Sunday, March 18, 2018

Making More Loose Ends

I made two new warps this week. I have used more than I remembered, but there are always around 30 premades. My goal this year is to reduce this number to about 10 at any time. (For one thing their usual spot gets afternoon sun, and even with an old bed sheet over them, it's not ideal as long-term storage. But I'm not adamant, because making warp is one of the most therapeutic activities in my life. Actually, the most, because physicality, tactility, colors, and the subconscious planning running like a film in my head take me to a happy boisterous place. As opposed to the happy quiet place while I thread.

* * * * *

On Friday, I asked art teacher Mark what I thought was a dumb question: in order to create abstract "art", does one have to start with something figurative and abstract/distort it to "reach" an abstracted stage, or can one start with shapes and colors and proceed directly, and his answer, to the first part before I got to the second, was, "Hell, no."

Happy dance.

* * * * *

Re Raw/Syrie, I'd been planning on weaving strips 40-50cm wide, because they are easier/quicker to weave than the almost-60cm I'm weaving right now. I visualize four or five of them making up the one leek, and intuition says they are, on average, to be between 4 to 5m long. That's a whopping 20-25m of weaving, when the maximum length on my horizontal mill is somewhere between 21-24m, loom waste and all.

Let's say 40cm-wide times four pieces yield 160cm circumference at the bottom of the leek, (realistically, this minus shrinkage and seams,) about 50cm in diameter. If I weave 60cm-wide, three pieces yield 180cm/57cm; slower weaving per vertical cm, but a lot less in total length, right?

I've also come up with an easy twill solution if I can't get my head around tied or freeform weave structures, if I run out of time, for the windows. I haven't given up on tied weave because I want the cloth to be stiff rather than drape-y, but now I have a fallback plan. Which, hee hee, makes me feel so professional/experienced. (Laugh in union, good people!)

In response to my doubts about "Syrie", (I have to come up with a better working title because it sounds too close to "Siri",) Ruby commented on Facebook: "2 thoughts for you: 1)Working in series is being an artist. 2)Fear of success is real (and very different than fear of failure). Just do it and try to enjoy the fact that you love weaving and engaging with yarn and color."

I never saw "Pillars" as a start of the series. The fact "Syrie" is similar, I saw as only a restriction of and reflection on the technique of conventional loom weaving, and my unwillingness to cut or otherwise distort/enhance the rectangles coming off the looms. As well, I have always been enamoured by architecture and archeology, and in big parts by the simple beauty and regularity of tall pillars in ancient civilizations, European and American Colonial architectures, including, ummmm, plantation/slave-owners' homes, but also public institutions. Also anything square and symmetrical of all sizes. So, in a way, it stands to reason whenever I want to make something that's conceptual on my looms, my defaults are regular-looking pillars and buildings and such. (I've also long had this idea of weaving a city gate, too.)  And this is fine by me, this being my thing, but if this is, oh, I hope I make more than just the two.

"Fear of success" I don't understand at all. I find the process of conception to plan to making to hanging, (i.e. the bringing to life the mental picture using the stuff I made), and all on a tight schedule, all-consuming I don't have any brain juice left. Ergo, when I'm working, I'm unencumbered by the fear of failure. Success, especially in relation to exhibitions, have meant having gotten stuff done in respectable time. You remember I have submitted stuff late with the organizer's permission, or proposals with damp pages; I even went back after a show opened to give my stuff one last good steam press, all recorded here.

My fear of failure is the fear of embarrassment of not having executed something well, to my satisfaction and if related to an exhibition, to my own perception of standards which may make my stuff submittable beyond Nelson's art/NZ's textile worlds, which are, let's face it, tiny; and misc guilts/regrets always present in my life. And/or ego/pride.

Suffice it to say my fear of failure thus far focused on technique. Syrie presented my first doubt whether my "process" is "deep enough", and I'm mildly amused. It could be a sign of creative maturity, not as in "I've grown up," but more "I've done this a few times, so is the same-old good enough?" Or it's just a bunch of gobbledygook.

Happily I'm stuck in the old energized frenzie for now, and any reflection has to wait until after the deadlines.

* * * * *

Better view of the first piece off.
View of the second piece, which ended up being, the notebook says, 2m, but I think it's less. Either way, it's a respectable size, with possibly very-long-for-me fringes. The vertical portion shows the colors pretty accurately on my screen.
I like the B-side better, but I don't know where that unsightly arc came from.
Warp end fabric. This weft is more light teal, whereas the silk above is a slightly-green pale blue. 

Here's a lesson from a reckless weaver. This warp is my standard "10m", though I  know that's not the exact length on the board. I wove two biggish samples, one long piece, and another average piece with long fringes, so experience told me I haven't got enough warp left for a third proper piece. I chose this light teal possum/merino/silk to weave a warp-end fabric, possibly for a friend who loves teal and knows how to sew. Well, it turns out I had more weft yarns than I imagined, but not enough for a proper piece and I may have had enough warp for a proper piece. So I'll get 92cm, 1m at best, of this, and a smaller one probably in another green. Silly/stupid/reckless, but a great exercise in using up odds and ends; works well enough if you have to work through a stash as big as mine.

And I'm not sick of this draft yet. 

Good times.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Swapping/Trading with Ruby

Look what I got in the mail from Ruby on Wednesday! 
It's a beautiful scarf with multi-color tansel warp and blue cashmere weft, with a terrific sheen and a lovely weight. With a lovely card and I even love her handwriting!
Look at the fringes; I can't stop playing with them.
Physically, the fulled cashmere sits above (?) the warp, and seen sideways it looks like a dark blue scarf with a dull sheen, but from other angles, the sheen of tansel make the warps pop forward and the weft appears more like a filler or background. Amazing.

Because Mom likes light-weight pieces, I've always worked hard to make my cashmere pieces light, starting with 12 EPI but settling at 15 or 16. Then in 2012 I tried closer sett, 18EPI, which produced heftier, luxurious weight. This piece has that kind of weight; it reminds you you are wearing something utterly lovely.

It'll be a while before I can work on my end of the swap, but for now I'm thinking fine NZ merino in the warp and cashmere in the weft. Although it might end up something totally different.

Thank you, again and again, Ruby!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Insomnia to the Rescue

Last week, I did a lot on Monday and Tuesday and by Wednesday I was exhausted and it lingered until Thursday. So this week on Monday I did a little housework and a little weaving; on Tuesday I did a little weeding, (I carried a kitchen timer so I wouldn't overdo it,) and wove quite a lot. I'm halfway done with the slubby silk piece; it's going to be 180-190cm in length, a little shorter than I wanted it to be, but an acceptable size.

On Wednesday, I didn't feel sick but I had been reading a fun book for kids, "The Traitor and The Thief", by an Englishman based on the North Island here; it's my favorite kind of book that takes me to a different time and place and let's me live the experience. And I finished the book instead of weaving. Later that night I went to bed and read an excruciatingly boring ketogenic cookbook. Maybe this is why I couldn't asleep, so I tried to plan practical steps/tasks for "Syrie"; it went on too long for comfort, but I did see what I needed to do next, got up surprisingly energized.
I placed "Syrie" warp candidates, cotton and silk, where I usually put warp candidates. To the left of the pale blue silk towards the wall/door are wool I'll use as wefts. (The pic shows a lot of oranges, but some are serious reds.)
I painted strips of 5cm-wide drawing paper so I can make 1/10 size mockup. I remembered I did the same thing with the "Pillars" was I was making 15cm and 18cm people, but I couldn't find a pic posted here. That one looked like a failed diorama homework by a disinterested second grader worked in fifteen minutes, but it did give me a good picture. It had the corner of the large gallery at Refinery to scale, and I hung some gray paper 1/10 of the size I had intended to make, with 150cm and 180cm-tall "people" looking up. With "Syrie" I don't need the gallery, but I'd like to try a few variations on the final form/shape.

Ths time, a good mock up will probably be what I submit as my proposal because 1) there is no way I can weave the whole thing by my birthday, but more importantly, 2) submitting a big red floppy leek can't tell the committee much but the mock up will provide a better idea.

I must read about free-style and tied weaves right away so I can superimpose windows on "building/s" woven in some kind of Syria/Muslim-inspired motif-based pattern, something I can manage with 16-shafts. Boy, I wished I had more or a Jacquard to make Arabesque/flowers and vine design for this. Anyhoo, the Klick is ready for some sampling.
I also made Esther's Birthday warp while waiting for the red paint to dry; it's in four grays and black. When she came over to have a look at my cashmere samples, she liked conservative/traditional twills, especially achromatic. I can do that.

* * * * *

I've convinced myself "Syrie" is going to turn out crappy even before I made the warp. I've been wondering why this is. I've given up projects when I can't be bothered, but I've never had this foreboding causing reluctance/hesitance. It's probably because I'm usually too busy working out the mechanics and due dates are the biggest worry. I work while I imagine the piece looking just the way I see it in my head, and then come face to face with my technical weaknesses and, whoa, reality and sometimes dispare hit me, and I complain, and blog, and then move on.

I never worried "Pillars" would turn out badly. There were no rude surprises with that project, and although I didn't know exactly how it would look until we hung it in the gallery,  I was confident I would like it and it would look good in the exhibition.

I don't know why it's so different this time. Is it because "Syrie" is similar to "Pillars" I myself see it as Version II, (even though it's not, really,) and that I'm cheating? Do I find my approach or vision facile or immature/underdeveloped? Have I learned too much about textile work in exhibitions and my ideas don't meet my expectations? Is it my technical skills that worry me?

Or is it the magnitude of what's happening in Syria vs my audacity to borrow their fate as "inspiration" to make a few pieces of red cloth in my cushy First World basement and put my name on it instead of, as if it represents any kind of... what... reality? I don't know, I don't know if I'll ever know. But making this feels better than not making this, so I'll stay on track for now.

So it was insomnia to the rescue once again.

Monday, March 12, 2018


I'm eight days behind my vague schedule, but I finished the first piece today. I like it and sincerely hope wet-finishing won't change it much. I like the proportion and the sheen, and woven in smaller scale and bright colors, I can see how the draft can be so cute as pansies/hellebores pieces. I was going for 240-270cm, but quit at 239cm because I would have had to prep another prin, and I wanted to get to the second piece fast. I hope it's long enough; if I put it in the Suter, I'll have front of desk staff Kirstin try it on; she's super tall and she can give me a picture of whether it's a good size for my idea of how to wear this. Sorry the pic is so dark, but it's a really dark piece and I finished around 7PM so this is all the light I had.
I started the second piece using E as the weft. It's slubby, not boucle, and after wet-fishing, the warp almost gets sucked into the sea of pale-blue-green, (lighter in value than in the pic.) As a weft it's too thick in places so: 1) there will be some unseemly long warp floats, and 2) the draft will be elongated warp-wise. But I also have good reasons: 1) I want to try some textures in my weaving, and 2) I think the piece will have that luxurious, hefty silk weight. When I stayed at Kaz's in 2014, she let me try one of her big silk pieces, (sorry, I couldn't find a good view of it on her blog,) and not only was it bright and beautiful with lots of purple, but it had that familiar weight of silk one feels when putting on a good old kimono. This won't be anything like that, but I wanted to give it a go, something different from what I normally make. Above pic shows two "rows"/units out of 16 in one weft repeat.

I am eight days behind my vague schedule because I had that "whatever I make will be meh," thing and I couldn't be bothered with "Syrie"; I wasn't feeling well Wed/Thurs; I didn't want to go to art class on Friday, but I wanted to see a doco about a Swiss/New Zealand jewelry maker Kobi Bosshard with Esther, so I went. And it was good: art class was about colors, and although I fudged what we were supposed to be doing, (making one grid of warm-to-cool colors, another of analogous,) I made some nice colors with paint labeled as student arcylic, but behved more like gouache.
These are test sheets before I filled my grids; dark blues were much on my mind. My warm-cool grid turned muddy and I didn't even attempt to finish the analogous.

The film was superb, and I'd like to go see it with Ben again if we have the chance; before that, lunch with Esther was good because we talked about art vs. craft, concepts/ideas in making, and the fear of failure; after the film I saw Changing Threads, (varied entries, some superbly crafted, some with good ideas, but the show as a whole felt sparse;) I went to Volume to pop wow with Stella and Thomas; and the day ended with Ben and me at the Vietnamese restaurant. And somewhere between playing with colors and talking with Esther and learning about Kobi, I got a bit of my mojo back, so "Syrie" is back on again. Except I only have 21 days left to at least come up with a sample.


I feel better, but not completely, which makes me grumpier than the usual grumpy. I'm wasting so much time. If not working, I'd like to be weeding and tidying. Cicadas have long left and the sun and air have turned autumnal a couple of weeks ago. JB and Ali left Nelson for Germany last week so summer is truly over, and we get a very late delivery of firewood on Thursday.

And I have stuff to weave.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Is any Age not Difficult?

I had trouble with antibiotics; I forgot to take it on Friday, which explains why I had more energy and wove for two hours without a break. Came yesterday morning I took one and I was well and truly out of commission. I started well today but had one last dose left, so early/middle of the day was lost, but I've been OK from late afternoon; I even wove a little. But I'm having tension problems on the sides, especially the left selvedge, so I'm weaving extra slowly.

This antibiotics' side effects aren't as acute as other kinds but I felt so out of it, similar to but less drowsy than strong hay fever or cold meds. Which is why on the day I was prescribed this, I took it before I went to bed. The instructions only said once a day, so I thought it'd work. But force of habit is a strange thing; we take supplements in the morning so I went that way for the rest of the time. Silly, really.

* * * * *

Mom keeps sabotaging our art-on-Skype; she insists she wants to talk about weaving, but whenever we do, what needs saying fit inside five minutes. She says she wants advice on colors, for e.g., but I called her bluff; in the eight years we talked colors on Skype, I've watched her eyes glaze over, while I think of all sorts of way to make, usually a warp, interesting and unexpected for her. The number of times she's gone ahead with my suggestions is exactly zero.

As well, if we do stuff on Skype we do stuff, and we even make interesting observations sometimes; otherwise we revisit the same old topics every week: the weather, health, crimes; how she misses nature by living in an apartment; how her three friends never have ideas about where to go on their next monthly trip, (not true,) or how she needs to do all the organizing, (possibly true.) For two to three hours. I can't see how this can be remotely healthy.

I don't want to push her too much, because she's never uncomfortable trying new things with me; I also want to lead her away from being stuck in the same unproductive thoughts and have the chance to talk about new things. And it's not as if we don't talk about the "normal" things at the start before we get into "art".

87 is a difficult age. As is 59. I'm thinking of getting John Leland's "Happiness is a Choice you Make" after revisiting his Fresh Air interview many, many times. One thing he said have stayed with me, and of course I'm paraphrasing; he said something like, "appreciate when oldies show up, because we have no idea how much work it took for them to show up." Good lesson, isn't it?

* * * * *

My view as I weave; I have no idea about the second weft.

Friday, March 2, 2018


Hue, value and size of weft are good. Size and proportion of motifs are good. One weft repeat is just under 780 picks, and weaving slowly and paying attention to the selvedges, doable in a couple of hours, comes to about 80cm, but a little hard on the body so I need to take more breaks. I'm going for longer pieces on this warp, 240-270cm, so at least two more sittings to come for this piece. 

The selvedge is, ummmm, 6/10, but that's me. Neither yarn fluffs up in the finishing, so the cloth will be "bumpy" or "dry" like cloth made of thickish cotton or silk, not "cushy" or "meaty" like my usual, but this is new-ish to me and appealing in a different way.

The colors are darker and more blue/navy, not predominantly purple. Today I needed three sets of lights in the middle of a cloudy, sometimes rainy day, to see where I was going.

But I like this.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


I got tired the sound of my voice, inside my head, whining, "I don't like any of the wefts..." so I sampled another lot. Usually this is a no-brainer, but the basement still looks like this; actually it looks messier because I've been moving stuff around as I work, but I dug in and got some more wool.
Oh, the top blue, I have about that much more left and that's it, but I had to try. The dark green possum/merino/silk I forgot I had because it's so not my color but it works in this context. Possible. All three naturals look unnaturally white in contrast to the very black black warp, so for now I'm not planning on using them.
I'm not a fan of using variegated yarns in the weft because they look stripey. The top navy/purple/green is a wool of some type my source sent me by mistake. It's woolen but tightly spun, but not high twist, and skinny and somewhat shiney, and not soft; it's not corse, but "hard". The resultant cloth, (still damp,) almost feels like I used, oh, a silk of some kind, not fluffy, not meaty, but drapes nicely, and the uniform value hides the stripiness; in fact the colors look great. So, unless the cloth turns out wire-y when completely dry, this is a definite yes.

The brown/range/yellow/pink (yes!)/green is 100% merino; years ago I bought 2kgs of it as a challenge to myself during my "absolutely no orange" period. It looked a little more sedate on the website, but unruly in real life, and over the years I asked many weavers what they would do. Knowing I hate taming colors by combining them with black, many have said this may be one time I might have to do that, all 2kg of it. It is a nice merino, and with the motif so big and in-your-face, I wondered if it might work in this context, and I'm kind of sitting on the fence, swinging my legs, and acting coy.

Black on black turned out funereal, although with 100% merino the warp does stand out just the way I expected. I'll do the dark blue variegated first, then either dark green P/M/S or the screamy orange, and then I'll decide. Names like "Shadows", "Ancestors", "Crowd" and "Picture Album" come to mind, so apparently I'm still on the many-faces track.

Between our colds, intermittent rain and threats of more horrendous weather, we've managed to wash and dry the wool carpet but not the underlay. Plus, if we are going to get more rain, we want to make sure the basement remains dry before we put that tiny area back to normal. Which is why I'm working in this obstacle course for now; at some stage soon we need to put things away because Syrie warp needs to be made on the horizontal mill, (it's the one in front of the back storage wearing a bedsheet,) and I don't really want to make a delicate warp in the garage.

I'm faring better, but I've been clearing my throat noisily every few minutes and I don't want to be a nuisance in class or at the cinema, so tomorrow is going to be a home day.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We are Officially Un-Whooped

So it's not whooping cough, according to the nurse, neither Ben nor me. Unsatisfying, because the doc was behind schedule yesterday and my appointment was rushed. But if I'm still coughing a lot after three days of antibiotics, I should avoid crowds, she said. Well, yeah.

Today is the last day of Feb already, and I've always thought this is a sneaky conspiracy; in many cultures I know, there is a bit of partee-ing in Dec/Jan, so they made Feb short just so we're aware time is precious, that if we haven't started on projects we intended to, we better start now. You know what I mean?

I don't get along with antibiotics; some give me headache, some makes me drowsy, this one makes my head spin, although the cold itself could be the culprit. None of these is dire or alarming, just they're there and I'm reminded throughout the day.

So with a lovely warp ready and waiting to be woven downstairs, but with still no solution about the wefts, I might take it easy, finish up the MOMA course I was supposed to last Sunday; read up on weave structures, or more realistically, gaze at drafts and pics; doodle; or read.

* * * * *

That was this morning. I tried to finish the MOMA course. I did the reading and the quiz, but I have to write two pieces, 500 words each, and present it for peer review! Even though I am excruciatingly long-winded, I tried over the years to present my arguments/explanations as concisely as I can manage, and the first assignment, I said everything I need to say in less than 180 words. So I have to do a bit of thinking and add more details or examples. Eek.

But I was exposed to a lot of new-to-me artists and had some of their processes explained. Among them, I'll continue to read up on Doris Salcedo and David Hammons.

OK, time to go to bed. I'll decide in the next couple of days if I will add more fluff into the assignments, or dare submit shorter ones. I figure, for me, if I have 350ish, that's more than enough. :-D 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Doc Karl didn't tell me if I have whooping cough, and I forgot to ask if I'm contagious, but he told Ben he had it, and I was given the same antibiotic as Ben's, plus a few supplements, same as Ben's. So there we have it. I might ring the RN tomorrow before I decide about Friday morning art class or film afternoon with Esther. 

Now for the sample. Not pressed.

Originally I designed this draft to be woven in skinny cottons at 42EPI and about the same PPI, (roughly half each way or a quarter in area,) so as I started weaving, BOOM!, I was reeling back on the loom bench at the motifs' bigness! Although the size, in this context, is slowly growing on me.

1) The red and the natural at the start are not weft candidates but sampling, using leftover yarns, to help me look for threading/sleying mistakes. I like the proportion of warp/weft sizes, even though I tend to beat really hard in samples, so they are not accurate representation. It's cloudy today, so the natural weft looks appealing.

2) It's been a while since I wove with yarns in the same color but different sheen, (a style I love,) so I tried black possum/merino/silk(B) and cashmere(I). Because of the sheen from the mohair in the warp, the warp is a very black black, but neither show marked contrast, (I) marginally better. Ditto with the two grays, in P/M/S(A) and cashmere(G), although all feel great, the P/M/S cushier and thicker.
 Warp and P/M/S sheen contrast 
Warp and cashmeres and the last navy wool sheen contrast

3) When I first entertained the idea of silk, I thought of the yellow(D); it has a hint of black, an "old gold" look. I'm undecided on the color combo but like the size. The pale blue(F) is my favorite, and I almost didn't sample because I don't have enough, but the size is perfect and I love the look especially in daylight, so at least the idea was good. The slightly greenish boucle(E) was the nearest color silk I have, but the jury's out; the draft/pattern is surprisingly visible even in spite of the boucle. The darker, grown-up green(C), (and it's not gray nor gray-brown,) I saved for years for a suitable project, and while the color is lovely, it's too thick. (C), (D), and (F) silk wefts are shinier, while the warp stays a somewhat subdued very black black and really recedes.

4) I'm never sure about black+purple(H) but I like black+navy(J), but I don't have a suitable navy not in boucle. I don't like (H), and the sheen of the warp is too close to that of (J), so I don't think I'll go with either.

While I was wet-finishing, I remembered I have black merino in the same size as the red and white wool, from the same source as the warp mohair/merino. I might sample that at the start/end of the first piece. But... None here stands out and the loom is ready to go first thing tomorrow morning.

I don't like black warps, but goodness, in combination with dark wefts? Yikes.

As for Syrie, now that I put my thoughts in words and posted, and Ben's seen what I was up to, I'm drowning in foreboding whatever I make is destined to be mediocre, "a nice effort", and "provincial" in the worse sense. I'm going to walk away from it for a few days, or concentrate on the technical aspect: weave structure, making tiny mock ups, etc

Monday, February 26, 2018


The title line is a picture of me being pulled in two directions. 

I thought was getting all better by Friday so I went to the art class; ran into Annabelle for the second time since our exhibition, (her life is so good now, I'm glad;) then went to Rosie's and had a great time, except I was coughing, and still we talked non-stop. I didn't feel bad one bit, just coughing, but too often, too loudly, and I'd say, rudely. Oh, dear. So, I made a doctor's appointment at 4.30 tomorrow, in time to run into a pharmacy before closing.  

In a way, I knew I must see Doc Karl when Ben came home with whooping cough med; even though I wasn't sick, and my "cold" manifested in different ways, I had read that whooping cough is highly contagious. I stayed home until I felt I was almost over it, but that must have been wishful thinking. The foremost excuse is, now is not the time for me to get sick when Ben's blood sugar level and our going back to a no-carb diet are our priorities, and I'm having a hard enough time keeping that under control, so, tough it out, kid! But also, I'm honestly fired up about my new project. I even made a label, "RAW/Syrie" just now to tag the posts. See =>>>>>

So what am I thinking? If you've been around Unravelling, you know I need a picture of the finished project, albeit incomplete, constantly morphing, or ends up only a step in the process; that picture is constantly morphing now, and even when it settles it's something I can't "show" you until it's hung at the Refinery, if selected. But I hate dropping coy hints without any meat, so here are the starting points:  

* It's going to be something like the pillars, but the bottom part sewn together to make a real tube, to sit directly on the floor, then different panels opening up. Individual piece may be narrower but need to be longer and I'm aiming for five panels if possible.  

* The panels are going to be predominantly red, with squares/rectangles of different sizes in red, orange, yellow, grays and black; possibly more. These represent windows. 

* Background, my short history: You know I worked at the Syrian Embassy in Tokyo for a year. Back in the 80's Syria, and Iraq for that matter, were cosmopolitan, "Westernized" countries where at least in the city life looked what we'd call, "normal"; there were no headscarves, women were educated and worked, etc.* The major security concerns were Gaza/West Bank, recently Lebanon, and Egypt where "fundamentalist" were gaining strength. So I was honestly shocked at what happened in Syria since the Arab Spring; I knew Assad the Dad ruled with iron fists, but I hadn't realized Assad the Son followed in the footsteps. So I've been thinking very vaguely of a series of red pillars named "Syrie" for a couple of years. (* I worked at the embassy, which is a branch of the Foreign Ministry, so the information I received were the official versions, but we also met some Japanese who travelled there, and heard stories that didn't contradict the official line too much.) 

* Background, the name: I grew up in the US in the 70's when America's worst foes were "Syria and Libya", so the English "Syria" evokes in me more of infantile name-calling, rather than the country herself. I'm interested in the country. "Syrie" is the French name; they colonized Syria 1923-'46 under League of Nations mandate. "Syrie" is a working title because I don't know/think they were especially happy under colonial rule, but to me, for now, it points to the country so I prefer it. 

* In trying to work out how I could make something to express/represent the lament, the devastation, the losses/changes in the lives of everyday Syrians, I searched for recent still photos. (I can't look at too many at one time, and I don't have the stomach for vids.) but I was overwhelmed with the large proportion of almost black-and-white/sepia pics showing the "aftermath", buildings with windows blown out, conveying, to me, a perverted kind of silence, stillness, and, dare I say, beauty, as if it's a done deal. "Oh, look at the city reduced to rubble." Rubbles are about buildings, material things! Although I don't like looking at them, I was expecting more people running, even bleeding, limping, or carrying others; at least buildings as they burn, explosions as bombs are dropped. So that is my starting point. 

* Current Issues: The picture in my head is still about the buildings because you know I love architecture and buildings/structures are easier to express in the grid that is weaving. On the technical side, I don't want to use pick up if I'm going to have to make five, say, of 4m, say, panels; I can change weft colors, but I also prefer to weave with one shuttle at a time. Much reading required. 
This is the doodle that made me think I might be able to do this. So, I'll be making a giant red leek. 

On another note, I finished threading the black merino/mohair yesterday so I can start sampling. I also resumed counting the days to my birthday, (36), not for the old stash-busting goal, (ha ha ha,) not for my Yikes-60-countdown, but that's the day proposals for RAW are due. Another important date is May 7, when all accepted "out of town" pieces are due at the Refinery; typical of me, if I don't get the thing done by April 3, (most likely,) I will submit a proposal with whatever I will have completed, and take the time to weave for another month. And in a way it's nice to be working on the big loom while I think further about the project. 

I have an alternative plan, although it doesn't appeal to me at this stage; if I can't manage the weaving, I could paint/modify the pillars for this project. Those pieces are stiffish in luxurious wool, (actually more like buildings made of stones,) but not quite long enough, while I'm thinking of thinner, more flimsy cloth for this project. I am keeping all options open.