Shall We Weave Secret Codes?

I don't know if it was meant to be a secret code, or anyone who could read music back then understood perfectly what it was, or if the carvings were intended as pure decoration, but the re-discovery of old musical notation in Scotland's Stirling Castle excites my imagination. On my To Think List goes a new item: weave a secret message, and I hope to make it a bit more mysterious than the name/alphabet drafts.

Here are pics, and here's an interpretation by a harpist of the music in the carved piece. (Thank you, Cally.)

Good for a Laugh

Sometimes I, too, wonder how my mind works. Below is the before shot, June 2009. I had in mind aesthetics, cost-saving and safety when I embarked on redoing the stash room.

I dithered about the shelving until yesterday morning. In the end I didn't make a decision but rather decided not to have to make one.

At least the bookshelf is sturdier, and I like the slightly greener color of the wall better, but now the shelving, in white, stands out. (The wall and the bookshelf used to be a slightly orang-y white; now it's a slightly blue-green white, not that you can tell from these, but trust me.)

I'm giving myself 10 days to vacate the bedroom come rain or shine; Ben's easy.



Speaking of living in slow motion, it's taken much, much longer for the light bulbs in my head to go on in recent months. Most recently, I had two delayed light bulb moments in my correspondences with Mentor Ali. The first had something to do with weaving in blocks, which I internalized so I can't remember what the realization was.

The second is, I just realized why she loaned me a book on double weave at our last mentoring session; it's so I could use it in my block samples. She had been saying so all along, and I had the book for over four weeks and I just returned it to her on Friday. Now I know why!

It's too late for this module, I just need to finish what I have prepared, but that's definitely a possibility next month.

I hope by now she's used to my getting back to her a month, or more, later with the right answer/reaction!


For most of my life, I've been an emotional person, and I aspired to have a more even temperament since I was 10 years old. This is one of reasons I love living with Ben, because nothing much bothers him. I don't know if it's depression or medication or just the end of a long, long winter, but I haven't been feeling strong feelings for what feels like forever. I never imagined I'd admit to this, but this week I've missed my old, easily-excitable, enthusiastic self.

Medication is supposed to take the edge off, meaning it's supposed to eliminate the extreme highs and lows, and I'm told it requires about a month to start working properly; I'm told "the ability to feel happy" returns after that. If only you knew how foreign that sounds to me.

I've also been troubled by indecision, from when to take a road trip I proposed, to when and where to meet a friend for coffee, to just this morning, what to have for breakfast. Again, I used to be told by parents and nuns I needed to control my impulses and make studied decisions. The pendulum has swung all the way to the other side.

So you don't misunderstand, I'm not feeling particularly sad or depressed, either; just not feeling much, other than powerless, mojo-less, chutzpah-less.

And that's been this Sunday morning.


Friday at Cruella's - Textile Lunch IV

Yesterday was Friday, meaning I had drawing in the morning. I missed last week because Husband had a horrible 24+ hour flu. It was the first time I went out of the house in 10 days, plus we're doing wash, as in watercolor wash plus dry media, not at all my forte nor favorite. So it was an emotionally ho-hum session with ho-hum results, but it was still nice to be there, and a jolly good looking exercise.

Then we had the textile lunch at a cafe called Deville. Even though it's been there a few years, I can never remember the name, so Ronette told me, "as in Cruella, de Vil, of 101 Dalmatians," and since then I can remember Cruella but not Deville. Anyway, this place has outside, terrace and inside seats, and the food and staff are lovely. I'll take a photo the next time.

We had a theme yesterday, "a whole greater than the sum of its parts," particularly in the craft context. I can't remember how our discussion progressed, swerved, and back-tracked, because ours is more brainstorming than discussion, but we touched:
  • art vs non-art, with particular reference to Billy Apple,
  • that, on the one hand, the intention of the artist to create art defines whether something is art, or not,
  • and on the other, whether the viewer is emotionally moved, bad or good, as a result of viewing the work makes something art, or not.
  • We examined postcards and greeting cards in this context: cards of famous art works, cards with which the maker intends to post a question, call attention, astonish, or otherwise cause emotional impact, and cards designed to just sell.
  • Though we called these loosely as art vs design, we couldn't define the division, particularly where text, (be it the appearance of, the message/content, or the combination,) is intended as artwork.
  • Other examples we considered were Andy Warhol, Dick Frizell, the Benetton advertisement of a man dying of Aids, and one-off vs mass-produced works.
In the course of the lunch, the small matter of the absence of any inspiration to make anything on my part came up. For months I've felt no emotional push/pull, no vision, nor any excitement to make anything beautiful. All I have are a list of ideas which should inspire me at some stage, a list of weave structures and techniques I should experiment with at some point, and a syllabus of design and sample modules I'm committed to. It's all strangely mechanical, and after taking to Taueret earlier in the week, I've been envious of her unexplainable drive to make her jewelry while I go through my motion, in very slow motion.

At our first Textile Lunch, Rose posited the difference between art and non-art/craft/design is the presence of concept, though we couldn't define concept. Yesterday Ali blurted out, "perhaps concepts don't have to be conceptual," and we were left to ponder this in silence.

I'm happy to go through the motion in slow motion, because it gives my usually-hyper emotions a nice break. Call it what you will, gestation, break, block, or meditation, it's a change of pace for me. But I do hope I get some of my mojo back, and soon, and by golly, I hope my weak medication doesn't get in the way.

A Billy Apple work. Photo courtesy Witte de With.


Indigo Dyeing

Dot grew her own indigo plant and dyed wool and silk. Here is her excellent post/tutorial.


What? Autumn/Fall Fashion Already?

I forget that the Northern Hemisphere is heading for autumn/fall! Do tell me this is sewn, not constructed on the loom, please? I already have plenty to think about today without such beautiful distraction. Lovely either way, though. Sigh... I love autumns.



Is It Too Late to Change My Mind...

About my stash room shelving, that is... Why couldn't they post this six months earlier!!


I Have Weaving Angels Looking Over Me

Thank you for your lovely dye-stained, fiber-worm hands.

Stash Sale

Stash sale went well, thanks. I think as an event, it was a resounding success, and kudos to Jo Kinross for planning and organizing. *Applause! Applause!*

Eight practicing fiber artists/crafters brought their "stash" and put them on trestle tables in two front rooms of the historic Melrose House. There were lots of yarns, fabric, books, and a little bit of kits, patterns and equipment. Some had beautiful "stalls" carefully displayed, while mine looked like an average garage/yard/junk sale table, and a messy one at that. But I did well; I geuninely didn't want to bring things home so I priced my things ridiculously low. (To you Kiwis, gold and silver coins.) So people didn't have to think much before they open their wallets. Three people thought my things were worth more and gave me more than I asked for!! My best sellers were small embroidered pieces I collected which I intended to include in garments that I lugged around for nearly 30 years. From the looks of it, though nobody was cleaned out, everybody did well because the tables had gaps by the time we were packing up.

Stall holders foraged other stalls, but miraculously, it wasn't hard for me to resist; I was ever so mindful I still have too much for my stash room, and I really didn't want to add to that.

Visitors came trickling in all day, from well before we opened at 11AM, to a little after 3PM. Many were fellow crafters, pensioners, and a few art students at the local Polytech, looking for a bargain or coming to see friends who had a stall. Some were tourists, I think, visiting the historic house. I caught up with a few people I hadn't seen for ages, including Adel, whom I knew in my previous-previous-previous life in the International Students Office in 1998, and one of my favorite art teacher Judith who I was told had moved to Wellington!

The bittersweet thing to me was the number of people, and I must add older Kiwi women, who did not know what reeds and shuttles were for. I was actually astounded, and as regards reeds, I had to explain the basic structure of a loom for them to get the picture. One woman asked if they were musical instruments. Most of my weaving equipment came home with me.

The cafe was also successful, with savories and cakes and bickies. I don't know how my Madeira did, I was too shy to ask, but it was cut fare more elegantly than I was ever able to. A constant trickle of were having nice cups of coffee and tea in dainty antique cups with matching cake plates.

Sorry, I've no photo from yesterday; we pretty much had to stay at our stations all day. But Jo thinks this could become an annual event, and if so I'm so there, because I have years' worth of stuff still.

(OK, Ben had some.)

New Etsy Shop

Not mine, I'm not that organized, but Taueret just opened one, and science-lovers as well as literary persons would love what she's doing here. As well as the ill-read yobo that is moi, who just likes hand made things, particularly by friends.


What Defines Me


Spring has sprung in lovely Nelson, which seriously annoys me. I haven't started on my Big Winter Gardening Project, and if you think I'm panicked about the state of the inside of my house enough, I'm so in denial about the outside. But in order to look forward to the rest of my life, (and I really have to right about now,) an idea came to my mind this morning. I'm going to make prettying up our property inside and out my goal for a while, my main goal in life, alongside weaving. It's not that I haven't thought about this before, but it' been one of my goals.

Since I function better in an organized environment, and since matching my external world with the designs, ideas and pictures inside my head feels so attractive, focusing on our property and spending quality mental and physical energy can't be anything but good. I may regret declaring this publicly, but for now, I intend to stick to it.

Let my physical world be part of my package.
* * *

I've been taking, a lot about depression. People who define themselves by their illnesses have always bored me, but I realize I have unintentionally become one. I don't do it to solicit sympathy, but to solicit any info, suggestions, recommendations I can get, (and still do, thanks!,) but I so don't want to be that person.

It's still part of my package, but towards the bottom, at the back.

* * *

Having said that, clearly I haven't been coping and I having been making. Which hasn't generated any sympathy in me, but a strange empathy for all who to intend make things but have been hampered for some reason, and realistically, who hasn't got problems that hold them back from making? It's whether we can work with it or around it that makes a difference in the output.

Which led me to think of, yes, good old "art/artist". That sometimes it's not the stuff we make that defines an artist, but the life and strifes of the person who made it, almost the way we lived. This shift in thinking takes nothing away from a well-crafted piece of work, (always my goal,) but gives the artist as least as much importance as the stuff, and not monastery or critical importance, but something more fundamental. So for us makers, the key is is not to quit, no matter how long the breaks in between, or how bad the outcome appears. At least it makes me feel good to see it this way.

Let my baggage be part of my package.
* * *

I like personality tests, the ones that asks you three or 300 questions to fit you in a box. I don't give much credence to the results, but I enjoy taking them because sometimes they make me think. Last week I scored less than 1/6 of an average (British) male in empathy, and lower, of an average female. Just so you don't think I'm getting all gooey. Then this morning, another highlighted my ability for empathy and my emotional life. Hum!!!
* * *

I saw my GP on Wednesday and asked to be medicated. After speaking to him, holding the proscription paper in my hot little hands, I had a strange high for a day and a half. I had planned to go to the pharmacy yesterday, and when the day arrived I came crashing down with physical symptoms. I still have no idea if they are linked or if I have a mild flu now.

When I feel well, I question if my depression is psychosomatic, partially because I once had a GP who told me so for nearly five years, but more so because I'd like to think I can fix myself with knowledge and will power. All of yesterday, I didn't want to go on medication, and yet I didn't want to waste another day not being able to think of making. So I got started this morning. On meds, with a few new resolves, and working on a few ideas.

And that's me, for now.


Tom Jones

I came home with a pounding headache, so I'm trying to go to bed this afternoon, but I'm mesmerized by this clip, and can't stop replaying.

In an unplanned salute to things from the Mother Country, (well, Wales,) here's Tom Jones singing Help Yourself. I heard this song for the very first time just yesterday on our National Radio and burst out laughing; only he could get away with lyrics like these. I often forget he used to be some kind of a sex symbol to a generation of women.

I wonder also if the 60's were the Golden Age of television variety shows and costumes. These dancers' costumes seem to me to have a Star Trek theme. But then of course there were the 80's with the shoulder pads and techno cuts!

Corkscrew, Shadow and Echo Weaves: Note to Self

Cally wrote a superb post on the difference between shadow and echo weaves in reply to my question, but while looking at my past posts, I realized (blush blush!) what I wanted to know was the difference between corkscrew and echo weaves. (Design possibilities of shadow weave has been much on my mind, but Bartlett's book is on shadow and corkscrew, so I may not have been that far off, fingers crossed??)

This is one of my corkscrew drafts from a while back. When I posted this, Agnes Haputli wrote to me: "Yes, it would be a shadow weave type if you would have done another tie up and used the two colours in the weft or it could also be an Echo weave if you would have set the warp closer (anywhere between twill and double weave), used a opposite tie-up and treadled any twill variation."

I made note of it, and put it on the back burner. I seem to recall deciding to use only one weft/shuttle, different from either warp yarns, for expedience and better hand, but now I need to dust my brain cells to compare and re/learn all three.

Cally's post made me realize I don't look at interlacement of drafts often enough; I do when I want to determine my sett or get an idea of the hand, and I did once or twice to learn a particular, new-to-me weave structure, but it's a also perfect tool to compare different structures. (And just quietly, I'm wondering if it's possible to create drafts that appear identical but are structurally different...)

Kudos, Cally!

Does Your Resume/CV Invite Closer Scrutiny?

The trouble of blogging and being on FB and Twitter is, when I see something good I repeat myself, and a few folk get exposed to the same "bleat" three times. (Soreeeeee.) But this is too good not to pass on: have a look!


The First Day of The Rest of My Life

I woke up with a head full of block draft ideas and couldn't wait to get started, and I did, first thing in the morning. It felt like a normal working day at long, long last.

This first chapter deals with two blocks, and I started with a fast threading, two blocks of straight draw, 8 shafts each, in different width. I plan to weave with a few basic samples, then rethread if necessary.
After half an hour of playing with twills and satins, it dawned on me that blocks are not weave structures but formations, placements, arrangements. Well, that changes everything, doesn't it?

Blocks are vertical and horizontal divisions. Horizontal changes don't need to occur at the same time across the cloth, and in some cases, I guess there are no changes. I suppose I could even change the width of the block if the threading allows it. I don't have to have the same weave structures in the different blocks. I can even have my curvy stuff in between skinny satin borders, or, I can make the skinny borders more complex, with large areas left simple and undemanding.

I had to stop working with drafts because I thought my head would explode. No wonder Ali wanted to start with blocks. I think I will weave a few mundane samples on this threading, and then rethread, and aim for one or two sexy samples as well.

Yes, may I order a few extra lifetimes, please?

Wonder Never Ceases

I know I said this before, but I never ever imagined I would take part in a drawing exhibition, but there you go, life is so unpredictable, if you so choose. It opens next week.

Black Craps

I know I refer to things Australian and American often, but enough to things from the place still referred to as the Mother Country here. So this is an indirect homage. (And you don't have to love cricket to appreciate it.) Enjoy.

(Above is from TVNZ, but the TV Three had a funnier intro, so when/if they upload that clip, I will add it here.)

Oh, the official NZ team is called the Black Caps.


Is the correct terminology "block weave", or just weaving in blocks? It's the latter, isn't it, because blocks are not weaving structures, but the way different structures are organized?


Gee, I Made a Warp

The student asked, "Why blocks? I'm not objecting, but network seems to be all the rage, and aren't blocks, by definition, square-y and rigid?"

The teacher replied, "I think blocks offers good training in composition, and allows juxtaposition of separate structures which can have interesting impacts on shrinkage/take up and therefore texture as well as changes in color density, line, and line/block spacing..."

The student wrote back, "Crikey, you expect all that from my samples?"

I can't remember the last time I made a warp; it could have been for the silly-fine cottons, which would be sometime last year? This is for my sample study, 100% cotton, and don't worry, mere 33EPI.

And I realized this afternoon the calendar I've been using all year was tailor-made for my supposedly preposterously creative year. What is it now, August?

Sometimes It Pays Not to Read The Fine Print

I finally had a presence of mind to go see my GP, and was given the option to go on medication for a while. This is the part of the blurb he wanted me to read carefully. Goodness gracious me! Would anyone in their right mind go on meds after this? Well, yes, if you are as desperate as me to try to regain some normality in life.

Watch out for psychotic weaving!! I'll try not to bleed all over the loom.

(Apologies if you find the photo in bad taste; I see humor in how my life is turning out and have been feeling great all day, even though I haven't been to the pharmacy, and I don't understand over half of what this says.)



I know it's probably unwise to take life lessons from TV shows, especially the lightweight drama, but I'm amazed every time I hear the line, "The important thing is, you are happy." Nobody ever said that to me. My parents' regular line was, "We trust we taught you well enough for you to do the right thing," so if I did right, they got credit, but if I did wrong, it was my fault, which it usually was because they didn't tell me when I did right.

The other line is, "Don't worry, everything will be alright." Are you kidding me? I thought every adult sighed heavily and exhaled, "Didn't you think first?" while calculating the punishment.

Boy, I'm grumpy today, aren't I?


Trish lives on the North Island and I last saw her in mid-May. She was in town this weekend and we had a lovely brunch and coffee. It was a lovely, sunny/chilly, early spring day. And I realized pretty much since the last time I saw her, I've been battling with my stash room and stash.

OK, we had a cold, cold winter, and I had a bad, bad time, and I have so much stuff I didn't know what to do, but I'm definitely avoiding things, too, and I don't know why. I've had, as economists are now saying, green shoots of ideas but nothing connects and I've not been moved to make anything, weaving or otherwise.

And I've been feeling terrible about myself, ("lazy" is my favorite label,) but still immobilized, as in one of those bad dreams where I want to scream or run but can't move a muscle?

I can continue to feel bad and lazy, or get into that wonderful "today is the first day of the rest of my life" mode, and get a move on. And look at this past winter as compost, which is what I'll try to do this week.

Stash Sunday approaches.


Incidentslly, I'm Not a New Weaver Any More

Last Wednesday, Rose Pelvin came over from Blenheim and on her long list of things to do was to look at my book/mags stash before they go to the stash sale next Sunday. Without thinking, I explained that the first couple of year's of Jean Scorgie's Weaver's Craft would be good for "new weavers", since Marlborough Weavers somehow successfully pick them up from time to time. I also said that Rose and I may not be interested in some other stuff, (can't remember what), but they may suit others and maybe be good for the Guild Library.

After Rose went left, I felt a bit strange; I'm not putting myself at the same level as Rose, oh, no! And I can't describe what type of resource gives me inspiration, but I now know what tend not to. And apparently I don't consider myself a newbie any more.



Practicality of Craft - a Misleading Post Title

I wonder if pragmatism is one of the wisdoms that come with age or a sign I'm loosing my chutzpah.

I stared out my favorite late Friday afternoon window at the Polytech library waiting for Ben. Disappointingly, the library stopped subscribing to Ornament magazine in 2002, and what little they had (perhaps six years' worth) sat under the bookshelves collecting dust. So I had to take frequent rests between turning the pages or getting another issue out of those magazine boxes.

My thoughts meandered to examining when I became so gung-ho in "staying true to the craft of weaving"; what's so undesirable about crossing my, perceived divide, and whether there is a reward to staying heroically obstinate/loyal. And in an instant, I was so over it. Like that.

I am not quiting practicality, I'm not going to start making weird and strange "arty" things only, but I no longer feel unfaithful (i.e. "bad") just because I want to make things that are dangerously impractical. Long slender glass beads, uncomfortably hard material, and undesirable floats are all back in my toolbox. I only need to find suitable venues for those pieces.

Like many significant changes in my life, the decision, if you call it that, feels it was made for me, and once I realized this, I have a hard time remembering what all the fuss was about. I'm not exactly exhaling a sigh of relief, but looking forward to get on with things, and feeling the frustration (?) of friends who have asked me over the years, "Why do you have to stick to one thing; why can't you do "arty" and bread-and-butter?" Yeah, got it. Belatedly.

My next big decision is, considering my hideous track record with magazine subscriptions, whether to subscribe to Ornament; it's been the single most inspiring to magazine to me in the last few years, but I really don't want them to sit on my stash room floor and collect dust. Hummm...

And by the way, three-thousand cheers to whoever decided to paint the tree planters that exact red. The effect never ceases to amaze me. The surrounding orange-and-silver structures are the justifiably maligned student dormitories.


A Color Course in Nelson

I'm sorry is workshop is in little old Nelson, but I heard from the organizer that they were thinking of additional courses in New Zealand please contact Alison directly for possibilities. She might be able to connect with you with the person with information on his Australian workshops.

His is one of the many books I bought ages ago fully intending to read and study in due course, but haven't gotten around to; it definitely feels interesting, I can tell you that.

A One Day Colour Seminar with Leading Colour Specialist MICHAEL WILCOX

Michael is visiting from England to present this one day Seminar in Australia, and is considering holding a Seminar in Nelson in early October 2009 from 10am to 4pm if we can get enough interest.

Michael is the author of the book “Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green”, inventor of the Split Primary System and the Colour Bias Wheel and Head of the School of Colour.

The Seminar will cover:
• All aspects of colour mixing and a full understanding of same
• The basics of colour harmony and contrast
• The selection of suitable materials and their use
• The mixing of greens
• The colours of shadows
• Mixing greys
• The colour of nature
• Making full use of the complementaries.

The Seminar is for artists, craft workers, designers, interior decorators and all who use colour in their work or leisure.

For more information on Michael’s colour mixing methods, his products, his books, check out his website.

To make sure this event does get to Nelson please register your interest by email or phone on 03 539 4925.

Alison Dawn Eades



You know my perpetual problem; magazines are so attractive in cafes and I have a wonderful time reading and relaxing. Then I come home and go after the same back issue with vengeance, which isn't bad, but sometimes even subscribe, which is a big mistake, because I seldom read anything I subscribe.


Pic Time

I haven't had peace of mind to look and shoot for a while. So last Friday I went to stand under one of the surefire trees in town, and it smiled back. (Actually it was closer to being scolded: "Look around you, spring is coming. What the *beep* is wrong with you?")


I'm Dying to Know

When Ronette had her new weaving studio built, the walls were creamy and bare and it drove her mad; she had to hang colorful things, textile and otherwise, to inspire her to weave. Me, I can't weave if I'm visually distracted, and I dream of a "blank" weaving space, with only my current project information on hand visible. I feel pretty much the same about my design space, though there, I can train myself to ignore the same-old, same-old decorations, of which I have some/lots.

Which type are you?

Dianne's Blog

Unravelling's good friend Dianne, aka DD, started blogging at Dianne's Loom Talk. Do please pay a visit. She lives in Tauranga, which is like Nelson of the North Island.


Saving My Sanity in Style

Goodness me, Jo Kinross is not only saving my sanity by holding an opportune stash sale, but is doing so in style. Look at this poster! The fund-raiser is definitely getting my Madeira, yes.

This, That, and the Other...

Mentor Ali came Thursday afternoon to borrow my warping mill. It was interesting to watch a tall weaver (somewhere between 5-10 and 6-2; probably at the 5-10 end; maybe 5-8,) use my mill. It looked tiny for starters. Then there is the height thing, of course,and the length of arms thing, too.

The most valuable things Ali has said to me so far in the design endeavor, most pertinent to my temperament/attitude, is while I study design, I must keep on weaving my regular stuff. I'm all-or-nothing in much of everything I do, but she said I can't keep inventing everything, which is true not because I keep inventing everything, but because in retrospect I often have to relearn, and some (much?) of this could be prevented if I wove on a more even keel. (Can't help myself; I've always enjoyed intentional mashed metaphors and malapropism. To the point where I get genuinely confused some of the times.)

Rosie asked if she could come on Sunday so I can show her how to warp her loom, which she had in her garage all these years, about which she never told me as long as I've known her, which is coming up like... 11.5 years! Unfortunately, you know, I'm stash-cleaning so I asked her to postpone it. Darn. It would have been great fun spending time with Rosie on a weekend. Next chance.

I've been a bit slack in updating the Marlborough Weavers blog even though I've been sent probably enough for eight or more posts. I've no excuse, but must remedy it this weekend.

Artists and art enthusiasts are struggling. There are many (more?) art courses on offer this winter in Nelson, and I look into each carefully, but I can't afford them, and it appears, neither can many. I hear of classes being canceled due to low enrollment.

And in this environment, I was offered a place in weekend course with a tuition waiver; I feel embarrassed and privilege, but I still must find transport and pay for accommodation/meals. I need to get my calculator out this weekend and consider carefully. I feel I'm taking advantage of the tutor, because I know she doesn't make that much profit from these workshops, either.

And last but not the least, that issue of Australian Vogue Living; the cafe rang me on Tuesday and said they'd give me their copy. I'm so grateful because I searched the Internet for back numbers, but couldn't find the info. And the cafe didn't even want any money for it. There may be some tea towels coming their way... somewhere between Christmas to next winter the way I work...

Back to the stash room.