Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's Wednesday and... / End of WYSIWYG for Now

So far, I've had a really busy week.  Almost like a normal working person; almost.

The Group met for the third time on Monday.  We almost decided on a name, and a "motto" of sorts.  We're going to try to see how they roll on our tongues. The group consists of six members, and I got their consent to talk about them and what we do a little bit. 

There's me, of course.  Then Pat, formerly known as a tapestry weaver, but now her thing is Ikat.  She's from the US and her husband is an accomplished woodworker so she has quite a bit of knowledge there, too.  She travels extensively and has visited interesting textile spots; she's also the one working so hard to get me a good American outlet.

Jo is the only one who has made an appearance on Unravelling, organized the stash sale, and took part in the Yoshiko Wada workshop with me.  Her interest is in sustainable material garments and eco dye, but her garments have deeply researched health connotations.  Her partner is a painter, so Jo knows about the art establishment as well.  (She is not the Jo who used to be in the same drawing class.) Jo and her partner are from Australia. 

Then there is Ronnie, who organized of the Changing Threads awards/exhibitions for the last three years.  You could say it's her exhibition briefs that's been making me go crazy, questioning art vs craft vs technique, and that thing called concept; establishing the Textile Lunchers, and prompting me to set up WYSIWYG, my intended solo exhibition of cloth with no embellishment, creative intents nor concepts.  Ronnie herself  will do anything with textiles; I've known of her felted garments, but her expression now come from art quilt.  I think that's the name.  She's also taught from kindy to high school, I think. Ronnie is our token Kiwi.

Judy is English, and I believe she used to teach tertiary level art, but now primary school children.  I don't know how to describe her work; some are like giant mobiles, some are like sculptures using textiles, but she is also interested in sustainable material and eco dye. Her husband is also a woodworker.

Maria is from Finland, and has extensive background in garment and pattern making, among other things.  In Yoshiko Wada workshop, she whipped up a garment pattern faster than I might decide on an EPI, and completed an shibori-shrunk overdress.  She is also interested in the sustainable/eco angle.  She is "fibrefinger" on Ravelry. 

I made a big decision sometime last week and told the group on Monday: the big gallery I reserved for a second solo in October 2012, I decided to give it up for the group.  So, that's the end of WYSIWYG for now.  Of course I will still take part, and in fact I have first dibs (right) to how and where to hang one of my projects in the gallery.

The group dynamics feel right, we don't agree on everything but there is a nice and easy way of discussing and letting time pass so we can reach an agreement.  The collective technical knowledge is fantastic and there is a lot  of good will.  And it will be good for Nelson to be seen to have a robust and professional textile group.  I can always plan another solo if I still want to do what I had planned, but I decided to go with my gut feeling.  And this just felt right.  We have a working title and a theme for the exhibition already.

Three went to art school; two have corporate experiences; one was a mental health professional.  We have a good mix.  It was especially nice to get nods of approval from the art school/teacher group about my recent foray into 3D without a destination in mind.

We've also been doing creative exercises just for fun. I led the group this month and we did 2D and 3D paper sculpture, similar to what I did for Ali a year ago.  I was nervous leading this activity, trying to second guess what the art school half thought, (I have to stop thinking like this!), but it appears we all had fun things without knowing/having control.  I wanted to do something that didn't include drawing, you see, as some of us still feel uneasy about it. 

I came home and Maria send me a couple of links to look at.  They are arty, and my first instinct was to say, no, I want to place emphasis on the cloth, on the technique of weaving, on the unembellished, but, I'm trying not to say no, to keep my mind open, to listen to all advice.

Next meeting, late August, my place.  I'm worried about my garden/house/mess, because so far, the members'  houses have been absolutely amazingly tidy, clean and beautiful.  Our place doesn't even have nice chairs...

* * * * *

I've been asked to tag posts relating to The Group. I'll give it ago.  All posts relating to the 2012 exhibition, previously labeled "WYSIWYG" will be labeled "Beginning" from now on.

* * * * *

When Jo gave me a ride home, she told me Jay at the Red was having a heck of a time packing up the gallery, and that Jo was helping her on Tuesday.  So on Tuesday, Ronnie and I joined in.  I helped take out nails, blue/gray tack, labels and stickers off the wall, and packaging up some of the art work.  Today I went back and sorted her greeting cards and boxed them up.  The new owners will continue to sell cards, but I wanted to make it easier for them to count the stock, as I know how complicated the cards got when I worked there.  Since Jay started working at 5AM this morning, she wanted to call quits early, and that's why I've been able to blog today.  (Yesterday I had sensory overload and felt quite crazy after I came home.)  Tomorrow we'll vacate the back store rooms, and probably have another short day.  I'll go as long as she can make use of my help, but won't go if she doesn't want me; I so enjoy being in Red as it is, if I'm not gainfully put to use, I talk too much.

* * * * *

Kudos to Dot.  She solved a conundrum of mine.  She suggested I post good photos and little texts on my website, the way we've been doing on Nelson Daily Photo for the last five years.  Now, that is doable, I can do that, and of course, why didn't I think of it, but I am so grateful she thought of it!  I'm off to set that up now.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Virtual Identity Crisis

The immediate choices I had seemed as follows:

A) To present myself as a high-end weaver whose first goal is to exhibit and invite institutions and individuals to collect my work, with a secondary goal of selling in galleries, OR,

B) To present me as I am, a middle-aged woman with a lifetime goal of weaving beautiful things, in spite, or because, of baggage life brings; this includes a good measure earnest attempts at looking and laughing at life and self. . 

That is, if I were to consolidate my "website" and this blog to simplify. 

My problems seemed as follows:

1) I learned I was unwilling to let go of the title "Unravelling", the header below that title, and all they have come to encompass, which is me the person. And the therapeutic effect of blogging, especially in reflecting on my mild-to-moderate depression, my perceived difficult-childhood, and my write-down-before-I-forget urges.  Even if this is deemed mental dribbling by some. 

2) As regards my Internet presence, A) above is where I started in 2006, and my first now-defunct website reflected my intentions. (I daresay it was pretty and serious.)  But a combination of events, (tired after taking part in nine exhibitions in 2007/8, galleries requesting more pieces,  and of course thoroughly enjoying the nitty gritty of the making of each piece,) I, the weaver, lost sight of where I was aiming.

3) I am a throughly What-you-See-is-What-you-Get person, and never found it easy nor comfortable in presenting difference facets according to circumstances. 

Last night, I read TAFA founder Rachel Biel's LinkedIn discussion on the demise of FiberArts magazine, in which she classified fiber/textile Internet presence thus: 
-Old or dead sites that had been set up in the 90's. Aging artists, retired.
-Professional sites where the link lists all linked to each other (peers that traveled in the same circles). Few links to social media, sites pretty static. Associated with institutions (SDA, SAQA, etc.)
-Professional blogs that used the internet well. Younger crowd, not associated with institutions. Tended to sell on Etsy. Long lists of peers.
-Amateur blogs, using commonly seen templates, unorganized. Newcomers to the web, mostly in late 40's or 50's, hobbyists, social emphasis (latest projects, pics of grandkids, flowers, dogs, mixed in).
While I tried to read another article recommended by Cally, the list echoed in my head, and I found myself increasingly upset that I had taken my eyes off the prize.  As I went to sleep, I saw as my only way out thus: 

* Build a slick, professional website with a few bells and whistles, keep the url
* Delete Unravelling
* Delete website and blog in Japanese
* Keep my mouth shut, work hard, and seek opportunities and connections privately

Except we're in the middle of P2P2 and I couldn't possibly zap Unravelling now.  And as a mature person, I should be able to act not so rashly.  After all, it is certainly not the discussions nor the company I reject, but that I've modified my trajectory so much t it is now virtually a flat line. 

Aware or not, I set out to simplify my websites this morning and delete outdated information.  They are still separate blogs but now they are ever-so-slightly culled, less encumbered by the mundane, and I have bought time and peace of mind. And I feel alright about staying chatty here. 

The issue will, I sense, stay with me as long as I weave; one's goals, public presence, and body of work need be reviewed and revised every so often.  And once again, I say, weaving is the easiest part in all of this. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Winter Weekend

Friday.  I didn't feel much like contemplating the existential questions of website, identity and the like, so I wove.  I still didn't like weaving the double weave blanket, but I had an idea about what I wanted to do with the leftover warp, do I soldiered on.  With determination.  And finished.
No, officer, I have no recollection of throwing the shuttle when I finished the... challenging blanket. 

Then I jumped on to the leftover experiment. The weft is a wool of unknown origin; it's unattractively coarse and scratchy but has a lovely sheen and the hue is a beautiful indigo.   Though I doubt it'll felt in the wet finish, I'm wondering if I can make it stand on its own.  I have about a meter of warp left, so I hope I can weave about 60cm of it? This is also the first tube, (except for 1cm in the sample in a doubleweave workshop in 2001,) I've ever woven.
Good on me for finishing the blanket; tut tut for not weaving a few rows of plain weave with a thin weft before getting stuck into the experiment. That's my biggest headache now.  That, and the bowed way the blanket wound itself on the cloth beam.  Usually I cut off every project after I finish weaving, but there are two spongy blankets here.  I feel a little uneasy at the mo.  (The colors in the above pic is so wrong.  If my camera doesn't cooperate with me taking nice pictures of the red hue, I may have to swap it for another.)

I've come to like knitting in winter evenings while sitting in the living room with Ben.  So I dug up more wool to knit.  I discovered some yarns I spun ages ago when I was learning to spin.  It's coarse wool, even more badly spun, and as I didn't own a carder then, it's harsh and has no give; it's like knitting with those brown strings with which we used to wrap parcels.  But the colors are saturated reds and blue-greens, and I figured I can make "project baskets" with them.  We'll see how THAT goes. 

And friends, though imperceptible to the human eye,  my stash reduction is happening. The blanket took care of four small cones of merino, and the experiment will use up most of a smallish cone of the indigo wool.  Yay!  (Though with global warming, I'm afraid glaciers and arctic ices may melt faster.)

Saturday.  It would have been a nice day to garden, as it was warmer outside, though at times gusty.  Or finish the experiment.  Or clean my closet or cull my past drawing under the bed.  (The lot now stands higher than the space under the bed.) Instead, I made a care package for Mom, with a few hints about undulated twills.  Her students are getting adventurous, and ventured into twill.  Mom and I talked about warp-wise and weft-wise twill, but she didn't understand me when I said she can make shapes by weaving as drawn in.  It's really not her kind of thing, she loves just twill, or herringbone, but who knows, one of her students might like it.

Ben was looking forward to roast chicken for dinner, but the she wasn't thawed after 36 hours in the fridge.  So, salmon tonight.

Sunday, I would like for the both of us to clean out our closets.  Our local Red Cross is totally out of winter clothes, and I have a few jackets, scarves, and couch blankets I don't use.  And it's just down the road from us.  In fact, I'll tell you a story about the location of their shop in a few days.

And roast chicken tomorrow night for Ben.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I've been intending to merge my website and this blog for a while, (times two, if I count the Japanese versions,) and had imagined it'd be a cinch for the most part, transferring information and maybe a little editing, eventually deleting the current websites, which is in fact blogs.  I expected only the Gallery portion will require some thinking.

But now I find myself in a bit of cognitive liquefaction.  I realize I have been inadvertently using a few identities, including "MegWeaves" (originally my URL and later my "brand",) "Unravelling", "Meg in Nelson" and of course my real name.  And there may be more, I can't remember.    And I discovered I'm very reluctant to let go of the first two, and even the third, a little bit.

So I'm back on the drawing board, (notebook and small Post It notes and different-colored high-lighters), thinking not-exactly exhilarating marketing thoughts such as target market (for the website cum blog, or is it the other way around?), images I want to project as a weaver, the mood, etc.


Any biased opinion is welcome and very much appreciated.  Who do you think I am?

Pondering, Again

It wasn't just Red I went to on Tuesday. In fact, I did quite a bit more.

I went to the Polytech library to check the pieces I withdrew from Red, swapped the tags on some, and prepared paperwork to deliver them to the Suter. I've always seen myself as a technically weak weaver. So whenever I get back pieces I made but hadn't really seen or felt in a while, I am mildly surprised the construction of my pieces are fairly solid, (even if they look delicate); selvedges are acceptable, and fringes, if any, are tidy.  So for the next little while I shall concentrate on the even-ness of my picks, especially when weaving with cashmere, and the tidiness of hemming and the shape of the hemmed ends.
My camera has been having a difficult time photographing saturated reds lately, but I had to take a few pics of this piece.  The warp is wool, in gradation of somewhere between five and seven reds, the weft is in one red possum/merino/silk.  In real life, the structure is very hard to see, but in fact it's identical to this piece.  When I wove it, I was disappointed I could not see the design at all, as I was expecting it to show up a little bit, if not as much as in the the photo.  Now, however, I like the idea that one of my favorite drafts is hidden in the sea of reds.

I then ran into Ronette in the library, so she had ice cream while Ben and I had lunch, and we talked about the 3D carry on I've been carrying on, and where I wanted to go.  I know I learned to not worry about where I should end up and trust in the process from her drawing class, so I told her I feel fine with the 3D investigation, (what a change!) or that one day I might do two types of things, cloth weaving and strange arty stuff with handwoven textiles.  But I still feel very strongly about the intrinsic worth of the humble handwoven cloth, and not only want to stay an advocate for it, but that I'm still looking for ways to be innovative on the loom, within the flat cloth.  It was an interesting discussion because Ronette's journey was the other way around; she started with art education, and her chosen technique was weaving.  And because of the company she kept, i.e. art teachers, though she has an immense knowledge of the humble weaving, and has sold garments in the past, her on-going interest remains 3D.  That can be folded flat cloth or sculptural work, but something not flat, constructed mainly from textiles.

No, we didn't find a conclusion; we couldn't even begin to compile a list of what I should try to satisfy my notion of innovation on the loom.  But it was fun talking and visualizing ideas.  And we hoped we find some ways in the next, oh, 20 years.

Then I delivered my pieces to Andrea at the Suter and saw three exhibitions.  The first, something I look forward to every year, is Top Art, selected New Zealand high school students' design projects.  Alittle bit of text, lots of visuals and sometimes real materials, (this year, there was one with macaronis and cookies,) demonstrating design process are displayed on three sheets of A1 board.  Often there we don't see the final artwork that resulted from these processes, but is riveting following other makers' thinking process, and refreshing to see young people's uncomplicated, straight forward approach, especially when dealing with political issues.  The Suter has this exhibition every year, but as the show travels, it is available for a very short time, and somehow I always seem to accidentally find them.

Then I saw Nga Kakahu, a joint exhibition by a traditional Maori weaver and a sculptor, of Maori cloaks and Victorian garments.  I liked the well-constructed garments, but to me it felt there wasn't the strong statement by the makers in the respective work.  It did, though, fascinate me that a sculptor took on a massive garment project.

Then I went into an exhibition I've been looking forward to, Ann Verdcourt's ceramic exhibition.  I'll give you some links below, but the heart of the matter is, A) these were more "arty sculptures" than ceramics, as in pottery, but many components of the "art pieces" were every day pot pieces; B) Verdcourt had excellent, impeccable techniques that allowed her to show me what she wants without my being distracted by any judgment or noise.  It was a pure pleasure to soak myself into her world of colors, shapes, arrangements, whimsy and play.

Walking back and forth among and between and around her work, I kept thinking of how I could be more innovative on the loom, how I could find, for me and for all weavers, more places to show handwoven cloth in the art context.  I felt her Morandi still work series prodding me and teasing me that I could do it. We'll see.

* * * * *

This video from Whangarei  Art Museum shows, I think, the exact same pieces exhibited at the Suter; both were based on, if not is the same as, those held at Te Manawa and Sarjeant in 2010. The catalogue sold was from the 2010 exhibitions, which must have been much bigger than what we have at the Suter.

Some of the pieces shown here were included in the exhibition.

This video shows a few of the 70 pieces she was commissioned to create for the Sevelle Expo. (And a good measure of Kiwi accent to boot!)

* * * * *

Ann Verdcourt likes to bring two-dimensional paintings into 3D and add her twist.  From memory, I saw:

McMahon's Promised Land (She changed the hills to everyday ceramic objects.) 

Matisse's portrait of son Pierre (Vibrant)

Picasso's muse with a berret and rolled collar coat (Didn't expect to like this piece, but loved it; the profile was especially beautiful.)

A whole series on Velázquez's women and girls (Hilarious!) 

Modigliani's Bride and Groom (Two separate busts; lovely)

His Jeanne Hébuterne (With a political twist.)

de Kooning's Woman (Not sure which one, but cartoonish  and garrish.)

And many still lives by Morandi (Because of the quiet colors, the eye goes straight to the textures of independent pieces and the composition; the textures had a direct visual link to textiles.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Five years ago today, I posted this, and I like the tidiness of the occasion.

Jay Farnsworth sold Red Art Gallery and she closes its lovely front doors on Friday.  We'd been asked to withdraw our work, (and renegotiate terms with the new owners if we so desire,) this week. The gallery will retain its name, the cafe will be expanded, and picture framing discontinued, by two Nelson women. The rest, Jay told me, I just have to wait and see.

It was with a certain sadness and nostalgia that I picked up my work yesterday, but as soon as I heard Jay sold the gallery, I wanted to withdraw.

My relationship was with Jay more than with Red, and as with all the other galleries, I have to feel a personal connection with the gallery owners/staff to leave my pieces in their charge; I didn't feel it right for the new owners to automatically adopt them.  I'm glad she/they saw it that way, too.

When she opened the cafe, the small corner table was my office away from home.  I haven't been to the cafe as often as I used to, but I still think she had the only decaf I could enjoy in town. I'm feeling nostalgic about the 22 months I "commuted" to Red to develop our friendship before I disclosed I am a weaver, while I wove red pieces after red pieces at home imagining them being shown in the gallery.

It's a good thing for Jay; she's ready to take on a new project, and I'm happy to tell you her project will still allow her for me to bend her ears some more.  I'm trying to see it as a good thing for me, too.  Like graduating from grade school.

There was a small table for one or two at the bottom left corner.  I liked to sit on the chair facing right, and look at Jay's magazines, (she had a couple of issues of Ornament Magazine among others,) or scribble/doodle in my notebooks, especially before the cafe became very popular. 

The gallery was usually sparsely hung. Even this view says changes are under way.

I believe my new found fascination of modern and abstract art is due in part to the many hours I stood in front of and walked past works at Red, and the conversations I had with Jay. And if you knew where I used to be with modern and abstract, you'd know it's not been a journey, but leaps of faith.

That table was a nice one to share coffee with friends, confer with Jay, or even to work, as in swapping old handmade tags with spiffy new ones.

I can't tell you how many cards I bought here. But the cards, I hear, will stay.

Monday, June 20, 2011


And then there is the small matter of where I am going with my P2P2 project.  I am surprised at the direction the project has taken, and amazed I'm willing to go with the flow.  I'm also noticed how long it takes for an observation to turn into an understanding.

After I took the Sample-Stuck-on-Warping-Mill shot, I took it off the warping mill,  (because I couldn't have a warping mill perched on a love seat in the middle of the living room,) and stuck it on two warping pegs.

First, I threaded knitting needles in the back and spread the piece.  Even as I used extra cooking chopsticks and bamboo skewers, it wouldn't spread out properly, and I kept imagining a small angry Australian frilled lizard, (not linking to images, as they can look vicious,) screaming at me.  Not a nice thought.
Then, as I needed the knitting needles, I took them out.  Wrapped around the pegs, and threaded at the back with a needle, it looks like this:
Though I can't see half of the sample, I like the thickness of the form, and the knowledge that there are other colors in the back I can't see. And the fabric not standing up taut is just as interesting as it standing up straight and taut in this case.    Seen from the top, the fabric is folded like this and threaded at the back:
The shape above, or even below, can be constructed on the loom, if I don't mind sacrificing the complexity of the weave structure.
I can see myself making this in a bigger scale, (or smaller. or right about this size). What I've been imagining is something structurally complex but relatively straightforward color-wise, (e.g. purple with specks at one end, moving to red, orange, and blue-yellow with specks at the other,) woven as wide as I can on the loom, (around 80cm), flipped sideways and sewn into a loop. If, for e.g. I can get 120cm dowels, I can lift the fabric 40cm off the floor, and the top of the piece will come up to 120cm. The length on loom, i.e. the width of the standing piece, can be as long or short as I like. 

I've been thinking about the vertical vs horizontal views of cloth.  For one thing, all of Amanda's photos present to me vertical more than horizontal interest.  Most obvious is the Grand Canyon and the kitty, but the park, the people and the vehicle, and the monsoon cloud are all images I consider to exist vertically, i.e. more like a wall than a floor.  They may not be entirely flat nor stand at 90 degrees, but if I were to jump into the photos, I don't imagine being on a higher plane looking down, but standing up and looking straight ahead.  Even the honeysuckle is shot from an angle, thus giving the depth of field that makes the photo interesting.  (In contrast, imagine if the kitty was looking straight up at Amanda; then, I might consider the photo to be of horizontal interest.)

The experiment above has been completely spontaneous.  I had no plans nor vision, but along the way I'm finding things I like more than others, and seeing the different arrangements of the samples trigger me to want to see it arranged yet another way.

As well, seeing how Ronette arranged the other sample piece reminded me I used to hate scarves and shawls being shown flat on a surface, or against a wall, and I went to great length scrunching things up or tying so the pieces weren't flat.  In the last little while, however, I have been much too caught up in the construction of the cloth and forgot about the verticality and the non-flatness of a cloth in use. This has been a good reminder.

I am surprised the visual clues I received have brought me quite a way off the main road, but I expect I want to explore this little side road a little while longer.

The only hump I see in the distance is, I still want to remain a cloth weaver, not an arty thing-maker.  Part of me sees nothing wrong in working in both areas; part of me wants to stay doggedly loyal to cloth weaving.

Colors and Cohesion

I'm still not sure where I'm going with these, but I no longer worry, and have been continuing my experiments. I'm talking about color blending, spinning and knitting.

I studied the yarns I've spun last and this winter; they are from the same source, and a selection of mostly same colors. Mid last week, I had these "yarns".

Yarns for the top two hats were spun last year as singles, and as I had to relearn to spin, I had great fun with the bumpy thick parts and thinner bits. I wanted the yarns to be mostly orange, with specks of other colors to make the oranges, (there are three,) come alive.

For the bottom left cushion cover, I also spun and plied last year; since I wanted to make 2-ply yarns, each yarn was spun thinner, though color scheme was arbitrary. I was running out of some oranges, so pink became more prominent.  I regret the cover was too narrow and had to be stretched over a navy blue cushion; if it had been wide enough, the cushion would have had a lighter appearance, without the "holes".

Bottom right, I knitted using singles I spun for specially for this project; it was supposed to be a gradation of red-oranges-yellow.  (The colors look pretty true in the above pic.)   Compared to the unintentional spinning of last year, however, the intention and the plans made the saturated colors boring, even though the yarn contains small flecks of purple, brown, lime and pink.  I wanted to go back to the more carefree spinning of last year, so I spun three more skeins.
I spun A and B intending to use these to create a gradated hat.  I included quite a bit of spots in the darker parts of A and in most of B, and I thought I did well.  Then very randomly I blended and spun C.  While these skeins were drying, I could not help that not only C was more interesting than A, but it looked good next to B, so I knitted this hat on Saturday.  It's a little small for me, but I had my Dad measure my mother's head on Sunday, and I know this will be a warm and fluffy "rushing around the house" hat for her next winter.
It's really my most favorite thing I've made in a long time, and my best knitting, not as regards to my spinning and knitting skills, but as a an aesthetically pleasing piece.  This picture above, on my monitor, doesn't show exactly true colors, but it has a feel of an Impressionist painting of a spring outdoor scene.

And here are some of the color details.
This section looks a little bluer, and the red is not as saturated as in real life, but I love when oranges are mixed with other colors so they become more sophisticated, but the liveliness of the hue still comes through.   The yellow/lime end looks pretty true. 
The brown sliver I have is, on its own, a boring light/mid blue brown, and is nothing to write home about.  But when blended with oranges/yellows, or even with purple or lime green, it becomes a lovely nuanced backdrop, against which the more saturated hues are allowed to stand out.
This photo is much too blue, but tinkering with it made things worse, so I'll just show you how much flecks I've included.

What have I been thinking?  Well:

1) I prefer complex color mixes over saturated, clear colors. I don't know if it's due to my getting older, the current season, or if I like these colors in this context, but perhaps not in another.   But for now, I agree with what Randy Darwall says; in short, the more the merrier. 

2) I don't mind not being an expert spinner nor knitter, but I would like to be able to control my carding better.  After I knitted Mom's hat, I spun another skein Saturday night; this one was mostly brown, with small amounts of lime green, curry yellow, and the oranges, but in parts I blended the colors very well, in others I left streaks of colors.  Sorry, it's not a good view, but here it is.
 3) Carding/blending is one thing; I try my best to mix a good proportion of different hues/values to make a nice "fluff". But then when it's made into a yarn, the colors are twisted and lined up and simultaneous contrast kicks in, and the appearance and, of particular interest to me, the relationship between the hues/values change.  I'm extremely interested in the hues/values that "disappear"but add nuance to the stronger hues/values.  Such as my brown.  The situation is further complicated when the yarn is plied.

4) When planning a piece, whatever the scale and shape and complexity, the relationship between and the proportions of the hues/values are even more complicated.  There is also the change in the way light behaves with plying and interlacement.  I am able to understand how "colors" interact by sampling and observing, but I'm not sure if I am gaining knowledge I can actively use when planing or constructing a color relationship.  Plus, we need to consider not only the close-up but mid- and long-distance views for "real" pieces.  I think what I'm saying is, currently, planning color schemes is a hit-or-miss affair for me.

5) The ease and speed with which I can card/blend/spin/knit is a slippery slope it's quick, offering instant satisfaction.  This is a good thing for a hobby, but I can't transfer this process onto weaving as quickly.  And because I keep playing with these, I have woven only one half day in the last 16 days. Yet I remain a weaver, that is my primary interest.  So I hope these experiments are going to work towards my weaving more satisfactory color schemes in the future. Because right now, I'm not sure how it's helping.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Where to Next?

Ronette came over for a cup of tea this morning, which ended up being two cups of coffee and a cup of tea over four hours for her, one cup of coffee and a whole lot of right-brain massage for me.  What a pleasure.

As expected, we talked a lot about weaving and art and creativity and such.  And though we arrived at no particular conclusion, I feel it's OK that A) there may not be as much "concept" worked into my weaving from "art education" point of view, and if I feel guilty about a short/direct designing, that's my problem, and B) if I enjoy the round-about design "process" as I think is prescribed by "art education", that's OK, too; there is the chance of a bonus discovery.  But I don't have to work the way I think "art education" demands. Ronette also highly recommends David Hockney's 1993 book, "That's the Way I See It", and interviews on his website.  (And look, he's got Grand Canyon there, too.)
And in just seconds, look how she "rearranged" the other, longer wooly mess.  3D!  This is how one uses experimental/research material.  Suddenly it looked beautiful to me.

* * * * *

So, what did Amanda send me?  Six photos and one fab card.  I'm glad I asked for the printed version after all because each photo has, oh, so much more details in them, and even though I've been staring at the Grand Canyon pic for what feels like ages to the point I feel like I know it well, there is still so much more information in the printed version.  Ditto with the others.

(Click on the photo; I saved a larger version than usual.)

And look at the Kayak photo; isn't that just the colors I love so much?  And the streaky lights in the car trouble photo, which I thought was a tailgating party outside a ball park at first!   It reminds me of the photo I received from Lynne last year.  But because it doesn't have the variety of hues, one's eyes do look for lines and shapes.  Very interesting. 

I see more weird wool fluff in my future.  And I can't believe I just admitted to it.

* * * * *

I am sincerely, honestly and energetically enjoying all of your posts showing your progress, thoughts or brain-aches regarding P2P2.  I am.  And your thoughts and processes feed my process, so thank you so very much.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Welly on Saturday

After a tranquil Friday, (me, not the weather,) we spent a pleasant Saturday in... Wellington!  Over the long, previous weekend we snagged cheap airfare to Wellington and back, and all week I was worried one of us may not be up to the trip, but came Saturday, we were well.  And we went.

I was uncharacteristically "in the moment" all day, and I didn't even notice it.  Usually Wellington acts like a dynamite of inspirations and my mind rushes this way and that, me photographing everything I think I might be able to use, but yesterday, I had no agenda or list of places we must go, and we played everything by ear.  Not one picture, not one memo!!

We first bypassed Wellington and went to New Dowse, situated in Lower Hutt, a small city northeast of Wellington about 25 minutes by bus. The Dowse is not a new establishment but it was rebranded a few years ago and I had heard of the changes so I wanted to see. It is a big (for New Zealand) local gallery, with the fab cafe.  I thought it might be nice to go there this trip because we hadn't been there for a decade and I wanted to see the fashion exhibition on zero-waste pattern-making, and I thought Ben would like the furniture show. We both liked the small ceramics exhibition very much, and I liked two works in their permanent collection, this set, and a larger figure I can't find the image of anywhere, but a mixture of a human figure dancing and a fish!  The impression I got was that the Dowse is focusing on objects, with one eye on issues such as the environment; but it's hard to tell from just one visit.

Then we headed back to Wellington and walked from the northern end down the main drag.  The streets and neighborhoods change names, but this area is more or less a 2km stretch, 2-4blocks wide, of stores, eateries, entertainment venues and offices, and we checked out all the book and kitchen stores and some of the gift, camera, and furniture shops.  Usually we are in a rush to get to Te Papa, our national museum, but yesterday we just strolled.  (It being Matariki, the Maori New Year now, it would have been interesting to have gone to Te Papa in another respect, but we deliberately decided not to feel "rushed.") We noticed our fav used book shop Quilters at the Parliament end had closed, (subsequent Googling tells me it's moved,) as had a fabric shop, and our favorite bookshop Unity had expanded, but they hadn't fine-tuned what goes where and the art section was split in two areas an in chaos.

The gist of it is, we walked from High Court down Lampton Quey, Willis, Vivienne, Ghuznee, Cuba, to Courtney Place, and we came out empty handed.  Well, not quite; I found a place that sold Reese's Peanut butter Cups and bought three packs.  (I only know of one other place in New Zealand, in Takapuna north of Auckland, that sells the stuff, so when I find them, I grab a few!)  Sure we saw nice things, especially in the kitchen stores, but we were happy to be walking in Wellington in the rain and didn't feel the need to buy anything.  Again, there were some lovely books, of course, but I didn't feel the need to bring any home.  It ended up a cheap trip.

I was even dressed light, two layers of thin cashmere and a light waterproof jacket; I had two very thin wool scarves in the pack just in case.  And the pack was light; the essentials, two scarves, a small water bottles and two apples for the Hubby.  Everything seemed to have been right.  That the flight was delayed both ways didn't bother me.  

I often envy friends who get to travel, especially for longer trips overseas, long enough to soak up the art scenes in places like eastern China/Central Asia, Italy, France, Portugal, Croatia, and parts of USA.  And friends who get to go to workshops far away.  But I am appreciative we get to go to Welly once in a while; it is really a lovely little city, easy to soak up the art scene, good bookshops, and if we had more time, we could include theater productions, too.  Another time.  

It's nice to be content, and living in the moment seems to have something to do with it.  Even though I don't have fabulous pictures to show you, it feels lovely; I feel great.  

If only I could switch it on every day.  Because I could get used to this way of living.

Passive Thinking, or Taking the Right Brain on a Walk

So, last week.  Monday was a holiday; Ben was sick at home Tuesday-Thursday; I was sick Thursday-Friday.  So we had the fire going almost all day almost all week as we slowed down, reading, watching movies, and and taking long naps.

Friday, when I had the house to myself, I lit the fire; I don't do this often when Ben's not home, but it was a gray, wet, sad day, and I needed a gentle nudging.  I also turned on all the lights in the living room, and turned off the radio.  Already it was quite a different atmosphere from my regular work day; it was almost like a retreat.

The first thing I wanted to do was to edit my photos. particularly the Grand Canyon, the way Judy did to get a more accurate/detailed look at the outline of rock formation (if you can call it that), but also the monsoon cloud and the Honeysuckle. But my head felt feverish and my eyes blurry and I didn't have the patience for the task.  

So I thought I'd have a look at all versions of the three photographs I concocted up to then, and printed tiny, business card-sized copies of everything; vaguely I thought this may be a good way to transition to the sketchbook; my intention was to pick half a dozen and focus on them in the sketchbook.

Firstly, I discovered I had a lot of different high-contrast and/or black/white versions that gave me different outlines, especially of the clouds and the flower.
Secondly, being me, I had to sort them, categorize them, analyze them as groups, and physically place them by areas of interest.    This was an interesting exercise because for the first time I looked at the different versions of each photo collectively.  It was almost like having three flip-animation in front of me.  I also thought I'd done most with Grand Canyon, but in fact I had played with them in almost equal measures, but with Honeysuckle just a bit more.

Thirdly, I wanted to paste them on one sheet of paper, and I rummaged around and discovered the A4 size sketchbook I used for two design workshops by Alison Francis.  (I was particularly impressed with the prepping I did on the depressed mind before the second workshop; must revisit.) But having created "pretty" pages of logically organized pictures, I didn't feel like getting out my color pencils or the like, so I abandoned that.  I also studied the many pages in the sketchbook where I started color analysis of pictures/images I liked or found disquieting, incomplete, intending to return when I was in the mood.  Didn't feel like doing that, either. Then I grabbed most of my "current" notebooks and sketchbooks and looked at what else I abandoned.  Good grief, there were many pages and projects, and there are more "current" volumes.

Then I had lunch.  I was aware that all day I could not get out of my head hither-to my most adventurous thing I've done in the design process, the two yucky pieces of woven wool monstrosity hanging to dry only a couple of meters from me. (Sorry, the colors are not accurate as the afternoon got darker eventually I had to I had to use flash.)
For the piece on the left I created the weft as I went; the piece on the right there was a smidgen of planning in the weft color transition.  But looking at this photo, they don't seem to be too different. The piece on the right had just as much abrupt color changes, but there was a lot of color areas I liked in this piece, so I started playing with it. 

I folded it, rolled it, unrolled it, squished it, but there was no way it was going to stand on its own, but then I became less worried.  I knew there are ways I could prop it up.
What I did do was to fold the parts I didn't like and stitched it "shut" so you can see only the color combinations I like.  I particularly like the bottom half, the red-to-less-red-to-purple portion, but top part, with a lot of natural/white fiber showing, has another, cheerful expression.  (If this photo looks unnatural, it's because I've turned it upside down so you can compare it with the "before" shot above.)
This afternoon, I just  propped it up using the pegs on my warping board as if I was planning to do so all along. Funny how some problems solve themselves.  (And the sun helps, too.) 
It's a little hard to explain in English, but I stuck two pegs up the "folded back and sewn" part.  The fabric looked totally different standing up, albeit not straight in spite of many minutes of team-pressing.  This is also the first time ever that I arrived somewhere where the thing already doesn't look at all like the point of origin in trying to design, and I must say, I am not displeased.  I have no idea where I am taking this, or whether I'm going to do anything with the other piece, but I'm glad I did it as I was able to bring to life something I saw in my mind's eye just a few days ago.

Anyway, I enjoyed the whole unrushed-ness of Friday as I picked up and dropped each task, guilt-and-result-free, and I realized I hadn't had unrushed work day in a very long time; I also appreciated how well I've been since the dark days of yore, the last of which was about a year ago now.  I have been far more productive this side of Christmas than I had been in a long time, and I feel joy when joyous things happen to me.    
Towards the end of the day my mind was set on the Honeysuckle picture, because I liked the already-abstract quality of the original photo.  I felt I had a good, productive (in an unfamiliar way) day.

Then, Ben came home and I got the pics from Amanda!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pushing the Boundaries a Tad Too Far

I have no idea what I intended to do, except I felt compelled to weave a length of wool that could be stiffened to stand on its own when turned into a cylinder.  And considering how quickly I put it to practice, I must congratulate myself on my rare spontaneity.  Other than that, I have these two hideously ugly wool... things in 12+ colors.
Thinking back, what I had in mind was a stiff wool tube, straight at the bottom, (which would have been the right selvedge) but jagged at the top like a mountain ridge line, (created by varying how far to the left each pick would travel,) standing on its own.  I had Grand Canyon in mind, but not exactly replicating the images.  Once I got started on my rigid heddle, (first time weaving on it since 1998-ish), I forgot about the jagged left side and concentrated on the color interaction.

I used around 12-15 balls of yarns, and some variegated, so there are a fair number of color combinations.  Because I wanted the cloth to almost felt in the wet finish, I included a lot of handspuns, but as I didn't have many in dark colors, I ended up mixing a fair amount of light naturals.  I discovered I don't like anywhere near an even distribution of values, but prefer in the first instance darker values with a little bit of intentional light spots, and in the second, mid-to-light values with darker values containing/governing the light, as in grids or strips. 

What took me by surprise was how completely I hated this kind of unstructured weaving; so much so I felt sick by the time I cut off the first piece.  As regards weaving, I really do prefer the tightly controlled, structured environment where about the only thing I do spontaneously would be to decide on the warp/weft colors as I make warp/weave. I might have been happier cutting up paper or mixing paint.  At least I never expected a physical reaction.

With these pieces, I need to look closely at the colors, probably with L-shapes, because I know there are interesting bits in the mix.  While I wove, for example, I noticed how one particularly unattractive Azuki Bean brown changed hues in the company of purples as opposed to oranges, and that was around midnight last night, so in the daylight it would be a different story again.  As well, when these dry completely, (they just came out of the dryer,) the values may lighten up a bit.  I would still like to see if I can cut the edge on one side to create the mountain ridge line.  

Otherwise, yuck, yuck, yuck for now.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oh, Fib!

Ben's sick and stayed home today, so I didn't weave on the big loom because the air compressor is in the garage, which is under the bedroom. I've been taking care of loose ends instead. 

I finally put the fallen (?) button back on my purple polo sweater.
I did a very bad job of trying to put the Kurume warp leftover on the warping board and left a mound of tangled loveliness on the floor for a week. Or more.  I remedied that today by un-twisting and stretching the warp on the warping board. I thought I counted the number of ends before, but in this flat, ribbon-like warp were 20, not eight, ends,  Mom thought the weaver said the length was eight meters, but I knew there was much more, and I estimated it to be about 40, but last count, unless my math is so wrong, (very possible), there are 192 meters of it.  I'm not sure how I want to use this warp yet, so it will stay on the board until further notice.  At least this way it won't be tangled or twisted.
I washed the funny hat, and by washing, I mean somewhere between wet-finishing and gentle hand wash.  The highly-twisted part of the yarn has fluffed up a little, and the hat is a little shorter, and perhaps a tad wider.  I like this better, but it's still wet so I haven't tried it on.

And the rest of the day has been spent threading the Klik sample loom; I made a warp of 2/60 and 2/20 mercerized cotton alternating for a 4-tie block weave. The 2/60s are threaded 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1-4 and in between the 2/20 is threaded randomly in Shafts 5 and 6, providing just two relatively wide blocks.  The way I see it, if I want to make a feature of the tie-down, I don't want to use a whole lot of color and/or narrow blocks, so the 2/20 is in one color and just the two blocks.  I thought this way I can sample a few small pieces to study how the tie-down works.  It's also the first time I'm using two widths in the warp, and I'm not exactly sure how it's going to turn out, but a little exciting.  The warp is only a little over a meter, six or eight inches wide, but it's taken forever to thread, and I'm only nearly halfway done.
Theoretically, something like this...

OK, back to threading.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Thinking Order

I'm still waiting for my pictures to arrive from Amanda, but I'm not worried because they will eventually tun up, probably tomorrow. Meanwhile I had to step away from the images for a little while, because I began to edit photos mechanically without much reflection or feelings, and though that in itself is not a bad thing, I started to feel like a robot going through the motions.  

Then I read Geodyne's and Judy's posts this morning, and I've a renewed interest in my project. I like Geodyne's (unintended) approach of looking at her images collectively. It was the exact problem I had when I was choosing my images to send to Cally; I wanted "the lot" to look good together and edited my selection a few times a day for over a week to make the individual images interesting.  In Geo's case, her interpretations and thoughts about the set feels right; I don't know what I'm trying to say, but I envy the cohesion, the "nicely coming together"-ness; it's just a lovely feeling.  

Then Judy's discussion of various techniques made me try to visualize different structures to create the same image, in my case something to do with Grand Canyon more often than the others. 

I learned in my various attempts at design studies I rush to decide the weave structure, thus limiting the design possibilities much too early in the process, so I've trained not to visualize the final cloth any more. (Took me years!)  While this way of delaying decisions leaves a lot of room for the unintended, the novel, and the surprising, it can sometimes make me feel unfocused, and often I see myself in a big room with images, materials, swatches, feelings, lists, methods, and equipment strewn 360 degrees around me.

I prefer weaving to knitting, quilting, embroidery, and other disciplines as my way of serious making because of the framework of weaving, which some people refer to as "restrictions".  And I feel a great deal of satisfaction trying to weave creatively inside the square/boundary.  (I know, metaphors galore, but what the heck.) For me, it appears I feel most comfortable if I know the weave structure first, and it probably has do with my lack of knowledge about weave structures; I tend to pick one or two, and weave with them for years, until I move on to the next.     

Anyway, I'm a bit of a lurch in my process, but that's OK, I'm not in a rush, and I'm enjoying being i a lurch because it also means I can go any which way I want from here.  What did jump into my mind this morning were: A) I don't have to weave a nice, smooth cloth; I could weave a stiff length, stitch the start and the finish, and create a tube that stands on its own, for example; and B) I could mix tapestry technique or pickup, and I might even sample on the rigid heddle with old stiff wool, fleece, or even my hadnspun. 

One thing is for sure: I'm really enjoying "the process" this year; in fact this may be the first time I'm consciously going through "the process".  And if I had to drag 18 other weavers along the way to get me to this point, all I can say is, I hope you're having fun, too.

The Group and a Conundrum / Spinning, Knitting and Colors / Garden

As I mentioned in the previous post, The Group met for the second time last Monday.  We spent an awfully long time discussing the group name, all of us aware it wasn't just the name under consideration, but fine-tuning what we wanted to do as a group and as individuals, and testing the group dynamics.  We couldn't decide on our name, but I think we all felt a lovely sensation of being in an encouraging, sharing, and creative environment.  We disagreed on a few things, and lo and behold, we came out happier at the other end of discussing our disagreements; I've never been in an environment like this.  For the first time that I could remember, I could voice my disagreements without feeling I wasn't playing nicely.  This was very liberating.

One of the things we discussed at some length was the diversity of interpretation and reaction to words: some words that brought surprising reactions were: sisterhood, boundary, and marks.

Private galleries in Nelson are closing down or being sold left and right, limiting the options for prospective group exhibition venues.  In fact, Refinery is the only one we could quite easily sign up for at the moment, but they are pretty much booked until the end of 2012, except an iffy two weeks here and a definitely one week there.  (From memory, they used to allow bookings in three-week blocks, but they're not doing this any more.) Ergo my little conundrum, whether to give my slot to the group.  And even though I've been working on WYSIWYG for 15 months now, I've really no preference or prejudices about going solo or group.  None.  What so ever.  As far as I'm concerned, for now, I can go either way and really enjoy the process and have a pretty descent exhibition.  Isn't this... novel?  Though I almost wished I had an inclination one way or another. 

* * * * *

I have been weaving the hard slog, I mean, hearts, blanket; I have enough warp left to weave a narrow but long-enough blanket for a single bed, so I might as well go for it.

For my own entertainment, I've been spinning and knitting. This last project was supposed to be a funny warm hat for my mother, but I think it's too small even for her small head, and it's not thick and warm in the way I envisioned.
 (This hat is much redder than either pictures: I several versions but my eyes aren't cooperating this morning, and neither portray the autumnal, harvest feel of this hat. The darkest red part is closer to cherry red. )

This is the first time I spun with a smidgen of design in mind; it was to be in gradation with the lightest oranges in the middle, but when I made the balls I wound them so the red bits needed to be knitted first on both balls, instead of them coming at the top and the bottom of the hat.    

I'd like to learn to card better, and looking at two video clips which Dot recommended, I have an idea of how to improve this.  I don't mind my yarn being inconsistent in width, in fact I love knitting with extremely slubby yarns, but because I have very little control, I've been creating more threads than yarns, and because I only have one set of knitting needles with which I can knit a circle, these threads are woefully inadequate.

The biggest reason for my lack of control is my speed.  I realized when I spin, I try to treadle/pedal as fast as I can; it's as if another, more athletic part of me takes over, and it's a completely different part of me than the one trying to spin with a hint of design in mind. I've tried slowing down my foot/leg, and being unsuccessful, I tried readjusting the various knobs to slow things down, but I haven't been able to decide what is the correct speed. 

I have considered taking a correspondence course on spinning through our national guild; I thought of the course a couple of times in the decade but it was never high on my list.  I'm brought back the idea to the back of the back burner, again, because I would like to be a better spinner, but by better spinner, I don't know what I mean and I don't know what kind of a yarn makes me happy.  I suspect, though, spinning could potentially introduce another "style' in my weaving repertoire - texture.     

But then there is my tendency to turn everything fun into difficult tasks when I want to be better at it.  Drawing is so far the only thing in my life I feel comfortable just doing, and never worrying if I'm good or if I've improved.  For now, spinning (and knitting) has been great fun, and because of the speed of my treadling, at time it's almost thrilling just trying to keep up with the speed without loosing the end of the yarn.  I'll keep the spinning course at the back of the back burner for now and attempting more crazy spinning.  Ditto with the knitting; no gauge, no measuring, no sampling. 

(Now, close your eyes and imagine a Punch or The New Yorker style cartoon of a little old lady whose leg is treading so quickly she's trying to keep up spinning at ultra high speed!  She cannot but spin in orange, do you agree?) 

* * * * *

I was surprised I carded, spun and knitted the latest hat in three or four days. My group members thought I was underestimating their work when I mentioned, (apparently, once again,) how slow weaving is.  But in my case, weaving does seem to be the slowest thing I do.

Oh, the things you achieve while watching the telly in the evenings! I think I need my Rigid Heddle to live in the living room. But next, I think I'll try a slightly more intentionally-designed hat for Mom.

So far, I've only ever knitted orange things, and the next hat will be in large part orange again.  But I am spinning some mostly white stuff, too; these yarns may finally go into my weaving, fingers crossed.  

* * * * *

I've been gardening quite a bit, mostly weeding and trimming, but before each rain, I've also been taking things out of pots and putting them into the ground.  The place still looks pretty shabby, but I now have pockets of tidied areas. And mounds of weed pulled but not cleared everywhere. I have a system, but my body defies system and logic some days, and I'm allowing even this, because some work is always better than none.