Saturday, August 14, 2010

It Came Down to Less Than a Dollar

And so it was a good ending to the week. But I digress.

Thursday night's pattern making class was about fitting; we worked in pairs fitting the toile of skirt blocks of our partner. I paired with tall Lana, which was nice for me because I'm so short, and to move around adjusting the darts and the sides was almost at eye level. It took a long time adjusting the darts and the sides little bit at a time, but with lots of Jill's help, I think Lana's block had a really nice fit. When my time came, the task was more onerous for Lana, but it turns out it was compounded by the fact I'm so asymmetrical I a whole body pattern.

Looking at the other students, I couldn't help appreciating how fabulous everybody's toile fitted; then I looked at myself in the mirror and, ugh, I'm still the short barrel with a piece of calico around my middle, or, more like a fat, TP'ed tree! I keep reminding myself it's people shaped like me who needs made-to-fit patterns and clothes, but sometimes it's hard to stay upbeat.

I wanted to photograph this so I can imitate. One of the great things about going to Jill's pattern workshops is she shares lots of hints and tips about running a design/garment business. Whilst that's not what I'm aiming for, (I want clothes that fit me!) I like picking up these small tips.

This pin cushion is a piece of felt shaped like a small belt with a Velcro at the back; it tapes around the bridge of the sewing machine; the middle of the belt has a small pouch with bits of wool. Jill says not to put fabric scarps, because they deflate too easily, but to use wool - knitting yarns, fleece, anything, but nothing too greasy. This is so handy for me because I have a habit of pinning pins and needles on the left shoulder area of whatever I happen to be wearing and then forgetting about them.

* * * * *

Friday the 13th, it was raining buckets. Drawing was OK; enough said. Jo gave me a lift home, and stayed to look at my stash, looms and some of my past drawing. And we exchanged How We Met Our Men stories. I love Jo, but a little more now that I know how she met Dave.

* * * * *

After Jo left, I wanted to weave, so I went downstairs to weave some more shibori practice swatches, at the same time try to find out more about Ronette's dye urn, which has lived in my house for "a while" now.

The urn is 50cm tall on the outside and 46cm on the inside, and 46cm in diameter. I'm not exactly sure how much water it holds, but you can easily bathe a toddler in it. I put in three buckets full, which came to slightly less than half the height of urn. More important to me, if I were to stick whole woven pieces in, I could easily put five or six small pieces, 3 mid-sized ones, or one or two large one, and comfortably mix the content. With my new PVC pipes, I could let stand three or four pole-wrapped items.

Outside, it has a cord that needs plugging in, an outlet/tap (??) like a Zip to let out the liquid, and a switch with three settings. I started with cold tap water (11C); setting LOW took 90 minutes to get half the urn full of water to 36.5C; MEDIUM an additional hour to get it to 88C, and then minutes for the water to boil at HIGH.

Ben will build me a tiny caddy on wheels with brakes, so I can work with the urn at the entrance of the garage, where I can discard the waste liquid directly to our sewage, but I need to read up on whether I can treat the waste acid dye liquid to water plants. (Not veggies, even if all the books and websites in the world says I can.) It would also be interesting to compare the dye results against the black-plastic-bag-in-the-Nelson-sun method this summer.

* * * * *

While the water was toiling and troubling besides me, I was semi-merrily weaving my swatches. Semi-merrily because a few warps broke, and though at first I was repairing each conscientiously, I got sick of not being able to build a rhythm so after 45cm they went unfixed. Each swatch will be between 50 to 70cms, so I figured I'd fix the broken warps each time I start to weave a new swatch.

Then, I noticed one of the shafts weren't lifting, again! I naturally suspected 7, but this time it was 11. (I wrote here roughly how my Big Loom setup works, and then what I thought was the same problem this time here.) Ben was home so he tightened the screw with thread locker and we tried lifting the shafts, and lo, this time nothing was lifting and the software stared back at us with a blank expression of "Huh??"

We checked all screws, all connections, electric and air, vacuumed the solenoid compartment, rebooted the computer, the system failed, and repeated the cycle about three times, when Ben noticed a tiny light on the black box not lighting up. He thought the fuse had blown, and it had, well one of the two had; I didn't know he's replaced the fuse once or twice before in the seven years I've owned this loom.

Exactly how this looms works is, like the latest nutrition information, something I try not to think about in specific terms. Knowing how flimsy and potentially fragile my setup can be scares me; the loom maker passed away, and the then-student who wrote the program that translates my wif files into lifting motions, well, there's no guarantee I can track him down, so I keep hoping someone in Marlborough can always track down his mother.

I dreaded looking into buying a purpose-built computer-operated loom with a huge price tag. For now, though, a 6-for-$5.98 fuse fixed the problem. We could have paid less, but they were out of the cheaper option.

I have a floor loom with four shafts; table looms with eight and 16 shafts, and a rigid heddle. None of these require power or any electronic parts, so I can always weave. But once one is spoiled with the relatively easy option like mine, the craft of weaving feels slightly less elegant and nostalgic, and slightly more industrial and annoying.

Anyway, for now; phew.

1 comment:

  1. In all the excitement, I forgot to turn off the air compressor. So, of course, a little after midnight, while we were watching a BBC un-reality television called "The Most Haunted", our lights flicker, our floorboards start to rumble, and the compressor starts going again.

    Normally, I might have jumped up, totally freaked out and let out a yelp or two, but I was too tired, so we both went downstairs to make sure we switched everything off.

    Now, the tiny radio on the stair railing that turns itself on from time to time, that's another story!


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