Saturday, November 22, 2014


Garden Blitz Day 7, yesterday, we managed to weed the only area of our garden readily visible from the house, for about three hours. It's a small area I work on most often but is in need of longer-term weed-and-Blackbird-and-gravity combating measures. The day started out overcast and cool so it was nice for us, but the soil was bone dry and most weeds broke off, but at least we got the vines growing around other plants off. This is where I've put a lot of purple hellebores and heucheras in the past couple of years; half a dozen heucheras were dug up by a family of blackbirds that nest in our tree, as well as a tiny mandarin tree, but I'm hoping I was able to save two heucheras; the good news is, there were quite a few hellebore babies that self-seeded, and I hope to spread them more evenly next autumn.

GBD8, today was going to be rain. We had some early on and I was looking forward to a gentle, quiet reading day, but from late morning it's been a full-blown Nelson summer day with brilliant sun. And wind.
I sampled the rethreaded brown warp, and am not crazy about it. For one thing, if I were rethreading the entire warp, (which I did,) I could have chosen any draft instead of fine-tuning the two-faced twill originally intended to pleat, but I thought too late. But I did think to sample another weft, so I tried a black 100% merino and a gray possum/merino/silk, and the merino part feels better. (The colors in the photo are totally off, because it's directly under a lamp.)

I don't know what's wrong with me but I can't seem to match the number of warp ends in this warp and on the draft; the first one, I had eight leftover; this one I was short five, and I'd like to modify the two sides once again before proceeding.

But heck, this is an itchy, sticky warp. I can't stop scratching my face while working. I remember suspecting this and didn't order a lot, just enough for projects to be used with yarns in my stash. I have another small lovely gray cone, and a bigger navy cone; these colors are wonderful. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Garden Blitz Day 5, yesterday: I was up at 5AM, listening to the dawn call of the birds. The sky started to lighten at around 5.20, and for half a minute I contemplated spraying the weeds, in the dark, before the wind picked up. Silly me, I went back to bed.

We had sun, we had clouds, we had gusts, and we had "oh, my, if it were warmer this would be a tropical storm," while Ben went into town to check the PO box. We also had tolerable wind so I changed my pants to go out and the rain returned. We spent 3/4 of the day looking towards the west and figuring out and revising what gardening/cleaning tasks we could do, while squeezing in small jobs like making yogurt, Kombucha, a no-bake choc slices that failed miserably, and revitalizing the sourdough. We were exhausted. At 3PM I stomped downstairs to rethread the brown warp but it was so cold I only lasted two hours and managed only half. What a day!

Garden Blitz Day 6, today. We were expecting the sparky who couldn't come on Tuesday because the fittings hadn't arrived. (They warned us well ahead of time.) Because the kitchen and the basement workshop concerns me and the garage Ben, we both hung about awkwardly being available to Isaac; I considered weeding in the gust but sometimes Ben is hesitant approach tradesmen, or I so feel, so I stuck around. Silly me. I never know what's the right thing to do at times like these, or to be quiet or chatty. 
But look! I have better-looking, fully-functioning, no-longer flickering, LED lights, which Ben has directed in the right direction and will allow me to work longer without causing headaches, and there are only tiny holes in the ceiling which can be filled and painted over easily. By a taller person than me. I may even reconsider a better smoke-detector solution; to the left of the picture is our downstairs shower and the detector goes off with the steam so Ben took out the battery some years ago.
And Ben's getting better lights in the garage which has been his workshop since I took over his space with the big loom. (Our garage is normal height; Isaac is exceptionally tall. And lovely.)

I hope we can work in the garden on Garden Blitz Day 7. But for now, I'm going downstairs to finish rethreading.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Well, Yes

Garden Blitz Day 4; we went out too late and the sun, heat and the gust was a bit much, but we did work for three hours, cleaning one area and stacking all the disparate firewood in one place, well out of the way of other blitzing. And I weeded the flower pots. For the Garden Blitz week, it's a non-event, and we spent much too long for the job, but I'm glad we did it, as it marks a start and makes some later jobs easier. Sorry, no dramatic before/after pictures.

We are trying to go outside earlier so we can work comfortably and perhaps more efficiently.

Small "yay"???

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Little Overwhelmed and Plenty Pleased

Garden Blitz Day 2 didn't work out; I took too long to fix the Japanese blog, so Ben started preparing stew for dinner;when I finished, he hadn't, so I ironed; when he finished, I hadn't, so he made lunch. By the time we finished a very late lunch, it was too late to start a big clean up. (Not a good place to leave a bunch of stuff out overnight.) And we really were exhausted from the gale. Then the hoarding telly started and I didn't even go downstairs to rethread the brown warp. Bad, bad Meg. 

GBD3 started dark and windy, then light and gusty, then dark and showery, then still and misty. Then heavy rain, then sunny and still, then dark. It's incredible how the rain knows when Ben is outside; even in the sixty seconds he took out food scraps to the compost bin, it poured, but not before, not after.

This morning while I was cleaning the coffee maker, I got a message from Peter of Page & Blackmore saying Liz brought in a bag of merino so come and get it. Huh?? The sentence made sense but did he intend to ring me? But they did have a big heavy bag in the back office for me! 
I know merinos are big but I'm not sure if all this came from just one animal. That's not poo but a bit of native tree bark. The white parts are snowy-greasy-lovely with cute crimps. Thank goodness I have Dot to guide me, (I hope she will guide me), so I can finally do something many of you have done and most Kiwi weavers do with their eyes closed; start from this stage and end up with a woven article. This is Liz. I've got to think of a special Thank You.

Tomorrow a sparky is coming to replace the florescent lights downstairs with a third set of for-halogen fittings and LED bulbs. My basement workshop is not that old; I can't remember when we had it finished but sometime this side of 2000, and it went though two sets of halogen fittings in quick successions because they overheated. But florescent lights and I never got along; I can see it flicker, so we're getting a third set. If the fittings are compatible with LED, (apparently for some fittings LED bulbs are too cool, which may be a problem for most of our fittings upstairs,) they should be the last set. We've belatedly started replacing our other lights with LED, for the time being only the most used ones. But I like the idea of cooler lights and less energy; I'm so fussy about the color and Ben needs to keep trying different kinds until I approve. Poor guy.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Day 2 of Garden Blitz and we are inside; the wind feels worse today than yesterday so we're cleaning the storage under the stairs, the place we clean the least often but with great potential if we can manage getting rid of some stuff. Yet Nelson doesn't have the strong wind warning so I can't imagine what it's like elsewhere; suffice it to say, our chimney has been vibrating all morning.

I managed a few new posts on my Japanese blog about modifying 8-shaft drafts because Mom's two students started really reading, understanding, and modifying drafts. I also edited 3 of the 4 old posts I wrote in 2011 after hiding them a year and a half ago.

The more I learn about Japanese weaving and textiles, albeit terribly passively/reluctantly, I learn/confirm each word is loaded with information/specification/nuances. For example, the word for twill, 綾 (aya), in the first instance means a 1:2 twill. Or 2:1. Because I learned weaving in New Zealand, I don't know Japanese weaving jargon to start with, but I've been lazy about learning and have been writing cutsy posts, more or less mechanically "translating". Which doesn't work with Japanese, and truth be told, with most/all languages. 

Two of the most dire have been the words for warp and weft. (I know! Rolling eyes, yes?) Although they are homonyms, 縦糸 and 横糸 are wrong, they only mean vertical and horizontal threads; 経糸 and 緯糸 are correct, these are warp (ends) and wefts. I knew this, yet somehow some time in the past I decided to uniformly use the wrong pair! For many other words I just used the English words to avoid embarrassment. (And wait for it... Eyes rolled sufficiently they are back in their normal position.)

I only posted a little over 200 posts on my Japanese blog in the eight and a half years; 10% of Unravelling, but darn it, I tend to mention warps and wefts a lot, so I've been correcting those two this morning.

My Japanese blog has virtually no readership and I did it for Dad's benefit. Then when I learned Mom started teaching in 2010/11, I tried to come up with interesting/informative bit as best I could. In the last couple of years, however, I made friends with some professional textile folks in Western Japan, three of who are Facebook friends, and though I doubt they read my blog, both my blogs' updates feed into my Facebook profile, so I don't want to appear the sloppy idiot that I am. Until they meet me in person.

Right, back to it, then.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Postscript and Thank You

What did I tell you, it's Ben's first day off and supposed Day 1 of Garden Blitz, but it rained what felt like all night, and now it's so blustery to do much, though I might still weed a bit. However, he's had time to do a temporary fix on water-pipe-joint leaking above the ceiling that appeared suddenly yesterday afternoon. He's playing with his car in the garage now, and we have to go to the hardware store so I might get tomato, basil, and hot pepper seedlings.
Oh, the photo shoot. Truth to tell, when we we looking at couches two and a half years ago, "being able to act as an easy backdrop to textile closeup pics" was one of my criteria, and it doesn't disappoint, though our imprints are getting harder to hide. What you don't see here, to my right, is also the ironing board and three kinds of lint removers, none of which worked well enough for a photo shoot.

I found lighting extremely difficult, and kept closing and opening the curtains in the middle of the afternoon. In today's climate, I wouldn't blame my neighbors if they thought I was signaling a sinister co-conspirator the old fashioned way. I should have tried it earlier in the day by the front door; for years I attributed that good light to the specific time of day, but now I wonder if it's the ugly corrugated plastic roof on the patio diffusing the light. I must experiment in the afternoon to see if it still works well there.  

Once I am prepared, like many things I do enjoy a good photo shoot and get right into the tunnel-visioned mindset. With digital, it's so easy, cheap, and instant but the the downside is I take so many and it's hard to know which ones are good/bad.

My rant here and at Kaz's notwithstanding, we now have so many tools at our disposal we really we can make of "it" what we like, or "then" if we like, and instead of complaining, I should see and explore the possibilities with an open mind. (And take notes, because I know I won't remember.)

In terms of organizing, I wished I came up with the name earlier, (until the very last minute, it was going to be "The Photo Thing" or I was going to steal Laura's "Beauty Shot";) also the guidelines reads cumbersome and I apologize. The idea had been brewing for over a year and I thought I ironed out all niggles before I posted, but it was more my frustrations/dread with/of "new", "many" and "easy" coming to the fore. Just know that everything I cook up, the guidelines are guidelines and you are free to deviate in most respects.

Thank you very much, always, to all who participated and/or visited Picture-Perfect. And there is still plenty more time if you want to jump in.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

That Place Called the Garden

I don't watch too much reality TV including the evening news, because folks I support never win, but I have been mesmerized by the various hoarder shows. It's never about my yarn stash, because although I've a lot, I'm not overwhelmed by the contents/quality, just annoyed by the space it takes up and how slowly I work through them. But it is about when I was depressed, unable to make decisions, and postponed everything. It is about the unwillingness to start things if I knew I couldn't finish perfectly. And it is about my guilt associated with throwing out plastics. (There's so much we can't recycle here.)

Stash-busting is progressing slowly and the house is a mess and we see it better in the bright soon-to-be summer lights. (Oh, the hall ceiling and walls need washing so badly!) But it's the garden that continues to overwhelm/frustrate/depress me; the scope of work, the futility of weeding in a temperate climate, the voracity of English Black Birds, (I watched one topple a new small shrub in 12 minutes; they also decimate my bulbs even when they are in flower,) gravity, various mulching and weed-suppression methods/materials vs Black Birds and gravity, but not the least, the time, effort and money we sunk into this place in the 17 5/6 years of prettifying. And the irony where the weeds are bad, Black Birds can't dig. But most of all the disinterest/unwillingness of my dear cohabitant gets me down, and the astonishingly high probability it rains on days he takes days off  work, or his old arm problem acting up. (It is a real problem, not imaginary, but because it's related to computer usage and posture, so we all know the math.)

This spring has been extremely windy, more often, for longer, and in spite of the many rain forecasts, we've had almost none for a while, and I've spent a lot of time this spring guestimating and deciding what to do, or not going outside. Wrongly, I might add, more often than not. 

Whatever excuses I can concoct, no matter how I put it, ("I'd rather weave," is convenient but not true,) I don't like living like this, and I am very embarrassed.

With this overlong intro and negativity, I bet you didn't expect the next bit, because I sure didn't; I don't even know where it came from.

A few weeks ago, even while I was feeling imposed upon by longer days, brighter sun, and other people's flowers coming to bloom, memories of earlier summers popped in my head in bits.  First was the gentle warmth, (not the piercing mid-summer rays,) then bits and pieces of conversations that took place while we lunched outside with friends, (so many have left Nelson,) and then flashes of small patches where flours or veggies flourished. And I was reminded how lucky I am to be living in Nelson where the weather is seriously mild and beautiful, and what a sad, ungrateful, small person I've become not to appreciate this even a little bit, but emotionally holding my breath for almost the entire spring and summer, (though I have honestly always had problems with bright lights including sun, indoors or out.)

Yeah, right-wing politics is terrible, wars escalate, I'm fat, we can't afford to travel except to Japan, and there are no big art exhibitions here. But Ben has a regular job even in this climate and at a workplace that's become a local joke with their habitual reorganizing, and except for Dad, my family is well. And I get to weave.

So right or wrong, I decided I must really be moving away from a decade of clinical depression. That even though I'll never stop complaining about politics, the world, the garden, and the sun, I'm able to put thing into context better than I have been this side of 2003.

What a relief.

Plus I don't need mental preparation to go out to the garden these days, and once out there I can work for half a day, or longer, until the sun gets too hot or the bugs come out. You'd be amazed what I prune with a tiny, foldable Japanese floral arrangement saw with a 15cm blade. And some years, like this year, I'll also go all out with chemical warfare. 

Ben has the next two weeks off. For For months I looked forward to a road trip for at least a week, go to Christchurch for the first time since 2001, and see the city of Oamaru which I heard a lot about, (Terri and Alan were just there!), and sketch, relax, and chill out.

One recent Saturday Ben spent eight or nine hours sprucing up the candy car. At the end of the day he had strange muscle spasms and aches and realized how he never uses certain muscles any more. Last Sunday we had to go to the hardware store and I wandered into the garden section and enjoyed not so much looking at the plants, but at the folks who were looking at the plants. And seeds and pots and soil and even the garden hose.

This is how we reached the decision to make this a staycation. We hope to clean the garden a bit while discussing long-term plans, (much of which are best carried out in autumn/winter, or March-September-ish,) put some money into plants, clean out the garage, maybe paint the outdoor furniture, maybe extend other house things, and get rid of junk. I have a realistic expectation on how little can be done by us in two weeks, and we won't be working 24/7, but at least I'll have his cooperation, enabling cutting/moving/removing bigger and heavier things than I can on my own. And faster. And we'll still go out to late lunches or cook good food and enjoy the season.

I may have to halt stash busting temporarily, but I'm really looking forward to the next couple of weeks. It's like a harbinger to the real work we can do next winter. I might even post some before and after pics. At least it's better than no good news.

* * * * *

My baby sister is 50 today. She's a little sad because yesterday she got her first ever traffic ticket, and has to fork out a fine that would have afforded her, say, a nice haircut. But she's looking forward to a some cosmetic changes in her condo later in the month.So here's to being 50-years-young.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Epic Fail / Joy!

My first pleat sample was an epic fail. It looked  better just off the loom, but washed and dried, nada. It doesn't even show the weave pattern in real life, although it looked a proper two-faced twill on the loom. The right half is 24EPI, the left is 21; bottom was beaten softly with about 1mm between picks, the top portion "snug". And the weft is so skinny I almost can't see it under artificial light. But the worst part is, this warp is scratchy and it needs taming with good merino, so I'm modifying the threading, resleying at between 18EPI and 20, and making a normal, unpleated piece. I'm not having any luck with my gifts-to-friends, am I?

Terri and hubby Alan Bibby came to visit me today; they've been touring the South Island and I've kept abreast of their travels her fb profile, but it was lovely of them to stop by. (With warning, of course.) Needless to say, the conversation focused on weaving and her thoughts on Saori weaving, (as I imagined, she's utterly genuine about the message of peace associated with her weaving and has woven in some very interesting places/context,) but also about photography, her hubby being a professional photographer and a documentary maker. He told me my pantsed camera is a really good camera. Thank you for a lovely, lovely afternoon and safe travels!

There may be a picture of us appearing on her blog. (I, of course, was too busy talking.) Alan took some pics of me, and I'm not sure if it was part of a project of his, collecting images of decaying, changing things. LOL.