On the Eve of Another New Year

Wherever you are, whatever you believe and however you celebrate,
And whatever your favorite color,
I wish you a peaceful and content closure of Common Era 2010 and a colorful start to 2011.

(And let's do the Looms around the world thing again. Take picture/s of your loom/s on January 1 your time and post and send me a link, or send me JPG files.)



Can I please bring your attention first to Amanda, who just finished her P2P project with a day and a half to spare in this year? I'm so happy and a little flattered our little challenge meant so much she felt compelled to finish weaving her piece.  Is anyone contemplating P2P2??

And I have to mention this young artist/weaver, Rachel Beckman, whose website I discovered by image-Googling "handwoven cloth".  For me, a couple of her pieces are among the most successful in marrying art and weaving. Oh, so young and talented...

So the year is about to close, and I don't have much to reflect on for the year 2010, as I feel I didn't do much.  My first bad workshop experience?  Well, it was bound to come around.  And some dye experiments?  Those were fun.

I'm glad I had a spurt of energy at the last minute.  I've woven a couple of pieces which are visually uncharacteristic, those nuanced/muddy colors.  

I didn't have a motto for 2010. I kept mumbling "preposterous" but it ceased to mean anything as they do unless you work at it.  Then in November, a new one came to me out of the blue: "Revelation".  In 2012, I want to know if I am meant to be weaving or spending my life otherwise; I want to be shown what I'm good at, and what direction I should take.

By shown, I don't mean a Fairy God Mother (who might even be younger and perkier than me nowadays) popping up on top of the piles of books at my bedside instructing me to weave this or send work to that exhibition.  But I seek some answers/guidelines which most probably will come from within me.  Maybe they are like my, weaving briefs, instead of their, exhibition briefs.  The answers may take the shape of my choosing some options over others, sometimes logically, sometimes by whim, and sometimes only because I can't do them all.  But I want to feel enthusiastic about weaving again.

I do feel optimistic.  In the way physical exercise is good for depression but sometimes I honestly don't have the energy to start, I know weaving is good for my creativity though sometimes it requires a momentous first step.  But whatever it was, I've been able to build up momentum, so I hope to sail on inertia for the next little while.


Before and After

I've been weaving at what is for me a break-neck speed - one a day. I made a measuring mistake so the cool light blue one is a tad short, (but not as short as it appears here.)  I like that I got two warm color pieces and one cool, from the same warp.  The one on the far left is the unresolved Scarf 2 that is all over the place and even though it has 15 different color areas, I don't like it.  I also one smaller sample and a tiny one to include in the Sketchbook Project sketchbook. 
Dianne, in the middle is the properly wet-finished sample; on the sides pieces just taken off the loom.  Dye does not wash out of these yarns, but the fuzz softens the intensity and makes the finished textile not only feel but look much softer.  I can't even see the log cabin on the orange piece in this picture, but it's there. 
Maybe the wash/fuzz can improve the piece I don't like. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed!


December: Thoughts Thought

On Friday, November 26, when I went around the galleries in town swapping my tags, I did something else: I booked a gallery for October 2012 for another solo exhibition, in Nelson. I was elated and felt energetic about working on another project for about a week. Then, I remembered the negative comments I received, not from "regular" folks, not from friendly weavers, but successful, practicing, accomplished weavers who, frankly, don't know me that well.  And though I tried not to dwell on them, I couldn't help feeling like I wanted to hide just for thinking about another exhibition.  (Because they don't know me well, they must be objective, mustn't they?)  And I went another round of wanting to erase everything on the Internet about me and my weaving.

Then I had my annual ride on the Merry-go-round of "concepts in weaving", but this being the third year, I used the same vocabulary, the same logic, and reached the same conclusions just a lot more quickly: I don't want to make something only to fit the exhibition brief.  Maybe helping hang the exhibition is a more meaningful way for me to participate and support the event.

And then I had what felt like an eternity and a half of wondering what I'm doing with my life calling myself a weaver, when I spend more hours sitting in the office chair typing and pondering about weaving than I do on the loom bench.  It's the "Vocation Question" again. If I went back to an office job, if anyone would employ me, Ben and I could have a nicer life, worry less, and maybe travel more.  And I could weave as a hobby.  It's not the first time I thought about this, but the certainty of my doubt alarmed me.  All the other years I've contemplated this, it's been in part a little tongue in cheek, but this year felt different. And I haven't tried to go back to office work since 2004 because a) I'm too old to employ for office job in the current economy and b) I can't weave when I work because my life always gets overtaken by my job.

An exceptionally long hayfever season, (it's still going!) was taking a toll on my spirit as well. In fact, finding myself dispirited seems to be a recurring thing. 

Sometimes I see people as baubles, of different sizes, intensities, and of course hues; there are baubles that shine steadily, those that go through the shine/dim cycle; and even those that shine nauseatingly brightly making the surrounding lovely baubles look dull in comparison.  As I get older, as I pick up more fears, worries and doubts, as I discover more limitations, my bauble has grown a bit cloudier, slightly dimmer, a tad smaller.  And now, no amount of polishing seems to bring back the shine it once had.

I've been trying to remember what kind of a child I was and what kind of a relationship I had with my parents and teachers, and whether I really was the ornery child my family keeps referring to, or if I really lived the confrontational relationship years of introspection/reflection/counseling informs me.   Because I seem to recall, in the fogs of my reptilian brain (or is it the limbic system?), having been inside this slow chubby child in awe of the world around her, never quite in the world but observing from a short distance, unwaivering in her belief that world... just happened.  And I keep pondering that child I lived in looking from the inside out, and comparing her to the person my parents and teachers saw from the outside. Then my memory jumps to this girl, age 9, one late afternoon towards the end of the summer holiday, staring at the letters, "How to Change my Personality", written in the neatest handwriting she could manage, (erased and rewritten several times,) on the first page of a brand new notebook.

The short version of the reason why I wanted to do this exhibition, the idea for which was conceived maybe around March but has been brewing inside for longer, is because I am tired of "just a square piece of woven cloth" not being good enough to exhibit in an art exhibition.  Those were, as best I can remember, the exact words from the very first brief I received for a textile exhibition called, from memory, "Textile Fantasia" in Blenheim late last century. Back then, I thought there is so much more to learn about textiles, but now I find it offensive, even when the briefs nowadays are slightly more disguised, like, "beyond the traditional technique".

I think the longer version is that I want to recapture joie de vivre through weaving.  You know, the wonder the world can bring if only I were open to it.  For 2011, I didn't rejoin Marlborough Weavers, nor the Online UK Guild, (though I'll still be the Blog Mum for Marlborough Weavers.)  And I think the Textile Lunches have come to its natural end. It's not as if any of these demands a lot of my time or energy, but I felt compelled to walk alone for a bit, see what I find, and maybe see comes out from inside without the prodding. 

And so the working title, and the concept, for my exhibition is, "WYSIWYG: What You See is What You Get".

And there I said it, I've written it, and posted it.  And if this post is hidden or deleted any time in the future, it'll be because that'll be where I'll be at the time.


December: Action Taken

First of all, I hope you are having a lovely time at this end of the year, and looking forward to a fuitful 2011.

During the month of December, I had a reading binge, (not weaving, but food and cookbooks; I went to the library to borrow one cookbook and walked into a library book sale and came home with these, plus the one book I borrowed.  All hardcovers were $2, paperbacks were $1);
a baking binge, a Sketchbook Project Stint, then I wove the dreaded alpaca warp, (from which I got four rather sorry-selvedged Log Cabin scarves; they haven't even been moved to the proverbial under-the-couch, but just get moved around with my foot when they get in the way);
then sampled and started weaving cashmere log cabin scarves.
The warp is in violet and yellow green, one touch closer than complementary.
I experimented with a few color combinations, staying loosely in the purple/green vs yellow/orange scheme.  I noticed I was favoring the nuanced/muddy combinations this week, rather than the clear colors, and I think having watched a few movies featuring attractive 1950's French attires had something to do with it.  I could have gone on sampling the whole eight meters of the warp, but decided it might be a too expensive of an exercise, so I wove my first piece in this combination.
One weft is the same violet as the warp; the other is a burnt orange; when in combination with the other yarns, the orange color looks more vivid, and the yellow green warp comes through as Tweed-like flecks. I keep thinking either I or my mother had a wool garment in this mood, but I may be just imagining it.

Lastly, Mom came across something interesting and sent me a sample.  
 This piece of cloth is two narrower pieces stitched together, and each piece was woven on a Marudai Kumihimo "loom".  It comes from Iga Ueno in Mie Prefecture, city famous for one of the two main Ninja bases and Iga-yaki pottery.   When you think about it, it's no surprise one can weave a flat piece of cloth on a Marudai, but Mom and I both had a "Doh!" moment on the phone. 

I'd love to keep weaving the Log Cabin scarves, but I think I've finished less than half of the pages in for the Sketchbook Project, and I seen to have not a lot of weaverly things, I think I need to focus on that for a few more days.

Today was my parents' 55th anniversary.


Sukita Project

Having asked you about your dream textile holiday, I've been thinking about mine. As you can imagine, combine my travel lust with textile love, I've a really long mental list. But I was embarrassed to be reminded of an item that's been there a while, costs next to nothing to execute, and the only thing stopping me is myself.

It's visiting the Kayan weavers in Nelson. The women have been on my mind because I was asked about a good fine cotton supplier, indirectly, by the project coordinator and Andrea a while back, I recommended DEA of course, and was recently thanked several times, indirectly, by the coordinator and Andrea.  Andrea told me the cotton scarves have started arriving at the Suter, so I went to have a look, and they look and feel so much nicer than the former, rayon I think, series.  There are more colorways and the colors look more deeply saturated.  And they are very affordable I almost bought one, but I couldn't decide which color I wanted. (I love the purple ones, but there is a lovely burnt-orange-and-olive-gold one.)

I now have the email of the coordinator, though I don't think I've ever met her.  I've been soliciting my friends to come with me and hold me emotional hand just in case I react badly to the neck braces.  But I think I will go visit them sometime really soon.

EDIT: I had an inquiry so I contacted the coordinator of Sukita Project.  At this point the Sukita Scarves are sold only at The Suter Gallery and Reflections Gallery at WOW Museum, both in Nelson, New Zealand.  If you are seriously hoping to add one to your collection of ethnic- or good-cause textiles, at this point yours truly is going to have to go and pick one up on your behalf, or Andrea at the Suter can assist you. Contact me, or Andrea.