Sunday, May 19, 2024

Making Plans

 


There is a saying that goes:  If you want to make God laugh, make plans.

Since I always prefer to see folk laugh...

Yesterday I hit the 2/3s mark on the current warp.  Today my goal is to finish towel 7 (on this section), cut off and re-tie.  And then somehow get the last 5 or 6 towels woven before my next injection on the 29th.

But I'm hurting.  Quite a lot, actually.  It's not as bad as it could be, but it's grinding, never ending.  Since the only way out is through, I grit my teeth and try to get to the loom twice a day, ignoring pretty much anything else.

I still have to finalize the article I've been working on.  Somehow there just isn't enough oomph left in me to do the last things that need doing.  But maybe today?  Because I have a tight deadline on the next article, which has been started but still needs to be finished, photos sourced, resource list created, etm.

The linen from Lithuania should arrive soon, and I need to think about what colours to order in to use as warp.  In the meantime, I *have* generated a fairly 'simple' threading for a shawl warp and decided to just do enough for 6 shawls.  Which will barely make a dent in my rayon yarn stash, but never mind.  The goal is to get them fringe twisted and wet finished, ready for the craft fair in November.  And then go back to tea towels.

We have had some cooler weather and even a little bit of rain.  Not nearly enough to end the drought, but enough to hopefully knock back the fire danger a little.  More importantly, the northern part of the province got a good soaking rain, and that has helped in the fight to keep those fires from burning down one town.  So far.  But as the wildfire service warned, that fire as well as others not very far away, are still not 'controlled' and anything can happen.

The other exciting thing that has happened is news that my new glasses are ready.  Given it's a long weekend and the Costco parking lot was jammed when we drove by, I'm going to wait until Tuesday to go pick them up.  But hopefully that will help with the eye strain/fatigue.

So there are a few things coming up in the next two weeks that *ought* to make life a little bit better.  Time will tell.

In the meantime, I make plans.  Do I hear the faint echo of a distant laugh???  Oh well.




Thursday, May 16, 2024

A Good Day

 


Weaving is a bit like watching paint dry.  

I put on enough warp to do around 18-20 towels (depending on the length and if I have any oopsies).

So the loom looks pretty much the same for about 3 weeks.  Nothing new to see, just same old, same old.

Today I had red light laser therapy on my feet and lower back.  My feet seem to be 'stuck' and not getting any better - but neither are they getting worse - so I keep going in hopes that they really are improving, just so slowly that I'm not noticing.  As for my back, no idea if it is helping but if it is slowing the deterioration, that has to be on the plus side.  I go in two weeks to get another injection in my back and hope to set up a schedule of every four months, instead of waiting until I'm dealing with pain, then waiting for an appointment.

But today was a 'good' day, comparatively speaking.  The loom is behaving with this warp after I 'fixed' a few minor issues, and the fine linen is behaving beautifully after steeping for a week or so in the humidor.  And I've been able to weave around 1000 picks in 45 minutes, which isn't half bad.  That includes the time required to stop, advance the warp, change bobbins, and take a sip to keep myself hydrated.  That's an average of around 22 picks per minute.

Not bad for an old lady with a bad back.

Today as I was weaving, only needing surface attention, I thought about the next warp.  Instead of tea towels, I need to get some shawls woven, so I've been mulling options.  I think I've got something I'm willing to put into the loom, just need to get it into Fiberworks and double check it's going to look ok.  

I already have lots of the Brassard 2/16 bamboo, and a large variety of other rayon yarns to use for weft.  I may make each shawl a different colour and keep the weave structure the same.  Or not.  It depends.  A 24 yard long warp should let me weave about 7 shawls.  I weave them 90" long, plus 12" for fringes, plus take up and loom waste.  And a little extra to test weft colours or to fix oopsies, plus cut off and re-tie once or twice.

While I am weaving that warp I'll be thinking about which colours to bring in to use as warp for the white linen currently winging its way here.  It should arrive by the end of the month.  The yarn from Brassard usually takes about two weeks, so I need to make up my mind soon and get the order sent in.

I'm toying with doing a gradient - blue/grey base with accent colours that shift along the width of the warp.  It would be subtle, but I think it might be 'interesting'.  Interesting enough to justify the extra time and effort?  Maybe.  Still cogitating.

It's also a good day because we got a few more rain showers.  Not much.  Not nearly enough.  But some.  And some is better than none, so I'll take it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Refuge

 


There is no sun today, and I'm glad.  I'm glad because it is cloudy, and it was raining when I got up.  A nice, slow, steady rain.  Rain that will - hopefully - sink into the parched earth and reduce the danger of fire.  Rain that will fill the aquifers, the lakes and rivers and reduce the level of drought that has been worsening over the past few years.  At least a little bit.

There are days when I am of this earth, but - quite frankly - don't want to be in it.  After years of people taking care and isolating - something that didn't particularly bother me, being reasonably self-sufficient and on the introvert side of personality traits - being left 'alone' isn't a hardship for me.  

But as the years have inched by, the political situation creeping ever further to the far far right, there are days when it is far too people-y.  On those days I wrestle 'sarcastic me' to the ground, and generally head to the studio and try to do something that will take my mind off of what is happening in the world.

I put the music on, pick up the shuttle, clear my mind (or try to) and weave.

For 45 minutes I have respite from reality.  A break from the worrisome prospects of what will happen in the coming months and years.  And I have woven another part of a tea towel.  A most mundane thing that isn't, on the scale of things, monumental or even important.

But I have exercised my creativity, used my skills, my knowledge, and brought something new and different into the world.

And some days?

That has to be enough...

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Oops.

 


Yesterday I cut the first 7 towels off the loom.

I gotta tell ya, weaving with this linen from Lithuania has been lovely.  

When it arrived it was a bit thinner than I had expected (still not great at converting metric to imperial - my bad), but thinner can always - in a pinch - be made thicker, right?

But instead I mulled it over and decided I didn't want a thicker towel - thinner towels are just more absorbent, more flexible, just more...tea-towel-like...than a thicker cloth.

So I bought 36 tubes of 2/16 cotton, beamed the warp, designed a weaving draft based on one from Ars Textrina #14, tweaked it to make it 'fit' what I wanted better, added borders, added hems, etc., and then in the tie up added some plain weave to help stabilize the somewhat thinner linen.

When I was getting close to being able to weave I wound off as many bobbins as I had available and stored them in humidors (see previous blog posts on how I prepare linen for weft - topic 'humidor') to 'steep' for at least 3 days (or longer - longer is better when it comes to linen).

The warp went onto the beam quite smoothly, although I did have some hiccoughs while threading and sleying.  Nothing terminal and soon fixed.  (Just really annoying!)

Since then I've managed to get to the loom pretty much every day for at least one session and the loom is co-operating, too, so this whole experience has been very enjoyable.

So much so, I went back to the etsy site where the yarn is being sold to see if they had half-bleached.

They had what they called 'dyed white' under two different listings.  The description appeared identical, but the price was different.  One listing was being offered at a much lower price.  I mulled it over and thought that perhaps the lower priced yarn was from an older batch and they were just trying to move it out.  As I thought and looked at their other offerings and then went back and forth between the two listings for the white yarn, I noticed that a number of people had the cheaper yarn in their shopping carts.

A really good psychological tool for marketing, because it spurred me to put some in my cart, too.  And thought some more.  And decided that if I was going to buy more yarn it made a lot more economical sense to buy more than a kilo, given shipping and whatnot.

So I ordered.

Five kilos.  

Yes, yes, I know I'm *supposed* to be weaving down my yarn stash.  But I'm not buying this on spec, I have a plan for it.  (Seriously!)

Once the current warp is off the loom I will put a shawl warp on and get some of that excess of rayon yarn woven down and while I'm doing that I will think about which colour(s) to order in from Brassard of the 2/16 cotton.

Because I'm not done with weaving yet, and I'd rather weave with yarn I like than with yarn I don't.

And since it takes a long time to do the fringe twisting, I kinda need to get those shawls done now so that they are ready for the craft fairs in the fall.

My story, sticking to it.

(If you want to buy some tea towels, there are plenty in my ko-fi shop.)


Monday, May 13, 2024

Hubris

 


sample for article #2 - edge treatments

"It isn't bragging if it's true" a friend once told me.

But I still have a hard time with putting myself, my knowledge, 'out there'.  It feels like 'tooting my own horn' - a no-no in my childhood home.

We weren't supposed to 'brag' about ourselves, all while being told that we weren't 'good enough'.  (Why wasn't that B an A?)

So I have 'impostor syndrome'.   On the one hand, part of me is confident that I actually know something about weaving after being a professional weaver for 40+ years.  On the other hand, a lot of people know a lot about weaving - what makes *me* special?

And face it, a lot of people have written about weaving, taught it, practiced it, won awards doing it.

I squirm a bit thinking about the fact that I, too, have written a lot about it, taught it, practiced it, even, yes, won awards for it.

And yet. 

And yet.

But I'm also tired.  I 'retired' from being a 'professional' weaver in 2019 for a lot of reasons, one of which was the chronic pain and fatigue I was living with.  Deadlines, always my 'friend', became an onerous burden.

And I was tired of writing to someone else's style guide, to their deadline.

I struggled to keep going, and eventually wound up writing again, after having produced two books that were mainly technical - textbooks, if you will.

Over the past 18 months or so, I wrote two more.

I could write when I felt like it, choose the words I wanted to use, take the photos I felt needed to be shown to illustrate what my words were describing.

When I finished the last book in February, there was a huge void in my daily schedule.  Instead of being productive (I would generally write in the mornings while I had my coffee), I doom scrolled and wasted the morning.

I thought about writing, but other than writing here, for my blog, I couldn't think of anything else to say that warranted being published.  And when emails came (I'm on a couple of publication email distribution lists) saying they were looking for articles, on X, Y or Z topics, none of them resonated with me.  Or the deadline was tight and I didn't feel like trying to squeeze the time to a) write the text and b) weave the samples.

So I declared (to myself and/or the universe, if there is anything out there that listens to mere mortals) that I would only write what I wanted to write, in my own style.  People could come here and read.  Or not.

I felt a bit like a petulant adolescent - I donwanna do what you want, I only wanna do what *I* want.

And so the past few months have passed, with me pretty much ignoring the weaving community as a whole, just answering a few questions here and there, usually because someone tags me to get my attention in a group, or emails directly.  And then I do my best to help, which I don't feel like I always do, but when I can't, I can usually point someone towards resources that may.

A few weeks ago someone approached me to write several articles for them.  Since they wanted articles on things that are near and dear to my heart, AND I hadn't actually written that particular viewpoint very much, I agreed.  I've sent the first off, and the 2nd is being alpha read (I don't always trust my brain to catch typos/grammar issues, and a friend has been invaluable in the role of alpha reader).

Yesterday another person contacted me and asked if I would write about a technique.  I felt the topic was too narrow, so I suggested expanding it and they agreed.  It's a tight deadline, but given I just finished (or nearly) the 2nd article for publication 1, I felt I could squeeze this other one in.

The thing is, both of these publications seem to want what I want to write.  When I asked about word counts, both said, essentially, as many as you need to explain the topic.

And here's the thing.  Because both publications are asking for things I feel are important, I already have photos or samples I can photograph - I don't need to weave anything.

Will anyone else but me be interested?  We'll see, I guess.

I try to never fall into the trap of thinking I know everything, because change one thing, and everything can change.

But that said, I do happen to know quite a lot about weaving.  And if there is a chance anyone else wants to know what I know, I feel an obligation to share that.

I sort of feel like Peter Collingwood, though, who got tired of teaching and decided to write a book about weaving rugs thinking he would never have to teach again.  Instead his invitations to teach essentially doubled.  Same thing happened after Magic in the Water.

Well, I am done with travelling to teach, but we now live in the age of the internet, and I can teach remotely.  And I can write.  So I guess I keep on, keeping on...


Sunday, May 12, 2024

Struggle

 


It feels like my life has been a constant struggle since...I can't even remember when.  My entire life?

So I'm used to things not being comfortable.  Or going smoothly.  Or having to stop and re-jig what I want to do because it just isn't working out the way I wanted it to.

To be honest, this warp started out just like that.

I made not 1, not 2, but *3* threading errors.  Simple ones, fairly easily fixed with the addition of tied in repair heddles.  Just...annoying.

I suspected I had a sleying error but could not find it, only to discover - in the process of fixing the threading errors - that somehow I'd overlooked a bundle of 5 ends and never sleyed them.  Right smack dab in the middle of the warp.

Again, fairly easily fixed, just time consuming.  And irritating.  

But I started weaving again, then noticed that in the process of fixing the threading errors, I'd introduced a sleying error.

GAH!  Again, fairly easily fixed when I got to the cut line.  So, one towel has a very minor 'error' in it which may actually disappear in the wet finishing.  Or not.

But once all that was dealt with and I actually began weaving, I was surprised - and ever so grateful - to have things start to go smoothly.

(I hesitated to actually write about this in case I invoke the 'curse' that comes with the hubris of thinking I'm doing something 'right'...)

Anyway, I just finished towel #5 on this 24 (or so) yard warp which should yield around 19 or 20 towels.

The fine linen is behaving beautifully, having been steeped in a humidor for over 3 days.  My selvedges aren't perfect, but they are 'good enough'.  

And I'm enjoying my time at the loom, not needing to fight with the yarn or the loom - just sit and toss the shuttle and beat the weft into place.

I am enjoying it so much that I am seriously considering buying more of this fine linen to make more tea towels.  And trying really hard to *not* do that because I am *supposed* to be weaving down my stash, not adding to it!

However, it looks very much like this warp will use up the kilo of linen and then I may consider finally putting a shawl warp into the loom.  I prefer to fringe twist finer threads, especially for something like a shawl, and that takes time.  It actually takes longer than hand hemming.  I'm out of shawls, and I still have way too much yarn in a variety of fine rayons that I need to weave down.

But the jury is out on which direction I will go.  At the rate of one towel per day (on average) it will take me another two weeks to finish this warp.  

I have time to cogitate.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Books, Books and Still More Books

 



These are the books still available for sale from Allison's library.

If you are interested in one, the price listed is just for the book.  Shipping is an additional $22 (if you want more than one I will estimate the shipping for a larger parcel - frequently 2 or 3 books can go for the cost of one book).

If you are in Canada, I can accept etransfer, cheque or Paypal.  If you are in the US I can accept Paypal (and if you are in the US, you get the exchange rate discount - just saying...)

 

Alto, Palmer, Weiland.  Sewing Ultra Suede Brand Fabrics.  Soft cover $30

 

Buxton, Judith.  Selected Canadian Spinning Wheels in Perspective.  Soft back.  $30

 

 

Clarke, Leslie J.  The Craftsman in Textiles.  Hardback.  $20. 

 

 

 

Fannin, Allen.  Handloom Weaving Technology hardback $30 (2 copies)

Finlay, Victoria.  Color.  Hardback  $30

Hollister, U. S.  The Navajo and his Blanket.  Hard Back.  $30

James, George Wharton.  Indian Blankets and their Makers; the Navaho.  Hard back.  $30

Larsen, Jack Lenor and Mildred Constatine.  The Art Fabric; Mainstream.  Soft back.  $50

Larsen, Jack Lenor and Mildred Constatine.  Beyond Craft; the art fabric.  Hard back.  $50

Larsen, Jack Lenor.  A Weaver’s Memoir hardback.  $30  two copies

Larsen, Jack Lenor and Jeanne Weeks.  Fabrics for Interiors; a guide for architects, designers, and consumers.  Soft back.  $30

Laughlin, Mary Elizabeth.  More Than Four.  Coil back.  $30

Mayer, Anita Luvera.  Clothing from the Hands That Weave.  Coil back.  (water damaged, will give away)

Mayer, Anita Luvera.  Handwoven Clothing Felted to Wear.  Coil back.  $30

Mera, HP.  Spanish American Blanketry.  Paper back  $20

Moorman, Theo.  Weaving as an Art Form; a personal statement.  Hardback.  $30

Pendleton, Mary.  Navajo and Hopi Weaving Techniques.  Soft cover.  $30

Proctor, Richard and Lew, Jennifer.  Surface Design for Fabric.  Soft back.  $30

Ranshaw, G. S.  The Story of Rayon.  Very old – 1930s?  Cardboard cover.  Worn.  (will give away if anyone wants it)

Samuel, Cheryl.  The Chilkat Dancing Blanket.  Soft cover.  $30

Sanders, Nadine and Joyce Harter.  Weaving that Sings.  Soft back.  $30

Sutton, Ann.  Ideas in Weaving.  Hard back.  $30 (may not be sold, awaiting payment)

Van der Hoogt, Madelyn.  The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers.   Signed. Coil back.  $50

Waller, Irene.  Designing with Thread.  Hard back.  $30.  (may not have sold – awaiting payment)

Worst, Edward.  Foot Treadle Loom Weaving.  Soft cover.  1976 reprint  (would give away if anyone wants it.)


Ephemeral

 


painted warp scarf

With the news of a huge amount of solar activity this weekend, we decided to head out of town late last night and the light pollution of the city to see what we could see.  We had been seeing photos from Europe where the lights were magenta, which is unusual.

Alas, we spent over an hour at the top of the hill to the west of town waiting, waiting, waiting, as the clouds slowly moved in and nothing much happening.

Finally we gave up and drove back home.

Now I see lots of locals did manage to see the lights, so I'm a bit disappointed we didn't.

OTOH, we *have* seen the northern lights before, so the disappointment this time isn't all that acute.

So much of life is fleeting.  So much of life relies on being in the right place, at the right time.  So much of life is happenstance, serendipity.

But the northern lights truly are something quite spectacular.  If you have a chance, at least look up after dark.  If you live in a highly polluted light environment, a wee drive might be enough to get you a glimpse.

I use nature as a design inspiration frequently.  That whole series of painted scarf warps I did a few years ago was done as a response to some of the colours I see in nature.  Humans get so wrapped up in the latest crisis, the latest chaos (and lordy, I understand, I do!) that sometimes we need to stop for a few minutes and just look.

The fact that we sat on a hill for over an hour, in the dark, and saw not much of anything, was a bit of a disappointment.  But we also understand that the lights are ephemeral, and sometimes they show, and sometimes they don't.  I'm a bit jealous that other locals did get to see them, but I'm happy for them that they did.  Because for some of them, it was their first time.  And for us it would have just been the cherry on top because the lights were exhibiting a deep magenta, which is fairly rare.  

Mostly I've seen the green lights, one time I saw red (also fairly rare).  I've never seen magenta or white, and those are truly a wonder to behold.

Someone posted a quote on FB the other day (I paraphrase) - we enter this life with an intake of breath, we exit it with an exhalation, and we live for the moments that take our breath away.

I was hoping for a moment of breathlessness last night.  But maybe we'll try again tonight.


Friday, May 10, 2024

Me and 'AI'

 



Artificial 'Intelligence'.

Too bad there is less 'intelligence' and more mis- and dis-information being dished up by these 'services' being touted as 'make your life easier', and 'create art like a professional', and 'let me dish up a word salad of nonsense in answer to your search'.

I am *not* saying that there are no programs that are legitimate design tools.  I mean, I've been using weaving software since 1988 when I bought my first program (Fiberworks for anyone interested) at a time when a large part of the weaving community declared that using such software was 'cheating'.

But that's the difference imho - a program takes in the information the user provides.  The current 'AI' scrapes the internet for content, not understanding a thing, just cobbling together an approximation of what is happening in a craft (for example) and without thought, spits it out.

So we have recipes that make no sense.  Wild mushroom foraging books that tell people that a mushroom is safe when it is deadly, books on crafts that make no sense of the technical skills or information involved in mastering that skill.

In the meantime, billionaires spend billions developing and marketing their half baked ideas of what constitutes knowledge about, oh, let's say weaving, without understanding one iota of the actual dynamics of the craft, never mind the physics or how a textile is made from the thread up.  And stealing content from the humans who have actually created content, without compensation, may I add.  (The fact they are now whining that they can't honour copyright because it is too expensive kind of says it all, imho.)

What they are clearly saying is that they would rather spend money creating a faulty tool (Cybertruck comes to mind for some strange reason) than pay human beings to think, create, grow.  They would rather cut out the actual humans doing the skill than pay them for their time, expertise and creativity.

But a tool cuts more than one way.

As usual, everyone has to make up their own minds about whether this new 'tool' is helpful or not.

In the meantime, I'll be sitting here at my desktop with Fiberworks and I'll be drawing upon works that have been done in the past, thinking about them, tweaking them, creating something different than my resource, and using my own brain and creativity to hopefully come up with something that I can put my name on.

I will be sitting here at my desktop, writing words that will hopefully help people make sense of this craft that has been practiced since the beginning of (human) time.  I will be writing, and weaving, and encouraging others to learn.  To grow.  To experiment.  To try to understand the principles and work at 'mastering' this craft.

I encourage people to support other humans, not billionaires trying to starve out actual humans from creative pursuits.

If you want to support me, as usual here are my links:

School of Sweet Georgia

Handwoven class

 My books at blurb

My memoir at ko-fi  plus towels, lots of towels!

And if you are interested in a remote presentation...  (no 's' on the site yet, so you may be warned it isn't secure, or email me laura at laurafry dot com)

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Flow

 


I listen to music when I work in the studio.  For weaving, I have headphones that do two things - block out the loud bang of the solenoids, and provide music.  The type of music is eclectic, shall I say?  But mostly I enjoy rock and roll, although not exclusively.

When I'm beaming or threading, I tend to listen to instrumental so that I don't get carried away, singing along (in my head).  But when I'm actually weaving, pretty much anything goes.

I have a rather large collection of CDs, ones I bought, then more that I inherited from my brother which doubled my options.  Recently someone gave me a whole bunch of their CDs because they weren't listening to them anymore, which really expanded my listening options.

It was interesting to note that my brother and I had very similar tastes in music, but only two CDs were duplicates.  The same happened when I got the box of CDs from my friend - another selection of titles I didn't already have except for the two duplicates.

I have a couple of boomboxes, and buy the ones that do both CDs and cassette tapes because I use the tapes to time how long my weaving session is.  Generally I weave for 45 minutes, then when the music stops, I stop and take a break.

This morning I grabbed a random tape (I rarely write on the tape which CD I taped on it) and listened to Billie Holliday in the morning, then Sade in the afternoon.

When Smooth Operator came on I suddenly snapped back into awareness (weaving is a working meditation for me and I'm only half 'here', if you understand what I'm saying).  As the music played and I wove, I realized I was in sync with the music experiencing that flow consciously instead of sub-consciously.  

This warp was a bit of a bother to get set up (see previous blog post) but once it was finally ready, it appears to be behaving nicely and I've been really enjoying the motions, the rhythm, and the flow of it all.

The fine linen is looking 'balanced' and the web in the loom looks promising.  But mostly the linen, well steeped in humidors, is being co-operative.

It's really nice to just sit down and get into the rhythm and watch the picks flow by.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Watershed(s)

 


One is told that life is a straight path to your goals.  You go to school, get an education, determine what you want to have happen, work hard, and voila, you get to the finish line.

No one tells you that the path isn't as advertised.  No one says that the 'goal' is made up of a multitude of smaller goals, smaller achievements, along the way.

Some days, just getting out of bed and getting dressed is about all I can manage.  Because the road has been long, hard, rocky and in some cases, washed out entirely.

But - and here's the thing - it has always been 'interesting'.

Some days that's 'interesting' as in the curse 'may you live in interesting times'.  Some days it's 'interesting' as in 'huh, I did not know that - wow'.

When I chose to retire in 2019 (from selling at craft fairs and travelling to teach) I had no idea how much my life was to change.  The warning signs had been there for a number of years, but I figured I was just...exhausted.  I thought that some rest and ease from critical deadlines was all I needed to get back into the saddle and charge on.

Apparently bodies come with 'best before' dates.  And it seems I have been bumping up against mine.

So, I take the good where I find it these days.  Right now, it's the realization that I am still in an unexpected remission from cancer.  I take it in the fact that the medication I take for cholesterol is keeping my LDL at a 'good' level and I don't appear to be having any cardiac issues.  (And no, I've never had a heart attack - I've got a good strong heart, crappy plumbing.)

Yesterday I had massage and my therapist tweaked my exercises again, and poked and prodded to try and get more muscle spasms to let go.  I'm aching today, but I think I can weave at least one session.  I'm eager to get more of this warp woven because I think it's going to turn out really nice.  Nice enough I might just be tempted to buy more of this very fine linen!  (I know, I know, my mission is to weave DOWN my stash, not add to it!)

I keep mulling over how I might continue to teach, how much I want to promote my remote seminars/guild programs.  I was going to raise my prices, but now I'm not so sure.

I also need to sell some of my inventory.  It isn't enough to weave the yarn, now I need to sell the textiles!

So I'm doing a limited 'sale' on ko-fi - two designs are on sale with a Buy One, Get One Free.  There are a limited number of these towels, and first come, first serve, until midnight May 9, which just happens to be our 54th wedding anniversary.

In the meantime, I continue to juggle personal maintenance appointments.  I really did not understand just how *much* maintenance an aging body requires!  Of course, most of my family died long before they got to my age, so maybe I just didn't have anyone in my life to show me how it was going to be.

Anyway, I'm going to get dressed now that I'm done my second cup of coffee and go fire up the loom.  And vow to actually DO the exercises my massage therapist gives me.  Because when I actually do them, I get better.  Who'd a thunkit? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Life; Big and Little

 


Next warp - two shades very close in value and hue of beige, with natural linen weft


Sometimes I like to go for a more subtle approach; other times I like bigger, bolder designs.  A lot like life, really.

We tend to think of "Life" as the big, bold moments, but really when you think about it, Life is made up of all those small moments that we tend to gloss over.

Like yesterday, the brief glimpse of the plum tree, wreathed in a crowning glory of luminous white blossoms as the spear of sunlight arrowed through the clouds, just at the moment I glanced out my kitchen window.

The warp on the loom right now is one of those quiet, subtle ones.  Really hard to get a good photo of it in the loom.  The colours/values of the warp and weft threads are very close, making it difficult to see the actual design being woven.

Is this a 'waste of time' because no one will really 'see' it?

Not to me.

And I think of all our ancient ancestors, who did not have 'power' tools, but only sweat equity, who laboured long hours to make useful tools, beautiful.  

So many people condemn those ancient ancestors as being ignorant, or sub-human, when the only difference was that they did not have the tools we have today - and which *we* would not have if it weren't for the fact that we build on what has been done before we came along.  Without our ancient ancestors we wouldn't have, well, *us*.

Anyone who has read history (and it is becoming painfully apparent that too few of 'modern' folk have actually read any history at all), will understand that people 2-10,000 years ago were pretty much the same as we are today.

There are clay tiles with letters written complaining about bad landlords, bad employees, poor weather, natural disasters - the list goes on and on.  We are very little different from our ancient ancestors when we stop and think about it for more than a second.

While artifacts of pottery, metal, glass, even some wood, are fairly commonly preserved, textiles are less so.  It's only recently - as in the past 60 or so years - that researchers bothered to preserve the tiny scraps of yarn/textiles that might be left in the sites they were researching.  Because until recently - as in the 1920s or so, all textiles were made from fibre sources that would degrade back into the soil.  

Now we have a plethora of petroleum based fibres that will live on forever, polluting the ground and water.  

What little knowledge we have of ancient textiles is based largely on depictions in art - pottery, metal, statues, etc.  While more and more people are beginning to pay attention to these rare textile finds, over and over again, I realize that textiles are discovered, or overlooked by many.  I hope that changes before what few fragments are left disappear entirely.

But in the meantime, I work with my yarns, and sometimes I do big, bold textiles, and sometimes, I do quiet, subtle ones.

I'm looking forward to getting these woven and wet finished.  I think they are going to be quite lovely tea towels, in their quiet subtle way.  The reed marks will probably not disappear entirely, but I won't pay any mind to those.  The reed marks in this cloth will be a reminder, a 'ghost' of the loom left in the cloth to remind me that human hands worked with tools to create it.  And human hands will use it to do mundane things, like dry dishes.  

But hopefully as the owner of the towels uses them, they will bring some sense of pleasure to the mundane.  Like that spear of light, illuminating the crown of white blossoms.   Fleeting, but still there.

Monday, May 6, 2024

The Little Things

 


I couldn't sleep and got up at 'way too early' o'clock and put the coffee on.  As I poured my first cup (of two) I glanced out the window at the back of the house and saw that the sun had found a wee break in the clouds and a shaft of light had spot lit the plum tree.

Yesterday the blossoms were beginning to open, but the rain overnight seems to have brought out all the rest and the tree was covered in a crown of white.

I put the coffee cup down and grabbed my ipad to take a quick 'snap'.

It isn't in focus, but almost as soon as the sun had been noted, the clouds moved in again and the tree no longer glowed.

And that's the thing, isn't it?

Sometimes you get so overwhelmed with Life and All and forget that as awful as things are (because of human beings, mostly), Mother Nature still visits and shows us how glorious it can be here, on this planet.

Spring is well and truly on its way as the trees in the background begin to leaf out.  The tree directly behind us is covered with catkins and will soon have a full crown of green.  

And last night we had a good steady rain, which isn't nearly enough, but will at least help.

Yesterday was a busy day (for me, in this time line that I am experiencing).  Today my goal is to sley the next warp, finish pressing the rest of the towels that went through the washer/dryer on Saturday, and who knows, maybe even begin weaving.  I need to test the new linen yarn and see if I've come close to anticipating how it will weave up.

I'm already starting to think about the next warp.  It's tempting to go with the tried and true, but who knows, I may explore something different and see what happens when I try.

But mostly, I need to remember to look up and out from time to time.  Or I might miss a precious moment.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

May the Fourth Be With You

 


Just got a lovely message from someone saying they bought Magic in the Water (because the MAYFLASH15 offer extends until tonight).

In this day of 'AI' and Google searches that direct a person only to AI related results, I can only say this:

I will not use LLM resources if I can possibly avoid them.

I understand that AI is 'just another tool' but it is also a tool that can - and increasingly is being used for - the spread of mis- and dis-information.

Everything you see here has been generated by me.  My resources do include the use of the internet, but not LLM.  My editors are also human beings.  Having seen the results of LLM generated information (sic) about other textile crafts, I have no confidence, as in zero, that anyone who actually wants to know how to weave (or do other crafts) will find information that actually helps, let alone teaches them anything.

I have also seen that using LLM/AI is a huge  drain of energy consumption.  One person gave an example of how much it uses by saying that every *prompt* that AI addresses is like taking 16 oz of water and pouring it straight onto the ground.

While I don't know about that, I do know that it takes huge amounts of energy and our province has been facing pressure to allow the establishment of LLM 'factories' that can access our 'cheap' hydro generated power.  You know, the power that may soon disappear, given the current drought conditions.

The really irritating thing about the current push to incorporate LLM into my daily life is that the whole point of getting people to use it is to cut out the artists, the thinkers, the creators.  Billionaires would rather pour billions of resources into cutting out the people who actually create fresh, new products, than pay those people for their time, energy and creativity.

I am not against people using digital tools in the pursuit of their own creativity.  I *am* against the effort to cut people like me out of any kind of income by making it impossible for me (and others like me) to earn any kind of living, writing, teaching and developing new information about my craft.

So no, I'm not even going to 'give it a try' and 'see how good it is'.  I'm going to stubbornly sit here, in my office and studio and think about things, and then write about those things.

And if you want to support me (and others like me) you will support us by buying our products.  Or, you know, buy me a coffee on my ko-fi shop.  

Just saying.


Saturday, May 4, 2024

Life Happens

 


Life Happens.  

The lovely white rose bushes that used to live along the public path in my neighbourhood and would brighten my daily walks no longer exist.  I don't know why, but for years they were there, then one year...they were not.

And life is a lot like those bushes.  Sometimes there are things we take for granted and enjoy, until they are gone.

My functioning body is a lot like that.  The last year I was able to do my daily walk was 2020 but by 2021, I was having more and more difficulty walking.  If I walked, it made weaving difficult, so I stopped walking daily so that I could keep weaving.

But things got progressively 'worse' and my event activity horizon started to get smaller and the few times I walked in 2022, I noticed the rose bushes along the path were gone.  Cut down, then dug up.

The past two years I have been struggling to keep functional, as best I can.  Life has roller coastered along, some days better than others, but I remember my functional body.  I remember having energy to burn.  I remember being able to juggle a full schedule, hit the floor running in the morning and keep going all day.

Now?  Not so much.

Now it is 2024, I'm heading towards another birthday, and continuing to try to find more comfort, more function than I currently have.  I have little patience for things going 'wrong'.  And gnash my teeth at what I can no longer do - like squat down and stand up again.  Never mind being able to sit up without having to do a 'log roll' and push myself up with my hands/arms.

Yesterday I listened to a CD by Bette Midlar who sang songs from my childhood.  I found myself reacting to one of them in a way I never had before.  

"Is that all there is?" the lyric goes.  Is that all there is?  "If that's all there is, my friend, then let's keep dancing..."

I realized that the song was not meant for the young me, other than a gentle head's up.  But the lyrics struck me completely differently, yesterday.  

Maybe it was partly because I had my six month cancer clinic appointment Thursday, and my Covid vax yesterday and I was feeling, well, I had feelings.  

The news was 'good', actually.  The type of cancer I have is still not considered 'curable'.  It is also a complete surprise to everyone involved that I have gone into remission because hardly anyone with this type of cancer, does.

My new doctor commented that they didn't know why I was in remission and therefore could not make any kind of guess about when it might end.  Since I am considered 'stable' (after being in this remission since Feb. of 2019) I will continue to be monitored by a special 'group' that oversees people with stable blood cancers, until such time as the cancer starts growing again.

And so, I am cut loose for another six months.  To continue this 'dance', not knowing when the music will stop, the dance will end.  And when I will be asking myself...'is that all there is?'

In the meantime, I will keep weaving, even if I can't 'dance' anymore...


The Dance

Watch the feet
as they step and slide
in perfect time,
they find their place
and never miss a beat.

Watch the hands,
sure and deft,
no wasted motion
as they sweep
on their appointed path.

Watch the eyes
watching:
they observe the placement
of the hands,
the threads, the tools.
They watch and help
to dance the dance.

And when the music ends
the dance is done
the cloth is cut
the loom left bare
then, yes, then
the dance lives on
a static record left
to prove the dance begun.

This solitary dance goes on
unseen, a private act
seen only from within.

And if one other sees
within the cloth
one half the joy
felt in the dance,
then I have danced
for them as well...   -Laura Fry

Friday, May 3, 2024

All Over But the Shouting

 


There is one more book to be shipped as soon as the bidder pays, and then the wait to see if all the parcels make it to the correct address in good order.  eBay withholds payment until the transaction is complete and the bidder satisfied.  They encourage the person selling to guarantee returns, so I have to wait and see what happens now.  So the auction is over, but it isn't.

Schrödingers auction...

That means I have to be patient (not my strong suit) and wait until the end of this month to see what happens.

It also means I still have a bunch of books that need new homes.  I will wait until next week to make a decision because I am, quite frankly, 'done' with trying to sell them and I need time to recover some energy and enthusiasm.

Yesterday I cut the last warp off the loom and this morning I puttered getting the next warp ready to be beamed.  But I also have 19 towels to be inspected and repaired and I'm thinking I'm going to do those first so that I can be running them through the washer/dryer while I'm beaming.





Tentatively, this is the draft I will be using on the beige warp with linen weft.  It will be subtle and I'm not sure I've got the 'balance' correct for the very fine singles linen for weft, so I may need to tweak the tie up some more.

The draft was inspired by a draft in Ars Textrina, but tweaked to give me the roses/stars in a counterchange format.  The tie up is based on twills with plain weave so that there are more interlacements than a straight twill.  I'll 'test' the weave before I start the towels and see how it looks.

There is more than a little hubris going on, which I may come to regret given the singles linen is a new-to-me yarn and it is finer than I expected.  OTOH, it *is* linen so stiffer than cotton, and I'm hoping the plain weave included will be sufficient to stabilize the cloth.

The header should let me know.

Doug has been working on getting the donated 'loom' assembled but it is missing crucial parts.  OTOH, it *is* a Leclerc, so hopefully the missing parts can be purchased and they will fit.  That's part of the problem with donated stuff - frequently it comes into the guild room in bits and pieces and it isn't until you go to put it together you discover it's...incomplete.  :(  

There is a reason looms are expensive - generally they are made from hardwood and that's pricy - always has been.  And they need to be built to exacting standards.  It's comforting to know that there is a real possibility that we can get at least one of the looms in working order.  

A grateful thanks to those people who bought some of Allison's books.  I really need to think hard about my library.  :(

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Fund Raising

 



still for sale - stay tuned - I may list them on a fibre arts sales group

Not all of the guild books sold on eBay.  Today is the last day of the auction with one more book that will sell for sure.  And today I was able to access the financial statement of how the auction went so far.

The books went for less than I'd hoped, but for 'fair' prices (the ones that did sell), and we have raised some money for the guild.

Given Doug has been trying to get a donated 'loom' functional and it can't be assembled because it is not complete, I am going to suggest that some of the auction funds go towards making the Leclerc Nilus loom functional again by buying new parts from Leclerc.

We were told that the loom was complete, but when the guys went to pick it up, it was in pieces and it was hard to tell if everything was there.  When they got the parts back to the guild room, it was discovered that there were 3/4s of two looms.  One is an old M model and I may suggest we discard that, but the other is a Nilus model.  However, it needs treadles and the brake system is not complete.  It's going to take about $500 (or more) to buy the new parts, but that will at least make the loom functional again.

We have one more loom that is being offered to the guild, and I *think* that one is complete.  We are trying to clear the two partial ones out of the guild room before moving that one in.  

Our guild room is larger than most guilds are able to have, but we also have a very active group of spinners and felters.  We are growing our other textile arts members, and we have a few new weavers that I'd like to see grow some more.  Maybe once all of this loom reconstruction has been done, the auction is over and so on, I will have more energy to encourage the new weavers in their learning journey.

To those who bought books, thank you!  Such a relief to find such nice books a good new home.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Famous

 


The other day I saw a post by an author (whom I follow because I enjoy their writing) saying that a clerk at a shop had asked them what they did and they responded that they were an author.  "Do I know you?" the clerk asked.  Which took the author aback, because how would they know what the clerk read?

I had a similar interaction with a clerk in a shop although it was phrased differently - and since I was feeling a bit cheeky that day, my response caught the clerk off guard.

When he slide the credit card slip over to me to sign (what can I say,  it was in the 90s) he asked me to sign it 'in case you get famous some day'.

As I signed it, I responded "I already am", and smiled as I shoved the signed slip back across the counter.

The expressions (for there were several) that rolled across his face were amusing.

I said thank you and exited the store with him still standing there, looking perplexed.

But here's the thing.  There is 'famous' and then there is small pond 'famous'.  And while I am perfectly aware that the people in my town really don't know me or anything about me (apart from a very few), my 'fame' is not in this town, but in the weaving community.

Did I do what I have done in order to be 'famous'?  No.  All I ever wanted to do was help others enjoy a craft that has brought me so much pleasure (and aggravation), so much joy (and exasperation), and even a certain level of respect (amongst some of the community, at any rate).

One of the things that came home to me as I sorted and listed Allison's books, is that most of them were published in the 70s and 80s (or before).  Many of the authors are no longer with us, and are largely unknown to newer weavers in the community.

As I have written and self-published my books, I know full well that in 20 years they may be just as obscure as some of Allison's have become.  

But again - I didn't write the books for 'fame'.  I wrote them to help people, as best I can.  Will they continue to be of help once I'm gone?  Dunno.  Doesn't matter.

Because I have never done anything I've done, not write, not teach, not post to this blog, for the 'fame'.

And I think that is where a lot of people go astray.  They want the 'fame'.  They want the clicks and likes.  But character is not built on clicks and likes.  Character is something else entirely.  

Now my 'character' of late is 'grumpy old lady shaking fist at the clouds'.  But I'm now old enough I don't much care what other people think of me.  Wayne Dyer used to say that someone else's opinion is none of your business.  Over the years, that message has been conveyed in other ways.  For example, never read the student 'reviews' of your teaching.  As a new teacher, I read them, and tried to adjust my presentations, but most of my changes came of actual interactions with students where I could see that my explanations were - or were not - making sense.  And if not, changing my approach until the student seemed satisfied.  Another is that, if you are an author, don't read the reviews on Goodreads.  (I made the mistake of doing just that a couple of weeks ago and...welp, I won't be doing that again!)

Not all students/readers were satisfied.  Of course not.  Not every teacher is suitable for every student.  But even when I disagreed with someone, or contradicted them, or expanded on the topic beyond the superfluous, I always tried to do it in a way that was respectful.

As I have been struggling with a body intent on breaking down, it is becoming ever more important that I keep sharing what I know.  I may not be able to do what I used to be able to do, physically, but so far?  Mentally I seem to be managing.  

And so I have agreed to write some essays for School of Sweet Georgia.  And I'm still accepting bookings for Zoom presentations.  

For so long as I can keep helping people gain understanding of the craft, I will continue.

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