Monday, May 4, 2015


Mana arrives in less than 18 hours, and I did make good progress in cleaning yesterday afternoon and part of today, but instead of tidying the outside, (like moving a bunch of tall dead grass away from the kitchen windows,) I wove.

I enjoyed finishing Mom's piece last week and I missed weaving. And it's been a while since I wove a piece in one day, but here it is. The warp is the same as Mom's, black merino "softened" in walnut husk dye some years ago; the weft is purple 100% cashmere, 2/20 from memory. The draft is slightly modified version of what Mom wove, to make it not symmetrical/regular. This way, I could fringe it and show Mana how I wash wool pieces, if that's what she's interested in.
It'll be an intense and interesting five days, trying to do a variety of things on the loom while I pick her brain, and we may even have terrible rain in the meantime. Isn't life exciting!

Saturday, May 2, 2015


During the first half of April, we didn't have a single 24-hour period without rain; sometimes the sky-falling stuff, sometimes the persistent, misty gray version. We've had more since, once or twice enough to obscure our own shrubs, but not continuously. The same fortnight and a bit, I was sick for all but three days; I haven't been sick in bed for longer than four and a half days as long as I can remember.

Then we cleaned, laundered, and cleaned to for visitors. The garden doesn't exist in my conscience right now, and so be it; traditionally I didn't even worry until May. Plus winter came suddenly this year with no Indian summer, so my visitors don't really have a heck of a lot of time for outside. That's the official version, folks!

Mom has been and gone; we talked weaving, she had a go on my big loom, we managed two long walks plus a day in town, but it ten days is a short stay. I went up to Auckland to see her off and had half a day at the newly refurbished Auckland City Art Gallery yesterday.
 Mom learning to design in the lift plan, as all of her 8-shafts are table looms.
Mom having a go on the big loom; I finished the weaving, we fringed, and she will wash it at home.
But she is happiest being active outside.
We had our 25th while Mom was here. The next day was my sister's 20th, so we took a groupie to send her. 

Mana comes Tuesday and has an even shorter stay, only until late Saturday. Then I might have a chance to catch up with Annie who was in town the same time as Mom; Annie will be passing through Nelson on her way back north.

This is turning into a year of visitors and plenty of weaving talks.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Gray Lot

Yesterday was the beginning of the end for my cold. I had the same symptoms and fever, but my head was clearer so we ran around two garden centers, me looking for good perennials to plonk in the gap, the thinking being if I have stuff to look at, visitors are less likely to notice weeds; Ben looking for a new BBQ. (We bought a standard grade one on New Year's Eve, 1999. It stood protected from direct sun/rain, but was exposed to wind; that metal would disintegrate in mere 13-14 years has been my delayed Y2K bug.)

It's been raining off and on this week; great for the garden and sore throat, but it's the variety that makes the wooden kitchen floor "moist". During breaks I rush out to pot bulbs or fill gaps, but for no longer than half an hour at a stretch. It makes me frustrated, but it's dark and wet enough I don't have to do the should-I-or-shouldn't-I dance.

So I've fringed three more, (three to go,) but am no washing until the dryness returns. Instead I've been preparing the three cashmeres, (Ben took the far right piece, I'm still not sure what to do with the bamboo-shaped monochrome;) three grays and the brown/black wool, (wonderful hand and weight,) to take to the Suter, tomorrow if all goes to plan. The gray ones remain milestones of sorts, so I must wax lyrical before they leave the house. (Sorry for the bad pics, but rain, dark, you get the picture. Ummm, no pun intended.)
The first piece, with the skinny silver weft, is the very kind of cloth I've wanted to weave for a long time, and I like it. I like the balance of values and sheen, I like the scale of the design in proportion to the size of the piece and relative to the size of the yarns. Even the unfamiliar papery hand is interesting; it's crisp and almost tin-foil like, so not exactly showing off the best characteristics of merino, but perhaps "saved" by it. It's a heavy, rainy, December-in-Tokyo gray, (whereas Nelson this week is more dark moss green,) and I can see Ben wearing it in his previous life, in the latest cut of suit and width of tie every season, but we don't live that life any more, and I hope this finds a very special home.
(Sorry about my shadow; this was shot sideways and I couldn't take myself out of the shot.)
This is the piece I could easily see at a wedding or christening. Visually, I like this the best; it's fancy, celebratory, and has a weight I expect in silk. It makes me happy looking at it, and the draft is worth looking at several times as it's a little more complicated than at first glance. (All my draft pics are a little deceptive as I have blank picks, appearing as dark gray horizontal lines, so I know the start/end of each unit as I weave.)

I tend to see scarves and shawls as vertical pieces of cloth, and have often displayed them as such, but when worm, wider pieces present horizontally in parts, and with that in mind I'm thinking of weaving this draft and its variations turned.
This has the same weft as above, (and then don't wrinkle,) the worst selvedge, and a few other problems. Weaving this draft was more challenging as it's less "regular" and more "graphic". I like this the least because I don't know where to focus even now when I can see it as a whole; there is no emphasis nor flow, and this is useful in marrying my design with my preferences. Because I'm the hardest person to please.

While I don't intend to stop weaving the more predictable, same-pattern-all-over designs, (because I like them,) I also want to delve into creating drama, and this was an OK first step.
* * * * *

When I was sick, I caught up on Craft in America. Episode XII includes a small production weaving mill which may interest you. I needed to be reminded cloth used to be heirloom, and we can all appreciate the way the lady says, "because it takes so long to make!.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cell by Cell

I've been sick. And I don't mean my usual "under the weather/am I only lazy?" kind, but a full-blown sore-throat/runny-nose/continuous-sneezing/coughing-all-night-all-day version with fever and pains since Wednesday. I was taken by surprise and mightily annoyed but what can I do? I've occasionally fringed, occasionally read, ate a lot of frozen berries, (best for sore throat,) but mostly slept.

As far as sicknesses go, it's nothing and I was willing to give it a couple of days before Ben's Easter break. He's taking time off so we can clean up the house and garden for visitors and we were going on a short road trip. Darn.

Friday was my birthday but I was still sick so we watched hours of recorded TV programs, among them half a season of Monty Don; apparently 2012 was a wet year in the UK. We'd been having lovely still autumnal days and by Saturday I was utterly frustrated not being able to go outside, so in the morning I moved the pots on the patio so Ben could waterblast two exterior walls. Then I needed a lie down. 

That night we were supposed to have a full lunar eclipse. Ben's camera positioned at a vantage point, he stayed outside for a couple of hours but I kept coming in then going out to check progress. In the end we didn't have a full eclipse, but I stand around for over an hour, too, and this is Ben's best effort. He reminded me had it been a full eclipse, (i.e the white light at the bottom disappeared,) the whole moon would have been quite saturated dark red; we can't remember if we saw such an eclipse a few years ago but we know this wasn't our first outing.
It was a bit chilly outside, so Sunday was my worst day yet. However, unable to garden nor weave, nor cook nor read for any length of time, I have managed to fringe, five since the cashmeres, one already on its way to Japan. (No pic of that.)
I discovered some silks smell bad while immersed in warm water so I put the middle and right pieces through vinegar rinse. I used identical wefts for these pieces. Now they are supposed to hang in the air but since this is the first wash for the middle one, I laid them flat. I continue to struggle with technique/basic skills, but I do love these off of the gray merino warp. More pics when they're completely finished.
The wool piece isn't bad, either; this was the warp that didn't pleat. I like the color combo; the weft color doesn't change and I can't see this in real life, but here we are. I'm too smitten by the gray lot I don't have head space for this. Six more to fringe and finish. 

I'm now 57 years and 3 days old, 1093 days left for stash reduction. If you subscribe to the theory cells in your body gets replaced every seven years, I'm at the top of the Ninth Inning, and it's time I stop fluffing around and hunker down to the serious stuff of life, not just weaving but health maintenance and such; it's a fresh start and an ultimatum of sorts at once.

I think I need a nap before we go to the supermarket. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Expensive Mistakes

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

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

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

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Last Little While

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


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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March, Tomorrow?

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

3 Before 2 but After 1

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

Monday, February 23, 2015


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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Searching for the New 0,0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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