Sunday, March 31, 2024

Step by Step

 I'm coming down to the 'end' of the current series I've been working on for the last 18 or so months.  I've explored the weave structure and gotten comfortable with it, but I'm beginning to get that restless feeling that is time to move on.  Not that I have anything grand I want to do.  In fact I will be revisiting 'fancy' twills.  

But I thought it might be interesting to some of you how the last few warps came about.  If you want to see more of the Matrix designs, my ko-fi shop is filled with some (not all) of the various designs I wove as I explored the weave structure.

At the end, I came up with a 'tile' design.

I was quite pleased with myself when this appeared on my screen.  I felt it showed off the weave structure, was complex (four different tile designs), and when woven in this 'counter change' format was symmetrical.

Once I had this one set up I wanted to see what else I could do with it.  Fiberworks offers a 'drop' option when copying the threading (and treadling) so I set up the first section, then requested that the software repeat the threading but to 'drop' it.  I had no idea what to expect.

Interesting but not all that attractive to me.  It was going to take some more messing around.

So instead of using the 'drop' function, I mirror imaged the first half of the threading, alternating the blocks in the treadling.

This one showed promise but I messed with it some more and wove this instead.

In this version, I used the mirror function for the threading, but in the treadling created a 4 x 4 block in the middle which then repeated along the length of the towel.  The repeat is too large to be seen in a thumbnail.  

And finally, after messing with the drop function more (a *lot* more) came up with this.

Now I'm preparing the 'last' warp of this series.  The warp will be the same blues (peacock and bleu moyen) and the weft will be what ever is left of the two blues in the warp and whatever warp is left - if there is any - will be natural white.

Colours are not close to 'true' but I wanted to see if I would get the effect I wanted so did an approximation.

When using the same colours in the weft as in the warp the effect will be more like a 'satin' weave - very subtle.

I'm now officially over the halfway point on the current warp so it feels good to have the next warp sorted out.  Sometimes it can take several hours before I find something I want to invest my time and effort into weaving.  Weaving is labour intensive and I don't want to 'waste' my time and effort so I prefer to have a plan I feel 90% confident in before I commit to threading, sleying and weaving the cloth.

If you are interested in more detail on the development of this series, I documented it up until about this time last year in Stories from the Matrix.

Friday, March 29, 2024

When You Know, You Know


I'm preparing to write an article for School of Sweet Georgia, and I needed to show what happens when things go 'wrong'.  

The problem is, I'm so trained to do it 'right', I had a really hard time weaving the way a newer weaver might do it and create the 'wrong' effect so that people could see how it looked 'wrong'.

But I think, as a teacher, it is a good idea to show the unwanted results to show that *I* know what a newer weaver is experiencing.

Because so many things in weaving are 'it depends' and 'change one thing' considerations.

But I have to tell you, my entire body was screaming at me the whole time with the alarms clanging (wrong, wrong, wrong)!

The section with the selvedge loops was especially difficult to weave because every pick I had to stop and prevent the weft from seating itself 'properly' around the selvedge ends, which meant it was very slow and very irritating (to me) to do.  And why *that* section is so small - it was all I could stand to do.  It was SO inefficient!  Completely 'ruined' my weaving rhythm, slowing me down enormously.

Once you have it 'right', doing it 'wrong' feels bad.

There is another effect that is more subtle and doesn't really show well on this particular sample, and that is the warp begins to look different at the selvedge.  The ratio of warp to weft changes with the 'extra' draw in at the selvedge and the cloth can begin to have a 'taped' appearance, as some of the older weavers used to say.  In the purple area of the sample you might be able to see that the blue warp begins to look more blue just at the selvedge, especially on the face where the weft is more prominent.

While it was in the loom the distortion wasn't very obvious, but once it was cut off the loom the whole thing curved - the 'fell' had a very distinct 'smile' to it.  However, that did resolve after wet finishing.  It might not have, if the web had been larger.

So, better to practice doing it 'right'.  Attune yourself to getting an appropriate amount of tension on the warp, learning how to advance the fell and re-tension (and *don't* weave right up to the beater - I talk about these things in more detail in Stories from the Matrix), and become proficient in throwing and catching the shuttle.  It's well worth it, IMHO.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Sunny Day


Ah, spring!

After a winter with too warm temps and grey dreary days, we have entered spring.  The days are warming, spouts are beginning to appear, and the sun is warming up the earth - and us.

With climate change becoming undeniable, (although not to some, no of course not to some) I look towards the summer with some trepidation.

The heat pump still needs to be set up for the a/c, and it worked pretty well over the winter, even when it hit temps below -25 C.  At that point the natural gas kicked in.  I ran space heaters in the studio at times because the basement is always cooler than the upstairs.  

I have a major project for the local guild to complete - trying to sell some of the books we received from a former guild member who died a few years ago.  Their family delivered about 8 more boxes of books, some of which the guild already owned, some of which are not really appropriate for our guild members.  Some are historical or very specific specialties, and we decided the guild needed the income to help pay the rent on the guild room rather than obscure titles that may never get looked at.

I am almost halfway through inventorying the ones we will attempt to sell and I hope to begin an eBay auction before the end of April.  There are some 'rare' books and some 'classics', yes, including a copy of Magic in the Water with the actual fabric samples.  I signed and numbered the pre-orders and this copy is #120.  There are also signed books from Allen Fannin, Peter Collingwood and Jack Lenor Larsen.

But an eBay auction takes time to set up, take photos of the books, make the listings.  I have decided to list 10 titles per day so that the task does not become overwhelming.  I have not counted how many books we received, but about 8 banker boxes, full to the brim.  We will keep some for the guild library, some monographs will be offered to guild members for a donation, but that still leaves nearly 100 books to sell on.

Once I'm done the guild auction, I will list the lace books I want to sell.  These are mine, and who knows, I may finally let go of some of my own library?  (Or not.  Really hard to let some of those books, collected over nearly 50 years, go.)

OTOH, do I really want to leave them for someone else to have to sell?  This getting old(er) and needing to think about letting stuff go is, well, hard, at times.

I also have a phone appointment with the pain doctor today.  There is *some* 'good' news to report - the new therapy has actually improved one part of the pain equation, but not the other.  Not sure what he will suggest.  

Mostly, I look around my studio and take note of All The Things.  But I also note the 'holes' I have carved out of my yarn stash.  

So many 'dreams'.  So many 'plans'.  So little energy, right now.  Maybe with the coming spring and lessening pain levels, I will discover I have more energy.

Anyway, I'll announce here when the eBay auction begins.  I *may* post the entire list here so that if someone wants several books I can start a 'hold' pile for them and mail everything at once rather than multiple envelopes.  (Thinking about trying to reduce my carbon footprint by sending one box rather than several envelopes...)

Tuesday, March 26, 2024



I was reminded this morning that we usually approach weaving with a set of assumptions.

One of the assumptions that many weavers labour under is that of density or epi (ends per inch or cm).  The assumption is that whatever thickness of warp you use, you will also use for the weft.

So people will do a ruler wrap, decide on how many epi (or epcm) without compensating for their weft which may - or may not - be the same thickness as the warp.  Or it may be stiffer.  Or slipperier.  Or textured, not smooth.

All of those variations from the warp (which may be more tightly spun and/or thinner/thicker and/or textured/smooth) will most likely affect the density of the warp.

How much?  The only 'correct' answer is to sample, including the wet finishing.

Once the sample has been wet finished, the weaver must then examine their results and then decide if they need to adjust their density - closer - or potentially - further apart.

Some new weavers want to make 'perfect' cloth right out of the gate.  But weaving is complex, and weavers need to build a solid foundation of knowledge before they can say with some certainty, what their density ought to be.  Because we still haven't looked at weave structure yet.  New weavers are sometimes surprised (and not in a good way) that when they weave plain weave and twill in the same cloth that strange things can happen.  Other weave structures are even more extreme in their draw in and again, combining plain weave and lace in vertical stripes in a cloth (a scarf, for example) there will be shrinkage differential between the two different weave structures.  This can sometimes become obvious during weaving and can lead to tension problems.

OTOH, I like to include some plain weave stripes in order to better gauge my beat because a lace weave looks 'best' when it is woven to the same number of ppi as epi.

In the scarf on the right hand side, you can easily see the difference in the two weave structures as the lace will take up/draw in more than the plain weave.  The colours 'wave' and the stripes are not straight but curve up and down as the yarn travels between plain and lace weaves.

So for these scarves, I only wove the lace 'gamp' at one end of the scarf and the rest was done in plain weave to minimize the take up differential in the cloth.

I did a series of scarves in colour gamps and lace.  The lace scarves were used for the lace class at School of Sweet Georgia.

The series of scarves was used for one of the lectures I do on working with colour.  (I know, my security needs to be upgraded - waiting for my web mistress to have some time to deal with it.)

I am still taking booking for Zoom presentations.  These lectures were designed for 2 hours, but I can edit them to an hour or so.  List of topics on my website.  Or I have been known to tailor a topic because a guild requested a specific topic.

My fees will likely be going up in July.  Any bookings made now will be billed out at the current fee.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Tech Fail


I suppose I should have realized that when I set up the ko-fi discount it was 'too easy'.  I mean, when is computer stuff ever 'easy'?

Such was the case over the weekend when I tried to set up a discount 'coupon' for my ko-fi shop.  And then could not test the link because when I tried to check out the shopping cart Paypal would not accept it because it would not let me pay to buy my own products.

Instead I noted the message that the discount had been applied and hoped it was all going to be as simple as it looked.

Seemed I was wrong.

So, tech fail and embarrassment on my part.  

As soon as I realized what had happened, I refunded the 20% discount to the people who bought because they assumed they would be getting a discount, and have shelved the idea of being able to easily run 'sales' that way.

This was all a 'test' to see if I could run my 'usual' birthday bash sale the first days in July.  Historically I have lumped Canada Day, US July 4 and my birthday into one big 'sale' and I thought this would make my life easier.  

Anyhoo - if you want to purchase something and the coupon doesn't get applied, I *will* return the 20% discount to you from now until April 1 as advertised.

Doug has just left to pick up his new eyeglasses, and I have an appointment for May 9 (our wedding anniversary - new glasses for the two of us this year, I guess).  One thing no one seems to mention about getting older - how much the maintenance costs...

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Magic in the Water


loom state

wet finished

When a certain someone took over Twitter I eventually left the site and joined a couple others.  One of the sites I joined was BlueSky and over the months I've been there I've gradually 'found' other textile folk.

Yesterday a new weaver posted a photo of the very first thing they had ever woven and commented that they still needed to 'wet finish' it.

I couldn't resist and commented that I couldn't express how delighted I was to hear that they would be wet finishing it.

They replied that the instructor of the weaving class they took emphasized that wet finishing was essential.

So, I guess my constant drum pounding is making some noise.  :)

I have been pounding out the same 'tune' for literally decades.  I really got going in 1994 with Usenet rec...textiles.  It was there that people began to request more information and the seed of Magic in the Water was sown.

Over the years I have persisted in spreading the message.  Frankly I have had moments when I swore I would give up and just let whatever happens, happen.  And then I see a post like the one on BlueSky and I take heart.

If my only 'legacy' to the weaving world is to raise awareness of this vital step in the creation of textiles, I will count my time here as valid, and the hours I've sat at this desktop and pounded out the same message over and over again fruitful.

I have several guilds lined up for Zoom presentations this year (and a couple for next, already).  I may not be able to travel to teach, but I *can* still write.  And while I really hate being on camera, Zoom allows me to visit far flung places virtually.

I'm going to be a bit busy for the next few weeks as I inventory the guild books we will be selling, so weaving will likely slow.  But I've got more than enough tea towels, and it looks like my coupon (20% off any items tagged 'tea towels') is working.  The coupon is good until April 1 (No Fooling!).

If you have been looking for a copy of the original Magic in the Water, there will be one for sale (unless a guild member buys it for the upset price) so stay tuned for the eBay auction announcement (here and elsewhere).  Lots of great books in those 6 boxes!

And if you want a copy of Magic (no samples) it is available here, both print and pdf versions.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Old Dog, New Tricks

Typically I will do a 'birthday bash' sale the first couple of weeks of July.  Doing a 'sale' generally entails a fair amount of work on my part, so I tend to not do them frequently.  

It occurred to me last night that ko-fi might offer the option of creating a discount coupon, so I rummaged around late last night, and voila, they do.  So I did.  Or at least, I tried to.

From now until April 1 I have a discount code for tea towels.  

This past year has seen some rather large expenses, and now I need new glasses.  Since we are on a fixed income, I guess I need to stimulate some sales of my stuff.  Not to mention, I'm running out of room on the shelves with two boxes of tea towels that need to be put away, and more tea towels coming off the loom.

I may not be weaving nearly as much as I used to do, but I *am* still weaving.

The code should be good for any item in my ko-fi shop with the tag 'tea towel' and is 20%.  For US readers, prices are in Canadian dollars, so you also get the exchange rate 'discount'...

Friday, March 22, 2024



Scrolling through Facebook this morning, a post challenged 'me' to name a city that changed my life.

I quickly thought about the places I have been in my life (more than I expected, fewer than I'd hoped) and decided that the place/city that changed me in ways I had no way of knowing it would was Örebrö, Sweden.

I spent the better part of 3.5 months there, the spring/summer of 1969.

I lived on the university campus, courtesy of a kind student who allowed me to live in their quarters.  The campus was pretty deserted because it was summer, after all, but there were a few students still living on campus so I wasn't entirely alone.  I had my pen friend, too, but she wasn't always around.  

Ultimately, my memories of that 3.5 months are ones of transformation.

Up until that time I had always relied on others to 'take care of' me.  Usually my mom.  

But I had travelled from the middle of BC to Sweden without someone to do the caring - for the most part.  Or at least, not a designated someone.  Instead I discovered that perfect strangers would frequently take pity on me and make sure I got to where I was supposed to go.

So, I wasn't entirely self-reliant, but much more so than I had ever been in my to then 19 years of age.

I found myself feeling at home there.  It felt comfortable in a way that felt utterly strange.  In those days very few people spoke English and I had to learn enough vocabulary to request what I needed.  I got very good at reading body language - gestures, facial expressions (which are fairly common to most people.)  I never did learn to speak the language - the grammar defeated me utterly.  But I learned a bunch of nouns and some key phrases.  I learned numbers when some of the students would invite me to go play mini-golf.

I learned how to navigate public transport, got 'lost' on Gamla Stan in Stockholm, made it to the 'north' to spend the summer solstice with my pen friend and her family, and watched the sun make it's journey around the sky without ever disappearing below the horizon.

As part of that trip I took a two week bus tour through Europe - Brussels to Paris to Nice, to Milan back to Germany for the ferry trip back to Sweden.

When I landed back in Canada taking my first ever plane trip from Arlanda to Vancouver, I had a gift I did not expect.

I found my strength.  My sense of self worth (although I still had a long way to go).  My independence.  My knowledge that I could do hard things.  Survive in difficult circumstances.  To trust my danger radar.  And that, ultimately, most people were kind.  (No, not everyone.)

Getting lost (on several occasions) and then finding my way back to where I needed to be let me understand that I didn't need to panic.  I just needed to think.  

I went over there on a budget.  As it happens I *almost* ran out of money - but not quite.  I borrowed some money from my pen friend's mother, and paid it back as soon as I got home.  Pretty sure she never thought she would see her money again.  But I made sure I got it back to her.

In a way, when I made the decision to become a weaver, I drew on that experience to find the strength to make difficult decisions.  To not panic.  To think.  To plan.  To keep trying, until I succeeded.  Even if that 'success' was, shall we say, less spectacular than other people's glorious results.

I had to learn that just because someone else appeared to be succeeding beyond my wildest imagination did not make *my* success lesser.  I learned to not measure my self worth against someone else's apparent 'worth'.

I also learned that we are all part of an interconnected 'web'.  That being kind is better than being unkind.

So, thank you pen friend.  Thank you for making my trip to your country possible.  For looking out for me, but leaving me to fend for myself, too.  I will never forget the kindness of the people who helped me when I was lost.  Who made my stay there more pleasant.

Ultimately I wish I had been able to see more of the world.  But I will never forget my several trips to Sweden and the people I met there.  And be grateful for the transformation that allowed me to be here, now, having lived the life I have lived.

Thursday, March 21, 2024



From time to time someone will contact me to thank me for 'what you do for the weaving community'.

It's always a day brightener.

My life has been largely shaped by the teachers I have had.  The good ones, obviously, but also?   The bad ones.

Not every teacher is good for every student, and I had to stumble my way into the teaching world after having been tossed into the deep end.  

I confess I have not always been the 'best' teacher.  There were times when I taught while I was ill, usually from allergies.  I learned early to demand that my workshops be scent free.  And still had people arrive reeking of scents.  Thing is, certain scents/perfumes robbed me of the ability to think and speak.  It's called aphasia, and when it happens to someone who is normally proficient at both, it's at first upsetting (what is happening to me?) and then anxiety inducing as my mental rolodex whirled round and round, so fast I couldn't find the words I needed to communicate.  

So, no, I wasn't the best teacher on those occasions.

Other times it was food allergies.

No matter how many times I would tell people 'plain food' and give them an actual list of allowed foods, someone would want to make something 'special'.  And then be offended when I politely said 'no thank you' and declined to eat their 'treat'.

Because if I ate that special treat, I'd wind up sick.  And I'd *be* sick for at least 3 days, which usually meant flying home while sick.  (My own personal hell, not a communicable disease.)

Other times, I just could not seem to find a way to express the information in a way that made sense to a listener.  I would try different approaches.  I would demonstrate, explaining what I was doing, breaking down the steps, trying to not forget something.  We all have basic assumptions, but when talking to a new weaver, they don't have the experience or background knowledge to understand a new technique, especially if I don't include every step along the way.

It was in the early days of the internet that I really began to try to find different ways to write about weaving, finding metaphors, different perspectives, allowing for as many of the 'it depends' considerations as I could think of, in the moment.

And I started developing my 'Laura-isms' as some of my students tagged them.  Short sentences that captured the essence of a principle - never use a knot where a bow will do - for example.

Change one thing and everything can change, is a more recent one.

I love reading, and I happen to enjoy writing.  I've used writing as a communication tool for a long time, including this blog since 2008.  Interest in the blog has waxed and waned, and recently seems to be growing in numbers of readers.

Thing is, I can't tell if it is just bots scraping content for 'AI' or if there are real humans reading (and hopefully benefitting) from my posts.

Comments are how I tell that actual people are reading it, be they on here, or shares on FB or elsewhere.

As I wind down my business (and my life) I find I still want to help people.  The books I published over the past year seem to have satiated my desire for writing books, but every morning I find myself at the desk top feeling the urge to write.  Something.  So, here I am, once again.

Which is all to say - apparently I'm not quite done writing.

Even though I may say the same thing, over and over again, it seems not every person will grasp what I'm trying to communicate the first (or even the 10th time).  So, yesterday I agreed to write some articles for a site.  A few weeks ago I told a friend that I didn't want to write for publication anymore because I didn't want to write to someone else's style sheet or format, or to tight deadlines.  But I was asked to write about things that I want to write about, so how could I say no?  And when someone says they value your knowledge and your talent at seemed churlish not to agree.  

Not sure when I will get the topics they asked for written, or when they will appear.  But rest assured, I will likely continue to take my second cup of coffee here, at the desktop, and muse 'out loud'.  About weaving.  And about my life.

Because I get just enough feedback to let me know some of you are reading.  And some days that's all it takes.

As always books are available here and also here (along with tea towels...)

Wednesday, March 20, 2024



This is a warp, all wound, tied off and dropped into a bin ready to be beamed.

Notice anything?

It's not chained.

It is just dropped into a bin with the cross on the top.

I used to chain my warps.  That was, after all, how I'd been taught to do it.  But I never really liked what happened to the warp chain.  Yes, it was shorter.  Yes, it was 'neater'.  But did it really need to be?  

A few times, I inadvertently pulled the end of the chain through the loop entirely and, not noticing, started beaming it.  then had to undo the chain from the other end and pull the chained loops out in order to continue the process.

I also didn't like the way the threads behaved, especially on wider warp chains.  It took extra time to do it but didn't seem to convey much in the way of benefit.

So one day I grabbed a box and simply took the chain off the board and dropped it into the box.

And discovered that the warp behaved just fine and really didn't *need* to be chained.  So I stopped.

I also stopped tying gathering (I don't tie 'choke' ties except at the choke point) ties every yard.  On a 10 meter long warp I tie the cross - all four 'arms' of the X - a choke tie about 18" or so from the cross, the counting string close to the other end of the chain, and maybe two gathering ties along the length of the warp.

So why are we taught to 'choke' tie every yard?  Why are we taught to chain the warp?

Well, there are times when that is a good idea.  A yarn with twist energy in it, for example, might need to be secured more frequently.  But I still wouldn't 'chain' it, I would do as Peggy Ostercamp advises and wind it onto something - a stick, for example (she refers to it as the 'kite stick' method).

We learn how to weave, usually from someone (be it in person or from a book) and we follow their directions.  We follow those directions until they become 'habit' and then teach them to new weavers.  And soon it becomes 'tradition'.

Over the years I began to question things I took for granted as a newer weaver.  Did I really need to do this?  Or that?  Sometimes I tried doing something different, just to see.  (The good old, FAFO approach.)

Sometimes I discovered I didn't need to do the thing.  Sometimes I discovered that there were circumstances when I *did* need to do the thing.

Eventually I would refer to myself as a weaving heretic, because I take yarn off the end of a tube (just always take it off the same way - counter clockwise in my case, but just be consistent).  I don't chain my warps.  I don't 'choke' tie my warps.  I certainly do not wind chains of only 1" increments.  

I don't only ever wind one strand at a time if I can wind 2.  (Or sometimes 3, or 4 - and no I don't pick the cross, just thread from the group.)

I DO work ergnomically when I can.  I pay attention to my body and the signals it sends.  

As I began teaching more frequently, I ran into different looms, different processes, different hints and tips.  And different yarns, which sometimes needed different processes in order to co-operate.

And I started reminding people that 'change one thing, and everything can change'.

So learn.  Learn as much as you can from as many different people as you can.  Choose methods and techniques based on the requirements of the case at hand.

Ask yourself why you are doing something if you are not finding it helpful.  Is that approach tradition rooted in a specific circumstance?  Or is it just habit because you 'always do it that way'.

Be open to new information.  Be willing to fumble learning a new process, especially if it looks like it might be useful to know how to do it proficiently.

Learning something new is never a waste of time - or materials.  So, sample.  Sample new-to-you yarns.  Especially before committing to a large project.  Better to 'lose' a skein of yarn than the entire project.

Study other people's textiles.  Join a study group, see what others are doing.  Analyze them to see what approach they took.  Are the results pleasing to you?  If not, why not?  What would you do differently?

Becoming a weaver can be a lifelong journey of learning.  

The life so short, the craft so long to learn.

Books available here  and also here

Tuesday, March 19, 2024



Truth be told, this photo is from a few years ago.  This winter I doubt we got more than about a foot of snow accumulation, and the snowbanks were almost non-existent.  But spring appears to be arriving.  

Over the weekend, we had the hottest temps ever recorded for the same date since records started being kept (around 100+ years of data).

This morning, local journalist confirmed what others had been saying - the bears are waking up much earlier than 'usual', with little to no food available and them hungry as...bears in the spring.

The confluence of the two rivers this town is situated on is a gravel 'desert' with just a trickle of water.  And yet some people are still insisting this is all 'normal'.  No.  Not it is not.

I look out the window, knowing the state of the bush that surrounds us, that makes up 90% of this province truth be told, and know that if we don't get rain soon to break the drought the wildfires will get bad again.  Our town has been lucky - so far.  Instead of us being told to evacuate, our town has prepared itself to host those who have been.  Will this be the year that it is *our* turn to evacuate?

For those old enough to remember, I feel like Joe Blixjthel (spelling is wrong) who always had a dark cloud trailing behind him.

I feel like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke, trying to hold the water back.

I feel like Charlie Brown, hoping against hope that Lucy will NOT pull the football away this time.  

I feel like it is futile to keep making yet more tea towels.

And yet.

And yet.

I have a studio full of yarn that really needs to be transformed into something, so why not tea towels?

I find solace in my time at the loom, where I am completely in the moment and can stop fretting about the future.

I get a few minutes of aerobic activity to add to my Fitbit count, a few more endorphins to help reduce pain.  Add some positive energy to the world.  Construct something, rather than destroy anything.

While the new therapy shows promise, I am still a long ways away from where I would like to be.  Right now, weaving is about the only thing keeping me going.

And yesterday I committed to writing some articles for publication.  With no drug induced brain fog, I finally feel like I can think again.  And some flexible deadlines will mean I can write at my 'leisure' with less pressure.

And so I go on, hoarding my energy 'spoons', taking afternoon naps.  Little by little, trying to move forward with hope.

Because it is the season of spring, when hope takes root.  

May your garden be filled with plots of hope.

Ultimately I cannot change the course of the entire world, but I *can* help individuals.  So I focus on that - the micro - and hope enough of us will do the same which *might* help change the course of the world.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Leclerc L Model


In 2019 my local guild was given an old L model Leclerc Loom.  It was unlike any Leclerc loom I'd seen before, and had many similarities to a Macomber.

It had been in storage for a number of years before it came to us, and needed some TLC.  When Covid hit, there wasn't time nor energy to do much, although we did get a warp on it.  However, the TLC we did was insufficient, and it sat for a long time before I had the energy to deal with it.

Eventually the pressure to get the thing working again built, and over the winter I managed to make new aprons for this and several of the other guild 'herd', and Doug took a look at the mechanical side of it and got the four shafts currently in the loom working again.

Yesterday I finally found enough spoons to dress the loom with a 'practice' warp (with help from a guild member to beam the warp).  There are still some issues with it, but at least it is able to be woven on now.

I knew the loom had been used by a production weaver and was curious to see how it worked and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the effort to treadle it was minimal.  

We have a tiny group of new weavers so I'm hoping that some of them will give this loom a try.  It's pretty large, but since it *could* go up to 12 shafts (we have the shafts, just need some more heddles), plus it has a double back beam, it would be nice to keep it for members who would like to use more than four shafts.  However, if it doesn't get used, we will look at selling it.

In the meantime, the new therapy *appears* to be helping, although I am a far distance from where I would like to be.  I talk to the pain doctor in 10 days, and I am hoping that I will be enough improved that I can begin reducing the pain medications (side effects are being controlled by additional pills - sigh).  But mostly I'm hoping to be able to start walking again.  

Like the old L model loom, I need some adjustments and a great deal of tweaks, but so far I *can* still weave.  I'm just hoping that if I improve enough, I could consider teaching in person locally, and grow those newbie weavers a little bit.  I suspect the reason they aren't weaving is that they don't feel confident enough - yet.

If I can grow my energy and the number of activity spoons, I could see if they would like a weaving study group.  But it all depends on if I can dig myself out of this dry 'fitness' well, find more spoons in my energy drawer.


Saturday, March 16, 2024



Someone posted a meme on Facebook about 'baby steps' being tentative when they are anything but.  The poster equated a baby learning how to walk as a 'lurch into the unknown'.

And I thought about my life and how many times I 'lurched' into the unknown.

I think it began with reading.  I was reading by age 4.  Loved to read.  Couldn't get enough of reading.  And each book showed me a new world.  A new life.  A new way of looking at my world - and beyond.

At age 12 I'd read pretty much everything in the children's section of the public library and tentatively asked if I could take books from the 'adult' section.  

"Why?" the librarian asked.  I explained I'd read everything in the children's section.  I suppose I looked so woebegone she took pity on me.  As I entered the stacks, I didn't know where to start.  Therefore it seemed appropriate to begin with the authors with A as the first letter of their surname.  And quickly discovered Isaac Asimov.  After that I became a huge fan of science fiction, and eventually fantasy.

My next big lurch I suppose was making plans to visit Sweden in 1969 in order to meet my pen friend.  I scrimped and saved every penny for almost a year, then boarded the train (to Montreal) and then a freighter that took a small number of passengers to sail to Oslo, Norway.  In May.  Across the Atlantic.

We stopped and jigged for cod off the coast of Newfoundland (I caught 3 - what can say, cod are pretty stupid), saw grey(?) whales on their migration north, managed the rough seas of a storm, and sailed up the fjord to disembark.

From there many adventures were experienced.

And then I finally paid attention to all the messages coming from...who knows consider weaving.  

That was, most likely, the biggest, bravest (or stupidest, depending on your viewpoint) lurch I have made in my life.

Now I lurch, but only physically.  Dealing with a body rode hard, put away wet, far too many times.  The times I wove myself into exhaustion trying to meet deadlines.  The multitude of dark o'clock fights.  Battling food allergy reactions, pretending to be well, hiding my ailing body.  

There were many times I felt I'd let my students down and felt guilty.  All I could do was my best, and I always did that.  My best.

Recently a friend observed that I do more on a 'bad' day than most people do on a good one.  Well, maybe a few years ago that might be true.  Now?  Not so much.

But I always felt like I was...not enough.  My house is always a mess.  I haven't had the energy to actually clean it for, like, ever.  I turn a blind eye to the dust and clutter, and save whatever energy I have for weaving.

When my brother died I had to figure out why I was still here, and he wasn't.  That was the year that so many things finally made sense.  I'd been, almost literally, working myself into the grave.  It was the year that both Doug and I discovered our 'hidden' cardiac issues, and timely intervention was provided.  And here we are.  Older.  Maybe wiser (although that might be moot).

It's been a very long 16 years since Don died.  Honestly, it was, in many ways, a downward spiral, one I documented in my memoir, recently published, available here if anyone is interested.

And now I try to navigate a body that demands to rest.  To be 'coddled'.  Weaving is physical - at least the way I do it.  I have to ration my time at the loom so that my body doesn't go into complete shut down.

After months of searching for an answer, a treatment, something to let me continue to weave, it seems I may have finally found a treatment that will provide some level of, if not healing, coping.  

In the meantime, I have found a little more energy to do things I promised I would do - like get one of the guild's donation looms operating again.  I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I can no longer wind a 9 meter long, 15" wide, 20 epi warp in one session.  Halfway through I had to stop and rest.  Today I feel able to finish it, so I'm going to do that.  And then tomorrow, a guild member will help me beam it.  If I feel able, I will also thread it.  I was hoping to have it ready to weave on in time for the guild business meeting next week, but I may not make that goal.

In the meantime, I did manage to weave half a tea towel yesterday after fixing the threading error, and editing the treadling to better suit what I want to have happen.

Today the sun is shining and the temps are rising.  It would seem spring is set to arrive 'early' (for us).

Time to lurch into the studio and get myself in gear.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Still Not Perfect


The current series of warps are...complex.  

Today, after several days delay (due to physical maintenance and body protesting said maintenance) I finally started weaving the next warp.

I wasn't pleased with the beginning - sewing the hem would cut off part of the motif at the top and bottom, and I knew I wasn't going to be best pleased with that, visually.  But I thought I would complete the first towel, then change the treadling.

Until I got about 9" woven and spotted it.  Yup.  Threading mistake.

I had threaded 10-7 twice instead of 7-10 twice.  It wasn't really obvious while I was focused on other things - like making sure everything was working properly, fussing over the hems, etc., but once I spotted it, I couldn't *not* see it.

So, I cut it off, fixed the threading mistake and re-tied.  And, since I was starting over anyway, I edited the treadling sequence to create a 'proper' hem so that the motif would not be awkwardly chopped off.

And I thought about how several people over the years have told me that they can't wait until they get to the point where they don't make mistakes anymore.


Anyway, it's lunch time now, so I'm going to eat and then go back to the loom.  And this time I hope I don't find any more 'mistakes'...

Exchange Rates


So, yesterday I cashed a US $ cheque (payment for a recent Zoom presentation).  The teller informed me that the exchange rate was such that I was going to get a lot more Canadian money than the number written on the cheque.  I told her I was grateful I wasn't buying stuff from the US right now.  

Which reminded me - prices in my ko-fi shop are listed in Canadian dollars.  Which means, if you are in the US, the prices you pay are going to reflect a substantial exchange rate discount.

To make my life easier, the posted price includes a shipping amount.  If someone buys just one towel, that amount covers about half of the cost of shipping, which has more than doubled in the last few years.  If someone purchases two towels, that *nearly* covers the cost of shipping to the US, using the cheapest option available to me.  

In this day and age of 'free shipping', please understand that there is no such thing.  When I go to the post office, I do not get to ship parcels for 'free'.  I still have to pay the postage.  And for the envelope/box, the shipping tape, the labels.  I still have to drive to the post office and stand on line.  

'Free' shipping just means that makers, like me, frequently wind up subsidizing the cost of shipping.  So, when you look at the price a craftsperson/artist is charging, please be aware that part of that price is shipping.  The only thing 'free shipping' means is that we don't add on more money at the end of the purchase.  The price you see is what you pay.  And people like me sort out where the shipping portion goes, and hope there is some 'profit' to help pay for the materials, the power to keep the studio lights and laptop on, the heat in the winter and the a/c in the summer.  And the utilities (wet finishing all those textiles takes water and electricity, not to mention wear and tear on the washing machine and dryer, plus the press.) 

And then there are the care labels, the plastic stems to attach them (which I've lately not been doing for mail orders.)

If anyone is interested in the sorts of considerations that go into being a professional weaver, my memoir A Thread Runs Through It is also available via my ko-fi shop.  And if you are contemplating a career in the arts, you might find some of the lessons I learned of interest.

My other books are available here.  If you are in the US, blurb conveniently does the exchange rate for you and shows you the US $ price.  If you are in a different country, click on your flag (in the upper right hand corner on my desktop) to get your currency.

Thursday, March 14, 2024



Minimum input, maximum output.  

Coming to weaving with a background in movement (ballet, hap ki do, aerobics, track and field, etc.) weaving became an exercise in figuring how to do it with the least possible wear and tear on my body.

Over the years I fine tuned my movements, checked with professionals (physio, massage, dance instructors, etc.) to make sure I wasn't inadvertently causing myself an injury.  And then I began including ergonomic hints and tips during workshops when I would see people doing things that would lead to injury if continued over time.

I also listened to people talking at conferences.  Like the person who was about 20 years older than me, explaining that she had been on a tight deadline and had woven for hours and hours to get her project done in time and caused so much damage to her feet that she hadn't been able to walk properly for 6 weeks (never mind weave).  Carpal tunnel surgeries were another risk factor.  

When I hosted a well known weaver during her tour around BC I explained I had an early morning physio appointment and showed her the coffee and told her to make herself at home.  She asked if I had a bad back and I said yes.  She said every weaver has a bad back.

Given I was young (at the time) and wanted to weave for many more years, I began to really study ergonomics related to weaving in a more serious manner.

But not everyone wants my input on what they are doing.  There are times when my suggestions, such as sitting on a taller bench/stool, or encouraging people to thread/sley the way I do now (thanks to Norman Kennedy's workshop, and watching Syne Mitchell sley - which she learned from Peggy Ostercamp), or suggesting that people wear some kind of footwear, especially if they weave on a loom that requires a larger foot/pound pressure than a Scandinavian style loom, some people shrug and continue to do what they have always been doing.  "I learned to do it this way" they will sometimes say. 

Well, so did I, but I learned a way that was easier on the body and took the time to learn how to do it that way.

Not only it is friendlier to the body, but it's more efficient.  And I can do more with less effort.  Seems like a win-win to me, and well worth the awkward slippery slope at the bottom of the learning curve.

Now we have the internet and sites like Facebook and I see photos of weavers sitting at their looms.  And all too frequently I cringe.

Poor posture seems to be a continuous problem.  Backs curved, sitting on the coccyx instead of the sitz bone, shoulders hiked up around their ears, holding the shuttle overhand, thumb pointing downwards - the accepted symbol for 'bad'.  One weaver didn't seem able to throw their shuttle and it was entering the shed every which way, including upside down on one toss.

I asked if she would like to see how I threw the shuttle, explained what I was doing and why.  As I walked away I heard her grumble that she didn't know there was a 'right' way to hold the shuttle.

Eventually I stopped commenting on people's photos, or offering to demonstrate - unless I was being paid to do so.  Free advice is worth what you pay for it, right?

So I document what I do in The Intentional Weaver, which I hope will be around for a while so that newer weavers can find the information.  

The weaver who commented that 'all weavers have bad backs' is now in the weaving studio in the sky, along with many others.  Norman Kennedy is still around, but not teaching weaving much, as I understand it.  However his students continue to share the information (I count myself among them, even if it was only that one workshop I took with him).  Peggy Ostercamp has her series of books with all sorts of great hints, tips and information.

And I guess I will keep banging the drum for as long as I can.

If something you are doing hurts, stop doing it.  If you can't figure out a way to do it that doesn't hurt, then only do it *until* you hurt, don't push until that hurt turns into injury.  Much better to prevent injury than heal from it.

Just saying...

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Thoughts on Creativity


As I worked through the iterations for the 'matrix' series, I was always cognizant of the fact that somewhere, some place, some other weaver had likely stumbled upon this technique.  So, no, I don't claim that I 'invented' it.  What I did was build upon my knowledge and skills and step by gradual step, I wound up with something I was pleased with.  

The above photo is from early in the series as I was exploring the potential for moving the twill 'line' direction, here, there, trying it out virtually, then, when I felt I had something that would be pleasing, getting it into the loom, then wet finishing it.

Because you never really know the quality of the cloth until you wet finish it.

There are people who don't want to 'follow the rules' of weaving, which is their prerogative.  They don't like to create artificial limitations because they feel that hinders their creativity.  And that is their journey, and a perfectly valid one for them.

But it is not mine.

My preference is to do some mental 'weaving', considering this, that and the other options involved in bringing threads together to make cloth.  I do this with bobbin lace as well.  I'm pretty adventurous with bobbin lace, but I *always* have a plan - a 'pricking' - that I work from.  I may adjust on the fly.  I may ignore some rules, and adapt some things, sometimes.  But I am well aware that I am deviating from the 'rules'.  I also know that my deviations are not likely to be noticed by anyone other than a more skilled lace maker than I am.

Does this make me less creative than someone who throws all the 'rules' out the window?  Perhaps.  Does it make me the 'better' weaver?  Not necessarily.  

There are many roads one can choose.  I chose the path that seemed to fit me the best, given my intention to produce textiles for sale.  (Yes, I've sold bobbin lace items, but everything I'm making right now will be donated to the guild.  If it sells great, if it doesn't, it's fine.)

But to say that in order to be creative you have to throw out *all* the rules?  Seems to be just as rigid as those who say you *must* follow all of their rules.

I made my own choices.  I don't follow all of the 'rules' that were taught to me as a beginning weaver.  When something seemed to be hindering my progress, I thought the processes through and adjusted what I was doing.

So, no, I don't chain my warps.  I don't tie 'choke' ties every yard.  (I tie a few gathering ties, but they are not 'choke' ties.)  I don't have a plain weave structure at the selvedge, and I even have floats of up to 5 (sometimes more if the thread is fine enough) at the selvedge.

And yes, I wove on a loom with a dobby and fly shuttle and *still* called my textiles hand woven - because according to the Canadian legal definition of 'hand' woven, the AVL qualified.  (Each and every action of the loom must be initiated by the weaver.)

So, if you belong to a group that has hard and fast 'rules' about things, you might want to consider if all of those rules are applicable to you.  If not, figure out what is best for you and do that.

Because change one thing, and everything can change.

If you want to know how the matrix series came to be, I shared drafts in Stories from the Matrix, available here.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Endings, Beginnings


I cut the warp off the loom Saturday, then started beaming the next warp.  Given my aging body, I didn't push through and beam the entire warp in one day, but only did half, then finished beaming Sunday.  

Sunday was a bit of a 'full' day.  Given the new therapy appears to be helping (no instant cure, but tiny glimmers of improvement) I went up to the guild room where I worked on the 'antique' L model loom and with assistance from another guild member it now has new treadle cords as well as new cables for the shafts.  All I have to do now is wind a practice warp to check how well it is working.  The goal is to outfit the loom with all 12 shafts that came with the loom.  Or sell the beast once it is working.

Then I helped a new lace maker get her 3rd ever lace project started.

When I got home I set up to begin threading.  If you look closely you might be able to see the stick that I attach the bouts to in order to carry them up and over the back beam, then tape to the loom frame just behind the heddles for easy reach.  By the end of the day I had threaded nearly half of the warp.

The photo also shows the typing clipboard I use to park the threading.  As I thread each group of warp ends, I mark them off on the threading draft.  One of the nice things about Fiberworks is that you can choose the size of font to print the draft out in.  Now that I'm getting older, I'm finding it more difficult to focus on the smaller font I used to use, so now I magnify it for easier viewing.

There are two post-it notes on the castle.  On one I record the last pick I wove and the other keeps track of how many units I have woven.  With the Megado, I find I prefer to cut the web off after about 8 or so yards as the cloth beam becomes 'padded' and re-applying weaving tension after advancing the fell becomes more difficult.  My standard number of units is 7 towels, although I can push through to 8 if necessary.  

What isn't included in the photo is the lighting I use.  I have task lights - one at the right side of the loom, one at the left, and one at the back of the loom.  On grey dreary days, the one at the back helps illuminate the stick with the bouts, and the back few shafts which might otherwise be somewhat shadowed.

I have been working on this series for over a year and a half now.  This warp and one more will be the last I do - for the time being.  I may re-visit the technique in the future.  But for now I'm feeling the pressure to press on with stash reduction.  I've woven enough of my tea towel stash yarns that I'm  beginning to feel the pressure to tackle some of my other yarns.

It has been a bit of a relief to see 'holes' begin to appear on my shelves.  Nearly all of my boxes of yarn are empty now (still a few left, but those contain 'specialty' yarns, not frequently used).

As part of the studio clean up in November, I unearthed some more yarns I'd 'forgotten' about and I'd like to weave some of those up soon.  Plus my brand new fine singles linen which I'm itching to weave and see if it makes as nice a cloth as I'm expecting.

There are still projects on my to-be-done list that I'm feeling the pressure to do, too.  But everything seems to take so much longer now, I'm not sure when I'll get to those.  

Since the new therapy *does* seem to be helping, I am once again tending a tiny plot of hope.  Hope that I can keep weaving for a good long while.  But that is still to be determined, and in the meantime, I weave while I can, because I can, even if it means I have to take more frequent and longer breaks to let my body rest and recover.

This month marks the 49th anniversary of making the decision to quit my rather well paying job, at the time and throw my whole life into weaving.  Since this year also marks the death of my father, AND because much of the decision to change my life was sparked by his lengthy illness and death, I have been dealing with a lot of...feelings.

My father's death initiated my beginning as a weaver in more ways than I can express.

But that's the thing with living.  Things end.  People end.  But if we have the chance to go on, then, well, we must.  That was brought home to me again in 2008 when my younger brother unexpectedly and rather suddenly died.  Just over 16 years ago.  I had to work through 'survivor guilt' all while suddenly and unexpectedly needing to deal with my own health.

In the end, the only 'answer' I found for why I was still alive was this - my brother was dead, I wasn't.  Therefore I had to live my life to the fullest I could possibly manage.

Writing my 'memoir' last year also stirred up a lot of feelings, and I confess the past year has been difficult.  But I now have a local pain doctor, and a therapy 'team' that understands my need to keep weaving, and help me do that.  Ultimately, if this therapy is successful enough, I might even go back to teaching in person - locally only.

In the meantime, I love doing the Zoom presentations.  I have another this week.  And I love the fact I can still share what I know, still encourage others, stay in contact with far away friends. 

The truth is, I have very few 'local' friends - most of my 'friends' are far away.  And I count my blessings that I 'found' those far away friends as well as my 'local' friends.  Through the vehicle of the internet (including this blog) I feel connection with other like minded folk.  I feel part of a very large, albeit invisible, web.

The web of life.  The threads that we spin that allow us to stay connected.  The way we can encourage and support each other, the way we can continue to share and learn.

Every ending (bar the last and final one) ushers in a beginning.  

And so today I will finish threading the loom.  I hope to sley and tie on and maybe begin weaving tomorrow.  If not tomorrow (because I also have to set up and prepare for the Zoom Tuesday evening) I can begin weaving this week.

Onwards.  One step at a time.  One pick at a time.  One thread at a time.  Even if I do need naps to do it.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Instant Gratification


Warp #18

Warp #19

NA society (maybe more than that but since I live in NA it's my point of reference) seems to have been duped into expecting instant results.  Many of us are no longer willing to invest in the time, effort and, yes, money, to learn a craft.

People take one class (of whatever) and assume they will make 'perfect' things immediately.  The term 'labour intensive' has taken on a negative connotation, as if taking the time to learn, then craft things from raw materials, is somehow demeaning.  Or, 'too hard', or 'takes too long, I don't have the patience'.

And then, when the student messes up, they throw their efforts away, declare that they just don't have the talent, and move on to the next 'instant' bit of gratification.

(Not all, of course not.)

Over the decades I have been a weaver there has been a pretty constant litany of 'oh you are so patient, I could never do *that*'.  Or the more subtle 'oh, are you still weaving?' as if they can't imagine that there is something beyond the simple 'making' involved in my interest in continuing to learn about and explore the possibilities. (I write about this in A Thread Runs Through It.)

I'm wrapping up the shifted twill blocks series I have been doing for over a year.  Not that there isn't more I could do, but I'm getting restless and feeling the pressure to make other things, use up different bits of my stash.

Yesterday I cut off the rest of the warp from warp #19 and began beaming #20.  There will be one more warp after the one going into the loom now - to use up as much of the blues as I can.  And then I will switch my approach and go 'back' to using 'fancy' twills.

I'm looking forward to weaving with the very fine singles linen, and who knows, I may purchase more of that yarn in the future.  

But I still have way too much rayon in my stash, and zero shawls in inventory.  So I will be scheduling some shawl warps this year.

Part of the reason I've dragged my feet doing more shawls is that I will be fringe twisting them, and that isn't a job I particularly enjoy doing.

Mostly I've been working with finer yarns, but in digging through my stash I 'found' some thicker linen yarns.  So I've pulled some 2/8 cotton and will do a warp for tea towels using the 2/8 for warp and the thicker linen and some blends for weft (hemp/cotton, for example) and see how much of those I can get used up.  I'm looking forward to something that will go a little faster than the finer threads I have been working with.

But here's the thing.  While you *can* make thin fabric from thick yarns, it's not easy.  In order to get the quality of cloth I want, my preference is to use thinner yarns.  If you make tea towels from 4/8 cotton, you are going to wind up with really thick fabric.  The fabric won't fit easily into small spaces (small glasses, corners) and generally the cloth won't be quite as absorbent as a thinner fabric made with thinner yarn.

People tell me they love my tea towels 'because they work'.  Well, that's the whole point.  I want the cloth I create to do the job they were intended to do.

When weaving with 2/16 cotton for warp, the density is between 32 and 36 epi and the ppi is about the same.  When weaving with 2/8 cotton for warp, the density is between 20 and 24 for warp.

It takes longer to thread, sley and then weave the finer cloth.  

I do it because I want *that* quality of cloth.  It takes the time it takes to make it.  Granted I'm pretty fast, but it still takes time.  

I use weaving as a working meditation.  As an aerobic activity.  One that helps my body because aerobic activity generates endorphins.  Being at the loom is supposed to be my happy place.  When I'm weaving I block out what is happening in the broken world we live in and I focus on being in the here and now.  I may think about the next warp and let myself poke at the idea, testing it to see if it will produce the quality of cloth I want.  But at that point, it's still just a mind exercise.  It isn't until I get the warp into the loom and then wet finish the results, that I will know if I have thought through the design process enough in order to achieve the quality of cloth that I want.

There is nothing 'instant' about weaving.  If you want thinner cloth, you might accept that you need to spend more time on the warp set up (32 epi instead of 12 or 15, ditto weft).  Using 4/8 cotton for baby blankets or placemats/table runners is a good choice (imho), but not particularly good for tea towels.

But you get to choose.  Maybe spend a little more time in the making and wind up with the quality of cloth you want/need.  

Hone your skills so that it doesn't take days and days to get your loom set up.  Practice efficient techniques so that you don't spend days crouched up trying to thread your warp.  Be willing to spend some time becoming skilled.  (Plenty of hits and tips about working more ergonomically in The Intentional Weaver - or here on this blog for free - although you might have to dig a little harder to find it.  Or take the classes at School of Sweet Georgia or Handwoven...)

Save 'instant' gratification for other things.  There is a enormous satisfaction for taking a deep dive into something, learn the ins and outs, develop skill.  It's also good for your health - both physical and mental - as long as you work ergonomically.

Just saying...

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Learning Opportunities


There has been a bit of upheaval in the weaving community since Olds College decided to terminate their master weaver and spinner programs.  I hesitated to comment, but now that the dust has settled somewhat, I thought it might be time to review what is available for teaching/testing programs.

Olds College offered a college level course that provided a certain level of basic to advanced knowledge with an emphasis on learning how to communicate that knowledge.  The assumption being that, by the time a student achieved the 'master' certificate they would have a good background in the craft and would be able to teach it effectively.  Or, at least, write about it, which is just a form of teaching, after all.

Many people are feeling the loss of this teaching program deeply, and it is hoped that another college will see the value in it and - if not take the program over - at least offer something similar.

In the meantime, there are other programs that weavers may find helpful.

If someone is looking for a teaching program, there is the Ontario guild.  When I was looking for programs for myself back in the 1980s, I looked at the Ontario program *because* there was a teaching component.  Unfortunately, I simply did not have the financial resources to travel to Ontario yearly for that teaching.

I looked at the HGA COE, but it was a lot more expensive than the GCW program, and had hard deadlines that I could not meet.

I also had a group of local weavers already taking the GCW program, and they kindly allowed me to attend their 'meetings'.  I learned so much from them that I decided that was the route I would follow.

There are other guilds with similar programs to the GCW - it is my impression that the GCW program might have used the guidelines for the Boston guild as a basis for the GCW program.  One of the founders of the GCW was Mary Sandin, who had, for a time, been a member of the Boston Guild.  She, along with Mary Black (yes, *that* Mary Black) and Ethel Henderson formed the GCW and developed the program still in use today.

Over the years, I've marked levels for GCW and have encouraged people to follow that program.  Even if there is no teaching associated with it, the research I did in order to meet the testing requirements, and the samples I was required to weave to show I knew the weave structures, expanded my knowledge enormously.

It is a self-study program, so you do have to be pretty focused about doing the work and meeting the deadlines.  However, they are not 'hard and fast', but allow one to skip a year (or more) before submitting their next level.  For example, my 'master' level required a lot more years than I expected, in part because of the amount of research I did, but also the weaving of the samples required to illustrate my monograph.

Do I regret it?  Not one bit.

I loved teaching the Olds program, in no small part because I wound up teaching level one for most of the time and level one deals with wool and fulling.  Since I have been thumping the drum about wet finishing for decades (literally, now) that level was just right up my alley.  :D

The lectures I developed during Covid were directly targeted at my Olds students, especially those in the higher levels, itching to keep learning and working toward their certificate.  

Honestly, if a guild hired me to just present those 11 presentations, they would get a 'master' class in weaving.  (A friend told me that if it was true, it wasn't bragging...)

If I can't come to a guild physically, I can and will happily come remotely.

Topics and fees listed on my web site.  

Or buy The Intentional Weaver, which was written based on questions from my Olds students...

Friday, March 8, 2024

Back to Bobbin Lace


Last night was a 'bad' night (again!) and I finally sat down and tried to distract myself by working on the little 'star' I started a few days ago and hadn't touched since.

It's not perfect, and I'm not entirely happy with it.  I think when I took the photo of the pricking the page wasn't entirely flat and that caused the pricking to be slightly distorted.  But I'm continuing with this star because I'm learning how I need to approach making it.  If I decide to continue, I've learned a number of things that I want to change, plus I'm getting used to working in the 'round', which means a certain amount of fiddling with the cover cloth and making sure the pins are pushed all the way in.

The cover cloth has a hole in the middle and you place the opening over the area you are working.  In the photo, I folded the cloth over so that I could see what I had done.  During the working, you only ever see an area about the size of a tennis ball (if that).  The cover cloth is over most of the pins but you still wind up catching the threads on the pins surrounding the area you are working on.

I'm also getting familiar with the sew-in tool again.  With the braid crossing over itself, you have to attach the upper braid to the lower and you need to 'sew' the workers to the already made lower braid.  It's fiddly, especially when the threads want to catch on everything.  But if I don't do it while making the braid, I'd have to 'sew' it after it's off the pillow.  

I don't want to work the lace in the centre of the star, but when I was out the other day I stopped at the Dollar Store (now the $2 store - inflation!) and found a packet of several sizes of glass 'pearls', some of them large enough I could hang one in the middle of the star.  So I'll try doing that as part of the 'practice' I'm doing making this first one.

I have collected several other designs that would be appropriate for a Christmas tree, so I will have several different motifs I can make.  Since they have to be ready by the end of October, I have a deadline, so I'm going to have to get cracking.  The goal is to have 40 bobbin lace ornaments to hang on the tree.  Most of them are fairly small, so I'm not expecting any trouble making that goal in plenty of time.  

If I keep going and stop procrastinating!