Thursday, March 27, 2008

I'm Getting Phone Calls

I'm fine, in case you were worried.

The phone calls are more of a harassing nature, from employees of a local public entity, who apparently read their blogs online at work, and who are tired of having no updates in this venue. Nothing more will be said regarding the perhaps less-than-wise expenditure of time paid for by public funds. Perhaps, in days past, this blog might have been considered *research* or some such. Surely there were moments when it was educational.

Now I have lied. I said nothing more would be said, and then I said more.

Things still move apace here, nothing to show (yet) for many hours of grueling weaving.

Soon. In the meantime, a photo of something old:


Handspun silk yarns, circa, 2005.

Or this:

cardwoven bag

I always liked this photo: the bag is handspun silk, cardwoven, with smashed pennies, I think 2004.

And I'll take a moment to wish my daughter-in-law a Happy Birthday (Happy Birthday Shannon!).

Will this do Lindsey?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Little Things

Small pleasures:


knitting2 march 08

Colors I thought were *Fall* turn out to be *Spring*. Who knew?

Sand Hill Cranes have been flying North. The Canada Geese passed over about a month ago, amidst snowstorms (perhaps snow still says *Spring* to Canadians?).

The sun is now a more regular visitor. I have no illusions that the rains, and perhaps more snows, are behind us, but I am enjoying this respite. There is much budding and blossoming at lower elevations, but we are just beginning to see green here.

For you color police: see? There is green in my knitting. And Canadians? I'm sorry, you are just such an easy target (being so polite, and all).

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Much Ado

Me? Missing? Yep, sorry.

Lots to do this time of year, not the least of which is planning, preparing and scheduling for upcoming workshops. Providing the materials for each class, for each person in each class, has turned out to be the most challenging part of preparation.

I'm dyeing.
dyed silk6

Silk. 15 pounds of it to be exact. That's enough for 2 classes: first in July at the Golden Gate Fiber Institute, and then at SOAR in PA this year.

In order to have enough supplies prepared, I have to think ahead. Often, as soon as contracts are signed, I order supplies. That can be up to two years ahead of scheduled conferences, but, if I have a commitment, I will start gathering materials, supplies and working on the details (start being the keyword here).

Let's back up: first, I figure out how many people will potentially need which fiber/yarn/looms. I have already set a materials fee for the organizers, based on current prices. As has happened before, prices can change or worse, availability is not assured. So I buy the raw materials I need for the classes scheduled, and store them in a bin marked with the intended class. I plop lists in the bin: what each person will need, how many people possible, and what I have requested be provided by the organizers, and general class materials I need to bring for everyone to use (ball winders, scissors, tape measures, tools, that sort of stuff).

If I have to cut up, dye, apportion or otherwise handle the materials, I start that process too. Dyeing 15 pounds of silk tops is not onerous, but dyeing it many different colors in little batches so everyone has choices can become so. Cutting up parts for looms, individually, is not a chore, but doing it for (in this case) 30 people means planning.

Both of the classes mentioned above are silk cut pile classes, so that means I also need to make looms:


Copper prices have fluctuated wildly in recent years, so I check at the time of scheduling, set the materials fee, and go buy the pipe. For 30 people, that's over 300 feet of copper pipe I am storing, which I then start cutting up into little bits. The loom has a few other parts, which I also buy and store.

Then there are tools: shuttles, card weaving cards, yarns, various clips, sticks and flotsam, which I order in groups of a thousand (I'd like a thousand flotsam, please).

Lots can (and does) go awry: things can change, classes get cancelled, *a few extra* people are put into a class beyond the numbers I expect, so I need to be flexible.

I plan for a full class, every time, but sometimes enrollment falls short. Just prior to the class, I try to get an accurate head count from my contact person. This gets tricky. If they tell me the class is full, and I prepare, ship and pay for all the materials, and I get there to a less-than-full class, who pays for all the extra stuff? If they tell me the class has x number of people signed up, and I get there and there are extra people, who splits materials with them?

Some things are beyond anyone's ability to anticipate: that last minute person who cancels, that last minute person who signs up. I always plan for a few extra, it's one of those cost of doing business things.

All this means that I have been variously employed weighing, measuring, cutting, making lists, dyeing and the like. I hope this doesn't sound like one long whine, because it isn't. I enjoy the anticipation, I have fun with choosing colors and dyeing, measuring and packing up the silk, while preparing for the various venues. It is one of my great pleasures to be able to go to so many gatherings of spinners and weavers, spending time with friends, meeting new friends, and just generally playing with fiber.

In fact, I can hardly wait! Golden Gate Fiber is filling up: two classes, Darlene Hayes' Natural Dyeing and Judith's class, are close to full now. The weather on the coast will be fabulous, could be cool and foggy (which I love) and 6 days will be a nice retreat. SOAR will be a week before Rhinebeck, so I'm planning to stay on, peek at some leaves, and attend my first big wool show back East. You gotta love this stuff, it just doesn't get any better!