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28 November, 2010

Hidden Talents

Filed under: Life — Tags: , , , — admin @ 1:00 pm

I was watching Sweeney Todd, the film version, starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (with Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall) last night, and I was amazed at the musical talent these normally drama-oriented actors showed.  I know from playing the show that the music is not the easiest to sing, and all the actors demonstrated great musical accomplishment.

That got me thinking about people’s hidden talents.  Most actors have some kind of musical training but in other walks of life, you often see glimpses of abilities that people shrug off as incidental.  Sometimes we forget that everyone has a talent for something, even if they haven’t discovered it yet. 

When we think about talent, we tend to veer towards artistic abilities – acting, singing, musicians, writers, poets, painters – yes, even weavers!! <G>  – and sporting abililities – being able to play a sport to a certain level, whether that be kids soccer, swimming, cricket, rugby, tennis, running, darts, table tennis, diving, snowboarding (particularly appropriate at the moment!), skiing, skating, etc, etc. 

But many people have talents that aren’t included in those topics – the ability to bond with babies, or nursery children, old people, the terminally ill, those afflicted with mental health problems or learning difficulties.  These are the unsung heroes, the folks who just get on with things because that’s what they do.  Without them, the world would be a severely poorer place. 

We all need heroes. 

In our culture of celebrity here in the West, we forget the heroes that live among us every day, people who aren’t on TV or in the magazines, who only occasionally are highlighted in the news.  Yet any one of us could be one of those unsung heroes, and I know it does me good to reflect on how I could be someone who tries to be an unsung hero in my daily life, whether it be through being a good daughter, a better partner, a loving mum, a caring friend or by being strong through adversity. 

It takes all sorts to make a world and it takes all sorts of talents to make that world a better place!

24 November, 2010

Whirlwind Woven Shibori time

Wow, I’ve been amazed at the wonderful response to Woven Shibori for Textural Effects!  Thank you so much for your warm comments and orders!! 

Typically, there have been a few technical glitches, notably with a Paypal button for the US postage that kept showing the wrong amount when people ordered.  When I went into the html for the button (not that I really know what I’m doing – just the stuff I’ve picked up doing all this!), I could see nothing wrong.  Everything appeared to be correct – the correct price, the correct postage rate – but the sums were coming up short!  Go figure! 

Anyway, that little problem is solved now.  I eliminated the US postage button and joined the US and Canada to Australia and New Zealand - so now you know – the ocean needn’t come between you!!  Amazing what one can do to re-arrange world order in the realms of cyberspace and computerland!!  <LOL>

It’s been frantic, but it’s also been extremely energising.  It’s an incredible feeling to get your thoughts down in a book.  There is a curious mix of exhilaration, relief, determination to iron out things you are not so happy with, concern with how people will take it, and relief.  Did I mention relief?  Oh yes!  What a relief!!

It’s a long process and one which you’re never quite sure will end.  There are always little things to tweak even when you thought everything that could be tweaked had been tweaked.  My DH did wonder why I was looking so ‘tweaky’….  Sorry – it’s addled my brain!  :^))

I remember a simiilar feeling of pride and accomplishment when I had given birth to Chris, and I said happily to my husband, ‘Oh I could do that again!’  Hmmmmm..  I have just the one child!  I’m hoping history doesn’t repeat itself and I end up finding that Woven Shibori for Textural Effects is an only one… 

There are plans for more.  More texture in familiar and not-so-familiar places.  Different approaches to weave structure.  Lots of playtime!  For me, the fun is in the sampling!  Yes, I am an unashamed sample queen!  Maybe one day I’ll get around to creating the art that is in my head.  I will really need a goodly sized computer hand jacquard loom for that, though, so it may be a while…. 

But in the meantime, I hope my weaving friends in the US are having a lovely holiday break for Thanksgiving.  Let’s raise our virtual glasses to that.  Thanksgiving in whatever guise it is for us! 


21 November, 2010

Standing out from the crowd

Filed under: Life,Nature — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 1:00 pm

Only a few are left with any clothes on now.  It’s amazing how fast it’s happened! 

It’s amazing how you don’t notice things until there’s a sudden change in conditions, isn’t it?  One minute everywhere was green, then a cold snap, and sudden changes in colour, then wet and windy and leaves were everywhere, then some more hard frosts, and the trees are now almost all bare. 

Except for the oaks. 

They still have their leaves intact.  Some are changing colour, but some are still green. 

They now stand out from the woodland around my village because they’re the only ones still in leaf.  Autumn has suddenly been and gone in the space of 2 weeks (or so it seems) and I am gazing at an apple tree devoid of leaves, but with apples still on the branches. 

It made me think of people and how some folks stand out in a crowd when conditions change where they wouldn’t necessarily have been noticed in normal times.  There’s an enquiry going on into the July 7th bombings (happened in 2005) that stunned London and the UK, and some people are being revealed as amazing through their actions, thrown into the spotlight of media attention and human regard because of their selflessness or sheer courage in an appalling situation. 

Also coming to light are the less favourable, more selfish acts of people, but by far and large, what is coming through is an amazing human capacity of people’s ability to give of themselves and put other people first in life-threatening conditions. 

I am deeply impressed by so many people who were inadvertently caught up in the terror of that day.  You can only hope that, as an individual, you would act in such an altruistic fashion yourself, and still get out of it alive, but I guess we never find that out unless we are in such a situation ourselves.  It is under extreme duress that people show their true colours. 

A sobering thought, but also an uplifting one, as so many people from July 11th have shown.  Ordinary people living ordinary lives are infinitely capable of extra-ordinary acts of kindness, bravery and leadership.

24 hours until publication

Only 24 hours to go until publication of my monograph, Woven Shibori for Textural Effects!

It’s really exciting!  There is nothing quite as thrilling as seeing your first authorial efforts in print! 

So that means that there are only 24 hours to go to get the pre-publication price on the book, so if you want a reduction of 16% on the published price, click here to order!

Happy Weaving!

17 November, 2010

Weaving Christmas Cards – Take Three

Filed under: Jacquard weaving,Life,Weaving — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:00 pm

This week I’ve made a start on weaving my Christmas Cards – again.  Yes, this is the third attempt!  Hopefully this one will work!

The first version was an angel – woven on one of my hand-jacquard sample looms, known as Baby #3.  Unfortunately, I have problems with Baby #3.  She doesn’t like the cold, and the stable is currently very cold – no electricity yet after being disconnected for repair work to the garage over the summer….

The second version was a similar angel, but adapted slightly for Hattie.  OK, if I can’t weave them on the hand-jacquard, then maybe I could weave them on Hattie.  Great idea, but the trouble is the lacing machine.  It’s not exactly a small piece of equipment.  OK, maybe it is just 3 sewing machines alongside each other, but they are quite large, and it lived in the garage, which had to be repaired over the summer so it had to live outside under tarpaulins all summer, and has only just gone back into the garage! 

Our slight repair work was virtually dismantling half of the garage and rebuilding.  Basically it had developed a list (the roof had shifted about 8″, and the wall was moving with it) and was likely to collapse over the next couple of years or so… 

We’re a listed property, which means it is an old house (1700s) and all the buildings on the property are protected from unscrupulous people knocking them about.  That’s ok with us, but it does mean that instead of simply taking the garage down and rebuilding (which is comparatively easy), we had to support the roof, then remove just 1 3/4 walls, and rebuild, pinning it in place, reshift the roof, then dismantle the remaining wall for about 3/4 of its length, and rebuild, then build the front wall/doors and resettle the roof, tieing it in place. 

New doors had to be made and we relaid the floor at the same time.  It’s taken a while to get the floor painted, and we’re still working on painting the doors…. 

All this meant that the lacing machine was getting hot, cold and condensation whilst sitting out on the lawn underneath the tarpaulin, which means that it doesn’t want to work at the moment – not surprisingly!!  We’ll need to wait for better weather in the spring and give it a thorough overhaul.

Which put paid to the christmas cards being woven on Hattie….. 

So now we’re on the third version and it’s back to the old workhorse, my 24S AVL Compu-Dobby I.  This loom is just so wonderful!  It’s from the 1980s and just keeps going!!!  So I’ve started from scratch, and am putting on a warp to do a textured star using overshot techniques, with a 3/18 cotton warp, sett at 30 epi (I’ll see how they finish before I weave off all of them), using polyester weft and, as yet, an undecided overshot yarn.  Weaving at 30″ with 9 repeats (ish) across the width, with 5 yards on the loom, hopefully I should be able to weave a few before the Christmas post deadlines……   

Third time lucky!

14 November, 2010

Weaving and Cosmetics??

Filed under: Education,Publications,Teaching,Weaving — Tags: , , , — admin @ 1:00 pm

Have you noticed that this winter, cosmetics houses are focussing on the ‘feel’ factor of make-up?  Satins, sables, and velvet are just some of the textures they are using to describe their products. 

As textile people we know that touch can override all other senses and be incredibly powerful.  Some people are so in tune with their senses that they won’t shop on the internet at all, and will walk away from a product in frustration if they can’t pick it up and feel it.  We all know the disappointment of seeing something that looks really tactile but when we touch it, it feels wrong!  Especially relevant at party time when some gorgeous-looking fabrics can actually feel scratchy and syntheticky (!).  Somehow, it can make us feel disgust – the sight and experience of touch just aren’t congruous with each other!

That longing to feel the fabric, to let my fingers tell me all, came over me this last weekend when I was taking some work to be shown in a Christmas exhibition at a local gallery.  There was a textiles exhibit in place, and as I walked around looking at the items, one or two drew me in and I had to prevent myself from reaching out and touching.  The instinct to touch is so fundamental.  Perhaps we should always provide a touching or handling piece.  A handling piece answers so many unuttered questions about the qualities of a textile.

One of the driving forces in my weaving life is tactility.  I love to create texture and want people to both see the 2 1/2 dimensional effects and feel it.  Which is a cheeky way of seguing into plugging my monograph – Woven Shibori for Textural Effects!  The subtitle is ‘How you can weave waves, sand ripples, volcanoes and mountains on a shaft loom!’   Woven shibori for texture is a really exciting field with so much playing to do and ideas to explore…. 

Although the book is not officially published until Monday 22nd November, I am offering a special price to my blog readers, so please click Woven Shibori to access your special price.  Please note there are several mailing options to choose from depending on where you live.  I won’t be able to send the book out until 22nd, but on 22nd, the special offer closes, so jump in early for the best price! 

In the meantime, enjoy the tactility in your life, wherever it may be – whether cosmetics, everyday surfaces, or gorgeous fibres, yarns and fabrics!!  Let your fingers do the talking!! 

Happy Weaving!

10 November, 2010

Pre-launch special offer on Woven Shibori for Texture

Well, well, the time has finally come and I can unveil the Woven Shibori for Texture monograph!!  I first showed drafts of the monograph at Convergence and Complex Weavers Seminars in Albuquerque this summer but since then I have added a section on 8 shaft shibori and have been fine-tuning the book and it is now just about to be published!! 

The publishing is scheduled for the last week of November, just in time for Christmas delivery, and as a special ‘thank you’ for your support through my blog, I would like to offer you a pre-publishing order price of £15, saving you over 16% on the RRP of £17.95.  This special rate is only for 2 weeks, until Monday 22nd November at 11.59 GMT.  After that it will automatically revert to the RRP of £17.95. 

I have set up my Paypal so that, wherever you are in the world, you are able to visit Woven Shibori for Texture  to place your order and it will be sent to you as soon as the book is launched, but please select the correct postage rate for your address. 

Also, if you want early-bird discounts and advanced warning for future publications, please fill in the pop-up sign in box to join my mailing list.

If you have problems with the link, please copy and paste this into your browser:

Please don’t leave it too late to order at the pre-publishing price.  On Monday 22nd November 12.00 midday GMT, the rate will return to £17.95, so get your order in early!   Woven Shibori for Texture

Don’t be alarmed when you see the pop-up box requesting you to sign up for info on weaving and hints n tips. If you would like advanced warning and early-bird specials for future publications, reminders for existing ones and access to my upcoming monthly newsletter, then please just put in your name and email address. You’ll get an email asking you to verify that you wish to join the list, and bingo, you’ll be the first to know when new books or other products become available.

If you don’t want to join the list, just click the little x in the top right hand corner, and the box will disappear!

In the meantime, I’d better get back to designing my Christmas cards! 

Happy weaving!

7 November, 2010

Whitespace and breathing space

Filed under: Life,Psychology — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 1:00 pm

Do you believe in spooky?  Are you a believer in co-incidences?  What about parallel universerses?  Well, I’m thinking maybe parallel lives! 

Feeling a little overwhelmed with everything I still have to do coming up to a book launch, (more on that next week) I took a break and dipped in to WeaveZine.  Popping over to Syne’s blog, I almost choked on my cuppa! 

In her blog on 4th November, she wrote about not being able to talk about something she has in the pipeline which is to do with publishing.  I’ve been in the same boat for a while, and now it is nearly there!! 

Then she talked about trying to clear her desk a bit, and aiming for white space at the bottom of her emails.  I can so totally relate as I’m still trying to plough through some of the information emails that came through whilst I was in the US back in July!! 

With so much information coming in to us every day through the mail, email, TV, radio, websites, podcasts, blogs, it’s a wonder we don’t get totally buried!!  Choosing what to watch/listen to/read, is a must to prevent total overload.  And every so often those choices have to be re-defined to take into account another stream of information. 

Charlie is my saviour this time round.  Getting out and about for an hour a day is helping me to sort out my priorities each day, watching him run gives me enormous pleasure as he is so graceful and fast, and seeing the changing colours of the trees, and the clouds scudding across the sky reminds me to breathe deeply, and take the time to look properly at my surroundings. 

Back in front of the computer, using an hour timer to focus my attention on a topic, and get as much done as I can in that time, and then to take a break, getting up, walking around, and making a cuppa (and drinking it!!) before setting the timer again is helping to make me more productive. 

What are your tricks and tips for getting the most out of your time?

3 November, 2010

Textural weaving – single cloth with floats

Filed under: Education,Teaching,Weaving — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 1:00 pm

I said last week that I would show you something similar to the combined single and double cloth, but with floats.  Because of the floats, the cloth is now a single layer. 

Using the same design, but turning the ‘blocks’ on the second layer into plain weave, we now have a single plain cloth with areas where the second warp has been integrated, but other areas where it floats behind.  During finishing, those floats really have the opportunity to shrink, and create the puckering. 

Another variation that has an impact is the way you beat the fabric whilst you weave.  Also, if you vary the amount of tension you put on the two warps, either together or separately, you will get different effects.  All great for sampling!! 

Further changes can easily be made by varying the steepness of the design line you are using.  A steeper line will give very clearly defined ridges.  A less steep line gives more of an overall effect. 

You can also integrate the second layer with the first with floats, but with using block lifts, rather than plain weave. 

You can see the variation you can get just by playing around with how you use that second layer.

Next week, getting into the holiday mood, I’ll have an announcement, an invitation and a special offer.  

See you then.  And in the meantime, have some weaving fun!