Saturday, September 30, 2023
Friday, September 29, 2023
Once I had the concept of 'sharing' what I was doing, getting the word out about my weaving, then books, became a lot easier for me.
I wasn't trying to 'sell' something, I was just 'sharing' what I was doing. And btw, here's where you can buy if you want it.
As an introvert, sharing was a lot easier than buying an air horn and yelling at the top of my lungs (so to speak) trying to find buyers.
In 1994 when I first got onto the internet, which was still primarily educational in those days (I know, what a concept!) sharing was how you got the word out. You still had to be careful because if all you ever posted about on the chat groups was your sale-of-the-day, people would rightly call you out.
So I got pretty good at folding actual information and my want-to-be-paid-for work into a conversational style.
It was an approach that felt comfortable to me and one I practice to this day.
Or at least, *more* comfortable.
It's one reason why I won't accept payment to promote other people's products on this platform. I reserve this space for me - my thoughts, my hopes, my trials and tribulations. Only IF I feel a product made by another creative person is worth someone's consideration, will I share *their* work, here. I never ask for payment because this platform is for *my* opinion. Not because I have sold my platform space to someone else.
It is also why, if Facebook starts charging me for using their platform I will be leaving. Since they already make a shittonne of money selling ads to people, they do NOT need money from their product (us) to make a billionaire a trillionaire.
So, if you find out about a small 'maker' that you want to support but maybe either can't afford or don't need what they are making, you can do them a favour and share their info on your social media.
We have forgotten that no one is an island. We thrive because other people support us. When times get tough, working together is how we survive. We seem to have forgotten that.
Thursday, September 28, 2023
Weaving is full of complexity. I think about that. A lot.
Perhaps that is why weaving or other textile arts are so frequently found as metaphors in 'fairy tales'.
All the way back to ancient Greece where our 'hero' was given a ball of string to help find his way through the maze - and back out again.
The Brothers Grimm and others collected folk tales from what we now call Europe and guess what? They actually took out the more gruesome bits to make them more acceptable to 'polite' company. Now even those versions are being 'cleaned up' because they are still too gruesome for our current sensibilities.
Princess pricks finger on a spindle and falls asleep for a hundred years. Princess has 7 brothers turned into swans, must make - from scratch - shirts from nettles to change them back again, with a very tight deadline. Lowly peasant girl catches eye of the prince and brags of being an excellent spinner, then must turn a room full of flax into 'gold' and calls on the help of a nasty 'goblin', then must forfeit her first born son. Etc.
These stories are not meant to be taken literally, but as object lessons for the listener to learn from.
So the question becomes - does 'artificial intelligence' actually *think*?
And if we allow such a thing to begin to dominate how we live our lives, are we going the way of the dodo bird?
It was Descartes who said "I think, therefore I am".
I think. A lot. About a lot of things. One of the ways I think through a conundrum is to go to the loom, and if only surface attention is required the question I'm nibbling on wanders around in my brain trying to work out the knot. Sometimes I can work out a solution to a weaving - or life - problem I'm having. Sometimes I come to the computer and start musing.
Like this morning.
The concept of AI is on my mind, for obvious reasons.
If we stand aside while a computer program who very obviously does not, can NOT think, just scrape words off the internet, then disgorge them pretending to some kind of expertise, then I suppose we will deserve what we get.
OTOH, there are multiple voices crying out warnings. Too bad too many people cannot hear the truth over the noise of disinformation and outright lies being told by too many.
Why does it matter? Because if we don't understand what we are doing, we cannot become proficient at any skill. Not just textiles, but anything that requires skill - from cooking to medicine, teaching to repairing technology that breaks. *Inventing new things*.
In my lifetime we have gone from records on vinyl (my mother had actual bakelight 78s, and yes we played them), to tape recordings, to CDs. I still have a turntable, although it is so old the drivebelt is probably too old and would break if I were to try to play any of my LPs. I still play cassette tapes. And CDs.
I don't stream anything. I do have music loaded onto my iPad, but I copied the music files from a CD to my desktop, then transferred them to the iPad.
If we insist that we humans must make money, and if we can't make money being creative, or we go on strike for better wages for our creative work, and the capitalist response is to say 'we don't need you we have AI', then steals the work of creative people, what are we as a society, then?
I hear people 'defending' AI as just being another new sort of technology that we can use to our benefit. They might be correct. But I fear, as with so many other things, the lowest common denominator will become the new 'norm'.
So no, I won't be using Chat GPT or any other form of content scraping. So far I doubt my personal production of words will be fodder for any LLM. I did a quick look at the list of authors that were 'stolen' from, and I could not find any weaver whose content had been scraped, but I didn't check every weaver who publishes. Mine were not included, which was a relief.
Sometimes being 'small' and addressing a slice of a niche market, NOT going the mainstream publishing route, but self-publishing, is a Good Thing. Other times, it's not much fun, especially when the load to market my work falls on my shoulders, with no help from a marketing division to get the word out.
I'm still waiting for reviews of Matrix, by the way.
OTOH, I have been sitting on this email for several months, not sure I would - or should - share. It's a response from Elaine Igoe, whose book broke open my thinking last year and set me on a new path for thinking about how threads interlace.
I've decided that she would most likely be ok with my sharing so here goes:
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Both Brassard yarns.
Yes, they are different shades of red, but they also behaved quite differently in the weaving and wet finishing.
Is this uncommon?
Actually? No. It is frequently a cause of lamentations and woe when someone purchases yarn from a supplier, combines them in a textile only to discover they wind up with very different rates of shrinkage. Or other cause for consternation.
Which is one reason why I don't very often use big bold solid stripes of colour.
The brighter red *may* have been spun with fewer twists per inch. I didn't look at it that closely, to be honest. Neither did I use them in the same cloth. Because I've had other colours behave differently, too, like the forest green.
Erring on the side of caution, I tend to use these yarns either thoroughly 'mixed' (to equalize whatever differences they may have) or strictly all by themselves.
After wet finishing, one of the reds looks 'fuzzy', the red and white blend more, making a sort of pink (no there was no fugitive dye in the water - I checked - it *is* red, after all) and generally feels 'smoother' than the other. Which leads me to believe that the difference is in the tpi. But again, I didn't actually check, so I could be wrong.
While all else was equal - they were woven on the same warp - the rates of shrinkage were different as well. They were also wet finished at the same time, so IF there was fugitive dye *both* towels ought to be tinted pink. And they are not.
The yarns beat in differently, so even though they have the same number of picks per towel, the fuzzy one is longer than the other. It is also narrower, so higher shrinkage rate of the weft of this particular red than the other.
None of these things makes either towel 'wrong'. It's just different. Because...it depends...
So, same supplier, different results. Why?
Well, my stash is (ahem) elderly, and the yarns may have been purchased many years apart. Therefore there *may* have been a change of some sort - different spinning mill, different set up for spinning, etc. One of the things I learned when I ordered yarn directly from the spinning mill was that *I* needed to tell *them* the technical details of what I wanted them to do - i.e. twists per inch for the singles and the ply. Even so, mistakes were made from time to time, like the one time I got a shipment of singles 6 instead of the 2/8 I ordered. The mill took the shipment back, no question, when they looked up my order, saw that I had NOT ordered energized single 6s...
Most weavers don't have a lot of knowledge about how yarn is made. I suggest they learn. If nothing else, The Intentional Weaver will give an overview of fibre characteristics and very basic information on what to look for in a yarn.
Monday, September 25, 2023
Sunday, September 24, 2023
So it is with this series.
I have a queue of designs I've messed about with over the months, some of them I found acceptable at the time. Now? Not so much.
My approach to designing in a series is to build on what I've done before. Therefore some of the designs are minor 'tweaks' to a previous draft, and therefore quite derivative of previous work.
With not being able to weave for nearly three weeks, and then only for limited amounts of time since then, my weaving pace has been slowed considerably.
Right now I'm managing one towel a day - on a good day. With hope of treatment and a new pain med, I've been 'pushing' that - a little - and weaving a bit longer, But progress seems hopelessly slow, given I still have mercerized cotton to weave and made a promise to myself that I won't stop until it's gone (as in, too little to weave a towel).
However, the other day as I was at the loom with only surface attention required, I realized that I could pretty much use any four block twill design and translate it into this weave structure. (Still no firm idea what to call it - 'shifted' twill blocks seems to be sticking - in my mind, at least.)
The other night I took a look at the 'traditional' Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws design and decided that while I wouldn't want to replicate it exactly, I could fairly easily convert it into something similar.
For reasons, I didn't do an exact 'copy', plus there is an issue of the two circles being two different sizes (because I'm lazy and threading that last 'block' is awkward and I just donwanna), but I think this draft will do.
Making this connection means - if I want to - I can go through my previous block twill designs (of which there are many!) and use them as springboards to spark new designs in this weave structure.
However, I am watching the pile of mercerized cotton going down and by the end of this year may be finished with it.
If (and it's a huge 'if') I can become more functional and at least go back to two hours of weaving a day, that will up my productivity and hopefully allow me to finish this combination of yarns and do something else for a while.
However, I'm not 'done' with tea towels - yet. When I'm finished with the mercerized cotton as weft, I still have 2/16 unmercerized cotton to use up.
And once I'm done with *that*, it will be time to consider making more scarves. I can see this weave structure making nice scarves with 2/16 bamboo rayon, and various fine rayon wefts. Since I have a stash of *that* to use up, it seems like a reasonable goal to work towards.
Because I can see yet more potential for this weave structure, so why not?
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Breaking down my reality bubble has been a lifelong task.
Today someone did a really excellent job of discussing the phrase '1st world problems' in a way that caused me to stop and think about that phrase more consciously.
I stopped using that phrase a number of years ago.
Thing is, I began to realize that when people used it, they were insinuating that 'we' (N. Americans, mostly) were 'better' than other countries because 'our' problems were trivial. When it comes right down to it, our population of unhomed people is just exactly as deplorable as it is in any other country. But the assumption in NA is that if you don't have a home, you are unhoused due to some character failing because we are a 'rich' nation. Therefore if we are a 'rich' nation, no one is unhoused unless they aren't trying hard enough, working hard enough. Or, it's because immigrants have 'taken our jobs and homes'.
It's a very 'privileged' point of view, and one I began to bristle at when I heard it. Especially coming from my own mouth. So I stopped.
Changing one's perspective is difficult when you are inundated every day with media that tells you that *you* are special, just because you are a citizen of a particular country.
The USA continually tells their population that they are *number 1* when in fact they fall far short on many metrics that make for a 'good' country - universal health care, education, child mortality.
Now we have the far right telling us (it isn't just the US, the far right is fomenting anger around the globe) that the reason we can't have nice things is because (pick boogie man of the week).
Their whole agenda is to divide and conquer. The more they yell about protecting their children (from drag queens but not white dudes with arsenals), the more they yell about protecting 'family values' (from LGTBQ+), the more they explain in words of one syllable that they *need* to 'control' their children in order to 'protect' them...the more concerned I become.
If you are liberal leaning, do you know about the IDU?
The International Democrat Union.
Don't let the word 'Democrat' fool you. They are no more 'democratic' than the Nazis were 'socialist'.
If you don't know who or what they are, go look them up. Find out who supports them financially and who they are friends with. What seeds of discontent are they sowing?
When the alt right screams about conspiracies, it's because they are rife with them. Every accusation is a confession.
If you are liberal leaning, make sure that in Canada no Conservative politicians are elected - until they become truly 'conservative' instead of alt right.
That applies for every single election you can vote in - school board, city council, provincial, federal.
The alt right is LOUD and thinks they are in the majority. They are not. We need to show them that they are still the minority.
Last week there was a protest against teaching about sexual orientation in schools in my very conservative town. Approximately 120 people showed up and and yelled a lot about 'protecting' their children. There were about 300 people who showed up to *support* educating children.
Don't let the loudness drown out more inclusive approaches to how we treat other people. Because the far right wants to choose who is 'worthy' and who is not. In my opinion, we are *all* 'worthy' of being treated like a human being - fed, housed, healed when sick.
And for goodness sake, realize that the notion of being a '1st world country' is at best antiquated, at worst really inaccurate.
Friday, September 22, 2023
Cotton bolls on the plant, ready for harvesting
My mother would be horrified at the level of sharing I do about the things I am going through, especially the health issues.
"It's no one else's business!"
True. It isn't anyone else's business what I'm going through, so why do I choose to 'share'?
This blog was started as a celebration of life after a very difficult time of health issues that, quite frankly, could have taken me out in 2008, just like they had taken my younger brother from us. As such the blog became a diary of what I was going through, and a declaration that I was going to stick around, for as long as I could, to keep encouraging people to keep going, as well.
Because ill health is not a 'failing'. Not of one's character, or virtue.
It can be, quite simply, bad luck.
Sometimes it is an injury, sometimes it is fueled by one's own genetics. Sometimes you pull the short straw.
That doesn't always mean living is over. It also doesn't mean that someone is having an 'easy' time of it.
Our society seems to worship youth and good health, offering up 'magic bullet cures' when sometimes? There aren't any.
I am extremely fortunate in that I live in a country with universal health care. That doesn't mean it is perfect, but it means I'm not going to go bankrupt or need to refrain from seeking care when I need it.
We tend, in our society, to ignore people with disabilities, as they are called, while assuming other issues are not issues of disability, in no small part because the 'aids' are so obvious and acceptable that they aren't even considered 'disabilities' any more. Corrective lenses. Dental appliances from braces to implants. Hearing aids.
I discovered just how reliant we are on our teeth for clear communication when I had a tooth pulled and had to re-train my tongue to form certain sounds with that gap in my teeth. Who knew? Now *I* do.
We accept joint replacement as 'normal' now when previous generations had to simply deal with chronic pain and difficulty doing 'ordinary' tasks.
By-pass surgery saved my life and medication keeps me going.
A fall is assumed to be the trigger of my recent issues and it was a long time in getting to the root cause before I could get treatment that addressed the actual cause.
Even so, the medication I started yesterday is very 'new' to the world of pain control, and isn't actually listed to be effective for peripheral neuropathy in my feet (a lingering effect of the chemotherapy that also saved my life but continues to dog my steps - literally).
My new pain doctor was willing to prescribe it to see if it was going to work. It's too soon to tell because it is necessary to begin at an extremely low dose, then gradually increase the dose to see if it will work and what dosage is best for me to be using. It can take up to 12 weeks to discover what that dosage should be.
Plus we will do corticosteroids to my SI joint, which can mimic sciatic pain very well, in part because it is on the nerveway path of the sciatic nerve. I get my first injection on Oct. 6 and hopefully it will last at least 6 weeks, hopefully longer.
To deal with problems, including health issues, is a very human thing. To be consistently *well* is what is unusual, although it took me decades to figure that out because in our society we don't talk about our ''failings", like poor health.
By being open and acknowledging what I am going through people can take what lessons they like from my journey.
They can feel 'superior' to me because *they* are healthy, when the truth is every person is a micro second away from injury or poor health. Or they can acknowledge that life is a crap shoot, not everyone can win the jackpot, but that doesn't mean their lives aren't worthy or meaningful.
The political climate right now is veering towards the great sifting of who is and is not 'worthy'. During the last election, there were flyers distributed that announced to all and sundry that 'we' needed to get rid of the 'useless eaters'. (That phrase is so abhorrent I can barely type it.)
Who do they lump into that category? Anyone they decide to put there.
I am reminded of the statement by Martin Niemoller:
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Monday, September 18, 2023
A while ago someone contacted me indicating that since I was an 'influencer' they would like to give me the opportunity to present their products to my 'base' - for payment.
This summer I was contacted by someone who wanted me to arrange for them to post content to someone else's blog. Yes, I knew that person, but I have NO control over what they post on their blog! They were persistent enough I blocked them.
Earlier this month that same person contacted a friend of mine (how they got my friend's contact info I have ZERO idea) asking them to arrange to get their product mentioned on MY blog. (!)
First of all, I'm not an influencer. I don't have thousands of people who follow my blog, and even if I did, I would not be hawking someone else's MLM products on MY blog. I don't really care how much they are willing to pay me.
If I were an influencer, the entire weaving community would be sitting at their loom ergonomically, holding their shuttle 'under' hand, and wet finishing their textiles.
But they aren't.
I can't even get the entire weaving community to accept the term 'wet finishing' to apply to the process the web goes through the first time it hits the water.
The weaving community is small, and it doesn't take long for the opinions of one person to percolate down to another. So it was with a conversation on social media where a 'name' person was asked about the term 'wet finishing', and what was that all about anyway?
The answer? The 'name' person mused that they thought it was pretentious.
So, ok, I'll own that. I'm pretentious.
I'm an advocate for people to understand what wet finishing *is*, why it is necessary, and how to do it.
Do I care that some people consider me 'pretentious' for using the term, for advocating for people to recognize that the process isn't just 'washing' it? Nope. Obviously *they* aren't going to be swayed by my opinion.
But neither am I going to be swayed by theirs!
Ditto weavers being aware of working ergonomically. I've had people flat out tell me that the way they hold the shuttle hasn't injured them. But here's the thing. Some people DO get injured, and for them, it matters how they hold the shuttle, how they sit at the loom, that their bench is too low and invites lower back pain.
I hope the nay-sayers appreciate that they have healthy bodies because people like me? Don't.
I am currently dealing with back issues, not particularly caused by weaving, but by injury. They are interfering in my ability to weave, and I am hoping the new meds and injection will allow me to keep weaving for a few more years.
But I am firmly of the opinion that had I *not* been weaving ergonomically I would have run into injury long before 40+ years of weaving.
So I will say it again. It isn't finished until it's wet finished. If you feel pain while weaving, stop. Rest. Stretch. Do something else that requires different muscles. Analyze your process, check the bench height, make sure you are sitting hips higher than knees, back straight, up on your sitz bones, not on your coccyx (if you can, not everyone can do a pelvic tilt), and hold your shuttle 'under' hand. Make your motions small, not large, reduce the wear and tear on your muscles, and if you feel pain...stop.
I will bang these drums, pretentiously, for as long as I can...
Stay safe, healthy and well so you can keep weaving for as long as you want to do so.
Magic in the Water, The Intentional Weaver and Stories from the Matrix all available here
Sunday, September 17, 2023
Saturday, September 16, 2023