Wednesday, August 31, 2022



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2022



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

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

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

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

Like today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Counting the Days


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

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

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

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

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

Sweet Georgia Yarns

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

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

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

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

Just like weaving.  Or life for that matter.

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

Monday, August 29, 2022

Far From Ideal


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was making a difference.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Another Sunday


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 26, 2022

Shoulders of Giants


Master Weaver Certificate holders and their monograph topics:


1955      Mary Black:  Tartans and Mary Sandin:  Linen


1958      Nell Steedsman:  Two Frame weaving


1959      Grace McDowell:  Box Loom Weaving


1973      Adrienne Whitelaw:  Ceinture Fleché


 1975      Mary Andrews:  Fundamentals of Weaving


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


1979      Judith Rygiel:  Stitched Double Weave


1980      Eileen Shannon:  Point Twill Treadling Variations


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


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


1990      Sandra Fearon:  Shadow Weave Design


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


1992      Valerie DePorto:  Design Dynamics of Multishaft Swedish Lace


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


1994      Margaret Hahn:  Opphamta


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


1997      Laura Fry – Transformations:  Fulling Handwoven Fabrics


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


2001    Ruth Jarvis:  Ramie


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


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

A Pause for Reflection


I posted this photo of myself to FB a couple of years ago.  It reflected where I was at that moment in time.

An elderly (yes! elderly!!!) white woman, in want of a hair cut (covid!), feeling tired, dealing with...too much and barely hanging on by a thread.

Since that time things have gotten even 'worse' with a severe shingles outbreak and continuing deterioration of my body.

My spirit is wrestling with my physical and that can be exhausting at times.  Because there are things I would still like to do, things I would like to accomplish, so many things!  And my body has finally put it's foot down (how appropriate given the pain I feel on a daily basis is in my right foot/leg/hip) and is loudly saying NO!  

Talking to others in my age bracket, we are all dealing with the same (ok, I'll use it) shit.

We are looking at a life that has been long and fulfilling in so many ways.  An accumulation of stuff to the point where it has become overwhelming and trying to re-home as much of it as we can.

But, it's *our* stuff, not someone else's.  It's *our* 'treasure' (my precioussssssss) not someone else's.  It's *our* memories of *our* life, not someone else's.

In the end I opted to not even open some of the binders I pulled off the shelves, just tossed them.  Paper into paper recycling (newsletters), plastic into plastic recycling, metal into metal recycling.  

Some things, like the hundreds and hundreds of slides went straight into the garbage.  

The sample collections - now consisting of 1.5 'large' boxes will be brought to Vancouver when we go down the end of September and handed over to two younger weavers.  If they keep them or not will not be any part of my life once they are handed over.  They may find them dated (they are) and not of much use (they may not be) and perhaps they will pass on or toss.  I don't know.  Once they leave my hands, I don't care what they do with them.

In the end, I managed to clear several shelves of a significant amount of feet of shelving space, enough that I *might* be able to shelve all the books I routinely use that currently don't fit in my library.  But that is to be determined.  Just moving the binders I want to keep to my library in the studio (from my office) took up one of the now empty shelves there.

My emotional attachment to these years of information collecting was high and it pained me to even consider throwing things away.  But I had to be realistic.  How much value was in those binders?  How out of date was it?  Who on earth would want it?

I can now see my desk again because I managed to clear enough space off my office shelves to make a home for the shipping stuff (customs forms, padded envelopes, shipping labels, shipping tape).  

So I feel like I've accomplished a lot, even though it doesn't actually look like much.  Most of the work was in snipping the emotional attachment to my 'precious' books/binders/collected information.  Things that, in many cases, I had not opened in decades.  If they were that unused, how useful to me were they?  Obviously, not much!

And in the doing?  I found things that I had 'lost', which I DO still want/need and will use - in my next class for SOS, in fact.

So there is that.

In the meantime, I keep weaving, because I can.  For now.  I'm in my 70s, with a body that is breaking down.  Who knows how long I will be able to do that?

Monday, August 22, 2022

A Time to Let Go


As the years progressed, I collected a lot of...stuff.

As a weaver, teacher, writer, I accumulated information.  The craft of weaving is huge, and sometimes source material was difficult to find so I would keep things.

At first it was weaving records of my own designs, then I participated in sample exchanges, found resources for research I was doing on common or more esoteric aspects of the creation of cloth (i.e. seamless shirts - not just a fairy tale!), photographs, slides, publications (newsletters, magazines), yarn samples...the list goes on.  And on.  And....on...

Forty plus years of this accumulation, with periodic culling still meant an entire wall of binders, books and publications in one room, another shelving unit in my office.  

The time had come to finally start doing a once and for all culling.

So the past week I have been dragging binders off the shelves, opening them up, going nope, don't need that anymore, and either tossing the contents or reserving them to pass on to a younger weaver(s).

I'm nearly done the studio.  I have a pile of binders at the other end of the room that need emptying, but all those binders in the photo?  Empty.

Some of them need to be tossed (recycled) but some are still nearly new and we'll see if there are any kids headed back to school that might need them.  I'll sit and paw through the rest of the binders today and empty the ones that are not being kept.  I've been removing staples and ancient Scotch tape and tossing those (and the samples they held to the pages) and then putting the paper into the recycle bin.  The plastic pocket pages will be kept to be reused, or tossed if they are too beat up to keep.

Some things I can't manage to toss yet, so I am keeping some of the things.  But out of all those binders?  Some had not been opened in 20 years.  It was long past time to get rid of them.  One way or another.

Since I don't have kids I can dump this mess onto, I feel I must do it myself.  And now seemed like as good a time as any, with shelves stuffed so full I couldn't shelve all the books I DO use on a fairly regular basis.  

Someone suggested I offer my 'papers' to the local university to archive.  Thing is, I worked in a library and I know how much work such an archive takes - and therefore how much money they would need.  And for what?  My scratchy notes that even I can't decipher any longer?  Degraded photographs/slides with people I can no longer identify?

I feel my best 'archive' is my books.  The information is organized, neat, tidy, documented.

Time to let the rest go.

Friday, August 19, 2022

The Bitter Taste of Disappointment


Have you ever wanted something so badly you could taste it?

Sure you have.  We all have.

I've had my share of disappointment, more often than I would ever admit.  I make mistakes, none of them particularly earth shattering and I roll on to the next pretty quickly.

But other times?  Other times the disappointment bites.  Hard.

I've had a pretty crumby year or so.  Life is full of ups and downs and the downs seem to have crowded together the past while and I've been feeling battered by the constant struggle to get up and get going again.  Partly it's age.  I'm not in my 30s anymore.  This body has been rode hard, put away wet too frequently.  And my age is showing.  I feel tattered and ragged.  My well of energy is nearly empty and it doesn't take much to knock me down.

So far I've managed to pick myself up again, but sometimes it's harder.

There was an opportunity that I had been looking forward to and a convergence of things culminated in my recognizing that doing That Thing likely wasn't a good idea.  But I still held a kernel of hope that it would come together.  Until it didn't.

It slipped through my fingers just about the time the injection in my back wore off and increasing pain levels made it clear that even if I had been offered the chance to do The Thing, the prudent, the *adult* thing would have been to decline.

But the disappointment lingered.  

Acceptance has come slowly - and to be frank, I'm not quite there, yet.  I still find myself emotionally kicking the baseboards.  The adult version of a toddler tantrum.

Today there was a thread on Twitter about people with chronic health issues needing to find 'acceptance' in order to continue.  I have to agree.  If I didn't accept the reality of my life, I would wind up with the bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth all of the time.  I would wind up angry and eventually depressed at all the things I have had to give up.  All the things that I could not do.  

Instead, by embracing acceptance, I can realistically look at what IS possible, instead of hyper focusing on what isn't.  By digging deep to discover what IS possible, instead of what isn't, I can figure out how to move forward.  Live my life.  

Ultimately feel like I am 'worthy'.  Valued.  

If I focus on what I *can't* do, there is no time in my brain, or my feelings, to continue to grow what I *can* do.

So I am slowly but surely cutting the emotional ties to The Thing, letting it go.  Carving out space in what energy and brain power I have - right now - to accomplish something positive.

Because I CAN still teach.  It just won't be the way I used to do it.  I CAN still support and encourage others, it will just be from a distance, not in person.  And I CAN still weave, so I will.

Today I wove the first two towels on the next red warp.  I'm pleased enough with them.  I've used the 3 ply linen before on 2/16 unmerc cotton and they turned out really nice, so I'm anticipating that these will, as well.  There isn't enough of this yarn for the entire warp, but I have other linen yarns that also need to be used up.  I may tweak the tie up to provide more interlacements because the other natural linen is a bit finer than this 3 ply.  And then there is the 2/20 merc. cotton.  I may use up the last of the orange.  Or I may use some of the gold.  But it sure would be nice to use up another cone of yarn, so right now I'm leaning towards the orange.  And if there is any warp left after that, the gold.

I have also made a firm decision on the lace class for SOS and will begin working on that next week.  I've promised to send them the info then so I have a 'looming' deadline.

In the meantime?  I will continue to work on acceptance.  

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Making Mistakes


It's easy to make mistakes.  (Ask me how I know...)

There is a quote floating around that I tend to use a lot, widely attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer but is actually Hippocrates.  Thing is, I keep forgetting that and recently I used it again crediting Chaucer.

I'm hoping that by doing this post and making a point of trying to remember the original, I will not forget again when I want to use it in the future.

So, thank you Hippocrates for perfectly summing up the progress of learning, not just about weaving but about pretty much everything!

As mentioned, I keep this 'diary' (of a sort) going in part because this is how I process what I'm going through.  It began when I was recovering from a medical issue (and my brothers sudden death), coming to grips with a body that was struggling and no one could figure it out.  It was a way to share my knowledge during a time when I didn't know if I would be able to continue to travel to teach, or if I would even be able to continue to weave.  

There are people who study such things and generally when a person has a major life altering health event, the average life expectancy after that medical event is about 7 years.  Well, I continue to plug onwards, piling more and more medical events on top of that triggering one that very nearly wiped me out like my brother had been.  (We had/have a genetic pre-disposition to coronary blockages - his was diagnosed on the autopsy table, while mine were discovered *before* I had my first - and last - heart attack.)

So I tend to use this platform to muse about life, and sometimes even death, the nature of living and learning and yes, making mistakes.

I've also become a lot more vocal about my political leanings.

Since my blog seems to be 'active' it is also the target for others to try to grab onto my coat tails and spread *their* messages.  Mostly I just monitor the comments section (Blogger makes this easy, thank you) and delete any comments that include a link to someone's business - if it's not something I support.

Yesterday someone wrote a really flattering comment, saying they and their spouse routinely read my blog and appreciated what I had to say.

Then appended not one, not two, but FOUR links for people to buy guns on line.

If I had stopped reading after the first sentence, ego sufficiently stroked, I might have not noticed the links, but I tend to read all the comments everyone leaves, even if I don't respond.

Which put the lie to the comment that they routinely read my blog and appreciate what I have to say, because if they actually did that, they would know that I do NOT support unfettered, unregulated gun sales.

Buttering me up with flattery?  Yeah, no.  Just saying...

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Why Write?



Instead of getting dressed (yes, I'm still in my jammies) and getting on with my day (finish pressing those damp towels, finish threading the Megado, write for a couple of projects waiting in the queue) I find myself thinking about writing in general, and why *I* write in particular.

Well, first of all, I have used writing as a tool to help me think through the swirling random thoughts that tend to pinball around inside my skull.  I have done this for a long time, first through letter writing (yes, actual pen to paper letters to distant friends), then as part of therapy to work my way through some issues I was dealing with, but also to think through problem solving for weaving.

A way to order my thoughts.  Because my thoughts would look more like a tangled ball of yarn than a nice tidy skein if I didn't try to bring some order to the chaos.

Sometimes I find myself with a niggling thought that simply won't go away and I mentally poke and prod at it until I can find an 'end' and begin to follow it through the tangle.  Writing it down, now via a keyboard rather than pen and paper, helps me track my thoughts to some kind of conclusion.  Something that I might have been leaning towards without understanding why.  By following my thoughts in this fashion, it becomes a bit of a road map and I can see why I feel the way I do about, well, things.

Now none of that means that my thoughts ought to ever see light of day!  Some of them are best left in the dark, frankly.  

But I live in a community.  It may be mostly distant, but in the 21st century we have ways to communicate beyond the physical.  We don't even need pen and paper anymore when we have the internet!

And so I entered the ethereal world of the World Wide Web in 1994 via a Free-Net portal.  I got one hour at a time via a dial up connection (remember those 'handshakes'?) and I joined a Usenet group - rec.textiles.weaving or something (memory fails) and began to communicate on a much more personal level with weavers all over the continent and beyond, daily.

What I saw was a thirst for knowledge, and people without resources asking questions while people with knowledge shared what they knew.

So I began answering questions.  Because I knew stuff.  

By that time I had been writing for publication for years - The Weaver's Journal, Handwoven, Heddle, and others.  So I had some experience writing technical stuff.  

I was also pretty confident that I knew stuff.  Maybe overly so.  There is nothing like a little hubris to carry one through something that is a bit daunting, a bit scary!

I was also in the final stages of researching for the GCW master level and by this time I knew quite a lot about wet finishing.  So I chimed in, repeatedly, with suggestions and information on what wet finishing is, and why one might consider doing it.

One day I typed up a rather long response and used the 'hashtag' (although we didn't actually use them, yet) 'It isn't finished until it's wet finished' and said that I'd now be quiet about the topic.

I received a lovely email from one of the members of the group, Tom Beaudet (professional textile engineer) who urged me to keep speaking up about how important wet finishing is.  At that point in time I was feeling very insecure in myself and I asked him if he would mind taking a look at my rough draft/notes for my 'thesis'?  

Bless him, he said yes.  So I closed my eyes, copied the file into the email, warts and all, and sent it.

The very next day he sent the file back with his notes - which essentially affirmed everything I had said, and even complimented me on an example I'd used to try and explain fulling with the comment that he hadn't ever considered that, but it made perfect sense.

I also received some crucial encouragement from Allen Fannin and in the end finished my thesis/monograph, and eventually submitted and achieved the status of 'master' from the GCW.

Before I had even completed the level, however, people started asking more questions and some urged me to publish.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

So why am I thinking about all of this?

Well, I self-published both of my books.  Magic in the Water was a hefty tome that contained (originally) 20 samples - and not stamp sized, but big enough that people could actually handle them, of fabrics before and after wet finishing.  No 'traditional' publisher would touch such a project.  (Tom Beaudet later said that industry makes these kinds of publication routinely - or did - and the price tag would be in the thousands, not hundreds of dollars).  

So in addition to researching, writing, weaving the samples (with help from a few others), Doug and I took on the monumental task of preparing the cloth to be stapled onto card stock and then assembling the pages of text and sample pages.  Again with some assistance from friends.

And I did the marketing.

Eventually I added value to the publication to try and sell the balance of the copies by adding two more projects making the later volumes 22 projects.  At times I also added other things.  But I never lowered the price.  Because I felt it was worth every penny to the people who wanted the information.
When I finally (finally!) sold all of the original (nearly) 1000 copies, there were still some requests for the information so while I was sidelined during the summer of 2011 (chemo sucks, but here I am) a friend helped me photograph all the samples and another friend made a PDF that I could sell to anyone willing to settle for that.

Then later, when I was writing the second book, I decided to self publish again and found and my editor (many thanks to Ruth Temple for the book mid-wifery) we used that PDF to test the blurb website.

And then published The Intentional Weaver on that site.

And now?  A few people have suggested I write another book, but honestly I don't think I have the time, energy or finances to create another book.  The market for books about weaving is pretty darned small for the effort required.  

But I can still post to this blog.  I do still sometimes answer questions on-line, although less frequently these days.  If people want to know what I have to say, I'm easy to find.  (New re-freshed website launched yesterday.)

And I have other projects on the burners.  

So, while my writing days are not over - yet - I can't see myself producing another 'book'.

And that's ok.  Two is probably quite enough to add to the genre.

As I wend my way through the twilight years of my life, I doubt anyone would be able to stop me from musing here.  When people lament that blogging is 'dead' I know that a number of weavers continue to blog.  We are just quieter about it these days, I guess.  Or younger people don't know about blogs.  I belong to several FB groups, but no groups outside of that these days.  I do belong to a couple of Ravelry groups but rarely go there now.  Instead I am focusing my time and attention on the School of Sweet Georgia.  I am supposed to be 'retired' after all.

But I'm still weaving.  Still learning.  Still trying to help others.  And that means I will keep writing.

Check out blurb for my two books.  Feel free to email me laura at laurafry dot com  Or keep reading my blog.  Nice to have you along for the 'ride'.

Oh - and the reason this post was spurred?  I started thinking about what would make a 'best seller' in the weaving world and began to add up how many copies of each I sold - 900 full sized versions of Magic, an additional 50 of a smaller version (because I ran out of samples).  As for The Intentional Weaver, the numbers are harder to work out because blurb lumps both titles together so approximately 620.  Plus a bunch of Magic PDFs I sold directly and never bothered to count.

And maybe this post is one of those that should stay in the dark, but...

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

On a Mission


Still on a mission to weave down my stash, yesterday I cut the last warp off the loom, serged those towels, then tossed the lot into the washer/dryer.  They are now waiting a good hard press.

While they were in the washer and dryer, I set up and beamed the next warp.  More reds, but this time in a vague, blurry stripe.  The draft is another iteration of the 'fancy' twills I've been playing with.  Each warp changes something about the sequence, which means each warp is 'different' than the rest, but still within a theme.  Playing with the imagery of 'flames', still.  Or maybe, just movement.

The weave structure does not follow the colour grouping, and the stripes are not 'hard', but the threads are allowed to migrate, one colour into the next.  It's an effect I'm enjoying as I don't lay this all out beforehand, just come up with the colours as I'm getting ready to beam, then choosing a draft, not knowing how the two will marry in the cloth.

It's an exploration, although a fairly 'safe' one.  The weft then adds to the effect in a way that I can guess, but not really know.

Sort of like life,.

We do the best we can, with the knowledge we have at the time, and hope the results will be positive rather than negative.  But until all is said and done, we don't really *know* how it is going to turn out.

I'm beta reading a novel written by a friend.  And this theme is very much part of the story.  I'm hoping she can get the book published, and if so, I'll certainly be happy to recommend it.  A coming of age story, one with hope and adventure, challenges and obstacles.  

In the meantime I have been making some progress on the class prep, and my web meister has finished re-doing my web site.  Please take a look if you have the time.  

I have the guild programs/lectures listed with a short description.  I'm taking bookings for Zoom presentations for next year now.  Contact me for availability and prices.

Guild programs are roughly one hour, lectures roughly two hours with Q&A after each.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Little by Little


Little by little I am being nudged into the 21st century. 

I now have a QR code for my classes at the School of Sweet Georgia.  Now to figure out how to put it onto my website and my blogspot home page.

I'm still struggling to learn how to use my 'smart' phone, in part because I just don't use it much.  Since getting a cell phone lo these many years ago, I have only ever turned it on when I leave the house.  During this time of covid, I rarely leave the house!  And of course I have large hands, big fingers, so trying to do much of anything on a phone leaves me frustrated.

However, the QR code isn't for my benefit, but...well, anyone who wants to use it.  So I will try to figure this out.


In the meantime I have other stuff to do.  One more towel finishes off the current warp, so that is my priority today.

Last night I worked on the 2nd class for SOS and feel like I've made some headway.  

I still have other writing work to do, and hopefully I can get to that this week.

My website should be done its make over by tomorrow.

So - little by little - things are getting done.  Not as quickly as I would like, in no small part due to my lack of energy and persistent brain fog.

OTOH, I do already have the next warp prepped, and as soon as the current warp comes off, the next one is in the pipeline.  As soon as the towels are in the washing machine, I'll set up to begin beaming and with a little luck, might even get it all beamed this afternoon.

Well, that's my plan.  Let's see if I can manage it...

Sunday, August 14, 2022

All Things End


All things come to an end.  Someday.  Nothing lasts 'forever'.  We hate to see the good things go, can hardly wait for the bad to be behind us.  But all things do end.

Warps come to an end.  Yarn packages get used up.  Projects get completed.  Or not.  Perhaps their demise is simple abandonment.

But all things end.

I am coming down to the wire on the latest warp.  Yay!  I emptied the cone of very dusty cotton/hemp yesterday.  It looks like enough yarn to weave three more towels.  That will make 18 towels, out of a possibility of 19 on the warp.  So I'm left with a decision to make - do I weave one towel completely different from the rest in terms of colour, fibre, texture?  Or do I sacrifice the balance of the warp and move on to the next?

Well dear reader, that was an easy decision.  The balance of the warp will be sacrificed.  (No, not thrown away but tossed into my 'recycle' bin to be given to a spinner to use to make 'art' yarns.)

After I finished weaving yesterday, I wound off the rest of the cotton/hemp, looked at my options and decided I didn't need another 'orphan' towel.  One that would require me messing with the tie up because the cotton/hemp and the merc. cotton need different numbers of interlacements.  I will reserve that gold merc. cotton for another warp where I can use it in a longer series, setting up the warp specially to be woven with merc cotton weft.

So I pulled out my bins of warp yarns, set up the next warp (shades of red - again - what can I say, there is *plenty* of red!), put the yarns from the current warp 'away'.  Some of those yarns were put in with the blue/green cotton, some was reserved for weft only (that 'old' black, still good enough for weft, but a bit of a PITA as warp), the rest went back into the 'neutral' bin.  Not sure - yet - what I will combine with those for another 'neutral' warp.  Still mulling that over.  Still lots of weaving to do with the reds/purples/blue/green.  I'm sure I'll come up with something.  Because once I use up the linen, I still have 2/20 merc cotton.  I didn't just have those boxes of Brassard 2/20, in my rummaging I found a number of cones, likely sourced from Robin and Russ.  And if you recognize that name, you *know* how old that stuff is!  :D

But gradually, I am weaving down my stash.  It is becoming apparent that I am having a lot more difficulty seeing these finer threads, though, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all that fine silk I inherited.  The option running in first place is to ply some of them together, then use them on a rayon warp.  I still have a *lot* of Brassard's 2/16 bamboo, and it works really well as warp with silk as weft, making a nice quality of cloth and making it possible to offer them at a lower price than all silk.  Except it took 5 hours to fill a bobbin with some of that fine plied silk...oh well, weaving is no longer my profession...

I have been ignoring some things in favour of just weaving as much as I can.  But time marches on, and pretty soon deadlines will not be just pending, but looming.  (Pun intended)

So I did print out some stuff to use in creating the class for SOS, did a ruler wrap to confirm the epi for the sample to use for the class, mused about some options for the class, completely changed my mind at least three times, and now have a (new) direction to go which I think will be 'better' for teaching purposes.


Thursday, August 11, 2022



One of the things on my 'to-be-done' list was a re-design of my website (currently under construction).  It took forever before I could even begin to think about it, but after my 'retirement' (for certain values of) it was becoming clear that I really needed to update my site.

I had considered just dumping the site altogether, but I had some info on it I kind of wanted to keep available, plus my email address with the re-direct via my website was too convenient.  

At time you just have to let life get on with things and this summer I finally had someone able to help me with the website.

As part of that re-design, my new webmeister has moved some of that information to this blog.  Hopefully the 'pages' function will keep those items handy for reference.

Right now there is a link in the upper right hand corner of this blog that has several titles.  These are links to some pages that used to be on my website but will now live here.  I MAY add to them from time to time, once I've finished migrating the files from my website.***

My new website will be stripped down, but will include my list of lectures/guild programs and hopefully the contact form still works.  Webmeister is still working on the website and right now sending email to my website address still works (laura at laurafry dot com)

I have a couple of guild programs/lectures booked, one for later this year, one for early next, and am happy to talk to guilds about their needs.  Guild programs are typically about one hour, lectures run around two hours.  The lectures are information dense (think firehose) and I'm happy to answer questions.

And of course I have two classes available at School of Sweet Georgia, with two more in the works.  But what I'm no longer doing is the workshop circuit.  With the continuing pandemic(s) I may never attend another conference.

Because I'm immune compromised, I am vulnerable to catching any disease that may be around and I have way too much stash to get sick and be left with post illness conditions - or just plain die.  So I am going to continue to wear a mask when ever I'm out and not attend in person events unless people are going to wear masks to reduce the viral load in the air.

***edited to reflect new information and progress being made today, Aug. 12, 2022

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Willful Blindness


There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Mom said this to me one time when I asked her about something going on in the world and it kind of stuck with me as I became more aware - more 'woke' as some might call it - as I grew older, learned more.

We talk now about reality bubbles, and while that is also a working metaphor - in some ways - it seems to me that life, 'reality', is more like an onion.  You form an opinion and everything you see or experience falls within that layer of reality and so you interpret it all based on YOUR reality.  Once you blow that layer up, it doesn't mean you see everything clearly now, because another layer exists and gradually those layers need to be pulled away from the kernel of 'truth' at the centre.

This peeling away of layers is uncomfortable.  Human beings don't much like change, some of them even less than others.  And so we tend to move through life, through society, perceiving everything through the lens of our current outermost layer.  Comfortable in our assumptions.

When we encounter people with other viewpoints, it can be difficult as one of us has to change our minds, alter our viewpoints, or else meaningful communication becomes very difficult.

I grew up with the most obvious 'reality' of life in Canada - the over riding 'English-ness' of Canada, but also?  The 'French' aspect.  (First Nations were largely ignored when I was a kid - I was a teenager before I began to really come to grips with the reality of Canada's history of colonialism and racism, FN and black and Asian.)

Over the years I became very interested in history as a lens through which to view human behaviour.  Why all those wars?  Why all those religions, most of them espousing peace, love and harmony?  But only in the One True Way?  

I left the church, although I still call myself a Christian - because I was raised in that environment of 'what would Jesus do?'   And yes, I read the New Testament, did bible studies, attended Sunday School every Sunday (unless I was too sick to go).  

Over the years I've begun to see the very narrow focus of my learning - Euro-centric.  I was privileged that in high school I had really excellent teachers.  The kind that show you where to look, but not tell you what to see.  And so I learned.  I learned that the Dark Ages was only 'dark' in Europe.  Civilization was quite brilliant in what we call the 'Middle East', India and China.  Europe owes a debt of gratitude to the Arabic, Indian and Chinese scholars - in engineering, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, chemistry, physics, the list goes on.  But what I learned as a child was how European 'science' was superior to anything else, ignoring the scholarship that had continued elsewhere during the European 'dark ages'.

This attitude continues to this day.  I see it in so many ways.  The erasure of the  First Nations contributions to the survival of Europeans on Turtle Island.  How the brave European explorers conquered this land.  Conveniently ignoring the band of 'anonymous' First Nations people who fed them, escorted them through their territories, ensured they survived in a climate for which they were ill prepared, and in many cases not willing to acknowledge that *they* were their own worst enemies when it came to surviving it.  (thinking about the Franklin expedition in the Arctic and the Scott expedition in the Antarctic, assuming that their 'superior' technology would out perform the 'native' knowledge, especially).

The fact that vaccination is in large part credited to an English man, rather than the Arabic doctors who routinely inoculated their people against things like small pox.  

Recently I got a book on history and the author asserts that 'ancient' peoples had no understanding of how dyes worked so they just tried things without actually understanding the chemistry.  They then go on to sing the praises of the European 'scientists' who broke the code open so that they could actually understand what was happening.  By trying things to find out how they worked.  How is this different, exactly?

I had to put the book down and shake my head.  Generations of dyers taking plants and getting repeatable results was 'down to chance'?  So *they* were just messing around trying things, while the Europeans messing around trying things was in some way superior?  Just because they wrote it down and their peers were able to sagely nod and say 'yes, this is so'?

I would suggest that non-European dyers who had, for literally hundreds of years, figured out how to extract dye from a mollusk, taking the process through multiple steps to obtain the dye, had pretty much perfected a scientific way of getting that dye and achieving the results they wanted.

I would suggest that non-European dyers who were able to create an indigo vat, adjust it to get different colours from it in a controlled manner was following a scientific process.

I would suggest that Chinese textile workers figuring out how to cultivate silk and then weave with it, at a level much higher than any skill shown by Europeans of the same time, decades before the Europeans 'stole' the information and then claimed it as their own are ignoring their own history and need to get a grip.  

This constant ignoring of the totality of human history in favour of one segment of it is, imho, willful blindness and does not help us grow as individuals or as a society.

I have picked up the problematical book several times now, and every time I try to read it, I run into the authors' reality bubble of European/American 'exceptionalism'.  I'm finding it hard to get beyond that in order to learn anything because I don't feel I am getting the history I had been looking for.  

Yes, I am a white woman in a white society.  But I see my privilege.  As difficult as my life has been, it was never made worse by the colour of my skin.  Or society trying to erase me, my existence from the historical record.  

There is little I can do to change this except call it out when I see it.  So will I finish reading this problematic book?  I honestly don't know.  I'm about 1/3 through it and not feeling like I'm learning much other than the attitude of the author, when what I was hoping for was to learn more about the history of textiles that almost never seems to get told.  I think I need to check out other books, perhaps Becker's Pattern and Loom might shed more light?

Technology is not 'primitive' or 'superior'.  Technology is a way of living in an environment, in a culture, that ensures success for the people living within those parameters.  I have taken to calling looms with little additional mechanics 'simple' rather than primitive.  Because I have seen textiles of enormous complexity woven on back strap looms.  Using simple technology, the weavers exhibit incredible skill and knowledge, far superior to my own, for the textiles they are making - which are appropriate to their culture, environment and available resources.  

I have access to other resources, so I have the ability to choose a different level of technology.  That does NOT make me a better weaver than someone using a back strap loom.  I just have a different set of skills.  Naming a technology 'primitive' simply serves to diminish it.  The more simple the tool, the higher degree of skill to use it effectively. 


Welcome to my TED talk.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Plate Spinning


The biggest difference between 'working' and 'retirement' would appear to be the number of plates that I need to keep spinning.

The red warp came off the loom, then the load of tea towels were wet finished and given a hard press.  And then I had to find a 'better' colour of thread to hem them with.

When my mom died, she still had most of her thread stash from quilting.  When she asked what I wanted of her quilting supplies, I said I would take the thread because I always seem to need a different colour to hem with than what I have on hand.  Since I inherited mom's thread, the only thread I've actually had to purchase has been more white cones for the serger.

I was not hopeful that I would find just the right colour to hem these towels.  My reds were either too scarlet or too dark.  The one orange I had was quilting thread and while I can (and have) used quilting thread to hem, it has twist energy in it and tends to pigtail back on itself.

The drying rack was set up right in front of mom's thread cabinet, so I folded the towels once they were dry and then moved the rack out of the way so I could rummage.  The first two drawers didn't really have anything different from what I already had by my hemming station but there was one more drawer - the drawer with the cones for serging.  I could see a red, but it was the same red I already had upstairs, but I pawed through the heap of cones and voila, one cone of the exact perfect match for the cloth (not the individual threads it is made from).

I am slowly making my way through the last of the previous warp to this one, but now I can go ahead and finish them off, knowing I have the correct colour of thread to hem these.

Because I now have 3 towels woven on the new warp, with 16 left to go.  Better put a little more spin on all of my plates and keep going...  I have appointments next week, but my goal is to try to get 2 towels woven every day.  If I can't manage two, then I'll go for 1.  Technically that means this warp might come off in 10 days time.  That's a lot of hemming to get done before the next warp shoots down the pipeline!  

Friday, August 5, 2022

Still Not Perfect


This photo isn't great, in part because I've taken it from beneath the breast beam so that both sides of the cloth can be seen.  The light isn't great so I have a side light which is washing it out on the right, and not illuminating it much on the left.  Oh well.  (Refer to the title of this post↑)

One side is more weft, the other side is more warp, and right now I can't really tell which I like better.  It will depend on how it is after wet finishing.

However, my journey into being 'not perfect' continues.

There was something 'off' while I was threading but I couldn't find it at the time so I carried on.  Then there was something 'off' in the sleying, but I couldn't find that, either, so I carried on.

Today I started weaving and almost immediately broke a warp thread because the shuttle ran into it and while I was fixing that, I noticed something...odd...nearby.  I looked and looked and looked and everything seemed fine.  Until I realized that point progression that ought to have been on shafts 1-4 and threaded 1,2,3,4,3,2, was in fact threaded,1

However the yarn is fine enough the epi is 40 and the float is natural weft on natural warp and pretty much invisible.  Except *I* knew it was there.  Sigh.

I'd already fixed a threading error yesterday, discovered as I sleyed, so my average for 'still not perfect' is pretty high (dammit).

I could have fixed it then and there, but it was so close to invisible I decided  to correct it at the cut line and finished weaving the first towel.  Which I made shorter so that it will be obvious that it is a 'second' when it joins the rest for wet finishing.  I have someone who adores purple and I know she won't be bothered by a nearly invisible threading error.

And, as I fixed the broken thread I discovered two loose ends that must have pulled out of the masking tape and were tangled around the warp.  They are now hanging off the 'valet' in the ceiling, hoping they will stay out of the way.  (↑)

I wasn't sure if I was going to be satisfied with this colour combination, in this thread, with this particular weave structure, but I am.  The stripes are not 'sharp' - the dark value colours were not exactly encouraged, but not prevented from moving into the pale colours - and vice versa.  So the stripes are blurred.  Sort of like blackened tree trunks seen through a haze of wood smoke.  Or in the winter in the fog.  Either image works for me.

The cloth is not under tension and it is undulating in the area between the breast beam and the cloth beam, which in the photo, makes it look quite interesting.  It should look interesting hanging from a fridge handle - or where ever they get hung.

So now I have 18 more towels to weave.  Oh, and I found exactly the right shade of a kind of orange/red to hem the last set of towels.  But first I have to finish hemming the towels from the previous warp.

Plus work on class prep, do my writing 'work' for my friends, stay on top of my marketing.  Et cetera.

Retirement, eh?  

How's that working for me?  Pretty well, all in all...  :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Endless Possibilities


At times the possibilities are so enormous it is hard to know what to do.  At times, the best approach is to something.  Action in one direction will sometimes make what needs to happen become clearer, even if that direction wasn't the actual direction I considered heading.

Recently I speculated about writing another book.  My heart wasn't in it, though.  Given I've written/self-published two, I know just exactly how much time, effort, energy and *money* it takes.  And I honestly didn't feel like I had enough of any of those left in me, given my current state of affairs.

But I didn't close the door to the possibility of writing - I still had this blog, I still have the School of Sweet Georgia classes to nurture, I still have my 2022 class of Olds students to support on their learning journey.

And sometimes, if you just leave yourself open, something will come out of almost literally nowhere and present itself.

Sometimes one tiny little action in one direction will lead to something else happening that is, in the end, much bigger than ever anticipated or expected.

So, writing.  

I feel I'm a pretty good writer of technical stuff.  I have had numerous articles published in a variety of magazines.  I've written two technical books.  I've answered dozens (if not hundreds) of questions on line, which is, after all, a text based medium, even if I can include photos or link video clips (now).  It's the words.

So an innocuous question to another weaver suddenly resulted in a request to do some writing for a project she and another weaver are working on.  

It came out of  'no where' given my initial question to her but when it was posed it was like, yes, of course I can do that.  In fact, I am delighted to do that!

Their project is theirs to develop but I am happy to support them in their efforts.  If I am to truly take on the role of 'elder' or 'mentor' or just 'cheer leader', I don't need to be front and centre.  

As I told someone who essentially told me they were astonished they had learned something from me, I am confident in what I know and how well I can convey it.  Not that I am the 'best' teacher for everyone - far from it.  But for those who learn best in the way I teach, I think I'm pretty good at it.  And I think I'm a pretty good writer, too.  

And as one friend put it, it ain't bragging if it's true.