Saturday, May 31, 2008


Because I go on a bit about art/craft, especially pertaining to weaving, some friends think I have no respect for either "pure craft", or weaving as a hobby and other textile indulgences. Not at all. In fact, I love the craft part of weaving as well, and I do quite a bit of joy-weaving. (I coined this phrase, y'all; it's mine, unless you did before this week. I do get a natural high from the motion of weaving, don't you?)

My mom weaves purely for enjoyment and gives away anything that comes off her loom; she throws her arms in the air if I go on too long about art/craft, and walks away and puts on another warp.

For me, who never stuck to any of the extracurricular activities long enough to be good at anything, and who's had a string of admin-type job for pay, weaving is one of the very few efforts I found interesting, challenging and worth investing my energy into. And so I want to be good at it. And so I keep thinking of how I can be good at it. (Peg, there's the aspiration/desire thing, again.)

But Nancy, hobby knitter/felter/crafter extraordinaire, you've already had two things that are very much yours, and both involve healing others. Life doesn't get any better than that, so relax, enjoy your hobbies, but let's not stop talking about the stuff we do.

You have to have hobbies, too, you know. By turning weaving into the main focus of my life, I lost a lovely hobby, and a few years ago I started baking bread; the longer and more cumbersome the process, the better. Ciabatta has been my favorite for about three years.

Art/Craft Discussion Again

Peg started (or resumed) it here, then continued here, and then, so far, ended up here. My eyes can't stand the screen just now, so I'll have to go back to read this thread (and all the related links), but a thought just popped in my head.

Instead of feeling we, as weavers, need to insist we, too, make art, we might as well enjoy the spectrum of what our craft offers. I know I do, contrary to popular belief. I mean, we should not feel apologetic about weaving our bread-and-butter line, (and I'm not saying you do), and love the joy-weave as well as the more difficult stuff. That's in stark contrast to, say, a painting with no artistic merit, whatever that means, which is just, if I may humbly and quietly say so, a piece of j u n k with not a lot of utility.

The thought came from somewhere else while reading Peg's reaction to Cally. For this Perpetual Newbie, it's in the aspiration where I can distinguish my art vs my craft. And the time I spend designing. I have to say this, (though I don't like to because the act of saying could be misconstrued as my disbelief):



Soliciting the Latest Goss from Penland

I hope everybody at Penland is having a wonderful time. I do hope we get reports when you get home, including what you do t his weekend!! Do send me links or pics, please.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bad Math

You know, my labels... I order 1000 of the first, big style, because then I would never have to order another label for the rest of my life, and I still have well over 750 of them. I now have 500 in each of the two color ways of the new, tiny labels, because I had to have small ones for my cashmere scarves for the Red Gallery, and, oh, what the heck, I wanted them for other small items, too.

This morning I was "talking" to Claudia the fashion designer via email about labels. And I was dead serious when I said I had about 400 years worth of labels left, if not more, and she thought I was being silly. I explained in my serious "voice" that at best I might manage to weave around 50 items a year, if that many, so simple math, 2000 divided by 50 is 400 years. And she didn't email me back, and Ben burst out laughing.

Nice to know I don't have to keep working until I'm 450 years old; I still have to keep weaving rather consistently until I'm about 90 to use up my labels.

I think I'll start sewing them onto things I don't want to lose, too; not just stuff I made...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Meddling with Heddles...

15 mistakes in all; one counting error (I mark every 10 heddles for easy counting; the marked heddle was in the wrong place in this instance); the rest were twisted heddles or wrapped heddles, eight instances on Shaft 9, one of the hardest to see and reach.

I remember how tired I was when I put the heddles back on; next time, I'll wait a few days for this task, or, I'll never wash my heddles again. But they do look nice and clean and shiny now.

All is fixed, fingers crossed, and I can finally start warping my SSVE warp.

Forever Newbie

While combating the twisted heddles yesterday, (finished 12 shafts and found six places to correct; have the worst four shafts to go), I kept trying to remember the one instance I was attracted to warp painting. This morning, I was having a look-see in Kaz's Curious Weaver looking for that photo. There I found her (and others) musing on beginners designing projects vs using kit sets. This caught my attention because I consider myself honestly and squarely a beginner, and wondered who qualify as "beginners".

On Monday I was discussing with Rosie the Art Historian the different design approaches by weavers I know personally, and I thought I saw a pattern so I said something like "perhaps that's the difference between veterans, and beginners like me." She responded with her elegant, English dismissal, laughing, "But you've been doing this a long time." And I was seriously taken aback because I never had anyone refute my beginner status, and that unsettled me big time.

But that was Monday, and by Tuesday I was back to my happy beginner self again. It's like the universe, see.

Considering the amount of stuff you need to know in order to know everything there is to know about weaving, whether I start counting from the first day I passed my stick shuttle though the shed in my rigid heddle, August 1995, and ignore the years I didn't even touch a loom, or the day I was asked to resign from a lawyer's office because I wasn't suited to office work and decided weaving was the only thing I had left, in August 2004, the time I've spent obsessing about weaving has been but a fraction of the time I need to feel comfortable with the craft to think I know something about it. I still find great comfort in being a beginner.

I can't remember where I was going with this stuff, but I haven't even done my Morning Pages this morning, so I'm waffling. But it's been an important issue for me. And the warp paint that got me curious wasn't warp paint at all; I think the it's woven shibori. Live and learn.

* * * * *

Rosie has just been to a William Morris exhibition in Christchurch, where the entire (?) exhibition was created from the collection of one family who catalog-ordered everything to decorate their house in Adelaide, Australia! The collection now belongs to the Art Gallery of South Australia. We mused on Morris's dislike of mass-production vs his entrepreneurial ventures; Williams, McIntosh and Larsson; and Arts and Crafts/Art Nouveau/Bauhaus, among other things. I'm hoping seeing Rosie is going to be a regular thing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Need New Ideas, Please!!

So, this is my job today. I don't know if you can tell, but back in February when I washed and put the heddles back on, I twisted some around each other in two places, and counted incorrectly in one place, so I'm recounting and straightening all the heddles. I have 1600-16 heddles, whatever that number may be. I put it off as long as I could, but you know, if I don't fix this, I can't weave in peace, and with the SSVE submissions coming in, I have my bottom on fire, so thanks!!

But can you please help me on two areas? I'll give you some details later, but here are two things I've been wondering about while I wander the streets of frosty Nelson . (Yes, it is winter now.)

1) If you've done Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, you know about the Artist's Date. Well, I'm running out of ideas, not as much because I can't think of anything to do, but because so much of what I used to do is now part of my normal week; playing with color, doing the "Finding Your Visual Language" work, taking long walks looking for visual inspirations, etc. I would like to do some things I haven't tried. Can you suggest anything? And please, nothing to do with browsing retailers - I tried the plan nursery as she suggested in "Walking in This World"; what a big, fat mistake, I was instantly in my shopping mode and came home with two bags of small plants without putting in much thought to the process!!

2) My brother and sister-in-law are in the process of building a house, and have commissioned me to do a wall hanging. They are going to create an entrance foyer so they can hang a long-ish piece. They think their house will be finished in about a year, so I have plenty of time to think and experiment and change my mind.

They know I don't do tapestry/rug style weaving, but I want the piece to be a little bit more than my regular shawl-y thing. Ideas I've had so far are to a) change the draft several times within the piece so there are several related but distinct structures which kind of make up a "picture", and b) swap/add/subtract warps so the color and possibly texture changes can occur all over in both directions. I've been looking into inlay as well as hand-manipulated techniques. What I'm not thinking of doing at this point is warp paint or Ikat; the former seems to have been done to death and it hasn't so far inspired me to want to try, and the latter, you'll have to know me personally to know that I don't think I can be bothered with the niceties of working with the technique, though I love the well-executed Indonesian stuff.

Do you have any spiffy ideas? Materials other than normal and fancy threads, twigs/wood/plant material, paper or wire I can use? Do you know of websites that have interesting pictures?

I'd like to stay true to what I do best, which I think is fabric weaving, but I'd still like to allow for some flexibility, at least at this point, so that the final piece has points of interest for at least a few years, if it's going to be hung in their foyer. And talk to me quickly, before I convince myself the project is too big for me.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Another Greeting Card

And if you think I'm posting autumn pics in lieu of some snappy writing, yip. I haven't felt very snappy in a while, so I have to get in shape. (And, yeah, I copied this from my other blog again. Just give me a few more days to switch on my gray cells.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

For Valerie

This is our tree, about 30 minutes ago. While looking at the leaves more closely, I noticed there are far fewer purple leaves this year, and more of the deep dark red ones. I know the colors differ from year to year, and I'd imagine it has to do with moisture and temperature and such, but the tree looks so "red" this year.

And I was a day late for the cherry tree; more leaves fell today and it looks less dramatic. Yesterday I was weeding just underneath the cherry tree, and I heard leaves falling around me. The dead bits on lower right is a rose called Elena and it needs cutting back but Ben does the roses.

Both photos have been touched up to make them look more like the way I see the two trees.

A year or so ago, I heard on a radio interview that a Canadian (?) scientist discovered leaves don't fall on their accord, that the tree let go of the leaves as it prepares for winter. Kind of like parents letting go of children, no?

A Greeting Card for You

I found this baby when I was weeding my lettuce patch. And a few others as well, but they are not doing as well in the pots. (And I just copied the entire post from another blog of mine! Talk about slack!)

Good on You!! (Shame on Me!!)

Yesterday I received the first link submission, that is, she will post the small scarf on her own blog. This morning I received the first sent-in submission.

You weavers put me to shame, I have to go fix my heddles (some were twisted and wrapped around each other) and that's part of the reason I've been so remiss in doing my bit for our exhibition, but I shall now get back on the saddle and get into action.

Last week I got out half a dozen books-on-tapes so I'd spend more time in the basement, too. Everything is ready. I have no more excuses. Talk soon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm OK!!

Thanks for those of you who emailed me to ask if I've fallen off the planet. I'm still here, at the bottom of the world, and I'm doing fine. But thanks for asking.

I've been trying to get my act together, and by that I mean, I'm not at all depressed buy trying to install some new working habits and attitudes, but I'm not seeing results yet. I'm trying to be more productive, but I don't know where all the time goes.

I'm behind in work, I'm behind in planning my SSVE scarf, and I'm behind in all kinds of other stuff I can think of, even though I don't think I've been overcommitted. I'm just doing horribly in the time management department, and my To Do lists are getting longer and too complicated. I forgot the difference between bold letters and red entries last week, and I had too many categories I had to go back to a simpler numbering system, but you don't want to know.

One thing for sure is, for the last year I tried to be emotionally prepared to turn 50, and I did a good job there. But I didn't count on how physically we age, and I seem to be spending a lot of time complaining about complaints that don't seem to be bad enough to go see a doctor about. And googling seems to be the worst thing one can do.

But I am enjoying the autumn, and luckily for me, we're having a rather long and glorious one this year. Oh, and I'm spending some time weeding the garden. Now, that's new!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Loom Knitting

I was asked by Crystal of PA if loom knitting can be included in our exhibition. I've been hearing this term for some time now, but never knew what it was, so I googled and saw on YouTube how these contraptions work.

I see that it's definitely more knitting than weaving, but because it appears just as, (and I use this term with great affection), tedious as loom weaving, and because I prefer to be more inclusive than exclusive, loom knitting is in.

If we get many loom knit scarves, I may create a separate virtual room in the exhibition to differentiate the two methods, but more later. (And if you read Crystal's very first post on the kinds of charity work she's done, you, too, could not have said no, I assure you.)

I finally have a plan in my head for mine. I'm just not sure if it's the kind that would photograph well. I need to let the idea brew.

PS: Crystal's link now works. Sorry, folks.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I've been subscribing to's word of the day, and this morning (my time)'s word is:

fustian \FUHS-chuhn\, noun:

1. A kind of coarse twilled cotton or cotton and linen stuff, including corduroy, velveteen, etc.
2. An inflated style of writing or speech; pompous or pretentious language.
3. Made of fustian.
4. Pompous; ridiculously inflated; bombastic.

I'm not sure if I'd associate corduroy with ridiculously inflated, but I'd never heard this word that I can remember, so I thought I'd try to use it in the next little while.

Meanwhile, I was prioritizing my work commitments while at Sue's gallery yesterday (I've been doing it on Mondays lately), and I found I had written down our virtual exhibit photos are due May 9!! Gulp! I hadn't even seriously thought of a design, and it was already the afternoon of May 5. I did suspect it might have been a mistake, however, because I distinctly remember making the due date a Monday (so, Sunday North American time), so I decided not to panic until I checked what I posted. Which I did just now. Phew, it's June 9. I did wonder for two minutes there if it would be "on" for me to only organize and not show. Would you ever trust me again if I said, "You're in good hands," ?


I've got lots to tell you, but all the words are jumbled in my head; I've been traveling deep into the other hemisphere these last few days. So, weave well, dear souls, until I can sit down and hear all your stories, and I can tell you mine.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Art/Craft Discussion Alert

This time it's at Constance Rose Textile Design.

In Japan, many involved in craft are women, particularly in textile, (although respected masters covered by the press are usually menfolk), so I don't feel as strongly that men's work is priced higher there necessarily, and in some ways craft is respected more than fine art because it has to satisfy the utilitarian requirements and technical excellence first, before even thinking about looking at the aesthetic merits.

Which makes me think of the term "decorative" art as used by museum to distinguish themselves from fine art institutions. Notice how decorative art museums are, well, kind of quirky and in-between art and historical museums, with the notable exception of V&A? Or maybe I'm too ignorant and not well-traveled enough; I'd love to hear about other "beautiful things you can use" museums which command a modicum of respect by the general society. Paintings and sculptures appear more "decorative" than weaving/garments, furnitures, etc., etc., etc, in my estimation, because "fine" art don't do anything, but what do I know...

In New Zealand craft is very much the underclass of art practices, though some people have successfully elevated their craft into art in the societal perception; ceramics (the kind you can't use) and more recently jewelry, with jewelers calling themselves sculptors. Within weaving, of course tapestry (picture/decorative) weaving is higher art than fabric art, and many weavers are women and there is a very blurry line between an armature and a professional. And there are no "serious weaving school", whatever it may mean, in the country, to my knowledge. So we are at the bottom of the rung.

I totally agree with Constance. In in the West, there is the strong association between the value of the artist and the price their work fetch. At least in Japan, in craft, there is a sliver of hope the government might make you a living human treasure, though you stand a better chance if you're well over 70 and male.

And then, there's the problem of critics, isn't there? Who's going to decide we've done well? And perhaps we're even lucky in this area because fabric weaving is seldom taken seriously as a art form so we don't get scrutinized as viciously as, say, painters or installation artist? Oppps, I've gone too far; don't get me started in installation art!

I wish we got some kind of a magic "letter" for the intrinsic/existential value of the work we do and the pieces we make, so we can all walk around with, say, a golden W on our shirts, but even for that I need to invest a few more tons of elbow grease. Besides, if there were such magic letters, nurses, for starters, will get all the gold threads, I reckon.

Trust me, I'm not grumpy this morning, in case you couldn't tell...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Do You Have a Wish List?

I had an email waiting for me this morning from the same Liz I mentioned yesterday. It was one of those lists with silly, everyday questions that I love to receive from Liz, because it makes me feel as if I still know her. I lived with her family during our senior year in high school, and now she's a mother of three, and a manager of a big IT team, so there is no way I know most of what's going on in her life now, but still, I learned that today her favorite color is yellow.

One of the questions this morning, "Name something in your wish list."

This evening I was gazing at the telly, and there was a shampoo commercial. I wasn't paying much attention, but across the screen I read two lines: "Make a wish list. Not just a To Do list."

At any time I have between two and half a dozen To Do lists. I had a small list of things I wanted, but finances being tight, I deleted it late last year.

But a wish list? I don't even know how to go about writing one. It sounds nice, though, doesn't it? I think I'd like to be the kind of person who has a wish list.

I'll have to think about this one.