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.

Phew. 

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

Projecting/Projection

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. 

Typical.

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.

[Insert-appropriate-emoji-here.]

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.

Hapless.

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

Signs

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.