Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Number 7


By my reckoning, this is Covid #7.

I long ago lost count of how many flu vaccines I've been given, so when people scornfully ask how many *more* covid jabs am I going to subject myself to, I tell them as many as it takes.

This morning the pharmacist and I chatted while they prepared the syringe, and I told them I'll keep getting them for so long as they are being offered.  Given I'm immune compromised, I want all the protection I can get, which means masking, isolating, distancing AND vaccines.  Because this virus mutates, frequently and in new ways that keep making it dangerous for people like me.

I told them I'm old enough to remember when the polio vaccine came in a pink sugar cube and yes, I have a smallpox scar, but it's on my right arm due to drama while I was getting my shot in the arm.  Not from me, but from one poor kid, phobic about needles.  In the midst of the kafuffle, the nurse grabbed the nearest arm, which happened to be my right, and jab.  One thing about the kid's meltdown, there was plenty of distraction to get jabs into lots of other arms.

If I could have gotten measles and mumps vaccines, I would have happily missed out on getting sick from those particular diseases, too.  And chicken pox with the resulting shingles, especially the last shingles outbreak which was truly horrible and I don't wish that on my worst enemy.

But I'm old enough there weren't vaccines for those when I got sick so...old-fashioned 'get sick, see if you recover'.  I was fortunate in that I did survive.  

The other night on the news it was announced that about 40% of seniors in BC have NOT had Covid while everyone else?  Only 20% have managed to dodge Covid.  And of those seniors who DID get Covid?  A much higher percentage of them died than younger folk.

Well, I'm a senior AND immune compromised and I'm damned if I get sick from a preventable disease by not doing everything in my power to protect myself.  Just like I wear eyeglasses (so I can see) and hearing aids (so I can hear better), I always wear a seatbelt, sunglasses and a hat when in the sun.  I never did take up smoking (yes I tried - a couple of times - and decided I detested it).  I don't drink much and I certainly do NOT drive if I do.

So why are my efforts to remain Covid free considered 'living in fear' - or as someone has flat out said, 'your paranoia about Covid isn't healthy'.

Frankly I consider their denial of Covid as being an actual real hazard to health confusing.  I get that we didn't know the extent of the danger from long term health issues, but now?  About 20% of people who get Covid get Long Covid.  While those may seem like long odds, not worth worrying about, why not ask someone with Long Covid how much fun it is?  With every re-infection, the risk of developing Long Covid becomes greater.  I know several people who are dealing with Covid after effects - diabetes, yes, but other things like bone crushing fatigue, brain fog, kidney damage, vascular damage.  And all those young, supposedly healthy adults suddenly falling over dead from 'undiagnosed heart issues'?  Strokes?  And no, I can't 'prove' it's because of Covid, but...one does wonder...

I already have way more challenges with my health - I do NOT need to add more.

So I will continue.  Masking, isolating, distancing, NOT eating out, NOT going to concerts, NOT going to house parties, hugging, talking, laughing.  Oh how I miss the hugging, talking and laughter.



I'm immune compromised.

I am NOT wanting to die or become sicker/more disabled than I currently am.

See you in 6 months, next Covid shot.  I'll be there with my sleeve rolled up...

Monday, October 30, 2023

A New Week


wool loop scarves, heavily fulled, brushed to raise a nap

Yesterday I got the contract for another zoom presentation - this one in August of 2024.  For Magic in the Water.  :)

The contact form on my website appears to be working again, thanks to the help of my web guru.  

And this week is...fraught...with all sorts of appointments.

However, yesterday I finished the warp on the Megado, and then beamed the next warp.  Today I'm hoping to get my next Covid vax so it will be a good day for 'quiet' activities.  Threading and pressing the towels I wet finished on Friday are top of the list.  If I can get both of those done, I'll be happy to get weaving on the next warp at some point this week.  However, I have physio tomorrow, then the HVAC installation begins on Wednesday and I plan to remove myself to the guild room and see how many of those very dark blue towels I can get hemmed. 

Because the days are closing in for winter and it's really hard to see that dark navy blue in the evening.

I've been mulling over my options for the future.  So far I'm seeing only very slow improvement in my physical capabilities - so slow I told Doug that it was really hard to remember that things were 'worse' a few months ago.  I'm still so...compromised...and dealing with pain, that it's hard to remember that progress has happened, it's been so slow.

On Thursday I get the results of the blood work for the cancer clinic.  I'm hoping I'm still in remission, but I never truly know until I get the test results.  Then I need to phone the pain clinic and give them an update on how the SI injection is working.  I will also ask when I can increase the dose of the new medication, because I *think* it's working to damp down the peripheral neuropathy but I'd be truly grateful to have less pain.

Before I cut the warp off the loom yesterday, I got Doug to take a wee video of me weaving so the physiotherapist can see the physical motions.  That should help her decide if I'm working in a way that helps my body, not harms it further.  Given the damage to my SI joint, she warned me I may need to adjust my physical motions.  

However, I found the paperwork that details the type of cardiac stents I have and they are polymer based, not metal, and 'safe' for an MRI.  So I'm hoping I can get an appointment next month and find out exactly what is going on in my back.

In the meantime, I keep on, keeping on.  I still have stash to use up.  I still have ideas I want to pursue.

Be nice to be more comfortable while I do all that.

Sunday, October 29, 2023



I've been on the internet for quite a long time (1994) and am no stranger to people being...less than civil.  Over the years, I've carefully curated my 'space' on the internet, blocking some, ignoring others.  

This blog (started in 2008) has had its fair share of 'abuse' which I have tended to ignore (ignoring the trolls is the best advice) and largely this approach has worked.

I've had people post 'ads' in the comments for their own 'business', which I generally just delete.  I have actually blocked one or two people because of abusive comments and moved on.  OTOH, when someone posts anonymously, there is no mechanism to block them.  

Over the past month I have been targeted anonymously by one person for harassment and since I can't block them, I can deprive them of air by moderating the comments and when they comment I can delete their abuse before it goes public.

Therefore, for the next while comments to this blog will be moderated so that *you* don't have to see their abuse.  

Having this happen has given me a greater appreciation for my readers.  The people who have found this blog and been supportive and encouraging.  They far *far* outnumber the few who have exhibited negative and in some cases outright disturbing behaviour.

I am grateful those people are still the minority and that I have managed to surround myself with like minded people who believe in love and acceptance, give support and encouragement.

Please do not be put off the moderation.  I get an email when someone comments and can then approve the comment.  I am not trying to prevent people from commenting - it is how I know people are reading and that my words may be resonating with others.  It is this very feedback that keeps me writing.

I hope that the one person who appears to be aiming to spoil my day will soon grow bored with their comments not appearing in public and will go away.  Perhaps they will find something more 'rewarding' to do with their time than spend time typing out abusive comments to post here.  I hope they find the help they need, get the attention they appear to be trying to obtain.

To those people who DO read my posts and interact positively with me, thank you.  I appreciate you and am grateful for the feedback.

Saturday, October 28, 2023



books waiting to be mailed (photo from earlier this year)

It's a bit...fun...self-publishing your own books.  Not only do you get to write the thing in the first place, guide it through publication with the assistance (if you are wise) of an editor, you then get to market it.

During the 'birth' process there is a whole lot of 'wait and see' that happens.  Waiting while alpha readers give feedback, editing, feedback, editing, feedback, editing, finally you have relatively 'clean' copy and you trepidatiously send it off to an actual editor for the final polish and application of lipstick.

It is said that an author never actually finishes writing a book, they simply, at some point, *stop* writing the book.  If they didn't, the damn thing would never see light of day.

So a book gets written, and in between and around doing that, other things also need to get done.

As I wrote the documentation for the sectional beaming class for SOS, the document grew and grew and grew as I thought of yet more things that I felt needed to be said.  In the end, I wound up with a monograph - more than 20 pages plus photographs.  

I won't say it's a comprehensive document, that would have taken a lot longer and me doing a lot more digging than I was willing to do, but it's as comprehensive as I could make it within the context of supporting the video class.  And of course, not everyone will want to do things 'my' way, but perhaps they will see a hint or tip that helps them?

Will I publish it separately from SOS?  No.  If you want it, you can pay SOS $25 for a month's membership, take the class and refer to the supporting documentation provided.  

The coming two weeks are...fraught...with a number of things.  I got another box of Olds homework and there may be two more arriving soon.  The HVAC system will be installed next week, the craft fair and guild sales are happening, and I'm still dealing with three different therapists plus the pain clinic, trying to get more functional.

I can still weave, so I'm doing that as best I can in between juggling multiple medical appointments, including the cancer clinic on Thursday.  I don't think the cancer is back, but I'm in an extremely rare remission which could end at any time.  Like the Sword of Damocles, the prospect of that little life challenge hangs over me.  Living with cancer isn't fun no matter which cancer, or your prospects.

And life keeps lobbing curve balls.

So I try to pause, take a breath, think through what needs doing 'first', then concentrate on doing that thing.  I keep doing my exercises, hoping for more strength and hopefully functionality.  I keep on doing the slow and steady thing as best I can, in spite of my desire to move on to other things.  And not beat myself up too much when I need an afternoon nap.  

It doesn't do to get stuck in what you want to do when another curve ball comes blasting at you, so I dodge and change my expectations.  

Most of all, I keep going.  Because as Winston Churchill supposedly said, if you are going through hell...keep going.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Launch Date


Got word today that the Sectional Beaming class will launch on Nov. 9, 2023.

This class is for people who are beyond beginner level, and want to up their game, maybe beam longer warps, do some 'production' weaving, maybe weave yardage or towels for everyone in the family for Christmas, or play around with what is possible.  I give hints and tips for how I approach designing, and give information for Sister Towels that were woven on the demonstration warp Felicia and I wound onto the loom for the class.  I discuss some pitfalls and trouble shooting issues, but mostly I hope to let people see the possibilities for designing, yes, even on a long warp, and not necessarily wind up with identical items (although I have no trouble weaving lots of the 'same' thing!)

Details are given for the demonstration warp, and I wrote a lengthy 'article' to further explain the technique.

For anyone interested, use the link for School of Sweet Georgia here...  If you sign up on Nov. 1, you will have access to all four of my classes, plus all the rest of the classes SOS has, not just weaving, but spinning, knitting, dyeing, etc. for a full month - or a year if you decide there is more you want to explore.  Then introduce yourself and join in the discussion.  :)

Thursday, October 26, 2023



I've been weaving for a very long time.  I've been studying the ergonomics of the various steps in weaving since day 1.  Well, ok, maybe day 2.

While I cannot claim that everything I do is unique to me - of course it isn't! - I took what was taught and then adjusted it to better fit my goal of working efficiently and ergonomically.  

I tend to do things that others don't.  Which is perfectly fine.  No one has to do everything the way I do.  Everyone has to find the best way for *them*.  Because we are all 'different'.

We are different sizes, have different equipment, different environments, work with different yarns.  We have different approaches, and different preferences.  Our bodies work in different ways.  So there are things I do that some people find 'wasteful' in terms of the use of their time.  For *me*, however, those 'extra' steps save me time further down the process.

When I explained to a student the other day why I did something, I made a point of including the *why* of the process instead of just the *how*.  And I realized that too often the *why* of what I'm doing gets glossed over.  Generally there just isn't the time to go into the whys of the hows, so people don't understand the process or why I do the things I do.

I explained to my student that she needs to weave as if she would play chess, not checkers.  She can't just think about the next move, but the next six moves, the next six steps in the process.  Because you can do things to set up for the next couple of steps in the process that will be more efficient.

Bottom line, however, is that each weaver must figure out what those steps are, and if 'mine' are useful or not.

So here is an explainer of why I tie slip knots into each group of threads as they are threaded through the heddles.

I thread in groups, usually 4, 5 or 6 on a 4 shaft loom, or up to 8 on my 16 shaft Megado.

As each group gets entered into the heddles, they get tied into a slip knot.  Just before I tie the knot, I lift the group upwards and do a quick eyeball check to see if the threads appear to be in their correct order, or if one has 'missed' the eye of the heddle, or gotten snagged and gone into a heddle with another thread.  It happens.  So much easier to correct right then.

Once I've done my check, I tie a slip knot into that group and slide them to my right (I only thread right to left.  I've tried centre out and hated it.  For those who do that, if you prefer it, you should do that.)

Once I've done a threading repeat, I will then tie a slip knot into that repeat and move them to the right.


Because of two reasons.  I tie the slip knot into the repeat as a way to help me keep my place in the threading.  This is important when doing a complex threading, especially over multiple shafts.  I tie the slip knot into the smaller threading group to make sleying easier.

Tieing the slip knot is a matter of a split second.  It is done with a single swift movement, taking barely any time at all.  When I do this, it saves me all sorts of time during sleying and is well worth my time to do it.

Here is a short video showing me sleying and then tieing *that* group into a larger knot in preparation for tieing on at the apron.

When I bundle the groups up this way, it makes the next step in the process easier.  Faster.  I spend less time at the loom doing these steps.

And, less time getting the loom dressed is A Good Thing.

Further to my comment about not feeling very productive while others think I'm 'amazing'?  It's *because* I'm efficient.  I can do things in much less time than others can.

That doesn't make me 'better', or even the 'right' teacher for every student.  But if you like my results, you might want to at least check out what I do?  

We stand on the shoulders of giants.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023



I've always lived my life with 'deadlines'.  It's how I got stuff done.  Even when the 'deadline' was arbitrary - as in, me, saying I want this thing done by that date.  Completely arbitrary.

But if I didn't make a commitment by setting a deadline?  That thing was very likely to not get done at all.

The year of 2023 has been a year of cleaning up the not arbitrary deadlines.  The ones I agreed to, to meet someone else's scheduling.  Generally I enjoyed such projects because I always *always* learned something.  

As I get older, the need for me to accomplish things grows less.  I still want to do stuff, but the spoon drawer is frequently empty - or nearly.  I consider how much energy I have and frequently find myself looking at my task list and...I donwanna.

I suppose this is an indication of aging - paring back on what I do and not being too bothered that I am barely productive these days, compared to what I used to be.

Recently a 'new' friend commented that it seemed like I was always starting a new warp and they were always amazed at how productive I was.  I laughed at the thought that my current level of productivity was anything to be amazed at.

OTOH, I can still weave, and I will continue to weave for the benefits it brings - the mental health, yes, but the physical as well.  Even at the much reduced pace I can manage, Fitbit still thinks that when I'm weaving I'm 'swimming' and credits me with aerobic activity.  This aerobic activity every day (at least I try to do it every day, some days I don't quite manage to get to the loom), is beneficial for my heart health.

I'm supposed to be getting an MRI (soon?  Still no booking date but estimate was sometime in November) and the issue of the stents in my heart rose.  In one of my clean ups I came across the file with my cardiac information and the type of stents I have.  Apparently they are not metal, so it looks like I should be able to have the MRI after all.  I'll give the information to the doctor and let him know, the next time I talk to him.

Because I would like to get the MRI and find out the level of damage in my lower back.  Then see if that will change the approach to my living with the damage.  

I had hoped to get the current warp off the loom and wet finished before the HVAC installation Nov. 1 and 2.  That may not happen as personal maintenance appointments have gotten stacked up for the next 10 days and I may not feel up to getting to the loom.  Like tomorrow with the cancer blood draw (please, let me still be in remission - I don't think I can cope with anything else right now) and then dental hygiene.  But who knows, I may be able to get to the loom at least once.  

We have help coming on the weekend to finish prepping the clean storage room for the work.  I've cleared away the goat trails and now the shelves need to be draped with plastic.  

In the meantime, winter creeps ever closer.  All around us people are reporting snow, but it looks like another week of partially cloudy for us.  The temperatures are dropping and we are getting frost every night now.  Really relieved the new heating system will be running soon.

And just a head's up.  After an anonymous poster left...weird/unsettling...comments on one of my posts, I have enabled moderation for comments.  I am not sure I can block an anonymous poster, but at least I don't have to allow them to be obnoxious on my platform.  This isn't the first time, and usually such...folk...go away if they can't satisfy their urge to...do whatever it is they think they are doing, so I will remove the moderation at some point and see if they come back.  In the meantime, your comments let me know that you are reading and appreciating what I'm posting, so please don't let the moderation put you off contacting me.

And speaking of contacting me, the contact form on my website appears to be working now, so you can contact me that way, as well.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Book Review: Stories from the Matrix


Book Review from Margaret Tayti:

(DISCLAIMER: Laura is a friend of mine, and I received a review copy of Stories from the Matrix - but I would have purchased a copy regardless!)

If you're fortunate, you may have a few 'Crossroads and Connections' friends. The friends who serve as mentor and sounding board, and fit so many other roles - and you find over time, that there's at least some trading of those roles.

Connections are really key to so many things. For example, there are a finite number of ways to interlace threads - they cross over or under, they skip, they twist, they loop - sounds simple, right? 

It Depends. (This is the Short Answer to nearly everything...)

How the threads get to the places where they meet, MATTERS - and the result is an enormous variety of textile traditions, spanning the globe, and human history.

I'm primarily a spinner, and a weaver of narrow goods. Anyone who knows about Laura might think we have very little in common - her career has been the production of VAST amounts of loom-controlled cloth, and teaching others to continue that craft. 

I... make tiny scraps of things, sporadically - often in ways that make some online discussions of 'Slow Cloth' seem ludicrously swift.

And yet, we connect. Our paths differ, each travelling its own way... but there are places where they merge, or where we find ourselves in parallel, each a  thread necessary to the final cloth. 

Many of the essays in Stories capture the essence of those spaces where we connect. They cover some of the important questions we need to ask ourselves, as well as Laura's observations from decades of lived experience as a production weaver.

I've heard many of these topics before, and was present in her studio for a few of them, a number of years ago. Having them collected in one place is like having her over for coffee and a private lesson (without having to wake her up at 3 am, when my muse strikes).

I can curl up with these essays, and be reminded in numerous ways that Laura doesn't think of my collection of sticks, string, and playing cards (or pile of spindles), as 'lesser' when compared to her tools. They're different, of course (I could never put a Megado in a backpack and take it camping) but they're no less suited to what I do than her equipment is to her workflow. The questions she poses to herself, and the observations she makes about her time at the loom, are often hauntingly familiar - in part because weavers still have bodies, in all shapes and sizes, and those bodies are prone to wear and tear if we aren't paying attention.

She has spent a lifetime refining her workflow to put efficiency foremost, and outlines what that can look like in a working studio, where 'waste' has to be balanced against remaining productive and profitable. We both have occasion to be frustrated with bodies that don't always let us do what we want, and she shares some of that journey here, as well. Her solutions may not suit everyone, but the process may be useful to anyone facing the realities of injury, aging, or physical changes.

The essays are as much about the life that surrounds the weaving time, as they are about technique, and I think many are relevant to a broader audience than just weavers. I suspect my Maker friends could benefit from the insights about workspace requirements and adapting to a changing world, and her observations about ergonomics are relevant to other physical skills.

I live close enough to have coffee with Laura, and I'm able to chat with her in person on occasion about refining my weaving technique, and exploring other shared and differing aspects of the craft we both love. It's amazing to be able to just catch up and share projects, or pick her brain when I'm at a decision-making Crossroads.

'Stories' might be the next best thing.

Margaret Tayti
Loomacy and Lace

Monday, October 23, 2023

Monday, Monday


We are at the scrag end of autumn and the trees looked like this about a week ago, but are nearly bare now.  We are in waiting for winter to arrive, which looks like it should be soon, given we are now having frost overnight and temps below zero C.  Yesterday I dug out my 'light' winter coat.  It seems like we went directly from summer to winter.

With the colder temps and the bit of rain we had, the number of wildfires dropped by about 1/3.  Which means there are still way too many fires burning, but at least it looks hopeful that the rest will be conquered - if not by us, by Mother Nature.

But we are still in a state of drought.   The water level in the rivers is deeply concerning - because the water is NOT deep.  It does not bode well for next year if this continues.

OTOH, it is an el nino year, and we could potentially get a snow dump.  At least I hope it will be snow, not rain.  Rain in the winter is horrible because everything gets coated with ice; walking and driving becomes downright dangerous.

I have a few days of 'quiet' with not much on the calendar, until next week when all hell breaks loose.  But hopefully November and December will then calm down.

Personally, I'm far from pain free, but the new pain med *appears* to be starting to work.  I still have other issues and life is far from...comfortable...in this rode hard, put away wet too often, body.  But it seems that weaving doesn't actually make things 'worse' so I try to get to the loom at least once a day, preferably twice, and then I try to ignore the rest of my task list.

I did get the clean storage area dealt with, found some things that had been 'lost' in there and re-homed some of them.  I'm as ready as I can be for the HVAC install next week.

And it's 'official' - one more warp after the current one and I'm 'done' with the mercerized cotton.  I wasn't sure if it would need 2 more after the current one, but I think I can safely transfer whatever is left into my bobbin lace stash and ignore it for a while longer.  One of these days I might even drag that out?  TBD.

But I also have a stack of library books - I send in requests one by one, and then get them in batches, seems like.  Some of my favourite authors are no longer writing, or took a hiatus (because creative people need breaks!) so I've kept my eye open for new authors and have found some that I'm quite enjoying.  

The latest is C. L. Polk, and I really love their turns of phrase and how they use textiles to denote status in the society they have 'built'.  So far I've read one of their books, but yesterday started a second.  I expect I'll keep requesting their books from the library.

And there are puzzles, spinning, and knitting when I'm not weaving - or writing.

I follow some writers on social media and discover that I really am a writer, even if what I write isn't fiction.  I find many points of similarity with other writers.  When I wrote Magic in the Water, I didn't really consider myself a 'real' writer.  Somehow writing technical stuff wasn't really 'real' writing.  It has taken me a long time to accept the mantle of 'author'.

It's been 21 years since I published Magic.  Some people refer to it as a 'classic'.  The fact that people are still recommending it, and others are buying it, surely means something?

Plus the other two I wrote subsequently?  And #4, currently in the hands of an editor.  

Will there be a 5th?  Who knows.  I'm not sure what else I could - or *should* - say.  OTOH, here I am again - writing.  So, who knows?

Just a few Monday morning thoughts before I head to the loom...

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Time is Relative


Time is relative, it is said.  

Relative to what?  

I routinely experience the stretchiness of time as I go to the loom, and then re-enter 'life'.  Because I use weaving as a working meditation, almost before I know it, 45 minutes has gone by, the cassette tape is finished and it is time to stop weaving for a while.

It is an interesting feeling, to on the one hand have time zoom by for a while, then creep by as I wait for answers or things that I'm waiting to happen, occur.

Time becomes very elastic as the seasons change, when we move from 14 hour days of light to 14 hours of dark.

Some people are very affected by the degree of sunlight they experience and I find myself struggling through the February blahs most years.  Historically February is grey and miserable, frequently cold enough to freeze breath or warm enough that we are awash in a slurry of partially melted snow and ice.  Whoever made February the shortest month really knew what they were doing!  

We are coming up to the time change, and I am getting old and cranky enough that I really resent having my day jerked around by an arbitrary setting of the clock.  As a child I was told we did this inconvenience to 'help the farmers', then found out farmers hated it, and in fact one province simply refused to go along with the change.  Parts of my province also refuse to go along with the change.  So, why DO we do it?

When people like me object to the time change there comes a chorus of objections because *they* don't like to get up in the dark, or go home in the dark.  Sweetheart, it doesn't matter where the setting on the clock is, *I* will get up AND go to bed in the dark in the winter, so changing is literally pointless for me, even more so for people in the polar regions where it is dark 24/7 in the winter and light 24/7 in the summer.

Human beings are said to be so 'adaptable' and yet here is another example of us changing things to suit 'us' - or some of us.  

Time has become very elastic as I get older.  I find time drags as I search for my round tuit, then when I finally find it the afternoon has disappeared.  I find it interesting that even as the days drag, the hours disappear, and another day is done with my task list barely touched.

OTOH, I look at my shelves of inventory, watching as the yarn slowly diminishes, and the tea towels grow.  I remind myself that it's all good.  I don't need to carry the weight of a mountain of deadlines anymore.  I can pick and choose what I will do - and what I will not.  My reward for surviving for as long as I have.  When I discover one more thing I cannot do, I can sit with my memories and think about what I have done, and let go of the disappointment in not being able to go to conferences, teach in person, travel to distant shores.

I just remind myself to be grateful for what I have, what I have done, and give myself permission to make different choices now.  Acceptance is not a one and done deal, but a constant reminder to think, to choose, to be grateful that I am here, now, even with all the things that are happening.  They will soon happen and we will be past the chaos and stress of getting them done.  And keep weaving.  I still have way too much yarn to use up!

Today I hope to get a new weaver weaving on her loom.  I can still pass the torch, even if it is in a different way.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Winter's Coming!


This morning we had frost.  Not the first time, but it has been a 'rare' mild autumn with no frost until well into October.  Our new 'normal'?

I am making slow but steady progress on weaving down the mercerized cotton.  The current warp plus one more ought to weave up as much of that yarn as is feasible.

The current warp is about half woven, and my goal is to have it off the loom so I can take the towels to the guild room on Nov. 1 and hem as many of them as I can in the nice light of the guild room.  The dark navy, especially with the darker colours used as weft, are difficult to see at night.  The new HVAC system will begin being installed on Nov. 1 so I'll go up to the guild room and stay out of the way while the crew does the work.  And try to hem as many of the dark towels as I can.

Which means these towels will likely get listed in my ko-fi shop by Nov. 5 or so.

The last week of October and first week of November are...fraught...with appointments and 'stuff'.  The guild will have a booth at the big craft fair Nov. 3-5, I have medical appointments to deal with, and of course the on-going 'fun' of dealing with the chronic pain.  Things seem to be slooooowly improving, so I keep tying another knot in the end of my rope and hanging on.

I don't have the launch date for the class on sectional beaming with SOS yet, but I know that post production work is proceeding with that.  It should go live sometime in November.

And I've been going down rabbit holes because a student is interested in a specific type of fabric that I know little about, but am finding fascinating.  

Today I'm going to weave and then if there is time, will help the student get their loom dressed so they can begin weaving at home instead of at guild.  

Winter will be here soon enough.  I'm looking forward to getting all the 'stuff' that is happening over the next couple of weeks done so I can hunker down in my 'den' and just do some weaving, keep working on stash reduction.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Material Wealth


Jack Lenor Larsen's book and Magee Cloth Company blanket

Over the centuries, cloth as been used as a trade good or even as currency - vadmal, Hudson's Bay blankets, etc.

As a new weaver, I heard the opinion that 'all industrial fabrics are poor quality; all handwoven fabrics are good quality'.

Which confused the heck out of me, because the job I quit in order to become a professional weaver was for a custom drapery house and I *knew* that industry produced excellent quality cloth (as well as some cheap stuff, of course).

As a new weaver, I saw lots of lovely hand woven cloth, but...I also saw handwoven cloth that was less than ideal for the purpose it had been made for.

It was, in fact, a piece of commercially woven cloth that actually inspired me to become a weaver.

My goal was to produce the 'best' cloth I could and to celebrate excellence in fabric whenever, wherever I saw it.

Jack Lenor Larsen wrote Material Wealth a few years ago, and I received a copy as a gift from my mentors when I passed the master level of the GCW tests.  I confess, I have not actually read the book.  Every time I pick it up to read I get sucked into the glorious photos of really excellent cloth.  Made by industry.  

Last June, we paid a visit to Macgee Cloth Company in part to deliver the rest of the pirns she had purchased from me in 2020.  I had several hundred that still had yarn on and I said I would give her the yarn as well or if she could wait I would use it up and send her the empty pirns.  She said that she had no use for the yarn (mostly 2/16 and 2/8 cotton) and would have to just strip it off, so I kept those pirns and eventually emptied them and wove it into tea towels.

But we had not had an opportunity to see her operation so we took a 'side trip' and delivered the box of pirns in person.

Pam weaves with Victorian era 'industrial' looms, which are a far cry from today's modern weaving equipment.  Kind of like a Model T and a Rolls Royce.

She has to be textile designer, loom mechanic and weaver, using equipment that is, in many cases, 100 years old.  Which is a challenge all by itself.

It was a treat to walk through her operation, discuss how the looms worked and examine some of the cloth she has woven.  We also discussed wet finishing, and how to do that for a larger scale operation.  

In the end, I came away with one of her blankets, woven from Geelong Merino.  It is subtle and elegant, and luxuriously soft.  It is large enough I could actually wear it like such a cloth might have been worn in ancient times.  Like a sort of cape.  It is supple enough to wrap around my body, and it feels like being wrapped up in a cloud.  Or how I imagine it might feel, to be wrapped up in a cloud.

We tend to forget that even industry requires textile designers and sample weavers.

I have woven a sample for a mill in part because I owed them some money for yarn I had purchased, in part because they didn't want to set up one of their very large looms with a 10 yard long 'sample' warp, but needed samples to show prospective clients.  It was a tartan, with 7 (seven!) colours.  It was technically challenging because I had to be as consistent as possible.

In the end, when I sent the cloth to the mill owner, he emailed and said that 'you would never know the fabric had been hand woven'.  

I took that as the compliment it was intended.

But to say that *all* commercially produced cloth is 'poor' quality?  Not so.  It is not the 'hand' production that makes good cloth, it is the weaver designing and weaving 'good' cloth that makes it good.  

What is good in my opinion?  Cloth that will perform the job it was intended to do.  Cloth that feels the way a cloth of that quality *should* feel.  Cloth that is appealing to the eye and touch.

And I will celebrate such cloth, regardless of the tools used to create it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Craft Fair 'Season'


I no longer take a booth at the craft fairs - instead I sell my textiles through the guild booth.  This year it turned out very well that we were not booked for Studio Fair because the same week we would have had to set up is the week our new heat pump/furnace will be installed.

I miss the craft fair circuit.  The other vendors were my 'people'.   They understood why I was there, and what it meant to me.  I didn't have to explain myself, or justify my prices.  They all 'got' it.

Even though I only saw some of them once a year, we recognized each other and generally were supportive of each other.

But that is part of my past life, now.

Since I still weave, still have inventory, I am grateful the guild has a booth at the craft fair, and that they will do an in-room sale of guild member's work in early December.

On the tea towel front, it looks like there is 'only' enough mercerized cotton to finish the current warp and weave one more.  After that I think I will put whatever mercerized cotton is left in my bobbin lace stash in case I pick that craft up again.

That doesn't mean the end of tea towels!  I now have 2/16 cotton to use up, which *may* mean buying more natural white 2/16 cotton to use up that yarn.  And round and round we go.

In my effort to weave down my stash, I thought I'd pretty much used up all my 2/16, but as I dug into dark corners, I found more little 'stashes'.  And then I discovered more linen.  I'm ignoring that until I get rid of the mercerized cotton, and then I'll review my stash.  

There is a large cone of a very *red* singles linen, which will likely weave up very nicely on 2/16 cotton, plus a giant cone of 20/2 unmercerized teal - which is enough to weave off a warp all by itself.

Then there are the dribs and drabs of all those tubes that are now too small to wind a warp from, but perfect for using as quills for weft.

And I'm not 'done' exploring the new-to-me weave structure.  I have more than one idea I'd like to explore, so there will be more tea towels!

I'd also like to weave some scarves and use up more of my fine rayon stash, but I have an entire box of scarves, and until I sell more I don't feel much incentive to make more.

It was quite lovely to get an email the other day from someone who had purchased tea towels from me at a local craft fair and wanted more.  I was able to send her photos of some of my inventory and she is interested in buying 8 towels.  I'm hopeful that more will sell at the craft fair and guild sale.  Because I still have lots of tea towels.

I will not 'empty out' my ko-fi store.  If you can't come here to buy in person, you can go to my ko-fi shop and purchase tea towels from there.  Or contact me if you don't see a colour you like.  I probably have something in my craft fair inventory.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Rest Day



I used to play a musical instrument and sing in a choir so I used to be quite familiar with musical symbols.  I still recognize this one.

One of the things that used to be said about music is that the spaces between the notes were just as important as the notes themselves.

I am only - now - vaguely aware of the music lessons I took as a child, but I still appreciate music in my life.  I value musicians/singers/song writers and how different people will interpret the same song in many different ways.

My tastes in music are eclectic, shall we say?  I usually find something to like in most genres, although I have my favourites.

If life is like a symphony, then we also need 'rests' in our lives.

OTOH, it seems like lately my life is more 'rest' than music.  Trying to work out the balance between doing something and resting is an on-going effort.

Because I remember what I used to be able to do.  And now, cannot.

Yesterday was a bit of a 'rest' day.  A day to catch up on some things that had languished for far too long.  We are ramping up, preparing for the new HVAC install on Nov. 1 and 2.  We have to clear clutter away for the work to be done so that our clutter doesn't impede the installation.  

I have also been getting inventory ready for the sales events coming up.  Again a job that I've been ignoring for far too long.  However, I have 4 boxes full of hand woven cloth ready to be packed up and delivered to the guild room, so that is one job that got crossed off my impending deadline (looming deadline?  Sorry, not sorry!) list.

With physio at 11:30 yesterday I was pretty sure I wouldn't feel up to weaving after, and such was the case.  However, I had a stack of emails and  other writing tasks that had also been ignored, plus some emails that came in that needed to be answered.  I managed to work my way through most of them.  Just waiting for feedback for one before I send to the person involved.  It's good to have someone review a written document before hitting the 'send' button.  But the 'work' got done.

I also scanned through various resources to see what I could find to recommend to someone, and realized all over again that just because a resource exists doesn't mean it has particularly helpful information.  In the end I sent two books to list as a bibliography for the 20+ page document on the topic I sent a couple of weeks ago.

I mean, I don't want to pretend I am the only person who knows stuff, but neither do I want to recommend resources that I feel are...not particularly helpful.

And that attitude?  I have to keep that in check because *I* don't know everything, and change one thing and everything can change.  Which is why I wrote a 20+ page document - I was trying to cover as many bases as I could...

In spite of taking a day 'off' from weaving, I still had pain last night.  The SI joint injection has not given me the relief I was looking for, so now it's waiting time.  Wait to see if the new pain med will give some relief from the SI joint referred pain when the dose gets higher.  I'm currently just starting 2 mg/day, with a recommended dosage of 4 mg/day.  With a very slow ramp up to get there.

In the meantime, physio is working on building strength to help support and protect the injured SI joint and at the end of our session yesterday suggested that she might recommend an SI joint 'belt' to help support the damaged joint.  She will see how I'm doing when I see her next and have had time to do more of the exercises she has been giving me to do.  She wants to get my body stronger so that it can support and protect itself.  So, I'm trying really hard to remember to do the exercises.

This morning I slept 'in', given I'd been up in the night unable to sleep.  But I can still get two sessions done at the loom - if I get a move on!  Since weaving - or not weaving - doesn't seem to affect whether or not I have pain, physio and I discussed the reasons why I weave, and agreed that the other benefits of weaving out weigh *not* weaving.  But I need to not be silly about it, not push, pay attention to my body.

In the playlist of my life, I have to remember to include rest breaks...

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Behind the Scene


when the show was over...

Friday I did the guild program for the Tacoma, WA guild, then Saturday two seminars for the same group.

It was lovely seeing some people I hadn't seen in far too long and talk about weaving - my favourite thing to do.  

As usual I had to set up the studio to do the presentations, which meant shuffling things around to accommodate the topics with samples/examples to show and discuss.  So, I didn't do any weaving Friday or Saturday.  But I got to talk about weaving, and that was lovely.  Some great questions, some of them I had to think about.  And I love to push the boundaries of my knowledge, even when I don't *know* the answer, but give information based on my experience and extrapolate from that.  It's an example of how I think about designing new textiles.  I start with what I know, then begin to question if what I know is pertinent to the new circumstances.

But it leaves a 'mess'.  In this case it was a triple 'mess' because of doing 3 different topics all within the space of two days.

Now I get to put all that stuff 'away' and deal with setting the laptop by the loom again.

In the background, life goes on.  We have begun looking at what needs to happen to get the workmen into the studio area to install the new heat pump/furnace, and it's another snowglobe event in the studio as some of the contents of the clean storage area will need to be moved to a different part of the studio.   Which means goat trails, probably.  OTOH, we only have to move a small amount of stuff, much less than I expected, so that's a relief.  The rest of the shelving can be draped but left in place.

I can't say I'm feeling much 'better' after the injection, but not taking an opioid based pain killer I'm not having nearly as much brain fog, which has reduced my anxiety as I frantically try to find the words I want to use.  When I'm writing, it's less stress because I can pause and let my brain scramble through my words on file, but when I'm giving a spoken presentation, it's stressful when I can't find the words I want to use, especially when I *know* there is a 'better' word.  I didn't realize how much anxiety I was having until I stopped taking the opioid.

While I'm not 'pain free' I am continuing with the current approach in hopes that things will get better and the new pain med will work to control the pain I live with more effectively as the dosage increases.  Taking the naltrexone is an experiment on my part, supported by the pain doctor.  There is zero information to be found on whether or not it will work on peripheral neuropathy, no studies have been done that I can find, but after discussing the situation with the pain doctor, he agreed to write a prescription and let me run the experiment.

To that end, the neuropathy *is* less.  As for the rest, it is going to take time.  I see the physiotherapist tomorrow and her goal is to begin to strengthen my core muscles to help support the injured SI joint.  And hopefully there will be less pain from that, as well.  As for the damaged disc, the jury is out on whether that is part of the pain equation.  And at this point I just have to keep on this path and see how it plays out.

At some point the health community may throw their hands up and declare that they don't know why I have pain and I just have to live with it.  I can live with pain if I can find something to better manage it, but I don't want to continue to have decreasing 'ability' to do the things I want to do.  If I can delay further deterioration, that will be placed in the 'win' column.  Best case scenario is that I can regain some functionality.

In the meantime, covid still floats around.  There is a 'thing' online with the hashtag #SaveDavidTennant which reflects the fact that so many actors and performers are catching covid and either living with Long Covid or dying.  Fans have finally become aware that *they* can help their 'idols' be safe and are now championing audiences to wear masks during live performances.

I really hope that translates into an increase in general mask wearing.  Instead of just keeping select 'worthy' individuals safe, perhaps more people will decide to help keep *everyone* safe(r) from covid and the risk of Long Covid (and death!) and start wearing masks when out in public.

As an immune compromised person, I support this movement...

In the meantime, I am quite enjoying doing the Zoom presentations.  It's one way I can keep on teaching - and be safe.

Guilds should contact me at laura at laurafry dot com to enquire about booking a date.  Topics and fees are listed on my website 

Friday, October 13, 2023

73 Days


This was Oct. 29 a few years ago.

It may also be *this* Oct. 29 - although it doesn't look much like it.  We still haven't had first frost here at the house, although higher elevations have.

However, the pages on the calendar keep ripping off and today?  Today is 73 days until Christmas.

Too soon, too soon!  I hear you cry.  Well, yes, but if you need to mail parcels overseas, it's not, actually, too soon to be getting those into the mail!

So much of our lives now revolve around ordering things online, and I am not innocent of this.  I do try to NOT order a lot of stuff because of the 'cost' of shipping stuff all over the place.  But here I am with an online 'store' and offering my handweaving for sale.

So...awkwardness ensues...

I am also not independently wealthy, I have bills to pay, obligations to honour.  As such, I remind you of my ko-fi store, which is well stocked with tea towels.

Why tea towels?  Why not?  Plus I make my tea towels larger than most commercially available ones.  I figure most people drying dishes these days are drying pots and pans, so larger is 'better'.  

While I also have scarves, I find it difficult to get good photos (what can I say, I'm not a photographer) and it's just easier to keep those for the local sales outlets where people can handle them and see them as they are.  90% of purchasing a scarf is based on how it feels, and right now the technology can't address that!

However, tea towels are pretty generic and pretty much everyone can use them.  

As for the shipping thing, I do drop ship to a different address.  I've done this several times.  I will include a card with the name of the person giving them in order to personalize the purchase/gift.

My books are still available at blurb and I do still have two copies of Stories from the Matrix that I can sign listed on ko-fi.  Once those are gone, they will only be available (unsigned) from blurb.

And there are still three signed copies of The Intentional Weaver at Sweet Georgia Yarns

At any rate, if you see something you like in my ko-fi store, want it drop shipped to some other place, let me know.  I can do that.

Thursday, October 12, 2023



Soon enough it will look like this.

We are milking every drop of enjoyment out of the far too mild October days, which the weather app says will be changing very soon.  Some folk at higher elevation had frost overnight.

After what seems like weeks of waiting, for one thing or another, suddenly things are beginning to happen.

This morning the HVAC company phoned to let us know we are scheduled for our new furnace/heat pump install on Nov. 1 and 2.  The same weekend as the big craft fair.

For the past few years Doug has been delivering my stuff to the venue, then working a shift at the door.  He won't be able to this year.

In addition to getting my inventory ready for the craft fair, we are now faced with the Big Clean Up.  You know, the one we've been pretty much ignoring because we didn't know when the install would happen?  Yeah.  That one.

So now we juggle both the craft fair prep and the snowglobing of my studio, once again.  Sigh.

This week I printed out labels and affixed them to the hang tags.  Today I was going to concentrate on weaving, but I think I need to get the inventory that will go to the craft fair ready so that those boxes can be moved to the guild room.  So that they don't get buried in the re-arranging of my clean storage.

Doug also has other 'winter' preparations to do, so suddenly our 'retirement' life has gotten very busy.  Again.  If we were smart we would have been working on all of this for the past two weeks, knowing it was coming, but it seemed like every day there was something screaming for our attention.  And now, here we are, scrambling.  Again.

Maybe one day we'll learn. 


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Step Lightly


a few days ago it looked like this

Today is beautiful - sunny, warm.  Too warm, truth be told.  But we had some rain last week, and we are finally seeing a drop in wildfires - from a high of over 400 to 317 when I checked the BC Wildfire site this morning.

We have had several days of no smoke pollution, and that feels like progress.

With such a warm October - we haven't even had first frost yet, which usually comes mid-August - it all feels a bit...surreal.

It feels like summer *ought* to have felt, but didn't.  We may have to completely re-order our seasons as climate change brings about huge changes to our 'normal'.  I've lived long enough to remember the 'before times'.  Children now will have no knowledge of what 'normal' used to be, how can they?  They can only 'know' from their own experience, and we are changing our climate so drastically that we may never get back to what it was.

With this year being an el nino year, winter could be especially challenging.  It used to be that once the snow came and settled, we knew what to expect.  Now every day is a toss up - could be cold, could be warm, instead of compact snow or even clear roads, there is slush and ice.  

I feel a bit guilty enjoying the day that it is today - sunny and warm.  OTOH, we had such a crappy summer there was little to enjoy, so I suppose I will accept this small gift from the weather gods.

We've just come back from getting our flu shots.  We could have waited two weeks and got both covid and flu, but I decided I didn't want the double whammy, just in case one (or both) of the shots decided to be challenging.  The government rolled out the flu shot earlier than usual, which is great.  Normally it's November before they are available up here.  OTOH, we got the trivalent shot, which is recommended for anyone over 65.  

We weren't the only people in the store wearing masks, but there were very few other than us.  Not even the pharmacist giving the shot was wearing one.  In a small office.  Zero ventilation/filtration that I could see, administering shots to multiple people over the day.  Sigh.  However, the place isn't far from where we live and they generally do a good job of booking so we didn't have to linger.  

We are still waiting to hear when the new furnace/heat pump will be arriving.  I need to get the storage room cleared out so that the crew can get in to install it.  I'm hoping to feel better enough that I can start doing that over this week and next.  The problem is, where to put the stuff currently living on the floor?  There will be goat trails in the studio.  Again.   

But the new warp is weaving up quite nicely and I have the next warp planned.  Unless I change it between now and when it goes into the loom.  The heap of mercerized cotton is slowly melting away.  It feels like progress, as slow as it is happening.  Progress is progress, even when it is slow.

Lunch is late today.  Time to eat, then go press the hemmed towels.  Then start sorting the towels that need care tags.  Because the big craft fair is happening in about three weeks and I need to have inventory ready for that.  Because this year has been hard on the budget, and things just seem to keep breaking or needing to be fixed.  

Maybe things will look more do-able after lunch?  Onwards...