Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wrong Job

My ears are still weird, but I had a lot of energy yesterday so I wove the achromatic warp. Standing up straight and looking at the whole width of the piece one second, leaning down to clasp the wefts the next; LOL, it was so the wrong job! If I didn't have vertigo before in the morning, I sure felt woozy after a few repeats. But I enjoyed the task; extremely slow, perhaps I managed 10cm in all, but I like the look of clasp-weft pieces, and I love it achromatic.

But I also miss the swish-swish weaving, (or in my case it's more su-wooooooo-sh-su-wooooooo-sh,) so I put the pale gray merino on the big loom. 28/2, I think I'm weaving with it for the first time, so I put it in the raddle at 32EPI, but I have to sample. Perhaps 36EPI for fluffy cashmere weft/s, and 40 to 42EPI for skinny silk weft/s. I don't have a draft yet; I'm thinking of a tied weave, but I have to relearn them first, and then make some up. I can probably get three pieces after sampling and I'd like to have at least two drafts with the same threading.
I wove again this morning, but it was even slower. I manage roughly 7-9cm per "sitting", or an hour and a big, although some days I can do one and a half sitting; the second is always shorter. Hum...

Roughly 42cm done; I hope I can manage a second sitting this afternoon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Meg in a Dress, Oh My!

I got enthusiastic Friday night and brought out all the cottons I bought very early on as a weaver; all grays, blues and white/natural. I still love the colors and would like to make special things, though not sure if by weaving or knitting. (The Brazilian cotton, after that washing experiment, feels rougher as if the yarn had a kind of coating that washed off, and the collar, after about an hour, gave me the same powdery feeling in my mouth. Not sure if it's worth keep experimenting, although the colors are lovely.)
Anyway, Friday night, I also brought out two gray cashmeres and a bunch of Mom's pomegranate-dyed cashmeres plus commercial yarn, mainly wool, and cashmere/silks from the pomegranate project box. The aim was to start Mom's big crawl (??); she wasn't keen on cotton "collars" but wanted a crawl, but we hadn't discussed the style/size, etc, so even though I spent a few hours getting one started, it's not happening. For a crawl, if I'm going to knit her one, I need her body so I can figure out a good size.
These ever-so delicious pomegranate yarns project yarns, (some commercial to augment,) I had put in a box perhaps a year ago, intending to weave biggish wraps. Maybe the babies Mom dyed with the fruits from our former family home over many yarns need to be made into something for her. Maybe I'll lug these home in October to knit a craw "in situ".
Two grays and a dark gray cashmere bouclé looked great together and I started another small scarf, but the values were so different it looked speckled, what we call "sesame seeds and salt" look, so that's been undone, too.

Sunday and especially Monday night, I almost went crazy not having a knitting project to work on; stared at a possible needle point project also, and ended up playing the same old game on the computer while watching a film with a great cast not a good story. :-<

During the course of gazing at cable knit designs on the Internet, (first time I ever looked up anything to do with knitting!) I came across a new-to-me tradition/style called brioche. Of course at first I loved the association with my favorite pastry, (difficult to bake "right", though,) but this style is reversible, perfect for scarves and especially big wraps. At present I'm reluctant to learn yet another new thing, and would much rather study/practice more weaving, but I have made mental notes. Have you done any??

I used to feel guilty/sad about spending a lot of time knitting, albeit only in the evenings, but I decided it's OK as long as I'm using up yarns, and it happens mostly in the evenings. My work life of weaving/weeding hasn't been as active as night life of knitting, though. :-D

* * * * *
Saturday: I tried on my linen dress at Maria's stall in the market. It felt slightly too long, and when Maria showed me how the sleeves could be pinched to make them taper, I liked the look better, but because I haven't worn a dress, or a skirt, in so long, I brought it home as is to audition it and get back to her if I'd like anything altered. (Though I've bought a couple of skirts, the last time I remember buying a dress is spring/summer of 1990 and that was after a long  hiatus.)
It is thick linen, prewashed with enzymes, pretty heavy in weight but with a beautiful drape, (I'm going to say it again; it's like a big dog leaning on your leg,) soft as a blanket and my first reaction was, I want to sleep in this. It's based on a Finnish Viking design, (mine after an under-dress,) with mostly straight cuts and seams. The color is lovely dark blue, or slightly faded indigo, in slubby twill.

That does not eliminate the small problem my body shape is so wrong for the dress, (well, any dress,) and I look like a beautiful walking pup tent. But that is not the dress's or Maria's problem, and who knew a loose-fitting dress would prompt me to reopen books on the charbo-light diet we're supposed to be strictly adhering to. :-D

Although I have another dress coming, I'm now dreaming of a Chanel-style jacket, no braids, in the same weight linen, if not in the same fabric. Ben's got something coming in the spring/summer. We even talked about Maria sewing something for me with my own cloth, something I've fantasized since I met her in 2012. And it's the first time I'm interested in clothes for a long, long time and it's a good feeling, :-), but first I must downsize. Quite a bit.

* * * * *

Now to downstairs. I haven't woven in ages, but last night I couldn't sleep thinking about weaving the achromatic clasped weft.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Fridays, Eh!

Mom's tubular scarf, roughly 110cm long. I didn't "close" the two ends because I wanted this to function more as a tube rather than two layers, but I'll see how Mom wears it and might saw them shut later. The color is truer in the close up, though it's actually darker and bluer in real life.

Cashmere doesn't full as much as wool when I weave with them, but with more yarns per cm2, (or should it be cm3?) Ben's scarf fulled like a dream, so I washed Mom's even more vigorously. It looked like a net when I finished knitting, but now it has a matted, slightly "been around the block" look and texture I love. Hope she likes it, too, but if not, it's mine.
I also finished the Brazilian cotton collar for me. I could have gotten two to four more rows from the one ball, but I had enough of cotton/dye dust I quit. I've been going to sleep at night with dusty, powdery taste/texture in my mouth even after gargling, and 13 or 14 more balls of this cannot be healthy. The finished collar and what was left of the ball, I put in a laundry net and through one warm regular and two rinse cycles. (I wet-finish cotton and cottolin with hot regular wash, but today, it was warm on a whim.) This is them fresh out of the washing machine.

I have to wait until they dry to decide, but I'm happy to turn the remaining balls into skeins and treat them similarly before I knit/weave with them. This yarn feels nice, stretches like nobody's business, and the colors are exactly those I love, and I would definitely like to use them. I wished I could show you the gray accurately; it's delicate and solid and beautiful. The closest I can think of, (and swallow that drink before you read on,) is cement powder. It is beautiful.

* * * * *

These days when I sell my weaving directly, I often don't put my label on the piece but put it in a calico bag with my label on it. (I never put labels on baby pieces but that's another story.) I spend quite a lot of time trying to make the A- ad B-sides of the weaving look different, and I don't want to dictate which side is which. In communicating with a customer who bought a piece in the recent sale, I learned a stranger complimented her on my piece, and wondered if this is the right move. Ben reckons I should put on the tiny label on regardless of the size of the piece.

Of course in the most general marketing term it's a no-brainer to have the labels on, just in case that stranger, or anyone, wants to know who made it. The other side of the coin is, I try hard to establish a one-to-one relationship with my customers/wearer as it is they who I want to please, and in that vein, I don't care if a tiny label brings, or not, one more visitor to the blog. So far all my online sale pieces have gone to friends and friends of friends, so it's unlikely to boost my sale. Then there's that adage, you can't sell textiles on the Internet. Am I being stubborn?

* * * * *

Maria told me my blue linen dress is ready for fitting. I'll see if I can go tomorrow. But I'm filled with excitement and trepidation, because I know the feel of her fabric, (dreamy,) but also the shape of the dress; I know how it's supposed to fit, or I have a mental picture of how it looks on a variety of relatively normally shaped humans. I am not not one. I keep thinking of this drawing I did. And boy, I miss proper life/figure drawing classes.

* * * * *

Yesterday turned out to be pretty productive and I'm hoping today will, too, although it's already 1PM. There are squillion things I should have done in the last month, while I really really want to do a few things not on that list.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Recovering Invertebrate

Or "recovering vertebra"? More at the bottom. 

I've wanted to weave but the clasped weft being the only warp I'm actively engaged with, and not wishing to continue while standing at the loom without vertebra or the ability to concentrate:
I knitted a collar with the dusty Brazilian stretchy cotton for me. It was supposed to be looser and bigger but I got this far with one ball and I have thirteen left, (I'm going to check the cotton box today because it's hard to believe I'd buy five each of two grays and four of baby blue, if you get my meaning,) so there are many chances of reworking. This sometimes look a dull, nondescript gray, (like the color I associate with 1960s pubic housing apartment blocks in Japan,) but in different light it's a smashing, rare mid-gray with no hint of hues, somewhat like yarns labeled pewter. Trust me, it's yummy.
I've been blind-drawing people again instead of abstracts. I've had fun looking for photographs of ethnic dancers and there is a delicious place where the attractiveness of the costume enhances but not overpower the beauty of the body and the movement. Right now I'm into Indian and Philippino dances, but I haven't researched specific styles.

For years I wished I were that person who did crafty things in the evenings, but I think knitting, needle point, and sometimes drawing work. So, hurrah!

* * * * *

I've been reading a bit about art, exhibitions and artists online. I wish I could be more stoic about weaving but I may be too practical; I weave because I have the tools and the material? But it's not financially viable? Does it matter if I don't have to buy anything for, oh, 10-20 years? What do I do with stuff I can't sell? Is this how I want to spend my life? Is this lack of stoicism, that these "considerations" can stop me from weaving, proof I am not a "real" weaver? Proof I'm fake? Am I sticking to it because a life change at 60 is too bothersome? It's my regular menu of self-pity I try to make sound slightly different each time.

I love weaving and it's still my technique of choice, but I envy the freedom and do-over-ability of painting/mixed media, (I've been indulging in Jane Davies' vids,) and while weaving I don't feel the same soaring feeling of expression I do while using paint in particular.

And what the hell do I weave so I can amaze myself?

And so on.

Lucky, I'm feeling stoic today. I have energy to behave accordingly, at least for a few hours. (More at the bottom.) Can one feel stoic, or is it something one just is?

* * * * *

This blog is called Unravelling, so naturally I was curious about a Radio Lab podast episode, and now I wonder if I have to worry about my increasing preference for abstract art and repetition, or if I can still insist that's the nature of cloth weaving.

On the the same day I listened to Terry Gross interview David Sedaris in a peas-in-a-NPR-pod-style chat, learning Sedaris was 61 and a lot older than me! Golly, that was enjoyable, oh, 12 minutes or so thinking I had a couple of decades to reach where he's at in life, that my weaving life is far from a "late" stage!!

* * * * *

Cold 2018-02: for three weeks I've had airplane ears; you know, that which is supposed to go away by moving one's jaws vigorously; if not, eardrums vibrate to one's heartbeat on quiet moments? Plus some coughing and some vertigo. Though I've had a few good days, I'm thoroughly sick of wasting time being sick, I've wondered if our easy-on-carbo diet is contributing to the problem, but on reflection colds have gotten progressively longer and more frequent as we age, and this long cold has been going around Nelson most of this year, so we just have to lead a healthier lifestyle. (Yes, I did heap sarcasm there.)

The worst part this time has been the feeling I'm constructed like a water balloon, not with water but with unspeakable otolaryngological goo.


I finally gained audience with Doc Karl late Friday and was duly prescribed strong antibiotics which prevents me from a) taking calcium, and b) lying down for at least an hour. Calcium was going to be the hard one as it meant, I thought, no coffee or tea for during breakfast/dinner for five days. I am getting used to the "coffee-tea" Ben makes me in the morning: one part coffee to one to three parts hot water, no milk. I feel so grown up!

Yesterday I discovered I shouldn't have milk for the whole five days. As Ben said at the start. I'm employing the old tactic I taught myself during the Depression of Winter 2009, that if I can't do anything else, cook. This is also handy because I can then indulge in late afternoon whatever-I-choose-to-do for a couple of days.

After no dairy for two days, on Monday I already felt better. On Tuesday I felt so much better I was sure to recover completely by midweek, indulged in a bit of milk drinking in between twice-daily meds, (intentional,) and cooked mushroom soup with cream for dinner, (unintentional). Tuesday night, for the first time in eons my head felt clear and the world looked more vivid and I realized the airplane ears were gone.

Wednesday morning the airplane ears was mild but had definitely returned. Then I made pumpkin and leek soup. My pumpkin soups usually have the texture of soft mashed potatoes, so we usually add water/milk/cream after pulverizing. Yesterday I added milk because there was an extra bottle that's usually gone by Wednesday morning. (We have local milk in glass bottles delivered on Wednesdays and  Saturdays.) I really wasn't thinking. Last night I was on a flight to Tokyo, about four hours in. The ears were driving me crazy. This morning they feels worse because I feel so stupid. 

The thing is, I cook during the day, often in the mornings immediately after I wash the dishes, and because we eat diner around 7, 7.30, although I'm mindful about not having dairy at breakfast/dinner when I take the antibiotics, my brain is having a hard time connecting the two. Because usually I'm pretty good with this stuff. I do worry this is part of age-associated cognitive difficulties; I worry a lot because I'm seeing too many instances of me not thinking straight. 

The lying down part is more comical/sarcastic, as if the big pharmaceutical knew I'd been on the couch, dazed, wondering where I left my backbone. You wouldn't believe this stuff, though; sometimes I had a staring contest with the clock trying to stay upright and a couple of times I managed only 50 minutes before I crumpled to the floor. I felt the big, gloved hand of vertigo, the glove usually in beautiful transparent color of black tea with lemon and sugar, gently push me down. Other times, I'd forgotten I'd taken the stuff.

I'm going to prep meat for meatballs for dinner, then go wash Mom's tubular scarf. Then do something else after that. 

Friday, June 1, 2018


Mom's scarf is done. See how much yarn I had left at the end 109cm before washing later today.

* * * * *

I'm done studying GDPR for now. Because I don't have EU customers and I have under 250 people working in this entity, there are only two tiny things to remedy, eventually:

1) Find the key to the top drawer of the tiny filing cabinet to store my tiny backup drive and paper records when I need them locked up, (even though the filing cabinet is probably easily upliftable by any big guy in a good shape);

2) A privacy policy page on my website, i.e. this blog. I have a draft but it is far from serious, and I'm not sure how serious I have/want to sound; and associated with this,

3) A standard way of saying, "I do this, so please consent," before I continue to communicate, and I don't know if I need consent from just folks in EU, (because however do you define that?) or everybody, so I'll probably ask everybody.

As with many things, my difficulty is to separate the weaver part from me, or the weaving "business" part from my life. I even started worrying about email addresses and culled a whole bunch from contacts, (although I know how to find most via blogs/websites/Facebook;) use of links in my blog, (because this could be seen as a business website rather than/as well as a personal journal, even though at their end the links are publicly available;) and a few other things I forgot as soon as I thought about them.

The whopper was the fines if I'm found non-compliant: "up to €20 million or 4% of the company’s global annual turnover of the previous financial year, whichever is higher." I only saw 4% at first and joked about mine being between NZ$4-40. Ha. Ha. Ha.

* * * * *

I closed the May Sale. I sold two out of 18 pieces; had not-exactly-an-inquiry for another, and may still sell another in two weeks' time. Now I have to "close" shop which entails:

1) Deciding what to do with the leftovers, options being: keeping in my shop/store, but at what prices?; flood the Suter, (a few were always going there if they weren't sold); charity shops; or force them upon friends.

2) Prep shop/store pages accordingly, although my Japanese page usually only links to my English page;

3) Prepping the pieces that will go to the Suter: tags, labels, paperwork;

4) Check/store all other pieces until I decide.

Curiously, I feel less bad today about the sales than I have for the last few days; I know what tasks I need to do next and I'm glad I'm pragmatic.

* * * * *

I've had this indescribable mental picture as well as an almost false muscle memory of weaving on a tapestry loom on my... consciousness for a while. Almost false because I've only sat in front of a large tapestry loom once, in 2000 at the Christchurch Art Center, and although I remember the fact of taking part in that public, collaborative piece, I can't recall the experience of sitting and weaving. Anyway, this visual and kinetic sensation (?) has sustained me during May Sale and propelled me to this... weird optimism that I'm going to enter the next phase of my weaving. Which strangely correlates to the reason why I wanted a sale in the first place. (In addition to my needing income before the Japan trip.)

Alternatively, it could be a case of what athletes do, (where they imagine each minute step of their performance and rehearse it in their heads? There's probably a name and an acronym for it,) working too well.

It's not been a bad thing, in fact more like a slightly guilty pleasure, imagining me sitting up, rather than bending over, and looking at what I'm weaving in front of me, not below. Although in this recall/imagining, I can never see the textile/project.

I try not to get my hopes up too much as I'm still the same weaver and a new loom isn't going to propel my work significantly without hard work, much less automatically. But feeling optimistic.

* * * * *

Now that I'm not gungho about belonging to the art realm while loom-weaving, (praise pragmatism,) I'm not gungho about reading about art vs. craft any more. When I do come across a good read, I am able enjoy and agree/disagree more freely. This morning Maureen posted this on her gallery FB page:
Which lead me to look up the Risatti book, which lead me to this blog post, which lead me to all kinds of links, some of which I read, which lead me to putting three new-to-me books on wish lists:

"The Theory of Craft", by Howard Risatti
"By Hand", edited by Shu Hung and Joseph Magliaro
"The Craftsman", by Richard Sennett

* * * * *

I'm relishing, the cyclical nature of life. Nothing specific prompted me, but it does feel as though we get a few second chances.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Boo Hiss

To this ongoing cold. I tried to get an appointment with the doc but he's busy until "later in the week" and I could't be bothered thinking that far ahead. I had tickets to a Botticelli doco this morning, but decided to stay home. I'm not sick-sick, just feeling like if I behaved just one more day I can kick this thing. And it's been a week.

We've had a beautifully crisp, frosty, sunny week, just the weather I love to go outside, and most weeds slip out from the moister soil. I've been weighing going outside for a few hours to disinfect myself, or to stay inside and tidy up loose ends, of which there are many. I predict I'll stay in another day because in the five minutes I checked the hellebores I planted a month (???) ago, I started coughing and today being a quiet day, it echoed throughout our little neighborhood. And it wasn't nice.

In between all the yuck and blah, I've been knitting. I think I'll finish Mom's scarf today. Because I'm using three yarns directly off cones, I pull five to ten meters at a time and drop them on the carpet so they don't tangle. I saw one cone was nearly finished last night, and when I got enough unwound to finish that cone, these folks turned up. 
Everybody is lining up to be included in Mom's scarf; their chatter is bubbly and infectious. It'd be nice if the scarf could alleviate some moments of loneliness in her solo life. The crochet needle shows where I untended as the halfway point; I think I have just enough.

On paper, I hadn't done much outside the "daily" abstract drawing, but Tess wanted to do another swap, and in the course of setting parameters, I started pondering a pet subject: textile as skin, clothes as symbols. It's a vast subject, because Tess goes really deep into research and consideration, while I reflect more as I work with the material, this is going to be a thrilling ride.

In most areas of making, I see myself as a perpetual beginner with a clean slate. Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to remember I had a few things I can look at if I want to reflect on the human body; the few drawings I kept from life drawing lessons of yore, the six frames from Go Figure, and a couple of Letter Journals I swapped with Tess; all LJs are also helpful reminding me of techniques. I love this meandering stage of making. I get severe FOMO as I start to focus, completely necessary and satisfying in a different way, but I am greedy.

As regards weaving, I've lost a... vision??? for now. I know what projects I have on the looms, what come next, etc., but I've momentarily lapsed into the familiar Is-it-better-to-keep-weaving-or-count-the-losses-and-quit mode. It's not as depressing as it sounds; more like the mild exasperation one feels after watching a few videos of reckless people doing potentially dangerous stunts. Do you know the feeling? I may be just feeling sorry for myself.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Kiwi$, GDPR, Coughing with Mimi, and Mom's Noose

My May Sale is still on, and I've been observing the exchange rates. Kiwi $ has been super low against US$, JP¥ and A$, while it's always been worthless against € and £; C$ is the only currency we're nearly on par with. So I've had on my mind Kiwi customers, and once again introduced lower Kiwi prices. I do this sometimes; pricing is hard for me, and while I don't have to worry about undercutting galleries now, (there is just the one piece unlike any in the sale in the one outlet I have,) I also keep in mind what other customers, from galleries or from me, paid for similar pieces. We'll see how it goes.

* * * * *

I read folks moaning about GDPR in a few places, particularly pertaining to small (craft) businesses outside EU. When I first heard about it, I admired EU's progressive outlook and envied citizens being protected thus, followed by being thoroughly annoyed by the gazillion websites asking for consent. Surely, you know I'm down here! Thus so far I've never sold anything up that way, so I started reading pointers more as a tourist.

Goodness me, they want all paper records locked up and devices password-protected when I'm pretty sure the Internet is the biggest threat. The magnitude of things one must do to comply, (granted a whole lot is "just in case"), is eye-watering. I haven't found a good "GDPR for small-scale handweavers selling online occasionally" link, but this is a list I made for myself so far:

GDPR for small timers.

1) I have a blog. I guess I need those annoying concent thing to pop up. How can I do this on Blogger?
2) I have a "business" FB page. Do I need to do something about that?
3) I don't do newsletters, e- or paper.
4) I only occasionally sell online, from my Blogger blog.
  a) I communicate via email but don't keep them after the customer receives the item. But I'm on gmail, so I'm sure they do.
  b) I DO KEEP EMAILS from NZ Post when I buy postage online, so this needs looking into, although so far nothing to EU.
  c) Paypal sales records are kept associated with my Paypal account over yonder; what do I do there? Again, so far no EU.
  d) Before Paypal, I issued invoices; I kept the electronic copies, email communications, and printed form for the last 7 years for tax purposes; my paper stuff needs to be locked, but again, so far no EU. 
  e) I don't save addresses, e- or paper, after the customer receives the item. A good business is supposed to keep communicating with them, but I'm more afraid of hackers getting their info via me so I delete everything.
  f) I don't keep a customer database, e- or on paper.
  g) I don't use the cloud.
  h) My laptop is p/w protected and I don't use a smart phone, though a lot of good that does in this era. I run a regularly-updated virus scan, but again, not confident.
  i) I have a tiny backup hard drive. I suppose that needs locking away, too, but again, no EU thus far.
  j) I don't teach; I've not written books. I think that's good

If you know any solutions to these questions, or can think of anything else to worry about, do please help me. My sincerest commiserations to EU and bigger-timer friends.

* * * * *

On Wednesday, I had the sniffles, so I went to The Met Opera's La Bohème on film armed with decongestant, tissues, water, nice smelling ointment, and throat candies. The first two acts went well, but Act 3, when Mimi starts coughing and begin her slow, musical descent to death, I started coughing, too. First I moved to an inconspicuous seat at the end of the row, but eventually I had to leave. I came home with two bottles of cough syrup and have been, ahem, overdosing on them. I'm furious I haven't been doing all the things I had planned for this week, that I'm under the weather, again. But also find it slightly funny; see, in high school, college and the first years at work, I went by the nickname of Mimi. And I haven't died yet.

So I've done little else but plonk on the couch knitting Mom's noose. She wanted shorter than 120cm but we didn't discuss how short, so I'm going for between 105-110cm, which look a little like a noose with all the "ropes"...
I've done 65cm and it's not going to be symmetrical.

Today would have been a chilly but nice gardening day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Some birds around here are like me; they are chirpier on cooler days. Fantails are going crazy although on their best behavior they're still crazy. A wax-eye came though a narrow crack in the living room window, panicked, and pooed all over the window sill. I couldn't catch it in Ben's big, soft leather gardening gloves, so "cornered" it in a cardboard box, and slowly moved the box towards the window's opening. Don't come back; you pooed too close to the cashmere stack.

* * * * *

I enjoy knitting in the evenings so much I've been going to bed an hour later every night but don't feel tired in the morning. If I wake up during the night, I can go back to sleep. I'm following what Oliver Sacks recommended: if I wake up, start doing something, (he meant reading,) I stop the moment I feel drowsy, because he wrote we have a 2-3 second window after which, (as in by the time I finish the sentence,) it's gone.

I happen to think my tubular scarves are pretty wonderful, if I may say so myself, and I know Mom is going to love it in spite of her protestations. I don't want to stop after Mom's, (even though by 60cm, I'm going to be sick of this particular one,) although these are too warm for Nelson. And my family is completely sick of Mom and me forcing scarves upon them. Then I thought, I have many friends in Minnesota! A mate in Maine who posts a bunch of shivery pictures! Surely there are a few more. And it doesn't get cold over yonder for another, oh, four months? Evil smile! Targets!! I'm scheming.

* * * * *

I fidgeted all morning, not tired, just restless, after having finished the work on May Sale. Funny how I had tons of great ideas of what to do next while working on it. It felt like a mini mental whiplash. While there are tons of little things that need doing/finishing ASAP, I kept refreshing my Facebook page and checking Emails every 15 seconds. Silly, I know. I was really looking forward to some culling and cleaning.

I kept eyeing the knitting right next to me, but it was cold and I knew downstairs would be easier to heap up. So I wove. Usual selvedge-to-selvedge weaving is a good workout, I don't need heating but clasped wefts are different.
Clasped weft is time-consuming, especially with three colors at once. For a while I thought I got a hang of it, knowing how to pay attention to the two boarders simultaneously; then I forgot where I was with the treadling. And this one is a no brainer: 4-3-2-1-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-1-2-3.) The technique requires my complete attention. I was about to quit a few times, but I grew interested in the way lines/shapes grew, and I kept going. After two, (three?) hours, I got about 20cm woven and I was quite done.

But here's my next problem. You know I'm not "small", but I'm very short. So with the piece advanced and the start of it over the breast beam, my middle keeps rubbing against it, sometimes distorting the shapes. And this is going to continue because I have my face just above the cloth when I do clasp the wefts.


* * * * *

"Solvitur ambulando," a phrase I learned today, but hardly a new concept. Is this why we go on, or how we go on???

Monday, May 21, 2018

Beef or Vegetarian?

I knitted Mom's scarf a little last night and today. I want this piece to be 120-130cm so I'll keep going until I reach 60cm-ish, (currently around 23cm,) and then reverse my... scheme. I'm designing as I go and taking notes.

It's been properly cold and windy and I love this time of the year. I made spinach soup and feijoa jam-thingie; I don't use much sugar at all, but let the fruit mixture cool and chuck in chia seeds. For dinner tonight, we had a choice of meat-eater, (Ben's beef casserole,) or vegetarian soups; we won't have to cook lunch or dinner for a day or two.

Oh, and I'm sure you are as sick of hearing me as I am of talking about it, so here's a not-so cryptic message.

To Do:
Online Sale

Please have a mosey and tell me what you think. (Did you notice the url says April? You and I know that was the plan, but shhhhhhh.)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Best Foot Forward

I'm nearly there. I worked hard on the online sale Thursday, Friday and today; but not yesterday; my eyes so needed a break. Instead, I went to the Saturday Market and bravely got measured by Maria and ordered, ahem, two linen dresses! Not even Mom is allowed to measure me, even though she always asks so she can buy me clothes when she checks out Japanese bargain sales, which are as crowded as morning commuter trains. Maybe next trip? Then we had dinner at Rosie's and Esther came as well. I shocked some teens because I said I'd bring "weed" salad when I meant "seaweed". We had a few good laughs, and for desserts, (along with cake, crumble and chocolate,) we listened to Bob Marley.
I stuck to as accurate colors as possible with photos. Though I didn't use them, some of the filters/effects in Ben's camera are so interesting and I'd like to use them for fun. I tried to make all blurb interesting but not overly long, like Washburn High School English assignments: long enough to cover everything but short enough to be interesting. I doubt a middle-age male teacher can get away with saying something like this nowadays, but it sure stayed with me over the years.
Two tasks remain, well three: 1) make my mind up on prices; 2) reread/recheck/revise; and 3) make my mind up whether to take out "Family History". I'm 98% for taking it out, but with Japan trip in mind, "at a discount" has been in the back of my mind.

I haven't woven or knitted for days. I so prefer making things, but selling is a necessary administrivia, isn't it. I washed a piece of very soft, peachy orange Indian cotton Mom gave me the summer after Dad died; it had faded in the strong Nelson sun, sitting in the ironing basket in the stash room. I got two kinds of darker blue Dylon packs for an indulgent tie-dye project for me to keep. Not that I need another new project; the area in front of our telly jammed with unfinished projects.

Still, it's a step forward.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Thoughts on Online Selling

I have 19 pieces for this sale. With the checklist updated, I know what needs doing for each item; some needs tags, photos, write-ups; others, only editing, maybe new photos. Plus (re-)pricing, making up more calico bags, (not for every single piece, but a few of smaller, a couple of mediums,) and twisting thrums to hang tags. And checking and rechecking what I wrote. I forecast a minimum of two days at the speed of the bullet train.

One great thing about forgetting so much is I can't remember why exactly I had another crisis of confidence last week. I know it was about technique, that I'm certain my best technique days are behind me. It's about looking at my work objectively, assessing desirability of individual pieces, what else folks could buy for similar prices, like going to a memorable concert or taking home a beautiful cookbook.

This last crisis started while inspecting my pieces, made worse by looking at photos of an impeccable Japanese textile exhibition. Yikes, every piece was parallel and perpendicular, it's a good thing I can't find the pics any more. But I don't remember much else, so I can't rehash those bad feelings, (which I am/was prone to do,) I can't relive the foreboding. Or is it re-boding?

I've moved beyond that; I regret, I lament, but I accept, I never achieved the technical expertise I aspired to, something I as a Japanese thought was the very first, fundamental step in any making. I won't stop looking for ways to improve, but regretting, that's for wussies. (Not to mention, one alternative is not making.)

Never mind, I'm feeling so enthusiastic about weaving at the moment.

With online selling, my biggest fear is misrepresenting the pieces. Conveying flaws, characteristics important to me, (i.e. "not as soft as my merino/cashmere",) and accurate colors, (at least on my monitor,) are priorities, although they can leave an impression of whopping negativity to some. In person, I am afforded a chance to observe prospective customers, and choose what/when to convey these things. I don't mean not telling, but they, too, notice things on their own. And then how shall I convey texture, the loveliness of such subjective experiences? I also like stories attached to pieces, and I have one for most pieces, but when I have 19 I don't want to overdo them. I also love moody pics and close ups, but how do they convey accuracy?
This was one of the "identifying flaws" pic that didn't work.

I used to be embarrassed by, (on behalf of?) a weaver who kept putting in the same pieces in exhibitions. I don't worry too much about my pieces living in galleries awhile, but what are we to do with leftover making in the long run? Even if they are nice and I as the maker think they deserve a loving human, it's embarrassing to keep putting them online. Do I need contingency plans beside mom, friends, and local charity shops?

Goodness, this making thing, it's endless!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dither, Dither.

Back in Feb/March, I thought it might be nice to have a big April Sale to start my new decade, along with nearly half a dozen other causes for celebration/commemoration I don't remember any more.

It's not as though I haven't done anything in the meantime, but I find it difficult to talk up my work in general, especially faced with booboos in many of the pieces, these being not just "maker's remorse", but obvious to Pat as well. So maybe a May Sale.

I've donated some to local charity, and I'm wondering how many here best follow them. But I'm serious today; I fired up the big monitor Ben bought me some years ago specifically to edit photos for my online shop, and to show further commitment, I made a warm drink in my trusty dog mug I bought in Dinkytown just before starting college in 1977.

Except the first task is to decide in what order I am going to present the pieces, and then to fill in my paper checklist to determine what job needs doing re. each piece. So the pic is only for show, as it turned out; I hadn't thought it through! 

Funny thing is, this week as my carrots, I have further culling of yarns and art supplies, followed by further reorganizing of upstairs stash room, and sorting out the red Syrie warp so Pat can help me wind it on the warp beam next week. Whereas at once I might have seen these as my sticks.

At least I got rid of the idea I could always make it a June Sale. (Yeah, I was procrastinating by putting up this post.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Twists and Turns

A couple of more things from Monday.

Pat liked B the best, because the shapes and sizes of color patches were most varied. Never mind my not-quite-anxiety about my favorite pieces never selling well, while meh-pieces sell well at the galleries. When I used to put things in multiple galleries. (Mom has been wanting to weave with discordant color combinations of late. Did I miss a memo somewhere?)

Pat also moved a few bits to get to the back of the book piles in the stash room, exposing my finger-painted figures on postcards. And goodness, I love them. They are not bad, either, for stuff I whipped up in days/weeks. Another friend recently moved out of the house he was born in, and had my drawings framed and hung in his new place. In custom-made simple frames, (exactly the kind I used in our class exhibition,) they look goooooooood. I miss my life drawing classes. It was, for me, such a great escape from the weaving grids; such leaping and bounding outside the norm in a completely risk-free way. Ronette is/was such a good teacher, but the classes became too expensive for me, as a regular, quarterly expenditure.

Rain, rain, rain... We used to have more intermittent rain in the winter, as in every few days. These days, it's dry spells followed by soaking spells. And frequent floods in flood-prone areas.

One of the missions during our upcoming Japan trip is to take Mom somewhere for more than one night as she's having a hard time finding mates to go away for more than one night. (Haven't asked about group tours, but she'll probably say she doesn't want to hang around a bunch of strangers if she hasn't got at least one mate/family to go with.)

We were thinking of Shikoku, (her dad's from Ehime,) or Kyushu, (her mom's from Miyazaki,) where it would most definitely be warmer than Yokohama in early November.

Yesterday, she says, "Early November - we can catch the leaves changing colors if we go up north. Let's go north, you haven't been north."

"But it's November; they might have snow the way weather is behaving this century."

"Oh, I hate snow. I would never go anywhere with snow. But let's go North to see the leaves."

So I secretly look up when leaves in Kyoto change - they're famous for their maples - it's south of Yokohama, though probably colder. But it's Kyoto and the aforementioned cousin and her husband know a lot about it. But I cringe at the thought of bringing up the the subject.

"Kyoto? Are you kidding me? TOO MANY HUMANS!"

So I shall go look up "leaves changing colors in November" in the hopes of finding somewhere south. My siblings would say it serves me right for having been the difficult child. I say I'm an extraordinarily good daughter. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

To Boldly Go Where Many Weavers have Gone Before!

I abandoned the stretchy cotton cowl project for now, and started the other idea I had while making Ben's scarf: I'm knitting Mom a short tubular scarf; she won't have to fold it in a certain way to achieve maximum warmth and it'll be short and tiny so she can put another decorative scarf on top and then put on a jacket/coat if she likes. The width is similar to a sleeve. And because it's tubular, i.e. less purling, it's going quicker.
The problem is, though, and I see this not as a problematic problem but one that requires thought/direction, is I find this more boring than Ben's. I'm using three strands rather than four I did with Ben's because it needed to be fluffier and lighter for Mom. Ben's had two strands of 100% in one color, one strand of a second color in 100%, and a fourth in the second color in silk/cashmere, which gave a comparative solid color plus light bits and sparkly bits. In comparison, Mom's has one strand of the first and the two others, so the overall color is lighter, but the cloth looks more mottled; funny that's the first word that came to mind while I used to see it more complex and interesting.

I don't know if my taste is changing, if I want to make/include bold into my visual vocabulary; I don't know if bold necessarily means flat, or if something can bold and complex/layered. I hope it can, i.e. a scarf can look bold from a distance, but delicate/complex/layered close up? See how many adjectives I can come up in defense of not-flat??
This is what I started on Esther's warp. The warp is far less complex than the previous clasped weft warp, only a gradation of five achromatics. I've put my cousin's husband's piece on the back burner because I haven't come up with (a) good weft color/s.

I wanted to use only black and white in the weft but don't have enough white, so I'm using a mid-gray as well. This white isn't even white but a very pale gray, and I wanted to use another pale gray, (second stripe from the right,) as the middle weft, but had none in 20/2. So the one in use is the same as the middle stripe, which makes logical sense.

It's FAR more time-consuming clasping at two places per pick, not just twice as. I want the lines to be more or less parallel, but that's not as easy as I thought. With three colors, the middle color determines the size and the shape of the two stripes on the sides, so every pick I should weave the mid-gray first, but I find that unnatural and want to start from the side. What's weirder is the lines are so different from each other. I don't know why they're turning out this way, except that it's raining and the light in the basement is different, not necessarily darker, but with the new position for the loom, unfamiliar. I also envisioned the mid-gray being much skinnier, sandwiched between black and white, but that's not working, yet, either.
Some weeks ago I took gazillion pics of leaves from one tree. I had clasped-weft composition in mind, but also, you know what they say about mixing red and green in textiles? The more they say "don't", the more I see possibilities. Hee hee. Also rare for me to look to nature for inspiration, but then I had an hour to kill before Ben was ready to go home, and saw the tree in the parking lot.

Which reminds me of something I read a few nights ago: "If I had been a real writer I might have found post-modern beauty or at least a few lines that pretended I did. But I was an islander from an island at the world's end where the measures of all things that mattered was not man-made, and such sights that moved modern literature did not move me." Richard, Flanagan, "First Person"

I look to stories, fiction or non-fiction, history, art, architecture and literature/lyrics for inspiration. I grew up near Tokyo, and then spent a few years in Minneapolis pre-Internet. After 23.5 years in NZ and most of it in little ol' Nelson, and in the era of ever plentiful Internet, I find myself split in two: a keen awareness of not knowing what's going on elsewhere, or not being able to see it/them in person, of my own FOMO, (that's "fear of missing out", Mom,) on the one hand; and the relief from and appreciation for living far, far away from the trends/fashion/news/noise. That's something I've had to learn how to do, but I prefer living in the basement inside my head. 

Pat came over yesterday to have a look at my clasped weft pieces, my stash, and my basement, to strategize. Online sale is still front and center on that list; I'm moving at a fast snail's pace in the culling department, but I do see bright lights at the end of a long and curvy tunnel now. Pat clarified for me rules for keeping/culling yarns and art supplies:

1) Nelson and New Zealand are hard places to get interesting/good yarns or art supplies, and postage and exchange rates are crazy even with Internet shopping,  and now we're going to be taxed 15% sales tax on all overseas purchases. Experimenting is good, keeping yarns “just in case” is not a sin, and I have some interesting stuff, so keep what I’ll have a hard time replacing unless it violates 3);
2) Tapestry loom may take me into different direction/s so I may want to hold on to certain yarns with which I may not want to weave scarves but want to use as wefts. We see lots and lots of bag fabric;
3) Clarify experimentation and non-product material from nice-garment material. And for goodness sales, Do not waste time weaving "not me" pieces I’ll then have to make excuses for in making them sound attractive. Nice. OK.

I spent last night rewriting my new rules into actionable culling checklist, and I'm ready for another go. There is always FOMO about yarns that survived years of culling, but I do have oh, so much nice thin merinos, cottons and silks that I want to weave with! But then what if I want to change directions completely and work with fat yarns for bold expressions?

And we haven't even touched the subject of books.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


The last few days I dithered avoiding what was supposed to be the big April online sale. Today, discussing our credit card bills and such with Ben, I finally decided to get off my unsmall. Still moving like the sloth that I am, because it's been so dark today, I decided to do some photographing.

On these occasions, showing my pieces as attractively as I can manage has always taken a back seat to trying to represent the colors, (at least on my screen,) as accurately as possible. Plus, today, I found all kinds of fun filter settings on Ben's camera, which enhanced the moods of some of the pieces.
I also wanted to show you Esther's piece; in the light pic the weft was flat, but in the dark pic the silk just glittered.

Well, you'll just have to take my word for it.
Probably the fav of the day.
Ha ha.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Done, Done, Choices, Start, and Just Get Cracking

Ben's cable-knit scarf was finished Wednesday night. I let it relax a bit and washed it today, according to the cashmere source's instructions, much the way you would wash/press a knit garment. Even though I ignore her instructions on how to wash woven pieces and do my regular wool process: hot-cold-hot-cold, spin, then hottest steam press with press cloth, the end results look similar.

The sides of the scarf curl back; while I was knitting it it was an almost-tube. Had I known this, I would have made it a tube to begin with because it is faster for me. I'm OK with knitting, but not so with purling (?); I'm super slow and constant redoing the purl part. But if feels great and Ben loves it, tubey or not tu-be.
I also finished weaving Esther's yesterday and just washed it. It's a solid, meaty piece, but I haven't been able to make as great fringes as I used to. Come to think of it, I get good fringes with merino and cotton, but I've often had to rework cashmere fringes. I can't imagine twisting it any more as I squeeze maximum number of twists in all my fringes, but this needs investigating. I wonder if something has changed in the way the cashmere yarns are spun.

I thought I'd weave a scarf for my cousin's husband from the same warp because he treats me to the yummiest eateries around Tokyo every time I go home but having looked at his many photos on Facebook, I haven't figured out his favorite colors. There is one powder blue I like and he has one sweater that includes something close to it, but on its own I don't have enough. I might weave something else first, like the black and white clasped weft, while I sit on the decision.
I started a new knitting project last night, too; loose cowls for me and possibly Mom using Brazilian stretchy cotton, but if you think I (don't) keep horrible weaving records, I work out my knitting as I knit, and I wanted to modify something I did before but I couldn't remember, and then I thought I am misremembering. Oh dear. But the bigger problem is this cotton is SO dusty and I can't stop sneezing and scratching, so I might change my mind and do a short, tube cashmere scarf for Mom.

I am so OCD, in the garden I must have a plan for a discernible patch to start weeding. On Tuesday I dithered for so long I exasperated myself, and finally parked myself in the middle of the hellebores and weeded. It's my favorite spot, of course, and it's looked dire but usually to get there I start from the right, at the bottom of the steps and take half a day before I reach the hellebores, or occasionally from the right, which includes the oh-so neglected alstroemeria patch I'll need three (?) days to reach the hellebores without touching the ivy along the retaining wall. Thinking outside the mental cage worked; it was a good two and a half hours. I should have gone out again yesterday but it took me all morning to make seafood chowder and I was desperate to finish Esther's piece. Today it's raining.

Last night when I went to fetch firewood, right outside our front door, I sensed a presence nearby, and it was a fattest, rudest possum! We found poo last spring and lost new shoots from all the blubs in pots, but when a Facebook gardening group told me it was possum poo, I was completely in denial. Well, now I know! Birds, including giant unafraid wekas, cats, dogs, (there once was a roaming bull mastiff!), hedgehogs, rodents, and now a possum in the suburb! Possums are pests in New Zealand, and along with rats and stoats and cats, destroy native flora and fauna; they are detrimental to native birds. We're allowed to catch/kill possums, but the two townies haven't got a clue what to do. (I was supposed to ring the Council if they can help, but forgot and it's 4.45!)

We booked our tickets to go to Japan in Oct/Nov. Ben's going for three weeks; I'll stay for two weeks longer, and while Ben's there we'll stay in a hotel. It's going to be fun as it's Ben's first trip back since Dad died in 2013, but the costs are making my eyes water. I best get my online sale going to help me.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

New Week

Esther's Santas were finished on Sunday; they have turned into Unseen University faculty. See Rincewind?? Their wizard weirdness and arguments are deafening; good thing they will live outside. Ben hates gnomes; I'm surprised he's looking forward to these guys being dotted around the place.
I'm trying out a new orientation for the four-shaft in consideration for where the tapestry loom might go. This orientation gets better lighting for weaving, but it seems to take up a whole lot more space, and I don't like it because I can't get a straight line for winding on the warp. The loom can be tilted slightly to this end, except it's so delicate I spent much time adjusting the angle while putting on Esther's warp.
Esther asked for an traditional look. After sampling, a number of achromatic weft choices looked flat, so I'm using 20/2 100% in mid gray, (same as the center warp,) and a slightly lighter gray in silk/cashmere, together. It doesn't look exciting now, but after washing silk will shine, so it will look a little more complex/interesting. That's the plan. And 83cm woven.

Ben's knit scarf is now 136cm. Or 132cm. Knitting stretches so much I'm having having difficulties getting an accurate read, but it will be done this week.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


Hello, again. It's been a week.

Ben's cable-knit scarf has reached a meter, 103cm to be exact. Best evenings I managed 7cm-ish, so I'll be happy if I'm done this week because I have three/four smaller knitting projects in mind already.
Here are the two from black merino/mohair warp in the same hellebore draft. The piece on the left has scalloped selvedge on both sides in places, but not enough to "disqualify", and has a super duper pleasing hand. The silk piece on the right has uneven beating and in this draft, it's like very obvious. But the big-dog-leaning silk weight is luxurious. Not sure how to deal with this.
The sent-to-me-by-mistake weft is a warp yarn, probably merino. I didn't believe my eyes nor all the reading because even back then it was impossible to source them that I knew of. (Which is probably why this was not on their website; I'm thinking a secret/special order?) It doesn't full, but sits/floats on top of the cloth. In this context, with the piece looking like a whole bunch of similar faces, I like the uncommitted/uncertain appearance.

This weft is skinny and compared to what I normally use, wiry, almost like  thicker mercerized cotton. Yet with the merino/mohair warp, fulled, the resultant cloth doesn't feel like a mixture of two distinct materials, not like wire and fluff I've also woven in the past. The piece has a hard-to-describe texture; it's super drapey, not cushy/clingy; has a sophisticated grown-up feel, definitely a special outing piece and not for "sick day in bed" comfort, (I tell this to all my cashmere customers, and some wear them as prescribed!) and it has been a most surprising outcome. 
Now for the fun part; the first clasped weft warp, almost a year in the making. The picture shows what I was seeing as I wove, i.e. starting from the near side finishing at the far side.

A was the fist and the only piece from the first threading, after simplifying the treadling. I had no other plan than to not change the colors too often and not to use three at once, so each color section is long. The sizes of the sections and color combination is most pleasing to me. Even that the palest lime patch is not exactly in the middle lengthwise is a nice touch.

You can see I started B out more ambitious. but got a little tired and the sections grew longer. As I wove I wasn't sure about the twill design; I thought a regular pattern/draft showed the irregular color changes better. And the lime green looks out of place.

C and D, I chose the weft colors first; in fact, while weaving B, I thought the saturated crayon colors very attractive and wound and lined up the bobbins for C, but as a whole piece, I'm not sure. I know it'd look good on black/charcoal/navy. I also started to think changing the direction of the twill so often wasn't making the piece necessarily more interesting. I tried to recreate the balance I liked in A.

Then came D. I'm sure I've seen a few like this in the past, though possibly done by dyeing. I chose the dark yellow first, and wanted another color that didn't compete and chose the lime, though now I'm not sure about the selection. I prefer the loud, impactful combination like A, at least similar intensity in the two colors. I also simplified the treadling a whole lot more.

The blue/purple part of the warp has three colors, which came through beautifully while weaving, especially with the lime weft part, but after fulling, that's looking ho hum; it looks much better with the navy weft in B and C.

Next warp is Esther's in black/white gradation. After I weave hers, I'm thinking of weaving another in the style of D with black and white wefts, a night time city skyline.

At the moment I'm more interested in the color interactions in the clasped weft pieces than the shapes.

I've been looking at the brown piece, and I like the draft better ever day. I am contemplating using the gray warp to weave better-planned pieces, (i.e. threaded symmetrically,) but I'm not sure. The original squares idea is just as appealing.

* * * * *

I've had the biggest carbohydrate blowout in the last year and a half, a week of munching on crackers, chocolate, ice cream and frozen berries; I even ate a bowl of cereal! Though we've never been completely off carbohydrate, I've never blown so completely and consciously so far. I've been despondent and disgruntled by our meals for a while, (so boring!!) without trying; if you do carbo-free seriously, meals aren't as boring as you'd expect, and the body becomes so sensitive to all kinds of flavors and smells, every meal is sensational. That hadn't be the case for a while chez B&M; I still make sauerkrauts and other bottled stuff; we still have protein sitting on top of a big salad, but when Ben's not home, I'll even fetch a step ladder to dig into our "special/sometime" treats.


Monday, April 30, 2018

Unreal Knitting / Culling

I'm not a real knitter and sometimes folks misunderstand this to be false humility, but let me explain. I know there is the kind of knitting many folks do, that Mom did voraciously all my childhood, and then there's my kind of knitting; I don't think in terms of shapes or finished product, a usable garment, but as a  square/rectangular/tubular canvas on which to play with shapes and 3D-ness within the viewfinder. Colors so far have been are accidental.

Knitting can start the moment I decide to start, and I have only two sets of needles so I make the yarns fit the needles. I only play with cables. Everything is so simple and it's instant gratification compared to weaving. Except when I get the crazy idea I want to make something. I managed 60cm of Ben's scarf after a week/10 days. The last couple of days I started making mistakes and have been spending a lot of time remedying.

I culled yarns Friday. It helps to have a criteria, so though with great regret, I donated big cones of puffy, slubby wool, one in all kinds of gray, and another in terribly beautiful late-autumnal colors. Both sat on my "display" shelf from time to time because they were excruciatingly beautiful, and sampled a few times, but were much too coarse after wet-finishing. I was more successful with culling silks, cottons and unknowns, with some exceptions: I saved some plant-dyed fat single silks because I've never woven with then, the colors are lovely spring meadow colors in harmony, (although a couple have started fading,) and I'd like to try them in tapestries or bag material in tapestry-like style. I also saved rug warp cottons. I saved two huge cones of synthetic chenille because of the fabulous mid/dark purple; I might knit with it. Wool is harder to cull as what's left are lovely and there's always that chance of magical transformation after washing. I saved massive amounts of Mom's hand-dyed handspuns, all in old NZ wool, possibly from two or three different breeds, (though it could be that some colors feel coarser?) in fabulous array of blues, some peach/oranges, and some undyed, all meant to look lovely together. They are not merino, quite coarse, so I might make picnic blankets, for example. (We still use wool picnic blankets here.) And it's the last big lot of Mom's hand-dyed handspuns, so of course I'll give it a go before parting with them.

We took them to the Hospice shop on Saturday. I was slightly embarrassed about the amount; the duty staff was terribly appreciative at first, but slightly mortified when I told here there may be more. I probably gave three large rubbish bags full? It made a noticeable dent at home, but still only a dent.

The books, though, around which I've been piling up ever higher and gingerly walking around so as not to topple them, worry me. The Fear of Missing Out is greater - I want to read them all and then reread them. That's going to be a whole other post.
It's taken me so long to weave the second and third pieces on the current cashmere warp I can't remember what they look like, except the second was utterly random, third had a bit of color scheme. I simplified the visual on the fourth: two colors and changing the direction of the twill a lot less often. It's true, simple can pack a punch; I can concentrate on the lines better. I love the last bit of curve I managed to make, and in the future I might actually make a template of pleasing lines.

Or not. Who am I kidding. Right?

Friday, April 27, 2018


I'd be a troll in Discworld because I function decidedly better in cooler weather; I can think better and do stuff. It's a bit sad if a productive day is a cause to celebrate, but heck, it's better than so many things.

I even have a different pattern of insomnia now; I wake up a couple of times a night, but after a short while of reading or even screening, I fall back asleep. I'm reading more printed books, and can manage some winter evening projects, like knitting or needlepoint.

One major reason for my mood upbeating, (didn't want to say "upbeat mood", which limits the upbeatness to here and now?) is because Ben's return to garden work. We used to work outside together. Then he didn't. Then I started on my own, only in the cool seasons. Then I didn't. But it is so much faster, Ben can tackle bigger/heavier/deeper things, and we discuss the garden beyond him speaking theoretically and my disagreeing from experience or due to practicality. And if a cute, mideum-sized skip is all it takes, I'm happy to invest in hiring it  several times a year; it's equivalent to my selling one large piece!

In fact, all the work we put in over Easter lifted the myriad of diabetes/depression-related clouds we've had since our first encounter, which started on Feb 5 but now I can't remember if it was in '02 or '03. I feel I have some control over portions of our lives. Good, eh.
Re. composition, for the next gray project on the big loom, in a tied weave with which I'd like to familiarize myself, I'm thinking of the vertical version, only because the first idea inspired by Stella's cuffs was horizontal. Truth to tell, I think I've seen both versions online, the vertical looks fresh and new to me. Vertical may cause havoc with tension/shrinkage due to warp ends on one side of  getting more workout than the other. Humm. Silver, white or mid-gray of various fibers in the weft; not a wide piece.
One night while crocheting a boring but useful piece, now done, I got the idea of a narrow knit scarf with one big cable going up the middle, rather than two skinny one climbing up symmetrically, which is how I tend to think of cable knits. And after four or five false starts...
I'm using four strands of two colors/two styles of my weaving cashmere. It's going to be a nice wee scarf, so light and soft, probably warmer than woven because of all the air pockets.

Sorry for the almost-rainy-day pics; now that I've typed the text, the sun's been out and gone again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


After the last post on Sunday I didn't go outside but washed two fringed pieces, two warp-end fabric pieces, and vinegar-bathed three pieces, which, well, resulted in my now-usual "woe, the technique" cry.
The brown piece with my handspun single was always going to be experimental, but after wet-finishing I remembered it was one of my earlier spinning experiments and the size of the yarn, random. Horizontal stripes, parts that feel stringy, etc. Charity shop donation?

The big disappointment was the very long cashmere-warp/possum/merino/silk-weft red piece; I didn't see a treadling mistake until I was pressing after wet-finishing. Other disappointments came from past pieces and fabrics not being as "square" as I had thought/hoped. Some weren't as bad as I thought. As I wove further on the third clasped weft piece, and fringed two last pieces currently off the loom, I couldn't shake the foreboding that these will turn out icky, or wacky.

So that was the bad part.

Ben and I haven't stopped thinking and talking about the tapestry loom. And be it the upstairs stash room or the basement, I need further de-stashing, de-booking, de-junking to make room for it. Which might take all winter, if I can manage it in that time. Which wasn't a problem with Glenys.

The task feels overwhelming. The last time I did the whole room was probably 2009, even though I've clean incrementally periodically, but never as thoroughly as I used to, or wished. Will I have the stamina to do a good job? Will I make enough room for the monster tapestry loom?

On Monday, I was looking at stash room's ceiling height, when I saw the very vine NZ merinos I've collected on my top shelf; those yarns, ideas, projects have been put on so far back the back burner while I worked through the stash they almost felt like a previous-me's thoughts. It was like running into an old friend after a terribly long absence. But those are the projects I want to be weaving.

I did not realize how much burden my mother's stash have been. Sure, I made a healthy one myself, but they are, in varying degrees, to my taste, whereas Mom's are mind-boggling mixture of fibers, sizes, styles, and more greens than both of us will ever weave in our lifetimes. Remember, she's the one who had the roof of the old house raised for excess yarnage. There was so bloody much.

I don't blame her for my having rescued them. Not entirely. They are good quality yarns, all natural fiber. Her hand-dyed hand-spuns are old wool with scales and she is/was a pretty good spinner. And then the silk; the variety of silks you can still get in Japan, (albeit most are produced in China,) is nothing like here. And mementos from her travels add flavor.

It wasn't as if I rescued indiscriminately; only old wool, silks, anything cashmere, and good colors. Mom's also given loads to a weaver who teachers weaving to those with learning disabilities; I've given plenty to our local charity shops, plural. I took these on as challenges to stretch my weaving imagination these last years, and have used a bit, to different degrees of satisfaction and sell-ability. But there is so bloody much.

I'm 60 now, (and if you think I talk about age a lot, there are ages significant in Japan, 20, 77, 88, 99, and 60 - or strictly speaking January 1 60 years after one is born - is one of them;) I'm slowing down, every projects requires more time and energy, and if I concentrating on stash-busting, I will never get around to making the fabulous/heavenly/exquisite pieces I'm meant to weave.

Realizing my privileged burden was really big. Turns out a big chunk of Dad's investment into Mom's weaving, that portion she didn't use up, was turning into not an inheritance but a kind of debt for me. I've felt re-energized about weaving ever since. I put a sheet over the "Syrie" warp, the mill, the reed and all, and chose a gray merino warp to practice a tie weave inspired by Stella's cuffs. These will be mostly white or undyed wefts on a gentlest, softest gray merino.

I'm going to be (even more?) self-centered, and will adopt a new criteria for yarn culling: will this contribute to my making a piece I'll be glad to put my label on? The practical culling will probably be done in a few steps, as I've seen potential in all the yarns I've kept and good yarns are hard to let go. I'm especially a sucker for nice colors. And then there is the Fear of Missing Out; I might be giving away an opportunity for a great discovery, a new favorite.

But the time to play around and experiment is over, at least for now, and I'd like to concentrate and perfect (yikes!) what I set out to do when I decided I like to weave. Ditto with books of all genre, art supplies, fabric and sewing stuff. Collage material was culled big time Monday although I might get rid of everything altogether, because they are easy to replace. Yarn/color samples I  culled yesterday; I'm not even sure if some of the companies still exists but even the pretty or sentimental samples are gone. And there's something special in bringing in this kind of newness by choice in life at an older age.
Books are going to be the hardest. I have so many and what I kept are so interesting. These were what was under our bed a few months ago; I catalogued all the van Gogh books so I don't double up, but found far more, and new respectable piles emerged. And we have no space in any of the bookshelves in three rooms. Saving boxes made things worse, but I won't know whether to sort yarns in many smaller boxes or fewer large ones. I want to clean my closet, too. And put all the seeds and propagated pants into the ground or give them away. (I'm trying not to put the garden on the back burner again.)

It would be great if 2018 turns into a year of culling/shedding/unloading.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Checking In

If I don't post somewhat regularly, my posts can get somewhat long, :-D, so let me sum up what I've done since the last post.

I haven't woven, but I've mended four pieces and two warp-end fabric; fringed two pieces, the second red piece, and the brown/white piece; which leaves the two pieces from the merino/mohair warp to fringe. Then a bunch of washing, and loving vinegar rinse for pieces I withdrew from The Suter; then an online "Send Meg to Japan for Mama's 88th Birthday" sale. :-D I've checked all the pieces, started entering status on a checklist, and thought whether to change the way I organize the information for the sale. It'll probably be similar to the past sales because after testing out different styles, it settled on the style I felt comfortable. Albeit a unexciting! :-<

Esther graciously adopted some of my warp-end fabric; I've also asked Stella if I could show her some. They both sew. In fact, damn these Kiwi women, most know how to sew well, they preserve/jam fruits and veg deliciously as a normal seasonal thing, and bake without shortcuts. Esther gave me feijoa chutney, feijoa paste and feijoa upside-down cake, the last of which I devoured like an animal in front of her, (ahhh, refined flour!) and mixed her chutney with my chilli sauce to marinade chicken for dinner. These are women much younger than me; somehow I can forgive older women being fabulous domestic goddesses, but these young'uns! Not mention men who embroider or knit beautifully; we bossily asked one to knit Ben a stylish new sweater. Pictures to come.
Besides jewelry, books, sewing and everything else, Stella is known for her fabulous vintage garments, but this was a stunner; not only the beading on the front bodice and sleeves "rise up", but even the stitching to hold them was part of the decoration, on the inside of the sleeves. (Oh, to be a maker of this caliber! And no wonder Stella has to handwash most of her clothes.) 
Pat and I went to see the aforementioned tapestry loom at Glenys's, and, whoa, I feel as though we went to view a VW Beetle and was shown a Jag. Or a Jeep. It's an impressive Australia machine, huge, heavy, flexible, (Glenys thinks I could easily make it four shafts, at least with harnesses if not the treadles,) and it comes with a built in warping board at the back. I was reminded of my childhood upright piano. 190cm high, 160cm wide, 100cm deep plus me, a bench or chair, and some gap.
At first Pat and I, without consulting, thought it was ridiculous to think I could have it anywhere in my house without major reorganization not just of weaving spaces, but it is a magnificent loom I started wondering what else I could weave,  and also about when I'm even older and can't handle weaving on the four shaft, standing and bending over. I need to cool down and also look at my spaces particularly the basement where the ceiling is slightly higher.

Pat and I also discussed alternative ways of making clasped weft cashmere pieces; tables looms, which I already have, was the first solution except I can see so little of the progression of the designs; I also proposed constructing a simple frame loom, about which Pat was adamant I'd be thoroughly frustrated all too quickly.

Maria has been selling linen clothing at the Saturday market. I was too late yesterday to see her wares, but I found her position and the one piece I saw was fabulous; I don't think I've known such thick but soft linen in my life; in fact my experience of linen has only been with a stiffish summer fabric that no matter how much I moisten, creases before I finish pressing. I never understood why Ben loves them so much.

Maria's garments, on the other hand, were thick with a luxurious soft feel, won't need fussy pressing, are not just for summer. And Maria researches every so carefully I not only trust her, but if I have questions, she can tell me things about her products I didn't ' know I didn't  know. Like these Lithuanian linen fabric is prewashed with enzymes to bring out the softness. Don't be surprised to see me in a loose-fitting dress. Even the sandbags that hold down her tent down in the wind were beautifully made gray bags. I will photograph all when I get there early enough, hopefully next Saturday.

Last week was really a week of friends; I ran into Gavin and Jenny, also. Gavin is not making jewelry any more, and Jenny started easing up on her volunteer work. I do love them both; they are such lovely people; it was lovely to see them.

Today I have to get outside to do a little garden work to stop soil sliding down the slope where I already put in hellebores, knowing I was working backwards. But what's new. And then either some washing or more fringing.

I got seriously tipsy on virgin margaritas at lunch yesterday. That's what 60 looks like.

This was a good week.