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.