Sunday, April 21, 2013

Good Luck / Questions

Unrelated to the software problem on Friday, Ben noticed the air compressor leaking. All we needed was a tiny rubber O-ring. We went to one hardware store, who didn't carry rings that small. On a whim Ben stopped by at a car parts shop; I don't go into this shop because the place smells like tire rubber. Anyhoo, Ben didn't come out for a long time, and when he did, he told me, "You got lucky!"

When Ben was in the rubber O-ring section, a clerk offered to help; the size required doesn't come on its own, but are included in some multi-packs, he said. So first they determined which multi-pack included it. Then, the clerk looked at three different places of their unsmall store because he knew there were already-opened packs and sure enough they found one. Said clerk proceeded to give Ben two O-rings. For free! Thank you, Supercheap Auto Stoke!

This good luck doesn't alleviate my anxiety about the software (?) problems. I bought the loom pretty much how I've got it set up; it is a retro-fit computer-controlled job with precarious software configuration and a black box and I don't have the wooden bits to revert it to a weaver-powered foot loom. So if, when, the software or black box really goes, it's going to turn into a big pile of nice wood. Sign.

My question is, do purpose-built computer-controlled looms have "unidentified" problems, such as stopping for no apparent reason and resurrecting without a clear/deliberate fix?

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I've got a few ideas about a commission warp. Mom asked me why I'm playing around with things I can't sell, but I have to be in the right frame of mind to make something I can put my name to. And there is one thing I have been wondering for some months. If I sell my work, especially to folks outside New Zealand, how important is it that I use New Zealand wool?

I have done pretty well selling my cashmere pieces, even though the yarns are a little pricey, because they are soft, light-weight, and because weavers in Nelson aren't weaving with cashmere. You know I really enjoy working with my colorful cotton threads, and they are affordable. Neither of these are New Zealand products.

I like weaving with good quality New Zealand merino, but these present a few obstacles: very good quality merino can be hard to find; they usually come in what we call 110/2 or 2/17-ish* only; they can be very expensive; and the color range is limited, (which shouldn't be a problem if/when I learn to dye.) And, well, I'm no longer actively looking for merino-with-scales-on any more.

It is also possible to weave with less good merino or not-merino of rougher texture. Pat has many colors of New Zealand Halfbred, (similar to fine Corriedale,) from a now-closed Auckland shop. I still use their reds and purples and the texture/hand works alright when used in combination with merino/silk/possum yarns I used to use;  Jo happens to have a bunch of these she wants to off-load. So if I want to push the New-Zealand-ness of my products, I have a reliable, less expensive option that is not only good for me but for Pat and Jo as well.

Presently, though, I have been working hard to reduce my stash and if I were to be honest I don't want to spend money on less-than-the-best yarns. You might say that in Nelson, among some people who know my work, I am known to use only the best material.  But I don't have a whole lot of good New Zealand yarns any more so I need to make up my mind soon-ish.

What do you think? I you were buying handwoven work from a New Zealand (or any other country) weaver, do you prefer she used New Zealand (or her country's) yarns? Or if the work is nice, would you not worry about where the animals lived or the plants grew?

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The dish towels are proceeding nicely. I love the combinations with not a lot of value/hue contrast, but with continued rain and florescent light right above me, they are harder, and at times more boring, to weave, so I go back and forth between pieces. I'll show them to you when I get the whole warp finished.

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We had a spectacular lighting and thunder show tonight; at times when the thunder struck our house shook and the chimney rattled. Elsewhere in the district there have been some floods and road blocks, but for now they don't appear to be that dire, fingers crossed; we'll find out more tomorrow morning.

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* Sorry, 17/2-ish.

5 comments:

  1. The national origin thing is very big here. 'Made in Scotland out of Scottish stuff' is very important to a lot of makers, and I guess it must matter to some customers too. However, the 'Scottish stuff' options are very limited if you take it seriously - our lambswool is great for tweed but anyone who finds wool the slightest bit scratchy won't like it in a scarf, say. The industry love to talk up 'Scottish cashmere' but of course it is only processed in Scotland, we don't have herds of cashmere goats roaming the glens. To be honest a lot of the wool processing is done elsewhere as well, but if the company is based in Scotland...

    Well, I find it all a bit tiresome to be honest. There's a nostalgia factor involved in the marketing - back to the good old days when everything was local kind of thing - and yet in the good old days everyone was trading internationally like nobody's business. For instance, Stuart & I just went to see a big exhibition in Edinburgh about the Vikings, who were clearly anything but locally minded when it came to trade. So my personal view is that I want to be responsible in what I use - supporting local businesses, minimising waste etc - but that I am not going to exclude any material from my repertoire because it isn't Scottish enough. Makes some folk eye me rather suspiciously, though!

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  2. Meg, if I had to limit myself to yarns from, let's say, DeWitt, New York, it would be a very sad day. I would consider you the draw. Whatever materials you use, your handwovens are distinctly, wonderfully you.

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  3. Try contacting John Accord about your computer interface. He's been working on getting 'old' CAD upgraded to new technology. If you are a member of WeaveTech, he's on there.
    cheers,
    Laura

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  4. I agree with the above, use whatever you like. The cachet of locally made from local stuff is timeworn in these global times. Besides which, as you've discovered re: NZ merino, you can't get the best stuff in NZ any longer -- it's all shipped elsewhere!

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  5. Thank you for your thoughts. I guess I kinda feel I owe it to New Zealand to use our wool since this is where I learned to weave, and WHEN I can get my hands on the good stuff, they are so very, very good. Which in turn causes me to be super cautious about less-than-best merino.

    Locally, the two galleries where I sell work cater to both Kiwis and visitors, and folks buying my stuff have been 2:1 in the visitors' favor; more so when Jay owned the Red Gallery. So then I start to suspect the New Zealand aspect is more important? I have tracked down some New Zealand and Australian merino processed in the West of Ireland and in Japan and have brought them back so I can say NZ&Oz, which is really a sad side of globalization.

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