2013 was an unusual year. A stash-load of sadness, regrets and good ideas coming too late with Dad's passing aside, Ben my Rock notwithstanding, I appreciate the rest of my family anew. Sure, they aren't as lovey-dovey as I like; they see me as a mildly-demented aging hippie; and they are so busy, with their own work and family lives, but also plain Japanese busy-ness. But they are reliable when it counts, and we can laugh together. I am thankful for them.

I may envy others' luck, opportunities, or experiences, but I have everything I need to do what I want to do right here, right now. I still covet knowledge, but I have ideas on how to get this.

Recently Ben and I watched a film called "Searching for Sugar Man". I don't want to tell you too much about it, because it's one intriguing and enjoyable watch. What I found awe-inspiring was the Sugar Man's composure, "grounded" as described one of his daughters, the ability not to let factors outside oneself topple one's balance. I am going to look for that kind of peace within, and once found, hold on to it. I'm starting this tomorrow.

Thank you for your company in 2013; I look forward to our 2014. 


Sampling is the Best Part

I don't think I've ever sampled 30+ wefts for one warp, though you know, I might have; this project was becoming a color conundrum, but I think I've reached a decision. These samples include yarns I don't have enough of to weave a whole piece, so some of the best-suited wefts are not available, but I'm thinking of one of the darker reds (a) for the longer draft and one of the greeny indigos (b) for the rounder draft. After a little more tweaking of the drafts.

One color I really liked was the glittering orange silk (c) but that's a stiff thread and the resultant cloth cancels out the softness of the cashmere-mix warp, so I have a different plan for this thread.
One of the difficulties with this warp was that the two sides look so different in different lights. To recap, one half consists of Red(dark)+Orange, while Red(light)+Pink makes up the other, the two reds being the same color but from different dye lots. The Red(dark) and the Orange are close in value but ever-so-slightly different in hue; I think the Red(light) and the pink are darned close in hue but quite different in value.

In brighter sun or under florescent lights, the R+O half is wonderfully saturated and yummy while the R+P half looks slightly faded, but in the evenings or when cloudy, the R+P half is ever so nuanced and rich and interesting while the R+O side looks too straight-forward. I hope my weft choices will look interesting all around, but they also feel like the two least bad ones.

* * * * *

It rained a little yesterday. Though other Nelsonians may tell you we have had rain over the last several weeks, they lasted between 10 seconds and 20 minutes, followed by hours and days of strong wind, so we needed prolonged and not-torrential rain for the soil. This morning we have had mist descending, in between bright sun, Unfortunately, in other parts of the country, we had floods! Watching the recap of 2013 in the news last night, I learned New Zealand had at least as dramatic and extreme weather as Japan this year. As I know many of you did. Nelson appeared twice in the short footage.

* * * * *

Sister just texted me to say she's going to Mom's to dismantle and pack the looms. It would have been me taking pics and marking all the pieces and Ben taking them apart and packing if we were there. She's keeping as much weaving equipment and yarns as possible, and definitely all the books.

In between their busy family lives, Sister and Brother have been spectacular helping Mom prepare for her move and she's been the envy of her friends. May 10 next year would have marked our 44th anniversary at that family home, but she's moving in less than two week, four months short of the anniversary. So while everybody is feeling the rush, I'm the only one feeling a sad and sentimental about all the changes, even though I lived in that house for the shortest time, about 13 years, I didn't particularly like the train line it was on, nor, really, the house itself. I just like being home especially when the rest of the troop were all there. 


Yeah, Let's Do It!

A Day in the Life of Looms 2014 is on. Take pics of your loom/s on New Year's Day, (one per loom), post and send me links to your blog posts by the end of Jan 1, 2014 your time. Here's what we did in 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010. And promise me you won't laugh, no matter what I post.



Last night, I couldn't sleep, so I rocked myself in the hammock watching late night cop shows. Ummmm, yes, we have a hammock in our living room during summer; years ago when we bought it we first assembled it in the living room, and ever since it lives in living room during summer and is stored it away in winter.

Anyhoo, I thought I felt something akin to drowsiness, so I went to bed, where promptly I found myself wide awake. After a while Ben stirred so I told him what happened, and he laughed claiming I'm like a baby! Oh well. Perhaps. He went promptly back to sleep and I about half an hour later.
I've been working on the Sketchbook Project sketchbook. I think in the Mixed Media/Art Journal speak, I've done most of the backgrounds, but it's pretty intense; as with writing and drawing, I never know when is the right time to stop and when I need to work more. I didn't like what I did last year I don't even have one photo from it, and can't remember what I did. Of the choices of themes this year:
  • Strange Neighbors
  • Borders and lines
  • A simple place
  • Accidents
  • Found!
  • Dudes and latitudes
  • To the last page!
  • First aid kit
  • Say words out loud
  • Paper airplanes
  • This list...
  • Atlas of...
  • Greetings from…
  • 32 Days
  • This is not about you
  • This is not about me
  • Undecided
I'm going with Strange Neighbors, which is me, the non-gardener. But as usual my contents don't adhere to the theme, and more like a non-sense book. My only goal is to make the pages interesting-looking.
Ah, the sample. It's still wet, being just out of a spinning cycle, so the colors are not accurate and in the photo I can't see the orange and pink halves too well. But here's the thing: I'm not crazy about the pink being lighter in value than the other three, and while working under florescent lights I didn't want to call too much attention to the difference in values of the two halves, but more hint at it. The right value for the weft has been my main concern, and the draft needs further fine-tuning, but I'm looking forward to the sample drying.

Mom's moving into her apartment in a fortnight. 


There is So Much Dr Who on the Telly, It Must be Christmas!

This spring/summer has been windy, but Christmas Day was an Oz-and-Back-Again doozy. I made two pillow cases for Ben's new super-sized, high-tech foam pillow out of an old flannel sheet; I have goodflannelphilia and severe misobadflannelpathy. Buoyed by getting two more or less rectangular bags using the selvedges to maximum advantage, I sorted my large-but-not-unreasonable fabric stash dreaming up other possible sewing projects. Brave. Even daring.

But since the Sketchbook Project sketchbook needs posting no later than January 15, I think I'll work on that today. Unless Ben wants to go tease the Boxing Day sales in town. We need a king-size duvet cover; we got one last week, until I noticed I was trying to put a freshly-laundered queen-size cover on a king-size blanket; though our bed is queen, we've always had two king blankets, no queens, so I don't know what came over me, but this kind of mistake/confusion makes me feel terribly old and stupid.

Delete incident. Fun link.

Today would have been my parents' 58th anniversary. Dad was the hopeless romantic; Mom ever the pragmatist. Mom put up a lot with Dad's idiosyncrasies, he demanded much in his last two decades, but I always thought Dad loved Mom more. I should have said so to him. I understood Dad perhaps very well because we were so alike, but I didn't tell him because I thought he knew. Even if he did, I think it would have been nice for me to say and for him to hear, as it would have been vice versa.

Hear me up there? 


The Night Before the Day After

We started Christmas a little early. We had coffee and panattone for breakfast, and truffle pecorino omelet with dark greens and cherry tomato for lunch. Pecorino smelled wonderful, but we didn't "get" the fuss over truffles; we may need to experience them in a different format next time. And Ben made me fluffy lime cheesecake; that is, cheese is fluffed up, not the lime. 

It's been a cool, cloudy day in Nelson. Some Kiwis call this gloomy, but except for the midday blinding sun, it's my next best thing to a winter's day. We've been promised rain for some days but 30 seconds last night and three minutes this afternoon is about all we had. Perhaps a little more overnight after Santa's visit.

I looked inside three boxes of VHS tapes that sat in the corner of the living room for, I was going to say half a dozen but probably closer to, a dozen years; I've meant to dispose them all these years, save the one or two of my nephews and one documentary on two weaver brothers from Kyoto. (We still have a working VHS and a record players all hooked up.) It turns out I had six from my sister's family, and a little over two wine boxes filled with documentaries, samurai shows and Japanese comic shows Dad recorded for me in the 90's, all with TOC in his tiny handwriting, some with evaluations, and two with notes in big letters: "Skip hh:mm ~ hh:mm; it's worthless; don't waste your life." Typical. He really did love doing little things for us.

I'm not ready to biff them so I asked Ben to keep the VHS player, and we're storing the two wine boxes in the storage under the stairs; next step, tidying and culling the contents of that storage. But we are making progress. I put up a To Do list for the next couple of weeks on the fridge; lots to do, but most are very tiny things. And we are playing and relaxing a lot, too.

And I finished assembling my W2W2 envelopes. They can go out on the 27th, I think, when the post office reopens.

'Tis the Season to be Grateful

For friends, family, plentiful food; colors, textures, dare I say stashes; health for those who have it, sympathy to without; peace for those who live in it, prayers and meaningful help for those who live in conflict; and lest we forget, for books, knowledge, and the Internet.

Let's all take a moment to reflect, and then resume throwing our shuttles.


No Pre-Christmas Rush for B&M

It's almost Christmas, is it? Well, at the relaxed Chez Nakagawa in super laid-back Nelson in casual New Zealand, we are outdoing ourselves in not doing anything much special. For example, berry picking is an iron-clad must any other year, but in the interest of avoiding crowd and stress this year, we are going a little after the Christmas rush. But fret not; we went to the fish monger, the supermarket, and the Italian specialty store and stocked up on treats.
We have a wee slice of panettone with coffee every morning at least until Epiphany Day; one is never enough but we took the small car so we shall return to the store after Christmas. Ben likes caffè corretto, (always with grappa,) so we got this aged bottle. And a first for both of us, pecorino with truffles to go into scrambled eggs or omelets to be made by Ben.

So, not not-special, but a little different from our usual berries-bubbles-and-cookbooks-in-bed. Oh, we have bubbles, and we have one new cookbook this season, but a few I got earlier in the year, and a couple of gardening books I want to get stuck into. (Yeah, ha ha ha, I really should get stuck into dirt, right?)

* * * * *
I took off the lining right after I posted a week-plus ago, and rested both cloths overnight. Then I pressed them to "correct" the shapes and sewed them together again. Though the lining is still warped, the bag as a whole isn't, more or less, and what warping remains is where I turned back (?) and adhered the two ends of the outside fabric on itself.

I've also been reminded how much I love to weave with my 2/20 cottons; these yarns cooperate with me, and as long as I don't do anything silly, they never break. So, more to come next year. 

After some twist and turns, three not-Layarya pieces were delivered to the Suter, and before Andrea had a chance to talk to me or put then in the system and price them, someone wanted the bottom green one, and it was sold on the spot as a Christmas present from a husband to wife. I feel grateful.

"Doni's" red warp is almost threaded. Funny story, I pondered for some weeks whether to make it just red and orange all the way, (the two colors are very close in value but slightly different in hue,) or to make it half-and-half with a red and pink combination, (these two are vastly different in values.) In the interest of weaving something interesting to myself I went with the latter. I started threading from the red and pink end, which was a cinch, but the red and orange half has been, er..... a b1+ch; I can't see the difference in hue under halogen or florescent lights and the room is light enough for me to detect the difference for only a few hours a day, so I had to quit Friday night with about 80 to go and haven't managed to go downstairs at the right time of the day. I hope to get this done really soon because I'm dying to sample this warp.

A friend told me she wanted to buy my drawing, (????? !!!) so I went to see if I still had it; while I searched I found this series of quick drawings we did one time; I loved this session and never forgot about it, but I can't remember what the instructions were. Anyway, it appears I used my fingers and ink to capture the essence of different pauses in a jiffy. I want to do something like this again.

* * * * *

Lovely Brother found an apartment for Mom, in the exact building she wanted, about 7- (Ben and Brother) to 18- (me) minutes walk from his house, and about 40 min from my sister's place. She's never lived in an apartment before so she had quite a list of conditions and I did not think Brother could meet them all, but he held out and came across one that met all her criteria. Boy, she's a lucky woman! She thinks it's too big, but wait until she tries to fit all the looms and the yarns. Though it's almost twice the apartment we had when we first got married, she'll see it's not too big for her. She's moving in Jan, but we have possession of the house until the end of Feb, so she doesn't have to rush the final culling, and Fabulous Sister and Nephew #2 is helping so I don't have to make a quick trip which I was prepared for. (Nephew #1 has university entrance exams in Dec/Jan/Feb.)

* * * * *

I've had crazy-disrupted sleep for several weeks now; some days I can sleep straight for 20 hours and others I'm wide awake for longer. I try to regulate my life by not napping and going to bed at a reasonable hour but it's not working, and I think it'd help if I exercised more but whenever I can I've been tidying the inside of the house. Some days I wondered if I was sick because I just couldn't wake up, but it's more likely the body is making up for the crazy year that was 2013. I'm not too worried. And some nights I even catch fab doco reruns, so no panic.


Doni's Bag

We saw the tutorial. We saw her collection. We saw what you all made. I even had a personal tutorial. And this is why I'm the slowest weaver; it's been five years since her post, but I made one, today.

And by popular vote, the lining is the kiwi fabric!!
It took me a while to get my head around the construction, so I made a paper mock up. Then I saw the most difficult issue was the proportions: width vs. height, the height of the bag vs of the handle. I could only weave 25-40cm of 2/20 cottons a day, so I made the mockup roughly the same width as the fabric and played with the proportion and concluded I needed 1.8m so I wove 1.84m.
This is what I saw for a few days at the end of the hallway as I modified the proportion of the cloth version. From the start I wanted a shorter, stubbier version, but with a handle I could still sling over my shoulder. The mockup was perfect, but with the onerous cotton weaving, I also wanted to show the maximum length of the fabric, which came out mysteriously and considerably longer than the mockup. I really need to relearn how to use a tape measure.

I've never learned how to line things properly and I only understand the logic but not the practice, so it was always going to be a long shot getting the lining right. Because the handwoven fabric has a lot of gaps, I put the fusible interfacing on the back of the Kiwi fabric. The lining, (Kiwi & fusible,) was so out of shape and much too hard in contrast to the woven fabric, attaching it distorted the shape of the woven bag. I think I'll disengage the lining and stitch it on once more tonight, and if that doesn't fix the distortion, I shall make another lining, (in the reindeer,) without the fusible interfacing and stitch it on.   

I had been concocting a cunning plan to make simple bags out of my warp end fabrics, but I feel so unconfortable about sewing this plan is most definitely shelved for now. But I'm becoming quite the Bag Lady this year.

* * * * *

I really did not enjoy class on Friday. The model came 25 minutes late, and Ronette seemed distracted,; those kind of things really annoy me. And I annoyed Ronette in return because I work messily, and use too much ink. But I wash my hands instead of wearing gloves, because the combination of cornstarch and latex globes make my hands feel very strange.
The intention of the left piece was to print another image so I could print another figure on the right, but I should have used a lighter ink or drew with pale-colord ink for the second image and I was too annoyed to think calmly. But Ben and I like this kind of composition. The piece on the right, I employed former-classmate Margaret's methods: when all else fails, use the wrong hand. That's the only piece I really like from yesterday. 

* * * * *

I find threading to be the ultimate test of my multifocal lens prescription. Gulp.


The Couch in the Front Hallway is Gone

Our weight-scale shows numbers 1.5 (Ben) -1.8 (me) kgs lighter compared the numbers on our doctor's office scales, (I tried two!), so the wee bit extra I thought I had lost since coming home from Japan is still on me. Such a crushing discovery, though I had the sneaky suspicion...

* * * * * 

I enjoyed collaging the other day as much as I did in Japan. I think of collaging often, but can't get started as light-heartedly as I used to. I'm overwhelmed by the amount of material I saved over the years. So I used only a subset this time; I looked only at material from which I had already cut something out and if I didn't find anything attractive, I threw it away; if I found something attractive I cut those out, then threw the rest away. That was a good move.

* * * * *

Funny story about my Not-Laharya-turned-Albatross project; it's self-inflicted. I'll share with you the draft of what's going into my tiny swing tag insert:

"Dad died in May 2013 and I spent four months with Mom sorting the house for her move. One job she insisted I tackle was culling photos; my parents travelled extensively in their 60’s and 70’s and there were no less than fifty travel photo albums alone. Mom reminisced a little, but our conversation invariably ended on the one tour to India Dad missed due to low numbers. Then we would proceed upstairs to discuss textiles she collected on her three other trips to India. This series was inspired by one of them.

"In healthier days Dad helped Mom winding new skeins and leftover wefts into neatly-wound balls, every one weighed, labelled and a short piece of white cotton tied to the end. He also made tiny, tight knots. Weavers take out the knots from handweaving so there are no hard bumps in the woven cloth, but while making this warp with Mom’s yarns, I did not have the heart to take out Dad’s knots. So this piece has his knots in the cloth. As this piece ages, some of the knots may become visible, or more noticeable in the cloth."

This is the biggest part of the reason I contacted Jill in Santa Fe instead of sending her the pieces as I usually do; I felt the description in the tag would be more suitable for exhibition blurb/piece and not on merchandise. You can't feel them at this point by wearing or wrapping your neck and shoulders in them; I can see only one knot in all four pieces. But Jill agreed. And that made me feel sad.  Which shouldn't because we're on the same page.

Then I thought to create a tiny Pop-Up shop on this blog/website and put these, and some others, there, except taking photographs, writing descriptions and inserting PayPal buttons seemed like so much work I dithered. Then Suter informed artists to bring additional work for their shop, if we wanted to, before Andrea goes on holiday, so I discussed this with Andrea, and she thought as long as I made it clear, it would probably be alright. So it looks like I'm auditioning three of the Not-Laharya pieces next week.

What do you think about my knots? What would you do?

But I like the idea of my Pop-Up shop here. I want to weave experimental, (for me, you understand,) and one-off pieces that may or may not suit the galleries. Or just because I want folks to have it. So I'll have to work on it some time in the near future. Nah, not worried about missing pre-Chrismas; I don't have enough stock.

* * * * *

Wouldn't it be nice if we could weave, oh, at one-tenth the speed we concoct ideas and projects? Or even one-twentieth? I have so many things I want to weave but manage to put about one-one-hundredth on the loom. I've been more than a little annoyed about my slowness of late.

* * * * *

Crisis: which leftover swatch would you use as lining for the trill fabric? At first I thought the dark red at the bottom, no contest; then Ben started his "Kiwi! Kiwi!" chant ; now I'm thinking reindeer isn't bad, either.

Triona's Scarf

Triona said to post away any pics, so here they are. Two-and-a-half years since the piece was ordered, it is finally in the box. It's another record speed, (i.e. fast,) for me, but I sincerely appreciate my clients' patience. I hope it was worth it, because I think it's a rather nice piece with uplifting colors and a delicate-from-a-distance draft.
The draft is a variation of this one, so I expected to see horizontal, if not diagonal, patterns/movement, but I like the "dangling earrings" like motif. Tell me I'm not the only one who sees them?

EDIT: I post a lot of closeup pics of my work because I find them easy to photograph, but as part of my quality control I play around with each trying to imagine it being worn around a 3D body and in motion. I took a rare picture of those experimentations, so here is a facsimile of this piece being worn by a human person.



The cotton warp is done. I like Triona's piece; it looks different in different lights, but I particularly like it when the blue designs lifts off the background like danging earrings. The selvedge is problematic, and my hemming technique has much to be desired, though. (I'll post a bigger pic after she's received the piece.)
I don't like my fabric for my project. I chose the weft color because I liked it in the sample (bottom, below), and used the twill draft because I made it but hadn't used it and expected it to weave quickly and easily; it turned out to be excruciatingly boring and the weft makes the cloth looks dark and in disharmony. I should have gone with the squary draft. But stay tuned for the project. 
Some time ago my yarn source asked me to sample a yarn, and I did this at the end of this warp. As control sample, I did a bit of the twill with the same 2/20 in white. And look! Christmasy!!
So it wasn't all a waste.

This is a silk scarf from Myanmar Mom bought me in Japan some years ago; she knew I'd go goo goo gah gah over the grays. And of course I have.
For many moons I've looked at cotton like these,
and dreamt of weaving with silk like these,
So imagine my surprise, when I found myself making this warp as the first inspired by the scarf. Doni's cashmere glided onto the warp beam; so smooth, so lovely. And in case you can't tell, (weird weather today,) it's half red-and-orange, and half red-and-pink, and the red came from two dye lots so are ever-so-slightly different. I'm using a subset of the Pillars drafts for two pieces from this warp; at least that's the plan at the moment.
Until I took a pick of the scarf on the couch, I had thought it was in two colors split down the middle. When I admire something so much, I revere them too much to look at them closely, I know.


These Days

I weave ever so little of River of Fire every day; today I managed 42cm but it might have been too much; I need another 34cm or so, and then there is about a meter left of the warp to make a warp end swatch.
I monoprint on Fridays. Catherine said there is a certain anger in my work; Maureen said my women have attitude. I like monoprint because there is a point-of-no-return beyond which I can't change anything, and I never know how it's going to turn out until I put it though the press. Sadly this week is the last session for this year, but Ronette is teaching a week-long workshop at the end of January, where we get to draw from 9AM to 4PM. I'm already signed up.
I've done some collage postcards; I've also started my W2W2 envelopes and my Sketchbook Project sketchbook, but I have not started on my tax returns.
These are becoming a bit of an albatross, for reasons I shall tell you soon. I also had another great idea, but I didn't act on it when I should have. I feel indecisive, or slack, or lame.

My sleeping patterns has been totally out of whack; I go to sleep between 10.30 and 11.30PM, read but can't fall asleep, and I'm up again between 2 and 4AM until the birds start chirping, which is around 5AM these days. And then every fortnight or so, I can't seem to wake up and want to sleep, sleep, sleep. Some weekends, I do just that.  

I'm overwhelmed by the mess that is our garden and house. I'm a little overwhelmed by my stash; that's the yarns, art supplies, and the notebooks I've accumulated without my realizing how many I accumulated. The problem is, I haven't used notebooks for several years at the rate I used to; I just use any scrap paper lying around instead.

We have been eating well, though, and without my trying much of anything, I lost a tiny bit of weight in the last year. It's not the regular fluctuation I've always experienced, but a noticeable, in numbers, reduction from my maximum weight I maintained since 1995. So that's good. I wished I could tell where I lost the kilos from, that it's not my scale being out of whack. I've been slack with exercises, but Ben's been doing so well on his machine, every single night, like right now. 
From time to time I've thought of keeping a diary but felt this blog doubles as my diary so I'll most probably be saying the same things in two places. I kept a diary from time to time when I was very young, but I got bored because nothing exciting ever happened in my life, unlike in the books and the films.

But I'm desperate for something to happen next year; perhaps a discovery that I know something, a new direction in my work. Something. I keep repeating the phrase, "I have high hopes for next year," but I'm not sure if it's more the case of desperation. So I bought this and hope to keep my thought for one year. There's room for only four or five lines each day, so I should be able to manage.

My parents' house sold; now Brother and Mom have to find Mom an apartment, preferably very near Brother and she has to move by the end of February. I told her I can be there during Feb if she needed me, but so far she's declined; we both think it'd probably easier if she just hired help and did things her way; I get that.

So things are moving along.


Where is My Thunderstorm You Promised?

So my records are half right; I did dye three warps in walnuts, but not a skinny no-scale merino, it's a fat tweedy unidentified wool.
Because this feels like the Oz merino, but how many ends? Ooops, start over...
And this new-to-me project is a bit confusing... And where are the thunder and lightening you promised?


The Weaver Must be Home

The basement is strewn with cones, skeins and balls.
As is the stash room, which the weaver has called the project room this week.
But the living room?
And front hallway as well?
It's partly because the weaver worked a bit too long on Triona's on Monday, until the left arm started shaking... But not to worry, this shaking seems to be a good warning mechanism these last 18 months; it's not painful, but I just know to quit and take it easy for a few days.
I thought this was a short, two-piece warp, but I made another warp of the same length and measured it, and it was 5.5m, so after I'm done with this second piece, I'd better cut them off and finish Triona's, then weave another piece, or a generous warp-end fabric.

And I'd better work on collages or sketchbook this afternoon. Or read. Or take pictures.