Monday, June 30, 2008

Promoting Kiwi Efforts

Mary Knox of New Zealand kindly compiled this information on New Zealand spinning wheels, which I found for the first time today. I think it's a work in progress. Grace, my mate Mike Keeves' legendary wheel, is included. Just because I spin once a decade doesn't stop me from coveting beautiful wheels, Peg.

Mine's an Ashford Traveller with two treadles. Mom has/had an upright Majacraft I covet/ed, but you know, she might have given that away, too. My 4-shaft jack loom, interestingly, was made by Mr Nagy.

Oh, Good God, No!

Can I just interpolate (word of the day...) something here for clarification.

Santa Fe Weaving Gallery did not contact me, there is no 'feature' or exhibit situation happening. It's just my friend Pat looking after me and taking my stuff there when she visits the gallery. It's the weaver-groveling-to-gallery situation we all know, except I don't have to do it face-to-face.

I would normally not mention specifics until I know the outcome, except I live all the way down here, and I'm sorry, but I'd never even heard of the place until about a month ago, so I thought some of you might know more about it.

It was never my intention to flaunt, or to go on about the gallery, though I do go on about anything weaving much too long, but we both know this, right? I'm still far away from "that" league of weavers, all the more reasons why I feel so uncomfortable.

Just so you know. I'm going to shut up now.

Being PC

Like I said, I like to be inclusive; rather than not celebrating a traditional/cultural holiday, Easter in New Zealand, for e.g. I'm for celebrating as many holidays of as many groups as possibly. And New Zealand is pretty relaxed (sometimes a tad insensitive) when it comes to religion; I'm always being asked for my Christian Name in this day and age, and many people don't understand why I huff and puff about that. And if you really want to know, I have a baptismal name that is not my given name.

I've been to Jewish homes around Hanukiah's; some were devoid of Christmas and some had stockings at the hearth and one of the most beautifully decorated Christmas trees ever, I saw in a Jewish home; we've given presents to Baha'i kids with their parents approval, knowing ours were sometimes the only presents they received at that time of the year.

And then in Japan, it's all commercial and anything goes. I'm a lapsed Catholic agnostic, but Japanese first and foremost, meaning, celebrations are more cultural than religious/philosophical. So there you have it; I'm easy, but I hate to be insensitive. I joke that snowflakes and snowmen are so not Southern Hemisphere at that time of the year, but what's the fun when we start to go there... OK, nervousness talking. You worry about this; I've got to work.

The Next Thing: The Towel Exchange

I noticed this morning that today is the end of the first half of 2008; that's six months to Hanukiah, Christmas and New Years. (Sorry, I'm ignorant about other celebrations, but I know Ramadan ends on September 30 and Diwali is October 28.) So I thought I'd gauge interest for another wee thing now, because I hear some people live intelligently and plan ahead and even get around to putting on a warp or two of gifts in time for the holidays!! If only I could...

There is room for improvement in the plan, so please feel free to jump in.

* * * The Kitchen/Tea Towel Exchange * * *

We weavers are tactile people, and I think we deserve a present at the end of the effort, as well as a show, so here's what I've been thinking.

1) You weave one or two or three or however many kitchen/tea towels you wish.

2) Then you name each towel, and email me the name/s and one photo per towel. Also email me you real name and a physical address, PO Boxes permitted, of course. Keep the towel/s for now.

3) I collate the photos and put it up on the web much like SSVE.

4) I'll ask a neutral party, like Nancy or Ben, to mix/match towels and select exchange partners. (I just discovered that an old Japanese draw system doesn't exist in the West and there is not even a word for it, so I'll have to show you in another post! But it's a fair method.)

5) I email you the recipients of your towel/s, and you post it/them to him/her/it/them.

6) You wait by your mailbox to receive your towel/s, and maybe email the sender when you receive them to say you've got it/them. You will receive the same number of towels that you send, naturally, but from one weaver or from multiple weavers will depend on what I get.

Note 1) In place of a kitchen/tea towel, you can also weave two (?) guest towels, or two (?) face cloths. I was overcome with envy when I saw Susan B's handwoven face cloths, (and then about towels in italy), and knew this is one of those ultimate pampering luxuries I can make. I need help in figuring out the equivalent sizes/volumes to a kitchen/tea towel of these articles, please.

Note 2) Loom knitters: can you use fine cottons or cotton/linen mixes or some such to create a towel-like cloth? A knitted article would be far more absorbent and so I guess the scale is the issue: enlighten me if you want to investigate this.

Note 2a) No excuse for Rigid Heddle weavers if you're think RH can't handle this: my first set of table napkins/serviettes were woven at 10DPI in a 30DPI/10DPI space/cram stripe in those colorful Swedish cottolins.

Note 3) Due dates. I want to propose two due dates; one at the end of October and another at the end of November. New Zealand have early due dates for overseas posting where various overseas postal services guarantee delivery before the holidays. Usually they are early November for Economy Post and early December for Air Post/Air Mail. I'd imagine Australia has similar, and by complying with these dates, if my memory serves, we possibly save money on the postage, which is not insignificant when posting from this end of the world to North America and Europe/UK. I want to make the Exchange as economical as possible for everybody, so I thought if we have early birds from Downunder, they can chose to take advantage of this. Plus, you in the US of A might receive a special something to show off at Thanksgiving. This is the issue I really want to know how you all feel. The on-line exhibition can be opened at two different times, or at once, or even as I receive each towel pic/s.

Note 4) I go back and forth between an exclusively Christmas design. I for one love Christmas colors and motifs, but don't celebrate Christmas as such. In respect of religion, nationality, or ethnicity, I try hard to keep things inclusive. By the same token, I hate to be a PC weaving police to put a damper on anyone's enthusiasm or creativity, or negate anyone's beliefs. So can you think of a way to get around this one? The only option I can think of at this moment is for you to specify "I don't wish to receive motifs" in your email, then Nancy/Ben can be mindful when match-making. Oh, and if you weave a religiously/ethnically significant motif, make sure you let me know because I'm pretty ignorant about these things. Personally, I have always been keen to design menorahs in pickup with Hebrew scripts flowing , but is it a no-no for a Japanese lapsed-Catholic to weave such a gift?

Help me.


I've been privy to a conversation between two parties concerning my work. And by conversation I mean two short emails. Nothing special. Just two parties saying what's expected of each under the circumstance. I know that. Still, I can't believe how vulnerable I feel about each and every word I read, and think I see between the lines, between the words, even between the letters.

I don't think I've ever felt so vulnerable about my work before, and if I have, I don't remember it. I was thinking I've grown a bit callous about what I do, almost worried about a kind of a throw-away attitude I've donned.

I don't want to appear rude, over confident, or ignorant, and when in doubt, I ask questions, but I also don't want them to think I'm an amateur, unprofessional, or greedy. Even though I am a newbie at this game.

Like I say, weaving is the easiest part of being a weaver sometimes.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Old Tricks

There's nothing new about what I'm about to say; you may be so familiar with this you may not understand why I'm excited. And now that I've caught on, I remember seeing this in old Swedish books and possibly in Davison. I'm not claiming I invented this, unlike when I believed I invented two-faced twills in earnest in 2003, when I saw Maggie Smith wearing a black and white scarf on the train in "My House in Umbria". But if you haven't drafted this way in the last little while, it could bring a bit of variation into your cloth easily.

I know I sound spoiled when I say I have only 16 shafts, but sometimes I know I could weave a structure in my head if only I had one or two more. I've felt constrained by this from time to time, and have been looking for a way to bust my blues, even if it doesn't solve my "too few shafts" problem on hand.

Of course there is the more-complicated-threading option as well, but with my eyes and florescent lights and texolv, I'm opting giving myself permission to opt for the easier option for now.

The beauty of computer-controlled and tables looms is you can weave unconstrained by the number of treadles on your loom or dobby sticks/bars (??) on your chain. So, just because my software shows me 16 treadles to go with 16 shafts by default, there is no reason why I have to stick to 16, and in fact, I have downloaded from and wove drafts where the numbers of treadles were far greater than that of the shafts.

So I started a drafts with 16 shafts and 32 treadles, and drew two rather different looking 16-by-16 tie-ups, and then drew treadling curves disregarding different sections of the tie-up. This gave me more "physical" room to move my mouse around and gave variations in my cloth without having to rethread, and a nice base for another draft.

If you have a weaving software, this is dead easy, and there is no reason why you can't have even more treadles, and the treadle numbers don't have to be multiples of shaft numbers. And there is so much to do with the different tie-ups. Convert into a lift plan, and you can weave this, albeit a bit slower, on any table loom, or on a floor room if you don't mind chanting the tie up, OR, if you use, e.g. five treadles each in two sets on an eight-shaft loom.

Even if you only want to try tie-up combinations for four-shafts, it's a convenient starting point. And if you are a patient or fast drafter, there is no reason you can't do this on graph paper.

So it was that I spent part of the day dreaming up some drafts for the cotton scarves, but sanity intervened. Pat is taking to the US something woven by a weaver in New Zealand; it's stupid not to weave a few things in merino. So I resisted the urge to rip out the SSVE warp and put my golden cotton (I already have a warp chain), and decided to rework the remainder of the undyed merino warp, but I'm going to make life a little easier for me. I'll rethread it in a little more enticing threading, and resley at 18 EPI, and use my trusty merino/possum/silk in the weft, just to eliminate a few elements of surprise.

If you think about it, as with most things weaving, it's so obvious it's just another "Duh!" moment, but if you never tried this, it's on me. If you come up with a winner and share it on your blog, do tell, or think of uploading it to and tell us about that.

Fabulous drafting, you fabulous people.

E for Elegant, F for Funky

The first inning of the home game went well; a bunt and a two-run homer; the weft is from Mom's "discarded burgundy" bag. The second inning, though, I've tried a new player named "Funky"; it's a yellow green. I'm still not used to florescent lights, neither when I'm weaving, nor when I'm shooting; I still can't see well and the picks need improving, but I kept thinking of simultaneous contrast. Neither of these will have fringes. And on the loom now is a blacker, slightly thicker burgundy, intended for Pat.

Even before I started to weave seriously, back in the days I kept busy attending marketing courses for small businesses, I set my course at "elegant", "exquisite", "feminine", "sentimental". Just when I thought I got a glimpse of it with the Craft 08 cottons, I became hopelessly overcome with a desire to partake the Refinery's rebranding, and having some of my stuff at their retail section has been at the back of my mind.

I would like to weave scarves unlike what I have at the Red because of the different target markets, on my part as well as the galleries', and I've had this notion of "funky" for the Refinery: bolder designs, livelier color, a more arty, spunky feel, to match their clients and other works in their shop.

So while trying to work efficiently, I've been going back and forth in my head as to what would suit Santa Fe Weaving Gallery, (no idea there), the Red, and the Refinery, and this is contributing to my dissatisfaction and confusion. I am aware of this, but I can't compartmentalize and concentrate on Santa Fe, because I've never been there. But for example, the shouty screamy lemon might suit the Refinery, you see; if I do this well, nothing goes to waste, as in everything would suit one or the other of places.

The least I can do is to go downstairs and weave some more options, so that's what I'll do now, though I did work some on drafts for cotton this morning. I really want to work on that.

Roller Coaster

Wednesday, I procrastinated by Googling Procion dyes. Then I wove, and was disgusted by my color choices. In the evening I got in the mail Kirsten Glasbrook's tapestry book; I didn't need a tapestry book, I could borrow Mom's Harvery encyclopedia, but I thought I should check one just to see the techniques/mechanics of hanging for my brother's piece, and this book was locally available, so I ordered it on-line. The book was so long in coming I forgot what I had ordered. (By the way, if you like bright cheerful colors, even if you aren't interested in tapestry, I can recommend this book. It is an uplifting, joyous book.)

Then there was Thursday afternoon. I went downstairs looking forward to the last piece off the 2*mint green warps.

I liked it, the combination looks a little more nuanced. Heck, it even looks good against the wood of the loom and the brown paper.

I prefer to call it coincidence, but this is a synchronicity Julia Cameron would be proud of; it's a sheet from an old Japanese calendar.

And soon my lovely, lovely purple cashmere/silk came into view. It felt as if I was having lunch or coffee in town, and my profile vision caught Ben absentmindedly walking, maybe to go to the post office, or just looking for an interesting photo op.

Then I had a warp nightmare, the kind I haven't had in a long while. No, that's not true; it was the kind of normal step as you approach where you've tied the warps, until I decided to be a DQ about it, and I felt totally inadequate and disappointed and defeated. It took 90 minutes to get over myself, and my last lovely piece ended up 10cm shorter than I wanted...

No, No, No, Maybe.

But then I moved on to the purple, and the shuttle went on auto-pilot. It was Home Game after a month of being on the road; all will go well unless I screw up the player rotation.

I used to be so matter of fact, or am I just imagining it? My solo exhibit in 2007, for example, was busy, but never a roller coaster like this. Sue thinks I can be so hard on myself as regards colors; she's right, I've got to get over this precarious relationship with colors.

Yesterday, (well, less than 10 hours ago), Nancy loaned me Tracey Chevalier's "The Lady and the Unicorn"; a bit too much sex and too little weaving in the first 40 pages, but boy, this is so nice; I feel Nancy's love all over.

Gee, Connie, 4AM!


The piece I just finished with the purple warp and burgundy weft, (photo coming soon), was courtesy of my mom, kind of. She went though a burgundy/wine/maroon phase which lasted about 55 years. A few years ago she decided this phase was over and sent me all her nice burgundy yarns, the weft cashmere/silk being one. She's been into azure and oranges, but not always together, since, and you'd have to be in the family to know what a big shift this is.

Mama is now 78. She started weaving when she was 60, and sold her first piece when she was about 76. All her life she wanted to weave, (and all my life I heard her saying that,) but she never had the time nor space until in April 1990, I got married and left home, Baby Brother started collage and wasn't home much, and Dad was elected Vice Chancellor and was busier than ever. She knitted, embroidered, and sewed all her life, but at 60, she gave away her three knitting machines, detoured to New Zealand after Dad's business trip to Australia, and bought herself an Ashford 4-shaft table loom and an Ashford wheel, and never looked back. She used to come to New Zealand once a year and buy 100 and 200kgs of fleeces and slivers, so about ten years ago Dad had the roof of the house raised by one meter so Mama had extra storage. She still comes, but now she's more interested in meeting weavers.

She's had her series of loom-reincarnations. She quickly tired of the Ashford and gave it away to a young person who couldn't afford a loom, and got herself a Japanese 6-shaft stainless sample loom, which she loves to this day. Then she ordered, from Sweden, a Glimakra 8-shaft countermarche, she hauled every piece upstairs herself, put the monster together by herself, and cheerfully wove rugs for nearly 10 years until her body gave away. She's slightly over five feet, and a big wide Swedish loom nearly did her shoulders in. So she gave that away to another young person who couldn't afford a loom but had ample space. Fear not, in the meantime, Daughter Number Two and Son left got married and left home, and she had accumulated one or two other sample loom/s and a smaller floor loom, plus a rigid heddle for her tapestry, plus a few frame looms she made herself for smaller tapestries. And two or three spinning wheels, but she gave away her first Ashford to a young spinner who couldn't afford a wheel. And when they built a new kitchen, she kept the old one as a dye room.

Her first teacher was 80 when Mama was 60. She's always gone to two different teachers because she loves her classmates, many younger and brighter and more adventurous weavers.

Mama was always athletic, and she's just that in her approach to weaving. She'd see something in Handwoven or one of the books, and warps the loom and starts weaving with little or no sampling. She doesn't mind warping, and her taste is eclectic, so she's all over the place, but that's ok because this is her long-awaited hobby and she's not aiming to be a pro.

Until I started weaving, she was exasperated with her first born who thought too much and moved too little, all too often all by herself. Weaving is the only thing the two of us have in common, and luckily, so far, Sister who is much like Mama and who gets along with her superbly, hasn't taken it up. In fact, when I was in my mid-40's, Mama said for the first time, "You're not that bad, you know," and 40-plus-years of non-approval lifted in that one moment. She's not mean or harsh, she's quite maternal, but she goes straight to the point because after The Changes she got tired of being polite all her life.

Weaving being the only non-familial connection I have with her, I wished she Mama wouldn't give things away so freely. I've always thought Sister can have all the beautiful pottery, but I get every weaving/spinning equipment, book, notes, and her stash down to the last ball of fluff, but she knows I don't need them, and it'd cost several times the value of the goods to ship them to Nelson, so she'll continue to ignore me and give things away.

About five years ago, she made a conscious decision not to go on-line. The plan was for Brother to buy her a laptop, arrange her an Internet connection, and teach her the rudimentariness of email web-browsing, and Ben and I to install a weaving and a simple photo editing softwares. But Dad was about to retire and she couldn't handle having Dad at home and a computer, so she stuck to her fax machine. I sometimes send urls to either her or Sister or Brother, and whenever she visits, they help her find what I want her to see. She made a special trip to Sister's to be at the opening of SSVE, and was impressed and inspired.

Ever the gregarious animal, she'd love all of you and the stories and pics you share if she were on-line. She feel sad about coming to the computer age a tad too late, but that's a choice she made in a life that's been largely dedicated to others.

Thank you all, from Mama to you.

Several years ago, I asked for a Japanese overall-style apron made of synthetic so I can just wash and wear, and she brought me two; Ben thought we look like mill workers in uniform. Which reminds me, the Japanese labor movement started because of the hideous working conditions of the textile mill workers - young women - but that's for another day.

To List or Not to List

On reading Tien's post, my first thought was, I never equated lists, or having lists, or the content of one's list with art/being an artist, (golly, gee, no) but she could have just dropped by and responded without the benefit of my occasional art/artist/craft blather, so my intentions might have been misconstrued. Or not. By the same token, I think it's a good idea to have a simple list or set of principles to check one's moves/progress/directions against; to me, this is traveling with a compass. Except in our case, we can adjust our directions, or fix the compass.

All the more reasons I wished my list was simpler, non-specific, "timeless" (to me), because I'm not heading to just, say, 1 Bridge Street, Nelson, New Zealand, but I'm finding out which way I'm going while I'm proceeding. In which case I agree with Tien's point of art being not what I do but who I am while I'm art-ing, though the way I've summarized it sounds too convenient, and there's probably more to what she's saying. But heck, it's 2AM, I can't sleep and my eyes are so dry!

I have to tell you, though, this past week the pendulum has swung completely the other way, and I've been in full craft/production mode. In the first instance it's out of necessity, (a week before Pat leaves now), but the Practical Me decided earlier in the week I can sit and think all I want but if I don't make, all this thinking is futile. (Does that make me a philosopher, though, and I am being facetious as a person who left college after 3.5 years rather than stick around to do two more courses to get a double major, the second being, you guessed it.) Put another way, the more I weave, the better the chances of ending up with something that might resemble art.

Right, I am confusing myself now. So I'll leave it to all of you to help me untangle my thoughts. Though I have this sneaky suspicion the different approaches and paths make for the variety in what we call art, and in that vein, I can even forgive installation art.

By the way, SSVE closed a little over two hours ago New Zealand time. Once again, I would like to thank all the participants and the visitors for a fun, genial project. (But the beauty of a virtual exhibit is, of course, we don't have to close it, so I'll keep my link on the side bar until the next thing comes along, yeah?)

Friday, June 27, 2008

My List - First Draft

I am long-winded, and could not condense these any more than I have, because to me the sub-questions are as important as the big ones. Likewise, ambiguous questions sound attractive, more room to think, but perhaps I am the wrong person for it; I've done too much training in quality control by measurable results type of thing. I feel very near-sided in my outlook.

Anyway, here's my First Draft.

Re. individual pieces:

1) Is this the best I could have done? How can I improve on the piece, or the process?

2) Is this art or craft? Is the question pertinent today?

3) What is the smallest change I can make to bring a great improvement?

4) How else could I have interpreted the same original vision/idea onto cloth? Are they worth sampling?

5) What color combination would (someone specific - different from time to time) have tried?

About my practice:

1) Have I showed up at the work, and for how long/how frequently?

2) What else did I do that inspired/informed my work? What colors were these experiences?

3) What are the books I want to work on? The next technique? The direction?

4) What's the next art form I'm curious about? Who's the next artist I want to visit?

5) Today, where do I want to go in a week, six months, ten years?

6) Have I changed my opinion/perspective about an art work or an artist, and if so, why?

7) Whose artwork do I hate the most right now, and why? (Probably the most important question for me, ever since I changed my mind about Rothko. My response most often involves painters, though I almost need a new guy to hate passionately at the moment.)

8) Where do I stand on "art vs craft" today? Compare ideals/desires/directions vs on-the-ground practices. How hot of an issue is this today?

I can tell you do have a motto, though, about my weaving: "This too shall pass". And that's for the good and the bad. I'd like some aspects of life to remain constant, but as regards weaving, thank goodness I can move on.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Do you ever think of why we do this? I don't mean blogging, but art-making. Perhaps I'm haunted by self-doubt because I'm not compelled to make art, but I chose to. Instead of working in an office, instead of having a steady income, instead of going on nice holidays.

Tuesday-Thursday this week I was supposed to be in lock-down. On Tuesday, I fluffed around "thinking", "planning" and pacing until noon, and then I went downstairs. Fair enough, it was the first day, I forgive me.

Yesterday, I got up late and blogged and searched for Procion dyes on the Internet (you know I don't dye) until 1PM; that's the time I normally resurface for lunch. It was getting silly; this is clearly avoidance. I only wove one small scarf, and hated it. In fact I hate all three I wove this week and I thought I was done with this warp, but golly, I can get one more off it.

I had an order for a mint green/lime green cashmere scarf, so I put on my normal short (8-meter) warp in two pale minty greens, thinking I could try things with weft colors and treadling for Santa Fe or Red or the retail part of Refinery, another prospective Nelson outlet. The commission piece, with a lime green silk/cashmere weft, turned out lovely. But the next three, I avoided weft I would instinctively chose for this warp: pale baby blues, pale to mid greens, or pale oranges and yellows. Instead, I wove with indigo, which looks harsh, yellow green, which makes the whole scarf screaming lemon, and darkish lavender which looks a nondescript mid-crayon-blue. I chose them all carefully, but when woven as scarves, I don't find them attractive. Don't take my word for it, though; once Jay Farnsworth picked color combinations and I wove three from one warp, two of which was totally not my taste, but one of these she sold the day I delivered them. At least with her color combinations, I saw her point; I don't with these.

Luckily the last one, in muddy brick red/dark dirty orange, is looking good thus far, so I might not be so cranky later today. I finish the green warp, and move on to a luscious silk/cashmere warp in dark purple, a color I feel more confident with. And I got some preliminary drafting done for my cottons.

Santa Fe is way outside of little old Nelson; I don't know if I'm terrified of my world expanding so rapidly, or having to grow up as a weaver suddenly. I don't know if this is what Lynne calls risks, but I have been at my dilatory best.

Talk later.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When's The Last Time You Did Something Really Scary?

I don't like scary things as regards my weaving/art, so I tend to play things safe. It took me nearly three years to approach the Red Gallery to have my work there, and last September I gingerly contacted four museum shops and galleries in Wellington at the time of Re:fine. (Result: nil.) While I'm less afraid of sending things into exhibitions, because you don't see them face to face, I'm a nervous wreck when the possibility of selling enters the game, and often the justification is, "I'll get back to them when my weaving has improved a little."

So, I've admired Lynne for her courage and persistence/consistence. I suspect she entered the Art Business at a younger age and has been practicing a while. I'm particularly impressed someone applies for internships/scholarships/residencies, as she has.

So, when was the last time you did something really scary with your art practice? I have a small challenge I've put off since 2002, and it happens on even-numbered years only; Lynne might have made my mind for me to go for it.

Peg's Challenge

If this is the Northern Pondering Season, as Lynne said, here's an interesting challenge handed to me by Peg, and I urge, (no, beg) you all to join me.

Valerie directed me, ergo us, to this list by painter Kay WalkingStick, as reported by Linda Womack on Serena Fenton's blog. (I hope I got all the acknowledgments right. If not, please let me know.)

What do you ask yourself, about your art practice? What do I ask me, about my art practice?

I have a bunch of questions I ponder from time to time, but believe it or not, I've never collated them into a list, never even thought to do it. (How "listless" of me.) So I was thinking of this yesterday, and mine turned out to be a convoluted, multi-layered, messy job at first mental glance, so I'm trying to simplify it.

The attraction of having a peek at someone else's list is to discover aspects and perspectives I hadn't thought of, and sometimes a different wording makes the question more attractive, or less harsh. And it does give an insight to that artist's outlook/interior landscape, too, a bit.

If you have a "Ask Yourself" list, an art practice check list as it were, and don't mind sharing, please do so, while I ponder about mine.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bonnie Inouye Revisited

I listened to three WeaveCast episodes while weaving today. The first one I listened to was Bonnie Inouye's interview. I found my laptop causes a strange echo, so with the washing machine running, and me banging away on my 4-shaft, I couldn't hear the finer points of the interview, and intend to go back to it in a quiet room soon, but still, what a treat!! There was all of Nice Bonnie there: the enthusiasm, the sharing, the mathematical/analytical approach to weaving, all combined to produce non-prosaic, (Hi, Cally), flowing, organic designs. And she makes them sound so easy.

But don't let her fool you; there is also the Scary Bonnie. Bonnie has an immense knowledge of weave structures and world textiles, which pop up all over her conversations; and her mind works quickly and some of the things that were self-evident to her, I didn't understand. I had woven two warps of twill on 4 shafts before I went to her workshop in 2002 to make up the number so the workshop would go ahead, so I was a pre-schooler somehow ending up in a high school science class. She appeared to me like a weaving monster in a petite disguise, but I was so relieved that today, I understood most of what she said, though as always with Bonnie, I need to try a few things in PCW before I fully understand all her meanings.

I'm glad Syne added the outtakes at the end. Turned Taqueté, for one, is one of Bonnie's favorites, and we had fun saying the words out loud. And I don't think she'd mind if I shared another thing she said repeatedly: play with the tie-up, play with the lift plan.

About her book: though the title includes the words, Bonnie's book is not about multi-shaft looms, not really about weaving on them, and not strictly about designs. It's more about how to design what you envision, about how to put more of yourself into the cloth. Of course you'd want, say, eight shafts to realize your drafts, and you would probably want a weaving software for speed, but the book guides you through various possibilities in making something distinctly yours. It's the kind of book you can never graduate from, (though I am exceptionally slow in working my way through it - 6 years and I think I'worked the first four chapters) and if it isn't already, it should be on every weaving software's recommended reading list.

I've pondered a few times about the difference between weavers who learned weaving structures the conventional way, vs. someone like me who jumped from two warps on four shafts to weavign software and 16 shafts. From very early on in my weaving life, I've had an immense freedom and luxury of being able to transfer what's in my head onto the loom comparatively easily. This is probably why I take my weaving so personally. Life has forever changed Post-Bonnie, and there is not a lot I do on my 16-wheeler that is divorced from Bonnie's influences, and my weaving life is all the better because of her.

Hall of Fame stuff.

More Pondering

Gee, a lot of you are in an interesting pondering mode, while I'm finally in work mode. So I shall revisit this one by Connie Rose, but Etsy is starting to sound more and more attractive, even to those of us down here who have to spend a fortune on shipping.

In fact, how may of you have Etsy? Is it working for you?

Santa Fe or Bust

On Saturday and Monday, as I mentioned, I volunteered four hours to help Lloyd receive photographs and paintings entries for the Nelson Regional Arts Awards. I was in charge of checking the entrants' membership to Arts Council Nelson, making sure all relavent information was on the Awards registration form, giving each work a serial number and receiving (and giving change to) the correct amount of registration fee, and handing the invitation to Saturday's opening. Oh, and I tried to convey my excitement with each entrants, but at times that didn't work. And another woman, different from the person who devised the system on Saturday, gave out receipts and matched the entrant names and the serial numbers on another sheet; a bit of double-up in work, but a man came out of nowhere and helped her with this last bit.

It was good to be on the other side of an exhibition, because although I belong to the Marlborough Guild subgroup, they are 90 minutes away and I get there so occasionally I don't help out with the running of the group; washing up the cups and plates is about all I do, really.

Now I have 11 days to whip up some magic for Pat to deliver to Santa Fe and I'm in lock down; I've cleared my calendar, and in the next two weeks my only commitment is the Friday morning drawing class, and coffee with Nancy. Gym suffers, but I'll live. I do so enjoy this enormously; I feel elated, giddy and a little overexcited, and a tad worried because I haven't come up with how to improve on the SSVE warp.

Husband has been warned; he made enough curry to last us two nights, and brought home ingredients for some of his specialties, so dinner is taken care of until Friday.

I'm taking a break from Sue's gallery, too. It's winter here and things are so quiet in the gallery (NO visitors the last two slots I did; ZERO!), and Sue's working on big art projects in the back studio, so she is happy not to have to clean the space up every week to make room for me. So that's my summer finished.

Right-o! To my basement.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Valerie Asks...

Valerie pointed out to this post on Layers of Meaning by Serena Fenton, saying questions asked here sound like some asked at Randy's recent Penland workshop. The artist who first posed these questions, Kay WalkingStick, is a painter, and for me Question 8 is a bit of a "huh?!", but it never hurts to ask.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


The first time I was ever told of WeaveCast, there were only a couple of files, and I thought I needed a cute iPod to listen. Over the months I have visited and downloaded however many files there were on the day, but until recently I had only 30 gigs of hard drive, so whenever I had a big photo or editing project, I had to zap them.

But fear not, I now have 120 gigs, so today I downloaded everything, again, mainly because the latest installment is by Bonnie Inouye. I haven't listened to any of them yet, as it took me half a day to download, but the links and references on the web site look more plentiful that in the early days. Well done, Syne Mitchell; such a lot of work.

So, at the risk of preaching to the choir, if you haven't checked it, do. You don't need a cute iPod, just software like Media Player, RealPlayer, QuickTime, etc., (readily available if you don't have one) to listen.

I couldn't help myself; I asked Syne to get Randy to talk about the time he rethought of his mission as an art teacher - I need big memory gaps filled.

Joy Weave

I have two floor looms: the 16-shaft computer-controlled, and the 4-shaft jack used at the defunct Nelson Polytechnic Weaving School, which with other looms sat in storage for over a decade, and which I've had for seven years. When I weave cashmeres, I use the jack because of the shorter loom waste. More importantly, however, when I first started buying cashmere yarns, I tested out a few structures, and found 2/2 twill at around 15EPI best brought out the deliciously soft/light characteristics of the yarn and still held the structures stably. This way, I can throw a nice eight meter cashmere warp any time and whip up these creamy tiny scarves, even if I'm toiling and troubling over on the 16-wheeler. (Although some day, I would like to weave a cashmere warp on the multishaft, for sure.)

I love the freedom of a simple floor loom, and the ability to design as I go. Treadling and watching an unplanned structure appear is liberating. I even rethread before the eight meters is up to have a little fun some times. It also exercises my mind, because even on 4-shafts, I still want to weave fussy cloth, as I do on the big loom. Thus far, changing colors and switching the direction of the threading and treadling have been the main components of my cashmere designs, but I think I might try something else soon. Maybe undulation. Or something else.

This warp is in two lime greens; one so pale it's almost a nuanced white. Today I finished one with a weft of a third lime cashmere/silk mix, and started the second scarf with yellow-green cashmere weft. Sometimes, though, no matter how I twist my neck or hold my tongue, I can't see the structure, and then I come upstairs and check it on the computer.

Case in point: I'm quarter of the way through with the yellow-green, but I'm seeing the structure for the first time now. Phew, I don't hate it. But the florescent lights and colors in photos... &^%$#@!!

I Couldn't Help It / SSVE Warp

This is plenty embarrassing, but I suppose I should post this one here as well. Just so you don't think I'm on some chemically-induced rage-trip. (I had 1/2 of a 600ml bottle of Coke for the first time in over 18 months some considerable hours after "the incident".)

Anyway, it'll be a enthralling topic to analyze during the next Nancy Time.

* * *

This Mr Patt, (not Pratt, as I mistook in the first instance - and it was unintentional because I did know a Linda Pratt in high school, a junior who started dating one in our group, Jim Hoffman, suspiciously close to our Senior Prom,) was ruining my weekend and sanity, so I couldn't help it, I googled him, and found his profile photo. Not sure how these two web sites differ or are positioned, here and here, but a man with a face like this cannot be a bad guy, I concluded. Unless he's using one of his Good Twin's pics.

He still thinks I got huffy and puffy because he looked into and commented on a private conversation, whereas I say he was missing the spirit in which the letter/my post was written; I wasn't writing a serious treatise (gosh, my spell-checker isn't working!!) about the ethical and professional responsibilities of an e-v-e-n-t organizer. I know I'm not stupid enough to post a genuinely personal letter on Blogger, but of course he doesn't.

Never mind; I offered truce, and I'm sure he won't be back because I'm not including words he likes to search. Case closed.

* * *

Meanwhile, I've been trying to rework my SSVE warp because I can get two or three more from the warp. The cloth came out as I hoped it would, like a more delicate version of a coat fabric, but I'm not sure about its hand/drape, and it weights a ton compared to my normal scarves I choke every time I look at it!! It will undoubtedly soften with use, but I dug into my silk box for skinny silks, and sampled two.

I'm not crazy about either samples after washing and pressing. I'm just wondering it's the 21EPI sett for 11/02 (which I learned is roughly 7/2 in the US?) merino with scales, but I don't want to give up without further investigating, so I'm leaving the sett alone, and looking for other weft candidates.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Piece of Humble Pie

Having lost my natural cool this morning, I went off huffed and puffed to the Refinery to help Lloyd and co. receive the Nelson Regional Art Awards entries. Jeanette and I were to do the form/money/receipting, and Lloyd and Scooter unwrapped and put serial numbers on all entries.

I was a little worried at first because the receiving process was a tad more complicated than I had imagined, and tried to streamline the activities, but Jeanette had her own ideas, which naturally were entirely different from mine. I was starting to get cross, but after a while, I took my own advice and did it her way and it worked a treat. Of course my way would have, too, but heck, all four of us were happy at the end. We were able to correct errors as we worked, and ended up saving someone else's time at a later stage.

Jeanette told me not to hesitate to ask people to wait while I did my part; this I find hard to do as my Japanese instinct kicks in, (or I see a red light flashing), but she's right and artists weren't impatient. So I had a piece of humble pie, but I'm also patting myself on the back, because her way, my way, it didn't matter in the end, and truth to tell, they weren't all that different.

I go back on Monday to do another stint; Jeanette won't be there, but we'll stick to her way.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

If You Think Failing Art in First Grade is Bad...

There was something else before that, and I wrote about it at the recent writing workshop. Because it started out as therapy for my eyes only, it's an untidy piece of writing, and then we were to read one piece in front of others, so I had to put in more details about the US for my Kiwi audience. I haven't been able to tidy this up because I can't decide for whom I'm writing, but it's all true. You think I have problems, it stems partially from a very bad start in my academic life.

* * *

In Japan, children start school in April preceding their seventh birthday, or in the April the child turns seven if the child’s birthday is in April. I would have started school in April 1965 if I were in Japan, but my parents planned to stay in the US, so I was scheduled to start school in September 1964. In the early months of that year, only vaguely aware of the shocking assassination of a prince-president and knowing nothing of the war in Asia, I blissfully attended Casa Elizabeth Seton, a picturesque Catholic kindergarten in Tucson, Arizona. I loved making pictures, singing songs and doing the may pole dance. I fought with Michelle Lupo in the back of my mother’s black and white 61 Chevy until Mother stopped the car and told the two of us to "Get out and walk the rest of the way home!" I could say my alphabets and knew how to spell half a dozen words, and I was learning a little bit of Spanish. And for some reason, my Dad was mighty proud of his little girl being two-and-a-bit-lingual.

Abruptly in August 1965, for reasons I was unaware of at the time, my parents decided to return to Japan. That summer, my loving and well-meaning aunts and uncles bought me American picture books, which I don’t know where they purchased back in those days, sat me amidst my cousins, some of whom didn’t remember who I was and waited for me to read the books out loud. I felt the expectation unreasonable; I hadn’t started school, so why should I know how to read? But I felt my much older cousins impressed with this stranger possessing powers beyond her years, so I had to step up. I can still recall their round faces caging me in, huge round eyes staring, everybody holding their breath in awe.

I would open the book, glance at the page, close the book again knowingly, and retold the story in Japanese, because “You all wouldn’t understand it if I read it to you in English, would you, and why do you need to look at the pictures when I’m telling you what the story is all about!” I carried the mounting pile of books obligingly everywhere I went, making sure they knew that I was the gifted one.

It was a torturous, humid summer, being the center of the clan’s hot tiny universe. Cousins from afar stayed at my grandparent’s house and the rest lived at the end of the street. This was the start of their summer break, and they set their naked childish curiosity on me. So everybody got together every single day, and I took upon myself to carry the burden of the main attraction for their summer break. To my great relief, however, the Tokyo Olympic Games started mid-August, and my cousins’ interest in me waned, and I found a comfortable spot being just one of the grandkids in front of my grandfather’s television.

My parents must have been relieved the timing of our return was not disruptive to the commencement of my academic career, as there was plenty of time to enroll me in a respectable “mission” school. Prior to the entrance exams and interviews to my mother’s Alma Meta, and its smaller but academically superior sister school in October, my parents were instructed not to teach me reading, writing and arithmetic by the schools, so my inclinations and potentials could be accurately assessed during the screening. And like idiots, they obeyed.

When my prestigious school finally started the following April, I discovered that everybody in class could read Japanese fluently. That, I understood immediately and felt appropriately miserable. But these girls could do more, something else entirely beyond my comprehension. Mr Eto would ask the class to sing the first line, and my class mates duly chirped, “doh, doh, so, so, la, la, so”, and I did not know if I was on the same page or even the book as the rest of the class. It took me a few weeks to learn that they were reading the funny little black and white dots, some with tails, some without, hanging in every which way like laundry on clothes line. These girls were reading music.

Thus my academic career started with a solid, unshakable mutual understanding by both my teachers and myself that I was not a chosen one, and in a matter of eight months, at age 7 years few weeks, I had been transformed from being two-and-bit-lingual, to illiterate in three different languages.

Nancy Time / Pat Time

I am so happy today. I had some Nancy time in the morning, and among other things she showed me her Interlac felted bag. (Synchronicity, Deep End!!)

She got a pattern and started to knit Interlac but felt it would be too heavy as a scarf, and Pat, I think, suggested Nancy felt it. It's in deliciously delicate colors and a yummy bag.

She was also wearing a new knit necklace - she knitted what's called Sari Silk around here - it's like a fat chenille yarn made up of sari fabric offcuts. Nancy time is precious even without the textile treats, but boy, this was an added bonus.

Then in the afternoon I had a strategic meeting with Pat regarding the kind of scarves and "packaging" for Santa Fe. I'm exhilarated and terrified at once, but if I don't try, I won't get anywhere, and I don't have to negotiate face-to-face, so that's a big relief.

I feel terribly selfish because Nancy and Pat know each other and I could have easily organized for all of us to get together, but I hadn't seen Nancy in weeks and I'd never gotten together with Pat before so I wanted to make both special. And they were. I hope Pat Time becomes a regular feature in my life, too. Or Pat-and-Nancy-time; wow, that's like drugs...

Sorry, no pics of Pat today; I was busy trying to remember all her suggestions.

Organizing Events

In the mid to late 20th Century, I ran events and also staffed computer help desks, among many other things. A friend of mine just carried out a major event as part of a team, and she was crushed at some of the scathing remarks targeted at her. This is something I know about, so I wrote the following reminder for her, and thought I'd share it with you. (READ: sometimes I want to convince you that I used to be a bit saner.)

Do keep in mind that this has nothing to do with SSVE, you've all be so wonderful. But this is one of my few original truisms, and it works particularly well when you are heading a group of volunteers. So here goes:

Running Events & Responding to Complaints

Statisticians say something like 20% of the attendees will give you feedback, both good and bad, if you ask. This is a lie; people seldom take the trouble to give you good, meaningful feedback and we as organizers tend to remember only rude people. This is the same as people never ringing the computer help desk to report their computer is running fine, or email HR to thank them for being paid promptly.

Of the 20% who give feedback, about 20% have constructive ideas. These are the ones you want to pick up, and it's easier if you ask them directly what they mean, rather than you or The Committee interpreting or guessing. But by no means are you obligated to take up any of these good ideas; do it only if you/The Committee want/s to.

There are those who thrive on criticizing, and this is the social/therapeutic contribution of events that is seldom mentioned. You are providing them a place to voice their uneducated, inconsiderate, ill-conceived, inappropriate or disproportionate reactions, to make them feel important. This is their problems.

However, one of the tactics to avert unpleasantness is to ask for details of their feedback as if you believe their feedback matters, let them cite actionable/practical suggestions, and thank them profusely. Even if they are rehashing an issue that The Committee thoroughly discussed and ruled against, do not explain this. Sometimes it is possible to win people over in this manner, and they become your converts, (because you were wise enough to listen to them), but do not try this unless 1) you can be bothered, 2) there are no dire, real issues on hand, and 3) you sense they'll come back and reprimand you for not acting on their suggestions.

Or you can smile like an idiot and utter niceties and get on with the job.

Occasionally, crazy people have bright ideas, too. But very occasionally.

Think what people are going to remember in a few months. Unless your event is plagued by food poisoning or fire, they are going to remember the merits of the content of the main event.

But anything you touch tends to turn into gold anyway, (name), and the organization and the event will start to run itself after about two runs, unless The Committee decides to destroy it. Events is a team sport, so give way to other Committee Members where you can hold on to your sanity in spite of their bad decisions. By Event 3, you'll know how to quietly work in the background to prevent most disasters. If all else fails, quit The Committee, and become a paid member, and rant and rave. If you need a lesson in ranting in raving, my dear (name), ring me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Figure Drawing

On May 2, I started my 10-week course on figure drawing.

A few years ago, if you suggested I take a figure drawing course, I would have laughed so loud you'd think me mad. But the last design workshop made me semi-fearless, and besides, I've known teacher Ronette Pickering, ex-weaver and ex-weaving teacher, for over a decade, and I thought it's high time I paid for all the neat fear-of-drawing-busting ideas she'd given me. So on Friday mornings, I've been going to class.

Ronette has a great reputation for enabling non-drawers to get cracking, and I was wondering how the dynamics of our relationship would change, but it hasn't changed at all. In fact, so many of the students are her friends, so there's a nice, small-party like atmosphere, and half of her past students read like who's who of Nelson artists.

The instructions are clear and we are shown lots of examples of the technique we're supposed to learn. This term the focus is on contours and tones, and I'm so glad I've started here because tone (value) has been one of the big fish bones stuck in my throat (now, that's a Japanese description!) when in comes to designing my weaving. I didn't know that this was part of a full year course, so on Day 1, I signed up for the next term, because mere 10 weeks could not make ma a hobby drawer, I thought.

My drawing are pretty bad, though. I still draw much of what I think I see and not what I do see but don't know I'm seeing. But there is that liberating feeling of doing something new without expectations, and I think I might be having more fun than those who have been drawing and have certain expectations. And like anything else, I find that a couple of hours of practice in between Friday mornings help in reducing the initial "Yikes" feel in the classroom.

The strangest thing I've learned is that we don't see the human body as a person, but as a form. The first couple of weeks I kept thinking about the criticism on rap music and the objectivization of women. In a figure drawing class, though, the models are not people, but different shapes of objects. And women are far more interesting because of the curves, and buxom women are undoubtedly the most beautiful. It was quite a strange thing to get my head around, but because we're looking at curves and shades, very quickly I got used to it and didn't feel too embarrassed, until one week we had a guy.

Last week in May, the model was a little late so we were standing around waiting for her. That's my new mate, Ron. It's a little harder for Ron because he's polite and doesn't want to stare at women models, so his drawings tend to be small.

One week we made contours of faces using a thin piece of wire. Ronette gave me an extra length, so I did Ben's face that night while he was watching the TV. I had a little bit left, so I stuck a heart at the top of his head, because at that moment, he was mad at me for something or rather. My wire work went so much better than my drawing; I liked the more direct approach of bending the wire.

Mean Blogger

Not Connie, but Blogger, you understand.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Golden Fleece in New Zealand

If ever I see it, I'll let you know. Here's the detail. I'm not sure how it works with metal detectors, though.

Sleying Sounds Like Slaving...

For someone with eyesight like mine, (read: BAD), sleying takes forever. It took half the afternoon to sley 120 ends at 15EPI, with all lights ablaze. (Sorry, the NZ Green Party.) Still, it's like eating veggies before dessert.

The warp is 26/2 cashmere/silk mix in delicious purple, a tad darker than you see here.


I subscribe to's Word of the Day mail out. May 25's word was "listless" which, before this email, I thought meant quite the opposite of "having no desire or inclination; indifferent; heedless; spiritless." I'd imagined an anxious, agitated state, partially due to, (brace yourselves), not having a proper To Do list.

In fact, in an almost-upsetting number of cases, the true meaning of the word have turned out to be the opposite of what I had imagined, or worse, how I used them. But that's not the point of this post.

I keep lots of To Do lists, and they are categorized, color-coded, numbered and cross-referenced. And whenever I finish one task, it never ceases to amaze me how three more come to mind. And I have other means of reminding myself what else I haven't finished.

Creating draft posts has been one such mean. Whenever a thought comes to mind, I create a draft, sometimes with the crux of the matter, sometimes just the title, sometimes just a photo, fully intending to return to it shortly and write something meaningful. At least to give you something to chuckle about.

Some of my 20-odd drafts posts were a year old, some 18-months, and I accumulated even more in May. And I just deleted them. I deleted all my drafts, except the two where I want to do something with the photos.

I'm trying to be OK with not verbalizing some of my experiences; that's Julia Cameron's influence. I feel if I can't explain or recap an experience, it will have meant nothing, or I'll forget it, but she says the experience is more personal when not "cerebralized". I'm trying to feel OK not posting every little thought I have about weaving, art or my life here, but letting some float in the air; I'm trying to see if they will float in the air even if I don't put down in writing.

And remember I didn't have a Wish List? Well, I kind of do now; nothing as sophisticated or intelligent (ha!) as my To Do lists, but at least I have it. Then, last night while I was reading, a vague concept of a To Be list came to me. I'm not quite sure what I mean by it; it could be a bunch of goals, like "What Kind of a Weaver I Want to be by When" list I started around 2001. It's not a "I need to be finished with ..." list, though.

Trying out a new way of looking at things, you know...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Connecting with the World

I read this post by Connie, when I was supposed to be writing my morning pages. I read something exactly like this in JC's Walking in This World yesterday while minding Sue's gallery.

As I already admitted
, I find it harder to connect with "the earth", nature, trees, birds, and easier to appreciate people and their life stories and the things they make or do. I swing between discarding everything else and concentrating on making cloths that pleases me (though I won't deny that ideas come from without), and just chatting away, catching up with friends. These two me's don't talk to each other much, and sometimes I can't read myself.

Last night, I was up until 2AM looking at the StatCounter watching the hits to my SSVE post grow. It wasn't the numbers, but that the numbers were steadily climbing as I watched that thrilled me. In fact, all week I felt giddy as if I had 12 cups of good coffee intravenously; while hanging the scarves in the gallery, my senses were overly stimulated and I had a not-so-virtual headache. My general well-being was well, so I can only deduce it's the photos and the statements that did it. And then I couldn't wait for the big "get-together" and got more and more restless.

I told Connie, as regards my "making" relating to my "connecting; "I have to kick, scream and shout to 'make' something, and then I feel like the only person in a great big church, my voices (sic) bouncing off the walls, and people standing in the shadows whispering and discussing what to do with me." This morning I feel as if you all have filled this big cathedral and all our laughter is bouncing off the walls and the big dome. I feel connected.

As to deconstruction, ummm.... I'm a newbie, I'm still trying to construct things well, so I'll give it a miss for the time being.

* * *

The second song we played at our wedding was "Maria". Thought it might be pertinent.

Friday, June 13, 2008


La Crumpet is right, I must stop talking about ailments. I was thinking all day that in one of your blogs a few months ago I read someone else saying if she ever read about illnesses once on a blog, she would never return to the said blog, ever again. Fair enough. Me, I don't mind much; I get to know the writer a bit better as a person, but NOT AS MUCH DETAIL AS I'VE BEEN PUTTING IN HERE, PLEASE!!

But there is a strange sense of release when you spell it out; an "OK, that's done" kind of feeling. I used to keep another blog for just that kind of blathering, but I've been preoccupied with SSVE so I've been neglecting that one. Must separate the beautiful with nasty! At any rate...


Not saying it won't happen again, but not for a while, ok?

Small Scarf Virtual Exhibition 2008

Rose Pelvin

Betsy Frizzell

Judy Bool

Esmae Emerson


Diana Klau

Lynne B
This blog is now by invitation only.

Meg Nakagawa

 The Big Gallery Flickr sets for this challenge has been deleted; some of the links were modified.


Oh, what a difference a day makes. As soon as I learned the sound is more in my head, I've been hardly aware of it. It's there from time to time, but it's like a ghost in my closet or a monster under my bed; I can now tell which are the real noises and which are mine.

The audiologist (Gill in pink) loaned me this machine, which I understand is called a white noise machine. It has about 8 variety of water-related sounds, one of prairie evening sound with a chorus of crickets, and a train sound. Last night I thought I could have fallen asleep without it, but Beloved loves gadgets so we tried it. We didn't like the water sounds, and the crickets were too noisy so we settled on the train sound. Funny thing is, we grew up going everywhere on trains, so, A) it was unnatural to hear the train sound and not feel the motion; we even jiggled our limbs to create a bit of faux-train vibration, which made us laugh so hard we were wide awake; and B) if you're used to trains, you know that with every tiny curve or incline/decline, the sound changes, and there was none of that, which bothered me at 3AM. And, now that I'm not worried or bothered by the forklift, my regular anxieties started to come back a bit. There is just no pleasing some customers, ha ha ha!!

Still, it was a new experience, and while I don't know if I'll use it all the time, it's nice to have it as a backup when the ghost of forklift comes out from under my bed; I much prefer it to chemical inducements.

Golly, I remembered just as I was typing; when I was a baby and didn't sleep, Dad would take me on a train ride, I'm told! Talk about a full circle.

Another illusion. I long had difficulties "accepting" that diagonals and curvy twills were optical illusions. At the very beginning, I thought they were some kind of wired warp manipulation. Then when I understood the "theory", I began to see how it worked in drafts. But it took weaving over a dozen warps, and then explaining it to non-weavers, to slowly and reluctantly accept that diagonals and curves are like filling in squares on a graph paper, or pointillism.

And just when I thought the world was a safe place again, Deep End posts this!! I just had to borrow the pic, but since this is knitting, I'm going to enjoy it and not try to understand it.

Photo posted with permission.

SSVE opens at 7PM tonight NZ time. I don't know why but I always envisioned it opening in the evening, so if you came a little earlier, I apologize.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's in My Head

For a nearly a decade now, I'd lose sleep some nights because I thought the port was too noisy. Port of Nelson is known to operate forklifts and cranes overnight when they load/unload large ships; it's a common complaint. Except Trish, whose parents live overlooking the port, said my house is facing the wrong way so I shouldn't be hearing the port. Then a staff at my gym told me she used to live a few houses away from our place, but her husband couldn't sleep because of the noise from a saw mill a few km away, so for the last two years I blamed the saw mill. Except when we drive by the place on weekends, they are shut closed, and I wondered if they actually worked overnight some times. Then last Christmas Day, I could not shut down the noise and figured it couldn't be the saw mill. As well, in the last few years, when we were in the country where silence should have been deafening, (and it's easy to find places like that in New Zealand), I felt as if I brought the forklift on holiday with us.

About a month ago, I was complaining about this to Nancy, and she thought I might have tinnitus. I had never heard of it until then, but once I learned of this -itus, everywhere I looked people are talking/writing about it. So I signed up for a hearing test and had it done this morning, and found out I do indeed have tinnitus, and this is something that's largely inside my head, caused by age-related hair loss.

It's like this. Inside our inner ear, which is often depicted like a swirly seashell, is a thin tube filled with fluid, and there are tiny hairs growing on the inside of this tube. These hairs vibrate and tell the brain what we are hearing. (Ummm... can't remember what the ear drum does relative to the hairs, but the drum probably causes vibration of the fluid in the tube??) We loose the tiny hairs naturally as we grow older, and when gaps appear on the inside of the tube, sometimes the brain compensates by making up noises. It's like phantom pain of a severed limb. Here's a picture, but without any hair.

This is caused by physiological change, but can to a certain extent be reduced or ignored. The audiologist (Gill in pink) recommended that I play music or have the radio on at a low volume, but what I like the best is silence, which doesn't work very well. She laughed because for the last few months, on the odd mornings when I didn't hear the forklift, I got worried and listened for it, and almost felt relieved to find the annoying thing. Tinnitus goes hand in hand with depression, insomnia, anxiety, etc., so I've had the whole package.

I borrowed this machine that's supposed to create low-volume noises, just enough to make the forklift not dominate my nights, but she told me not to wear ear plugs, because they make me concentrate more of the darned thing. And from her reading, there has been no definitive food-noise link substantiated, but individual patients have found foods which trigger the noise. Said giving up caffeine seems to help a lot of people, so I could try that for three weeks if I so wished.

The good news is, we don't have to move house. The bad news is, I'm loosing hair in places I didn't even know I owned. And there is no hair-loss treatment for the inner ear.

Oh, and as to my hearing itself, nothing wrong with it; actually very good for my age group. Which means when Ben mumbles, which he does a lot, it's his problem, not mine.

What Inspires Me

While I was away at the retreat, I also tried to get a little inspired by my surrounding. Marlborough Sounds is a beautiful place, especially the tiny inlets on crystal clear mornings or the surrounding hills overlapping and producing delicate gradation that look like your value study homework. Last weekend's weather was average, and I found the writers and their stories far more inspiring, to the point I was designing scarves that may look good on a character, or a ruana that may suit in a place in a story.

I know artists the world over have been inspired by nature and their environment, and in New Zealand, this is a very important factor in art-making. And I do like the odd leaf or rock or the seascape, and I take copious amounts of sunset photos, but to be honest, I have to force myself to connect what I see there with what I make, and I feel like a fraud when friends say things like, "Oh, I see the waves."

Well, let me tell you that I get very inspired by architecture and people and voices and stories. I grew up in the city and I am still a city kid. So every once in a while I have to remind myself that it's OK if I don't hyperventilate at a bird or mountain, because I do get excited by a 2-inch human-interest story, or the voice of an former East European correspondent, for example, and start drawing on my sketchbook right away.

I'm sure I'll be reiterating this point again, as I have to keep reminding myself.

(By the way, the subject in this photo was one of the two non-writing participants at the workshop, so I think I'm supposed to declare the photo and the post are not related, or something...)

On Prices

So, at the Writers' Retreat, where I tried to convert the angry-old-lady energy into something creative, I started writing very short memoir/essay-ish bits. I thought I might as well turn the anger into therapy; Julia Cameron says I can, so it must be true. And to some extent, it worked; once I started to write, I was trying to remember specific incidents, places and people that I became absorbed in the act of writing, though the writing itself was crap because I was there were a lot of years and ages and otherwise important-only-to-me numbers. Of course better writers picked up on that during the critique; I delete cumbersome bits like in my fiction writing, and the numbers felt like stones in my shoe, too.

Another thing I discovered on the weekend had to do with Julia Cameron, too. In one of the weekly tasks, she had me write down 50 things I'm angry about. I hesitated, because I thought I'd remember a whole lot of things and get madder and madder, but anything The Artist's Way has made me do, at worst they weren't effective, but many were fun and sometimes even therapeutic, so I did. Woudlnt' you know, even the shortest-tempered-oft-hopping-mad person like I cannot easily come up with 50 things to be angry about. At around 29 I started to giggle, and about 37 onwards, it was a struggle to finish. The last two or three were very lame, or thing I've long gotten over, but I had to come up with 50, so I did.

The next morning, while I was trying to write my Morning Pages, (more on Julia Cameron/The Artist's Way vocab in another post soon-ish, I promise,) Ben turned the TV on and settled on the TV One news. We don't have a TV in our bedroom at home, and we don't watch the news in the morning, we listen to National Radio, and if that's not enough, the host of the morning news show on TV One is a most irritating man. So I waited for Ben to flip the channel, and he didn't, and it was loud, and I was getting more and more irritated, so I stop the stream-of-consciousness writing and started a list of 50 things I hate about Ben, and you know what, it worked! By Item 17 I was making excuses for him, and by Item 33, I was saying out loud, "Yeah, but it was a that one time," or "But he hasn't done this in a while," or "OK, this is the same as Item 7". I was laughing so hard and had to repeat a few things to finish all 50.

If you have a temper half as hot as mine, I do recommend this.

Oh, the prices. Well, I had four inquiries for scarves from fellow writers. They wanted a price list or a catalogue, which I don't have, so I promised everybody I'd email. To be honest, I feet embarrassed about discussing prices in person, (except my one-off big shawls; I got used to that.) And I can put in more details and possible alternatives in an email.

I've come to terms with not undercutting gallery prices, and I don't feel apologetic about the prices she put on my work. Jay Farnsworth is a gallery-owner in an old-fashioned way; she is a mentor to her artists and will give advice even with work not intended for the Red. I feel loyal to her and to our relationship. But I still have a hard time, sometimes, talking about them, face to face.

Some of what the writers wanted, however, were relatively simple and I panicked a little because ethically, as a person and as an ex-Catholic school girl, I should tell them, "That's really not my kind of weaving, and you should go to so-and-so who can probably do it for less." On the left shoulder, however, is Evil Meg giggling, "Oh, goodie, a 4-shaft twill; easy money."

I emailed each writer yesterday, describing my plans for each piece, stating two options (fiber contents) and prices, and asked to reply to me if they were happy with the prices. And so far I heard back from one, to go ahead.

It's not attractive talking about money, I know, but I don't know if this is something I'll ever come to terms with. How do you put a price on my handwoven scarf? I think I need an agent.