Thursday, 30 May 2013

Third Set of Shetland Wool Blankets

About half of the 50 cones of Shetland wool shown in my last blog have been put into use. The grey warp consists of varying stripes in very dark grey, charcoal and a lively silvery grey. I wove the first blanket in those three greys, and then brought in some colours in successive blankets. I'll weave the last two blankets on this warp with grey and brown machine-spun alpaca for an even more luxurious feel. (Future stock number is below each blanket.)

SH010 in very dark grey, charcoal and silvery grey

SH011 brings in some fall colours with the greys

SH012 is a warm yellowy brown with charcoal and silvery grey stripes
SH013 has squares in two shades of blue against silvery grey

SH014 has two blue shades with a rich green - super gorgeous

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Project Management

I've arrived at the desired stage with Cariboo Handwoven in which I have to plan my projects in more detail and sufficiently in advance. I talked a bit about this in my last blog about being a weaver. My business has happily reached the point where I need to manage all stages of a project and plan them out to allow enough time to determine what I want to make, contemplate ideas and order the necessary materials. I know I have jumped into some projects very eagerly but with some compromises in the colours I used because they were all I had on hand. I didn't want to wait around for a week until a yarn order arrived!

So last week I expanded my project ideas and goals into a sort of Gantt chart to enable me to visualize at once where things are coming from and going. I am the sort of person who likes to know what target I'm striving for, such as a certain amount of blankets by a certain date, and then I break down that big goal into all the necessary mini-goals to either know I'm on track or have to make adjustments. I am most comfortable with this level of detailed planning.

Here's a snippet of that Gantt chart:

Yesterday I received an eagerly anticipated order of 50 cones of Shetland wool for two blanket projects. I already have other colours but most of these will comprise my base tones:

And now onto the very detailed planning for my next set of blankets, which will begin what I anticipate to be a busy and fulfilling summer of weaving.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Being a Weaver

For well over a year now I've considered myself a full-time weaver. But what does that really mean? Here are some of the things I've noticed:

  1. Being a weaver means that I prefer to start my work day at the loom. This gets my mind working the way I want, and it gives me a feeling of accomplishment early in the day. It also allows me to start taking short breaks and weave more - in other words, I can spread out the physical part of weaving to be as productive as possible.

  2. Being a weaver requires that my daily routine include a fairly long break during the day for a change of scenery and some exercise - or rather, some different exercise. During the winter, that time is usually in the afternoon when it's warmer outside, but soon I will be weaving in the afternoon after the cool part of the day is over.  I'll be sweltering in my studio on hot days, but I'll know I have that other important part of my day taken care of when it was coolest out.

  3. Being a weaver means that my official employment is "weaver" when asked for it at the bank, for example. I've had nothing but positive responses from the individuals on the other side of the counter or desk.

  4. Being a weaver creates different seasonal cycles for me.  Sales are generally highest during the late fall and early winter, so instead of having a lighter workload then, followed by a busy end of the fiscal year (January to March), my busiest time is now September to December to gear up for fall sales leading to the Christmas season. Then, early in the next calendar year I'm finalizing the previous year's financial summaries as well as my upcoming year's business plan.

  5. Being a weaver means that planning requires different perspectives and approaches. My next six months of projects are roughly planned out, but I need to ensure I have the necessary fibres on hand. I also require the budget to buy them. As each project comes closer on the calendar, I finalize the design, colours and other details so that I can begin right away after a suitable incubation period.

    My five blogs about how long it takes to make a blanket (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5) show some of the variations required to my usual system of planning back from a target date to know the latest I can begin. So, while I'm weaving a series of blankets, I'm looking ahead to the next series to make sure I can move on to that project - and often while twisting fringes in evenings for the previous project. The phases of different blanket projects often overlap, which creates interesting mental and physical variety for me, too.
There are probably more interesting facets about being a weaver that I will learn. I enjoy finding and contemplating them all.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Yet More Towels

I had to use an original title after all my towel projects and towel blogs.

These towels were made to increase my supply and to also make ‘mini-blankets’ and acquire some experience on a new weave structure. In other words, creative learning with two end purposes.

This twill structure has a 24-thread repeat in 24 threads per inch, so it's easy to thread or I notice an error right away. I used this weave structure for the last Memories Blankets. I love it.  The wavy pattern has amazing energy and the other treadlings have similar versatility. Now I've learned what I need to learn to apply to some future wool blankets, coming this summer.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

"Art is Your Business"

The conference, "Art is Your Business," was hosted by Island Mountain Arts in Williams Lake last weekend.

I was one of about 30 registrants who were mostly from Williams Lake and area, but others came from Quesnel, Fort St. James and Burns Lake. As the keynote speaker, Bill Usher from Golden worked with participants to help them overcome different barriers to reach their next level, and he also outlined the steps in successful grant writing and submission.

Other speakers covered a wide array of relevant topics, including the importance of building community to build a business, business principles and practices, social media, business diversification - the benefits and pitfalls, artist considerations for both private and public galleries, policy development as a business tool, and making marketing work for individual artists based on their preferences and comfort levels.

The two days clearly addressed a wide variety of topics on the business of art at both the community and individual levels. I found it inspiring and informative, and I came home with many ideas to consider, big and small, and from speakers and other participants.  We had some great chats!

Saturday was also the day of the annual spin-in hosted by the Spinners and Weavers Guild. The spin-in had a record number of registrants along with some new vendors. I counted 42 spinning wheels when I stopped in briefly.

And there was more in town that weekend! I sure enjoyed what I could attend.