That’s what this year was supposed to be about, for me and in some ways it was, but not in the way I’d intended. I was meant to continue my weaving education. I was meant to start teaching. I was meant to either work out how to fix my back or how to be retired.

Instead, Covid scuttled my teaching plans and the 8-shaft certificate course was put off until next year – and now it may be put off until mid 2021 if we don’t get more students signing up. My back is worse and I’m even more at a loss as to how to exist sans work or a clear objective.

To be honest, I’m a bit depressed.

I’m sure it’s just temporary. I’m only a bit depressed, and I always get a little down at this time of year. Most of the prospects that usually buoy me – end of year gatherings and things to look forward to in the next year – aren’t happening or might still be cancelled, but I’ll just have to find or organise replacements.

What should I consider doing? Hmm, maybe I should also consider what I shouldn’t be doing.

My back is worse, which may be natural degeneration or not being able to go to pilates classes. I’m doing exercises at home, but they’re clearly not as effective. I need to find a replacement, and I’m considering the one-on-one pilates sessions at my local physio.

I feel like I didn’t ‘people’ very well this year. That may not be true – or maybe it just seems that way because so many interactions were online – but the feeling makes me want to avoid non-friends and Zoom for a while. So if I come up with a challenge or project, it should be one I do on my own.

However, support from friends has been good this year, especially in lockdown, and now restrictions are mostly over I know hanging with them, in small groups, will improve my mood greatly.

The next thing is hard to put in words. I need to temper my obsessive nature. To let go of these notions of being useful or helpful, or making a mark, or saving weaving knowledge or learning for the sake of learning. Of having a Plan. Of being Creative or an Artist or anything, really.

I need to sit still and let things be. I’ve spent so many years with my mind in made up places that to navigate reality 24/7 is strange and taxing. I tend to bury myself in obsessions as a form of looking away, and that isn’t good for my mental health or body. And this year has been unusually emotionally exhausting.

Not that I don’t want to be creative or stop learning. But I must to try to have more control of the former and accept I have little control in the latter. To cruise rather than constantly speed and crash. To trust that the current will take me around obstacles, and learn to swim across rather than against it.

And avoid dangerous waters in the first place.


The pandemic and sprained thumb scuttled my plans for the year, but they also gave me time to think. And doubt. And lose momentum. And lose enthusiasm. And find clarity. And be honest with myself.

By the time it occurred to me that ongoing de Quervains might make repairing looms and doing the loom stocktake at the Guild impossible, I wasn’t as bothered as I thought I would be. As far as I know, only two or three people are aware and appreciative of the work I’ve been doing for the Guild, and I’ve never been bothered by that. But when, early in the year, the role became offical… or not… things got kinda weird.

Was it me? Perhaps the vibe was my imagination and things would have sorted themselves out given the chance. Perhaps my instinct was right and the lockdown was a blessing. I guess I’ll never know. My thumb sprain made it all a moot point anyway. I’m chalking it up as a learning experience – trying something a little out of my comfort zone and confirming that it wasn’t for me.

But that got me wondering about teaching. It, too, is out of my comfort zone. Yet I’ve done it before and enjoyed it, and had great feedback, so I think it’s worth doing again. If I’m giving away time and energy, I need to be sure it’s both wanted, and nobody is going to sign up for a class they don’t want to do!

I’m trying to keep that in mind as I consider the future, and if I still intend to make teaching a regular thing. I’m reminding myself that there’s no hurry. I still have a lot to learn, and I’m having plenty of fun doing that. There’s no deadline. I have plenty of time to work this out.


Post lockdown blues. Re-entry anxiety. I think, perhaps, that I have both. There’s such a buzz about going back to ‘normal’, but normal is, well, normal. Nothing that exciting when it comes down to it. Just normal with added ongoing anxiety.

The anticlimax of that realisation comes with a nagging feeling that maybe my normal is lacking. Hmm, I might be onto something there.

When I consider what I missed most during lockdown, it’s going out for fun: seeing friends and family, visiting museums and galleries, and going second-hand and vintage shopping. Socialising is now possible, but it has an element of anxiety. Mingling with strangers in a museum or gallery, after seeing how selfish and idiotic some can be, would not be anxiety-free. Shopping, too. And I look around the house and think, “We really don’t need more stuff!”.

I got to wondering if there’s something else to go out for. Something I can enjoy with Paul or a friend, but doesn’t put us among crowds. Something to acquire or collect that doesn’t take up much or any space. I thought about photography. Or sketching.

Then I did something I’ve been intending to do for a while now: joined an artist association. Their website suggests they’ve been quite active in lockdown with challenges and Zoom sessions. Unfortunately I’ve missed the last challenge for the year, but there is an online exhibition coming up.

If you want strangers to stay away from you the last thing you should do is paint in public, but there are ways to get out and work undisturbed, like painting in the car or at friend’s houses. Maybe they will have more suggestions. There’s no harm in trying, right?

Washerwoman’s Sprain

That’s what I have. Otherwise known as ‘de Quervain’s tenosynovitis’. Back at the beginning of April I felt something in my left wrist go ‘twang’ when trying to lift the end of a redwood sleeper. It really hurt… then it didn’t. After a few weeks my thumb and wrist began to hurt a little and feel stiff, then I began to notice that an hour of reading on my iPhone made them increasingly sore. Remembering the sleeper incident, and with lockdown eased, I decided to see my physio.

The weeks later things were no better. If anything, they seemed to get worse in the last fortnight, and I began to drop things. So yesterday I had a scan and was relieved to find I hadn’t torn a ligament, it was the sheath around the ligament that was inflamed.

Next week I’ll be seeing a hand therapist, who’ll set out a treatment plan. Most likely it’ll involve rest, maybe a splint, and perhaps a cortisone injection.

Fortunately, we only have two samplers left to do for the certificate course, and both will be done on the same warp. I’ve already wound mine, and am hoping to get it onto the loom while I still have two working, albeit one painful, hands. Because I’m fairly confident that I can weave one-handed, but can’t imagine threading heddles would be easy.

What else I can do mono-handed will remain to be seen.

Pause, then Go!

When I started the weaving course I was worried that I wouldn’t have the energy or focus to last the year. Instead I found a deep hunger for learning. I was energised. I couldn’t wait for the next class. Covid could have ruined everything, but lessons continued in Zoom and that’s had some real benefits.

But outside of the class, I’ve been feeling more and more restless. Having to isolate means abandoning plans to teach rigid heddle weaving. Other activities halted and spraining my thumb has limited what I can do even more. Time seemed to be slowing down even as it felt like the weeks were slipping away.

I am clearly not ready to sit and watch the world go by. I need to set my mind to something. I’ve considered making online video tutorials, or vari dent weaving projects for magazines or a book. The trouble is, I need the expertise of other people for the first, and do a lot of computer work for the second. Now is not the time for either.

Then it occurred to me that I had an opportunity, now, to make this part of my life all about learning. The perfect excuse. As if I needed one, but it’s amazing how indulgent it feels to spend time and money educating yourself.

But I stumbled at the question of ‘how?’. I’ve looked for online weaving classes, but most are beginner level and I’ve already learned the intermediate subjects available. I can go back to teaching myself from books, of course, but acquiring them is proving a challenge. A few that I would love to have are suddenly not available in Australia and are VERY expensive to ship from overseas (and aren’t available as ebooks). The second hand markets in Australia – via eBay, Gumtree and bookstores – appear to have dried up. I have managed to track down a few in overseas stores, and I have two orders making their way here. (One, I learned later, is from a store that has some disturbingly bad reviews but it’s too late now!)

The next question was ‘what?’. Weaving is so broad and diverse that studying it all at once would be impractical, and I prefer to focus on learning one subject at a time anyway. That realisation took the decision out of my hands. Studying a different subject to what I’m learning in classes isn’t ideal, so why not go deeper into the subjects we’re learning?

That’s why I wove samples of doubleweave that were beyond what the class instructions directed us to. And it worked. I was completely absorbed in sampling weaves I’d never tried before and writing up notes for a couple of weeks. So much so that by the end of it I needed a day to just sit and read and let my brain recover a bit.

In a couple of weeks I’ll have a new subject to get my mental teeth into. In the meantime, I’m back at the Lotas. The silk I ordered arrived so I was able to start the fabric for the second top. But more on that later…

Kay and the Universe

Instagram just reminded me that it is a year since Kay died. I’ve never been good at remembering dates, but I knew it was some time in May. I recall having one of the worse bad back days ever, spending the morning semi-conscious in bed waiting for the pain killers to kick in, slowly composing an email to my agent saying I wasn’t sure I’d be able to continue writing as a career, then when I finally managed to get up and download my emails the news arrived.

I recall being seized, afterwards, by the conviction that maybe it was time to head toward being a teacher of weaving instead of a student.

So I signed up for a year long 4-shaft weaving course intending to power on through the 8-shaft one next and get ‘qualified’, such as it is. I got more involved in the guild. I spent months preparing for a rigid heddle workshop for summer school that I hoped I could repeat again throughout this year. I started looking for university textile courses.

And the Covid19 happened.

If I was the sort of person who believed such things, I’d say the universe was steering me away from that grand plan. But then, if I was the sort of person who believed such things, I’d have said Kay’s death and my back issues steered me toward it. Which all confirms to me that the idea that the universe is pushing me anywhere is bullshit. After all, if the universe wanted me to teach weaving it would have ensured Kay hadn’t died so I’d have the chance to absorb all the knowledge she was so enthusiastically and generously sharing.

So what do I want me to do?

Learn – doing the 4-shaft course has reminded me how much fun it is to simply LEARN. It’s been a long time since I felt that.

Teach – I enjoyed the workshop. I enjoy teaching friends. I caught some of Kay’s concern that knowledge was being lost and I want to help preserve it.

Do – I still want to make things. My back issued mean I can’t do it as much as I’d like, and learning and teaching were supposed to fill those gaps.

Adaption and flexibility is how people are surviving these times. So maybe I need to look for different ways to do the above. Go back to teaching myself once the 4 and 8 shaft courses are done. Find ways to teach in person safely, or online. Varying the kinds of making I’m doing to gain more overall output.

When I read through Kay’s blog a year ago, I admired how she had adapted to change. That makes me feel like maybe I can as well. Maybe that’s a lesson she can still teach me, a year since her passing. You just have to find a way.

Forward, Backward

I have a bad habit of trying to predict the future. Bad, because it can make me anxious and depressed despite the fact that, when it comes to the present and past, I’m more of a glass half full kind of person. I suppose that’s because the past and present can’t change, but the future can so there’s potential for disaster.

There have been a lot of posts on Facebook and Instagram predicting wonderful effects from Covid19 and isolation lockdowns, but I am skeptical. The post-Covid consequences could be bad as well as good. So here are some predictions:

Some people will value their relationships more, some relationships will end.

Some people will continue avoiding hugging and kissing, some will resent it if those close to them don’t.

There’ll be a doubling down on the activities that were restricted, good and bad, once lockdown ends. Gambling, drinking, parties, shopping, eating out, etc. will be indulged in as if to make up for lost time.

Op shops and landfill will be overwhelmed as a result of people cleaning out their shed, wardrobe, whatever, while in iso. Feeling virtuous, those people will go out and buy more stuff.

Helping the economy will be used as an excuse for a whole lot of decisions at both the personal and political levels. Some of those decisions will be bad.

Covid won’t be a big leveller in society, and in fact will only make things worse in places afflicted by poverty and inequality. But it may unite some who did not receive support during the lockdown, like casual workers.

The excess of oil will be used to make more crappy polyester clothes and plastic stuff. The incentive to develop technology to turn plastic back into oil for power will dry up.

It won’t take very long for air and water to become polluted again. People will wonder how the opportunity to fix these things was lost, not realising that they only happened because people were forced to do nothing, not that they were forced to do something. Doing nothing doesn’t lead to lasting change.

Stupid people will continue being stupid. Some dangerously so.

But more people will continue to be kind, having experienced the benefits. Community spirit will have taken root in new places, and grown in others.

Some people will discover that growing your own food is harder than they realised, but some will find they have a new passion. With health benefits.

Ditto for cooking.

There’ll be a boom in fad diets to deal with iso kilos. Maybe even a new “Iso Diet” being flogged by some celebrity or influencer.

People will realise that being fit and cooking healthy meals takes up lot of time. Time that many don’t have. Some will continue exercising and eating well, some won’t and have more sympathy for others who don’t have the time.

Most people will return to working in offices. Many of those people will have realised that working from home doesn’t work for them. Some will realise that it does, and alter their career path to suit.

Ditto for kids and schools.

Video conferencing and online learning will experience a dive in popularity once it’s no longer the only link between people, but will have a significant boost overall because people have realised it’s not as hard as it seemed and has significant benefits – in particular being cheaper and faster than travelling in person.

A billionty plague diaries will have been written, but only a tiny percentage will be even vaguely interesting to read as we all experienced this in an unextraordinary way compared to everyone else – but that won’t matter really, because the main benefit was to the writer.

There will be virus spikes and mini shutdowns and hopefully it’ll evolve into just another flu strain that will ‘only’ kill thousands each year. We’ll look back and recount what we were doing when during the Covid19 shutdown, and sigh at a new generation that doesn’t appreciate how how lucky they are to have old folk around telling their stories yet again.


I have a book coming out in a month or so, and it’s like contemplating a latter half of life significant birthday – should be exciting, was exciting in the past, but now it makes me feel tired and old and the whole thing seems unimportant compared to everything else going on in the world.

Nevertheless, my publisher wants me to promote it, and that’ll most likely be via video content. They suggested I do a reading. Readings are my least favourite activity, so I suggested a Zoom interview instead.

Isn’t Zoom just great? In the last week and a half I’ve taken part in four Zoom meetings: two social gatherings and two classes. I’ve also introduced Dad to Facetime, which he may be liking just a bit too much. Nah, not really. It’s nice to see him and Mum. And their cat. Funny how all these video links end with cats.

I’m sleeping better. This might have something to do with the repaired gas connection under the floor right beneath our bed. No nasty smells in the middle of the night. We went to turn on the heater and it kept spluttering. I remembered smelling gas near the hatch to underneath the house. Opened it. Out came a big gust of gas smell. Called the plumber. Turns out the pipe to the heater was rather incompetently connected to the main gas line. So bad you could hear the hiss.

Unfortunately, fixing the leak didn’t fix the heater, so the heating installers are coming out to fix the heater later this week. I will be presenting them with the repair bill… after they fix the heater. (Get this: the receptionist said it would take a week and a half before anyone could come out because ‘everyone went to turn their heater on the first time lasts weekend’. So a common problem then? Hmm.)

On the same day, our travel agent let us know that the airline we were supposed to fly to Poland with decided that the flights could be moved to within a year of the booking date, not the departure dates. So we won’t be able to use them to go to the same event next year (assuming the virus is under control by then). They also said if we cancelled we ‘might’ get our money back but it will take three months (and is rumoured to take twelve). So we’re gambling on the cancellation ‘option’, since the latest we could fly elsewhere is January, everywhere in the northern hemisphere will be in winter, and there’s nowhere in the southern hemisphere we want to go that would be anywhere near the same flight value (assuming any destination would be open for visitors by January anyway). I’m hoping to at least get the convention’s money back to them. We may have to write off the rest as a lesson to never buy tickets from THAT airline ever again.

We had wine that day, putting aside our no-alcohol-on-weekdays rule.

Instead of cabin fever I seem to be going into hibernation mode. I don’t want to go out at all. Not even to shop for essentials. Not even to get the molar that’s doesn’t like me biting down on it checked out. Not even to get the flu shot. I really ought to get that flu shot. Maybe tomorrow.

In crafty news, I advertised the Osborne loom on the guild’s Weaving Matters group email list last week, and immediately had two interested potential buyers. The most promising one decided it wasn’t the loom for her – I’ve been there and completely understand. The other needs to sell her current loom first, and hasn’t replied to my email letting her know it was still available. I ought to advertise on the 4 shaft weaving course list next, but my determination to sell it has weakened. There are some aspects of that loom that I really like. The castle shelf. The ease of removing the front beam. The brake that doesn’t slip and maintains really tight tension. If I changed the pedals and lamms to be like those on the Lotas loom, I’d be tempted to keep it.

I’ve told myself I have to weave a rug on the Lotas loom before I make any decisions. I just need to finish the shadow weave jacket. And cut up the rest of the flannelette scraps into strips. And the rug warp still has to arrive from Glenora Weaving & Wool. I’m also reminding myself of what I could do in the space the Osborne is taking up. Maybe set up an easel and paint. Maybe do some machine knitting.

For that to happen, some weaving needs to be done, so I’d better stop rambling and go pick up some shuttles.


Every day, at the moment, is an exercise in gratitude. I’m an introvert, so I’ve always felt immensely lucky that my career and interests allow me to work from home. So staying at home is what I do most of the time anyway.

My income comes from books, which accessible both electronically and via online shopping. The cancelled publicity trip may mean less books are sold that would have been otherwise, but my income won’t be too badly affected. And people may even buy more books than usual, too.

Australia has a good health care system. I’m not in the most at-risk demographic, though my parents definitely are. I’m currently reasonably healthy… well, apart from some bad sinusitis and asthma lately – so I’m reasonably confident that I would be okay if we caught the virus. Same for Paul.

And yet, I am exhausted.

Sleep is either elusive or doesn’t refresh. I worry about family, friends, acquaintances, local business people, the disadvantaged, the disabled, this country, other countries, people in general, and, ultimately, the planet.

A friend reposted an article on Facebook (so, of course, I can’t find it now) about why people who suddenly have lots of time to be creative are finding they lack drive or focus or energy. The reason, if I interpreted it right, was that people are in survival mode. The brain is alert and watchful, and has turned auto-pilot turned off. Everything requires concentration and attention, like getting into a car and needing to think about every step of driving.

It seemed like a good explanation of where my brain is at. The article recommended being kind to yourself and doing simple and repetitive tasks for now. Well, I had already decided to haul a giant bag of flannelette scraps I bought at a destash into the kitchen and start sorting them, and I realised this was the perfect task to tackle.

The scraps were all in bundles.

First I untied them and sorted the scraps into piles based on size. I needed long pieces to weave into rag rugs. The small pieces could be turned into a rya rug, but I’m hesitating to do another as it was a very slow process. The middle size is the ‘maybe’ one and the long pieces should be fine for rag weaving. A sewing friend dropped by with two handmade face masks for me, so I showed her what I was doing and she said she could use the small scraps to make pet beds, so they won’t go to waste.

I sorted the longer pieces into colour families and/or possible combinations for rugs. The bag in front is a normal sized striped bag, and is full to the top of the small scraps.

And now I’ve started cutting the scraps into strips.

All this seems to be having the desired effect, as I’m a bit more relaxed and slept a little better the last two nights. It’s certainly easier on my back than all the gardening I’ve been doing! I feel like I’m getting something done, but it’s not mentally taxing. And I always enjoy designing with colour.

I hope you are all well and coping in this extraordinary moment in history. We are, essentially, in the midst of a global natural disaster, but we are an intelligent species (though it might not seem so sometimes!) and we will not just survive, but hopefully outwit it in the long run.

Certainty of Uncertainty

I was supposed to be going overseas in a few months, on a work trip. It’s all cancelled now thanks to Covid19, which is disappointing but also a relief. Fortunately I should be able to move our flights to get us to and from the same event next year. If not that, then maybe I’ll actually get a holiday out of it. Eventually.

In other news… Recently I agreed to take over the loom caretaker role at the guild. I was doing most of the job already – mending looms and helping with the weaving tools stocktake – so the additional responsibilities are to initiate both, be the point of contact and keep records.

Every time I’ve helped out with the stocktake lots of problems were discussed and solutions thought of but, even with four or five people helping out over two to three hours, we barely got the main tasks done. That’s because so much of what we do at the stocktake is not stocktaking, like loom fixing and assembly, and putting together tool kit bags for each loom.

Because I was going overseas shortly after the stocktake I decided to tackle as much of that work as possible beforehand, but came up against a few road blocks. Now that the trip is cancelled I can take my time. There are looms available for the next class, and plenty spare. And I just heard that interest group meetings are cancelled, so I wonder if classes will be too.

Paul and I are fortunate in that my income doesn’t rely on me leaving the house. The overseas appearance cancellation will affect my income, but not in a big way. I feel for people with jobs that don’t have sick leave, and small businesses that can’t afford to stop for a few weeks.

The other way I feel fortunate is this: as a creative person who likes to read, the prospect of being stuck at home doesn’t feel like a trial, but an opportunity. There’s craft and gardening and some DIY around the house. And tasks I never seem to get around to, like spring cleaning. And a few creative pursuits, like temari balls and welding, that I’ve fancied trying for a while and we have all the tools and materials for. However, I will have to be careful to not trigger my back issues by not being active enough.

What I’m most worried about is my elderly parents catching the virus. They are frail and in the demographic in most danger from it. I’m not sure if it’s better or worse that they still live at home, and aren’t in a nursing home.

All we can do is sit tight, wait and see, and hope for the best.