Friday, November 30, 2007

A Mighty Fine Day, Indeed

I know many of you will be thinking, "Is that all!" but upstairs, I'm sticking to the 2/60 cotton at 60EPI, 1/3 and 3/1 twill stripe, with the same 2/60 cotton in the weft, woven very loosely. The finished piece will look pretty much like the top 1/3 of the sample.

Downstairs on the big loom I have 2/20 in 30EPI, sleyd 5EPI on a 6-dent reed, ergo the stripe in the twill where they shouldn't be, again in two-faced twill, woven at 48PPI.

I'm having problems with my eyes again, (and we won't go into which is the chicken and which is the egg), and I can't stick to either of them for too long; on the table loom upstairs, after three sittings I've just cleared 88cm; downstairs I wove about 60cm to finish one piece in the morning, and in the afternoon I wove only 70cm, and I find I can't concentrate well after that.

I love the way they are going to look and feel, or so I keep telling myself. Sometimes I need to talk up my skills and abilities so I stick with what I started; this week has been like such a week.

These are so not the kind of things one should be weaving when one is looking to have a stall in the market in 21 days. Still, it'd be fun to wash these.

Weaving on YouTube

As a rule, I don't associate new technology with handweaving because what we do is so basic and labor-intensive and another-world-ly, but while looking for a New Zealand TV commercial this morning, I thought to search for some weaving videos.

Hypertextile/Luciano Ghersi of Porchiano del Monte, Italy, says he is a weaver and art teacher. His blog is mostly in Italian but with lots of photos and videos I found on YouTube. Here is his Flickr, and his YouTube. And I'm guessing this is the blog of the Textile Department of the school where he works.

Eksha's is of Dhaka weaving by Limbu women in Nepal and the footage is lovely.

Umyintlwin has a clip from Akhar, Myanmar,Weaving Training School; the quality of this one is not spectacular, but the costume of the women interesting nonetheless.

I've also checked, quite a while back, podcasts o the subject of weaving, and I'd imagine they are interesting, too. If you have the facilities, you may consider listening to them while weaving? I'm happy with my radio/CD/books-on-tape for the time being.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Twilight Market

As with exhibits, at times weaving appears to be the easiest part of a weaver's life.

For Twilight Market, we are having a blue (probably navy blue; definitely not green) tent over our 3m * 3m stall space. I happened upon Arts Marketing on the day they put one up to see it themselves, and the space was larger than I had imagined.

We are required to bring everything else, including, among others, tables, chairs, change, and packaging material.
I need a break from all these marketing considerations; I'm going to go dress a loom now.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Future plans notwithstanding, this is what I've been working on. It has four colors of the 2/60 cotton in the warp, and I guess-timated the sett should be somewhere between 60-90EPI. I wound the thread around two inches of cardboard, but I couldn't see what I was doing, and had a terrible time counting the threads, so I took a stab in the dark and sleyed it at 60DPI to start at the loose side.

What I wasn't expecting was the stripe effect, as a result of putting 10 ends to a dent in a 6-dent reed. I need to sley more closely to get the cloth I want, but because I only have 292 ends in this warp, I've begun to weave a few scarves in stripe, and then resley to sample closer setts, rather than to get it right only to weave wide-tie-width scarves. The first is in 1/3 and 3/1 two-faced twill stripe, (in addition to the gap-stripe).

The cotton has a beautiful sheen, and is sufficiently stiff but doesn't feel wiry. I broke two warps and the worst part was I couldn't hear them break. I need to weave during the day, so I can see the warp better to avoid skips and other errors. Sample shown here is a little less than 5 inches wide on the loom.

As you can imagine, it weaves terribly slowly, not only because it's fine but also because I put this warp on the Klik table loom so I can scrutinize the yarns and the process, so I don't think I'll get around to weaving a couple of dozen tiny scarves in three-and-a-bit more weeks. Which means I'll have to get a few more cones of the 2/20 cottons for Twilight Market. Grin!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Changing Viewpoint

Yesterday at the Red Gallery, I came upon an old-ish Ornament magazine (Vol 30 No 3), which had two pages on Shibori dye artist Carter Smith, and his exhibition earlier this year at the Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts. Though I love seeing how others dye, I've never been big on doing it myself, but I was curious I was so taken by the works.

Smith's cloths are stunning, so it's no surprise I stared at the pictures from all angles for quite a while. Previously, when I saw interesting textile works, e.g. screen print and surface painting, beading and embroidery, jewelry, millinery, even good sewing, I not only wanted to learn the techniques, but after I picked up the very basics (of just some of what's mentioned above, of course,) I wanted to pursue the latest one instead of weaving. Only lately, in the last few months, I've come to examine these other techniques not to replace weaving, but to enhance it.

I can't remember if it was a conscious effort. At first, I tried to see ornamentation co-existing with my woven cloth, but the cloth was always in the background, at times invisible. In May, when I was sitting at the Expo twiddling my thumb, I started envisioning integrating beading/embroidery with the woven cloth, so there was an apparent relationship between the surface design and the background cloth.

Yesterday, while admiring the photos of the stunning Shibori, and Randy's voice from the Craft in America video reminding me I should be able to tell a story in one scarf, I was watching a slide show in my head of woven and dyed shawls, where the weave structure and the dye patterns enhanced each other. (And here, I'm not talking about techniques like woven shibori, but the final design.)

Lucky for me, the slide show is still running this morning. I'm not sure where I want to take this; I know for certain I have to learn a little more than 5th grade Home Ec shibori and wax resist. But it must be possible to create something where Weave+Shibori=More.

This is a marked shift in how I see/think, and I came to it painlessly, but executing the ideas, that's going to hurt a bit. I am relieved I've come to see weaving as the base of most everything I want to do.

From Carter Smith's web page, here are some photos from the exhibit.

PS. I'm not sure if it sounds strange to you, but in my school in Japan, we did shibori and wax resist as part of the home economics curriculum in elementary school and possibly again in junior high school, not in art. It was probably seen as something all good housewives should know.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Randall Darwall in "Craft in America"

Way back when Randy told us he would take part in this documentary/book, I Googled all over, emailed the contact address several times on their then-one-page web site, and tried everything else I could think of to find out more. Good thing Randy's web minder put a link, because I had forgotten all about it.

Craft in America, The History of Fiber, starts here. There are four pages, so move around by clicking on the numbers at the bottom of the page.

On Page 3, you will find a link to Randy's much-too-short video interview; alternatively, click here to see it on a bigger screen, (though Randy's image gets pixel-lated.) Randy's page on their web site is here.

Once again, there is the music talk. Randy very briefly mentioned the Darwall Hymns in England composed by his ancestor; John Darwall is all I found today, but music certainly runs through his veins.

I also found Randall Darwall on Flickr, but the photos seem to be from the exhibit Brian curated this time last year. Too bad the account doesn't seem to allow anyone to be a contact.

Uploading on, Draft #61268 - look familiar? It's the base for my Giant Ribbon. It was thrilling to finally contribute something to the weaving community, though now that I look at it, I'm not sure if anybody would be interested.

It's surprisingly quick and easy to upload drafts there, so if you're interested, give it a go. Also, Kris would love to add pictures and stories to the Gallery section, I believe, so contact him through the Comments page.

This PrtScn looks very blurred, but it's a tad better when enlarged. Better yet, make yourself a hot cup of something, and go visit the site. (And my colors look heaps better there.)

PS. Also check out Draft #61262 Breast Cancer pink ribbon by Bonnie Inouye, (though she doesn't call it exactly that.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Last Meeting of 2007

Last night was the last meeting of Marlborough Weavers for 2007. We had wine, followed by pot luck dinner, then made Christmas ornaments based on Dutch Teabag folding, then my favorite part, the show-and-tell. This is where we were supposed to show our M's & O's projects, but I'm happy to report, about 1/3 of the projects, like mine, were not M's & O's; there were at least three weavers who wove Davison drafts I worked out on graph paper, and it wonderful to see them come to life. Then we had pot luck desserts and a meeting to give us things to ponder regarding next year's activities.

That's us doing a bit of origami, which brought mixed memories of my childhood being told off for not having the corners right, but amongst friends it was pleasant. The tiny purple Christmas tree on the lower left is mine.

Starting with the fabulous picnic in January, a few days before my exhibit opened, I went to a grand total of four meetings this year, which was more than I had hoped for, but still not enough. Nevertheless, I'm glad I belong to this group, and promise A) I will do the annual project next year, whatever that will be, and B) try to get more involved when I can.

The rosettes were made with the same technique. I was particularly enamored by the tiny spool ornaments made of the spools in sawing kits from the $2 shop; another great idea by Rose.

The main source of tea bag folding was this site.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Men Have Wombs, Too

Ben and I belong to a group, City Daily Photo, where members post one photo from where we live every day; ours is Nelson Daily Photo. When we don't have a nice photo from around town, we look into my weaving pics pool and give it a different spin, as we did yesterday.

One of our ether friends Photowannabe mentioned her mother-in-law having a "nest" in her basement garage. I do like that my studio is in the basement, with just one window. It is my hideaway, my cocoon, and today, whilst responding to Photowannabe, I recognized it as a kind of a womb, too; a womb belonging to a composite of the many people who inspire and encourage me in my work. That includes Ben and Randy Darwall/Brian Mrphy; I'm sure they'd be thrilled to know they have wombs.

In contrast I see my stash room as a sports field/court, where I willingly and lovingly go in to battle. Sadly, the battle has been less creative of late, but more in keeping it tidy enough so I can walk between the cones and skeins to reach for whatever yarns or equipment I'm trying to reach. Ben's suggested adding shelves to the studio to have some stash there, but I'm trying to keep my stash manageable so I've rejected that idea so far. But of course I keep buying yarns, and some do live permanently in the studio. But I digress.

How do you see perceive creative space? Do you have a name for it?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Force of Habbit

A weaver said fringes made with three strands don't get flat, so I got a three-clip twister. It worked fine once I got used to it. And then I must not have fringed for a while....

Last week, I sat down to fringe, and in a few minutes I was automatically making two-strand fringes without thinking. I didn't want to undo them, so this shawl had two-strand fringes; the second red one had three-strand ones. I'm still teaching this old dog new tricks.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I'm discovering that artists in Nelson often ask or offer to swap work. The first person to offer me a swap was Megg Hewlett and I came to own my absolutely indispensable purple bag. (Notice I called that my "first"!) Since, I've had four more offers, and I intend to honor them all, but sometimes it's a bit nerve-recking because, after all, they, too, are people who makes things.

I also had to get my head around the barter system. We try to exchange works of roughly the same dollar value, but it's not as precise as money exchanging hands, and I'm growing to like the fuzziness on one hand, but feel nervous about potential imbalance in either direction.

It's surprisingly liberating, though, to receive something lovingly worked, in exchange for something I made. It transcends monetary value, and let's face it, I'm terribly lucky to be asked.

M's & O's

During the January meeting of Marlborough Weavers, we were informed the 2007 theme would be M's & O's; weave something for yourself (or someone else) in this structure and bring it (or a photograph) to the last meeting's show and tell. Sounded easy enough.

Well, that last meeting is next Monday.

All year I've been reading about M's & O's, but I just can't get my head around it. I'm fine with the threading, but something about the treadling, or the concept of blocks (where one lot is doing something while the other is doing something different) boggles this tiny mind. In addition, since I joined the Cross Country Weavers sample exchange, I've had it my head that I need to create something using 10+ shafts whenever these "assignments" are handed down.

I've consulted over a dozen books trying to understand the structure, either by reading the explanation, or gazing at several dozen drafts. I've played with my software. I've looked at woven samples. Yesterday, in my desperation, I brought out the heavy artillery, graph paper, pen, scissors and glue, (for old-fashioned cut-and-paste.) And I'm still none the wiser.

The only options I can think of are 1) use blocks of different width to create squares and rectangles adjacent to complementary weave structures - kind of a textural check, but this can be done on 4-shafts, or 2) a kind of Christmas Tree-shaped design where small blocks are used to create a large shape, using up to 16, but this would result in a textile mostly in plain weave or cords. Or 3) take a draft out of a book and weave it. I did this twice in my past.

My mind is completely blank today. The always-reliable Marguerite Davison book had some simple but beautiful drafts; many of her drafts mix the plain weave treadling to create not just a two-block textile, but to make an interesting-looking cloth. So I'm absent-mindedly admiring the pages of her book today. Come to think of it, the two times I took a draft straight out of a book were I wove two undulating twills from her book.

I don't know if I'm just too tired, or I'm so bad at multi-tasking (which I am!) I can't comprehend blocks in different weaves.

Oh, there is Option 4) bow out of the sample and take a yummy treat instead.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I ripped open the box the second Ben walked through that door. Somehow I had imagined 13kgs would take up more space, but never mind, this is additional 13kgs that can't fit into my stash room anyway.

Cotton, 14 colors; the hues weren't as narrowly-selected as I had imagined, but never mind that, either. The brighter 2/20 yarns I thought I'd use for something for the Twilight Market; the more nuanced 2/60s, I hope to use for color experiments, and if they work, of course they'll go into the Twilight Market as well.

I'm going to make myself a cuppa and contemplate them today.

(Later) I have been weaving all day about 2 meters away from these cones, and whilst I'm still very enamored by the colors, I decided that except for the few bright ones, they are all very "raincoat" colors. Don't you agree?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Something to Think About

I liked the leafy/flamy draft I created for the Refinery/Culturally Routed giant ribbon, so when Arts Marketing asked me to weave two red shawls in a short time recently, I thought I'd weave at least one in that draft, but in different sized/textured yarns, different warp color placements, and in a different scale, to make it softer.

Boy, did that not work. I forgot that I designed the ribbon so there are lots of plain weave areas to make the structure sturdy. Some of the lacy areas that let the light through in the stiff yarns just fulled and felted when woven in soft wool, and I missed the as-long-as-practicable floats. And most of all, I designed it to allow for frequent changes of weft colors, but it looked dislocated when woven in one weft in a bigger piece. So the red shawl sample in five reds looked dull and stiff, so I reworked the tie-up.

I still like the first draft, however, so I might try it some other time, perhaps in skinny cottons, because I'm still too chicken/cheap to try something bold in good silk. I'll also change where one repeat starts/ends if I'm going to change weft colors again.

This is the draft for this piece.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Has This Been a Good Year For You?

I went to an opening Friday night, and a considerate, kind friend asked me, "So, has this been a good year for you?" I responded in my usual hasty, joking way, "I hate being poor," and went into a monologue about how I stared at a $12 used paperback of letters from Vincent to Theo for 15 minutes before deciding I couldn't afford it. And the book was further 10% off. And everybody laughed.

But it has been a good year.

In 2005 I sent one piece to one exhibit, sold two other pieces, and had three commission work. In 2006, I sent one piece to one exhibit, sold two other pieces, and the Red Gallery started to have my work. And I went to Randy's workshop.

2007 started with a tiny, first solo exhibit, and I followed it up with somehow being involved with seven exhibits/displays of different sizes. I participated in the Expo, and will participate in the Twilight Market, and I have two commissions. And though I'm still firmly in the red, I lost count of how many pieces I sold. (It's probably somewhere around eight, I'd imagine.)

I didn't go to a workshop, (this supposedly being a year of being my own apprentice), but I made many friends who also make things, here in Nelson and out there in the ether, who understand the daily tribulations of making things, so I didn't have to rely so much on self-help books. And, boy, do we enjoy celebrating each other's triumphs, or simple company. When I go to openings nowadays, I know some people!!

And significantly, I survived Martin Rodger's departure from Arts Marketing; I didn't shrivel up in a fetal position in my basement and die a linty death.

I've been a member of the Marlborough Weavers. I still enjoy Kath's singing in her various metamorphosis, and still hope to have a joint exhibit with Megg Hewlett. There's a new, significant friendship I haven't mentioned, as this one needs to be a separate post, and another I hope will be renewed.

Universe only knows what will happen in the next seven or so weeks before I can look back at the whole year, but for now, life is good, and thank you so much for asking.

(This may shock you, but I had a busy day Friday, and went to the said Opening in my gym clothes. That's too casual even for Nelson, but it was either that or not going, so I went, and enjoyed it, and suffice it to say, you don't get kicked out for it in Nelson. A deeper appreciation for the easy access to art here has been another discovery this year.)

Mini Exhibit during Garden Marlborough, Blenheim, recently. I've come to enjoy sitting back and observing what others do with my pieces, how they wear or display them. I like the use of the edge to make it look like a collar here; very Candice Bergen.

Legitimate Reason to Buy More Yarns

I'm waiting for some cotton yarns to arrive. They are mostly various nuances of pale green-blues, kind of an assortment of soft greeny Robin's Egg/Duck Egg blues, a range of colors I disliked most of my life, but can't stop dreaming about for the last few months.

I've not seriously explored cottons yet, but I found skinny cotton yarns, 2/20 and 2/60, in gazillion colors right here in New Zealand recently. (For Kiwi weavers, it's DEA in Levin, contact is Adam, and their website will be renewed sometime soon.) I've loved wearing cotton all my life so I have a natural affinity to how the fiber wears, but thus far I couldn't find anything in New Zealand that made me gush, and the overseas yarns, though delicious-looking, were prohibitively expensive.

And I have a legitimate reason to order cottons now. Arts Marketing Nelson is going to host Twilight Markets this summer. 16 or so artists/craftspersons will have stalls at the bottom of the Cathedral Steps on Friday nights from 6 to 9PM selling their ware, and I signed up for two Fridays. I've never done anything like this, but everybody tells me it's good to talk to people who might be interested in buying my work, and I don't feel as terrified about being seen with my work now, so after a couple of months of contemplating why this was such a bad idea, I signed up.

The market is held from mid-December to late-February, which is at the height of our summer, so in addition to my regular wool and possum pieces, I wanted, "Oh, no bags, please, I'm going to wear it right away" kind of scarfettes. I'm also thinking of other small things like Christmas ornaments, cell phone bags or tiny shoulder poaches, but I'm not terrific at sewing so a good balance of work and fun is my goal. But the market/fair/fete image is freeing me up to make lighter, more playful things, and I'm hoping to have a lot of fun.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Broken Warp and All

This is for Bonnie.

Threading is half of MWs - may I call it VAs?? Tie-up is a 3-1-1-3-1-1-1-1-3-1 twill. Treadling is 4-step (very shaky on the terminology this post...) advancing twill, 76 picks then mirror-reversed. It's all over diamond, with the center slightly squished. The photo was taken under less-than-ideal lights, so it looks as if the pattern is bleeding, but trust me, it is a rather predictable twill diamond job.

I used 4 reds in the warp to create 6 different areas - AB, BB, BC, CC, CD, and DD, - changing colors at regular intervals. One weft yarn.

It was a rushed order for a mini exhibit for Arts Marketing; I was contacted last Tuesday, and I must deliver two pieces at noon Thursday. The first piece is a straight forward treadling (no reversing) in a slightly different 3-1-3-1-1-1-1-1-1-3 twill.

Though they have different tie-ups, mirror-reversed treadling in once case, use different yarns and sett, these are only minor modifications of Big Ribbon. The warp color changes, yes. The weave structure looks slightly interesting, but I'm so very ho-hum about these two. I believe we've all see this type of pieces before, quite a few times. So this project feels very much "been there, done that" even as I work on it.

When and where I change colors, I'd like to have a reason. I'd like the change of color to be built into the structure, or vice versa, so the structure needs the colors to change, and the color change enhances the structure. As if one cannot exist without the other.

That's as far as I got on this thought, and I'd have to study structures and about structures some more to realize this. I also had some interesting experiences in modifying the Big Ribbon draft here, so I'll come back to it after I've delivered these two.

The one you see on the loom is the sample in the middle; the first piece not seen used the portion on the left, which I like better.