Thinking abouot Not Thinking: Amendment

While riding in the car with Ben to pick up our ox tongues at the butchers, (fab dinner for two and leftovers coming our way!), I regurgitated the ideas I presented in the previous post, and thought I needed to make amendments.

It was analytical abilities, and not cynicism, which was valued in my past environments, I think, but being so not the big-picture person plus extremely short-tempered, I thought vocal cynicism would do the trick. I almost vaguely remember my junior/high school days when I discovered that, or more accurately, made myself believe that. I was all too well prepared for it.

And here, I use the dictionary definition of the word, instead of the teachings of the ancient Cynics, which is actually nice.

I think there's more coming in this vein. But I haven't thought that far just yet.

Thinking abouot Not Thinking / Straitjacket Part 2

* * * * * Warning: Long and Rambling Thoughts and Non-Thoughts * * * * *

Did I tell you Ben's had last and this week off? I gardened between a couple of hours to half a day three afternoons last week, between and in the rain; Ben water-blasted the green growth on our concrete patio. Truth to tell, neither of us made much progress; the garden looks like someone's head after that someone's mom made the first zap with an electrical clipper and was called away. Still, those afternoons of weeding alone with no radio reset my mind, as it were; it stopped the chatter for a while.

I don't know if it was the small drawings or weeding in the rain, but I had high fever and slept from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning, then spent the most glorious sunny, calm, warm Sunday, inside, medicated, on the couch/bed watching Star Trek Motion Pictures 1 though 5 in one afternoon. (They're not that long without the commercial breaks.) An interesting thing was, for the first 2.5 movies, I was making mental notes about the cut of the costumes around the collar and sleeves.

Had Monday been warmer or not rainy, I would have had a moral conundrum of whether to weed or not, but luckily it was miserable so we cleaned the inside and watched the last, sixth movie.

I've been emotionally away from doing fiber things I had to dream about the last piece I took off the loom to be reminded of it; we had to conduct a search lasing 45 minutes, up and down the stairs in all likely fiber places to locate it. This made me recheck all my fiber-related To Do lists, which got me out of the holiday mood, for good or bad. I've been a big looser; I still can't find the cotton scarf, I'm fine, but it saddens me to see Ben so sad about my loosing it; more importantly to me, I've been missing my purple Long Janes like forever and I can really use them now.

(Mind the Stream of Consciousness Gap)

Early on in my weeding week, my mind wandered and contemplated the futility of weeding, especially in a sunny/rainy place like Nelson. Depending on the season, you can see new growth the morning after you weeded, exactly where you thought you got the whole root system out. I'm not joking. I was thinking of all the folks with impeccably maintained gardens, and others with impeccable-looking gardens. (I've been told the two are not the same, that, for e.g., maintaining a rambling English cottage garden in New Zealand is be a full time job.)

Part of my recurring problem is, if I can't do something to my satisfaction or intended completion, I don't start. It takes a lot of effort and determination for me to work incrementally. So our garden is left to its own device until Ben takes a week or two off so the two of us can put in a concerted effort, except when the time comes, Ben/I doesn't/don't feel like it, one of us gets sick, I can't bring myself to pester Ben, or it rains too much.

Then I thought of friends who have less than perfect gardens; they are never apologetic, but take pleasure in sharing what they have and retelling of what they accomplished. Parental expectations and educational background aside, I thought how wonderful life would be if I could concentrate on what I did get done and stop being apologetic about what I didn't, or how the outcome differred to what I had expected.

My parental expectations and educational/occupational background made me critical/cynical. I don't know if this is my perception or the truth, but I lived in environments where the critical eye was a mark of alertness, even intelligence. And a defense mechanism. I have opinions, and I marked my existence by asserting them, and because I was reasonably good at it, from time to time I received better grades as a student than I deserved, (or so I thought but now looking back, my grades are crap!) and it served me well in some of my past jobs. It became my modus operandi.

Pluck me out of my familiar world, plunk me into this aft/craft one: I don't even make an accurate critic, but I'm an excellent pointer-outer-of-what's-wrong, and not an optimist. On reflection I don't often come up with remedies for mistakes, but can dish out long lists what not to do the next time.

Granted, I've worked hard these last years so I do work incrementally, I can take process into consideration, even be intrigued by it sometimes, I can take in the new, the different, the other. (And may I say, your company certainly help me progress.) I often fret I am the most joyless weaver when it comes to my own finished work, but I'm finally, finally seeing the bad side of perfectionism.

(Mind the Stream of Consciousness Crack)

I can nor will never belong to the "everything is wonderful" school. I will never simply match yarns with a structure; I aspire to weave pieces that cannot be replicated from a recipe in the first instance, participating alone will never been sufficient, and I won't shy away from saying this out loud. I want to always look at my own work with a standard I set, and I'd like it to be on the high side. (Though it's come down a few notches lately.) I probably can never shed this innate cynicism, (yes, I said innate; have you met my Dad?, but I would like to stop admonishing the fun-loving optimist to make this road a little smoother; I need to practice being a maker and a critic at different and appropriate times.

In the case of recent straitjacket situation in the drawing class: no, I don't like small gesture drawing; yes, I will try anything as instructed; but blow me away, even in drawing I now know what I like to do not based on uspicions of the unknown or the untried, but because I've done some. And any kind of a self-knowledge is good. With drawing, this is a milestone as thus far I only tried to follow direction and live in the moment. Come to think of it, I am a Terrible Two in drawing with one week left in the first of four terms of my third year. So, what? Sit tight, but eventually grow out of it?

As regards my difficulty with the book "Women who Run with Wolves", that I can't make sense out of it, that the writing is too wordy, I perceive as failing intellectually not because I see myself as intellectual, but because in my art/craft life I've often been told I'm overintellectualizing, when in fact verbose would have been more accurate. (You 'd think I'd love the book, then, wouldn't you?)

Not understanding the point of this book meant I am loosing one propensity before gaining another; it made me feel stupid without being blissfully ignorant in a Nirvana way. That many women artists I admire loved the book make this event feel like non-admittance to a club I longed to belong. Annabelle, the classmate in drawing who finally got me to buy the book and who enjoys Jung, posited I'm passed the stage that needs this book. I've thought of that but I'm included to disagree because I'm not in Nirvana. I feel so in-between, neither intelligent enough nor instinctive enough.

Interim Conclusion:

1) Perfectionism = pessimism
Optimism = celebrating accomplishments = enjoyment = good.

2) Self-knowledge = good; pride = bad.

3) Stationary perspective/settled persona = bad.
Flux = inevitable and embracing this eliminates anguish = closer to enjoyment.

(Stream of Consciousness Return to Origin)

Regarding the garden, well, I'm resigned to the fact we won't get much done. Pity, as the time is now to plant/transplant with all this rain. Not so deep down, I know we won't be spending too much time outside on weekends, either, so our place will be a mess again come another glorious Nelson summer. I'll do what I can manage, and the heavy stuff, I'll pay professionals to come help me. We'll all be happier this way.



I haven't enjoyed my drawing class at all this term, mainly because we've been working very small, (A4 at the largest), but these last few weeks we've been working on small gestural drawing, which sounds self-contradictory.

Two weeks ago, we did a lot of erase/draw in 1/4 of A4, in durations between one and five minutes. The more time I had, the more I fiddled.

I've been working mostly on gessoed textile, for which I can only use chalk pastels to erase, and I find the results so dissatisfying. What Ronette is trying to get us to do, drawing the unexpected in small scale, and my wanting to make the most of the textures and designs of the textile, is not melding. The one on the left above is the only one I thought I could work on some more, our of a dozen in the last two weeks.

Ronette doesn't like my lack of color mixing, the way I erase, or that I erased with my hands not the erase; she even showed me how to erase on a drawing I was working on, which became a bit too much on Friday, I started to feel physically sick.

Others are also taping around the gesso, gessoing on collage, gessoing over multiple colors of acrylic, etc., but these feels old, no something I want to revisit now. Some students are getting superb results, some are as puzzled as I am, but I seem to be the only one genuinely unhappy.

I think the point of going to classes is learn new ways of doing things; I think in weaving and drawing I've been open to new ideas in the last two years. And my conclusion is, I must try new things to see what suits me, to discover what I like. And for now, I tried small gestural drawings, and they are so not me. Not one bit.

Next Friday is the last day of this term; Ronette promised we'll work a tad bigger next term. I wonder if I should be a renegade and prepare a few A1 sheets.

EDIT: The top photo is in focus. It's the drawings that are not.



I've been mesmerized by this series of clips from a Roberto di Simone's "La Gatta Cenerentola" (a Napoletana version of "Cinderella") production this weekend. I love the Mediterranean voice, the elaborate costumes and the set, I even love the dances.

Who knew doing the laundry could be so melancholic?

Or exciting?

I have no idea where this fits in, though it is about a suicide!

I love the dance, and I don't often pay attention to dances; the musical composition is closer to what I associate with Italian opera.

Or the way the head cover dances like birds.

And the monotony of the rosary; this one puts me right back into my uncle's house next door, or Classroom 207, staying behind for the obligatory religious studies for all us baptized Catholics in school - about 5 out of 130 girls in each year. We never had this much "noise".

Nor broke into merry singing!


I cannot get over the visual beauty of this scene - so very Italian!

Not sure what's happening here.

The conclusion of the play.

And yes, there is heaps more on YouTube.

di Simone's "La Gatta Cenerentola" in Italian Wiki
di Simone based his production on the story by Giambattista Basile in English Wiki
Canzone Napoletana in English Wiki

Unfortunately, I understand there is no DVD of this production available. Thank you for your help, Doni.


Saturday Daydreaming: What Kind of Motif Next?

Pressed Metal on the side of the roof above the entrance to Marlborough Weavers' meeting room in Brayshaw Park, Blenheim. Because of the brick red color, from a distance I thought it would have a Maori motif.


Must See

Do please have a look at Cally's yardage which was accepted into a Convergence exhibition this year.



I haven't been in a reading mode, so I haven't read anything on gardening or vegetable growing as I had intended, but weeding, and thinking, in a very unthinking kind of a way. I'll tell you more about it when I discover what it is I'm thinking. It has to do with perfectionism, living life easily, and half-full/half-empty attitudes.

* * * * *

There have been some interesting blog posts, which have been left open on my browser for a while, but I can't seem to read words. You know how it is with me; I'm a sucker for photos but you'd have to tie me to my chair to make me read text, on screen. I'm sure I'll get around to reading them some time.

So what's with the term "Art Yarn"? June 7, on StoneLeafMoom

Speaking of Craft, on t'katch

Considering Craftsmanship, on Existential Neighborhood

The Art of Craft, on Fiber Art Calls for Entry

And just when you thought I might go to the dark side, there is Life is Good, on t'katch again.

I finished my fifth, last, class in the pattern making workshop Stage 1: Theory tonight. Everybody was asking everybody else who's coming back for Stage 2: Skirts. I blurted out to this tall young woman that I have body size issues and thought I was terribly interested, I couldn't commit. She rapidly asked a series of questions, helping me asses the pros and cons, and the last questions did it for me: "Do you like sewing? Do you like wearing things you've made?" And the answers were resounding yeses. So I signed up.

It turns out she is a psychologist that works at our local hospital. I kid you not; I couldn't make up a story if I tired. But it was so quick and painless, and though I will still cringe when it comes to measuring time, (and I will sit far, far away from the cute, svelte teenagers,) I'll learn more interesting things.

I might have three or four weeks to reduce my stomach size a bit before the skirt class, though.


What's on My Mind?

Not weaving, exactly.
Not just veggie gardening, but gardening in general. Massive weeding, to be exact, but I like being outside this time of the year. Some (many?) days it's much warmer than inside the house. We live in a strange house where we can't see our own garden from most parts of the house, except the kitchen and my stash room. Still, I keep dreaming of something like Pat's office.


Garments and Fabric: Part 2: Words of Wisdom

June, on cutting and curves:
  1. Stay stick before cutting/overlocking.
  2. Use small stitches.
  3. Don't be too diligent in cutting the wedges around a curve; the fabric will stretch.
Sue, on designs suitable for short and tubby shapes:
  1. Length: make jacket and vest length no longer than the bottom of the bottom/tush, unless going full length.
  2. Avoid double-breasted designs.
  3. Stick to the vertical.
  4. Use dark colors for the larger parts. If you are bosomy, use darker colors on your top; if you are bottomy, on your bottom.
  5. Elongate the neck/collar area; avoid horizontal opening.
  6. Use simple sleeve shapes.
  7. Classical, nicely-cut, tailored designs look best.
Sue, on lining: Make it the same size as the outside fabric, as we need room to move around inside the garment. Include a tuck at back center if possible.

June, Jenny, Joan, Rose, and everybody else who have made a garment before: Always cut/fit/alter the pattern first because it changes how much fabric you need to weave!

Garments and Fabric: Part 1

We went to this month's Marlborough Weavers' meeting on Saturday. Although we arrived an hour late, and I forgot my pattern on the kitchen counter. No matter, there was great amount to be learned, and more to be reminded of.

Sue the Sewing Guru who was recruited to the occasion is fitting a felted garment. I thought, "Yeah, easy for felters," and considered how far I would be willing to felt a woven fabric in the wet finish.
Sure enough, Joan had made a zip-up jacket made of woven-then-wet-finished/felted fabric which worked as well as a felted (never woven) fabric.
June McKenzie showed me how far the woven fabric front's seam allowance extends in different parts of the vest.
She doesn't hesitate cutting into floats like these, and with lining, creates successful garments.

I liked the wide side panels on Chris's vest; we can weave narrower cloths, create contrast, and I even know how to make the seams curve on both sides of the panel so there is none in the middle.
Alternatively, we can construct garments using commercial fabric in the difficult parts and handwoven cloth in the flat/square areas. Rose used up her warp ends this way.
Judy reminded me I can also weave different structures or with different wefts to create contrast fabric; something I've always dreamed of doing, but had totally forgotten since I started worrying about construction. I've been in email communication with Judy for over as long as we've had the Marlborough Weavers blog, but it was the first time I met her. Nice!

(Husband was on the lookout for something he might ask me to make, or something that makes me feel a little more at ease about cutting my cloths.)

This ought to tell you I am not, as a general rule, concerned about clothes, but still, nice to imagine wearing something that came off my loom. Besides, when shaped unconventionally, I feel it's not a bad thing to put a bit of effort into looking nicer, you know. But I said that already, didn't I?

We didn't have to, but we overnighted in Blenheim because Ben has two weeks off and it was the start of his holidays. We stumbled upon Japan vs. the Netherlands in our motel, (we don't have Sky/cable at home so can't watch non-NZ games), and it was fun texting my sister in Japan while watching the same game.


Problem with My Flickr Account

Recently I received emails stating two unheard-of groups included my Yahoo account without my authorization. I signed into my Yahoo to leave those groups, and not allow any groups to include my Yahoo account without my authorization. Since then, I have not been able to sign on to my Yahoo account; when I try, it says no such account exists.

Luckily, my Flickr account still exists, (it'd better because my Pro subscription is paid up until the end of the year,) but there is a wee chance that might be infected/affected in the future.

I apologize if it does, if such group endeavors as P2P and SSVE disappear suddenly. I have queried the issue with Yahoo, and will keep you updated.

UPDATE: It appears Yahoo was running some maintenance at the time; the problem disappeared about 90 minutes later. Yahoo help desk, meanwhile, requested I ring California during their business hours. Yeah, right.



We watched a documentary on discovering the remains of the hitherto biggest sloth in Brazil. The Japanese term for sloth is literally "the lazy one".

My weeks has been like that. The weekend was spent on housework, then I finished a very uncooperative warp I neglected for six weeks. Finally. It should have taken one afternoon, but it stretched over two. Or was it three? I've been extremely tired for no good reason.

Yesterday was Week 4 of 5 of the pattern making workshop; I do love the workshop, but it goes on until 9PM, and all the discussions and knowledge keeps me awake, which I don't really like. After this stage, we have the option to sigh up for Stage Two: Skirt Block, and this is where real life measurement comes into play, most worriedly mine. And there is a possibility we get into pairs and measure each other. What if I get one of those oh-so-cute-and-skinny high school student as a partner? And the other "oldies" aren't exactly shaped like me, either. In short, I haven't committed myself to Stage Two yet, but because I am shaped in such a ... an unconventional, squashed beer barrel shape, I do feel I must make the effort to look descent. And handmade clothes, if I use nice fabrics, will last longer, too. I think. Oh, what do I know.

This morning is drawing. Then this afternoon I will go see "The Last Station" with Joan; it's a treat to go see a film about Tolstoy with a writer. Tomorrow morning, we leave early for the Marlborough Weavers meeting, due to start at 10AM: it's about garment fitting. We'll stay the night because it's the start of Ben's two weeks off, and come back on Sunday in time for a lecture at the Suter by the editor of Art News New Zealand. And then on Monday, I have a lengthy, un-fun dentist appointment.

Meanwhile, I do have plans on/about/around the loom; one is to use up a lame (more explanation later) warp on the table loom, and a few ideas/warp chains are fighting to get on to the big loom, so I need to prioritize.

Have a good weekend if I don't talk to you until next week.

(I don't even have a new picture, so this is my visual representation of "this week has been a blur" from my now old lot.)


Friday That Was

Well, the last few days, because it's all connected, yes?

Wednesday night we had a lovely dinner with our friend Joan Rosier-Jones. She's one of the first people we met in New Zealand, signing up for a writing workshop was one of the first things I did in New Zealand. We had a lovely time.

Thursday morning was cold, but sunny/cloudy, and we were expecting rain in the evening. It was the kind of day I knew would be warmer outside than inside my house, so lo! I gardened. Well, I weeded. Because our place has been neglected very badly for the last two or three years, (before that it was "badly" neglected), the garden is retaliating and what usually takes two hours took four. Still, I was outside for the better part of the day, and got a tiny section cleared. And it was fun thinking about all the things I will clear away, rearrange, or plant.

Thursday evening was the third week of pattern making course. At the end of the class Jill told us to go research clothes in stores to see where the darts are because we'd been studying mainly how to reconcile the breast curve in the top bodice of women's garments. We also learned how to make pointier/flatter front bodices. Aha!

Friday morning drawing was ho hum for me. We'd been drawing contours for several weeks, and it was hard to get back into gestural, but in order to see the light/shadow better, Ronette turns off some of the lights, and I'm noticing while I can see the light/shade on the body better, I can't see what I'm doing; maybe it's not a bad thing. Anyhoo, I got a few colorful things with watercolor pencils, but nothing spectacular. I kept giggling inside because all I could think of was to cloth the model in pointy-breasted garments which I now knew how to cut. Sort of.

I wanted to go home with Jo right away, but I had a dentist appointment mid-afternoon, so I did my usual round of bookshops, and I still had time.

I have a monumental body image problem. To the point I even hesitate to say the word "body" out loud in the clothing context, and have never ever stepped foot into most clothing shops in Nelson. And this is a small town, so there aren't many clothing shops.

Homework is homework, so I gingerly went into the women's clothing department of the department store, to find so many knit garments it became a huge challenge to even spot darts of any kind. Then I went to another, blah store, and it was worse. And I realized in another store, my favorite (Jean Jones to Kiwis), is practically a dart-free zone. I don't knock knits, because without them, some of us will be hard-pressed to find clothes that will cover us, but I hadn't realized how big of a proportion of clothing in general is now loose-fit, or knits. This is part of the reason I wanted to take this class in the first place; I think women shaped in non-standard shapes, particularly as we get older, need to pay more attention to our clothes, and I wanted to sew basic but well-fitted (not tightly-fitted) garments.

Next I went to an expensive store I had never been inside, and there I found non-knit garments, but many garments used panels rather than darts, or had "sculptural" neck area finish accommodating the breast area curves; many others were loose-fit. I ventured into two second-hand shops and there, finally, I found some tailored jackets and blouses, some with textbook darts. Phew.

While walking around town doing my research, at 1.22PM to be exact, all of my muscles started to hurt at once from Thursday's gardening. If you saw me, you would have noticed this middle aged woman who looked like suddenly her marionette strings were loosened. I had to go to the dentist half an hour earlier just to sit down.

Have you seen this month's National Geographic? Japan's national broadcaster, NHK, did a fabulous doco in the 70's called "Silk Road", and many older than, say, 40 in Japan are clued up on the exotic places, mostly between west of China to Iran. (Which, strangely, came in handy after 9/11 because we knew where many of the trouble spots were.) But I don't remember hearing about the Buddhas of Dunhuang, and National Geographic has a fabulous spread. I couldn't finish it, so they let me borrow the magazine for the weekend. I think National Geographic will load something here after the month is over.

Friday I was good. I didn't buy books even though one of the shops had 30% off on cookbooks and gardening books. Yes, I checked which Nigella they had, but I was sensible. I had a single cone of Lavender and Honey ice cream at Penguino, and then went to the veggie shop and bought a whole lot of veggies and waited for Ben to pick me up.

Today, Saturday, I went back and got a small but heavy volume on organic veggie gardening I had my eye on Friday afternoon. I have one book on organic gardening, and a couple of small volumes on veggie growing, but this new one has photographs so I know exactly what I need to do. So, I got it. And I wanted to get two bulbs of garlic in the garden/organic veggie shop, (because our garlic from veggie shops/supermarket don't sprout!) and, ahem, we came home with a few more plants. Just a few.

So far it's been a good weekend, thinking and doing low-tech stuff.



Here! And a fab story at the end. So happy for you.

She's had some interesting collaborations lately, and successfully, too. Lynne, Holly, leading me towards collaboration. But I love the solitude of weaving, I work totally un/dis/il/in/counter/anti-systematically, most of it inside my head, to the point sometimes I can't explain what I'm thinking to other weavers. Sometimes I can't put them in words to clarify myself.

I can't weave in a relaxed way if Ben's hovering around. And he is the quietest, unobtrusive-est hoverer in the world.

I've turned down requests from young weavers from Europe to apprentice/intern with me recently. Who are they kidding? They go to art school and train as weavers, seriously, and here I am, I can't even get the right length of warp measured, nor keep a descent tension on the looms. I don't want to embarrass myself, I don't want to mislead talented young people, and I sure can't be responsible for them learning after they come all the way to the bottom of the earth. I sure don't want to give anyone any ammo to announce to the world I'm a big fat fraud and I only ever post nice pics of the nice sections of pieces that worked. (I could start a whole new blog about what didn't work and how I didn't succeed!)

Though there is fabulous hiking and kayaking in Nelson so I could send them that way.

I love talking about weaving, and talking to weavers. I don't think I'm that averse to collaboration, though it takes a long time for me to absorb some ideas or methods, and I am fussy, snobby, about aesthetics. I think Lynne and Holly and the universe is telling me there is more to gain from collaboration than isolation.

I've got to clean up my house and garden to start with, because I am very embarrassed about the mess I live in. I never used to be like this, but then I discovered weaving is more interesting than cleaning, that my stash room and studio wasn't big enough for my work, and I engage in excessive hoarding during my bad patches with depression. (Actually, it's when I come out of them that I shop, but cause I'm full of hope and ideas.)

Even though the "mess" weighs heavily on my mind and keeps me awake, there is also the problem of confidence. I feel discomfort in people seeing me weave, seeing how I set up my looms, how I remedy my tension problems. I put as much obstacles as possible in people coming to see my workspace. I haven't had a lot, but the few experiences I had haven't been all that good.

One experienced weaver dwelled on my work schedule, which was ambitious but I was trying to be more productive, and back then, a healthy daily schedule would work. I thought it was rather private, but she couldn't stop laughing.

Another long-time weaver dwelled on the fact I was using a 16-inch wide reed to weave a 6-inch scarves on a 40-inch wide loom. I don't have a whole lot of reeds, and I have two 6 DPI reeds, so I used one on the Big Loom, and the narrow one on the jack loom. She couldn't repeat enough times how strange that was.

Another well-known weaver came, and she might as well have walked around with her forefinger stuck in her mouth. She just looked dismissive and almost with disdain. Shortly before my exhibition.

People are funny. Even weavers. I try not to make flippant and irrelevant remarks, and I try to be careful with weavers, because the last thing I want to do is to hurt another weaving ego, but then I do have a sharp tongue and a lot of opinion.

After these and a few more bad experiences, I decided the weaver in me must select friends wisely; sometimes I have to be ruthless with this, or else I stop weaving for weeks and months.

Some things have got to change: my mess, for starters. Other things, I'm doing right, like choosing my friends and trusting my aesthetics. There is now the third factor creeping in, however: be open to collaboration, particularly when it pops up from the left field.

Enough ranting. Go check out Lynne's smiles.

EDIT: Just so you know, I have had lovely visits, too. One couple, all the way from Christchurch stopped by on their summer holiday in Golden Bay, warmed my spirit and energized my brain a whole lot. There are others who came and we we laughed our heads off, spilling tea and dropping cookie crumbs. But it's the bad visits that the weaver remembers.

EDIT: Mind you, here's a picture: youthful creative spirit lands in Nelson, cautiously wades through rambling, overgrown... growth, approaches house. In a few days, the evil weaving ogre has sucked the creative juice out of said spirit, leaving but a shadow of the young spirit, while the ogre laughs evil-y and whips beautiful, mad cloth off her loom, one after another.

Great movie idea, yes?


I Feel Anger and Sadness

I have persisted with "Women who Run with Wolves" up to about page 70, though nothing has resonated with me, yet.

The only thing I thought of, so far, is the author keeps referring to her heritage and family history, and I come back to how har it is for some of us to do that. I've never tried seriously, because I'm not too interested in distance ancestors, but both my parents' families were in Tokyo during the war, so there are absolutely no photos from my mother's childhood, in any of the extended family's homes, and just one blurry one of my grandmother who died about a week after the war ended. Not to mention any kind of documents.

My dad's parents had some acquaintances in the country, so they evacuated during the last months. Dad, luckily, has some pictures of his siblings, who as kids died during the war.

I've been thinking about this without reaching any conclusions or cohesive thought for a while. Then someone on FB put a link which led me to this shop where old portraits are sold as vintage goods. Granted, someone must have salvaged them, and maybe even sold them, at one point for these to reach Etsy shop. I know it's nothing unique to Japan. But I find this heart-wrenching and must go find a quiet corner.

What Next?

No, no, I don't even know what I'm doing this afternoon, so it's not about the next Exhibition/Challenge/whatever per se, but I have had some inquiries, so I want to ask you this: which did you enjoy more, SSVE or Pics to Picks, and was it/were they as a participant or a visitor?

We might considering expanding the scope of the challenge to beyond weaving to, say, anything using loom-woven cloths.

This morning, I feel like weaving plain weave with undyed wool.



It's the end of the day, a holiday Monday, where I had a great time looking at everybody's posts. Thanks again.

I also put away most of the last two project debris, which were in every single room of the house except the bathroom and the bedroom. I put away those many cones of cotton, too; I didn't count. But I was just thinking.... Isn't it funny how I had all of the 2/20s on one shelf and all of the 2/60s on another, and after finishing a project, albeit a small one, the cones seems to have expanded and won't go back into the designated two shelves? Has that ever happened to you?

What's more, I discovered I've misplaced a previous scarf. It's one of the three I wove a little over year ago, the ones with insane sett. I sold one, gave one in a swap, and kept the last with me, because I need to study the structure and sett seriously. I love the yarn, the colors, but the scarf itself feels like steel wool.

I don't miss it as a scarf, but I do as an object of research and development. I do wear it, sometimes, so it could be in the handwash basket or the sleeve of a coat or in a travel bag. I might have taken it to Napier a month ago. But I can't find it. Oh well, no biggie, I still have the final sample before I started the scarves - they are snorter so it's harder to see how they hang, but still, these babies are just as steely and annoying as the scarf.

Lovely evening, lovely weekend. I am full of gratitude to you all, and the old head is full of ideas and plans.

Discovery Continues

I tell you now one of the main motivation I had in organizing Pics to Picks was the almost perverse pleasure I receive from being allowed to look into artists' notebooks and sketchbooks; it's tingly and giddy and most certainly physical for me. But as I gone through the final posts, this time reading carefully, referring to previous posts if applicable, and soaking in what everybody wrote, these are the gems I'm picking up from their experiences.

Lynn looked what what she did accomplish, not what she didn't manage, which was the point of the challenge.

"In the midst of infected mindlessness, all I could do was wind a warp of good ordinary blue, with accent dimity stripes of pale, silvery green. That was it. No complex, shifting, evocative combinations of blues/greens with a smudge of violet, sparked by raised dimity stripes in color counterpoint, all suggesting a sun-drenched, humid Florida summer day about to be cooled off by a rocking thunderstorm. Um, no. Not with a brain sat upon by an overweening sinus or twelve."

Sure, I would have loved to have seen this, woven or sketched, but the thought, the vision was put into it, and that was what we promised to do. Fortunately she kept getting bored and tried different wefts. She played around, (which I am told over and over is so important but tend to resist or limit my scope,) and instead of getting one lovely scarf, she got fabric for several lunch bags and at least one idea (but I suspect more?) for a scarf/shawl. I'm glad you got bored, Lynn.

Goodness me, Bety/Deep End of the Loom got inspired to spin, and a Etsy shop with her Baja bags is forthcoming! Far, far beyond what I thought we might get out of this challenge, and good for you, Bety, congratulations!

The first time I saw Linda's post, I was so awed by the pictures, as you can imagine, I couldn't read her text. When I went back, I discovered a similar frustration over which I hissed about just yesterday. Though I think as weavers we work on a continuum, (of "art/craft" for want of a better description), not in distinct boxes, and from time to time we move around on that continuum. As I wrote in my second comment, with my dogged insistence that I make my "art" on the loom and within the restrictions of the interlacing warp and the weft, I'm in the "craft" end of this continuum in the eyes of many "textile/fiber artists", and I'm OK with that. But, I need to find out for myself where, when and how much doggedness I need/allow myself, (it ties in so much with integrity in my mind,) and when to play. That's a long road ahead of me; maybe even that balance will always shift and I won't/shouldn't settle in one place. All I know is, I'll only find out heuristically.

By the way, some fun links from Linda's post about bar codes, and note Trapunto's comment.

Which brings us to Trapunto, who reflected, "I discovered that when I designed from a starting place someone else chose, it made everything less serious."

That's what I experienced as well. I wasn't responsible, (in fact, neither was Lynne) and I could change/adopt as I pleased, and in my case, my final product is quite different from what I had planned, but I don't feel guilty, because I was just playing.

Rose, who is, among others, a walking encyclopedia of weaving structures in our Marlborough group, seems to have gotten so many ideas from her clues. I look forward to seeing them in the future, but really, winter came rather quickly this year and I can well sympathize her wanting a new rug in front of her hearth suddenly.

I like Amanda's multi-layered approach, (pun intended), particularly as we had some off-line communication earlier on and I got to know her a little better, and, oh yeah, I so envy her youth and energy. Dyeing and then weaving would make the completed piece personal and intimate; I can't wait to see where she goes with this. Amanda, you must, you know. For me?

Again, I just gazed at Julia's piece the last time. Today I found she wrote about procrastination, on which subject I am the expert practitioner. Strangely, in my case, I confirmed that I work better nearer the deadline - something I have been trying to remedy ("near the deadline" part, not the "working better" part,) but it hasn't worked so far.

Before she settled on needle weaving, she examined, "I thought of tapestry, huge chunky twills, then of kente cloth. If I wove strips of cloth, only to sew it into a sort of twill? Then I dreamed of ikat details, to mimic the light in this photo. An ikat kente cloth of greys. As I worked to get my tea towels off my loom, I realized I would not have enough time to get another warp on the loom." I know all of these techniques, but for me, weaving structure is something that is decided early on in the design process, and though I know I therefore limit the possibilities of the outcome, I haven't learned to work the other way around yet. It took Julia writing them down for me to learn that this is something I can change.

The first thing about Esmae is, she sent me one big PowerPoint presentation with everything in it. Very self-contained, and so easy for me to manage. I've used PP before, but I never thought to use it in sending multiple images in one go using PP, and when you think about it, it's just a "Duh!" moment.

Esmae went form thinking about the images, weave-sampling one, then dyeing and weave-sampling another. I was impressed with what she did, but more to the point I liked the short, sharp presentation of her process. Beautifully done, Esmae; brava!

Desirée, oh, Desirée! Did you know she moved house while working on P2P? Hats off to you, my friend. And she finds it easier to weave in blocks, which, at this point, still baffles me. Lovely Swedish-looking results.

Holly introduced a totally unexpected (to me) aspect - collaboration; her cloth didn't hold very well, so she had a friend machine-quilt it, and what a lovely friendship; click on the fourth photo from the top. The extent to which I think of collaboration with other textile artists is to hold a joint exhibition; that's how far inside my head is when I think of my weaving, and honestly getting inspiration from another person was quite a stretch for me, at least at the inception of the Challenge. I thought Holly's solution was not only practical, but a good reminder. And would you take a look at the end product? Holly, do you think you'll open a Etsy bag shop?

Now, Shirley's experimentation was the kind I do a lot of, and what Dr Phil might call a "soft place to land" for me. I understand this. And it's rather easy to do, compared to, say, sketching or collages. Or sample weaving. Thanks, Shirley.

And then Kaz, who received my photos. Can I say I had about 20 I wanted to send, but trimmed the selection to, I think, six? No, five. I just wanted to see her draw in her sketchbook, and she certainly satisfied my sketchbook page lust.

"... how do you design from an image when loom weaving has so many restraints and restrictions to imagery and placement." That's what I've been asking every since I signed up for a design course in 2002. Kaz continues: "It’s these limitations that are part the creative aspect in this challenge. The designs going on in our heads are mixed with our technical knowledge of what is possible on our looms without setting out to create a full imagery in tapestry weave."

Kaz concludes, I think, that art takes time. I can live with that. In fact, if weaving something spectacular was easy, I might have gotten bored after a couple of years. I'd like to look forward to weaving something spectacular, finally, when I'm 73 and 82 and 95.

And me? Besides discovering I can live in amazing peace, harmony, almost, with my Right Brain, without the Left doing it serious damage?

After reading everybody's post, I learned that compared to my own previous ways, I did built the project from the ground up; I did work with the image, rather than deciding the many, usual parameters first and working within the constraints. In particular, to go with Summer & Winter came late in the game, after I decided I wasn't going to just weave the colors of the selected photo. So that's progress.

After reading one of Kaz's posts, and inspired by examinations she did on my bamboo photo, I thought of weaving a scarf that somehow represented the hollow, comfortable, unpretentious sound mature bamboo makes when they hit each other in the wind. And I'll most probably keep it; a rare thing for me.

So, this is like my book report. Thank you, again, participants for your work, insights and images. And visitors, especially for your comments on our posts. Finally, please excuse me for gloating, but,

Man, this was so bl**dy worth it!


I've said this before, but I don't get inspired by Nature much, particularly Her big picture. (In fact, I don't think I'm the big picture kind of person at all. My uber optometrist Julie Jones thinks it's a good thing I'm so near-sided, because she loves the details in my work.)

Anyhoo, in the writing workshop on Saturday, the first exercise was to describe a setting appealing to the readers' five senses and not bring in any humans, protagonist or otherwise. I've done this before in Joan's previous workshops, and I listened to her instructions, again. And away I went describing a teenage girl's bedroom in suburbia, midmorning sun filtering in, not a frilly fussy girly room. Then I started describing this bed spread, and I was off; it was made by her great grandmother when her grandmother was engaged, and then handed down to her mother when she went away to college, and how the quilt lived in the dorm for two years, and then at the Thinking Women's Flat for one, and though her mother was not a wild, Thinking Women collectively loved being in the limelight, and if the quilt could talk, etc., etc., etc.

All I wanted to say was it was not a expensively nor stylishly furnished room, she is not a fussy girl, etc., etc., etc.

My experiences in Ronette's drawing class, of doing things different from others, must have seeped into other areas of my life. I didn't even notice that I brought in four women in a half page description of the room, until we took turns reading our descriptions, and after about the sixth person, Joan said, "Oh, I can feel the protagonist in the room without your mentioning him!"

I don't know what this means, but I am and have been far more interested in humans than nature. I knew this. But the new awareness must be... good? Just curious to find out, and hopefully soon-ish, how this ties in with my depressed/paranoid/panic-prone misanthropic side of me, that hag that thinks she doesn't suffer fools easily, but in fact is so closed to the wonders of the world.

This discover/confirmation alone was worth going to the workshop. Oh, and the baking this one writer did for us - the chocolate covered macaroons!


Exciting Handwoven Work

The universe is challenging me. It could be telling me I've had it too easy for a while now.

I've been miffed that my tea cosy has been hidden as much as it can possibly be in the bookshop window. I mean, how dare they! That was way beyond my design comfort zone, and by far the wildest thing they got, but nooooooo, they had to bury it so keep in the field of colors so nobody will notice. Don't they know artists have very fragile egos?? Meh!

I should not have gone to the writing workshop on Saturday; Joan was lovely and the people there keen writers, (they belong to the Society of Authors, the Pen Club, for goodness sake!) but I was cold, worried about P2P, and though I enjoy therapeutic writing, I sure wasn't there to learn to be a better writer, per se. I would have been happier in a retreat situation. I should have been happier at home. But I did learn a thing or two, one always does in Joan's company.

Anyhoo, some of the writers were being friendly and I got the regular dose of, "Oh, I know a weaver," or "I (or insert any other female relations) used to weave," and any number of other comments about woven items circa 1970's/'80s. Small talk. People were being nice to me, for heaven's sake, but I became extraordinarily impatient and angry and I wanted to scream, "No, weavers nowadays weave things quite different from what you describe, cherish, or remember!" I felt my facial muscle tighten in trying to keep up the fake smile, it was quite upsetting.

When I came home, I wrote on Facebook I am a weaving snob, and I would like to distance myself from old-fashioned weaving, to which Sunny said she hasn't seen exciting weaving, and wanted links. Ouch! So while trying to concentrate on finishing my P2P today, I kept wondering what "exciting weaving" is. (And I've gotta add, I kept thinking I've seen work that looked very much like what I was finishing.)

I've always held that there isn't much "new" in handweaving, other than material and equipment. And I'm OK with that. In fact, it's almost nice to imagine somewhere, someone from a totally different time wove something very much like I've just finished.

In the "new" department, of course there are new yarns, new dyes/resists, (though mostly in post-weaving enhancement), and the photo/jacquard thingie, with which I'm not familiar.

Weavers appreciate those who find new ways of doing things, do something technically difficult or innovative, particularly if it was done "without pickup", or finish labor-intensive work. A while back, curves, network drafting and multi-shaft were new and exciting. But I don't know what I mean by "exciting" now; it's usually my next project, and the one after, and that's all I can think of today.

What is "exciting weaving" depends on what the person is looking for, just like any other art form. Right on cue, Sunny wrote back, "Color, texture, possibility. And like any work of art -- or well executed craft -- the unexpected quality that elicits an emotional response from the viewer. I personally prefer art that pleases me and makes me happy or satisfied. Others, I know, like shock value. I have no clue what would constitute shock value in a handwoven cloth, but I will give it some thought."

Oh, dear.

Friday, I thought I was being innovative, and Ronette commended me for breaking my old rigid barriers. My P2P excited me for a while. Today, though, I'm back in my familiar space of ... how the heck do I weave something spectacular?

It's the weather, too; gray and wet. Something is telling me I shouldn't go "there" just now. So instead, I'll go make some crazy gesso paper for next Friday.

Pics to Picks: Debriefing

About my project:

There is no doubt the big surprise during this design challenge process has been that I was able to follow the lead of my right brain. I feel like a new person; well, more like two persons.

The project was deliberate and slow and spontaneous, all of which I value in others' work, and in theory in my work , but not exactly a big part of my practice. The process felt intimate and personal, and it made up for my feeling my pieces were becoming "thin" in early 2008, after the mad dash being involved in however many exhibitions I was involved in in the previous 14 or so months.

I liked being so involved with the making of one tiny almost-scarf; I missed that. I liked feeling as if perhaps I was weaving something extraordinary. And I enjoyed remembering Randy Darwall's workshop; swapping colors and thinking of the kind of transition I want to introduce put me back in that classroom in Paraparaumu.

I didn't do as many supplementary warps as I had planned because I had a tension trouble on the borrowed table loom; nothing to do with the loom, but my fault in putting on a warp hastily. In the end it turned out to be a good thing because securing loose warp ends in this uncharted (remember I made up the threading and treadling as I went?) fine cloth was tedious. I did not change the threading of supplementary warps, either; regarding this, the term "diminishing return" kept popping into my head while I wove.

I would like to keep doing this slow weaving on the table loom; for one thing this was a more therapeutic experience than weaving on the larger looms. I am redefining for myself how I should consider/differentiate unique/exhibition/production pieces/processes.

After the washing and the photographing was done, however, the scarf looked as though I had seen something similar before. Maybe it was one of Randy's work; maybe something else. I still like this piece; it's rare for me to weave a scintillating piece, but I think this is one such. I have tons of future ideas, but I'm not sure what I'll work on next.

About the Challenge:

With all of us living in different parts of the world and living different lives, I never know when is a good time to hold such challenges. If you recall, I started thinking this out loud last December, and we had two months to work; I had imagined that would give us ample time. But as usual, real life gets in the way, particularly if you have children, or if you move house, (well done, Desirée!), and even if you are not a seasoned procrastinator like myself, we run out of time. I'm not sure how to improve that; we could easily have three months after we exchange photos, but would that improve the challenge?

I must apologize to some of the participants. The deadline was the end of Saturday, June 5, wherever we lived. Which would have been later on Sunday for me. I was away all day Saturday and when I came home I had few emails from participants telling me they had posted their final posts, and Ben was shouting (in excitement) how hits on this blog was "getting up there". Which in my typical guilt/paranoid way I interpreted to be in anticipation for me to hurry up. So after I got the 8th notification (i.e. more than half), I went ahead and posted the Big Reveal post. Which was not what we had agreed on beforehand.

I'm sorry if you felt you were behind; that was so not the intention, but I thought folk could start looking at the ones which were finished, and come around to ours later. It won't happen again.

I would like to thank all 14 weavers for taking up this challenge. And if you had a fraction of the fun I had, it will have been worthwhile.

And thank you to all our visitors. Do please leave comments as you tour around the world and look at the results.

PS: Participants, if you do something beyond the last post, please keep tagging/categorizing the posts, and let me know if you'd like links changed/updated.

PPS. If we do this again. any words/phrases of apologies for not weaving the end product, or not going as far as had been intended, will be banned. Of course while it's lovely to see a finished piece, (particularly for someone who is visual and has a hard time being described artwork with words,) we didn't commit ourselves to that. We promised to think of something to make, and show how we thought, and what we thought of. Not too late to go and delete those words of apologies from your posts, but of course you don't have to. But I'll whip you thrice for every word of apology with a skein of Japanese sewing silk if you do it next time.

Pics to Picks: Mine

The original image, from Lynne

The journey
(Flick through the posts to follow the pictures)

The piece

Warp: 2/20 cotton
Weft: 2/20 cotton in pattern
2/60 cotton in tabby
36 EPI; 8 inches wide on the loom
Structure: Summer & Winter, alternating

3PM Saturday in Honolulu

And it's after midday Sunday here. It's a gray, unattractive day in Sunny Nelson and I'm struggling photographing my piece. Either that, or it's a surprisingly unphotogenic piece! But I promise I'll post soon.


Pics to Picks 2010: The Big Reveal

Back in March, 15 weavers exchanged visual clues to inspire and entice each other to design, and possibly weave, based on these clues. Ben picked names out of his baseball cap and matched exchange partners.

Here are the final results:

Lynn - Bety

Linda - Trapunto - Rose

Sampling - Sampling in Dec 2010 - Julia - Esmae

Desirée - Holly -

Shirley (Design and Color, P2P, Good Old "Birdseye")

Kaz (Print to Loom, Patterns for Print, Enjoying Images, her thoughts, and the scarves)

- Dana - Lynne - Meg

If you'd like to follow the progress of individual weavers, here they are:
(Blogs prefaced with * have had posts relating to this challenge since the Big Reveal)

Kaz's "curious weaver" posts tagged "Pics to Picks"

Julia's "Space and Structure" posts labeled "Pics to Picks"


Holly's "Honeysuckle Loom" posts labeled "Pics to Picks"

Lynn's "Linnet Knits" posts labeled "P2P"

Trapunto's "The Straight of the Goods" posts categorized
"Pics to Picks Challenge 2010"

Desirée's "hemvävt.net" posts tagged "Pics2Pics"

Bety's "deep end of the loom" posts tagged "Pics to Picks"

* Amanda's "Sampling" posts labeled "P2P"

Shirley Treasure at "Shirley Treasure"


Dana's "A Cat in My Lap" Posts labeld "Pics to Picks"

* Meg's "Unravelling" posts tagged "Pics to Picks"

The Challenge Brief

The previous Links page

The Big Gallery Flickr sets for this challenge has been deleted; some of the links were modified. 

We are Weavers

We weave with shuttles. Maybe it's OK for us to go back and forth between our Left and Right brains. (Nope, still procrastinating getting ready.)

One Ring to Unite Us All

I just anointed myself Dame Rantsalot. I'm going semi-crazy because I'm very tired this morning but I have to get ready for an all day writing workshop, instead of staying home mending the supplementary warp ends in front of the fire and washing my colorful whatever-it-decides-it-wants-to-be. (Too tired to go all crazy; imagine a baby that wimpers a lot because s/he just wants to go to sleep.)

Images of dames and swards and mostly Elizabethan costumes made me think of big insignia rings, and fantasized going to Hansen's and asking to get a bunch of weavers' rings made to unite us all, but we don't need a material thing, do we, to unite us. Besides, most weavers aren't rolling in disposable income, I'd imagine. No harm in fantasizing.

My writing workshop is a short walk from here. I'll be thinking of you today. In fact, I might cook up some strange back story for some of your lives.



Color typing paper, color gesso, chalk pastel. Arm position was wrong and I lost the hand. But others in class are imitating the diamond shape and the jagged tape lines.

Color gesso on Jill's rag; chalk pastel, and possibly other stuff. The arm position was wrong and then I lost the hand. Where did you hear that before?? But an interesting background covers for me. Ronette is wondering how many will gesso fabric for next week.

I was called something this morning by an art student; "renegade", was it? Suddenly I remembered I was a renegade in the convent school, from age 7 onwards. So where did I loose it?

* * * * *

P2P. The exciting part is I'm getting links to everybody's final posts. And they are very exciting. As to my own, I had to cut off the warp this afternoon. The warp was indeed much too short, and I rejigged the warp once too many and the tension became too uneven to weave. I have 110cm woven, and a good length of potential fringe on one end, too, too long for my taste on the other. It could still turn out to be a gorgeous shawl for someone about 2 ft tall. Or a cat.

Disappointed, because it would have been a gorgeous silky scarf, but man, I learned a lot.

* * * * *

My wild tea cosy is kind of buried in a field of colors in the bookshop window. Disappointed, but hey, that's the way it works, isn't it? I'm too busy to worry about it.

Onwards and upwards. Tomorrow is the writing workshop.


No picture today. I'm too embarrassed. I'm having an old problem I thought I overcame in 2000 - somehow I measure the warp incorrectly. I wanted a 150cm piece, so with loom waste and sampling, I made a 220cm warp. The sample was approximately 25cm; the loom waste on this loom is minimal, but I suspect I'm going to be able to weave up to about... 120cm only - maybe less.

I had something like five consecutive warps in 2000 where I got pieces drastically shorter than I had planned, and I can't remember how or when but I thought I had overcome that problem. Come to think of it, I rarely make a warp for one piece only, rarely shorter than 8m, so I might have been getting around the problem, not overcoming it.

OH, BOY, AM I FRUSTRATED AND MAD AT MYSELF!! This was not a project I needed to make such an elementary boo boo, but what can I do? I'll finish it anyway, (OK, shorter weaving time, ha ha..) wet finish, photograph, etc. But I don't know if I can wear it. I looks like a Lilliputian table center, folks!

Pics to Picks 2010 Esmae Emerson