Sunday, March 29, 2015

Expensive Mistakes

I haven't woven for nearly three weeks, which is bad, and I hadn't felt like fringing, which is worse. Last night, realizing I only had a couple of days to the end of the month, (remember I was going to fringe/finish all 16 before April?) I fringed five cashmere pieces and today I washed them.
The purple, second from the left, and the achromatic both have a rather glaring treadling mistake each, but the latter has a bigger problem; the gray parts where the twill goes in the opposite direction bulge out. Now that I see the white weft is silk/cashmere but the gray is 100%; I have no idea what I was thinking, but while I wove I was confident it would work well because I had checked all cash grays. I feel all five have one kind of a problem or another, so they might have to spend some time under the couch. I'm feeling sorry for myself, disappointed, while I continue to fringe. Such expensive mistakes.

While avoiding fringing, I've been in the garden longer. Which doesn't mean our place is looking better; we now have neglected areas, and "tampered" areas where the more I weed, the more vigorously they come back, (convolvulus grow right under the heavy mulching and show up somewhere vulnerable two and three meters away,) and big black trash bags of weeded weeds posturing as art installation. I don't know where I'm going with our garden, I've kinda lost the plot, but I can't stop now so I keep going.
I'm frustrated how tired I get after only four hours outside when, for several years this side of 2000, I spent at least a month gardening "full time" in the winter with only muscle aches first couple of days. Alright, that was more than a decade ago, but now it's not just muscles but joints and tendons requiring medical advice. The latest is my overuse of Japanese secateurs, (size small) for not just the herbaceous and small branches but, ahem, small trees and biggish branches. Gardening also overstimulates and causes sleep problems and some days my whole body feels broken, but the mind is well.

Mom's coming in late April out of the blue, and an Internet friend Mana is coming the following week. You'd think I'd be going crazy at the thought of preparing the garden and the house for visitors, but I'm finally passed it; there is limited time/energy and with this old body, "my best" is all I can commit to. Which sounds like a good lesson in aging. Ben's taking time off after Easter. Instead of another staycation full of good intentions to garden/clean, we might shoot down to Christchurch for a look see. Perhaps.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Last Little While

I had gotten into a nice routine of weeding for 2-5 hours, 2-5 mornings a week, then weaving for 2-4 hours most afternoons. I finished the fine merino warp after 7PM Monday night, (I got four pieces,) then I broke my routine and didn't wind the next warp right away, primarily because it was dinner time but also because I wasn't sure if I wanted to work on a commission piece next or another wool warp, and because it's about time I started fringing and finishing. (The pile is now 16 high.) I thought not having another warp on the loom would encourage me. And then there is that still-unfaded warp.


Tuesday afternoon I sat on the couch, dazed. The state to Wednesday so I ironed Ben's shirts with lots of breaks in the morning. After a very late lunch I still couldn't get my motor going so I wound another warp; it's a black merino warp I overdyed with walnut shells. It was lovely to have a few productive couple of hours in the end. I don't know what I'll weave, as even my notes had a big bold ? and that warp end number was wrong, but it's the familiar 110/2 and at least I know it goes in at 18EPI.

I've been enjoying getting sidetracked with the commission piece. I already made a warp, goodness me a while back, but I recently saw this picture (Pic #25; easiest to click on any pic, then select from the bottom filmstrip), (a good blog to expose myself to painters I know but never really looked into,) and was drawn by Munch's use of violet. I like purples, but not really violets (so far), and was intrigued how violet can be the shadow in combination with yellows, yellow-greens and pale blues, but it can be the light in combination with purples, darker blues and greens. I haven't progressed beyond that observation, and I don't have the exact violet Munch liked, but I've got to be able to work with these.
I can't decide if I want to go dark, or light, or maybe even both in one piece.

* * * * *

We've been eating well this season. We ate a lot of veggies and fruits, less protein but more in the morning, and my breads have become tastier and steady. Until today.

Dianne and hubby Pete came over this morning, and I made a fruity loaf/cake that worked the last two weeks, (in fact two of the best,) but today's was a flop; burned at the top and soggy in the middle. And Pete made the coffee.

It was wonderful to see Dianne again. We met at Randy Darwall's workshop in October 2006 and hadn't seen each other since, though we follow each other's blogs and kept in touch. And we seem to have similar tastes in books and magazines, which extends to weaving. We promised not to leave it another eight years before we were in the same room again.
She gave me this echo-weave towel, in which I keep seeing purple that doesn't exist. (In real life it's slightly less blue, and has lighter olive green bits, so more varied in value, but this was the best pic of several versions. If you tilt the screen up a little, you may get a better view.) I also like the Mucha-like frame around the central design; she said she made a big banner based on this. And it's the most luxurious-feeling towel.  

And Dianne reckons my basement studio is smaller than it appears on the blog, so you have been told. I never thought of this, but it could be the amount of wool stash moved downstairs. And she was too polite to mention my garden is as bad as, or worse than, I say it is here. LOL.  

* * * * *

Because I've been enjoying weaving and weeding, I don't go into town much, but we saw this film, and I recommend it to all makers. There's a lot about time (which good making requires,) and "the business" of making beautiful things, and loss of skills.

We were serenaded by a bagpipe band staying somewhere near me for a day and two nights but not today, because the Championship is in town. I'm sorely tempted to run into town today but I think I'll start fringing. I have a goal of finishing, tagging and labeling these 16 pieces by the end of the month. 

Garden is bad, but life is good. I feel self-contained enjoying weaving and weeding, though both the garden and the stash are endless. Re. the garden I think what I'm doing right now is still more emergency measures and not long-term, and I still fail to see "tidying" the garden as an ongoing thing. I stopped referring to the German-speaking Jewish writer from Prague because it's too real and not funny any more. But I'm not disheartened yet.

* * * * *

EDIT: I met Dianne around 8 years and six months minus a fortnight ago; I last saw her five days later. Some people don't age in 8 and a half years, and it's not me. I'm envious.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March, Tomorrow?

You know what that means; I resume gardening. In smal doses. Except I'm doing better this year; in January I put in nearly 12 hours, in February, six and a half. Time spent means nothing in this place, but it's still encouraging. I'm trying to normalize gardening in my life, not seeing it as part of cleaning but trying it out as a creative activity. At least therapeutic. OK, just trying, but more on that another day.

Weaving is going well I didn't force myself to do anything else in February except tax work. I cooked a lot, ironed tons of Ben's shirt one day, but otherwise I wove. And made drafts. And on good days I could weave much longer than I have been able to for a long while. I haven't touched the fringe/hem pile, but that's OK, too. I've not done a lot else this month that I can remember. Oh, except this month turned out unexpectedly social with mostly out of town visitors: Gerdi and Mike, (I met Gerdi in Kaz's class in August, but were they here in January?) Des and Edvaldo who installed African masks for the Suter's temporary premise's first exhibition; the Woods; JB and Ali; and still possibly Susan, whom I also met at Kaz's. I also had a powwow with Andrea discussing pieces I hope to weave this year. Goodness me, that's a lot of socializing for the basement hermit weaver all of a sudden.

I continue to read about van Gogh; I've finally started a small book of selected letters, which is more interesting than I imagined, but he's still in Amsterdam; it's going to get religious. Eventually I'd like to get to the lot, but for now this small paperback is a good intro. I've also had to recycle one envelope yesterday so I collaged on one side and though this was a quick emergency measure, I was reminded how easy and immediate my kind of collage is.
Tomorrow we either weed/trim/clean/spray the approach to out house, or I finish weaving #3 and start #2.

I started this post, then watched a film, and now the making part is playing. And it's March already.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

3 Before 2 but After 1

This piece is really white and I keep thinking of names associated with weddings and christenings. It's weaving super fast but the right selvedge is not very good.

Monday, February 23, 2015


And this is why I don't even try to estimate weft amount; I thought I had 90-120cm, and I got 201cm.  I could have done another pattern unit, (1.5cm,) but I wanted to save the weft in case I come across something similar.

There was something right about me weaving this piece; it's in the style I like to weave. It was surprisingly easy and fast, but I'm not sure if I have needles skinny enough to mend, and I can't see the mistakes. This piece is going to be great photographing, if I can capture the sheen.

#2 I have the weft but don't like the draft; #3 I have the draft am not 100% sure about the weft, (D in the sample two posts back,) so tomorrow may be Fringe Day 1, or weeding day.

When not under tension the warp bunches pucker but I think it goes away in the washing; at least it did in the sampling without pressing. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Searching for the New 0,0

I felt restless when I finished this, noticing the kind of cloth I want to weave started shifting. Then the internal debate subsided while working on this because I had to adapt/modify so much. Then I started this and the disquiet returned.

A while ago I followed a link on Facebook and came across a UK weaver whose work I liked very much; her name was so easy to remember I didn't save the link. Doh! It was a she, her name may have been something like Angela Simpson, but I can't find her. Within my limited knowledge and dodgy recollection, her work was something like Marbo Selby's in Ptolemy Mann colors. I think the article (?) was about interior fabric. Her work appeared fresher, more modern and geometric than my favorite old, upholstery-style fabric.

Around the same time, and belatedly, I discovered searching for weaving images works better on Pinterest than Google. I see a lot of familiar pictures there, (your pieces!) along with work by weavers I'd not heard before, among them Juania Girardin and Loominarias.

Because my interest in textile since childhood has been first and foremost the pattern/motif, more is always better and I still suffer from bad shaft envy. But I'm also pragmatic and since I've seen that I'll probably never get more than the current 16, (for which, make no mistake, I'm very grateful,) I've been looking for ways to make my cloth more interesting on 16. Good thing, then, the cloth I liked on Pinterest were often combinations of simple but different structures/patterns, in many colors, in different proportions.

Even if I can't add shafts, I've hardly tried "all" the threading yet, and then there's tie-up and treadling. Then there's Inge Dam's inclusion of card weaving; pickup and other hand-manipulated techniques; something I found on Facebook and lost the link to but can remember, a combination of pickup and treadling to create pictures on double weave. And add texture and colors and I think there's enough material for the next 10, 30, 50 years.  But I'll probably always be afflicted with bad shaft envy. 

Which makes me look at my stash reduction process in a different way. Although I would like it done relatively quickly, (1137 days left,) instead of quick and dirty projects, I should see each as experimentation to build on to get to the next milestone. Or yardstone.

I still prefer to make flat cloths, though, so that's that in case you were wondering.

It's Complicated

The warp is 72/2 NZ merino in the most luxurious mid-gray in my long career as gray-yarn collector, slightly sticky, but soft. Mill end, I have a few more cones of the gray and several of indigo, but that's it. I kept it at 48EPI; on the loom the reed marks, or "bunches" are uncomfortably evident, but it washes out depending on the weft size.
I had culled weft candidates to nine silks; first above is C, the second will be B. A creates a grownup autumnal look but the silk is too dense and obliterates the characteristics of merio; D is roughly the same size but less dense. I have warp for three piece so I suspect it will be A or D.
The current weft is the brashest white-silver I have ever seen short of synthetics/metallics but it shimmers in this context. I have one small skein, from Mom's stash, and am keeping my fingers and toes crossed I have enough for a descent-length piece. The second piece will have a single, hand-dyed in pomegranate; it's been washed too vigorously the skeins are matted/felted but it is full of old-fashioned charm. (I am going to have to learn the silk jargon finally.)

The current piece is a milestone; I have wanted to weave something like this since the first day I wound wefts on a stick shuttle, but it took time collecting the right yarns, practice my techniques, draw up a suitable draft, and, well, getting around to it. It will be light-weight, almost translucent, soft but not airy like cashmere; this piece will drape. The weaving is going well, with nice selvedges. I know it will be a lovely piece, and I'm pleased I'm finally weaving this piece, although in retrospect I could have woven it some years ago, and it would have been even nicer had I stuck to my initial plan and made it twice as wide. No matter, I have checked a big item on my weaving To Do list. And I may try again if I can get suitable yarns again, perhaps silk both ways. And yet...

Don't get me wrong, part of me is ecstatic it's worked just as I imagined, it's just the kind of cloth I love, and I've finally done it. But there is a "but"; I have noticed a change in my taste of late and I find this draft too regular and boring; that was my first reaction when I wove the first inch. My ideal cloth has moved a few steps away from me, although I don't know what it looks like. I just know I have to do a bit of innovative thinking and rigorous experimentation.

Which is why weaving is so addictive.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Big Smile

It's a lovely day when a weaver can do weaverly things; today I threaded half of the next project.
I'm sleying at 48EPI to begin with, which is much too sparse, but I have several different weft candidates and wanted to start around there. Plus, once sleyed, I find it easier to increased the EPI than decrease it.   
I want to try the draft on the left to start with.

And I made another batch of pasta sauce, but I forgot one of the most crucial of ingredients: basil. My bad. I think I'll add dried in this one.

Monday, February 16, 2015

(Insert_Witty_Title) / W2W15 Loot Part 2

At around 3.30 today, I finished this round of my tax returns. Which should make me happy, at least relieved, but not this year. It took me six halfhearted days; even when I had less of a system and moped, dithered and complained months beforehand, the longest I spent was three or four days. What's worse is it's not going to be any easier without a better scheme, and I've got nothing other than working incrementally. Yikes.

And spend as little business-related money as possible, or not claim everything. Anyway, on to prettier things.
I just opened my W2W15 envelope from Donni and I was floored! The first thing I noticed was a card with paint strokes of beautiful colors; then a postcard of her town Woolongong, (I always loved saying that name out loud,) with her house marked with an "X"; a small sketchbook, a small painting of what I'm calling "pebbles" in pink, orange, browns, gold and white, (not a combination I would think of but works well because of the different sizes of the pebbles,) and her business card. 

But wait, there were four small bags, each containing a photograph and yarns/a woven sample in the color schemes of the photos. (Donni, are you sure you don't want to keep the woven sample??) At first glance I was intrigued by the colors, (and proportion?) she selected to represent each photo. For whatever reason, availability, purpose/end piece, time, she selected specific hues/values and proportion to send me. 

When I have a visual clue like a photo, I concentrate on my favorite hues and become tempted to use proportionately more of those; I don't worry about values at this point, and I aim for varied/unequal proportions. 

I'm intrigued. I want to observe these images and yarns/woven sample and contemplate different color choices/decisions. Thank you, Donni.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hari Kuyoh

I noticed Day in the Life of Looms being interpreted as occasions to "show what's on the loom". While I don't mind different/personal takes, and though I never explained it here, I thought you might be interested in why I came up with the idea on New Year's Eve 2009. This may also explain why my photos are more about the looms than the projects.

In Japan, we have traditions, in various areas of life and in different trades, to thank our tools, and they differ from region to region. From what I picked up in the fog of my youth from older women from different parts of the country, and thought silly and superstitious then, is we put to rest broken tools with thanks, (some we burn at shrines/temples, some we bury, and some we release in rivers,) or express unequivocal appreciation to each tool. Which may or may not coincide with its annual maintenance. Every new kitted sawing box comes with a broken needle case.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if similar traditions exist(ed) in other places, but the only occasions that comes close that I know of are the blessing of the fishing fleets, or bringing back the palms before Easter.

So here's a Wiki link to "Hari Kuyoh"; "hari" being needle/s; the word "kuyoh" has no equivalent in English, but the closest concept would be a memorial service. This is the most common thanking-of-tools, and as a kid I thought of this as a mothers' and grandmothers' mini celebration. But I can imagine professional menfolk in Western-style and Kimono tailoring do similar.

And to this end, we've been doing a better job on April Spools Day. Yeah?