will look quite nice once it is woven and wet finished.

And that's the thing, isn't it?  Sometimes we just have to go on faith.  Or previous experience.  

This motif was taken from Ars Textrina, from the old German weaver's pattern book, adjusted to fit my warp changing the design from 12 shafts to 16 (effectively enlarging it), then I used my own preferred tie up and selected 'weave as drawn in'.  Then I messed with it so that the design would be 'balanced' (same both ends of the cloth) and added hem areas.

So not exactly original.  

Elizabeth Zimmerman, a well known knitting designer and educator, coined the phrase 'unvented' as a way to acknowledge that we pretty much build on what has gone before.  It also allows the possibility that someone, somewhere, might have also come up with a particular design and we've just wound up at the same place they have.

I'm pleased with the results - so far.  I did find a threading error while I wove the header, but frankly, it's pretty much impossible to tell if there are more.  There are areas where it *looks* like something is amiss, but those picks are consistent so I'm assuming it's fine, just a feature of the way I'm weaving it.

There are areas that are weaving 'lacy' which should make these towels quite absorbent and provide some texture, so even if the design can't be easily seen, there will be lots going on with it.  And why I'm thinking a high contrast weft might not be the best choice.  I might try a rose, but that will be pretty high contrast and I may not like it as much.  

But whatever I do, the tea towels will dry dishes.  And the yellow is very spring like - reminding me of daffodils.

It's all good.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Breaking the Ice


When I found out I had shingles, I'd just cut the last of a warp off the loom and had about 20 towels ready to be hemmed.  Thing was, I couldn't see properly.  My left eye was so swollen up I could barely open it and I went from having poor depth perception to...none.  The hemming pile languished as I continued to deal with watering eyes, eye drops multiple times a day, not being able to see well enough to trust I could actually hem.

Even after I could weave again, it was different - I didn't need to be able to focus clearly.  Most of my weaving skill is so ingrained that much of it is done by feel anyway.  The big challenge was threading, but by then I could manage to see well enough that by taking things slowly and carefully, I was able to do that part.

I got the diagnosis mid January and here we are in mid March and the hemming pile has grown to the point where I was feeling pressured to begin hemming.  Two weeks ago the eye doctor gave me a schedule that would begin cutting back on the frequency of putting eye drops into my eye and last night I looked at the pile of towels beside me, thought about the two bins with yet more, AND the new warp that is now ready to weave on and...picked up a towel and started hemming.  

Since I now have a three hour window in the evening without drops I think I will begin to feel able to hem again.  

We are participating in a gourmet 'show' in May and that will be a good time to have tea towels, so I'm feeling like it's about time I dug into the hemming and got these latest ones finished, finished.  

The gourmet 'show' is a new event in our town and there is a chance it will not go very well in terms of sales for the vendors.  But the guild is going to take a booth anyway and see if people will come and spend money on handmade textiles - I'll just have tea towels and place mats/runners.  Other guild members will bring things to sell as well and it might go very well as covid restrictions have been lifted (again).

Personally *I* won't be working the sale although I will likely help get the booth set up - masked, of course.  Doug will offer to do shifts if needed.

But I am still immune compromised, and since every level of government has basically told people like me that we have to do our own risk assessment, mine is to stay away from crowds of people who will not be wearing masks.  In the post office the other day, which has signs all over the place saying that masks are still mandatory, half of the people in there were not wearing them.  They were still maintaining 6 feet of distance, but it was indicative of how many people just aren't going to bother with any kind of mitigations, even if they are still 'required' in certain places.

So I guess I continue to avoid all public events, continue to isolate.  

In the meantime, I continue to weave as much as I can.  We are also working on the next content for SOS with the first lecture the first Wednesday of May about fibre characteristics.  Now if I could only figure out why I cannot share my laptop screen.  I have some administrivia to deal with today so it might be tomorrow before I feel up to tackling Zoom.

However, I have new inventory of tea towels in Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws coming soon and my weekly ko-fi towel was posted on Monday.  And people can always email me to ask about specific colours.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022



So I've been having an issue with Zoom recently and I'm not sure how or why.  When I screen share to show my Power Point presentation, I can't get the proper 'slide show' view to share from my laptop.

Today a friend logged onto Zoom with me and we rummaged around trying to figure out how to make it work, and eventually found a half-arsed way of doing it, but no matter the buttons I pushed, or in what order, every time I would tell Power Point to change from the editing format to a 'proper' slide show, the screen would stop sharing.

If I got back into the edit format, I could then show the slides, but with the screen much reduced in size because the toolbars were also showing on the screen.  Because of course they were.

This is very annoying.  People viewing the class on a small screen see an even smaller screen, making it hard to view what I'm trying to show them.  

One solution is to have a different computer run the slide show, but that means I can't point to certain features in the slide and I can't control the advancement or the back tracking if I want to go to a previous slide.

My next step is to log onto Zoom's website and check through all the options to see if something got toggled or switched off.

It's been a frustrating day in many ways, not helped with the clouds of dust in the air triggering my allergies resulting in a low grade headache and just general level of irritation with Everything.

Oh well.  The next warp is ready to weave.  I've wound bobbins.  Selected weft colours - and changed my mind several times.  The treadling is designed and I'm pleased enough with what I have planned.

And the sun shone nearly all day, which was also welcome.  But now it's time to begin dinner, so I'll leave weaving until tomorrow.  And hope I didn't make any threading/treadling errors.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Ides of March


Halfway through March.  It's been a long year already.

In many ways I am feeling a lot better than two months ago when I was told I had a severe case of shingles.  But I find myself still without energy or desire to do much of anything.  I expect the time zone change has contributed to that.  I'm not affected as badly as some, but it's always been a time of adjustment for me, this springing ahead, falling back business.  I had hoped that our province would stop doing it but covid and now world events are sucking up all the attention everyone has and minor things like time zone changes seem pretty petty to be annoyed over.

But spring seems to have arrived.  This morning Doug was woken by a woodpecker using the metal vent on our roof to announce his arrival.  Once they choose a signal spot they tend to come back each day at dawn and claim 'their' territory so Doug will try and dissuade the bird from using it.  We used to have one that would ring the metal hood of the street lamp, but the city replaced the old light with a new, smaller one.  Perhaps it's too small to use or it doesn't 'ring' nicely enough for him.

Yesterday I got the next warp beamed and started to thread it before I crashed and burned and needed a nap before dinner.  I keep reminding myself I'm officially 'old' and 'retired'.  No need to beat myself up if I don't accomplish what I set out to do.

It looks like enough yarn is left on the tubes to wind one more warp before there isn't enough to do another so I'll carry on.  I'm liking the next threading draft, which I cadged from Ars Textrina, adjusted to meet my needs.  Then I'll set the 2/16 cotton aside for a while after the next warp until I decide if I order more of the natural white.  I still have quite a lot of dyed 2/16 left, plus other yarns that need using up.  So, probably.

For me, life will continue as it has for the past two years.  As mask mandates are repealed, covid continues to float around so I'll be isolating even more than I had been when the mask and vax proof mandates were in force.  My goal is to NOT catch covid.  I've been sick enough with shingles, I don't need to prove to myself my immune system is badly under performing by catching covid.  So places I used to be able to go may now become more challenging if no one is wearing masks.

Fortunately I'm ok with being on my own and I do have lots of on line friends I can chat with.  So I will continue with my isolation from crowds and wearing a mask.  And hope that the optimists are correct and covid is over.  

Today's goal is to finish threading, sley and tie on the current warp.  Then choose weft and wind bobbins.  Who knows, maybe tonight I'll feel like starting in on that gigantic hemming pile.  Sixty plus towels are patiently waiting for me to deal with them.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

'Right' Angle


The photo is a little deceiving - the twill angle in the towel is 45 degrees, but between the paper being a little bit curved and the textile having a bit of a bump in it...

Anyway, when one is weaving, the warp is under tension which means the warp is being stretched.  Therefore, during weaving, the objective is NOT to have a perfect 45 degree angle while the web is in the loom, but to hit 45 degrees once it has been cut from the loom AND wet finished.

I have to admit I didn't work very hard to hit 45 degrees.  Instead I tried to be really consistent in my weaving, especially in beating the weft into place.  Truth be told, I rarely check the angle of the cloth while I weave it any more.

Frankly there are too many distractions right now and I'm too weary to fuss much about being 'perfect' for a tea towel.

But as I have been wet finishing this series of towels, I'm feeling enough better that I began to wonder if I'd managed to maintain any kind of consistency while I'd been feeling so poorly, so I grabbed one of my angles and put it onto the cloth as I was folding them up after taking the towels off the drying rack. 

 I checked a couple different towels, and so far as I could tell, both were pretty close to 'perfect', hitting that 45 degree angle.  OTOH, the square motif wasn't entirely 'perfect' with 4" in length and about 3 7/8" in width.  But I only measured the square next to the selvedge, and sometimes dimensional loss will be greater close to the selvedge.  Just eye-balling it, the square motif looks 'square'.  I'm not going to break out in a sweat because they are off by 1/8th of an inch over 4".

I'm actually more pleased with these two colours than I expected (the other is a pale yellow/beige) because while on the loom the colours looked quite insipid.  After wet finishing, they look much better (imho).  And I managed to clear the yarn off of more tubes, so win-win!

I have also just crunched the draft for the next warp and will go down and strip the warp off the Megado and set up to start beaming the warp.  There is still time today to get the warp beamed, if I don't dilly-dally.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Another One Bites the Dust


I wasn't exactly sure how many towels I would get off of this warp - it depends on the length of the repeat.  Turns out, it was 22.

I was busy with a Zoom guild presentation this morning, but my energy held and I wove one towel after lunch, then went back down after a wee break and a snack to see if there was warp left for two more towels.  I was pretty sure there wasn't, and if I could cut it off today, that would make me feel very happy.

So I finished off the towel and lo and behold, the knots were just coming over the back beam.  

I have just now cut and serged the six towels and they are in the washing machine.  I'll get them through the dryer until damp yet today, then let them 'steep' in a plastic bucket overnight so that they are evenly damp for best pressing.

Recently someone on line was asking about what size reeds they should have, or could you double up the number of ends in a dent?

Yes, you can double, treble or even quadruple ends in a dent.  I've even done 5 and 6 when working with really fine yarns.

The above photo shows the beige towel just cut off the loom and the red one which has already been wet finished.

In the before towel, you can clearly see the reed marks marching through the length of the towel.  They looked even more obvious under tension on the loom.  But after wet finishing, the threads have moved to areas of least resistance - the gap where the dent moved through the warp - and filled it in.

Sometimes the marks will not disappear entirely, but they will be diminished if not eliminated.  If I look really closely at the red towel, I can still see slight gaps between the threads, but stand back a foot or two and they basically disappear.

If you don't have a reed that allows you to be consistent with the number of ends in the dents, you can do what is called a compound sleying such as:  221221221 or 232323 or any other combination that will give you the density that you need for your project.  Many books have charts in the back showing various combinations, or look on line as a number of weavers have posted charts for people to access.

If you can't be 'perfect', be consistent.

Currently reading the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce.  The first book has spinning, and now magical weaving.  I'm enjoying the series very much.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Knowledge and Wisdom


In many societies, it is recognized that the elders of that society are repositories of knowledge and wisdom.  Not that you can't be wise 'beyond your years', it's just that people who have lived for a long time have had the chance to gather knowledge, make mistakes and find out how to fix them.  And so, many societies protect their elders so that they can continue to teach younger people and pass their knowledge on to the next generations.

So it is with weaving and other fibre crafts.

We have been living in the midst of a global pandemic where literally millions of people have died (over 6 MILLION AND RISING) and many more laid low with Long Covid.  After two years of isolating, cancelling group activities, like workshops and conferences, people are fed up.  In Canada over 90% have at least one vaccine, more than 80% have two or more.  People are tired of isolating, no in person events, and anxious to 'return to normal'.  Forgetting that for some of us, 'normal' is not going to look anything like the Before Times.

Because along with being older comes higher risk of catching a virus like Covid.  And for elders with compromised immune systems or underlying conditions that make us more vulnerable to serious illness, up to and including death, we will have to keep protecting ourselves.

I have agreed to teach level one weaving in Olds in June.  This month Alberta, along with several other provinces - including my own - are removing covid mitigations.

In BC not only are mask and vax proof mandates going away, THEY WILL ONLY REPORT CASE NUMBERS ONCE A WEEK.  So people like me are being told to do our own risk assessment as they remove the very means by which we could make that assessment.

Just off the top of my head I know other fibre teachers who will be putting themselves at risk to travel to and teach at in-person events.  

Auto immune diseases.  Diabetes.  Cancer.  Organ transplants.  Cardiac issues.  And so many more.  There are lots of fibre teachers who are living with health issues that make them vulnerable.

If you or someone you know is planning on an in-person teaching event in the near future and the instructor is requesting that students wear a mask?


Or risk killing off the highly knowledgeable at risk teacher you so much want to learn from.

Olds College is the only in-person class I have agreed to teach this year.  With all mitigations in Alberta going away and the province taking away the right for venues to have covid mitigations in place, all I can do is request that my students wear masks in my classroom.  I will provide masks for my students if they would be kind enough to want to protect me and my knowledge and don't have any with them.  If they do, then I will feel safe enough to remove mine during the lecture portion of the class.  I will bring a room air filter.  I will not eat in the dining hall or any of the local restaurants.  I will forgo shopping in the vendor hall or going to the lecture.

If I have to protect myself like many of the provinces are telling me, then please - help me do that.  If you want me to continue teaching, it is the kind thing to do.  For me, but also any other people who want to learn what I know.

Otherwise, I am continuing to present information on line.  I have several guild programs booked in the coming few months and work is on-going with the School of Sweet Georgia.  More content will be available in May, July, September and November (lectures) with two more workshops scheduled for taping in October.

I'd really like to be alive and well enough to do them.  Because while I might survive, I might be too sick with Long Covid to teach.  

Thursday, March 10, 2022



As a production weaver I have always had a rather large store of yarns.  When I was weaving to sell, I needed to have yarn on hand, in sufficient quantity that I could design new items and put them into production, with no down time.

Over the years I got good at either anticipating needs, or having alternate things I could work on while waiting for a yarn order.

When I 'retired' (for certain values of) I anticipated heading in different directions and looked forward to experimenting and diving into weaving in fresh, new (to me) ways.

But before I felt able to do that, I wanted very much to get rid of my production yarns.  It's a goal I've been working towards for literally years now as we complete year two of the pandemic and begin year three, I am about 3 years into my 'retirement' stash busting focus.

I have made progress, don't get me wrong, I really have.  My box of empty cardboard tubes attests to that.  The box is actually more full than this photo, taken a while ago now.  And my shelves are showing signs of a reduction in my inventory of yarns.

But I'm no where near close to using it all up, not by a long chalk!  And in the meantime, my pile of completed textiles continues to grow.

Right now I have the better part of 3 warps worth of towels to hem with more coming off the loom.  I have enough yarn for (probably) two more warps that will yield around 21-22 towels each.  

But I'm still dealing with watering eyes and by the time I'm ready to sit down and hem, I really don't much want to.  So the piles grow.

However, slow progress is happening with shingles healing, I have an appointment with the pain doctor in Vancouver (or will have as soon as the office phones to book it) and some suggestions for lessening the pain I'm experiencing in the meantime.  I'd hoped for a more positive outcome, but less pain is less pain, and I'll take it.  

Bottom line is that I have to accept my reality, find coping mechanisms, and accept that I'm not as young as I once was and things change.  Including my body.  It's taken nearly 24 hours to process the information I got from the doctor and begin to move forward.  Accepting where I am means I can begin to plan how to do that.

As covid continues, I will continue to risk assess and make decisions based on my compromised immune system.  If the pain doctor can't do anything more than give me coping mechanisms, I will have to learn to live with them.  

In the meantime, while I wait for the in person exam, I have yarn to use up, and shingles to deal with.  Seems like my lifetime of coping with multiple things, multiple goals, multiple 'deadlines' is not over.

Today my goal is to weave two towels and press the 8 I wet finished yesterday.  And keep using up my yarn.  And continuing to work at getting weaving information 'out there' for new practitioners to learn how the craft works.


Sunday, March 6, 2022

All Things Being Equal


huck lace boxes, not wet finished (loom state)

This morning I am about to go do a Zoom presentation on lace weaves.

Coming to understand how lace weaves work, the challenges involved in weaving them, the dynamics of how the threads move and shift, were a watershed time for me.  I spent hours and hours doing drawdowns - by hand on graph paper because there was no weaving software at the time and if you wanted to have a graphic representation of how the threads would move through the cloth, that was how you did it.

I learned a lot.  Like a *lot*. Way more than I expected when I set out to do the drawdowns.  The more I did, the more I learned.  

The photo shows something that people frequently don't understand - how the number of interlacements will affect the beat.  The areas of plain weave do not beat in the same as the areas being woven in lacy fashion.

Another thing that people don't seem to understand at first is where the 'holes' actually form.  It was only after doing countless drawdowns, then weaving the cloth and comparing the two that I really understood the dynamic of threads moving to areas of least resistance and having those holes form.  

While I can explain these things, I do believe that each person needs to do some drawdowns, then weave the draft and then after wet finishing compare the two.

Lace weaves are one of the categories that really depends on the wet finishing to bring the cloth to it's final state.  While I advocate that weavers wet finish all of their webs, some just have to be wet finished because they depend on the threads deflecting from their rigid straight lines.  They need to deflect from the grid.  Like waffle weave, honeycomb, deflected double weave, and so many more.

Lace weaves will beat in unequally - unless the weaver exercises care in how they place the weft in the web.  I will sometimes ensure that there are areas of cloth that will weave only plain weave and then use those areas to monitor my beat, to make sure it is as consistent as possible.  

I won't claim that my lace weave fabrics are always 'perfect' - ie equal epi/ppi.  But if you can't be perfect, be consistent.

Saturday, March 5, 2022



As the world turns and continues it's trip around the sun, we are seeing signs of spring beginning to appear.

With treatment of shingles also ongoing, I am up around 8-8:30 or so and the sun is currently rising around 7 am and beginning to shine through the fan light in the front door.  Soon it will be rising so early I won't see this sight again until autumn and the return of the sun to the south.

I read a tweet thread this morning, a fictional book editor complaining about the plot for a submitted novel which dealt with the events of 2022.  "Too many plotlines" the editor pointed out.  "Readers won't be able to follow the story!"

We are all completely overwhelmed right now.  It is easy to get lost in the plotlines.  To feel confused, powerless, frightened, with all that is happening, right now.  And it's only the first week of March.

But spring is coming.  The world continues to turn.  The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.  

For now, life for me continues.  I am slowly getting back into some kind of schedule that is keeping me going while I continue to deal with shingles, eye drops, tablets, isolating to try to avoid catching another virus - especially covid.

I keep weaving down my stash, making more tea towels.  Waiting for these 'interesting' times to be resolved, one way or another.  Of trying to reach out and teach, even if only on line.

But I also try not to forget that I have the privilege of being able to do these things.  And that the sun *will* come up tomorrow.  

And that spring *will* arrive.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Spring Sale!


This morning I had a bit of a surprise in my inbox:  Blurb announced  that it was having a rare public sale where they would give a discount of 25% on books.

So from March 4-6, you can use the code BOOKFAN and get 25% off.  I'm not sure the code will work for the PDF for magazine formats (Magic in the Water is magazine format).  If you were thinking of adding The Intentional Weaver to your or your guild's library, now might be a good time?

Just sayin'...

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Now, More Than Ever


In many ways, hand weaving tea towels seems futile, like spitting into the wind, given the current events happening.

In many ways it feels like an act of subversion - doing something as meaningless in the grand scheme of things as hand weaving a tea towel when the whole world seems to be headed for hell in the proverbial handbasket.

But I have no power to change the course of history.  Zero effect on what is happening anywhere in the world.  The only power I have is to live my life, the best I can, however I can.

So yesterday I got to the loom and wove two more towels.  There are four of these turquoise towels and now I will change colours, to a mid-value greyed blue.  I think I have enough yarn for 4 of those.  If I run out I can either polish that tube off and finish the towel with a different dye lot.  Or toss what ever is left after weaving 3 blue towels into my 'recycle' bin.  Where I put tubes too empty to weave something, too much to toss.  And I give them to friends who might be able to use them.  They won't go to waste.

Today I have appointments.  In fact this week marks the beginning of my returning to 'normal' (whatever that means these days.)  I have appointments and zoom presentations throughout March and beyond.

I have contacted another speaker for the Sunday Seminars and have a couple others I will contact in the coming days to bring the series to a close in October.  Whether or not the series continues remains to be seen.

Registration for the Olds master weaving program opened today and I have plans to teach level one - IF there are enough people signed up and IF covid isn't in a 6th wave. 

I hope to get some physical issues 'fixed' (for whatever level of 'fixed' can be managed) over the next couple of months which will make weaving and teaching easier and less exhausting.

We have begun work on more content for Sweet Georgia's School of Sweet Georgia and if I go to Vancouver in April, I hope to meet with SOS to work out details of what will come next.

In the face of current events, now more than ever, I have to keep thinking about the future.  I have to keep planning, and working towards focusing on creativity and positivity.  There is enough 'bad' news in the world.  I have to sow my seeds in hopes that some will take root, and grow.  If we give up and don't sow seeds, then nothing will grow, right?  So cultivate hope.  Keep being creative.  Keep doing something to better the world, even if it is just one tea towel, one hand knitted sock, whatever brings comfort if not joy, during these oh, so interesting, times.