Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dinosaurs and Exhibitions Part 3 of 3

Ben's Ceratopsian beanie. I finished one ball and had to continue with another in a different colorway but I think it worked well. (See where the bright blue-teal turns dark?)  I started another with the rest of the second ball and need a third one, and they have a beautiful mostly-blues colorway so a good excuse to get that.

We were in Welly for one night and came home late last night and I've been exhausted. Lots of folks are in this unusual heat. I was supposed to meet with Kath Bee for the first time in a long while tomorrow morning,  until I heard a knock on my door this morning; turns out I proposed meeting today, and all this time I thought our date was tomorrow. Anyway, we had a good catch up. Me in my not-for-public-viewing T shirt, she in a cute dress and makeup on. I missed her while she lived in Auckland, such a genuine person.

* * * * *

Back in New Zealand; at Dunedin Art Gallery, we caught an intriguing, and slightly spooky, sculpture exhibition by Frances Upritchard, and the fabulous Gordon Walters retrospective. The former was slightly spooky but irresistible in the piece's hard-to-interpret (or blank) expressions. Her few paintings were attractive in their simplicity, the style hard for me to emulate because I keep adding until it's too late.
Upridchard uses a lot of textiles in her sculptures beyond just garments but I wasn't able to find their origins; perhaps I'm reading too much into it as many could have been attic/charity store finds.
See what I mean?

The second exhibition was fascinating and rewarding to us, puzzling and unsatisfying to the Cadys, making all of us realize backgrounds of artist/works/society can enhance viewing experience. In some cases.

Though I've never read up on the man or the era so this is all conjecture but Gordon Walters' paintings are, to use a much-overused term, iconic in, and of, New Zealand. His work is so widely circulated one often encounters them on the walls of many/most New Zealand art institutions. And they are painted done by hand, often with gouache, and not created mechanically. But I think his importance comes from being a Pakeha who looked around him back in the 1950's, (when I suspect the umbilical cord was still firmly attached to England,) and found his identity in the flora of this land, in the koru.

I can hear uproar for/against a Pakeha using New Zealand's nature as his motif, from both sides; this might have been the start of open discussion/argument over cultural appropriation. But he kept churning paintings, modifying and improving, and collectively helped form New Zealand identity to New Zealanders of all ilk. Just look at the long-list for the 2916 NZ Flag (change) referendum submitted by professionals and amateurs. (Note: again, I haven't read enough to know of others who have contributed to this ingrained NZ visual identity.) If that doesn't make his work iconic, hum...

Here is his Wiki entry. The Cadys thought the paintings were of dots and stripes, which is exactly what I used to think; I never understood the significance of Waters' work over any other modern/abstracts with dots and stripes. I was confident, and ignorant, I dated them to the 1980's, and decided they were computer-generated prints. Live and learn. I'm glad we took our time at this exhibition; now when I see his work, I get a tad teary.
I was busy reading panels, watching videos and admiring the paintings I didn't get good shots so this is the only one I saved. But there were a few I found of textile interest; most of these were smaller and, ahem, not famous. I found myself more drawn to the wobblier paintings, i.e. not straight lines and perfect circles.

Ever since we decided to go to Dunedin I looked forward to Otago Museum's Pacific Cultures rooms where I first encountered Torres Strait Islands artefacts 16 years ago; they and Auckland museum have more than I've ever been able to find in Australia so far. This time around, however, I couldn't decipher their display logic/scheme and found fewer items from Torres Strait. There were more Pacific combs and their Tangata Whenua display was much more exciting than I remembered so they more than made up for it.
Also on this trip Ben and I also found strangely drawn to dinosaurs after seeing a "film" in their planetarium, and rushed to get tickets to see the exhibition 45 minutes before closing. The exhibition itself was OK, mainly geared for kids, I think, but we had an interesting discussion with one of the staff who was a humanities specialist, not dinosaurs, about convergent evolution.

Then we went to the town of Oamaru, but this post is long enough I'll make it a separate one. Here's a cute write-up in the Guardian a while back as a teaser.

Deep South has many more art places of interest; Gore's "Goreggenheim", the East Southland Gallery, (Hotere, Hotere, Hotere; where is the museum website;) Dunedin's Hocken Library and many, many more; Oamaru has a few, but the one I completely forgot on the day was Janet Frame's childhood home.

But this concludes my exhibitions spiel for for the last six weeks. And now for a few pics:
We had to zip through Gore because I wanted to shoot one of these signs; find my hellebore grower east of Clinton, (we drove on dirt roads bearing parts of his business name for an hour but not the one bearing his family name because it looked like a private driveway, which turned out to be the right one; oh, dear; oh well;) and had to get to Dunedin while we still had daylight so we can find the tricky driveway to the AirBnB.
Ben's new mate Matthew at The New Zealand Whiskey Company, part of the reason I forgot about Janet Frame.
After much museum-ing, I discovered this dinosaur head with manmade marks near Mt Cook. :-D

Friday, December 8, 2017

Old New Project and Exhibitions Part 2 of 3

The first warp I put (back) on the loom Tuesday was the tapestry technique project I was working on a while back. I hung the samples and the one finished piece in front of me for reference.
One of the factors I like about the first piece is the draft pattern is square-y and regular while the color transition organic. For comparison, or because I'm contrary, I wanted to try something curvier, and since I'm working on the four shaft, I tried a few undulation on my computer first, then made up the threading as I worked. I wanted to see/learn the threading before I began weaving, and I slept on it, but I think I'm good to go. The treadling in the sample turned at 1 or 4, but for the real piece/s I'll turn whenever, wherever.
My choice of colors for weft, in 20/2 100% cashmere, are dwindling, but there is enough; I want to include the few cooler colors I have.

* * * * *

Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris is said to have been the catalyst in bringing Japanese prints and aesthetics to the attention of Western artists. You can see how many of the exhibition I went to cluster around fin de siècle and relate to each other. The Machida ukiyoe exhibition covered how Japan was influenced by the West roughly around the same time, in addition to being the very media/technique that made Japanese art most available, I suspect, in Europe. The 1930 Association was, of course, all about the influence of Paris and Europe then, and how the ideas were iterpreted in Japan.

Hard to believe this was exactly a month ago, but having spent a lovely day with Kaz and Dave, (and making them hike miles and miles in midday Tokyo traffic,) I bade a fond farewell and trotted off to Paris Graphics -  Prints and Poster that Became Art at a newish (est. 2010) Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum.

This was a good-sized exhibition, consisting mostly/entirely (?) of Mitsubishi's own collection, and well-curated. The blurbs tended to focus on the individual artists and their work rather than the era, (the latter being more of interest to me,) and the star artist was Toulouse-Lautrec, one of the era's darlings in Japan, but there was a lovely flow in the show's design, making the experience so enjoyable rather than academic.

In fact, although this was the first time I went to an exhibition at Mitsubishi, I had the impression from reading about their exhibitions in the past that their approach to art is light-hearted, less pedantic, but showy/fancy, as if to give the visitor a momentary feel of entitled privilege of prancing through good art. Goodness, that's a lot of conjecture on my part, and it could be because of my prejudice for fin de siècle, although Mitsubishi's admission has been, from memory, always slightly higher than other exhibitions. I'd be interested in going there again if they host an equally interesting show.

They showed a few Japanese prints the van Gogh brothers owned, (on loan from the van Gogh Museum,) but my best findd were Valotton's black and white prints, and Bonnard's La petite blanchisseuse. I've liked Bonnard's paintings for decades and read a few book on him, but funny I don't remember seeing/reading about his prints.
Two days later I trotted off to Tokyo again to what would have been one of the highlights of my trip; the Van Gogh and Japan and Hokusai and Impressionism.

Let me tell you what were wrong with these two; 1) they were dreadfully crowded; at times entry was restricted, which I had heard of but never expected to happen when I was there all the way from New Zealand; 2) even though both Metropolitan and National Western Art are large, neither show was in their main exhibition spaces but in smaller weird spaces in spite of expected crowd size; in fact the Hokusai exhibition made us descend into the bowels of the institution, the basement, as in B2F and possibly B3F; and 3) photography were prohibited, including the very works we saw/shot in Melbourne. Many prints appeared in multiple exhibitions because prints can be duplicated/triplicated/etc; this is not a bad thing, but I hadn't anticipated it, and one's appreciation diminishes somewhat after seeing the same Toulous-Lautrec poster in three places. It was however nice to see paintings by artists pop up in multiple exhibitions, not just the post-Impressionist notables but also Maeta. 

The van Gogh exhibition was small and academic. Had I been more patient, I might have learned more about Japanese prints, the technique and how specifically they influenced Vincent. But that was the problem; there were so many Japanese prints, presumably collected by the brothers, but not enough paintings, and disappointingly, (because the simpleton that I am, I lump together Japanese prints and European etchings as, well, prints,) none of Vincent's etchings. And I had seen more than a dozen of the paintings in Hiroshima and Melbourne. Sadly, at this moment I can't remember paintings, but recall the small, dark catacomb-like spaces crammed with breathless Japanese fans' backs of heads; a slightly alarming picture, don't you think? I can't remember if I bought the catalogue.

The Hokusai exhibition is/was the most touted exhibition in Japan in 2017 according to Mom, and it spawned numerous smaller exhibitions of his work due to the handy multiplicity of prints. (Do you think I'm getting overly sarcastic? Not necessarily; read on.) In spite of it being shown "underground" it was a huge exhibition, organized by simple themes, (landscape, flora, fauna, people, etc,) with numerous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, not only paintings but furniture, glass, and jewelry from memory, adjacent to Hokusai's inspiring pieces. 

My gripe with this exhibition was their claim Hokusai almost single-handedly instigated Japonism in Europe. (I couldn't see the details of why this was because it was one of the more popular panels and the website doesn't say.) Sure, they recognized he was among many printmakers of the Edo period, but for the purposes of this exhibition he was it. I know he was prolific, I like some of his work, but this was hard to buy, because, just think, what's the first print that comes to mind when you think of Japanese prints? Unless you've taken interest and read up on them, isn't it one of Hiroshige's Mt Fujis and his many, shocking compositions?? To me, the premise was akin to saying Monet alone defined Impressionist landscapes. (And by the way, they had too many Monets, if I never see one again in my life I'll be fine.)

This was an educational exhibition; it was like a 3D lecture with real life examples rather than slides.  It was informative and plentiful, but not designed well. Works and folks were crammed and there might have even been too many of the former. After the first round I was sufficiently impressed and slightly overwhelmed; after the second, still not buying the premise, I was a hostage dragged through an ordeal and couldn't wait to get out. I knew the catalogue would have plenty of educational tidbits, but I couldn't be bothered. I may regret this, or I may not. 
And yet, and yet, as exhausted as I was, I've become curious again of printmaking, my favorite technique learned in school art class. And I came home with a few blocks of wood from the art supply shop.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hot Beanies and Exhibitions Part 1 of 3

Tuesday turned out to be a good day. It was slightly breezier, and the temps stayed lower, (up to around 22C,) into the early afternoon, so I got some housework done, blogged, had a slow lunch, and went downstairs and wound two warps on two looms, though I haven't been able to settle on threading for either. And I knitted some more.

Yes, I'm knitting. I needed a reason to buy a few balls in interesting colorways while in Dunedin with Sandy, Mrs Cady, and Ben suggested he could always use another beanie. But because I don't do due diligence with knitting, I had six false starts where either the thing was too small or I didn't like the number/placement of the cables. (??) Not sure if this is big enough; the circumference is about half of one previous, way-too-big beanie.

Yesterday was hot and still again, and although I managed some ironing in the morning, the rest of the day I spent on the stairway, the coolest part of "upstairs", trying to figure out interesting threadings/patterns, in vein, and knit some more. I started on the top step, then descended one step at a time in search of coolness, then finally realized I'd be happier knitting in the basement, so I went down at 6PM. Talk about brain meltdown.
It might turn into an experimental 3D piece in which art critics of the future will claim to see something vaguely connected to my weaving, etc. LOL.

Without further ado, and no doubt, it is hoped, reflections/thoughts will come later, but here is the start of the list of exhibitions I've seen.  I'm pleased a whole lot of what I saw in Japan were interconnected.

Ikuo Hirayama is a well-known and well-received Japanese artist, most notably for his West Asian, (regions we call the Orient or Silk Road,) scenery, architecture and artefacts. It was the first exhibition Mom, Sister and I went together. Sister and I were more interested in the artefacts than his painting, and we learned he was sent by the Japanese government as part of archeological/restoration/preservation efforts for decades. He was the recorder, as it turns out, before many of these places/pieces were lost/destroyed. It was also nice to see Mrs Hirayama's ovservations included in the exhibition.

I was fascinated by a Persian artifact of female figures looking surprisingly "Asian", in contrast to another from current West of China looking, goodness, what's the word??, "Aryan". (Although if you think about the origin of the Aryan race, it's hardly surprising.) His paintings were large and moody, but foggy/blurry and we felt ho hum about them; in a large, quiet hall, without too many folks around, where we can stand a distance from the paintings, our reactions might have been more positive.

Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, (commonly referred to the print museum,) is minutes away from the family temple on Dad's side; I'd heard good things about this place but never went because Machida is so far. This time, I was interested in their exhibition of the Bunmei Kaika for Children Depicted in Ukiyoe, (Bunmei Kaika literally meaning "opening/flowering of culture/civilization", but points to a period of rapid Westernization after the opening of the nation and restoration of the imperial power, 1852-1868,) and another further away on the same train line, so I went.

The exhibition was fantastic; they had over 300 exhibits, not just prints but books, picture Japanese/English dictionaries, posters and what you'd call board games, many with pedantic messages more than depictions, all exhaustingly upbeat. Most intended for boys were thoroughly ambitious and encouraging; for girls, although it was nice they made stuff for girls not so much as an afterthought but long the different-but-equal thinking, and some material even encouraged academic and athletic success, the end goal was inevitably domestic success.

The galleries were darker than usual and hard to see, but I ended up going around three times. At first I was taken aback by the vividness of colors, and the frequent appearance of teal in all its variations, (not a color I expected,) and light blues, and blue-reds instead of yellow-reds more frequently seen, at least up to then, in textiles and ceramics.

The museum also had a wee cafe run by "regular grownups" but employed variously handicapped youths, and the controlled chaos of that environment added to the museum's attractiveness. This museum will be on my "regular" list for future visits home.
Waving a fond but quick hello to Dad and ancestors, not only because I want to get to the museum quickly, but also because Dad was never the type to sit quietly in a urn in a graveyard, bones or no bones. 
I know it looks empty, but for an odd hour late in the afternoon on a Saturday, the exhibition was crowded. No photos from the exhibition.

Afterwards, I ran around Machida Station looking for the memorial to our Silk Road, the road from Hachioji to the port of Yokohama. The few folks I asked never heard of it; I thought of asking the policeman in the police box, by which I walked passed several times, but I didn't because I expected my internal radar to tell me. After 45 minutes and some sweating and cutting it way too close to make the next exhibition, I gave up.

(I went home and googled it and, darn it, I found a pic of the little thing standing in the shadows of the police box, and curse the google map who put it to the right, not left, of the police box!! But this morning I'm thoroughly confused because google map is showing me a different location a little way away from the station I ran past, while pics are showing the location in front of the station but none showing the police box. I can only assume Tardis in Japan is red and is a police box!! Even a friend who's lived most of her adult life in Machina had never heard of it. Serious research required before my next trip home.)

Off to Hachioji, where Dad's late aunt's husband's family once traded in silk, but lo, what's this, a Station Road giant annual outdoor ceramics market?? 15 minutes to the museum, 45 minutes before closing, I could sacrifice 10, I guess, time for one stall, it would have to be Tobe-yaki, but no, everything here is too thin/light/cheap for Tobe. Moving on.

The exhibition I really wanted to see was by the 1930 Association, a group of youngish Japanese painters, some of who had spent time in Europe; the group started around 1926; they thought 1830 was an exciting year in Western painting and wanted to make 1930 equally exciting for Western-style painting and other forms of visual art in Japan. The show didn't disappoint.

Hachioji-shi Yume (Dream) Art Gallery was tiny, and the exhibition was tinier still, but they showed energetic/youthful paintings influenced by Impressionism/Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Dada, Cubism, and Cloisonnism that I can remember, possibly as far as Surrealism, and photos, receipts, exhibition chores checklists, postcard sales list, exhibition posters and programs, and good many correspondences. Saeki was the only one I was aware of, (I went to Hokkaido to see a museum dedicated to him once,) but I fell in love with the themes, (labour movement,) and colors, (oh, the reds!) of Maeta Kanji.

Hachioji was the seventh and last museum to host the exhibition, and I was there day before they closed; I will be forever patting myself on the back for not skipping it before I ran off again to meet a friend for supper.

I got the big fat catalogue from Machida, but couldn't fathom carrying another big fat one from 1930, so bought a slim volume from a previous exhibition by Maeta and one other of the group. I may come to regret this.

It's going to be another hot, still day. More to come soonish.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Travels and Such

I came back from Japan on a Friday, unpacked and did laundry; we took off the following Monday to go around the South Island and to listen to Dr Cady's talk, came back Thursday, although we thought it was already Friday. I think it's Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday here today, and for the first time in six weeks I feel I'm back to my usual self.

In retrospect, while in Japan, I chose quantity over quality, going to many exhibitions, seeing as many friends as possible, or walking around the shops in Mom's building. It was in part to satisfy my appetite for big city living and I didn't want to miss out on anything within easy reach. I was there 23 days, and everybody commented on my "short stay this time", while I kept reminding them the last one, (with the exhibition,) was 28 days. In retrospect, 23 days were short, and I packed it too full for my liking. There was no time to doodle, (I brought home six LJs, and even though I didn't expect to finish them all, I did expect to work a little most nights. I barely managed to work in two to send forward.) I've come to really need my doing-nothing time and the unbusy-ness, and without it I can't appreciate the things I have. I'll need some time before I can reflect on and appreciate all that happened in the 23 days, but on the other hand, I've become that person I aspired to be; I'm easily pleased with fewer things/events/people.

Another part of the restlessness was due to tininess of Mom's apartment, and how we were constantly breathing down each other's neck. Because we were, and me more so on hers. In retrospect, though it didn't feel like it back then, our family house was a big one, providing all five of us room to escape from everybody else somehow. The good news is, after nearly three years, Mom is discovering her apartment is not a too-tiny house, but that the whole thing is her room; while Sister and I think she'd be happier if she had less things, especially fewer furnitures, Mom does like her things and as long as it's safe, well, there's isn't much we can do. Mom knows this, too, and she has tried to cull, but she does loves to shop as well. And for a woman in her 80's living alone, shop staff are good company.

Part of the reason it's taking me a while to get back to normal is because we returned to a scorching,  overheated Nelson. Even though it's not anywhere near as bad as many other parts of New Zealand, it makes me hot just to talk about it; last night was so hot, after dinner Ben and I lay down in the hallway near the stairway where the cool air occasionally travelled up, and read. When I stood up to get cold water I actually felt feint because the air "up there" was so hot and muggy. And talk about unseasonable temperatures, I used only a quarter of the light-winter clothes I took home, and lived in my three 3/4-length sleeve cotton shirts, which some days were too much sleeves. This time it wasn't just me, as I saw plenty of others without jackets or in shirt-sleeves in twon.

I came home excited to get back to the loom, also dying to try my hands on print-making, but the last couple of days, (as well as one of the last days before I left), knitting, of all things. Thoughts on these to come, but for now a few pics.
 Chestnut parfait on one of the first days home. Mom just had a coffee.
Lunch with Mom and Sister; everywhere we went we ordered too much food, but this is not all bad news as Mom had lost interest in food when I was home last time, but she'd resumed cooking in the last little while and even cooked some of our old favorites. We walked a whole lot this particular afternoon and skipped dinner.
 Sunset on Hokitika Beach. 
Mt Cook, two active ones taking pics, two tired ones holding back a bit. (I'm not sure if the other three will agree with the adjectives, but heck, I was tired.) And probably the last timie with the Cadys for a while. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Facebook Page and More on the Red Piece

I should be weaving but instead I'm in the kitchen tidying up loose ends, like contacting all the friends I mean to contact in Japan setting up lunches and dinners, and telling the Health Insurance broker here, so sorry, I couldn't get around to understanding the guff in the month since we met, but can we revisit in Dec/Jan as we are keen to switch. I think I'm also regurgitating not exactly the conversations but the gists from yesterday. Plus, Rosie is coming over to look at hellebores in situ, (in seriously cold spring gale,) before taking seedlings away, and no doubt there will be some more good talk.

After I got over the initial, "you're asking me too much details," stage, I managed to resurrect a MegWeaves Facebook page. All I intended to do at this time was to post about the current sale, plus some pics. But like when you're cleaning the attic, the picture folders were a rabbit's hole and it was interesting to look back on not only what I made, (and I had forgotten about so many,) but how much effort I put into photographing them, and how few I've saved in the last few years.  

My thoughts were: a) the kind of things I make have become somewhat samey, I knew this, and it could be seen as focused, but this was suspicion confirmed; b) though I've always been a "planner", there used to be more unknowns earlier in my making and wonder if it means I'm not stretching myself enough; c) another confirmation; I was once better technically not that long ago, and I wonder if it's because I'm getting older, or just less fit, or something else, but I still need to develop a look that covers bad techniques. And I have a couple of ideas/plans, like the "tapestry technique" I've been going on about. 

Anyway, some of the recent tidying up, like culling yarns, inventorying ready-made warps and looking at pics have certainly helped bringing into sharper focus my past and present, and that's got to be a good thing. 

Feedback on the page will be most appreciated. 

* * * * * 

Friday night after the first sitting with the latest red piece, I looked at the cones/balls of red cashmeres and suddenly wondered if I used the wrong weft. You know those dreadful moment of doubt grabbing you at the most awkward timing. 

I chose a blue-red because that's cashmere/silk and that tiny 30% silk causes the slight contrast in the sheen against the 100% cashmere of the warp, lifting the design just that little bit. It's also more urban/grown-up, fitting Tokyo where the sun tends to be slightly filtered even on the clearest days. (Although, I would say there have been marked improvements in the 20-odd years since we left, visible when we land at Narita. It could also mean reduction in manufacturing, but that's for another day.) And lastly, this red is more harmonious with gray, black and navy, which are, along with camel brown, the most standard colors of winter coats when I lived there; not always true with increases in Goretex-like jackets now, though. Anyway, overall, the best match. 

But I remembered saying I'd have another 20/2 color for weft after I finish this piece, which would have been a slightly yellower red, and I knew I talked about the weft selection before, so I checked, and yes, I was weaving with the right yarn, the same red as in the half-width stripes on both sides, but the cashmere/silk mix version.


Say, I wonder if she'd like glass beads in the fringes. 


We delivered the yarns to the Hospice Shop this morning. I feel relieved. The lot contained a small cone of possum/merino/silk, but in burgundy. That is oh-so my mom's color and I don't think I ever liked it much but sure used a lot because that was what was available. And probably because I thought it's a grown-up color and I have to like it. Maroon, wine, whatever you call it, I think I'll be OK if I never use it for the rest of my life. But I can change mind, too.

* * * * *

When I travel, I always have the intention to at least work on if not finish a project. Sometimes it's only book. Lately it's been a diluted version of those fabulous travel diaries/journals folks seem to create. Sometimes I just aimed to gather enough visuals and ephemerals so I can assemble later. (I have large, fat envelopes by the art supplies.) In more ambitious times I brought sketchbooks intending to draw those fabulous architectural/cityscape drawings folks seem to bring back from their trips. The best I did was at Nelson Airport before we left for Melbourne in June; I was happily doodling away and thought I'd get through a tiny handmade concertina book I made specially. Except I brought the wrong pen and it started to run out of ink even before we boarded and I felt disgusted I didn't think to get another pen. Any old black felt-tip pen. 


I knew I'd be busy on my last trip to Japan so I was wise enough not to plan anything. (Although I did come back with some ephemerals, I've used up most in LJ swap collages instead of stuffing another  guilt envelope.) But I seem to be so energized nowadays I keep coming up with project ideas, e.g.:

* Drawing/doodling in small sketchbook/s;
* A "visual clue book", a notebook full of color and shape and motif inspirations instead of a travel-based scrapbook as a diluted but doable alternative;
* Working on some kind of a photographic project. This one gets bigger and bigger in my head;
* A writing project that's been in the periphery of my mind for months and among all else this can be on-going.

These in addition to any number of books/audiobooks I hope to finish. (I'm leaving home my portrait project in an A3 sketchbook. I hope to get enough done before I go, and then catch up later.) And I know at best I might work on the project a few times in the three and a half weeks while I'm away. The photographic and writing projects are so seductive, so far ambitious/greedy has been batteling against sensible/satisfaction-of-completion. 

Or. I can have no project. But that feels like not living life fully, such a missed opportunity after 11 months of lul. 

* * * * *

I went to the Red Gallery to meet up with Maria and Alison, and although we only had a short time, it was lovely. We already set up our December (I hate to call it) meeting. It was also the second time I went to the Red since Jay left five and a half years ago. It's doing super well, although to me it feels like a design store combined with arty nick nacks, though very nice nick nacks. 
These were some of their large and colorful Latvian blankets, but scratchy as anything.

Maria and Ben and I had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. (Just this morning I realized more than half of my friends are vegetarian, and Ben and I thought, of all the places we knew the Vietnamese on Hardy Street probably offered the best quality at very affordable prices; Maria confirmed any Asian restaurants offered a number of good Veg options.)  I've been skirting around the idea of asking her help to develop two or three nice ideas/patterns for bags made with my handwoven cloths, but then the discussion went on to practical vs. unique vs. something more and she's coming over to help me clarify my options before I go to Japan. I also need to make a list of practical things I'd like to learn from her. 

Ben and I then barged into Volume after 3 and I continued (!) the discussion with Stella and Thomas, that I'd probably have to try Auckland or Queenstown if I want to sell more, vs. loyalty to Little Old Nelson, vs. outlets other than/in addition to the Suter. (With their new format, the Suter shop has turned into a real "shop", and I've lost all my allies in the last couple of years there, Andrea, Anna and the volunteers, so I need rethinking.) In terms of making, rather than sensible/practical weaving I could sell at lower prices than before, I've been contemplating ridiculously labour-intensive, (Thomas' words,) pieces and changing a fortune for each and/or focus on exhibitions, submitting, not setting up my own. Stella said we'll keep talking about this, and we left in good time for them to close shop at 4.

Except Volume closes at 3 on Saturdays. They didn't tell me; I found out on their FB page this evening.


To increase exposure and the chance for more sale, I played around with Instagram, as was recommended by a few folks, for a few hours last night but you can't post from a laptop. There is a convoluted trick that can trick Instagram into thinking this is a phone, which Ben and an Australian friend currently in France figured out for me, and/or Ben said I could use his tablet or phone, but I got so impatient and, you know, some things just don't feel worth it. So I deleted the account in less than 24 hours. Maria, on the other hand, raved about using Pinterest as a digital bookmark/scrapbook, and Ben thought she made so much sense, so I now have a Pinterest account, again, with six images.

The Venerable Grandma was happy with the blankets. I might even reach a four-figure income by the end of the year; 1%ers, here I come. Although as I told Stella and Thomas, I tend to invest in my "business" long before I sell.


Or hopeless.

2.30AM. I wonder if I can sleep with all these lovely ideas, images and conversations massaging my gray matters.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Yay, Friday the Thirteenth

The wobbly draft as seen a few posts ago.
The sample. The weft is in one of the reds, same fiber content as the purple. Treadling is tromp as writ, and since I just finished threading, it's not hard. Except, see the plain weave in the purple area? I was listening to yet another superb Richard Ford vid, twice in a row, and I lost my place. I'm thrilled I can see the wobbliness in the sample as some of these design features are not as clearly visible as on the computer/paper.

The weird line in the middle is not a threading/sleying mistake; this loom has hocks in the middle of each harness that separate the heddles a little wider than desirable in some cases. Most times it comes out in the wet-finishing, though not necessarily in the sample washing, which in some cases are abbreviated. 
The real deal on the loom, and it's much bluer than seen in this late afternoon sun. It's been a while since I last wove something this lacy, but the piece is progressing, (oh, I don't want to jinx myself,) easily and quickly. I love the (subtle) difference in the ways the reds in the warp contrast with the weft. (See the lighter spot towards the left selvedge??) I think the piece will end up slightly wider and longer than the request, but that's not a bad thing.

The only worry is, the warp is 26/2 100% cashmere at 18EPI, and for the first time I see some sticky warp ends/sheds, making me unpick occasionally. I have to proceed with caution.

* * * * *

The baby blankets should have arrived at grandma's yesterday but I haven't heard anything; this makes me a little nervous. There is deafening silence in my Pop-Up shop, and though I'm no stranger to no sale, (Twilight Market in 2008, for e.g.,) gosh darn, I was hoping to earn a little spending money for Japan/Down South, and of course it's never encouraging. And I return to the many discussions I've had with numerous people; how many scarves/wraps does one need?

I did go over the donation bags as well as all the wools/mixes/cashmeres downstairs and edited the selection, and took inventory of pre-made warps; both of these activities gave me a direction/focus on what I'd like to do this summer and further. But if I can't sell, I'll have lost one of the reasons I weave, and so where do I go from here?

A few dinners with friends from the convent school, former IBM colleagues, and even mom's friends have been scheduled. And you'll never guess this: I'm getting together with Kaz in Tokyo; earlier we aimed for a Kaz/Terri/Meg meeting in Osaka but Terri's and Kaz's schedule didn't work out. Ben and I've also started thinking about the trip south.

I'm meeting with Maria and Alison tomorrow. And I might even get some gardening in next week.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I'm Doing Alright

Yesterday I did a bit of housework; rudimentary stuff, not serious cleaning or anything like that; restricted to indoors. Then I went through the wool downstairs and decided to donate about two rubbish bags full. I was ruthless; I held each cone/lot and tried to visualize something made of it I will be happy with, (un)foreseeable shortcomings notwithstanding. I also chucked nice years not my color. There is one ball I might want to keep after all; there are four cones I might give away. That was a little tiring, but after a late lunch, I inspected the pieces I want to put in my Pop-Up Shop and filled in my check list, which by this iteration is a pretty handy. Oh, we finally made it to the supermarket last night.
Today, after washing the dishes, I made two batches of sauerkraut. We've been eating it again now it's warmer, and the current batch tastes very, very nice, and I think it sat in the fridge for a couple of months. So I wanted to make some before I left, which by the time life settles back to normal, this batch will have sat in the fridge for roughly six weeks. If all goes well, it should taste nice. And then the sun was perfect; it was somewhat cloudy but not too much, gentle afternoon sun streaming, between periods of rain, into the living room. So I took some pics, and managed to open the Pop-Up Shop. Yay! (See the tab above? Or here.)

With a fortnight left, (actually, I have to be at the airport at the crack of dawn in two weeks today,) I know I can manage the red piece, and fingers crossed, I can work in the garden a little. Because with this cycle of rain and sun, the weeds are having a... heyday!

Here's a weaving conundrum: if you have a huge (old television) box full of wool yarns, and a bit more here and there, and you take away two rubbish bags full, why isn't the big box almost empty, or at least more gappy?

Sunday, October 8, 2017


Of my life returning to more or less normal:

1) Dishes pile up and get washed only once daily, on weekdays.
2) There's not a lot of cooking happening. (We had frozen Chinese dumping two nights in a row, three out of five nights, and Ben cooked the other two nights. He wanted to go to the supermarket today but I didn't finish work until seven in the evening and I didn't want to go then.)
3) Often I catch myself thinking of ways to convert visual clues to weavable segments.
4) I'm constantly looking for new color combinations.
5) I'm blogging more often, and checking here to fill in the gaps in my diary. LOL.
6) I thought of resurrecting my weaver's page on FB but now it asks too many questions that's on the back burner.
7) I started thinking of exhibiting; not so much looking up opportunities but projects/ideas I might want to develop further.
8) I am looking for opportunity to talk to other makers, but not that emphatically; finishing projects is priority.

I finished the last hem on the baby blanket, pressed both pieces again, packed, contacted the client. That leaves only Ben dropping the parcel in the parcel box at the PO. I'm exhausted, (I didn't used to get this tired, really,) but the mind is active and I've been thinking of double weave's different applications.

I think I can manage a wooly sale; I've worked on the texts in the evenings last week, rather than drawing faces. I need to inspect and press the pieces, and label/tag/make bags for some, and photograph and post. But I think I can manage.

As well, I need to untangle the tension problem with the red cashmere project; threading and weaving won't be so onerous, so I think I can manage.

It would be nice if I can get in some gardening time. But priority is priority.
As to our shaky-leg-cushion cover, Ben and I both liked the "inside" better so inside out it is. We'll be trying different in the closet soonish and then I can sew it shut. And then it won't really matter which color is on the outside; it'll just be a nice cushion to have around. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Baby Blankets

Or Toddler Blankets, or Toddler Drag Blankets.

This, my best and most patient, client and I go way back, pre-my-first-digital-camera and pre-Unravelling, although I recall having a few pics on my first website years ago. Back then, she was one half of the company that made my cloth labels, and in need of a wedding present. Since most folks in New Zealand, (OK, people around me,) don't use such delicates as table centers and cloth napkins, I proposed a couch blanket, which was also my first double-width weaving. I used two kinds of pale beige/taupe wool in the warp and undyed with-scale merino in the weft.

When a few years later she asked me for a boy baby blanket for her first grandchild, I gave it some thought: I'm very slow and the baby would probably be walking by the time I delivered; I wanted to make something a child would know, use, and remember rather than make a delicate/beautiful gift for his mother; and he lived on a farm. So I proposed a toddler blanket, imagining a small child dragging behind him a blanket bigger than him. And so it was for him, and his three siblings. All of these pieces have been roughly 140cm by 140cm.

Toddler #3's got thrown in the dryer by a German au pair, and I was glad to gift a replacement I happened to have had on hand from the same warp. When #1 felt sad #3 had matching blankets for herself and her doll, I was super glad I had warp-end fabric from his, although slightly worse for wear as I used to sit on it when I needed fine-tuning of my bottom position while weaving on the big loom; said child got a big kick out of me posting said warp-end piece addressed to his doll; firstborns, we're on similar wavelengths sometimes, even when separated by decades and kilometers.

These two new grandbabies were from a different stock, living in a stylish, urban, uncluttered home in much warmer climes. The order was something more towards the first couch blanket.

12 years after the wedding present, however, the foreboding was hard to shake off; I had been looking for good-quality/affordable merino/merino-mix here for some years. In the first instance we were looking for pale-to-mid grays, but with-scale merino at any size, any color was out of the question, as was good quality NZ merino, especially around 2/18. I looked all over the web, consulted Dianne, looked online and printed catalogues and a few shops in Japan when I was there for Mom's exhibition. Nada. Either they were prohibitively expensive, too fat, (mainly for knitting,) or charcoal gray.

I had merino boucle and possum/merino/silk, but the client never liked them. Mohair was a no-no as well. So I went back to the drawing board, consulted with Deanna at DEA, had another look at my stash, and chose Merino/Mohair 50/50 mix in 18/2 for the warp, (which I had enough of rather than 100% merino, and because that little bit of mohair produces a fabulous sheen in contrast to 100%, and I expected this little bit would be OK by her) and 2/30 merino called Saxon, doubled up, in the weft.
The cloth drapes like a sleeping baby or puppy, if you know what I mean. The little bit of sheen is wonderful, especially in the gray piece. The fold is tight and the finer weft was far less forgiving than in the previous blankets; the pieces, the blue in particular, I honestly can't call rectangular. But if the Baby Mommy isn't impressed, perhaps the client and Hubby can use as nap/couch blankets? Ben wouldn't mind if the blue came back, I'm sure. (And there was no way I was going to even try to get the colors right in the picture today. Sorry.)

* * * * *

Because of the softness, size and available colors, I kept telling myself if I were to keep weaving, this new-to-me merino is perfect default wool; it worka well with many in my stash, but, oh, on their own, they make dreamy thin wool pieces. I've been learning to balance this "being kind to one's old body" thing and being realistic/productive and get cracking. Then it dawned on me, Mom started weaving at 59.5 and produced such a variety in her first 20 years, (and spun and dyed,) so I can't be seen to slack off now.

* * * * *

It's going to be a rainy weekend; even national radio's coverage highlighted Nelson, and we've had to adjust the telly volume every 20 minutes or so while watching UK upcycling programs, and switching the light off and on. It's perfect for reworking one hem on the blue blanket and fringing one end of the gray knee rug, then a vinegar bath for both?

* * * * *

EDIT: One funny thing about these baby blankets is I don't put my woven labels on them. Regarding babies, I imagine possible accidents from my babysitting days of yore, and I've cringed at the thought of tiny fingers and toes getting caught or, heaven forbid, toddlers swallowing tiny labels.
EDIT: I'm working on MegWeaves Facebook page v2, and in the process found the aforementioned wedding gift pics.