Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Photo Thing

I need a name. For the do. Any ideas?

There is no due date for signing up; you only need to email me on/around November 14/15 with the link to our exhibition post, or before that if you are going to be away and scheduled your post so I'll remember to come around.

I'd still like a snappy name, though, so whether you're taking part or not, can you help me, please?

Please leave suggestions in the comment for everybody to see, even if Blogger continues to eat comments. Thank you very much. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

And in the Next Little While Part Due (or Seconda Parte)

I wanted a counter/abacus on my loom so I went to get some beads; the lovely lady suggested the $15/bag deal; as long as they fitted, the bag didn't even have to close. She taped the bag shut for me, though after I've chosen resin beads. 
Ben recommended yarns, but so I could thread through the tiny holes I opted for the skinniest elastic, which sagged!
So I did as Ben said.

I saw Brian the osteopath; we figured out my hip problems stems from a fall I had in July 2006, (he pointed to where I landed, which I had forgotten,) aggravated by a series of difficult warps as Jean the physio figured. Because I carried this for eight years it'll take a while, but Brian is confident we can fix it. He's so busy, though, I had to wait seven weeks to see him, and my next appointment is at the start of December.

We also discussed Ayurveda for my weight, and when I told him I needed a new GP he recommended me his own. I was able to meet Dr Karl the GP that afternoon, who, among other things, recommended I look into fasting every other day! I enrolled with his practice anyway as this doctor listens and he is interested. Meanwhile, Brian says I can keep doing what I've been doing as long as I'm not hurting. It'll take time and money, I'm still limping and fat, but I'm feeling positive about the hip and general health.

I went to the library while I waited for Ben; for no reason, I started looking at textile art books, and noticed a big change; instead of feeling as though I have to make similarly strange things, I now see what others make in a more detached way, and wonder what I would do as a weaver in a more independent way. In fact, I've felt very comfortably being a weaver for a while, which is a bonus considering I spend a lot of time and energy being one.

Ben's been working on the candy car and it's sat in the middle of the garage all week so I couldn't get the tub out to wash the two from the bubblegum/lollipop warp. That's for next week.  
Today I had a great idea of weaving the gray piece to 150cm so I might wear it even if I can't gift it, but faced with fine-tuning the tension once again, I couldn't be bothered and cut it off; I have 120cm and a bit so I still might be able to wear it. After much mending.
The warp was gingerly transferred to Jack, threaded in Dornick twill, but boo hoo after about 70 picks, in spite of checking it twice, I found a threading mistake. Tomorrow. Or next week.
And on the big loom I wound the first pleat warp; this is going to be a bit dusty and itchy warp to handle but it washes up nicely, so I shall persevere.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

And in the Next Little While Part Uno

I wove two pieces in two days. This is great considering these may have been the widest in the reed I've ever woven. I wove standing up, stepping on the treadles deep in the loom to yank the sheds open, used the heavy shuttle, and bent over with my nose practically in the cloth to throw and catch. It was about 84cm/33". I kept drawing a caricature of myself in that wonderful Australia description, "flat out like a lizard drinking".

I felt good having finished two in two days as I hadn't done this in several years, but I was dissatisfied with the results; they are too simple, Dornick twill in both directions at different intervals. Plus, I used so much warp in the first (bottom) piece the second isn't long enough to be a wrap, so I'm calling it a VIP blanket, for a Very Important Pet. I have to hem it before I can wash both.

Although I was going to put on the other cute warp on Jack in an undulating twill immediately, I haven'; I'm staring at the big loom and the difficult gray warp again.

I watched the two Interweave vids by Laura Fry. With The Efficient Weaver, I was pleasantly surprised how much I discovered on my own through trial and error, making the most of the space, equipment and body I have, and ended up doing things "right", especially on the big loom. I don't do everything like Laura, (oh the speed of weaving,) but I'm working on many similar principles. 

My big problem is I'm a short person weaving on normal person's looms. The big one is operated with an air compressor pedal, so we were able to calibrated it to almost optimal from the start, raising the pedal and the seat, and other than me getting on/off the high bench with some difficulty, it works well.

The treadle-operated Jack is a problem. I sometimes weave standing up; this is slow but does not present problems for the body. If I sit as weavers usually sit on the bench, my upper body is a little too low to see/throw comfortably but the legs/feet are a little too high for the treadles; I can work like this with narrow warps but not with wide ones. Sometimes I stand and lean on the bench but that's a little precarious as I'm never sure how much weight I can put on it. Ben built the bench exactly the height I asked and for years I experimented with cushions, distance from the treadles, angles, etc, but I haven't found the solution. Except to cut the loom so the cloth is lower and closer to the treadles, but that's a delicate operation we've been unwilling to undertake.

All this wouldn't be a problem if I don't have moral conundra and keep weaving on the big loom one after another.

Wet Finishing for Weavers was different from what I expected; I imagined seeing one (wool?) piece coming off the loom and worked till the end (pressing/drying?), and details for different fibers explained/shown/added, but perhaps because of the space constraints, it was a little abbreviated with tubs on tables. Still I'm very interested in wet finishing and Laura is the only weaver I know who talks about it, so it was fun. I especially enjoyed watcing Laura brushing mohair.

Again, I don't do things like Laura, and I've been trying to recall how I settled on the current wet-finish routines, but with wool, my first fiber, I made many phone calls to Mom and fine-tuned though trial and error. Although I got full approval from ex-teachers of the local weaving school, I'm not sure if all my wool prevents my fingers from poking through; I might have to dig out old samples, (finished the same way) and give them a go.
On Sunday, Sam, Annabelle and I went to Human Fruit Bowl and drew. The play part was very enjoyable, and the actress/model was very good but none of us could get the proportion of her head/face right, which was interesting. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

This Week, In No Particular Order

I finished the bag exteriors on the RH, and now wonder what I'm going to do with all the diverse and rather numerous bag exteriors I've not accumulated.
I made a bunch of butterflies with the colors Pat gave me, but disliked anything I wove on the frame looms I took everything out. I now have two warped frames staring at me. And making the butterflies gave me a full-blown hay fever, which had until then been deliciously dormant. 
I've also been wondering if I should experiment with tapestry techniques on the Jack loom, but couldn't resist putting on the Lollipop and Bubblegum warp instead. I need to restock the gallery (note single noun; more below and in another post.) I feel... ummm, what do I feel... disappointed with myself that this is a simple twill, as though I'm not trying hard enough. But when I went downstairs to cut off the many-grays piece, I still liked it so much I thought maybe I could weave another 50cm of it. So the cute warp won't turn into wow pieces.

The idea of putting my name on non-wows troubles me; is it pride, aspiration, frustrations with indecision, or a struggle between productivity vs creativity? Can I only wow myself by weaving fussy drafts?

Laura pondered a related subject. Nowadays I'm in the minority lamenting perfection getting a bad wrap. For me it's part of dumbing down of everything, of patting ourselves on our backs for participating. For me it's a no brainer beause it is I who disappoint: my skills, physique, knowledge, memory, or relying on memory and not checking. Even though I see the merit in working more spontaneously, especially its therapeutic effects, (which is why I play around with drawing and mixed media,) it's not for me when I weave, particularly when making utilitarian merchandises, which my weaving is. Maybe it's a Japanese thing.

Although wow factor I look for is not the same as perfection. It's more! Oh, and I missed the train-of-though connection.

I've also been thinking of photographing textiles. I can put together words to describe what I hope to see, but what about how I photograph? I like close-ups with shallow depth of field; I enjoy shooting them, and I enjoy looking at them. It's not that I don't try bigger whole-piece shots, but I'm not good with those, so I thought I might give them a go. I don't have a whole lot of my weaving, either; ones I have are cotton pieces representing issues I need to consider. A new piece would give me another option. Which is why I put the cute warp on Jack.

There's been another bad news for Nelson's visual arts; details will be posted soon. It means I have only The Suter as my outlet now and first I want to restock them, but then I will have to consider an online shop. Finally. Where I would need the overall-look pics.

This week has been an awkward physical-and-mental pacing week, but now that I've written this much, things seem to have found their own places. Without my help. And they are loosely connected? Goodness me. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wow Factor

I've been musing on the wow factor of cloth for a while. I'm not thinking about it, more wallowing in images, textures, colors, and feeling. Letting myself sit in it; pig-in-mud time. Because if I think about it, I might loose some of the insights I could be picking up unawares.

Perhaps because of the prevalent/fashionable ways cloth are portrayed in images, online, magazines, and the like, I've always been drawn first to hues, combinations and proportion; not necessarily colors I like, but colors in general. A close second is the old-worldly/Jacquard-style designs and embroideries: oak leaves, flowers, fruits in/out of baskets, (pears!!), even gazebos and ribbons, but not birds. I can't help myself. I love weave patterns. But lately, I'm also smitten by very large shawls, particularly the Victorian paisleys. (Paisley is one of the standards that never goes out in Japan, and Ben and I have always loved it.) I can't weave that wide and don't want to sacrifice shafts to weave double width only to produce a "fold" like in the middle.

I am a consumer when viewing images and it's easier to like/dislike immediately and passionately.

In person. especially when I'm allowed to handle the cloth, however, although colors play a big part, values and sheen are just as visible as hues, and because I am able to experience the cloth more as a whole, hand/texture, fiber, execution and many other factors demand attention at once. And then there are the history of the region/material/dye, knowledge of the maker, stories behind the cloths, lighting, occasion, place, my health, and non-textile factors competing for my fragmented attention.

Then, the weaver might caution the consumer, and it's difficult to discount/dismiss/praise/rave about the cloth easily.

* * * * *

In the first paragraphs of the introductory letter for the first design course I took, tutor Alison Graham told us not to design by looking at our yarns on hand and build the cloths from the bottom up. And though it's been a costlier path, I liked how intuitive this approach felt and I've woven more or less following the creed in the 12 and a half years since. But I'm in a moral quandary when I think of stash-busting; moral only, because I have so much stash that in practice, though I may not follow the exact steps as originally instructed, I still work within the loose interpretation of the creed. Or, the creed is second-nature to me now.

So much so, now I try to discover the design intentions of other weavers/makers in their work, which may enable me to appreciate their work in a more considered manner, but sullies a potential Yum/Yuck experience. 

* * * * *

When I started weaving I loved everything I wove; I was in awe of our species' act of weaving, and that I was part of it. Then I went through a decade-plus of disliking anything I wove bar one, because they never lived up to my vision; it may have been more self-loathing, who knows. For about a year now, I don't mind what I weave, and this puzzles me. Have I softened? Do I hold myself to lower aesthetic standards? Has my considerations taking up too much space in my judgement? Have I become so detached from what I make I can't even be bothered to love/loathe?

I like myself no more/less, though I try not to think about it much. My technical skills and execution troubles me more than before, and I worry aging and cognitive/physical issues feature too large, but when I work I don't think about it. After I stopped coveting bigger and badder looms I've been able to focus on what I have. (After all, a 16-shaft computer-controlled monster is not shabby, albeit noisy, shaky and never ceasing to provide us a variety of retrofittedness problems.) Heck, I even stopped worrying about the latest weaving book or trends, and although I take interest in what everybody else is weaving, they don't worry me as they might have once. 

Since Dad died, I think a lot about my mortality, not of the eventual demise, but how many years I can expect to weave vs how much more stash I have; what I want to be weaving in six months, a year, when I'm 60. (So far, I can't see beyond 60, but if my parents are anything to go by, I should be able to crawl on the loom bench until my late 70's, fingers crossed.) And I've often tried to imagine what I would like to recall having woven when I look back on my life in my last few seconds, and which will make me smile as I go.

Whatever the reasons, there has been a kind of shedding taking place; by giving up intending to meet expectations, (increasing number of which will never be met,) feeling good about choosing one from a multitude of possibilities, forfeiting citizenly standards and responsibilities, (dress code, garden, being fat,) all intentionally and unintentionally. The sum of these has allowed me to concentrate. Which is new.

Though sometimes I see my reflection in shop windows and I feel increasingly an eccentric.

* * * * *

As regards the second and third paragraphs above, as young folks say, I'm "just saying." Because I haven't produced another wow piece yet.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wednesday, Thursday, Today

I finished weaving the red warp on the Jack on Wednesday and started cleaning the basement; it's still early-ish spring so the sunlight comes into the basement for only a few hours, and I had to finish cleaning on Thursday. Then I washed everything from the red warp.
Bag handles held down to width with the stick shuttle. The plain weave one is softer and more obliging; the left one with the pattern is stiff. 
Nine bag exteriors and one longer warp-end piece with variously humorous selvedges; I calculated the on-loom measurements using a crude and general shrinkage rate for the whole lot, and some are too narrow to be made into small camera bags. I started thinking patchwork and piecing them together for something else. No rush.
I wished you could see how wonderfully the orange silk shows the different reds in the warp. I have a small amount left, and plenty of the red wool, so another warp for a small something is most definitely in the plan. 
I also re-prioritized my wool stash-busting plan and today made two summer-themed warps. Tonight we're going out for a Thai dinner, (a very rare evening outing for the Nakagawas,) and see a Japanese film with Pat and Larry; I'll get some more weft yarns and borrow another tapestry book from Pat.

Enough about me; now onto Mom. After coming back from the Baltic nations, she was scheming to return there next year to see fibers and textiles, until last week. She met a young Iranian chap who lives in Yokohama and teaches rug technique all over Japan. (The name of his technique/style escapes me.) He trained as and is his-government-certified as a rug restorer, and Mom signed up for a three-session package. It came with a warped loom on loan, weft, personal instructions, (when she arrived there was only one other woman,) and finishing; if she doesn't finish in three goes, which will be the case, he couriers the loom to her house; she takes as long as she wants to finish and sends the loom back to him; he takes it off the loom and does whatever finishes required and sends the piece back to her. Mom's first piece is going to be around 17cm*17cm, but she's designing a very un-Persian undulating piece, apparently. She also met an older gent who needed a hobby after he retired, (or his wife need him to have one?) and started coming to class 10 years ago; professionally he used to design phones, and he has a biggish loom and all the necessaries at home and comes to show progress to the younger man. Mom said his work was big and very well-executed, and they enjoyed talking about the places they've travelled.

And, if the young man can get six or seven participants, he runs textile-saturated tours to Iran. My Dad wanted to go Iran for a long time and my parents were all set to go when a plane crashed in northern Iran, and either my parents or the tour cancelled. This would have been in 2004 because one of Munch's The Scream was stolen just before Mom left on a textile tour of Scandinavia; the plane crashed when she was flying home.

I've had wonderful Iranian friends in college and here, so if I can wing it, if Ben let's me, I'd certainly assess my situation and see if I can tag along.

Well, it's a lovely dream. And it's free to dream.

Meanwhile Mom is going to lunch at an Persian restaurant not far from her place we found online with her friends. Life is good.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

An Invitation to an Online Weaving Photo Exhibition

Guideline:

1) We weave. Or dig up something we wove.

2) We take delicious, styled photos of our weaving. The focus is on the cloth and photographs. Think of the kind you'd like to put on your Etsy page, in a glossy, stylish magazine article/advertizing, or in an exhibition catalogue. (Fashion/travel mags are different from art mags, but they both work for our purposes here.) Photoshopping is allowed, but here's a loose guideline; say someone buys your expensive work based on the photograph/s, you don't want them surprised and/or ask for their money back. Or ignore this completely and let your weaving been taken where no weaver has taken them before.

The photograph/s must be taken between now and when the posts go up. 

3) We post photos on our blogs on Friday, November 14 or Saturday, November 15 your time.
You email me the link to your post. I'll update the links on mine as they come in. If you like, I can send you the final link list for you to add on your post. Write details/stories about the woven piece/s if you like, but keep in mind this is a "photo" exhibition, so keep it tight. This being a "photo" exhibition, text is not required, but an easy way for folks to comment or get in touch with you is recommended.

You are requested to link back to my exhibition post, if not including the full list.

Up to you whether/where to include watermarks/copyright identification, but let us see the photo/s and weaving unobstructed.

"Blog" can be a word-and-photo blog on Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad, etc; it can be a dedicated folder on Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, etc.  I don't know much about Instagram or Pinterest or whatever else, so you'd have to send me a link to your folder so I can have a look. I also can't help you if there is a phone/tablet/laptop compatibility problem. 

4) If you like, you can write more about the cloth/photo shoot/s in a separate post, but not on the same day as your exhibition post. If you post before the big reveal, keep the details of the exhibition mysterious, please? (I am terribly interested in how people shoot textiles, hint, hint.)

5) Maximum number of photos is six-ish per weaver. But if you're on a roll...

6) You must email me a link to your exhibition post as I'm too old to go looking for a likely post and I can't be bothered finding out if you wanted to be included in the first place. However, if life interferes and you must schedule/postdate your post, send me your blog url and when the post is scheduled to go public, and I'll come around to pick up the link on the day.

7) And I'm still looking for a snappy name for our exhibition.

So far I've received expressions of interest from Kaz, Margery, Laura* and Sampling*. (I need to come pick up your links if your name has *.) Comment here, (or email me if Blogger eats your comment,) for any questions/suggestions/musings/complaints.

EDIT: This is a long-winded reply to a couple of inquiries to which you might have expected a yay or nay.

What I envisioned as part of this photo shoot experience, (and for me the shoot is more important,) is to have a slow, long and intentional look at our textiles, and maybe even ponder such matters as quality, points of view, and excellence. It is in reaction to fast and indiscriminate dispersal of "information", images in particular, sans reflection, consideration or examination, and the changing attitudes towards the act of photographing. I imagined sharing reactions/afterthoughts afterwards from treating our cloths in this manner, instead of shoot-post-and-wait-for-Likes-LOL.

But as weavers, no matter how busy or active, we are gifted these otherworldly stepping-back moments which afford us thoughts. And marrying the two, my intention was to show each other "composed" photographs of our cloths, and even how we'd like our cloths to be seen.

As all else I host, I'd prefer to be inclusive rather than exclusive. Having said that, the reason I keep stressing "photo" and "shoot" is because I myself am tired of quick incidental pics. (Although that is not to say occasionally these turn out beautifully and of course they are welcome.)

So what you use to shoot and how/where you post don't intrinsically dis/qualify from taking part; you don't have to have an expensive camera or special backdrops or lights, either. But I would appreciate participants taking note of the spirit of this do.

EDIT: Or ignore it.

EDIT: I ruled out Instagram.

And you're still welcome to comment here, (or email me if Blogger eats your comment,) for any questions/suggestions/musings/complaints. I hear comments from tablets get eaten up more often.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Weaver is Short (of Space)

It started out this morning when, buoyed by yesterday's weaving, I wanted to see what silk yarns I had. I just wanted a peek.
I don't apologize for my silk stash; I bought maybe a quarter of these; some were gifts, but over half was salvaged from Mom's stash. What boggles my untrained mind is the variety of ... specs/models silk comes in.
Looking at silks gave me a direction for a commission piece I've wanted to start. But I don't feel confident with silk; I've mixed some in warps or used them as wefts, but had one monumental failure with a warp. Because I have more knowledge, and colors, in cotton, I've selected a few 2/20 and 2/60 cottons as warp candidates.
I brought a few downstairs and used one tiny ball to make another small bag exterior. I'm weaving the one after that with yellow-green wool. I can get two more bag exteriors from this warp; I wonder what I'll pick tomorrow.
The living room is still hectic. Poor Ben has to eat dinner either on the kitchen table, or his food competes for coffee table space with cones and sticks. Whereas I enjoy dinner while looking at cones.

I've felt a little uneasy about silk. I don't know if it's a Japanese thing or something to do with my family; silk is at once the ultimate fiber and a default one. Even in the heydays of Pashmina, silk always had a transcendent, incontestable place place on the fiber ladder. I kept telling myself I need to be a grown-up weaver to handle silk, but I love the hand, and feel of a heavy silk shawl on the shoulder. Kaz let me handle a piece from this first series. It was hefty and just wonderful; I can't get that from cotton. I think it's time to get out my Big Girl pants again and start learning.

As an aside, it would be nice to use up my current stash sometime in the not so far future. I've always told myself "ASAP" is good enough, but I'm 56 years, 6 months and 11 days old today, so my 60th birthday sounded like a good goal. That's 11 days short of three and a half years; I will have to weave steadily, but not at a breakneck speed, with plenty of scope for learning, experimentation and of course sampling. I'm exempting 2/20 and 2/60 cottons and cashmere and cashmere mixes, though, as these are on-going. Check back on April 3, 2018 to see if I've managed this; we might even have a wee "party" here, do you think? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Joyweave

I wove this on the Jack yesterday.
 
I used three red 110/2 wool yarns, roughly 2/16. Let's call each color A, B and C; the warp is alternately A and B on the right half, B and C on the left half. The weft is ABC. (And they are deeper reds, not pink.) The sett is 12EPI in a 6DPI reed with two ends to the dent. You may be able to see the last four picks and the orange bit are flatter in plain weave. While weaving, I couldn't see what the interlacement was supposed to be. 
So here is the draft, though I didn't bother adjusting the yarn widths. I am looking forward to washing this and see how it looks.

Before this piece I wove two handles for Fancy Pants shopping bags in plain weave using the same orange silk weft as that used in the body of the bag; very boring. So I thought to use this three red combo as another set of  handles but it proved too red.
Today I wove the same pattern using the orange silk weft. The orange silk, (looking a little dull here but it' is the most alarming orange you can imagine,) is excruciatingly slippery but I'm still hoping the handles won't come apart.  We shall see.
The next tiny sunglasses/camera/small-phone bag, with the same silk in the weft,  looks like this on the loom.
But it washes up something like this.  The different reds really comes though and add nuance to the orange cloth in this yarn combination.

I decided to weave on any/all currently dressed loom as many of the warps have been on for a while. Today I wove red projects on the Jack and the rigid heddle. I've reached the decision the gray cashmere scarf will have to be terminated, but I don't want to cut it off just yet.

This post was brought to you by this warp/project.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

An Idea

An online photo exhibition. With a weaving twist, of course.

1) We weave. Or dig up something we wove.
2) We take delicious, "styled" photos of our weaving.
3) We post the photos on our blogs.
4) We put links here, (and on your blog if you like,) for a virtual exhibition, with an emphasis on the photographic quality/skills. Which means we could potentially photograph samples or cloths originally intended to be made into something, or an old piece now worn or disintegrating, as long as the photo is new and lovely. We are talking about magazine/advertising-like photos. 
5) Tentatively maximum of six photos per blog? Or do we need a limit? For me it's good to have a limit so I edit, and I like the number three but it feels a tad low for this one. Six could be six different woven pieces, three pics of two woven pieces, six of one, or any other combination.
6) Tentatively mid November due, after Diwali, before the American Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas madness? (Sorry, I don't know many other major holidays; anything else big and busy around this time?) This gives us roughly a month.
7) The all important name. "Foto Folly" came to mind, but I don't like "Foto" and the first definition of "Folly" I found was "lack of good sense; foolishness" while we are going to be dead serious about the photo shoots. "Pic(s)-Nic(k)" didn't work, either.

Can I interest anyone?  Please leave comments/suggestions/questions here. Comments mean you hope to take part but it is not a pound-of-flesh commitment at this stage; if you don't comment now but would like to take part later, there is absolutely no problem as long as you can meet the due date to be advised later.

EDIT: Also consider good-quality selfies such as these by Kaz. You may need a tripod and a timer, but I have taken pics with books stacked on tables under the camera, so it can be done. 

EDIT: Blogger has been losing comments again. (Four of mine at once?!) So if yours gets lost, too, please email me.