You won't Believe What I'm Doing

This is the scarf I made after the wall piece. The weft is a thin, (slightly thicker than 2/60), papery silk from Mom's stash. The yarn had a starched (?) crispness, so pink from the same lot was among the wefts sampled for the wall piece. Washing, however, took away the stiffness and the fine weft all but disappeared, so not so good for a wall piece, but good for a summer scarf. And it's my kind of look, isn't it?

Except weaving this was excruciatingly boring. I had to do something for the last piece, and even though I have a love/hate relationship with the freer tapestry technique, this was the only way I could think of to put a spring in my treadling step mid-warp. Beside, I intended to try this after Kaz's Saori workshop a year ago anyway.
The weft yarns are various silks of unknown origins, some may even be Mom's hand-dyed, hand-spun singles. The draft has a short weft repeat. I gave the sett some serious thoughts, as these wefts are considerably thicker than the two previous projects, but I couldn't be bothered resleying. Below is the right half of the draft.
Four repeats took a better part of an afternoon, and made up 15cm, so this is going to be slow, but I hope gratifying. I had planned to use the same technique in the cashmere-mix warp on KLIK, so this doubles as practice before that particularly delicate warp.

My thoughts thus far is this: it's all right to delve into the spontaneous, see-what-develops way to experiment/play, but for me this is not a good way to make merchandises. I can work better if I have a piece of paper approximately the size of the finished piece, with a line indicating where I'm weaving, so I can place designs more deliberately. Learning that alone has been worth it.

* * * * *

Thursday night while Skyping with Mom, I tried to explain, more to myself, how as my weaving practice becomes more stable/constant, it has also become boring. The immediate reasons are: 1) I haven't deliberately experimented with colors of late; 2) I default to twills almost without thinking; 3) stash-busting is on my mind, and even though I have a vast choice, I'm not used to thinking yarn=>design and don a phantom straitjacket and grit my teeth; and 4) the colors in the last warp was so not me. (The wall piece is hanging on Mom's wall for now; she's going to discuss it with her students when they come back in fall, and then deliver it to the client.)

In order to keep working steadily/productively, I am not reinventing the wheel with every warp and this does contribute to less satisfaction. I don't rush, and goodness I'm still slow, but I sense, (because I can't cite instances,) a greater portion of decisions are made automatically or default to the same as a previous project. This must mean I've some experience/knowledge, which should be a good thing, and theoretically leave me free to concentrate on more interesting bits. But I haven't moved on, so I'm repeatedly taking roller coaster rides but missing out on that queasy feeling in my stomach. Because I really used to feel that when I worked.

My mind keeps wandering back to Geodyne's project a while ago and the impact it had on me, particularly the second pic. Exciting times.


Hellebore Love

Ben was home for ten days. We had planned to declutter a little, garden a great deal, cook/eat well, and then go away on a road trip. We had cold weather and rain at times but rushed outside every time the sun came out to do little bits. Ben cooked delish meals and cheesecake. At times I got thoroughly sick of gardening so I read. A good deal, as it turned out. But the house and garden is slightly in a better shape. The only thing is, we didn't do the road trip.

The trip, and in fact the timing of Ben's holiday, was planned around my favorite hellebore grower, Clifton Homestead's annual open house weekend. But when I rechecked the map midweek, I was shocked to find they were way down the bottom of South Island, not in the middle just south of Christchurch, as I had misremembered from other years I checked contemplating a road trip. This would add at least another day of driving, and as we haven't been on long road trips in several years, we weren't keen on making a quick trip to where there may even be snow or ice on the road. We haven't driven on those elements since we came to New Zealand; we are so spoiled in Nelson. Maybe next year.

I fell in love with hellebores when I saw my first one about 15 years ago; I think it was a burgundy/pink single orientalis, but I can't be sure because it died, along with a light yellow green, and a greeny white, among others I planted in the shade as instructed. Having learned that in New Zealand, "shade" pertaining to plants mean "don't need 24/7 sun", I moved the few survivors to another part of the garden, just outside the kitchen window, a few years ago, and they have been doing splendidly. Encouraged by the success, I've been adding two, four or six a year thanks to Clifton.

This year, though, in search of darker grays/purples/blues, I started to read about these flowers seriously and bought seeds from Europe. Because I am in the southern hemisphere, seeds from the north are, um, out of whack with our seasons so I don't know how this will work. And then I read Japanese growers have unique flowers, so they are on next year's wishlist. I've also been pollinating regularly. The only one gray/purple I have is pollinated with itself, but other purples and clarets are cross-pollinated with the gray. I'm not going to collect them but let them come up naturally.

Hellebores are a little like weaving; it takes a long time for seeds to show any signs of life, (up to a year?) and then up to a couple of years for a plant to flower. And new hybrids aren't stable, (is that the right word?) so one never knows how the next generation will look if I cross-pollinate.

The slowness of hellebore growing made me come to terms with gardening being on-going. Unless we go the concrete/paving way. I'm not pleased; I wished I could work really hard for a while and be finished for a while, but one of the reasons we came to New Zealand was we wanted a garden all those years ago, in our misguided relative-youth and I don't mind the work. I just wished I didn't have to do so much of it. Oh, dear.
One of two strenii, this is called Clifton. It needs to move to a sunnier spot after the seedpods mature.
I'm also supposed to have purple picottees, (white with purple edges,) but they are not too evident.
From above,  I can't tell the difference between these purples and the gray, but from below the I can see the difference.
The only gray, (sometimes called slate?), which is really very dark purple, and my favorite. From above it's not as saturated purple but more purple gray.
The clarets are much bigger and have two to three dozen flowers on each plant. They self-seed robustly.
Some time ago when I couldn't sleep, I doodled on the software and came up with this drat. I'm calling it Hellebore Love, but now I think it looks more like pansies; never mind, I love them, too.


Nor Wall Pieces

Because I find it hard impossible to make them square/rectangular/perpendicular/parallel. It drives me mad. Nevertheless, one reaches a point where there's no use rehemming or redoing the casings, and I've reached it this morning. So this is done. And my eyes are dry.
It's not a big piece, but adequate for, as I keep saying, a small Japanese house or apartment.
I like the 3D-ness. The colors are truest in the top photo; this was taken under brilliant sun yesterday.
Also yesterday, I got this shot by chance, half in the sun, half in shade, though not as dark as the thumbnail suggests; silk sparkles in the sun, the 3D-ness is brought to the fore in the shade, so interesting in different lights, which was one of my goals. (This last pic is click-worthy if I may say so myself.)

I used pine dowels because I had two in just the right length already.

I've been weaving a scarf using a very thin, papery-in-texture straw-colored silk from Mom's stash. I'll show it to you in the next few days.


I don't Do Tapestries

But it's no use telling that to a septuagenarian client or an octogenarian mom. They kept waiting for "The Tapestry" commissioned when I was in Japan two years ago, to the month. So here's the wall piece.
It is 43cm wide and 109cm long plus casings on top and bottom. It took such a long time to thread, but weaving was fast. I'm going to get dowels or slats before I make the casings, trim and press again.

The warp is alternate 2/20 and 2/60 cottons, 17 colors, AbAb-bCbC-CdCd-dEdE and so forth. 80EPI. The weft is slippery, shiny silk, slightly skinnier than 2/20 cottons, in pale pink, dark peach, and screamy orange, with very little twists. The close sett and the thread combination made the hand stiffer than what I'd like in a scarf, which is perfect for a wall thing.
Backlit, it's not as hole-y/lacy as I wanted because the 2/20 cottons fulled very well. Instead it created deep texture, the bumps.
Under artificial light, the wefts shine.

The overall looks is fussy and delicate, which is good for a small Japanese house or apartment, but it makes the piece boring for my place as there is no big visual interest visible from a distance.

I have enough warp left for two scarves. I toyed with the idea of making another wall piece, but maybe not. I don't know. It's too... umm... sedate for Nelson.


July was a Very Long Month

In the last little while I observed a shift in my weaving focus, the word "mediocre" floated in and out of my consciousness. It didn't demand examination or reflection, just insisted on letting its presence known to me.

Like many, when I started to weave, I wanted to be a great weaver. Or exquisite or expert or "The Best". I don't remember how I defined these words, how I would verify becoming one, but validation was to come from without; sale, prices, accolade, and the like. Then I started to worry more about pleasing myself and I sought greatness within each piece.

The more I wove, I've come to see my cloths more objectively and I suppose critically, which was a rude realization as I had imagined I would weave better and therefore would love my work more passionately. My sloppy technique is at the core of the problem, of course, but I noticed something else. 

Though my life is good, it turned out quite different to how I imagined. My everyday life in Nelson is like a holiday, but it is hard for us to go on a "real" holiday and I miss big cities. I always wanted to live in a tidy, stylish house, (and garden if I had one,) but it tuns out I don't have a good eye for design nor energy to make our place nice, and moreover, I'd rather weave. We could save money if we studied power/telco/insurance/bank options, but I can't be bothered. And our greedy right wing government keeps ruining this lovely country.

But it is what it is. If I kept thinking about injustices/inconveniences, if I keep trying to be well-informed, I won't have any life left. I am not built for a multi-faceted broad life. Growing up for me has meant discarding the unnecessary, concentrating on what I do best, and living a small but manageable life. Even if my best is mediocre.

What surprised me was how this understanding/acceptance/resignation became part of my psyche without a fanfare. Such a seemingly monumental revelation, I seem to recall, would have entailed drama in the past, but maybe I'm discarding some of that, too. Which, I guess, is nice in a way as I can do without emotional upheavals, but also sad as I feel the colors of my life are fading. 

As if I needed to revise, I had an abridged reminder. Early this week, between sleep and being awake, I had a thought: there are lives spent flying on helicopters extinguishing forest fires, or travelling around the world photographing art and architecture, but my life is spent in a cold, dark basement. 
The tone was not a regretful, "If I had chosen a different life, I could have..." variety, but most decidedly the "It is what it is" kind. And when I was awake, I had to remember step by step that I like what I do, that it was the best among all practicable choices, and there was even a certain inevitability to how I got here. It was cut and dry, no sadness, no regrets, but also not the usual enthusiasm, either.

While I threaded this warp, (which I finished at long last,) I listened to the Discworld story in which Sam Vimes realizes he is no longer a night watchman but has become a mere "manager" and feels his physical aging, then is sent back 20 years to train, as John Keel, his younger self. I'm not finished so I don't know what happens, but coincidentally Hiroshima Day coming up marks 20 years since I first threw a shuttle. (Well, it was a stick shuttle in a rigid heddle so I gingerly passed it.)

July was a long month. We had some rain, I got out some days, then we had a cold spell and wet ground. While I didn't want August to arrive, because that's the end of our winter, I kept wondering if August 1 had arrived for the last ten days. It was a strange month, this July.