Friday, August 31, 2012

Cold Shower Therapy

A few days ago I said I'd write more about the Cold Shower Therapy recommended by Joel Runyon, who does impossible things.

I gave it a try, thinking "What have I got to lose?" Well, after the first time I was hooked. It really flipped a switch inside my head that made me aware of all the other things that I wasn't doing because I was afraid that they would not be fun or easy. You know what? They're not fun or easy, but they're not as hard as rubbing icy water on your body for five minutes, either.

In just a week I've become an anti-procrastinator. (Let's see if it lasts, right?) Every time I turn around I'm aware of another project that needs my attention. Right now I'm committing to unpack and remove one box from my room every day that I'm home until they're all gone. On top of that, I find myself spontaneously taking out trash, doing laundry, and putting things where they belong throughout the day. It's kind of amazing.

On top of all that, I've been reading up on cold shower therapy for other uses. Well, it turns out to have a number of amazing health benefits. The one that really struck a chord with me is the effect that cold showers can have on depression. For most of human history, we've been bathing in cold water. Many people in the world don't have hot water even today. Well, it turns out that, for some people, depression can be lessened with "thermal stress". It seems to move "things" around inside the body in important ways. (Aren't you impressed with the depth of my understanding?) Since I've combined it with vigorous exercise and a change in diet, I can't be sure if I'm one of those people. I can say, though, that I have had more energy and positive outlook in the last week than at any other time that I can remember.

After my thirty days, if the depression starts to come back even with my continued diet and exercise, I'll know what to do next! Brrr....

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Depression and Exercise

Depression and exercise, they're linked in a pretty vicious cycle. Once depression sets in, there's no energy to exercise, which exacerbates the depression.

Weaving has helped me keep it mostly at bay for a few years. There's this other thing that needs my attention in order to thrive. And, often, it needs me to do some exercise. My studio is upstairs so even if the particular operation that I'm doing isn't physically intense, I still have to climb the stairs ten or twenty times a day, often with a 30-pound box in my hands.

One of the things that pushed me to invest in fitness supplies (shoes and a fancy pedometer) was that, after almost ten years of semi-remission, I could feel the depression coming back for real. I'm very sensitive to the amount of light that I get. (They call is Seasonal Affective Disorder, and I maintain that it's only a disorder because we have set things up so that we are not allowed to slow down in the Winter. I think it's natural.) The days started getting shorter in July and the general lack of energy was already apparent. I spend much of my day inside a studio with two windows far from my work. That means that the only real daylight that I get is when I'm outside between tasks.

Well, the big shows are over. I've still got to produce for the little shows remaining this year and get a start on next year, but I can actually afford to invest a couple of hours a day on my health and emotional well-being. This was the original reason to budget for new shoes and an activity tracker when I was off the mountain last month.

And, with some careful planning, I will be able to keep affording these two hours a day for a heart-pumping, soul-restoring hike in the woods.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


If you've been reading my blog for a while, you've probably come to understand that I'm a pretty compulsive person. My business is as successful as it is because I pour everything I have into it.

Well, that success has come at a cost. I have known the whole time that there were other aspects of my life that were being "put on hold" until the business stabilized. Well, I guess it's stable enough because those other things have been nagging louder and louder lately.

It started innocently enough. On the last trip to Washington I decided that I could finally afford to invest in some fitness gear that I'd been contemplating for months. I bought some new, durable shoes for hiking since my hand-me-down Crocs had quarter-sized holes in the bottom. Then I splurged on thoughtfully invested in Nike's FuelBand. It's an innocuous black bracelet that turns exercise into a game where you compete against yourself using real activity measurements that it gathers throughout every day. I'll be writing a post just on this magical little device and the game theory that makes it so effective.

A couple of weeks later, on Tien's recommendation, I looked at a blog by a man named Joel Runyon. Ohmygosh! This guy is a type of person I never thought I'd have anything in common with - an athletic, in-your-face, thrill seeker. I mean, really, what could this man and a nature-loving, fashion designer hermit have in common?

Well, lots, it turns out. His no nonsense, no excuses, do-whatever-is-necessary-or-you-don't-really-want-it attitude exactly matches the energy I've had to muster to make a go of this weaving business.

My best friend accuses me of finding a sense of well-being through mortification of the flesh. And, it's sort of true. I'm not talking about anything medieval or kinky here, just small symbols of the mastery of spirit.

Joel is a big proponent of a "character-building" exercise that involves five minutes in an ice cold shower first thing every morning for thirty days. It's called Cold Shower Therapy and it really works! Tomorrow is day seven for me. Again, it'll take a whole blog post at some point to tell you about the anti-procrastination effect these showers are having. Or you could just try it yourself!

Well, one morning I got out of the shower and, before donning my cozy and not formfitting ruana, I got a good look at myself in the mirror. (This is something I've avoided for years.) I guess it was Joel's post about losing a bunch of weight and getting defined abs that got me thinking, "Could I do that?" This combined with the I-can-do-anything attitude from my icy shower gave me the strength to even look in the mirror.

(You'll notice I haven't included a "before" picture in this post... You're welcome.)

Well, let me tell you that I was actually surprised by how much weight I've gained and how much it has changed my body shape. I decided right then and there that I was going to step up my exercise A LOT and change my diet, starting right that instant.

I went to the only diet that I know, the South Beach Diet, while I looked for some assistance in setting a realistic and healthy weight loss goal and tracking my progress. And here's the third future potential blog post topic for today... I found a free app that is basically a diet and nutrition adviser in my pocket. And, you can use it even just using a regular web browser. It's called MyNetDiary and includes everything I need. At first, I just need to track how many calories are in the foods I'm eating, compare that to the exercise I'm getting and then reduce my intake to a level that will take off the weight as quickly as it is safe to do.

This program did that and much, much more. It helped me craft a plan whereby I will lose 25 pounds by December 21st. This is only 2 pounds a week, which in the little research I've done seems to be the maximum amount a person of my age should try to lose without consulting a doctor or nutritionist. And I will, at some point, write a whole post reviewing that app. It's just going to take some more time before I've got progress to report, letting me show you the nifty charts built into the app.

And what does this all have to do with discipline? Well, there are three future blog posts that will delve more deeply into different aspects of it:

1. Nike FuelBand
2. Cold Shower Therapy
3. MyNetDiary

I can't say how long it'll take to get those all written, but I can say that it'll probably be a few weeks at least. I've got a brief vacation then a show, and then a trip to get my new apprentice set up in Portland. But somewhere between all of these I'll write these posts. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why I Raised My Prices

I've been meaning to write this post for about a month, and a blog entry from Laura Fry pushed it to the front of my mind. You can read her blog entry here: Niche Market/Saturation

Before my three shows in Washington I raised my prices. A lot. My most popular item, a fringed, hooded ruana went from $300 to $400 plus tax. And I started charging 15% more for anything in black cover the very high cost of the yarn.

Why did I do it? Well, I've found that in the year and a half since I set my prices, my costs have increased substantially. I now carry a huge liability insurance policy, which is required by most shows. I'm paying way more in fuel to do bigger and better shows which are, unfortunately, much further away. The bigger and better shows have higher standards for entry and for presentation at the show. This means paying for photography, graphic design, web design, copy writing and more. It's all so complex now that I need a bookkeeper to track it all and help me save money on my taxes.

I kept running into the same situation: I would weave a bunch I cloth, do the work to sell it all, and come home to find that I had just enough money to pay the bills, pay for a few improvements and get to the next show. I kept thinking that the "improvement" expenses would eventually disappear, that they were startup costs, but alas, the company continues to need improvements.

One answer, obviously, is to increase the amount of inventory that I have on hand so that I'm not always scrambling to keep up. This meant hiring a seamstress so I could focus on weaving. And she needs to be paid. And then there are the apprentices who can help me make cloth faster than I sell it. And guess what? They need to be paid, too!

You might wonder what happened when I raised my prices... Not much. The people who couldn't afford my work before still can't afford it. Those who can still can, as far as I can tell. I sold the same number of garments as I expected to sell based on my experience with other shows. The difference is that I brought in 33% more money.

And why didn't I do it sooner? Well, it's time for a dire admission: I'm not that careful about analyzing my current financial reality. This will change when I have a bookkeeper to generate monthly, per-show, and per-item profitability reports.

Since I don't really look at that stuff regularly I didn't notice that there just wasn't much profit there. I made the decision to raise my prices somewhat emotionally. I saw the prices that others were charging for their work and projected how much cash and how much inventory I would have for my Autumn shows if I sold out in Washington. It just didn't add up! If I sold out, I'd have to cancel some of those Autumn shows, but after paying all my bills, I'd still be broke.

So I raised my prices and brought in some money while retaining enough inventory that I haven't had to cancel any shows. And once the bookkeeper gets going and can help me analyze things a little better, I wouldn't be surprised if I have to raise them again.

I haven't mentioned that raising prices is terrifying, have I? The only thing that makes me able to do it at all is my experience running other businesses. If you make sure that the quality and desirability are there, the only thing left to do is to find the customers who can afford what you have to sell.

And here's a bonus for reading my blog. If you've been holding off on buying something from me and you find that it's now totally out of your price range, email me and let me know. I'll honor my old prices until the end of the year for my blog readers. This is even true at shows. Just tell me you want my "friends and family" rate and poof! You get 25% off! (And yes, the math works. An increase of 33% is reversed by a discount of 25%. Weird, huh?)

I realize that raising prices was only a tiny part of Laura's post. Most of it talked about rolling out new designs regularly. Check! I can hardly develop a new product design and bring it to market before a new one comes knocking on my skull.

When I've come back to a place where people have seen me before they ask me things like, "What's new since I saw you in Seattle?" I do, in fact, have a couple of people who collect my work. One of them collects colors, but another collects garment designs. This year I've rolled out a shorter ruana, a line of housewares including throw pillows and I've got a couple of other things in the works. Of course, I'll let you know as soon as anything is finalized!

Green Thread Is On The Loom

For the first time since I started weaving, I designed a beam based on a very specific environment. Of course my cloth is all inspired by specific scenes from nature, but for this cloth all I had to do to check my color arrangement was look out the window. I'm calling it "Under The Pines".

Here's a snapshot that I took from the front deck of my studio. It gives a pretty good idea of the color scenario in these mountains right now.

And here's the beam on the loom.

And a few closeups so you can see how rich the color contrasts are.

If you would like a garment from this cloth, now is the time to contact me. I will be threading, weaving and finishing the sample blanket and weaving about 10 garments from it before this project travels to Portland. If you order now you'll have your garment by the middle of September.

This will be the first beam woven by Jacob. I will be giving him very specific instructions about which colors and garment styles to weave, but I won't have the first of those garments in my hands until almost November.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Collapsing Sections

Today's post is a quick one...

Several people expressed dismay that I might let the threads collapse between sections when I remove the plastic tubing. Thanks for your feedback, and when I reread my words I could see that it does sound problematic. A picture's worth a thousand words, right? Here are a couple of snapshots to show y'all what really does happen...

Before: There's a slight gap about 2" long where the threads needed to deform around the tube.

After: when I remove the tube, the threads immediately fill the space and press against each other to remain in place.

See? There isn't really any effect on the tension of the threads. Yes, there is always a tiny bit of inconsistency at that spot between sections, but it's never caused any problems at all.

And, to answer some of the ideas directly...

"Anonymous" wrote: "Why not replace the pegs with longer pegs? I'd be a little careful about tension in case the yarn 'collapsing' inwards over the pegs causes some problems...."

Well, the pegs are glued into place. To remove them, I'd have to drill them out. It's a big project and one that I'm not sure I could accomplish with the level of perfection that's required. Crooked pegs make for slow and bad winding. And replacing a botched beam would be very expensive.

Bryan wrote: "Or add strips of firm plastic measured with small notches on the pegs every 5 centimeters while warping the beam to ensure no threads slip and collapse. I do this all the time. It is a hassle to keep the plastic with the notches at different intervals labeled and I wonder if it has ever actually saved me from a collapse disaster. But I haven't had one. I don't weave more than 80 cm width so it is easier for me."

Hmm. I'm not sure I understand. Can you send a photo of how the strips are made and attached? As you can tell, I'm always looking for ways to make my weaving simpler, faster, more reliable, more flexible. You know, just better. :)

And, for the rest of you, if you haven't found Bryan's blog yet, I would highly recommend that you go and take a look...

It's a bright spot in my day when I read about his adventures with japanese antique markets, silkworms, indigo vats, persimmon juice, and more.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Now With 20% More Warp!

Here's a closeup of the first section of the new green warp. These beginning sections are more black, blue, and teal, but it'll all resolve to green in the end, I promise.

After a year and a half of 100-yard warps, I finally realized that I could squeeze another 20 yards onto my beams. That realization was precipitated by my preparation for the first beam to be woven remotely.

Here's how I do it... It's pretty simple, really. I just keep winding after I reach the pegs. The plastic tubing that I use to guide the threads into sections also holds the threads in place. Once two adjacent sections are full I can remove the tubing and let the threads lean against each other.

To be sure I could fit as much as possible, I started at the edge for this beam.

I wound until I couldn't safely fit any more thread against that end disc.

I then moved the marking tape for my threaded-rod-and-bell counting mechanism. See the clean section? Those are the 20ish extra revolutions for the new, longer cloth.

And here's what a regular section looks like. See how much thread sticks up above the peg? Awesome!

Let me tell you a little more about the remote weaving... Do you remember my two apprentices in June? Well, one of them, Jacob, has acquired a loom to use for his daily weaving meditation up in Portland. I will deliver his first batch of work in a couple of weeks. Before then there is a lot of work for me to do. I need to finish warping and tying on. Then I need to weave and finish a sample blanket before making all of the weft decisions for the entire batch of cloth. And, just for good measure, I'll probably weave the first twenty yards to be sure the beam is behaving before I turn it over to an apprentice.

It's going to be a huge learning process for both of us, but definitely worth it. I will be able to show more colors at the same time and apply to more and bigger shows because I will finally have several people consistently weaving on the cloth at the same time. There will be three full-sized looms in production at once! Whoa...

It's all very exciting!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Planning For New Photography

When I was up in the Seattle area, I got in touch with a photographer friend of mine to see if he'd be interested in helping me create new images for the next season of show jurying.

Why do I need new photos? When I was applying to shows last year, one of them offered a fantastic service: for an extra $10, the jury would write out some feedback and mail it to me. Well, I decided to go for it. I was not accepted into that show, but they told me exactly why. Among other things, they wanted to see my garments modeled on real people.

Working with live models? Eeek! That takes actual photographic skill. I mean, I can futz around all day in the studio getting the garment to look "just so". But with real people wearing the stuff? I have no idea where to begin.

So I called Adrain and asked if I could hire him to do it. He said yes!

In this post I've included a couple of his images. You can read more about him and see more of his work by visiting his website:

The thing that made me think of Adrain is his ability to truly capture the essence of the person in front of the lens. Their personality just shines through. If I'm using models to show off my work, I really want those people to look vibrant, lively, and great!

We've got the shoot scheduled for the end of October in Portland. The leaves should be changing at that time so we can have a variety of rich hues in our backgrounds.

I've got two models lined up, but am still looking for two more. The features that I have not got covered are these: tall, long hair, masculine, mature. If you or someone you know could fill one or more of these gaps, drop me a line! To pay the models, I'm offering a garment of your choice and digital copies of the images in return for a whole day's work. It will entail driving to various locations in and around Portland and posing in several garments at each location. I'll take care of the modest transport and refreshments to keep us all happy.

I've never done anything like this before and I am excited! It'll be nice to have jury photos, but it's going to be a good time, too. I'm kind of treating it like a fun little vacation.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Plying The Green

Many people have noticed that there is not one piece of green cloth in my booth. It's not because I don't like it, it's because my customers do. I wove a batch starting last September and it was all sold by Spring. Green thread was a large part of the yarn order you saw me unpacking a few days ago.

The temperatures here are still hovering around 100 degrees so I've set up the winding operation in the downstairs of the studio, also known as the garage. At night I open the doors to cool down the giant concrete slab that makes up the floor. During the day I keep the space sealed up and run low-wattage CFLs only above the table where I'm working. These two habits keep the temperature below 90 until the afternoon.

Here are a few shots of the plying setup and a rough outline of the gradient that's emerging.

I've repurposed my pipe and joint booth again to hold the task lights.

In this shot you can start to see the gradient taking form. It will run from dark blue-green through pure green to a bright yellow-green.

I've been thinking of how to explain the various parts of my process and how these parts contribute to the whole. My finished garments really are a form of abstract landscape painting, and the process of creating them is much the same.

Step 1: ordering yarn = squeezing the paint tubes. In painting, there are a finite number of pigments available. A painter chooses how much to squeeze from the tubes to the palette. I choose how much of each color to order from the suppliers. To make the analogy work, imagine that the painter needs to decide how much of each pigment to put on the palette a month before beginning to paint and that there are only a few colors of pigment available at any given time.

Step 2: plying threads = mixing paints. When the yarns arrive, there are a few colors and they need to be combined before they're ready to be used. A painter mixes colors on the palette. I blend colors onto cones. Again, imagine that the painter can paint with only the colors that are on the palette at the end of this step.

Step 3: winding the beam = painting the base layer. In painting, the base layer provides the groundwork for everything that comes later. My warp design is the color basis for every garment that will be woven from each batch of cloth.

Step 4: weaving = painting the details. In painting, the details of a finished painting build upon the base layer to create specific effects. In weaving, the warp threads are more apparent in the final result, but the idea is the same. Each garment uses the same warp threads but the final pieces are sometimes vastly different from each other depending on the choice of weft threads.

Step 5: finishing = curing, sealing, framing. Once the colors are on the canvas, there are often more steps to ensure the usability and longevity of the piece. Same here. The cloth needs to be cut from the loom, wet finished, and often sewn into garments before it is ready for a customer to take home. The difference is that a painting doesn't change much at this point. Cloth can be dramatically different after finishing. Surprise! forward...

After two long days in the dark (but relatively cool) garage, the thread plying is almost done. Here are the colors available for the next step, warping the beam. And yes, these photos look weird. It's a combination of the CFL bulbs, the dim lighting, and the iPod camera. I make my decisions by natural light and then come in here to do the work. But you can get the idea.

Tomorrow I have some tough decisions to make... Do I move a loom down to where it's cool so I can warp it? Do I install an air conditioner upstairs? Do I move my morning meditation to the afternoon so I can work in the studio from before dawn until it's too hot to move? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Yarn!

Before the trip to Washington I was almost out of yarn. I know this is hard to believe, but I had less than 500 pounds left and not enough of any one colorway to weave a whole batch of cloth. Uh-oh!

It takes some time for my suppliers to pack and ship my orders so I took a risk. I ordered thousands of dollars in yarn at a time when I had almost nothing in the bank. Thankfully, the shows did just as well as I thought they would and I was able to pay for all this yarn well within my NET60 terms. And who said I wasn't a gamboling man?

To save money I have my yarn shipped to a commercial address: Select Designs in Wolf Creek, the same folks who sew my ruanas.

Here's the stack of yarn in their shop, 700 pounds of it.

Now, you have to remember that I'm on my way home from a show. This means that I have a van that's already packed to the gills. My choice was to drive back up to Wolf Creek to pick up the yarn (a three-hour venture) or find a way to make it fit. I chose the latter.

And here are those boxes unloaded into the newly rearranged garage.

Then was the fun part, opening the boxes. It's like a long, physically exerting version of Christmas.

There weren't many new colors, but it was exciting nonetheless.

But now comes the ever present challenge... How do I store it so I know what I have and keep it all accessible?

Remember the giant shelves from last Winter's basement studio? One set is upstairs to hold tools, finished cloth and garments. The other set was waiting until the day that I really needed them. Well, that's today.

So, there we have it - 700 pounds of yarn trucked home, checked in, and stored on a "new" shelf.

Maritime Sights

I came home to find us in the midst of a heat wave. It's been over 100 degrees every day with no end in sight. By contrast, the places I just returned from have beautiful weather: cool, breezy, and damp.

When I arrived in the area I couldn't help but notice the maritime theme woven into every part of life there. Anacortes was a ship-building town, for instance. Every antique shop is packed with nautical tchotchkes.

Here's a paddle boat converted into a museum in Anacortes.

And here's a pretty boat on a river in Seattle. I took this shot while we waited for the drawbridge to open.

And while I was in Coupeville, I saw a tall ship and realized that it was the one that my friend works on, the Hawaiian Chieftain.

He took me onboard and gave me a tour. It's a beautiful ship and sails fairly often under sail power with the help of a skilled crew.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Last Washington Show Is Done!

In my last post I promised to let y'all know how things ended up in Coupeville. The short answer: don't rock the boat.

The organizers tried really hard to find a better spot in the show, but weren't able. I ended up right where I was assigned with only one hour to set up instead of the two or three that I need. My sales were pretty dismal, just like I knew they would be. Aaaand, I ended up looking like a pain in the butt. Nothing is ever good enough. "He'd complain if he was hung with a new rope." I might like to be actually in this show in the future, but it seems unlikely that they'd have me after the amount of work I caused them in looking for another spot. I've never asked for anything like this in the past and I'll probably never do it again. Live and learn, right?

Here's the weather that morning. Perfect for selling cloaks!

And here's what the traffic looked like, shot from in front of my booth. Notice how the far side of the intersection is crowded? This is what it was like for much of the time. After not seeing a single person for 15 minutes or so I would feel like the show was ending early and look to see that nope! The rest of the show was still going strong.

And many of the people who came down our row turned around before they got to my booth. They'd stop two booths down and crane their necks to see what was in the last booth, then head back toward the action. I know this because I had plenty of time to stand back and watch. You know, the time that should have been taken up with helping customers...

I am very good at estimating complex things like this. (Remember that part of my time as a software developer was spent creating systems to predict and manage special effects studio pipeline traffic.) I think that, at best, 20-25% of the visitors to this show stepped in front of my booth. Thankfully, this is a commission show. They get paid depending on how much I earn. When I make little money I pay them little money.

If I had it to do again, I would not have asked for reassignment after they told me how well they treat returning vendors. I would have accepted that this weekend would be written off and that I could petition for a better space in the future. It's frustrating, but I really am in this for the long haul.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rocking The Boat

Well, not really, but sort of...

I've remarked on this before, but it's gotten more apparent than ever at this show. First year vendors get the worst placement. This was substantiated by the woman who wrote down my request. I quote directly, "We bend over backwards to get returning vendors the exact space they want." I think this was meant to cheer me up in a "your reward lies in heaven" sort of way.

Here's an overall map of the show with my highlighting to show where people are actually going to walk with my booth spot in blue.

How do I know this? Well, I've been placed at enough dead-end spots this year to have learned. People want to maximize their fun so they head for where the action is. If a row is short and goes nowhere, they'll look down it and then turn toward where there are more booths.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. The maker of this map has graciously indicated the traffic flow, including a big, prominent arrow that shows people turning toward the show instead of visiting the booths in my row.

And then there's wind. My sales depend on cool weather, and it's helped by a breeze in the booth. In Coupeville, the wind blows in from the water.

"A-ha!", I thought, "Here's a hindrance I can overcome. I'll design a new booth layout that lets the wind flow through from the back." Well, that's OK except that behind me there will be two functioning forges. Opening to the breeze will mean letting their smoke and heat flow through my space. Oh, yeah, and all that banging. Don't they pound on metal all day in a foundry? Oh, this is really not looking good.

The final factor, and one that I wouldn't even consider except in combination with the others, is the angle of the sun.

As you can see, by facing my booth to the south, I'll have sun in my front door all day. Yes, I have awnings. Yes, they will help, but it's still not going to be an enticing place to try on cloaks.

All of these factors put together have caused me to "rock the boat". I've asked to set up late in the hope that another vendor cancels from anywhere else in the show and I can have their space. I have asked as nicely as I can, but I had to ask. There are just too many sale-killing factors to ignore.

There is not another space in this show that I wouldn't rather have. I'll let y'all know how it works!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Anacortes Arts Festival

Last weekend was the annual arts festival in Anacortes, Washington. As usual, I arrived a day early so I could relax and take in the flavor of the town before I had to set up. Here's downtown on the afternoon before the show with my "home for the weekend" marked on the street.

And here's my booth all set up. See my new awnings? I got them in Seattle this week in case there was sun or rain this weekend.

In the previous photo, did you notice how much sun there was? This was first thing in the morning and the sun was already hot. Uh-oh...

I came to Anacortes because the historical weather records showed me that this is a town that enjoys a hazy marine layer most of the time. This keeps the sun at bay and creates a breezy, cool environment. You know, the kind of atmosphere where someone might say, "Hey, I wish I had an extra layer."

Well, this three-day show happened during the only three-day heat wave that they expect all year. On Sunday, I let my desperation show and went for the "pity sale". It worked, sort of. I ended up selling 3/4 of what I expected to, with more than half of my sales on Sunday.

And, yet again, I was so busy trying to find my customers in the sweaty crowd that I forgot to take even one photo of the show. Trust me, it's big and crowded. In the hottest part of the day on Friday I made one loop through the show and it took me almost an hour.

When I packed the van to leave on this trip I meant to show y'all how tight it is with the extra boxes of merchandise needed to do three shows. They provide one whole extra layer beneath the mattress and leave me about 16" of head room once the bed is made up for sleeping. My hope was to sell enough that the bed would be lower for my last week of camping. No such luck.

And the real kicker to all this? I was so exhausted after teardown that I spent the night in Anacortes. I woke up in the morning and walked downtown for coffee. It was hazy, breezy, and cool.

Then I went out to their beautiful Washington Park and took a two-mile hike. It was perfect cloak weather and just as I was preparing to drive away the mist began. The wind picked up and the cold mist swirled around, making ME wish for an extra layer!

If I had left the night before I could tell myself that Anacortes just doesn't have good cloak weather, but nope! They usually do and I just happened to miss it... this year.

Next weekend I'm in Coupeville, just one island over from Anacortes. At this point, the weather is supposed to be cool and breezy. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Introducing Dolly, The Carpet Weaver Of Anacortes

I'm up in Anacortes, Washington for the Anacortes Art Fair. As usual, I came a day early to get a feeling for the town and to be ready for artist check-in and booth setup this evening. While I was strolling around the charming downtown I looked in the doorway of a shop and saw a 10' AVL production rug loom being used to weave the most gorgeous carpets.

I was a little shocked, honestly, to stumble upon such a thing. There are so few weavers around. I walked in and met the really sweet weaver, Dolly J Hein.

She showed me around and demonstrated how she carefully places row after row of incredible tapestry strips, chenille yarn and more. The results are simply breathtaking. Her color and design sense is refined and delicate. I was truly impressed.

Her business model is totally different from mine. She has a showroom in a town with a lot of tourist traffic and sells some carpets that way, but much of her work is commissioned. She keeps a table of swatches ready for consultation and is ready to weave in any color palette imaginable.

If you'd like to know more or work with her to create a stunning carpet of your own, visit her website:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wish I Was Home

I really don't like being on the road like this. Sleeping in my van, eating camp food, and hanging around in libraries for my wifi gets old after just a few days.

And then there's the general feeling of being lost. I like my routine. I LOVE my work. I haven't heard true silence in a week.

Next year I'll try to arrange it so that I go home between shows, even if it's just for a few days. And maybe I can arrange for no back-to-back shows at all. That'd be nice!