Sunday, October 15, 2017

Facebook Page and More on the Red Piece

I should be weaving but instead I'm in the kitchen tidying up loose ends, like contacting all the friends I mean to contact in Japan setting up lunches and dinners, and telling the Health Insurance broker here, so sorry, I couldn't get around to understanding the guff in the month since we met, but can we revisit in Dec/Jan as we are keen to switch. I think I'm also regurgitating not exactly the conversations but the gists from yesterday. Plus, Rosie is coming over to look at hellebores in situ, (in seriously cold spring gale,) before taking seedlings away, and no doubt there will be some more good talk.

After I got over the initial, "you're asking me too much details," stage, I managed to resurrect a MegWeaves Facebook page. All I intended to do at this time was to post about the current sale, plus some pics. But like when you're cleaning the attic, the picture folders were a rabbit's hole and it was interesting to look back on not only what I made, (and I had forgotten about so many,) but how much effort I put into photographing them, and how few I've saved in the last few years.  

My thoughts were: a) the kind of things I make have become somewhat samey, I knew this, and it could be seen as focused, but this was suspicion confirmed; b) though I've always been a "planner", there used to be more unknowns earlier in my making and wonder if it means I'm not stretching myself enough; c) another confirmation; I was once better technically not that long ago, and I wonder if it's because I'm getting older, or just less fit, or something else, but I still need to develop a look that covers bad techniques. And I have a couple of ideas/plans, like the "tapestry technique" I've been going on about. 

Anyway, some of the recent tidying up, like culling yarns, inventorying ready-made warps and looking at pics have certainly helped bringing into sharper focus my past and present, and that's got to be a good thing. 

Feedback on the page will be most appreciated. 

* * * * * 

Friday night after the first sitting with the latest red piece, I looked at the cones/balls of red cashmeres and suddenly wondered if I used the wrong weft. You know those dreadful moment of doubt grabbing you at the most awkward timing. 

I chose a blue-red because that's cashmere/silk and that tiny 30% silk causes the slight contrast in the sheen against the 100% cashmere of the warp, lifting the design just that little bit. It's also more urban/grown-up, fitting Tokyo where the sun tends to be slightly filtered even on the clearest days. (Although, I would say there have been marked improvements in the 20-odd years since we left, visible when we land at Narita. It could also mean reduction in manufacturing, but that's for another day.) And lastly, this red is more harmonious with gray, black and navy, which are, along with camel brown, the most standard colors of winter coats when I lived there; not always true with increases in Goretex-like jackets now, though. Anyway, overall, the best match. 

But I remembered saying I'd have another 20/2 color for weft after I finish this piece, which would have been a slightly yellower red, and I knew I talked about the weft selection before, so I checked, and yes, I was weaving with the right yarn, the same red as in the half-width stripes on both sides, but the cashmere/silk mix version.


Say, I wonder if she'd like glass beads in the fringes. 


We delivered the yarns to the Hospice Shop this morning. I feel relieved. The lot contained a small cone of possum/merino/silk, but in burgundy. That is oh-so my mom's color and I don't think I ever liked it much but sure used a lot because that was what was available. And probably because I thought it's a grown-up color and I have to like it. Maroon, wine, whatever you call it, I think I'll be OK if I never use it for the rest of my life. But I can change mind, too.

* * * * *

When I travel, I always have the intention to at least work on if not finish a project. Sometimes it's only book. Lately it's been a diluted version of those fabulous travel diaries/journals folks seem to create. Sometimes I just aimed to gather enough visuals and ephemerals so I can assemble later. (I have large, fat envelopes by the art supplies.) In more ambitious times I brought sketchbooks intending to draw those fabulous architectural/cityscape drawings folks seem to bring back from their trips. The best I did was at Nelson Airport before we left for Melbourne in June; I was happily doodling away and thought I'd get through a tiny handmade concertina book I made specially. Except I brought the wrong pen and it started to run out of ink even before we boarded and I felt disgusted I didn't think to get another pen. Any old black felt-tip pen. 


I knew I'd be busy on my last trip to Japan so I was wise enough not to plan anything. (Although I did come back with some ephemerals, I've used up most in LJ swap collages instead of stuffing another  guilt envelope.) But I seem to be so energized nowadays I keep coming up with project ideas, e.g.:

* Drawing/doodling in small sketchbook/s;
* A "visual clue book", a notebook full of color and shape and motif inspirations instead of a travel-based scrapbook as a diluted but doable alternative;
* Working on some kind of a photographic project. This one gets bigger and bigger in my head;
* A writing project that's been in the periphery of my mind for months and among all else this can be on-going.

These in addition to any number of books/audiobooks I hope to finish. (I'm leaving home my portrait project in an A3 sketchbook. I hope to get enough done before I go, and then catch up later.) And I know at best I might work on the project a few times in the three and a half weeks while I'm away. The photographic and writing projects are so seductive, so far ambitious/greedy has been batteling against sensible/satisfaction-of-completion. 

Or. I can have no project. But that feels like not living life fully, such a missed opportunity after 11 months of lul. 

* * * * *

I went to the Red Gallery to meet up with Maria and Alison, and although we only had a short time, it was lovely. We already set up our December (I hate to call it) meeting. It was also the second time I went to the Red since Jay left five and a half years ago. It's doing super well, although to me it feels like a design store combined with arty nick nacks, though very nice nick nacks. 
These were some of their large and colorful Latvian blankets, but scratchy as anything.

Maria and Ben and I had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. (Just this morning I realized more than half of my friends are vegetarian, and Ben and I thought, of all the places we knew the Vietnamese on Hardy Street probably offered the best quality at very affordable prices; Maria confirmed any Asian restaurants offered a number of good Veg options.)  I've been skirting around the idea of asking her help to develop two or three nice ideas/patterns for bags made with my handwoven cloths, but then the discussion went on to practical vs. unique vs. something more and she's coming over to help me clarify my options before I go to Japan. I also need to make a list of practical things I'd like to learn from her. 

Ben and I then barged into Volume after 3 and I continued (!) the discussion with Stella and Thomas, that I'd probably have to try Auckland or Queenstown if I want to sell more, vs. loyalty to Little Old Nelson, vs. outlets other than/in addition to the Suter. (With their new format, the Suter shop has turned into a real "shop", and I've lost all my allies in the last couple of years there, Andrea, Anna and the volunteers, so I need rethinking.) In terms of making, rather than sensible/practical weaving I could sell at lower prices than before, I've been contemplating ridiculously labour-intensive, (Thomas' words,) pieces and changing a fortune for each and/or focus on exhibitions, submitting, not setting up my own. Stella said we'll keep talking about this, and we left in good time for them to close shop at 4.

Except Volume closes at 3 on Saturdays. They didn't tell me; I found out on their FB page this evening.


To increase exposure and the chance for more sale, I played around with Instagram, as was recommended by a few folks, for a few hours last night but you can't post from a laptop. There is a convoluted trick that can trick Instagram into thinking this is a phone, which Ben and an Australian friend currently in France figured out for me, and/or Ben said I could use his tablet or phone, but I got so impatient and, you know, some things just don't feel worth it. So I deleted the account in less than 24 hours. Maria, on the other hand, raved about using Pinterest as a digital bookmark/scrapbook, and Ben thought she made so much sense, so I now have a Pinterest account, again, with six images.

The Venerable Grandma was happy with the blankets. I might even reach a four-figure income by the end of the year; 1%ers, here I come. Although as I told Stella and Thomas, I tend to invest in my "business" long before I sell.


Or hopeless.

2.30AM. I wonder if I can sleep with all these lovely ideas, images and conversations massaging my gray matters.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Yay, Friday the Thirteenth

The wobbly draft as seen a few posts ago.
The sample. The weft is in one of the reds, same fiber content as the purple. Treadling is tromp as writ, and since I just finished threading, it's not hard. Except, see the plain weave in the purple area? I was listening to yet another superb Richard Ford vid, twice in a row, and I lost my place. I'm thrilled I can see the wobbliness in the sample as some of these design features are not as clearly visible as on the computer/paper.

The weird line in the middle is not a threading/sleying mistake; this loom has hocks in the middle of each harness that separate the heddles a little wider than desirable in some cases. Most times it comes out in the wet-finishing, though not necessarily in the sample washing, which in some cases are abbreviated. 
The real deal on the loom, and it's much bluer than seen in this late afternoon sun. It's been a while since I last wove something this lacy, but the piece is progressing, (oh, I don't want to jinx myself,) easily and quickly. I love the (subtle) difference in the ways the reds in the warp contrast with the weft. (See the lighter spot towards the left selvedge??) I think the piece will end up slightly wider and longer than the request, but that's not a bad thing.

The only worry is, the warp is 26/2 100% cashmere at 18EPI, and for the first time I see some sticky warp ends/sheds, making me unpick occasionally. I have to proceed with caution.

* * * * *

The baby blankets should have arrived at grandma's yesterday but I haven't heard anything; this makes me a little nervous. There is deafening silence in my Pop-Up shop, and though I'm no stranger to no sale, (Twilight Market in 2008, for e.g.,) gosh darn, I was hoping to earn a little spending money for Japan/Down South, and of course it's never encouraging. And I return to the many discussions I've had with numerous people; how many scarves/wraps does one need?

I did go over the donation bags as well as all the wools/mixes/cashmeres downstairs and edited the selection, and took inventory of pre-made warps; both of these activities gave me a direction/focus on what I'd like to do this summer and further. But if I can't sell, I'll have lost one of the reasons I weave, and so where do I go from here?

A few dinners with friends from the convent school, former IBM colleagues, and even mom's friends have been scheduled. And you'll never guess this: I'm getting together with Kaz in Tokyo; earlier we aimed for a Kaz/Terri/Meg meeting in Osaka but Terri's and Kaz's schedule didn't work out. Ben and I've also started thinking about the trip south.

I'm meeting with Maria and Alison tomorrow. And I might even get some gardening in next week.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I'm Doing Alright

Yesterday I did a bit of housework; rudimentary stuff, not serious cleaning or anything like that; restricted to indoors. Then I went through the wool downstairs and decided to donate about two rubbish bags full. I was ruthless; I held each cone/lot and tried to visualize something made of it I will be happy with, (un)foreseeable shortcomings notwithstanding. I also chucked nice years not my color. There is one ball I might want to keep after all; there are four cones I might give away. That was a little tiring, but after a late lunch, I inspected the pieces I want to put in my Pop-Up Shop and filled in my check list, which by this iteration is a pretty handy. Oh, we finally made it to the supermarket last night.
Today, after washing the dishes, I made two batches of sauerkraut. We've been eating it again now it's warmer, and the current batch tastes very, very nice, and I think it sat in the fridge for a couple of months. So I wanted to make some before I left, which by the time life settles back to normal, this batch will have sat in the fridge for roughly six weeks. If all goes well, it should taste nice. And then the sun was perfect; it was somewhat cloudy but not too much, gentle afternoon sun streaming, between periods of rain, into the living room. So I took some pics, and managed to open the Pop-Up Shop. Yay! (See the tab above? Or here.)

With a fortnight left, (actually, I have to be at the airport at the crack of dawn in two weeks today,) I know I can manage the red piece, and fingers crossed, I can work in the garden a little. Because with this cycle of rain and sun, the weeds are having a... heyday!

Here's a weaving conundrum: if you have a huge (old television) box full of wool yarns, and a bit more here and there, and you take away two rubbish bags full, why isn't the big box almost empty, or at least more gappy?

Sunday, October 8, 2017


Of my life returning to more or less normal:

1) Dishes pile up and get washed only once daily, on weekdays.
2) There's not a lot of cooking happening. (We had frozen Chinese dumping two nights in a row, three out of five nights, and Ben cooked the other two nights. He wanted to go to the supermarket today but I didn't finish work until seven in the evening and I didn't want to go then.)
3) Often I catch myself thinking of ways to convert visual clues to weavable segments.
4) I'm constantly looking for new color combinations.
5) I'm blogging more often, and checking here to fill in the gaps in my diary. LOL.
6) I thought of resurrecting my weaver's page on FB but now it asks too many questions that's on the back burner.
7) I started thinking of exhibiting; not so much looking up opportunities but projects/ideas I might want to develop further.
8) I am looking for opportunity to talk to other makers, but not that emphatically; finishing projects is priority.

I finished the last hem on the baby blanket, pressed both pieces again, packed, contacted the client. That leaves only Ben dropping the parcel in the parcel box at the PO. I'm exhausted, (I didn't used to get this tired, really,) but the mind is active and I've been thinking of double weave's different applications.

I think I can manage a wooly sale; I've worked on the texts in the evenings last week, rather than drawing faces. I need to inspect and press the pieces, and label/tag/make bags for some, and photograph and post. But I think I can manage.

As well, I need to untangle the tension problem with the red cashmere project; threading and weaving won't be so onerous, so I think I can manage.

It would be nice if I can get in some gardening time. But priority is priority.
As to our shaky-leg-cushion cover, Ben and I both liked the "inside" better so inside out it is. We'll be trying different in the closet soonish and then I can sew it shut. And then it won't really matter which color is on the outside; it'll just be a nice cushion to have around. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Baby Blankets

Or Toddler Blankets, or Toddler Drag Blankets.

This, my best and most patient, client and I go way back, pre-my-first-digital-camera and pre-Unravelling, although I recall having a few pics on my first website years ago. Back then, she was one half of the company that made my cloth labels, and in need of a wedding present. Since most folks in New Zealand, (OK, people around me,) don't use such delicates as table centers and cloth napkins, I proposed a couch blanket, which was also my first double-width weaving. I used two kinds of pale beige/taupe wool in the warp and undyed with-scale merino in the weft.

When a few years later she asked me for a boy baby blanket for her first grandchild, I gave it some thought: I'm very slow and the baby would probably be walking by the time I delivered; I wanted to make something a child would know, use, and remember rather than make a delicate/beautiful gift for his mother; and he lived on a farm. So I proposed a toddler blanket, imagining a small child dragging behind him a blanket bigger than him. And so it was for him, and his three siblings. All of these pieces have been roughly 140cm by 140cm.

Toddler #3's got thrown in the dryer by a German au pair, and I was glad to gift a replacement I happened to have had on hand from the same warp. When #1 felt sad #3 had matching blankets for herself and her doll, I was super glad I had warp-end fabric from his, although slightly worse for wear as I used to sit on it when I needed fine-tuning of my bottom position while weaving on the big loom; said child got a big kick out of me posting said warp-end piece addressed to his doll; firstborns, we're on similar wavelengths sometimes, even when separated by decades and kilometers.

These two new grandbabies were from a different stock, living in a stylish, urban, uncluttered home in much warmer climes. The order was something more towards the first couch blanket.

12 years after the wedding present, however, the foreboding was hard to shake off; I had been looking for good-quality/affordable merino/merino-mix here for some years. In the first instance we were looking for pale-to-mid grays, but with-scale merino at any size, any color was out of the question, as was good quality NZ merino, especially around 2/18. I looked all over the web, consulted Dianne, looked online and printed catalogues and a few shops in Japan when I was there for Mom's exhibition. Nada. Either they were prohibitively expensive, too fat, (mainly for knitting,) or charcoal gray.

I had merino boucle and possum/merino/silk, but the client never liked them. Mohair was a no-no as well. So I went back to the drawing board, consulted with Deanna at DEA, had another look at my stash, and chose Merino/Mohair 50/50 mix in 18/2 for the warp, (which I had enough of rather than 100% merino, and because that little bit of mohair produces a fabulous sheen in contrast to 100%, and I expected this little bit would be OK by her) and 2/30 merino called Saxon, doubled up, in the weft.
The cloth drapes like a sleeping baby or puppy, if you know what I mean. The little bit of sheen is wonderful, especially in the gray piece. The fold is tight and the finer weft was far less forgiving than in the previous blankets; the pieces, the blue in particular, I honestly can't call rectangular. But if the Baby Mommy isn't impressed, perhaps the client and Hubby can use as nap/couch blankets? Ben wouldn't mind if the blue came back, I'm sure. (And there was no way I was going to even try to get the colors right in the picture today. Sorry.)

* * * * *

Because of the softness, size and available colors, I kept telling myself if I were to keep weaving, this new-to-me merino is perfect default wool; it worka well with many in my stash, but, oh, on their own, they make dreamy thin wool pieces. I've been learning to balance this "being kind to one's old body" thing and being realistic/productive and get cracking. Then it dawned on me, Mom started weaving at 59.5 and produced such a variety in her first 20 years, (and spun and dyed,) so I can't be seen to slack off now.

* * * * *

It's going to be a rainy weekend; even national radio's coverage highlighted Nelson, and we've had to adjust the telly volume every 20 minutes or so while watching UK upcycling programs, and switching the light off and on. It's perfect for reworking one hem on the blue blanket and fringing one end of the gray knee rug, then a vinegar bath for both?

* * * * *

EDIT: One funny thing about these baby blankets is I don't put my woven labels on them. Regarding babies, I imagine possible accidents from my babysitting days of yore, and I've cringed at the thought of tiny fingers and toes getting caught or, heaven forbid, toddlers swallowing tiny labels.
EDIT: I'm working on MegWeaves Facebook page v2, and in the process found the aforementioned wedding gift pics.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Randy-versary, Half-Birthday, and Changes to Changes in Plans

Eleven years ago this week I was in Randy Darwall's workshop. I often wondered if I'd have a chance for another workshop, perhaps in one of the famed American craft schools, but that wasn't to be. I was going to write to Randy and Brian before the tenth anniversary but didn't. Regrets don't do any good, but maybe I'll write to Brian. 

I learned the phrase, "half birthday" in the last year or so. It never meant anything to me until 1985 when I met a work colleague who became a really good friend whose birthday is October 3. But the more I read FB posts about half birthdays, I've come to like it; there's less pressure as it's not the real birthday, but a good chance to reflect or revise plans.

Like on half birthday last year, I gave up the idea of most of my stash being used up by my 60th. Which is in six months. And when you're mildly/moderately depressed, that is one giant load off one's shoulder.
I finally finished hemming the baby blankets; one hem on the blue isn't as nice as I'd like it to be, or as the other three, but I'll see what happens when I wash them. I have a contingency plan. I love the gray, (it's pale gray on undyed, so nothing like in the picture,) Ben loves the blue. The drafts are similar but different.

The cloth part of the blankets are nice, thin and delicate. As baby, (toddler, really,) blankets, they may be not as robust as their cousins', but these babies live in the warmer climes in the city, and it was what Grandmother ordered. To be sure, it's more my style. Although I said I'm never weaving this width again, these make nice grown-up nap blankets, and Ben and I are, "hum!"-ing.

Maybe next year.

The blue pillow cover, I constructed the way I intended; the side showing more warps on the outside. I hope it fulls a little in the washing, but from my past experience with this merino/mohair, not likely. On the other hand, fewer merino loops will be undone in the hard ware and tear. Its size, pre-wash, is roughly the size of a standard pillow. (As in on the bed, not cushion on couch.) 

The charcoal piece, I've cut off most of the naughty part, and am now unravelling/unpicking enough, (a nasty, dusty job!) so I can make fringes like the other end to make a shorter piece, and call it a knee rug, either indoor or in the car. I still really like the way the design shows, but even with the same wefts in different colors, this one is decidedly scratchier than the other two. 
I had hoped to have a wooly sale in July/August, but didn't because it felt a little too soon after the cashmere sale, and it was the hottest time period in some places, so I changed it to September. Then we had that interminable cold, and now it's kind of close to Japan trip, (and I still have a few stuff on my priority list closer to the surface,) and it won't be until early December when I can work on this. So I was going to bring (back) some to the Suter.

While pressing Ben's shirts today, though, I wondered if I can set up another pop-up shop without having to work as hard as the previous two. And I have an idea. It'd have to be worked quickly, (oh, so not my forte,) but possibly possible.

I'm going to sleep on it.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Sequel, Midquel, Prequel and Sequel

Previous post was supposed to be the last of the recent consecutive streak, but there are plenty of deliciousness left I want to share.

Well, this is not delicious, but three makers told me Thursday night of their arthritis, or similar. inflictions interfering with their making; a couple are much younger than me. For me it's been lower limbs and stamina, but let's all be careful, OK? (Even though I have no idea how to be careful about arthritis.)

* * * * *

I had to catch the 5.12 bus to get into town in time to pick up a Richard Ford volume at Volume before they closed at 6, then cross the street to Nicola's Cantina. Because it was Esther's birthday, I wanted to make an effort to dress up, so I donned a black top, black pants, and black shoes so I can put on my step-grandmother's Japanese silk jacket. Came 4.45 and I started my journey; I should reach the bus stop 5.05ish.

Walking up our driveway was fine, but soon afterwards I noticed there was a leaf stuck on my left shoe, so I stepped on it with my right and kept going. It felt my shoes picking up a lot of pebbles, then I saw a twig with three leaves stuck on my left shoe, again, so I peeled that off. I checked my soles for sticky stuff, but there were no gum or dog poo. My shoes felt increasingly awkward with every step, but never mind.

As I crossed Tahunanui Drive, I thought the shoes were going to be OK and plodded along the elementary school, when suddenly, but in retrospect unsurprisingly, my right sole exploded. I don't mean disintegrated, not peeling off the rest of the shoe like another pair a year ago, but it exploded, into narrow strips of black... bits.

I dragged my feet another 10 meters, turning into Rawhiti St, and wondered what to do. The bus stop was closer than my house; I could get into town and ask Ben to pick up a pair of shoes before coming to Nicola's; I could remain barefeet the rest of the evening, not unheard of in Nelson but I never do that, or ring Ben and ask to be picked up, taken home, then taken into town. It was 5.10 and earlier than when Ben usually leaves work, I rang him; he wanted to meet at home but there was no way I could make it, so I stood in the grass, not the sidewalk, for 25 minutes, kids and parents staring at me while they came and went to the basketball court.

Ben drove up laughing, wanted to see my shoes there and then, (I wasn't laughing at all, so no go, mate,) we went home, picked up my navy blue shoes, got to Volume at 5.50, got the book, went to Nicola's, and I ordered a pitcher of red sangria for myself, and Ben a margarita. And the rest of the evening was exquisite.
Said red jacket, which I couldn't put on until we left Nicola's because it was too hot. And I had merino socks in the same red, not that anyone got to see.

* * * * *

Rosie and I powwowed what Stella said about practical considerations in making. Rosie is a bookbinder, and we share difficulties in breaking out of the technical/utilitarian considerations/constraints of our own crafts, so we explored each other's. Rosie proposed we look into the opposite of what our end products usually do, and she chose "telling a story" as the primary function of her books, while I chose the woven cloth's ability to wrap a body, and being pretty. I hope we get a chance to continue this thread.

Everybody at the birthday party love books and, well, tend to buy a lot. Among other things, I said I have a few "current issues" paperbacks which were current when I bought them, got started, but couldn't be bothered finishing. Richard reminded me they now have historical values. He is such a gem.

In the last two nights, I also found out one of friends' kids are finishing university this year, another starting in Feb, two starting their last year at home; one started his first part time job last night, and one I knew as a sweet little boy is now twice as tall as me, (OK, maybe not that tall,) and half my weight. He still had the sweet face, but no wonder the rest of us are getting old. I loved that I was not the only one taking off the glasses to read the menu.

Today we delivered some hellebore babies to Stella and Thomas. I love the idea my kids are going to flourish at Esther's, Maria's and Stella's in the slightly distant future. (Hellebores are so slow and somewhat unexpected.) We ran into Barbara at the supermarket.

Normally two consecutive nights of socializing would start an exhausting regurgitate-a-thon interspersed by variations of, "I should not have said that." It's not that this weekend is an exception, but this is part of living with depression; when the going is good, I try to make the most of life outside my head/house. It may appear almost bipolar from the outside, (I'm not as far as the last psychologist could determine, just mildly/moderately depressed and acutely anxious,) with a barrage of appreciative vibes. I try to curb my enthusiasm without much success, but good people are the best gifts in life, no?

And I love my husband, including the part where he wanted to see the soles right away. But seriously; what was he thinking, when I was struggling just to climb into the car!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Ben Called it a "Birthday Scroll"

I started writing about this a while back, but since it involves a birthday, I thought it better to hold back. I've been quite pleased with myself about having come up with this idea, though.

Two Saturday morning ago, Esther asked if a Friday night two weeks hence, i.e. tonight, we'd be free to join her birthday dinner. We were/are. I'm "scheduling" this post, so by the time it goes up, we'll be chatting away at a Mexican cantina in town.

I wanted to give her a small cashmere scarf, but to weave it for her specially, and knew the earliest I could get around to it would be Christmas, but most likely much later. So I had this idea of a "card" roughly the size of a small scarf; I cut/pasted a piece of brown wrapping paper and started doodling/collaging, with a promise of a cashmere and/or merino scarf, "of approximately this size, in the design of your choosing within the weaver's grasp and colors of your choice within the weaver's reach," or some such, "to be completed by your birthday in the year 2020."

"Or thereabouts."

I think I can manage. I'm also happy to be retired tax-wise; I can use/mix purchased-for-business and purchased-for-pleasure-or-gifted-or-rescued yarns without measuring and calculating their $ value and putting them in the correct columns.
One of my fav parts don't show up too well... See the gold swirls?

Ben called this a scroll so I tried rolling it up but the water-color-painted collage part, the red part, was too stiff so I went back to the original idea of folding and stuffing in an envelope. The project looks childish, but then she's a museum art educator of students so she's used to childish art, I thought...

* * * * *

Last night's presentation by Stella was fabulous. She brought some of her pieces, many of which I had seen but I got to look really close up, and handle in some cases, and some I didn't know about that informed me more about Stella's making.

Ronnie and Maria were there,  Sue was there talking about a new way to wear my wraps, (in bed, especially when you're not feeling great, which is something I've recommended to many; try it if you have one of my softer pieces,) and good neighbour Duane and Barbara were there, (and gee, we like them a lot.) Ronnie and Barbara are involved in running these talks, and I can now hitch a ride with Barbara if I want to go to future sessions.

Stella touched on art vs. craft for jewelry making, but when I asked how much she thought of the practicalities of a piece, and she said none. One of the "fine lines", (my word), for consideration for her is "to sell," (assuming the buyer wants to wear it,) or to exhibit. What's that for us, for me? My first thought was something-to-wear vs. something-decorative, although... a decorative that is reasonably flexible/wrappable that is of reasonable size would be the equivalent of gigantic or spiky-things-poking-out kind of ring. For example.

Maria and I have been hatching a plan, to get (back) in touch with makers to talk about making, but Stella does a lot of collaborative work and curating, so there may be new components to our future discussions. We and my friend Alison, a painter/dress-maker, are powwowing at my place in a fortnight. Ben might bake a cheesecake for the occasion. :-D

* * * * *

I cleaned the basement yesterday, after much dithering. And I'm glad I did because it was worse than I expected; there was mold on the walls of the far side of the room, near the single-glazed window and door. Not a lot like we used to see in the house before upstairs were refitted with double-glazing, (I was wiping at least twice a week,) but then we have the shower we use more often downstairs, and I think I'm correct in saying we had more cold days and more rain this winter. None of these would have mattered had I been going down regularly, like I do other years; when I find something fishy, I clean as I go, but this year I used the upstairs shower much later into autumn just to avoid going downstairs.

Should be OK now I've washed the walls with vinegar, but Ben's going to move the drawer/desk thing so I can wipe behind that, too.

I also have too much wool downstairs, stuff I had planned to use up by the end of last year, and you know the more breathing room you give wool, the more they expand. I can't believe all of that used to occupy one-half of the big box upstairs; now they don't come near fitting in another big box. (And the upstairs box is full without my adding.)

Over the years I've been donating yarns that weren't nice, but kept everything of reasonable quality/size/color. I changed my mind yesterday and decided to further give away yarns I won't weave with. Some are too harsh, and while I lament parting with them, (mostly old-style weaving yarns with scale left on!) but they will be better served by someone who repurpose them, and I'll regain space and peace of mind. I hate having to label my pieces car/boat/camp/cabin-suited to mean, to me at least, they aren't as soft and lovely like my "usual" stuff.


Thursday, September 28, 2017


My Dad would have been 90 today. I'm not sure what he'd make of this new world; angrier than 2000 or hysterically laughing after running out of options. I'm pretty sure we would have been in frequent contact, my being his political offspring, trying to outdo each other name-calling politicians; neither of us were/are satisfied by boring ones, although I've logn run out of creativity this time around.
That's him on the right and his younger brother, who predeceased Dad by a couple of years; they were the last of their nuclear family by 40-plus years, having lost two elder siblings as kids, then their father when Dad was 33 and their mother when Dad was 43. So, well done, Dad, for sticking around until I was 55. This would have been taken probably some time in the 1930's/40's, before The War.

When we were cleaning up the house after Dad died, Mom commented Dad's family had astonishing amounts of studio-shot photographs, not just from this generation but from the grandparents' generation, when "these things weren't cheap." I don't know if her family had photos and lost them in in the fires in the war, or if Grandpa was too busy to think of it. My cousins, (Mom's big brother's girls,) who lived next door to us also had studio photos taken at least once a year that I knew of, which I envied because they looked so posh, but turned out to be irreplaceable gifts because they lost both parents ridiculously young.

Tonight I have Stella's talk to go to, "No time for Art! (Or how to make jewelry in another dimension)"; Dad would have loved the idea, "at your ripe old of age of 59.5-minus-five-days," (and he would have said exactly that; I get my penchant for details from him,) I still think there is wonder to be had in life.

* * * * *
The cushion cover is done and the whole warp off the loom, and the client still wants the two blankets, so that's a relief. A tube, without floating selvedges, wove quickly. And pretty big, at 45cm long. I had a tad more warp left, but I thought just the dark weft was nicer than a bit of lighter coming out of nowhere at the end. The only thing is, I wanted the outside of the cushion, (inside of the tube as I wove,) to have more weft (blue) showing, and checked and double-checked the 1/2/2/3 twill but failed. The start of the piece has single-layer plain weave, which was meant to go inside as a seam (?) and the other end, tubular plain weave. So, errrr... Hum.

* * * * *

Stat Counter reminded me blogs can be, and this one is occasionally, read machine-translated. And while I don't give a lot of credence to machine translators, having been a human version in previous lives, there are measures writers can take to make the machine-translated text "readable". As in not using so much colloquialism. But then it takes away the character of the writer and the flavor of blogs, and while I know sometimes I overdo it, I also like it here because Unravelling is more about a record of how I spend my life. Rather than respectable weaving.

Hee hee...


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Good Thing Weaving (and Moving) Forward is Easier than Backward

I finished weaving the blue baby blanket; all things considered it was fast. Ish. Although this width, and this draft particularly, was hard on the body, I love weaving on the big loom as we've done the most to accommodate it to my body size. And with no broken warps in the two blankets, (that I remember,) and only a slightly weird tension on the left, I hope, I hope, they finish up nicely. Wouldn't my client be surprised to hear from me after a year of silence! And I'm fine if she doesn't want them.
For the warp end present to myself, I'm going to weave a simple twill or plain tube with merino bouclé to make what I hope will be a skinny cushion cover, about the size of half a pillow. (If I run out of the dark wefts, I'll finish with the light.)
I did this at the end of Cherry Blossom way back, and though it's tiny, I love the cushiony feel. The size, (inside is 30cm*30cm commercial cushion insert folded in half,) is handy in filling the gap behind your back, neck, under a knee, etc. In fact, it's super handy while travelling, and while this one doesn't travel because the bouclé loops proved more fragile than I expected, I might make a fabric-covered one. (And I may even spring for latex foam rather than a regular cushion insert.) Cherry had merino in the warp, this is merino/mohair, and at a slightly tighter EPI, so this will have a different feel, but that's OK.

On Monday, I remembered the Pillars warp-end door piece needed washing. It's been hanging on the basement door for five years, and though I occasionally vacuumed and turned it upside down and inside out, I neglected it completely in the year I didn't weave, so while weaving the baby blanket, I put it through the gentlest rinse/spin cycle, in weak vinegar water. (Against some hesitation, I must add, but this machine does such a great job on our sweaters, so nothing to worry about, right?)
I know! And slightly less grievous bodily harm to the left, almost in the same rows, too. And I can't figure out where the rust mark came from. I might mend it; I might do something else; there is always the compost bin.


That, and the search for suitable wefts for the blanket warp leftover showed me in warm spring daylight the true state of the basement. Usually I can say it's only messy and crowded, but it's really icky after not using, moving things around, and ventilating in the way one does when using a space rather than just turning on the bathroom vent and leaving doors/windows open. Which is what happened for a year.

I've been disgusted at the state of upstairs these last few days as the sun rises higher and I can see dirt in ways different from the sideway sun of the winter, (that's bad, too,) feeling the screamingly dire need for a good clean. (By the way, I'm Japanese, so spring cleaning is not on my calendar when hay fever is at it's worst; Japanese clean house like mad folks at the end December near dead of winter. Mom used to say it sanitizes the house, too. In Nelson we've gone for big cleaning in summer when we can evacuate stuff outside and work long hours, and sanitize in a different way, I suppose.) But the basement pointed out I really was depressed some of the last year, how not only did I try not to think of, but didn't think of cleaning.

In my defence, there was the big food issue, and I kept up with not just laundry but ironing, and I tried/learned new things with paper, and to be faced with not just the garden that's in a bad shape, and I have limited time before I go to Japan with priorities that may or may not fit in that time, and next to no time before we take off South, and really no time before we have Mrs and Dr Cady for lunch/dinner or an extended Q&A, and JB and Ali and hopefully Duane and Barbara from next door, who are all very tidy people. Yikes. I so wanted to have Duane and Barbara over the winter.

I don't like living like this.

So instead of crossing off the baby blankets on my To Do list, (because it's not done, I just finished weaving them is all,) I added "Clean basement".

And to be honest, I don't really want to go to Japan this time; first time Ben said it may not be a nice idea. But that's another story.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Weekend that Was

And I am totally out of touch with a world that could have had Corbin, Sanders, common sense, or our own Jacinda Ardern, but refuses to.

I'd written a whole lot more, but the crux of the matter is, we are waiting for overseas/special ballots and won't know until early/mid-October which way the third party's professional kingmaker will fall, (from memory, this is his third time!), even though politicians have started talking and media speculating energetically. Either way, even if She get in, it will be an uncomfortably slim majority. The good news is, She's still 37.

And there's a good chance NZ$ will plummet, (further,) which makes this a good time to have an online sale, which I decided on the weekend to put off until Dec/Jan/Feb to concentrate on my priorities. Maybe not. I am cutting back on mixed media now.
(That's not Her on the telly; it was an advert for an Al Jazeera doco on drug trafficking.) Staying up late watching the telly, moving the clock forward an hour, and then watching some more telly, even though I stuck to explanations/timeline and none of the speculations, I am exhausted, and will now go back to worrying only about nukes vaporizing my country of birth. I'm weirdly confident South Korea won't be nuked, but then who knows in this new world.
The cherry is 90% open, later than usual, the tree is producing about 60-70% of flowers this year. Must remedy. And here, as in Japan, those delicate flowers opening up means open season for rain/wind and this week we might even have some thunder and lighting to make things interesting, before spring settles in.

The weather has been extraordinarily rewarding to conscientious gardeners; fairly consistent rain-sun-rain-sun cycle combined with sudden warming; flagrantly embarrassing for others of us. But priorities beckons me to the looms today.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Catching Up

General election here today, (we voted early;) daylight savings starts tonight, (i.e. "the short weekend";) and somewhere in/near South Minneapolis, 40th reunion of Washburn High School Class of '77 is happening later. Oh, and a month from tomorrow, I'm supposed to fly to Japan at the crack of dawn, and I'm just hopin' and prayin' the Two Big Babies would stick their thumbs in their mouths for a while.

* * * * *

I thought I wove these a year ago September, rather than July. Never mind. I washed the yellow-green and the Christmas colored pieces on Wednesday.
The yellow green piece was particularly nicely woven, for me; the left selvedge is near straight. Most interestingly, the gray warp and the yellow-green are so close in value it's hard to see the design, especially while still wet, and that's a first for me. (The photo is after is completely dried.)
The Christmas-colored piece looks pretty much as I expected. Though I didn't expect the stripes to appear so crooked, (they're not, I just went back to check, excepte for the bottom red stripe, :-D) in combination with the movement of the design.
I washed the charcoal gray piece and the leftover as soon as I finished the warp last year. The charcoal gray was meant to be a present for a special friend, but what can I say..... Scalloped selvedges and, goodness me... Back then I understood better the tension problem and knew how I tried to remedy it, but now I forgot.
The disappointing thing is, I wove this in what I think is often called Gray Marl warp and a straightforward charcoal gray weft, so the combo shows the pattern nicely. (And sorry for the unfocused pic; I can't find the sweet spot on my glasses this morning; need the hinges checked again as my prescription hasn't changed in six years.)

The warp is the same as my pillars; Mom said she had a whole lot more so I rescued the rest. But are they? My pillars turned out softer, from memory, with rougher weft while I used the plush Possum/Merino/Silk in these, and still these pieces turned out scratchier, most markedly the gray one. I'm pondering calling them "car" or "camp"  wraps. Or similar.

* * * * *

Ben's cold came back this week and we both wasted two days. Tess said her doctor in Edinburgh, (that's Scotland!) mentioned a cold on in Australia and New Zealand this winter. Our own doc Karl told Ben minimum four weeks, so we must have that fashionable cold.

On Wednesday I thought I might just be able to manage the red and baby blanket commissions AND a wooly online sale before I go, but with a month left, I'll have to concentrate/prioritize. Darn, just when I had this rare feeling I was catching up for the blank year, ergo the title of the post. Or maybe this is just the new, new normal; even slower, and managing even fewer things, but trying to feel better about things I do get done. Speaking of which, I can't believe I'm still sticking to faces-every-day (more or less) project, and lately I'm into Picasso's Dora Maar portraits.
From memory, these were right-hand blinds, (I don't call mine contours as I'm unruly and all over the place.)
And sometimes I play with somewhat-Modigliani-esque characters.
And my first, (I think,) dog!! I'm so used to layers in mixed media now as a result collaborations I overdo them when I'm working by myself. I'd like to step back and try to remember my preference for simplicity, for variety sake if nothing else.

And I get to keep Tess' book since I liked it so much; she's made another for our swap. Bliss!!

* * * * *

For as long as we've been in New Zealand, I saved short stories, story-/character-/plot-ideas in a folder, and from time to time dipped into them, but less and less often. Like any wannabe-writers, I thought some were cracker ideas, entertaining and humorous, but this week I deleted the folder. It's not that I'm not disinterested in writing, but the bulging mess was another source of regret, guilt, and a measure of a different life that might have been. I don't know if this means I'm giving up on another thing that was important to me, or getting better at living in the now. Forgetting things so easily helps. Or doesn't help.

I still listen to copious amounts of writer interview podcasts, and my fav for the last couple of years have been Sarah Vowell and Colm Toibin but I've added Richard Ford of late. So here's a wee present for you: this is the funniest authors interview I've ever listened to, and one of the few I return to every few months. 

Colm Toibin in particular gives me so much story and character ideas I'm often not listening to what he says but working on my own stories in my head, which is why I like/have to listen to him over and over again.

* * * * *

Mine's a jolly good life considering everything else that's going on in too many places. And by the end of the day, we just might have a bright, young, honest prime minister with a pony tail. Fingers, toes, arms, eyes, and everything else crossed. That's such an uplifting thought compared to three years ago when we wanted to quit New Zealand. Anyway, go her! (There's a new law here that says you can't "endorse" candidates on the day of the election. I started this post on Wednesday, but reckon just to be on the safe side.)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

This Possibly New Thing

This is the new piece alongside the three false starts. It is straighter and the edges better than they look. I haven't pressed them because I wanted to see them "without makeup", as it were, and I cut off  tails when dry. And I'm surprisingly pleased with it. These are my thoughts:

* I wished I had more weft colors. I have an in-your-face pink, an orange-yellow, and three oranges; also a few achromatics, the lightest of which I plan to use with the lightest warp. And a bright red which I can use, if I have any leftovers after the upcoming big red piece. A couple of saturated blues, a purple, and a teal or a green would have been nice to "juj" up the picture but I'm not buying for now as I still have plenty, just not in 20/2. (By the way, have you ever googled "Juj something up" to check the spelling? Mindboggling.)

* I am right in thinking a foot loom is best for this technique so I don't have to think about the pattern/treadling as much as when weaving on handlooms. I have two foot looms, a 16-shafter, which is too hard on cashmere warps, and this 4-shaft Jack, on which I weave standing up. This has nothing to do with the height of the bench, but the shortness of me, especially the legs, and the desire to press the pedals from above and not in an angle, and to observe the fell from above and not from an angle. Over the years weavers have suggested gazillion things that does not apply to me, short of, (see what I did there?) cutting the vertical elements of the loom and lowering the entire mechanism, which destabilizes the loom unless done expertly, and I'm not willing to going there. I'm short.

The problem in this case is I like to get very close "down" and personal when I clasp the wefts, for the right tension and the position, and so I bent down every other pick, which slowed down the weaving and made me queasy every time I had to look for the other sweet spot on my glasses when I resurfaced. One possibility is to switch to a more complicated threading and easy lifting on the 8-shaft table loom and weave on the kitchen table, but I'm not crazy about the very short distance between the shafts and the front beam, and Klick's shed is too small for this sort of carry-on. Another, from a different perspective, is to use merino warp with cashmere weft on the 16-shaft.
* This warp was threaded in a pointed threading and woven in 2:2 twill, meaning, with the clasped weft there was going to be more than a few places where the pattern would be disrupted in the interest of clasping/holding. I saw this anomaly after I started the first false start and brought it up with Pat, and I decided to just go ahead. I tried to correct them by forcing the shuttles acrobatic moves, but in some cases, from memory, I found no fix. This is Issue One for further observation/investigation.

* I noticed sometimes the clasps came with a half loop created by the left weft. As I got used to the mechanism of clasping, I made a rule I'll weave the right weft first, then the middle if any, and the left one last, which seemed to have reduced the occurrences of these loops, but I couldn't eliminate them, sometimes even when I tugged on the weft while the shed was still open. I' not sure if I understand the problem correctly. This is Issue Two.
(I know I had this problem but after a wash, I can't see it except some clasps are looser than others. But I did find a naughty full loop and I hope I eliminated most of the.)

* I beat the heck out in the three false starts but this was remedied in the completed piece, or Start Four. The bleach bottle-weighted left selvedge is no worse than the right. The cloth in the finished piece, which worried me while weaving, is like any cashmere piece I've woven, and 16EPI worked fine, as will 15 or 18. I mixed two threadlings in one piece, which was fun.

Now for the important part:

* Using three colors in one shot may make the cloth look interesting, but not necessarily; it depends on the width of the piece in the first place, and the length of the piece and shapes in the second. In narrow pieces like this first one, it may not be as effective, or even overly fussy, especially when the piece is worn. In wider pieces the effort may be worth more.

* For expediency and the integrity of the cloth, I chose to weave the first piece with large patches of one color. And as a whole, I think it looks interesting enough, ergo being surprisingly pleased. I try to imagine a whole piece with more frequent color changes, (thank goodness I have samples of three false starts - those and the inbetween bits make up roughly one-third of a full piece in length,) and I can't see one look being better than the other, just different. I have the choice of learning the mechanism first, or focusing on the shapes/colors, but another one of these warps won't go on the loom until December so plenty of time.

* If a color appears/disappears anywhere but from either selvedge, the tail of the weft needs to be sewn in, and I felt uneasy doing this; the bottom sample in the top pic has rusty orange between the yellow and pink. The washed/dried cloth is soft and thinnish, and I can tell where the weft is doubled. I'll stick to introducing colors from the selvedge, but should a tail need sewing in, I'll do it most definitely on the loom, as it emerges.

* All in all, drawing/doodling shapes, and then possibly a template, may prevent future regrets. Although, y'know, it could preclude surprises, too.

Coming up this week: finish weaving the blue baby blanket; thread and sample, at the very least, the red warp; and for goodness sake, weed and put down at least the remaining too-big-for-seed-raising-mix hellebore babies. And help Mom upgrade Skype by phone if at all possible.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

Insomnia, ugh. In terms of sleep, I had the most regular and satisfying sleep pattern since I became a teenager (!!) during the year I didn't weave. Why is that? Life returning towards normal has applied to sleep pattern, too, unfortunately, although in the last month I was able to finalize/select two drafts that troubled me during the day. I'm also getting used to projects progressing slowly, living on Weavers' Time.

I've had a few things on my mind since the last post, most of which I can tell you in this post; the last one, the "tapestry technique" experiment, will be in the next because I need good pics, clarifying thoughts, and it would help if the piece dries before I photograph it.  
The red warp. It's a red warp and we all know what that means in digital pics, so I tampered with the this one enough to make the different stripes of the color progression show up better. I decided on the wobbly squares in the previous post because I thought it'd suit the color progression better and it was a cinch to modify to match the number of warp ends.  From memory, the weft is in the red you see in the half-width stripes at both selvedges. Yes, both edges are in the same red.


* * * * *

I received Tess' book in the somewhat-entangled (it's really knot; see what I did there?) LJ swap, and it's so beautiful I've been must marvelling at it's simple beauty and so far hesitated to work on it. Here are some pics. Actually I might scan every page before I work on it as every spread is sublime. 
 In this I see either a floating city in the sky or an EKG of a beautiful mind.
In this I see a musical score culminating in a dozen or more symbals at the end. 
She also glued the sections in a simpler way, which made the book easier to look at and to work in. Too much thinking for mine? Very possible. Because I had a preconceived notion this was a square book and always placed two sides parallel to the table's edge, and sampling told me a spread will open up or down, (and back or front), I mixed things up to even out the up/down element. Confused? Never mind. But if you ever want to experiment with these, try having all Corner As on top of each other in your first one; it makes life easier.

* * * * *

For some years our local cinema has shown Met Opera and National Theatre Live, (or should it be Lives?) I've always wanted to go and marked brochures every year but finally made it on Wednesday, and what a splendid experience it was.

I saw "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead", (trailer,) a play that intrigued and puzzled me for close to 40 years. So much so when I discovered a beautiful bookshop in St Paul days before I left Minnesota for good, (Jan 1981, near Macalester College,) I bought a collection of Stoppard's plays as my very last purchase. I tried reading the play several times, (plays are my second fav genre to read,) but found this play incredibly difficult to understand on the pages; I didn't bother reading the other plays but gave the book away.

It was indeed good to see it. I can never pick up all or even much of the lines in period plays, but this was a lovely production with strong actors, and lovely but not strictly period costumes. The stage set was minimalist but beautiful, but really, the acting was mesmerizing. Joshua McGuire and David Haig were masterful, but a couple of tragedians with no lines intrigued me more: I'll be on the lookout for Louisa Beadel and Alex Sawyer in the future.

Daniel Radcliffe was in it, too; though I have nothing against him, it was the stark contrast of his depth of theatre training with everybody else's that enabled me to deeply appreciate the others. (Ben and I've been talking about this, with increasing mixture of English and American actors in films we see, many English actors mixing theatre and film careers.) Radcliffe's diction was muffled; his facial expression, hidden behind a beard, nonexistent; and he had a tiny vocabulary of body language. It was only when the camera got closer that his inclusion was justified, somewhat. (Besides the international PR value.) And though this is hardly his fault, he has a markedly smaller head than McGuire and Haig, which made him peculiarly less visible, less noticeable, on the stage.

And one last thing. The fewer the lines, the less significant the roles, very generally speaking the actors were taller and slenderer. This made stunning visuals in the few scenes a whole lot of them were on stage. And I mean, jaw-dropping.

Now I want to read the play.

Alarm going off in quarter of an hour; I better try to catch some Z's.

Monday, September 11, 2017

I See Red

The remedy for yesterday's cashmere blunder was a no brainer; because the wefts were clasped, I unpicked, (rather than attempt a sexy maneuver with a needle,) wove another 40cm and finished the piece. Instead of starting the second piece, I cut off the first piece and began pulling the rest of the warp forward; I couldn't finish tonight, but tomorrow morning I hope to have shortened warp with more even tension that can go back on the loom later. Then I'm putting the red warp on so I can make the commission piece first, then this warp afterwards. I'll take a picture of the red warp when it's on the loom; it has three reds in BB-AB-AA-AC-CC-CB-BB progression, 24 inches, 18EPI. The weft, I think, is B, just one color.

I have two final candidate drafts and I like them both but I can't decide which suits the warp color changes better.
I love the way these squares look curvy in this advance twill; I've used it before but I think it suits this red-on-red combo.
This looks fancier but I haven't managed to modify the number of warp ends in a repeat with what I've already got in the warp chain. Working backwards, I know.

Maybe the first one.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Wait, What??

This morning I woke up and thought: Sept 10 already; 43 days before I leave for Japan and we're busy for a further fortnight after I come home, so that's 41 days after I leave. I wasted so much time with this cold, I better put on my big girl pants and got cracking.
I wrote out a work schedule, the kind I usually have in my head or scribble on the back of envelopes and receipts. I need to finish the baby blankets. I need to weave one red cashmere commission piece to hand-deliver in Japan, on the Jack loom, meaning I have to finish the current cashmere warp before I can get to it. These are minimum Must-Dos; another online sale if I can manage. Goodness, suddenly I'm so busy, and not a hibernating sloth any more. (I don't think real sloths hibernate...)

So instead of going outside to put down more hellebore seedlings into the ground, (which needed doing a couple of months ago, and I so want to make progress, but I'll get it done before I go,) downstairs I went.

The baby blanket with the blue weft went OK; the double-width weaving is a tad hard on the body, but I managed the two repeats I expected. One W crossed on the list. (I know, cryptic; it stands for "weave".) Then I moved onto the cashmere and things went well; I wove the expected 40cm; loosened the tension, went around the back to take off the bleach bottle, came around to the front, and, wait... WHAT??
The large S-hook from which the bleach bottle hung must have gotten stuck on the lease stick, or something much worse and unimaginable. I'm weaving this piece under super loose tension and in retrospect I may have detected the left side tightening but not enough to stop and check the back. And the audiobook was good.


I was by then tired and cold, so I'll think of remedy options overnight and rework it tomorrow. I'm wondering if I can keep the yellow in and only rework the orange. Probably not, but worth thinking.


While weaving, I did learn from yet another van Gogh biography that 1) on the day Vincent showed up in Paris in 1988 and sent Theo a note saying, "here I am!", Sigmund Freud, having completed his studies, left Paris for Vienna; 2) Gauguin fenced, and he took his foil/s to Arles, and he was the only "witness", (Gauguin claimed Vincent confronted him on the streets with razor in his hand earlier in the evening,) ergo the assumption Vincent sliced his ear off, (the latest is it was the whole ear, not just the lobe,) with his own razor, but 3) if Gauguin hurt Vincent but Vincent covered for him in Arles, it is possible René Secrétan shot Vincent in Auvers and Vincent covered for the boy as well. You know?


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Collection of Near-Inidenticals

On Tuesday when I posted about grids, (about which I have been almost giddy these last few days,) I thought I had more examples of "collections" instead of only the pebble drawing of yore. Today I remembered quick collages I did a week ago. The saturation and hue variations in real life are more varied, but you get the gist.
I have, dare I say, only 16 shafts. Minute differences in shapes and positions need accommodating, (let's face it, simplifying,) even with careful planning, which is disappointing. Unless I employ pick-up extensively. 

In these "collections", I also like each element to be slightly different, not too much. So, my favorites are top-middle, although preferably dots closer to each other,) and sections of bottom-right. Although I also like bottom-left quite a bit, that appears to me a completely different end-product, e.g. a real tapestry.

What do you think??

EDIT: Top-left is supposed to be dots of identical shape/size. They are not, only because of my tracing-the-shape-of-glue-stick skills, and cutting skills.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Gripping Grids

Staying with LJ and swaps with Tess, (by which I mean not gifts but collaborative work, usually two of us taking turns to work in two books three times each, so mine would be worked by me-Tess-me-Tess-me-Tess then returned to me to keep,) the latest has turned into a mind-boggling geometric gymnastics.
We took four pieces of paper 20cm*20cm, folded them three times, (horizontal, vertical, and one diagonal,) and glued them together to create a book of sorts. We both experimented with different sizes, number of sections, and especially orientation for gluing.

Had I been a forest person I might have had some inkling, but because I am so a tree person, I naively imagined working in, oh, eight 20cm*20cm squares. (I'm calling the outside center of the page Corner A just in case you feel compelled to experiment yourself and/or to fully understand my gibberish.)

For my book now travelling to Scotland, I glued the sections with Corner A positioned at top left, bottom left, top left and bottom left. Sampling told me this would give me the first page opening up, then down, then up, and down again. It turns out, (pun intended,) there is no real up and down because this depends on how I hold the book. And if you are confused, don't worry because this is not the important part.

If you glue the sections together with all Corner As on the left or the right side, regardless of top/bottom, the book has a spine/out-side and a fore-edge/in-side. And while the inside or the side towards me has as many independent square pages as the number of sections, (so, four in my swap book,) [Important Part Alert] all of the outside pages are interrelated.

(If you mix placing Corner As on left and right sides, you have pages opening on both outside and inside. If you can cope, you could potentially make two contents in one physical book. If you're like me, you would almost tear the sample/book trying to figure out how the pages open!)
I used pens on the outside pages and watercolor on the inside pages in my swap book.

If I draw one design in one whole outside page, a quarter or two diagonal quarters become/s part/s of another outside page. And that threw me. I first worked on the first outside page, or what most resembles a front cover in Western-language book. I doodled a grid in, (and here my English gets super dodgy,) rotational symmetry in quadrants, i.e. identical but turned 90 degrees. The whole page looks the same regardless of which side is on the left/top/right/bottom. Then I opened another outside page, and heck! (Sorry for the super low-res pics, I used them just to communicate with Tess, but you get the gist.)
From there on working on four outside pages was like picking a lint off your sweater only to realize you're unravelling the whole garment, only in this case it was piling up and cramming in lines in a way so not according to my plan.

This is probably not going to tie in with my weaving, but it's been gripping; I see a few mini books with lots of lines in my future.
I also found this photo in my camera; a different journal swap with Tess, it's an A2 sheet folded "zine" style in six sections, 12 pages. With the yellows and greens, I was looking for blue pieces of painted paper to unify it, when I saw oh-so-many "Fire and Fury" paper, and used one. Very unlikely color combination for me, but I do like it. This might show up in a weaving some day.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


This winter, Ben and I have had a couple of stints of knock-down-drag-out cold. And what's with the cheer in my voice, you ask? This is the kind of cold I know, the kind I had once a year most of my adult life, where there is no doubt I'm sick, not being lazy. I used to see my week of cold as an annual regrouping, and almost looked forward to it. Nothing like the icky underlying-ongoing-unreasonably-tireness.

A couple of times I went a-weeding to make imperceptible progress, too. I try not to feel overwhelmed or discouraged by the magnitude of the task; I am plenty ashamed of not having worked harder and more over the cooler season. Still, it's nice to put things into the ground and watch them perk up in the rain.

* * * * *

Pat helped me with the tapestry technique just before she went to the US; she was to come see me when she got back, and I was going to work like a machine to finish two warps, (six to eight pieces,) if not all three warps in that time. Pfffftttttt. I haven't finished even one piece, and she's been back a fortnight. But I finished the gray piece, and started a second, blue piece. The draft is similar but different.
The cashmere. I started for the fourth time. Although the colors and shapes are the main focus, I wasn't happy with the weaving, the cloth, so I decided to make the color areas bigger in this first piece. The treadling is the simplified 4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-1-2-3, but I might mix it up a little. Or not.
Sorry about the bad colors and the wonky tension; it was late andd I took off the bleach bottle at the back weighting the left end. The right selvedge is crap; curiously, when I was using the trickier treadling and weaving slowly, selvedge was better.

* * * * *

Recently a thought came to me while weeding. One of the things I find visually pleasing is a row or grid of similar but unidentical things, like the pebbles I did a while back. This was the original doodle.
I've always been attracted to photographs of, say, five or seven hand-thrown teacups in a row, and how sad cup/s looked at home in comparison. I always put it down to something like the psychology of advertising or doubting I've selected the "right" cup/s, but only recently realized it's more about visual pleasure than greed. And how much less I'm interested in a row of identical items/motifs.

The grid drawing I've been doing for a year for mix media swap journals is another; to me these are the same as collections of motifs. I'm quite enamored by my grids, so I'll post a few, some of which you have seen before.
From September last year and  two of the first; I wanted something that look like maps or aerial urban shots; I had in mind post-war Japanese shanty towns.
In early October, hard to see, but I draw on top of all kinds of backgrounds, and the focus was for the grid to appear in and out of the backgrounds. I used metallic gel pens so depending on the angle I could always see my grid clearly.
By late October I was trying different size pens for different size grids. These are not drawn on the pages, but drawn elsewhere, scanned, printed onto transparent plastic, and rubbed on.
In November, I focused on extending a map.
In late January; I started out drawing my usual map but it/they morphed into building/s, making me think of the SIS building to be specific. This was the first time I saw my grid vertically, leading me to think of cityscapes and flat maps simultaneously.
I've done numerous grids since but this last weekend I most definitely had cityscapes in mind for these envelopes. And the closer the buildings to me, (bottom of the envelopes, which got cut off in the scanning but you get the gist,) the smaller and more crowded.
Backgrounds, (watercolor monoprint blotches for these,) enhanced the feel of cityscape; more generally they give another element/dimension, in some instances distractions, in others a focus. I did the right one first and you can see me undecided whether this is going to be a map or a cityscape whereas in the left there is no hesitation. I even left a wee gap at the top.
For a year I worked with limited variety of marks: vertical and horizontal lines or + signs in different density, and earlier on, coloring in. I started including vertical and horizontal within a grid, and somewhere I tried an x. On the right, I started exploring greater variety of grid, (i.e. building) sizes and leaving more blank.

Our coffee table is made of recycled wood which is not only not at all flat but has gaping holes. (Ergo visitors are asked to use coasters not to protect the surface but to prevent their cups/glasses toppling. Seriously!) At first crooked lines bothered me greatly but they give a different flavour to the more regimented look. Slanted horizontal lines in particular give the feel a building stands at an angle to others.

I draw grids, them sometimes cut/tear to use in collages, and even draw grids, waves, and other things on top of the collages in same and different colors/mediums. I'm playing with these for three reasons: first is I love drawing these in the evenings while the telly is on, or off, to unwind and concentrate simultaneously; secondly, I wonder if this is one way to reconcile my more predictable, plan/sample/weave work mode with a more relaxed/thrilling-but-hit-or-miss mode, combining meticulous drafting with hand-manipulated techniques, (which is most definitely easier said than done, I know); the third is I'd like to develop these so I can draw more refined/considered versions to make something I want to frame and hang on my wall, or as a 3D "architectural" model. (To me they are close enough to architectural drawings I've always liked, with Outsider/Naive/Deconstructionist/Abstract flavour, to make them unique and hide technical shortcomings.)

Life is full of wonder.