Sunday, July 29, 2012


As Ben watched The Teams enter The Stadium over yonder, I watched this clip from Santa Fe Folk Art Festival several times. On the telly there were disappointingly few teams wearing national costumes. I know there is a worldwide recession going on, but still disappointing to someone who looks forward to that part every four years. (I also discovered some teams have the competitors walk in front of the officials, others, the opposite; was this always the case? I don't watch a lot of Olympics, and very seldom the ceremonies, though I try not to miss the men's marathon.) 

As regards Santa Fe, at first I thought if ever I'm there, I'd like to join the New Zealand team, but I wasn't sure what New Zealand's national costume would be unless one is of Maori descent. Then I remembered there was a discussion on national costume, perhaps on the national guild online "list", several years ago, where I think the majority liked the natural (light brown-ish) colored, (unevenly) hand-spun, hand-knit vest with a V-neck. Or I imagined it while reading folks' opinions.

But I look Japanese, (but will never march in a kimono; have you ever tried the footwear??) and I sound Minnesotan, (Dakota Sioux may disagree,) plus my body size/shape is irregular, so I don't fit anywhere. I will have to cheer from the sidewalk.

Now that me feel a little bit sad.

Never mind. I think I'm on a Pillars high; that I still haven't come up with a reason to totally dislike it is a great sigh, I think.

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Pillars" Pillar One

I cut this off the loom and pinned the header around the drying rod, (is that even understandable English??); this is the only place in my house (except perhaps the garage) I could hang something this long, however long it is. I haven't measured.
I'm not sure what I think.

The colors are nice; an old-lace-like soft appearance, thanks to the undyed (rather than white) wefts. The scale of the draft is right; it looks good from some distance, but strangely not as attractive close up compared to my usuals; I'm going to try looking at it from farther away on the weekend. The position of the "eyes" looks right, too, when I'm looking up rather than straight ahead. There are a few technical untidiness, but nothing dire. So all in all, the sampling and planning seemed to have worked.

I'm not looking for things to dislike. I'm just not sure what I was expecting. This is certainly a lot smaller than what I visualized those many months ago, and hanging lamely in my basement is certainly different from having been finished crisply and hung in a group in a tall gallery. So I still don't think I am seeing this for what it is or can be. But I am not displeased.

We recently watched "A Prairie Home Companion", the film. In it Keillor had these beautiful lines where he said something to the effect Minnesotans know things can always get worse and when they're going well, we wait patiently until things indeed get worse. And I daresay, it's not pessimism but realism. And I guess I'm holding my breath just now waiting for something (more) to go wrong. L. O. L.

This is the best I could do with the draft. I can't figure out why the widths of the pics are different every time.

One pillar requires four days to weave. I need at least one day break in between. I'm not sure if there is warp enough for two or three (or even four) more. I think it's safe to say most of August will be spent on the Pillars. I need to also plan drafts for the Self-Portrait/Friends(hip) pieces. I would have liked to have done one more project, but it's starting to look unlikely.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Pillars" Finally Started

This one is going to be a messy post, so I apologize in advance.

When Pat came a week ago Friday, one of my main concerns was the fabric didn't felt as much as I had expected. It's good that it didn't shrink so much, but not so good in that the fabric will probably droop in the middle, so we talked about putting transparent/translucent fishing lines. After another sampling, I decided to insert one every 100 picks weft-wise only.

I thought I was truly finished with sampling. I went over every line in the draft and corrected overlong floats, and made up the "final" draft. (It's never final for me, though; I have to sit on and sleep on it and fiddle several thousand more times.)

I was ready to start weaving Pillar Number One. I recalibrated the loom, (that's my FancyTalk for pulling here, tugging there, making sure all the parts that should be parallel/perpendicular are so.) I also replaced the red FS with three strands of white. Then I started winding bobbins, and lo, I almost had enough weft for one pillar.

I'm using three threads in the weft: two ends of the Merino/Mohair for the sheen and one end of origin-unknown-old-style-wool single for felting in the wet finish. I noticed a while back about half of the balls of o-u-o-s-w single were marginally skinner than the other half, but I thought there was plenty of each not to warrant much thought. I realized I barely had enough of the thicker o-u-o-s-w single to complete one pillar, and about 1.5-2 pillars worth of the skinner kind. Truth be told, I don't know if it makes much difference as I can't really tell when they are on the bobbins with the M/M, but when they are in a ball, I can. And since they go in the weft, I was worried the difference will show.

I dug up some more undyed old wool from my stash: I had one tiny ball of another single, (probably a knitting yarn?) but found several balls of two-plies in a similar weight. I sampled, and though this one is quite a bit whiter and fluffier, the result was similar enough. So, whereas I originally had in mind five as-identical-as-possible pillars, the revised plan now is as many pillars as I can manage. (I'm not worried if I end up with four, an even number, at which quite a few people has hissed.) So as not to make the difference in the weft combination stand out, I will modify the drafts, (probably slightly) from one pillar to the next. Oh, boy, talk about the cost of inexperience! I am getting fat on humble pies.
The second-from-the-bottom sample has vertical and horizontal fishing line supports; the bottom sample, using the whiter two-ply in the weft, has horizontal supports only. Though still visible, wet-finishing hides the fishing line slightly, but when the sample backlit, they shines like nobody's business. I plan to take this sample to the gallery next week to see if it bothers me enough to take them out of the pillars before wet-finishing. 

I'm not sure if I'm going to keep the pillars achromatic or mix colors, but with the Silk Road theme, I can go either way; I can stick to the Roman/Greek feel, (I'm just describing them as such, even though they don't look Roman nor Greek,) or I can add colors to bring in Persian/Central Asian/Indian/Chinese/Korean feel.

I finally started weaving Pillar Number One yesterday afternoon, but this is what I call weaving by ear, or eye. The weft in this one is two ends of M/M and one end of the thicker o-u-o-s-w single; tomorrow I start weaving a different part of the draft and will start using two M/M with one thinner o-u-o-s-w single.
The undercarriage, as it were. As the scale of the design is bigger than anything I have woven thus far, I find it impossible to imagine how the finished piece is going to look. In this respect, I feel as if I'm weaving blind. Wondering if it would help, I started weaving from the bottom of the pillar. Pre-wet-fishing, the picks where the fishing line was inserted scream out. 
I'm also trying to think of a good way to post the first draft; it's skinny and long I haven't found a way to paste them nicely.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Pillars/Silk Road" Sampling and Alternatives

While recalling some of my conversation with Finn two years ago, I remembered discussing Japan as the eastern end of the Silk Road. Earlier this year I was looking textiles places of interest near my parents' place where I might be able to visit the next time I'm home.

To my astonishment, I discovered there was a mini Silk Road in the region! Kanto Region's silk cloths were collected in the city of Hachiohji, a transport hub for several centuries, from where the cloths were transported to the port of Yokohama for export. This route, presumably traveled by people on foot and animal-drawn carts, was used extensively until 1889 when the current Chuh-oh Honsen rail line was opened, and declined rapidly after Yokohama rail line opened in 1904. The route's eastern 2/5 covers where I grew up, where my brother and sister live, my and my sister's first apartments after we got married, one of the places I worked, my mom's (and now my niece's) school and my brother's work, not to mention several of my shopping and socializing districts and my paternal grandfather's hometown. Mom told me in the 90's that sometime in the past Yokohama was the country's (world's???) biggest silk scarf producers, (and we were not exactly convinced,) but I had never known about this Silk Road.

I was wondering how to describe my post-earthquakes-photos- and Greek-financial-crisis-inspired "Pillars" in an exhibition named "Beginnings", but this last week I was able to connect two and two. Like I said to Finn before, I come from one end of the Silk Road; Rome, (OK, not Greece) is at the other end. I can live with this. Almost. Including the small problem of the work not including any silk.

These websites are in Japanese but there are a few current photographs if you are interested:
*This website was created to introduce the silk industry in Gumma Prefecture, but the top photo on this page shows a sign that may be on the side of the road.
*This is a tiny museum in Hachiohji depicting the history of the silk industry, not the road per se.
*I can actually walk from Hachiohji to the port of Yokohama following the old road: route guide from Hachiohji to Machida, (eight hours), from Machida to Yokohama (six hours).

* * * * *

Meanwhile, I've done some sampling. I'd forgotten how much the merino/mohair sheds; every time I handle a sample, I cough up a whole cat, almost.

The finished cloth does not felt as much as I had planned regardless of the variety of finishing I sampled and the sample draft-drafts created scalloped selvedges nobody's business. I may make up a temporary temple but I doubt I can control it that well. The biggest worry is it looks shabby and when I try to envision several huge pieces of these hanging from the rafters, the first several pictures that come to mind shout "A Giant's Bad Laundry Day".  The texture is more suitable to perhaps light-weight coats if you can tolerate mohair.

I was so worried/frustrated/in doubt  I asked Pat to come over to discuss options, one being ditching the whole pillars idea and use the warp to make something else. We discussed sourcing/sampling carpet yarns, using colors in the warp, and a few others. Pat's temple's minimum width was wider than my warp. In the end, it occurred to me, only then, that unless/until I weave at least one pillar, stand in front of it, and see it, I can't really tell if it's been a good idea after all, or crap.

There were also good things in the samples: I like the contrast in sheen in the warp and the weft; the scale and directionality of the design is good; and though I haven't decided if this is good or bad, the style is what I feel comfortable with, slightly flowery and "old" looking. All these components were as I planned. 

I learned this week I was so not ready for big, showy projects. If I knew then more about what I was taking on, I would have considered material unsuitable for clothing but ones which would produce the look and constitution I am after. I feel very humbled. I was also reminded of how far into the design process we have to be when our chosen technique is loom weaving, how little leeway is left once the loom is threaded. Unless there is a lot of time and enough patience to make warp/rethread/sley. Fortunately or unfortunately, this time around, I have that time if I hurry. And really hate the first pillar. 

This weekend's task: to map out on my life-size model the kind of design I want to weave including the focal point which I want  approximately 1.5-2 meters above the floor; then create a draft and sample sections of it. I may not get five pieces at this rate; I can live with four. Of pieces shorter than three meters.

Does Tanizaki Still Speak for Us?

After posting this post, I emailed Finn at Auckland Museum to discuss ideas around the exhibition. He also told me he's coming to a Symposium in Nelson next week, so the prospect of hanging out with him necessitated I finally get around to reading Tanizaki Junichiroh's "In Praise of Shadows" as Finn was the first one to bring this essay to my attention.

I wasn't keen; I don't like Tanizaki. His novels are half a step short of soft porn, (he was very popular and successful in his lifetime, so perhaps the works weren't controversial; donno.) His novels are about women, many young, written by an dirty old man who thinks he knows how (young) women think/feel. Some of his magazine articles are the same. But my sister went through a period of reading Tanizaki (and others) in college, and I was intrigued because she had been a dedicated non-reader before or since. I borrowed one or two about 20 years ago and was shocked that a) my little sister was reading demeaning smut, and b) she found literary merit in them.

While sample-weaving the day after, (and listening to his audiobook,) Alain de Botton also mentioned the essay in his "The Architecture of Happiness".  It was time, eh. I had bought a copy when I was last home; I thought it was important for me to read the original.

I felt some pertinent background seems to be lost in the Western critiques/praises for this essay. He was born in 1886 and the essay was published in 1933 when he was 49/50. After Japan was closed off to most foreign countries for 350 years, (except the Netherlands and China, a point which may or may not have been lost on Mr de Botton in his critique of Huis Ten Bosch; in these 350 years the most interesting part of Japanese culture emerged and flourished,) the US forced us to open the country in 1868. The Shogun's samurai/feudal society thrown out, the Emperor re-throned as figurehead, and the English parliamentary system installed. To say this was a catalyst for changes is, I think you'll agree, an understatement.

In the years that followed, people's the external life changed rapidly. Electricity, railroad, roading, and standardized national postal delivery became available. Though we, boys and girls, were largely literate, an American school system was brought in. Samurai were forced to cut hair and forbidden to carry swards, (their social class itself disestablished, to use the current lingo), Western clothes became available, ballroom dancing was the fad of the aristocrats and the powerful. And there were heaps of funny stories among the regular folks, like mistaking soap for this new healthy food called cheese, or eating bread dough before baking.

Taisho Era (1912-26) and early Showa (1926-89) were when the mindset started to change. Labor and Feminist movements sprouted. The two were not unrelated because both were triggered by the treatment of young female textile workers; the former tried to improved working conditions while the latter tried to improve women's education opportunities and get them out of the mills. The other big part of our labor movement was the still-feudal conditions of farmers. (Women's suffrage didn't come until 1946, under the Allied Occupation.) Things Western began to infiltrate folks' homes.

Suffice it to say, by the time Tanizaki wrote the essay, the novelty of Western technology was wearing out in some quarters and nostalgia crept in.

(One point I tend to forget is that in this era, men, especially a best-selling writer, were allowed/expected/congratulated for being "frank", including (especially?) their misogynism.)

The tone of the essay is "unadulterated curmudgeon". He declares he doesn't know enough about his chosen subject but opines plenty. And the main theme are: 1) if Western technology weren't forced on the masses, we would have develop technology to suit Japanese aesthetics, 2) everywhere the lighting is too strong, (already in 1933 US and Japan were "wasting" electricity more than any other nation/area;), and 3) Japanese homes, in particular, have been ruined because of lighting. He sites examples of how our architecture, art/craft, clothing, theater, and makeup were designed for candle lights, and how too-bright electric lighting is reducing the enjoyment of life. True to form, he even covers sexual attraction; it decreases in light. 

For example, gold used in textiles or art was meant to highlight a small area and call attention to the work seen in the dark. We didn't have many windows, but extremely wide eaves, so houses and public buildings were light only around the edges and dark further inside even during the day. Therefore, we used movable screens where you might expect walls. And every aspect of Japanese life, not just art/craft, must be seen in that light. As it were.

What alarmed me were translations/interpretations of some key words. I've been using the word "dark" as a shorthand, for example, but the original word, "in-ei" is complicated; the first dictionary definition is "the part that is not lit", but the second definition is "nuance", as it is understood shadows/dark is not uniform, never in one value or "shade", but comes always in gradation. We may even perceive this more readily than the gradation in light; we sometimes use this word to mean "value" or three-dimentionality, even.

As opposed to some of the critiques, Japanese do not "prefer imperfection"; the notion of "perfection" (especially an absolute one, or a standard,) doesn't come into play. Life is about interpretation/preferences, is subjective, (therefore he is allowed to opine,) and at best we can group them, (e.g. Western vs Japanese.) When we think of things Japanese, it's a loose set of common understanding shared by people who were born to Japanese parents and grew up in Japan. Common sense shared by people living on those isle, the details of which should never require discussion or questioning because by definition we, and nobody else, already know them.

His descriptions of "current" Japan or "the West" are "too bright", "too uniform", too immediate, therefore lacking in nuance and taste. In contrast the Japan he prefers is nuanced, subtle, and requires time and observation to be appreciated. To say we prefer "imperfection", something that is not perfect, expressed in English, makes us sound a soft kind of charitable people taking pity and/or out looking for the damaged, when all it is we prefer the not obvious.

In the end he cautions us against Colonialism, (even though politically we were not a colony,) and the purpose of his essay was to remind the Japanese to slow down and not imitate the West without questioning, a very common theme in Japanese non-fiction, leading to nostalgia about Japan that may or may not have existed. 

If you read an essay in a similar vein written around 1933, say, by a best-selling male writer in his 50's, about your culture, would you think it represents the sentiments of you or your compatriots now? I don't like the West over-romanticizing Japan; it's lazy academia/journalism. But as long as you know a grumpy curmudgeon wrote this between the two big wars, it's a hilarious read. I need to read my copy, and four other essays in the same volume, a few more times, and get a hold of the English version.

Very coincidentally, Ben just started watching "The Twilight Samurai" (2002); I assume Tanizaki would approve the depiction of the interior. Even on the sunniest days, Japan's sun is never as bright as, say, Nelson.


Tanizaki's "In Praise of Shadows" in English can be found here. Caution: some/much content/s may offend. (I haven't read the translation yet.)

Original Japanese text can be found here

Okakura Tenshin's "Book of Tea", written in English by him in 1906 can be downloaded from here. Having been written soon after and amidst the drastic changes, I understand he is not as "victimized" by Westernization. I haven't read this either, but will.

Internet, Ugh.

The up-and-down-ness continues. I've felt like deleting everything of mine on the Internet, that I'm making myself way more vulnerable to my own paranoia than receiving satisfaction from sharing and friendship. I know I expose too much, far more than warranted by therapeutic benefits.

I found this photo cropped and my name deleted and used in this blog post and spent about 13 hours on the roller-coaster. After some search I found his email address and asked to delete the pic, (after weighing it against asking credit/link for the pic,) which he did, but without a hint of apology, and that he bothered to crop my name out said a lot. I learned that, to me, theft of photos on the Internet is not about the photos, because unlike the theft of, say, a camera, I don't loose access to my photos. It's more about the blatant defiance of protocol; I felt like this man walked into my house, with his shoos on, walking around leaving dirt on the carpet, lifting our stuff and generally defiling our private space.

And so far this blog has been hit the worst; not so much, that I have discovered, Flickr or Facebook. so I thought of limiting the audience of this blog, but it got to be too complicated. A clean sweep would suit me better.  (I'll give you a warning if I decide on a wipe out.)

Then I receive a little present like this, don't I? I feel all fuzzy and warm. And the pleasure far outweighs the fear.
Thank you, Gail Gondek and Fog and members of New York Guild of Handweavers , NYC, and Jocky Hollow Weavers Guild, NJ.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Too Too Inside Myself? - Part 2

I wasn't finished. No, I'm not writing about the doubts, what I think I should exhibit, blah, blah, blah.

Last week I had to go for another hearing test, because in June I experienced sporadic periods of radio and TV and traffic noise echoing in my head, culminating in my having to ask Mr Softspoken (aka Ben) to tone down. I draw the line at Ben being too loud; I knew I had to go see the doc, who suggested I get a hearing test in the first instance to see if it has deteriorated. Anyhow, no deterioration and no mechanical problems as far as the audiologist could see. But this being the third or fourth time in four years at this practice, she knows my problems in that department. 

She knew I had sleeping problems due to tinnitus for several years, how easily I startle with loud noises, and the difficulties I have with simultaneous multiple conversations. She knows I like quiet in my house and use audio books, radio, and music to shut out outside noise as much as to listen to them. She wondered if June's episode was psychological.  

Anyhow, this is what she told me.

Human ears adjusts their sensitivity according to the surroundings. At a rock concert, for example, they automatically turn the volume down so you don't hear the full blast; in a quiet room, they increase the volume so you can hear smaller sounds like the clock ticking or a car door slamming in the distance. When the environment is too quiet, your ears apparently make up noise to, as it were, fill in the void. So she told me to keep National Radio or Discworld on and don't go after absolute quiet. 

And if I don't see the connection with my hibernation/socialization continuum, well...

OK, over and out. Ice cream time.

Too Too Inside Myself?

Being introspective is somewhere I aim for and work hard to stay in, but I'm not sure if it's working to my advantage at the moment. I feel a little selfish/self-absorbed, (would you differentiate these two?) totally paranoid, and a little too up-and-down.

In 2006/07/08 when I prepared for my solo show and the super busy 16 months that ensued, even though I had periods of frustration, worry, and spurts of pure boredom, I had a clear vision of what needed doing, so the ride wasn't as emotionally taxing.

For the October exhibition, however, I am but 20% of the group, and I worry how others perceive if I asked/proposed/wrote this-or-that, or contacted so-and-so. Most things are discussed via email or in meetings, but even then I have a hard time discerning if we had indeed agreed on issues from time to time. And sometimes it's their way of telling me to go with whatever I like. I just can't be sure.

Today I had to submit a short editorial piece for Art News New Zealand. My perception is, along with Art New Zealand, it is the premier art publication in this country, and though my email communication with Editor Dan has been lovely and I've felt protected, it was time to put on the Big Girl pants and write like a grown-up.

I started working on the short piece, (250-300 words plus one or two pics,) for about a month, and had earlier decided I'd focus on the group's membership and the diversity within it, but write like an outsider. Groups made up of people from all over the world is not rare in New Zealand, but I didn't want to misrepresent the 80% by describing someone's creative process, (especially because two of us still haven't got cogent trains of thoughts on where we are or how we got here,) and to my knowledge there are no work completed and mounted at this time, (though I've seen many in the making over the months.) And the suggestion to make this not "just another" exhibition was what stood out in the magazine's submission guideline.

I checked half a dozen online dictionaries looking for synonyms for "experience" and definitions of "extend" and many other words. Numbers trip me as, in Japanese, we don't specify them, though there are ways to indicate them. Counting vs collective nouns trip me, too, though I'm fussy about "fewer" vs "less". And the killer is "a/an" vs "the" vs neither. 

And then there is the unsmall matter of word choices. We examined a few words, terms and concepts to the molecular level in our meetings and I remembered to use some of them. But talking about feeling like a 16-wheeler truck crossing Lake Superior in too-late spring! In the end I shied away from some of the "arty-farty, if you'll excuse my jargon," as suggested by Editor Dan, as I wasn't selling a corporate mission statement.

In about the third hour, I was more worried about Strands member concurring than Editor Dan or the readers of the magazine, and I was shouting, "Why is an ESL (English-as-Second-Language [speaker]) writing this?".

I gave Editor Dan permission to do with it whatever he liked, and he replied that at first glance it needs tweaking here and there, but possibly nothing major.

Gee, I wasn't planning to blog about the article. I was going to write a paragraph about my doubts vs slow but steady progress with sampling, and the ease of practical decisions. You wouldn't believe if I told you for days I had a hard time getting the article a word over 179, would you? Earlier today Pat had a look at a version and hers was a little under 210.  

This post, up to the previous paragraph, is 624 words. Oh, dear.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Textiles in Museums

I admire people who painstakingly preserve/maintain/restore textiles in museums, but I sense I've long held textiles, (at least in the garment context,) to be functional therefore far more personal, (in the sense they need to belong to (a) person/s and surround a human body,) and die and morph into something else when they are incarcerated in collections. I feel sad to see clothes in glass cases, undisturbed, temperature- and humidity-controlled, so displaced. I remember physically reeling back when I saw this outfit/costume (bottom photo) a couple of years ago. The two words I chose to describe the same garment already reflects the transition, at least in my perception, from "in-that-particular-family" to "staged".

In the Gender& Identity book, an article by Professor (?) Barbara Layne of Kansas/South Carolina/Quebec used an exhibition she hosted in 1996 called "Electronic Textiles: Hacking the Museum", as part of her larger thesis presented at the European Textile Conference that year. The exhibition was based on items in the collection of the then Marsil Museum in Quebec, but held in Glass Box Gallery in Manchester, UK. This section of the article questions the integrity, (I think I'm not wrong in summarizing aspects of her thoughts into this one word,) of each piece when classified and stored away in a museum. Her concerns started with the short, dry descriptions on museum cards, (based on which her selected the items for the exhibition without first seeing them;) then the electronic transfer of highly polished photographs of these items, (and the Beam-me-up-Scotty-ness of Internet data transfers,) and finally the tableau vivant "recreation" of the items by students in the gallery.

This exhibition alone, (with other points/quotes,) is posted as a Textile Society of America Symposium presentation in 1998 (?) here. The first four links on the left here shows the exhibition in Manchester.

"Captured textiles" is what I got out of these articles in the first instance, but also what is real/original,  the old "stuff" in the museum, the polished electronic photographs, or the students' textile work. If you are so inclined, you could consider the exhibition in the construction/deconstruction/reconstruction context.

C'est tout.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Pillars" Draft Draft

By which I mean, far-from-the-final-version draft, and V1 at that.

I'm trying to get used to weaving hideously sticky wool warp, this width, and this shuttle, again; testing different weft width and combination, (four combinations in whites; will decide after wet-finished;) checking the scale of the design, and looking for threading mistakes.

I am satisfied with the colors, (very little hue, though it looks sepia here;) the dull/shine contrast; the scale vs the details, i.e. viewing from distance vs closer up, (the sample is 63.5cm on the loom); and the direction I'm going overall, though I couldn't avoid having to have floating selvedges. I'm frustrated with the number of threading mistakes I made, but glad on paper the number match, i.e. I found homes for the three "extra" warp ends. (And why are mistakes always in the in-between shafts? In this case on 7, 8, and 9!)


I finished threading the "Pillars" warp at long last yesterday morning. It'd been a dusty and trying chore, and I realized I'd had a slight cold, with slight fever-induced aches. These had puzzled me because I don't get limb aches from threading.  Anyhoo, it's done. Except I have three extra warps; the network twill progressing mostly in groups of three ends, I assume I skipped a step somewhere which should become evident in the sampling. I hope.

I only have some early stages of sample drafts but no final ones. And I haven't finalized the weft combination yet, either. Sampling different ways of washing/fulling/pressing should be interesting, too. I'm giving most of the coming week for these tasks.

I've been reluctant to move ahead with this project because I feel lost. (I've actually been having great old giggles picturing a fat 3-year-old moving in slow motion because Mommy told her to hurry!)  I felt progressively less excited about "Pillars" as it becomes real; I don't think this is going to be a particularly "pretty" project and I don't feel as enthusiastic about it as other Strands member feel about their projects. Part of me is wondering what it is I want to weave, and the sane part of me is pushing me to keep going because at least I'll have something in the exhibition, as opposed to nothing. Pat said she's working on her current piece in the same manner, not asking herself any questions. And the theory is, if I get the darned Pillars woven, I'll have time to weave something I like better.

I've been skipping from one book to another, but sticking with the Gender & Identity book, which turned out to be really readable in most parts, (and not overwhelmingly about genders,) a Thames & Hudson Australia's pretty volume on weaver Liz Williamson, (click here and entire "Liz Williamson: Textiles" in the title search,) and the NZ Gardener's old special issue about growing flowers.

Liz Williamson's book in particular has highlighted how much I envy people who have come to weaving earlier in life. I don't regret most things in my life, the choices I made, but I keep wishing I had come to weaving earlier in life, as you know, and most recently, (I can't remember what triggered me but it was something tiny that happened while threading the darned gray warp,) I wished I could be 44 again. It doesn't have to be 44, it could be 40 or even 47, but just far enough to my pre-many-bodily problems era, so that I could have perfected (??) some aspects of my weaving before body problems took over; that I could have been ahead of where I am now before now. I don't often think of how old I am chronologically; they don't limit me to behave in certain ways as it might if I lived in Japan, but that I can't weave seven hours a day now, that it takes me longer to learn new things but an instant to forget even old things, frustrate me. And the wacky part of me keep hoping I'll stumble upon a magical mysterious herbal cure that makes me 44 again.

Her book points out, like a giant female finger from the heavens, how I've become rather blind to the things I have had in my life, that I am indeed turning into an old, envious hag. And how I always seem to focus on (the lack of) travel opportunities. That and my destination addiction ought to give some psychologist an interesting case study! 

Meanwhile, I shall go get the loom ready for some sampling.

I wonder how old I have to be to feel comfortable in my own skin!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hit by Reality

Last night soon after we went to bed we had a wee earthquake. Ben said he felt the house rolling, which turned out to be how the press described it. Me, I didn't feel it as much as wondered why the windows were rattling. I suspect it was Mag 3 at best here; it was a 7 where it happened but around 350 meters deep in the sea, so not a big deal on the ground, even though it was felt in about three-quarters of New Zealand.

While turning on the TV, radio, laptop and Ben's work smartphone, we assembled an evac pack, and regretted not having done it in spite of everything happening in Christchurch and Japan, and always talking about it. We always had a pack in Japan, and earlier in Nelson, too, but I dispersed the contents one year while cleaning out my closet where it sat, and never reassembled. Which is crazy-silly considering our house sits on a different plate than the center of Nelson.

So I'll be doing that this morning. Though I don't know the specifics about last night's event, (and there is amazingly little media coverage in NZ; in Japan every channel would be analyzing/predicting with graphs/illustrations/3D models,) if this a precursor to something bigger, we'll be OK for a day or so, and if it turns out last night's jolt was a one off, at least we know we'll have a pack in my closet. And when we update the content, we can such on the old hard candy and laugh about it.

My immediate questions is: backpack or a small wheely suitcase? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thank You, Thank You!!

Whether you see it as 2H12 or 3Q12, it's July, and I'd like to thank all of you who sent me your one yard (or more) of yarns and for the guest posts on why we weave. I appreciate them all.

Last week I gardened n the morning and threaded the "Pillars" warp - hideously sticky wool that requires, first of all, one weak hayfever pill in the morning!  But I'm 1/5threaded; by the end of today, I hope to have 2/5 done.

We've had very early winter weather, very cold for Nelson and wet, so there hasn't been much gardening happening since the weekend, but all in good time. I'm also growing sprouts inside; it's something I used to do a bit in college but there are so many different kinds of seeds available now it's been fun.

I did pretty badly trying to finish my Junk Mail Artist's Book. I have little imagination and got totally stuck. Even doodling, let alone drawing, is not a natural activity for me and I think I need to practice; I don't like how I can't seem to mix paint to make colors I like, either. I need to practice that, too? But I have an idea; in good time, I'd like to try some of the JMAB techniques and create a tiny book of faces and human figures, but not linking lines and shapes of multiple pages. Just for fun. Soft of related to my self-portrait theme.