Thursday, June 15, 2017


The above is a close up of wool fibre.  The scales are very apparent seen this close up.

Thinking about teaching the upcoming class while I dress the loom once again.  I like to leave a warp ready to go so that I can just jump on the loom as soon as I get home.  Especially after a glance at my calendar for the coming months.

I have dental surgery scheduled in July with additional work to repair teeth that have been stressed over the years.  Dry mouth from medication has taken it's toll as well as, well, age.

Then we are going on holiday for three weeks in September, I have a workshop that looks like it's a 'go' in October, a visit with a friend in TN plus a consultation with someone who will help with formatting and laying out The Book, returning home just in time for the craft fair season to start.

So time has gotten very crunchy.

The Olds program is much like the above magnified image - only under close examination can you see the 'bones' of the fibre.   In the same way, we look at the craft of weaving for the things that are not obvious, that need to be closely examined so that we can understand our materials, our equipment, our processes.

We frame this information within the context of our own abilities (and disabilities), our own environment, our own aims and objectives, our equipment and budget.

Because it all depends.  What do we want to do?  What do we want to make?  What kind of practice will satisfy our sense of creativity, our design aesthetic?  Are we more interested in an intuitive approach or a more intellectual one?  Do we want to revel in the colours/textures or explore the nuts and bolts of the craft?

There is room for everyone in the craft.  What I hope to accomplish is that everyone walks out on day 5 knowing more than when they walked in.  And if they don't, they probably had a really good grasp of the craft to begin with.  But sometimes it's just good to know that your observations and practice are in keeping with your goals.

For now I'm going to try to finish dressing the loom.  And then have a good long think to make sure I haven't forgotten anything.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Me, probably off on a tangent...

So what are the odds of everything going smoothly when I travel to teach?  50-50.  Either they will...or they won't.

And when they don't, they usually don't in a rather spectacular fashion.

I've grown used to things not being ideal.  You learn to get flexible very quickly, or you would drive yourself bananas.

So I make lists, check them twice (thrice, more) hope I remember everything.  But usually I forget something.

Like the time I forgot my little travel purse on the kitchen counter.  I managed to phone Doug and get him to pick it up and deliver it back to the airport at the very last second.  But I was the absolute last person on board.  I think the only reason they didn't leave without me is that I'd already checked into the gate and they knew I was there - somewhere.

The time I had a massive allergic reaction (several times) and threw up all night and was brain dead or near as, the following day.

The time I got food poisoning.  

The time my plane couldn't depart due to fog, mad scramble to re-book, bought a ticket on another airline because their plane had radar and could take off in the fog.  Of course that meant I didn't get reimbursed for the second ticket out of town, had to have the original airline rebook on all the flights I missed, arriving at last at midnight with a two hour drive to my hostess' house falling into bed at 2 am with a 7 am wake up call.

The time a conference seminar assistant didn't realize she needed to pick up the class handouts so I had to do the entire complex topic with no references for the students.  Lots of air drawings that day.  And I did a terrible job because I didn't have my handouts, which threw me for a loop.

A friend asked if things didn't get better.  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Read Daryl Lancaster's blog for some of her adventures with travelling.

So why on earth do I keep doing this?  Well, I'm not.  I have stopped taking bookings for guilds. (Unless I get arm twisted with a reason for me to make an exception.)

I have cut back to only teaching the Olds master weaving programs (with, as mentioned, a few exceptions).

But yes, I have done this for a rather long time.  I have been teaching since the month I quit my 'real' job in order to become a professional weaver.  My first workshop was a spinning workshop - coincidentally the very same night my father died.

I drove to smaller towns and villages in the region.  I have white knuckled my way through snowstorms, white outs/blizzards, black ice, pouring down rain and thunder storms.

I have flown all over the place in good weather...and bad...sometimes missing flights, arriving late, arriving at a completely different airport with people on the ground scrambling to get me.

I have arrived without my luggage.  More air drawings, until it caught up to me.

So, then, why?  Why keep doing this?

Well, I could be flippant and say I'm 'warped'.  But the fact is I am passionate about weaving and I am passionate about trying to help people understand the craft.

The next two trips are both driving.  I am hoping for good weather, but it either it will be good...or it won't.  Either way I will hit the highway Friday am as early as I can for the nearly 500 mile drive and hope it goes smoothly.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


This trip is a little different from my usual.  Olds College puts teachers up in their student condos which have kitchens...but no dishes.  Since three of my roommates are flying in and I'm driving, I am also bringing cups, cutlery, coffee and tea makings.  I will be adding extra blankets because the beds only come with the standard issue college thin bedding.  I guess students at an ag college are a lot sturdier than 'elderly' ladies!

Since my three roomies are also from the southern US, I am also bringing shawls because spring has been very chilly this year and they will seize up from the cold!

Trying to pack for a complex trip in the midst of continuing renovation work is stretched my tolerance for unexpected things to the breaking point.  But I am working my way through my packing list, remembering more things that will be needed, both for class and making our stay at the college more pleasant.  

I still have to pick up the spinning wheel for Mary to use, but that will be tonight at the guild pot luck.  There is an even bigger heap of stuff at the annex that needs picking up and the van will be crammed with bins and boxes.

We are very near done with the last of the renovations and then it will be cleaning up the aftermath.  But most of that is outside and once my studio is back to rights, I should be able to go full steam ahead - at least until my dental surgery.  I'm hoping for quick healing and back to my production schedule, all too often interrupted the past year.

I guess I have to come to the realization that I am now establishing what my new 'normal' is and learning what my limits are, physically.

But I am still on this side of the grass, and so far?  It's a Good Thing.  Even given my current state of irritability!

Currently reading Cold Earth by Anne Cleeves

Monday, June 12, 2017

Renovation Hell

The work on our house was extensive, but required.  Unfortunately renovations rarely go smoothly, and such has been the case with ours.  The latest adventure occurred over the weekend.

During the trip home I phoned to let Doug know everything looked good for getting home on time.  At which point he let me know that the sewer line had been broken the day before and we had no sewer use.  He'd turned the house water off so that we didn't forgetfully run water.  I told him to book a room at a nearby hotel.  I was arriving home at midnight (4 am according to my body clock after spending a week in Cape Breton) and all I wanted to do was be able to brush my teeth, wash my face and use the toilet so I could fall into bed.  Any bed.

On Sunday the excavator returned(!) to open the hole and voila, found the broken pipe.

The crew to repair the pipe has just arrived and hopefully the repair will be simple and quickly executed and the city inspector will come quickly to test the system and allow the hole to be filled back in.

But dear friends, I am tired of the drama.  I am exhausted from an overload of stress that began last summer, waiting for the reno work to begin, then have it extend over the winter and now into spring to be completed.  I am reeling from Life Happening - or not, such as the case may be.

I would just like to say - give me some boring.  To the universe, now literally 'shitting' on me, please stop!  I still have dental surgery to get through once I get home from Olds/Victoria.  A little peace and quiet is desired.

So if you believe in such things, pray for things to go smoothly today, through Olds and Victoria and my dental surgery (and subsequent repair to my other teeth that need it.)

Because I'm done.  I am just really, really done.  I give.  Uncle...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Gaelic College, St. Ann's, Cape Breton (NS)

Morning started grey and gloomy, a disappointment given the forecast had promised sun.

But lots of things were happening in the studio.

We are a small group of 8, most from the 'local' area, but one from Newfoundland and one from Ontario.  It's an enthusiastic bunch and we've had laughs, confusion, information overload...and it's only day 1,

Best of all, the sun finally made an appearance.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Team Effort

The pile, she grows...

Doug has been supportive of my efforts in many ways, right from the start.  Over the years he's provided financial support, co-signed loans when I needed to build a credit rating (yes, I'm that old I needed a male person to vouch for me to begin with), built equipment and tools, kept them running, became my sales force and studio assistant for 9 years.  And so much more.

When he 'retired' a few years ago I pointed out that I wouldn't be 'retiring' any time soon and what was he going to do to help this this time?  He decided pressing might be just the thing.

So I have been weaving like a crazy woman, knowing that time is starting to run out.  I'm gone essentially all of June, we are both gone for 3 weeks in September, and I may be away for two weeks in October, returning just in time for the craft fair season.

Needless to say, I am feeling very pressured to get stuff woven - now!  Because it isn't finished when it comes off the loom.  These tea towels need to be run through the washer/dryer, pressed, hemmed, given a final press, then tagged/priced.

I am bringing 10 towels with me to Cape Breton in hopes of getting them hemmed, but the above pile still needs to be wet finished.  I'm hoping Doug will be able to get some (if not all) of them done so I can bring a bin full to Olds for more hemming in the evenings.  

There are still about 25 yards left to weave on the AVL and then I need to do some table runners because I sold out of those last year.  The yarn is bought and waiting for an empty loom.

And I leave Friday evening.  With an empty tea towel loom I'm hoping to get another warp set up so that I can maybe weave a bit on it before I leave (doubtful) but that I can jump onto as soon as I get home.  Well, once I recover from jet lag.

There are six(?) more warps already wound and one more with the colours pulled.  I'm thinking that once I wind that, I need to switch focus - finish weaving off the pulled warps, then empty the AVL.

I'm sure that with a mighty team effort, we'll make it.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Time Flies

It has been 2 years, 4 months and one week (plus a couple of days, but who's counting?) since my surgery.  

I was warned it would be a one year recovery, possibly two, some said three.  Well, frankly it has only been the past little while that I have felt anywhere close to functional.  But I'm not expecting to regain everything I lost.  After all, I am 2 years, 4 months and a week (or so) older. Other health issues have reared their unlovely heads during that time and my activity horizon has definitely shrunk.

That doesn't mean I'm not trying to push that horizon further back - joining the Y was one thing I figured would help.  Increase my strength and overall fitness, and that would have to help, surely?

Even so, I incorporated weaving into my recovery routine, knowing that mentally it would help enormously if I could get to the loom and gauge my recovery by how much more stamina I had by being active.  I did the same after breaking my ankle, and also during chemo - although that was a downhill slide until it was done.

I would feel frustrated at how little I could do and people would tell me that I could do more on a 'bad' day then they could on a 'good' one.

But weaving is my profession.  I'm very good at it.  I'm very efficient at it.  So trying to compare me to most other weavers is chalk and cheese.  

It took me a very long time to feel comfortable with the mantle of 'master weaver'.  But a master doesn't just make things, they also know how to do it efficiently, ergonomically.  They understand their materials, processes, equipment.  They know when something is working, when it isn't, how to fix it and when to give up and begin again.  They understand the nuances of the craft in a way that others who have not taken the time to dig into it all simply cannot  

So when people say they don't want to be efficient, I get that.  But I am all too aware at how close I came, not once but several times, to running out of time.  Forever.  And I'm not done yet.  So I do not want to work artificially slowly using tools that aren't engineered well, processes that are not appropriate to my materials, materials that are not appropriate to my intended end result.  

Mastering the craft means that efficiency will increase as skills increase, knowledge increases.  So yes.  I want to work as efficiently as I can.  Because time flies...