End of Ben's Holiday

Garden Blitz Day 13, Thursday, although I dithered in the morning, I worked for five hours, the last two in the glaring sun, and made a compromised finish on the veg patch; at one point the gales started suddenly as if someone turned a switch on and I couldn't sift the soil so I picked out the biggest clover bulbs only, but a bag or three of local school's fund-raising compost hide a multitude of sins. The problem is, the way I covered everything, new clover babies will surface in a day or two and it will be a continuous battle.

GBD14 & 15, Friday & Saturday: Friday morning was alright, overcast and quiet, but I was totally exhausted and dithered. Then came the rain, wind, bluster, gust and gale, so I slept a lot. I was exhausted. GBD 16, today, started very early with strong wind again and freak rain.I did housework inside. And this is the end of Ben's Garden Blitz holiday; not so blitzy and nothing done inside the house, but still he probably did more garden work this week than in the last two or three years added. 
Not bad, though, for two bags of garlic I thought were compost; the top right quadrant where I put the least hopeful cloves is really thriving. In the gaps are also purple basil, rocket and three types of marigold seeds. I love rocket leaves but for a couple of years we didn't plant them because there were problems with large white butterflies and they love nasturtiums and rockets. I asked the Dept of Conservation staff who makes regular visits when I could plant rockets, and they said I could as long as I checked the leaves regularly.

In the foreground, we had our last harvest of winter broad beans this week and they came out and I put in purple dwarf beans. Beyond the veg patch is the small dianthus patch, and  beyond, in the left, are branches Ben pruned; we didn't used to be able to see the fence.

The ivy area needs at least another whole day, this veg side at least two, plus getting a garden skip and getting rid of the ivy and other weeds we can't compost. The pruned branches are already too dry to put through the mulcher, but if I were to put a positive spin on the wind, they are so dry we can walk over them to break them up soonish.

In an ideal world, I'd live an urban apartment with a roof terrace for pots of plants and floor sturdy and insulated for large looms. My second choice is a flat place with a woodland garden, without power lines and boundaries to worry us. I love trees, and trees left to grow in directions and styles they wish. But we live in the suburbs with power lines overhead, our house smack in the middle of the section, with a right-of-way, a driveway to the house next door, taking up a chunk and cutting off another chunk on the other side in a weird way, (though this is not atypical around here,) on a steep slope.

We have six small sub-areas and a patio as our garden, rather than a nice big chunk. So against my desire, although we don't do it nearly as often as a more conscientious resident might, we have to prune/shape our trees to keep them tidy and not encroach/violate/endanger. For tall trees and near power lines we need professionals, but I do like us doing as much as we can so the trees are shaped in ways we like.

To be continued. As long as we live here, I suppose. 


Another Non-Day

Garden Blitz Day 12. I woke up at dawn thinking it was raining heavily, then went back to sleep without checking. Then about 7, I got up to the usual roaring wind. Even if it had rained, all traces were gone. We checked our emails, ate a good breakfast, checked Facebook repeatedly and read while stupidly expecting the wind to subside. At 1.30PM we finally decided to reconvene between 4 and 5PM to see if we can go outside; at this time of the year it's light enough to garden until around 7.30PM or even later on a fine day; even later further into summer. 

The wind blew and blew and at nearly 9AM it's still going. The evening news said Nelson is having a record dry November and is in drought condition. It's official.

In the afternoon I had intended to rethread and weave, but instead made rice flour, (time-consuming but doable), tapioca flour, (don't bother,) resuscitated the sourdough, made bread, (in the oven now,) made coffee kombucha, and read more about kombucha in general. And watched as much news I could find on Ferguson.

I still have to go water the seedlings, in pots and in the ground, later; evening watering usually happens around 10.30PM in the summer. 

"Didn't garden" posts are lame enough, no picture is terrible, so here are a couple.
Left: a few dianthus flowers I broke while weeding their patch and filling in the gaps with seedlings.
Right: one-quarter of the sweet potato from dinner last night. I put in a dozen viola seeds in this tiny clay pot yonks ago and kept it in the kitchen, and half a dozen packets outside. Nada; haven't seen any of them. So I stuck the "live" part of the sweet potato on the soil; it might need better soil to root, but for now it's a cute decoration. 
Casualties of pruning. I tried cropping this picture in different ways but they are all our babies, I couldn't cut anyone out.

I've been thinking of healthy eating, again. Ben doesn't touch my no-refined-sugar jam, or yogurt, and though disappointing because mine have no additives, I like them and I'll keep making them, just not on regular basis. My jam is nice, if I say so myself, but I eat it too often; I usually eat bread with nothing on it so albeit nutritious, it's extra fructose so maybe occasionally. Ben won't go near my kombucha which suits me; I love it and may need another big jar, though from what I read it's better to let it ferment longer to boost nutrition. The first two brews I left for seven days, and a few days of second ferment, so it's a sweet sparkly drink I'm enjoying, not as vinegary which is better. 

But we have not been too keen on my gluten-free or very-little-gluten breads. Rice flour sourdough is harder to understand and sometimes I feed it wheat flour to give it some energy. I know gluten-free breads are as different from wheat flour breads as soy milk is to cow's, and so far I've produced perhaps one or two nice loaves. It's hard to know when they're baked as they don't give that hollow sound when tapped. Today I included pulverized tapioca for the first time so there may be hope but I think I'll keep the sourdough going until I try proper tapioca flour. Then I might give up.

Ever since I stopped making wheat flour bread, though he eats some commercial bread and we eat pasta and couscous, (occasionally but far less often,) Ben seems to have slimmed down a little without changing anything else. It appeared I was going in the same direction for a while, and certainly experience far fewer indigestion, but with the jam and sweet kombucha, I feel bloated more often now. Darn.

I must keep reading and experimenting.


Day 11 of 16

I had such high hopes for today, Garden Blitz Day 11; it started overcast and cool with precipitation expected in the evening, just our kind of gardening day. I expected I could get the veg patch done and Ben could weed most of the next patch, then we could prune tomorrow, and that's the end of this section which is the easiest part.

Alas, it started raining before lunch. We kept going awhile but it got heavier so Ben went inside for a shower; we were going to the hardware store, again, and the much-needed grocery shopping. By the time Ben came out of the shower the rain stopped, and it was like that for the rest of the day. We ran errands, we had to because we were digging into the last of frozen veg with only onions and garlic left of the stuff. But we forgot milk.

Today I put in three hours before the errand, three on errands, then two more in the garden, but managed only a third of the veg patch; I'm putting the empty part of the veg patch soil through a sieve, (remember my clover problem?)  and that is taking a long time, not the sieving part, but picking out the tiny bulbs and returning the very fine bark pieces back into the soil part.


Ben's home for five more days. At this rate, we would be lucky if we can get these two top parts of the garden done. Forget getting rid of the massive amount of garden waste we can't compost, (weed bulbs, vines, we need a garden skip,) forget the garage, forget any inside job. Just those two little bits. It would have been nice to have one whole day off, perhaps a late lunch and then the cinema, but we had a leisurely first week and this week have been working leisurely, and now we have momentum so we hope to keep this up. 

Weather permitting.
Which is very strange because the view in front of our house and behind us looked like this, actually a little darker, but we didn't get rain while Ben was cooking dinner; steamed green-lipped mussels. It felt silly, but I watered the one tomato, three basil and three lemongrass seedlings before I came in.

We also ran into Ali and John in the garden section of the hardware store; they split their time between Nelson and Germany living perpetually in warm part weather; it dawned on me tonight we could swap places so I could chase the cold weather. If only I liked smaller looms! Ali said she cannot leave comment here, so at least it's not just me. Nor her. I can't figure this out. Can you?


Summer has Officially Arrived

Garden Blitz Day 9, yesterday, was the first "full" gardening day. Although I dithered in the morning and we didn't get out until 11.30, we put in nearly five hours in the sun and wind and finally began pruning taller trees and some of the ivy.

As I said, summer arrived Saturday afternoon. Though we have wind, it's not the horrible gusty blustery kind, but a nice sea breeze and it doesn't go on all day. Afternoons are headache-inducing bright, and when still the bugs come out; my allergy meds aren't coping, so we best to start early and come in for late lunch.

GBD10, today, I got up late and dithered so we didn't go out until 10.30 but we still put in three hours, and created some visual impact. We also had procedural disagreement so I sulked and weeded another part; Ben said he didn't hear me, and though I know he doesn't lie, I don't believe him.
This is the view from my kitchen sink. Ben thinned a tall camellia to the right by about one-third; you can see the top of it and the Dwayne's tree. The sorry-looking lemon was pruned several times over the last three years by me; this used to be roughly twice as tall and three times as wide and we could only collect the few lemons at the bottom and got no sun on the patio; this tree is expected to come back to life next autumn/winter, but if not we'll still keep it for the foliage but will keep it small. The grapefruit that is not grapefruit but great citrus for juicing and marmalade was pruned by Ben. The ivy is one meter deep in front of the retaining wall. You can see I love my purple hellebores where they are because I can look up into the flowers. I'm going to move the fragrant yellow shrubs, (relative of Erica? These grow up to be over a meter,) so I can see the hellebores better. The path between the yellow shrubs and the hellebores/heucheras is where we have some of the the worst weedy vine problems.
To the left you see, or don't see, Ben having successfully removed some of the ivy, plus the now-one-third-as-tall, pale "lemon" tree, (it's called that but not citrus-related,) closer to the corner of our property; it's the same kind as the one closer to us. We hadn't seen the sky from our kitchen in possibly half a dozen years and we were taken aback by how wonderful it is. We may take down the red akeake, (you see the trunk,) because it's a little top heavy and doesn't do much other than to drop leaves on to Neil's carport roof.

Everything we pruned were spread on the bare parts of the slope; it looks messy but by the end of the summer we can stomp, flatten, and leave to mulch. The not-as-thriving back half of the alstroemeria patch was decimated in the process, but I put in two sachets of seeds every autumn anyway, and with the increased sun, it should look alright next summer. I'm putting in sunflower seeds tomorrow. And the short camellia I pruned by about two-thirds.

This small area, about 1/5 of our property, is going to require another two days to clear; this may be the only area we'll get to blitz this holiday, and we haven't done anything inside the house. Still, this is where we can see from the house so it will have been worth it. 

I'm working on the veg patch tomorrow, while Ben continues with the ivy. though he just told me he might work somewhere else for a change. 



Garden Blitz Day 7, yesterday, we managed to weed the only area of our garden readily visible from the house, for about three hours. It's a small area I work on most often but is in need of longer-term weed-and-Blackbird-and-gravity combating measures. The day started out overcast and cool so it was nice for us, but the soil was bone dry and most weeds broke off, but at least we got the vines growing around other plants off. This is where I've put a lot of purple hellebores and heucheras in the past couple of years; half a dozen heucheras were dug up by a family of blackbirds that nest in our tree, as well as a tiny mandarin tree, but I'm hoping I was able to save two heucheras; the good news is, there were quite a few hellebore babies that self-seeded, and I hope to spread them more evenly next autumn.

GBD8, today was going to be rain. We had some early on and I was looking forward to a gentle, quiet reading day, but from late morning it's been a full-blown Nelson summer day with brilliant sun. And wind.
I sampled the rethreaded brown warp, and am not crazy about it. For one thing, if I were rethreading the entire warp, (which I did,) I could have chosen any draft instead of fine-tuning the two-faced twill originally intended to pleat, but I thought too late. But I did think to sample another weft, so I tried a black 100% merino and a gray possum/merino/silk, and the merino part feels better. (The colors in the photo are totally off, because it's directly under a lamp.)

I don't know what's wrong with me but I can't seem to match the number of warp ends in this warp and on the draft; the first one, I had eight leftover; this one I was short five, and I'd like to modify the two sides once again before proceeding.

But heck, this is an itchy, sticky warp. I can't stop scratching my face while working. I remember suspecting this and didn't order a lot, just enough for projects to be used with yarns in my stash. I have another small lovely gray cone, and a bigger navy cone; these colors are wonderful. 



Garden Blitz Day 5, yesterday: I was up at 5AM, listening to the dawn call of the birds. The sky started to lighten at around 5.20, and for half a minute I contemplated spraying the weeds, in the dark, before the wind picked up. Silly me, I went back to bed.

We had sun, we had clouds, we had gusts, and we had "oh, my, if it were warmer this would be a tropical storm," while Ben went into town to check the PO box. We also had tolerable wind so I changed my pants to go out and the rain returned. We spent 3/4 of the day looking towards the west and figuring out and revising what gardening/cleaning tasks we could do, while squeezing in small jobs like making yogurt, Kombucha, a no-bake choc slices that failed miserably, and revitalizing the sourdough. We were exhausted. At 3PM I stomped downstairs to rethread the brown warp but it was so cold I only lasted two hours and managed only half. What a day!

Garden Blitz Day 6, today. We were expecting the sparky who couldn't come on Tuesday because the fittings hadn't arrived. (They warned us well ahead of time.) Because the kitchen and the basement workshop concerns me and the garage Ben, we both hung about awkwardly being available to Isaac; I considered weeding in the gust but sometimes Ben is hesitant approach tradesmen, or I so feel, so I stuck around. Silly me. I never know what's the right thing to do at times like these, or to be quiet or chatty. 
But look! I have better-looking, fully-functioning, no-longer flickering, LED lights, which Ben has directed in the right direction and will allow me to work longer without causing headaches, and there are only tiny holes in the ceiling which can be filled and painted over easily. By a taller person than me. I may even reconsider a better smoke-detector solution; to the left of the picture is our downstairs shower and the detector goes off with the steam so Ben took out the battery some years ago.
And Ben's getting better lights in the garage which has been his workshop since I took over his space with the big loom. (Our garage is normal height; Isaac is exceptionally tall. And lovely.)

I hope we can work in the garden on Garden Blitz Day 7. But for now, I'm going downstairs to finish rethreading.


Well, Yes

Garden Blitz Day 4; we went out too late and the sun, heat and the gust was a bit much, but we did work for three hours, cleaning one area and stacking all the disparate firewood in one place, well out of the way of other blitzing. And I weeded the flower pots. For the Garden Blitz week, it's a non-event, and we spent much too long for the job, but I'm glad we did it, as it marks a start and makes some later jobs easier. Sorry, no dramatic before/after pictures.

We are trying to go outside earlier so we can work comfortably and perhaps more efficiently.

Small "yay"???


A Little Overwhelmed and Plenty Pleased

Garden Blitz Day 2 didn't work out; I took too long to fix the Japanese blog, so Ben started preparing stew for dinner;when I finished, he hadn't, so I ironed; when he finished, I hadn't, so he made lunch. By the time we finished a very late lunch, it was too late to start a big clean up. (Not a good place to leave a bunch of stuff out overnight.) And we really were exhausted from the gale. Then the hoarding telly started and I didn't even go downstairs to rethread the brown warp. Bad, bad Meg. 

GBD3 started dark and windy, then light and gusty, then dark and showery, then still and misty. Then heavy rain, then sunny and still, then dark. It's incredible how the rain knows when Ben is outside; even in the sixty seconds he took out food scraps to the compost bin, it poured, but not before, not after.

This morning while I was cleaning the coffee maker, I got a message from Peter of Page & Blackmore saying Liz brought in a bag of merino so come and get it. Huh?? The sentence made sense but did he intend to ring me? But they did have a big heavy bag in the back office for me! 
I know merinos are big but I'm not sure if all this came from just one animal. That's not poo but a bit of native tree bark. The white parts are snowy-greasy-lovely with cute crimps. Thank goodness I have Dot to guide me, (I hope she will guide me), so I can finally do something many of you have done and most Kiwi weavers do with their eyes closed; start from this stage and end up with a woven article. This is Liz. I've got to think of a special Thank You.

Tomorrow a sparky is coming to replace the florescent lights downstairs with a third set of for-halogen fittings and LED bulbs. My basement workshop is not that old; I can't remember when we had it finished but sometime this side of 2000, and it went though two sets of halogen fittings in quick successions because they overheated. But florescent lights and I never got along; I can see it flicker, so we're getting a third set. If the fittings are compatible with LED, (apparently for some fittings LED bulbs are too cool, which may be a problem for most of our fittings upstairs,) they should be the last set. We've belatedly started replacing our other lights with LED, for the time being only the most used ones. But I like the idea of cooler lights and less energy; I'm so fussy about the color and Ben needs to keep trying different kinds until I approve. Poor guy.



Day 2 of Garden Blitz and we are inside; the wind feels worse today than yesterday so we're cleaning the storage under the stairs, the place we clean the least often but with great potential if we can manage getting rid of some stuff. Yet Nelson doesn't have the strong wind warning so I can't imagine what it's like elsewhere; suffice it to say, our chimney has been vibrating all morning.

I managed a few new posts on my Japanese blog about modifying 8-shaft drafts because Mom's two students started really reading, understanding, and modifying drafts. I also edited 3 of the 4 old posts I wrote in 2011 after hiding them a year and a half ago.

The more I learn about Japanese weaving and textiles, albeit terribly passively/reluctantly, I learn/confirm each word is loaded with information/specification/nuances. For example, the word for twill, 綾 (aya), in the first instance means a 1:2 twill. Or 2:1. Because I learned weaving in New Zealand, I don't know Japanese weaving jargon to start with, but I've been lazy about learning and have been writing cutsy posts, more or less mechanically "translating". Which doesn't work with Japanese, and truth be told, with most/all languages. 

Two of the most dire have been the words for warp and weft. (I know! Rolling eyes, yes?) Although they are homonyms, 縦糸 and 横糸 are wrong, they only mean vertical and horizontal threads; 経糸 and 緯糸 are correct, these are warp (ends) and wefts. I knew this, yet somehow some time in the past I decided to uniformly use the wrong pair! For many other words I just used the English words to avoid embarrassment. (And wait for it... Eyes rolled sufficiently they are back in their normal position.)

I only posted a little over 200 posts on my Japanese blog in the eight and a half years; 10% of Unravelling, but darn it, I tend to mention warps and wefts a lot, so I've been correcting those two this morning.

My Japanese blog has virtually no readership and I did it for Dad's benefit. Then when I learned Mom started teaching in 2010/11, I tried to come up with interesting/informative bit as best I could. In the last couple of years, however, I made friends with some professional textile folks in Western Japan, three of who are Facebook friends, and though I doubt they read my blog, both my blogs' updates feed into my Facebook profile, so I don't want to appear the sloppy idiot that I am. Until they meet me in person.

Right, back to it, then.


Postscript and Thank You

What did I tell you, it's Ben's first day off and supposed Day 1 of Garden Blitz, but it rained what felt like all night, and now it's so blustery to do much, though I might still weed a bit. However, he's had time to do a temporary fix on water-pipe-joint leaking above the ceiling that appeared suddenly yesterday afternoon. He's playing with his car in the garage now, and we have to go to the hardware store so I might get tomato, basil, and hot pepper seedlings.
Oh, the photo shoot. Truth to tell, when we we looking at couches two and a half years ago, "being able to act as an easy backdrop to textile closeup pics" was one of my criteria, and it doesn't disappoint, though our imprints are getting harder to hide. What you don't see here, to my right, is also the ironing board and three kinds of lint removers, none of which worked well enough for a photo shoot.

I found lighting extremely difficult, and kept closing and opening the curtains in the middle of the afternoon. In today's climate, I wouldn't blame my neighbors if they thought I was signaling a sinister co-conspirator the old fashioned way. I should have tried it earlier in the day by the front door; for years I attributed that good light to the specific time of day, but now I wonder if it's the ugly corrugated plastic roof on the patio diffusing the light. I must experiment in the afternoon to see if it still works well there.  

Once I am prepared, like many things I do enjoy a good photo shoot and get right into the tunnel-visioned mindset. With digital, it's so easy, cheap, and instant but the the downside is I take so many and it's hard to know which ones are good/bad.

My rant here and at Kaz's notwithstanding, we now have so many tools at our disposal we really we can make of "it" what we like, or "then" if we like, and instead of complaining, I should see and explore the possibilities with an open mind. (And take notes, because I know I won't remember.)

In terms of organizing, I wished I came up with the name earlier, (until the very last minute, it was going to be "The Photo Thing" or I was going to steal Laura's "Beauty Shot";) also the guidelines reads cumbersome and I apologize. The idea had been brewing for over a year and I thought I ironed out all niggles before I posted, but it was more my frustrations/dread with/of "new", "many" and "easy" coming to the fore. Just know that everything I cook up, the guidelines are guidelines and you are free to deviate in most respects.

Thank you very much, always, to all who participated and/or visited Picture-Perfect. And there is still plenty more time if you want to jump in.


That Place Called the Garden

I don't watch too much reality TV including the evening news, because folks I support never win, but I have been mesmerized by the various hoarder shows. It's never about my yarn stash, because although I've a lot, I'm not overwhelmed by the contents/quality, just annoyed by the space it takes up and how slowly I work through them. But it is about when I was depressed, unable to make decisions, and postponed everything. It is about the unwillingness to start things if I knew I couldn't finish perfectly. And it is about my guilt associated with throwing out plastics. (There's so much we can't recycle here.)

Stash-busting is progressing slowly and the house is a mess and we see it better in the bright soon-to-be summer lights. (Oh, the hall ceiling and walls need washing so badly!) But it's the garden that continues to overwhelm/frustrate/depress me; the scope of work, the futility of weeding in a temperate climate, the voracity of English Black Birds, (I watched one topple a new small shrub in 12 minutes; they also decimate my bulbs even when they are in flower,) gravity, various mulching and weed-suppression methods/materials vs Black Birds and gravity, but not the least, the time, effort and money we sunk into this place in the 17 5/6 years of prettifying. And the irony where the weeds are bad, Black Birds can't dig. But most of all the disinterest/unwillingness of my dear cohabitant gets me down, and the astonishingly high probability it rains on days he takes days off  work, or his old arm problem acting up. (It is a real problem, not imaginary, but because it's related to computer usage and posture, so we all know the math.)

This spring has been extremely windy, more often, for longer, and in spite of the many rain forecasts, we've had almost none for a while, and I've spent a lot of time this spring guestimating and deciding what to do, or not going outside. Wrongly, I might add, more often than not. 

Whatever excuses I can concoct, no matter how I put it, ("I'd rather weave," is convenient but not true,) I don't like living like this, and I am very embarrassed.

With this overlong intro and negativity, I bet you didn't expect the next bit, because I sure didn't; I don't even know where it came from.

A few weeks ago, even while I was feeling imposed upon by longer days, brighter sun, and other people's flowers coming to bloom, memories of earlier summers popped in my head in bits.  First was the gentle warmth, (not the piercing mid-summer rays,) then bits and pieces of conversations that took place while we lunched outside with friends, (so many have left Nelson,) and then flashes of small patches where flours or veggies flourished. And I was reminded how lucky I am to be living in Nelson where the weather is seriously mild and beautiful, and what a sad, ungrateful, small person I've become not to appreciate this even a little bit, but emotionally holding my breath for almost the entire spring and summer, (though I have honestly always had problems with bright lights including sun, indoors or out.)

Yeah, right-wing politics is terrible, wars escalate, I'm fat, we can't afford to travel except to Japan, and there are no big art exhibitions here. But Ben has a regular job even in this climate and at a workplace that's become a local joke with their habitual reorganizing, and except for Dad, my family is well. And I get to weave.

So right or wrong, I decided I must really be moving away from a decade of clinical depression. That even though I'll never stop complaining about politics, the world, the garden, and the sun, I'm able to put thing into context better than I have been this side of 2003.

What a relief.

Plus I don't need mental preparation to go out to the garden these days, and once out there I can work for half a day, or longer, until the sun gets too hot or the bugs come out. You'd be amazed what I prune with a tiny, foldable Japanese floral arrangement saw with a 15cm blade. And some years, like this year, I'll also go all out with chemical warfare. 

Ben has the next two weeks off. For For months I looked forward to a road trip for at least a week, go to Christchurch for the first time since 2001, and see the city of Oamaru which I heard a lot about, (Terri and Alan were just there!), and sketch, relax, and chill out.

One recent Saturday Ben spent eight or nine hours sprucing up the candy car. At the end of the day he had strange muscle spasms and aches and realized how he never uses certain muscles any more. Last Sunday we had to go to the hardware store and I wandered into the garden section and enjoyed not so much looking at the plants, but at the folks who were looking at the plants. And seeds and pots and soil and even the garden hose.

This is how we reached the decision to make this a staycation. We hope to clean the garden a bit while discussing long-term plans, (much of which are best carried out in autumn/winter, or March-September-ish,) put some money into plants, clean out the garage, maybe paint the outdoor furniture, maybe extend other house things, and get rid of junk. I have a realistic expectation on how little can be done by us in two weeks, and we won't be working 24/7, but at least I'll have his cooperation, enabling cutting/moving/removing bigger and heavier things than I can on my own. And faster. And we'll still go out to late lunches or cook good food and enjoy the season.

I may have to halt stash busting temporarily, but I'm really looking forward to the next couple of weeks. It's like a harbinger to the real work we can do next winter. I might even post some before and after pics. At least it's better than no good news.

* * * * *

My baby sister is 50 today. She's a little sad because yesterday she got her first ever traffic ticket, and has to fork out a fine that would have afforded her, say, a nice haircut. But she's looking forward to a some cosmetic changes in her condo later in the month.So here's to being 50-years-young.


Epic Fail / Joy!

My first pleat sample was an epic fail. It looked  better just off the loom, but washed and dried, nada. It doesn't even show the weave pattern in real life, although it looked a proper two-faced twill on the loom. The right half is 24EPI, the left is 21; bottom was beaten softly with about 1mm between picks, the top portion "snug". And the weft is so skinny I almost can't see it under artificial light. But the worst part is, this warp is scratchy and it needs taming with good merino, so I'm modifying the threading, resleying at between 18EPI and 20, and making a normal, unpleated piece. I'm not having any luck with my gifts-to-friends, am I?

Terri and hubby Alan Bibby came to visit me today; they've been touring the South Island and I've kept abreast of their travels her fb profile, but it was lovely of them to stop by. (With warning, of course.) Needless to say, the conversation focused on weaving and her thoughts on Saori weaving, (as I imagined, she's utterly genuine about the message of peace associated with her weaving and has woven in some very interesting places/context,) but also about photography, her hubby being a professional photographer and a documentary maker. He told me my pantsed camera is a really good camera. Thank you for a lovely, lovely afternoon and safe travels!

There may be a picture of us appearing on her blog. (I, of course, was too busy talking.) Alan took some pics of me, and I'm not sure if it was part of a project of his, collecting images of decaying, changing things. LOL.


Sunny Saturday / Slow Project

I was cross because I wanted to go to the Nelson march of the nationwide Anti-TPPA protest day. I had signed up for it a few days ago and even though I'd had stomach problems yesterday, I'd hoped I'd be alright by 1PM. But I couldn't go. For about 24 hours I had such discomfort from time to time I had to lie on the floor! Not pain, but discomfort. Doubly strange because I haven't eaten wheat in several weeks. But it seem to have disappeared just as suddenly as it came. Boo hoo.

I've been thinking about a commission project. It's for Mom's former neighbor. The client keeps calling it my "tapestry", even though I explained to her a couple of times I don't do tapestries, not even wall hangings. But since she's seen enough of my pieces, Mom and I figured she knows the style of cloth I can make, but intends to decorate her house with it anyway. 

This is how far I've gotten.
This is the draft, a modified version of Triona's scarf. Here you see a full warp repeat and a little less than one-third weft repeat, but it's pretty regular so you get the idea.
After several sittings of selecting and editing by the stairway, I used eight colors of 2/20 mercerized cotton and nine 2/60; the color/size distribution is straight forward; A-B-A-B-A.
This is what the chains look like.

I've got a whole bunch of weft candidates, as well as sup warp and wefts, but I don't know much else about it. It's unusual I don't have a mental end picture to work towards, but I'm enjoying this new, building-up kind of making. But this warp won't go on the loom for a wee while.


A Year of Remembering

Back in August I had the 19th anniversary of weaving for the first time and the 10th of having left my last paying job. 20 years ago today we came to New Zealand, after a few days in Fiji with another friend, ostensibly to have a break from crowded lives in Japan and Ben's work, but still on his work-offered scheme to brush up on his English. (This is us on our last night in Fiji.) A month later, when he had the chance for voluntary retirement, he took it. Later this month we'll have our 18th anniversary for residency; before Christmas 18th of moving to Nelson, next January 18th of moving into this house, (longest I've lived in one place,) and the end of April our 25th.

Even though I worked for a wonderful Kiwi in Tokyo for a year and got to know his family, and even though Ben and I holidayed for a fortnight two years before we came here, I look back in astonishment how little we knew what we were getting into. 

It's been, errr, life-changing; no more of Ben's 100-hour work weeks or 18 consecutive no-weekends, or even my 12-hour days; he can indulge in hobbies and, goodness gracious me, I am a weaver. There have been downsides, of course: we weren't part of our nieces and nephews growing up, (but that seems not so important now they're in their teens, the last being 8-going-on-26,) we weren't readily available to our parents when they needed us, and then there is the garden.

But all in all life has been kind; we've become more independent people, making up our own rules and solutions to problems, and more capable of carrying them out. And Nelson is not only beautiful, but the climate is mild and I appreciate it more as I get older. But most of all, I would have never been a weaver had I not come to New Zealand, to Nelson.

So take it with 1/4 teaspoon of salt when I complain about the triviality of my small life. They are real to me, but don't even make "miniscule" in this world.

(Except the part about good New Zealand merino being way too expensive, if milled in NZ at all, and we can't get with-scale NZ merino; these are national tragedies.)

Thank you for being here, and sharing this day. I appreciate your friendship. Always.



I can't help it. I like these airy fairy shots, so it's where I started, but I am practicing picture more towards product shots for our do. I find white balance, colors and lighting terribly difficult. And the discrepancy between the colors on my LCD vs computer screens, not to mention the different computer screens in this house. And then there's the lint and wrinkles I keep finding after I think I got a great shot. 

I read the manual up to Page 151 of 226 where initial setup and photo-taking options were covered. Taking pictures is called "recording" in this booklet. The rest appeared to be about looking at the photos on the LCD or editing, ergo unnecessary for now as I do this on the computer. But now I see the last 42 pages are on "Other" things; maybe later.

I'm not sure what I expected, but the manual was all about the bells and whistles on this tiny camera, not about good photo-taking, which from memory is quite different from the first good film camera I bought in 1984. It was an Olympus OM-II chosen for the size/weight and the fabulous Zuiko lenses; I recently parted with it because a couple of electronic things had gone wrong and the cost to repair was much, much more than a descent digital. The idea of parting was sad at first, but I need to declutter and I don't get attached to things much. I hope it went to a kind person.

I practiced a lot of film photography since childhood and spent a lot of allowance on "just in case" shots. When I first started digital photography, I was so happy I could take an almost unlimited number of pictures. Then I got used to autofocus; I always focused manually with film. Then I reluctantly got into digital editing of photos, (I used to think this was cheating,) and my photo-taking got sloppy. The proliferation of great photos on the Internet made me feel digital cameras, phones and whatever-pads enabled anyone to take good photos immediately and always. So why practice. 

About the same time I noticed I wasn't looking at photos as photos but at the subjects within. I don't know what caused this, but I needed to step back and consciously look at the photo as a whole. This isn't surprising because I've always been a "tree" person rather than a "forest" one, but I had to look a long time and think a while before I decided if a photo was a good one. And I stopped taking photos except to illustrate this blog. Or family pics. 

On one hand, I couldn't be bothered putting in the effort to practice good digital photography because the camera did it for me, (though it really didn't,) and if not I could edit it, (which I really couldn't.) On the other, Dad got me interested in photography when I was about nine, so you could say it's been a life-long interest, albeit sporadic, and it's one of the things both Ben and I are interested in. So I've been trying to rekindle my enthusiasm for photography for a few years to no great avail. I do spend so much time thinking about, looking at, and working on textiles, (except when I'm sidetracked with drawing, mixed media, or, ahem, the garden,) I don't have head space to think about good photography. I need a clean calendar and a wide mental berth to learn things.

This is how Ben got me a new-to-me camera early this year, enabling me to take close-up textile shots to my heart's content. Except it came with a digital manual, and when I complained, he printed me whopping 256 pages. He told me it has great an aperture-priority mode, I can focus manually, or modify the auto-focus. He might have said more, but the rest was all blah-blah. I learned how to shoot with aperture-priority mode, but otherwise it sat prettily on the bookshelf. I was happy with my tiny camera.
I bought the silver Panasonic DMC-FX01, new, in August 2006 partly for Nelson Daily Photo, (which I started but abandoned in a year or two and left it to Ben to kill or continue,) another defunct blog, and Unravelling. Almost all pics taken by me since that fatal day have been taken on this, even this week; I know the settings well I can use this camera without looking at it. The cute one with brown leather pants is the new-to-me Panasonic DMC-LX7.

Both being on the smaller end of Panasonic, Ben, having read the online information beforehand, thought they are similar enough I'd start using Pants right away. I'm sure they are similar compared to other ones in Ben's collection, but to me Pants had so many additional options I was overwhelmed. And didn't want it. Plus, the colors on this LCD is quite different from the computer screens. But having read a sufficient portion of the manual, I see Ben was right again and all I needed was to know how to shoot with aperture-priority and manually.

And I found the blank A1 drawing papers under the bed, underneath everything else.

PS That he gets much more accurate colors on his cameras is a testament to his patience and skills. Though he does have nice ones.



"Bubblegum Ice Cream" (They do exist, though I've ever had any.) I fulled more fully than usual, which deconstructed the bouclé weft, which made this looks messy and a little tired/used, but the fringes are nice. It's a cute, practical piece, and a nice size at 70cm * 188cm and it's mighty good it was woven very large at around 84.5cm in the reed and 2m long. 
I counted the picks of the Dornick twill to make it consistent, but you can't see the twill unless you look for it. I haven't decided if I'll take this to the gallery or save it for my online store.
And the VIP Blanket, 72cm * 125cm. If I had 50cm more, this would have made a more attractive piece than the BGIC. The weft is darker in value than seen here, but it's surprising how blue it looks when interlaced with pink. I was reminded why I gave up on possum mixes; it sheds and I'm never sure when to stop rinsing, which no doubt will continue until all the possum fur is gone?? This was in a irregularly-numbered Dornick, and possibly already sold.

* * * * *

I've read 144 pages of the 222 of my camera manual, and I learned that I don't need to know most of t he stuff I read nor most of the function available, but haven't started practicing yet. I think "Lament" is going to be the most photogenic, but it could be just my taste; I'll never know until I try others, too.



I never name warp-end stuff I might wear or cut up and make something out of, but here it is. "Lament", because I couldn't make a gift to a deserving friend, and I lament the passing of his mother and my dad which happened at around the same time. It's 121cm plus fringes. I'm glad I didn't stick to my guns and weave the requisite 170-180cm because this piece is loaded with problems. Plus I'm trying out loose/soft fringes to go with the cashmere but these were too loose. Plus I didn't have very hot hot water while washing. Perhaps I should call it "Murphy's Scarf".

I do like the cashmere/silk weft on different grays, but particularly where there's contrast in sheen at the lighter end. At 18EPI, the hand is rather delicious. And Ben likes the draft. It's all wrinkled because Ben's been wearing it this morning. No weaver is going to be allowed near it, though.
This shows about one-thirds of the draft, but it changes very slightly. This five-(not six)-gray warp was supposed to make two gifts. Below was the plan for a Thank You gift to my sparky, (electrician,) for helping me with the big pillar install over two years ago; I was going to use an icy pale blue in the weft. This shows about a quarter of the draft, but it too only changes slightly.  
I think these drafts will be resurrected; as you can see they are similar but I tried to convey different moods. And I have another friend whose mother passed last year, but he's more a cotton-in-all-brilliant-colors kinda guy. At least none of them knows I am making anything for them.
The threading mistake in this warp, now on Jack, is corrected. If it were wool, I would have cut off the bad bits, but because it is the expensive cashmere, I unpicked, rethreaded, resleyed, and changed the design a bit. The weft is still the white silk mix.


The Photo Thing

I need a name. For the do. Any ideas?

There is no due date for signing up; you only need to email me on/around November 14/15 with the link to our exhibition post, or before that if you are going to be away and scheduled your post so I'll remember to come around.

I'd still like a snappy name, though, so whether you're taking part or not, can you help me, please?

Please leave suggestions in the comment for everybody to see, even if Blogger continues to eat comments. Thank you very much.

EDIT: I keep forgetting to add this link, but remember you can break any rules you want. I would add you don't need an expensive camera, and cropping is a quick way to bring the cloth to attention.