Sunday, December 3, 2023
Saturday, December 2, 2023
Friday, December 1, 2023
Tomorrow would have been my brother's birthday, were he still here.
Tomorrow would have been the launch of my latest (fourth) book, in part a nod towards his memory.
But things happen.
And we, who are left, who are still here, go on.
My relationship with my brother was complex. A (much) younger sibling, suddenly arriving to usurp my place in the home, sick with some unspecified illness which demanded nearly all of my mother's time and attention. I had to learn to live with that change in focus, share my parents with a sibling, learn to get to know him as a person, although that took a while because he needed, first, to survive his infancy, and then to become the person he was meant to be.
And so I was going to launch my fourth book on his birthday as a nod to what he left me when he left - a level of financial security I'd never had before, in large part because he was a good money manager and he didn't live long enough to spend it himself.
For the longest time I barely touched 'his' money, only paying off my immediate debt, then used some of it to travel.
Because he loved to travel and I knew he would approve.
Perhaps part of his love to travel came from me? Because he was just 13 years old when I left for a trip to Sweden, travelling by freighter from Montreal to Oslo, then stayed away for 3.5 months. Months where my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and then it was my brother's turn to bow to the vagaries of life, learn how to adapt. Change. Deal with loss.
This is not a unique story. Every one of us goes through something similar as we confront the challenges of living. Changing. Growing. Hopefully learning.
I'm well into my 70s now and feeling the pinch of time as I deal with my battered body. Last week I filled out a trauma/injury survey for my physiotherapist and suddenly became aware of how much battering this body has sustained. I'd never considered dental issues a trauma. Before. And yet. One of my earliest memories is of having an abscessed tooth extracted - while it was still infected. Not much in the way of anti-biotics in 1954. My mother brought me to the dentist. He took one look, shot me up with novacaine (which didn't actually deaden anything) and then pulled the tooth.
As I looked back on my life in order to report all the injuries and/or trauma I've dealt with the list grew longer and longer - and I still didn't list everything. Some 'injuries' were too slight to bother with, I thought. Trolling through my memory, remembering each incident, reliving it (to some extent), becoming consciously aware of the injury once again, was interesting. And, I am hoping, helpful to aid in further healing.
But I am also in my 70s now, and I honestly don't know how much healing I can achieve. I don't know how much longer I can weave. Or write. Will I retain my wits? Or will they depart, along with my physical 'fitness'?
So I'm feeling pressure. An imperative to weave down my stash. No longer a desire, but becoming a need. To write. To share my stories. to share my knowledge, most of all.
Do I have more to say? Dunno.
The only thing I can do, is...keep going...for as long as I can. Marking time doesn't mean standing still, after all.
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
This morning I got comfortable in my recliner with morning coffee and ipad and opened my inbox to a 'surprise'.
People sometimes tell me how much I have helped them, and when they do, well, cockles definitely warmed. Since I woke up with (another) sinus headache and was feeling particularly groggy, I opened an email with some anticipation of a weaver wanting a question answered.
Instead, my day - perhaps my entire week - got made brighter. I quote:
"Although I am just a weaver in my spare time, I wanted to send you a message of saying thank you for your wisdom which transcends beyond the loom. I absolutely love your book and I also have watched your course on Handwoven a few times.
As a lecturer, I teach my students how to write undergraduate dissertations. Hence I am quite often confronted with questions such as “what referencing system to use” and “shall I use British or American spelling” or “how do I present my data”. In these instances, I always quote you (giving you due credit of course), with the simple but useful words “if you cannot be perfect, be consistent”. Indeed the students find this very useful and it surely helps them to get more autonomy with their decision-making. This is something I have often struggled to teach them in the past.
At our session yesterday, I resorted to your wise words again, but the students have adopted them already to a point where I only need to say “if you can’t be perfect” as they instantly respond with “be consistent”. I have explained to them before where I got this from and that it comes from a very efficient weaver who has perfected her craft and approach. In fact in my next writing group session with them I am going to draw the parallels between good and efficient weaving and academic writing.
From one teacher to another, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for developing these useful and easy to remember guides that are so useful for many disciplines. You can now know for sure that they are being passed on at (name of college redacted) London to a new generation of Business Management graduates who I hope will hold on to them for other challenges they will encounter!
I wish you all the best!
With cockles completely warmed through, it's now time to go to the loom and toss a shuttle a few hundred times. :)
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
We are at that time of the year again. While this photo was taken a few years ago, and we don't have much in the way of snow - yet - we are nearing the winter solstice.
A time for reflection, a time for clearing out the 'old', a time for considering what is to come.
As such I have done some thinking about the latest 'book' project.
Since I spent the majority of my life creating things I hoped people would purchase - textiles, classes, magazine articles, books - when a roadblock popped up preventing progress on the latest 'book', I had to think about whether or not to hold 'em, or fold 'em.
Did I continue to wait and see if the roadblocks cleared? Did I pursue other options? Did I just ditch the whole effort - an effort of several months on my part, and the alpha assistance of a friend who read my rough draft and helped me clarify my thinking?
To just ditch it seemed wasteful of both of our time and effort.
But mostly? I felt that what I had to say *might* be of interest to a small circle of people.
So, what to do?
Reality set in and it became apparent that the cost of getting the information into a 'real' book would mean it would be expensive - as a 'real' book.
However, it is the 21c and we have other options.
Now the plan is to revive the project and 'publish' it as a pdf only and sell on my ko-fi shop site. The site allows for digital products, not just actual physical ones, and I'm already offering Weave a V there as a physical product. Since the information in this effort will be of limited interest, it seems like keeping the publication as simple as possible and keeping the price as low as possible is the way to go.
I will be dragging out the thumb drive with the files on it and doing a read through. There has been enough time go by that I should have perspective enough to attempt a grammar/typo editing, and re-order some of the chapters so that they flow 'better' (one or two are out of chronological order), and then see about offering it digitally only. Since this IS the 21c, I will include some photos, but will keep them limited to illustrate points, not eye candy/inspiration.
There are still a few wrinkles to iron out, but it feels like a plan. And, given I continue to deal with chronic pain, it seems like having a 'light' duty task will take some of the load off of me until I see if I can make some gains in my physical condition.
With the end of the mercerized cotton in sight, it begins to feel like a watershed moment. My goal to downsize and use up stash continues and I have some ideas percolating for the next few warps. Enough to keep me busy for another six months or more. And once those are done, I will turn to my rayon stash and see how much of that I can weave up. I have a plenitude of scarves and zero shawls, so I'll be considering another warp for shawls. The big roadblock for shawls is the fringe twisting, but I can do it. I just have to make myself. And I would sure like to use up some of the fine yarns and turn them into something else.
I don't do New Year Resolutions. I make plans, then work towards getting those plans completed. Seems like I've got 2024 sorted.
Anyway - stay tuned about the next 'book' - still some details to sort out and plenty of work to be done. Sort of like weaving. Just because the words are there doesn't mean it's 'finished'...
Monday, November 27, 2023
I love twills. I love big, fancy twills. Once I had a dobby, I loved working with such twills, of which there are many.
Twill weaves generally have 'lines' - but not always. There are broken twills, advancing twills, combinations are nearly endless.
The 'easiest' twills are those based on a straight or point progression. But, once you understand how the line can be interrupted, reflected, repeated, mirrored, well, big rabbit warren.
Advancing twills are fun because you get all the benefits of twill but they are relatively simple to thread. They tend to go in directions that are predictable, and they can get really quite large.
One of the stepping stones to understanding this was the progression of the draft known in NA as Swedish Snowflake.
From when David Xenakis took the draft from Margaret Atwater and re-aligned it so that the twill lines were made more visible, I jumped off that to expanding the twill lines after reading through Zilinski's information on advancing progressions (or as he called them 'step' twills).
As I played around with the progression, I wondered how it would look expanded to 12 and 16 shafts. The problem with expanding to 16 shafts is that the motif became so large it was too big for the intended purpose I wanted to use it for. So then I had to make choices about how to expand it and still keep the essence of the motif. And of course, adding or subtracting interlacements via changes in the tie-up will also change the look of the motif.
Rooting around to find this draft to share with another weaver, I realized that the recent explorations I've been doing can be almost directly connected to the explorations I did back in the day when I played around with the Swedish Snowflake draft - expanding to 12 and 16 shafts, condensing to 4.
I used this draft with silk warp and a wool/cashmere blend with the colours very close in hue/value. the motif was a 'ghost' - it was there, but it wasn't the dominant feature of the cloth. But one warp of it was 'enough' and I moved on.
And now I'm back, once again playing with advancing twill, but this time I'm advancing the entire 4 thread twill 'block', once again pushing, pulling and tweaking the twill 'line'.
I've got the next draft ready. I've gone back to something very simple after playing with curves and different sized elements in the design. Sometimes bigger designs can start to be a bit 'fussy', although the colours I've been using are very similar in hue and value so that 'busyness' of such designs becomes less obvious.
Sometimes a designer just does something because they want to know what happens, when. Then, when they find out what happens, they decide to move onto something else.
So it is in this case.
We are into winter now, even though there isn't much snow - yet. I have a tea towel I purchased while at Vav in 2017, woven from a fine linen, in damask. The design is woven on a white warp with a coloured weft - in my case I chose the black weft - and the 'stark' black lines delineating the trees against the white background inspired this. The trees in my neighbourhood have all lost their leaves and the branches crisscross each other and on grey days, they are very much like the lines in the design here - bare branches, rubbing against each other, all set against a stark sky.
While I love the big fancy twills, sometimes something simple is just thing. The warp will be the last of the very dark blue combo and the weft will be white.
In the meantime I am mulling over the designs for the new colour - a combination of blue and green of the same value. Which should do interesting things depending on the colour(s) used for weft. I'm thinking of 'water' - how it flows, ripples, moves...
Sunday, November 26, 2023
Saturday, November 25, 2023
One of my 'Laura-isms' is 'change one thing and everything can change'.
The changes can be nearly 'invisible' if you don't know what to look for - and any weaver who has not taken at least an introductory class in spinning will not know about the *how* of getting fibre into yarn and why they should know the differences.
So, here I am - again - to explain why. (Note: I'm not a spinner, as such, but everyone should at least have an understanding of the basics so they can make 'good' choices.)
What's the difference between the two? Significant, as it happens.
For ring spun yarn (I'm talking industrial methods here - a loose comparison would be worsted spun for handspinners - but again there are spectrums involved) the fibres are generally combed so that they are aligned parallel, then given X number of twists per inch for the single, and Y number of twists per inch for the ply. The number of twists for a single that is intended to be plied will generally be more than the number of twists applied during the plying.
Open end spun yarns are more akin to woolen spinning with the fibres in disarray, and then given X number of twists for the singles, and Y for the plying (if the yarn is meant to be plied).
What are those X and Y numbers? It depends.
Let's take cotton. Fibre intended for seine twine, for example, is going to have a whole lot more twists per inch than something intended for garments. And so on.
The spinning mill spins yarn for specific purposes. They do not set out to make 'bad' yarn. But weavers can, and do, make poor choices.
When the weaver looks at yarn, there are things they could ask themselves - is the yarn strong or weak? Does it have a lot of elasticity or no? Is it stiff or flexible? How does it feel? Coarse or smooth?
All of those things can be determined, right down to number of twists per inch for the ply, quite easily. It simply takes a close look and an awareness that those things are going to have an impact on how the yarn behaves. And how the cloth they make will behave and feel. And why you can't necessarily make substitutions without making changes to things like density (epi/ppi).
A few weeks ago I had a question from someone about why their different brands of cotton behaved so differently.
They were using American spun and Swedish spun cotton, and a cotton/linen blend with 40% linen, and they *appeared* to be different thicknesses.
I told them that was because they were. The US spun 8/2 cotton is open end spun, while Swedish (and Canadian) 2/8 cotton is ring spun. Swedish 2/8 cotton is also generally spun from Egyptian cotton, while the source for the yarn spun in Canada is unknown, but quite likely the US.
Egyptian cotton tends to have a longer staple. The cotton from Brassard has a shorter staple. The open end yarn (in every sample I've examined) appears to have the shortest fibre used in industry to spin yarn. In the photo above with the two blues, the dark blue is Borgs (if memory serves) and even though it appears to have fewer twists per inch, it is very strong. I cannot break a Swedish 2/8 cotton easily with my hands, while I can break the Brassard yarn with my hands without difficulty.
The cotton/linen blend (referred to variously as cottolin, cottlin, cotlin) is, at 40% linen, denser than 100% cotton. Therefore, even though the yarn is spun to the same number of yards per pound (or metric measure to kilo), it will be thinner than a 100% cotton yarn of the same count.
With open end spun yarn, the fibres not being aligned and generally with fewer twists per single and ply, the yarn is loftier and weaker than the ring spun of the same count.
Knowing these things allows us to understand that if we use open end spun cotton yarn as weft in towels, for example, that will increase the absorbency of the cloth over 2/8 cotton for both warp and weft. Using the ring spun yarn as warp will reduce breakage in the warp. Generally I tend to use cottolin as weft only, in part because it is more expensive than 100% cotton.
In addition to these considerations, there is also the fact that 8/2 cotton will release a lot more fibre dust into the air during weaving. Another good reason to use it only for weft (less abrasion). Even so, I have filter fans that I use in order to suck the air from the loom away from me and remove as much of the cotton lint from the air as possible.
People who work in the cotton industry can develop 'brown lung' which is like black lung but cotton dust instead of coal dust. It's probably fine for a small project, but if you have lung issues, I recommend getting one of those box fans and put a filter over the intake side of the fan and make sure you use it during weaving. Then when the project is done, give your studio a good cleaning to remove any remaining dust from around the loom or your studio area.
The density consideration extends to other fibres, too. I routinely see people assuring others that 2/8 (or 8/2) Tencel can be used at the same epi as cotton. Unfortunately, Tencel is a very slippery fibre, PLUS it is much denser than cotton, and therefore it is thinner than cotton spun to the same count.
Tencel on the left, cotton on the right, both spun to 2/8 count (3360 yards per pound). Given the thinner grist of the Tencel, *my* recommendation for Tencel would be around 24 for plain weave, more for twill. How much more? That will take sampling to factor in your weave structure and width, and the degree of drape you want in the cloth after wet finishing. Remember that Tencel is a regenerated cellulose, and only after wet finishing will you see the true nature of the cloth you have woven. (Although imho, that's true regardless of fibre!)
Books available here
Classes available at SOS
Classes also available at Long Thread Media
Zoom presentations listed here
Friday, November 24, 2023
I have much to be grateful for. Some of the things I am grateful for are tinged with sorrow - loss of family members leave me feeling sad, but happy that I still have memories to cherish.
Right now we are relatively 'secure' (as secure as anyone can be given the vagaries of life) so we try to assist others, when and where we can.
I am grateful I have found a good healthcare 'team' who are helping me work through my injuries and health issues and that they seem to understand why it is necessary that I can continue to weave.
Because weaving isn't just about making more cloth, it's about the physical activity and the mental health aspect of being able to shut out the miseries of the world for a couple of hours a day.
And, while I'm not where I would *like* to be, I *can* still weave.
I had hoped that the craft fair would go well, but people are feeling the pinch so sales were down. Way down, for me. There are a number of reasons that may be at play, none of them to do with me, as such. My textiles are the same as they have ever been. But as one customer explained to me during an economic down period, when she is worried about putting food on the plate she can't be spending money on something pretty to put underneath the plate (place mats).
Today is the last day for the BOGO sale on ko-fi. The sale has gone well, but there are still two colours left - beige, and 3 different shades of blue. There are also 'orphans' that didn't get listed, so if you don't see something you like, email me your colour preference and I can check to see what I have.
Once the sale is over (midnight tonight), those towels will go into the guild room sale the first two weekends of December, hopefully to find new homes.
Later today I'm going to try to get pretty pictures of some of the new 'delft' tea towels. I'm quite pleased with how they have turned out, but previous attempts to get a realistic photo of them have proved impossible. So you might just have to take my word description as a guide to how they look.
With recent changes to the postage rates for parcels, shipping has nearly doubled and I have to ask myself if I can continue to sell online and mail. OTOH, what are my choices? I live in a small town and the market here has been saturated for years (given the lack of sales at the craft fair). Do I keep selling, but 'eat' the increase in shipping? Because envelopes, labels and packing tape has *also* gone up.
I have a rant I'm really trying to not express, so I'll leave this post here.
You have until midnight tonight (Pacific Standard Time) to buy one, get one more for the same price. And a huge thank you for those who have purchased so far. Y'all just paid for more printer ink. Who knows, I might wind up writing another book?
Thursday, November 23, 2023
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
We are supposed to be in 'winter' now but climate change is really beginning to show its teeth and today the snow that had fallen is mostly gone and the temp is hovering at zero C. It's beginning to feel like a brown Xmas. Of course, things could change quite rapidly, so we'll see.
But life goes on and as much as things change, they stay the same. The same old issues with too many bills and not enough money, too much stress and not enough peace. The world continues to burn - on so many levels.
And I continue to seek answers to my physical woes.
Yesterday the physiotherapist did a round of 'dry needling'. This is not a new technique to me - I started a course of treatment in Dec. 2019, then had it abruptly cut short because covid arrived. Yesterday she asked if I had an aversion to needles? Nope. Then she brought up dry needling and I agreed immediately because I had been improving the last time and I figured what the hell.
It's not the sort of thing I would recommend to anyone who is squeamish or who can't take much pain because it is NOT a painless procedure. I've had acupuncture and that is essentially painless. Dry needling is not.
However, after one treatment I had better balance and felt more stable. We'll see how it goes.
What it does mean, however, is that I am on 'orders' to 'rest', so I'm trying to decide what I can do if I can't weave.
There is that stack of hemmed towels that need their 'finishing' press. I have to design at least one new threading draft to finish off the very dark blue warp yarns. I received the new colours from Brassard and I'm pleased with my choices - I think they will make a nice combination and will shift more blue or more green depending on the weft colours I use. There is also the guild room sale coming up so as soon as the BOGO offer on my ko-fi shop ends on Nov. 24, I will see what I have left, then re-price them to 'sell' at the sale. Hopefully.
I have way too much inventory - I can't just bring all of it - so I have to make some decisions as to what will go into the sale and what I can't reasonably sell there.
And which is why I'm not feeling much pressure to get back to the weaving - because bob knows I have more than enough! Too much, frankly.
But the aforementioned bills keep coming and prices keep rising. My ko-fi shop is 'loaded' right now but if you don't see a colour you like, chances are I have it - it just isn't listed there. You can always email me and ask...
The holiday season is arriving - here is my annual reminder that if you buy from small makers, individual artisans, you could literally be making it possible for them to continue.
I will keep going - I have way too much yarn (plus the 16 pounds that just arrived) to stop now. And I'm not bereft of ideas! I already have one I'd like to try on the next warp - just need to open Fiberworks and crunch it out.
Links to my stuff:
School of Sweet Georgia classes
List of 'zoom' workshops/programs in case your guild wants to book something next year - still have available dates...
Monday, November 20, 2023
Seems I have joined the company of people who have 'offended' Facebook AI bots.
Do you see anything in that notification of what I posted that was misleading? Me, neither.
I'm not against 'moderation' of large groups. Wish they would do more of it, frankly. OTOH, I have carefully 'curated' my FB feed so that I don't see the 'worst' of humanity - mostly.
But FB is using AI to 'monitor' feeds, so essentially I've got a petulant 3 year old (language level) bot telling me I've tried to attract 'likes' by posting something misleading...without telling me which of my posts is at fault. I mean, it could have been a moment of sarcasm that has gotten me into trouble, I don't know.
I scrolled through my FB posts and can't see anything missing, so again - I have zero idea which of my posts caused the wrist slap.
And how, exactly, am I supposed to learn from this chastisement? If I keep repeating this 'bad' behaviour (my second warning) they can do what - cancel me? OK. You know, maybe that wouldn't be so bad?
Except that I have a lot of people on FB that I enjoy interacting with, sometimes only superficially, but it's a way to stay in touch with people at a distance.
Since I don't ever want to mislead anyone, I'm left in a dilemma - continue as before, or start to self-censor. Which means that I start to question everything I post (or re-post - because it could have been something someone else posted and I just shared it?) And again, that's not a bad thing - no one should simply post something because of confirmation bias.
OTOH, since I have zero idea what they are objecting to, I guess I continue as before.
But here's the thing - if I suddenly disappear from FB - it will most likely be that petulant bot. What they cannot do, is shut down this blog.
If you like what I say, how I say it, feel free to subscribe to this blog. Seems I still have a lot more to say and generally will say it here. At least until Google starts to censor blogs...
Sunday, November 19, 2023
This cartoon from Sarah Andersen goes around from time to time and every time I see it, I nod in agreement.
Many people have talents in various things, but talent doesn't mean a person doesn't need to work at getting better.
I tell my students to use it or lose it. I see it in my own self if I don't get to the loom for a while (like when I would be gone for 3 weeks teaching) and the first thing I had to do when I got home was 'practice'. Because muscles need to be reminded of what you want them to do.
Weaving is a labour intensive activity, like most crafts and every 'art'. Musicians do 'scales' or other 'practice' routines, dancers do exercises at the barre, artists do sketches, practice brush strokes, as do calligraphers - the list goes on.
A creative person does not just pick up their tools and make 'great' art or good crafts.
To then have people whiff away someone's expertise as being 'just talented' ignores the person's dedication to their craft, but it *also* puts the person saying it into the position of never exploring their own 'talent' because they won't do 'good' work when they sit down the very first time. They then assume they have no talent and give up putting in the work to *become* better. And it also demeans the creative person because they don't 'work' at their creative endeavours, therefore what they do has no value. Then when the artist/craftsperson puts a 'reasonable' price on their work, the whiffers-away get annoyed because *they* have to 'work' for their money.
It reminds me of the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing. The musicians get money for nothing while the poor guys in the store have to move refrigerators and work hard for their money.
OTOH, what is the first thing most folk do when they got *off* work? They play music, watch tv, read a book, go to the movies or a play or a concert.
And now? Now we have 'artificial intelligence' creating(?) art - photoshopping images, 'writing' books, and the movie industry just lost on being able to 'steal' actors images and manipulate them to create(?) movies without paying the actor for their image - or the writers for their stories.
Anyway, my BOGO sale continues until Nov. 24 if anyone wants a bargain on some towels...
And bob help us when AI is the only source for instructions for things like textiles. I've seen an example and it's...about as good as you think it is...
Saturday, November 18, 2023
Over the years I've learned that for every ending, there is a beginning.
And so I am poised at the 'end' of my teaching in person part of my life, and looking forward to what comes next.
What is new is that I won't be teaching in person anymore.
And that leaves me with 'feelings'.
It's hard to say goodbye to something you enjoy doing, but standing up for 2 or 3 or 5 days pouring out the contents of my brain to students - in person - just isn't going to be something I can do.
People say to me that 'you're only as old as you feel!'.
Well, my dears, the last few years have been the worst roller coaster ride ever, and I'm feeling every one of my years.
And it's fine. I've lived longer than my father and brother, and many of my cousins. The fact that I've lived a life of physical effort (you don't weave yards of cloth every day without breaking a sweat - just saying) and - dare I say it - accomplishment - means that I'm ok with paring some things from my life.
When I say 'accomplishment' I'm not talking about awards or accolades, but in other things, things that are less inclined to be counted, as it were.
And, while I have received awards, I never did anything I have done *in order to receive an award*, contrary to what some people have assumed. (Someone told me that I was doing X in order to beef up my resume. Since I stopped updating my resume years before that comment, I found it irritating, in an amusing way.)
While I have never done anything primarily to receive recognition, I gotta tell ya, having people tell me that they have been helped because of a workshop I taught, or an article I wrote, or an online class? Priceless.
Just this morning someone commented that taking the sectional beaming workshop on SOS has already helped them enormously - another commented that they were already spotting things in their own methods they could adjust to get better results.
And that is why I will continue to do the zoom presentations whenever I can. If I can't be there in person, I can still help.
But I also recognize that not everyone will find 'my' methods helpful. A discussion on threading showcased that people with different looms and physiques don't feel that the way I thread will be helpful to them. And that is perfectly valid. I am tall with a long wingspan. My loom is different from theirs. They routinely do different kinds of threadings that what I do.
Everyone must find their *best* practice, given their differences.
But if someone is finding weaving difficult, or frustrating, or irritating, my suggestion is to look at what I do. If what I do isn't what they need, look at what other 'expert' weavers do. Try this, that, the other thing.
But weaving doesn't have to be frustrating, irritating, inefficient.
Stay open to new ideas. Be willing to learn. Keep an open mind. Because you never know when a door will open and light will shine in, bringing a new beginning.
Textiles, Weave a V and two signed copies of Stories from the Matrix here
Signed copies of The Intentional Weaver here
Friday, November 17, 2023
Thursday, November 16, 2023
A few months ago I was looking for this photo and couldn't find it. Can't have anything to do with the literally thousands of photos I have on file, now, could it?
Anyway, I don't remember who was asking for a photo of this, but if I remember I'll pass it along.
There was a discussion on how to beam a warp when you don't have access to any kind of warp packing, and I commented that in some places where resources have historically been thin on the ground, people realized that they could beam a warp with NO warp packing...IF they used high enough tension and shaped the warp on the beam in a way that would facilitate beaming and then weaving the warp off.
Pictures, they cried! Well, I couldn't find any, nor could I find the one I thought I had in my photo files.
And now, looking for something else completely, here it shows up.
This technique relies on the warp being beamed at a high level of tension, such that the ends cannot cut down into the lower layers when weaving tension is applied to the warp. The warp begins wider than weaving width, and, as the layers build, the warp is narrowed, usually by using the reed to 'pinch' the warp. The sleyed reed begins straight in it's alignment with the back/breast beam, and then to narrow the chain, the reed is moved on an angle to the beams. The warp shape takes the form of a 'lozenge', tapering in width as the warp builds up on the beam.
So when I suggest that people beam with tension, I am thinking along these lines and applying the principle of a well tensioned warp leading to better results.
In the photo, notice the thickness of the warp on the beam. This is NOT a short warp, it is many meters long. If the weaver was to introduce sticks or other warp packing into the beam, the circumference of the beamed warp would become very large. By not using warp packing, very long warps can be beamed and the labour involved in dressing the loom amortized over a greater output. Not to mention, there may be very little to use for warp packing available in their environment.
But we can learn from other cultures, other societies. Learn the principles. Apply them to our own practice.
I'm not saying everyone has to beam this way. If the weaver is only ever dressing the loom with a few yards, warp packing and lower tension is probably fine. But scale up and problems may begin to appear.
(Ask me how I know...)
Change one thing, and everything can change.
The more tools we have in our toolbox, the better able we are to choose appropriate tools/processes.
Be open to other cultures and their practices. Just because the loom they use is largely sticks and string doesn't mean they don't have a perfectly good loom. It's just different.
It is not the tools the weaver uses, but how the weaver applies their knowledge and manages their tools.
Which brings me to the news that I just found out David Xenakis has died.
I met him at a 'conference' back in the early 1980s and was blown away by his thinking. If anyone is interested in rigid heddle weaving beyond using a single heddle and willing to turn their brain inside out, look for his book(s).
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
This photo is from a few years ago, but shows some of the accumulation that we can expect as 'normal'.
The weather forecast for the next few days is...snow. I'm not particularly bothered by it because I don't really need to leave the house for the next few days. After a flurry of activity (and stress) the past while, the coming week is supposed to be quiet.
I have one last box of Olds homework to mark, and I'm nearing the end of the current warp. I will be using up one more colour on this warp and have the draft for the next ready to go.
The next warp will be the 'last' dark blue at 36 epi and should see me able to use up the last of the mercerized cotton. There are half a dozen or so partial tubes of navy and then some black. Whatever the 'last' warp uses up will be the 'end' of that particular yarn. Anything left will be too little to weave with so it will go into my bobbin lace stash.
When I'm done with that warp, there will be enough of the dark blues to do one warp at 32 epi and I have yet to decide which of the 2/16 colours will get used first. I have some 2/16 navy, but also other colours that I 'found' when I did the deep clean of the clean storage area.
And then I will have a new warp colour to play with. Brassard has already shipped the yarns for that. No danger of me running out of yarn. (HA!)
In the meantime the BOGO sale is going well on ko-fi, plus I'm hoping people are interested enough in the cotton/linen spa towels to buy - they are priced way below what they should be.
Someone complained about a can of paint costing 3/4's of their daily wage. Well, it takes me several hours to weave a tea towel, and linen isn't cheap, so each towel warp represents several weeks of my labour, plus the materials, plus, plus, plus... So I understand that some people can't stretch their budget to purchase something like one of my towels. OTOH, I have bills to pay, too, and I have never ever managed to achieve even minimum wage by weaving.
So, why do I do it? Because I must. I worked 8-4 jobs and grew to hate them, every single one. So I chose to do an 'antique' craft and earn way less money than I could have done, just to be able to keep my sanity. And I always priced my things so that more people could afford them, which put me way down at the bottom of the pay pyramid.
But again - my choice.
OTOH, someone else's pinched budget is not my problem to solve. So I will continue to sell my textiles at a price that I feel is as fair as I can make it. And from time to time I will offer 'special' pricing on certain items. (i.e. the BOGO sale, the current spa towels)
The same with my books. When I wrote Magic, it was because resources on wet finishing were sparse, and I felt I could contribute to the general knowledge in the weaving community by presenting that information in a way that was helpful. Hence the before and after samples. It was horrendously expensive to produce, so my labour (and that of Doug) was largely unpaid. When I announced the price there was a hue and cry about my price gouging, especially on my shipping charge. For a book that weighed about 5 pounds, and no book rate in Canada, I had to pay parcel rates and international shipping - because the vast majority of people wanting the book were not in Canada. Not to mention all the tipped in samples - which were not postage stamp size. But I held firm, and now? People are not only getting their purchase price back when they sell it, the book (with actual samples) frequently sells for *more* than what I charged initially. If I could have got that price when I published it, I would not have had to finance the publishing for nearly 10 years...
With The Intentional Weaver, I had to weigh the cost of the printing with what I felt people would be willing to pay for a 'textbook'. Because that is what it is. By self-publishing I actually get more per copy than if I'd gone the traditional publishing route. BUT, I have to do all the marketing myself.
Ditto Stories from the Matrix.
The *value* in my books is the information being conveyed, not in the cost of the paper and ink that holds that information.
If you want a copy of my books, they will remain available at blurb.com where you can purchase all three books (well, Magic is a 'magazine' format) or signed copies should be available at Sweet Georgia again.
But winter is definitely here, and it is time to hunker down...