Monday, January 4, 2016

Accidentally Resolved

I hope you and yours have safely made it to the correct side of the calendar year. Ben and I continue to have busy-ish days and totally lazy ones. I suffered a bit from too many hot sunny days, but we had roughly 48 hours of more or less continuous rain which has been a great reprieve for me, the garden, and the bird life.

In Japan, by/on New Year's Eve we're supposed to clean our houses, (even though it's a terrible time of the year for the task;) then on New Year's Day see family, especially those older than ourselves. Come the Second, we're supposed to do something for the first time for that year. For example, "kaizome" means the first time one engages in calligraphy for the year; by attaching the suffix "-some/-zome" we can describe what we did for the first time. Dreams had early morning on the Second, (and failing that, the Third,) is called "hatsuyume", the first dream of the year, and is supposed to foretell the sort of year awaiting you; I didn't this year.

I can't remember what we did on the 31st, but we cleaned the house on New Years Day. On the Second, I promptly had my "orizome", probably not a real word, but my first weave of the year. And then a great deal more today.

Uncharacteristically, I have no big plans for the year, no project started, no list, and not even a resolution this year. But this first project in the last couple of days gave me something of the sort; to trust my instinct more.

In the interest of learning/experimenting/expanding my horizons, I have made many decisions/choices in my weaving counter to my instinct or first choices since 2002, when in a correspondence course on colors, I learned there are no ugly colors, but personal preferences and/or unattractive color combinations. Not going with instinct sometimes worked and sometimes so not, but among other things I'm much less beholden to certain hues, and I much prefer asymmetrical to symmetrical drafts. But there are things I've learned without knowing I have, and it's high time I put those knowledge to use.

Case in Point 1: the weft I chose two days ago and wove 45cm but abandoned. (And from here on, ignore the colors. While trying to learn about white balances on my camera I've done a bunch of things, completely interfering with the brightness and ergo some hues/values are all very inaccurate.)
These were three silks from Mom's stash, having hard, starched, papery textures. They came in same-size skeins and looked/felt similar, I assumed all three were the same kind. I sampled with the pink and the straw colors, noticing two very different textures and appearance.
It's the middle part. I used the straw-colored silk in a cotton-warp piece, and though slightly crispier than what I expect of silk of this size, (don't ask; skinny,) it washed nicely. This sample with the merino warp is soft and lighter than feather, and visually in harmony with the wool.
Whereas the pink in the sample, (right) and the purple, (much darker and lovely against the navy blue of the warp; left,) remain wiry; they not only look sloppy but actually feel like experimental pieces I have seen/felt in the 90's using skinny wires. So even though it looked wonderful on the loom, I aborted the piece. I should have taken a closer look at the skeins at the start because they look very different, but I'm glad quit when I did.
Case in Point 2: I chose a dark purple-gray silk, (top,) instead, one which yielded the most silk-like drape in the sample; I loved both the drape and the color combination.
But I was ever so slightly worried about the 8-end 14-end warp floats, every so slightly over a centimeter, even though I allow up to 1cm floats in either direction in most of my wool pieces, and even though the merino had fluffed up enough I had to scrape the floats with my fingernails to see how long they were.
So I edited the draft and made the maximum float six. Which ever so slightly took away the loveliness of the drape and what is to me a more luxurious, liberated look, and made it more... more... proper. I should have stuck to my usual, but I have woven 140cm, and it will be wonderful, just possibly not as luxurious had I ignored the voice of sensible weaving.

Potential Case in Point 3: in the bottom part of the two samples showing the loser draft, I used in the weft the same merino as the warp. In another part, I've used the same merino from a different dye lot, a slightly more indigo version. I love the look and feel of the cloth which is feather-light. But while weaving, I had to stop and think; on the loom these looked gauzy and much like some cloths I've seen woven in India or West Asia. The fineness of the weft means slow weaving. So would I want to weave pieces like these? The answer is, for now, no.

My fascination of weaving started when I saw Tatsumura textiles at Grandpa's in my childhood, so since I started weaving I've pursued finer and finer threads. And I love weaving with them, there's no question about it. But I felt my weaving with thin yarns for the sake of thin yarns are over for now; I should have a nice project, a good reason why thin yarns are called for, to do it. I'm more interested in the merit of the whole cloth rather than concern for its parts.

So, I guess 2016 will be a year of instincts. Come October it'll be a decade since Randy Darwall told me to be my own apprentice. Do you think this is the right direction?


  1. Randy does love to be inscrutable. Sometimes it takes a while to completely 'get' what he meant by a comment/advice. I think following your instinct gives you a result that is more 'you' than if you try to deliberately go against your instinct. Be you!

    1. It was an interesting advice, as I knew instantly WHAT he meant, but it took me a few years to find out HOW I was going to do it, and then few years of doing it, although I'm hardly finished with it. I don't regret looking around, as I said. It's like ice cream flavors - if I don't try, how will I know it's not going to be my next fav, right? But with all kinds of weavers all around the world, there really is no need for me to do styles that's not my first choice because there are dozens or more doing that way somewhere else. And that's also why I love weaving - there are so many ways to do it, but around the world there are so many weavers doing so many different things, and over the millennia there have always been weavers. I should be a happy little cog.


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