An Impromptu Thing

If you photograph your loom/s sometime on January 1st, 2010 your time, with or without a project on it/them, send me (a) picture/s or let me know your blog/photo-sharing url in the comment here, and I'll make an impromptu "A Day in the Life of/on the Loom" link thing. Would anyone be keen?

Hey, I can be spontaneous!


2009, for me, was sucky year, and I won't bore you with a list of things I did do, or I had intended to do, or didn't do.

Next year, I have two big goals:

1) Enjoy my life as an artist/weaver, and live like one, doing the things artists/weavers do. Experiment more and try new things.

2) Open my wee Esty store and make it as lovely and girly as I like.

And one small goal:

3) Loose weight, exercise more, spend some time and energy on my appearance. Because it will be good for my head as well. I am getting old and am frequently spooked by the woman in shop windows looking back at me. Use it, or loose it, right?

And a few on the Wish List:

4) Set up an accounting system of some sort, finally.

5) Update my website.

6) Get my head around Esty, (hopefully before I start on my wee store,) Online Guild (UK), Hand/Eye, The Big Idea & Weavolution. Or chuck the computer out the window from our second/first (not ground) floor office and be happy!

7) Try not to plan too much ahead or make lists.

Happy 2010, Everyone! May all our warps be colorful, or nuanced, heavenly to the touch, and your tension even and obliging.

(The stained-glass lamp shade was made by my friend of 25 years, Chiaki Ohta Nakamura, in Japan. She has become a veteran stained glass artist and an almost-Yoga instructor; I hope we can get together in January.)

Designers/Weavers Need to Step Up?

I found this post via Dr John Maeda's tweet. In a roundabout way, it ties in what I've been thinking of. If we, I, feel the profile of handwoven textiles, (and not textile art,) need to be raised, particularly in the art world, I believe weavers, I, need to step up in making technically excellent (whatever that word means to you,) and aesthetically pleasing (including "challenging") work and and grab every chance to get the textile exposed.

I don't know how to reconcile this with pleasurable weaving, following recipes, or recreating a cloth, which I also think is worthy.

I've felt I need to step up for a while. At least high enough to justify the prices the galleries charge for my work. And this is as good a day as any to be remind myself of it.

Nicely Put!

Yes, Chris Beech is right! See here.


Dazed and Confused

Yesterday I was full of ideas and inspirations, but today, I'm profoundly confused about weaving in blocks I don't even know where to start to combat this confusion.



A Day with Doni

Ben and I spent a lovely day with Donatella of Doni's Deli and Her Dearest. That's them!

The day started with heavy-ish rain, we were running late, I missed a phone message from Doni, but we finally caught up at The Suter for morning coffee. Almost as soon as I sat down, I had to ask Doni to demonstrate the bag construction she posted almost a year ago, of which I could not make sense then, nor last night. But when she showed me, it seemed quite simple, even for me, so I'd like to make one for me, and a tiny one for my almost-four-year-old niece.

(Please excuse my berry-stained finger; read on.)

We had a look around The Suter, while stopping often for weaving talk, then had a walk on the beach on Rabbit Island. Doni and Dearest bring lovely whether to wherever they go; look at the sky when we arrived there,

And the Michelangelo sky just a short while later after our walk!

Remembering her love of Scandinavian designs, we went to Hogland Art Glass, after which they headed east, and Ben and I went berry picking again.

Or course the day was much too short to talk fully about weaving and her experience at Bradford, (I learned that she did not live in England for a year,) and about designs and what's happening in Italian textiles and hand weaving, but we had a lovely day, and thought it sounds so trite, Doni was lovely and spirited and very well informed. And we had a fabulous day.

Thank you Doni and Her Dearest! Maybe we will show up in Italy one day. Now, cercherò di noci verdi, si?


I'm Meeting a Weaver/Blogger

I started blogging Unravelling at the end of April, 2006, and I've gotten to know some of you fairly well. That's those of you I have never met in person. I've even spoken to Taueret over the Tasman a few times, and that was wonderful, to put a voice to the words and photos you've become familiar with!

Tomorrow, I'm going to meet, in person, another weaver/blogger for the first time. Someone from quite afar, as a matter of fact. Because there are no weaving stores in Nelson, we'll probably be seeing the sites in the region, visiting one or two art galleries, maybe taste wine or local beer, or go pick berries. We might squeeze in the Bead Gallery, I'm not sure. I'm so excited, because we spoke on the phone today, and I know she really exists!

More here tomorrow, OK?

(I met Dianne before she started blogging, so I do know one blogger, you could say!)

I Survived an Interview

There is a new New Zealand-based craft and baking podcast called Crafternoon Tea with Granny G. I just had an interview, and I'm starting to feel a little sick, trying to remember how I sounded.

Genny contacted me about 10 days ago. I knew about her weekly podcast for a few months but had never listened to it until she contacted me. (Not being one to jump on to new technology quickly, you see.) But I loved Genny's relaxed way of talking, and I wouldn't miss a chance to blather about weaving, so I agreed.

We had made an appointment for 5 PM today. I jotted down things I could talk about, key names, years, phrases... which turned into 3 pages on A3 sheets, but in huge letters. I went to the loo a couple of times, placed two glasses of cold water in front of me. I had practiced speaking slowly and calmly all week, trying to sound mature and intelligent, but of course the second it started all that practice had come to no avail; I was on autopilot, the rapid-fire, bullet-flying, train-wreck-y, gushing, repeating, mumbling self, which should be familiar to those of you who know me in person. Not at all the persona I was going to adopt for this very occasion.

She left me alone to go on, (and on), which, you know, I can manage. I covered many of the things I wrote, but the order was all wrong, and I wasn't funny as I had hoped. In fact, I sounded a little serious in places!! And the funniest bits may have been left out...

Anyway, it was interesting to think of "me and weaving" again in preparation, and instead of writing here, or talking to myself, quite loudly from time to time, it was nice to speak to another person about my favorite subject. Despite in a fragmented, disjointed way it came out.

The interview and more baking tips will be available from Genny's website in early January.


Breaking Tradition?

We spent Christmas Day totally not the way I planned.

Because of the two-week holiday in November and/or berry picking Christmas Eve afternoon, Ben was not in the zombie-like state he usually is on Christmas morning and was up and about well before 8AM. Having only one new cookbook, (Boo hoo!), even I reluctantly and a little begrudgingly was up before 9AM. Where to next?

I got the berry, custard+Christmas Pudding, yogurt, and strong coffee, and we watched an old B&W movie. Then we went to feed the neighbor's cat. If it hadn't been so hot and humid, we might have even gone out weeding, but instead, Ben watched a bunch of Christmas movies, and I went downstairs to weave Mom's blanket some more.

This slow weaving, and I became a little annoyed; about a quarter of the blanket done in an equivalent of half a day. The weft is spongy and I have to make the arc carefully in every pick. Even the camera was having a day off and refused to focus on the boucle.

Hold on, this is double width, so that's equal to two half days for one shawl, so it's pretty much my standard pace.

Then I did something I haven't as long as I remember: I cooked a bird (only a big chicken), with stuffing, potatoes, and a salad! And two and a half hours later we were sitting down to a proper dinner, followed by more custard+Christmas Pudding+berries.

I'm not sure if it was a fluke, or a change in direction. I personally hope it's the former. It's so strange for us to have such a normal Christmas, really, but it was just as nice.

Today, we're off to the hardware store Boxing Day sale. And then Nancy and hubby Mark are coming for supper. At this rate, probably no weaving time, but perhaps an inch or so at the end of the day?

Saturday Daydreaming: How Long is a Weaving Life?

This was my first ever project, in August 1995, woven on my first loom, Ashford 60cm Rigid Heddle. 140cm was the longest I could weave considering the loom's tiny allowance on the cloth beam. Last weekend when we cleaned all the rugs and put out my mother's Christmassy rug, Ben told me which one he liked and which ones he didn't mind if I got rid of, and sadly, this one was in the second category, even though most of its life it sat on the floor on Ben's side of the bed.

I may have mentioned before, but early in 2006 when Dad had a surgery and Mom wanted to sell the house and move into an apartment, she got rid of her beloved Glimakra, on which she wove numerous rugs, her favorite type of weaving. She had it for less than a decade, but when she got it (imported it from Sweden, by fax correspondence, I believe,) she carried every piece upstairs and assembled it all by herself. She loved weaving on it, but it was too big for an average-sized older Japanese women, (she's still much taller than me,) and at one point it gave her massive pain on her left shoulder for six months. Anyway, giving away that loom to a young weaver was a sad day for her and for me. (Worry not, she promptly got a small eight-shaft sample loom, and keeping her loom count at three or four table looms in all.)

Even though I started weaving in 1995, there were more years I didn't weave than I did, particularly when I worked full time, and since I have "become a weaver" I am by no means a prolific one, spending more time thinking about, reading about, and fretting about weaving than weaving. Oh, and blogging about.

Since Mom let go of her Glimakra, I've sometimes wondered how many years I have left in me on the loom. I can see a day when my big loom is going to be too taxing on the body; already I'm able to weave perhaps a maximum of up to four hours than the seven or eight I used to just three years ago. And then I think of Peg Moorhouse, whose motto this year is "92, not out" and who still weaves every day.

So, am I daydreaming, or worrying again? I'm daydreaming about a smaller, purpose-built computer-operated loom, but that's something I can plan and work towards. No, I'm daydreaming about weaving for another 40 or so years. I'm daydreaming of weaving until the day I drop; wouldn't we all like to go the way Mr Collingwood did, on the loom?

Today is my parents' 54th wedding anniversary, and Taueret's, a.k.a. Hope Nesmith's birthday! Happy Happy All Around!


Our Tradition

Ben and I established a tradition for this auspicious day about 10 years ago. See, in New Zealand, Christmas Day is the big family event, and we visited friends' family events for the first few years, but we began declining invitation and have been engaged in our of our own. Ben and I stay in bed late, drinking champagne and eating berries, (some years, handpicked by us!) and the best bit is, we read cookbooks we bought during the year. For hours.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I've been super good in this department all year, and I have only one new cookbook, my friend Maree Connolly's Marlborough Cancer Society fund-raiser cookbook, but I have tons I can go back to, and this time of the year, Nigella and Lois Daish call me. I might revisit the River Cottage books, too.

For some years we had waifs' party on Christmas Eve, but as my weaving started to take over the entire house, that came to an abrupt end. Which is not a bad thing for Ben because he works until early/mid-afternoon.

So, while some of you may be rushing from church to relatives to relatives, or stressing over dinner for 18, don't think of me; keep the eye on the road.

PS: Berries were picked by us yesterday afternoon: raspberries aren't quite up to par this year, but boysenberries are absolutely bodacious! Usually we have nuts, too, but I ate the almonds while watching the telly last night. Sorry, Ben.


And More Ho! Ho! Ho!

So, you wouldn't expect to come to Unravelling and not have a few laughs once in a while, would you? Yesterday, I spent five hours looking for my keys. It had been 2.5 weeks since I left home on my own, and I needed them and though I had the spare keys, I needed to find my set. I upended my drawing kit, my to-iron basket, moved the dryer and the washing machine, (but not the fridge,) checked both cars, Ben's drawers, fabric stash and likely kitchen drawers all to no avail. I even shook some books and notebooks I use often. I had a shower to have a clam moment.


Just as I was resigned to going out without it, I thought of something and lifted the said binder. Because some sheets of paper were sticking out from the top, and there they were, my keys, under the sheets that were sticking out from the top of the binder. Which I didn't see when I lifted the binder. About 10cm (3 inches) from where my wallet, phone and lip gloss alwyas are!

Five hours!

Then, this morning I discovered two weavers are spending their holidays in New Zealand! Stop by if you're in Nelson if you feel like it. I can email you a map to my house and phone numbers! I'm really not scary or grumpy. Most of the time!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Merry! Merry! Ho! Ho! Ho!

This is Mom's Christmas rug she begrudgingly wove me some years ago on the Glimakra she no longer has; begrudgingly because the box of mill end red carpet yarns I ordered for her from the US was so huge 10+ years later she still has some left. She said I shop the way I cook!

Have a lovely day.


The Perfect Christmas Gift

A couple of days ago Claudy knocked on my door while I was cooking dinner, possibly still in my PJs covered in boucle dust. Because I complain so much about Tim not having a comprehensive website and nobody has gotten around to publishing a fancy coffee table book of his works, they gave me an autographed special edition catalogue! And, I suspect, though I could be wrong, some of the photographs were mine, because we give him everything we take of his work in case he needs them for marketing/promotion purposes.

What a lovely Christmas present! Thanks, Claudy and Tim. We haven't decorated the fig tree this year, so there was no place to put the present, and I had to open it right away, you see. (It was wrapped before I tore into it.)


Cherry Blossom Blanket Finally Started

After finally getting the Cherry Blossom Blanket warp ready so I started winding the weft, and lo, the dye lot changed! I knew this all along, but was in total denial until today. This is the fourth 1kg cone from this source with dye lot change midstream. In one case I had three dye lots on one cone. I'm disappointed because I've always asked for yarns from the same dye lot on each cone, and if they had less than the weight I asked for, that was fine. And because this source's yarns are so pricey.

Never mind. Luckily, I hadn't started weaving, so I'm using only the second, inside, lot as weft. Which, incidentally, is the same as the sample I saw when I ordered this colorway, paler and gentler. This weft softens the brasher peach-pink in the warp and gives the blanket a bit more blurred look I wanted.

This is a merino boucle, and I know it will fluff up, but I'm packing in the weft; I want this to be a hefty, weighty blanket, rather than a fluffy "big shawl". And since this is a nap-on-the-couch blanket, and my brother (172cm) is the one who naps on my parents' couch most often, I'll keep on weaving until I run out of either the warp or the weft, or the fabric builds up too high on the cloth beam.

It's weaving slowly, but it's a carefree piece, so no stress. The draft is the same as the baby blanket I wove in November, but the diamonds may be a little more squashed.

I'm also considering washing this in the washing machine. I've never done this but this would be a good one to try, perhaps. Or not. Let's get the weaving done first.


Hand/Eye site looks far more interesting and worthwhile than I initially thought. I might need to reserve one whole day to explore the photos and articles!

Vegan, Anyone?

My friend Carol's daughter Suzy has a Vegan website with short (5 minutes, perfect for my attention span!) vid clips and recipes, called Iron Deficient Chef. I hope she's not that, but it's so cute and fun, I recommend it.

You don't have to be a Vegan, of course; there is, for example, a nice, quick bean salad. And you know I will never put carob in my mouth, ever. So that recipe under "Beverly" file is out. But I like Veggie and Vegan food, so it's worth exploring. (And good when Textile Lunchers come for docos next year.)

Suzy is also looking for "Beater Testers" until the end of February; for this you need to look for "Iron Deficient Chef" on Facebook.


I Will Never, Never, Never, Never, Never...

Again tie a warp with boucle in it, especially in a double-width project, ever, as long as I remember this warp. Ever.

It's taken me a couple of hours a while back, and the whole afternoon today, and I have about 50cm more to wind. But I'm sticking with it because it's such a spongy warp and with the same boucle in the weft, it'll be pretty forgiving of this hysterically uneven tension. And it's looking cute and cheerful.

Oppos, camera ran out of juice; I'll show you tomorrow.


How to Frame Textiles: The "Floating Island" Method

These instructions assume you have some knowledge of picture frame making and framing in general. It's an exacting skill, but with the right tools and a good teacher, the basics can be learned in a short time.

I wished I had photographed my process during the workshop, because I've managed to make it sound so much more complicated than it really is. I hope you are able to get some kind of an idea.


* A piece of textile to frame

* Foam board for backing the textile
* A piece of mount board smaller than the foam board above; the color doesn't matter for piece
* Tapestry T Pins; there are many sites that sell these, but this is one site I found with different size pins.
* Conservation tape

* Mounting board
* Foam board the same size as the mounting board, plus some skinny strips or plastic strips
* Frame and glass, conservation tape, double sided tape, PVC glue, saw tooth or D-rings or triangle hangers, and cord

* Craft knife, scissors, cutting board, straight edge, something with a right angle
* In addition, if you are making the frame yourself: mitre and saw or a frame guillotine, joiner-underpinner, Fleximater or Multimaster point driver, glass cutter (Most if not all of these should be accessible in a good workshop/class.)

* In order to make the textile appear as if it is floating, a deep frame is desirable.


1) Decide the shape and the size of the area of the textile you wish to show, then cut a piece of foam board slightly smaller than what you decided.

My needlepoint piece was not exactly a rectangle, so I placed the piece on top of a foam board, punched holes in the four corners of the design with a T pin, and drew lines connecting these holes. In the illustrations below, I'm showing you a regular rectangle foam board pinned with a irregular piece of textile.

2) Press the textile if appropriate. Flatten and stretch the piece over the cut foam board, and secure with a T pin in the center of one side of the board, followed by a second pin in the center of the opposite side. The third pin goes in the center of a third side; the fourth pin in the center of its opposite side. In other words, place pins in the same way you would tighten a drum. Stick the fifth pink on the first side, the sixth in the opposite side, and so on, until all sides are secured and the textile stretched evenly.(An alternative is to stitch the back of the fabric instead of using pins; this is more time consuming but no pins or stitches will be visible in the final display.)

3) Fold the corners into a square (?). (Teacher Lance said "hospital tucks" but we use fitted sheets!!)

4) Tape the turned part of the fabric to the back of the foam board with conservation tape. (Yellow strips below.)

5) Cut a piece of mounting board a tad smaller than the area of the foam board showing in the back. (The green shape.) Depending on the thickness of your fabric, you may wish to cut two pieces of mounting board, or a piece of foam board instead. This is to give the whole piece an even thickness, so the color or the texture of the mounting board is inconsequential.

6) Use double-sided tape and PVA glue to secure the mounting board to the back of the foam board and conservation tape. Place a weight on top if necessary. 7) If you are using a ready-made frame, measure and cut a piece of foam board and an appropriate colored/textured mounting board to go in the frame; they are usually the same as the glass. If you are making your frame, decide on the size and shape of the foam and mounting boards and cut accordingly. There is no need to, but you can secure the mounting board to the foam board.

8) Secure the textile-on-foam-board, textile side up, onto the cut mounting board with double-sided tape and PVA. Apply weight if necessary.

9) Decide how far the textile should be off set from the glass. Cut enough strips of foam board in that width to go all around the inside of the frame. (See pink below.) If your frame or mat is dark, you may wish to use a black foam board; there are clear plastic sticks for this purpose available from frame supply shops and possibly from craft or model supply shops. Personally I can also see using mounting boards, but you're best to ask a professional's opinion.

10) Assemble frame. Fit the foam board strips, sideways so the papered side is shown, all the way around the inside of the frame; use PVA to secure to the inside of frame. Sit the textile/mounting board/foam board piece on top of the foam strips. Secure the foam board to the frame with a point driver. Affix a setup of your choice to hang the frame.

If I were to cut the completed picture frame in half, the cross section would look something like this: The lighting is hideous today, but here are a few more pictures of my frame.

(Ooops, clean laundry in the corner. Thank you for putting up with my wordiness.)

(And the name, "Floating Island", I just made it up. There's probably a correct term somewhere...)

Halcyon Yarns has T-pins, 1.75 inches long, in a box of 35.

The Filter-Feeding Forest

I'm not much of a natural history museum kinda gal; those places have dead stuffed animals killing deader stuffed animals, cave recreations with bats, (ugh, ugh, ugh!!) or worst of all, nightmarish stuffed birds glaring at me. Fossils and bones I can life with, but the rest, no thank you!

Recently, Megg Hewlett, (who is lucky enough to still be living in London!) went to a photo exhibition at the Natural History Museum there, and sent me these. (By the way, I finally wove a cashmere scarf to thank her for my second bag so I can start using it now!)

I love the seed pods taken from below; this is the kind of things I often think about when taking macro shots. The fish reflection makes me think of a kimono; could it be the stillness and the colors?? The white dots, they are birds, masses of them, in Austria. After I tried to "see" the individual birds, this one started to creep me out a little... But the green one is the most striking; it's the inside of a sea squirt's mouth. I had never heard the word but I think I know what they are, and I assume they are tiny? I wouldn't mind taking a walk through this forest, if I knew I wouldn't be eaten, and had good oxygen supply! And if the forest floor wasn't slippery.

The wonder never ceases, yes? Thank you, Megg.

PS: Interesting. If you look up "sea squirt" in Wiki, you are redirected to "tunicate", but one of my dictionaries say it is "ascidiacae". Clarification, please, anyone?


Saturday Daydreaming: Planning and Accidents

Ian Longley, Concepts in Stone; stone carver and sculptor. His studio is at Founders Park, Nelson, and he can be found at the Nelson Saturday Market most weeks.

It is bad luck to buy New Zealand Greenstone, or Pounamu, for oneself; it is best given as a gift. Ben wanted a fish hook for some years, so on Christmas 2006, he got one carved by Ian. About two years later, the skinny part broke, so I had Ian fix it and put on a new lashing, and at the same time, got Ben a whale's tail also.

Unlike weaving, stone carving is unpredictable; no amount of planning, experience or skill can completely prevent a piece being made from the weak part of the rock, and until he cuts into the stone, he cannot know the exact look of the piece. Which is half the thrill of working with stones, I suspect. It's a totally different from the way I work, of course, but a little bit of elements of surprise may be fun to incorporate in my weaving.

I love visiting his studio to pick a stone and a design and choose the area of the stone, discussing aspects of the individual stone with Ian and envisioning the finished piece.


Framing Textile - Not the Way I Learned

But look, it's simpler and easier. Look at the third picture here while I try to reconstruct the method I learned!

And Finannly The Sunday: The Street Party

Sunday December 6 was the long-awaited street party, for which we were supposed to have cleaned out our garden and tidied our place thoughout 2009. Well, wouldn't you know, it rained like crazy, so we had the party inside!! I would have been cross if we had indeed worked hard all year to get the garden ready, but as it was, we had done just enough to get by, so I was happy either way.

We had a lovely few hours catching up with the people who live down the same narrow driveway; there are ten houses down here. Albeit, because we don't have enough nice chairs and I had arranged them badly, all the girls were seated in the middle of the living room, and all the guys were standing between the living room and the kitchen, only the more confident guys coming to join the girls from time to time. (Yes, you Kiwis and Aussies would know exactly what I mean!) Every year Ben and I appreciate the fact we are surrounded by nice neighbors. We do intend, though, (at least I do,) to keep the momentum and make our place look a lovey.

* * * * *

You're just about caught up in what I've been doing these last few weeks. Except one more thing; last Friday, we had the roof and the exterior of the house water-blasted and scrubbed, and that was another positive, uplifting thing. Our bright yellow house is bright yellow again, and there is no bird poo on our windows at the moment.

I'm sorry to bore you with the mundane bits of my life, mostly from three weeks ago. I had a very vivid week, which left me with thoughts, ideas and impressions which felt worth recording. The trouble is, I read a lot of fiction since, which in itself was lovely, but that very vivid week appears pale and distant already, and I can't seem to recapture much any more. The week was important to me and my future weaving, I recall.

I've noticed I'm getting even better forgetting things. I'm always trying to remember something. It's a bit of a worry, but I'm not sure what I can do besides writing things down.

Friday: Drawing, Andrea, and Julie

Two weeks ago Friday was the last day of the year of figure/life drawing class. We could do anything we wanted to, so I used very bright pastels of different values and made neon-like drawings. I won't be signing up for the first term next year because of the home trip, so it's bye-bye to my friends until the second term, though I'm sure I'll be seeing Ronette in the meantime.

Instead of joining the rest of the class for lunch, I met up with Andrea Chandler. Among other things we talked about guilt (and my triple whammy) because I felt a tad guilty not going to the class lunch, but I really wanted to see Andrea one-on-one instead of in the Textile group.

Andrea is a textile artist but she doesn't worry much about the heady stuff. But she has studied art and textiles, and in speaking to her, I discovered she has a huge toolbox full of knowledge, understanding and methods with which to make her art. Which is what I suspected all along, but it was nice to confirm, because I no longer feel like an ostrich trying to study design with Ali, but that one day what I learn will come a little more naturally to me.

And then I met with Julie Catchpole, the director of the Suter Gallery and a textile lover. I wanted her thoughts on textile/fiber art, particularly in comparison to those of Anna's, in preparation for the textile awards. Smart woman, that Julie; we talked for an hour but in the end she didn't tell me much, except that I should make what I want to make. But I did come out of her office freed and empowered.

Monday: Because I Need More Yarns...

The following Monday, Ronette emailed me asking if I needed some lease sticks and yarns; if I didn't need them they were going into the skip right away. Naturally I said yes, and they were delivered within a couple of hours!

Neither of us thought she had any weaving stuff left in her house, but while cleaning out the basement she found yet another lot way in the back of somewhere, blocking the way to her daughter's stuff even further back.

I sure could use more sticks. Some of the smaller balls were "leftovers" from the larger balls I was given way back, (one huge box of delicious wools!) with which I wove something for my family. Most of Ronette's yarns are old wool and none of the superwash "nonsense", so they will wet finish properly. I'm particularly enamored by the hand-spun single white wool.

A box and a bag held dyed samples, with color proportions noted; these will come useful when I, you know, finally, start to you-know-what.

Saturday: End of 2009 for Marlborogh Weavers

The day after the last Textile Lunch evening, Ben and I drove to Picton for the end of the year meeting of Marlborough Weavers. I was able to attend only one during the year, so it was important I went. Besides, I had to relieve Rose Pelvin from photographer duty for at least this one last meeting.

We arrived quite a bit late; but the portion I attended I recorded on the group blog. And there are/will be around a dozen bag pictures there over the next couple of months.

The overwhelming impression I got from this group was the joy of making things. Most of us are weavers, craftspersons if you want to put us in a box, and there wasn't the overt anguish and tribulations which I associate with art-marking. We poo-poo at concepts and art education talks, even though we do incorporate these things in our work without thinking, or worrying about them. We are a happy bunch when we are in this group, even if other parts of our lives are not going so well, and I know my life is a beach compared to some others.

It's not my artist friends or Textile Lunch group, mind you, that is so concerned about the heady stuff; it's me, and the feeling I have to combat those heady stuff so what I make qualifies as art. Guilt comes easily when you grow up a Japanese female in a Catholic convent school.

So I keep trying to reconcile the two parts of me; I hope one day they will merge.

Oh, one of the reasons we were late was because we stopped by at Havelock's Four Square store to buy me an iconic, affordable New Zealand commercial art piece, the reusable shopping bag with Dick Frizzell's Four Square man. Notice the man on the bag doesn't have a pencil above his ear; the older version does.

Friday: Nancy's Faux Chenille and Not So Textile "Lunch" VII

Three weeks ago Friday, I had lunch with Nancy to discuss a swap; one of my scarves for a small piece of her faux chenille fabric. Last year she made a jacket in faux chenille, and ever since I wanted something in it. I asked for a piece a little larger than a place mat, intending to make a small bag, and we picked out the fabrics at her house.

This is Nancy's jacket swatch she gave me, which I've been carrying around for months.

This is the fabric she made for me, in little over a week, and now I'm thinking I might want to make a book cover for a special book instead of a bag. Thinking, thinking...

This is a close up of my fabric, which shows the faux chenille construction.

This is the scarf I gave her.

In the evening, the Textile Lunch girls came to my house for the last get-together this year. There were two vegetarians and one non-wheat-eater, and the conversation centered mostly on food and recipes. (Doesn't it often, this time of the year??) But we talked a little about conformism, and medicating mental health sufferers, and what would have happened if the likes of Vincent had been medicated and his behavior/character modified. And whether over-medication is reducing/threatening art of now and the future. Yayoi Kusama's exhibition came up as Rose and Rosie had seen it and Ali and possibly Andrea were going. I don't remember the discussion, though, because that exhibition is still bah humbug to me.

Besides/instead of the lunches, in 2010 the Lunchers will be getting together to view art docos in the evenings, organized by Rosie and myself. We're looking forward to that.


Wednesday: Meeting with Ali - Round 4: Compositions

Three weeks ago Wednesday, I met with Ali, and I remember the frustration, because the module was about composition, with which I have great difficulties seeing or understanding unless it is explicitly pointed out to me. (Though sometimes when someone does point out that "this element is repeated over here," my instinctive reaction is, "So what?")

And now, looking at my fragmented notes, I remember being overwhelmed by the amount of information and options Ali was discussing. I wished I tackled this post much earlier so at least the questions and impressions were fresher in my mind.

Ali did tell me to "throw a dice" instead of thinking and planning to death, in color selection, or structure combination. I can do that.

Images from the North Island Trip

Our North Island trip feels such a long time ago, but it was a nice little road trip, from Wellington to Napier via the inland road, and back the coastal way.

On our way home, we went to see Yayoi Kusama's installation, "Mirrored Years" at the Wellington City Gallery. As it was not at all crowded, in the spirit of the artist, I tried jumping up and down, and ran back and forth, in front of her paintings, and sat on the floor looking at things from different angles at her installation, but I just did not get it. I didn't see the point of making art that did not mean anything to me. And I concluded it was okay that as a genre I really dislike installation/conceptual art; I'll just have to wait until I see something I like. But I did enjoy seeing the big McCahon at Victoria University again.

How Many Sleeps??

I feel pulling tied knots through Texolv heddles is one of the worst tasks in weaving, especially if some of the warps are boucle, and it's a double-width, (i.e. twice as crammed, i.e. double the regular EPI) warp. Which is what I battled today; well, not quite; I got exasperated and walked away with two more inches to pull through. Tomorrow.

I haven't been productive on the loom, or in my art practice. I've been doing minimum housework, and no gardening. But I have been reading fiction, for hours and hours every day, in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. It's not been "productive" in the sense I'm not accomplishing or finishing things, ticking items off To Do lists, but it's been a while since I've been able to relax enough to just read, and I enjoy it. But it's time I got back on the horse, in addition to reading.

Ben told me this morning he only has to work one more week, which made me realize it's a week before Christmas. I had a lot of "end of year" stuff in late Nov/early Dec about which I want to write about, just so I don't forget.

So, some "notes to myself" posts coming up now.


Fruits of Our Labour

The weekend picture framing workshop was exhausting; seriously, from 8.30AM to 5PM or later, both days, but oh, so rewarding.

Ben went for complicated stuff: double mats and double frames and the like, while I went for simple but beautiful things.

Being in the company of so many people all day tired me, albeit lovely company. I hope a couple of the ladies will become fast friends.

There were in all around 16 students, framing old photos, new photos, paintings, and one Rosemary framed a miniature shirt her grandfather sewed in 1915 at the end of his pattern maker apprenticeship in Kaiapoi; I wished I had photographed that sublime piece.

Ben's already talking about the next time. I would like to strip and paint some moldings we have to suit my textiles and/or frame a mirror next time.

Tutor Lance Trolle teaches all over the Nelson/Tasman regions; he also mentioned Blenheim. For details, Google "Lance Trolle" or inquire directly.

I will show you one way to frame textiles in due course; it's how I framed my needlepoint piece (which sat in my sock drawer for about a decade) above.


Saturday Daydreaming: Old Ingenuity

I still dream of living in an old wooden homestead, almost as often as I dream of living in an old stone castle. But with staff, to clean and tidy and maintain and fix and garden for me. But then I do live, a more or less private life, in spite of all I write here, so having lots of people living in close proximity won't be such a good idea.

I'm always intrigued by the ingenuity and engineering from yesteryears. This is a series of windows facing the veranda at Oruawharo, a homestead near Takapau, Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand. The bottom panel can be tucked into the wall so the lower part of the window open up as a doorway. Lovely in the summer!


Another Week Gone?

We had the roof and the house washed today; it was very expensive, but I knew I'd love it, and I feel great. I feel exfoliated, shedding 2009, sparkling clean. And while all that was going on, I made Marlborough Weavers blog posts for when I'm away, so I'm safe until early March in that work. That's one thing off my To Do list.

This weekend, Ben and I are going to a picture framing workshop. It's starts at the ungodly hour (to me) of 8.30AM, but among other things I'm very interested in how to frame small textile samples.

I've still loads of things to tell you from a couple of weeks ago. Maybe next week.

Have a great weekend, everybody.


If You Like Trees

Or are contemplating abstraction, gaze at the photos at Joanne Mattera's Florida art exhibition review here. Or, if you'd like to bring the warm fuzzy winter into your home, have a look at Doni's lovely Christmas balls here!!

EDIT: Doni's Felt Baubles - Tutorial is here! Thank you, Doni. And there was a prequel to this: how to "create" the tree!


Reading Now

I picked up "You, or Someone Like You" by Chandler Burr yesterday; I'm halfway through.

It's about Jewish ethnoreligiousity, or religioethnicity, literature/language, and Hollywood, and New York. There's too much name dropping, and strange punctuation which distract and bore me, even though the protagonist complains about others' unorthodox (read: incorrect) punctuation. And there's not enough literary detail for the shallow, ill-read to construct a reading list based on the protagonist's description. Darn.

Yet, I so get the Jew-ish-ness, (it's Burr who put in the first hyphen,) because it is so similar to Japanese-ness; the family, the all encompassing love and the very narrow but unspoken definition of "us", (notice I didn't say "I" or "we",) one agrees to to receive that love; the straying but not entirely discarding.

I go back to my third year in college when I sensed English Literature in an American university meant literature from the British Isles, (yes, we read Synge, too,) whereas I grew up believing it was anything in the English language, (as it is understood by many Japanese), no matter what variation; I contemplated ditching my beloved Dr Vane (whose grading policies I understood) in favor of Dr Moyer (who was an unknown quantity, the dad of a friend and a step-dad of another). I was weak; I always stuck with professors I loved. And when discovered Joyce's regret for/anger at never having gotten the call, and his need to leave Dublin in order to love it, well, I thought Deity made Dr Vane choose Joyce for my BA and I hung on, just. I still wonder if that was the right choice.

Right now I have a love/hate relationship with the book; I think it's described as "layered"; I think it's going to be my best read of 2009.

Saturday Daydreaming: Pacifica

Ceiling and window of ASB Bank building, in the Art Deco city of Napier, North Island, New Zealand.
(The color of the ceiling is more accurate in the top photo.)

I love Pacific Island motifs, not of any specific island, nation or ethnic groups, but a kind of composite I've concocted in my mind. Just thinking about them, I feel the warm salty breeze and my pace slows down to a leisurely, warm-hearted one; even my smile is slower but broader.

I would like to get back to these motifs in the future, but I am also a little wary of cultural appropriation vs. political correctness issue. I will be treading these in the same, slow pace.



The last day of the drawing year; don't go back until Term II next year so it'll be a while.

I've got loads of things to tell you, but I'm tired today. I want to go to bed with a good book, at 6.30PM, without dinner, but a mug of hot choc. It's that kind of a day.

I found this on the wall of our classroom. Have a good weekend, everybody.


I Have So Many Post Drafts Now...

And concrete, more considered thoughts I should be sharing, but I'm going a little nuts about my latest, (and the last, for the foreseeable future) book binge, The Tudor Tailor.

I don't intend to construct a Tudor costume, but I've always been fascinated by the hand-crafted details of period costume and this has been one of the best how-to books, and I love the crisp writing and plentiful photo and drawn images. This might just be one of the rare books I'll read from cover to cover.

I recommend this if you're a costume or hand-crafted details nuts.


The Next Exchange

I heard a good idea at yesterday's Year End meeting of Marlborough Weavers. (More on that a little later.) So here's an idea for our next exchange - I wondered if anyone else would be interested.

1) You collect three photographs/clipping/drawing to inspire a weaver. I suggest three different types of photos, for example one very abstract, one very emotional, and one a "scene", as in a holiday, a room or a set table. All this in case the recipient has very different taste/sensibilities from yours.

2) Put all three in an envelope. And a personal message if you like. Then email me to say you have an envelope.

3) I shuffle names and addresses in one of Ben's baseball caps, and ask you to send your envelope to someone. Meanwhile, someone will send you an envelope.

4) You plan a project based on one of the images; it could even be something else you were reminded of from one of the three, e.g. you may be sent a picture of a Christmas ornament, which reminded you of one on your Grandmother's tree years ago.

5) If you have a blog, you post the original images and your finished project on your blog; if you don't have a blog, I'll put them in my Flicker. And we'll all have a ring/link for easy viewing.

How far you'd like to take the project depends on you - you could actually weave something, or go as far as determining the yarn, the set and the draft, or come up with a bunch of drawings.

Because the holiday season is upon us and we don't want to loose our previous images or ideas in the busy-ness, and I'm away at an inconvenient time, I thought we might plan to exchange the visuals at in late February/early March, and set the due to show the project, finished or underway, say, late May sometime?

I also thought paper pictures are more tangible and portable and therefore preferable to exchanging JPG files. The printed papers have textures, and we could carry them around or paste them into our sketchbooks or pin them on our walls.

Anyone keen?

EDIT: I can't think too far ahead so I don't know if there will be another Small Scarf Exhibition next year, or this will be in its stead, or if we'll have SSVE later in the year. But I'm mindful we've had the last two SSVE around May/June, so you could combine the two if you'd like.


Saturday Daydreaming: Futuristic Textiles

During our recent trip to the North Island, we went to see the wind turbines near the town of Ashhurst. The elegance of the turbine design combined with the massive number of them and the morbid dark sky surrounded me with a Doctor Who kind of creepiness. It was an other-worldly place and I wondered what creatures living in this place looked like.

My image of futuristic textile and clothing have been informed by the various science fiction TV series and films; stretchy, metallic (always silver and not gold), functional and "intelligent", which in the old days meant wrinkle-free, but nowadays could mean temperature/humidity-controlled, as well as wired up in many other intrusive ways. It could make me feel a slight discomfort when I reach for that second cookie!

While some of you are experimenting and creating with new material including electronics, I am more attracted to old designs and styles. This is definitely because I have a very poor vision of the future. Of course, I like to think I'm slowing down my life by reverting to an old craft, (even though I love working on my computer-controlled loom to speed up my multishaft weaving,) and feel the connection through the craft with weavers of the past, and the future. It's just that I can't picture a future weaver, say 100 years from now; I don't know what s/he would be wearing, what kind of a loom s/he would be working on, if indeed it would even look like a loom to me, and what would be on that loom. For some reason, I don't think it'll be a 2/2 twill in undyed merino on a wooden loom, though.

Where do you see us going?