Friday, December 30, 2022

FAFO (Fool Around Find Out)


I did a little FAFO (or as some like to call it, the scientific method).

In other words, I tried things, documented how they worked - or didn't - and am now in the process of writing out my findings.  And the instructions for the class they were designed for and woven to illustrate.

Since weaving is a very high labour intensive process, I did two different 'experiments' - one was to weave an area of lace/plain weave at one end of the scarf in a colour gamp (repeating the same thread colours as were in the warp), then the second scarf was done only in plain weave, again with the colour gamp at one end..

One set (the lace weaves) will be used as the student project for the lace weave class on SOS.

The other can be used for my lecture on colour theory.

Once again I was reminded of just how difficult it is to weave a 'perfect' plain weave, even when I'm paying attention and trying.  The other is how much a high value contrast between warp and weft will show up every little inconsistency in said plain weave.  And how little an 'imperfect' plain weave will look 'wrong' if it is woven consistently.  Just saying.

A timely reminder going into the new year - to stay humble.

Not a lot to show for a couple weeks of weaving (plus several weeks of thinking, planning, number crunching, choosing the colours to use, all done well before the first warp was wound.)

But the information gained was much much bigger than one might expect given the output of the past two weeks.  (I checked my blog, the first picture I showed was of the first warp after being woven, on Dec. 13.)

Some of these scarves were woven on truly dark and dreary days and were a tonic.  

For now?  It's back to tea towels.  I beamed the warp yesterday and got it half threaded today.  My goal is to finish threading, see if I can get it sleyed as well, then generate the treadling.

As the new year approaches, I will continue as I have done all my life - begin the new year as I mean to go on.  Keep weaving.  Keep teaching.  Keep busting my stash.  Keep on, keeping on.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Wrapping Up the 'Old' Year


Today is the 29th of December, 2022.  I am looking forward to finishing off the series of scarves I've been weaving for teaching samples.  The last warp will come off the loom today, the scarves will get trimmed of weft tails, then into the washing machine and dryer they will go, to be pressed tomorrow.  They may not get hemmed until the new year, but the majority of the work will have been done by close of *this* year.

I didn't need to weave so many examples, but I had the yarn, and I'd designed the project to have multiple 'lessons', and since I am still teaching, albeit online, it seemed like a no brainer to extend the examples to include more options.

Once I'm done the last warp, the balance of the yarn will go to a guild member who has been making, and teaching how to make, temari balls.  It's rather more yarn than I might have donated but OTOH, there isn't really enough left to weave with unless I get really creative.

And frankly?  I'm done.  I've enjoyed the process and the results, and that is...enough.

I've also expanded my skills (all that plain weave with high contrast colours warp and weft), being as 'perfect' as I can be with beat, given the change between huck and plain weave.  

It was time to let go.

I am learning, slowly and surely, how to let go.

Let go of obligations.  Let go of grand plans.  Let go of expectations - not just of others, but myself.

It is quite freeing - to let go.

That doesn't mean I will sit back and simply watch the world go by - although it is tempting, some days.  Because I still have way too much yarn.  I'm pleased with the current combo of 2/16 unmercerized cotton warp with 2/20 mercerized cotton weft, plus the new direction I'm exploring in terms of designing.

And that is enough.  I will do it because it pleases me.

And that seems like a good enough theme, or goal, or, if you like, resolution to take into the new year.

Sending all our best wishes for the coming year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Prepping for the New Year


fabric for skirts for a 
local Ukrainian dance troupe

Getting my 2023 calendar in order, realizing how jammed the first week of January is with 3 days of Zoom presentations.  The whole month, really, given everything else going on.

The first Zoom is for School of Sweet Georgia on Jan. 4 on the topic of Form Follows Function.  This is part of the on going series of lectures/seminars that I originally developed for my Olds students during the first year of the pandemic, then realized that others might be interested.  Plus my two new classes will be launched in 2023.

Since then I've begun offering the lectures to guilds as well.  And so on Jan. 5 I'm doing a guild presentation and then on the 7th, a guild 'program' and then later that day, the seminar.

In one week I will do presentations to people via SOS from all over North America (possibly beyond since SOS have students other than just NA), then a group in Washington, and finally in Missouri.

And nary a dark o'clock flight.  Win-win?

Once that is over, I have to prep for the 4 person weaving class that will happen on 4 consecutive Saturdays (with additional support the Sundays following) locally.  There was enough interest that another has been scheduled for Apr/May with 3 people already signed up.

If a guild is interested in my guild program/seminar presentations, they are listed on

If anyone is interested in booking me, my schedule is pretty open for 2023.  I can be contacted at

laura at laurafry dot com.

Later today I plan on getting my 2023 calendar pinned to the door where I can easily see it, then set up a planning calendar for 2024.  Not that I probably need to do that anymore, but it's a habit, and a new year habit that helps me be clear on what I need to do, and when.  A clean slate, as it were, full of opportunity and possibility.

For now?  I have a warp to weave.  I won't likely get it off the loom today, but should be able to make a good start on it, making it possible to finish tomorrow morning.  Then wet finish all 8 scarves.  Once they are hemmed, given a final press and I write up my project notes, that is one thing I can put 'complete' on and begin the new year fresh.  Back to using up my stash.  Back to tea towels.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Wrapping Up the Old Year


We are down to the final week of the calendar year 2022.

A lot of people make resolutions for the new year.  I am not one of them.  Over the years I found that a resolution was too rigid.  It didn't allow for Life Happening and then if I missed a day and/or 'broke' my resolution, I felt like I had failed and therefore it was over.  

Instead I think of goals.  

Goals are less rigid.  They allow for days when things go topsy-turvy, allow leniency without making me feel like I failed to keep a promise, even if it was only to myself.

Goals allow for mistakes being made, needing to fix them.  Or change the path I had assumed would be appropriate to meet my goal(s).

Goals recognize that sometimes things go smoothly, and sometimes?  They just don't.  They also allow for minor changes in how one arrives at the goal.

I have - for many years now - been working on weaving down my stash.  At times I have had to buy more yarn in order to use up what I have.  Seems counter productive, and yet?  I see holes on the shelves where there used to be rows of tubes of yarn.

My goals were further battered by people giving me *their* yarns.  In some cases I have given some of that gifted yarn away, but I have also managed to weave some of it.  

My latest 'purge' happened to coincide with needing to do a class project and, because I had acquired some yarn from another weaver, I didn't have to buy anything.  I won't use it all up, but a fellow guild member put out a call for yarn of that type for a guild class, so once I am done the class project later this week, the rest of the yarns will be boxed up and donated for classes.

I have always had daily goals and it is no different now.  I find myself motivated to get things done when I have a plan for the day.  As I age, those goals have had to change.  Instead of getting X done, I do about half of what I could manage even just 3 years ago.  

But because I have fluid goals (weave down my stash) I don't get upset if my plans need to change.  If I need to buy more yarn to use up what I have.  Pivot and do something else (like design, weave and write up a class project) while my larger goal sits for a few days.

So as 2022 wraps up, I look at my stash.  I see how *much* yarn I still have, but remind myself to see the empty spaces on the shelves where a lot more yarn used to reside.  

This week I will change my calendars.  I keep one for studio deadlines (teaching/zoom), my pocket calendar (personal appointments) and a calendar for the year beyond.  That last is much less important now that I am not traveling to teach and am not booking events that far in advance.  But I *am* booking zoom presentations to guilds, so I will keep that system going for a while yet.

Because one of my goals is to keep teaching, even if it *is* only online.  And who knows, maybe guilds will still do online presentations once they get back to 'normal' (whatever that is going to look like in the coming months/years.)

Monday, December 26, 2022

Step by Step


People don't realize that the act of creation usually doesn't fall full blown out of one's head into reality.  More usually it begins with a thought, a seed of an idea, and then as I work with it, I begin to push, pull, tug at it until it becomes...something.

So a few weeks ago I had an idea, a concept.  It was pretty well formed - as a concept.  But when I began putting my thoughts onto 'paper' (because I needed to go old school) it was pretty simple.  As the days/weeks went by, I began tweaking the idea, making minor changes, just to see what happened when I did.  

In the interim from having the idea, getting the original woven and wet finished, I have gone through several incarnations, slowly beginning to see how the weave structure works.

And yes, some of those ideas went straight to the trash bin!

However, I have arrived at this one, and once I get the scarves done (hopefully this week) I think this is the one I will put into the loom next.  

Right now I'm enjoying this 'play', trying this, trying that, tweaking here, tweaking there.  It is fulfilling the desire I had to explore weave structure and experiment.  

I'm not entirely satisfied with this, and *may* tweak it a bit further over the next few days because I see a way forward to clean up some of the lines.  But I may wait until I see it in the loom.  That's one of the big advantages of a computer assisted dobby - I can quickly make edits, then give them a try.

But right now my priority is to get the scarves done on the small loom.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

What Price Knowledge?


Textile Design Theory in the Making

I have been making my way through this book, not because it is difficult to read (although it does use academic language) but because of the concepts it is presenting.

For me, this is a book to be taken in small bites, savored on the tongue, chewed thoughtfully, digested slowly.

I have for many years tried to describe the design process for me.  I have used various words, none of which really described how I felt about the process.  

The concept of 'matrix' was new to me in this context, but the more I think about it, the more I like it.

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the word matrix encompasses:

Womb; the place in which a thing is developed; substance between cells; rectangular array of quantities in rows and columns that is treated as a single quantity (among other things).

That last is so directly germane to weaving I'm not sure why I didn't think of it before.  But now that the concept has been presented to me, I begin to see the 'truth' of it.

Matrix incorporates all the 'it depends'es of how a textile comes into being (be it basketry, knitting, weaving, etc.)

There is much to think about contained between the pages of this somewhat slim (250 pages including glossary, references and index) volume, but the concepts are huge.  Hence, the slow steady intake of what the author(s) are presenting.

Prof. Igoe also talks about the storytelling of textiles.  Someone called me a storyteller early in my career, and I embraced that concept and always incorporate my stories in my writing and speaking.

So much of textile terminology has been adopted by other technologies, especially computers, because the idea of storytelling embraces all human endeavours.  The fact that we have used textiles for thousands of years as a metaphor validates the use of 'stories' in thinking about creating textiles to this day.

This book is not, perhaps, for everyone, being part philosophy, part introspection, part exploration of *how* we think.  It isn't 'cheap', but what price knowledge?

As a person involved in the creation of textiles (and writing to support teaching the creation of textiles) this book has been a welcome introduction to concepts far beyond what I am used to as a designer.  It does not tell me *how* to create, but perhaps *why* I create.  Why I find weaving endlessly interesting.  And why it is, at times, so difficult to pass the knowledge of creating cloth to others.  

Because change one thing, and everything can change.  Every piece of the puzzle affects every other piece of the puzzle.  And until you get the threads into the loom, interlace them, and then wet finish them, you never really know if you have managed to create the vision you dreamt of in your mind.

The book is an academic book with an academic price.  However, the paperback version is being launched in February 2023 and you can pre-order it now.  

If you are, like me, interested not just in how, but in the why of creating textiles, this may be the book for you.  If you find weaving (or other textile arts) intellectually stimulating, you might enjoy this thought provoking look at how we think about how we create textiles.

If it is too expensive for personal purchase, maybe a guild library might invest in it and make it available to a larger audience.  

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Eve


I would say I'm multi-tasking except the past few days I've been working on class stuff.  So not exactly 'multi', just a bunch of things that need doing with deadlines 'looming'.

Even though the lace class doesn't launch for some months yet, I promised I would develop a class project and since I have a variety of colours in 2/10 mercerized cotton, which Sweet Georgia Yarns sells, I thought I'd tackle two birds - use up some of that yarn *and* do a variety of colourways for students to either use as is, or springboard from to develop their own colour combinations.  And of course, once I started, I kept thinking of more options, and...since I want to use up my yarn stash as much as possible, why not just weave more?  I rather suspect that whatever is left will go to a guild member who requested mercerized cotton for making temari balls.

Plus the January class is coming up rather quickly, so I got the two warps wound for the class.  If I can't get to the guild room (someone is doing a major re-arranging of the room contents) before we leave for Vancouver, I may be pressed for time to get the two looms dressed, given the trip to Vancouver the week before the class begins.  Better not count on having the energy to both wind the warps and dress the looms, and today seemed like a warp winding day.  That's that bin and bag in the lower left hand corner.

Once those were done, I started two more warps for the lace class.  I have two done, but the yarns were calling my name, so why not?

The warps actually hold a number of 'lessons' - lace weave of course, because that's the class topic, but also examples of using the Fibonacci sequence to design stripes, then colour combinations, how the colours work together in lace and in plain weave.  The warps are long enough for two scarves and one is being woven in plain weave to use as colour blending examples.  Or to sell.  I'll decide later.

The yarn in the bin in the lower right of the photo is weft for the next warp going into the Megado.  At this point it may take a while because right now I'm focused on the lace class, and it's just easier if I finish that project before I go do something else, then have to re-tool my thinking back to the lace.

Goal tomorrow?  Dress the loom with one of the warps wound today, and who knows, maybe even begin weaving?  

That yellow/orange/red warp will be a perfect project for a merry day.

Best wishes to all, whatever you believe or don't believe.  We can all use a little 'happy', so I hope you have some.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Last Pick


This warp is for a class project so I'm paying extra particular attention to what I'm doing and what I'm seeing.

Normally I don't do a double tap on the beat, just one single tap.  That tap is 'regulated' according to a number of factors - the elasticity of the yarn, the tension applied to the warp, etc.

Not all yarns have the same characteristics.  The yarn currently in the loom is 2/10 mercerized cotton, and it shares some of the characteristics of a line linen.  Both are dense, stiff, slippery and a bit springy.  (Linen is more of all of those things than cotton, but mercerized cotton is more like linen in how it behaves.)

Weaving plain weave with highly contrasting colours means I see the threads quite clearly. My goal here is to have as close to 'perfect' a beat as possible because every little inconsistency is going to show.  Wet finishing will take care of some *slight* differences, but only very slight differences.

Every time the web gets advanced, the tension needs to be reset.  The precise degree of tension is rarely re-applied so I feel how the loom behaves and how the yarn reacts and then adjust the pressure of the beat accordingly.

However, because this yarn is stiffer and slipperier than an unmercerized cotton and behaves much more like a line linen, when the tension is removed from the warp the threads are no longer under the same degree of tension and as the warp is pulled forward, the last pick tends to slip out of the intended path of the yarn.

If you need to see more closely, click on the image to bring it up bigger.

What happens when the last pick slips away from the fell is that the *next* pick below it also tends to slip forward - travelling in the direction of least resistance.

So for this warp I am weaving with as consistent a beat as I can manage, then when I advance the warp I give the fell a second tap before I begin weaving again.  This pushes the last pick downwards and at the same time nudges the pick below it back where it belongs as well.

For a line linen, I *may* do a double tap on every pick, depending on the weave structure.

Adding a second beat to every pick takes longer (only a micro-second, but they add up) but at times it is better to go slower to get the results you want in the cloth you are making.

Winter Wonderland


After a week of brutal cold, it warmed up last night and started snowing.

White Christmas?  Oh my yes.

Now we try to get the ice on the windows/sashes defrosted.  

I have a long list of things that need doing over the next couple of weeks and little energy or brain power to do any of it.  I am also concerned about the trip to Vancouver mid-January for my next medical appointment down there, given what has been happening weather wise so far this winter.  Thankfully we are driving and have already made plans to take two days to drive down, and two back.  For a one day in Vancouver appointment.  

The joys of living in the 'north'.

However, with 4 students in Jan/Feb, and 3 already signed up for Apr/May, I really need to get my teaching hat dusted off.  Thankfully two looms still have sufficient warp left on them from the class in Feb, 2020 so all I need to do is dress the other two looms.  And one person has offered to help with that.  Hopefully our schedules will align.

I'm trying to get the second scarf for SOS done today/tomorrow.  Weaving on the small loom is becoming more difficult and I'm going to have to decide soon if I can keep weaving on it.  So far weaving plain weave seems to be do-able but I'm not sure for how much longer.  I'm grateful I spent that big chunk of money on the Megado in 2019 because I can still weave on it without too much difficulty.  And right now, I'm still mostly interested in exploring weave structures so having 16 shafts and a computer assisted dobby means I can weave/play with them.

The cold was hard on me.  My body ached and the cold seemed to suck whatever energy I had right out of me.  The problem with the warmer temps is that now it will snow, which means spouse will be dealing with shoving it around.  

I'm content to stay home as much as possible and out of it all.  I have books to read, puzzles to make, and warps to weave.  

That's my 'holiday' sorted!

Sending the best wishes to all for the holiday season.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Helpful/Not Helpful

 People want to be helpful (usually).  If there is one thing social media has shone a light on, is that people will pass on advice, sometimes even when it isn't asked for.  I have been guilty of this myself, and so I have largely stepped back from posting on social media groups and use this blog instead to air my thoughts and give unsolicited advice, without stepping on any particular individual's toes (or beliefs).

So I thought that from time to time, when I am reminded of 'bad' advice/information being doled out, always with the best intentions, I might address some of these 'myths' here. 

One that I see now and again is in answer to the question of 'bad' selvedges.  Sometimes someone will say that the OP should leave a 45 degree angle on their weft.

The photos below show why that advice isn't helpful:

Not sure what a 45 degree angle looks like?  You can fold a piece of paper on the diagonal, like the post-it note (yellow) in the photo, then lay the straight edge aligned with the fell.  Clearly a 45 degree angle on anything but an extremely narrow warp isn't going to be possible.

The actual angle I leave for the weft is more like 12-15 degrees

That would be the blue line in the photo.

Why 45 degrees?  I have no idea.  None.  Zip.  Nada.

Sometimes I see the justification for a 45 degree angle is that 'you need that much of an angle for the weft to have enough length to take up along the fell'.

Nope.  No you don't.  You just need the leading end of the weft to NOT be trapped in the selvedge.  

Trapping the leading end of the weft in the selvedge means there isn't enough wiggle room for the weft to take the curving path between the warp ends (so to speak).  

And how does the leading end *get* trapped (most often)?  By throwing the shuttle, leaving a nice angle on the weft, then bringing the shuttle hand towards your body as the beater comes forward.

Since the beater starts to obscure the weft as it comes to the fell, weavers don't notice what they have done, and get concerned when their web begins to have excess draw in, leading to abrasion on the selvedge ends, and even, potentially broken selvedges.

So they ask for help, and someone will say 'leave a 45 degree angle on the weft'.  Which clearly is not possible.

Others may advise to 'bubble' the weft, which can help, especially for weft faced rugs, for example, but generally the tendency with bubbling is that too much length is left in the shed and little loops of weft tend to poke up out of the plane of the cloth.

Much better (imho) to learn how to hold, throw and beat so that the weft has free rein to take up as much as it needs without doing all those other things which, in the long run, aren't possible, or helpful.

So *my* advice is to hold the shuttle cradled in your fingers, not over hand.  Use your thumb to control the let off of the weft from the bobbin.  Use your thumb to brake the bobbin and tug gently on the selvedge to seat the weft loop in the selvedge and then, as you bring the beater forward, lift the shuttle hand and let the beater pass under your hand, DON'T BRING THE SHUTTLE HAND TOWARDS YOUR BODY.

Getting good selvedges is a combination of factors, including having the tension on the warp such that you can do the little tug on the selvedge with the weft thread and have the warp ends then return to their proper position when the tension is let off as the beater comes forward.

These processes are subtle and easily overlooked.  To incorporate them into your practice you will have to be mindful and focused on them until they become your new default.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk...

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Solstice 2022


May the blessing of light be on you, light without and light within.  May the blessed sunshine shine on you and warm your heart till it glows like a great peat fire, so that the stranger may come and warm himself at it, and also a friend.

--- Traditional Irish blessing

Today marks the turning of the sun on its journey to the south, to return light to the north (and vice versa in the southern hemisphere)

This week we have new records for cold.  The desktop weather app currently says -38C although the little weather station that monitors temps in our carport says it is 'only' -35, up from -36 when I got up just before official sunrise.

This morning I saw someone gnashing their irritation about how the 'media' was ignoring their problem of the day by focusing on the weather in my province.  Which irritated me greatly because both things need to be of concern.  

We need to be aware of what is happening in the *world*, not just our little piece of it.  I can be outraged at their issues and how the alt right politics are destroying their concern of the moment while *also* being outraged about climate change, racism, and all the other -isms that seem bent on destruction of our society.

And so we end one year and begin the next having seen little progress on a number of things, and I gather up the tatters of my hope and optimism and say 'welcome' to the new year, the returning of the light to my part of the world.

I hope that, whatever your particular circumstance, you can see that while you may not be able to fix all the brokenness of this world, you *can* work to make it better.  To see that while you may be struggling (and I see you all, struggling, truly I do), maybe you can make things just a wee bit better for someone else, too.

So I step into this new year more determined than ever to:

1.  not catch covid - or spread it

2.  continue teaching about weaving, in any way I can that will allow me to remain distant from covid and any other virus floating around

3.  encourage others who may be struggling, whatever they are struggling with

4.  continue to weave down my stash

Sending best wishes to all.  Stay safe.  Stay well.  Stay determined.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Deep Freeze


This photo is from a few years ago, but reduce the snow level and it could be today.

The desktop weather app says -37 C.  We had -40 overnight and it doesn't .look like this will end for a few days - and then it will snow.  So, definitely white for Xmas.

But the solstice is upon us, the turning of the path of the sun happens and then it will begin the slow, steady return.

After months of working hard to stay on track and focused on weaving down my stash, I looked around at the studio yesterday and realized that once again I am spinning too many 'plates'.  And all of them require the same space and equipment (more or less) so now I have to choose.

Which one of the list will I focus on?  How much energy do I have?  Will it sustain for the day or leak out leaving me sitting in the recliner with my feet up wondering how I managed to do this to myself?  Again.

There are the things I would rather do, then there are the things I've promised to do.  Since I want to do those as well, I can very easily get caught up in decision procrastination and not do anything.

When the temperatures are this cold nothing works particularly well, and I have an appointment this afternoon plus things I have been holding off on doing but really ought to get done.  Bank.  Printer ink.

One of the things on the promised list is winding the warps for the workshop in January, then getting the guild looms dressed, ready for the students.  But that can wait for another day or two.

One of those things is weaving the class project sample/scarf because I wanted to show two different colour ways - one a colour 'gradient', with all the hues the same or very similar value, the other a value scale, so that the students can see how the emphasis changes based on value contrast or hue contrast.  Plus I see more colours in the box that would also make a nice scarf in the same design so I may wind another warp and just do it because I need to use those yarns up, too.

But today it looks like I can finish the current warp on the Megado, *but* I don't have the next threading sorted out yet, so there's an hour or two to do that, plus thread the 2nd class project warp, weave it off, plus wet finish more donation shawls, wet finish the tea towels that will be coming off the loom today, and will need to be pressed tomorrow, and and and...

Someone asked me if I was 'ready' for Christmas.  I made a silly comment but here's the thing.  We don't 'celebrate' Christmas.  We wind up observing it - one can hardly ignore the advertising and marketing and goodness knows, we *relied* on the Christmas sales to get us through the rest of the winter when there was little to no income.  

But big dinner?  Nope.  Decorations?  Nope.  I have a string of lights my brother gave me years ago shaped like dragonflies.  The night he died I turned them on and they remain on (except for power outages and the time we needed to replace that window).  I have a little collection of double woven 'ornaments' by Bobbie Irwin that hang on the little metal 'tree' on the mantel and stay up all year round along with the crocheted 'snowflakes' another friend sent in her Christmas cards for a number of years.

So am I ready for Christmas?  You could say I'm always 'ready' for Christmas.

Am I 'ready' for this deep freeze?  Yes.  I have several coats, rated for how extreme the weather is.  I'm not sure I'll drag the down parka out because I'll be going from vehicle to indoors several times and a parka gets too warm indoors.  I have toques, scarves and again a variety of gloves/mitts depending on how extreme the cold is.  I may drag out my warmest mitts to go over my lighter gloves because the steering wheel gets *really* cold when it's -37.

But here's the thing.  This will end.  It will not last 'forever'.  And when it does, we'll be dealing with snow falling.  But one of the 'gifts' of this time is *usually* clear skies, brilliant sun sparkling on the snow crystals, and no snow falling.   But when the warmer weather arrives, as it will by this weekend, the snow will begin falling.  

This is our reality and we cannot change it, we can just learn to cope with it.  So when it gets this cold, we put on more layers of protection.  We don't ignore it, we plan for it, we prepare for it, we adapt to it and do what we need to do to protect ourselves.

And if you read more into this message that is openly stated, bless you.

Protect yourself from the harms that we cannot change is all I'm saying.  Have a care for the vulnerable amongst us.  Which is why I'm wet finishing more scarves/shawls to deliver to warming centres.  Wearing an N95 mask.  

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Deep Freeze


These are some of the yarns I bought from a 'retiring' weaver.  Mostly rayon, I thought I would use them to make shawls and scarves.

I did actually make quite a few of those, but still have way too much left. Plus some of the cones were getting too low to use in weaving and since I am not replacing my rayon inventory I started using them bundled up with other yarns in similar circumstances and knitting with it.

But weaving uses up a whole lot more yarn than knitting, so it's been slow going and I *still* have way too much yarn.  All yarns.

But never mind.  I will continue to use up as much of my yarn as I can.

I've been slowly making my way through a book:  Textile Design Theory in the Making by Elaine Igoe.  I'll do a 'proper' book review when I am further into it but it is really making me think.  Think about how I *think* about designing.  Creativity.  The connectedness of it all.

I have often thought of my life as a series of spirals as I slowly make my way through the days, weeks, months, years - and find myself in much the same place as I was a while ago, but with more experience, knowledge, understanding, as I contemplate the road forward.

Since my path has been a spiral, I only ever get to see a small chunk of the way forward as the path bends off into the distance, hidden by time and the fog of future which is fluid and can change - suddenly and unexpectedly or in a slow and predictable way.

Sometimes I can predict what will happen.  Sometimes I set a goal and *make* it happen, by shear dogged determination.  Sometimes opportunities come knocking on my door and I let them in.

Right now we are experiencing extreme cold weather (not all *that* extreme - it's 'only' -21C.  It could get a lot worse and is supposed to as the week goes on.)

For us, we are safe and secure in our home.  Right now we have heat, lights, food and shelter from the weather.  But the warnings of climate change are showing to be all too true and it is hard to know if humanity is going to weather this storm.  This slow moving but inexorable 'storm' of more and more extreme weather events, happening all around the globe.

In the past 18 months the province I live in has had catastrophic wildfires throughout the lower half of the province, a heat dome that killed hundreds of people unable to get out of the heat, a massive atmospheric river that literally cut the lower part of the province off from the rest of the country as flood and slides destroyed the highways, covered hundreds of acres of farmland, which is still not recovered, another heat dome this summer, another atmospheric river and now a 'cold snap' that looks like it will reach as far as Mississippi.

Not to mention the pandemic that has now turned into a multi-demic as flu and RSV roar back along with other supposedly suppressed viral and bacterial infections riding the immune destruction of all the other infections.  Right now the covid death toll in Canada for 2022 is higher than ever - and we don't even know the extent of it because provinces are not accurately counting infections and therefore not reporting them.

As an immune compromised person I feel 'frozen' out of larger society because hardly anyone is wearing a mask.  I don't go out.  I don't go to the mall to shop, movies, theatre, parties.  I don't go where there are crowds.  If I *do* go shopping I make sure my N95 rated mask is on my face before I leave my vehicle and it stays on until I'm back into it.  

And it is why the Beginning Weaving class is mask required.  This requirement was announced up front and none of the people who have registered have objected or questioned it, thankfully.  I will come home to eat my lunch, the guild room has a hepa filter, and I will teach a small group because the risk is a lot lower than having more in the class.

As for the people in this town with no shelter, well I can't do much to fix the problem for everyone, but I *can* help.  So I've wet finished 5 more shawls/scarves.  There are still a bunch in the boxes under my work table.  They are knitted from yarns like those in the photo, plus whatever else I had to use up.  Most of them have some % of wool in them and they are a generous size.  I can't solve the problem for everyone, but I *can* contribute to helping a few individuals.

If we all helped a little, life for more could become a little bit less of a struggle.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Multi-tasking. Again.


Today was a 'bitty' day.  A bit of this, a bit of that...

Yesterday I wet finished 5 'shawls'.  They are knitted not woven.  A few years ago I started seriously trying to use up my stash and was confronted with a whole *lot* of yarn that was too much to throw away, too little to weave with.  So I started bundling 3 or 4 threads together, knitting simple 'shawls'  or scarves.  I gave away a bunch, sold a few, donated some to the women's shelter in town one year, but I *still* have a box full - well, two, considering there is a basket *and* a box under my work table that were full to overflowing a couple of months ago.

Like I say, I've been getting rid of them slowly, not making more, even though I *still* have 'too much' yarn...

But we have been warned of a cold 'snap' coming in that is going to last for at least a week.  Temps will drop significantly and the time is being labelled 'extreme'.  

Unfortunately we have a lot (and I mean a LOT) of people in this town without a roof over their heads or walls to shelter in.  A number of non-profits who try to care for the physical well being of these and other vulnerable folk have set up warming stations where people without a house/home/abode can go to spend some time out of the cold, sometimes get a bowl of soup.

I can't do anything much about the larger issue of people without adequate housing, but I CAN do something about helping to keep some of them a bit warmer.

So yesterday I got 5 shawls ready and wet finished them, then laid them out on my studio floor to dry.  It's taking longer than I'd hoped, given the very low relative humidity in the house, so when I'm in the studio, I've been running the space heater to try and get them dry so they can be delivered tomorrow.  They are still too wet for today.  :(

If the organization accepts them and wants more, I can do some more over the weekend.  

It's a pain having them on the floor.  They are in the way.  But I'm safe and secure in my home and a little inconvenience is a small price to pay to hopefully provide a little comfort to someone who doesn't have my privilege.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Making Plans


I use this diagram - a lot - because it is true.

I've always been motivated by having goals and deadlines.  (If I don't make a (sometimes) arbitrary deadline, I tend to procrastinate - no deadline, no pressure.)

So I had goals for the month of December.  I have a busy January coming up - or at least busy for the current me.  There are things scheduled for the early part of the new year, plus I have the ongoing goal of weaving down as much of my stash as I physically can.

But things happen and repeatedly I make my plans in the evening, then the morning brings news that I must change my plans and do something entirely different.

Being flexible has never been much of an effort for me, but when I have little to zero 'spoons' to begin with, well, being flexible takes spoons just to accept that I have to change plans and accommodate those changes.

During my childhood and young adult years I had very few seniors in my life.  I'm beginning to understand those few I did have a lot more now.  Because staying flexible takes a lot more energy, both mental and physical than I expected.

We used to joke about the aunt who couldn't leave the house without her hair done and her makeup carefully applied.  The uncle who didn't like impromptu gatherings.  We rolled our eyes about how 'rigid' they were.  Never realizing that would, one day,

We are well into winter now, and there are warnings about a 'deep freeze' coming.  The extreme cold is going to make getting things done even more difficult and the temptation to simply not leave the house will be great.  The fact that I mostly only leave the house for personal maintenance means that I may just stay home even more.

I am grateful that I *have* a home to stay in.  People without a house, living outside, are going to be really hard pressed to stay safe.  I remembered I have a box of hand knit shawls that just need to be wet finished.   I'm thinking I may wet finish a bunch and take them to a warming shelter.  With the indoor relative humidity lower than 30% they won't take long to dry.  

Seems like a plan I need to incorporate into my day today...

And while we, as a society, need to do something long term to address the inequities in our society, there are people who need help *now*.  Extreme cold is as bad as extreme heat.  Long past time to address climate change and society's obstacles, neither of which will be solved in the short term.  In the meantime, I can do something in the short term... 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022



I took these last night and the colour isn't great, but I did an 'experiment' and have been documenting the process.

These 'samples' are scarves, one at 24 epi one at 25 epi (2/dent in a 12 dent reed on the left; 5/dent in a 5 dent reed on the right), woven in huck lace at one end of the scarf.

The warp has areas of plain weave threaded in (the black stripes) and the issue when combining two different weave structures with vastly different take up rates is that the tension goes 'wrong' very quickly.

However, a short section of huck doesn't distort the cloth too much and can make a nice effect.  So these scarves are woven huck in a symmetrical presentation, colours and lace reflecting the threading, with the balance of the scarf woven in plain weave.

By the end of the square, the fell looked like:

The black stripe is threaded to weave plain weave at all times which means the maximum number of interlacements while the huck lace areas shift and move and take up less than the areas of plain weave.  If this is done over a long length, it can actually cause tension issues in the warp, but over the 12" or so of the 'gamp', the threads soon equalized and the rest of the scarf wove off with no problems at all.

The 24 epi version with 2/dent in a 12 dent reed wove off very nicely with few issues while the 25 with 5 per dent needed a bit more coaxing.  The reed marks in the 5 dent sample are much more obvious but should lessen during wet finishing.  OTOH, they are consistent so I won't be too bothered if they don't disappear entirely.

Both required careful attention to the difference in beat required for the huck lace areas, but the enduring plain weave stripes helped keep the beat even in the lace areas.

There was a slight difference in the width, of course, but very little difference in how 'lacey' the cloth is, even before wet finishing.  I put a piece of white paper underneath the cloth so that the transparency can more easily be seen.

The yarn is 2/10 mercerized cotton and at this point it is very stiff, but after wet finishing it should develop a nicer hand and more drape.

I didn't feel like messing with twisted fringes, so these scarves will be hemmed.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Not Getting It All Done


It's still winter.  Actually winter has not yet officially begun - that's some days away yet.  But this morning I woke to more 'winter' like conditions and a light snow.  

I don't know if it is actually snowing or just the colder temps squeezing the moisture out of the air so it can drift down to the ground because the sun is up there, covered with a haze.

Whatever, I'll take it after several very overcast, dreary, dark days.

Winter is a time for slowing down.  Plants go dormant.  Some animals hibernate.  Humans seem determined to carry on in spite of layers of warmer clothing, colder temps, hands that don't want to work, bodies that seem to run out of energy with the dying of the light.  Or never seem to have any.

But this is not the 'worst' time of year for me.  That is yet to come.  February.  I've always dreaded February.  Whoever made it the shortest month knew what they were doing.  

As I get older and reflect back on my life there are so many things I wanted to do, and never will now.

Travel more, especially off the continent.  I've been around many places in the US, some in Canada, none in Mexico.  I have made it to Europe, several times, especially Sweden.  But not other continents.  And never will now.

But that doesn't mean I can't keep learning.  We watch a lot of documentaries.  We especially like ones about nature because they so frequently take us to places we will never see in person.  History.  Always new insights to be learned from what has gone before.  Usually discovering that as a species, humans haven't changed much.  At all.

I used to 'work' every minute of the day but the past few years I simply have not, can not, and so I don't get nearly as much done as I would like.

OTOH, I am supposed to be 'retired', and the onus on earning an income is much less.  However, that doesn't mean I feel entirely comfortable not doing something about my inventory of yarns - too much to give away, so I try to weave it up and sell what I can.

I had great expectations of what I could accomplish this year, which started off not with a bang but a whimper with that severe shingles outbreak.  It took weeks to recover from that, and honestly?  I don't know that I have.  Getting older is, in some cases, a slow steady downward spiral, sometimes with a quick drop in what I can do - or not.  Shingles was such a drop.  

I spend far too much time sitting in my recliner, ignoring the things I could be doing.  

OTOH, 2023 is set to begin with a 'bang' - 3 zoom lectures the first week of January, a quick trip to Vancouver the second week of January for a medical appointment, home to do a beginning weaving class.  I'm ignoring things that need to be done for all of them.  I keep saying I'll feel 'better' after the solstice and the returning of the sun.

My story, sticking to it...always have worked 'better' when the deadlines loom...

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Anticipating the Solstice


The solstice is approaching.  That 'magical' time of the year when the sun stops it's southward journey and begins to come back (or vice versa if you live in the southern hemisphere).

One thing about the internet, it has broadened my horizons exponentially.  I no longer assume everyone who reads my posts is from Canada or the US, or even from the northern hemisphere.  It has, for me, been a great way to expand my horizons, break down the opaqueness of my reality bubble.  A reminder that my reality is not everyone's.

Not that I was particularly blinkered to begin with.  Because I read, voraciously, from a young age, had a Swedish pen friend, paid attention to what was going on, around the world.

During the winter, even before humans *were* 'human', many cultures began lighting fires - candles, oil lamps, bonfires - as a way to bring light to the darkness.  I use the above photo to remind myself that amplifying the voices of others does not, in any way, diminish ME.  If I share my light, my candle so others can light theirs, there is more light, less darkness.

And so I try to find people who are building.  And I share their efforts.  Because more light is less darkness.

It is about 2 weeks to the solstice.  The days here have been overcast and very dreary.  The urge to hibernate is strong.  But I'm not an animal that hibernates, and so I keep going.  I set my goals for the day.  Celebrate when I make them.  Move them to the next day when I don't.  

I may be slower than I used to be.  But I can, and will, keep on, keeping on.

And welcome the sun as it begins it's journey northwards once again...

Friday, December 9, 2022

Proof of Concept


Even though I have been weaving for 40+ years, I still 'sample'.  The way in which I sample will vary because I now have a rather large foundation of knowledge I can reference.

The current warp (long delayed by Other Things) is now finally weaving.

To recap - when I 'retired' I thought I would be able to approach weaving from a more intellectual, more experimental viewpoint.  Instead covid arrived, I became a bear of little brain for a number of health related reasons, and so I concentrated on simply using up as much of my stash as I could possibly weave.

My approach was straight 'form follows function'.  I had X yarn, it is good for Y use, what can I make that will be interesting to weave and hopefully nice enough for someone to buy?

But I had sent that thought - that ill formed desire - out into the universe and I suppose it never really went away because I found myself poking around in the recesses of my mind until this idea popped up, pretty much fully formed.

I had been playing with using up my 2/20 mercerized cotton and began combining it with 2/16 as warp and getting some nice textiles (for tea towels) as a result.

Suddenly (it seemed) all the pieces fell together and I had a huge a-ha moment.  

It was a concept I played around with, yikes, 20+ years ago, but set aside.  At the time I was primarily working with Summer and Winter, but S&W is slow weaving and since my priority was to get food on the table, I needed to focus on something less time consuming.  So the cloth that I was making, weaving S&W on a double two tie unit weave threading, got set aside.

Only to come back to haunt me as twill blocks.  I had done 'regular' twill on double two tie unit threading lo, those 20+ years ago, but recently I had been playing around with 'ordinary' twill blocks for a while and realized that I could offset, or overlap - still not sure what word is the best to use - the twill blocks and come up with something more intricate, more complex that a four block unit weave could potentially provide.

After rumbling it around in the more conscious part of my brain for a few days, I tried to record what I wanted to do in Fiberworks, but realized I needed to be able to *see* the blocks and how they would overlap in order to generate a workable tie up and treadling.  So it was 'old school' - point paper, pencil and eraser.

Given my record of threading errors this year, I chose to do something very simple, knowing that if it worked I could develop something more complex in a later warp.  And if it didn't work, a simple progression could be switched to something else without too much angst.

Well, I *finally* got to the loom this morning and started weaving.  And it works!  I was pretty sure it would, but of course the final judgement will be made after wet finishing.  Because what is on the loom is not - yet - 'real' cloth.

However, I've been happy enough with this combination of yarns in ordinary twill blocks and fancy twills that I'm pretty sure it will be fine.  

Until the wet finishing happens though, it's not 100%!  Which is why I am considering this warp a Proof of Concept warp (iow, a sample) and while I'm weaving on it I'm letting it seep into my brain, looking for ways I can push it here, nudge it there, and come up with more 'interesting' designs.

I am being aided in this creative exploration by a book I just received.  I *thought* it was a book on textile design fundamentals.  Instead it is a philosophical look at creativity and it is blowing the cobwebs out of my brain!

I've only just begin, read the Introduction, and about half of Chapter One and expect to have further revelations as I read on.  It will take some time though, because this book is meant to be savoured, small bites, chewed well.  Not one to rush through, at all.  Watch this space for more...

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Old Lady



I'm tired.  

The world has been far too 'interesting' for far too long.  I'm old and I'm tired.

Usually when I say I'm 'old' someone, usually someone younger than me, will rush to assure me I'm not.  Excuse me?  I'm in my 70s.  I have health issues I have been dealing with for a very long time, and they have done nothing but get 'worse' the older I get.

'Old' is just what I am.  'Old' is not a negative.  To the contrary, 'old' is a good thing.  It means I've lived a long time.  I have had years, decades, of experience.  I've done things I had no idea I would or even *could* do.  And for that I am truly grateful.

While my life has not been exactly 'easy', it has been filled with, dare I say it, accomplishment?

But now?  Now, I'm old.

And I'm actually fine with that.  

After years and years of struggling to keep going, to do more, attempt more, accomplish more, just keep on, keeping on, I find myself perfectly satisfied with what I have done in my lifetime.

But the down side of living this long?  Younger people have not lived through the 'interesting' times I have.  They have no memory, no visceral reaction to historical events in the same way I do, because those events were part of my lived experience and for them, they are just 'history'.

The aftermath of the Great Depression and WWII - because they affected my parents, they were a reminder that they happened.

Duck and cover under your desks to protect yourself from an atomic bomb?  Yes, we had those drills in my elementary school.  Our town was very near a radar base on the Early Warning Line.   The assumption was that any attack aimed at the US would endeavour to take out the radar bases in the north - and our town had one. 

Polio.  Small pox.  TB.  Whooping cough.  Measles, mumps, chicken pox, strep throat, rheumatic fever.  All diseases that made my friends and in some cases me, sick.  The relief when vaccinations became available.  Polio and small pox were given AT school.  I had measles, mumps, chicken pox and strep the 'old fashioned way'.  Do not recommend.  Just saying.

As I got older - the FLQ crises.  Wounded Knee.  Black Day in July.  The Chicago Riots.  Wars around the world, limited - sort of - Vietnam, Angola, too many to remember.   The break up of Yugoslavia.  On and on and on.

Mass murders, like the one at Ecole Polytechnique.  Men hating on women.  The women's shelter that opened just down the street from my childhood home and the animosity as the men found out where it existed and harassed the neighbourhood.  "If the women had just stayed at home" was one comment I overheard.  

Too many things to weep over.  Too many things over which I have zero power to change.  Too many lives to grieve.

I'm tired.

But I'm also old enough that I am no longer much of a target for the misogyny, and so I feel more able to speak out.

So I will.  Because I have words.  And I have the internet.

I will advocate for an end to this pandemic, not the faux ending too many PHOs have cheerfully announced, but actual ending.  Or at least suppressed to the point where hospitals are not overflowing.

I will remind people to wear masks to protect themselves and their loved ones.

I will support First Nations and amplify their messages of truth and reconciliation.  

I have the privilege bestowed upon me by my white skin.  I must use it to amplify equity.  Remind people of the humanity of all, not just the ones I agree with.  But I will not tolerate expressions of hate against others.  

I am tired, and no longer needing to earn an income, so I am free to speak out openly about things like gun control and against fascism, and all the other isms that aim to separate through the use of fear against others,.

I will lift up those who are trying to help others.  I will lift up those who are working to improve things.  I will lift up those who try to make positive change.

Just because I am tired, doesn't mean I cannot speak up.  

I have spent a lifetime, MY lifetime, trying to help people learn, grow, and be better than they were.  Now I can lift up those who are continuing that task.  I can support and amplify their efforts, even if we don't do things the same way.  It doesn't matter.  I want someone left who will work towards the betterment of all.  Who try to grow things, not destroy them.

But I'm tired, now, so I will shine a light on those who have more energy than I do.  Because I'm tired.  And I'm old.  I will step aside for the next generations.  And celebrate them, to the best of my ability.

Saturday, December 3, 2022


We have been having a cold 'snap'.  Usually when the temps go low, we are blessed with clear skies and brilliant sunshine.  Not so much today.  

But the fact is, the sun IS still shining.  That is not something I believe, or have faith in - it is a fact.  It is also a fact that there is enough overcast that the sunlight is weak, and the day is dreary.

I am currently writing an article about weaving ergonomically.  Again.  You'd think by now everyone would be aware of how a body works, which movements are not efficient, which ones are actually harmful.  The body works best in certain ways and if you try to make them work in ways that are not good for it, injury *can* result.

Sometimes people are lucky and they push their bodies to the limit again and again and have no consequence, so they keep doing what they have always done.  And they are fine.  

They are the lucky ones.

Others?  Not so much.

The weaver who refused to wear anything but socks on her feet, and only on cold days, weaving too many hours without breaks to meet a deadline, winding up with inflammation in her feet so that she could barely walk.

The weaver who had been weaving for decades, suddenly having a 'frozen' shoulder, then going back to the same way of doing what she had been doing and having further injury.

The weaver who refused to get a 'proper' bench but wove sitting 'too low' on an ordinary chair now with low back pain.  Or neck pain.  Or shoulder pain.

The list goes on.  I hear from a lot of them.  

The biggest reason I hear from people who aren't interested in working more efficiently?  They don't want to hurry.  They want to take their time, enjoy the process.  As if I don't?  What I especially enjoy is getting a warp into the loom as efficiently as possible, to reduce the amount of time I am sitting in a cramped position to thread, and getting to the 'fun' part - the actual weaving.

Working ergonomically isn't hurrying.  Working ergonomically is working with the least amount of strain on the body, with the fewest extraneous movements.   

Hurrying is most definitely NOT working efficiently.

It is not up to me to tell someone they *must* do something in a particular way.  What I am *trying* to do is give people the information they need to work more comfortably for more years.  That by reducing the repetitive stress to a body, the body doesn't rebel and break down, preventing not just weaving, but other aspects of living, too.  

It's a message I've been delivering for quite literally decades, but there are always new weavers entering the craft, and so I keep on.  And I will keep on for as long as I can.

For more on this, use the 'ergonomics' tag to the right - check out my You Tube videos, take my online classes, buy my book.  Then decide what is 'right' for you.  

Friday, December 2, 2022



Today is the 'birth' day of The Intentional Weaver.  It was a long time coming.  I would start, then Life would Happen, and I'd stop.  And the file would sit - for months at a time, until another student would contact me about things I had taught in a workshop or class, asking for clarification or additional information, and I would sigh, open the file and begin pecking away again.

As the years scrolled on by, the file grew.  I edited.  Clarified.  Looked up additional resources.  Refreshed my memory, edited again.  

Eventually the file became...large.  But Life Kept Happening, and the file would go 'stale' again while I dealt with stuff.

Nearly five years (!) after beginning I had sent the file out to alpha readers, done my best to incorporate their feedback, but once again, Life Was Happening.  Mom had died December 31, 2016, and by the end of 2017 I was pretty sure the cancer was back.

It was too much.  

As I drove to the cancer clinic for the video conference with the oncologist in Vancouver, I was stopped at a red light, tears beginning to flow down my face.  I had been working on the manuscript (it was truly not just a 'file' by this point - it looked like a book - sort of - and I had been using the word manuscript for a few months.)  

As I sat at the red light, trying to wrestle the latest feedback into the manuscript, wondering if I was facing another round of chemo, the tears came.  

And something inside me cracked wide open and I saw I needed help.  I could not go on, all by myself.

Suddenly a name popped into my head.  Someone I knew who did technical editing.  And as the light changed to green, I knew what I had to do.

When I got home I emailed her and asked how much she would charge to help me edit my manuscript and if she could fit me into her schedule.

She said 'yes', and away we went.

After multiple back and forths, sending the increasingly cumbersome manuscript, we arranged for her to come here for a massive, intensive overhaul of the manuscript and she took photos to use.  Too many of mine just weren't good enough quality - her iphone took way better photos than my 'elderly' digital camera.  She went home with the photo files and we were both feeling like a watershed moment had been reached.

She worked on my file, sending me questions, comments, we hashed out the issues, I added more content, designed projects, wove them, went down to her to consult in person, and then, finally she said that we had done our best, it was time to pick a 'birth' date.

Looking at the calendar, I saw that we were entering the holiday season soon, and it seemed like a really good idea to launch in time for Christmas.  But the US has their Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November, so I didn't want to be part of the travel crunch surrounding that.  I asked if I could come the end of November, and chose December 2 as the birthdate.  I figured that was early enough people could purchase via and potentially get hard copies in time for gift giving.

So I booked a ticket to go to her a few days in advance of the Dec. 2 date so that the final polish could be done, and the files uploaded to the website.  She worked all weekend getting everything sorted, and on Dec. 2, we announced that A Book was Born.

So why Dec. 2, not Nov. 30 or Dec. 1?

Because Dec. 2 was also the birth date of my brother.  

In many ways it was due to him that Magic in the Water finally saw light of day.  He essentially gave me his rec room from April 2002 until we sold his house after he died to use as the assembly area to put that tome together and store it.  When he died I realized that, even though he was younger than me, in many ways he was my rock.  As children we didn't have much in common, given he was a boy and 6 years younger than me.  But as we came into adulthood we became friends.  Not, tell each other every detail of our lives every day kind of friends, but once in a while sit down and talk about philosophy (a grand word, but that is what we did - what's it all about, Alphie, types of talks).  

We talked about all manner of things I rarely discuss with others.  While neither of us has much beyond a high school education, we both read.  He came to it 'late', discovering the joy of reading when dad got sick and he had to curb his enthusiasm.  We both enjoyed music.  When he died I inherited all his estate and discovered that we both pretty much liked the same types of music - but he had a different library and we only had two CDs in common.

He was a man of his word.  Didn't suffer bullies.  Or racists. His friends called him a catalyst.  And it was, I think, that ability to stir people into action that got me to get The Intentional Weaver finally done.  I did it in honour of my brother, Donald William Holzworth, 1956-2008.  Who by dying, gave me my life in more ways than I need to explain.

So, happy birthday, Don.  I miss you.  I hope there are lots of trains for you to 'play' with in heaven.  Because surely if there is a heaven, you are there. 

Thank you, also, to Doug Fry, Ruth Temple, Mary Lessman, Cindy Dietzen, Marie Carmel and others who assisted with alpha reading along the way, Tien Chiu who provided the introduction, Janet Dawson and Syne Mitchell who gave cover blurbs.  

Your support and encouragement will never be forgotten.

Don, in his happy place - the Little Prince steam loci

Thursday, December 1, 2022

All Things End


warping board with warp ready to be removed

How long is a piece of string?

A warp?

One of the huge roadblocks to people enjoying weaving is the investment of time, effort and energy it takes to get the loom dressed.

Sometimes I see people musing about how to create a 'never ending' warp so they don't have to do that.  They come up with all sorts of 'solutions', most of them requiring huge amounts of yarn (a yarn package for every warp end) and floor space (to put all those yarn packages).  And so on.

Thing, is - all things end.  Every string has a beginning - and an ending.  The only thing that doesn't end (so far) is the passage of time.

So what do we want to do with our time?  That is the choice we have.

Our society is so used to instant gratification that we forget that sometimes?  Things just take time to come to fruition.  Gardeners know this and do craftspeople, because they are confronted daily with the effort it takes to create something from raw materials.  There are others - creative folk - musicians, authors, scientists...

But to anyone outside of those activities, all they see is the end result, not the blood, sweat and, yes, tears, it may have taken to bring something out of 'nothing'.

But all things end.

Rather than get upset about that, I encourage my students to embrace it.  Work to make the process more ergonomic, less 'painful', be more mindful about what is happening in the now and here, not champ at the bit wanting to instantly get to the fun part.

We can partially ease our 'separation' angst by making longer warps.  I know I do.  But that doesn't mean I don't also do shorter warps - samples, or two scarves instead of a warp for 8, for example.

Because All Things End.  At some point, sooner or later, the warp will be used up, and the loom will sit empty again.

But here's the thing.  With each new warp, I get to try something different.  It might be a different yarn, a different threading, a different yarn combination.  

Having 'perfected' my processes, I can focus on the here and now and use the actual shuttle throwing as a working meditation.  And when the end of the warp comes up and over the back beam, I get to begin again.