If I taught a workshop/seminars at ANWG '19 would you be interested?

Monday, January 15, 2018


In a fit of mid-winter blues I started referring to deadlines as dreadlines.  Feeling overwhelmed with life, continuing dental woes, lack of energy, looming deadlines were viewed with a certain level of dread and stomach clenching anxiety.

In the past few weeks I have managed to make sufficient progress that I realized calling them dreadlines was a level of negativity I did not want to subscribe to, gave my head a shake and applied shoulder to the wheel with a renewed sense of purpose.  

It would help if I weren’t so prone to taking on such large, sweeping, projects.  Projects that didn’t take such an enormous amount of time and energy.  Like co-chairing a reasonably large conference.  Like trying to write a book.  Like dressing the loom with 40 yards of warp.  Etc.  

But if I didn’t, well, I wouldn’t be me.  

A friend tries very hard to be a helpful, positive energy in the world.  We joke that she tries to save the world.  I have given up that sweeping and daunting a task, but no doubt I will continue to try to accomplish large, sweeping projects.  But I swear, this conference and this book?   Once they are done?  No more.  

Obligatory weaving photo to sweeten the post...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Planting Seeds

On social media feeds I have been seeing people with their spring seed catalogues and packets, making plans for the future.

A sense of optimism prevails and we make our plans, plant our seeds.

And this is how I feel about teaching.  Planting seeds.  I tend to spread my little nuggets of information as broadly as possible - here, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - because I never know where one of those seeds will take root.

Sometimes people will contact me and let me know that they have taken root with them.  And I deeply appreciate their taking the time to let me know.  As I spread my thoughts, my knowledge, my opinions with wild abandon I sometimes look upon myself with a certain amount of chagrin at how bold, how brazen I can sometimes be.

But then I see the spark of understanding light up someone's eyes and the cockles of my heart warm.

A new year brings new dates.  Nothing is set in stone yet.  Many details still need to be hammered out.  But I can say that - should there be sufficient registration - I have accepted the level one class at Olds Fibre Week for this year.

There are also plans forming for Cape Breton, a possibility of level one and two.

And another seed is seeing if it will take root, but plans are too nebulous to talk about yet.

So - stay tuned!

Currently reading Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia Maclean

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Certain Values of 'Finished'

With a craft as densely layered as weaving, there are many stages along the way to 'finish'.

Not only do I weave, I spin and knit.  (I also very occasionally make lace, but that's another story entirely.)

In order to keep myself motivated on the long journey from fluff to fabric, I count 'finishing' stages as a way to measure progress.

Today was a catch up kind of day.  Since lunch I've cleared some clutter off the floor because I have a floor cleaning elf coming.  She needs to be able to see it before she can clean it!

A niece was asking for donations and since I have a bunch of hand spun, hand knitted shawls on hand, it was obviously time to wet finish and block them.  So five of those got dealt with and are now on the floor (on plastic) drying.

The five skeins of yarn that had been plyed were also wet finished.

I worked on the article for Handwoven.  I've still got almost 3 yards of warp left.  Am I done?  Or do I weave off the rest?  Hmm.

Just finished rough sleying a mat warp and needed to change out of my heavy shirt into a t-shirt or I was going to start feeling awfully warm.  The way I beam I can work up a sweat, even in the winter, even wearing a t-shirt.

So each time I 'finish' a stage in the process I have a little happy dance inside, knowing that I'm that much closer to the ultimate in 'completion'.  OTOH, until the items are sold, I'm really not done, done.  But that is a stage too far in the future to think about on a January afternoon...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

All in the Details

Details.  Lots and lots of details.

I have been working on the conference.  A conference is like a workshop, only on steroids.  Because instead of just one person leading one event, a conference has many instructors and an order of magnitude greater of participants.

So I begin, now, 18 months or so prior to the event proper, trying to nail down as many of those details as I possibly can.

My binder.  Yes, I have a binder full of people.  The binder is chock full of what I hope are intriguing topics.  Most of those topics require equipment and supplies, some of which need to be provided by the facilities we are renting, some by the conference host, some by the instructor, and some, of course, by the participants.  To make these workshops/seminars run smoothly, everyone has to know who is supplying what, and when.

So I am making lists, checking them twice (thrice, more) and one of the other committee members is making spread sheets for us to work from to keep track of it all.

We are matching instructors to room availability and will likely need to rent things like projectors.  The facility will need to re-arrange rooms to accommodate the various topics.

Organizing a conference isn't much different than designing a textiles.  There are lots of things to take into consideration.  A certain flexibility is required in order to make sure everything runs smoothly.  There is a ton of stuff that needs to be done before the event, the textile, ever comes to fruition.

My job is to oversee the gathering of the details and make sure they all fit into a hopefully seamless whole.

Details.  It's all in the details.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Many Ways

Making textiles.  Many ways to do that.  So long as you are getting the results you want, you're doing it 'right'.

I've banged on and on about beaming under tension.  Some people agree, some don't. 

The above is a photo of a warp being beamed in a mill in England.  This beam is an interim step to get the yarn from the cone into a format where it can then be transferred to the actual loom beam.  My thought is that this very large beam helps even out any little discrepancies that may happen in the actual winding process.  The warp is wound under high tension here, and then again onto the proper beam.  No, this is not a spool but a full sized beam for a full sized loom.  It can hold many hundreds, maybe thousands (depending on thread thickness) of warp.  The end flanges are probably close to a yard/meter, possibly more.  It's been a while since I've seen one in real life.

In order to open a shed in a loom, the warp pretty much has to be under some tension or else the threads will cling to their neighbours and not open cleanly.  How much tension?  Depends.

Industrial looms weave under much high speeds than a hand weaver - one reason why I maintain that hand weaving, by its very nature, is automatically 'slow cloth', regardless of the equipment one uses.

There are many many videos now on You Tube, all showing tiny little differences - sometimes a great deal of difference - from each other.  As long as the weaver is getting the results they desire, they are not wrong.

Industrial looms have no warp packing, BUT! the warps are wound under high tension.  There is no slack anywhere in that warp for the threads below to shift or move to allow upper layers to cut down into lower ones.

So, some people advise to use warp packing.  I use it on my smaller looms, but not on the AVL where I generally beam sectionally - or if I wind the warp chain onto the sectional beam directly, the sectional dividers act like little flanges to keep the threads from moving.  Plus, the tension.  Again fairly high, depending on the length.

But I have seen looms with no warp packing.  Again, beamed under high tension and sometimes with the width adjusted so that the selvedge ends gradually move closer to the centre so that the warp package on the beam is sloped from the outer edge inwards  /_____\ (with the horizontal line the surface of the beam).

I have seen looms with no beam at all.  The warp was simply wrapped around a heavy weight like a big rock and suspended from a hook or rod in the ceiling or over the top of the back of the loom.  The suspended rock held the tension on the warp so the shed would/could open.

Currently reading Let Darkness Bury the Dead by Maureen Jennings

Friday, January 5, 2018

Gearing Up

The new year has officially begun and it is time to gear up and start getting ready for the upcoming crop of deadlines/events!

Looking at Twills Workshop with Laura Fry ~ April 7th & 8th

This round robin workshop (weavers will move from loom to loom to try the different threadings/warps) will take a close look at the weave structure we call 'twill'.  Participants will dress their loom (or get assistance to get it dressed) prior to the workshop.
Laura will accept 'new' weavers if they have at least taken Janet Dawson's on-line Craftsy class to familiarize themselves with some of the language of weaving.  Local 'new' weavers should attend several drop ins prior to the workshop to get hints and tips and try their hand at the demo loom(s) in the guild room.  This is not a 'beginning' to weave class but will be geared towards helping those who know at least a little bit about weaving to move on to the next steps.

Time: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm - bring a lunch, beverages supplied.
Place: Prince George Fibre Arts Guild Room, upstairs at 2880 – 15th Avenue
Fee: $200 members or $250 non-members (includes Guild membership) - materials supplied
To register or for more information please contact Birthe at 250-964-6454 or birthe_miller@telus.net. Deposit of $50 by the February 20th, balance at the workshop. Billeting may be available for out of town students.

The above draft is a reduced version of the 8 shaft Swedish Snowflake.  But not everyone has 8 shafts, and after taking a close look at the threading I realized that it could be reduced to four.  Obviously it is not as large a design, but on the other hand, the treadling is also much easier than trying to treadle a very long and fairly complex sequence.

Twills are quite fascinating.  The more shafts, the more complex the design can be.  But a great deal can be done on four shafts, as well.

The twill workshop in April will look at primarily four shaft drafts, but the guild also has a couple of 8 shaft looms - plus participants may have 8 shaft portable looms, too.

But if you want to kick off your new year, you might find this workshop interesting.

Currently reading Dead in the Dark by Stephen Booth

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Information Gathering

As I contemplate and work towards publishing a book I am reminded of two books for weavers that came out in 2017.  Bobbie worked for a number of years to get her book published and it became available last summer.  Tom Beaudet's book is a culmination of a lifetime of working with textiles, both as a textile engineer and a hand weaver and also became available from him/his company last summer.

Bobbie's book can be purchased from her, directly or from Amazon.  Bobbie has worked for many years with colour interactions and figuring out how to produce iridescence.  If this topic is of interest, then you need this book.

Tom and his grand daughter have put together his notes from many years of learning the art of textiles.  They are an historical record of the process he went through to learn about weaving and the construction of textiles.  I put this publication on my shelves along with other technical manuals such as Watson's and Goerner's books.  These books are not for the beginner as such, but for people interested in the subtleties and nuances of how textiles go together.  Or want a glimpse into the history of textiles and how people learned in terms of industry.

Gathering technical information and putting it into a format for others to learn from is not an easy task.  (Ask me how I know!!!!)  When I was floundering with Magic in the Water, Tom was very supportive and encouraging of my getting on with it, for which I will always be grateful.

The weaving community is, by and large, very helpful and supportive of each other.  Weavers have become my 'best' friends, whether I have actually met them in real life, or just been able to communicate with them, first by mail, now via the internet.

I am proud of the members of this community, who come together to share their textiles, their information, their experiences.  I am proud to call myself a weaver.