Thursday, April 3, 2014


Autumnal sun, apple leaves, workshop door with mini-pillar. Yesterday afternoon.
And this came off the loom; the weft is a silvery/bluey pink. 
This draft is similar to but different from the previous. For the last piece from the same warp, I want to make a very different-looking draft using the same threading.

* * * * *

I have verbose days and quiet days, (I do have them I assure you,) and today is the latter. It happens quite often after making myself physically tired with weeding, which I've been doing rather conscientiously this week. Although it's dismaying how slow the progress is, how some days I can't tell what I've done in three and a half hours, and I'm not making our place any easier to care at the moment, other than cramming, (errr, mass-planting,) in some areas.

Tuesday night, my fav seed company's eNewsLetter said we need to think of autumn as another spring. Usually this time of year I'm just holding my breath for everything to die down so I can clean the place later in the season, but in Nelson, usually not a lot dies down. This year, I'm passed being disgruntled and am simply in awe of how much growing there still is in autumn in Nelson, and how much flowering annuals are still being sold, and I realized how much it makes sense. It's still a couple of months away from "winter" and lots of sun to enjoy. Though it continues to be so dry and if/where I plant, I must water conscientiously.

There's a b bit going on to distract me from my course, but that's for another day. I'm 56 today; I gave up aging gracefully about a fortnight ago and decided to stay a belligerent middle-aged woman who carries a backpack rather than lovely purses when in town, kicking and screaming into my older age. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Forgot...

Really. I've been preoccupied and totally forgot until I saw Laura's FB profile this morning, April 2. So belatedly, for me, but not for everybody, April Spools Day. (Leave a link in the comment if you have spools shots, say until the end of April 2 your time?)







And I wove yesterday with these.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Still Missing Dad

I last saw my Dad a year ago today. Mom was pushing me to get on the taxi, but I ran back to where I can see inside and waved at him, and as usual, seated in his not-so-comfy, as it turned out, chair, he raised his left hand strait up. It was raining so I couldn't see him well, but I saw him beyond the haze in ways one sees someone one knows know well.

He pops up in my brother's dream at regular intervals, his boy, his son, the baby. My sister visits his grave very often but sometimes she texts, "he wasn't home". Mom talks (back) to his picture in her bedroom from time to time. But me, I haven't found a place to go talk to him.

I put on his clothes often enough, I have a picture of him I took during our last family trip fortnight before I got married on the basement wall, I shout things he would have said in dismay when I do something stupid, but I haven't found a way to keep in touch with him, And it all goes back to my not having been empathetic to him during my last stay a year ago when he was still alive.
I don't know if he talked about me in the last 25 days in hospital. I haven't got the guts to as Mom. I don't think I was out of the picture completely, but I wasn't nice the last time he texted me, either. We were talking about climate change and he was raging at George W, and though I didn't disagree, I had enough of Dad's rages. I knew time may have been running out and we should have been talking about something else. So I ignored his text. And he resent the same text. And I ignored again. That was the last time I communicated with him; he never texted me again. I don't remember how many days before he passed this was, as I just deleted his texts.

In over 55 years of communications and non-communications, George W was our last dispute.

Serves me right. But not him. And that's what I regret. He should have been thanked. Profusely. By me. By all of us.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Next Please

Ben fixed my loom Monday night so I've been working; life is back to normal. More or less.
This is the warp.
These were the wefts I picked for the first piece.
And this is the first piece just off the loom. It's alright. Except for warp tension problem in the red end. (Colors are slightly more saturated.) It's a toned-down piece compared to the sample; I planned it that way.
The sample is exciting; it has all kinds of hues, values and intensities, and each hue area includes an average of three variations. And the selection of colors were random and surprising/unpredictable. (The sample is more saturated and really exciting.) And the draft slightly different.

So for Piece II, do I want more saturated wefts? More variety? Or more on the red or blue side?

Tomorrow morning I'm going out to the garden again before I get back on the loom. Provided I can decide what kind of color scheme I want in Piece II.

Friday, March 21, 2014

An Action/Inaction-Packed Week

Not to waste last Friday's weeding and the weekend's non-storm, I managed to get out every morning Monday to Thursday, clocking up a total of 13.5 hours. I may have done this in a day and a half last century, but I'm pretty pleased with the week. Our place is still an unKiwi mess, but if you care to walk around the steps towards my compost heap, you will see evidence of effort. I often work in areas nobody can see because I feel more comfortable well hidden while I garden. I knew it was going to be slow and hard-going this season, so I don't mind the slowness, but my goodness, the Force is strong with the weeds, especially where I cleared with gusto last September.

The only thing I worry about is, I'm meant to be converting our place to a relatively-easy-care garden, but beside weeding and taking out quite a bit of, but not all of, weed roots, I'm putting in more plants in the gap. Alright, suitable plants, often more of the same, but it's not making the slopy weedy garden exactly relatively-easy-care.

My favorite kind of garden is tree-filled, "woodland", but I've been pruning and thinning trees, too. But I'm quietly confident I know what I'm doing; at least I've been observing my place for some years, and so I know what needs to be done. The proof is in the doing.


It's still early fall here, so the sun is strong and the afternoon heat unbearable for me, but it also tells me I got started early this year and can afford to proceed slowly. I'm frazzled, though, from overstimulation of the senses and bouncing off the walls until the early hours some nights, and total physical exhaustion other nights; I wished it was the latter every night. And I haven't picked up a book in a while; I can't concentrate either way.

Monday afternoon I managed to finish threading and start sampling, and on Tuesday I finished; I wanted to weave a few shots of plain weave at the end of the sample, but there was a gentle thud and the shafts stopped lifting.

On top of my loom are two pumps that push the solenoids below. At the left end they are secured to the loom's frame with bolts.
Now they are sitting resting on a piece of wood, because the bolt at the far/upper end broke.
On the near side, you can see a screw hole for the bolt; at the far side, the broken bit of screw is stuck in the hole. Remedying this is Ben's homework for the coming weekend.
The sample is OK; only when I started sampling with Triona's draft (far right) did I remember I wove a series in cashmere in these drafts, two of which still live at The Suter Store, so I concentrated on my wheat design.... (What is the top part of the wheat plant called? I think of these shapes as them things.) And don't get excited like Mom; I'm using one color in the weft per piece; I was just trying things out.

You'd think Wednesday and Thursday afternoons were spent hemming/washing/pressing/tagging/labeling pieces due at The Suter, like, last week? Well, no.
Haven't touched the design book in a fortnight, either.

* * * * *

Shock, horror; next term in drawing class we're going to do closeups of hands, feet and heads. Like, realistic.


Sunday, March 16, 2014


We were supposed to have tropical cyclone Lusi had been warned since Thursday to be prepared, so I prepared on Thursday, but this has been the politest, meekest cyclone I have encountered and now it's called both ex-cyclone and depression. It's good there were no bad damages, of course, and it's staying a while longer, and I'm the last person to complain about overzealous warnings, but it's been anticlimactic.

You will be pleased even I have become sick and tired of reading on Unravelling that I have been either sick or tired, so I quit that, but last week was an interesting week in coaxing myself to do something productive, anything, every day. It works. I had eyeglass-induced mild-but-continuous vertigo plus oh-so-many senior moments and wondered if the two are connected. In the month of tape-fixed glasses, I kept seeing things as if the brain was augmenting the blurred vision, which I found interesting and a little alarming, but that's stopped now. Vrtigo has lessened but it catches me when least expected. And not-so-early-onset-forgetfulness is always on my mind.

Simple stuff works; folding laundry, ironing, washing dishes, or just putting away things I pulled out and can now be put away, which is just as well because when I feel energetic, I don't want to do these things. And there's less chance of tripping over things.

Friday was funny, though, even as it unfolded. In the morning I noticed some 20 tabs had disappeared from my browser. Then I brought only my drawing kit to class; no backpack, no keys, no phone, no wallet. Ben noticed this in the car but didn't say anything; I noticed during class so I went to Ben's office to borrow his personal cell and house keys. (Very lucky for me it's on the same campus.) Sam gave me a ride home, which is always nice because I can get some loom time even on Fridays.

Well, I/we discovered A) Ben doesn't carry a front door key, B) we can't open the other door if a key is stuck on the inside of the door, and C) Ben's work cell voice mail wasn't working. Long story short, he had to come home and open the garage door so I could get in, but I also got an hour of weeding done. Under the scorching late summer sun, in long sleeves and not-summer pants.

Real life.

I was so frustrated and disgusted by me, though not angry, (the weeding was actually nice in that it was constructive), that I spent the rest of the afternoon eating a whole bag of potato chips and gazing at the computer screen. And had muesli for dinner.

Saturday morning, still on Lusi alert, I wanted to make new drafts for Thursday's yellow/orange red-to-blue warps. I tried doodling on the software, got books on on tied weaves and gazed, the 8-shaft bible and modied 8-shaft drafts, but ended up with nothing interesting. I even tried a block weave in which I use all the 14 ways to lift four shafts and remembered that sometime in the past I did this. I also knew Triona's draft would work well with a variegated red-to-blue warp, but didn't want to recycle another draft. And we had leftovers and nibbles for dinner.

It's Sunday here and I could either keep searching for an enlightened draft, or trust what I know and recycle the draft for at least the first piece. For once I decided to be sensible; it's minutes to noon, I'll have breakfast and then go downstairs to thread. 

And it sounds like real rain now.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Up and Down the List

Investigating the Magic Formula aside, I finished the Fancy Pants shopping bag fabrics yesterday. After a detour designing a few Bag II drafts on Monday, and weaving the best (on the computer) which turned out to be excruciatingly boring,
I went back to the first draft. Which was also excruciatingly boring because I wove two scarves and one bag material in a row. Enough said; I'm learning to cut the loss and move on quickly.

The next task was going to be making drafts for two unintendedly similar warps; one I called scallops, (which, in case you did not know, is one of the delicacies from Nelson,) and another last October. They are both eight meters; one cashmere/silk/merino and the other a mix of 100% cashmere and cashmere/silk; to be woven at around 21EPI and 18EPI respectively, 336 and 289 ends respectively; and roughly in the orange/yellow range. And both have colors placed symmetrically. So close enough.
And because of the color symmetry, I've been thinking of asymmetrical and probably not a very systematic, (as in V-shapes moving up by one shaft, for example) threading.

There is a wee problem with the right warp; it was around 7PM, Ben had come home; I hadn't even thought of dinner; it was starting to get a little dark in the house; and I ran out of pale yellow-orange. I rushed to my stash and found a color that looked similar enough, so I used it for six ends and rushed through the rest of the warp. I woke up the next morning and the substitute was screaming, "I'm pink, not orange." It'll happen. Just not today.

Thinking it's going to take a while to concoct the above project plan, I was ever so tempted to put on the gray warp, but put this instead. The gray yarn is new to me and there is much sampling and thinking required; this is familiar Japanese cashmere.
I made this warp sometime in 2012, or 2011. I was mixing complementaries in many warps then, and had an "aha!" moment. Instead of mixing complementaries right in the warp, if I had a warp with colors from one area on the color wheel, I could select one color for the weft from the complementary range and still create a piece that is complementary all over. That is, instead of mixing complementaries both ways, and/or requiring more than one weft.

This warp looked unattractive as a chain, but I went ahead because I like the individual colors, and it turns out it's not a bad warp; in fact, it's rather saturated and vibrant for the most part. But I have to make a draft to this also.

I have been telling myself I need to work on Chapter 3 of the design book. The four pieces from Doni's red warp is waiting for me to mend and finish. Garden beckons. And it's mid-March!

* * * * * *

Mom had her first family do in her apartment last weekend, celebrating my brother's 43rd birthday and Nephew #1's high school graduation and university acceptance. She now has the Internet, and can open her emails. (Thank you, Sainted Brother-in-Law.) She's also finally sorted out her new weaving space, though students have been coming regardless. And she started to complain about the smallness of the apartment. Hee hee. All is well.

Dad appeared in my brother's dream a week ago Monday and in my sister's Tuesday, but more than 10 days on, he hasn't come to see me. Young Kiwis call this situation, "stink". It's strange to think that while our family continues to grow (old), there will never be any more new photos of him, either.

* * * * *

New Zealand is expecting Cyclone Luci this weekend. I get the feeling it's not going to hit Nelson too badly; these things really seldom do too much damage to Nelson compared to other regions of New Zealand. But we shall see. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Formula for 42

As in, "The Hitchhiker's Guide". Sandra says, "Rule of thumb: number of shafts, squared, less 2 = number of possible combinations of shafts that can be lifted." You don't want to know how many times I tried to figure this out.

EDIT: I made a flippant remark here and in the comment and now I have to dig up some old notebooks in the margins of which I may have made comments/observations, since I used to think about this a lot. Although there is also the possibility I got rid of those notebooks; we'll see.

Meanwhile, I tended to see shaft lifting combinations as combination with no repetitions. Today, Thursday, while rechecking the formula, (one of very few I remember from junior high,) I found a website that included information on Pascal's Triangle Cally mentioned. So I add the link for your reading pleasure.

I'm relieved Sandra has given us the formula, but I would like to try and recall if I was so off track or pretty much on course. Not that that's gonna make much difference to how or what I want to weave.


Sunday, March 9, 2014


I finished Purple on Friday and tied another suspended Friendship warp to work on my different idea; this has scratchy wool warp in four reds, gazillion-ply orange Japanese silk in the weft, woven in a now-familiar recycled draft, I'm weaving Fancy Pants shopping bag fabric. I hope I can get two bags' worth in two different drafts.

If I were serious about bag production, I would of course first decide on a pattern, and plan where the center of design will be placed, etc, etc. I contemplated narrowing the bits in the middle rather than the side so the baubles will be closer together, but for this project I decided it was more complication than I wanted to contemplate. I don't know how well this fabric will deal with cutting and sewing, (not sure how I will finish it at this point,) so I thinking stickiest fusible interface, good lining, and simplest construction, but I love the working nickname of Fancy Pants shopping bag.

While weaving these drafts, I've also been thinking about shaft/technology-envy. I've been admonished by weaving teachers for my lust/greed often, sometimes by weavers who have the very big bad setup themselves; one who knew we had an identical 16 setup told me eight is about all I'll ever need. I don't disagree with being able to do much with fewer; when I moved from RH to four, I thought I could live the rest of my life on four, and why else would I still play on my RH?

But I grew up in a house where Chinese-inspired brocade and jacquard were treated as semi-precious objects, by which I mean they deserved to be placed under the very best vases, jade, polished rocks and wood in my grandfather's house, and guests' bottoms. (The pic is from a gallery, not Grandpa's.) Mom and her sisters wore monotone jacquard "weave design" silk suits, skirts and dresses to weddings, school entrance/graduation ceremonies, and other special occasions. Female relatives still sigh at the sight of the smallest Tatsumura fragments. So there, that's my heritage, my textile 0,0. Yours may have been differen, but it doesn't mean wanting more is a bad thing, or that you can shame me.
That very evening I got these from Mom. Mom, Sister and I don't wear kimono, so instead of handing down her obis as they were, Mom had three bags made from each of her two favs so we three can share them. To boot, Mom and I have very similar tastes in colors. Enough said.

Well, almost. Wanting a bigger badder weaving machine is one thing; the practicality is another. Cost not withstanding, I feel I want to delve into more depth with my weaving, whatever that means. I find sacrificing a lot of time, energy and money on a "better" setup a distraction, time and energy becoming as scarce as money as I age. So, at least for the time being, I'm very happy to sit on the same loom benches I've been on for the last decade.

Still on the subject of looms, sometimes I'm asked what looms to buy; my stock answer has been to go to guild groups, try as many types of looms as they are allowed, borrow looms if possible, and ask around if they know of looms in need of a weaver. I've even heard of weavers in New Zealand threatened if they don't come pick up looms, it's firewood! (The looms, not the weavers.)

That's what I told Annie, and before she got to any groups, before she even moved to Wellington, she was offered an AVL. I don't know what kind it is but she was told it sat in a Nelson garage for ages, and Annie's only concern was the rusty reed/s. So, good for the previous owner and good for Annie. I so look forward to catching up with her in future, perhaps in Welly by her new loom!

Thursday, March 6, 2014


The last of the lot must have purple wefts, right? After all, this is my blog. The weft is the skinny Japanese cashmere silk, the same as "mine".

I whipped up this draft using something like 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-4-1-3 twill, and was surprised how much it looks like my pillars. While the first two drafts/three pieces had treadling that mirrored, (like 1-2-3-2-1 but fussier,) this one goes in one direction only, but because the threading mirrors, you see the two directions.

When I do big twills, I like to have as few plain weave areas as possible, so I usually use something like 1-1-2-1-5-6 and then edit the draft pick by pick to reconcile the long floats; I aim to contrast big warp areas vs weft areas. In this, though, there are more than usual of the plain weave areas, creating three varieties of lines/shapes. This is handy to remember.

I don't know if there is a fundamental shift taking place, or if I really like weaving these twills, or if I'm on the upward swing of my mood swings, but I've noticed I actually like what I've been making of late. There are problems and I'm in no way blind to them, (goodness knows, nooooooooooo,) but on the whole I like what I make. This is a paradigm shift for Unravelling and I don't know how to... frame this change? I don't know why this is nor how to understand this change? But I'm not worried and I'm not sitting arund thinking about it.

I'm weaving, man!!