Thursday, November 26, 2015

blah blah House blah blah Japan

We had our house exterior washed yesterday; it's a once-in-several-years treat, but wonderful when we have it done. Our guy is skilled and knowledgeable, but he's going to retire from this business at the end of the year as he's weary of going up folks' roofs. Fair enough; he'll be missed.

Well, not just yet, because this year we're getting his mate to touch up the exterior paintwork. (Do please ring me back today!) We needed it in 2004 after we got double-glazed windows and receive quite a bit of damage. (But we were lucky; window guys defrauded so many in Nelson; we had a payment plan so the finance company had to get us windows. I didn't have head space for damaged exterior then, and we didn't have any money leftover.) Mr House Wash is coming back to do the windows after the paint dries.

After Ben went to Japan once and I twice in 2013, and I to Oz in 2014, we haven't traveled, which is why we can afford "routine" maintenance this year; so far we had tree cutters, two loads of skip, (3rd to come later I hope,) a new vacuum cleaner, and house wash and paint.

I love that my house is ever-so-slowly getting tidier. Of course I'd love it more if one day I woke up to a tidied/washed/polished/repaired house. Still, the eight years I had mild-to-moderate depression, I had stuff "temporarily stored" everywhere in plain sight because I just couldn't think of what to do with them. Since late 2011-ish, (it wasn't like a cold so I only knew months/years later I'd been over MTMD a while,) I've been overwhelmed by what's needed for the house to recover as well. Only these last few weeks/months, from a distance, I see that though there's still a very long way ahead, effort has been put in the right areas.

I never imagined the top-loader-vs-front-loader issue to be such an ethical conundrum. I know I'm a top-loader user; I stop and go all the time, and use the spin cycle on its own often. But 1) the one I have still works and I hate throwing out things when they work, (but we need a new one before, say, Feb; see below;) 2) I feel so guilty about throwing things out in general; I can't help "seeing" mountains of First World rubbish in Asia, although my washing machine will probably go into landfill in Nelson; and 3) this is the big one; I know a front-loader uses a fraction of the water of a top-loader. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

Besides, I may already have used up mula for routines/extras this year. (And our total asset is, I heard on the radio last week, something like 1/10 or 1/20 of what folks our age should have to live comfortably in our retirement.) But we need the new washing machine by around Feb because I'm likely to go home then, and I'd hate for Ben to be stuck with a broken one while I'm away.

I love February in Yokohama because it's so cold, but not crazy like Minnesota. By then I'll have been away from Japan for two and a half years. But wait, there's more. The main reason is Mom decided she and her two students are going to have a wee exhibition around then. It's her first not as a member of a large class buy as the main weaver, and a first for her students. I'd like to help with making a story/structure from a disparate collection of work, samples, and whatever else they have; make up presentable blurbs, small posters/invites, and suggest how to hang their work. I understand it's going to be a tiny exhibition in a tiny space, but still, a big step forward. And good on Mom at the ripe young age of 85.

But no congrats just yet. Look, every time we Skype, she cackles about "my" stash. I keep telling her I can handle most yarns I bought, because they are large amount of the same, mostly-skinny, yarns in different colors, and colors often go with other groups of my yarns. I know how to use them. Mom's, however, are all over, in different amounts/fibers/colors/sizes/shapes; so many greens and browns which even she doesn't use, and, oh, so much bouclé. You'd think she'd be appreciative I've lightened her load!

OK, now you can congratulate her, please. She'd love it, although she can't reply.
I made a pistachio/ginger/cranberry loaf. With about twice as much nuts/fruits and sugar, it's a biscotti recipe, to be sliced and baked a second time. But we like the between-cake-and-cookie texture after the first bake, so I use the skinnier bread pan, fewer nuts/fruits and less than half the sugar. (Yesterday I mixed vanilla sugar with maple syrup.) I've been making a variations about every ten days. Ben likes raw pistachio, I like almond or golden raisins, but always with quite a lot of grated ginger. Healthier and more flavorful than store-bought bickies and we eat less of it. (I took the pic in a hurry when I sliced a piece for Ben's lunch. You get the picture. :-P)

Ben finishes the work year in 22 days, then has 24 days of break. His work is making staff take more of the annual leave at Christmas/New Year time, which works for us and Ben's taken extra. Anyway, to saturate ourselves in the summer holiday mode, I'm hoping to get tax return out of the way. I got started while the house was being washed. But for now, outside duty beckons.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Buoyed by yesterday's cardio and remembering the lovely feel of old wool, I put on the gray and black warp from Mom's stash on the four-shaft today. Not only do these yarns have scales on, but they smell like sheep on rainy days and my hands receive a hint of grease whenever I handle them. Dreamy.
I have an array of weft candidates, (shortlist for today as above,) but to maintain that nostalgic, old-fashioned feel, I may stick to its own kind, i.e. the balls on the left. Because the colors are crisp and achromatic, the warp renders to a contemporary, masculine mood, (the colors are most reminiscent of Dad's formal, striped trousers he wore to his students' and alum's weddings,) and I also think a pale blue warp would look just as nice. (Those on the far right are Mom's hand-dyed handspuns.) Or whites. We'll see. Unlike the last time, I am not going to waste the warp on making fabric, but will try to get three or even four shawls from this warp.

Today's task would have been ever so much easier had I kept a record of the numbers of ends in a repeat, marked which sides of the two chains were to go on the outside/center of the cloth, or the brown warp's EPI on this blog as I usually do. Between the loom notebook, (on which I occasionally write down info but usually only how many cm I've woven,) and the ready-made warps notebook, (which usually has the color/fiber/size/source, intended EPI, and number of ends, only sporadically color distribution and other pertinent data.) I discovered I wove the brown warp at 12EPI, so I stared at the two chains, took a guess and lined them, put the lease sticks through the crosses, and the ends through a raddle as I counted. It turned out the numbers were:

8 (gray) - 8 (black) - 4 (gray) - 8 (black) - 8 (gray) - 4 (black)

ending at 8-8 on both sides. Of course I had the two chains the wrong way around so I got another pair of lease sticks, take them out of the raddle, move them across, and, oh, you get the picture. In short, not pretty.

This warp will most likely be threaded in Dornick again and be woven in something of the  2/2 flavour with one or two weft colors in a piece. It's not one of my "big idea" projects but a real pleasure because I know the loveliness of the finished cloth.


It's been a while since I last wove one whole piece in an afternoon, but that is what I did yesterday. In fact, all told it took about three hours, which is remarkably fast for me.
It's the blue piece, mohair/merino warp, 20EPI, 110/2 merino in variegated pale blues to white, 17/2ish to the rest of the world. I was going to use a undyled merino of the same size to make the colors in the warp stand out, as it has beautiful purple, indigo and dark green. When I weighed undyed against the possible complexity the variegation in the weft might create, I opted to use the latter. Because I didn't sample with both for comparison, I can't know for sure, but the 110/2 merino's size and its light value against the dark warp, (slightly darker than in the pic,) erased the subtle variegation in the warp. I should also have beaten more gently.
I started with the treadling seen in the bottom half of the drawdown in the linked post, but I got so bored and mixed and matched all kinds. Here it is, unwashed; the m/m mix doesn't full much, but the merino will somewhat.

In certain lights, the mohair shines and gives the piece a more grown-up look, but, well, 65/100. (I must stop saying things like that if I intend to sell this online, shouldn't I?) Ben said it'll go great with blue jeans.

Weaving on the four-shaft was a great exercise, and I mean, cardio workout. But I can't help feeling underwhelmed. It's really not the piece, it's me.

I've been struggling of late with the discrepancies between what I read, (long-ago artists' biographies, living one's intentions, processes, statements,) and the restrictions I see in the technique of weaving. Funny because it's also why I like weaving over other discipline. I continue to have "big" ideas for future projects, but what painters/sculptors/ceramicist/tapestry weavers consider and then express through their media/work feel light years away from what I feel I can express/incorporate on the loom. And still, I would feel disloyal if I started embellishing after the web comes off the loom.

So it's a personal problem, and a problem inside my head, not something I can overcome with practice or bigger/badder equipment/material. I keep playing with paper/paint/collage, but I can't connect what I do there with what I do on the loom, save for a vague, unintelligible understanding of how colors interact. So though I take on every project with the same enthusiasm and care as always, larger proportion of my project planning has become automatic/mechanical, and my "big" ideas became smaller, punier, uninspiring. Sure, technique notwithstanding, I can make a certain kind of elegant, pretty cloths from time to time, but don't you know, that alone doesn't excite me. I'm sure I'll come back to this again.

Meanwhile, the cashmere on Klik has 2.5 repeats to go, (less than 10cm,) so I promise I'll get it done this weekend.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

On Gardening

I do OK growing things from seeds and bulbs, not so with tubers. I like propagating from plants we already have, and fruits/herbs we buy to eat. I'm also pretty good with weeding, transplanting, and ruthless pruning, but not so with completely getting rid of weeds because I'll spray once or twice but not until they really die, because I don't like chemicals. So they always come back with vengeance; at our place they are stronger than 30cm of mulching.

What I've learned in the last few years is it's the putting-together-nicely of plants I'm bad at. Lining up in a straight line in equidistance highlights any member being larger/smaller than others or dying, as do grids. Colors, heights, seasons, shapes, sizes, speed being elements of design, I research with gusto before/when I buy, but descriptions/photos almost never match reality. Or I forget or change my mind. So it's a hit or miss at our place.

Now I'm learning how gardening is an ongoing thing, not only because the unwanted always survive and the wanted sometimes not, but because it takes editing to bring to life ideas we might have in our heads. (Unless of course you are more experienced and knowledgeable than I, or have better gardening common sense, which is very probably.) Moving countries present additional hurdles, as do climate change and less predictable seasons.
Take my former thyme patch in the middle of our garden. I made a lovely thyme patch in 1998 but it soon became cats central and I got sick of removing their deposits always from always smack in the center of the plants and anyway we couldn't use them in cooking. A couple of years ago I turned it into carnation/dianthus patch. (Cats tried the same, but sticks in the center of the plants, which didn't always work with thyme, worked with the harder stems.) I managed planting in a random pattern, but they refused to grow uniformly so I bought more seeds and seedlings to fill in gaps, and they came out in different sizes and colors. (Also confusing is some garden shops calling carnations "dianthus".) The worst offender here isn't even a dianthus but something from our pot that used to flower not-this-pink.

And you know, this bugs me. You are allowed to laugh, but I would prefer all to be the taller, pale-leafed, pale-stemmed kind in different colors.

But that's the lesser of the evil. We have too many shocking pink ones. (These pictures were taken on an overcast Saturday, so don't look half as shocking as they are in real life.)

When our house was built in 1961-ish, the first exterior color was pink, and much of what was planted in the garden were pink, many in the violently loud variety. (Also, the soil is acid.) Over the years we've taken out the worst offenders, and we really don't need more. Here is my lesson: either edit, or learn to like it, and I'm leaning so far towards editing I'm horizontal.
There are more down the slope, in various degrees of offensiveness, among them the one looking almost orange; it's not nice at all, the sort of flat, white-orange-pink. However, this is the "learn to like it" part; it goes well with the maple above, a strange one where the new leaves come out burning red and over the summer gradually turn green.  I'm still hoping the seeds I put in, of the favorable carnation, will come out later so I can pull out the offenders and give them away or move them to less central positions, although there is always that minute chance my taste/preference will change.

I spent some of the weekend weaving the cashmere piece on Klik. It's going very slow and I need to check and mend extra-vigilantly afterwards, but when it's done, it's going to be a lovely piece if I may say so myself.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Making 4-shaft Interesting

I've been pondering ways to make 4-shaft weaving a little more interesting for cashmere projects. One near-future project may be a combination/composite of these units. Not that I've completely given up cashmere-on-16-shafts just yet. Then again, it was nice to be reminded Davison has lovely drafts that never get old.
EDIT: You know, I just had to see all permutations, so here they are.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Living Like a Weaver

After yesterday's rain, today started out lovely, soggy and overcast, a perfect weeding day, but despite forecast of a thunderstorm in the afternoon, (and I really had my hopes up for a great thunder and lightening show,) the sun got brighter and, except for a few huge drops at 4.45PM, it turned into one heck of a glorious day. I'm tetchy about sunlight and when I can weed, but then it's scary how easily I can igmore the weather and be the weaver.
Back in early September (!!) I wound a short merino/mohair warp on the 4-shaft, and prepared to wind the lovely mill-end navy merino on the big loom. Today I threaded the 4-shaft in a twill, Davison's Gothic Cross, page 41, and sampled with treadling I and III. I spent two days looking up and making up undulating twills for this warp back in September in vein, so I'm game for a different kind of a draft for this.
For an unknown reason, I chose mostly bouclé wefts of different sizes and colors, most of which obliterates the lovely blue/green variegation of the warp and the pattern. I'm surprised how much more the teal weft shows these, though, compared to the purple, (same yarn, different color.) I'm partial to the teal or the flat black merino (bottom), but am considering undyled merino. I also wound the navy warp; it's the same yarn in different color as the gray with which I had such fun.

And then there are the unfinished projects:
* I have four pieces and a sample to wash;
the three-brown warp, I'm wondering if I want to redesign or continue as initially planned;
* I've still not given up on my part of Weavers and Designers study;
* I'm sitting on four commissions while complaining I haven't sold any through the gallery;
* I'm dithering on setting up an online store;
* and last but not least, I've more than half a dozen paper/paint projects waiting to be finished. Two I think I'm just going to let go, as in trying to finish them after I came back from Australia last year, I ruined them more than improved on them, partly due to cheap student paint I use at home. An expensive lesson.
* And then I have a few kits for making small books/notebooks I bought from Seth at the workshop, which I'd like to tackle, perhaps after I've finished the unfinished ones.

Yikes. It helps to list them up, and I have been aware of all these, but put into one list there are so many! Because I can't multi-task all my brain juice has been spent on the garden and on none of these.

* * * * *

I've been sleeping erratically, and I blame the sensory overload in the garden. Once again I've reached for "The Highly Sensitive Person", recommended by one of you ages ago. I got it right away and started reading but the language was cloying, ("Your Infant/Body Self"??) and I read to about page 40 the last time. I restarted a few nights ago but this time I got to page xi, but I know it may contain techniques I can use, so I'm sticking with it.
I have a few ideas I want sample/weave so I got out Lambert & co's "Color and Fiber" but this is a heavy book, (not a bedtime read,) and worth working out the theories in paint and fiber. (So, after Weavers and Designers?) What surprised me is how difficult I find the physical setup of the pages. I think it's the spacing between lines and the shiny white paper, but who knows; I catch myself squinting all the tie with this book. For goodness sakes, is this part of aging, too?

Last but not least, I started reading Australian-born art critic Robert Hughes' "Rome", another heavy number unsuitable for bedtime, but a special book I got at a sale at the bookshop in Wellington airport after a museum-and-bookshop visit some years ago. I'm going to make a special occasion of reading this one, Googling persons/places/artworks I don't know along the way. I hope it will quell my travel lust a little; although it could make things worse, yes?

* * * * *

The hot water heater problem was easily fixed: the switch suffered from sub par job when we moved the cylinder in 2009; when we replaced the wood burner, the builder/project manager brought in his own electrician. Luckily, I now have a favorite electrician! He also told me our 1962 cylinder has a heating element with less than half the umph of an average electric kettle, but replacing just the element is affordable.
I asked Ben to leave rat poison in the roof cavity on the weekend so my stash room is still also the linen closet. Since I cleaned it, Ben has been calling it my walk-in stash room.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Loopy

In the weeks passed:

Ben had the worst cold in the 28 years I've known him. That's right, during the few days he took off so we can put in our last ditch effort outside before the full-on summer. But when an adult husband has 38.4C fever, off and on over three days, all I could do was to be the dutiful wife/nurse and be decisive. He's all better now, and met a wonderful doctor, but when diabetes is involved, in a year he had four doses of antibiotics from the dentist, I couldn't help imagining bad things, so I, too, stayed in the bedroom most of the week and read a lot.

We worked outside for five hours last Sunday in the Nelson sun, which "burned" my eyes. I was useless for the better part of last week. Some days the sun was so strong, (although our windows are tinted,) I kept some curtains closed from early in the morning. And related or not, I couldn't sleep. But the week turned out to be freeing; I released myself from the daily weed-or-weave circus and let my mind wander.

I read a lot; I'm having a rare reading-and-absorbing binge. I cooked a fair bit with some success, the simplest being the nicest. I made "anko", sweet azuki, (or adzuki to you,) paste which is a standard in Japanese dessert, like powdered sugar+chocolate+vanilla+lemon+cinnamon+rose water, and it was a hit with Ben. But what I liked the best was mashed cannelloni; super easy but slightly more time-consuming as the beans need overnight soaking. I must fine-tune the salt and butter because I used more than intended to make it taste like regular mashed potatoes. The bean-cooking water alone is nowhere near as fatty as spuds+butter, and I had no milk.

This weekend was too sunny/windy/forecast-to-rain, (I can't remember which excuse I was going to use; all are true but none bad enough to not garden,) which turned out to be the right thing. Unbeknownst to us, the hot water heater is on the fritz and had we gone outside, we would have had to suffer cold showers afterwards. So the next big purchase may not be the washing machine, but Dear Deity, either way, not in the same month we had to renew our house/contents/cars insurance.

Meanwhile I finished the orange warp, made what was supposed to be a pansy/viola-inspired warp but ended up all over the show as I kept changing the colors and the order, and destroyed the initial plan's harmony. I feared it may be scary-ugly, but with the right wefts it could work. Both will be made into all-over, draft-centric cloths, I think.
(The orange warp is much more varied and saturated and... better. The chain in the front is "whiter" than in real life. Everything is less... pink.)

Now I'm making a comfy warp with three blue-gray browns. Although, weaving off the already-made warps, (the browns makes 23?) first makes more sense.
 (They're a little darker and less as shiny, and less pink.)

By far the most fruitful in the last fortnight was stash room clean up. I had been itching to work with paper/paint/collages, but the stash room was never put back into its normal state after the April/May visitors, and paper-related materials were in disarray. The room was much too cold in the winter to contemplate cleaning, I've been outside most of the time, and everything I need for weaving was accessible, so staying with stash-busting and reorganizing/cleaning later made more sense. Except the busting wasn't happening with me outside so much. (Did I weave around 12 pieces between January and March, from memory, but three more since?)

This video of Holly Berry was making the rounds on Facebook; her weaving is fresh and attractive and graphic, possibly the direction I want to go, but I was ever so drawn to her sketchbook, I kept "rewinding" and watching that part. I know it would be far too onerous for me to compile presentable sketchbooks/visual diary pages and weave, (and weed), but I loved the possibility of working like that, and I had the urge to free up some space.
It wasn't a thorough clean up, I didn't touch the book for one, but I produced six shopping-bags-full of yarns/fabric/art supplies to donate and everything has been returned to where they should be. Just imagine, if I do set foot in the sketchbook/visual-diary realm, at least for the duration I no longer need to upend/search rubbish bags/wastepaper baskets/wood burner looking for that tiny receipt or envelope on the back of which I jotted down a crucial number!. Although, if the electrician wants to go up the roof cavity to check for rodent-damage to the hot water heater tomorrow, the room will be filled with the contents of our linen closet.

Same people made two other weaving videos, which are wonderful in that the three weavers are different from each other; here are Charlotte Grierson's and Helen Foot's.

Still, life is good. I need to keep reminding myself much of Nov-Feb is often too sunny for my eyes most summers. I can play with paper if I want to. And I can keep weaving for, oh, the next 10 years without needing to buy more yarn at this rate. Or reading. And playing with paper for at least three. And my husband is alright. What more can I ask for?

Sunday, November 1, 2015


I started making a warp on Thursday. I like making warps because in recent years this has become the first step in making ideas in my head come to life, whereas previously I tended to start with a draft. I've also felt I shouldn't make any more warps for a while since I have 20 waiting, but I needed a blah buster. (More later.)
I've been thinking of a very orange warp for a while, in combination with A) hot pink/rose wefts, B) saturated dark purple wefts, and C) pale lavender/lilac wefts. I wanted to use five oranges, but I got stuck because I preferred the tangerine but didn't think I had enough of it, and whereas all others are 20/2s, the tangerine is an experimental effort by my source, twisting three 60/2 cottons together. At their request I made small samples and got results surprisingly similar to 20/2s, but I'm not 100% confident this would be the case in a larger piece combined with 20/2s.

Then I picked the orangest yellow I have, but the closer I got to reaching for the fifth cone, I didn't want to mix a yellow in a very orange warp, especially since the yellow might stick out with pink wefts. I think it is going to end up a narrower warp with just the four. At first it was going to be 28 inches wide on the loom, then 27.67 inches, but with only the four, I'll get only 21.67 inches. No biggie.

I needed a blah buster badly because the hotter temperatures, brighter sun, wind, bugs, allergy, and now four free-range dogs, are hindering my gardening And yet I have mentally abstained from weaving until I get "this bit done", except there is always three more bits that needed doing yesterday. About a month ago Ben and I decided we probably need two or even three more winters to make our place look nice, so now we don't feel as pressured as before, but goodness, I've got a lot of seedlings that need to go in the ground, it's taking a lot of time and energy and money, and it is never ending.

I've also been pondering uniqueness of loom-woven cloth. If you can get your hands on similar enough material and equipment, anything I weave is easily repeatable because I only use loom-controlled methods and commercial yarns. Heck, you'd probably improve on it because I beat so erratically.

In comparison, paintings, sculptures, or hand-crafted dolls, say, or even felting, are "more" unique. (Bad English, I know, but you get my point.) So I've been wondering what I can do, and what I'm willing to do, to make my pieces a little more unique. I tried the tapestry technique and though that sample didn't work I know it has potential; using/mixing handspun and/or dyeing/overdyeing work, and I've been looking into embroidering. (That's the first textile craft I tried.) And to this end, structures other than twill once in a while would also bring changes to the mood.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I see more change in my preference; I no longer think handwoven cloth that looks mill-woven is what I want to make. This is great because goodness knows I tried to weave "perfect" cloths and I couldn't and I'm sick of disappointing myself. I'm not sure about same pattern all over, either. The question is, what kind of paw prints I want to leave on my weaving.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Wet Finish

Once in a while I am asked how I wet-finish, especially when possum is involved. Between 2000 and, oh, 2006, I asked weavers how they do it, and over the years I combined and fine-tuned it to based on the space/equipment/physical-height available to me.

Because these weavers were based in New Zealand, the answers concerned mostly wool or wool-mix, which suited me then. And it works for my cashmeres, even though the vendor recommends a gentler finish because cashmere doesn't full like wool. But as I started using silks and may eventually get to all silk, and I also have to replace my washing machine soon, I have been thinking more about wet finishing of all kinds, so I'm recording this here for my sake, although I did this once before, and it hasn't changed much, and in my Japanese blog more recently.

(My washing machine is a top-loader with an opaque lid which doesn't suit my control-freak-ness, so I haven't used it for wools except the spin cycle, but as this machine has been dying a slow death I'm compelled to ponder the top-loader-which-suits-my-stop-go-penchant vs. front-loader-which-saves-water-and-apparently-takes-out-lint-like-there's-no-tomorrow question.

I am always open to any recommendations/variations/suggestions; thank you in advance. Here goes:

1) I fill the sink/bathtub/container with the hottest hot water from the tap, (mine is about 55C) and dissolve wool wash or shampoo; fill with enough hot water to immerse the piece completely. (Some folks use kitchen detergent but my yarns are seldom that greasy as most are commercially spun and dyed.) Turn off the hot water.

2) I drop the piece in hot water and let it absorb the soapy water in its own time - maybe 15-20 min. If sections refuse to sink, I push it gently to coax; if in a hurry, I push the piece down gently and evenly all over.

3) I press the cloth gently all over so the piece completely soaks up the soapy water, then agitate a little bit to help threads come together.

From here, all depends on the weave/purpose/desired finish.

4) I may agitate some more, or not, then gently squeeze the piece to get rid of soapy hot water, put it aside, discard the water and fill the container with the coldest tap water, then turn off the tap.

5) I immerse the piece in the cold water, and gently agitate evenly, but I may continue for some time. I'm mindful about keeping things parallel/perpendicular. Then gently squeeze the piece to get rid of water, put it aside, discard the cold water and fill the container with the hottest tap water, then turn the hot water off.

6) I immerse the piece, and agitate. This is where dye, possum or mohair start come out, but also merino/wool visibly starts to full, so I observe the cloth vigilantly. Also the piece may not remain folded but spread out, squeezed, bunched together, whatever it takes to full evenly, not have creases, and, fingers crossed, still stay rectangular. Depending on the weave/purpose/desired finish, I work vigorously. Also, as long as the water doesn't fall directly on the piece, I may keep the hot water running so water/piece stay hot. I squeeze the piece to get rid of water, put it aside, discard the water and fill the container with the coldest tap water, then turn the water off.

7) I immerse the piece in the cold water and agitate. Again, I may have the cold water running as long as it doesn't fall onto the piece directly. Sometimes I stay in stages 6) and 7) longer, sometimes I repeated them. When satisfied, I squeeze the piece to get rid of the water.

8) Depending on the piece, I may fold it, or roll it in an bath towel, or fold/roll and wrap it in a towel, then put it through a full spin cycle. Depending on the piece, I sometimes start with a gentler spin, but more often I just let it have it.

9) I unwrap the package, steam press, sometimes with a cotton press cloth, on both sides, then lay it flat on wool carpet. (Cut pile works best; unfortunately my living room is now tiny loop pile so I sometimes dry it in the downstairs workshop on the old living room carpet.) If I'm not happy with how I've pressed, I'll even press it while on the carpet. Then I leave it overnight, or however long it takes, to dry.

10) When I peel it off the the floor it should be pretty straight and wrinkle free. But if it contains possum, it will continue to shed.
The key is, I can't un-full, so I'd rather go slowly and repeat processes, and for me watching and feeling the cloth works best. To that end, I have wet-finished for a second time some pieces after they have dried completely.

Wet-finishing guru Laura Fry demonstrates a dryer method, reminiscent to me of ye olde community waulking; I don't have a surface I can do this without much lining with plastic lining and moving of furniture, but when I did experiment with a small piece on a small surface, I still couldn't see the whole piece which made me uneasy and I haven't tried it with a bigger one. Here's another resource from her.

So far I've been washing my silk-mix pieces in a gentler version of above method; cotton and cottolin pieces are put in laundry nets and through the hottest and the most vigorous wash cycle, steam-pressed and dried either on a tube rather then a line, or on the floor.

EDIT: As I mentioned in the comment, I learned to weave at the end of the era when most/all weaving yarns still had scales left on. I wash superwash merinos in the same way still, but perhaps I need to investigate for this reason as well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


My goodness, has it been windy. I looked up some vids of mistral and sirocco, and Nelson has been pretty close, especially yesterday. They say we'll have a brief reprieve midweek, but it's going to be like this for a while. Hay fever has been especially hard on the eyes this year.

Anyhoo, I managed a little more weaving today; it seems I can manage about 20cm on Klik before backache sets in, although some days I've managed two sittings.

I had in mind the hellebore draft for this project, but after the first, sinewy piece, fragile warp and watery eyes, I opted for a simpler lift plan.
It's a twill in regular progression. (Is that the right description?) I have seven weft yarns in pale greens, yellows, and pinks. I would have loved an orange, but ones I had were too thick. Each color is used in a stripe of 30 picks; most stripes are woven in the lifting seen in the top two stripes. The lifting in yellow pops up occasionally, and the bottom two less so. I'm aiming for a cheerful piece suggesting a spring flower garden.