2024/06/18

Purple Warp/Clasped Weft Planning and Weaving Part IV

Working on paper, I realized I needed to clasp both the left and right sides of the darker orange. I consulted Kaz Madigan, who happened to have visited my house soon after I posted the pretty but eventually-abandoned clasped weft project in 2018. She confirmed that is the case. 

On Tuesday last week, I started weaving in the bottom scheme in the previous post, i.e. darker orange sandwiched between paler orange and purple. After an hour and a bit, the clasping didn't become "automatic," but I grasped the process. I wove each shed in two main steps: open shed - clasp purple/dark orange - beat lightly - close shed; rest; open the same shed - clasp two oranges - beat properly. I had to make sure I opened the same shed twice; luckily with this pattern it's easy to see treadling mistakes. (I hope I didn't just jinx myself.)

Except... the two oranges are indistinguishable under artificial light, and barely so from where I stand while I weave. But I can "feel" the difference more than see it if I step to either side of the loom. Sometimes. It's winter now and my workshop is in the basement although this loom is next to a window, so the hours I can weave is limited, and the weather also influences; we had several grey rainy days, the reason it took me a week to get back to it. 
This photo was taken today, but before I wove, so it shows part of the first 12cm with two colors, and the next <6cm with three; I wove another <6cm today, so it's going to be a really slow one, but hopefully the clasping will become a little more automatic and I can start thinking about the line. I left the head/tail of the dark orange so I/you can see where it came in.

I noticed a few other issues:
1) I'm clasping not inside a plain weave, but a four-shaft zigzag twill that is not threaded regularly, i.e. where the twill direction change are completely random. So I must be mindful of checking each clasp so they don't disrupt the twill pattern. 
2) I always, always use floating selvedges regardless of loom, structure, etc. I had a brief nanosecond thinking I could do away with them on this warp, but out of habit, I didn't. It wasn't a problem while clasping two colors, but with three, I have dropped the FL a few times on the left/orange side. I might thread the selvedges instead on the second piece if weaving with three colors.

While speaking with Kaz, we discussed the merits of the two schemes of positioning the oranges I discussed in the previous post. I honestly could have gone either way, maybe even challenging myself with a new aesthetic, but in the end I went with what felt visually more comfortable, or familiar. I'm not sure if it was the right choice, if I'll be happy at the end. Too late to change my mind for this piece, (although I could still incorporate different aspect, in a hybrid design; in fact I almost did today,) but I could try the other style in another piece if I'm patient enough to weave another three-color piece.

2024/06/10

Purple Warp/Clasped Weft Planning and Weaving Part III

I like the mid-orange and pale purple combination so much I couldn't help myself. I started weaving soon after the last post, but stopped after using a little more than half of the orange bobbin; I got about 14cm.
I have three bobbins of the paler orange, two of the darker orange, and in comparison unlimited amount of the purple, (an untouched cone besides all this,) so simple math says I'll get 150cm at this rate, more if I make purple more prominent.

The colors are more saturated than in the pic, but this is a good representation of the relative characteristics of the three yarns; both the purple and the paler orange has white flecks, while the middle orange is more saturated. Though I just wanted to keep weaving, I needed a plan, or a scheme on how to mix the two oranges. So over the next few nights, I drew/painted "thumbnail" versions of how the two oranges can be positioned.
By pages 5 and 6, I knew I had two viable options: to use the orange wefts more or less in turn, as in the top six examples, or insert the darker orange in the center, sandwiched between the pale orange and purple, as in the bottom six examples. The top option is easier to weave, starker in look, while the bottom option is more delicate and prettier. I painted a few more examples of the top option, and though not all that different as plans, the two looks give very different impressions. I like the bottom look better for now.

These "thumbnail" sketches are grossly out of proportion, but the paint colors are accurate (by accident). I'm not sure whether to take the plunge with whichever option I choose, or think/paint a little more.

We are expecting a few heavy-rain days later in the week, and it would be a good time to be weaving something fussy, if I can make up my mind by then.  

2024/06/01

Purple Warp/Clasped Weft Planning Part II

I am a weaver who loves to plan and sample, and find the actual weaving part, at times, boring. Clasping the weft is good in sustaining my interest. But my body and mind must find clasping exhausting also, as it took me four sittings in three days just for the first sample. In the last sitting, the draw-in was becoming so big was pulling at the selvedges all the time. I shall stop whenever my attention starts to wane when I move onto the scarves. 
In narrower pieces in the past, I used wound bobbins not in shuttles for clasping, but this warp being wider, I put them in shuttles for the first time. Overall it worked well, but I noticed one thing; that slight differences in bobbin lengths makes a huge difference. I make bobbins by recycling card stock to fit the longer shuttle right away, and cut to size when they go into the shorter. As you can see the two shuttles are only slightly different in length, and often the bobbins are cut short enough to fit in the shorter shuttle, but just. Whereas they tend to have more room in the longer. 

While sampling, quite a lot of weft unwound from the longer shuttle as the bobbins moved more freely. I've had to manually rewind several times, in addition to pressing the bobbin ever so slightly with my forefinger when I remembered. This is not a problem per se, but an unwanted nuisance.

Because the wefts travel twice in a shed, after weft-finishing they bunch up nicely, looking in places like tiny beads, and adding meatiness to the cloth.

I am satisfied with the treading, particularly because it works better if I don't change the direction of treadling too often. But with lighter-value wefts the pattern is too visible, taking the eye away from the clasping. 

And finally the colors. I had in mind darker, saturated purples, greens, maybe blues, and perhaps reds to complement, but also used up a lot of thrums to sample the threading, and practice clasping with shuttles. I wished I had a more cheerful true green, but otherwise, I see a few workable combinations.
A few surprises:
* A is a pale lavender a little too light for my liking on its own, but it worked well here, and I have a lot of it.
* B is a salmon-based mix with dark purple, orange, and a few other things from Mom's stash. She had a whole cone, and though I sampled it in different warps it never looked good anywhere, so if memory servers, I used it in a multi-colored warp. I have very little of it now, but this is the first time it looks attractive, and darn it, I wished I had saved it. 
* C is the only cashmere/silk I auditioned; it fulled nicely, almost as much as the 100%, and does stand out with its sheen. I'm hesitant to use it in combination with 100% as it may distort the shape over the planned 180cm length, which is my plan for these pieces, but may weave a piece with two cashmere/silk wefts.
B is at the top. I have three possible pairs, but two with potential problems. 
A, the pale lavender and a rusty orange, (the middle orange,) look great together but I have only three bobbins of the orange, and from memory I need four to five if I were to use two colors in roughly equal amounts. I'm not sure if I like the idea of lopsided distribution. 
And then the medium purple with the medium green; this is the closest to my original color idea, but I have even less of this green, and I really don't want to weave with even more lopsided distribution. Other greens I have are much lighter-value ones, and I'm not keen on the idea of mixing them with this one. 
C, the middle green is the silk mix. Although I did not sample the salmon-colored silk mix, which is somewhere between the two sampled pinks but a slightly different hue, I'm pretty confident this combination will look nice.

Another thought is to use the two purples in the first and second pictures. And I have plenty of them.

I have been staring at the samples for a few days; if I were to start weaving, the last silk-mix combo is probably the best place to start as I have enough of both. Alternatively, I might sample navies and yellows to help me make up my mind. Oh, but this thinking and not knowing but having all the options is a most delicious moment.

2024/05/30

Teinei (丁寧)

There is a word/concept "te-i-ne-i" (丁寧・ていねい) in Japanese. The word itself is a type of adjective/adverb. I can't translate it, but in Japanese lives, this word is used all the time. Combine the essence of careful/conscientious/with-care/lovingly/thorough/scrupulous/deliberate/paying-attention-to-details/polite/unrushed (even slow)/beautiful/soft-the-opposite-of-rough, as applied to one's modus operandi and we're approaching an outline of its meaning.

I feel there is a focus in my weaving in general now, (as opposed to being super-focused on a particular project,) and relaxed, and have been meditating, as close to meditation as I get, on this concept. In "actionable" terms, it's taking the time to ensure I'm weaving in a most desirable ways to produce a most desirable something, (in my own estimation, of course,) and hopefully attain the most/highest joy/satisfaction, (along with a bunch of regrets and criticisms, because let's face it, it's me we are talking about.) An attitude fitting of an older weaver who has been doing this for a while and isn't in a rush to get anywhere. Realizing/acknowledging the accumulated knowledge/experience, but that's more in the subconscious.  

I strange online English sources go straight to "politeness", while Japanese sources mention "thoroughness", (and multiple dictionaries posted the example of "ironing in teinnei-manner" !!!!!) scrupulousness, and finally, politeness including our "teinie-go", polite parlance. Western definitions throws it in the interpersonal relationships box, something "visible" from the outside. It's so not that.

2024/05/25

Purple Warp/Clasped Weft Planning Part I

First the colors and proportions. We are now standing in front of the loom; I still think wider borders might have been more attractive, but I ran out of the navy, so never mind,
Next I considered whether to undulate or not, in the threading, treading, or both, and decided not to in the threading. (I can still undulate in the treadling.) Keeping in mind this is the widest warp in which I am going to clasp wefts so far, with only two weft colors, so I could expect larger areas where nothing will happen re. weft colors compared to past clasped projects.
I considered where to place smaller/fussier shapes and where the bigger shapes, in relation to the main event, the interaction of two weft colors. At this point I still saw the clasping as the focus, superimposed on the patterned background. My main concern was not to distract from the clasping by making the sides too fussy, but providing enough visual interest. I was also mindful that from afar the clasping is visible, while the patterns would need closer inspection. (I consider a kind of a gift for the wearers/owners; I chuckle imagining them noticing something new after wearing the piece awhile.)

I saw both option workable on the computer with only one weft color, but wanted to see in real life before I decided. I was keen to get sampling, and with somewhere around 190 ends, I could easily rethread, so I threaded randomly but somewhat like the left view.

In the sampling, I would be auditioning 1) weft hues/values; 2) attractive weft pairings; and 3) optimal harmony superimposing clasping over patterned background.

2024/05/23

What Warped Minds We Have!

I can talk about warps until your ears fall off, and yet I'm having a hard time clarifying, in words, what place warps have in my weaving.

The way I design has changed somewhat over the years, but on the whole I leave it to the warp to make the designs/shapes. Twill was my starting point when I started weaving without recipes, so even with other structures, I more or less think the same way. 

Designing starts with a particular warp yarn, (and sett, and hand,) in mind, and I work on the threading; I sometimes make curves in the treadling and turn the draft, but that's only because it's physically easier to input curvy lines in the treadling area on the computer. As I start to play with tie-ups and the real treadling, I start to think about fibers/yarns that would suit this particular "warp environment". With wefts, I think about colors and texture in the main. This is probably why I sample a lot of wefts to see what creates the greatest harmony with the warp, the loveliest hand, but also which weft makes the best use of the warp the way I set it up, which weft best realizes what I intend with this warp. Of course there are lots of leeway and surprises, but on the whole, the method has served me well in weaving merchandises and commission pieces.

This method limits random creativity, however, resulting in the lack of variety of aesthetics, which is why I mixed it up with random threading/treadling, clasped weft, other structures, or even unattractive-to-me warps. It's a real triumph when I make such a warp look good, but a complete defeat when I end up with ick pieces made from a lovely warp. For a long time I avoided ugly-to-me warps, but this is the benefit of growing old, I think; it doesn't matter because it's the trying-and-seeing that counts, and if I triumph, all the better. And it's a good way to use some of someone else's stash. (Hello, Mom!) It's all been and continues to be a wild ride.

* * * * *
This is my original warp tree, a spare warping board. There are more warps in bags at the bottom, possibly in my cashmere drawer, and at least one upstairs. It sits behind me as I weave on the Jack loom, in the path of direct sunlight, the warps are usually covered with corrugated cardboard. 
These are the immediate next candidates you saw in a previous post while I auditioned border colors. I can see these while I weave on the Jack.
Underneath the immediate nexts are the regular nexts that may go on any loom. I wanted to contemplate while I weave on the Jack. I honestly never thought of simply moving the original warp tree until this week. I "temporarily" hung a few warps on top of the warping mill some time ago, and often done this from time to time, but now this seems semi-permanent.
Under that layer is the mill which has held Syrie warp forever. I haven't done anything because I don't know how to proceed with the project, but I used already ancient silk among the dozen or more yarns, and they are now really crumbling. This being a "show" piece, not utilitarian, I'm not against having knots in the warp, but we shall see what I do when I finally decide to go ahead with the project.

At one point, I started a notebook listing all unwoven warps, and every couple of years I took inventory and rewrote the list. I still counted/recorded numbers while making the warp on backs of envelopes, but if they had anything tricky/sexy like different numbers of ends for different colors, I cut out the information and taped/stapled it on to the notebook. A few years ago I got smart and started recording the information on the same notebook and now just cross out warps I've woven.
I've just come upstairs after winding the next warp on the Jack loom; this is a view from the back. I will probably get three clasped weft piece in a randomly threaded twill, but I can't decide whether I want undulation. At 12 inches, it's the widest clasped weft warp so far, but I'm still going to use only two colors.

I wanted slightly wider borders but had only a small amount of the navy, so I measured that first, and made the green slightly narrower. Don't worry about the green on the far left; When I ran out of the navy, I tied on the green for the loom waste and the sampling portion. By the time I can start the proper piece, it'll automagically turn navy.

2024/05/14

Blogger Help, Please

Hello, friends.

If you've been on Blogger long enough, you may be as flummoxed as I about the changes on the operations side. Or, you may be young or young-in-the-head enough to enlighten me on a few points, if you please.

Note: I use Firefox on a laptop.

1) Who can comment, being the top issue I would like to fix.
 
I would like to set up who can comment like this:
But in "settings", these are the only options I have:
If I set it to Anyone, it defaults to Anonymous, which is what I want to avoid.
I monitor comments now because of spams. (I also have issues with legit comments without any name/moniker/identity, which is why I use Google Accounts, but that's a different issue.)

2) The ability to comment

Even when Blogger acknowledges I am logged in, (see the tiny profile pic?) sometimes I can't type on the Enter Comment line. This problem is sporadic, and neither can I tell what fixes it automagically, but it eventually does. Do you know why? Does it happen to you??
3) Blogger not acknowledging me as the author

As you can see at top right, Blogger knows I'm logged in, and presumably that I am the author. (Sometimes, even when I go from writing a post to View Blog, this doesn't happen.)  
But at the bottom, I don't get the pencil mark to allow me to go straight into the post to edit/amend. For a spelling mistake from 9 years ago, I must go search for the posts in the Posts/Published section.
Whereas on some of the other blogs, I get the pencil. I don't remember changing anything, although I may have in 18 years of Unravelling.
From Layout/Main/Blog Posts/Edit, I don't see a likely button for the pencil.
Any ideas? (I'm also curious about the Author Profile at the top of this last pic, as opposed to Show Author about the middle in the top pic.)

Since Google started begging for cookies on my own blog, posting photos is slower or the screen freezes. I'm sure Google is storing all of our photos somewhere for their use, even in private blogs. It makes me even more cautious about posting people pics, which is sad.

Thank you for any help, in advance.

[EDIT] I just realized I asked for your help but you may not be able to comment because of the various problems I described!! If this is the case, please email me at MegWeaves at gmail dot com. Thank you.

2024/05/12

Reboot

I've become energized about coming out of semi-retirement and weaving other than self-indulgence projects. It took a month to determine what I want to focus on in the near future, after months of not knowing what I want to weave for the Suter Store. (Interesting how retail outlets are called "shops" in New Zealand, while "stores" may refer to storage facilities, yet websites often have "store finders", and the Suter calls its own a "Store". It's a conspiracy to trip up implants like me, I tell ya.) 

I categorized the kind of weaving I've engaged in, and ordered them on a scale of difficulty/ease or time spent making a piece. In doing so, I realized I love designing, planning, and sampling, and don't mind loom-dressing, so I was comparing only the actual weaving part. 

The easiest/quickest is on the four-shaft Jack, with easy treadling. This can be a twill, basket weave, (two shuttles, but easy once you get used to it,) or something like this:  
Then the option slits three ways. One is clasped-wefts on the four-shaft with easy treadling, which can be time-consuming but not difficult; I just have to pay attention to the line two wefts create. And the good news is, a young jewelry maker called my attention to the fact two weft colors look more effective than three or more. Who doesn't love it when the simpler option works better.
The second option is to weave a slightly more complicated pattern on the Ashford eight-shaft table loom, (which I'm not using at the moment as I find it hard to monitor the pick since the breast-beam-to-heddle is too short for the purpose,) or even Klik, (super easy to dress, cumbersome to lift/drop shafts, which is why I tend to save this for learning new structures or abbreviated sampling.) But cashmere survives the shed in both looms.

The third option is fussy twills on the 16-shaft computer dobby. I usually use one shuttle at a time, but the shafts are lifted with an air-compressor-solenoid combo, so the rhythm of weaving is left to the mechanism rather than my body, and it's a bother weaving backwards when I make mistakes. But I like the look and hand of these. 
Cashmere, though, can't withstand the large shed of the 16-shaft, so in future, I'll be using more 30/2 merino in the warp and cashmere in the weft as I did in the piece below. Although I learned to weave on 16/2 merino and I miss them dearly, these thinner merino will allow even skinny silk in the weft, so I'm looking forward trying that.  
At the most time-consuming end is the tied-unit weave I indulge in. I'm also looking at different ways of including random shapes onto the woven cloth, but I haven't focused on a particular method yet, and I must do a lot of sampling to figure out whether it's worth the time required to weave a piece this way vs. the visual impact of the clasped wefts, for example, not to mention the hand of pieces with uneven wefts.

I guess categorizing isn't going to determine what I'll weave when; I'm going to keep weaving what I want to. But I hope thinking about this will help me use my time more efficiently so I don't get bogged down on only the pleasure projects.

There is a lot to look forward to. I'm currently weaving the last piece on the gray-ish cashmere warp on the Jack; I was so looking forward to weaving more in a similar pattern on a two-grays warp for a while, but now I can't stop thinking about clasped weft in saturated pules, greens, teal if I have some. (The burgundy warp is half-length, so two scarves, which makes it even more tempting.) I'll keep you posted.

2024/05/11

How Times have Changed

I am back at the Suter; that is, I've had some scarves at the Suter Store since mid-April. That morning, I surveyed the shop focusing on woven textiles, and found quite a few things had changed in the five years I wasn't paying attention:

* There were blankets manufactured by a UK company using NZ wool; the manager said it's fine because of NZ wool and because nobody is weaving blankets.
* There is a local manufacturer machine-weaving scarves. I believe they are woven on a wide warp, and then cut vertically. The tags declare, "No two pieces are the same." 
* There are weavers who do not specify fiber contents.
* There are weavers who list phone/email/website on their tags; an absolute no-no when I started placing pieces in galleries, but Stella reckons that's normal (now), so I'm outdated.
* The price of woven items have gone up, to the point prices I had in mind for mine didn't not seem out of place.
* The gallery store still looks dignified and beautiful. It's worth/a pleasure having my pieces there again.

I made an appointment with the shop manager ahead of time, with the expectation of the usual discussion on review of pieces/trends/colors/fibers/prices/shop vision, etc, but that was not to be. I was faced with quite a lot of changes compared to earlier experiences, but a month on, I got over the feeling between shock and surprise, and have a clearer idea of where I want to go. 

Other weavers make finely crafted pieces in reliable styles and colors to suit a range of tastes. I feel freer to make wacky/shocking, less precisely woven pieces, taking advantage of the fact this is an art gallery shop. Of course not all pieces will be "out there," we are talking about me after all. But I feel lighter, and I'm thinking of some clasped wefts, popular among my friends, in the near future.

2024/05/10

We Almost Cancelled a Holiday but are Glad We Didn't

A week before we went away, I almost cancelled our holiday. Thinking about Palestine, Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Belarus, Somalia, Georgia, "oh-my-gosh-who-else-am-I-forgetting?" I could not in good conscience have a holiday in the woods by the sea, just because we live in a safe, beautiful place.

But then I thought about the three weeks we spent preparing for the trip. And the six months we counted down the days since we booked the trip. And how life has become rougher in those six months: my mom's deterioration and how my sister shoulders all contacts with the care facility and most decisions; our destroy-everything government targeting, among many, many other things, the Treaty of Waitangi, for goodness sake; the environment, which should be everybody's top priority but appears on everybody's back burner... I conceded we need a time out, away from the Internet, to regain a sense of... I'm not sure what I expected. 

Here's a weird thing: the last time we went to Golden Bay, I couldn't stop contrasting the lifestyle of Kiwis and Japanese, (I'm oversimplifying both, but bear with me,) the space and privacy we can now enjoy vs. the constant crowd and noise, even when we are away in the mountains, for example. For some reason, I kept seeing flashbacks of the gazillion hours of train commute I suffered, (45 minutes until age 13, 90 minutes until I went to the US, between 100 and 130 minutes to work, each way; Dad did 130 min for 40 odd years;) strangers' bodies pressed against each other for hours in shaking, vibrating carriages, where at times you couldn't even scratch your itchy nose. Gross, eh. Ben used a line famous for passengers cracking ribs in the overcrowding. I felt sad that we, urban Japanese, had/have to live like that, and that most of my friends and family will never experience the kind of serenity we now get to enjoy. 
 
The weeks leading up to our holiday this time around, I replayed walking from one end of Yokohama Station to the other, because my two lines had platforms at the opposite ends. When I was a kid, it was a job just to keep up with everybody's pace; even as an adult, I tried not to stop, trip or push. Yokohama Station is the fifth busiest station in Japan according to one website; about 2.1 million passengers go through it daily. Back then, the station had only one concourse connecting the East and West exists, and it was famous for crowding. Nothing "bad" happened; no crimes, no accidents, no concert-like injuries; it was just a way of life, not even unique to Yokohama Station. With a few new concourses, it's still pretty much the same.

I don't know why my brain kept replaying this 24/7; in the days I lived there, it annoyed me, but not to this degree; it was just inescapable. We were so right to move here when we could. And I'm glad we went on this holiday; we've never experienced decompression like this, and we hadn't realized how much we needed it. 
Take care, everybody. I hope you do what you need to keep sane, too, if/when you can, if you need it.