Saturday, September 30, 2023



autumn colours

We are headed into Thanksgiving (Canadian) soon, and the trees are beginning to wear their autumn splendour.  

Living where I do (around the 54th parallel N) we have (or used to) have distinct seasons.  Winter was frequently 'too long', but we had definite winter, spring, summer and autumn.  The transitional stages between the seasons could spring break up.

But things are changing.  The seasons are less predictable now, and no one truly knows what the future holds in terms of climate.  Will we fix the problem or keep swimming in De Nile until the damage is not repairable?  

Given my age, I won't have to live with the consequences of our folly of denial for very long.  That doesn't make me any less aware of the damage and harm that awaits us if we don't do *something* soon.  And sooner, rather than later.

The problem is, it's not an easy fix.  It isn't like the hole in the ozone layer - that was a pretty simple fix, and the world rallied and got it done.  This is a multi-stage failure on so many levels, ignored for long enough that there may never be a fix back to 'normal', just a never ending dealing with trauma caused by one 'natural' disaster after another.  Plus add active misinformation being amplified, and here we are.

The last report I heard about wildfires in Canada was somewhere around 17 million hectares of forest burned.  (For my US friends a hectare is far larger than an acre.)  (A hectare is nearly 2.5 acres.) 

17 MILLION hectares.  17 MILLION hectares of wood, burned in Canada, releasing one of the largest single dumps of carbon into the air in a single wildfire season.  Ever.  (The Amazon forest may be worse, I haven't seen the numbers for it.  I'm just focused on N. America at the minute.)

Will our purchase of a hybrid vehicle and a heat pump fix this problem?  No.  It won't.  But at least we are doing what WE can to not contribute more to the problem.

Our furnace broke down last January during a cold snap of -30 C temps.  We 'fixed' it but it has never felt entirely 'secure' so we thought it over and decided that if we were going to get a new heating system we had to look at a heat pump.  Now most heat pumps don't work well at colder temps - one of the reasons we had hesitated for this long to even consider one - but we are going to go ahead and keep our natural gas furnace as an 'emergency' back up for those -20 C and lower, temps.

Because the world 'heating up' doesn't mean that we won't still get cold weather.  It just means that weather is going to become more and more unstable and harder to predict.  

Add to that our province is in a state of drought.  Yes, the 'wet coast' province is in a state of drought.  With mountain ranges that encourage any moisture in the air to drop, we are in an official state of drought.

If we think 2023 was bad, we may have more 'interesting' times coming in 2024.  Especially given this winter is an El Nino year.  

If you do nothing else, listen to the politicians.  Ask them for their *solutions* to issues like climate change.  Don't accept "It's the other guys fault" as a valid answer.  Press for actual solutions.  Find out the actual *planks* in their party platform and if all they have to offer is 'It's other guy's fault, get rid of him, elect me"?  Don't.  Don't elect them.  They have nothing to offer.  Or, as some say - all hat, no cattle.

Climate change isn't going to be fixed in a day and yes, there are pressing problems in so many other areas, but climate change is our future.  If we want one that isn't going to continually get worse, we have to stop ignoring it and at least TRY to slow it down.

For us, we bought air filters not just because of covid but because of the increasing numbers of wildfires in our province.  We have had almost continual 'smoke alert' days since MAY.  The filter has been running on high more days this year than the previous two years combined.  

As we head into winter the fires should go out.  But we have no idea what is in store for us in the coming years.  I suppose once the entire forest is burned down we'll at least have fewer wildfires?

Friday, September 29, 2023



fell is 4 inches from the breast beam

with beater forward up against the fell, the web is just touching the shuttle race

with the fell now 3 inches from the breast beam...

the beater is now 'scraping' across the web as the web needs to bend to get by the shuttle race

There is talk of 'sweet spots' and how important to keep the fell within the 'sweet spot' between the breast beam and the beater.

On a loom like the Megado, it seems like there is a huge space between the breast beam and the beater - and there is.  That means that the sweet spot on the Megado is larger than most looms.

But!  It isn't as large as some people might think.

Generally I set the fell at about 4" from the breast beam because any closer and the beater begins to scrape against the web.  With this particular cloth that isn't a huge problem, but if I were weaving something less stable the beater can begin to shove the picks out of their proper alignment.

And unless you look underneath at your web, you might never see what was happening because it's all happening below, out of sight.  Until you do get to see the web when it comes off the loom, or you notice something peculiar on the cloth beam.

Likewise I tend to advance the fell when the fell is still a distance away from the beater, due to the tension forces on the warp.

What do I mean?  I've written about tension forces on the warp extensively in Stories from the Matrix, but essentially the closer the fell moves to the beater, the tighter the tension becomes, the more the weaver has to work to open the shed, even as the shed reduces in size.  Yes, even on the Megado, which has a 'floating' breast beam.

How do I know?  Because I pushed to see how far I could successfully weave before needing to advance the fell.  

Even so, the distance between the breast beam and beater is such that I can easily weave about 3" before I need to advance the fell, compared to *most* (not all) looms where the distance is between 1 and 2 inches, depending on the loom and how much distance there is between the breast and back beam and the position of the beater at 'rest' against the castle.

Recently I saw someone comment that the Louet floating breast beam means they don't have to adjust their tension.  Which isn't actually accurate.

What the floating breast beam does is to move slightly when the shed opens in order to keep the tension on *all* the warp threads more equal.

With a rising shed loom, the tendency is for the ends that are lifted to be under greater tension than those left down.  Louet has come up with some nifty engineering with reduces that tension inequality.

But the loom setting your tension for you?  Nope.  You still have to do that every time you advance the  warp.

The only exception to that is a loom with a live weight brake system.  Once the tension is set, it will remain the same throughout until you change something.  Even so, the 'live' weight may need to be adjusted as the circumference of the warp beam changes.  The larger the circumference, the more weight is needed to hold tension on the warp.  As that circumference reduces, the weight may need to be reduced.

As depends...



air horn

When I took a marketing class a bazillion years ago, the definition of 'marketing' was given as sharing information while 'advertising' was paying for media - ads on radios (yes, those were still a thing in those days), newspapers (ditto), tv, magazines.  Now it would be FB ads.  Or ads on apps.  

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.

But I also use it to promote my products - mostly books, right now, and my online classes.

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.  

Just saying.

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

I Think Therefore...


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:

Hi Laura
Thanks so much for sharing this with me! It really makes me so happy and validated that you have connected with it. I really love the way that technical weave information, pedagogy and subjective creative journey are all there on the page. And I've only read the first few essays! The connection to Yunkaporta is really interesting too.

Would you mind if I shared your work with my colleagues and students? I would be happy to pay for a copy of your book or make a donation to somewhere of your choice?

At Chelsea, students are asked to undertake what they call 'critical practice' projects - aimed at integrating practice with theory, the outcome being both practical and written. I think your work would provide a great example to them. My colleague who coordinates 'critical practice' would be fascinated too, I'm sure. 

Your book's turn to become the teacher!

Very best wishes,

Dr Elaine Igoe (she/her)
Senior Lecturer and Year 3 Leader, BA (Hons) Textile Design
Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London

Wednesday, September 27, 2023



Abby Franquemont's book Respect the Spindle

A couple of days ago I posted about Abby's book and tools.  Then she discovered that her book, Respect the Spindle had been used by a LLM (Large Language Modeling?) site to train AI.  Without her permission, of course.

Along with hundreds of other authors who had their creative work scraped to 'train' AI.  (Which isn't actually 'intelligent', just a plagiarism tool.)

The results were...cringe worthy...if you know much of anything about the subtleties of the craft of hand spinning.

Why does it matter that  poor/plagiarized information will now be available about a craft that we love (because I'm quite sure weaving will also be subjected to this treatment - and there is *already* enough poor info out there - we really don't need more)?

Well, it matters *because* it's not correct.  Or only marginally correct.  And only by the very broadest definition.

Experts in the field of textiles have been fighting a losing battle for as long as I have been weaving, trying to provide correct information.  Now we have plagiarism sites that are going to pump the nonsense out 24/7.

It isn't bad enough we get word salad from our elected 'leaders' about all sorts of things, now we are going to have word salad about so many other things, from cooking to crafting.

I see people whiffing away concerns about such sites but here's the thing:  if we begin to rely on such sites for our information, we will all become progressively less informed.  About *everything*.  Wikipedia will become a hodge podge of word salad.  

If you value *good* information about weaving, learn who is providing it.  If they write books, buy them.  If they offer online classes, register for them.  Do *not* rely on plagiarism sites for any level of information.  And don't for goodness sake, use them because they are filled with nonsense.

Plus, you know, the plagiarism thing.

Buy the actual books from the actual authors who actually know the things.  

Mine are here.

My classes are here and here

Abby is here

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

It Depends!


Two different red weft threads - same supplier

You would be correct in assuming that, given I am weaving down my stash, the two weft threads in these two towels were sourced from different suppliers.


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. 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

"Old School"


Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont

This morning Abby Franquemont did a short video explaining how spindles are legitimate spinning tools because they are better at some things than a wheel.  They are a tool that does some things better than a wheel, kind of like a knife is not a cleaver and why a chef would want both in their toolbox.

I thought about what she said for about a nano second and realized the same can be said for many weaving tools, as well as spinning tools.

For example, so many people insist that end feed (delivery) shuttles are the 'best' shuttle to use.

And are surprised that I don't, as a matter of routine, use them - because I no longer use a fly shuttle - which is what an end feed (delivery) shuttle was originally designed for.

It isn't that I can't use one.  I just find them unnecessary for 99.9% of my weaving needs.  I actually use a stick shuttle more frequently than I use an end feed (delivery) shuttle. 

I use a computer assisted dobby, not because I can't weave without one, but it makes what I want to accomplish a lot easier.  For example, I can weave a complicated overshot pattern on my four shaft counter balanced loom, but it takes a lot more attention and concentration than weaving a tea towel with a 100+ pick repeat on the Megado.  What can I say?  I'm 'lazy'.

I'm also dealing with brain fog from pain/painkillers most days, so the mechanical assist is very welcome.  

That doesn't mean I can't also sit down and do a complex pickup design using a stick shuttle.  Just that I need to choose my days and check my energy spoon drawer.

I like a very specific style of hand shuttle.  The doesn't make the ones I dislike 'bad', just that I *prefer* that one style.  Others may have a different preference.  And if that preference includes an end feed (delivery) shuttle, that is *their* preference.  

MY preference does not invalidate someone else's preference.  Which is a really good concept to keep in mind, not just about weaving, but life choices as well (imho).

However, that said, a new weaver might want to pay attention to what more experienced weavers do and choose as their default tools.  And then find out how to best use them!

For example, I still use good old graph paper when it comes to laying out certain types of designs.  I also have Fiberworks weaving software, but it doesn't always do what I want it to do, in the way I need it done.

So it was with the new 'shifted twill blocks' weave structure I've been playing with.  I tried to lay it out in Fiberworks, but then had to find my graph paper and grab a pencil in order to clearly understand what I needed to do, then to make the weave do what I wanted it to do.

Over the weekend, I grabbed graph paper again because I needed to lay out a design and doing it in Fiberworks wasn't working for me - and I don't have the skills to use other design software.  It was far faster and easier to grab paper, pencil *and eraser* in order to lay the design out.

Now, however, I need to render the information in a way that the editor for SOS can work with it.  So that's (one of) my job(s) today.  Get that information finalized and send the files to SOS for the sectional beaming class, coming in November.  I'm very late sending it, but I'm finally confident I've got it correct.

Too frequently we carry biases in our attitudes.  We should at least understand why the various textile tools exist and what they do.  

I have the deepest respect for people who work with tools that I don't use because I recognize that they are using the best tools for the job - or that fit their environment (space issues) or physical needs, or just what they want to do.

While it is possible to weave a tapestry on a floor loom, it may not actually be the best tool for the job in hand.  While it is possible to weave with 3 rigid heddles on a rigid heddle loom, it might actually be easier to just use a floor loom - but the weaver may not have the financial or space resources to have a floor loom.  

So, utmost respect to those textile workers who use different tools than I do.  I see you making wonderful textiles.  I see you employing skills I don't have, understanding those tools (Inge Dam, for example, who incorporates tablet weaving *with* floor loom weaving), backstrap weavers, ikat weavers, brocade weavers, drawloom weavers etc., and celebrate your skill and creativity.

Above all, when it comes to any textile art/ depends is the only correct short answer.  It is in the 'it depends' part of learning about textiles that we begin to master the craft.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Working in Series


inspired by Snail's Trails and Cat's Paws

As I work through a series, I usually generate a lot more designs/drafts than ever see the loom.

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

"Dirty Laundry"


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:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

—Martin Niemöller

And yes, they came for Mr. Niemoller, too, in the end.  We need to choose.  To see the humanity of ALL of us, protect ALL of us, regardless of health, skin colour, sexual orientation, etm.  

So I will share my humanity, my very human struggles, my desire to remain, to teach, to create, to believe in the possibility of change for good.  

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Wish Me Well


We may have had first frost overnight - at least at higher elevations.  Here it wasn't so much 'frost' as heavy dew.  But at last, at last, the temps are heading downwards, which I hope means that wildfire 'season' will soon be ending.  Fingers crossed.

I got the next warp weaving and overall I'm pleased enough.  With the new colour warp I have new ideas percolating.  The dark colours (deep, deep blue warp, dark wefts) mean I feel like a change in direction is about to come over me.  

But it will take time and I will have to be patient.

However, the good news?  The new pain medication has arrived and I can pick it up later today.  I'm not sure how my body will react to it, so fingers crossed the adverse effects will be minor and the beneficial effects, major.

It has been a rocky road, for sure, and age takes a toll on everyone's body, some more than others.

My appointment with the physiotherapist yesterday went well.  Now that we know it is the SI joint that has been causing my problems, she was able to check if it was still mobile (it is) and will focus on the massive muscle spasms in my right hip.  And once the spasms are gone, it will be time to work on increasing strength to help support the injured SI joint.  

The hope is that the corticosteroid injection will relieve the inflammation, although after 9 years I don't know how much 'healing' will be possible.  But the fact that the joint is still mobile is at least good news, and who knows?  The body is pretty darned amazing, all in all.  And once the inflammation has been reduced, the pain should be, as well.  And the new pain medication may just help with the peripheral neuropathy, too.  

Can I hope for pain free?  Perhaps only less pain, but less pain is still...less pain.  And I will take that.

Hope springs eternal.  And I have a little patch of it beginning to sprout.

Send me good healing mojo, juju, gold dust, unicorn sparkle dust - whatever - I could surely use some just now.

In the meantime, I *can* still weave, even at a reduced rate, so I will.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Leap of Faith


dark blue warp, dark forest green weft (colour not true irl)

Finally got the next warp beamed, threaded, sleyed and tied on and began weaving over the weekend.

I'm still on 'light' duty, only weaving 30 minutes at a time, some days only one session.  But it's better than nothing, and this time will pass.

Since I was a bit 'anxious' I'd made a poor decision with this warp, I really wanted to at least see it woven, so I was pleased when I got the first half towel done and was able to declare it would 'do'.

It's actually darker than this, but the camera caught the 'extra' light bounced off the mercerized cotton and brightened the green quite a bit.  However, I think it's a success, even so.  

Once the warp is wet finished I will decide which side of the cloth will be the right side, but right now I like this side enough that it may be the right side.  Or not.  Some decisions are better left until after wet finishing.

There is enough of this dark green to weave between 8 to 10 towels, and then I'll switch to a dark navy blue, which will give a bit of a 'damask' look to the cloth.  

These towels will not be attractive to people who like brighter colours, but I think they will look elegant.  And they will dry dishes.  And, even more important, use up the last of my mercerized cotton stash.

Once that is gone, I will go back to using up some of my unmercerized 2/16 cotton.  There are many, many tubes of natural white left from beaming the white warps which will work as bobbins in the shuttle.  The dark blue warp and white weft should have a 'delft pottery' look about them.  I need to design some more patterns that will pay on that 'theme', but since I have the rest of the mercerized cotton to use up 'first', I have time to play.

In the meantime, I will post a newly finished towel to ko-fi when I'm done here, and continue hemming the white and red towels I got pressed over the weekend.  Once they are done, they will be listed as well.

Hopefully the new pain meds will arrive today - or soon - and things should start to get a bit better.  But getting to the loom at least once a day means I generate some endorphins and that helps, so my goal is to keep weaving.  

For as long as I can...

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

What's in a Name?



skirt fabric, sash, head dress

skirt fabric, right and wrong side (colours were much darker in real life - my camera simply could not capture the intensity!)

One of the things I've done is weave fabric for the local Ukrainian dance troupe.

All of their dances are done in the traditional dress of the region/village the dances are associated with so they have various outfits suitable for the regional dances they present.

As I dug into the 'proper' textiles for each, I found that the clothing for these various dances are not 'uniform'.  As in they are not identical from person to person.

They have a similarity in appearance from a distance, but each maker can make small changes that make their clothing 'unique' to them.

It was a very interesting revelation for someone who wanted to make sure what I was weaving was 'correct'.  Once again, textiles were far more complex and nuanced than anticipated.

Over the years I have worked to break down my reality bubble and one of the things I have tried to address are my 'settler' assumptions.

I am a person of various European ethnic backgrounds, living on Turtle Island.  As such my 'norm' is that I wear whatever is available when I need to purchase something.  With a mixed ethnic background, I have no 'traditional' dress.  

If I wear a Ukrainian dance outfit, or a Swedish outfit from, say, Leksand, I am 'borrowing' from another culture.

If I were to wear a jingle dress and attend a pow-wow or potlatch, I would be 'borrowing' from another culture.

Over the years I have come to understand how my 'borrowing' of such traditional garb is rife with issues.

When a First Nations person wears their traditional garments to a pow-wow, or their regalia to a significant ceremony, they are NOT wearing a costume.  They are expressing their culture.  Their traditional garb is significant to them, carries meaning that I, as a person of European extraction, has no understanding about.

It is only recently that academia in Canada has been 'allowing' First Nations students to wear their regalia to accept their degrees, finally understanding that the garments they choose to wear signify a deep culture and value set at least as old as academic robes in European culture do.  Perhaps, even, longer, given the age of some of the academic institutions in Canada.

I celebrate the original peoples of this land and their search for their cultural roots and heritage.  I share examples of lovely robes that are being made now, understanding that, just like the Ukrainian dance garb, the significance of the symbols may be expressed with some individual expression, while staying 'true' to the overall cultural norms and expectations.

And I do not call them 'costumes'. Not the European cultural dress, nor the First Nations cultural dress.

I endeavour to give as much respect to the traditional garb of ALL cultures on this planet as I do to the ones that are tied to Europe.

Because frankly?  I do not have traditional dress, historical dress, in the same way that others do.  So I show respect to all of them, as much as possible.

As a weaver, I can deeply appreciate the skill involved in all of the traditional clothing that may be seen in my community at cultural events.  With the coming of the university, our ethnic mix has expanded far beyond what was available when I was growing up here. We have a much broader mix of different cultures, both in food, and in music.  Canada Day has become to mean a 'food court' in the park and different cultural groups taking centre stage for an expression of their music and dance.  

The more we 'see' each other in our complete context, the better able we are to 'see' each other as 'human'.  So I study textiles from other cultures.  Marvel at the level of talent and expertise on display.  Celebrate when people learn how these textiles are made and share their knowledge.

So, no, I'm not Ukrainian by 'birth', but I was happy to contribute to the local dance troupe by making textiles for them to continue to keep their traditional dance alive and well and celebrate with them by honouring their ancestry.  

Monday, September 18, 2023



shuttle held 'under' hand

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.

I declined.

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  

Classes online at School of Sweet Georgia and Handwoven

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Blogging is Dead


Autumn colours

I began this blog just over 15 years ago.

In that span of time, much has changed.  

In 2008 there were lots of blogs.  In fact there was a 'web ring' so that if you found one of the blogs that belonged to the 'ring' you could follow the ring to discover other blogs.  Over the years bloggers fell by the wayside, choosing to do other things (You Tube, Tik Tok?) or just finding life too busy to do their craft and/or post about it.

I joined Twitter (not sure why, someone said it was a good move to make) and Facebook.  I gradually left nearly all of the weaving groups I belonged to for various reasons.

Mostly I left because I didn't want to argue with people.  I don't need to be 'right', I need to be happy.  And arguing makes me unhappy.  So, more and more I found myself responding to things I was seeing online by writing a 'response' here, in my own space, and not, you know, addressing anyone in particular, just those who were interested in what I have to say.

At one point I remember someone making a comment vociferously disagreeing with what I had to say and someone else responding before I saw the comment that this *was* 'my' space and if they disagreed they didn't need to come here to read what I had to say.  

But now it's 2023 and Twitter is the realm of fascists and like, and I'm long gone.  Facebook is getting ever more annoying, but I have a large number of 'friends' on Facebook, some of them I only interact with there.  And sometimes I find out that they are having a hard time so I can reach out via Messenger and send them best wishes.  This year alone I've discovered via Facebook/Messenger that two people I know have died.  I am sad they are gone, grateful to have known them.  Others I have only known via Facebook, but these two I actually knew, liked, and will miss.

As we slide slowly into autumn, I remain hopeful that with the lowering of temperatures the wildfires will die out and we can live without the smoke pall.  For a few months, anyway.  The past few days have been pretty awful, frankly, but we are still in no danger from fire itself.  Others are, still.  

Climate change is NOT a myth, it is here and it will stay here if we fail to address changes in our lives.  Constant smoke pall in the summer, floods, landslides, hurricanes/tornados, sinkholes, drought, bears needing to come into town in *droves* because the berries ripened the beginning of August and there is no food in the bush.

There is little that I can do, but I will continue to do what I can.  

And I will continue to weave as much as I can (hopefully more with the new treatments coming up), and muse about things here.  Because blogging might be dead, but I'm not.  Yet.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Beginnings, Endings


fibre to yarn to cloth...

All things, in our reality, begin some point, end.

This seems a simple enough concept but one that some people find difficult.  Especially the endings part.

In weaving I suggest to students that they get really proficient at all the steps involved in getting yarn into cloth so that when they have to begin again, they don't dread it.  But so many people wind up spending a lot of time and energy on avoiding such things as winding a warp, dressing the loom, especially the threading.  They work out ways to have 'endless' warps.  OTOH, there is no such thing.

Because every thread has a beginning...and an ending.  And at some point they are still going to have to deal with that ending, and the beginning that follows.

I suggest that people take the time and energy to work out how best to work efficiently so that they don't wind up with a big mess on their hands.  And I see suggestions about 'tie more choke ties', and 'wind smaller chains', which ultimately means more work, therefore more time to get the loom dressed.

Recently I saw someone recommend that they never wind a warp chain bigger than 36 threads.

Even at 12 epi, 36 threads is only 3" of warp.  Such a narrow warp chain will frequently twist around itself, and tying each chain off will take a lot longer than winding a chain of 12".

But if the weaver is happy taken far longer to wind their warps, and feels it gives them better results, who am I to say nay?  It's all the new weavers who think this is the only way to approach getting a loom dressed that I would like to address.

It doesn't have to take forever.  It doesn't have to be painful - literally or figuratively.

Learn how to work efficiently and ergonomically.  Learn what the yarn needs in terms of 'control'.  Learn how to utilize tension to be your friend, not an enemy.

I am learning how to approach ending.  Hopefully not for a long time, but we never know when the sands in our hourglass will run out.

My goal for the coming years is to continue to advocate for ergonomic practices when it comes to weaving.  To help people understand the principles of the craft.  To encourage others in their fibre journeys.  

Keep weaving, keep learning, keep trying, keep 'failing', and then trying again.  Not happy with how things are going?  Try something different.  Listen to more experienced people, they may have a nugget of information you can benefit from.  

As ever my books are available from blurb, my classes are at School of Sweet Georgia or Handwoven, my You Tube channel has video clips and I am open to questions at laura at laurafry dot com