Challenges and Updates

Challenges from Do Weekly Podcast

Several of my friends are small business owners. A few of them are even full-time small business owners. One of my friends is a co-host for a podcast that presents challenges for small business owners. Check out the Do Weekly Podcast, where you’ll get an entertaining discussion of the latest challenge and how the hosts have done on their own progress for the same challenges.

Having found the podcast after they were already nearly 30 episodes in means that of course I’m starting from the beginning, and not from the most recent episode. Also, I’m not a full-time entrepreneur. I have a day job, full-time, regular business hours (with a commute in Los Angeles traffic!) plus I support the freelance work of my partner. Also, I have my dance instruction part-time and my crafty pursuits at home. But since there’s not a support group just for posting about the Do Weekly Podcast, I decided I should start a few blog posts when I work through the challenges.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Episode 001: Update your about page

I definitely have several challenges that compound the efforts it will take to complete this task. Just one “About Page,” really? Nope, this is going to require that I look over ALL my websites and the ones that I support to ensure I haven’t let things just get old and dusty.

I used to have a weekly task so that I would make certain all the sites I work on had their themes and plugins up-to-date on WordPress. That’s a technical and administrative task that just requires I check the sites, click “Update” where needed, and make sure everything’s working. And while it could be automated in some ways, it also cost me money once when I tried automating the task. So instead, I just do the work manually. I’d fallen behind on doing this weekly, and I got caught up today over lunch. Time to put a task on my calendar so that I don’t forget to do this weekly at a minimum.

Next, in order to work on the About Page challenge, I should probably prioritize the business-related sites first and then look over the vanity sites second. I did manage one major update to a biography that I wrote in 2010 and left untouched ever since. Now it’s updated to 2018 and had several fixes applied. The list isn’t complete yet, but that’s the challenge I’m going to work through until it’s done.

Various States of Things

Beyond these fun things like challenging myself to improve my websites and my various “businesses” (both literally businesses and more figuratively so), things are going pretty well lately.

  • Since my last update, Sweetie conducted two more weddings, both for family friends. I made a reversible stole for his wedding outfits which I’m quite proud of (photos below).
  • I started a large silk spinning project during July’s “Tour de Fleece,” photos of which seem to resemble heads of cabbage (see the full photo album) when you’re scrolling quickly through social media posts. I also launched into some cotton processing by hand (which will take quite some time to work through).
  • Sweetie performed for a week at the largest Scandinavian festival in the US. I managed to make two pairs of pants, two tunics, and hand-woven trim for both tunics for his viking closet (see full photo album).
  • We did a large photo shoot to update his Santa photos, presenting me another major opportunity for website updates to queue for my days off.
  • I had the fun of being a guest on a podcast with a friend of mine in September. I’m just so impressed with my various friends who are producing podcasts. Los Angeles traffic is only endurable because there’s so much for me to listen to as I drive. You can check out bit.ly/Curio17 and bit.ly/Curio18 to listen to those.
  • Teaching dance continues to go well. I have a handful of regular students at two locations, with both supporting a Level One and Level Two class.
  • My old injured knee still gives me trouble, but my new massage therapist is a miracle worker and I’m seeing improvement weekly.

Various Photos

Just a few highlights.

New reversible stole for “Ceremonies by True”

New reversible stole for “Ceremonies by True”

Silk lap pulled apart to spin–and be mistaken for heads of cabbage

One of the new viking era tunics, with hand-woven custom designed trim

 

Relaxation Goal Achieved

Potrero War is an event within the middle ages re-enactment group that I participate in. We go camping at a county park east of San Diego, practically near the international border. Weather in May can be variable — hot, humid, dry, cold, breezy, raining — different every year. This year, we had *marvelous* conditions. It was cool, even slightly cold, for the first couple of days. The last day was clear and warm without being too hot. And the nights were perfect for hanging out around the camp fires.

I had joked that this year, “I don’t plan to go do ANYTHING! I want to make coffee in the morning and tend the camp fire at night. I don’t want to have to walk any further than the bathrooms or the showers.” Now, while that turned out to be the case, I didn’t mean to fall down and get hurt on Sunday night to achieve that goal (more on that in a bit).

Most enjoyable was making my own artistic decisions all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I did not sign up to teach any classes. I did not sign up to take any classes. But I wanted to just “do whatever” when I felt like it. Two of our campers bring an RV every year and they usually set up a shaded pop-up at the end of their vehicle where we hang out to do weaving and other textiles crafts. I took advantage of our home “salon” and worked on a variety of projects.

I took some time to try and improve my fledgling skills at spinning from a distaff, which means tying the unspun wool to a stick and drawing from that source to make thread. I still find it awkward to control the distaff (stick) while trying to spin, so I set that aside after a couple of practice attempts. I had some “comfort spinning” with me when I felt like not thinking too hard anymore.

One friend came by each day to have her own relaxation time in our camp. Saturday she brought a few friends with her, and I held an impromptu “what is spinning?” demo. It wasn’t hands-on, but they seemed to really enjoy watching how spinning works, plus the nature of end-to-end plying (2-ply) as well as ply-on-the-fly three-ply technique on a spindle (the “black magic” of spinning and plying).

But the bulk of my time I spent working on my Andean Backstrap Weaving projects and skills. Last year at Ply Away 2, I measured out a warp “of four pairs” but never wove on it. Having finished my “three pairs” project in April this year, the “four pairs” project was the natural next one to learn to weave with. 

I’ve come up with a seating solution for modern conveniences plus proper weaving technique. The “handle” you see clamped on to this portable table is half of a “Better Loom” from The Loomy Bin. It’s designed to be the end closest to the weaver for a warp-weight card weaving setup. But it’s perfect to be the tie-down far end for my Andean weaving setup. The table is just right to keep my weaving sword beaters from dropping, or nearby when I set them down to change the shed while weaving. 

My view while I’m “tied” to my backstrap: I’m sitting in a folding chair, working on my folding table

I spent Friday speaking out loud, talking to my weaving, trying to ensure I knew what I was doing. I was still relying on the diagrams from my classes with Abby Franquemont (her website, her FB Page), but the intention was to understand what I was doing so that I could put the diagrams away and weave like “an intelligent teenager” raised in the weaving technique. We joked that I was an “audio book” that people just listened to in the background. By the end of the weekend, the most common phrase I would say was, “Is this what I want to weave? Yes, it is, so I will!” (I would check my pattern row by row, before committing the weft threads. This helped reduce the mistakes I had to unweave, and there were PLENTY of unwoven rows all weekend.)

Here are the key weaving designs I figured out over the three days.

this pattern is called “Mayo K’enko” – the start of one “cow eye” and a “meandering path”

my very first “kutij” pattern: the “double-ended hoe” farming implement

learning to reverse my “Kutij” pattern (the “double-ended hoe”) either left-facing or right-facing and in either color

this “Kutij” variation has a “double-column” in the handle of the hoe

By the end of the event, I finished my band and felt quite accomplished.

Sunday night, I was getting ready to head over to the enclosed structure we call the “closed ramada” to perform in the Bardic concerts. We’d sent a majority of the extra chairs from our camp down to the ramada, for the performers “backstage.” My friend was using his pickup truck to ferry equipment and performers so we didn’t all have to walk.

Here’s where the mishap happened.

I’m fairly short. Many trucks are not designed for people with short legs. They are most *definitely* not designed for short legs AND slippery-soled shoes.

As I was trying to climb into the cab, the foot I had on the running board slid out from under me. The leg that was in the air came crashing down on the shin and knee against the running board. Immediately, I returned to camp and sent everyone on ahead without me. My camp mates grabbed ice for my elevated leg. And when we needed a way to secure the ice against my leg, I was amused that I could grab my newly completed woven straps, which were hanging on my belt, and tie the ice to my leg.

This is why you weave “jákima” straps: Because you never know when you’ll need them!

My leg is merely bruised and technicolor, and I had a lovely night around the fire with friends as we made certain to ice 20-minutes-on, 20-minutes-off for a while.

The entire weekend was extremely relaxing, and it was nice to come home NOT so exhausted that I couldn’t function.

My Sweetie took many more photos, and I have a reminder on my calendar for tomorrow night to try and edit them into an album that can be shared. More images to come later.


You can see the full album of my Andean Backstrap weaving from Potrero 2018 here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/sYV7LP4UKPcLk8It2

New Site, New Job Hunt, Same Energy

I had hoped to “unveil” this new website in a different fashion, but I cannot really put it off any longer. For those of you who have been playing along over the years, you’ve seen me create a “regular” home journal over on JournalScape, linked to LiveJournal for those that had accounts there, create a Crafts journal, and most recently a Dance journal.

Now, for your convenience (and mine) I’ve collated, imported, edited, and fussed with all the various journals and moved all the archives over here: http://blog.cayswann.com

  • The old Journal archives can be found all under Writing
  • The Crafts journal entries can be found all under Crafts
  • The Dance journal entries can be found all under Dance

– – – –

Now, to the actual news and updates from life.

I took a risk last year in April, taking a four-month contract with the possibility that it might last longer. It did in fact last for ten-months. But Wednesday last week around 4 in the afternoon, HR informed me the contract would be closed after Friday. So with two days notice, I packed up my office, said goodbye to the fantastic friends I made on that assignment, and headed home.

I had a wonderful phone conversation Saturday with a friend who has a possible-job-lead for me… There were MANY fantastic pros for that job, but one really huge con. So I’m still weighing the issues.

Sunday, we took the time to appreciate the wonders of the beaches in our backyard. You can see the full set of photos and videos here, on Google+, or just enjoy this one minute video below.

Monday I managed to update my resume (again, grin) and then finish some web updates for another team of friends and write an article for an internet radio station, Krypton Radio.

Today has been all about submitting my resume everywhere. I also have plans to have lunch with a friend… of course, I found a job opening at his company, too, so that’s a nice convenience. Then it will be all about the weaving this evening, as I have two major projects with deadlines looming.

And with that, it’s time for a few pictures then back to the actual job hunt. I’m feeling very good about this.

Taking inventory of all the weaving threads in my stash. I found two colors were missing and several that needed to be added to the inventory lists.

Taking inventory of all the weaving threads in my stash. I found two colors were missing and several that needed to be added to the inventory lists.

We have achieved *pattern* in our weaving

We have achieved *pattern* in our weaving

Wrapping Up a Crafty Year

Wrapping Up a Crafty Year

I sat down to post a collection of images and thoughts but I found a draft post in my blog folder. So, a short digression first.

Some Small Project Details

I made a small purse with an across-the-shoulder strap, quite some time ago, that I wear every day at work to carry my iPod and a small wallet/coinpurse. It is the smallest module of “My Purse” when I just need to quickly go somewhere. It’s really more like a large wallet than a small purse. The lining finally wore out so I just ripped and cut it and threw it away.

But ever since I made the bag, the shoulder strap was braided from yarn that was too thin, so the strap always cut into my shoulder. And because it was too thin, it also wore out too quickly. The thin braid would snap, I would tie it back together, and the strap got shorter and shorter and shorter.

At my last week of work in the office, it snapped again and it was too short to wear comfortably “at my hip” (now realistically, it was riding almost at my elbow). I’d been meaning to rebraid some chunky (softer) yarns, but I’d been brainstorming about the main problem for some time: yarn wears out and the straps break. I purchased some coated wire that people use to hang frames on the wall, intending to run the wire down the center of a four-strand braid.

The whole purse First shot of the new strap, showing the steel core

The first picture I posted on twitter didn’t really show off the tricks of this fix, and I thought some of you might appreciate the details.

Close-up of the 4-strand spiral braided strap.
I also love the embroidery I did on the original purse.

A Look at the Past Year

As I flipped through the photos from 2012, I had to smile at all the things I’ve worked on this year.

I continued to make floral hair clips for the Dance Haflas.

Hafla Preparation in March 2012 Hafla in August 2012

Hafla in November 2012

I completed several floral commissions.

Commissions for a performer at Renn Faire Commission for a Set of Bridesmaids

I created business cards for my Store and my crafty items.

Large business cards Small business cards

I learned a new skill (inkle weaving)….

First two pieces, for me and my Sweetie

A new skill which sort of snowballed for a while…

 A few highlights from my weaving in October and November

And then started painting for the holidays….

Images from hand-painted stationery, gifts to family

All in all, I would call this a successful year.

I hope you all have a very successful 2013. Happy New Year’s!

Inkle, inkle, tabby-weave inkle!

I started weaving narrow-wares with Card-weaving. And my first addiction to card-weaving was the Rams’ Horn pattern. I could not get enough time on my loom… it made me SO happy. I finished several rams’ horn patterned pieces and even taught a 2-hour workshop on my weaving method (now affectionately called “Gypsy Eyeball”).

The beginning of my love form Rams’ Horn card-weaving

So my dear friend of mine has a trait similar to me: A love for sampling different craft skills, one after another. Not every craft we’ve put our hands to has become an addiction. As she was experimenting with inkle looms and weaving, a friend of hers saw her weaving, went to her father who built and sold inkle looms, and procured a loom as a gift. By this time, my friend had moved beyond weaving to some other craft skills, but of course, the loom was so beautiful, she happily accepted the gift. A very LARGE gift. A very large gift that sat gathering some measure of dust, waiting to be used.

Enter my social media interaction and our participation in a Fiber Arts community. We were both at the same retreat, and during the raffle I did *NOT* win the large floor inkle loom. My friend noticed my disappointment and knew immediately she’d been fostering that loom on my behalf. She explained to me that she wanted me to inherit the loom from her, and several months later when I hadn’t yet visited, she found the occasion to bring the loom to me. (Of course, I still owe her the social visit! Coffee! Chatting! Scritching the kitties!)

The first day I had the loom, I simply *HAD* to learn how to use it. I’d heard over the years that weaving simply Tabby-Weave bands and ribbons was MUCH easier and faster than card-weaving, but I’d never put my hand to it yet. I’d also heard that you could create “continuous heddles” rather than hand-cutting and tying each heddle individually. So I made up a system, warped up my loom with random embroidery floss skeins, and set to weaving.

     
First warp
— Achievement Unlocked! (10/7)
Second warp
— warped by sunset and firelight, woven in the dark by firelight, drums, music, and dancing (10/8)
Close-up second warp
— approximately three yards, woven in the dark (10/8)

Finished first two warps
— “Sunrise, Sunset” for me, “Midnight, Twilight” for Sweetie #weaving (10/11)

Having completely caught the bug for weaving on the inkle loom for fast, production weaving, two looms now live in my car and travel with me. The card-weaving project still lives on my front seat, but I can fit this new *gigantor* loom in my back seat, too. Anywhere I go, I can weave.

I’m preparing now for a post-Thanksgiving sales event, trying to weave as much product for my booth as possible. I’m also learning how to experiment with simple tabby patterns. I’m not completely secure in planning the patterns on the fly, but I’m getting better with each piece.

So, please enjoy the photos I’ve taken for the past week. I know I’m enjoying them.

   
— weaving, and I can see the end in sight.
#crafty (11/13)
— playing with crayons,
to plan for weaving ideas #crafty (11/14)
   
— arrive at work early, warp a loom on your trunk.
Everyone does this, right? #crafty (11/15)
— New warp is ready to weave
#crafty (11/15)

   
— Pattern emerges
#weaving (11/15)
— Warp, contrasted with
woven inkle. #weaving (11/16)

   
— Dude! I can make things!
From threads! #crafty #weaving (11/18)
— so, yes, I love weaving.
#crafty (11/18)

   
— warp colors picked by Sweetie,
pattern created by me
#crafty #weaving (11/18)
— the pattern I created is growing on me…
Not an instant hit.
But getting better. #weaving (11/18)

   
— definitely like this better than
when I first started. #weaving (11/18)
— About half done
#weaving (11/19)