Thursday, April 28, 2011

And the Rest...

This post was supposed to come after another post, but because I'm having a hard time composing the other one, I might as well blather now and return to the "previous" post later.

* * * * *

After bitching and moaning I never have contents for the Marlborough Weavers blog, I now find myself with contents galore, and I intended to work on them this week.  Because the plan was, the Festival stuff would have stabilized by now.  (Bring out the violins.) With the mess, though, I can't bear to look at the Weavers' pictures, so I need to let the dust settle and work on that blog a little later. Not the way I like to work, not at all "professional", but I figured, better than doing it badly.

* * * * *

I've been trying to recap The Group meeting which took place in what now feels like antiquity - Sunday, April 18. It did go well, and there's been nothing but good vibes from those I've communicated with since then.  But I can no longer remember much details and must dig up my notes, and from where I stand this week, I can't help feeling the notion of me-with-other-humans most trepidatious.   Mid-back-burner.

* * * * *

Remember the two cotton pieces gone missing in the H4C process? One disappeared in the ether completely, the other somewhere in the postal system; the bidder of the gone-Postal piece wants to commission an identical piece.  That was one of the "color dare" pieces a few years back, and not really my taste, but the bidder was a significant person in Ben's and my earlier life, and I'm feeling a divided loyalty between her and myself-the-weaver-with-a-bad-backlog.

Meanwhile, this piece possibly took a tour of Queensland before arriving at Judy's in Sydney, wet and repackaged by the Australian Post.  Judy won my piece fair and square so she didn't have to, but she sent me a lovely package in return.  I love the color and the feel of this 2/28 alpaca/silk, but I just * can't * get * over the woven piece on the card. It makes me want to have a play with tiny decorative pieces.  Me!  Thank you very much, Judy!
Speaking of Australia, Sampling let me borrow scarves woven with silk/stainless steel yarns.  Very interesting and, can I be blunt, almost unnatural; it's like the first time I encountered bamboo garments; I'm going to need some time to let the idea grow on me.

Meanwhile, I gave up on my wee H4C parcel popping up in my PO box; the money I spent was so little I don't even need a refund.

* * * * * 

After looking at and feeling the Hearts blanket over Easter, I packaged it up and Ben's posting it today.  It has a lovely fluffy feel, I don't have enough weft yarn to make an identical one, and I dithered long enough posting it right away seemed to be the best solution.  Besides, it's been cold.  Again, I've been pondering my view of "professionalism" vs how I conduct my weaving "business" vs reasonable compromises, because I seem to be compromising more often than I used to or than I would like to.

Meanwhile, Nana can expect a special present in the post.  I (we?) had thought the Hearts baby was going to be the last grand-baby, and the only girl.  I wanted Nana to have something related to this blanket, and wanted to thank her for ordering three baby blankets and one wedding present.  Last year we had discussed nuances of red in some detail, but I wanted something a little grown-up, so this is made of slightly darker reds. And look at Judy's color against the piece. (Oh, that reminds me, Mama wants a heart scarf.)
(My camera may have trouble when I shoot red wool, I had the same problem in Blenheim during the workshop. Pics come out much too overexposed, and I can't decide if it's the camera, or the laptop screen which has to be viewed from a far more restricted angle than the previous laptop.)

* * * * * 

I'm sending four parcels from NZ Post today, three for work. I'm plenty worried, because, what do they say?  "People who do something and watch it fail but continue to do it the same way...??" But I've always been partial to the postal system as a concept, they never failed me until late last year.  That's 51.5 years of laudable worldwide record.  

* * * * * 

Rest of the week.

Not rushing to weave a purple cotton piece for Pat to take on her trip, putting the hypothetical gallery issue on the back of back burner, reworking on my To Do list I updated yesterday.  Trying to keep a low profile and not hurt people.  Certainly not volunteering.  Maybe it'll be a good basement loom day.

Today is our 21st wedding anniversary, but not exactly thrilled; 21st sounds almost a letdown after the significance of the 20th.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So, the Festival Web Presence

And that's April 2012 Fesival I'm talking about.   I'm now allowed to tell you our website/blog, Facebook page, and Twitter is officially "live".  Our festival opens at midday/noon, April 26, 2012.  

The annual festival of Creative Fibre, or NZSWWS, (New Zealand Spinning, Weaving and Woolcrafts Society) 2011 opens in beautiful Thames tomorrow, Thursday 28 April. To everybody going to Thames, have a lovely time, and look out for the Festival 2012 team - they'll be the ones in funny hats proclaiming Love Marlborough.

A Hypothetical Question

What would you do if this happened to you?

A gallery stocks your work. You have a great relationship, and you're involved in other aspects of the gallery as well. But they're unsuccessful in selling your work, not because they're not trying, and not because your work doesn't suit the gallery's target market.

So the gallery approaches you with an idea: over the winter months their receptionist will wear your work, with a wee sign in the reception saying, "(receptionist) dressed by (you)", and maybe set up a way folks can order pieces. My questions are:

1) What would you do with the samples she wore after winter? Would you sell it as per usual, at a discount. or from a different venue, such as Etsy?

2) Say the winter lasts about three months, how many would you prepare?

3) If people contact you directly, would you ask where they found out about you, and if it's through this gallery, would you pay the gallery regular or reduced commission?

4) What if a sample is lost or damaged? With this gallery, artists must get insurance if we want to protect our work while they are in the shop.

5) What else would you consider?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Block Weave Workshop - Afterwards

So far, you may be wondering why I'm jumping up and down about the new possibilities, exposing you to fuzzy unattractive sample pics. So I thought to show you one example of what I mean by depth in the cloth.

This is a 3-block profile draft. I can lift none or all of the pattern shafts, or only 1, 2 or 3, or 1&2, 2&3, or 1&3:
And for example, if I translate it into a Bergman, (3-tie, rosepath in threading and lifting - am I right?) I get something like this, (click to possibly see tiny diamonds):
Which sure beats weaving in boring old Summer & Winter now that I know better. Though with sewing threads, this may still be the best option... Must sample.
Except somewhere down the line, I'm hoping to weave something far fussier in the tie-down, color and pattern blocks.

* * * * *

After I came home from Blenheim, I looked at half a dozen books on weave structures and a couple specifically on tied weaves, and not a whole lot talks about creating interest in the tied-down, but the latest The Best of Weaver's: Summer & Winter Plus, Page 39 has photos and a short article by David Zenakis of different tied downs. And then there is "Designing with Ties" by Nathalie Sato on pages 42-43.

Many books mentioned how a few of the named weave structures are related, but I don't recall a comprehensive-ish family tree of tied weaves.  Just previous to the page mentioned above, on pages 32-38, is "An Introduction to Tied Unit Weaves and their Relatives" by Jacquie Kelly, which I found helpful as it has photos of details of some of the named weaves.  

* * * * *

Pat is traveling with potentially influential weaving people in two weeks.  She wanted to borrow my P2P piece so she can show it on my behalf.  But I'm going to see if I can rethread this warp, give it a twill tie down, and weave before she leaves.  I had three weeks when she proposed it; I've wasted a whole week now.

Block Weave Workshop - Day 2

Day 2, and I was raring to go, but there may have been more lecture, and if so, the content of which I cannot recall.  When the time came to weave, Win and I were so glad we stuck it out and threaded our looms the night before.

Most students opted to use pattern/supplementary wefts much thicker than the warp, which looked very nice on the A-side but not so on the B, so I opted for my usual pattern-weft=warp with a much thinner tabby weft. One student had great success with Polychrome Summer & Winter, but I didn't take a picture of her sample. 

This is my first sample, washed, where I was trying to figure out the color combinations.  I was also trying to get used to the borrowed loom, so I lifted only one or two shafts at a time, and you can see with the first color combo, I didn't beat hard enough.  The floats are longer than three-ends because of the pointed threading of the tie-down, though not quite the jagged incline I thought I would have at 1.30AM.
You can just see the twill line, though, from a certain angle.
This is my second sample, unwashed, but steam-pressed. I still have about 1.5m of warp stuck no it; Rose offered me the loan of the loom, but we had too much stuff in car from the holiday and I had to decline. I want to put this on a loom before I cut off the sample and wash it.
I blame the "missing twill line" on the floats from the pointed threading, and this being not washed, more than the not-very-thick pattern wefts.
If we were allowed to weave longer, I would have definitely tried other color combinations, lifting multiple shafts, (definitely more evenly attractive A- and B-sides), and other techniques.  But Maryann also covered some pick-up techniques and we had plenty of woven samples to look at, which was great help in understanding what she was explaining to us in theory.  We closed with some photos of some of Maryann's work, and there was one fabulous achromatic yardage that was worthy of an art piece. (Can't find it on the Internet so far, but it was breath-taking.) 

I see so much possibilities in playing with the tie-down, from a quick one-block, three-tie weave on a four-shaft foot loom, to giving maybe 10 or 12 blocks to the tie on a 16-shaft loom, and because I prefer the warp floats to weft floats in drapy pieces, I'll most definitely start turning drafts (i.e. even simpler way of incorporating color-technique like polychrome).  I think it's just down my alley in creating deceptively complex cloth, and that combined with blocks and colors, I can see me having a jolly good time for a long time to come.

Win's sample, where you can see, among other things, the twill tie-down working well; she even tried some pick up, (top, salmon pink portion.)

Block Weave Workshop - Day 1, Approximately

I find it hard to recap Maryann Stamford's Block Weave workshop because in retrospect we covered a lot in two days, but also included were what I taught myself in the last year and a lot of standard practice "shortcuts" and "hints" that from time to time I found it frustrating and hard to focus.  I guess I wasn't the newest newbie on this occasion.  

It was still a great workshop, so I'll try my best to cover the good bits. 

* * * * * 

First, we experimented with different ways of designing blocks; that is, how to fill in blocks in profile drafts without speculating or controlling the outcome of the weave.  (Think "coloring in squares.") Just as Bonnie Inouye taught us to think about designing in threading, in tie-up, and in treadling/lift plan, Maryann made us look into designing in profile, in link box, and in draw in.  Then we practiced filling the draw down of profile drafts, then counting blocks required to weave a particular motif, and created profile drafts based on the motifs in draw down. Finally we practiced writing lift plan based on the link box and draw in. 

She explained Summer & Winter and the four sequence options, and we practiced translating 4-shaft/2-block profile drafts into threading, she covered Polychorme Summer & Winter (two pattern/supplementary shots after every tie-down shot) and Taquete (no tie-down shots).   And then, (drum roll, please!) we learned about 3-tied single unit weaves, including Samitum, and suddenly everything turned rosy for me: a way option to play with the tie-down to add an extra texture to the cloth!

Everybody sat down to create profile drafts, which Maryann translated into weaving drafts and tweaked on her computer. I had my computer with me, but I knew exactly what I wanted, a 3-tie twill tie down, and all I needed for the sample was a pleasant-looking curvy line.  I had in mind something like these, but a pointed or diamond twill taking place quietly in the background. 

In potentially weft-faced weaves, it is the pattern/supplementary weft/s that make the, er, pattern, so if I were to weave with a pattern weft much more visible than the warp, I would have to think as if I'm using a sinking shed loom.  However, A) I like to use very thin tabby wefts, and pattern wefts the same size as the warp, so as to create B-side just the opposite ("Summer & Winter") of A-side, both sides potentially being the "right" side, and B) when weaving on a table loom I'd definitely like to lift as few shafts as possible; I decided not to worry about which side I will be looking at while weaving.

We went home to Win's, had a lovely lasagna dinner, then we started threading.  Well, Win started threading but I had to finalize my plan.  I wasn't sure about the number of my warp ends, but it was round about 174: 8-shaft loom, three for tie, five for pattern; six ends to a block; so, a choice of five patterns in 28 slots, with a few ends left to float.

Just short of the halfway point, I discovered I had made a couple of pattern threading mistakes, because I didn't call my blocks A, B, and C, but 1, 2, and 3, and I mistook the block numbers for shaft numbers.  Never mind, that's the beautify of a random curvy line, I adjusted the curve and by 11.30PM we both finished threading.  

My mind was so hyped up I couldn't go to sleep and I "discovered" at around 1.30AM my twill tie-down threading "was not going to be even peaks-and-troughs, but a jagged line climbing up."  Never mind.  It'll give a contrast to the curve created by the blocks.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Every few years Ben lets me stand in front of this church in Blenheim, even take a photo or two.  

This is the church where I attended my very first weaving workshop, (weaving anything,) in 2001.  Back then, I hadn't dared tell anyone I wove but already I harbored a secret ambition to make weaving a very significant part of my life. I didn't know how to read a draft, and didn't even know they were called "drafts".

At the last minute, I didn't want to go in; I held on to the back bumper of Ben's car in the parking lot as he slowly drove away, back to Nelson.  It definitely was the first day of my school. And one of many start/restart points in my weaving.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I thought I had been passionately appealing to The Committee for Marlborough photos since January, but it appears the message didn't get through; blame it on my communication skills and mixed messages/email mumbling.  Anyhoo, this is why, once there, Ben and I do love taking pics in Blenheim and Picton, though I have come to dread the trip and from Marlborough - it's about 90 minutes, and rest assured we get stuck behind slow vehicles.  Still, it was worth it.   Some of these were taken by Ben.  Some of these will be used for the Festival, some are for me to remember that autumnal day.

I noted the ferry schedule before I left, and we were stationed at the tip of a small pier 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.  The cloud above was thick but the wind was blowing, so we'd get 30 seconds of sun, then five minutes of cloud, then three minutes of sun, then 15 minutes of cloud. Very unnerving.  The ferry left 35 minutes behind schedule, which can be considered "on time" under the circumstances.
Worrying about the clouds...
My fav of the boats...
The Festival's official version.  By Ben, of course.

We drove up and down Old Renwick Road, Middle Renwick Road, and New Renwick Road, and a couple of the side roads looking for the right light, the right composition, and the right colors. We were loosing sun and thought we would have to compromise and heavily edit one of the earlier ones.  Ben took a U-turn at the end of New Renwick Road behind Ribverland Hall, suddenly jumped out of the car and shot this.  What a guy. 
Hard to believe, but very shortly after this, it was too dark to get a descent panorama of this hills and vines in this direction. This was the one shot I wanted for the Festival. I love the dry hills behind the vines.
Marlborough Vineyard Labourers, A.  My kinda picture.
Marlborough Vineyard Labourers, B. Ditto.
The breathtaking Pollard Park, Blenheim.

I've got a few bench pictures which would make nice greeting cards.
Millennium Gallery, the venue for the National Exhibition, minutes stroll from Marlborough Convention Centre.
Said Convention Centre.
The back of the Convention Centre is the beautiful Taylor Riverbank.
Across the river behind the Convention Centre.
And if you look to your right, there is a lot more of the riverbank.
The ever patient driver, er, assistant, er, photographer; I mean, my beloved.

And sorry I bitched about going to Marlborough. I'm hoping the results justifies 3/4 tank of gas.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Life Throws at You

Still tired, though yesterday was good.  I didn't revise my Block Workshop material, but got out a few interesting books from the library. Taking down Changing Threads was harder than I imagined - harder probably because everybody said how easy it is to take down exhibitions, but then there is the unsmall matter of packaging them for post, and though we named and saved all packaging material, it was still hard to know if some of the more delicate pieces were securely packaged or not.  I think I paid more attention to the work yesterday than when we hung the exhibition. 

Today, we were supposed to leave for Auckland for a three week holiday in Japan.  Instead, I'm still dithering whether to go to Blenheim for the day to shoot moody pictures for the Festival.  (It's 10AM and a 90 minute trip there.)  I'm tired, and part of me feels disgruntled about not being able to solicit cooperation in this area; most everybody in Marlborough Guild lives in Blenheim; surely someone is interested in photography, or knows someone who is.  I've been pleasing for pictures of Marlborough from the start of the year, but as usual, I only have one collaborator, trusty reliable Rose Pelvin who unfortunately has had problems with her camera battery.  Not great weather is forecast for the weekend, though if there is any sun to be found, it'll be today; Ben thinks we need to stay overnight to make the best of today, but I don't want to spend gas and overnight stay money after our holiday.

I'm just physically tired and it makes me grumpy.  I'll be find once I see the lovely Dry Hills, (which I understand hasn't been so dry.)  If Ben does a good job, I'll show you why I love Blenheim scenery.

By the way, The Sketchbook Project 2012 is on.  I can't decide if I want to do this, after the disappointing feeling of the last effort, but if I do, I'd like to sign up earlier rather than later.  Do leave a comment if you're going to sign up - it'd be nice to know I'm in good company.   

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I've felt exhausted after I steam-pressed the baby blanket for the last time yesterday.  Before lunch.  And I mean physically exhausted, like I can't even sit up straight.

I wonder why it is that we seem to have to be, in Elaine Lipson's words, "relearning the same damn lessons." In life, too, but with my weaving, the more years I weave, the more I seem to be caught by rude surprises, to which my reply almost inevitably is, "I should have known better."

I clipped the fringes of the hearty blanket last night.  The blanket felt soft and airy, so warm, though it's not a light-weight blanket.  In these respects my plans worked.  But the dimension still looks wrong.  I don't have enough of the first weft yarns to weave an identical piece, but I know if I use the alternate weft, it will be slightly heavier.  And now I don't even know if I need to weave another.  The erratic picks aren't as evident under most light, but then I already know they are there.

I set out to revise/summarize what I learned in the Block Weave workshop, three time so far, but I don't have the mental stamina to finish.  I'm taking the notebooks with me today, and maybe I can get it done in the library, with the change of scenery, before or after taking down Changing Threads at Refinery.  I hope so, because I've been dying to tell you about it, and to investigate one aspect further.

I said I get so frustrated in my drawing class with the long coffee break.  I got so twitchy with the many interruptions and breaks during the Block Weave workshop and though I tried hard to stay polite and listen, a few times I had to walk away. When I am engaged in weaving or designing, I am focused on the task for half a day to a day, though I've learned to take breaks and exercise if I'm on the loom. I wonder, though, if the flip side is, when I can't concentrate, that goes on for a long time, too.

We have to go back to Blenheim tomorrow.  While I was in the workshop Ben was supposed to take moody pictures of the region so I can use it on the Festival blog, etc, but during the three days we were there, it was sunny for only half a day, and rained heavily for over two.  Grape leaves are expected to fall any day, and Blenheim being in the heart of New Zealand's premier wine region, Marlborough, we can't get away without them, especially because our Festival will be held this time next year. Over the Easter break tomorrow is the only day various forecasts agree there will be some sun, and fingers crossed, no rain. I've asked The Committee to ask for pictures of Marlborough, but so far only Rose has obliged with nice pics of the Convention Centre, so we've got to go back.  I feel so tired I wished I could read in bed from, like, Thursday night (tonight) to maybe Sunday noon, instead.  

Anyhoo, my easy lief goes on. I've been trying to get up early so I can get more out of the day, but at a slower pace if I so choose.  I think it's working, because I'm stumbling on more hours in the day, though, you know me, not all of them is being spent productively. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Not a Pretty Picture

My weaving records have been so bad (i.e. almost non-existent) I don't have the measurement of the Big Brother's blanket nor the Little Big Brother's, but I'm sure they were longer than they were wide. And I thought I learned not to use new-to-me yarns on commission work, at least when I was in a hurry, but I just had to try it, didn't I.

What is on the living room floor is 113cm long (plus 11.5cm fringes) and 139cm wide, even though the sample shrunk to between 123cm and 126.5cm,  (The fringes haven't been trimmed yet so they look longer.)  The weft, a fluffy 4-ply merino, felt wonderful while weaving but did not full as much as I had expected, and worse, the warp was allowed to shrink far more than I have ever seen (about 22%) in the five years I've been using it, (around between 10-12%).

Besides, what's with the erratic beating anyway?

Good thing I have enough warp for one more blanket.  I have a similar-looking, ever-so-slightly harder 4-ply merino that fulls a lot lovelier.  I'm going to stare at this for today and decide what I'm going to do on Friday.  (I have to help dismantle the Changing Threads tomorrow.) It sets back my next urgent job by a few days, but can't help it, it's my fault.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Last week, we had a short holiday in Hanmer sitting in the hot springs. Usually we go to several forest walks, but this time only one, and we (i.e. Ben) opted to sit in the hottest sulfur baths for an awfully long time for three days. He must have needed this holiday more than I'd thought. 

We got into Blenheim for his birthday dinner at Hotel D'Urville, cooked by the fabulous Maree whom we met in a writing workshop a couple of years ago.  It's been our dream to taste her food, and she cooked a special taster dinner for us.  We're not sophisticated restaurant diners, but it was a wonderful Fine Dining experience.  While we don't intend to cook restaurant food at home, I took notes on my menu, and there was a particular venison dish I'd like Ben to try at home, modified to a homier version.  I'm no critic, but we thought Maree's cooking was refined and restrained, allowing each ingredient's taste to come through. 

Ben framed his menu.
We headed for Win Currie's house where she spoiled us for three days.  The real reason was for Win and I to attend a Block Weave workshop.  (More on that in a future post.) I had to borrow Rose Pelvin's table loom, which was unnerving, weaving on such an accomplished weaver's loom.   I also discovered what a real table loom is like, as opposed to a sample loom.  What a difference.

Win and I have interesting discussions whenever I stay with her.  One of the things we discussed was life outside weaving; she mentioned many of Marlborough Weavers have been too busy to weave, what with family, work/farm/volunteer activities, health, garden, and other hobbies.  I tend to forget other people have life outside of weaving, especially since I'm trying to shave off anything and everything taking time away from weaving.

But I sure am lucky to know weavers who love to garden; I always seem to come home with loot when I see them.   (One time, even Rose's neighbors gave me tomatoes!) Look at Joan McLauchlan's pears, June McKenzie's feijoas and cooking apples.

And look! Win's walnuts to eat, and walnut husks to dye with! She and Ben even went out to pick the husks for me while I worked on the 2012 Festival web stuff on the computer with two Committee members.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Goodness Me!

I've been away - a short holiday sitting in the hot springs and then a workshop on Block Weave - and then The Group happened today.  I've got so much to tell you, plus, I need to finish and send off the baby blanket, and I need to weave a fussy cotton scarf for Pat before she takes off on May 8. How did I get here?

Then, I received an email from Mary today, asking if we are going to do another round of Pics to Picks.  Anybody game?  Or do you prefer another SSVE?  If P2P, I would imagine we would be working on it from May to July-ish, aiming for the Big Reveal sometime in mid-August.  If SSVE, I'd say we would aim for the "Exhibition" sometime in late-June/early-July-ish?

What do you think?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday Morning Blather

Yesterday was the last day of Figure Drawing Term I.  We had my favorite model; I almost think Ronette plans to have her every last day. This model is so not a black-line-on-black-paper figure, so I played a little using the side of a black crayon to get softer expressions; then white candle on white paper, where I can't see much until I apply the wash.  But I still wasn't as happy as last week.  So for the last piece, I used white oil stick, (with all kinds of gunk stuck on it, yellow, blue, whatever,) white crayon, black crayon, wash, and black oil stick, and though the proportion/placement is way off, (and I didn't even notice until I was packing up,) I finally got one piece I liked.

I'll miss the class but I'm really taking the next term off for a crazy-mad weaveathon, (weavefest? I can't decide on a name.) I've thought of doing this the last three terms, but every time I reneged at the last minute and promptly signed up for the following term, but this time I'm really off until August 4, if there isn't too big a waiting list for the Friday morning class.  If there is, I'll just sit tight and wait until there is a slot.  It's a little scary not having my weekly right brain massage, but I'm hoping I'll be too busy weaving these ideas in my head to notice.

Ronette commented I am "expressive", (to which I say, I can't do accurate lines!) and draw with big gestures. I wave my arms around all the time, but especially when drawing, and when looking at artwork or textile designs, I wave my arms a lot so my body remembers the lines, shapes, the feel.  We wondered if there are ways I could reflect some of that in my weaving.  And perhaps even a way to reflect my weaving fussiness in my drawings, but then the fun will go out from drawing, so not important.    

I also talked to Lloyd to get some advice on how I can "develop" my drawings, but like weaving it's all about practicing, isn't it?

* * * * *

I had a few errands to run, but I should have come home afterwards.  Or gone to the library.  My head is full of wahwah noise today and my head is exhausted.  I love talking to friends, but just walking around town, looking inside shops, what's in fashion, coveting books, all that does my head in.  I do it because, you know, humans are supposed to live in a "community" and the rest of the week I work at home, but I seem to get a lot more energy taken out of me if I roam around town aimlessly than what I get back. Pity there haven't been too many movies I want to see; it's all 3D vampires/action/animation nowadays, no docos, no art house films, at hours convenient to me. 

* * * * *

Though I do love weaving them and can't stop thinking about them, my cotton pieces continues to be cursed.  (Other than Hannah's!) Following two "walking out" of two exhibitions in town in 2007, one went missing from a box of 12 between here and Handmade for Christchurch, though we have a sneaky suspicion it's somewhere in their office along with 500+ donated stuff and after they've sent everything else out, there'll be a lone pink piece. Another went missing between H4C and a PO box further north and the bidder is worried. H4C is doing everything they can on my behalf, but one cannot help but worry in these circumstances, especially because I know the bidder. And then what I won on H4C haven't arrived, and it's been three weeks since the bid closed.

I worry because unfortunately our Post Office puts things in the wrong PO box far more often than I care to remember.  Just this week they put Ben's camera part in someone else's box; this someone else rang me and offered to drop it off, but our house is difficult to find, so I asked him to drop it off at Ben's work, which is super easy to find.  Except I didn't explain to him why, and the part hasn't turned up, and Ben's upset, and if things can get any worse I didn't take the guy's contact, which I usually do because I usually let Ben handle it. Gosh, it hasn't been a good week in retrospect.  No wonder I'm grumpy, and none of these have been resolved.

* * * * *

On to pleasant topics: I'd like to share some recent discoveries. The first two, I found, via some detours, from H4C.

Felt appears to be a New Zealand Etsy, for want of a better description. My favorite is Dee's Tiny Eyes. I love her dolls but she has none in her store now as they are super popular; I think many are sold as soon as she posts photos on her blog, before they make it to her store.

I don't know how the two are related, but there appears to be an overlap in people involved in Felt and Extra Curricular, a tiny magazine purporting to be for "people doing exciting side projects in their spare time" but some of the featured artists look like they do what they do most of the time.  Nevertheless, a gem of a magazine, with lovely photographs, and you can get it from Felt, too.

The last find of the week, Handmade Home, was tucked away in my fav bookstore. I'm retrospectively connecting the dots here, but would I be right in saying Amanda's books and others in similar style influenced a whole lot of moms/mums around the world, because it has a similar feel to Felt, and with many items donated to H4C.  I was absolutely besotted with the book, and was saddened I can't go to Japan soon because Japanese bookshops have always overflowed with cute craft books.  But while I support independently-owned, (and lately any physical) bookshops, an US$21.95 book sold for NZ$59.99 when a straight forward conversion of currencies says NZ$26.51. I think they can't just moan about Amazon and ebooks, but need to make an effort to sell at prices resembling reasonable prices. So, pass.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Oh, [insert_choice_word] !!

So, this is a lesson in not solving a more-complex-than-usual problem when your adopted country has been hit by the worst natural disaster in her history, followed closely by your country of birth being hit by two of those and one of the man-made variety.

I thought I checked it enough times while I wove to make sure I was on track but look what I just took off the loom less than six minutes ago!

And to think that while sampling, I had it right. Grrr...

All I can say is, thank goodness I always put double the warp for commission pieces; it's just a matter of tweaking the draft on the computer.  Oh, and then weaving.

Still, great for Weaving Booboos.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blowing my Own Horn

I wasn't going to say anything about this, but now that I've seen the photo, I can't help myself.  So I'm blowing my own horn loudly and I hope you'll forgive me. 

Remember this cotton piece I decided not to send to Handmade for Christchurch?   Well, a certain young maker left a comment on that post, and I discovered she lives in Christchurch, so I asked if she wanted it.  She did, and I was so happy because it felt just as good as if had donated the piece to H4C.

I wanted to see if her life had improved in the months since so I went to her blog, and what did I see?  I swear, this is one of the most beautiful photos I've seen recently, and whoa, it even has my piece in it.  She's only the fourth person I've ever seen wearing what I made.  Well, fourth not counting Ben.

I am totally blown away, and this is why you have to forgive me. 

Whoa, Not Again!

I thought we had two weeks before Ben has a week off, but noooooo, I have this week, and then Ben has next week off. Meaning I've got to get my act together, since towards the end of Ben's week off I also have the Block Weave workshop in Blenheim.  So, time to make lists, do laundry, iron, pack, follow up on people I wanted to see, forget any of the above and finish and send off the hearts blanket, etc., etc., etc. I always always think I have more time to get ready for anything, and find out I don't.

Included in one of the "etc"s is to set up the first meeting for the Group.  Which is why I'm posting this in haste.  Your comments and suggestions are helping us greatly in prepping.  So if you have anything else you thought of, I'd so appreciate you adding them either under this post, or that.

Now, dishes seem like a good place to start.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Thoughts on The Group, on Forgetting, and Stuff

I had interesting conversations with two prospective Group members, both of whom I know reasonably well.

Both are busy people. One was feeling a little pessimistic because she's wasted time in another group, (read: lovely friendly women focused on socializing); the other a tad skeptical because she works well solo. I empathize with both. And did I mention how busy they both are?

One crucial issue is the mix of people from the same/similar disciplines; of the seven, we have two weavers, at least three eco-dyers and one felter; at least two are all-rounders with extensive experiences, textile or otherwise, and one has tertiary-level (I think) teaching experience.  We thought it's important for everybody involved to know from the start that the group is not about specific techniques in the first instance. 

What's keeping me secretly but wildly optimistic is, we are one American (lived on both Coasts), one Australian,  one English, and two Kiwis, (one from the North Island), one Scandinavian (Norwegian?,) and one Japanese, plus a couple have traveled far and wide. I'm hoping we've enough variety to gain form the mix.

An email was sent out yesterday asking when everybody is free during the month of April; we have a two-week school holiday after Easter so everybody (else)  is so busy.

* * * * *

Pat said if she stays in the group, she is going for cloth-style weaving, not tapestry. In which case we could even have a sub-group and visit specialists for our own studies.

* * * * *

(WARNING: I'm suffering form the First Novel Syndrome in this segment.)

(EDIT: Apologies, I had several trains of thoughts rushing and tooting in my head when I wrote this portion. I'll leave it here for now, but may rework to post separately, or delete it altogether.)

Having enjoyed Vincent's biography, I've moved on to something completely different: Edward Lucie-Smith's "Symbolist Art". I've always had a love/hate relationship with symbols and allegory; hate because so much in the West was about love, sex or Christ only; love because Ukiyoe, for example, emerged as satirical socio-political commentary in the days when "news" meant orders from the Tokugawa Shogunate.  There was much restriction on the lives of the masses, even on the supposedly ruling Samurai class; I think I mentioned this in conjunction to the proliferation of the color gray and the poetic names given, because folks were forbidden to wear so many colors.

Anyway, the masses were largely literate, but you risked your life printing newspapers, so one way was to publish/distribute symbol-laden prints.  Another was to serialize novels and especially plays in weekly installments; Kabuki, for instance, still play these scripts. 

Tokyo Asakusa's Amuse Museum  has been in the spotlight a lot because of the Boro fad, but they also have an impressive collection of Ukiyoe and a short vid explaining the symbolism in two (I think) of the pieces. When you decipher the symbols, many of prints are laugh-out-loud hilarious, but life having changed a great deal in the last 150 years, we've forgotten some of the symbols, and some have changed meaning or have come to mean the opposite of what they used to.  I'd even say because Japanese press had a great deal more freedom than any country I've lived in long before the Internet, our political cartoons declined and all but disappeared. 

This is also why some Japanese have had difficulties understanding the Western appraisal of Ukiyoe; it's the same was me looking at vanitas paintings.  Ukiyoe's subgroup, Shunga, "spring drawing", was mass-market porn distributed probably much in a similar way to proper satire.  I can't remember if Rodin and Schiele drew, painted or made prints of theirs.

Anyway, I looked for a book that explained the symbolism in Ukiyoe after we visited Amuse, but I found none I liked so I left it at that.  A few months ago I saw this at the used book store. Though curious, I dreaded once again finding a lot of love, sex and Christ in every painting, (remember Sister Wendy docos?) so it sat on one of the piles under the bed.  Late last night, I got started, and so far it's been far more than the trio in the paintings; I suspect there is even more hidden meanings in them than the author is listing.  The writing, (the book came out in 1972,) is old-fashioned and roundabout, so sometimes I need to read the sentences three and four times, but I've become interested in the collective forgetting of significant symbols.   I hope he covers the topic. 

* * * * * 

Andrea asked me, more eloquently but in effect: "In this world of so much stuff, do we need to make more stuff?" We agreed if we don't make, in the first instance we may descent into merely buying stuff, and in the extreme, we'll be just another eating, breathing, mating species, without much protective plumage.

Some of us absolutely need to make. If I could make music, poems or stories, and don't need tangible vessels (necessarily), I could add pleasure, memories, "pretty", (which I try with my weaving) or even shock, disgust, or dismay, without burdening the world of stuff. But because I find pleasure in making physical things,



what do I think next...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Next, and Next, and Next...

This is a truly bad picture of a elegant, lovely color combination.  I've been looking at these two cones together for months. The top cone is a mid blue-gray-brown, somewhat masculine, reasonably warm, but not old-looking.  The bottom is lighter, more a brown-gray, refined, but not cold. 

The reason why I haven't done anything with them is because the top is 48/1 wool and bottom 60/2 merchandised cotton, so there is no quick sampling with this combo, but I could so visualize a 60-75cm wide pieces in these, oh, and the contrast in the sheen and color would make the weave structure so visible...

* * * * *

The big loom's Shaft 2 problem was fixed this afternoon.  But once again it scares me this setup is not forever, not even, possibly, for mid-to-long term.
This is the inside of the box above/in front of my head.  Each of these tiny white sticks pushes up when told to by the computer program, making the appropriate shaft lift.  You could say this is where electronic message is translated into a physical movement. Ben couldn't find the real cause of my problem this time, but he applied silicone spray on several points to entice all mechanism that leads to Shaft 2 lifting to, ummm, lift smoothly, and Shaft 2 reluctantly returned to work. The culprit is marked so we can frown at it in unison.  If a tiny gadget/box under each wee stick breaks down, we're not sure if we can replace it, or if Ben, or someone, would have to rebuild the entire box.

With a dense, wide warp, it was even harder to get at the problem, but Might Hubby came to the rescue of this danned-sel once again.  I didn't want silicone on a baby blanket, so we were very careful.

* * * * *

Mama told me she wants a scarf of hearts.  "Sure," I said, "but I don't have any red cashmeres."  I almost ordered some, but, no, I want to think about the colors so I come up with a more elegant solution.

* * * * * 

I decided to revamp my website.  That is, get rid of it and transfer everything over here so at once this is a blog, with all the standard information included.   I'll try to do this as smoothly as I can, but while the roadwork continues, please mind the gaps.

Saturday Morning Blather (or Thrashing About)

Earlier in the week I was rehearsing my lines and revising them for when the group finally meets for the first time.  When I talk, I go off on a tangent easily to get easy laughs and obscure the point, and in this instance the points are too important I dare not confuse, so I was arming myself with a bullet-point list.  

* Original reason why I wanted the study group: "How to show woven cloth in the textile art context"
* Restriction of the mechanics of weaving
* My unwillingness to use most other "techniques" in the final piece/s
* The integrity/standard/cohesion of the group collectively vs my place in it

But your comments helped a great deal in reflecting on the issue from different perspectives and I thank you deeply, sincerely, wholeheartedly.  You also subsided the first phase of my hysteria, thank you!  I also helped myself by being back on the loom, though the loom refused to cooperate for too long.

* * * * *

Colleen Plank of Wrapture has a nice little exhibition at Fibre Spectrum this month; some dye work, some felt work.  I knew couldn't go to the opening so I went earlier in the afternoon and found her still giving it her final touches.  I'd forgotten my camera, but I took some with hers, so when she sends me some, I can show you.  After discussing favorites, she said to me in the nicest way, "You don't really dye, do you?"  I love people who understand me: I'll dabble in anything if it gives me pleasure, but no, I won't do anything seriously if I didn't think it will enhance my weaving.  But then, Colleen is an ex-weaver.   

* * * * *

See the first photo here? Then see this!  Ta da...

I, who seldom win things, won the lucky draw, and got the purple stainless steel silk. Yay!  I told Sampling I feel like a CSI suspect, weaving a stainless steel scarf to gently thrash someone's throat! She laughed her gentle, elegant laugh, (OK, it was an email, but that is what I heard,) and told me these yarns remember shapes.  So I need to come up with a really bumpy plan, probably mixing this with spongy merino or similar.  She's lending me her scarf so I can physically feel the finished fiber, and also gave me a wonderful idea of what to do with it afterwards.

* * * * *

Yesterday's drawing sessions covered fast drawings with resist and then the use of wash. What I really wanted were truly black paper so I couldn't see my crayon or oil stick lines. We had between five and ten minutes for each drawing, but I had to do two in the time or else I would have fiddled too much and regretted later.
I had a truly wonderful time in the end.  I'm working in different from others, which makes me wonder if I'm not understanding the instructions correctly, but I have a "tendency" (not a "style",) which is to me not unlike a painter I don't really like, Schiele.  My mind seems to enjoy drawing exaggerated body shapes, and my hands don't seem able draw fluid curvy lines.

For the first time I thought I'd like to do something with my drawing; not sell or show, but give it some consideration and based on the studies I've amassed, draw something which signposts my progress of the first three years.  

And speaking of a painter I don't like, I finished a biography of van Gogh. What a peculiar, difficult, unlikable man!  I still don't like his paintings, but I got another biography and two books of his portraits from the library.  His antics are addictive but I'm amused/alarmed how much empathy I feel with his people-related mistakes.

* * * * *

In July/August 1963, Mama and I sailed from San Francisco to Yokohama on a passenger ship named (The) Argentina. Mama was pregnant with my sister so the trip was hard on her, but I recall it as an another-worldly very-long holiday experience.  Among other things, I learned about the International Dateline, and without understand exactly how it worked, I learned that if I played the cards rights, I could have a 48-hour birthday.

Early tomorrow morning, we set our clock back an hour to end daylight savings for the year.  So not quite a 48-hour birthday, but I'm given an extra hour.  Four to five decades too late, as nowadays I can't even come up with reflective/contemplative thoughts, but it still feels a tiny bit special.