Sunday, December 21, 2014

I Must Ask/Tell You...

Today is December 21. These are our pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas) trees. The right one appeared when we took out surrounding shrubs on Christmas Day 14 years ago; it was a nondescript 70cm stick but it looked alive and we recognized the leaf so we left it. The one/s on the left, which are in fact two to three meters taller, was/were purchased as 4cm/50-cent saplings from a dodgy-looking nursery in West Auckland in late 1995; they lived in various pots and a wine barrel until they reached two meters and had to be put into the ground. We cannot tell if one survived and the other died, or two are cohabiting nicely.

Some years these flower splendidly, some years not, and the last two years they couldn't be bothered flowering. When they do, though, they tend to have the best week in early to mid December. For whatever reason, this year they're going to put on a show between Christmas and New Year and I am intensely pleased. More flowers are opening every hour and I almost feel I need to shoot it every two hours.

The one on the right, and the shrub in front of the window, block our views to the west. I like the feel of living amongst trees, and the leaves block a considerable amount of road and airport noise, but Ben misses the view, and we do have quite an expansive view to the West, though increasingly industrial. This has been one of those "contentious" issues for a few years; a compromised, half-bottomed trimming may be in the plan.

Now I must ask you: would you like another Weaver to Weaver, albeit later than usual? If so, I'm thinking sign up by January 4, 2015, notification of swap partners by January 6, and posting of inspiration by January 31. I figured it's not exactly a bad time to put aside some inspirations this time of year. 

Also, A Day in the Life Of Looms, Loomsday as Cally coined it will take place on January 1, 2015. Except you have to take the pics on January 1, so nothing to prepare here.  

Today we've been wondering whether to go to berry picking today, (Sunday=crowded,) or tomorrow, (Monday=less crowded but possibly depleted). While sun, beach and berries sound nice, this time of year I sure miss Minneapolis. And even Tokyo's intensely-junk-merchandized, gross-over-commercialization of the season.

Friday, December 19, 2014

To Rethread or Not to Rethread

Today was Ben's last day at work for the year. I had thought the school closed early this year, requiring everybody to take 2.5 days of leave next week to have two whole weeks off, (which I thought wasn't a bad idea,) but it turns out Ben took however many days of business left. He doesn't remember when the place closes; you could say the two of us have been in holiday mode since his two-week leave in November.

Today I finished the dark peach piece I showed you yesterday. There was something funny going on at the back of the loom so I unwound and rewound the warp and measured it; it turns out I can get two more. I've been contemplating resleying because 15 EPI is so so so sparse, but if I'm going to resley, I wondered if I should rethread as well. Unable to decide, I stared at the warp from different angles for 40 minutes before deciding I couldn't decide, though I did select two weft candidates. Before the end of the year I hope to weave these two and the last of the was-ruana warp at the very least, and fringe and wash everything. 

So why do I keep weaving on the four-shaft when I'm not crazy about weaving even the stash reduction projects on four shafts? For one, I have to be very careful about putting cashmere warps on the big loom as that loom is hard on these delicate yarns. For another, I know that even with the simpler designs, my combination of yarns yield wonderful texture and hand; in fact, sometimes the hand is nicer when woven in simpler twills, for example, than in the fussy ones I like. I'm also trying to correct my erratic beating and it's easy on a foot loom where I can go back in treadling instantly. On my big loom, I have to get off the bench or scoot over to the right, stop and reverse the treadling on the computer, scoot back to the middle, unpick, re-scoot, stop and re-reverse the treadling in the forward direction, re-scoot-back, then weave forward. But most urgently, try as I may I haven't been able to make a draft I like for the Christmassy warp. Yeah, that last one has really got "my knickers in a twist!" (Mama, knickers are underpants.)

I did make one this morning that I do like; I think I will weave this sometime.

And a picture of Terri and me towards the bottom about a month ago

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Slowly but Gradually...

You saw the top one last week. I put the second of three warps intended for Dad's ruana, again in a blind undulating twill. The top warp was meant for the center so it had blue bouclé evenly across the warp alternating with Mom's handspun; the other two, however, have a plain two-poly merino alternating with the handspun towards the sides of the garment, so I added some blue variegated bouclé to make the texture more even. Mom's handspun has small amount of oranges and yellows so I wanted these to show up and chose a dusty orange bouclé for the weft, but it didn't lift the orange in the warp so well. I wish I knew where this yarn came from because it has smaller loops and is an extremely delicate, soft yarn.  
For the last piece, I measured a bunch of ends in orange/yellow/pale blue variegated bouclé to supplement so this will be a colorful piece.
I wasn't sure what I wanted to use in the weft until I found some scrumptious handspun by Mom seen at the bottom; I don't have enough for a complete piece, I don't think, but I have plenty more of the handspun used in the warp so there are options.
While I make up my mind, I thought to weave some cashmere, so I put on the navy blue warp enough for three small scarves, another rescue warp. Again, I made up the twill as I threaded. In this I used a thicker dark purple weft that looks somewhere between black and navy depending on the light.
In the second piece I'm using a pink, (actually a very dark peach,) cashmere/silk mix, so there is the sheen contrast. Yum.

I'm weaving the cashmere at 15EPI, very loose, and trying to discipline my beating but it's not going so well; the pieces are so netty and delicate I'm constantly treadling back to correct beats.Hard to imagine some years ago I had such a difficult time feeling OK about asymmetrical threading; for now I can't imagine threading symmetrically.

I also went around the house looking for stray warp chains; I had one more than I imagined, though I can't remember which one it was, but I'm missing an attractive-sounding one that was on my list, a walnut-dyed with-scale merino. I have to dive into the big wool box one of these days. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Lied

I finished the blue piece today, and the next, similar warp has been wound. It's a 4-shaft 2/2 undulating twill, but I can't show you the draft because I made up the threading as I threaded. It has scrumptious merino bouclé and Mom's handspun single alternately in the warp, and possum/merino/silk in the weft. It's a meaty piece, and I wove it well. 

I'm glad I'm making progress with my stash-and-ready-made-warp busting, but I'm bored with what are coming off my loom; I feel I need to add a new look/style. I haven't found a direction yet, so I'm still just gazing.

I was supposed to go to a lecture tonight on how mathematics manifests in artwork. I had hoped it would show me a few interesting directions. But I've been a little tired after we went from near-winter temperatures to near-mid-summer high in about a week, so I was thrilled I was able to give my seat to a university Math student; the event was free, but the seats were limited and the lecture had "sold out".

Weeds are growing back with gusto, but today we had our first real rain for three-quarters of the day. It smelt, felt, and sounded lovely.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

And Once Again

Done. This is the lamented cashmere warp that could not withstand the vigor of the big loom.
And a new warp is on; this is one of the three I prepared intending to weave a blue ruana for Dad way back; I have three warp chains about the length of a long piece.They should make scrumptious meaty pieces in twills and good wool.

Yesterday I counted something like 21 warp chains made in the last forever on my list; soon I need to go around the house, gather them, and check against my list. The annoying things is, I only make notes on scrap paper when I make warps; some are missing and I need to count the number of ends on some chains. I'll assign one of my notebooks for keeping warp records, at least with the number of ends and the intended EPI. And the length.  

Today would have been a great day to garden; overcast, coolish, not a lot of wind. But I had to two good reasons shy I didn't.

First thing this morning Ben found a weka pulling out lettuces from the veg patch; when I went outside s/he was still at it, unafraid, ignoring me, way past her/his nocturnal life's bedtime. As with any unplanned encounters with animals, I was a little afraid and mightily annoyed, but most of all I felt this was our punishment for bad gardening. Even though we are now conditioned to be delighted encountering native birds. S/He was about the size of a cat. Now I'm a little afraid to go outside.  

The other good reason was Maclean came for tea and cake and we talked and talked and talked. It's been awhile since I last spoke to a practitioner of another discipline, (she and her husband being trained photographers,) who has also lived in Kyoto for a year some time ago. She's in Nelson only for another six weeks or so, but I hope we have time for another girl time.

And Maclean said wekas are nice visitors in the garden; she can have ours.  

There won't be another "done" picture for a while. I need to make up some drafts next.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Done. Sorry for the blur, but so far this picture conveys the mood of the color combo the best, but the brown is still not right.
Next warp is wound, but I'm yet to make up a couple of drafts. I made this warp way back in October and the color is more accurate in the October picture. I wanted to weave something with the skinny gray warp, but not to pleat, but I figured I can make two quick and fun pieces before I hunker down to tackle yet another new yarn in the warp. Besides, I needed a little cheer in the color after the brown. However, I have been lining up and editing these cones to make an autumnal series since October also.
The colors are inaccurate: from the left it's black, two naturals. two pale browns, (the cone in the back is what I used in the warp in the latest project,) and the two oranges are dirtier, more autumnal, in real life.
And don't you hate it when you come up with a good idea after you've finished a project?

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Weaver is Weaving

But not well.

Yesterday during our weekly Skype, Mom asked what I'm weaving now; I said Ben was home for two weeks and we gardened; Mom pointed out he'd been back at work for four days; touché, I was avoiding the itchy brown warp.

Mind you, I tidied the house on Monday and saw the osteopath in the afternoon; I was sick Tuesday with what felt like another 24-hour flu, then I cooked a lot Wednesday and Thursday: humus, jams, kombucha, bread, and dinner. But no, I hadn't been weaving, nor weeding. So I did today.

I modified the draft and rethreaded the sides and resleyed at 18 EPI.
This is the draft I started weaving. 40cm in, I thought since the piece doesn't have to pleat, I should have created a draft without such pronounced warp/weft-dominance, to dilute the scratchiness with the lovely merino weft. 
About 80cm in, I remembered I had thought of it and had intended to weave this draft, with slightly less warp/weft-dominance. I think the treadling in the first daft and tie-up of the second would have been nice.
Too late, I've woven sightly over a meter; this piece is going to be a tad short of two meters, and it's a short warp. I like the color combination, very "wearable", but it's early summer here and the piece looks a little, ummm, un-uplifting. I can't seem to get the colors right in photographs; perhaps after it's washed, I can try by the front door in the morning. They are nice colors, I promise.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

End of Ben's Holiday

Garden Blitz Day 13, Thursday, although I dithered in the morning, I worked for five hours, the last two in the glaring sun, and made a compromised finish on the veg patch; at one point the gales started suddenly as if someone turned a switch on and I couldn't sift the soil so I picked out the biggest clover bulbs only, but a bag or three of local school's fund-raising compost hide a multitude of sins. The problem is, the way I covered everything, new clover babies will surface in a day or two and it will be a continuous battle.

GBD14 & 15, Friday & Saturday: Friday morning was alright, overcast and quiet, but I was totally exhausted and dithered. Then came the rain, wind, bluster, gust and gale, so I slept a lot. I was exhausted. GBD 16, today, started very early with strong wind again and freak rain.I did housework inside. And this is the end of Ben's Garden Blitz holiday; not so blitzy and nothing done inside the house, but still he probably did more garden work this week than in the last two or three years added. 
Not bad, though, for two bags of garlic I thought were compost; the top right quadrant where I put the least hopeful cloves is really thriving. In the gaps are also purple basil, rocket and three types of marigold seeds. I love rocket leaves but for a couple of years we didn't plant them because there were problems with large white butterflies and they love nasturtiums and rockets. I asked the Dept of Conservation staff who makes regular visits when I could plant rockets, and they said I could as long as I checked the leaves regularly.

In the foreground, we had our last harvest of winter broad beans this week and they came out and I put in purple dwarf beans. Beyond the veg patch is the small dianthus patch, and  beyond, in the left, are branches Ben pruned; we didn't used to be able to see the fence.

The ivy area needs at least another whole day, this veg side at least two, plus getting a garden skip and getting rid of the ivy and other weeds we can't compost. The pruned branches are already too dry to put through the mulcher, but if I were to put a positive spin on the wind, they are so dry we can walk over them to break them up soonish.

In an ideal world, I'd live an urban apartment with a roof terrace for pots of plants and floor sturdy and insulated for large looms. My second choice is a flat place with a woodland garden, without power lines and boundaries to worry us. I love trees, and trees left to grow in directions and styles they wish. But we live in the suburbs with power lines overhead, our house smack in the middle of the section, with a right-of-way, a driveway to the house next door, taking up a chunk and cutting off another chunk on the other side in a weird way, (though this is not atypical around here,) on a steep slope.

We have six small sub-areas and a patio as our garden, rather than a nice big chunk. So against my desire, although we don't do it nearly as often as a more conscientious resident might, we have to prune/shape our trees to keep them tidy and not encroach/violate/endanger. For tall trees and near power lines we need professionals, but I do like us doing as much as we can so the trees are shaped in ways we like.

To be continued. As long as we live here, I suppose. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Another Non-Day

Garden Blitz Day 12. I woke up at dawn thinking it was raining heavily, then went back to sleep without checking. Then about 7, I got up to the usual roaring wind. Even if it had rained, all traces were gone. We checked our emails, ate a good breakfast, checked Facebook repeatedly and read while stupidly expecting the wind to subside. At 1.30PM we finally decided to reconvene between 4 and 5PM to see if we can go outside; at this time of the year it's light enough to garden until around 7.30PM or even later on a fine day; even later further into summer. 

The wind blew and blew and at nearly 9AM it's still going. The evening news said Nelson is having a record dry November and is in drought condition. It's official.

In the afternoon I had intended to rethread and weave, but instead made rice flour, (time-consuming but doable), tapioca flour, (don't bother,) resuscitated the sourdough, made bread, (in the oven now,) made coffee kombucha, and read more about kombucha in general. And watched as much news I could find on Ferguson.

I still have to go water the seedlings, in pots and in the ground, later; evening watering usually happens around 10.30PM in the summer. 

"Didn't garden" posts are lame enough, no picture is terrible, so here are a couple.
Left: a few dianthus flowers I broke while weeding their patch and filling in the gaps with seedlings.
Right: one-quarter of the sweet potato from dinner last night. I put in a dozen viola seeds in this tiny clay pot yonks ago and kept it in the kitchen, and half a dozen packets outside. Nada; haven't seen any of them. So I stuck the "live" part of the sweet potato on the soil; it might need better soil to root, but for now it's a cute decoration. 
Casualties of pruning. I tried cropping this picture in different ways but they are all our babies, I couldn't cut anyone out.

I've been thinking of healthy eating, again. Ben doesn't touch my no-refined-sugar jam, or yogurt, and though disappointing because mine have no additives, I like them and I'll keep making them, just not on regular basis. My jam is nice, if I say so myself, but I eat it too often; I usually eat bread with nothing on it so albeit nutritious, it's extra fructose so maybe occasionally. Ben won't go near my kombucha which suits me; I love it and may need another big jar, though from what I read it's better to let it ferment longer to boost nutrition. The first two brews I left for seven days, and a few days of second ferment, so it's a sweet sparkly drink I'm enjoying, not as vinegary which is better. 

But we have not been too keen on my gluten-free or very-little-gluten breads. Rice flour sourdough is harder to understand and sometimes I feed it wheat flour to give it some energy. I know gluten-free breads are as different from wheat flour breads as soy milk is to cow's, and so far I've produced perhaps one or two nice loaves. It's hard to know when they're baked as they don't give that hollow sound when tapped. Today I included pulverized tapioca for the first time so there may be hope but I think I'll keep the sourdough going until I try proper tapioca flour. Then I might give up.

Ever since I stopped making wheat flour bread, though he eats some commercial bread and we eat pasta and couscous, (occasionally but far less often,) Ben seems to have slimmed down a little without changing anything else. It appeared I was going in the same direction for a while, and certainly experience far fewer indigestion, but with the jam and sweet kombucha, I feel bloated more often now. Darn.

I must keep reading and experimenting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day 11 of 16

I had such high hopes for today, Garden Blitz Day 11; it started overcast and cool with precipitation expected in the evening, just our kind of gardening day. I expected I could get the veg patch done and Ben could weed most of the next patch, then we could prune tomorrow, and that's the end of this section which is the easiest part.

Alas, it started raining before lunch. We kept going awhile but it got heavier so Ben went inside for a shower; we were going to the hardware store, again, and the much-needed grocery shopping. By the time Ben came out of the shower the rain stopped, and it was like that for the rest of the day. We ran errands, we had to because we were digging into the last of frozen veg with only onions and garlic left of the stuff. But we forgot milk.

Today I put in three hours before the errand, three on errands, then two more in the garden, but managed only a third of the veg patch; I'm putting the empty part of the veg patch soil through a sieve, (remember my clover problem?)  and that is taking a long time, not the sieving part, but picking out the tiny bulbs and returning the very fine bark pieces back into the soil part.


Ben's home for five more days. At this rate, we would be lucky if we can get these two top parts of the garden done. Forget getting rid of the massive amount of garden waste we can't compost, (weed bulbs, vines, we need a garden skip,) forget the garage, forget any inside job. Just those two little bits. It would have been nice to have one whole day off, perhaps a late lunch and then the cinema, but we had a leisurely first week and this week have been working leisurely, and now we have momentum so we hope to keep this up. 

Weather permitting.
Which is very strange because the view in front of our house and behind us looked like this, actually a little darker, but we didn't get rain while Ben was cooking dinner; steamed green-lipped mussels. It felt silly, but I watered the one tomato, three basil and three lemongrass seedlings before I came in.

We also ran into Ali and John in the garden section of the hardware store; they split their time between Nelson and Germany living perpetually in warm part weather; it dawned on me tonight we could swap places so I could chase the cold weather. If only I liked smaller looms! Ali said she cannot leave comment here, so at least it's not just me. Nor her. I can't figure this out. Can you?