Monday, February 28, 2011

Handmade For Christchurch

A group of mothers established Handmade for Christchurch. Here is their Facebook page, and here is their information if you'd like to donate your hand work. (Don't click on the flier; I can't remember how to put a link to it.)

Here is their TradeMe (NZ eBay) page. For now only residents of New Zealand and Australia can bid, but they are working on an alternative PayPal option.

Donations will go to the Salvation Army and Women's Refuge.

If you'd like to help us spread the word, please feel free to copy the picture above and post, (I have their permission,) but please also attach at least one workable link.

EDIT: After careful consideration, the organizers have decided they will stay with the TradeMe setup only, meaning only those of us in New Zealand and Australia can bid.  So, no PayPal option.  Sorry about that, but TradeMe is wavering all auction fees for H4C, and doing lots of other things like lost pet search for Christchurch, so please forgive them/me/us.   

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Textile Places of Interest in Japan

I know.  You are allowed to laugh out loud, hysterically, in a fetal position, but it appears to me many of you have been far more successful locating them than I have, so do please let me know in the comment section where I should go, especially in the Tokyo/Yokohama area.  Thank you.

Now, resume laughing.

Saturday Morning Blather

As you may have guessed, most of this week I spent stationed in front of the television with the radio close by, trying to gather any and all information about the Christchurch earthquake on Tuesday.  I am a news junkie most of the time, (I inherited it from both my parents,) but I have never experienced such a big disaster so near me.  Everybody I know personally are safe and in some cases out of the region, but I have not heard of anyone whose homes did not suffer.  Worse, I have friends whose family members were injured and our thoughts are with them especially. 

* * * * *

The news coverage kept me in the living room, and I was able to hem and finish my 18 cashmere and 4 alpaca scarves, rather than fluttering away to start more projects.

I finished labeling and tagging around 11PM on Thursday, (so no time for feel good pics,) but was able to deliver the cashmeres on Friday to the Red and The Suter.  Jay at the Red very much liked the Log Cabin pieces, and when I told her I was thinking of more in perhaps navies and teals, she challenged me to teal-and-burnt-orange based on the bottom center painting in Red's current exhibition.  It's an unexpected piece, one I want to revisit, but the top far right piece was my instant favorite. Two of my scarves are on their way to my friends, both named Joan.  

I'm still so unsure about the alpaca scarves and they ended up coming home with me. I haven't photographed them and I need to sit/sleep on these a bit, and they need to spend time under my couch a bit.  

* * * * *

One of the things troubling Ben and me for months has been whether to have another trip to Japan this year.  Financially, this is so the wrong thing, but for the first time in our 16 years we've been here, my dad asks me every time I phone home if we're planning a trip soon.  This is uncharacteristic of him, and we wonder if he knows something we don't.

At long last we decided to go, and yesterday we bought tickets at a good price, (but not exactly "cheap" fares as they have more restrictions about dates, etc., and we've never found one that suits us.)  Let's just say I need to sell 19 cashmere scarves to cover my ticket.  Plus I had a small filling in my tooth fixed yesterday; three cashmere scarves there.   

I have never been this hard up monetarily in my adult life, and on the one hand I feel dispirited rather than worried.  On the other hand, I feel strangely elated and cleansed, because I no longer have the burden of worrying and what's left is to save where I can and work to generate income.  And I am fortunate I have all my equipment and yarns so I have the means to try to generate products that can potentially generate income.   

Of course because Ben has a day job, we don't have to worry about our living as long as we cut back on non-essentials, and I know this is absolute luxury for a weaver.  But the cost of this trip may have been the kick in the head I needed for some years; I don't worry about book sales, yarn sales, or tiny everyday luxuries any more and I like how this feels.

* * * * *

The planning for the New Zealand Creative Fibre 2012 is going ahead and the latest report indicated much of Internet-related aspects (my turf) will go live before I leave for Japan. So, there's some work to be done there.

* * * * *

I wonder if anyone can help me.  Ever since the earthquake, I can't get rid of the smell of  smoke/cinder. I had Ben check everywhere, during the day and at night, and there is nothing around the house that's burning and no neighbors have been barbecuing.  I'm sure it's psychosomatic. I didn't smell it in town yesterday.  One burn ointment with a strong smell has been the only thing that works.  I feel like I'm forever walking by a house ruined by fire.  Have you heard of anything like this?

* * * * *

Good post title for what I've been doing often on Saturdays, don't you think?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sonya is OK

Sonya, in Christchurch, of Insanity Looms is OK.  And her power and phone came back up last night. Keep up updated, Sonya; so glad to hear from you again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nelson is OK

In view of yet another big earthquake in Christchurch today, I'm going to interrupt my naval gazing to let you know that Nelson is OK, and we are OK.  Thank you for asking.  In fact, I heard that people felt the shake from the bottom of the South Island in Invercargill to halfway up the North Island in Hamilton, but so far I don't know of anyone in Nelson who felt anything.  But I spent the day parked in front of the telly from 1.30PM to 11PM today hemming cashmere scarves.  It was a strange day.   

This time, however, the quake was much shallower, at mere 5km, and much closer to the Christchurch city center; the nearby port town of Lyttleton was reportedly decimated, but we have very little coming out of Lyttleton so far, and only seconds of visuals. 


There was a meeting of New Zealand and Australian pediatricians in central Christchurch and among others, these doctors rushed to assist the wounded.  150 Australian search and rescue specialist, (they had a special name - urban something) have also arrived at Christchurch and the rescue will continue overnight. 

Please keep the people of Christchurch and greater Canterbury Region in your prayers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Body Image

Not wanting to be recognized in person of course is deeply, but not exclusively, related to my body image.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

As overweight as I have been from time immemorial, I maintained a relatively consistent weight for thirteen years, but put on some noticeable kilos in the last 18-24 months. I'm not sure if it happened while I was on medication in 2009, but it wasn't until later last year I finally began to feel heavier and unhealthier.

I've been watching what I eat, how much I eat, (because we eat healthily, but too much and to a very erratic schedule,) and exercising more.  I'm not quite back to my previous overweight-weight, but I keep focused because just the little exercise I do manage have reduced the amount of joint pains considerably.

What interests me is how incongruent my internal and external body pictures are.  Speaking of being startled by one's own reflections, sometimes I honestly don't realize it's me.  That is not to say I have an unrealistic picture of my internal self, but I do see myself perhaps 10 to 15 years younger in behavior/health, (about the age I came to New Zealand,) and the weight of 20 years ago, overweight but not obese.  But honestly, I don't really have an external picture of myself.  If I have to picture myself walking around town, then I have to say I see a generic Japanese invisible middle-aged female, but more often a translucent cloud/smoke/gas. 

My parents, especially my Dad, reminded me from time to time I wasn't pretty and I was short and there wasn't much I could do about them, but my weight and my intelligence, I could manage, and not managing them only proved I was lazy.  And then there was the spiel at my convent school about internal/moral beauty, and I don't remember a student who cared less about her external picture.  I was tidy and very clean, but looked down on "vanity" and felt sorry for girls who spent much time with their combs and brushes. Yeah, I bought the whole lot.

It's not that I didn't try, on both fronts.  Being told by Mom I needed loose weight at Age 9 without any practical assistance, I tried try to starve myself a few times, (not like an eating disorder, but in a childish way of skipping meals and snacks,) but nothing lasted to produce results or harm my health.  And my family always talked about nutrition and health so I never went on a eat-only-this style diet - this is about the time Mom became interested in organic food and joined a group that paid one farmer to grow only organics.

In my adulthood, I knew I was consistently overweight, and the line was going up rather than down every year.  But at one point, maybe in my late 30's, I got sick of thinking about it and started to concentrate on other aspects of myself.  Like what I can do, i.e. work and hobbies.  And though I felt the need to do something for my health as I aged, I never did much, except to go to an easy gym three times a week for a couple of years.  (I still didn't loose anything and I became an enigma to the gym staff.) 

I felt dejected about not completing my pattern making course, and am still too embarrassed to go back, even though I'm awfully interested in the top/shirt module.  I honestly feel sorry for myself, because as I age, I thought I was supposed to concern myself with maturity, character, and accomplishments.  Alright, perhaps with "health" but not "weight". Dad's given me scolding about my weight ever time we spoke on the phone until a year ago; he couldn't wait a whole day before I got on my case when I was home last January so I mentioned surprisingly calmly that a woman's self-esteem has a great deal to do with her relationship with her father and her perception of how her father sees her.  And he's mentioned it since.  Which has been great, and I call home far more often now.     

I feel pragmatic about my weight now.  I don't like my joints hurting or being out of breath, so I am staying on track, aiming to loose weight slowly but more importantly being more active consistently.

I wonder how unhealthy it is to have this vast schism between my internal and external pictures, or no real extremal picture at all.  I wonder if it's denial, escapism, can't-be-bothered-ism or something deeper, something like daring to defy Dad's orders.  I definitely don't put on weight on purpose, but there might be something there.

 So, remind me; what did I say about my weaving being the focus here, and not my person??

Being a Weaver

One of the nicest things anyone can tell me is they hadn't felt like weaving for a while, (ranging from three weeks to 27 years so far,) but seeing my work or talking to me made them want to weave again. Two weavers told me that in five days recently, and I was thrilled. A couple of weavers in town have my standing offer, good for 10 years, to help them put on a warp on their looms.

* * * * *

Sometimes I'm asked if I am "the weaver" Meg in this little town. Needless to say, it happens when I least expect it, and sometimes at very inopportune times, like when I'm having a good rant with my friends, in a public place. I feel embarrassed, immature, and have a hard time switching the conversation to pleasantries. Mumble, mumble.  Rant...

That said, this is about something else I think about a lot; I said this several times before on this platform, so apologies if it's the same old to you.

I am a weaver because I weave, but my weaving is not "who I am"; they are only what I make.  I would be pleased if folks like my work, (and maybe buy them,) and if one day my work can be part of a collection or can be seen outside gallery shops, I would feel rewarded. But my person is inconsequential.

I am a short, fat, grumpy middle-aged woman who dresses badly in dark baggy clothes who moves slowly but also stops often, thinking, looking, listening, or not, about textiles and weaving 24/7. What I make is the best representation of what I do in my time on this planet; they are prettier and more interesting.  My person is inconsequential.

This, of course, may confuse you considering the amount of non-weaving rant that takes place here, as Unravelling is my place to park thoughts and moments as much as it is a tool to communicate with weavers, textile aficionados and friends. You may remember I didn't post a picture of myself for a long time, until ultimately Ben and a couple of others coaxed me into it. Ambivalent behavior on my part, yes.  

This separation of my work from my person is very clear in my mind; I need to consider behaving consistently along the same principles, but which way??

Monday, February 21, 2011

That Pesky Word "Dynamic" Again

Remember Randy Darwall's "dynamic proportion", his favorite key to creating beautiful scarves, the concept that almost made me go more than a little crazy? I still can't define it in words, and I am tentative discussing it, but sometimes I see it around me.  I try to make/see movement when I think of ideas/things "dynamic". 

Well, Ronette has been telling us to do dynamic contour drawings.  Which Margaret thinks is an oxymoron.  Thus far, we've been told to draw contours extremely slowly and carefully, and we've practiced blind contours for weeks. And because of our own movements while drawing contours, almost regardless of the models' poses, these drawings tend to be sedate, quiet or still. 

I tend to go too fast with contours because when I slow down I loose my sense of proportion and flow, and my lines become jiggly, squiggly and angly, and I prefer to draw lovely flowing lines, especially when drawing the female body. 

"Dynamic" relates more easily to gesture drawing.  Which is precisely why Ronette is trying to get us to achieve it with contours, I suppose.  But it still tastes like Green Tea with Milk, Miss.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Community

Depressives and artists are supposed to try to spend time with other human beans. To remind me of it, my Artist's Way the week before last theme was community. But I haven't been having a great time in this area.

Figure drawing: as you know Week 1 was terrible, Week 2 was great. Well, Week 3 started out wonderful, we had one of the best models, but Ronette challenged us a little: we had to use such tools as balsa wood pieces, bamboo sticks and scrunched paper towels with ink for mark-making. It's nothing new, we have done these in the past, but some students felt uncomfortable and many reacted verbally. I get it.

It's just two of them couldn't stop giggling and chatting and they got a bit hysterical and started to involve the model, and the last half an hour was mayhem. I couldn't stand it and let out a "Shut up!" not so quietly but of course the culprits didn't hear me. So we need at least two Naughty Easels starting next week, I said to Ronette.

Not having a good session is their business; disrupting my class time is mine. Next time, I'm going to shout, "Hey, ladies, naughty seats!"

* * * * *

I've been pussy-footing around one community group wondering if I should offer my services to market their ware. But communicating with the coordinator has been, however, tenuous at best. Last week, Said Coordinator involved someone else who is professionally involved with them but is my friend. My friend rang on Monday to see what's going on, and I gave her a brief history and a good rant. Said friend gave a spiel about how lovely Said Coordinator is, etc., etc., which of course made me feel cornered.

Worrying how our conversation ended, (amicably, but she knew I was unhappy,) My Friend rang on Tuesday while I was writing down what all went wrong and how it could have gone better. (It couldn't have, from my point of view.) My friend is lovely and calm and considerate. But it just burned me because she only reiterated Said Coordinator's case, and I sense there may be something else going on, and I really didn't want my friend in the middle. I should have kept all the sporadic emails, as they would have evinced the strangeness of our correspondence, and the protocol I followed.  But who would have thought I needed to keep evidence of this sort of communication.

I'm going to stay well away from this group for now.

* * * * *

Later on Tuesday, Roger from Refinery rang to ask if I could come in and discuss changing the WYSISYG dates because someone wants to do something around the Mexican Day of the Dead. I know in my head it's not a big deal and I'm easy, but the timing was wrong and I felt upset and overwhelmed. Worse yet, I know and like this someone.

I checked the date for said MDotD, which is Wednesday, November 1 in 2012, but I clear out of the gallery the Saturday before, so I emailed to Roger to let him know I didn't think I needed to change the dates.

I didn't hear back from Roger, so I went to see him Friday afternoon and he agreed. So WYSIWYG stands as is. For now. And I'm glad I waited a few days because by Friday I was fine either way about the dates, and I was calm and collected when I saw Roger, even though it was after the horrible Figure Drawing session.

* * * * *

So last week wasn't a great week emotionally, and I took a break from Artist's Way. But I got through and I feel alright. So what have I been doing this weekend? I've been reading a biography of one of the most famous depressives, van Gogh, and finding it strangely helpful.

Film

I love the shallow depth of field you can get with an SLR/DSLR cameras.  Think of Doni's pictures. My default camera, though, isn't an SLR, so sometimes I borrow Ben's old Canon to shoot my work. Ever since we went to Brian Brake's Exhibition in Wellington, I've been wanting to get back to some film photography, especially because I have a lovely little macro lens, so I combined the two last weekend.
I shot a roll of anything I fancied in my stash room, and it was a.... hilarious experience.  I hadn't used the camera in nearly 10 years, and I forget that:

1) Unless I have a zoom attached, which I didn't, the lens stays at one length;
2) I have to wind after every shot;
3) I have to check the meter before every shot and change the shutter speed or the aperture if need be;
4) If I have the object in focus but have to do 2) and/or 3), I need to check the focus again.
5) That a roll of 24 shots is going to give me, at best, around 26 shots... 

The stash room was dark, my film was only ASA200, (but I grew up with ASA100, so I thought it was sufficient,) the macro lens is not a particularly light lens, and I couldn't hold the camera as steadily nor stand as still as I used to.  The only thing that came back right away was my strange way of fine-tuning the focus with both my forefingers while holding the camera steadily.  Never mind, it was fun.  And I two rolls of ASA400 this time. Now if I remember what I learned when I was 13, the pink overtone is due to underexposure, but I didn't want to open the aperture any more, and I was shooting at 1/4 and 1/8 secs.
And I didn't do any ironing last week, so this mountain is about to topple.

(Something wrong with the compatibility between scanned files and my photo editor - that's the smallest my name will go in, but Ben found a solution, so the next roll will be better.)

Pricing Work

I finished the last of my Log Cabin scarf on Thursday.  I'm relieved, because I was getting tired of them, though I have an idea for another Log Cabin: this next will be around 36EPI so it won't go on the four-shaft Jack downstairs with its metal heddles, but one of the table looms with the soft heddles.

Starting tomorrow, I have to mend/hem/wash/press/tag and photograph 18 pieces; 4 alpaca Log Cabin, one red cashmere plain weave warp, and two cashmere Log Cabin warps; then deliver them to galleries ASAP.  Except for the two red pieces which will be gifts to two clients who over the years have bought around half a dozen of my pieces, each.

The first Log Cabin warp ended up being woven in 18EPI after sampling; the last Log Cabin warp I returned to 16EPI and they feel and look different enough now; I'm curious to know how they'll turn out finished. 

* * * * *

I've been thinking of that dreaded thing: price.  The cashmere pieces will be priced the same as all my other cashmeres, and I don't have a problem with it for the moment.  But the alpacas are one- (well, four-) offs, and I'd like to sell them at a low price because other than my nearly dyeing of hey fever from this yarn, the work was simple and straight forward.

I have, though, been thinking about prices in general.  Those of you in non-Rugby (Union) places may not know but New Zealand is hosting Rugby World Cup later this year, and some New Zealand travel sectors have been criticized for opportunistic pricing.  Accommodation costs, for example, are fantastic, as in, they are dreaming!  I can't remember the details but some places are charging not double or triple but 10 or 20 times the regular prices.

There are two sides to the story: tourism in New Zealand has changed, from many Japanese tours dropping big money for fewer days' stay in the early 90's to more European backpackers, cyclist and freedom campers staying for longer but spending less per day.  The common perception is New Zealand doesn't give a nice big bang for the buck.  I think this is true; for a country that's supposed to be about walking and jumping off bridges and looking at the scenery, however spectacular, there seems to be an overwhelming number of high-end lodges.  (I see then on the telly or read about them in the paper.)

But this is the big chance for the industry to make big bucks, the government has been telling us so, so we fork out a lot of dosh to pretty up the stadiums and roads and make new party venues.  And folks do need to make the most of the opportunity, so it's not just greed.  As regards RWC, I don't care, because some tickets cost over $1,000, so complain they may but some folks can afford the outrageous accommodations.

What I have been thinking is the bang-for-buck factor, opportunism and greed. My pieces are high, even in comparison to work by more experienced weavers, because a) I use the best material I can find, b) New Zealand yarns are terribly expensive in New Zealand, and c) my first outlet was the Red Gallery, and Jay and I set the price fitting the Red clientèle.  I now have The Suter which carries a wider range but I never undercut the Red, and I keep the Refinery unique so prices for pieces there have different sets of criteria. 

While most of my commissions are from New Zealanders, gallery sales used to be almost exclusively by overseas visitors, (many from the UK,) but now the ratio is closer to half New Zealanders and half visitors. I've seen travelogues by visitors to New Zealand, (most of them very young, though, so not exactly my target market,) who so often mention New Zealand is an expensive place.  Some prices here are on par with Tokyo, and I'm astounded by how inexpensive some things are in the US and Australia.  I have had frank discussions with weaver friends who travel a lot, and they feel my prices are at the high end but generally reasonable considering the material and the work.

My prices aren't opportunistic, in my mind, but I feel visitors don't feel the bang-for-buck with my pieces, and I don't want to be greedy.  I'd rather they take home my piece and I'm having a hard time trying to figure out the right place in this economy.  (Mind you, you all probably know the high end art market isn't suffering too terribly, and this is why we decided not to lower the cashmere price for now.)   

I have no conclusions on the matter for now, but I need to have some clear ideas or scheme for pricing when I open my Etsy shop, which I hope will be sometime before mid year this year. 

* * * * * 

I've also been knitting a small pillow/cushion cover (30cm * 30cm) with my handspun/plied in the evenings, because I wanted to see the yarns made into something, but this being my second knitting project, I'm playing it safe.  I'm also longing for autumn and winter, and I thought if I knitted, I might be able to pretend we are in a cooler, more pensive season.  Plus, I don't feel too guilty watching the television in the evenings this way.

After I was a little over halfway done, I found a wee glitch.  I had thought I owned four needles with the bulbs at the end all in the same size, but they felt a little different Thursday night so I checked and discovered I have two 3mm and two 3.75mm needles. So this explains why some rows felt so tight and some not so; I was using the two sizes indiscriminately.  (The four needles without the bulbs were all in the same size.  I checked.)

I'll live; this is the good thing about "just for fun" projects.  Another evening and I'll be done knitting, and then it'll take perhaps half a day to stitch it up?  The funny thing is, the colors aren't as saturated in real life as they appear in this picture.  In fact, I can only see hints of the mint green or turmeric yellow and the overall impression is orange.  But I'll leave the photo this way because it looks quirkier.

For my kind of knitting of not very rigorously tested items, (the first was a hat,) I think I prefer singles.  I still have some sliver left, except the oranges, so I've put in a small order for the three oranges, and I can't wait to get them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My TinyTiny Collage Challenge

It seems I was the only one that did this, so here we go, my collage challenge.

I was surprised to find so many triangular shapes of interest, triangles not being my favorite, but they look like sails, and with the many tents, I may have had masts in mind.  The breast presented a lovely tear-drop shape (turn the photo right side up in your mind) and I am always a sucker for tear-drop or pear shapes.

In the larger square under the breast, do you see an Art Deco-style shape composed to two parts, the left half being in black?  I see these in garment illustration from the period, and the day before I worked on this, I saw a series of lamps and wall lights at Refinery Art Space shop which would look superb in a Frank Lloyd Wright or Mackintosh style house.  (More FLW colors.)

The bottom fur, in this orientation, made me smile.  To me it's a "waffle" shape because of the very Japanized Western treat called "waffles".  When I was growing up, these relatively affordable cakes a pancake-like shell folded with custard or chocolate cream; they were based on Dutch sponge, (because while we closed the country to all foreign countries for 300 years, the Netherlands was the only European country allowed to trade in a small area of Nagasaki, because they posed no thread of Christian missionary activities,) but made into individual servings, because we like it that way.  Here. Googling "waffles" in Japanese, it's a little funny to find many Japanese are still confused; some prefix with Belgian or American to mean the crispier kind, some still insist you make small sandwiches with cream or jam inside, and some are downright Japanese interpretation of Western treats.

* * * * *

How did I work on this wee Challenge? First I tried to make a collage with my lettuce patch and lettuce leave photos, but I didn't feel motivated and the portions of interest were predictable. Let's face it, I love edges of lettuce leaves, like I've loved the edges of leaves all my life.

So I went to my Sketchbook Project pages, and selected four of the most complicated (i.e. many bits) collages, and one uncomplicated one I like.  I still saw individual pieces and not the collages, (and in some cases entire pages from where the pieces came), so on the computer, I turned all five photos upside down and turned them into black and white photos.  I could still see the bits, so I turned them into negatives of black and whites.  I also turned the original photos on its side (90 degrees clockwise) and turned them into color negatives.

I still saw each piece, rather than each collage as a whole, which I felt was "cheating".  So I enlarged the images, rotated them 90 degrees at a time, and tried to concentrate on the negative space.  I found lots of lovely areas where the original photos were of textiles, and I excluded these; another self-imposed rule.  In the end, the above image was the only one where I found multiple areas of interest.  

Perhaps I should have collaged just color papers instead of photos for this project, or straight-forward photos.  I had just finished my Sketchbook Project when I proposed it, so that would be why I had photographic collage on my mind.  

I did find a couple of humorous images as a results, though.  I discovered I find things hanging upside down funny.
Dog and Hippo - two of my favorite creatures.
Gallery around NZ Parliament hanging upside down; I find it funnier than MPs hanging upside down.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

First Baby Girl Blanket

AT THE MOMENT I AM A LITTLE CONFUSED AS TO WEATHER THE DOUBLE-WIDTH DRAFT BELOW IS CORRECT OR NOT, AS I HAVE A MINOR DISASTER ON MY HAND.  I WILL GET BACK TO YOU SOON-ISH.

The giftee in question is the little sister of this not-so-wee-any-more boy, and this still-somewhat-wee boy; this is the fourth commission piece for this client, but the last grandchild for now.

This being my first chance to weave something for a wee girl, I wanted to go all out girly and cute, and had in mind something red.  After consultation with the client (a.k.a. Nana), we decided on multiple blue-reds in the warp.  From there, I had to go with a fluffy white merino weft, and after having received several photos of the said cute little giftee, I had to have hearts. This is the draft. 

The red horizontal line shows where the second repeat ends; it won't be in the cloth.  The weft is quite thick, so the hearts will be elongated somewhat, but I may have to modify the proportion after sampling.

To convert a draft to a double-width draft, usually I use a tie-up plan.  For the first time, though, I converted a lift plan to another lift plan, (my setup requires a lift plan when I weave anyway,) and this proved to be so much easier and quicker, especially if the design is symmetrical.

At the moment I'm using Shafts 1-8 for the top layer and 9-16 for the bottom; I'm wondering if I should change this to use the odd-numbered shafts for the top layer and even-numbered for the bottom, but that won't be difficult copying and pasting.

On to the warp.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Though I don't Wish to Offend You...

Yesterday was a hellova Friday.

Drawing was great; the day/room slightly cooler, many came lightly clad, we tried to get used to the smaller room, and the model was an experienced one. Ronette Pickering is a persuasive teacher, and together, these three years, we have trained me, (I was born on the year of Dogs,) to blindly obey her instructions, though she thinks I'm a difficult one. I got and Egon Shiele-like drawing, because the model is shaped like that.

During the week I had gone through the gazillion stages of grief, and I was over feeling excited/sad about this term being the last for a while; I told Dot as much in the morning, that I had moved on and was even reluctant to go for nine more weeks.  Now, among other things, I would definitely miss speaking to practicing artists in the class, but the right brain massage, oh! 

I had lunch with my guy while musing about models I enjoy drawing, (plumper one, and not-so-young ones,) session where I feel good about my drawings, vs. models and sessions from whom/when I get interesting drawings; they are not the same.

Then we went to the camera shop to buy film and batteries for my old OM-2; I've thinking of old-fashioned photography after the Brian Brake exhibition.  Then I went to the Red Gallery to see Jay and warned her some scarves were forthcoming; I gave myself a due date of next Friday or the following Monday now.

Then I went to the Refinery to a) shoot the breeze with Vicky, b) photograph the light sources and positions in the big gallery, and c) to see Lloyd to tell him I won't be putting anything in Changing Threads but will be available to assist installing if he needs me.  Vicky had a scarf of mine from which a visitor had accidentally torn off the label that needed fixing.  I ran into Duncan with whom I've wanted to catch up for perhaps a couple of years, (not just in passing, that is); we discussed some of my ideas about WYSISYG.  I got to take pictures of the lights in the gallery, and got a glimpse of the "drawing" exhibition opening tonight; it's going to be a mind-blower and I'm really looking forward to going back at a quiet time, and even getting the artist's permission to take photos and post here. Lloyd wasn't there but I scribbled a note and we connected by email.

Then I went to a shop specializing in protective gear, such as vests with light-reflecting strips and steal-toed boots.  It had turned into a gym equipment shop, so I went to the paint show nearby to a) ask where the shop had gone, (that one's gone but there are two similar shops in town,) and b) if they have paints that would do the same, (that technology is so specialized they don't have anything similar in the shop.) Then I went to Spotlight, the big craft material shop and found nothing that would reflect light the way I want, though I found "neon" threads, plastic tube things, and glitter in every format imaginable.  When I left Spotlight, I checked my cell for the time, which was a few minutes after 4PM.

I went to Litter Arty, the used book store with a good art section, and where I accumulate store credit when Steve buys my books, and came out with a promising Van Gogh biography.  Then I went to the Bead Gallery to look for fake-pearls because I've been wanting to use them since I first thought of SSVE in early 2008; I found far too many sizes and colors of Czech glass beads that fit the bill so I'll have to go back with a sample swatch.

Then I went to the local Provincial Museum.  Their current exhibition is about an immigrant boat trip from England to Nelson in, I think, 1851; I felt a bit ho-hum about it but $5 to support a local institution wasn't going to hurt me, so I went. The exhibition itself was OK; the bunk beds, though were the standard single bed width with not so bad (though not great) foam mattresses.  Now every adult knows they were narrower and somewhere I found they were 60cm wide.  I don't like this kind of misrepresentation, because being a visual person, I try to recreate the trip in my head based on what I see and not what I read.  Having said that, they had excerpts from diaries of four of the ship's crew, and the doctors' entries were hilarious.

Example: (And I'm paraphrasing because I can't remember the period parlance:) "Emigrants are distributed food by weight.  They now insist dirt be washed off before vegetables are weighed, or coffee roasted similarly, and make other unbecoming demands."

I came out of the Museum to find I had lost my cell, so I borrowed the phone at Page and Blackmore to ring Ben; went to the veggie shop to buy veggies and be picked up by Ben; we went to all the shops to see if they had found my phone and found most shops closed; went to the supermarket and came home.  I rang all businesses leaving messages about my cell, emailed to those without answer machines, (quite a few businesses, in fact,) and went to have a shower, and whoa, my cell was there, in the bathroom!

So why did I have such a vivid memory of checking it at a little after 4PM?

Anyhoo, relieved, had a snacky dinner, (smoked salmon, cheese, French bread... no wine, though, I was too wound up,) watched four hours of mindless TV, read a little about Japonisme in Western Art, again by Prof Mitsui, (I  haven't forgotten I promised to share more of what he said in the first book I read,) went to sleep.

I woke up at 5AM, couldn't go back to sleep, turned on the TV at 5.30 to find Prez Mubarak had "left", watched until 6.30, gazed at my favorite figure/life drawing book, went back to sleep, and didn't get up until 9.30, which is about the time we try to get into the car to do the airport walk on Saturdays. 

And that's just the highlights!  Do you blame me for feeling a little bit out of it?  But it was overall a good day, and I'm pumped with ideas.  There is a floor talk at the Suter this afternoon, (in 75 minutes!) and the drawing exhibition opening at the Refinery.  I'm not sure if we're going, because I don't want to overload my head.  And I need to work on my TinyTiny Collage Challenge. But we are going walking tomorrow morning. 

 So many new spotlights!

Friday, February 11, 2011

What's Cooking

This post is updated from time to time to remind myself of all the wonderful ideas I could investigate.
Last update: October 1, 2013

Front Burner:
* Garments as dwelling of the most immediate kind/cloth as outer skin
* Tied weaves
* Deceptively simple/complex cloth 
* Bright and bold/geometric
* Good luck charms for others, as opposed to curses/needles-in-dolls
* Messages/language/hidden codes in cloth 

Cooling on the Side
* Textile in museums/relics/artifacts

Back Burner:
* Pineapples
* Hippopotamuses
* Central Asian/Muslim headgear, especially men's
* Yardage, especially textural Autumn/Winter fabric
* Woven Trapunto

Back of the Back Burner:
* Deep Sea creatures
* Arabic scripts
* The Library of Alexandria
* Boats as objects, especially handmade wooden boats
* Cloths woven on four or fewer shafts

Behind the Stove but Not Forgotten:
* Textural shibori
* Garments/bags made with my cloth
* Analogous Log Cabin
* More Rococo
* More Pacifika

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm a Scarf Weaving Machine!

I wove the third scarf on this warp today.  I wasn't exactly thrilled with the piece and kept walking away, being distracted, but I finished the piece after diner; this last one I used the same purple and the darker orange in weft.  One or two more to go on this warp. 

For the time being, I'm so over Log Cabin, or these small cashmere scarves, or my jack loom named Jack.  I am having great fun with these colors, but I feel like doing something else next. But I will stay on track until I finish this warp. 

Nevertheless, I have this picture in my head of weaving a piece in Log Cabin with a bunch of different color combinations, perhaps in skinny shiny cotton, in tiny units, so the cloth is like a collection of gazillion little squares and rectangles.  This may take some time to weave but I want to be more creative on the four-shaft Jack, and I think there is nothing like a deceptively simple weave structure to please, well, me, really.  

Drawing tomorrow morning.  I'm sure it'll be great. 

Esmae in India

Esmae was in India recently, and she shared these photos with me; I got her permission to show them to you.  Do feel free to add anything you know about Indian weaving/Sari/silk, please, or questions for Esmae.
Esmae says: "A few pics from India. Close to Chennai we visited a model village which had traditional houses from the Southern states of India. One of them was a weaver's house from Kanchipuram, and there was a weaver in residence."
"... he was weaving a sari, so it would have been approx 115 or 120 cms wide; I'm not sure what the sett was but those saris are closely woven. Looking at the [counter-balance] loom I noticed that the 4 shafts appeared to work as 2 pairs: 1 and 2 always together and 3 and4 together, doing plain weave; someone suggested that that arrangement might allow for a closer sett without the heddles and the warp ends becoming tangled."
"I love the way so much of life and commerce in India happens in the street, even mending."

I love the weaver's outfit, too.  Very elegant and other-worldly/olden-days-ish.  

Thank you for these, Esmae, and I sure hope you get a chance to visit India again to find out more.  (And next time, possibly with my wee silk shopping list?  Just joking; you saw my stash room!)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Value

Thanks to Holly's suggestion, I went downstairs bright and early this morning. I had woven about two-thirds of a scarf, so I swapped/switched  the 12 dark orange warp ends with the lighter ones for two and a half repeats, (three large squares and two slivers,) and then returned to the dark oranges.   And I think it will look "interesting"; I hope.
This is the view I have as I weave, and picking out the next color combination as I weave is always great fun. (Please excuse the gaping box, the cloth over the warping mill, etc., etc., etc.) What I can't get over is the different appearance of the top two samples. 
These two.  Obviously it is on the same warp, and the blue is the same yarn, so the very different appearance comes from the different values of the fourth, green, wefts.  And these yarns aren't so drastically different, either.  See?
I have a very hard time telling values, so I took three variations of the above photo, moving the lighter ball slightly to the right each time, and then turned them into black-and-whites. 
I think the darker yarns is around 9 on this scale, and the lighter about 5? (I had my money on the lighter being 3!)   To me, the difference in the overall appearance of the cloth seem so much more; the bottom sample looks more complex and richer.

I wove my second piece in that combination. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two Oranges!

Yesterday was cloudy so I needed more/different lights in my basement workshop. Perhaps an hour into weaving my first scarf, I noticed I used two different orange yarns in the Purple and Orange warp.

The fact is, I gradually started to see that the far left stripe was slightly darker than the rest, but as the window was to my right, I blamed it on the light.  The difference wasn't gradual, but sharp and clear and it started to bother me more so I had to compare the two cones with the warp.   Goodness gracious me!!

One is a slightly darker, browner, decidedly brick orange in color, and slightly skinner at 2/26, while the other is warmer and with a hint of pink, and slightly plumper at 2/20.  I had thought the 2/26 was brand new and I had never used it before, so I still can't understand how I mixed them up while making the warp.  Nor did I sample with it in the weft, because I didn't want to expand the scope of my sampling too widely - or did I; is this the one I used sampling?  Was it a hoax when I showed you the yarn on the pirn and in the warp and said how bleached out the colors looked?  And I lied to Joan on Thursday??  I'll have to wait until I get the right light. 

Even after I verified there are two oranges in the warp, it was difficult to see the difference in the sample until I hit just the right light and angle.  As well, the digital camera/computer screen combination doesn't show them the way I see with my near-sided eyes.

But then I see the bottom sample in the previous post clearly showing the difference.  In fact, now that I know it's there, I see a dark streak on one edge everywhere I look.  Luckily, the textural difference, especially after wet-finishing, is small.  

I could measure 12 ends and unwind/rewind the warp after I finish this first scarf, or I can just keep going; I can't make up my mind at the moment.  If I stay away from wefts with red/orange inclinations, I might be OK.

The colors here are inaccurate because I turned all florescent lights on to shoot the photo, but you can see the difference.

Mid-morning light coming through frosted window.  It's harder to see the difference with the naked eye.

Indirect mid-morning sun, with me and the scarf behind the stairway and closer to the floor; to the naked eye, the difference is more marked; I'm not sure why the bottom right contains bleached-looking areas in the photo; they don't exist on the sample.  In slightly darker light, once again I can't see the difference.

After some moment of self-loathing, rolling such words as "amateur," "idiot," and "stupid, stupid, stupid" in my head, I decided, (i.e. a judgment call, not a realization,) it's not a big deal.  Though I do hate imperfection; as Sheldon would renounce, in his squeaky voice, "In what Universe can this be misconstrued as a design feature??"   

I see great possibilities in using these two "disguised" as one in future warps, perhaps in Log Cabin, perhaps in Shadow Weave.  Hee hee, I've an evil, scheming smile over my gritted teeth.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Night Musing

Friday, Ronette's life/figure drawing resumed for a new school year. It was nice to see and learn from Ronette again, and lovely to catch up with familiar faces. We are 16 in class, with only two new students; three have been in the class since I started, so they are more my co-conspirators than classmates. Everybody knows I'm different/difficult; I get to use A1 paper even when Ronette's instructions are to use smaller.  But on Friday I stuck it out on A2, just to try to fit in. 

We are in the new Visual Arts building, and the classroom has presented all the problems Ronette said it would; those in power/builders/architects value their taste more than student comfort. Look, I'm not complaining as much as reporting, but the classrooms are set up for small classes of around 10 students, (Ben heard it as Visual Arts school's plans,) and it's about 1/3 or 1/2 the size of our old room. There is no ventilation save the tiny slits of windows you see in hotels, and we were hot and crammed and a few of us felt claustrophobic. Although the emergency stairway is at the east end of the building, there are no windows, no even the slits, but just not-so-bright lights, and the stairways are narrow.

But the building has terrifically wide hallway and the main stairways. Pity architects forget what it was like to be art students.

And then we had a model I really don't like: we had her once last year and even though it was either just face or just hands, she kept fidgeting a lot, and unlike other models she doesn't warn us before she moves. She was very proud to let us know she's done a lot of modeling in Europe, but for us she only presented  one standing pose from different directions, and a couple of sitting poses we've seen many times by other models.  She didn't wiggle as badly on Friday, but still, if you declare you're so good, then I expect better.

The most alarming thing about this model, for me, was whereas all others stair into space once the pose starts and becomes not-Jack or not-Jane but objects, this one staired right at you in an aggressive, challenging manner, making me feel as if I was supposed to react. Never had an experience like this before.

I am in a bit of a... maybe panic about my drawing lessons because unless something exciting happens to me financially, like selling a few scarves in the next nine weeks, it's looking more and more like this is going to be my last term for a while.  (Economic forecast says we're going to have a harder year in New Zealand, food prices going up because of Queensland flood being a small but significant part of the problem.)

Friday morning classes are popular there is always a waiting list, so just because I can afford it doesn't mean I can come back. Every second is terribly precious to me, and I prefer not to worry about heat, the person next to me backing into my easel, the noise, (it's one of those all glass jobs on one side, and we had student groups, tree trimming, and a police car Friday morning,) or models glaring at me.  And overly long tea breaks.

Boy, I sound grumpy, but I'm not. But I was. I trust Ronette will do her best to carry on the lovely classes she runs, though.

* * * * *

There was a lot more to Joan's visit on Thursday, and I'm enjoying regurgitating them. The second piece I got from the Cherry Blossom warp I wove with merino boucle and it shrunk so much I thought it was only good for a dog blanket; I've actually been asking friends if they have a small to medium size dog in need of a fluffy blanket.  I asked Joan, too, and she said she has three working dogs, which I understood to mean, they don't need fluffy handwoven blankets.  But she took one look and said it's a perfect size for a baby cot blanket.  So, baby cot blanket it is.

I did not know there have been an agree-to-disagree situation by two camps about entering small dyed/spun skeins into Guild exhibitions, some skeins being so small you can't make anything with it on its own, one camp thinking it's just material and not a finished piece of work.  By the same token yardage is not a finished product until made up into a garment, and we discussed the merits of entering them in exhibitions.  It's one of my back burner projects: to enter yardage in exhibitions.

We talked a bit more about "traditional techniques" vs "textile art" but of course we couldn't reach any conclusion.  It's nice to muse together though, one on one, with different weavers, particularly, in this case, because Joan has long and extensive experience inside the Guild organization and of mounting exhibitions.

* * * * *

I finished Week Five of The Artist's Way - Walking in This World. As I wrote before, I'm doing this in a relaxed way, so if I don't do a task any given week, I'm not bending over backwards to make up for it in the next.

The weekly walk, though, I try to do with Ben, as a) he can use a good walk at least once a week, too; b) I don't like waking from/near my house because our area isn't a wide-sidewalk-few-cars area but hilly and curvy and cars try to run down as many pedestrians as possible, if they aren't parked on the foot path already.  So I like to be driven to a nice place to walk, and I don't drive; and c) it's nice walking with my guy. We've done three walks around the airport in the five weeks, and we usually talk about photography, travels, and life in general, but today for some reason I told him about my recent The Artist's Way experience.

One of Week Five tasks was to write a letter from a supportive friend to me about my "art" (Julia Cameron's word), and I couldn't think of anybody real who would say the kind of things I wanted/needed said, so I wrote a letter from me at age 65 to me now. It turned out to be a wonderfully reassuring experience so I think she may have a recurring role.

I felt a little bad I didn't tell Ben the letter was from him, but then he's not the kind of person who will stew over it, whereas if the roles were reversed, I would. Hee hee.

Ben doesn't need/like New Age/Self Help, Psychology/Counseling, or even thinking about one's art. He's good at focusing on the technical aspects of his photography, for example, and shoots pictures and through shooting and editing, his concepts/philosophy/aesthetics seem to present themselves to him. That seems a healthier approach to making, but I went to a convent school and I started out as a Philosophy major so introspection and self doubt are part of the package that is me.

Still, the recent burst of productive energy has been wonderful in simplifying my life, adding to my presently very sparse gallery stock, and even reducing my stash!

To conclude this once-again long-winded post, here are two friends showing me, during this morning's walk, a work-mode Ronette described to me years ago that I've come to aim for: "head down, bum up."


I hope you're having a lovely weekend.

Dear Prospective Participants of the TinyTiny Collage Project

It's a little over a week to the Tiny Tiny Challenges Big Reveal.  You can send me links and JPGs until the end of next Sunday (the 13th)  your time; this may help if you want to know where (when?) I'm at relative to you.

You needn't have signed up or anything; in fact there is plenty of time to start as this is very low-keyed fun. If you've developed your selected area further than just ... selecting, and want to share those with us, that's wonderful, too.    

I look forward to hearing from you.
(No, this is not a collage, but I'm just looking.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Purple and Orange

Lovely Joan came over from Blenheim today, and we sent the better part of the afternoon talking about weaving, colors and the Festival.  I can't tell you much about the Festival, because it's still almost 15 months away, but she was pleased with what I have set up to date.  I get overly excited, though, when showing people websites and such and I started talking so fast my mind trips over itself; I have got to stop that.  Suffice it to say, we're going for simple and straight-forward rather than fancy, so even if someone looks at a blog for the very first time, it won't be too confusing. You know I'll show you once they are officially up and running with contents.  For now many pages have "Blah Blah - we can put in this-and-that here" and the like.  Yes, I do type in the words "Blah Blah".

What was fascinating was looking at colors together.

Here are two colors on pirns.

And here they are, same yarns as warps on the loom. Notice how bleached out they both look in the warp?  Honest, it's not just the light.  While I was threading the loom, (and I was so reluctant,) I couldn't stop thinking I had made a terrible mistake combining these two to make a warp.  Theoretically it made sense, and I got some nice results using these colors in the weft of the previous Log Cabin warp, so even though I felt more than a little queezy, I had to soldier on.

I did get some lovely samples, and I probably have more than four here I'd like to see make into scarves.
This photo looks washed out, but I wanted to show you how much of the orange you can see; the far left sample, I like the proportion.

The two blue samples on the sides are fascinating; they look bland and washed out in the sun, but in the dark the shapes just pop out.  I kept closing and opening the curtains for Joan's entertainment. 

We both liked samples with the same or paler oranges with some kind of a purple; it's the 50's fabric look again, I think.

The reason why Joan was the perfect person to discuss this particular warp was because she wove me this piece last year.  When I saw her the last time, wore a lovely crinkly scarf; when I complemented her, she said she'd weave me one and asked me what colors I liked.  Of course I shouted, "Purple and orange".  Just before Christmas, I got in the mail but from what she wrote in the card, I got the feeling she didn't like the color combination.  And today I found out that her orange yarn, too, is actually a more vibrant color on its own.

After the previous red warp, I was reminded how I enjoy working with analogous colors, and I questioned whether I should stick to analogous and weave "pleasing" and approachable accessories, or continue to venture out to new (to me) grounds.  I talked about that with Joan as well, but I was reminded something June McKenzie told me years ago: "Somebody will like it."  So, hooray to all different tastes!

* * * * *

Figure/life drawing class resumes tomorrow.

* * * * *

EDIT: I noticed later to my great surprise that I did use two different cones of orange in the warp, and on the pirn is the darker of the two, whereas the majority of the warp is made up of the lighter orange. I apologize; I thought I made a great discovery!  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Speaking of Family Crests...

*** Some characters in this post or on the linked pages may not appear correctly if you are not setup to view Japanese/Kanji characters.  Apologies for that. *** 

This database hosts claim this it's not a comprehensive/definitive one, but based on observations on crests used at funerals, (indeed the last and only place most regular folks use family crests.) Based on that, Ben is pretty sure our Nakagawa crest is the overlapping eagle feathers, second row, far left. My Dad's, from what Dad described many years ago, (either far left or middle here,) doesn't appear on the list of Mitsuhashi crests

Mom's family, The Yonedas, uses the chrysanthemum flower, and that's the one I'm most familiar with because in our region parents used to give daughters items with birth family crests as wedding gifts. I don't see it on their list, but from memory it was something like the far left on either the first or second row on the chrysanthemum list. It's been 25 years since my grandfather passed away; it's been a while since I last saw it.

Since the imperial family uses mums, Ben was surprised commoners could use the mums as well.  But then he said after the war, unless you were an eldest son, you could pick out anything you liked so Grandpa might have done that. That's what Ben thought his dad did, too. At any rate, unless your family came from the aristocratic, samurai, or wealthy merchant stock, (where I can imagine ordering a craftsman to design a significant symbol, usually with plant motifs,) chances are at some point an ancestor picked one he liked and we descendants got stuck with it, almost the same as our family names.  (So many of our family names are geographical descriptions; mountain-rice paddy, small island, forest, tall tree...)

When we got married, I had a play with designing our symbol, if not quite a quest.  My maiden name is Mitsuhashi, or "there bridges", and Nakagawa means "middle river".  In Kanji, the right column is Mitsuhashi, and the left, Nakagawa.

You can see that not only the meanings of our names but the characters for three (三) and river (川) can easily be combined, and in fact I did use three vertical and three horizontal lines as my mark when I used to paint ceramics for fun.  When I needed a logo for my weaving, these instant warps and wefts were a no-brainer and I played around for days trying to make up a stylish logo, but they looked a bit artless for my taste at the time when I was more interested in creating curves and complicated shapes on the loom.  When I'm a little older, I might go back to this idea, of flowing warps and wefts delicately interlacing, perhaps in elegant grays. 

Enough musing for the morning.  Now to work.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

In a Nutshell, or a Stew Pot Full of Them

I don't dye like many of you, in the way one is supposed to; dyeing for me, so far, has been akin to finger-painting.  So with that in mind, I've done a couple of dye experiments lately I want to reflect upon.
When Doni visited Nelson a little over a year ago, among the plethora of delicious knowledge she shared with me was that green walnuts a) don't require mordants, and b) produce beautiful grays!  I immediately set out looking for a walnut tree or a friend with knowledge of one I can access, but the most reliable mate is a sheep shearer and he was away, and in the end I found none.  Mid last year, Win Currie gave me some walnuts she picked at a park near her house, so I saved the shells thinking it may come in handy at the India Flint workshop, to which I ended up not going. 

Over the weekend, I thought of dumping them on the compost heap, but changed my mind.  There was a good chance the brown shells won't require mordanting, right? Here's my haphazard-ous method:

a) I put the shells it the pot, filled it with water enough to cover them, and brought it to a boil; drained and discarded the liquid.  I don't know if this is a standard thing, but in Japan, the first boiled liquid is always discarded, I am told.

b) I then put in the same amount of water and turned the heat to medium low; the liquid came to the boil and was left at a gentle boil for about 20 minutes.  I used a small portion of this liquid for Dye Lot 1; the skeins were gentle boiled for 25 minutes.

c) I reheated the pot and simmered/gently boiled for another 2 hours then drained the liquid.  I lost a little liquid to evaporation and the liquid was the darkest.  This was used for Dye Lot 2; this lot was simmered for over 45 minutes. 

d) I left the shells on the kitchen counter; unbeknownst to me, Ben put the shells back in the pot, covered them in water and set to simmer.  I'm not sure for how long it was "cooked" but this was a much paler liquid; this was used for Dye Lot 3, and yarns were gently boiled for 45 minutes. 

e) I made tiny skeins of different wools, soaked them in a solution of eco-friendly dish detergent for a short time, squeezed them, and dropped them into the different pots and cooked for the length of time stated above.  Afterwards, I waited until the liquid cooled down and rinsed the skeins in warm water, soaked in a weak solution of vinegar for a short time, then gave a final rinse, squeezed, and hung to dry. 

Enough words; let's see the pictures. 

1/25 wool in natural and gray in Dye Lot 1.  I found it interesting that the gray yarn absorbed less brown, and ended up paler in color than the natural yarn; I expected the opposite.

110/2 (2/17-ish) merino, from the left, Dye Lot 1, 2 and 3. The skeins feel slightly rougher than I had imagined, slightly more "raw" compared to how this yarn feels after a woven piece is wet-finished.

"100% natural wool, Shetland, gray" reads the label; 2-ply; Dye Lot 3. I don't know how long I've had this cone but the top and bottom of the cone is yellowing, the yarn is rough as an old potato sack, but it has lovely white/light-/mid-gray combination.  Dyed and rinsed, this is still rough, but contains interesting variations of values.  This yarn also had the nicest wet wool smell. 

No label, wool, single ply; Dye Lot 3.  I never noticed the crimp in the cone until I dyed and rinsed, but Doh!

Does this mean it is, what's the word, highly twisted yarn? This skein has a slight sheen, with very pale and very dark areas.  It is also rough, but used wisely, I think it would be an interesting ingredient in an old-fashioned fabric.

The most surprising of the lot: 2-ply wool slightly thicker than 110/2; Dye Lot 2.  Like the last two cones, I don't remember how I came into possession, but on the cone this is ugly, dirty and faded; the gray is a flat and nondescript, but dyed and rinsed, it became lovely and soft and gentle in texture and appearance.  While all other skeins have a reddish/grayish undertone, this one is slightly yellower.  Ever so slightly tougher than the merino, I think the yarn is suitable for a shawl or a baby blanket.

Oh, and an experimental Lahariya-esque swatch I prepared for Indigo Day I was too sick to go to. Unlike the skeins, I did a little bit of rigorous washing, and though I'm ho-hum about the dye pattern, I am a little intrigued by the bumps.

I had no end-use on my mind when I dyed these, but I thought of leaving these on my west-facing window sill to see how much they fade over time.  Then I thought of using these to embroider, so I have a distinct A- and B-sides to compare the fading.  I also have a cotton warp threaded on four shafts if I want to make a sample swatch. (There are about 10 different wefts used in the swatch so the sections reacted differently.)

The most surprising out of these experiments is how much the older yarns transformed in the process, in contrast to the newer, first two skinner yarns.  The older yarns definitely feel softer to varying degrees, and look "fulled", whereas the newer yarns' feel did not change so much, merino turning slightly softer and fulled.  Would I be correct in assuming the difference is a) because modern yarns need to be dry-cleanable and b) are closer to knitting yarns, in that they are more WYSIWYG and present no "rude" surprises after the first wash?  No wonder wet finish ceased to be as magical, in some instances, as it used to be. 

My question remains the same: when I dye yarns to weave, I still don't know how to bring about optimal condition for wet-finishing.  My dyed and rinsed yarns look too fluffy and finished, even though I tried to keep the water temprature the same and avoided agitation; I'm worried my hand-dyed wool won't wet finish nicely in a woven piece.

Only one way to find out.

* * * * *

I got a lovely package from Sampling; it's my own umbrella cover.  What I love about this is it reminded me of Japanese family crests ("kamon").  Every family has a crest, but I don't know what mine is, neither my Dad's nor Ben's, though I know my mother's family's, (chrysanthemum of some sort.) 

By the way, crests are dedyed from the black background, as well as embroidered, embossed, printed, etc.  I did not know this until relatively recently when I found artisans who specialize in dedying crests, (and they can also get out bad stains from kimono,) around where Ben's folks used to live.