Third Blogaversary/Blogiversary

Three years and 830 posts; if nothing else, you know I am not a woman of few words.

Sometimes it feels like yesterday I discovered blogging and started Unravelling; occasionally I feel I'm saying the same thing for the millionth time and I should just drop it. But in trying to be a good weaver and a better person, I guess I am bound to discover recurring themes to reflect upon. And the only thing I know today is unlike most anything else, living longer doesn't make life easier; there are, always, things to learn or unlearn or discover or rediscover or try again. It's only very recently that I began to think it's the journey that counts, so I can stop looking for approval or rewards.

Mama told me two things when I was threes: that my personality had settled, so from then on I'd better try darn hard to straighten out, and that the day I stop wanting to learn is the day I die. I can tell you I'm still trying to straighten out, and I still need to learn a bunch of things.

Thank you all for coming along and helping me do both.

Passport photo, 1961
Megumi, aged 3

Celia, Cecily and Moa

©Celia Allison; posted with permission

Earlier this week I was flabbergasted to receive my most favorite New Zealand artist/card producer Celia Allison's newsletter, not because I received it, but because she said the 2010 Cecily calendars were ready! My 2009 just started last Friday, didn't it?

I always liked Cecily greeting cards; her subjects cover being single, not having kids, being confused by computers/accountants/dentists, having too many carry on luggage when flying, credit cards and Christmas, doing the dishes, and the list goes on. A couple of years ago I noticed for the first time Cecily is not only a Kiwi girl, but a Mainland Girl, from Lyttleton near Christchurch!

I also knew Celia had another brand, but I had trouble going to her other web site once, so I didn't check it until this week, and it turns out Celia is also responsible for Moa, another favorite of mine, which I often use to send overseas.

I've never met Celia, but sure would like to if we ever head down that way. I often get Celia and Cecily confused, but I doubt Celia would mind.

Red Update

Bearing in mind the possibility of discontinuing my artist/gallery relationship as well, I went to see Jay this morning. And we agreed on most everything, from the lack of accuracy in my work to Jay having been too busy to talk to me or train me, to both of us being too emotionally vested in this relationship, and we agreed we'd rather stay good friends than part acrimoniously. So, I no longer work for her, but she remains my agent. And we were both relieved.

I also test-drove Scarf Two, still unfinished but the ends hidden in knots, and discovered I loved the weight and hand, (quite heavy and "wet",) but the overall length should be at least one more half-day's worth or about 1500 picks longer, if not more. So the last piece off of this loom could be the best piece yet.

This is Jesse the new cafe staff at Red and her cake stand, which was likened to a jewelry box by one customer. Jesse has a sister who owns a cafe on the North Island; the sign on the sister's purple car reads: "All the food for as much as it costs!!"


Red and Me

I think my short stint as a staff at the Red is coming to an end, and I'm feeling disappointed and vulnerable.

From October to December, which is our spring/summer, we were very busy and Jay was away a lot, so I was less the computer Girl Friday I was meant to be, but more a sitter. Which wasn't a problem because I liked being there and appreciated the income. She gave me the fun job of being in charge of the greeting cards, too. I always imagined that after the real summer rush was over, she and I would sit down and discuss my role and her expectations and training for the gallery stuff. Because we had no job description and only a verbal contract, as these things are done a lot of the times in Nelson.

Then I was away in January. A new staff with tons of experience joined while I was away and the first time I went back to work, I was introduced to her as, among other things, the person in charge of the cards. Well, OK, then.

But then my hours started to get cut, I became preoccupied with the house thing, I had to ask to have the days changed because of it, and I miscalculated the time I had for one job, so I worked for her for free for two days to get it done, which was done in time. But though the file is centered, the printed material didn't come out centered, which annoyed both of us.

Then I couldn't work because of the foot thing, the new person instigated new things, or at least I sensed so, my hours were further reduced, a regular task of mine was given to someone else this month without my knowledge. The new person never made eye contact with me until this month when I gave her money towards Jay's birthday present. Strange. Most crucially, I got a little confused about an important file and spent yesterday rebuilding it. And though I have no intention of blaming anyone but me, because I could have had more backups, kept paper backups, etc., the file in question was "updated" the day after I was last at work.

The very reduced hours and the changes taking place in the gallery made me take my job lightly at first, and then I started to dread going in. I know that's when I make mistakes. I was most relieved when she emailed me she didn't need me, but going in so sporadically I lost continuity and couldn't even remember when the last time was I worked without consulting my notes. I hate working like that. I became unattached to the work, Jay and Red. And Jay was becoming decreasingly thrilled to see me.

I'm disappointed because I know I've been an unreliable employee since January. I'm disappointed because at the last office job I had, in a lawyers' office in 2004, I was also detached, uncommitted and therefore no good and lasted six months. I can dress it up and say things like I operate on a different mode now, I appreciated the experience, or that this is a new beginning, but for now I'm disappointed at myself.

It's also been six days since our building project officially concluded, and I thought my Preposterous 2009 was really finally starting, but I didn't hold on to my sanity as well as I thought I had, and now feelings are crashing down on me. The worst part is, Claire, the psychologist who got me started on a brilliantly upward track last year, has well and truly left Nelson, so I have to go see her colleague. We met Dr Eva's brother Dr Tom, our new GP, yesterday and he was lovely, but he wasn't Eva. So I am feeling vulnerable. And it's easy to blame external reasons, but if I can't fix me, the external stuff won't go away. Ben's worried about how much the house project is costing us; it'll end up probably twice the estimates. So we had to commit not to go to the writing retreat this year. And we forgot our anniversary yesterday.

We so need some time off, but I hesitate to ask, because externally, my life looks like one long time off. So, time out on the inside for a while. That's after Jay and I have the last "talk". "Impasse" was the word she started to use yesterday, before we got interrupted by customers, but in retrospect we've possibly been building up to it from the very beginning.



I read that art/craft blogs should be eye-candies as well ad interesting/informative because a large part of the audience are also art/craft people who tend to be visual. So you don't have to be as near blind as I am to go all over the Internet just to gaze at other people's pics, I take it.

Anyway, the cotton scarves have been fairly photogenic and I've got a few good ones I can use in things like business and greeting cards if I so choose, but I've got too much of the ugly old carpet in some pics, too.

The worst part is, I knew I'd regret it, that I should have had something else under the scarves, but I didn't want to interrupt the flow. Live and learn, though I don't know how long I have to live to learn everything I need to learn...

The Insanely Closely-Sett Project

I sent Scarf One to Marlborough for the Marlborough Guild (not Nelson/Marlborough/Buller Area of the National Guild) exhibition. Scarf One looked marginally better from a distance, and had better marginally selvedge. The difference in hand was marginal, and that Side A looked like Side B didn't bother me. The opening is this Friday but it doesn't sounds like I can go as Ben thinks he has to work late.

The piece is ugly when hung flat. I don't like the color scheme, and I'm not fishing for compliments. I mean, just look!! (Please excuse my laundry mess. Scarf One is on the left.)

The warp looks green overall, regardless of the wefts, (gold on the right, mocha brown on the left,) with the yellow parts overly saturated for harmony. Had I thought ahead, I might have used dark blue browns instead of blue grays and black at the other end. I know I would have liked it better if the pieces looked bluer. The scarves look wonderfully harmonious under water, so I'm going to overdye one of these, perhaps in dilute dark blue or blue brown. Any suggestions?

I requested, on the submission form, that it be shown folded/twisted/scrunched or whatever necessary, not hung flat, and I attached sample photos of Scarf Two being folded/twisted/scrunched.

I have trouble with making nice hems, particularly with cottons, so I tried washing Scarf Two before hemming in vein. I think this is a known tension problem I've been meaning to post about for a couple of years; I don't have a pic now but I'll revisit this one.

The warp-wise movement of the draft is overwhelmed by the colors, and very difficult to see. I can only hope whoever come to wear these pieces, like I, will notice minute things after years of use, so I'll reserve my judgment. The weft-wise movement is a little easier to see, but because the draft is more or less diamonds changing size, the elongated diamonds accentuate the "stripes" created by the warp colors.

I have about three meters of the warp left, and I have been thinking of resleying at 96EPI. I am quite surprised how much this heavier, “wetter” hand grew on me and am now wondering if I’d even have liked 96. Why jump from 160 to 96, you ask? I thought I’d just grab the 16 ends from each dent and transfer to the 6-dent reed as I had intended in the first place. That doesn’t involve recounting nor the possibility of crossing the warps behind the reed.

I would like to thank you all for putting up with this prolonged project and standing/sitting/laughing by me. I am a slow weaver, but this was positively ridiculous.

Something to Aspire To

Oh, sigh... Look at Pam's post here! I want to do this to someone at least once this year. Not overdoing it... Just nice and elegant. Sigh...


God Speed, Kath Bee

Last Saturday, Kath had her last kids' song gig at Crackerjack toy store. Tonight, The Nancies had their farewell gig. My friend Kath Bee is heading for Auckland in search of wider audience. In fact, she'll be on a ferry to the North Island in less than nine hours.

Kath went to Nelson School of Music in 2000 in the hopes of becoming a children's song writer. I quit my office job in 2000 in search of something more meaningful and fulfilling. We met at Nelson Arts Marketing's Artist Retreat in June 2006. Well, not really; Kath and Liz sang for all of us at the Retreat so I learned her name.

In October 2006, when Kath released her first CD, "Dragons Under My Bed", she emailed the Retreat participants, and I emailed her back asking to meet her to buy her CD; that's when we met. Back then, she was looking for gigs and ways to promote her CD, and I was working towards my first solo exhibition, so I always felt as if we were two babies born in the same maternity ward in the same week. For months leading up to my exhibition, Kath came to my house every Thursday (or was it Wednesday?) to check if I was still alive and to cheer me up. During the exhibition she gave three free lunch time concerts at my exhibition.

After my exhibition, I got her started on blogging and My Space so people can find out more about her and sample her songs before she got a proper website. She'd sometimes serenade me with my favorite and some unreleased songs; sometimes she'd bring me home-baked goodies.

Last November Kath released her second CD, "Dinasours in My Backyard", and held a big CD release party for kids. For weeks leading up to the party, we met every Tuesday to check her progress. The day after her release party, she flew to Auckalnd for some school gigs, and when she came back, she told me she had to try if she can make it in the big smokes. I knew it was the right move, and somehow I knew she was going to do this even before she said so. And once again we made To Do lists and planned her success.

It wasn't until last Saturday at Crackerjack that I realized a dear freind was moving to Auckland. Up until then I was only too excited for her and her career that I didn't realize I would be loosing a wonderful collaborator/coconspirator. And my best text message translator.

Kath is my friend who will sit happily amidst my clean laundry and drink tap water when I don't have anything better to serve. I will miss her terribly, her little red car coming down the driveway, and hearing her happy voice chiming, "Sorry, I'm late, again, but it's so funny... " before I see her. And our laughing our heads off at life's trivial joys and follies.

But more than that, I hope her path to readhingi more children and greater success will be a happy, if not easy, one. She is the Margaret Mahy of children's songs and she should be known to children beyond Nelson, and New Zealand. (In fact, there is a tiny fan base in Texas, as well as somewhere in Canada already!) And I congratulate her courage.

And when I stop crying, I must think of something I will do this year that takes a bit of courage on my part.

God Speed, Kath Bee.


Woman vs Machine

I've been thinking about what Taueret said, that she aims to weave things that look like "a human made it". I believe one of my goals is for the cloth to look like they were machine-woven, run of the mill, "perfect". They never are, but I have rigid aesthetics for my own pieces, which may be alleviating the chances for something spectacular.

I have in mind something rather uncharacteristic for SSVE. But must get the fine warp project finished first.


Hold the Press!!

I promised I won't bore you any more with our renovation stories, but we finally passed inspection on the third go. I don't know why we didn't pass it the second time around because we already had the nice, smart valves installed then but there we go. It means starting tonight we can use the new wood burner. It would have finished much quicker if tradesmen and inspectors spoke to each other instead of speaking through me, a total dummy in this matter, but I think the project is over. Except the paying the $ part, of course.

The house is still in chaos, but now it is our chaos and we need to continue to put the house back in order. And clean and repaint on the way.

2009 finally starts for me.

Periodic Table

Cally discovered a video about Erbium from University of Nottingham; it explains how sending video clips over the Internet was made possible with this element. And it turns out a small group of Physicist are posting short video clips of every element on the periodic table.

All of Lynne's creative adventures have been making me think and look outside of my tiny square of scarf making, and one of the ideas is to weave a series based on the Periodic Table. It's my attempt to strengthen a tenuous relationship with my Dad who was a Chemistry professor when I was growing up.

But having found Physic far more interesting and straight-forward to understand (at school level) than Chemistry, I wasn't sure how I was going to approach, (read: "begin to start thinking about approaching",) this project. And talk with Dad I do, but his perspective is entirely chemical, which doesn't help.

So, Cally, this might be the big boost I needed to dwell or daydream on the subject. Thanks a million.


Battling Technology

Late Friday afternoon, I wanted to finish the second repeat on my second scarf. With less than 50 picks to go, I notice a weft kink two picks back, so I reverse the computer, unpick two and smoothed the kink, and continued to weave efficiently, wondering how many of the less than 50 picks I had to go to finish the second repeat. 150? Golly, I wove 100 extra picks backwards!!

So I re-reversed the computer, unpicked the 100, recovered composure, and finished the second repeat.

My loom is a retrofit computer-controlled. I don't know how a purpose-built one works, but I create a .wif file with Fiberworks PCW and feed it through an interface software. The said interface has two work-around-able kinks: lifting of Pick One is iffy, so I always include a blank pick at the start where no shafts are lifted; it allows only 999 picks (- Pick One = 998) per file, so drafts with repeats longer than 998 need to be split up.

Yesterday I resumed Scarf Two. Except several shafts kept lifting on Pick One when they weren't meant to. The interface showed no picks were supposed to be lifted, so after rebooting and moving forward and backward without actually weaving, I deleted all drafts from the loom computer and copied the second draft and began to weave. But no, this was a wrong draft. So I unpicked 20 picks, copied the correct second draft and wove again.

What, wrong draft again? No, this is not a wrong draft, but it's the wrong face! I'm weaving with Side B!

Bonnie Inouye wrote in the first pages of her book to check both faces and weave with the side that requires fewer shafts to be lifted. This draft is 2-1 twill-based, so my Side A (top) requires one not two of the 2-1 twill shaft lifted. Easy; I unpicked, changed sides and wove. But it was the wrong side again. I unpicked, deleted all files, defraged and rebooted, created a new file with a new name, loaded, wove, and it was still wrong...

Time to think.... Grrr......

Some glaring-at-the-screen later, I realized instead of chaging the face of the draft, (i.e. changing which shafts are lifted,) I kept only viewing the back of the cloth on screen and saving the draft, (same as crawling under the loom, looking up, being satisfied and climbing back on the bench again!) and weaving.

It took me an hour and a half to figure this out, feeling defeated by technology, and still in the dark as to why the shafts lifted in Pick One in the first place!

2/60 and 2/20 Cottons

Peg, I knew I had this information somewhere - and I've finally found it in their price list, whilst looking at their special April sale. Cough, cough...

100g of 2/60 cotton yields approximately 3000 meters. That's 3.56 onces for 3282 yards.
100g of 2/20 cotton yields approximately 1000 meters. Likewise 3.56 onces for 1094 yards.


No Laughing Matter!

Goodness gracious me, April 20th already? Area (subgroup of the national guild) Exhibition due is next Monday, and SSVE a bit less than 3 weeks! No more playing on Facebook or being entertained on Twitter for a while, then! Kitchen cleaning suspended also, of course. I want a different warp for SSVE if I can manage...

Laughing at Ourselves

Taueret led me to this about Creative Commons, and this is the referred previous post, but THIS is more my territory; I'm just a lot less eloquent and far more disorganized.


A Question

What is fiber/textile art?

Bijou c. 1961-3

I knew Crackerjack had these plastic beads for a while, but I refrained from purchasing. The instruction says to arrange them in interesting formation and iron from the top to melt the beads and make flat plastic thingies, but when I was 3 and 4 and 5, these were the beads Mom gave me to make bijou. Instead of cottons or silks, she gave me thread-like elastics so the necklaces could get around my head, and bracelets around my hand.

On Saturday, I couldn't help myself.

Light and Shade

Husband keeps posting color photos on our Daily Photo blog and the B&W version on his own Sketchbook, which, considering the ease with which it can be done digitally, feels like cheating to me. (Making the warp, winding/threading/sleying if we wanted to that!!) Nevertheless, it can be a valuable value study for me. Sometimes they become completely different photographs.

The latest I've been looking at is this annoying tiny bird that chases away birds three times its size from our fig tree: B&W vs color. I was annoyed the color version was so green, and the color of the bird is "inaccurate" (in my mind, though Ben say it's close), but was surprised how much softer the bird looks in the B&W.


Second Scarf

After having spent nearly four (!!) hours on the previous post yesterday, plus a Gmail phishing scare and a couple of emails, (I do wish I could think and type more quickly,) I started to weave the second scarf. No supplementary warp, no resleying, but with a sharper draft, and a duller blue-brown weft (possibly called "champagne gold" in the Japanese auto industry); the dull but beautiful weft tones down the warmer 1/3 of the warp, while creating a kind of nuanced emphasis on the structure in the other 2/3. There is less room for puckering, so the cloth will end up flatter, and the hand more to my liking. At least that's what the sample tells me.

Depending on how I blended the yarns to create certain color areas, this draft, with a large area in 2-1 twill, produces what Ben called a reptilian scale-like appearance. At first I cringed at the thought, but I think it looks interesting in the sample. (The pic above is the cloth on the loom, but can see it particularly in the green areas.)

Because this warp is sett so closely, I see quite a big difference in the appearance of the cloth from the time I take it off the loom to a day or so later; the warps relax and group themselves together.

Thankfully, so far, tension and selvedge have presented no problem. So far.

Gotta go take pics at Kath Bee's Farewell gig at a toy store in town, then continue cleaning and reorganizing the kitchen, then perhaps start washing the living room and hallway ceiling and walls over the weekend. You have a good one, too!

How Much Is Your Handwoven?

Most of you subscribe to Weavezine, I'd imagine, but there is an article about costing your work here in case you were unaware.

It's a good article if you've never seen anything like this, but never works for me, the slooooo weaver. Once in a small business seminar, my group figured one of my scarves cost something like $500 for labor alone, and the same scarf, according to my then-accountant's formula, demanded $700 for the same. If I tallied the hours I work on a piece, I would be the most expensive handweaver alive, but that's my problem. And if I skimped on material, I won't be able to weave things nice enough for me to want to sell.

Sorry, didn't mean to diss the good article; this is a sticky point for me.


Remind Me to Remind You to Remind Me...

It's been a strange project, this cotton warp, but yesterday I finished weaving one piece. While weaving, prompted by an off-line correspondence, I was thinking of how a series of opportunities/deadlines, perceived restrictions, and mistakes culminated in this (and hopefully two more) piece. So this post is more for me as a record than for you to, ummmm, be enlightened or entertainment.

I tried to be more daring color-wise for the Bye Bye Blue Eyes warp. (I do wish I had better pics from that wall!) And though it required a lie down at one point, I was able to mix more colors than before in the fourth, last scarf, by way of supplementary warps.

I decided the next warp would be in 2/60 cottons, in all the colors I had (pic at the bottom). I omitted white and pewter from the lot, but managed to include everything else, arranged roughly in hue gradation, though in a couple of places I deliberately planted "out of place" cones. No plans, logic, or fancy ideas, but mechanical placements, more or less, to get as many colors as possible. I didn't think about values, but I took that into consideration when I bought the cottons, so the cooler 2/3, particularly blue/gray 1/2 of the warp looked harmonious (is that the word?) anyway. I also intended to edit the warp with supplementary warps to add zing.

This Award seemed an appropriate platform to try my thing: for this, I had in mind a somewhat open weave in three or four pieces hanging loosely from the ceiling like a floating lampshade with a light placed on the floor pointing up inside the "lampshade". Colors and movement during the day; shadows at night. The colors were supposed to signify the changing light from dawn to dusk on a summer day in Nelson, except the spectacular purples at the end of the day, the cones for which I couldn't afford.

I was also investigating what is meant by "concepts" in "textile art", but as is the way it works for me, I started to see the finished piece, so I followed these fragmented pictures instead.

I imagined the weave structure to encompass crammed and spaced areas, and for these areas to flow from top to bottom, from left to right, so the eyes follow the color and structural changes naturally, rather than the two to fight each other. To this end, I imagined the threading and the treadling to advance, but I was mindful I had 1500+ ends, and 1548 heddles, so the threading needed to be evenly distributed. In the end, the number of heddles determined the threading.

I was in a hurry to start weaving, so I decided not to "edit" the warp, at least for the first piece, and the pieces bacome narrow stoles/wide scarves, not an installation.

After the first sampling, I saw my simpler drafts would suited the warp color changes better, and this was confirmed by Geodyne, and the draft became simpler and simpler. I was puzzled by the hand, the elongation of the draft and puckering of warp floats, until I realized I used the wrong reed and the warp was sett much closer at 130EPI than the intended "slightly closer than balanced" 96EPI.

Yesterday, I just went ahead and wove a scarf; it is just off the loom unwashed.

The draft is the same as what is seen in the sample towards the top of the pic here, and the weft is blue yellow of the same size. I expect puckering in the wet finish, and softening of hand.

I'm trying to come to terms with the simplicity of this draft (point threading/treadling in a 4-4-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 twill) and its relative effectiveness, particularly in comparison to my fussy/geek drafts. Though this is far from what I consider to be that thing I call "inevitable cloth”, it feels a tad closer than any of my previous projects, which in turn makes me feel a tad maturer as a weaver. But I feel guilty/disappointed I didn't arrive here deliberately, like I missed out on the journey.

And I still like my geek drafts better. I think this means if I want to continue weaving them, I need to simplify colors, but I'll worry about that after I finish this warp.

Dear Correspondent Friend, I hope it answers some of your questions/musings. The yarn is sold as 100% cotton. As you can imagine, the twill looks the same on both sides; I've created and sampled lop-sided drafts, but am not sure if I like them at this point; their hand is better.

EDIT: This is threaded at 160 EPI as Peg commented, not 130. How soon I forget...

Writing about Art

The annual Marlborough Writers' Retreat information is circulating. Last year's retreat turned out to be a whopper of a holiday for Ben and me, with Ben shooting one pic of Marlborough Sounds which was "bought" by a design company as a wine label, and which we can show you only after the wine comes on the market. This is something we keep thinking we can't afford every year, but end up going most years. This year our circumstances are more dire, but it's like a family reunion that I hate to miss.

Wondering if I want to continue with short stories, or essays, or something new, I googled "writing about art" and found this by one Marjorie Munsterberg. The website looks informative and promising, but I'm still a bit unsure as I find other people's art writing mind-boggling, and too often like peeling an onion, tears and pain included. On the other hand, I want to be more articulate and accurate in describing what I do, or intend; use the correct terms and sound less frazzled.

I don't want to go to art school. Not at this point. And certainly not full time. Perhaps this will help me. Perhaps one of you will get a great deal out of the website and regurgitate the contents for me?


Using Satin Weave

The foot looks terrible, but functions well. Thank you. I wove 120cm of the troublesome cotton warp today in one of the diamond-shaped drafts and gold weft.

I have a question, about satin weave. Can Satin weave be used to create interesting 'designs', other than a) in creating beautiful planes, or b) in stripes/blocks? I think there is a though brewing in my head but I don't think I can execute it in satin.

Oh, this warp has been troublesome. Good thing at least the tension is uniform.


Big Boo Boo

Ben and I worked hard over the Eater weekend getting the kitchen back in working order, but we're not finished; we're amazed how much there is to do to just clean a kitchen and/or how slowly we work. Ben thinks I'm so fussy, but, hey, I conceded we don't have to repaint the ceiling, so I'm not being a perfectionist. Harrumph!

Anyway, last night, trying to look at the top shelf of the new pantry, I pulled up a wooden chair and bumped my foot against one leg. I do this kind of things all the time, but yesterday it hurt badly and I was stunned. Anyway, we carried on, (no frozen peas,) cooked dinner, and opened a bottle of bubblie for Ben's birthday, and after about three hours we peeled the sock off just to have a look!

The center of the bruise was raised and pointed like a small breast, and looking at it made me queasy. Still, I thought it would just turn purple overnight so we went to bed, but this morning, it looked a bit worse and hurt a bit more. Ben and friend Jesse thought I might have done something to a bone, and immediately I imagined not being able to step on treadles. I was still sure there was nothing wrong with the bones, but there is the possibility of osteoporosis, so I reluctantly went to see a doctor and was told I broke a blood vessel, but there's nothing wrong with the bones. I have no trouble walking, but the bruise is super sensitive so I can't wear shoes. I'm supposed to have spectacular bruising in the next couple of days, and be better by weekend, (phew!), by which time we'll be ready to resume kitchen cleaning.


I'm Not in Love

The tad-spooky 1975 10cc song keeps playing in my mind over and over again. The sample definitely feels firmer/stiffer than anything I've ever woven, not uncomfortably so, but oh-so unfamiliar. If you've handled Japanese tie-dyed fine silk where the creases are meant to stay, this has that kind of a texture, but far less fine. Probably not something I'd think of buying in a store or gallery.

It's just a different kind of hand, not necessarily bad, but at this point, too different.


Can't Tell You If I'm Lying or Just High...

Peg doesn't believe I'm weaving 160EPI. To tell you the truth, neither can I; it sounds too crazy for me.

I uses cottons sold as 2/60Nm in size from DEA Yarns & Fabrics in Levin, New Zealand, even though their URL resides in Australia. I don't know if it is the same size as what you call 60/2. A while back I was told 110/2 for wool is a New Zealand-only specification, and so I stick to my vendors' descriptions rather than translate into international standards in case I get them wrong. I don't teach nor write articles, so as long as I can figure out suitable setts/picks, it doesn't matter to me what they're called. Unless you think we're using something similar and have specific questions, and then I lift my unsmall tush to try to find the Interweave book on yarn sizes I bought ages ago. Which I can't do now because half the living room resides in my stash room.

I have 16 ends in each dent, and this is a 10-dent reed, and I know this because I own only two reeds that are approximately the weaving width of my two floor looms, 10DPI and 6DPI, and I found the 6DPI, spacier one leaning against the wall on the side of my 2/20 stash the other day to my shock and horror.

And this is the best of about 20 pics I tried to show the ends. My hands just won't stop shaking after a day of hard scrubbing.

Meanwhile the second sample didn't come out as nice as I had imagined; it looked oh so much better on the loom, but hubby reckons it's good to go.

I can't help you any more, Peg. I've been high on Mr Muscles oven cleaner this afternoon, and reckon there'll be more of the same in coming days, with washing the walls, painting, Ben varnishing, and Universe only knows what else.


I Can Live with This

It is quite slow weaving, but I sampled yellow weft, Pewter weft, and tomorrow, I'll try the thicker 2/20 gold. You're looking at about 200 picks, which is roughly 2/5 of a repeat, so the draft looks like water flowing. And I have another, similar draft to sample. As Geodyne said, simple worked best in this case, and I'm glad I was able to make drafts that showed off the color changes, rather than detract from it. And though one can never decide until the piece is washed, pressed and dried, I think resleying isn't not on the cards.

Ben likes the bumpiness, and he's thinking of photographing this series in strange and wonderful ways. I'm thinking, 160 isn't so bad...

Well, Well, Well...

I was tying the warp and getting ready for my second sample. I felt it strange that a 16-inch/40cm piece would end up, when washed and pressed, at only around 23cm-wide. I measured the warp on the loom and it's about 25cm. What gives?

Well!! I didn't have my default, normal 6-dent reed in the beater, did I? It's the 10-dent reed, meaning the first sample was woven at 160EPI!!

So resleying may be on the cards still, but I think the simpler warps might work with... 160 E. P. I. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed!! Just glad I wasn't totally bonkers when I imagined 96EPI might be a tad on the warp-faced side of balanced...



I made a few simpler drafts to sample tomorrow; I'm looking forward to a hopefully productive day.

Felted Drystone Wall

Handy when you move house? Here.

Long Term Goal: Our European Holiday

Back in Japan, Ben and I worked for IBM, and I put in around 60-70 hours a week and Ben up to 98 hours and something like 19 weekends in a row. It wasn't much of a life, but one thing was almost guaranteed: we had two weeks of holiday when we could go to pretty much anywhere in the world, within a reasonable but pretty forgiving budget. So we had plans about Rome and Barcelona and Lisbon and New York and San Francisco and even Africa.

We've lived in Nelson for over 12 years now, and life is cruisy; my life is like a holiday every day, and Ben works only a few weekends. The only thing we didn't count on was not to have much of disposable income, particularly since I started the art thing. And because we live away from both our families, we have to go home every once in a while.

The net result is, we can't go home as often as we'd like, and other holidays are very few and far in between. In the last 14 years we had 9 days in Tonga, and six weeks in Scotland and Ireland. I had imagined, by 51, I might have visited continental Europe several times, and US a few times a decade, but we've only been to Amsterdam for one and a half days and my last time in continental US was 1987. And the situation isn't likely to change any time soon.

So today, I bought a map of Europe. It goes as far east as Istanbul. I thought I'd start preparing in the event we can go, and mark places on the map. If you know of lovely textile-related places of interest anywhere in Europe, please let me know, so I can start putting big red circles.


The Difference Between... / Iceland

I've been wondering what the difference is between taking oneself seriously vs. taking what one does seriously. I don't think I do the former, but I'd like to the latter, and I don't think the latter precludes enjoying or loving it.

Meanwhile, our daylight savings ended at 2AM Sunday. I don't have much of a biological clock so it doesn't bother me like it seems to some others, but I feel slightly out of sync with the rest of the world because of that one hour.

Did you know that Iceland is the only place that sticks to GMT all year around? And Japan doesn't have daylight savings, though it did shortly after The War, and my school used to start 30 min earlier for a short while before the summer holiday.



Last July, I tried one of my cotton drafts (woven usually around 33EPI) on a merino warp with a merino/mohair weft at 18 or 20EPI. I hated it. I knew the draft would be magnified, but until I saw how much and in what way, I had no idea it would turn out so ugly. That piece sat under my couch until early this year when I gathered all the unfinished pieces from various hiding holes and finished them.

When I think of scale, I think of warp vs. weft yarn sizes, sett vs. pick, and the elements of pattern (color change, draft repeats) vs. the overall piece size. Only in relation to overall piece size do I take the human factor into consideration, but rather vaguely.

Fast forward to the present cotton warp. After all the hoopla of threading, sleying and first sampling, I started to see there is another issue with scale, and for want of a better term, I'll call it the human scale, until you tell me otherwise. .

If I held a grain of rice and told you I had composed a haiku and written it on that grain, you might believe me because I said so, but you probably don't care, and I doubt you'd worry about the literary quality of the haiku. My sample feels like that.

If I showed you my sample with a Schacht end-feed (red pirn) shuttle for comparison, and told you I've 96 ends of 2/60 cottons in the warp and 2/20 and 2/60 cottons in the weft, and also showed you the draft, you might believe me, but you mightn't care, and I doubt you'd worry about the aesthetics of the draft, because it is just too tiny to see in a way the pattern registers.

Likewise with a less fussy draft.

Part of the reason this didn't work is the sett is too close and the cloth looks warp-faced, which is not what the drafts were intended for. When I weave with 2/20 both ways, the sett and pick are roughly balanced at around 33EPI/PPI. On closer inspection, the 2/60 warp threads have fluffed in the finishing, but the same sized wefts have not, looking steely and unattractive. Do you know why this is?

More importantly, though, at this scale, it is difficult to see individual warp ends without getting your nose right into the cloth, and they seem to need to be treated in groups. There are, in fact, areas which looked so dull in draft, but not too bad in the cloth, and I suspect it is because of this.

So it's back to the drafting table. I could weave the whole thing in plain weave, which would make a colorful obi for a child. I could resley so I can weave in a more balanced way. Or, I could concoct a few more drafts to suit the threading and sett.

Not liking the color transition seems to be the least of the problem now. I need to raise the pleasure/hard-slog quotient.

A Bit Late, But...

The mad warp is threaded and sleyed. Normally, I'd check threading mistakes before sampling, but after a month of Thursdays spent on a tiny, foldaway fishing chair, I did a bit of joy weave, and wove some plain weave straight away. I think 96 EPI was about right, I also wonder if 93 or 90 would produce more interesting results. Tomorrow I will sample a drafts at 96, with different color wefts in 260 and 2/2o and wash and press, and perhaps, contemplate resleying.

One thing I learned from this is that I really dislike straight-forward gradation. So remind me next time if I look like I'm thinking about it. But I am interested in a gradated shadow weave of some description. In the distant future.

For now, I'm going to sleep. Perhaps pics tomorrow.


The Last Word

Every time I see the photo I used in my previous post, I fall into a "Let Us Pray" moment of silence. That is my favorite of Taueret's scarves and photos, but I couldn't walk away without showing you these in case you didn't go to her Flickr. Just can't leave a good post to stand on its own without interjecting a few more words, or pics in this case.

All photos were posted by permission; ©Taueret_Spins, 2008

Taueret, Weaver

One of my scattered thoughts came about when Taueret and I became Flickr contacts recently, possibly one Thursday evening after I had been threading my mad cotton warp. I'm not sure if it relates to the art/craft thing; I suspect it's more to do with what I like vs. what I like to make, and the shadow of that obnoxious (to me) genre, fiber/textile art. I'll try to be intelligible.

For clarity, I'll also pretend there exist various artificial boxes/categories/labels about people and art, though I truly believe human nature and behavior sit somewhere on spectra, and should be viewed as such, rather than A or B, Yea or Nay.

In our on-line chat, Taueret casually referred to her weaving as "not your cup of tea", which made me want to clarify my thoughts to her, which made me realize I didn't know what I thought. It was easier to flip through her photos to see her work, because too often I'm distracted/attracted by her writing in her blog.

Certainly the kind of premeditated weaving I do is pole opposite to the seemingly spontaneous style of hers, which she calls "freeform" weaving. Because I place a lot of wishful credence to experience and accumulated knowledge, and suspect these become instincts or semiconscious over time, I'm not sure if an artistic person's instinct is entirely that, or a combination of native talent, practice, and hard slog. Still, I can only hope she and I sit at two ends of one loom-bench spectrum called the Sisterhood (or, Personhood) of Handweaving. (I blame the metaphor overload on Swiss chocolates Ben got me yesterday, half a box of which I had for breakfast with coffee, and nothing else.)

Posted by permission; ©Taueret_Spins, 2008

Taueret's scarves look artistic, unique, and therefore far more valuable than mine, though by what standard I measure value I don't know; more worthy. Her work impacts me emotionally. The pleasure and pride wearers must feel from each of her scarves is palpable, and the amount of discovery to be made while handing, infinite. She plans from the dyeing/blending/spinning stage, so she is not an entirely serendipitous weaver. Yet she weaves to create pieces that look like "a human made it," as "there is something I find really endearing and almost heartwrenching about intentional imperfection." In the end, a piece hits her in the right spot. Or not. And having that "spot" puts her in my "Artistic Persons" box.

Knowing Taueret has worked with fibers all her life, and that she comes from a visually enlightened family prejudice me. Yet I'm not so blinded; I find her fine knitting and lace-making as determined as my weaving, but I know too little about these to comment further.

Mind you, all this detracts nothing from my work and process; I like to experiment and sample and plan. I like flat fabric, and I feel pride in a well-executed plan. I think you know I enjoy what I do.

I sense the dichotomy of art/craft or artistic/"clever" can be crossed over only by sheer determination, a bit of native talent and a lot of luck. Still, part of me feels guilty because I mistrust my instinct though I love others'. I constantly feel the need to justify my every choice with the pitiful learning I've done, or worse, to act counterintuitively as often as I can. And I suspect, but am not certain, this is why I am detached from what I make; this is why weaving has not been as intoxicatingly thrilling to be almost sinful; and this is why I cannot pretend to claim my stuff "art".

I covet Taueret's "spot", the umph in her work.

And just when I happily plunked my unsmall bottom on This Side of the Big Divide, I saw Susan's piece, and understood where talent meets good planning.

Gotta love life. And the Internet.


Scattered Thoughts

Several thoughts are dancing around in my head. One thought I'd like to work on and share with you in a coherent way, if not for your benefit, then mine. I'm not being mysterious, but at this point, photos of some of your works are spiraling in my head, and I'm hoping they will settle in a way that will inform me what I'm thinking.

Another; I resolved to not bore you with updates on the house nor the threading until they are completely finished. I'm nearly done threading, would have finished had I not had tradesmen show up today, but I now see the house thing is eventually going to end this century. And that's a relief for me, and I'm sure, for you.

All week I've had Reba McEntire's Duets CD playing in the background, sometimes really loud, sometimes just audible. I wished I could speak like her. I've always loved Southern US diction, and hers sound thick and syrupy and so personal. As a linguist, I've been interested in socio-, racial/ethnic and generational, and the obvious, regional dialects. As a translator, I'm enamored by untranslatable sentiments and nuances. Her singing and lyrics satisfy me in many fronts.

We have a long weekend coming up, an hour longer than usual. Daylight savings ends at 2AM Sunday. Have a good weekend, everybody.

PS. Thus far 51 has felt the same as 50; I'm still threading one end at a time.

Absolutely Beautiful!!

Here, at Avalanche Looms.


Cotton Reconsidered

On Tuesday I had some of my small cotton scarves in my pack, so I asked Jay Farnsworth if she would like them at the Red Gallery, and she said no. We laughed because it was for the exact reason I myself wondered about the wisdom of weaving with these skinny cotton yarns when I started out: price wise, I would be completing with less expensive imports.

I enjoy my cottons, so I don't think I'll stop for a while, but as products, they look like the stuff that sells for one-tenth of the price just down the road. In fact, some of those imports are far superior in design and technique. And while Jay can see the work I put into mine, she prefers I stock the Red with cashmeres and merinos and other lovely textured fibers. Fair enough.

So today must have been Thursday because I threaded the mad cotton warp. Whatever I end up with is not going to be terribly soft. Today I remembered I was thinking of light and wind when I planned this warp. We have tall houses to our east and north, so our house is shadier until later; I was thinking about waking up early in the morning in the summer and watching the black sky turn lighter and warmer as the day progressed. I guess I'm up to late afternoon now.

At least I'm up to 12 inches; four to go.

Key to Fighting with Husband

I hate having less than enthusiastic posts at the top, so I'll share with you a non-weaving but typically-me story.

We wrote our own oaths when we got married. I wish we could find them, but we committed them to memory, so I'm not sure if we kept our scripts. Mine was on a back of a receipt or similar anyway... They were short, but my last point was that I'd fight cleanly.

Fast forward to last Sunday. Ben challenged me as to how we were going to start cleaning the kitchen, and I got so fed up, not with his challenge per se, but the whole project and I wanted him to do as I planned, (because that's all I do most days - plan how to clean this mess,) and I went into a tirade. He knew I've been under stress, and we followed our standard protocol regarding our "fights"; he listens quietly without walking away, and I go on until I reach my own conclusion, usually within 3-5 minutes, and we laugh and I apologize for raising my voice.

On Sunday, it was more like 5-7 minutes, and I was louder than I imagined possible, but as I was running out of things to say, I thought I needed to wrap it up by explaining to Ben in ways he could understand. So I said, "Clean shelf box here, dishes from dirty shelf box here, and the two don't touch!" And we fall on the floor laughing.

If you don't understand where I'm coming from, please review the first video here.



April Fools Day, meaning, it's our 19th anniversary, though our wedding was on the 28th; meaning, also, I'll be 51 in a couple of days, which is anticlimactic compared to 50.

I'm feeling defeated by the building project, (which will go on until the end of April, I estimate,) by gallery stuff, and national guild stuff. But most of all, I'm sad about not seriously being able to get on with my 2009 weaving year, and at this rate, not for a wee while yet. I try to work incrementally, but it's been unsatisfying.

I should be feeling a bit more chipper as my stuff seems to be selling fairly constantly at The Suter, and I get wonderful support from the women there, Andrea, Anna, and Julie. And a volunteer whose name I can't remember.

There's a Twitter-related discussion on Cally's and Lynne's blogs, but I'm glad I'm off Twitter; it's too busy and too noisy for me. I've been scarce in Facebook for a few days, and it's been nice. I'm not reading nor drawing. I need silence, and I wonder how this period of my life is going to be a good thing, looking back, in future.

The above pic is a tiny bamboo spoon; it has nothing to do with the content of the post.