Thursday, January 18, 2018

Food

If you recall, we had some changes in the way we deal with Ben's diabetes a year ago and "went off" carbohydrate. We did super well last summer, Ben's exercises included, and though we cheated sometimes, on the whole we did alright, maintaining our reduced weight, aiming for further reduction, and Ben's blood sugar level in the awesome-to-acceptable range, until November when we went South. We stayed in places with a kitchen if we could and bought veg, (mostly leaves-in-bags plus tomatoes,) and frequented Asian restaurants and ordered dishes without rice when we were good, but we weren't always good.

After we came home there were the holiday baking and good chocolates, accompanied by uplifitng socializing, but the sweets turned out to be easier to get off after the holidays; what's been harder have been crackers, (to go with cheeses and lovely bottled chutneys and relishes,) and seasonal fruits, (first stone fruits, my favorite, and then berries, something of Nelson's speciality.) I've kept up with sauerkraut and pickles, both making and eating, but it's been hard getting back on the "cheat occasionally" schedule. Or, the more we sin, the harder to feel guilty. My weight has fluctuated. Ben's old shoulder injury has worsened and he's had weekly dates with a lovely physio, making it hard for me to nag about getting on the machine.

Although we love cookbooks, (I read some cover to cover - they are the best winter bedtime reading,) neither of us follow recipes; mostly we learn about ingredients and flavour combinations from books and TV shows. Though we, I, have too many of them, last year we bought two which discuss more how to live/eat rather than list recipes.
Nicola Galloway's "Homegrown Kitchen" came out at long last around my birthday last year. Nicola is a Nelson chef/author; I first met her in 2007 when she ran supermarket tours for gym members to teach us how to read labels and what to pay attention to. I was flabbergasted by this young woman's scientific knowledge of nutrition and started to take her workshops in 2012, primarily for sourdough then, but I became fascinated by her wholistic approach to eating. Every few years I go back because she is constantly studying and experimenting, and her recipes are updated and often simplified.

I enjoyed my sourdough period, but I am now into simple preserving, (no sugar jam, for e.g.) and  lacto-fermentation. In class, she drops gems of knowledge as easily as she breathes, and this beautiful book summarizes her approach, which is a joy to emulate even only in parts. Some of her recipes are so simple and yet astonishingly delicious; some take a long time, (sauerkraut, e.g.) and may appear labour-intensive, in that you can't get home from work and whip it up in 15 minutes, but you can make enough to last several weeks/months, and the effort is worth it. It's that kind of a cookbook. She does food photos herself, and it's from a Nelson publisher, which is important in a small town.

Try her blog here.

I saw "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" by Samin Nosrat at Volume just before Christmas, in the short time it took Ben to park the car, and we agreed it was just our kind of cookbook. Samin is a young American chef of Persian extraction. I've only got started, as a) you must put the book down and try as instructed, but also, because b) there is an exhausting amount of name-dropping, and c) so far precious little, (i.e. none,) of her wonderful food heritage. (We know a tiny bit about Persian cooking as one of the first people we met in Nelson is a mind-blowing Persian cook.) But the science sounds sound (!) and the illustration lovely, and it's improved the flavours of our meals exponentially.

Japanese diet is loaded with salt, (soy sauce, miso, pickles, and the list goes on,) so we are taught early on to watch our intake. I even went through a couple of decades of not cooking with any salt/soy sauce, opting to use them only at the table, but this started to change after coming to New Zealand and our meat intake increased. I read the salt part a couple of times and over Ben's holiday we had a protein blast, me salting meats/fish 15 minutes - 2 days ahead and Ben cooking/roasting in the barbie in the mornings, (as the afternoons/evenings were too hot to cook,) followed by three or four days of not having to cook and still eating well. And now we know how this works; well, Ben knows, and I know what to do, which is how nutrition works at chez B&M. I am repeatedly surprised how little salt is needed, and how it enhances not only the protein's flavour but also that of other seasoning, of which we also need less. 

Although I got started on the second, fat, section, I might move onto the acids; it sounds less dangerous after salt. Mom loves vinegars and in Japan we use them a lot, (as part of the umami, if you've heard of that late 20th Century buzzword;) and Ben and I put it in, (while cooking,) or splash it on, (afterwards,) practically everything. The book has recipes at the back, and we might skim through it, but again, this is a leaning-how-to-do-our-own-thing book. And did I mention the illustration is lovely? The edition I got at Volume has all temperatures/measurements in metric, except what is described in the illustrations.

And now to our little gems, hardly "recipes" but things quick and delicious: first is Ben's Asian dressing/marinade/seasoning. Mix equal parts:
  • sesame seed oil, (the fragrant kind, which is most products, but we once had a non-Asian organic product with only a faint scent;)
  • Japanese soy sauce, (the country of origin doesn't matter, but we have come across other Asian products which were thicker;) 
  • vinegar with weak/no scent, (we use rice vinegar); 
  • water
in a jar/bottle and shake well. If you don't use all up, the oil floats to the top and gets used faster so add more later. It's good for simple green leaves, tomatoes and raw/soaked onions, seaweed salads, and steamed beans; it's good for marinating or seasoning meats; but my favorite is seasoning mashed potatoes with regular spuds; cook potatoes; when mashing, add no butter nor milk, but this sauce and some water; taste. We tend to add more vinegar, but up to you.

Ben says when marinating chicken, adding maple syrup is good, too.

Here's mine: umeboshi seasoning. Umeboshi is salted sour plums, which come in different sizes and colors, (red, brown, yellow,) and different softness and sourness. For straight eating, the small, hard-fleshed ones are not as salty but fruity IMHO, but the softest, mushiest flesh is what I like for seasoning. Remove the pit/stone and chop or pound the flesh to make a rough paste. This need not be smooth or even. (I found some at a Nelson organic store labeled "Umeboshi paste", but haven't tried yet; you may be able to buy them already in paste state.)

The paste has a salty, sour flavour and you could season soups; I like to season chicken or pork. If you want to make rice balls, mix a small amount with rice while still steaming hot until the rice is pinkish; taste. Prepare a large bowl with slightly salted water; dip your hands into the bowl, take a small amount of seasoned rice and make tight, small balls. Dip your hands again in salt water and repeat. Serve rice balls warm or cold.

Here's my favorite, seasoned sweet mashed potatoes: I cut up sweet potatoes, (orange kumura is best, regular potatoes are OK, too,) into small chunks and either steam or nuke with a small amount of water; (if nuking, I error on the side of a bit too much water; cook at half power for 2-3 minutes; turn the pieces; repeat until the chunks are cooked evenly; discard some of the water if there's too much.) Start mashing, but about halfway, mix the paste so it mixes with the potatoes evenly. When nuked, kumura hardens a little as it cools, so I make it mushier if I have more than enough for one meal. A big kumura makes two or three meals' worth. How much paste depends on your umeboshi, your potato, and your preference, so taste while you mash/mix, but the flavour becomes a little less intense as it cools.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Rain, Sun, Rain, Sun, Messy House and Terrible Garden

I've finished the second piece on the cashmere warp, (no pic as I started the next one immediately,) but I'm not crazy about it at the moment; let's agree to suspend judgement until I finish the third, last piece and can have a better look at both. With no plans/intentions, the first one worked surprisingly well; this is what makes the second one... ick. I haven't woven on the big loom.
I've done more abstracts, moving into curvy lines. I've been interested in creating movement through color placement and/or shape sizes. This pic is strange because I started with the bottom right square on the right page and moved up, so the big two-parter was finished last.

I made Mom draw, even though she tried to sabotage by saying she's not "the drawing kind"; "let's talk about weaving," she said, so we did, which took two minutes. I spent three hours prepping that morning, so I wasn't going to let her off easily. Mom was surprisingly good at it; I'm not sure if she managed to never look at her paper, (I had to learn to draw blind because it felt physically unnatural at first,) but we did a bunch of blind contours from extremely short to 90 and 120 seconds using dad's photos, (turned sideways and upside down,) and each other's face on the screen. We both tried really hard to draw slowly but we do tend to cruise along. We talked about seeing/imagining rather than aiming for realistic/traditional drawings, and how our drawings were not ends but merely means. And experimenting. I know she even enjoyed it as I managed to keep her on Skype for 90 minutes.
I didn't screen-capture what she did, but I also showed her how I put down colors and find faces, like I do on postcards. Next week colors with watercolor pencils.
In two days, I managed to work on four LJs to forward. This is from today; I arranged a vegetable forest on the spread, shot it, then glued the veggies looking at the screen, and later drew Little Red Riding Hood and a wolf. Today's LJ work took up the whole day, which is why I didn't get to the loom.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Moving On

I can't remember at what stage my loom was at when I last posted, except that it wasn't going mere hours after Ben fixed it. I had to take a break from worrying as I was overwhelmed by questions and advices, while wondering if I was going to face an existential crisis as a weaver. (I wasn't there.) Fear no more, Ben fixed it again this morning, and though I dreaded to try it for most of the day, I managed to weave in the end.
But before this, I sampled and didn't like the threading on the left end, so I edited it twice. The end result looks way too symmetrical for a piece I threaded spontaneously; (it's not symmetrical); maybe I need to plan spontaneity on paper, although I might try this again. It's a little thrilling.
During the week, I painted Santas; 3D coloring, and I can't stay inside the lines. All that remain to paint are the beards and hairs, then let dry and spray a clear coat. I'm going to leave their faces as they are. These guys are taking far more time than I expected but they have been such good company. I also wove 35cm on the clasped weft piece; doodled more abstracts; started knitting another beanie; mended a few things; and set out to make Ben's Tardis PJ bottom.
Instead, I practiced sewing by making two bags, (3D modelling!); I actually made one; wasn't too impressed; made another; really liked it; took the first one apart and reworked it. Again, I'm making these up as I go, and I could make life easier for myself if I followed instructions or at least planned ahead, but we'll see how I get on. These aren't big; I randomly bought four 20cm zippers so you get the idea. 25cm zippers looked so long in the stores but 30cm or even longer may be more practical for bags to use in sorting things inside suitcases. My sewing skills, however, has, oh, so much room for improvement.

I am ready to get back in to Letter Journals, and about time, too. I probably broke all kinds of rules not working on them promptly, but I was LJed out before I went to Japan; I did work on two while there, and carried several around the South Island, but more than that I hate to work half-heartedly. So I piled them up on the coffee table and felt guilty every evening. I don't expect to participate as robustly as I did last year but want to stay in. But first, I need to clear the bottle neck right here. 

* * * * *

You know we had drought conditions earlier in spite of rain forecast time and time again; I quickly got used to saving water at least for our pots and was amazed appalled how much water we waste during the course of a normal day.  And that's not even saving laundry or bath water. We bought a big bucket and I save the upstairs shower water before it's warm enough to stand under; that alone is enough to water the pots every two or three days. Then suddenly we've had quite heavy rain for days and now I don't know what to do with my dish water, let alone the clean shower water! Oh, dear.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Omen

Not a food post.

Yesterday was Ben's first day back to work and I wanted to start my work year on a high note. I rethreaded roughly one-fifth of the left end of the brown warp, thought the hand-spun is the right choice for this piece, and powered up the... the... nope, the computer couldn't be turned on. I had Ben take a look in the evening and long-story-short we shall be replacing the computer, (and with it possibly the monitor.)

Sure, I'm disappointed, because behind all these troubles is the foreboding there may will come a day I won't be able to get this 16-shaft going, and would that mean the end to my weaving as I think it; but for now, phew, all these repairs have been super cheap because we're in need of really old parts; if we can find them, they don't cost much.

Today, more clasped wefts.
I started painting some of my santas with aforementioned test posts. I was taken aback most of the colors are so bright these fellows look a lot more chipper and... younger than I had expected, but that's OK, they're going  to have to sit among plants, bought and otherwise, so I'll be able to see them better this way.
I also worked on my annual project, which is going smoothly. So far I've stuck to the small size and ink pens, as I've become interested in shapes created by random lines traversing from one edge of the rectangle to another. These go faster and more mindlessly than the faces, although I keep thinking they look like quilts.

Mom's been looking for ways to spruce up her creative process and her teaching; over the years I've given her gazillion advices in words and material but I don't think she'd looked into any seriously, which frustrated me to no end. Last week during our weekly Skype, when Mom finally started taking notes, (really, pencil on paper!) Ben suggested we do it together over Skype, and we did.

Yesterday Mom collaged for the first time ever, as far as she can remember, and for someone who tires easily, she did super well working for 90 minutes. I'm very proud of her. At the start she had a lot of newbie questions, (even though we had discussed we're doing this to forfeit controls/plans, we're letting the collage itself take its own course, etc,) but after a while she started concentrating on the doing, and the few times I asked how she was going, she gave me various iterations of, "just doing as I'm told." LOL. I got that she got it, though, when she quickly remarked how collage would be good in therapy.
This is her first ever collage, which looks good considering her table was smaller than her base paper. Because her base was big she quickly started to obsess about hiding all the base, although I said once or twice she didn't have to hide them all, I tried as hard as I can not to tell her stuff. Later we compared how the white triangle in lower center-left was more annoying than upper-left. She also agreed it was more fun working big than trying to fit things conveniently. Phew.

We discussed various options/directions she could build this up. She didn't say enjoyed this experience, but I suspect she enjoyed tearing paper with her hands, and she was pretty quick to place images in different directions. She also saw me working standing up and turning my paper in all orientations while I worked. Mama is such a doer, not a thinker, and I should have started working together on skype long time ago!
This is mine. I can't decide which way I like better; I was very pleased when Mom asked to see a simpler example not only up and down but also sideways, in both orientation. Because I am naturally a control freak, I enjoy switching to don't-think-just-do mode. We discussed how this can happen, (gazillion collages?) but mixing natural progression with some intention/control is not bad/wrong, as long as we don't let the intention/control take over until (much) later. She also said she got the wrong material to collage, and this is a complaint I used to make early on, but I'm in two minds about it now. I think I have more of a good day vs bad. What say you??

But observe how she used red vs me, orange; family resemblance, much?

Next week we're going to do some quick/blind drawings. The reason why I'm pretty sure she enjoyed yesterday is because when I said we'll be drawing next wee, she didn't kick up a fuss. I think she is starting to understand what I call, "irresponsible" making; fingers crossed.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Back in Action, Sort Of

Ben woke up Saturday with a feeling my card might have arrived early, (and to send a couple of parcels for me, though I could have waited until tomorrow,) so he went to the PO, and there it was. He went straight to the loom, and long story short, (it took a few hours,) replacing the card alone didn't fix the problem but he found a way around it. I heard this strange noise from the basement while I cooked, and bless him, the loom was back in action. I rushed downstairs and sampled, hoping I might even get most of this piece, (this is a short warp,) finished. But it didn't go that way. 
The red merino, 17/2-ish, 100%, is a leftover from ages ago and I have perhaps this much left so it wasn't a candidate but a color experiment; but this has the best texture and I could use a different color, (I have black, possibly undyed, and a weird/difficult variegated in dark green, depressing orange, and brown.) The next brown weft is a 26/2 100% cashmere; I tried this because it's a strange reddish brown that doesn't go with anything else I own, a rescue from Mama's stash, and I thought per chance it might work here. In fact, the color does; you know those balls of chocolate with soft bits inside, with outside coated in cocoa powder? You might have even had some seasonal variation covered in powdered sugar or crushed candy cane recently? And the cashmere shines beautifully under fluorescent light, but read on. The white is the undyed merino single, handspun my moi; I wanted to see how the design looks when woven with an uneven-width weft.

The threading looks, for something I made up as I went, alarmingly symmetrical and I'm still contemplating editing. The warp is an Australia merino, very fine, originally gray dyed with Blenheim walnut husks and no mordant. The texture proved to be the biggest problem.

The commercial 17/2-ish merino in the weft has the most familiar cushiony feel; this yarn is always a winner. My handspun single creates an uneven feel, in place cushier, but in place, stringier, just as I expected but this is the first time I experimented with a handspun single. I'm glad I guessed right but now have a sample. After a day of touching and feeling, it's become fairly fuzzy and I don't know what the long-term use will do. I'm not a serious spinner so while I think it makes an interesting piece, I hesitate to weave this to sell. But the big surprise was the cashmere: the cashmere is airy and soft, of course, which makes the warp feel coarse, in parts particularly bad but overall uncomfortable in comparison. Made into a piece, it's not going to be a concern, but when one has a sample with a better option, one does want to make the best possible piece, every time, doesn't one? Strange and totally unexpected result!

So instead of happily weaving all day, I carried the sample around all day not knowing which way to go. 
The main culprit, an old ISA 8-bit multi-IO card, if that means anything to you; I always thought these look like tiny dioramas of industrial complexes.
Few friends have commented on the Suter Shop of late; I've been thinking about it and my options since the middle of last year. While the Suter still has a lot of local art and hasn't gone the way some other NZ gallery shops have, (more souvenirs and junk than art,) as a maker the shop has changed completely: the paperwork, to me, are incomprehensible; all works are merchandises to them; and there is no discourse on, well, anything.

At the same time, when you get to talking with people who operate arty shops around New Zealand, one is taken somewhat seriously as a maker when one's outlet includes, (or in my case, the only place is,) the Suter. (The above pic was after I sorted and folded my stuff. You can see my tag had fallen off; I found it stuck on the shelf to the left, but it's not a good look. I must peel off the white tack next time.) 

When we went after Christmas, there were eight on the shelf, but nine on the last stock list I received. The missing piece was the second of the Gray lot, one of the two pieces I ever really liked in my years of weaving, and I'd been thinking of withdrawing and keeping it for myself or putting it on the online store. When I first took them to the Suter, to Andrea at the temporary shop, we discussed how delicate and catching they were, so I put them in cellophane bags with the proviso she and staff could take them out any time someone was interested. Two sold to one person that way.

After the permanent Suter reopened and the new manager arrived, the piece was never displayed and when I inquired, she said she preferred it out of the bag. To be sure, the new manager is a lovely smiley person, but her, and the gallery's, focus is completely different from Andrea's, (who had the knack of making many of us feel any one of us was her one favorite maker.) When I went back last week to enquire, the manager said she couldn't find the gray piece, and could I wait a few days to check the inventory list on the computer; I had to put my foot down and ask her to check right away, mentioning it was the delicate piece, so she relented, and it turned out the piece was sold.

Still. It's not a situation that instills confidence, is it? I'm preaching to the choir, I know, and she/they have their reasons, but no more super fine pieces there, at least for a while. (Which is not a big problem because some of mine look delicate but are robust.)

I want to post about food but that'll be another day. Tomorrow Mom and I are going to collage together over Skype.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Yikes

I haven't done this in a while, but today turned out to be a two-post day.

I went downstairs and threaded the last 100 ends, like I said I would, sleyed at 24EPI on a 6DPI reed, and put weights on groups of 24 ends at the front of the reed. Usually I lift shafts at this point at this point to separate the ends, even out the tension, and to see if any have crossed behind the reed, before I bunch them and lash on to the cloth beam. (And already I was thinking about the next post, telling you how much I love to weave twill on my big loom.)

I turned the air compressor, the black box, the monitor and the desktop, (remember those?) and waited, and the computer asked for a Windows disk, so I restarted the computer, twice, and arrived at the usual Windows screen, went into the conversion program, and nothing lifted! 

If you've been around Unravelling long enough, you know that my 16-shaft is a NZ (Thorp) countermarche, retrofitted by the loom maker Mr Thorp to computer-controlled 16, but I use an additional conversion software written by one Mr Graham, son of a Blenheim weaver, which can translate any wif to shaft movement, to be fed into to Mr Thorp's black box. So although somewhere in the hard drive I have the program Mr Thorp wrote, into which the weaver has to manually input every move, I've never used it.

I am not the original owner of the loom/setup, don't know if I'm the second, but there are a few folks in New Zealand that has this, at least as was converted by Mr Thorp. And because both the hardware and software are old, (ancient,) and because I don't have the bits to revert this to countermarche, I've always been terrified of parts wearing out and new ones being unavailable, both software and hardware. On the other hand, the more I used the loom the fewer problem it presented, and the last heartstopping moment occurred more than seven years ago so I could not imagine today would be D Day.

So I called the resident IT department/gadget man, and he started sighing really loudly instead of giving me instants solution like he usually does.

This is my understanding: the black box requires two printer ports, ergo an old desktop with Windows 98 or older; we need pure DOS, which is what we have. Today the desktop did not recognize the second printer port nor the CD ROM, so Ben stuck a portable reader for the second problem, (handy he has these at home,) and came up with a couple of possible scenarios: 1) the printer port card died; 2) the lithium battery on the motherboard died; 3) or something else more dire and costly, which is when I stopped seriously listening to him.

He's ordered the printer port card, which is due Jan 10. If that fails, we'll get a new-to-us old computer. He's mentioned a new black box, although that's hardly something one can get at the neighbourhood hardware store. If that fails, he's saying a purpose-built computer-controlled loom may be cheaper and easier than trying to fix this one. As if we could afford such a thing.

So tonight, I'm going to wallow in self-pity, drown my sorrow in Ben's good whiskey, and contemplate the possible inevitable.
Didn't even look Greek to me. 
And these babies will have to wait a while.

But seriously, First World Problem, eh. I still have other looms; this only makes it tiresome to weave the kind of twills I like. But I'll still complain about the timing, just when I was getting back in action, feeling enthusiastic and behaving well!

Two More Normal Days Later

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to put a damper on your New Year and projects and resolutions and plans. Not one bit. I don't know anyone who relishes the thought of a first page in a diary or sketchbook more than I, but I have been stuck trying to finish last year, found it hard to catch up in the heatwave, (although we had cooler days,) and kept my "head down and bum up" until now. I felt more compelled to do this than any other year I can recall; something to do with the impending Big Six-O?

At around 2PM today I finished the faces sketchbook; this year I drew 678 faces. I had a super quick look over everything and saw changes in focus and style, but also a lot of going back and forth. To my surprise, there were a few pages I wouldn't mind sticking on a wall.
Earlier on I worked in in A4; these were outlines while looking at the Matisse figures but not the sketchbook, but not exactly blind contours.
Probably same method as above, probably Matisse; I drew in a whole lot more details when I worked in A4.
I do love colors and I used a bronze gel pen on multicolor background. Blind lines based on Picasso figures - I didn't think I'd be interested in Picasso, ever, but I so was!
Blind lines/contours, lifting the pen as little as possible, with non-dominant (left) hand. Van Gogh, of course.
Blind contour with left hand, Matisse. I like the amount of details, which disappeared when I switched  to A3.
Blind lines/contours, left hand, Picasso. I couldn't get enough of Picasso.
One of the last ones, blind contour, dominant (right) hand, based on a photograph, I think.

I switched from A4 to A3 because I couldn't get enough details in A4, but looking back I skimped on details when I had more room on the page. I can't explain why, except I liked big paper when in class, standing up in front of an easel, while these were done sitting down at the coffee table, in the evenings and very close up.

The more I understood how to do blind contours, I probably paid more attention to the technique; these couple of weeks, I was finally able to slow down a bit, (something stressed over and over when in the old class, but I couldn't manage then,) and I even caught myself looking more carefully at the details of paintings. But the end results appear simpler and light on the character/quirkiness. I think if I kept drawing faces from time to time, I might eventually find a happy place where the lines are as interesting as the details. Or vice versa.

I drew the most looking at Matisse and Modigliani, some van Gogh, Chagall, possibly a couple of Cezanne, (I found him extremely difficult,) German expressionists, (their sculptures are fascinating,) Fauvists, and Picasso. I drew a few folks in the news, mostly US politicians. But I still am not that person who picks up a pencil and draw casually, or easily, for her own entertainment. I expected after a year of faces, I might feel more light-hearted, but darn. On good days, I kept working on the same painting, managing a dozen or so doodles, and I found results I liked often from these sittings.
Yesterday, Jan 1, I didn't start my 2018 project, but I made up for it this morning. I'm just going to park this pic here to remember where I started. Again I have no idea where I'm going with this but as long as I have more than 365 abstracty bits by the year's end, I'll have done what I set out to do. On my mind are: 1) size: I'm making thumbnail, or palm-sized, in A4, as they are easier and manageable, but too quick and not considered enough? I was disappointed to see as I moved on to bigger paper,my faces became less interesting. Solution: do as I please on the day but also remember to work bigger and deeper later if so inspired, make the project a starting point if it works out that way; and 2) solid color planes match the pictures in my head better, so use paints, collage, etc. when I can.

Yesterday, I also threaded the brown warp to the right end, then took out the first 123 ends on the left and started editing. I had to quit not because I got tired or it was late but the Internet connection was so bad I had to refresh my podcast connection every 6 or 8 ends! I'm going downstairs to finish that now.

So what about this new year? Rethinking distribution/outlet and reorganizing the non-weaving part of my weaving; submitting to exhibition if I can; using up all the premade warps, including the option to abort impractical/ugly projects; a few handmade postcard jolliness, the abstract every-day-ish project; reading printed books, (also audiobooks or electronic, but I do get pleasure from printed books and I don't do it enough;) robust/proactive winter gardening, and better cooking. And not wishing/hoping but making things happen myself. What about you?

If you blog, please leave your URL in the comment section; I changed my blog reader program a few times, and the last time I switched there was no automatic transfer of URLs, so I lost a few. I've amended by googling and looking into other weavers' blogs, but it'd be nice to have a bigger list as there are too few weaving blog updates in my reader. (I'm currently using bloglovn' but I'm not in love with it; what do you use?) Ditto if if you don't weave but make things and blog. Thank you.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Just Another Day

7.30PM on the last day on the calendar on 2017. 

In the last few days I wanted to finish three projects, after giving up on both of us feeling like doing housework/garden work at the same time with approximately the same gusto. We have managed to cook some delish meals and have kept the kitchen clean, but that's about it. 

First project was my quick crochet nap blanket, except I couldn't tell how much yarn was on the cone, so I kept trying to finish this all week, and finally I spent nine hours today, but got it done. Just now. I made it long enough it at covers  Ben from neck to feet, and weighs a ton so it'll be so nice come winter. . 

Midweek I wanted to weave the clasped weft piece, the one I used to called "tapestry technique"; except my hand was very rough because I got a lot of quick glue on my hand fixing two garden santas;  catching on all kinds of fiber even after I washed them in lukewarm water and kitchen cleanser, like three times. So I started threading the walnut Oz merino on the big loom, the warp I put on the loom some time ago. I started with straight draw but quickly bored and switched to undulating twill about 80 ends in; I think I'll go downstairs now and do some more. 

I won't know what this threading looks like because I'm making it up as I go, but the warp is long enough for only one piece, so I'm going to keep it simple, with my handspun merino singles in the weft. That's the plan for now. The piece may look something like this: 
And the last one is drawing faces; because I spent so much time on the crochet, I still have spaces for 51 faces. I'll do some tonight but if I don't finish tonight, no big deal, I'll just work on it next year. But this morning I was sleepily gazing at Facebook and came across a painting that instantly gave me a good idea for 2018; I'm going to draw/paint tiny abstracts. I'm setting no other restrictions so things may change/morph/criss cross a bit in the next year, but I hope to draw/paint one for every day, if not actually drawing everyday. 
I still have several more things on the To Do list I wanted to finish before the year's end, but that's life; I've got four hours and a bit left. You all be good, and see you on the other side. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Garden Santas

I can't believe my Santas hadn't made an appearance on Unravelling. I was giddy when I adopted them in Jan/Feb 2015 (?) I couldn't stop posting on Facebook. Esther was getting rid of years of teaching samples and let me adopt these guys. (And a few spare body parts.)
I moved them around like chess pieces every time I walked by and talked to them. They are like the Terracotta Soldiers - all unique individuals. As you can imagine, I keep changing my mind about painting the whole thing, only parts, or not at all; white and pale blue, white and navy, red and white, red and green, green and white, or something totally different; to coat, or not, to protect them from mold, bird droppings, and other hazards of nature.
Then Esther gave me this guy, accompanied by spicy Christmas cookies, last week, so now I went back to white and red.
Or not. I remembered we had a bunch of test posts from when we picked colors for projects, so I'll use those, and augment with acrylics. They had a long bath last night. One Santa's hat came off a while back and another's pompom at the end of the hat, but both have been fixed. I'll work on them slowly so they all look similar but different.

They're going to guard key points of the garden when I'm done; individually or in groups, I haven't decided. I need some mechanism to at least prevent them from falling when wild animals, (wekas, possibly rodents, numerous domestic cats, and birds, especially black birds,) roam or mate in our place; sticks. Some day, our place will look interesting, and who better to stand guard than an army of Santas all year round.
And we couldn't help ourselves; we got one more fabric for Ben's PJ bottom. As a thanks for this, this morning.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Turns Out 2017 was a Busy Year

I'm dumbfounded 2017 turned out to be a really big travel/social/exhibition-going year; dumbfounded because I've been so busy thinking about the 11 months I didn't weave.

In Jan, Ruby & co visited Nelson, and it's always nice to relearn about what this little place offers, especially in the art/craft area.

In Feb and late March we hung out with Dr & Mrs Cady; this Feb bit was embarrassing because I had no idea so much of Nelson/Tasman region had changed. Then I went to see them in Auckland in Apr and went to an underwhelming exhibition on nudes.

In Jun, Ben and I went to Melbourne, our first real holiday since '03, (I was last in Oz in '14) and reconnected with some long-time friends; it was also our first time seeing van Gogh together.

Esther's birthday was in Sept, and not only did I get to see her and Jake again, but also Stella and Thomas outside Volume, and reconnect with Rosie and Richard. I used to hang out with Rosie a bit after we both left our former place of employment, but then I got into weaving big time, Rosie had Nico, and then she plunged into serious bookbinding, so outside the occasional running into each other, we'd become wizards and muggles. Around the same time I reconnected with Maria, who most emphatically buoys and expands my weaving thinking.

Came Oct, I went to Japan and re/connected with folks and went to possibly too many exhibitions. South of the South Island followed, our first significant road trip since '07, first time in Christchurch since '01 and first time in Far South possibly this century; re-reconnected with Dr & Mrs Cady and I saw Dr Cady present a keynote, and he still looked to the heavens to his left when he paused. A week later we were in Wellington, a first since Apr '14 on a rainy birthday, and we could not find the lovely Italian place this trip, but I went to a few more exhibitions.
So it turns out 2017 has not been as big a write off as I had hastily decided back in Aug/Sept/Oct; it's just I wove so few. But I drew a few faces, and it's not too late to weave another piece. And I've really learned I treasure output more than input these days. (I made 22 in '15, not 2!)

The constant in my life have been Ben and family, the "garden", Stella and Thomas, friends via Letter Journal, and all of you, so a big thanks to everybody.

And there are still five days to go!

* * * * *

My Pop-Up Shop has temporarily turned permanent-for-the-foreseeable-future, probably until the end of autumn here, May-ish. I'm exploring other venues/ways to sell. If you have a good idea, do please share?