Thursday, June 30, 2022



The rose bushes along the public pathway are gone now - but not forgotten.  And I still have the photo I took with my cell phone a few years ago.

Grief is a tricksy thing.  We know that we grieve over the loss of loved ones, be they human or pet.  To grieve over the loss of a living being that held meaning for you is accepted.  Normal.  Expected.

We we also grieve over other things, to a greater or lesser extent.

Expectations dashed.  Events cancelled.  Failures.

Some people deal with the failure of their bodies and how that failing body impacts their quality of life.  What they can actually do.  Or not.

There are many ways to grieve.  And many things to grieve about.

So, me.

Accepting that I cannot teach in person anymore.  The long journeys, the time zone shifting, the stress of the travel - will I make it?  Will my BAGS make it?  Will I never again experience the glow in the eyes of students who 'get' it, AS they get it?  Their elation at understanding.  Their anticipation of continuing the journey.  The sheer joy of learning.  Improving and feeling competent instead of clumsy.  

So I hesitated when I got home.  I'd made the decision.  But had I been hasty?  Given another year of aging (and who knows what *other* health issue that may crop up in that 12 months) could I actually, effectively, go back to Olds?

So I waited.  I waited to see if my body recovered from the journey.  I looked up how covid was doing.  I thought long and hard.  And today I took a deep breath and notified the college that this year would be my last year.  Which should give them ample time to find another teacher.  If they even start working on it now.  

But now it's official.  Notice sent, and accepted.  I'm done.

However I am not done with teaching entirely.  I have been working on the classes for SOS and am just about ready to sit down with scratch pad and start making notes.

But a big chunk of me is sad.  So I am giving myself space to grieve.  To focus on my current students, both Olds and SOS.  To reassure myself that I *can* still teach, even if it isn't in person.  I am still knowledgeable.   Still capable of crafting a lesson plan and working out filming details.  I can still answer questions.  Seems I can write technical issues fairly well.  

So I grieve.  But accept that it is time.  And I'm not *quite* done.  Yet.  And I can still help students.  Encourage them.  Give them information.  Resources.

Grieving is not a do it and you're done.  It's a process.  And it will take time for me to set my disappointment aside as I reduce my activity horizon once more.  While I am 'able' for now, my ability to do the things I've done for 40 years is diminishing.  And in the end?  It's ok.  And I will find the joy in this new way of teaching.

Because I'm not done yet.  Quite.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Trimming Plates


As I move forward, life has become a matter of trimming the spinning plates.

In 2019 I stopped doing craft fairs and travelling to teach (other than Olds).  When the pandemic hit we were already in the process of downsizing - getting rid of my off site storage and work site, getting rid of equipment, constantly re-arranging the studio to try and fit everything that had been stored off site into my studio.

Gradually I stopped doing other things, like offering articles to publications.  Not that I didn't still have things to say.  It was mostly feeling like I'd already said everything over and over again and with the stress of the pandemic and my health I simply didn't have the little grey cells to write something that I'd already covered multiple times in several different formats.

To use an 'antique' phrase...I was feeling like a broken record.  (If you are below a certain age, I'm quite sure you have no idea what that means - just understand that I was tired of repeating the same thing over and over again.)

My personal stance has always been to try and bring something 'new' to the craft.  So I began looking at the principles that illustrate the bones of the craft, rather than just tell people what to do.

If you give someone a fish, they eat for the day.  If you teach them how to fish, they can feed themselves.  Especially if you give them the tools to do it.

In weaving, part of the 'tools' is understanding the principles.  And then they get to decide how to express those principles in their own way.

When I chose to retire, I thought I would dig into the weave structures that were too 'time consuming' for me to explore when we relied on my work to bring in an income.  Instead I had no brain power to do anything except the tried and true.  

With deteriorating health, I also began to feel the pressure to get rid of my yarn stashes.  Instead of exploring, pushing boundaries, digging deeper into the craft, I was focusing on using up the yarn that I already earned.

After two years I have used up one shelving unit of yarn, in one room, and several shelves of yarn in another room.  Over the weekend, I emptied three boxes of yarn (2/20 mercerized cotton) and once I finish the current warp and do one more with the 2/16 cotton, the plan is to pivot to using the 2/20 and weave the fine linen - and any other fine yarns suitable for tea towels - I already own.  And believe me, you get a lot of play value for very fine yarns!

From time to time I get an email from Handwoven with their up coming themes.  I read them, decide I don't really want to submit something and hit 'trash'.  I've just sent an article to the Guild of Canadian Weavers that I was asked to provide and which should appear in an issue of their Bulletin.  I've written a yarn review for Sweet Georgia, which should appear on their website soon.  I've offered to write more but they haven't let me know what kind of content they are looking for.  And I'm too busy right now to think about it.  But I'm sure that I will.

Yesterday I did a lot of thinking about the next class for School of Sweet Georgia.  By the end of this week I should have things organized in my mind about the content and how to go about presenting.  I worked out one issue that was puzzling me and I think it will work.  It should make it possible to do that class in one day, by recording out of order.

I found my lace samples so I don't have to re-weave those, but I will do a sample with a new-to-me yarn.  It's thicker than I would ordinarily choose for a lace weave, but that same thickness will be easier to see on camera.  

And then I need to think about projects to go along with those classes because they like to offer an actual project to help their students learn the lesson(s).

But as I take a good, long, hard, look at my studio, I see where I still have months, nay *years* worth of work to actually use up my stash to the point where I can be free of that obligation to use it up, not leave it for Doug or my friends to deal with when I'm gone.  Or simply unable to weave anymore.

While I would love to be able to keep weaving into my 80s, there is no guarantee that I will live that long.  Like Bonnie Raitt sings, time becomes more precious, the less of it you have.  

My father died age 56, my brother 51.  Mom lived to 90, but the last 5 years were fraught with health issues.  I'm already having health issues.  I may not have many more years of weaving left in me.

Don't pooh pooh me - I'm not being morbid, I'm being realistic.  Because of that, I can make plans accordingly!  

So I will continue to trim the spinning plates.  I will give my body rest time.  But I will also do what I can to weave and teach weaving.  Until I can't.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Dust Settles


This is an old photo of part of my woven 'stash'.  Over the years, my various stashes have been moved around, shifted from place to place, while I tried to tetris more stuff into the same amount of real estate.

Earlier this month I participated in a guild sale so most of my tea towels got boxed up and moved to the venue, then moved back here when it was over.  But while that was happening we were *also* getting ready to leave for Olds and so those boxes continue to sit on the floor while I try to figure out what's next.  Goat trails are beginning to appear again...

Now that we are home from Olds, there are yet more bins/boxes filled with stuff that I need to deal with.  Do I keep?  Give away?  Trash?

While at Olds I gave a very large box of woven samples to my teaching assistant, who said she was delighted to have them.  I hope they are useful to her.  They are no longer useful to me and it was time to let them go.

I'm at the 2/3s mark of the current warp with the next 2/16 warp designed.  So another 7 or maybe 8 towels to weave and the current warp will be finished.  And then the last (for now) 2/16 warp will go into the loom.  That won't *quite* use up all of the 2/16 (and 16/2) yarn, but will will come very close, indeed.

But for someone who is 'retired' (for certain values of) I still have a shit tonne of inventory left.  I have taken to giving more of it away, primarily to my health care providers - because they are keeping me alive and able to weave.  They deserve something more...personal...from me.  I think.  

The guild has several more sales opportunities over the summer, then the big craft fair in the fall.  

And in the meanwhile, I keep churning out more tea towels.  Because it is a lot easier to get rid of finished textiles than bits and pieces of tubes.

While I'm working on 'finishing' the 2/16 cotton, I am beginning to examine the lesson plan for the recording in October.  I've emailed some questions to the team and expect to get some feedback soon.  In the meantime I keep thinking, slowly, in the back of my mind.  Not ready to pull those thoughts out into the light quite yet.

It was not an easy decision to make, to stop teaching the Olds program in Olds.  But my body was adamant that such long trips were no longer feasible.  For either of us.  We are both getting older (better than the alternative, amirite?) but still.  Lugging boxes around, carrying them up the stairs, shoving them into the back of the van, unloading at the other end, then reverse it all going home?  Time to stop.

But I'll tell you one thing for free - I am going to miss the personal interaction with people as they hit an ah-HA moment.  And that moment of discovery, of sudden knowledge, I will miss being a part of that.  Very much.  

The next best thing is to keep working with School of Sweet Georgia.  And so far they seem to want to do that, so...

This week is busy with appointments and meetings, but I'm letting the sectional beaming class content swirl around in the pot at the back of my mind, and I should be about ready to start pulling that one together by next week.  I figure one day of taping that if I plan it out efficiently (as in out of chronological order - have fun editor!) and perhaps two days for the lace weaves.  I need to really sit down and think through the content and how best to present that topic.  Again, there may be some out of order taping to challenge the editor.

In the meantime I still have my reluctant body to encourage to keep going.  I have made a commitment to SOS for two years.  After that?  I'll have to see how things are going.  By then I'll be nearly 75 and frankly, when I started weaving, I figured 75 would be the limit of my ability to do much of anything - weave, or teach.  So...time will tell...

This week is time to let the dust of the past few weeks activity settle and rest, then hopefully return to the planning, thinking, analyzing, thinking, writing, more thinking, in preparation for the Next Big Project.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

A Good Life


An unexamined life, they say, isn't worth living.

Well, about that...

I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't think about life, and stuff.  Maybe because I read?  I dunno.  Maybe I read because I wanted to understand.  I wanted to think things through, and it helped me do that when I discovered how other people think things through.  And really, a book (or other forms of story-telling, including songs), are really just how other people have thought things through.

What can I say?  I was curious.  About everything.  I wanted to know.  I wanted to understand.  And I especially wanted to understand MY role in this world.  My life.  Did it have meaning?  Well, maybe.  Maybe not.  

I wanted to understand other people.  What they did was always driven by why they wanted to do it.  What was that wanting?  That desire?

To be perfectly honest after 70 plus years of living and asking myself these questions, not just of others, but of myself, I have no answers.  Zero.  Zip.  Nada.

But I think it helps to stop and think before we act.  Think ahead to consequences.  Think about how our own actions will impact others.

Because we are not on this planet all by ourselves.  What we do, the decisions we make, the actions we initiate?  They will all, in one way or another, affect another person.  They can affect our environment.  On a micro level, our actions may only affect ourselves.  We think.  But there are realities beyond our own that will also be impacted.

So I find myself, from time to time, thinking.  I may have a very vague notion of what I want to know and my thoughts meander here, there, everywhere.  As I think, I gather more information.  I accept some ideas, reject others.  I gather more information.  Change my mind.  Adjust what I am planning on doing.  Examine the consequences of those decisions.  Gather more information.  Change my mind.  And continue my meandering in the corners and corridors of my own mind.  Long before I grab a paper and pencil, I may have already considered 10, 20, more, options until I have selected the ones that *might* give me a result I can be happy with.

Am I talking about life here, or weaving?


Because my approach to weaving, creating a textile, is the exact same process I have used on my life choices since as far back as I can remember.

And believe me, I remember as a young child making some really awful choices.  And I remember the consequences of those choices and how badly I felt after being caught out.

Do the best you can until you know better.  When you know better, do better.

We make mistakes.  It's part of the growing process.  It is part of becoming an adult.  It is part of living.  Don't be afraid to make mistakes.  Acknowledge them.  Apologize to any who have been negatively impacted by them.  But an apology isn't enough.  What can you do to repair the damage you have done?

The only difference between life and weaving is that you have not harmed another person with your mistake.  You have simply not gotten the result you want.  You can begin again.  You can learn from your mistake and do it over again, this time with more knowledge.  And hopefully come closer to your desired results.

Personally I have been going through some difficult decision making.  The trip to Olds was in part an opportunity to see if it was feasible for me to continue to make the 11+ hour journey to Olds to continue to teach the program.

But I'm not in my 30s now.  I am hitting 72 in 3 weeks (approximately).  I came to weaving with physical injuries, and by careful monitoring of my physical effort I managed to keep my body weaving for 40+ years.  

In point of fact it isn't the weaving that I cannot do (although at a much reduced rate) but the other things associated with teaching.

In 2019 I made the very difficult decision to stop travelling long distances to teach, other than the Olds program.

This year has shown me that I must now let that go as well.  It is time for me to accept that the effort involved in collecting the equipment, teaching samples, etc., getting it all loaded up into the van, then driving approximately 500+  miles, standing up in front of a class for 5 days dumping information into brains like water from a firehose, then packing up and driving that 500+  miles home no longer possible - IF I AM GOING TO BE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO TEACH IN OTHER WAYS.

The stress of dealing with the possibility of catching covid on the journey or while away from home was, quite frankly, huge.   We stopped only for gas/pee breaks, Doug grabbed food from fast food places and we ate in the car.  We did not eat in the dining hall or any of the local restaurants.  I brought a HEPA filter for the classroom and fortunately we had a room with a window we could open for ventilation.

And every single person in my class wore a mask to help protect me (and each other) just in case.  Very very few others wore masks and I hope to hell no one caught covid on campus or in the community or their journey there and home again.

But that's the thing.  You can't see a virus and you just don't know.  And it isn't over yet, nor will it be if people do not stop the spread of the virus.  We will continue to ride this deadly roller coaster as other viruses crop up and also spread.

My body told me loud and clear on day 4 that it could not, would not, do this again.  Not without making me pay for it.

So I am throwing my future efforts to teach behind/with the School of Sweet Georgia.  They have booked me for lectures (every second month - about two hours of information overload), plus they have asked me to create two more classes for them.  Now that I am home, the decks will be cleared and I will begin working on those.  I have 3 months to get them done, and work with their team to make the creation of them happen in a 3(?) day window where once again I will be facing a very long drive (9 hours) in order to get there.  

I am fortunate in that Doug is willing to do the driving and the heavy lifting.  But I have to accept that I am not immortal, and my body is broken and worn out after years of working hard plus injuries.  And the time comes to everyone to accept, adapt and adjust.  

When my mother was told that her end date was nigh, she looked at me and the doctor and said - I've had 90 years, 85 of them were good. I was more than a little astonished that she could look back on her life, with all the troubles and travails that she lived through and come to the conclusion that she had had A Good Life.  As I turn 72 next month, I can say that I have woven a life through weaving and it has mostly been good.  While I have some regrets, wish I had done some things differently, I think that the good outweighs the negative by a large measure.  And by taking steps now to accommodate my injured and worn out body, I will be able to continue to weave, to teach, to think.  

And that sounds pretty good to me right now, despite the sorrow I feel in what I have to let go.

Stay tuned for what comes next if you want to ride shotgun with me as I try to figure stuff out!

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Road Trip


Heading east we saw the top of Mount Robson, which is usually covered in a cap of cloud.  

We made the journey in 11 hours, barely stopping along the way.  It was lovely to see the mountains again, but my body just doesn’t travel well and I knew I was facing a hectic week.  

And so it was.  Hectic.  Intense.  Pressured.  Firehose.  Lots of anxiety, but also?  Willingness to learn. To try.  To see what happened, when…

But I just don’t have the stamina anymore.  The only reason I was able to cope at all was because I had an assistant who jumped in and helped answer questions and assist the students.  And naps.  I took naps at lunch.  

Tomorrow is the final day so I decided to start packing up tonight.  With two helpers it didn’t take long.  There is still more but the bulk of it is ready to be loaded up tomorrow after class. It won’t take long to finish up and move out.  And return home Friday.  

And the students go home to tackle their homework.  

I have a busy week when I get home and then the focus will be on the next classes for the School of Sweet Georgia.  And keep weaving tea towels.  

Keep on keeping on.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Road Trip


getting the kitchen stuff for the townhouse ready - cooking utensils, food, etc.  Yes, the stack of plastic bins is full of food and kitchen things

Class supplies and equipment - yes, everything in this photo except the loom and the spool rack is going into the back of the van

Getting ready to teach at Olds takes times and effort.  Quite a lot of effort.  

This year is especially difficult because of Covid.  So I have cut back on a bunch of things I would normally bring, and added in more equipment.  The less the students have to leave the classroom, the 'safer' it will be.  For me.  But also for them.

What isn't in the photo is the room air filter.  We are bringing our personal HEPA filter for the classroom.  I'm hoping to get a large classroom, but with a smaller class (9 as of last email from the college) I expect we will be in one of the smaller rooms.  However, the smaller rooms do have windows that can be opened so we plan on having windows open, door to hallway closed with the filter running 24/7.

In addition, there will be masks for anyone who wants one and we have accumulated some rapid tests if anyone wants to test.

Given my compromised immune system. we will eat in the van, not in a restaurant during the 11 hour drive.  If the weather is nice we can sit outside, but it looks like potential for rain.  At Olds we will not be eating in the dining hall or any of the local restaurants, so we have to make sure to bring cooking pots/pans, utensils, dishes and as much food as we can.  We have a couple of large cooler bags, and Doug will go to the grocery store for things like meat or fresh veggies.

I have my N94 mask which I will be wearing.  Given the lifting of most mitigations I may not feel safe enough to remove my mask - at all.  

Because people keep telling us that we must do our own risk assessment.  Given the close quarters with 10 other people (I have a volunteer teaching assistant), and many of them travelling long distances to get to Olds, I am leery of the students encountering covid during their journey and arriving with an unwelcome passenger.

I had hoped that by now we would be in a trough, but as of this morning the 'trough' was still too high for my comfort.

So this year at Olds is going to be extra stressful for me because I have to meet the needs of my students, but I also feel the need to keep me, AND them, safe as can be.

The good news yesterday was that my eye continues to heal, but isn't quite there yet.  It's been 5 months of aggressive treatment.  The last thing eye doc said to me was "Don't get worse!" and that she wants to see me again in 8 weeks.

However, she has cut back on my eye drops, which will make teaching a lot easier.  I can now schedule them for non-class times.  

Today Doug will finish packing up the dry goods and we will both work on our personal stuff.  He is picking up a couple of books on hold for me at the library and then I will pause the rest of my holds until we are home again.  I hope to get a lot of reading done on the trip.

Our house minder has the keys to the house and will take care of things while we are gone.  Doug has cut the lawn so it shouldn't need anything until we are back.  Our housing at Olds has been arranged and Doug has a stack of books to read, too.  Fortunately he can entertain himself because I am going to be BUSY and then too exhausted by the end of the day to do much of anything except veg.  I will bring the bin of hemming, just in case I feel able to at least do that.  

This year Olds will be bittersweet.  Sweet to teach.  Bitter at how stressed I feel given my compromised immune system and the risk of covid. 

OTOH, I have some nice things planned for the week after I get home - a friend asked if we could do a Zoom catch up (yes, please!) and a weaver has asked to talk to me about the business end of weaving (yes, of course), plus the guild is trying to get a social organized so we can discuss the future and how we can move forward with events for the members, given the continuing presence of covid.

Living with covid means protecting our vulnerable members, not tossing all mitigations to the wind and telling everyone to just 'get over it'.  

Currently reading Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby van Pelt.  This is her first published novel, the first of many, I hope.  

Monday, June 13, 2022

Economic Reality (TMI?)


promotional material done for the gift show we used to do

Yesterday I posted about the fact that my weaving income would not qualify as a 'living' and someone asked if it had ever been our 'living'.

The fact is that technically, for about 9 years, we had no other income than weaving.

Would I call it a 'living'?  I suppose so.  Except that for that entire 9 years our combined income was below the Canadian level of poverty.

So living?  Technically yes.


We had no children.   When the dog died we did not replace it.  Because we couldn't afford the vet bills and food.  We have universal health care, which meant we didn't have to worry too much if one of us got sick or needed health care.  We did still have to pay for medications, but not the doctor or any hospital stay.  

We had both grown up in low income families and knew how to pinch a penny multiple times before spending it.  We stopped buying season tickets to the local playhouse.  Stopped going to concerts.  Took no holidays.  ALL of the trips we did in that 9 years (and before and after) were business related.  And hardly 'vacations'.  (Except for the year Doug's mom was dying.  He went down to see her and talk with his sister about what needed to be done for their mother on several occasions.  But those weren't 'vacations', either.)

My work day would generally begin at 1 pm (I took care of personal errands and appointments in the mornings), and continued until 9 pm - or later depending on deadlines - with breaks for dinner and to rest my aching muscles.

Doug did much the same.

He wound 100 yard beams on a second warp beam while I wove down the one on the loom.  He did inspection on my work, marking any issues that needed to be repaired.  He wound pirns on the industrial pirn winder.  He did pretty much all the wet finishing of my product including the pressing.  He repaired my equipment, made improvements, built small tools or other things, like craft fair booth structures.  He travelled all over BC and Alberta to sell to gift shops and did the craft fair circuit - Prince George, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, while I stayed home, wove, shipped him inventory as things sold.  Then he would come home, do laundry, pick me up and we'd do Edmonton together.  By the time we got home mid-December we were exhausted.  Only to begin again.  Then we added in the biggest gift show in western Canada, where he would go, write orders and I would begin planning my production schedule based on what he'd sold.  We promised six week delivery and then we had to scramble to fulfill those orders.  He nagged customers to remind them payment was due.

In my 'spare' time I wrote for publication.  I worked on the GCW tests.  I even taught workshops, at first 'locally' where I drove, then flying, which meant 6 am flights going, midnight returns.

For at least 8 months out of the year I was weaving approximately 240 yards of fabric, at 20 or 24 epi, ranging between 14 to 24 ppi.  My minimum daily goal was 10 yards of fabric woven.  With the next beam ready to go when the current warp was woven, my turn around time on a 49 or 60" wide warp at 24 or 20 epi was 24 hours.  We would swap out the empty beam for a full one, I would thread (60 inches at 20 epi or 49 inches at 24 epi), sley, tie on and be weaving again.

I took care of scheduling, inventory control, ordering yarn in advance of needing it (mail order from Quebec to here was about 10-14 days).  Doug took care of pulling orders and boxing them up for shipping while I did the invoicing.

Doug repaired the washing machine and dryer several times because we couldn't afford a repair person and he had the skills.  He maintained the loom and other equipment, made sure the vehicle was in working order for the regular 500+ mile trips he made while I borrowed a vehicle to get to the bus depot to deliver the latest shipment to the fashion designer.  Eventually my mother pretty much just handed me the keys to her car when she knew Doug would be out of town.  And she took to taking us out for a meal once a week and then I would drive her to her medical appointments and shopping, in the morning on my 'personal' time.

I had to budget very tightly because income was not guaranteed.  It varied according to the season and how many people bought my stuff at the craft fairs.  So at the end of the year, I'd have money and then I had to figure out how to make it last until June when we started getting income from the orders we wrote at the spring gift show.  And of course all those shows we did in the autumn?  Wanted their money/down payments by April.  With zero income until Oct/Nov/Dec.

I tried to book teaching gigs between Jan-June as a way to keep a little money coming in, submitted articles to magazines.  And if I had a few days, working on the GCW tests.  Which also required a financial outlay of yarns for the test samples.

Until I had to 'fire' Doug and told him to go find a job where he could actually cash his paycheque.  Because by that point the market for my line of place mats and table textiles had collapsed and there simply wasn't enough money coming in to pay him a 'wage' and cover the costs of running the business.

I kept going for as long as I could but in the end had to take time off to recover from burn out.  And reassess my life and work as a weaver.

In the end I decided that I had to keep weaving.  After about 20 years being self-employed I was pretty much useless as someone else's employee.  And I slowly began re-building my life - and business.

We are now in our 70s and due to some good luck (so to speak) and good planning we are in a position where we are managing, even on our tiny state pensions.  We still pinch pennies several times before we spend them.  We don't buy season tickets, but before covid had been splurging on concert tickets - usually as birthday or Xmas gifts to each other.  We no longer go out for meals because of covid, but will bring a meal in once a month.

And through it all, I was able to weave.  Good health.  Bad health.  Chronic pain (from injuries prior to taking up weaving, then repetitive motion stress *from* weaving).  

For me, weaving was never a hobby that morphed into a job.  It was my profession from day one.  Only now can I say that it's a 'side hustle'.  Because I have multiple stashes to use up - my teaching stash, my writing stash, my production stash, my 'ooo - I want that yarn to experiment with' stash.  

I am facing up to the fact that while I can still weave, the writing is on the wall.  There will come a time when I will no longer be able to.  My body has been rode hard, put away wet, far too many times.  

In the meantime, my goal is to teach as many people who want to know what I know as I can.  So I gear myself up for the stress of teaching a very intense 5 day class where I will be on my feet far too long.  And recognize that it may well be my last time.  And then I will focus on teaching online in hopes that people will learn and be able to go forward in the direction they want to go with fewer problems.  Because weaving is full of physics and if you don't understand the physics, you will constantly run into problems.  I don't usually use the word 'physics' though, just talk about principles.  Somehow people seem less reluctant to learn principles than physics.

But understanding is what I hope to help people achieve.  And where they go beyond me, I will watch and support.  

So yes, weaving has been my life.  But economically?  Not so much a living, but a passion that, once found, I could not deny.  And that is why I never stopped but kept finding new ways to earn an income, keep going, pay the bills, pinch the pennies.  Weaving a Life.  

Sunday, June 12, 2022



Recently I was asked to talk about my journey as a weaver.  Thinking back over the past 40+ years brought back many memories.  Too many to include in what was meant to be a short 'article'.  I've written - something - and now need to choose photos to go with it.  I can choose three, although they may not use all of them.

And, true to form, I went over the word count they wanted.  Not by a lot, but still...

Discovering weaving was a huge turning point for me.  At the age of 24/5 I was looking for work that was a lot more satisfying than what I had been doing since graduating high school.  I wanted something with an element of creativity.  Something where I could make my own goals and priorities.  Something other than office work, which felt like it was sucking the life right out of me.

Add to that the fact that my father was in the late stages of terminal illness and I was made all too aware that life is short, sharp and not to be squandered if that could be avoided.  So yes, there was a part of me that wanted to make some sort of positive contribution, some how, some way.

To say that the universe worked really hard to get me in front of a loom would be an understatement.  When I look back it all seems so clear that events kept pushing me in that direction.  Kept bringing me opportunities to learn more about it.  

One of the things I recognized right from the beginning was that to earn an income* by weaving I would have to work hard.  Really hard.  I would have to get right out of my comfort zone as an introvert, because I would have to market myself and my textiles.  This was probably the most challenging aspect of being a weaver in the 20th and 21st centuries.  I've gotten pretty good at it but it's still not really very comfortable.

But the actual weaving part?  That, too, is hard labour.  Really hard.  In my prime I was throwing the shuttle approximately 10,000 times a day, some days more than that, if I were under the pressure of a critical deadline.

I wove my own designs, of course.  But I also wove for other weavers, and for 9 years I wove for a fashion designer.  That was probably the most challenging part because there was no (or very little) creativity as I wove to her specifications and I wove under extremely tight deadlines.  She would fax me instructions and expect me to get the fabric onto the bus that day or the next.  And sometimes she would change her mind part way through the day and change her instructions - after I'd filled pirns enough to weave the original faxed instructions.  And I'd have to stop, fill pirns with different yarn, then weave like the wind to get the fabric woven.  

But!  She paid me well and for those 9 years I had a steady income* which allowed me to do other things, like work on the GCW test program, do my own work (in between her warps), travel to teach, write articles.  It was no different from working as a temp office worker and I was actually still weaving and getting paid for it.

There is no perfect 'job' anywhere.  Every job has aspects about it that require one to just get on with it.  Things that I would rather not do, but need doing.  Plod.

And no matter what I wove, I paid attention.  My 'plodding' became a working meditation, where I was watching what was happening in the loom, and - for my own work - what happened in the wet finishing.  (I didn't do the wet finishing for the fashion designer, she had someone else to take care of that.)

As I slowly shrink my efforts, I think - a lot - about my journey.  I think about how many days I went to the loom in pain.  I knew that if I could get weaving the physical activity would generate endorphins and the pain would be less.  That is still true today.  

I came to weaving with injuries and consider it a 'win' that I was able to weave thousands of yards of cloth in spite of those injuries.  I learned how to minimize further damage.  How to work ergonomically and efficiently.  And much of that was because I was willing to plod.  Willing to work hard.  Willing to learn.

So as I pack up for Olds, I think about these things.  And I aspire to pass on some of what I've learned.  Because in reality we all learn in our own time, the lessons we need to learn.  My journey will be different from every other weaver who comes to me to learn.  But I also know at least 3 other weavers who have had similar paths to what I have taken.  And every one of them agrees:  weaving is hard work if you are doing it to make an income.*

*note that I say 'income' not a 'living'...

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The Persistence of Water


My mother always used to ask me where I got my 'bull-headed-ness' from.

Pot calling the kettle black but also?  There is the persistence of water.

Astrology tells us that people are born under certain signs.  Mine is Cancer (the crab) and I'm 'water'.  While I don't ascribe to much of what astrology says is true for people born under these signs, in some ways I do.

Take persistence.

When I grab hold of an idea it takes a lot to get me to let go.  Very crab-like.  When obstacles arrive in my path, like water I seek a way beyond them.  Sometimes that means I divert my course of actions around.  Sometimes I go under.  Sometimes?  I simply rise up and go over.

As I look back on my life, I see how many times I have approached my career in weaving with just this strategy.  Just keeping on, keeping on.  Wearing away the obstacles.  Tunneling below, slipping around, or pulling on all my strength and energy to rise up and simply flood them out of my way.

This is not always a good strategy.  I did a major burn out/depression doing just that.  I hated to let go of something I'd invested a lot of time, effort and, yes, money into.  

When I finally sought help, the doctor said that it will take the exact same time to recover as I spent digging that hole I'd dug myself into.  And she was right.  During that nearly 18 months of recovery I spent a lot of time examining my tendency to persist.  Persist until I'd buried myself in health issues.  

So now I try to remember that lesson.  Yes, it's good to have a plan.  It's good to have an alternate plan if the first plan doesn't work.  It's good to persist.

But when the well of energy runs dry, it's time to stop.  Maybe let that project go.  

So it was with my second self-published book.  I let go of it multiple times as I dealt with other things, like the house renovations, my mother's ill health and death.  And my own ill health.

But apparently it was meant that I complete it.  I just needed to conserve my energy and stop and rest, replenish when I ran low.  Eventually it would start reminding me of all the work I'd put into it already and if I just kept on going, I'd have a book.

In the end, the persistence of water won out.  And I have two self-published books.  I also have 40+ years of teaching, writing, weaving/selling my textiles.

Now I'm hitting another milestone in a month and coming to realize that my well of energy/water is not able to replenish as quickly as when I was younger.  A sign of aging.  A level of acceptance I am working on.

And yet, I persist.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Shoulders of Giants


In many ways I consider myself a self-taught weaver.  But if that were the only part of my truth, I'd be ignoring the work done by my ancestors, my mentors, the teachers I learned from along the way.

But in many ways, it is *also* true that I learned a lot on my own.  Does that mean no one else before me didn't also learn the same lessons?  Of course not.  It just means that weaving is vast and it is complex and there are a multitude of things to learn.  And sometimes?  We need to figure things out for ourselves.

But it helps to be able to stand on the shoulders of giants - the ancestors that lived, worked, and figured things out before we came along.

It will likely sound rather egotistical to declare that in many ways I have gone far beyond many of my teachers when it comes to *some* aspects of weaving.

But there are also great gaps in my knowledge, where I know a little bit, but not nearly enough to be considered any kind of 'expert'.  I won't list them - they are far too numerous.

And that's the thing.  Weaving is vast.  Weaving IS complex.  And learning can continue for so long as an individual cares to carry on with their digging, their experimentation, exploration.  Learning.

One of the reasons I want to keep teaching (for now) is to take people who have the basic elements, who have taken the time to begin to learn the language of the craft, and want to fine tune what they are doing.  To grasp the principles and better understand the craft.

My personal interests in the creation of textiles continues to be ergonomics and efficiency.  I continue to explore the aspect of wet finishing, particularly fulling.  I have, in fact, arranged to run an experiment during my time at Olds to see if something I have heard has any teeth to it.  I have a 'partner in crime' who jumped at the chance to help with the experiment and it may be fodder for at least a blog post if not something more extensive.  Time will tell.

Mastery of a craft is not something that someone achieves and then they are 'done'.  Mastery is the spring board by which an individual can continue to peel back the layers of complexity and learn more about a craft that is thousands of years in the making and as a 'modern' weaver I can only imagine what my ancestors have done.

Because the archeological record is threadbare*.  Textiles made from organic materials return to dust and eventually the only record we have is the impression of the fibres in things like clay.  Or in tiny sculptures (the Venus goddesses).

So yes, I have a piece of paper that says I'm a 'master' weaver.  Am I done learning yet?  No.  Absolutely not!  It is one thing that keeps me getting out of bed in the morning.  And I love that some of the weavers I know are ready, willing and able to jump into the experimental pool with me.

I also love seeing new weavers fall down the rabbit hole.  I would just like to remind new weavers that while in large part they will need to create their own learning journey, please remember to avail yourselves of the shoulders of the giants that came before us.  Pay attention to what has been done.  It may - or may not - be applicable to your own practice.

Pretty much every experienced weaver I know sees their students surpass them in some way and we applaud.  Because the life so short, the craft so long to learn (paraphrasing Chaucer).

*pun most definitely intended...

Tuesday, June 7, 2022


 The bugaboo of so many weavers - their selvedges.

2:2 twill

16 shaft 1:3-3:1 twill

16 shaft fancy twill

New weavers will often times get tangled up in the fact that their selvedges are not 'perfect'.  They hear that there *must* be a plain weave interlacement at the selvedge or it's 'wrong'.  Or that there cannot be any draw in.  Or you have to pluck your selvedges (and then wonder why the selvedges break).  Or you can't possibly get good selvedges if you don't have a floating selvedge.  Or use a temple.  Etc.

Sometimes people will ask on a group how to get 'perfect' selvedges.

Sometimes I'd like to just point them to the thousands of words I have already written on the subject.  Because just like with everything about weaving, the reason why selvedges are 'bad' depends.

There are multiple reasons for selvedges to be 'bad'.  And new weavers who don't understand this want a magic potion solution.  There isn't one.

Getting 'good' selvedges doesn't depend on one answer because there are multiple causes.

Sometimes it's the yarn.  An elastic yarn will behave very differently from an inelastic one.  What process does the person use?  How consistent are they in applying it?  Do they understand the role of tension in warp preparation?  Or in the weaving of their cloth?

So if they don't give an example of how their selvedges are 'wrong' there isn't much I can say other than play 20 questions with them.  Or point them to my previous writing.  Or my bookOr my on line classes.

So, to new weavers who are having issues with 'bad' selvedges?  Pay attention to what you are doing.  Then, one by one, try different solutions.  Perhaps the warp was beamed with too little tension.  Or you are weaving with too little tension on the warp.  Or too much.  Or too much draw in.  Or not enough.

Or, or, or...the list does go on.

Sometimes the solution to 'bad' selvedges is in dressing the loom in the first place.  So it doesn't matter what you do while you are weaving.  You have to FIX THE PROBLEM THAT IS CAUSING THE ISSUE in order to get different results.  Applying 'bandaid' solutions won't always work because the problem happened before you started throwing the shuttle.  Sometimes it is the throwing of the shuttle.  And on and on.

If you don't want to pay someone for their expertise there are plenty of weavers who have written extensively about this issue - because it keeps being a problem.  I've linked some of my blog posts on selvedges in the first sentence of this post.  You can read what I've written here for free.

But each person must do the work of figuring out what is happening, then changing what they are doing to solve the problem.

A lot like life, honestly.

(Other 'experts' you might like to pay attention to:  Jane Stafford, Janet Dawson, Jette van der Meiden - spelling may not be correct, sorry), Peggy Ostercamp.  Each of us has unique experiences and may have different solutions to try.  Because we weave different things and have different perspectives.  Above all keep trying.)

Sunday, June 5, 2022



I'm down to the last 1/3rd of the current warp and it was time to get the next warp ready to weave.

So I played around with the threading I had generated, messed around with it, made sure the threading draft had the required number of ends, flipped the repeat to make it easier for me to thread, tried a couple different tie ups, then generated the treadling to include hem areas.

I thought long and hard about whether or not I liked ending the motif in the middle, thought about what it would take to re-do the draft *again*, decided that I could live with it as is and re-named it from the original file name to Four Leaf Clover.

During the week I had also messed with condensing the draft down to 12 shafts and 8 shafts, although the 8 shaft version didn't look like much.  (This was as much an exercise to see if it *could* be done on fewer than 16, less that I would actually weave it on fewer.)

But I have something I can live with now, and since about 1/2 of the next warp will be woven white on white, the pattern will be subtle to the point of invisibility for the most part.

But I'm ok with that too.  Subtlety can also be attractive.  And the towels will work to dry dishes, so...

My goal for today is to weave two towels.  I'll be using the 16/2 teal - and making sure I run the filtered fan to extract as much of the fibre dust out of the air as I can.  Doug corralled the last herd of dust buffalo upstairs, but I do try and keep as much fibre dust out of the air shed of our home as possible.  

Things are about to get 'busy' chez nous with the Gourmet Fair set up this weekend, and no sooner are we are done with that it is time to start loading the van with the Olds class supplies.  But I'm hoping to finish the current warp and get the next one into the loom before we leave.

Currently reading Named of the Dragon by Susanne Kearsley.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

June 2022


On Facebook today, someone posted a reminder that we should stop and smell the roses, even for just a moment.

This photo was taken a few years ago.  The rose bushes were planted alongside the public pathway and when I was able to, I would make a point of taking that route through the neighbourhood.  The roses didn't have a heavy fragrance (which suited me just fine, being allergic to most fragrances) but the bushes would be covered with an abundance of flowers in all stages of bloom.  And it always lifted my heart when I would see them.

Well, the gardener living at the house outside where these were planted sold and moved away and the very next year ALL the rose bushes planted alongside the pathway had been chopped down.  And now all I have are memories and a few photos to remind me that things are transient.  Things come and then they go.

We are living through 'interesting' times right now and while we are in the midst of the turmoil and uncertainty it feels endless.  It's stressful, not knowing from day to day, week to week, month to month, where were we will wind up.  So much of what is currently happening in the world is so far beyond my control that it feels useless to even try.

But even in the midst of uncertainty and turmoil, there is still the possibility of beauty.  Happiness.  Contentment, even.  Just because so much of what is happening is awful, doesn't mean that we can't take a moment, now and then, to smell roses.

Or weave a tea towel, if that's what brings contentment.

I mentioned to a friend that with the Olds class coming up very soon I am conserving my spoons in hopes of making it through the teaching week.  And of course, once I'm home from that, I have to focus on preparing for the two online classes I'll be doing for SOS.

At least I found the lace samples I so carefully (not!) 'put away in a safe place'.  So that has eased my mind.  I won't now have to reweave them!  They got buried in a bin and once I opened the right one and started sorting things for the Olds class, voila, there they were.

I have a rough idea of what I want to do, but that isn't good enough for the team.  They can't open my brain box and figure it out - I have to sit down and write up a step by step guide to navigate through the taping.  If it will be more efficient to tape out of order, I need to make note of that, too, so the editor can get the sequences in the correct place.  And I have to have all my samples prepared, documentation written, ready to be posted to the website.  It all has to come together for launch day, early next year, I'm told.

Someone posted a graphic of a triangle labelled work with about the top 10% indicated as what the world sees, compared to how much work it took to present it.  

I could only nod in agreement!

But I have come to the realization that in order to accomplish what I want to do, I need to carefully dole out my 'spoons' of energy/attention.  

Getting to the loom a couple times a day keeps me centered and reminds me to pause and take a little enjoyment, a little pleasure in my day.  It's my version of 'stopping to smell the roses'...

Don't let the brokenness of the world overwhelm you.  Stop and smell the roses - whatever that means to you.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Details, Details


After I messed with the 12 shaft version of the draft for a while I decided I wasn't happy with it and made one 'small' change.  The V progression between the motifs was reduced so instead of running from 12 to 1 and back, I shortened it to 12-6 and back.

Now the emphasis is more on the 'flower' and the diamonds between the motifs more 'background'.

It was a small change but one that allowed the motif to be more obvious, and more flower like.  More in keeping with the 16 shaft version I will be using.

I am also thinking of revisiting the 8 shaft version.  

Sometimes it is the little details that make - or break - a design.  Sometimes I need to reflect on what I am seeing and what I *want* to see.  Then I need to analyze how to change the sequence to get closer to my intended end result.

Will I ever weave this?  Probably not.  I have 16 shafts so I might as well use them.  :)  But sometimes it's good to work in areas to see if you really are understanding the structure of a weaving design, then modify it.  

These little flowers look more like pansies to me.  If anyone with 12 shafts weaves this, I'd love to see how it looks woven.

If you can't make out the threading from this draft, email me and I can send it as a .wif or .dtx format draft.

Remember to adjust the draft for your yarns and width.  No provision has been made here for borders. 

Thursday, June 2, 2022



Today we are having our 4th covid vaccination and there wasn't time to go weave a towel before we have to leave, but too much time to 'waste'.  

So I messed around with the current draft.  There were elements in it I really liked and I wanted to see if I could break one of them out and make something with it.

After about 30 minutes of messing about, I came up with this one.  It still isn't quite ready to weave, but it won't take much longer to add in the selvedge borders, then extend the treadling to make a tea towel length sequence, including borders at top and bottom, enough for hems to be turned under.

While I actually named this 'snowballs in July' (original draft), by the time I got this far it is now more four leaf clover than snowball.  But that's ok, it doesn't really matter what I call it, just that I remember what I called it when I go to use it.  :D

Frankly it isn't really the same as the bit of the draft I liked, but once I'd cut it out of the rest of the threading progression, it didn't repeat well on it's own.  So I'll be going with this one.  Because who can't use a little more 'luck' in their lives?

And yes, I may re-name it Four Leaf Clover.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022



I saw this plaque at a craft fair I was participating in and suggested (rather strongly!) that it would be greatly appreciated as a gift.  

In places with no good people, it says, be a good person.

Today I saw a Tweet that asked if 'you' were the most famous person in your graduating class.  Well, last weekend was 'my' class reunion, which I didn't attend, even though I still live in the same town I grew up and graduated high school from.  Because covid.  And because I have not kept in touch with very many of the people I went to high school with.

Instead a couple of them came here to have a visit, which I very much enjoyed.

But famous?  I doubt anyone in my graduating class would consider me any kind of famous.

What IS famous, anyway?  Some attention in the media or on line nowadays.  Usually people who are considered 'famous' are entertainers, or athletes. 

Usually those people are young and considered beautiful by some changing societal standard I've never quite understood.  Frequently their degree of famous will depend on things other than their talent and the media makes a great big to-do about their love life - or lack thereof.  Or in the case of women, their bodies.

When I think about the people I went to school with, most of us graduated, got a job of some kind and set about living our lives.  We had no aspirations for 'fame' - or most of us didn't, anyway.  I know for a fact that all I wanted was to be as happy as I could be.

In the end, happiness for me depended on my being able to be creative.  Through a series of coincidences I wound up at a loom and knew I'd come home.

So if you were to ask anyone in my graduating class if *I* were famous, I doubt they would even remember me.  Or if they did, they might remember me from the volunteer work I did - the school paper, working on the annual, pitching in to help with school dances, even the grand march from the old school to the new one - in February.  Fund raising for various school events.  Etc.  But famous?  None of them would think so.

OTOH, if you were to ask someone in the weaving community?  You might get a very different answer.  Or not.  Because I doubt very much I'm 'famous' in the way we measure fame in this society.

Did I set out to be 'famous'?  Hardly.  That was not an ambition to me.  Because fame comes from the outside, not the inside.  'Fame' is generally fleeting and focused on the superficial.  

Yes, of course there are exceptions - such as Dolly Parton - who became famous, but quietly set about helping her people, spending her earned money on raising the standard of living in the area she grew up in and encouraging young people to get an education, take pride in themselves when no one else did.

Yes, she is famous, but I celebrate the fact that she has done more for her people in Tennessee - and beyond - than any single politician in that state.  I would say that Dolly Parton is a Good Person who also happens to be famous.  There are very few around.

If I had kids, I hope I would have steered them away from doing stupid things just to be noticed.  I hope I would have been aware enough to help them focus on values.  On how we have a responsibility to not be jerks to others.  To be kind.  To be 'good'.

Seems like lately too few have gotten the memo.