Saturday, July 6, 2019

Gumption, Old Age, Parental Influence, or a Long Blather

When the tutor asked before the class started why we wanted to write memoirs/what we wanted to get out of the class, my answer, as you might have guessed, was "therapy". And I was going to write a post about this public/private-self thing I started to explore but can't remember now because it I didn't write it down right away, and if I forgot where I was going, it must not have been that important even to me. But this post is not entirely unrelated, to the therapy part. And though I haven't typed up the last three old stories I intend to keep, I'm not worried. My priorities are elsewhere. And I'm doing the right thing here.

I've been looking for a mid-to-long-term project with paper/canvas and paint, and though I gaze at Pinterest with that in mind, I'm still not sure what to make. I play around with paint, collage, and paper often enough, hoping that'll help me see, or even become parts I can use later, but so far, nothing. And I still can't stop thinking about "a project". I've lived with this for so long I'm almost comforted by not knowing, but it may come, suddenly or organically, or I may have to delve deeper in experimentation, or abandon it altogether, but I'm not fussed. I know this is the right approach for now.

You know I used to envy those who traveled, but the last few years it's been people with resolve/gumption/stamina to complete what they set out to do, specifically folks who finish (art) projects/series, submit to exhibitions, apply for/win/complete internships, or maintain a healthy stock of woven pieces to sell. I have the desire, (though if I'm not careful even that's been fading,) sometimes enough to look up details, and start thinking about tasks, schedule, cost, but "reasons I can't" take over before I know it. Not fear, but a grayer can't-be-bothered-ness, a mental/emotional lethargy. That is, if I don't forget whatever it was I was looking into just minutes ago. 

I try to stay engaged with making-related skills important to me. In the first instance it is to keep the inertia going so I need less energy to restart. I try to survey where I am, where and when I want to go, what to do when to get to there, and prioritize. I try to practice different skills, although inevitably I do more of what I like or feel good about and not the difficult ones. I'm lucky I don't mind practicing; I hated it as a kid and only ever wanted to play in recitals or big games without the daily grunt, but no longer. Goodness, I often enjoy sampling more than the real deal, and it doesn't matter if what I'm making now doesn't become something. I feel the "living in the moment" thing vividly yet unconsciously when I'm engaged in making/practicing. This is opposite to my previous, default, goal-oriented mindset, but I feel less grandiose and more honest. At the right time, Big Projects are thrilling and exciting, and there's nothing wrong with them, of course, but I feel rather... grown up about not everything I do having to be a Big Project.      

* * * * *

I wrote before that for decades Mom said she wanted to learn more about colors; how maybe a year it dawned on me this was only one item on her un/sub-conscious to-talk-about-with-Meg list, and at least in the last decade she had no intention for action and how I finally told her I was tired of talking unless we/she were going to do something. It may sound mean, but this kind of repetition is soul-destroying for solution-oriented listeners like me.

Of late her talking point is a variation of, "Where do you get your motivation?", "How do you come up with it?", "Where did you learn to think like that?", etc, regarding design. These may sound interesting and worthy of discussion, and I gladly engage every week, but again, she's not serious about leaning/studying. I don't mind Mom forgetting two if I tell her three ways; I don't mind Mom dissing me when an experiment didn't work as long as she tries. But in her hands, or mouth rather, these important-to-me topics are reduced to small talk, for which I never had the patience. She in fact told me when I was 13 to politely walk away from small talks because I became visibly irritated; she didn't know how to teach me that.    

In her weaving, Mom relied on other people; she had/has multiple teachers, and often wove to recipes. She seldom/never sampled, and everything she made turned into something, except when instructed to sample new structures. Lately, I make up drafts and put on warps when I'm home so she can select wefts and weave. She doesn't see the point non-project activities.

Mom forever criticized Dad, to us, for being a talker, by which she meant he was all ideas and no action. And I was/am like him, so I took it as a criticism of me. Dad was a Chemistry prof, so he did a lot of thinking, although in the labs he did a lot of doing/instructing, and I was lucky to witness it more than any other in the family. He also read more than Mom, was innately opinionated, so he opined, although in fairness, he was never as sedate as Mom made him out to be. Mom pushed us to action; Dad instructed us with logic.

One of the funniest times was a few years before I got married. Dad took the family ice-skating to a resort near Mt Fuji. Except for Mom, we're no skaters, but it'd been a while since the family went anywhere together, so at first we indulged him but soon started to have real fun. After a while Dad, not a good skater, got tired so he returned his skates, borrowed a pair of oversized rubber boots, took up prime position at the side of the rink, and began shouting instructions/theory at us. Oh, he knew the theory alright, and he could see how the angle of our blades needed correction and couldn't understand why we simply didn't do as he said.

You'd think we'd be embarrassed, but instead the rest of us burst out laughing because this was the perfect snapshot of our family. Dad instructing us from the sideline in borrowed boots, full of book knowledge; us trying hard to "dance to his beat". The memory is all the more precious because we all had different interpretations on Dad's personality, but this was one of the few instances when we agreed spontaneously, and in a good way.

As I grew older, I increasingly admired Mom's doer quality, of taking up new challenges whatever, whenever, always looking forward. When she was in her 70's, I sincerely hoped to inherit this attitude and Ben and I still remember that conversation.

As I write, I see the reason why I can't quit weaving, or being a weaver, (besides the stash) is because this is the one instance of the conflicting Momness and Dadness in me working in harmony: I like a fresh challenge, the newness of projects, the looking forward to future pieces, but I'm also like to study, prepare, experiment and practice to make something better than the last one, or do it better than the last time. Which is probably why I enjoy every process of weaving most days. (Now if I had Dad's physical dexterity, I could have been a mind-blowingly awesome weaver, but I'm still waiting on that.) For someone whose syllabus never mentioned "feeling comfortable in one's own skin," I say, this is huge.  

What I'm trying to say is, my irritation with Mom these days is multiplied by the fact she was the one who admonished us for talking but not doing. I feel obliged to listen like a good daughter when I know we're going nowhere; I'm supposed to "kikinagasu", (listen and let it flow downstream,) but I missed the lesson on that.

I too am old now, struggling to keep the pace I used to just a few years ago. I'm oh-so-aware of how much she influenced my views, how she hoped I'd be more like her, (to the detriment, I now see, to my relationship with Dad in some ways.) I know the weird shadows her words/problems cast on me without my noticing the last few years; that symbiosis. It's all the more alarming because I never had the kind of parent/child relationship you see in novels and films with either parent, but at least I understood Dad.

Now I'm so aware I'm running out of time to fix whatever.

* * * * *

"Saki-ori" (tear-weaving) is rag weaving in Japanese. Dad used to call Mom an expert "Kuchi-saki-ori" weaver; "kuchi-saki" means "front of your mouth" or words not accompanied by emotions or action. I now see how painful it must have been for Dad, when they were alone in the big house, for Mom to go on about her weaving plans about which Dad may have had only vague ideas and perhaps no interest. He, too, was a solution-oriented listener, and though always ready to help if asked, the endless talk must have been tiresome.

But then he yelled at politicians on the telly until he turned red, so maybe they were a good match after all. 

And I can write these things because Mom doesn't read my blog.

* * * * *

You know we live in a cold house; I told you we've had a cold spell. I went into town on Wednesday for a lunchtime writer's meeting, which itself was nice, meeting new people, etc, except by then I had decided to shelve all writing so I was a real imposter. Anyway he two hours I had to kill before the meeting, I spent in Ben's work library, and the meeting itself was in a lovely pub. I don't know if they were heated excessively or to "normal" indoor temps, but I became light-headed and felt sick, I had to spend the rest of the day in bed. So, although I am feeling the cold a little more than I used to, and I blame old age, I still don't like hot, either.

61 is such a fussy age.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

That's Three!!!

Nearly two months since the last post? I had thought it's been half as long. I've been un/productive, un/motivated, and un/inspired, so, start with a list? 

1) I withdrew everything from The Suter and Broomfileds in mid/late April. The pieces had been out and about long enough I was too embarrassed to go to either place. I had panned to put them online but haven't gotten around to taking new pics. Descriptions can stay the same, or not, but that niggly thing called pricing gets in the way. Vinegar bath, pressing, new tags and making calico bags, on the other hand, were lovely, finished within a week of the pieces coming home.

2) I have not rethreaded the cotton warp nor woven, primarily due to that 2006 fall "injuries" coming back big time; a few places on both legs have throbbed and kept me awake off and on since fall; it got so bad I went to see Doc Karl, who after a long consultation prescribed me a vid exercise. I fell, hurt myself, my muscles have been compensating in unnatural ways ever since, (which is what I told four health professionals in '14/'15 when it first came back,) so we'll see how it goes. I may have overdone this the first week, and/or it's this rather longish cold spell in Nelson, I've not been cured miraculously. I've been holding my breath for when I can sit down once again on the tiny folding "fishing" chair thing between the shafts and the back beam to rethread the cotton warp and weave the hellebore draft.

Having said that, the cold weather is great. I've had far fewer days, (well, almost none,) where I've felt completely blah, and I haven't needed a nap in a month and a half, so albeit it partially/temporarily broken, the old bod keeps going. 
3) Looking for some weaving mojo, I made a peach/pink warp. Fine but worsted wool, not merino; I have loads of this yarn in about five colors because these were the skinniest wool I could find around here in the '90s. Nice, grown-up colors, but not soft texture. The plan is to combine with very fine merino possibly for fabrics to sew.

4) Not being able to sell is always a downer, as well as not having the kind of maker/gallery relationship I had with Jay Farnsworth at the old Red or Andrea Chandler at the Suter. I have to grow up and stand on my own, which I seem to have done better before I became so matey with the galleries. "I'm too old for this," doesn't cut it.

I remind myself the alternative is an office job, but I've been too old to hire for the last 15-20 years, so there's that. I also reprimand myself for taking Ben's income for granted and spending way beyond my means, but even that is falling on my own deaf ears. I have to tighten my bootstraps and change my big girl pants to a fresher, starched, just-pressed pair. And stop buying books.

5) I signed up for and went to a four-week memoir-writing course, and went to the first three sessions. I briefly enjoyed writing again, and the prospect of reconnecting with my writing friends. (I thought the last time I went to Joan's writing retreat was in 2009 but it could have been, shivers, 2008!) And as much as I like reading memoirs, knowing my life hasn't been as interesting or eventful as I'd like to read about bothered me because weekly we were asked why we want to write a memoir and what we hoped to achieve though our "books". The question remained, am I content to retell mundane stuff in a funny way, and the answer was/is yes, and I couldn't think of clever answers so I kept repeating myself every week. 

Then there is the reason I was willing to give up writing in preference to weaving all those years ago: the prospect of never ending (for me) editing, where all my stories inevitably whittle down to a couple of sentences after taking out all the "unnecessary" bits, with nothing to show for a whole week's work. In contrast, you know, if I make a warp I have a warp whether I like it or not, and I can put it on the loom. If I have a warp on the loom, I can thread/sley, whether that is a good project or not, and, gee, when a warp is threaded and ready to go, the very least I could do is sample to my heart's content. Or revise plan. There is not this natural progression in writing that propels me to the next stage. I find that... dispiriting.

So, nah, didn't happen this time. But it was nice to read Joan's "So You Want to Write" and "Writing your Family History", and going through all the bits and pieces I wrote over the 24 years I've known her, throwing out about half, (yes, ceremoniously burning in the wood burner,) and typing in the other half onto this computer. That's something.

6) In the approximately six weeks I concentrated on writing, I kept fantasizing working with paper and paper projects; prints, doodling, Letter Journals, etc. I've joined a couple of swaps, resumed drawing faces, and spent endless hours gazing at Pinterest.
Meanwhile I noticed a complete change in my approach, to writing and with paper projects. As a kid, I used to be better at big pictures and the grand plan, but couldn't produce the details/parts. So for e.g. in writing a memoir, I might have a structure of a book in mind, with approximate number of chapters, their order, importance/length/balance by subject/period, what to say in the preface, the cover, etc. Nowadays I want to write the wee stories, let them pile up, and if a structure emerges organically, great, if not, keep writing. Same with the thing I do with paper that is not writing; doodle, paint, print, cut, fold, paste, whatever; make the parts and build something, a book, a collection, a bigger piece, or just keep making the parts. And I am more concerned with method/technique/material and worth/interest of the individual parts than the cohesion of the whole.  

The incremental (?) processes of weaving could have something to do with this change in focus/preference, but you know, I don't feel compelled to find out; I enjoy the making.
6) Needlepoint project came back into focus after I crossed the halfway point of my pension-related work and the abrupt end to the writing course. I am keen to finish it ASAP because I want to work on at least two knitting projects before the end of the winter. I've also gone outside to weed a bit; all this week I've wanted to go outside but it has been a particularly cold and therefore wet, (a couple of winters ago I fell twice in two days, the second day I fell on our concrete steps on the side of our house and hit my head against the metal railing,) so I worked on finish up projects inside. I've also been reading more printed books.

7) Oh, the three in today's title. One fellow student in the writing class approached me to say she had one from my India series, the predominantly green one at the bottom. She knew the story, about Dad passing; living with Mom for four months, weaving, reminiscing and fighting in the sweltering heat;  making the warp with Mom's cashmere while listening to her stories of her travels to India and looking/handling at all the textiles she brought back. And the knots, and how Santa Fe didn't want them but I sold all four in quick succession at the Suter. I told her how technically I should never have put cashmere though the ordeal, but it was adrenaline that pushed me to completion. Then Esther wrote to me out of the blue how she's been wearing hers all week. (Toldya, it's been cold for Nelson!)

This morning I woke up to an email that came via my website from someone whose name perhaps I should recognize, saying she has two of mine from the Suter and she'd like to buy me coffee! That's three in two-weeks-plus. So, enough feeling sorry for myself; it is time to get back on that loom bench. As soon as this old body agrees to cooperate again. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Perfection, LOL

Monday was the last day of the 10-day public holiday in Japan; there are many public holidays crammed in the short period between April 29 and May 5 every year, but with the abdication/crowning I hear the government recommended it be semi-mandatory this year.

I'm terribly annoyed seeing the pageantry in Western-style clothing. Even we Japanese don't get to see the traditional garb often; they are, or are similar to, the court fashion during the time of Tale of Gengi, and probably long before and after. Male hairs and their brides got married in them in the 1990's but who knows what will happen to succession, marriages, or what they'll wear in future.

* * * * *
We asked Richard to knit Ben a sweater, and it's come up a real winner. I'm supposed to wash/finish/size it, but a) I don't know how to do it properly and must consult Youtube, and b) Ben's been wearing it whenever he's home and not sleeping, so I'll leave it as is for a while. One of the things we wanted from the start was for Richard to pick the buttons, after seeing fo his knit cushion covers and his talent for picking out striking buttons.

Once again, we were bedazzled by his choice. These are locally handmade recycled teak, roughly 23mm in diameter and 6mm thick, and they stand out without fighting the rest of the sweater, let alone steal all the attention. As Rosie pointed out, "they makes the sweater a statement piece." (I think that's what she said; I heard "statement" and my imagination ran away.)

We knew If I chose, I would have gone for the least visible, thinnest, possibly smaller, and something in darker in value, so as to make the knit part stand out. Ben would have done better, but I might have talked him out of it, or we might have compromised with, say, something made of bones or horns, striking but ordinary. I know these choices emanate from one's taste/preference in the first instance, but there's more to achieving a nuanced/sophisticated look, not the simplistic harmony/disappearance I tend to go for. How do I develop this kind of eye?

* * * * *

Richard's partner is Rosie, the bookbinder, and I talk a lot about making, (although she has been far more prolific than I in recent years, in spite of her many commitments and a far bigger garden.) One of the things she brought up was the precise, (she used another word, four letters, starts with "a" and ends with 'l",) nature of her craft, desirability of perfection, and the attractiveness of imperfection. I was reminded of when I was younger and more ambitious, when I aimed to weave technically perfectly, and we laughed. Pleasingly, or perfectly, imperfect isn't easily achieved, we didn't think, so do how we investigate that? Then we laughed, again. And sighed.

* * * * *

I've been looking at collages online because I want to up my game. Early Surrealists did some nicely understated stuff, and there is always Nick Bantock for visual joyride. I've always imagined good drawing skills would help to make beautiful collages, but I'm not making efforts to improve my drawing, so I'm looking at composition, proportion and reduced color palette. The problem is, I'm too in awe of work I like to be able to study them, and too many different styles at that, among them many, many simpler, not-layered look. I can't decide if that's what I want.
 
Told'ya I'm not making an effort. These weree great fun, though; I'm making myself a tiny bunting of Bardies next.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

On Memoirs, Synchronicity Overload, Meaning of Labels, and Re-collecting

I wrote this Wednesday morning, so the radio thing happened on Tuesday. I sat on it because I felt there was too much depression talk when I wasn't depressed, and glad I did. That's almost all out.

* * * * *

I check who is interviewed on Fresh Air every morning and yesterday it was another memoir writer. Too much synchronicity get cloying, and I had never heard of David or Erin Carr, but it appeared promising so I listened to Erin first, then David's 2008 interview about his memoir, (and lo, there is the Minneapolis connection,) and another 2011 David interview. That's a bit of synchronicity overload, but it was a good intermission between Ali Smith Rounds 1 and 2.

Erin Carr mentioned a family expression that went something like, "Addiction explains everything but solves nothing," which resonated with my view of depression. There's a fine line between using an ailment as an excuse, (what I call "/insert-ailment/ defining a person",) and explaining/examining it. I don't mind labeling myself as a sometimes-depressed person, because it has/does open up opportunity for discourse, and because it's like eyeglasses with which I have to keep checking myself from time to time, but it doesn't exonerate me from trying the best.

David Carr, on the other hand, was the first person I heard say out loud the creepiness of holy communion, although he remained Catholic. This used to freak me before First Communion. Then there is that ickier thing where every nun is married to Jesus and they wear wedding rings. Cannibalism and Polygamy in one go. Yeah...

* * * * *

I've been wondering what to get Mom for Mother's Day and I came up with a good idea. Since I've been enjoying young adult novels so much, why not a few of these? She's joined an English Book Club at least twice because she knew all the members for decades, but didn't last long because she had to look up the dictionary too often and lost the plot, or the books had sex in them. :-D Young Adult books I read don't have sex, but they are usually "historical", (i.e. with reference to real people/events Mom may not be familiar with,) and often has magic, which isn't her thing.

She'd love Beverly Clearly books: real, current, and everyday characters and occurrences. But those, I could probably find online and have them sent to her, as well as books by one of my all time favorite authors, Erich Kästner, in Japanese. Who knows, she may even be able to talk to my niece, who is apparently turning into an avid reader. That was my thinking in the morning.

I went hunting for perhaps Ramona-like lead character in the afternoon, with not too many words she'd have to look up, something perhaps she could sit down after dinner and finish in a week, and I found two. When I went to pay for them, what do I find in front of the till but a Kästner! And they all have lovely dull yellow covers!!
(You caught me; I got one more, NZ author Maurice Gee's book he wrote for her then-young-teen daughter when they lived in town, but that doesn't have a yellow cover, so I "censored". :-D)

I'm planning to read all these without, I hope, damaging the spine, and scribble meanings of difficult words and/or make a card with a list of characters so she doesn't get mixed up.  Mom's not a reader, (she's a jock!) but I think she'll get a kick out of finishing books in English without needing a dictionary. Or she'll tell me to stop sending them.

All this talk about Kästner and Clearly reminded me something I'd not thought of for nearly 40 years. There was a time I planned to become a young adult writer, long before the concept/label became popular. I had in mind a target audience who were sentient beings with all the answers to the world but not all the questions, and sensible not to turn into an adult yet. I had to give up this goal when I realized I was too old to remember what it was like to be that way. I was heading towards 25 or 26, starting to see both sides of issues, and suddenly didn't have all the answers, but oh, so many questions. 

I can't believe I'd forgotten about this. I wonder what else I don't remember.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

On Memoirs, Coincidences, Voices, and Scribbling on Cards

Lest you imagine me stomping around in my crumpled bathrobe, mumbling loudly with steam coming out of my ears, (which in a way I've done most of my life, but in another, not as much as last night's post suggests. I don't wear bathrobes, and I'm more a feotal-position-with-permanent-frown kind,) I've been rethreading while listening to new-to-me author Ali Smith.  

On Monday, I had intended to show up at the memoir class emotionally/mentally au naturale, but you know me, I like to prepare. (If only that was the case when I was a student!) I started listening to the audiobook of Mary Kerr's "The Art of Memoir", which I got when the book came out but never finished. I was reminded why: I can't relate to her life; I haven't read most books she mentions; I don't like her language in what is supposed to be an instructional text, not fiction where a bit of swearing add texture. So I thought I'd reread Stephen King's "On Writing" (of any genre), Philip Roth's "Patrimony" and the father portion of Richard Ford's "Between Them". Interesting they are all old white dudes, (which is why I picked up Kerr in the first place but wasn't crazy about two of her memoirs, either,) and I'll never touch King's fiction, don't like Ford's and only some of Roth's, but the two memoirs are lovely homage to their late fathers. Not that I want to write about my Dad, mind, but Roth's, in particular, was written as his father was dying and three years after mine passed, and perhaps I could have used it earlier but still so good. Buy these in books printed on paper, if you are interested, or borrow, nothing electronic. 

Came Tuesday around Insomnia O'clock I saw a Volume FB post praising Ali Smith's "Spring". I had heard of Smith, of course, but I usually shy away from authors modified by "new", "young" and "next", so I'd never read her. But at 4AM in a cold house, what is one to do? I clicked on one link, then another, then another, and ended up with an audiobook of her "Artful", "narrated by a character who is haunted - literally - by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature." In the sample audio, the protagonist drag her ex's just-arrived chair on wooden floor with carpet bunched up under it. Plus this one is read by her, (but not the newer novels,) and because I like Scottish accents, (she doesn't have a very strong one,) this was it.

I learned from the articles that morning, reading Smith requires ill-read readers like myself stopping and googling like a local/slow-train ride; there are plenty of books/authors she alludes to that I haven't read or read when I was in school, and then there are the the artworks. For now I'm content having her read to me while I rethread, and I will listen to her as many times it takes to get through the whole warp.

Listening to her, my mind wandered to Tóibín, whose voice and work is my hypnoses. I love his Irish stories read by him the best, but anything by him read in an Irish accent, or him talking about anything, makes me stop/scribble/wind back and think about writing. There are some lovely vids and podcasts online. (Ford gives wonderful presentations, also; a laugh a minute stuff with substance.)

Anyhoo, I started writing random notes on cards. Notebook pages are linear and scream out order, while mind maps are too messy, so cards I can rearrange. And I write in pencils because I make many mistakes, (my types are not unique to keyboards,) and I like the thought of my words being smudged and eventually disappearing. (Or I can recycle for another project later.) I'm even pleased my handwriting can be illegible. Except when I have to read it.

Yesterday morning I wrote on seven; five are recurring items, and what a relief to have two new thoughts. Because I so need new thoughts/feelings/discoveries.
Dishes, then rethreading.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Angry Old Hag's Stream/Scream of Consciousness

I got so sick of being unenthusiastic/unmotivated, wondering if I need my "head read" again, so as a potentially instant remedy, I joined a Letter Journal swap. The theme is "travel journal" and mine is by a gender-and-age-unknown traveler who may have been reincarnated a few times, who has an uncanny ability to know notable figures or witness historical events in the most mundane ways.
This is the first page I did, and the last page of the book. This swap is 4-person-once-each so ideally the original owner finishes two spreads, or two pages and one spread, at the start. I'm so used to 2-person- and 4-person-multiple rounds, so this looks plain/thin but dit's a start. I overdid LJ in 2017 for a reason, and did only a few last year, but I want to get back into it in a low-keyed way. I've since joined a book-themes swap, but these, and another that started a while ago, will be it until I finish at least one swap.

* * * * * 

I've been taking a break from Vincent bios and reading a lot of Young Adult novels Stella suggests, ("The Traitor and the Thief", by Gareth Ford; "Enchantée", by Gita Trelease; and the latest, "A Skinful of Shadows", by Frances Hardinge;) and in between, a couple of Bard bios. 
I've also been trying to draw him; anything to get my brain working better. I've found a few portraits I'd never seen, and am sticking to left-hand blind drawings. I don't enjoy the drawing but they grown on me. 

* * * * *

After much cogitation, I signed up for a memoir writing course; four Thursday morning during June, held at Volume, I don't know the teacher but I trust Stella and Thomas. I'm not interested in writing a memoir, but I figured my love of the genre will sustain me for four weeks. It will be good therapy.

I'm hoping it will be a swift kick on my cognitive behind because I'm a bit worried about my head. I told you I never had good memory, plus my forgetting pronouns has gotten so bad some days conversations with other humans turns into guessing games; how good are my hints, and how well can they read my mind. That on top of impatience; not suffering fools, even though nowadays I am the fool; inability to keep up with changes and technology; brashness, which I see as as clarity; paranoia/distrust I'm not understood correctly; control freakery; oh, and repeating myself. 

I also worry about the weird symbioses with my mom I develooped over the last decade. It started with my unconsciously developing her health complaints de jour, but lately it's whatever I observe and worry about the most: inability to complete tasks before starting another; selfishness borne out of physical/cognitive limitations...

I'm still working through my bureaucratic stuff, which only appear to multiply every time I turn around; this is driving me mad. I can see other humans are finding me difficult to deal with, so I stay away from other humans except Ben and a few friends. Self-loathing is insidious, tiresome, and unproductive. And not pretty. Yuck. 

* * * * *

I fell in the rain 2006, because of which I couldn't stand up one Sunday in 2014. Even before that I'd been on a look out for comfortable chairs and we replaced the couch in 2012, the kitchen chairs in 2015, and a couple of years ago I even bought this low/ugly/cheap beach chair for inside, but nothing allows me to sit comfortably. Being short with short legs don't help in a tall people's country, but I'm very short even in Japan.

Last New Year's Eve, we bit the bullet and purchased two rocking recliners which arrived last week, but in different configuration to what we ordered. We shopped at what we think is the most prestigious shop in Nelson because the chairs were good value/quality for the price. But negotiating a fix has been excessively difficult, and is on-going. I had a bad feeling when they insisted we pay in full before delivery, which was contrary to what we were told at the time of purchase, but hey, it's the fancy shop, what could go wrong, right?  

Whoever is at fault, (and in this case I insist it is they, 100%,) when so many people find me difficult, I've got to have a hard look at myself. Eh. 

* * * * *

I've known six counselors/psychologists over as many years while coming to terms with depression; the first, we liked each other so much I felt she was too sympathetic; three I met once and knew they were wrong for me; one I met through a government scheme but the scheme and the office are gone; and one I could have worked with but she moved to Christchurch to live with her elderly mother. I have no go-to person, but these sessions are too expensive for what I (don't) get back from the sessions, and anything I learned about depression is through reading, and a website fronted by Kiwi rugby legend John Kirwan. This time it's not exactly depression but maybe another visit to Doc Karl first.

In addition to forgetting, etc., etc., I'm angry so often or feel utterly put-upon. I'm reminded of Dad in his last days; his anger was boiling just under his skin but I didn't know if he knew what angered him so. He fought hard to hide it; it must have been exhausting. Thank goodness I have Ben and his ever-so-even temper. He's hopping mad about the chairs, too, but he doesn't get as worked up. We just had our 29th on Sunday.

And just in case, I added St. John's Wart and B Complex to my daily Ginkgo.

* * * * *

We're spending beyond our combined means of late, and then on Wednesday before Easter, I cracked a tooth. Eventually I'm going to need a crown, which costs me roughly one return trip to Japan. I haven't been able to sell pieces, but I think I better make new stuff regardless, so today I finally started rethreading the orange cotton piece in a modified version of the hellebore design.

* * * * *

The emperor abdicated today; tomorrow we get a new one and a new era starts. No, really, in Japan we have a name for each emperor's reign; up to day, 2019 was Year 31 of Emperor Heisei; starting tomorrow it's Year 1 of Emperor Reiwa. That we have an "emperor" in the 21st century alone is ridiculous, and expensive, but I don't think I'll take on that problem this evening.

The new era is going to trip me up as I continue the pension-related work.

Friday, April 19, 2019

What has been Up, you Ask?


a) A few days after the last post I wove a second sample on the cotton warp. I had a biggish list of problems/observations as a result, the peskiest being when I throw the wrong shuttle, (i.e. mistake the thick/thin order,) I cannot see it from the side facing up, and I can't change face as some sheds will then have nearly all shafts up and the shuttle will fall through the gaps. So regrettably it was time to switch to a more viable solution, (as opposed to researching and experimenting the entire 10m, which was an option at the start but of which I grew weary,) and I modified the old hellebore design, reducing the warp ends, and intend to rethread, and resley at 42EPI rather than the current 39, making the width-on-loom more manageable.
b) As an alternative creative outlet, I started another needlepoint project a couple of days after the last post. It was one of the gazillion projects I was itching to get started, and it's been a savior of what remains of my sanity during this strange summer. 

c) Not only has the Tasman fire settled, but our water restriction eased in March, and that's six weeks ago so now sure where we're at but nowhere as dry as back then.

d) I fell into the rabbit hole of Japanese bureaucracy for new passports. Japan doesn't allow dual citizenship, so we remain Japanese with permanent residency in New Zealand, and we must renew our Japanese passports every 10 years. That's not a big deal, but we must appear at the Embassy in Wellington to pick them up, so I thought to get some Japanese Pension paperwork out of the way as well, because some of that require personal pick-up also.

(I have no idea how much I'll get; I'll be exempt from the Japanese income tax but subject to the New Zealand one; and if it's complicated I'll have to pay an accountant to file returns, so I can't even speculate if it's worth it, but it's that warped sense of civic duty in my DNA.)

The difficulty comes partially from the complexity of any bureaucracy, but mainly from my short fuse and near-inability to calmly read complex Japanese texts. I didn't need to while working in Japan; if you work for one employer and don't have debts nor otherwise complicated financial existence, the workplace takes care of it. 

e) Christchurch happened. Brexit and Trump have been driving me mad, "demanding" so much of my time. 

f) We did go to Wellington on my birthday and had a lovely three-day holiday, walking up and down the small area of Te Ara, around Cuba Street, eating really good food, (good to have many foodie friends,) visiting young Tom's jewelry studio and ordering our 30th anniversary, (end of next April, not this one as Ben reminded me,) un-matching rings, and waltzing in and out of beautiful used book shops. Ben bought me a pair of low boots, we got our passports, and we did go see the terracotta warriors at Te Papa.
Funny story, I went to Xian in 1986 and saw the many soldiers from a platform in an airport hanger-like structure and I heard Te Papa borrowed a dozen so it felt like a joke. The night before we left Nelson we watched a doco on what horrible men the First Emperor and his successor, his youngest son, were. So I was pretty set on not going. But after we picked up our passports, rain was forecast. Wellington wind was picking up, and we were, after all, so near the place and admission only $20. So we went. And it was good.

There were only eight soldiers plus two horses in the main display, in glass, but one could walk right up and view astonishing details such as braids in their hair. There were many other artefacts, not only from the First Emperor's tomb but from different era for comparison. (His was the most elaborate, of course.) The highlight for me, though, was witnessing folks I assumed to be Chinese Kiwis, in awe, face to face with their history. I'd like to imagine some may have lived in regions far from Xian or big cities and would never have had the chance like this had they not come to New Zealand. Bless them.

g) There was no telly in our accommodation, which we knew, so we dipped into printed books. It was/has been bliss. 

h) I came home to finish the pension bit, but 1) I couldn't get as much help from a someone in Japan I was counting on for a reason; 2) post/mail takes much longer these days due to cost cutting on the New Zealand side, and 3) I forgot about Japan's Golden Week; April 29, May 3, 4 and 5 are national holidays plus weekends on both sides make upwards of 10 days with fewer work/school days than holidays, but this year, the Emperor is abdicating so the country is closed April 27-May 6. One of the forms must be submitted within 30 days of issue, so rather than risking preparing a package only for it to be delivered during the holiday and later rejected, we decided we'll make another trip to Wellington in the next few months, and I found I could do a couple of things directly by correspondence without relying on family. Re. Q&A corresponding is harder; phone calls have been more productive. Lesson learned.

i) Brexit and Trump continue to chip away at my sanity while Jacinda keeps shining.

j) I had a 24-36 hour flu and I missed a small operatic performance by Alison, accompanied by eight celli. Yes, eight cello players playing behind one singer, live, in Nelson. (And to illustrate what small town living is like, Alison is Esther's singing teacher, and the daughter of our long-time health professional, Kathleen. I used to feel Nelson was closing in on us, but not so much of late.) 

k) I've not been exactly chipper; it's that same-old cold-that's-not-quite-a cold thing. I'm unmotivated; paperwork is constantly on my mind; I know I had a whole bunch of projects all summer, started or under consideration, but don't have the energy to revisit any, so much so it took a few days just to list up what I remember. The only reprieve have been the needlepoint, young adult novels, and some days, but not everyday, cooking, some to hilarious effect. Many days diary entries read: "looking for a project" when I think I mean, "motivation".

We ran into Mark, my art teacher from a short course I did at the Suter a year ago, at the supermarket, and we asked after the latest in each other's lives. For my part I covered the still-weaving but not-selling and was surprised to hear me explain because I wasn't selling, I could "afford" the time to work through concepts, blah blah, which sounded like... ummm... real bullshit. I realized I do not know how I fell about art.vs craft; my definition of "art" is borrowed/taught and not my own; I don't know, or have, what I genuinely want/like to do re. weaving; and that not selling and not having a mentor/shop manager like Andrea is really affecting me negatively now.

l) I've been pining to go to another writing workshop for two or three years. I find them rewarding in a way I imagine some folks do after communing with nature or attending a yoga/religious retreat. Except I haven't found a suitable subject/angle/reason/motivation to excite me.  In other words, I want to go beyond the usual first draft of a part of a cutesy short story I'll mull on a while afterwards then put on the back burner.

When I was a kid I understood adults around me had in mind a mediocre academic track in my future because I didn't excel in anything notable, and my family background was in the university business. Accordingly I put in a sporadic effort with my usually well-intended but short-breathed enthusiasm. One of the things I picked up was I needed to train myself to use words articulately, and, honest, to have an opinion on everything, ideally based on research/facts, but in practice voicing a quick answer whenever drilled by adults. In short, I grew into an explainer/translator/smart-bottom without the depth that would have made me... ummm... a thinker. I also gave my opinion "freely" because that was the right modus operandi, or so I thought, in my family, (enthusiasm, (pro)active participation, robust conversation, etc,) and from there a short walk to a compulsive sharer. :-D

I organized my thoughts in words, lists, structured and in order, editing out ideas and matters that didn't fit. At the beginning of this century while struggling to "be" a better a weaver, (as opposed to weaving better,) I did the whole Artist's Way thing, read a bunch of self-help books attended design courses, and spoke to a lot of art educators, art administrators and artists. It took years before I started to see another way of "thinking": not everything that popped up in my mind/head could be described in words, and some qualities/aspects/elements of the idea were lost in translation. Then, I gradually shied away from translating because the non-verbal soup suited better in holding as much in tact compared to a neat list. Also, words/texts meant creative commitment at times and I began to want to hold on to options longer. Most recently I felt this new lack of compulsion to share meant I was finally maturing.

Except some days it feels a little different; the kind of maturity I had in mind was built on solid cognitive ability/activity and relatively constant/consistent productivity, just more in the background than in your face. What's happening inside me recently is more a lack of activity, a real nothing box, a stepping back from my own life, not observing anything, not doing anything. Similar to depressive episodes but more... "natural". I've had a handful of scary instances where I spent a few moments trying to recall how I did some of the most mundane of activities, and collectively they felt more more like a general direction than my average "senior" moments. I'm also repeating myself a lot more than I used to. So there's that.


m) I never read anything on the Vegan vs. Wool debate because I assumed Vegans were opposed to sheering, from the headlines and comments. And which I enthusiastically labelled, "stupid". I'm lucky to know young Jake who can explain to me these modern debates and yesterday he told me about another angle, that he objects to the ethics of bringing sheep, et al, out of their natural habit for the purposes of human consumption, be it for food, clothing, or anything else. This was new to me and we parted promising to look up water consumption for cotton, (I supposed I should add hemp and linen?) vs. sheep, cow, etc. And because we live in extraordinary times, I can't stop picturing returning the world's sheep to Mesopotamia, cows to Lavant, Jake to Scotland and beyond, and me to Japan and who knows where else. (We aren't sure where we Japanese came from.)  

n) Notre Dame burned, yet I've been strangely hopeful about her resurrection, whatever shape it takes, because she has done so in the past. Re. Palestine, Heiti, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, BLM, etc., not so much. I continue to allow Brexit, Trump and Mueller to plunder my sanity. I am not sleeping. On Wednesday I cracked a tooth and now need a crown that is going to cost me one Japan trip. I might withdraw all pieces from the gallery/shop and have a "Tiara Sale" here, because that sounds better than a "Crown Sale". Although... this may be universe's way to make me weave more.

Peace. Out. 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Contrasting Simultaneously 2

I put the first sample in a laundry net through a regular cold cycle in the washing machine; my thoughts are:
  • The various orange stripes show up; yay;
  • Both sides look like B-sides, anticipating a more visually stunning A-side. (See pics in the last post). If I weave this in silk, the B-/orange side would have shown the spectacular silk sheen but this is not the case in cotton, at least it's a whole lot less;  
  • 39EPI yields a meaty, nice heavy feel; I could go 36EPI or 42EPI but 36EPI may reduce the heft while 42EPI will elongate/"skinnify" the pattern which is less attractive. I do like the hand of this fabric;  
  • The finished cloth has a surprise 3D look, as if the thick 20/2 wefts want to run away and the thin 60/2 wefts are holding them back;
  • I feel comfortable about proportion; color and combination/contrasts is another matter; I have to experiment and see before I can decide if something is good or bad, but in the end, I can't sample every single combination so there will always be elements of experimentation/surprise while weaving the "proper" pieces; 
  • I really don't like the "flecks". I'm definitely going for more harmonious paring, but not too similar the thins weft disappear;
  • When weaving, the accents look like rectangular blobs, but on the B-side they come out clearly as an O or an X, and I prefer O in this project;
  • Unlike my twills, there isn't enough interaction with the two sides; the A-/B-sides are opposites by nature, I get that, but the warp and weft color distribution feels too radical; I'm not sure if I can be bothered investigating/remedying this aspect in this project/warp, however; 
  • I sampled five different tie down patterns and the polka dot, and the more bold look seem appropriate rather than the overly fussy ones;
  • I'm not sure if I can weave more than 30-40cm on a good day. Because of the colors and the size of the threads, even the thicker threads, I have to be careful and watch out for all kinds of potential errors, including "bubbling" at the selvedges. The width tired me physically, also; 
  • I must beat hard to position the thick wefts close to each other; beat at the selvedges or somewhere between them and the yellow stripe;
  • Depending on the color, threads from the same source and same fiber content full differently, (always a dilemma,) but also the gaps appear better/worse depending on color context. Is there something I can do besides beating the living daylights...?;
  • A lot of issues I think of in the first instance are micro elements of the cloth, while the more macro elements, e.g. O vs X or the overall color scheme, are what most folks notice first. I will never forego working out the details of the micro elements to my liking, because they are what I like, but these are things only the maker and long-time user notice. Just reminding myself; 
  • Initially I planed to weave three standard pieces, but washed/pressed the sample is 69cm wide, which is amenable to a longer length than my standard 210cm without fringes. It's probably wiser to sample to my heart's content, weave two proper pieces, then use up the rest of the warp for a fun fabric as this cloth is also suitable for cutting/sewing experimentation;
  • Reed marks remain, but I only put this through a short cold cycle. Warm wash, a longer/additional wash cycle, or use take them out from experience, so I shan't worry; 
  • Right selvedge was horrible while left was near-perfect while weaving; both are serviceable after washing. Poo-poo; 
  • Once steam pressed well, it doesn't wrinkle as easily as my 20/2 twill pieces. 
Sorry, the colors are rather dull but I had to use Ben's camera to get really close up. On the whole the colors are at least a little more, if not a lot more, saturated.
3D-ish.
Flecks, which are far more annoying in real life.
O rather than X?
 
B-side blobs; can you see the top two are backs of Os while the bottom is X? I couldn't while I wove!
 Bolder tie-down.
So fussy you can't even see the diamond shapes.
Weft float gappiness is worst around "whiter" pattern wefts, not so bad with darker, or wefts more in harmony with the surrounds.

On to Sample 2, then.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Contrasting Simultaneously 1

I finished threading the orange warp on Monday, and wove my first sample Monday-Wednesday. Here are some thoughts/observations I made while weaving. Some contradict each other but I'll list as many as I can remember because I think I need to reflect on them later:
  • It's been forever since I've woven with cottons; I'd forgotten how much I like how the colors interact;
  • Feels weird to be weaving a tied weave on the computer dobby; there is no control/spontaneity; 
  • I can weave this sitting down; maximum width, and I have to weave slowly, but it's doable and probably better than a potential problem with the height of the air compressor pedal and a new footstool; 
  • The thin 60/2 wefts are so fine I can't see them as I weave, a problem with "bubbling" at the selvedges; 
  • The thin weft colors are so visible they're not just adding nuances but acting independently;
  • It's slow weaving, but still faster than I imagined; instead of advancing the cloth often, I should push the reed position back for speed;
  • Two shuttles aren't as much a bother as I remembered, but when I throw the wrong one, I can't tell by looking at the draft (on the computer screen controlling the lifting,) because the lifting is repetitive/regular, (as opposed to fancy twills);
  • When I throw the wrong shuttle, sometimes I can't tell from looking at the fell because the thin wefts hide under the thicker 20/2s;
  • When "many", (in fact, every other) shafts are up, weave with the thin weft; when the lifted sheds have more gaps, weave with the thick weft;
  • Use the heavier end-feed for the thick weft and smaller boat for the thin weft;
  • Pay attention to using the correct shuttle and to the selvedges, and use both hands and hold the beater closer to the selvedge, even if this all means no rhythm; 
  • In the lighter, right half of the warp, the difference in the oranges is almost invisible; choose thick wefts that bring forward the contrast in these warp colors;
  • I don't like the small color flecks (??) thin wefts make when they are not in harmony with the "paired" thick wefts, in hue more than in value;
  • I prefer intense, saturated colors for thick wefts, and want to avoid whiter values especially. Though selecting thin wefts in hues/values too similar to the thick "partners" is boring, I don't want "contradicting" pairs; 
  • I like the greens and blues in the weft; like the pinks and reds, too;
  • I had intended to get three pieces but these are wide and should be long-ish; if I sample more and can get only two proper pieces, so be it;
  • Fabric on the loom feels coarse; always a problem with this 60/2 thread;
  • There are shot effect in some parts; I forgot how pronounced they are in these cottons;
  • And so on. And on. And on.
 End of Tuesday, looking at the wefts I used already and contemplating which others to sample.
 This is the side I saw as I wove and, yes, it is that bright.
Forever a warp girl, I like this under/B-side better. However, I can't get rid of the feeling both sides has the appearance of the "wrong" side, anticipating a fancier (?) "right" side. More observations on this sample in the next post.

Oh, a freebie! You can weave a regular "polka dot" (although they are in fact small squares) I wove at the top of my sample on eight shafts.

Here's a base draft you can adapt.
If you want to play with the tie down part, modify the first five shafts.
If you have more than eight shafts, of course you could place the dots more randomly, and/or make the dots actually round. I might try this some day in the future.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

All Tied Up 2

I started threading this week. Yesterday I think, hope, I finished my Day 2 of 5.

A week ago Tuesday, I combined past posts labeled "Summer and Winter" and "tied weaves" into one label, "Summer & Winter and Tied Weaves", (and Blogger now allows "&" in labels,) and read the 17, plus closely related posts e.g, P2P 2010. What a cringing, shriveling, embarassing experience, full of typos, missing/doubled up words, muddle thoughts, and poorly attempted humor! I knew I don't write cleanly but I didn't know how bad it was. Some years ago I started editing posts and ended up deleting a whole bunch but I only got up to early 2009. However do you put up with me? On the other hand, if you met me in person, this is how I talk. Not that that helps. 

I said I design, in the first instance, with the warp, maybe due to my first looms being jack looms. I never consider not all drafts are made with rising sheds in mind, and never remember this when looking up books. But for weaves where pattern wefts are the strongest element, I need to think sinking sheds, or keep in mind I could be designing/weaving with the B-side up.


There are many things I assume since I've been more or less mechanically designing and weaving  
twills for many years, and the assumptions don't necessary transfer to tied weaves. So I'm revisiting some basics, actually putting them into words and reading them out loud:
  1. Vertical elements, warp threads and threading, are trickier to change once the loom is dressed, though not impossible, especially adding supplementaries; 
  2. Weft threads are the easiest to change after the loom is dressed or after weaving starts;  
  3. Sett is easily changed even after the loom is dressed, but I prefer to resley to a denser sett, so start with looser option; 
  4. Lifting, (or tie-up/treadling,) can be changed after the loom is dressed or after weaving starts. On the big dobby, multiple variations should be prepared to generate different designs from the same warp/threading anyway; 
  5. Surely more to come? 
Because I'm almost more interested in the tie-down pattern than what shapes pattern wefts make, I'm trying to understand how that works:
  1. Tie-down patterns/shafts must be decided to determine the threading; it's the same for the pattern wefts but you see how I think. However, anything that can be woven from the same threading can be woven; this is such a "Ya think?" when you put it into words, but it took a while for this to sink in re. tie-down; 
  2. Tie-down pattern is most visible in the warp-dominant areas, i.e. when the warp is raised, which may explain my interest; for me, this is weaving as usual;
  3. But tie-down changes the shape of how the smallest unit of pattern wefts are shaped, the pixels; look up any old book to see pics of O vs X, for e.g;
  4. Never forget about treadling, especially simple elongation/shortening and repeating. Because tie-down is not the main/only focus of the cloth, slight changes in the numbers can create a big enough change to the tie-down pattern for the whole cloth without it being boringly obvious as with all-over twills; 
  5. What else? I know there is more.
Having arrived at this murky stage where I understand a few things when I'm told but haven't learned/experienced enough to proactively use them, I made up a few drafts and decided on something like this for the orange warp. (That is not to say I'm going to stop reading, no way, tied weaves are so interesting! But you know, the weaver wants to weave a little.)
Full width. The colors are very approximate; the "white" horizontal lines are blank lines between treadling units.
The pattern appears as an oval, but if you look at the "negative" space the shapes can appear as ovals or x's. All three pics are segments of the same draft but the colors get darker as I go closer. They are clean, clear colors in real life.
 
I used shafts 1 to 5 to make the diamonds; 6 to 16 for the pattern. 

Most of my tied weave samples are woven with 20/2 cottons in the warp, 20/2 and 60/2 in the weft, at 36EPI. The convention is to use threads the same size as the thinner weft as the warp, and I'd imagine a sett closer than 36EPI with this combo, to produce the characteristic pixilated look. 36EPI produces a lovely hand suitable for scarves, and shows off more of the color interactions than the pixels, both desirable for my purpose, so I thought to stay at 36. But, simple calculation said this would mean on-the-loom width just short of 78cm, with two shuttles, much too wide for me, and I'd need new footstool so I can weave standing on the big loom. I'm sleying at 39EPI to start with, and if I think it won't be horrible, may even move on to 42EPI. But I'll probably need another footstool anyway.

My workshop sample is still missing, although I have all others I've done. That big sample would have been handy because I used a slightly thicker cotton and I recall being more ambitious in the tie-down, but perhaps not. I've looked for it so many times in recent years I think it's safe to say I lost it. Boo hoo.

I also looked at my stash of 60/2 cottons, hoping I have a variation of purples to play against the oranges in the warp; I have one very dark one, and that's it; that's all the source has, too. In which case there may be a variety of purple pattern wefts in one of the pieces. Oh, I wished there were a few lavenders and red-violets in 60/2.  


Nevertheless I persist.