Saturday, July 30, 2016

Weaverly Stuff

I forgot to tell you Mom's good news: Mom's second weaving teacher Mrs T so enjoyed Mom's exhibition she came out of a decade of retirement and resumed lessons in May. Or June. Or April? On odd week Wednesdays Mom teaches at home, and on even week Wednesdays she gets advice on her own projects from Mrs T. Mom's enthusiastic as ever, bursting with ideas. What's better, from the old house to Mrs T's house took nearly two hours on two train lines; now it's three or four stations on one.

I was bi+ching and moaning to Dianne about how hard it's getting to buy good NZ merino at an affordable price. That's all I got on the subject; it's hard, and we've no solutions as yet.

I'd been in consultation with a client about a toddler blanket for eight months because I couldn't find good pale/mid grays around 16/2. I can find plenty of charcoals, but we wanted a mid- and pale grays, or light gray with undyed/white. I dug into my stash, where there were a few good grays but not enough of any for a blanket. Although Japan does a variety of inviting grays, they were out of our budget. I checked NZ sources but found nothing I liked except one I used to use, now twice the price.

So we talked some more and decided to look into finer yarns, (i.e. thinner/less cushy than the others blankets; it's the same grandma and this is toddler blanket #5!) and/or mixed with other fibers, but not mohair, and not textured yarns. I made a merino/mohair warp, (shhhhh, don't tell her yet; I know this particular yarn works like shiny merino that doesn't full as much,) intending to use charcoal Possum/Merino/Silk in the weft.
I checked around one last time, widening, (or thinning,) the scope of my search and found a perfect mill-end (?) pale-to-mid gray marled 28/2 merino of the softest kind. I must now elongate the design as the skinny weft flattens the motif, but this is going to be a lovely piece very much to my taste, and I believe to hers. (The undyed is whiter in real life.)
I also made a two-taupe New Zealand Crossbred warp as an alternative, unsure if I had enough for a blanket. This yarn is coarse unless woven with very cushion-y weft, and would have worked well with the charcoal P/M/S. Turned out I didn't have enough, but I remembered every time I weave double-width, (i.e. her blankets,) I want to try two layers with stitching, so I'm making a slate-and-black warp of the same yarn to play with stitching. Although... Who knows when I'll get my head around two-layers-with-stitching drafting. (The picture is straight, but the warping board leans on the wall.)

While gazing at stitching drafts way after Insomnia O'clock, I found an article on cutting (?) eyelashes on combination single/double-layered cloth. (Schlein, Alice, "Raising Eyelashes", The Best of Weaver's: The Magic of Double Weave, Interweave, pp.95-97.) You know I'm no good with words explaining weaving, but it appears once the cloth is woven we cut the double-layered part to create eyelashes. The example had diamond shapes surrounded by continuous bands of eyelashes. I would have thought cutting around the diamonds would have given us a bunch of little diamonds with frayed edges, but no, magically the cloth remains in tact. Well, blow me away!

Don't ask me why but while flummoxed by the eyelashes, I wondered what shadow weave in complementary colors would be like, with one yarn being much thinner than the other like a real shadow. This one is easy, but I have almost 30 ready-made warps now so I'll wait a wee bit before I whip up a few of these.

I was intrigued by a picture of the piece on the cover of Nov/Dec 2015 Handwoven I saw on Facebook, so I promptly bought a digital issue. It's a plain-weave-based pickup using a variegated weft, and the author mentioned Technique of Freeform Design by Nancy M. Searles, a book I'd never heard of. So I Googled, and what do I find but Kaz writing it about it two years ago. She thought I'd enjoy the book so I bought it and now am waiting. It's been a while since I bought weaving mags/books so this is exciting.

This all happened not in since I last posted by slowly over the winter. I'm enjoying the current inability to focus but not feeling guilty jumping from one idea to another and not worrying about discarding. It's been over a month since I got on meds and that's definitely working this last week, so every morning I've faced the conundrum of giving up my sloth life and generating output. Reading all morning in front of the fire has been hard to give up, especially on cold or rainy mornings. I've been reading.
Albeit slowly, stash-busting is happening. Although sometimes it's a bit forced, my cone tower is growing taller.
And because this post has been devoid of colors, here's my wee beetroot forest in the kitchen. It's about the only "gardening" I've done in, oh, six or so weeks but the colors are so cheerful.

Happy slow days.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Even Boldrick Had a Plan

It's been a... tedious winter; I think that's the adjective that fits best. Gardening helps depression but tires me out and aggravates joint pains; many days I can't concentrate or settle down, but some days mindless menial jobs are OK. I've been living by ear, as it were, but it's been a mild one this time around so I'm not that despondent.

I haven't gardened for four or five weeks. (I stopped initially because we had ten days of much-awaited serious rain within any 24-hour period, after which I noticed my hips didn't hurt!) I've woven a little. Watched a lot of docos online. And I read a lot of short stuff on so many subjects. Today's title was a comment on Facebook on a Brexit articles. :-D

The gray warp was meant to be a double-width baby blanket, but at 18EPI per layer, the singles were too sticky. Being already 71cm wide on the loom, (slightly too wide to weave comfortably/confidently,) I couldn't resley, so I gingerly wove the top layer, cut it off, and wound back the bottom layer, to get wide-ish ordinary pieces. It's still slow, sticking weaving, but I can't believe I used to weave 74-76cm wide as a default.
Olive green possum/merino/silk weft. It's a dark, overcast day today but under halogen lights the colors look pretty accurate on my screen. Off the loom but not washed.
Coarser gray variegated wool in the weft, this is a warp-end fabric, possibly for yet another bag. But sampling shows it's soft enough for either the front or back bodice of a rugged vest. Off the loom but not washed.
A Christmassy piece currently on the loom. Donno why this particular one is so slow going.

The bigger problem has been sourcing good light-to-mid-gray wool at a reasonable price. And I don't skimp on quality so I'm not looking for cheap stuff, but some of the prices are now well out of my reach.  I've looked in New Zealand and Japan, but they were too fine/ridiculously expensive/charcoal not light-mid/old-fashioned coarse. In fact I've started dreading sourcing good affordable wool of any kind some time ago, even in small amounts to help stash reduction. I need to research again, preferably NZ wool, but lucky I've got so much stash, eh.

It dawned on me very recently that one reason I don't feel excited about my weaving could be twill: because unless I set out to use another structure, I default to straight-forward twill. This is so automatic the connection didn't even occur to me until I was blessed with the kind of empty-headed-ness that comes with depression. So I've been auditioning other structures, picking up books, gazing at pictures and drafts, and putting them down. That I can't concentrate and read anything in depth in this case doesn't bother me at this stage. I tend to live with weave structures for a while so I can take time cultivating a good relationship. Although for me, for the purposes of the sort of things I make, it is hard to beat twill. I think.

No structure stands out for now, for 16 shafts in particular, but I was fascinated to see many variations of four-shaft drafts using tie-up of 1-3. 2-4, 1-2 and 3-4. I hope I can find them again.