Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Letterboxing - and Some Fall Color

Intrepid explorers.

And I'm behind on blogging! We did a bit more letterboxing - not this past weekend, but the weekend before... Found another box in Chelmsford, and it's really interesting how many little conservation areas there are in our town. Chelmsford is quite old for the U.S. (established in 1655, so it's one of the oldest in the Commonwealth - if not the country) - it's nice to see so much land has been set aside, here and there.

Pretty little stream - with a fun little plank bridge over it that the kids had fun crossing.

Stone wall where the box was hidden (not giving it away, though!). Old stone walls like this one thread through just about all of the woods in New England - hard to believe that this whole area was clear-cut 150 years ago or so, but it was.

Also hard to believe that people actually managed to farm here, it's so rocky! The glaciers just dumped tons of rocks and Glacial erratics (boulders) all over the place (check that link to Wikipedia for a picture of one of my favorite erratics - Doane Rock on Cape Cod, I've climbed up it many times!).

The fall color is almost gone by now! I got up one morning last week and our maple tree in the backyard went from green to yellow literally over night. And now it's pouring down leaves...

That's a peek at a maple in our neighbor's yard, actually. A bit more interesting than ours is at the moment.

This is what the backyard looks like, lol. Our maples in the back are actually Norweigan maples - a weed species, oh no!! They're pretty, but they don't change as spectacularly as sugar maples do... My mom's house has three gorgeous old sugar maples in the front yard, I miss their color - and the maple syrup we used to make!

Tail end of color over our other neighbor's house... I was lame and didn't manage to catch it at it's peak this year. Still, though, driving around this past week has been an absolute feast for the senses. Gorgeous, saturated color everywhere. I love fall!


I was stuck in a jury room last week-ish (called for jury duty, but, luckily, the district court disposed of something like 15 cases that day without needing a jury), and read a bit more of Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit - it's an interesting book, I like to browse through it once in a while.

I think it's been stuck in my head since then, just a bit, and I've been noticing a bit more about my creative process. Like lots of weavers, I think, I tend to get ideas while I'm seated at the loom, weaving - especially when I'm weaving a pattern that doesn't take a lot of concentration. Leaves your mind free to wander, and, I guess, mine tends to wander to other weaving projects.

My only real observation, though, is that I find it interesting that I get the most ideas when I'm in full-on production mode (as I am now, weaving like crazy!)... Not sure whether they'll be good ideas or not, but they sure do seem to come, fast and furious. Maybe my creative weaving muscles, so to speak, are like any other muscles? When I'm using my basic weaving muscle a lot, the creative ones get all limber and productive as well? Just a thought...

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on creative flow.

And on a happy personal note - I've been on the Front Page of Etsy twice this past week (at weird times, but, hey, I'll take it!), and 1000 Markets just sent me an email inviting me to participate in a special Holiday Gift Market. (I adore 1000Markets, I have to say - it doesn't have the traffic that Etsy does, but, man, have they been good to me - lots of features, etc., love that they appreciate handweavers!) Also had a wonderfully successful Open Studios yesterday - thanks to everyone who stopped by! Back to weaving for me - have a big delivery to the deCordova Museum due tomorrow morning (eeps!).

Friday, October 16, 2009

What? A Weavng-Related Post? Get Out!!

Busy, busy, busy. And a lovely customer from Canada just ordered ten (yes, 10!) scarves from me (basically doing all her Christmas shopping in one fell swoop), so I'm even busier, busier, busier.

It was interesting, she asked whether I give discounts for bulk orders as we were first talking, and I hesitated for a moment. I do, for wholesale and consignment, but I wasn't quite sure how to handle it with a normal customer.

So I just put it out there - I told her how many pieces I require my wholesale customers to purchase and the discount that I give them, thinking it would probably scare her off. Obviously, it didn't! She didn't bat an eyelash and is actually going to wind up buying quite a few more than she originally mentioned. And I learned to dare to be open to talking about things like this frankly with customers, you never know when somebody is going to order ten pieces! (Pricing work to allow for consignment and/or wholesale is an entirely different ball of wax, of course, and one I would *really* rather not discuss - people get so grumpy when it comes to setting prices. I mostly try not to worry about what other people are charging, one way or the other...)

Hey, plaid! Not normally something I do, is it? (It's just a 2/2 twill, nothing complicated.) This customer, again, asked whether I ever do plaid, and, I normally don't, but I bent another rule for her - I generally say I do custom work based on my current designs (learned that one the hard way) - but, I thought, you know, plaid might be kind of fun, and said "sure!". And she ordered four plaid scarves! (All bamboo, she is vegan and doesn't want any silk, wool, alpaca, etc.)

Anywho, I had fun poking around the clan tartans at and made up my own kind of asymmetrical version. And I'm having fun weaving it! I thought the color changes would annoy me, but, so far, they aren't.

I'm using Robyn Spady's neat trick of working in the weft wends - when you're working with plied yarn, you split it in half, carry half of it back a couple of warp ends through the open shed you just tossed it through, then wrap the other half around a selvedge edge and bring that part back one or two warp ends past the first end. Then your tucked in weft ends don't bunch up too thickly at one selvedge, if that makes sense. Great tip from Robin's Tips N Techniques seminar a couple years ago at NEWS!

And, I'm looking forward to giving my second lecture in New Hampshire next week!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


So, yes, I'm supposed to be weaving, weaving, weaving. But gorgeous fall days are gorgeous fall days... So, I spent a good chunk of time in the studio this morning/early afternoon (and will return this evening), then came home to drag everyone letterboxing.

(Church in the middle of Chelmsford - bike path in the foreground.)

What, you ask, is letterboxing? Well, according to the Letterboxing North America, letterboxing originated in England, in the moors of Darmoor. It is "an itriguing mix of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring interesting, scenic, and sometimes remote places. It takes the anceint custom of placing a rock on a cairn upon reaching the summit of a mountain to an artform..." The idea is, people hide a weatherproofed box somewhere, including a log book and a rubber stamp in the box, write out clues about how to find it, and post them to the Letterboxing website.

Hunters, like we were today, have their own personal stamps so that they can record their visit in the letterbox log book, and also keep their own journals to put stamps in from the boxes they find.

Needless to say, the kids had a great time hunting for our first (very easy to find, thankfully) letterbox today - it was right along the Bruce Freeman Bike Path, right near home! (There are 14 boxes hidden in our town alone!)


Woodlot path along the bike path (that's Carlos, getting the kids out of the bike stroller, wearing his helmet, good boy.)

All ready with their journals...

Up the hill...

To find an old rock wall - and hey, there's the box!

Bella's letterboxing journal (The green butterfly is her stamp - the little red stamp was the one in the box). (I just love her kindergartener handwriting!)

A last peek at the trees (foliage is really just starting here - the mature sugar maples are starting, and those are the trees that have the *really* spectacular color, none in this photo!).

I'm really looking forward to continuing to do this... It reminds me quite a bit of our last trip to the U.K., when I was pregnant with Bella - we spent a good part of that vacation traipsing over hill and dale (literally), compass in hand, finding remote stone circles in England, Wales and Scotland. Looking forward to going to Dartmoor someday to find more circles *and* letterboxes!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Warping Galore

Little Harrisville Designs at home...

Weavebird (and warping board) at studio...

LeClerc Colonial at studio.

Notice a theme here? Three looms and I'm in the process of warping *all* of them! LOL! (My thought was that, usually, I'd be warping/threading on one or so, weaving on others, so there's always something different to do, right? Not so, apparently!)

I'm under the gun, big time, and it's my own fault... I'm delivering an order to Art & Soul in Maynard this weekend, I'm going to be participating (by invitation, whoot!) in the deCordova Museum's Artists' Market and need to deliver a whole bunch of items by the end of the month, I've got a show in Holliston in late-ish November, the Winter Lights show at the Loading Dock Gallery at WAS in late November - December (even though I'm not listed on their webpage at the moment, hmph), and then two weekend-long Open Studios at WAS in December! Oh, and I need to follow up with 13 Forest, a gallery in Arlington, too. And my second lecture for the New Hampshire Weavers' Guild is in two weeks. Ahhhhh!!!!

Biting off a bit more than I can chew is always a fabulous motivator for me. Obviously. (LOL!)

OK, here's something to get our minds off the stressful couple of months that are looming (har) (yes, pun intended).

Yay Fall! (Can't believe how big they're getting.)

And, on a happy personal front - Mr. SkiingWeaver and I celebrated out 9th anniversary this week (more like 16, actually, but we took a long time to get around to making it official). We actually went out. Together. Without the kids. Had a conversation without somebody interrupting every three minutes. Wow. Thank you, thank you, Mum, for watching them!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feeling Fallish - and A Marketing Observation

It felt decidedly nippy outside today (50s, blustery clouds, gorgeous)... I like it when I break out my fleeces and my favorite vest (purchased about 9 years ago in Alta Ski Area, and still a favorite!). We stopped to buy some pumpkins and mums on our way home from our weekly jaunt to Kimball Farm Ice Cream with my Mum...

We have moved the goldfish inside from the deck (they lived in the little fountain there for the summer), but the plants and snails haven't come in yet. Soon, I think, Mr. SkiingWeaver just needs to get it in gear. The sugar maples' leaves are just starting to get going here, I'll take some photos when they hit their stride... But in the meantime, I'm enjoying the mums. I LOVE fall. Love it.

OK, time for the marketing observation. I have a couple of different ways of displaying my work in my studio/at shows, but I generally use the Scary Mannequin (so dubbed by Ms. B) both for photo staging and for display...

(One of my favorite pieces ever! Sold it at the Ahts Festival - yay, but also - wah!)

So, I tend to put my largest/most expensive piece on the Scary Mannequin. People do tend to look at it and touch it first, so I make sure it's a "wow" type piece that feels just gorgeous in their hand. And their eyes tend to pop a little when they see the price. (If they *don't* pop, then that's a person I want in my studio/booth, most definitely, lol!) But then when they look at the other pieces... Well, the prices seem a bit more attainable, don't they?

I didn't do this intentionally, but it does seem to work that way, interestingly enough.

Of course, there are always the people that happily plunk down a large-ish amount of money for a special piece without blinking which, of course, works beautifully, too.

Just an observation. YMMV. (YYMV = Your Mileage May Vary)