Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Hello, again. I got back last evening from Brisbane. And Brisbane was... big, bright, and expensive, but more about that when I get around to picking out some photos.
As soon as I returned, I found two more envelopes waiting for me. That's Margery's merino/alpaca/tussah silk and Gaye's Pukeko-inspired wool. And would you look at what New Zealand Post did to her return address?! Thank you so very much. And do please keep them coming; I could use some more.

I couldn't sleep last night, metaphorically speaking, because I realized there are only 29 days in February, and I wasn't going to make the March 1 due for National Exhibition entry paperwork. Thanks to technology, though, I scanned/emailed the form, and direct credited the Guild account so I ended up getting it in one day early! I was pleased the descriptions came so easily; I can only hope the weaving goes as smoothly.  
I can't read the description in the photo on my screen so in case you have as bad eyesight as I do, I'll add it here:

"100% cotton on 16 shafts consisting of 4 blocks of very simple structures.  Several people in my life have been gravely ill of have passed lately and though I am not the praying kind, I have latched on to the idea of prayer shawls and making this piece has been my prayer."

It's not exactly fluent writing, but you get the point, and well, it as a little more than the space allowed so I feel OK about it. 

Invigorated by having finished the paperwork, I went downstairs to continue threading. There were a few counting mistakes when I made the warp, alas, and after two of the three chains threaded, I'm short two ends, so it's a good thing I added four extras at the end of Chain 3, anticipating something like this.

I had a method to my madness in the way I changed colors; each color had a number of ends matching one of the schemes I had in mind; multiples of 4 for straight or Dornick threading, 7 for V- or A-shapes, etc., etc., etc. I changed my plans as I threaded so there are a few pointed threading blocks that isn't symmetric, for example, which might cause the selectors to reject the piece on grounds of "too many technical errors", (though Marlborough folks aren't that narrow-minded), but I'm forging ahead because life is spontaneous and you do the best you can in the circumstances you're given to the best of your ability, and I like that my approach is not contrived this time.

We'll see if I still feel the same once I start sampling.

Oh, I finished my wee project for February; it was to post one picture relating to my work every day. In August 2006, we joined the City Daily Photo group, (well, I did,) and solicited Ben's help, but I quickly got bored and Ben's been minding Nelson Daily Photo pretty much solo for the last five years. I wanted to get back into photography, so I tried this, and it was a good discipline, but I didn't feel the love for photography that I get once every few years. I'll explain this to you in depth in the near future. Time to concoct another wee project for March. 

So what have you been weaving while I was away gallery-hopping?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Thinking of Those Who Passed, Thinking of Those Who Remain

Wednesday was the first anniversary of the really big earthquake in Christchurch. (A bigger one took place in September 2010, but there was no casualty and the pictures were not as "dramatic" so you may not remember if it.) Japan's anniversary of the big 3/11 events is in 16 days. I feel humbled when I think of these places and especially the people living there, while the ground continues to shake underneath them all the time. I didn't forget you, how could I, but didn't want to write a flippant post in my usual flippant style.

Wednesday night, however, I found a draft I made when I first bought the draft software, one I thought I had deleted and was lost forever. The meshing of patterns and threads in this piece seem to tell me now about meshing and interlacing of people and our fates. And somehow it looked appropriate for the occasion. So here it is. (It is a square gamp, but the software couldn't shrink the view any further.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

All Wound Up

This could be the most cheerful warp I ever made, which is interesting considering the seeds for this project came from such places as illnesses, death and prayers. But I like what I see, and I'm glad I made an 8-meter warp. I think it reflects my attitude to life. 

I was hoping to start threading today, but I dithered and dithered and vacuumed the stash room, among other things.  No excuses, just procrastinating, in the same way I used to eat my veggies first because I disliked veggies as a child.

Is there a psychologist in the room?

* * * * *

Two in one day! Cally's handspun, Navajo-plied tussah silk, and Mette's lovely autumnal silk.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Warp

We went to see Tim on Saturday and I gave him his 50th birthday present. We joked that it's only three years late, (actually, three years three months,) but he liked it so I was glad. Then we talked about work, and I told him how I decided to go to Brisbane in a heat of excitement, and how I had precious little time to weave my National Exhibition piece. Very little indeed. Suddenly I wanted to come home and start making the warp, and that's what we did.

I brought out all the cones above the white line. I'm going ahead with four-end blocks, but changed colors and width of each as I went. At the start, I felt guided by Doni's latest piece, my favorite Rachel Beckman work, and the recent writing by Gavin Hitchings, but none dictated my path.Then I started reflecting on the fact there are a few folks around me affected by serious illnesses and death lately, and I kept seeing colors I associate with Tibetan Buddhism. I used some of these colors on the sides. The middle part are some of my happy colors.
100% cotton, in two widths; 868 ends, approximately 24 inches wide on the loom at 36EPI.

I have the theme of "prayer shawl" in mind. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I spent the week to-ing and fro-ing from the living room to the stash room, and from one idea to another. I tried to explain what I was doing to Ben filling in squares in a grid notebook, but it was hard to put into words, because I didn't know what I was doing. I'm still unsure, but the paperwork is due in 13 days and the pieces due in 24 days from today, and of them I'm away for five days, so I need to light the fuse at the end of my unsmall right about now. What am I going on about?

In the course of trying to decide what I want to weave for the National Exhibition, I wanted to see how the sizes of the silks on spools compare to 2/60 cottons, and the "red" cottons to 2/20 cottons.  From time to time I throughly enjoy working with fine yarns, and even though my silks on spools were thicker than 2/60 cottons, this week I thought I must be deranged to want to weave in this scale. That eliminated one problem: I'll go with the "red" cottons.

Then, I wanted to see how these cottons, (they being slightly thicker than 2/20, they look yarn-y as opposed to 2/20s looking thread-y,) would work color-wise with 2/20s.

This is how the colors look. Though my stash room is impossible in terms of photographing true colors, a couple of days ago by fluke I was able to better than ever before. (No color adjustments in this one, which is unheard of of anything from this room!) So here, a closeup of the orange ball sitting comfortably.
I kept going back to see them in different lights, and by Friday morning, I decided I'm happy to work with any/all, with the possible exception of the dusty peach, (top ball in middle right, below,) in combination with everything above the white line. I also remembered I had three short warp chains in purples and pinks, (top left) in reasonable width, (12 inches wide on the loom, from memory), and I could edit/expand these quite easily.
So in terms of colors and thread/yarn selection, by Friday morning I was pretty happy. Bright, eh? I know spring is almost in the air for many of you up there.

The issue I've been combating for longer is the structure. Various ideas I had for "Professor, Father, Patient" stayed with me, so I had in mind something irregular, most definitely asymmetrical, something that "develops" in the course of one piece of cloth. For no particular reason, I was thinking more network rather than tied unit weaves. As I thought more about this project, not as an iteration of PFP, Doni posted this, which lead to one of my old favorite idea lifting its pretty head: using simplest structures to weave complicated-looking cloth. Then I started filling in squares in a grid notebook to collect idea seeds on 2-, 3- and 4-shafts, which lead me to try to remember how to calculate mathematical possibilities of combination and permutations on 4 shafts, which lead me to fill in squares in different combinations in a 4x4 squares. And before you go off trying this, I can tell you that in a 4x4 square, there are 65538 combinations, (I think in English this is expressed as 2 to the power of 16,) of coloring the smaller squares.  In weaving terms, if you see this as a 4-end/4-pick square, it includes the option of living all shaft or none at all, but with fine weaving in blocks, i.e. if you see the 4x4 as a profile, it's still valid. Which reminded me to the most fundamental truth in weaving: a thread is either above or below. And it links nicely with Ben's earlier life, (Ben can practice as a sparky in Japan as a result of majoring in electrics/electronics in his industrial high school,) that the power is either on or off. (He can also count in binary codes and do other weird stuff.)
This was a nice philosophical place to end up on a Friday afternoon, though I', no further in my project planning.

* * * * *

And then while gazing at images late last night, I found this Etsy store, and thought if I ever have an Etsy store, I'd like to stock it with pieces like these. Except I'm not sure if I can, because I grow tired of styles, or material, or scale, easily and would want to try something else.

At least I have something to do while waiting at airport terminals next weekend.

* * * * *

Yesterday was the due date for submitting paperwork for Changing Threads, Round 4. Best of luck to all who did!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tick. Tick.

It's always nice to cross things off my To Weave list, but two in one day was great, since it's been a long time since I last crossed anything off that list. I'm talking about Tim's and Mom's cashmere scarves.
1) This was the first time I put on cashmere on the big loom.  Because the yarn is spongy, it was harder to get a consistent tension; weave more and learn.
2) There is so much loom waste on the big loom, and I wonder if I can be more innovative at the warp beam end to reduce this.
3) Wonky arms, 15 minute increments, no rhythm, makes for even more inconsistent beating, and some dubious selvedges.  Let us pray.
4) I remembered I have never learned how to hem ends properly, but learned by looking at other weavers' works and unpicking a couple of them.  I must get someone to show me so I can improve; Tim's piece's hemming is something shocking.

1) Wefts in singles and doubles both work well in different ways.  Singles have room to breath and fulls nicely; the resultant scarf is airy and light.  Doubled, the scarf has meaty and hangs nicely, like grownup cloth.   Interestingly, they both feel as if they weight about the same. 
2) The silk in Mom's have a lovely understated shine, but the values of the gray and the burgundy are so close the piece shimmers.

Tag, label, deliver/post.  Go watch someone hem and figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Boy, it's good to get pieces finished, though. Both around 8 inches wide; Tim's is around 210cm long, Mom's 180.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Right or Left?

So, the results.
As you know I didn't learn weaving from a live human being per se; I taught myself from books, and a few then-Majordomo list members helped me. No YouTube back then. I just did what came natural to me; I'm right handed, so I start from the right. But I found this an interesting question to ask, as we never seem to talk about it; do we all assume others do the same as us, or because it doesn't matter one way or another? Any thoughts?

Thank you for participating in the survey!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Waiting for a Sign?

I vacuumed the basement almost like there is no tomorrow, (first time this year), and cleaned, (first time in about six months,) and waxed, (first time in two years? I heard creaky noises from an unfamiliar direction,) the big loom, while trying to feel, rather than think or plan, the next one. Two sets of yarns have been at the forefront of my thinking: the sewing silks and rayon and nylon sewing machine embroidery threads, OR a set of six reds in cotton, mill ends Mom sent me a few years ago.

I've never woven with either.  I can't see what kind of pieces I want to weave.
Meanwhile, Connie Rose sent me a little bit more than a yard! Thank you, Connie. I've already cut off one meter to put into the project; the rest into another piece.

A Gift from the Loom

I forgot I was confined to weave in 15-minute increments, so I went all guns blazing yesterday, but admit, I haven't had so much fun on the loom in a heck of a long time! And I think I'm not hurting anywhere today. 

I'll copy what I wrote on Flicker this morning:

"I love weaving warp ends; they allow me to get a little adventurous because it doesn't matter if they don't work exactly to plan.  I see warp end pieces as gifts from the loom to me, almost as if I have nothing to do with them.

"Yesterday I got about 60cm-long by 15cm-wide piece at the end of a series of three cashmere scarves.  I thought I could get enough for a collar or two cuffs, and to make it soft yet meaty, I doubled up my weft - outrageous extravagance considering the cost of these yarns, but, boy, oh, boy, it was so worth it. The swatch feels wonderful and since I never weave anything for myself except warp ends, I think I can live with this.   Now I want a gray fleece vest so I can put this collar on!

"Today I was going to post a picture of a scarf with heart motifs I wove for my mother on this warp, but I haven't had this much fun on the loom in a  while so I decided to go with my ... swatch instead."
First of all, the draft took about 15 minutes to make, not 15 hours.
As with many things I weave, I end up liking the B-side better than A, though with this swatch, I'll take either side quite happily.  
Because I liked the heft in Mom's scarf, I doubled the warp also to get the fabric-y feel, but this weft is the same size as the warp and slightly thicker than Mom's, so the swatch really feels like... fabric.

I was so pleased with myself and in a rush to wash this I forgot to mend; as it was the end of the warp there were problems with the shed and I found a few mistakes while I washed. But it's OK, I can live with it; while I sear this swatch in the collar, I won't be able to see the skips!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Morning After..

The excitement was too much, all I could do after the last post yesterday was to vegetate on the couch gazing at the TV where there was absolutely nothing.  I've too much to do before I go, I kept telling myself, but my body wouldn't move. 

And while visualizing me having a great time in Brisbane, (which I know I will,) I couldn't stop the voices saying, "I shouldn't have been so rash!", "The following week would have been better!", "I don’t need 3.5 days in Brisbane!", and "What if it floods there again!"

At least how I'm going to pay for the trip was not at the forefront.

The thing that makes me more nervous is this: we all know I have very few commitments and my calendar most weeks have very little other than the Friday morning drawing class. Well, that week, I have a non-weaving commitment I enjoy every Thursday afternoon; then a cheese-making class Thursday night, (Ben and I do these community education classes perhaps twice a decade.) On Friday I need to be at the airport 25 minutes after the class finishes. I get back Tuesday night, and I'm invited to a farewell morning coffee Wednesday morning, and I was hoping to see a mash up opera on film after that. Then the same commitment Thursday afternoon and drawing Friday morning.

I know some people thrive on being busy; I am so not one of them, and I feel tired already.

One of the biggest issues now should be, my airfare allows me to take one 7kg carry-on bag only, so I'm now going to weigh the extra battery and cards for my camera, sketchbook and one or two pencils, wallet, travel documents, the bag, and the unmentionables!

Oh, Ronette gifted me this link this very morning.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Insane Saturday

I'd been in a fairly good place these last couple of days, finding quotes and artworks which enrich my life, feeling appreciative and receptive of/to friends, texts and visuals. And even though Ronette made us copy and draw schematic drawing of only eyes for the entire class time, (while I continued to roll my eyes until I was beyond dizzy and thought of 40-odd years ago when we fidgeted and waited for the bell to ring,) I wasn't unhappy. Yip.  Even if I were to admit I wove too much on Thursday and for the first hour of class my arms wouldn't stop shaking.

I finished my mom's scarf on Thursday, (doubling the weft makes quick work, I knew it in my head but hadn't realized how quick,) and still have about 120cm of warp left, so I could possibly get 90cm of woven cloth to be used on such areas as collars and cuffs later on. Or a really short thing around the neck, so I'll weave that, and be done with this warp this weekend.

* * * * *

Friday morning when I got up, I thought the idea of continuing to work on "Father, Professor, Patient" (the colorful warp is made,) but in grays was a good idea, but not for the National Exhibition; such a piece wouldn't have the kind of visual impact I had in mind, for the occasion, and in the lovely Millennium Gallery.

I know their ceiling is reasonably high, and the maximum height of artwork they can hang is only 20cm or so shorter than the distance from the bottom of the rafter to the floor at the Refinery.  So I had hoped to weave something as long as for the Refinery.

As I brushed my teeth, I started to see the fab sewing silks from Japan, and they wouldn't go away, so I'm now wondering if it means I will work in miniature and forget the high ceiling.

* * * * *

I went to see "Buck" Friday afternoon; he is a real horse whisperer; his quiet, understated, matter-of-fact directness was fresh and rare, and as "Bob" Redford said, he's so polite. I'll hire the DVD so Ben can watch it, too. Perhaps we need to discuss becoming yarn whisperers?
I also received my first meter of yarn from Kaz.  Thank you, Kaz - it is the most cheerful, sunny hand-painted warp end I've ever seen, and suddenly this yet-unknown project popped out of my head and started being in this world. Boy, if you've ever given birth, and looked at your child for the first time, it must have been not just thrilling, but also somewhat bewildering?   

* * * * *

Ceramic artist (or potter?) Richard Parker's touring exhibition ended at the Suter, but I got the catalog and I was going to have a jolly good read last night.  But before that, I wanted to read the bits and pieces of paper and articles I had saved, among them was The NZ Listener article on Matisse's drawing exhibition in Brisbane, Australia, closing on March 4. And it sounded like a "big deal" exhibition.

This morning the first thing I did was to look up the exhibition catalog, and wondered what I could give up to buy it.  I sold one small scarf last month, and I'm told a big piece is about to be sold, and I've been feeling rather well-off, you see.  (I sold all of three pieces in April 2010-March 2011.) I don't know what came over me, but suddenly I found myself looking up airfares and signing up for an electronic visitor visa into Australia.  Long story short, I'm going to the exhibition, in Brisbane, Australia; the cost of the trip so far turned out to be about 150% more than I calculated, (so many, many more scarves to weave and sell,) but considering I've liked Matisse (and especially his rendition of textiles and his family history) for a long time; considering I'm starting to have an understanding of why and what I like to draw; and considering it is cheaper than to go to Europe, the US, or even Japan, somehow I've justified it, and booked and paid with credit card.

Although I'm not going for two more weeks, this is the most spontaneous thing I have ever done that I remember, and I felt dizzy, shaky, a little sick, and irresponsible, but I know I'll enjoy it.  It also means I'm cutting five days out of the time I could be working on my National Exhibition piece, but I'll manage.  I hope I can manage.

I need to slow down now.  I've fond a lot of things I need to reflect on and contemplate these few days. I don't want to miss anything.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Time/Arc" Brooches

Sometimes I encounter quiet wisdom of other makers and discover even I can fall silent in contemplation. I had such a moment today, so I'll let you soak it in, too.

Gavin Hitchings is the Artist in Focus at the Suter this month.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Keeping Company With...

A whole bunch of voices, downloaded, intended to listen to later and gathering like fluff on my hard-drive floor, among them, an Audible interview with Lemony Snicket, all the while trying to quieten what seemed like mounting anxiety.

Working on the loom in the basement helps, even if much too long for the wonky arm. It's almost impossible to control the beating with a wonky arm so these two cashmeres are going to be wonkily beaten.

I finished Tim's scarf yesterday and have been weaving Mom's.  Many of the "weaver" comportments had to be taken out, but I have retained the shuttles, the plain weave cloths, and the requested hearts.

Here's what the draft looks like, though this could have many iterations and utilized for towel swap and such occasions.
And the cloth on the loom, which is much darker and bluer, but you get the gist.
This turned out to be another "live" experiment: I didn't want the hearts to be flattened, but instead of elongating the hears in the draft, I wound a skinner weft in doubles; not plied but two strands together.  It lifts the design and gives a hefty thickness moving away from scarf and towards cloth, and since I haven't sampled, I don't know what the warp is going to be like when fulled.  But Mama is always complaining of the cold, so it should be alright, even if it won't be as soft as what we've come to expect from our cashmeres.

I shall weave a long one, and then have less than one scarf left on the loom, so I'll cut the warp and move on to the National Exhibition piece, whatever that may be.

And as regards anxiety, I can't not have it, I can't control it that well, but I've learned to not act on them immediately as most seem to be just my perception.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

Had You Noticed?

Depending on where your IP address is registered, blogger redirects you to, or that I've discovered so far. Editing my own blog, also, I've not got that tiny pencil at the bottom of my post for quick editing. A bit strange; Ben says he noticed it last week.

End of Monday

The good news is, I have 20cm to go on Tim's scarf, so if I'm hasty I could finish it tomorrow. The bad news is, at this point it looks as if there is more than one scarf left on the warp, so even if I make Mama's Weaver's Scarf a bit long, there might even be one more scarf!! Crikey!

Group R met again today, and we had a focused discussion on the format and size of our one joint piece.  We had a format in mind, but I kind of lead the discussion to explore many formats before we went back to the original idea, and I don't know about the others but I enjoyed the discussion and the immediate, rather than the considered, reaction of the others. I'll tell you more about it when I start working on my part of it.

I reported to the group where I was with the "Professor, Father, Patient" piece. This is not for our Beginnings exhibition but rather for submission for Changing Threads, (photo due Feb 17; work due March 14,) or the National Exhibition in Blenheim, (paperwork due March 1; work due March 12).  And we sort of settled on Option C (the green fade-out option) for the left side of the weft, to show off the weave structure. But the problem is, I need to submit this to Changing Threads, because it's so not the sort of work one submits to the National Exhibition of the the NZ Guild.  I mean, I'm going to include deliberate threading and weaving mistakes, I might pull out warps and wefts after I weave, and who knows what else I'll think of doing. If my best foot forward with a tight weave a few years ago was rejected for "too many technical mistakes", even though the selectors will be different for the Blenheim exhibition, I can imagine a few ladies from the Blenheim having bad palpitations if I send them something that should be in Changing Threads!  So now the plan is for me to keep calm and weave the cashmere scarves on the big loom, and come, say, middle of next week, I think I'm going to have to officially give up on Changing Threads this year and concentrate on the National Exhibition.  (Goodness, that was a long paragraph but can you tell I'm thinking as I type? So if you've never met me in person you can at least imagine how I talk sometimes when I get excited about a project can't you?)

I wanted to submit something to Changing Threads this year, if nothing else, as a hats-off to Ronnie Martin who gives me a lot of advice and who's idea CT was in the first place, but the more I think, the saner it is for me to give it up now and concentrate on weaving something lovely for the National Exhibition. Especially since I am more used to that kind of work.  I'll be (and, well, Ronnie,) the only one not having had work in Changing Threads, but that's OK; I"m not worried about that.

But, the funny thing is, the colorful warp has grown on me, so I still might go downstairs and make the left side of the warp tonight. Just bringing it up to where I can start thinking about that project, whether I actually do it or not.  And it might be something that might go into Beginnings.

Oh, and we didn't do the personal color thing.  The topic came up, but either someone read my blog, or others weren't that interested, or something else.  To tell the truth, if push came to shove, I was going to do it; our group does have that kind of a dynamic, but I'm still relieved we didn't go that way.  We did a bit of non-dominant-hand drawing, blind contours, and some emotions drawing.

Goodness me, does this mean I'm really not going to submit anything to Changing Threads??? I do feel a little sad now.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Real Albeit Tiny Progress

"Professor, Father, Patient" continues to morph in my head, but I'm glad part of it is finally out of my head and in the real world.  
I knew what I didn't want, and that I still wanted to use weave structures as my main means of expression. I also decided to use what remains of a warp I made for an exhibition in October 2007 called "Culturally Routed". (Some pictures here, here, here, and here. I had to take it off after weaving as much as I could for submission, then put on another for a commission, from memory. I decided against good judgment I'm not rereading post related to the Giant Ribbon as I find that act more embarrassing than listening to my own voice on tapes. Irresponsible, I know, but I'm running with it - or away from them.)

Suffice it to say, it's a shiny, coarse, relatively fine wool that is visible from reasonably afar, remains relatively stiff, and relatively fussy structures can be made, and I have a few colors of it left.

But I wanted to widen it, and at first I thought to add browns on the right, with a few ends of aqua and purple, and yellows on the left with a few in-your-face peach-pink ends. 
When I went downstairs on Wednesday, I made the yellow side first, which went well.  I didn't count, I didn't plan, I just spread the original and additional warps once in a while to see if it looked... nice.  Then I worked on the right side, and I felt there was not enough strength to counter balance the saturated yellow on the right, and created a pretty wide aqua area, and then kind of fizzled out with the browns.  The photo below was taken Thursday morning, and I can tell you in the afternoon, the most saturated part of yellow is more brilliant than seen here.  Anyway, A is what I had at the end of Wednesday, and I didn't like it.  
Came Thursday morning, and I felt I had three choices; I could keep the aqua and add more of the middle, gold-brown, (kind of visible if you enlarge the photo,) and some of the two on the sides; I could take out the aqua and add browns or not, B, pretty much the original plan; or I could take out the lot and make the warp more symmetrical and fade out, using greens, C.

The problem is,  (or is it?) I have very little of the darkest green left, so I can't make it more similar to the yellow side; I feel most comfortable with C, and that whatever irregularities I create in the weave structure can be seen more easily with C or B. I also am reminded that this no-planning is really hit or miss, and when it misses, a complete do-over becomes necessary. 

I don't know yet what kind of threading or lifting I'm pretty sure I'm going to include deliberate threading and weaving mistakes, and the weave structure will morph from simple to more complicated in perhaps three to five steps, returning to the initial simple step almost abruptly at the bottom. Or should I see his birth at the bottom and now at the top? And then I started to think weaving this in fine achromatic, dull gray would also be very interesting.

Unless I can empty the big loom of the current warp, I'm not getting anywhere , though, and to date, to the hour, I've got 135cm of Tim's scarf woven.   

Who AM I Kidding?

I got so frustrated after two bits of 15+ minutes of weaving, I went ahead and finished the repeat and then did one whole repeat totaling in 40 minutes Thursday night, and boy, I knew I done myself wrong! Then Ronette's drawing resumed yesterday, (she's looking great after the big surgery three months ago,) and I really wanted to draw the 10-minute sitting with my left hand to make abrupt, unintended lines.

Let's just say, to make the most my foreigner's English, "pins and needles in the coffin". But it's fantabugroovilicious to be back in her class, and I had noticed that three years on, certain types of drawing have finally become easy and emotionally everyday for me.

* * * * *

I have been noticing I've been putting on even more weight since I've come back, and I'm seriously afraid of getting on the scale. I never developed a waist, so my equatorial region remained pretty much the same between Age 0.5 to mid/late 40's, with the gradual addition of a couple of bumps above. Gradually all three have succumbed to gravity, and I have become a member of a particular shape.
That my parents have told me, in unison, when I was nine or ten, I would never be conventionally pretty, but I could work towards looking intelligent, that my dad cannot stop talking about my weight, that my mother has been dismayed at the way I don't try to dress nicely has no doubt contributed to my wanting to be a virtual person sans casing. In my defense, gym staff, doctors and nutritionists have not been able to figure out why my intake/output/remaining mass is so badly balanced; I'm so green and energy efficient the only consolation is, if there is a famine, I'll be one of the last to go.

Here's a scene that crops up in my mind from time to time; the thing is, I used to see it as the origin of my not being hostage to brands, labels and fashions of many kinds, (brands in Japan have always baffled me,) but with my mother's insistence that I'm simply lazy about looking nice has changed my view.

In the fifth year of school, when one is between 10 and 11, my convent school had the tradition of hosting the first overnight trip. (There may have been one a year until we graduated at 17 or 18.) It took part in early summer for five or six nights, staying somewhere cool in the mountains, hiking, visiting historical sites, cooking outside, and the favorite, the last night's big camp fire. From what I understand of American kids' summer camps, it's close but a bit upmarket, no craft, more being bussed around for educational purposes.

The school being a strict convent school, we had strict lists of what we could and very specifically could not bring, and strict criteria on how "fashionable" or "common" our belongings could be, i.e. no  Snoopy, Disney, or Miffy, and I don't think Hello Kitty existed. Mama and I blindly followed the rules, Mama having gone to a sister school and understanding the aesthetics and values the nuns expected. So the night before the trip, she worked into the wee hours sewing me JPs. I don't remember if I was involved in the selection, but it was blue-gray cotton with tiny white stars in the conventional shirt top unisex style, perfect for a rugged week in the cool mountains.

Unbeknownst to us, friends and their mothers had different ideas and it was in the PJs they invested their identities; most were store-bought, but there were lots of frills, ribbons and laces, in pinks, reds and whites. One girl in particular, (not an academically successful student but great on the piano, a quality given equal kudos in my school,) was the talk of the camp with her frilly, three-quarter length set with lady bugs (crawling) all over. It was also my first brush with a mass prepubescent hysteria.  To make matters worse, I was one of the first to start menstruating in my year, three months before the camp.

Rules dictated we were not allowed to brush our teeth or wash our faces before 6 or 6.30AM, but long before that we congregated around the loo waiting for our turns; I of course was scheduled to have my period about then, so I had a wee case with my "thing", and of course the meanest nun spotted me in seconds and balled me out. And I could not say anything because it was more embarrassing then to admit to having periods than to be balled out in front of one's entire year.

I was the girl in the least conspicuous of PJs, (or so I thought,) and I felt a big yellow star burn on my chest. Sincerely, no offense intended; it's just how I felt, possibly because the style of my PJs reminded me of the countless docos I watched with Dad. I heard my classmates' silent collective gasp and sensed their imperceptible retreat creating that declaratory gap around The One In Trouble.

At once I hated Mama for making me look so opposite of good and nice; I hated myself for not loving anything Mama made; I hated having periods as if that were another vice nuns had on their checklists; and I hated everyone for loving NN's PJs, because it really wasn't that cute. Worst of all, I could see my parents reprimanding me, in unison, "they are them, we are us." Goodness me, I can still imagine Mama's quick dismissal and Dad just unable to let go of my weakness in character.       

So, where am I going with this? Well, Monday is our next Group R meeting, and there is a chance we'll do this thing about personal colors; not the fun 80's stuff, but apparently figuring out colors that suit based on colors existing on one's own body. (No, absolutely no rude stuff.) With a supersized body image issues, in the company of four white women, one a svelte 20-something Scandinavian, if the Group thinks we're going to discuss body part colors, I'm so torn in two over-disucssing the pros in cons in my head.

You could say I've kinda been holding my breath these few days and turning purple or blue-gray with small white starts all over.

EDIT: again, no offense intended by "white" women.  I sat on this post for three days wondering what term to use. In NZ, there is a word, "Pakeha", but some folks in that group think it's derogatory and the rest of you wouldn't know who they are; to me, "European" excludes American, Canadian, Australian, Kiwi so it doesn't work here; and neither does "Caucasian" because nobody I know come from Caucasus.  And I sure wasn't going to say, "women of European descents"; goodness me, that's a mouthful. Words to denote ethnicity is somewhat a touchy issue in Kiwiland, it seems, especially for, um, this group.

Which reminds me of an incident at university; I had a wisdom tooth that inflamed suddenly and something like four or six hours later after I started to get an eye-watering headache, I could not open my mouth wide enough to stick a straw. None of my friends had cars, so two of the boys went knocking on the door of an Iranian student living on the same floor of their dorm. Said student was a nice guy anyway, but he, ummmmm, interrupted an amicable Sunday afternoon with a lady, threw on some clothes, and drove us to the emergency dental clinic. On our way home, he reminded me we're both Asians and I wasn't even to worry about gas money. I never saw folks from the Middle East as fellow Asians until then, but I got warm feelings all over, and that was the start of my being friendly with a whole bunch of folks from the very dry lands.

The tooth: because I was sipping on fast food milk shakes all day, they couldn't put me under,  so the three boys took me back on Monday for the deed.    

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Not Bad for One Afternoon

Last night I was shocked to discover it'd been one week since I finished my taxes and I haven't done much work. I've thought a little, I've drawn a tiny bit, and I looked at a warp, but I hadn't done anything. So this afternoon, I went downstairs and:

1) Tried to dye one last batch with the walnut husk solution, only to find it had mildewed in the recent heat! So I washed the urn, scrubbed it, rinsed it, then boiled clean water for a while to make sure it's clean and safe to store.

2) I focused on my priorities: I'm only halfway through with the invisible Log Cabin but I finally started weaving Tim's scarf. I have to free the big loom if I'm to do anything to exhibit. It'd been so long since I sampled and I couldn't make sense of my notes, but after one false start, I can weave roughly 21cm in one sitting of 15-20 minutes, so it'll take nine more sittings. Then there is Mama's scarf to go. I really don't want to take off this warp only to have to put it back on later, so I'll keep going.

3) I worked a little bit on "Professor, Father, Patient".  I need to do some reading before I can tell you about this one.

But it feels so good to be back on the loom bench.

Send Me Some Yarn

Yes, seriously. Please. It goes something like this.

Two years ago when I first conceived of a solo show called "What You See Is What You Get", one of the things I knew I would like to do was to have a wall filled with colorful A4 or A5 sheets of paper printed with what you would have sent me: a photo of your work, a photo of you if you like, one or two paragraphs of your musings on handweaving, your name, and your url of some kind if you've got one. Among other things, I wanted to appeal to the skeptics that friends on the Internet are as real, valuable, and beneficial as in-person ones.

But now that WYSIWYG has turned into a group exhibition, and I feel as though it has been taken over by those more experienced with exhibitions, (not a bad thing necessarily,) I've been thinking how I could incorporate/drag all of you in my part of the exhibition.

I'd like to ask you for one meter/one yard (and no more) of yarn/thread; it can be a yarn that best represents you, that you like the best, or a leftover from your last project.  Or something stuck on the back of your slippers. I'd like to incorporate all of them into one piece, and energy and sanity permitting, I don't want to "just" use them as wefts in a plain weave wall hanging, but hope to weave something a bit more considered. Maybe include the envelope/packaging in the piece.

So, will you?

Please send me one meter/one yard of yarn.  Please mail/post them to:

Meg Nakagawa
PO Box 1752
New Zealand

between now and June 30, 2012

At this time, all I can think of in return is I shall list your name, (of preference if you prefer not to use your real name,) in the title card that goes on the wall. Thank you for your help in advance.

* * * * *
Thank you for your contribution/donations; they are seen here in the order received.

Thank you, Kaz Madigan, Curious Weaver.
Thank you, Connie Rose, Constance Rose: Textiles and Mixed Media.
Thank you, Cally Booker, Cally Booker/Bonnie Claith.
Thank you, Mette Frøkjær, Mette Frøkjær.
Thank you, Margery Haber, She Treadles.
Thank you, Gaye Sutton, Gaye Sutton.
Thank you, Dianne Dudfield, Dianne's Loom Talk.
Thank you, Peg Cherre, Weaving a Gem of Life.
Thank you, Holly Haynes, Honeysuckle Loom.
Thank you, Sampling.
Thank you, Doni Chiesa, Doni's Deli.
Thank you, Kathryn Harmon.
Thank you, Judy Nolan, Fibres of Being.
Thank you, Sandy Gunther, Weaving Trails.

Thank you, JM, Spin it - Swatch it.
Thank you, Daniella Zeni Bomatter, zeni. l' atelier au presbytère.
Thank you, Rachel Beckman, Rachel Beckman.
Thank you, Dorothy Lumb, Dot's Fibre to Fabric.
Thank you, Mette Frøkjær.
Thank you, Nancy Sayer.
Thank you, Terri Bibby, Weaving a Life.
Thank you, Gail Gondek and Fog and members of New York Guild of Handweavers , NYC, and Jocky Hollow Weavers Guild, NJ.
Thank you, Esmae Emerson, Hope, New Zealand