That was Unexpectedly Complicated

The next stash busting project was supposed to be simple; I imagined matching a nice warp with an interesting weft, but I've been working on this for several days, thinking on my feet as it were, and proceeding with caution. 
The warp: gray wool overdyed with walnut husks, 3.3 meters, 162 ends.
The weft: Mom's hand-dyed, handspun wool, deliberately spun super bumpy, unknown wool, five skeins in various sizes. (The fat ones on the sides.)
I wanted to show off the weft so the sett was to be a little spread out than usual for the size of the yarn, 8 EPI; this made the piece slightly narrower than desirable, so I added two stripes in a thicker black wool but with similar flecks of colors as the one I dyed, using the top of the loom and a lamp! (Yarn colors in this photo is probably the closest to the real colors.)
Again, to show off the weft, I settled on a simple wavy design, but this took almost an afternoon to fine-tune.
With the loom dressed and sample considered, I calculated the handspun to weave about 140cm of the piece, so I needed to dilute without distracting so the piece will end up 180-220cm. I added tabby, which added "hidden" colors.
 These are the weft finalists. (Slightly bluer here than in real life.)
To show enough of the warp's gray in the fiished cloth, weaving is loose but beating depends on the size of the weft in each row. I'm not sure if you can see three tabby colors.
I can see the shapes if I step back.

With a long stick shuttle, and tabby, this piece weaves slowly; yarn texture is wiry, yarn size not delicate; I don't know how much of the tabby colors will contribute to the overall look, and the end product will be light but "bulky". I'm not sure how much of the planning will have been worthwhile, but it has been unexpectedly pleasurable.

I estimate three more days of weaving, because it requires more concentration than usual.

But it's been interesting. 


That Space Surrounding the Habitat

Has it been a month since the longest day? I noticed last week the shadows began to fall differently during the day. It's been a hot, dry summer and even though the hottest temperatures can occur at the end of January or in February, I think it's safe to say autumn is hiding in plain sight. The cicadas are certainly boisterous.

This time of year I feel sad everybody else's veg patch are beautiful and bountiful, gardens filled with flowers, and regret not having worked harder. Not this year; I have a small patch, but more importantly, I worked hard in 2014, (albeit with big breaks,) and clocked 116.5 hours weeding and digging and planting. That's a whole lot for a bona vide indoors person. And though the viney weeds look worse than ever, (I've never seen anything like this; I swear weeding, digging and, heaven forbid, putting in compost encourage them rather than deter,) I started to look forward to the coming autumn/winter.
In spite of clovers coming back with gusto, tomatoes big and small are ripening, I'm going to have enough garlic to braid for the first time, and I still might get dwarf beans or peppers. 

We moved into our house 18 years and a few days ago. And since it doesn't look like I'll be moving to an old city with stone buildings, a university with a robust lecture program, or galleries with robust exhibition schedule, I might as well love living where I am. And I know many Kiwis take to gardening as a creative process rather than part of grunt work.

I weeded and pruned for 40 minutes today. I'm trying to change my perspective.


Another Day

Don't like. The word "childish" keeps coming back to me; I think I equate "not fussy" with child-like or simple. At least these look different from each other.

I finished the third piece on the navy cashmere warp, and started the fourth. And after that's done, I have to go on a mend/fringe/hem/wash/press binge. I'll have accumulated ten pieces. I'm particularly looking forward to see how these two will finish.


Well, Yeah...

I finished the warp, but I'm not thrilled about the first piece. So my nectarines will tell you how I feel.


When Second is Better than First

I had hoped to make a draft somehow resembling pohutukawa flowers, lines radiating from the center of circles. While working on the computer, Antiques Roadshow UK was on, and though I wasn't exactly watching, I now see which item caught my attention: a set of gold-plated Victorian (?) faux Greek jewelry. Apparently folks liked dressing up back then. Said item was a set of two earrings (?) and a bigger pendant-head-like item that could have been worn on the forehead (??). The draft also reminds me of black and white photos of reconstructed artifacts, coins and seals I used to pour over as a kid.
I like it, but they are no pohutukawas, and I'll have to forego names like "Kaiteriteri" and "Marahau", but that's OK. I wanted to weave almost all of this piece but I wove quite a bit yesterday and my body was thinking of complaining, so I took it easy today. But I took this feel good pic.


Oh, Hot!!

The temperature, that is. It's rare I work up a sweat in my basement workshop, but today I did. Which was nice because I've been dismayed at how unproductive I've been this year; my not-real-un-wellness is tiresome. 
I finished threading yesterday and sampled some weft colors. I had intended to use just one color, the pale teal around the middle, for the first piece and only wanted to know what to use for the second.  Except I liked the darker teal, second from the top, better so I decided on that for the first piece. I thought it best to sleep on it.

I was also pleasantly surprised at how well I could see the design using bouclé, (pink. and purple/green variegated towards the top.) I don't know what I'll do with the second piece yet.
So I started out with the darker teal, but the color interactions were boring I decided to change weft colors. Looking back, I should have changed colors more frequently, as in the sample, but too late. I'm nearly done weaving the first piece. 

It's been a while since I've woven big designs so I'm enjoying that, but the color combinations/proportions are too simplistic; I kept thinking of including the word "toy" in naming this piece. The bottom picture shows the colors more accurately than the top, but it's even less saturated. All these colors can be seen in any old New Zealand beach in the summer. 

I've usually used this warp yarn at 18EPI to full fully, but this was sleyed at 20EPI because 18EPI makes the piece too wide to weave comfortably. In combination with the dull possum/merino/silk weft, this made the warp yarn's sheen more noticeable, and the weft PMS pucker more even before washing. I'm not sure if the finished cloth will be as fluffy as this combination usually does, but I'm looking forward to the shine/dull contrast.

Confession: this is a short warp, for only two pieces, with not much allowance for sampling, so after checking the color combination in the wee sample, I didn't cut if off and wash but started the piece immediately.
I had a tentative draft for the second piece but I don't like it so I need to make one tonight.


What a Difference a Day Makes

Or a good night's sleep in this case. 

My head, or body, (but most definitely not I,) got stuck in a weird pattern, letting me sleep between four and five hours every night with a long break in the middle, for the past three weeks. Exercise would have been good, but sun/heat and that recurring hip problem left me wondering what the heck I could have done. (And just how on earth do my left and right feet manage to get inflamed when I'm taking things this easy?) Then we had a couple of cooler, overcast days and Wednesday I crashed and slept, slept and slept, and Wednesday night I slept right through until the alarm went off.

Oh, joy.

Looking back, it could have been a curious physiology experiment, akin to poets and painters working on acid. Except not getting enough sleep just doesn't sound glamorous, so I shall put off becoming the first Tripping Weaver. Unless I mean my usual manner of tripping.

Depression and insomnia go hand in hand and I knew this exhaustion felt different from depressive lethargy; it was more physical, and I was too tired for guilt. 

But I've been compensated because I read some; mostly Philip Roth, (hate all the sex in his fiction but love his evocation of times and places; find his non-fiction a bit heavy but I'm staying with them,) but also a short Elena Farrante, an Oliver Sacks, and now Diana Athill; not bad for a sluggish, slothy reader.  And while washing dishes or cooking, I've been listening to biographical clips on this website. (Desmond Morris was most entertaining.)

A couple of days ago multiple friends posted this clip from Doctor Who's Vincent episode, which I hadn't seen; it's a nice, romantic view of a man I'm convinced was diabolically rude, drunk, and self-absorbed, and yet I missed him. After my random reading spree, I shall return to reading about him.  
Yesterday I assembled my Weaver to Weaver material. This morning I shall finish threading the Christmas warp. Then Skye with Mom later. I lost the phone line for most of yesterday, which was soothing and relaxing after the first 20 minutes.

I'll mention one book for those who may be interested. While his aging father was dying of a brain tumor, Philip Roth wrote what was happening, (not exactly a journal, though I don't know if he intended to publish as he wrote,) which became "Patrimony: A True Story". It's not as complicated as his other non-fiction, and I so wished I had read it before my last visit with Dad two years ago.

Right. Normal operation resumes now. 



It may be incongruous to follow the last post with this; this one is about forgetting.

While in college, I did an independent study on Mishima Yukio's tetraology. He wrote a lot about aristocracy, of which, from memory, he may have been a part, but the stories sounded utterly foreign to me. Near the start of the first novel, a young aristocratic woman becomes pregnant, her family gives the child away, and sends her to a nunnery. Towards the conclusion of the last novel, a young man, possibly a descendent, visits the nun now in her 80s and asks her about the child. She replies, ever so politely but untroubled: "Something like that may have happened, but it was such long ago, I cannot recall."

In my 20's, I thought this was a wonderfully likely, prototypical reply from someone of her class, illusive, remorseless, no obligation to disclose. Aristocratic of worrier class women of the past in Japan often became nuns after being disgraced, such as by male heads-of-family loosing title, or becoming widowed in war, but they were not subjected to poverty, hard labor or much self-denial.

Except it may not be just that. Mom's been saying the same, with a similar attitude, about her past for a couple of years. I can't remember concrete examples, but I clearly remember being reminded of the novels, (which I hadn't thought of in decades,) the first time she said it a year and a half ago, and she didn't remember some seminal moments in my life.

I have always had bad memory even as a child/student, so it came with no surprise when I started noticing how little of my past I remember, but of late I have big blocks I can't recall. For example, even though I was a kid who liked school, I have little memory of school, even up to university, a phase in my life I looked forward to all my life. I also remember oh-so-little this side of coming to New Zealand. And the magnitude of the completeness of having-forgotten-ness astounds me.

And then there are different kinds of remembering. There are events I definitely remember, like the numerous times I was told by my parents to "enjoy the view" when we travelled in the US; I did not know the meaning of the word "view" so this troubled me to no end, but because my parents were in such awe I had to feign reverence, and by the time we got to Grand Canyon I had my act down pat. When they said, "look at the mountain/river/sunset/cactus," however, as a three/four/five-year-old, I was somewhat repulsed grownups were impressed by such mundane stuff.

I remember driving quite a long way into the country in Minnesota with Mr and Mrs Woods once; and I had to have a nap because I was expected to stay up late. Came the evening and there were a whole bunch of us sitting on one side of a body of water, and some fire and a few folks on another side, which was at first intriguing but it went on far too long for a wee one. Decades later, I asked Ron about it, and it turned out it was a outdoor, evening performance of Tale of Haiwatha across the lake, and the grownups enjoyed the occasion very much. Rightly so!

I don't know if my parents didn't explain things, or if I was a particularly dull or distracted child, but most of my childhood was spent trying to figure out my role, the rules, the game itself. It still is often.

And then there is the other kind of remembering; events I think I remember, or should remember, because of repeated retelling and/or photographs and memorabilia, but for which I have no physical memory. For example, while in kindergarten, Michelle's mom and mine took turns carpooling, and apparently we fought so much sometimes Mom had to stop and tell us to get out.  It went on for a whole school year, but I don't have a physical memory of it, though sometime in my past I apparently constructed a memory of being crammed in a VW-like narrow burgundy back seat of mom's car with Michelle, angry, screaming, and probably kicking the back of the front seat. Every time Mom retells the story, I "recall" this. Except neither of our 1960's cars had narrow back seats, especially for two five-year-olds, and probably not burgundy. I'll have to check with Mom.  
This is Dad, Mom and me the day before Dad left for the US on a freight ship in 1961. I have no recollection of this day, but have constructed a "remembering" because we have so many photos. I do remember, however, a few nights later, Mom singing to me in the dark, both of us sitting on the couch, I balling my eyes out because I missed Dad. I know which song, and I remember the yellow light above the sink. (Dad took the Greyhound bus from San Francisco to Minneapolis, learned the lay of the land, rented an apartment, and possibly got his driver's license and a car, before we arrived.)

Not remembering much from my past doesn't bother me so much, but I do wonder what new changes I have to accommodate in my future. As it is, I have to learn something so many times before I can really learn it. And I keep practicing whatever I learned, often and periodically, or I have to relearn it. Again.

I'm not keeping a diary this year; I was too lazy to last year and it ended up a weekly bullet list of things I remembered doing. Last Wednesday, the 7th, I already couldn't remember what I did on the 2nd and the 3rd. It's already been an interesting year.

Unchain My Heart

Not so long ago, I swore I wouldn't make new warp chains until I used up all I've made already. Well, that didn't last long.

Wednesday afternoon I made balls out of skeins from the wool I brought downstairs, all the while gazing at the cones on the shelf, thinking and not thinking. I reached the conclusion I would make warp chains with merino/mohair mixes.

I don't like mohair; I can't wear it, and it's itchy and sneezey to work with; I need antihistamines and still work through itchy eyes, face and arms. And when used with my favorite 18/2 merino warps, the m/m is skinnier and takes longer to weave. But the m/m works wonderfully with merino in creating that lovely shine/dull contrast, and I had far more m/m than merino, ergo the warp chains.
I made wide black, wide white, narrow purple variegated with black stripes, and narrow and short blue variegated merino/mohair warps, plus a blue variegated possum/merino/silk one. All but the blue m/m are my usual "8 meter" warps. I don't have much 18/2 merino left, so I'll also use other wool, possum/merino/silk, merino bouclé, perhaps knitting angora, and who knows, maybe even silk.

There were only two small cones of the blue m/m, so I wanted a black warp with blue stripes towards the sides, i.e. narrow black/narrow blue/wide black middle bit/narrow blue/narrow black. But I didn't want very skinny stripes so I made the warp just long enough for one piece, and hoped to figure out how many blue ends I could get, and then work out the rest. This being a short warp, I was going to tie it on to the purple warp.

Except I ended up with more ends than in the purple warp, of which I have perhaps 80cm left. So I needed extra black ends to go in as narrow strips in the purple warp. You may laugh.
There was one more cone I wanted to use up, but decided against it. This cone came instead of variegated 100% merino I ordered, and when I inquired, I was told it was a discontinued yarn, "more expensive than the one you ordered". ??? It's very harsh, I hated their response, and I stuck it in the bottom back corner of the big wool box perhaps a decade ago; it only dawned on me yesterday this is worsted.

In fact, half the yarns I turned into warp were expensive "mistakes" from the two sources from whom I used to buy not small amounts regularly, whose products I promoted every chance I had. I'd forgotten, but dug up with the wool, these memories, but it's been good exposing myself to yarns I have, to take immediate action, an exorcizing of sorts. (I also got a whole bunch of some of the best weaving yarns in New Zealand from them, to be sure.)   

Though I still don't know what to do with the worsted.  

And while making the chains, I wondered if I could rework the lovely Lament draft using only black and white in the warp. Stripes aren't appealing on paper, (well, the screen.) Half-and-half, maybe, if I have a weft in the right gray. Or something else.
I've also been besotted by this color combo, (to which no photos can do justice, believe me, I've been trying,) but I don't have a concrete idea beyond loving the yellow-green Japanese silk with the red alpaca/silk, (slightly bluer, neutral red,) nor if I need the "support" burgundy merino for added interest. The lovely alpaca/silk was gifted to me by Judy a while back

The fun never ends. Especially with Old Joe keeping me company.


In a Manner of Speaking

The Stash Room tidying job is finished, sort of. It's an interim measure: it's less dangerous, I can fetch things, and I can weave on two of the three small looms in there. You can even see parts of table tops.

I went through the wool stash and brought half downstairs. In the beginning I chose yarns about 18/2-16/2 or ones which would work well in combination, but the policy blurred in the afternoon heat. It was lovely to handle the yarns, as you can well imagine.

I came across a few cones of old, fine-ish wool, possibly Polesworth, harsh, all but one in dull colors. I contemplated "downloading'" them to the Hospice Shop but kept them because they are old, so most probably with scales, and potentially great material to do something different.

The cotton and linen box had some knitting cottons I bought at the dawn of my weaving days; they will be used in a few color-and-weave type projects as I bought reasonable number of cones in coordinating colors. I also have some I have no idea what to do at the moment. I also have three or four synthetic decoratives; they look wonderful but I only use biodegradable yarns so I'm not sure if they will be culled in the next round. 
The silk box, I stuffed everything on the floor back into the box but the skeins and balls have more than doubled in volume while resting beautifully on the floor. (Yes, this box used to close, and I have one skein downstairs so I technically have fewer items here!) This box I hope to revisit soon as I'd really like to use silks, perhaps in combination with wool or cotton at first. I'm still intimidated by silk. 

I have two and a half pillow cases of wool to be spun, in addition to Elizabeth's merino. The ones in the pillowcases, I can spin in a week or two, and I hope to finish this this summer. Because I want bumpy, irregular singles, this won't take much time. 

Some years ago when I thought I "had" to venture into "textile art", I collected one supermarket-bag-full of interesting swatches. I think I had in mind a combination of embroidery, beading and patchwork/assembling in mind, but a) I could never see where I was going with it, and b) I preferred to spend the time on weaving; I gave it up pretty quickly. The swatches went into the trash. The beads I kept, though, because earlier in the week Bonnie Tarses shared this picture on Facebook and I was smitten.

I didn't touch the collage material, that's for another day, but I cleaned and reorganized my art supplies. I found all the acrylic work I did in August is now one big wad; they're drying, once again, in the living room but I won't rework then at this time.

I confirmed what I long suspected; in our house wind blows from north and west because even though yesterday was pretty breezy and nice until late afternoon, even though trees were rustling gently outside the east- and south-facing windows, no air came in. I haven't spent much time in my "design" room because it's only ever been stash storage. I used to iron in this room while looking at the cones on the shelves; I can do it again now. 
But moving is not reducing, which is why this has been an interim measure; I wanted to make the yarns more accessible, more visible, so more are constantly on my mind when I design. In fact, today while winding cones this afternoon, I chose some comes from the shelf to be made into warps so a small box came upstairs again.  

Yesterday I heard the first cicada of the season. Around here they go on for months, though. Months!

And this year W2W15 is a lovely small group of five; I do look forward to assembling my envelope.


What WAS I Thinking

First off, thank you so much, participants and visitors, for the biggest Loomsday. A special thanks to Cally for the spiffy name which made it more chipper.

Yesterday after breakfast I shot my Loomsday shots and decided to tidy the stash room a little because it was mighty hard taking pictures of the three smaller looms, and it felt like a lovely thing to do at the start of the year. I was going to put the silks back into the silk box, except ones I'm using in the near future, and maybe assess how much collage/art stuff I have/want to keep. But then I did something else, (more on this in a minute,) then Skyped with Mom, and it was dinner time.

This morning, I thought I'd check emails and Facebook before breakfast, and was astonished by the number of Loomsday communication. (Again, thanks!) It took about three hours, entering, checking, reading, commenting, etc.; and a bit several times through the day, but we had a late lunch, and I sauntered in there.

Whenever I tidy, I sit in the space and plan before lifting the first item. But this was supposed to be an abbreviated tidying so I was OK to just start, right? Wrong! Instead of putting away the silks, I marched up to the dresser, cleared the top and started wiping it. (I have an automatic bug-killer in the window, which works well but leaves sticky residue, then dust sticks to it.)  Though this bit was easy, (soapy water and microfiber mittens,) the magnitude of the job ahead, the dirt, blew me away.

Plus, it's like cleaning a Japanese apartment. The hardest part is to find space to evacuate stuff so I can clean the vacated space. I now have collage/drawing material and the framed work from the drawing exhibition taking up that little extra of space I used to have. 
Believe it or not, this is the before pic. I chipped a toenail while shooting the Loomsday pics. And did you ever notice wool expands to fill whatever space is available? The biggest box under the table at the left is my wool box. I've used some, I've taken a lot of 17/2 wool and whatever goes nicely with them downstairs but the box is still just as full. I hate the sight of cardboard boxes, but I dislike plastic cases worse. And after all, my yarn/art stash is only temporary, right??
I washed the top two shelves, and put all good merino not 17/2 on the second top shelf. I had hoped to put the navy, brown and gray cones on the bookshelf up there, too, but ran of space. They may go to the very top. Or not. I only got this far in the afternoon heat.
The floor tonight. What was I thinking not putting the silks away first. And everything evacuated to the hall and the bedroom are back for the night.

I'm not sure how thoroughly I'm going to tidy this round. I'm not culling books even though I have too much for the space. I'm not washing the walls. I have thought of chucking out all art supplies, but that seemed a little rash. And my yarns have been culled to the point there is nothing I don't like or can't use. But there are some decorations and items intended to inspire that can go. And I don't need to keep all the collage material, surely. I've only got 1,187 days until my 60th birthday.
But all is not lost. This is what we did yesterday; we went through a few cardboard boxes which sat in the corner just inside our front door since June 2009 when we reworked my "design room". Card games, tiny picture frames, my high school and university graduation certificates; I thought it'd be a cinch to decide what to keep and what not that winter. But there they sat, the ugly copy paper boxes, until yesterday, staring at my face reminding me of the years I wasted on mild-to-moderate depression and associated indecision. They were tangible representations, the witnesses, to that time.

I vacuumed the boxes every week. A while ago I even went through a couple and gave away some contents, but I every time I tried to tackle the rest, indecision returned like reflex even though I'm not depressed any more. After we cleaned the storage under the stairs last Monday, after we were able to sort the spillovers outside the storage space, I could not believe how the sight of no cardboard boxes lifted my spirits. And I thought I could get rid of the biggest eyesore with Ben's help.

It took us no more than 20 minutes. And I keep walking by to make sure we can still see the corner. Because I used to have flowers and such there at one point, you see. What a sight, that corner. 
Tonight we Skyped with my family gathered at my brother's house; I got to show them the lights; they can come down tomorrow.


A Day in the Life of Looms 2015

Happy 2015. Let this be another colorful, luxurious, even-tensioned, clean-selvedged year to us all.
Rigid heddle, circa 1995; she had one outing for a bag fabric in 2004.
 Ex-Nelson Polytechnic Weaving School sample loom; she had the same warp since mid-2010 mainly because of bad access in the crowded stash room, but the warp and the structure, Summer and Winter, have been on my mind.
16-shaft Klik, circa 2000; she has a semi-permanent cotton sampling warp and 
has been a supportive collaborator when I've felt experimental.
Ex-Nelson Polytecnic Naggi four-shaft jack, named Jack, circa 1975; 
he's had plenty of workout in 2014.
Retrofit 16-shaft computer-controlled Thorp, a. k. a. Mac, age unknown but probably the 1990's; along with the car-stereo-turned-workshop-sound-system and Joe Cooker CD, my trusted colleague.

And here are more:
Dianne, Dianne's Loom Talk, New Zealand

Sampling, Sampling, Australia

Neki, A Movable Feast, Spain  

Helen, Portia's Cloth, Australia

Patricia, Facebook, UK

Margreet, Woodyarn, The Netherlands

Kerstin, Kerstin's Extra, Sweden

Maliz, Strick 17, Germany

Tien, Tien Chiu, USA

Cally, Cally Booker Hand Weaver, UK

Holly, Honeysuckle Loom, USA

Penny, Penny.Kokopop.com, USA

Peg, Weaving a Gem of Life, USA

Dot, Dot's Fibre to Fabtic, UK

Laura, Weaving a Life a Day, Canada

Mette, Mette Frøkjær, Denmark

Sandra, Sandra's Loom Blog, USA

Valerie, Fiberewetopia, USA 

Terri, Weaving a Life, Canada 

Lynn, Facebook, Canada

Kaz, Curious Weaver, Australia

And Kathryn, Design Dye Beam Weave, UK

Thank you, participants and visitors alike, for a whopper of a Looomsday.
This initiative has now closed. Thanks again.