Friday, February 28, 2014


The last warp, with two distinct red halves, had 484 ends at 24EPI, and there was no problem with broken warps with this draft.
The new one, with 420 ends, will be threaded at 21EPI, and I've shortened/flattened the draft. We'll see how it goes. It's the other draft that wore out the warp but I don't want to think about it yet.
The phone/camera/sunglass/pencil case fabric weaving is moving right along; low-stress selvedge, foot loom, (four treadles,) and I'm using a lightweight boat shuttle. Su-weeeeet.

* * * * *

I have so many tabs open on my browser I hesitate to link to something I haven't read, but a guest post by Laura Fry on wet finishing is something I know will be good. You know I'm always complaining about wet-finishing not being discussed enough? Well, read it.

As well, Laura has started a Weave like a Pirate "movement" for which she created a FB Group. I'm not sure where she's going with it, but here's sort of where it all started.

* * * * *

Some naked blokes sunning and drying in my living room while Ben's at work. Life is never boring.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spoiled by Good Merino and Cashmere

Antonio Carluccio always emphasizes, "good olive oil", which is how I feel about my best yarns.
I finished the red warp yesterday; the red piece is lovely, "typically yours," according to Ben. The teal piece that looks silvery in some light, well, it is warped because of the tension problem and has somewhere between two and 2000 broken warps to mend. It would have been a lovely piece for the galleries, but since I decided it's going to be mine, I wanted at least 150cm in length, (minimum around 175cm for merchandises,) and the last 20cm was really hard going, but it's off the loom.

I can't figure out why the first piece had lovely tension, and wove smoothly (in three or four days,) at 24EPI, while the second was a nightmare; both have longish floats sandwiching plain weave areas in about the same proportion. I'm too cross at the moment to figure this out but I need to as I'd like to weave with this heavenly Merino/Silk/Cashmere. 
This is me getting right back on the horse; same yarn but in two reds only; 420 ends, 4.25 meter, at 21EPI, I think. I'm going to rework my pillar drafts again, but I feel a little anxious proceeding without investigating why the two pieces in the previous warp behaved so differently.
Earlier in the week I wanted to weave but not tackle the sensitive warp, so I sampled the other red wool on the 4-shaft foot loom. I used to love this series of yarns; unusual for New Zealand back then, they came in gazillion colors, but too hard and scratchy for my liking as scarves and shawls. I wove about four long warps as practice and then when I was ready to start submitting to exhibitions and work on commission pieces, I switched to good merinos and possum/silk/merinos. But this yarn weaves reliable old-fashioned wool fabric, and I wanted to make some to sew later. Realizing this is a narrow warp, (six inches,) I thought perhaps I could get three tiny scarves instead using good yarns in the weft. I sampled in the weft the same wool, some other wools including bouclé, cashmere and the possum/silk/merino, but nothing worked.
Still undeterred, I started, twice, a scarf with cashmere weft, but I know it won't feel lovely and I'm having problems readjusting to the foot loom and getting good selvages. I'm stopping stop this silliness and weave a long fabric for such thing as... phone/camera/sunglass/pencil cases using weft from the same series.

It's been interesting getting reacquaint with my foot loom. I can develop a rhythm to the point I don't think of the treadling, (lovely!) but then sometimes my consciousness travels to imaginary places and when I return to earth I have to count the picks and sometimes unpick. With the computer-controlled, I can never develop a rhythm as I'm relying on the air compressor and the pumping mechanism, but I can drift away. Until the computer crashes, which it does once in a purple-orange moon. Then Armageddon ensues.

I'm finding weaving a six-inch wide warp difficult. I used to do mostly six inches and nearly-30 inches interchangeably, but lately I find somewhere between eight 25 easy to weave; that is, easy on the body. In future, when I want to weave very narrow pieces, I would be best doing this on the smaller table looms, I suspect.

I was watching a doco that had something to do with 1955, and the narrator said, "almost 60 years ago." I was born a few years after 1955, so I thought they had it wrong or I heard it wrong as 1955 cannot possibly be almost 60 years ago. Then, yesterday morning, the radio was saying something about 50 years and Muhammad Ali and I kept wondering how old he would have been in 1954 until Ben corrected  me.

I've always been ahead of  my chronological age; I stopped growing lengthwise when I was 10; my monthly visitor came and left very earlier; I had my first multi-focal lenses long before any friends of my age. That I'm overweight and don't like exercising don't help, and I get unduly influenced by older friend's health complaints; not quite a hypochondriac, but I spend much too much time bracing myself for the inevitable. Instead of exercizing.

This is how this round of coveting-a-leaner-meaner-loom resurfaced; it's in large part my curiosity about how a purpose-built computer-controlled loom works in terms of the weaver advancing the warp, the mechanism, the timing, the ergonomics. And while I'm upgrading, why not more shafts, right?

It won't last because looking back at my Dad's life I, too, prefer to go places and do things rather than buy stuff. And I've whittled away what Dad had given me over the years towards a new loom in workshops, exhibitions, and travels.

Oh, talk about "wasting" money, this is why I feel I have good reasons to worry about my mind: after I got the latest pair of glasses, they fixed my old pair's hinge for a nominal fee to keep as a backup. When I got it back, I look for a case, and I found two pairs of glasses I had completely forgotten about. I don't know how I convinced myself I did not have backup glasses for at least five years when I did, and since my prescriptions haven't changed much, in short, I didn't need to get a new pair but only the darned hinge fixed.

I know I keep saying I hate getting old, and it's true, but it's not going to get better, or I don't have to worry about it when it stops. So the sooner I get over myself, the better.

So, onwards to the looms.

* * * * *

Yesterday my older nephew, (my parents' first grandkid) turned 18; though I thought it was happening on Friday, my brother transferred the old house's ownership to the developers. I get that old folks have problems with changes; goodness, I am getting to be an old folk now.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Stuff happening on my looms, (notice, plural!!) but I need to understand what's going on, take pics and make decisions before I can post. Also, booked a big trip to Australia I want to share with you, but I need to sell quite a few pieces to justify this, which requires me to go back to the looms. A nice circle.

But here are a couple of things I did for the design study on the weekend; though not identical, I was very surprised how placing similar designs vertically vs. horizontally gave such different impressions. I drew a lot of base motifs and took photos of them, which is where the subtle shading came in. I cleaned up the motif shots and repeated them in different ways. Such a simple task, but oh-so satisfying.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Yikes, Again.

Friday drawing was OK. I've had this great idea for years and tried it out for the first time, but I need to change the size of the paper and/or think of how to move the sheet quickly so I can keep up with the class. The idea was to do a bunch of quick gesture drawing on one long sheet, so it looks like there are a lot of people at first, but they are all the same person, in the nude. (Sorry for the... sorry pic; this paper is perhaps 90cm high.)
Everybody loved the new model but she was covered in half-finished and seemingly unrelated North American tattoos and I kept feeling sick to my stomach. I didn't enjoy the session at all, which is too bad because she would have been a lovely model without the tats. 

Yesterday I took some rusty pics of the Refinery door. I  had the light spot on on a couple of these so I didn't have to tamper with saturation, which is always nice.I love the rust colors, though some of these parts were painted as well, I think. Just so you know.

EDIT: Maclean said: "...interesting how gradual decay can look so bewitching. We need to see ourselves that way!!!" I want to know how on earth one cultivates attitudes like that without redoing life as her child. Amazing. A-MAZING!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I'll probably get a short-but-proper-length of the teal-on-reds piece, but, man, is it trying my patience! If you count the minutes, I probably spent more fixing broken warps today than weaving. But I'm going to go as far as I can because this is a nice piece, albeit quite warped in places, and I can either use it as cloth in the event I start sewing with my cloths, or I'll wear it. 

Wanting to weave, though, I put on one of the five abandoned Friendship warp on the 4-shaft; my notes said 144 ends @ 3.25 meters, the spread sheet 114 @ 8, but there were 112 ends and who knows how long it is! I've always had trouble writing down numbers; I'm not dyslexic, but there's always been a disconnect somewhere between my brain, my hand, and my eyes, and I could recite the numbers you say but still write down rubbish.

And though I don't remember making this, the colors are the same setup as the one on my big loom, multiples of reds in two halves of orange-ish and pink-ish. 
Since it's on a foot loom, I'm going to combine these elements and make up as I go. I've used these exact yarns to weave this style, oh, so, many years ago and I liked them very much so it'll be a nice project. Fingers crossed, eh.

Tomorrow is drawing; Saturday our drawing exhibition meets. Good times.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Weaver Rebooted

Worked on this; there are still tension problems but decided to stay on course.
While listening to this; which included lyrics like, "Fill my boots up with sand, put a stiff drink in my hand. Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die," and "So I made her the queen of my double wide trailer, with the polyester curtains and the redwood deck," and the most memorable, "An' I like my women just a little on the trashy side."
Lined up all "work/experimental" warps in one place, because I kept wanting to make warps rather than to weave, this is like the horrible-lung pics on cigarette packaging. And don't they look unattractive put together, LOL. Personal/family warps are scattered around the stash room; I am aware of four, and sure hope that's all I've made, but I haven't actively looked. You know how it is; you go looking for one thing and find several other things you didn't know you were missing but not the one thing?
Gathered all the unfinished paper projects, (postcards, journals, and the design work kit,) on the kitchen table; they were scattered around the house to be looked at and considered and I forgot how many or the places I scattered. Easter eggs. The design kit refuses to live anywhere but the living room coffee table, however.

Noticed I'm missing a few things, not recently but over the last two years: among them is Mom's, the cute pink notebook from Jane, the purple and orange scarf from Joan, and an envelope of handwoven bookmarks from Rose. And possibly a scarf my friend Kate, brought back from her big trip to South America. My life was so hectic from Nov 2011 to Sept 2013; I know this because I wrote those long-delayed letters last week. I really can't remember much, but I think the temple is somewhere in the stash room with other stick-y things; the pink notebook is, I hope, in one of my bags/purses as I carried it around at one time not as a notebook but as a talisman; the rest, at different times I brought along to show other weavers/textilist, and I can only hope I didn't lose them. Yikes.

Decided not to worry about the garden until March at the soonest. Lights are definitely autumnal but still too hot and sunny; that's the story I'm sticking to. Because the red warp beckons.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Humble Pie

Wednesday and Thursday were write-offs; I couldn't concentrate and it took me two days to write/type a dozen letters, most of them replies to Christmas cards. I did the laundry and cleaned the kitchen and that was bout it. I wanted to collage and make warp and do design work but I felt unfocused. And frustrated.

But today was a good day.
* I went to Ronette's figure drawing class and we're going to do lots of gesture drawings this term;
* I got my spiffy new glasses, (ergo the post title; apparently they were done yesterday but someone forgot to ring me!!) and these are the lightest pair I've had in all of my glasses-wearing 39 years. Bliss. My prescriptions don't change much any more, so these will suit me fine for the next, oh, at least five years;
* I ran errands, but I resisted buying small cute things several times. I'm getting better at this;
* I went to the Refinery and spoke to Vicky and Roger, (art administrators,) and Lloyd, (painter); always lovely but today an amazingly productive talk with Lloyd about making in a short time;
* I went to bookshop and helped, with two of their staff, a woman look for her car keys; the poor woman had three world's most patient boys in the car, and she couldn't find her keys late Friday afternoon; in the end it was in her purse, but she got a whole lot of sympathy from us all! And then I got to talk to Stella about our making, projects, artists needing company of other artists, etc. I love her; she's so intelligent, interesting, and lovely.
* Ben came to get me; I'd forgotten my phone at the bank, so staff there rang Ben, he picked it up, then came to get me. He knows where I am late Friday afternoons - this bookshop, or the veggie store.

The weaver is back. In all her forgetful glory!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Life. Eh.

Or, "aye"; there have been some discussions on how we should spell that little tail Kiwis and Canadians add at the end of conversational sentences. We even use it as a complete sentence to mean, "Pardon?", "You're kidding!", or "Surely, you agree!!", depending on the accent.

Far more intriguing for us has been "ne", used in both Maori and Japanese, in the same vein as "eh" but a little stronger solicitation of agreement/common understanding, perhaps. The two languages are not related, but the sound systems are similar, so there are a lot of words that sound the same but mean different things. (Can I call them homonyms if they come from different languages?) "Kai" is seashells in Japanese, food in Maori, for e.g. But "ne" is used in the identical way.

Two paragraphs to explain my title; I do miss the name of my late blog, "Not a Woman of Few Words", but not blogging about my one life in two different places.

* * * * * 

The good news is the eyeglass frame arrived at the optometrist this morning; four weeks and one day instead of two weeks for tiny pieces of metals. They said I can expect my glasses on Friday, but I have my money on Monday. The bad news is Ronette's figure drawing resumes this Friday morning, and though I'm less worried about looking geeky with masking-taped glasses, I get very tired concentrating on looking at anything for too long. I'm going to be exhausted. She has to let me draw on big A1 sheets.

I hadn't realized how sedentary my life had become in this time. I knew it took me much longer to do anything, even regular housework, because I move slowly to prevent tripping or knocking things. Yesterday I started making the gray warp, (amazing how much of that I do by feel; the only time I looked was when I counted,) and about 3/4 of half a warp though, my back started aching and back upper leg muscles tightening. How lame is that?

This is a new-to-me yarn, (and from memory, mill-ends my regular source got hold of; it's not on their regular menu,) 2/72, 18.2 micron merino, in gray and navy blue. I've admire and touched these cones for some years but being much finer than any other wool I've handled, I was scared to work with them. The gray felt a bit dusty and itchy while I measured the warp, (almost as if it has a bit of mohair in it,) but this morning, the relaxed warp chain is luxuriously soft and has that wet Meirno feeling I like.

I've been sick of working so I started making my standard 8m warp. I had a terrible time winding it around a ruler and counting, (so darn fine and delicate!), and after three tires, I got an average of 42EPI for plain weave. But while actually winding the yarn around the pegs on the board, I knew this wasn't anywhere close enough, this yarn felt and looked much skinnier than my 2/20 cottons which I weave at 42. I dunk a short length of both in warm water and left to dry and at least in that crudest of tests the cotton fluffed up much better than the merino, so switched to 48EPI. And the more I handled the yarn, the wider the piece in my mind became, so I decided 24 inches/roughly 60cm on the loom, 1152 ends. Even if I change the sett, I will get pieces between 55-65cm wide. I think it's going to be some kind of a swirly advancing/retreating twill threading but I have too many ideas for the weft.
On, in the middle of this operation, my beloved calculator finally gave out after 23 years; the numbers can be seen at a strangest angle and only sporadically.

* * * * *

After we put some of the junk that usually sits at the head of our bed, I wasn't sure if the cloth I showed you yesterday needed to be lengthened, so I'm sleeping some more on that. But I remembered something this morning that I knew last week but forgotten over the weekend; the lower pair of clips where the bottom dowel is supposed to clip on if I wanted to "open" the shade might be too high for me to reach.

Oh, dear.

* * * * *

I slept through the night without waking up once last night, a first in, oh, I don't remember how long. I was stunned when the clock radio woke me up; refreshed, not tired, and stunned. Like it was the first time I ever woke up. The aforementioned exercise plus the shower at the end of the day rather than one in the morning must have tired me enough and relaxed me. It's a no brainer, but I forget this too often; exercise by weaving and a shower late in the day is my normal life, but I hadn't done it amidst the Sketchbook Project/tax/glasses hoo-hah.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014


A week ago, Annie came bearing more gifts. Sorry, I had to have a taste before I took the picture. I love that she makes her goodies with less sugar than called for, leaving the fruits' natural tanginess.
Over six hours, we took her first piece off the rigid heddle, (it's a wearable-art sort of a scarf,) discussed finishes, fringed, wet-finished, pressed and left it to dry. Then she planned her second piece, I made a calculation mistake, (forgot to halve the number of time a yarn went around one inch!) I gave her enough hints so she could come up with her numbers, she selected warp colors and we arranged and rearranged the balls/cones while we ate lunch, she started measuring the warps, in six colors, made the final arrangement while measuring the warp, I noticed my calculation mistake in time and she forgave me, and we put the warp on the loom.

It is a rigid heddle loom, but we made and put on the warp the traditional way, so she can dress any loom, but later we discussed the method that was in her booklet.

I meant to take a picture of her and the new warp and the first piece, but we were quite engrossed in the work, and I forgot. So sorry.

I really enjoyed the two sessions I had with Annie, and getting to know her, talking about weaving and textiles and seeing a young intelligent person get excited about our craft. But she is moving to Wellington before the end of the month so we'll have to catch up when I get up there or when she visits her folks down here.

Still, I'm not sure about me teaching. I really panicked when I realized my mistake, and I hate teaching new weavers the wrong thing to start with!
EDIT: Annie and her new warp, courtesy of Annie and her photographer. Right now she is "figuring out whether I want to go loud or subtle and how the colours change with one another." Fabulous.

* * * * *

The pièce de résistance mentioned yesterday is this resist/indigo-dyed cloth from, I think, somewhere in Japan, but I could be wrong. For ages I wanted to do exactly this, (our bedroom was painted indigo mere weeks after we moved in,) but later I had this idea we had to have a curtain rod matching the rest of the house so I didn't get around to it. Ben thought I might want it made into a proper Roman blind but the cloth is thick and quite a bit longer than what yo see and I didn't want it cut.
So I devised a simple plan. We bought wood and clips, Ben cut and painted them, I made the casings, and we hung it. We can't open it easily to let light in when we want to read in bed weekend mornings, (the lower dowel clips on to the bottom pair of ... clips, still the cloth still covers over half of the window,) but it will provide extra insulation in the winter.

The cloth is not warped but too much steam-pressing on a smallish ironing board and being draped over said board to dry during a humid weekend made the edges extra wavy. The cloth and dowels are likely to come down for Ben to touch up the paint work and for me to loosen the bottom casing, and move up the top casing so more of the cloth will show. We're still deliberating.

But we are pleased with homey look, not just the cloth but the homey way we hung it, I think, especially when the the big window shade on the right is down and the reading lights are on. (The pale blue pillow cases look bluer then, too.)

* * * * *

I am so sick of not weaving I'm going to make at least one warp today. I'll worry about such trivial issues as EPI, width and drafts later, (and predictably regret such a rash move loudly,) and just make it.

Monday, February 10, 2014


Not Dr Gregory, but the structures in which we live.

Family on my mother's side has a thing for houses. Grandpa liked building new homes and moving, though a lot of that was necessitated by the war and his large household; two cousins studied interior design; one uncle is an architect; at different times I wanted to study both I even took two terms of architectural drafting in high school, a great departure from my strictly-academic path; it was my senior year and I knew nobody in class.

I grew up watching Mom plan an extension to our old house, the whole of the "new" house, (the one she left last month,) and several modification to it. I never wanted a mansion,  but something that fit me; sparse, enough storage and a personality. We did well in our first, tiny apartment done up mostly in blueish gray, as minimalist as we could manage but almost totally in my taste.

Over the years I had three friends whose houses in Nelson I seriously envied; all belonged to single female friends, two professional makers, another an avid traveller. None of the houses were out of the ordinary, one was rather modest, and nobody spent a fortune decorating them, but all three had personality of the women who loved them and lived in them. (As a student in the US in the70's, I've also seen some lovely mansions and how money, and TLC, can make them visually pleasing, but as I get older I don't mind so much about luxury, but much more about personality and comfort.)

I tried to study how they did it, but look as I did, I couldn't emulate them. At one point I hung a lot of cloths Mom bought on her travels for me, to the point the house started to look a little like one friend's house, but it still didn't feel like mine. I still haven't found a way to make my house feel like my home, and I don't even have a comfy chair of my own.

Ben has, for a guy dare I say, a lot to say about the house and furniture. No pink, no ribbons, no floral, iffy even about leaf motifs. Ostensibly we agree on everything; we talk it out and go with what makes sense to us both. Sometimes his choices make such good sense I can still point them out years later. But Ben is no minimalist, and as you know I've accumulated a lot of stuff, and after 17 years and 17 days at #44, even though I've lived here longer, by far, than any place before, I'm still waiting this to feel like home.

Earlier on I tried keeping this place super duper clean at all times to appeal to that fanatic side of me. Then I tried leaving stuff out. Ben has never been a tidy person, so after 10 years with him, five years in this house, it was easier to not fight him on this, and it did relieve me of angst. Then I become a certified acutely-anxious/depressed person and started to stock stuff, mostly household cleaning products, soups, shampoos moisturizers, and books and yarns. And I started this "minimum cleaning" regime.

I got over the worst of the depressed episodes around three years ago, and I started cleaning again, but never with as much gusto as I used to, or as often. Other than books, art supplies, and yarns, I don't overstock anything any more; Ben hoards cameras and lenses but they're not so out of proportion. The alterations and new stuff we bought started to look a little old some years ago, and we are older and lazier, so the house is never as clean or tidy as I like. Some days I feel frustrated but on occasion I feel downright angry. I don't feel comfortable in this place.

The problem is not so much the difference in our tastes, though I had to learn to live with greens after I saw how they suits Nelson's light. Do I give in to his wishes too much? Do I indulge him? Yes, I think so, though not always. But the real problem maybe my two different preferences: an absolute minimalist on one hand, (oh, to live in a polished concrete box! To live in an art-gallery-in-between-exhibitions!!) and the cottage-y, floral chintz, frills and nooks, my own witch's cubbyhole. Anything but this in-between, no style, no personality, always-temporary mess. (And an average house built in the early 1960's hardly does do much on its own.)

I think my design/stash room was supposed to be that, my escape place, and it's my own fault it's not. But I've felt so indecisive, so overburdened and so helpless, I've felt devoid ideas for several years. Except to hurry and use my stash.

I'm not grumpy. Or depressed. Just a little removed from myself and my own life due to the wonky vision due to the broken eyeglasses; it's coming up four weeks now. 

* * * * *

It wasn't in an effort to remedy my house turmoil so much but to not do nothing over long weekends that we moved some pictures, put up some new ones, and finally, finally, installed Ben's picture rail after years of deliberation, in the last few days.
He's still working out the balance, the weight, and the types of photos he wants to hang this week/month/season.
This is one of the two rather large Plexiglas (30cm x 90cm, or roughly 1' x 3;) on which Ben had his photographs printed. The other is of a blue/purple/pink sunset over the sea, placed inside the study, but this one has very strong oranges and dark grays and we did not know where to place it. In fact, we did not realize we had no strong colors on our walls until this weekend. I figured it would have to be on a big wall, and somewhere we can stand back, so I chose here. This will be the first thing you will see when you walk into the house from the front door, or come from downstairs through the garage and the studio. I can even see it in the corner of my eye making a cup of tea in the kitchen.

Normally I would have gone nuts unless we washed the walls on which new things were to go up first, but it was too hot and humid this weekend so we just wiped the area. Kinda. Which, you know, makes the dirt more visible. 

But my pièce de résistance, another of Mom's presents, had to wait until the paint dried so it's going up tonight.

Friday, February 7, 2014

We, Weavers, of Such Lowly Order...

My frames are still in transit 3 weeks and two days on; the current old glasses are driving me batty, reducing my work productivity to nil, my housework capacity to 50-70%, and ballooning my junk food consumption by about 200%. And reading at around, oh, about the same.

Vincent has left prostitute Sien, escaped to Drenthe, but finding conditions too difficult, escaped yet again to his parents' house, now in Nuenen, where he seems to have had a shouting match with his father almost daily. He drew/painted weavers with his usual gust. Naifeh and Smith, Van Gogh: The Life, pp. 380-1:

"The weavers may not have suited Vincent's artistic struggle, but they perfectly suited his larger struggle. In Dorus and Anna's [his parents'] book of bourgeois bogeymen, weavers ranked with peddlers and grinders as rootless men of unconventional habits and unaccountable means. "[One] was not quite sure," wrote Eliot in Silas Marner; "that this trade of weaving, indispensable though it was, could be carried on entirely without the help of the Evil One." Within the Van Gogh family, weaving was considered "unhealthy" and "harmful," according to sister Lies. Weavers in Nuenen were seen abroad only at Sunday dusk - not a time for decent people to be out - when they came to exchange the past week's linen for the next week's yarn. Pale, spectral figures (Eliot called them "alien-looking men"), they usually traveled alone. Dogs barked at them. Rumor and legend attached to them. By the 1980s, labor militancy among weavers all over Europe had reinforced these old superstitions with new suspicions of political agitation and social insurgency.

"Vincent no doubt taunted his parents, just as he taunted Theo, with descriptions of his daily visits to the homes of these disruptive agents: of their "miserable little rooms with the loam floors" and the strange, "disgusting" apparatus that filled their houses with noise day and night. "They are but poor creatures, those weavers." If Dorus and Anna raised objections, he no doubt shouted them down, as he did Theo: "I consider myself absolutely free to consort with the so-called lower orders." As if to underscore the argument, at mealtimes he brought his paintings into the parsonage dining room and propped them on the chair opposite, defiantly inviting the weavers to his parents' table. "Vincent is still working with weavers," Dorus lamented after months of such incitements. "It's a shame that he wouldn't rather do landscapes."

Earlier in the week the screaming drama and escalating languages of Vincent and the authors when Theo tried to break up Vincent and Sien were approaching shrieky hysterical; is there no end to the hilarity to this book? And where is my Evil One??

Monday, February 3, 2014


It's been a slow weekend. We had no junk food in the house, so we've been munching on fruits, watching docos I recorded in Japan. But it's true what they say, time passes quicker as you get old; it takes three days for me to feel like we had a proper weekend.
I've started working on the design book a little. If anyone is still interested, it is not too late; here's what you do:

1) You have to have/create a Flickr photo blog account.
2) Find us here, or place your cursor on the search slot, select "Groups", type "Weavers and Designers", search.
3) On our Group page, a portion of the textbook cover appears in the the banner and below are tabs Photos, Members, Map and About. Photos tab will show nothing until you join; Members tab will show you member icons; Map tab, nothing; and About describes what you're getting into.
4) Click on the blue "+ Join Group" strip. Flickr will ask you to read the rules, but after that it's automatic. After you join, you will also see the Discussions tab. Photos and Discussions is where things are happening and are invisible to non-members.
5) First upload photos on to your Photostream, then You => Organize, select the photos you want to share with the group, then Send to Group, select our group. To read/join discussions, click on the tab, select the topic, or create one.

The rest, you get out what you want to, and to a degree, what you put in.

* * * * *

I've been looking at the postcards I sent Ben while I was away. It's almost striking, because I work on them, send them, and forget about them, and even though I can recall working on each one, I don't remember each card. Though I think some look nicer than others, I didn't really strong feelings about them. Today I like some more than others.
Yesterday Connie posted the ones I sent her, and likewise I was surprised; hers are colorful and vibrant and I actually like them, belatedly.

But these aren't propelling me to weave. I've decided this is OK until I get my new glasses.

Meanwhile, Annie is coming tomorrow morning. I will have some weaving powwow, at least.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Long Weekends

I've been annoyed/bothered/irked by the current eyeglass situation. Because of my special needs, (very bad eyesight requiring thick lenses, even with the latest technology, and more crucially, wide and flat face, almost no bridge of the nose, even for a Japanese,) I have to be patient; my new frames has to come from Austria, which was supposed to take two weeks, but as of last Thursday, two weeks and one day after the order was placed, it still hadn't arrived at Nelson. This next week, Monday and Thursday are public holidays, so I am ever hopeful but if I don't get them before Feb 10, c'est la vie.

It's nice, though, that Ben is home a lot and we can do things together. Perhaps a trip to the nearby beach to take photos. Or cooking up a delicious meal. 

Still, I live in this murky world of the too-bright sun, constant squinting, and trying to keep my right eye shut as that is the lens that is so out of whack. It's not conducive to much activity, weaving and gardening least of all, so I have done some routine housework and listened to the TV besides reading the latest van Gogh biography most of the week.

This latest, (Naifeh and Smith,) is interesting, and new, in that it puts the idiosyncrasy that is Vincent van Gogh the man squarely on Vincent. Presumably authors who undertake to write Vincent books like him or at least admire his paintings, which result in many putting the onus of his difficulties with the world, at least in part, on mental illness, his family history thereof, his mother's detachment especially in the aftermath of the stillbirth of the first Vincent who was born exactly a year before "our" Vincent, the lack of understanding by those who could have helped him, or the expected behavior of his class/time.

This book places the responsibility on him, at least it doesn't let him off the hook due to any of these "reasons". It cites the extreme class consciousness of the Dutch of mid/late 19C, and his family, especially his mother's, eagerness to keep up with the Joneses. But even for his times, even to Theo, Vincent was old-fashioned in his love of sentimentality and the idea the best-of-times has passed; at least during his second The Hague period, he turned away from Theo's repeated invitation to look into Impressionism; that he did not think what was happening in Paris was not one of the most exciting in the history of painting, while he doggedly stuck to figure drawing and engraving after the illustrations in English magazines.

It goes further to say Vincent put reality into his own categories to make it easy to interpret other's reactions or to justify his. Visually it came when he read an article by German engraver Horkomer, working in England, claiming there are physical features or types specific to social class and occupation, and attempted to categorize them; Vincent tried to compile a similar catalogue in The Hague, using a small pool of models, changing their costumes and poses. Apparently. (Vincent was a hypocrite in this way; though he claimed the highest form of art depicted real people in real lives, for whatever his difficulties, during this period, he artificially created his "real" depictions inside his studio.)

Likewise he hung on to catch phrases/mottoes as shorthand for his interpretation of the world around him or for his concepts. One of the most famous is "she, and no other" signifying an ideal woman who would being children, balance and an anchor to his, and Theo's, life and pretty much make all bad things go away. I would go as far as saying he used these "copies" to try to shape the world according to his demands/wishes.

I've not yet made a concentrated effort to read all his letters, as the only resource I have is online and I can't read the screen for very long, especially with the wonky glasses. I know authors use whatever convenient passage or phrases they find in his letters to suit the points they want to make. However, I'm cringing at the prospect because he sounds like a really unlikable fellow, many would say despicable, and his vehement/relentless self-justification reminds me of how I viewed my difficulties with my dad. I will have to go there sometime.

Meanwhile, I also read Chapter 2 of the design book one and a half times, and parts of it puzzles me. As with this van Gogh book, I'm faced with a new problem, having to read the same passage several times. Whereas in the past several decades, I read without taking in the meaning, similar to reading out loud; I know how the words are pronounced so I utter them our loud but it's not the same as my understanding what I'm read. Lately, however, I read a passage, a complete sentence/thought, but it doesn't make sense so I go back to find I made up something totally different from what was in print. It feels too similar to some old folks not really listening to what is being said and making things up sub/unconsciously; a little too scary to dwell on.

Meanwhile, (not good form to start two consecutive paragraphs with the same word, but what the hey,) I got so tired of not making all week, so on Friday morning I got out some collage material; after finishing mundane things I didn't have to Friday morning, I finally got on to work.

They are my favorite kind; mental-health/unintentional/anyting-goes collages at various stages of done-ness, postcards and envelopes. I like some outcomes better than others, but I like working on them; I believe they exercise some part of my brain without my knowing which or how.