Thursday, August 30, 2018

Heyho from Planet Meg

Still here, and I still sound like I have a terrible cold, but I've been doing OK most days.
I've been needlepointing. I started casually connecting interesting bits with uninteresting filler shapes, didn't like it one bit, so I'm back to trying to fill the gaps with equally interesting shapes, which takes longer but is more satisfying.  I've also started thinking of a next piece, slightly larger, similar, maybe in the same colors give or take a couple, but with a somewhat more ordered/planned bent.
I've been knitting some nights, but it's getting longer and harder to manage; I have to fold it to shove it under the coffee table afterwards.
And look, the weaver has been weaving. I got so tired of not weaving, I threaded simply and resurrect some of my Nirvana drafts in different skinny merinos. Rather than bother with the pebbles/snow flake/night sky shenanigan. This weft is my very precious super skinny undyed merino with scale, probably the second or third last piece to be woven with this yarn as I'm really running out.
But not a lot happening here; it's hard on the body and I can't afford to work on this one halfheartedly. I have been having so much problems finding the sweet spot on my glasses, I went in for an eye check, and my lovely optometrist Julie told me although the lens prescriptions haven't changed much, both my glasses are old and one frame in particular has had it. So I'm going to look for frames in Japan suitable for a nose with no perceptible bridge; these are hard to come by here, as you can imagine, and a couple of times they had "Asian models" sent from overseas, once from Vienna, but there's not much choices. Jim can fit the correct lens here later.

The follow-up screen print workshop scheduled for last weekend got moved to early October due to low interest, but I keep fiddling with prints I made, one's I started but haven't finished, and also making new backgrounds.

Bigger accomplishment has been tidying the hellebore patch, which looked good 11 days ago, and has been satisfying. The cold wet winter did them a favor and I have more flowers than last year, but still find the infant mortality rate too high. It's getting warmer, we have more sun, and it keeps raining every now and then, so weeding the patch, not to mention the rest of the place, is pure Kafka. Power tools, little people, dogs and balls are definitely coming back outside. I miss winter already; I hadn't appreciated the quiet enough.

I culled my books, had friends over to have a look and take them away, which was successful considering many of my books were much older than I imagined, and in the end I held on to most of the art books and exhibition catalogues. I even put back "some" language-related books on the shelves, and put some weaving and somewhat-related books up for adoption here. The stash room feels roomier, but that's mostly due to stuff off the floor. Even after I redistribute all books and magazines by any means possible, about a shelf's worth of van Gogh books still need a shelf, books are still too tightly fitted sometimes many fall out when I pull out one, and at least one big box of wool need to come up from downstairs.

Answer: weave.

The best part of book purge has been the company of friends; I've been in touch with many and have seen some I hadn't for some time. Sally wanted to see the looms so we moseyed on downstairs and I went far beyond the usual "this is how a loom works" spiel. And we had some lovely book and art talk upstairs; Alain de Botton got more than a few mention but I missed the start of the conversation and was never quite sure what it was about.

I also love that we had a really good cleaning session a while back; Ben was scheduled to work that weekend so his only duty was cheesecake, but work was cancelled so we cleaned the house with gusto, which he didn't enjoy. It might even have been the first time we had many friends over at once since... Christmas Eve 2004??? We had gotten rid of many chairs for me to reclaim the floor so it was humorous at times; Ben wanted to buy  a love seat or a couch for the gathering but I'm glad we didn't. (We still might because the current love seat is too short for Ben to lie down on.)

What else? All the weight Ben and I lost in 2017, we've found and then some. I've been saying we need to get back on board with the virtually-no-carbo diet, but it's up to me, and I haven't. It's harder in the cold winter; carbo is comforting.

Ben and I are taking Mom to Matsuyama, close to Grandpa's home town, in Shikoku, and my favorite cousin the senior is coming with us; her dad was mom's older brother but passed away at a ridiculously young age. I'm the short-tempered travel agent, and I should not consult Mom on everything because the trip is shaping up to be what Ben and I envisioned would be easiest and most pleasurable at the start, in Feb, i.e. to stay put and operate from a hub. Instead, because I try to please everybody, I'm perpetually looking things up and changing bookings and boy, can Mom change her mind!!

I should know by now not to deal with Mom the way I did with Dad. (Textbook control-freak but decisive.) I try not to take to heart her every casual whim but I'm not composed enough while Ben's and my cousin have built-in, hardcore laid-back-ness. Thank goodness. Nevertheless, I'm aware this could be Mom's last long trip, and I do so desperately want to make it as memorable and pleasurable to her as I can, so it's a balancing act between asking/listening and using my judgement, which turns out to be right more often than I give myself credit for.

Except yesterday. I made the wrong call. Skype day today, and time to correct it, and I'll pay the cancellation fees.

I think I'll go weave some before that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

And Then...

I started knitting straight away after posting on Monday. But about an hour later...
Yikes! I feel sad because all my needles are Mom's so this baby might have predated me. This is the second go for Rosie. Better proportion, right?  

Before I went to the print workshop, I looked at a lot of images on Pinterest and arrived at a British artist Helen Terry's these two images side by side. And I can't stop thinking if there is a way to weave this on 16; perhaps a diluted facsimile if I'm very vigilant, but I can't think right away. Still, I want to get a start. I've been really eager to weave on the big loom, but not the old style fancy twill. At least not at the moment. 

I'm trying to look at my print stuff every day so I don't have to think hard but a few good ideas might/could/would surface gradually. I've dome to really like this style of "thinking".

Right. As you were. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Screen Print with Judith

I went to a three-day screen print workshop with Judith. It's my third time, but the first two were in '02 and '04 and this was the first I attended that included printing on paper. (This is why I wanted to go!)

I wanted to do something loose and manual/analog, so I dug into my gesture drawing. I seem to fall in love all over again with the Friday home time drawings in Feb, '12. Finally these two pages had to come off the sketchbook so I can scan. (Apologies for the bad pics, it didn't rain today but was dark all afternoon.)
Based on the four best, I prepared four screens, and also prepared some sheets with acrylic wash. (Note to self: I must practice wash to make them more attractive.)
Background (We'll call this B): first layer; wax resist was applied to the part of the screen where the four figures would be printed. Unfortunately I had too little space between the screen frame and the print area, and the tape I used to define the print area was icky, so none of the test prints printed nicely, which turned out to be a good thing.
Stencil 1 (S1): second layer; this "stencil" was printed on to emulsion and exposed like photograph using a mylar as a negative. When the screen is washed, the emulsion on the unexposed part, (clothes, hats,) washed off.
Stencil 2 (S2): third layer; I cut out some clothes, hats and shoes from an architect's film. The film is then taped to a screen with no prepared design.
Pencil Line (P): top layer; the photographic or keyline technique mentioned in S1 is really for these fine, nuanced lines, drawings/designs and photographs. I was thinking of a more manual method for the outline, but Judith and Kath, a classmate with lots of experience, both convinced me I'd be happier with photographic method which maintains the pencil lines faithfully. I'm glad I followed their advice.

Throughout the preparation I was mindful I didn't want the different layers to go on top of each other precisely, so I varied the shapes in B, S1 and S2 slightly. None match each other or fit precisely inside P. There was an element of working this blind, (without test prints,) but I'm happy with the results. 
Very old house paint sample wash, S1, S2, P. So, pretty much to plan.
Same as above but S1 did not print evenly and I love it.
S1 and P with P going on faintly. I could paint this in and finish if I like.
Acrylic wash, S1, P; unlike the one above, two layers printed evenly.
 Very old house paint sample wash, uneven S1, P. One of my favs.
Very bad job of B, then P. My fav; the background is very varied and interesting from the middle to the right.
Acrylic wash, S1, S2. I could try to draw the outline, but I see P as the finishing touch and prefer to print it.

By masking areas, I could have used multiple colors for clothes and accessories using the two stencil screen, but I was short of time. I also didn't meant to print as many as I did, but Judith kept telling me to push down harder so I don't get the "orange skin" effect, (apparently undesirable, but I actually love it; it suits the clothes, hats and shoes; might try to shoot with Ben's camera,) so I kept printing. I so wonder if it has to do with my cheap acrylic paints, too.

Too often I sacrifice making colors I like for expediency, and regret later. This weekend I paid attention and took time to mix carefully, another reason why I don't have many colors on the prints. But I love my colors. 

* * * * *

I first met Judith sometime between '00 and '02 when she ran a mixed media drawing workshop in the days when there weren't mixed media "products", so she introduced us to what are now seen as traditional material, but how to use them together, and to use everyday items in innovative ways to manipulate them. Many of which I still use in my mixed medias but can also be used as backgrounds for prints. I love that my various interests are converging.

Judith is such a terrific teacher at the completion of the first workshop I was compelled to write to the polytech congratulating them for having such an employee. I went to my first screen print workshop only because that was her next evening workshop and never imagined I'd enjoy it this many years later. I'm tempted to invest in a small setup (A4? Smaller?) for paper printing when I get back from Japan, but for now I hope Judith will continue to hold these workshops, which are more like retreats where equipment/material and her knowledge are available, but we do more or less our own things. Because, among other things, I have so many half-done sheets!

* * * * *

Tuesday to Thursday last week I was so worried I wouldn't be well enough for the workshop I took drastic measures. I started the day with a litter of very thick  grated ginger/turmeric/galangal/honey/lime or lemon/pepper hot drink, then soaked in a hot bath, and went back to bed until lunch time. Wednesday I added hot, diluted ginger wine to the mix, hoping the alcohol might kill germs. By Thursday I was desperate and dipped into Ben's single molt throughout the day and stayed in bed longer. (I remembered about this friend who is very healthy but when she gets a cold she hunkers down with a large bottle of Scotch!)

I wondered if I should not go to the workshop at all, but I had planned and prepared so I decided to leave early if I didn't feel great. Well, there is no time to feel sick in Judith's workshop, the mind keeps churning out ideas! I did leave about half an hour early on Day 1 to buy paint because I was completely out of reds and blues, but otherwise I was all in, then a fair bit of Scotch every night.

I haven't worked on the needlepoint for a while, but I undid Rosie's scarf Option 1 a week ago Sunday and started on Option 2. I love the new color and proportion, but it doesn't have the heavenly soft feel, but it's good start. I can make her another later. I'll show you a picture in the near future, but I knitted a little last night.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Segway / Day Job

Annabelle and Sam and I had a second, much longer lunch last Thursday. We studied and discussed their recent paintings, and then looked at the mixed media Letter Journals I've done collaboratively last year. I also told I'm enjoying knitting, which is 3D experiments to me, (still can't increase/decrease, still don't do gauges, don't do purling well, so still making rectangles and tubes with whatever yarns that fit one of the two sets of needles I have;) and needlepoint. And that I miss the figure drawing class but I can't afford it.

I find it intriguing all these different methods/media appear to be gelling in some way, though not exactly clear how yet, that they no longer feel unrelated/separate crafts. I've also signed up for 3-day screen printing workshop this weekend. This is my third time with the same teacher, and I'm looking forward to it, trying not to overthink it, (which is what I did the second round, and sort of ruined the experience,) but mulling over a few ideas. One fun one is to recreate my gesture or blind drawings in screen print; the other is to go completely abstract. Either on cloth or on paper. We'll see how it goes.

* * * * *

I really didn't think much of what I've been knitting for Rosie so I completely unraveled it. I could change one of the three colors and knit a cowl/crawl, or a flat rectangle; I could knit with the darker brown, mom's handspun, which doesn't feel as soft but is a lovely color. I also have mom's handspun cashmeres, but they're more cream than brown, and I have less of that than this lovely walnut-dyed Australian merino. Soooo... We'll see how it goes.

* * * * *

With about a third of Japan being flooded, mom and we decided, if things don't get worse, it's probably better to travel north rather than south. Which is interesting because I really haven't seen north. And fish could be better. It's just that we want to avoid the Fukushima area so it'll be way up north. And I think I've got all the presents we need. I hope.

* * * * *

I want to finish weaving at least Esther's warp, which includes a present for my cousin's husband; the gray warp, and another one that's not Syrie before I go to Japan. So time to get a little serious. Air NZ cancelled our flight home so we have to leave two days earlier. I've got, oh, yikes, 96 days left.

Busy, busy, busy.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

This is Now

Last Friday afternoon I got sick of not tidying/decluttering in spite of good intentions each morning, so I went in and tidied art supplies. There was nothing to cull, except almost all collage material, (I find myself holding on to art supplies in the event my body gets too old to weave,) but I reorganized them in different boxes. Overall volume didn't decrease as I imagined. Sad face.

On Monday I continued with fabric and unsold work; all dye experiment swatches went out, but not much else. I wasn't concerned with "completed" things, but again I held on to raw material with which I could experiment and maybe make things. But that was the end of tidying for the whole week. I now have only books and bookshelves to face, but boy, it's a biggie. And in all this tidying, I can't find the two little packets of dye I bought a few weeks ago. LOL face.

Rosie saw some of the cable knitting I've been posting on Facebook and I offered to make her a tube scarf. Grays are the only cashmere I have plenty of, but she likes brown, and you know me and browns! I dug up browns I have, and found one beautiful darkish brown, mom's handspun, that would look delicious in cable but feels not exactly feather-soft; a few balls of devastatingly lovely Australian merino I dyed with Blenheim walnut husks/shells but there may not be enough of, (yeah, ending a clause with a preposition!); and some of Mom's handspun cashmere and mixes of which there is definitely not enough. Because Blenheim is a meaningful place for Rosie, I started with that.  
Except three lovely colors mixed together came out a murky... old-man's-undershirt color, so there is a chance I might overdye this once done. As well, I quickly learned there is no way I have enough to get a descent length in tube form, but for some reason I have kept going. I might change my mind later, or just make a very short tube scarf. We shall see!  
Needlepoint is progressing, sometimes quite fast and sometimes not at all. Some days I've completely lost the plot and just keep filling space, but weirdly I am enjoying not knowing what it's going to look like in the end. I need to get heaps more yarns but I think I'd like to stay with these 12 colors, (11 really, because I don't like one at all,) unless I can find one or two more very light colors that fit the scheme. 

I had an interesting conversation with a young jewelry maker Tom about making. We agreed on a whole lot, but I look forward to pick his brains again; he has strong art education background and is now rebelling and turned to craft. My takeaway, though, is it's OK that I don't feel guilty not weaving at the moment; I can't sell and I am interested in making really lovely things, so I'll wait until I have a splendid idea or a gushing enthusiasm, whichever comes first. 

We're six and a half months into this year, and I've had a cold for three and a half of it. My airplane ear is better but not gone, and my system is still congested. Last weekend I woke up breathing through my nose and what a strange sensation that was; my brain felt drafty and cold! I'm back to new-normal mouth-breathing, again. Can't even tell if it's good or bad. I found out both coughing-endlessly and congestion-induced-ear-infection colds have both been going around Nelson; folks have had or know folks who have had them. But so far it's just me with both.

Ben works in IT; his office has half a dozen people squished into not that big of a space; it's fully air-conditioned; it's been cold this winter; and he and colleagues don't open the window every so often for ventilation. And some of his colleagues have small children. So, the perfect germ incubator. I'm off meds, ready to get off "temporary" supplements, ready to reclaim life. But it's going to take a little while longer, maybe one more visit to the doctor. Grrrr, I'm so ready to move on.

What have you been making? 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

High Maintenance

The needlepoint project has become all-consuming. It's as if I have a new puppy whom I can't leave alone; I keep popping back into if not staying entirely in the living room, looking at it, turning it around and running my hand over it. A puppy would smell better and is oh-so-much nicer to cuddle, but you get the idea. Two days this week I was all ready to tackle everything but the books in the stash room after breakfast, stopped to fill in just one tiny area, and wham, it's 4 in the afternoon!

I look at it more often and much longer than work on it. The time I spent on mixed media prepared me for this. In fact, the project feels like me putting down colors in yarns, although it takes much longer to paint, say, a 3cm2 area.
This was this morning. It looks a little different now, but I have a few problems. Which is why I changed this post's title from "Besotted". :-D

I like the appearance of patches marked A. I start with a darker, saturated "highlight" color, and make a rectangle with tiny bits "torn off". Then surround it with increasing less saturated colors so the appearance is similar to collage using paper with cut and torn edges, with the highlight "on top". I also like smaller, more saturated highlights like B, even though in areas C, the shapes were blurred due to lack of contrast with the colors around it. I'm not sure what's going on at C in bottom right.

D started with paler highlight colors, so surrounding with other colors didn't make the highlights stand out, and the area looks flat and uneven. This is a familiar "patchwork" look I make often in needlepoint. I'm at a loss as to what to do with D. E had the same problem but I added more saturated highlights which made it slightly better, but I worked some more here tonight, and it's looking as flat as D. (And the coloring is so 1970's!)

A more organic look in F feels more familiar, even though like A, it started with squares and rectangles with bits "torn off" but I didn't like the dark brown's shape and I kept adding. It's wee corner is attractive, but if I were to make something again/bigger, I need to learn the characteristics of different styles and plan the overall look better.
I also treated my past project a little more vigorously; not quite wet-finishing, but I left these in warm vinegar water for a while then rinsed a few times in warm water. The canvas is slightly softer, and the color yarns look ever so slightly "together". This finishing doesn't feel necessary, but when the current project is finished, I might try even hotter vinegar bath. I'm aiming for the more worn look, closer to the texture of a crossed stitched piece.
The big ooopsie was, I'd forgotten I used a run of the mill pen to mark my areas in one, and it bled. These are meant to be small bags, so the sides won't matter, I hope I can just adjust the bag width, but why on earth did I put that blotch in the yellow area, (inside the circle,) I don't know!

I've been spending some time on Sarah Swett's blog, trying to soak up the apparently relaxed attitude towards making. She doesn't speak too much about weaving her more "serious" tapestries, at least that I picked up, but most of her posts read like a mental retreat and is so pleasurable. I'm up to October of last year.

She reminded me that years ago I wanted to weave my own fabric for cross stitching; now I might weave needlepoint canvas with wool, although I might have culled some perfect yarns for this. :-D I've also been looking at my past drawings and abstract pieces for future needlepoint ideas.

It's not just the needlepoint taking up all my time. I've been spending/wasting quite a lot of time searching for weaving and needlepoint images on Pinterest. Quite a lot. While enjoyable, I keep telling myself, this is not the time to slack off; Japan trip is approaching quicker than I think. Goodness, it's July already, and I've been sick nearly three months this year with stupid colds. I must reprioritize. Soon. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018


I'm pretty sure I've made up my mind to take the easy route as regards the gray warp and weave three fussy twill pieces, possibly one in clasped weft. The reasons are, 1) I'm lazy; 2) we don't see too many in that style around here, 3) they are easy, 4) I want to weave a gift for Mom before our Japan trip and need to free up the big loom, and 5) I want to take the gray series to a possible new outlet that told me they're happy to trial a few, perhaps a year ago, maybe even two, but I hadn't because developing new outlets is unnerving; and that style suits the mood of the place.
This was Thursday late afternoon. I worked a little more last night under artificial light. See the darkest "mustard" to the right? Not wishing to create a great value leap, I put two taupes next to it and immediately regretted as it destroyed the soft harmony of mustard yellows amidst different, soft but nondescript natural-y colors.
Goodness, it's changed the mood. That yellow looks more distinctly curry-colored, and those three darker colors are lovely, but those three together are striking. Now I'm not sure whether to let the darker bits stand as anomaly or echo them in other areas.

Mom's been weaving a many-grays scarf on a warp she asked me to make. She's had a hard time choosing the weft grays and how much to weave in each. So I told her to live with them; put them in see-though bags and have them on the table as she eats; put them on her lap as she watches the telly; or talk to them just before she goes to sleep and during the long insomnia hours. She assumed the "right" answer would pop up. What I didn't say, what I didn't know I knew, were: 1) there is no right or wrong, only what she liked; 2) this is how her taste in colors, (or values in case of grays,) shows up; but 3) there is seldom just the one answer!

It's been interesting how the needlepoint is progressing. I look at what I've done, thread a color, and then just stab in the general area of where I want to work next, and make up a shape. It's conscious, but I watch myself work from an out-of-body place.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Mathematical and Other Mayhem

Hello. I'll try to keep things short today. Weaving-related happened only on Sunday. 

Saturday after the last post - I knitted. 

Sunday - I had a Math mayhem. Well, more like a senior brain freeze. I really like the doodle for the gray scarf so I started a new draft with three-end blocks of five. Except suddenly I started thinking I could use all five blocks for the tiny squares, (pattern), so I tried to imitate the doodle and couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. Then Fiberworks mucked up my file; I usually use maximum treadles while working out designs but when I filed and later reopened the file, only the first few treadles existed, so I had to rework it all over again. It's happens to me often but it's so erratic I can't isolate the circumstances well enough to explain it to Ingrid so Bob can help.   

Anyhoo, I found the error of my ways, and wondered if twill is the right way or if I should reconsider a tied weave; and if I'm sticking to twill, would I rather do another fussy twill with, say, two clasped wefts, and if so, what yarns to go with this very fine warp. Then I knitted.    
Monday - After a weird night of insomnia and an hour and a half of sleep, I got up sluggish and, although I had planned to work in the stash room, I knitted and finished the cushion cover. 

Tuesday - I spent almost the whole day in the kitchen. Didn't make it to the stash room even though that was the plan; it's getting dire - not the stash room but my plans. 

Wednesday - Town day; highlights included the film, "Tea with the Dames"; a brisk walk by a river in town; (I've wanted to go out for a while during our beautiful cold spell, but once the cold hurt the ear so I've stayed inside; yesterday I so needed the exercise so I braved it for an hour and it was fabulously refreshing;) and the hour at Volume talking about books, art/art making, my stash room, and Stella's upcoming Pecha Kucha; Thomas and I complied about Facebook. 

Lowlights were my rant-with-a-warning with Suter's temporary shop manager after seeing the textiles whose space gets smaller and less attractive every time. This is now a bad break up; for now I plan to give it some time after a new shop manager is appointed, but I might just quit suddenly. Ever resourceful, Stella had a novel advice: how about I make things without thinking of selling, and just put them online? Then I went to my third appointment with Doc Karl in one month, fourth in five weeks! After three course of different antibiotics, I'm now on strong nasal spray, strong antihistamine and some kind of steroids! But he said my ear is looking better, so I'm hoping to the end of airplane ears really soon. 

Today - I was planning to spend the day in the stash room taking care of everything except the books as soon as the room warmed up. So I had a wee play with needlepoint, because in the film yesterday there were many cushions with needlepoint or cross-stitched covers at Dame Joan Plowright's place. I got started, and them Mom rang early for Skype and we were on for two and a half hours, (!!) and I was exhausted and it was too late to venture into the stash room.  I needle-pointed worked a little longer, cleaned the kitchen, and started dinner enough so Ben can finish the job. 

My next project, in the style of modern painting that has much more ideas than visible interest, in a few dirty yellows, ("mustard" shouted Stella,) and different naturals including one light gray brown and one pale olive green, and probably my biggest needlepoint project so far. And look, my three-year diary matches so well. 
The problem is, I decided to spread out the yellows, mustards, freely to create points of interest, rather than starting from one end as usual. I was so careful to copy the direction of the first shape, and after six, crikey, I discovered I worked three top-right-to-bottom-left and three top-left-to-bottom-right.  

I could be careful and make the rest go in one direction, but that would make the three in the other direction "wrong", so I'm going to disregard the directions and later think of something where the two directions meet. That's the plan, though who knows what I can actually manage. 

Tomorrow is another town day; blood test; lunch with Sam and Annabelle, only the second time seeing them together since our 2014 exhibition; another brisk walk, (I hope it's cold;) with the day probably ending at Volume. Nice!  

Saturday, June 23, 2018

It's been a Strange Week

Hello, there. I've been sick again bur that's enough of that. I've managed to do these things since we last spoke. (For fiber content, please follow the pictures?)

Last Thursday - I bravely marched into my stash room, buoyed by a small cheering section, (my FB page folks,) and managed to sort/cull/clean all yarns and the dresser drawers of weaving, spinning, sewing and marketing material, (tags, labels, bags, ribbons, stickers, etc.) This was easy. I culled some yarns I could would have used, but I still have plenty. I feel not only lighter now but more focused. In the wool department, I have only skinny yarns or Mom's hand-dyed/handspuns. Goodness, she must have been a dyeing, spinning machine at one point! And leftovers of the best with-scale yarns. I also managed to bring some up from the basement, but there is still a lot down there, but now in one big box. Without much fat or textured yarns, my stash looks somewhat, well, flat and plain, but for now I'm happy with that. In the not-wool department, I had very little left to cull but still managed some, and everything except the natural-dyed silks for tapestry fits into one big box.

I still have the Brazilian cottons and I'm not sure what to do; I've put my collar through two washing and five rinse cycles and I can't really taste the powdery residue any more. But if I were to donate, they would be accompanied by big loud notes on every ball. Or, rinse them enough times and use up myself. I'm also undecided on five cones of silk and two cones of wool; they are those high spun (is that the term?) yarns Mom was really into at one point. I've used it once, learned they make unflat cloth, and hated it. But for now I'm keeping them because I wouldn't know how to replace them, and/or I may want to use them in non-garment projects. I'm also interested in getting back to wonky spinning for texture and colors as I do love knitting with my own merino handspun. But I'm holding back on the orders; that can be a reward for myself.

This leaves art supplies, fabrics, and books, on the floor and in the shelves. And cleaning surfaces like the walls and the picture frames. Which is doing things in the wrong order but... If I work super efficiently, art supplies and fabrics should take half a day, tops. The books, though, I have no idea. I've already booked a do at our house in August for some friends to come have a look at books I intend to  I donate.

It is so nice to walk into the room and fetch anything to do with weaving, spinning and sewing. Except books. :-D

Last Friday - Town day highlights: I went to see Peter a picture framer and one of the first people we met in Nelson and had a good chin wag; I had a picture framing question after the clean up on Thursday but I couldn't remember what it was, so we laughed about that. I had lunch with Esther and talked a little bit about the juxtaposition of the sublime and the ridiculous in the Japanese culture. I met young Annie for coffee at the old Red Gallery, which apparently have changed hands again. I saw Doc Karl and complained about my airplane ear and was put on another, though lower, dose of antibiotics. Ben and I went to see "Solo", which was a big surprise because Ben seldom want to do anything but on Friday nights; afterwards we went to an Indian restaurant for takeaways but the lady convinced us we wanted to eat in so we did that, too We got home so much later than we're used to and instead of starting the fire, went to bed early and read. My sister got me started on a fact-based story of a woman Japanese pirate during our civil war period, around the time of Shakespeare. It's in Japanese, of course, and I always have to retrain my eyeballs to move from the top of the page to the bottom, which takes a couple of days; then not get exasperated by all the kanji, (and historical novels have plenty of strange ones with a bunch  of names I can't read;) it's been excruciating but fascinating. 

I unexpectedly unloaded, on Annie, my frustration I can't seem to weave anything pleasing; the rant was a torrent of words to which I listened at the same time I was speaking in a quasi out-of-body experience. But I did squeeze some updates from her and most of all I'm happy she's so into weaving! She has a lot of mentors and teachers so I wouldn't be surprised if her knowledge and technique exceeds mine now but we didn't get to seeing any pictures of her work.

She's as adamant as I used to be about not wanting to "weave pictures", but traditional cloth. I've been aware my own boundaries in this department has blurred of late, thinking of clasped wefts and the possibility of weaving on a tapestry loom. And then there is that thing I didn't mention in our conversation, the physical decay, for want of a better term, and attention span that changes one's... mindset? ability! capability in what we want to and can weave. Ahyhoo, all the best to her weaving ventures.

Last Saturday - We went to see Nico the clarinet (I think) player busk; he's 16 in two days and he's developing "attitude" when he plays Blues and Soul, not so much with standards like the Beatles. I wanted to go again today but it's really cold and we're both noisy blowing our noses so hopefully next week. I finally managed to get Ben to Halifax Cafe, which is the old, temporary Suter cafe, who's started having lots of food that used to be cafe standards in New Zealand but have become harder to find. Our main goal was the seafood chowder, but they also serve really simple toasted sandwiches, and squares/bars still available in old-fashioned bakeries but not served in cafes any more. No wonder it's so popular. I even saw a young woman dig into muesli with yogurt and fruit compote, another  standard at the much-missed Chez Eelco. We went to the supermarket and got home around 3PM and I was knackered. (Exhausted.)

In the evening, I managed to read enough about Summer & Winter to know I don't want to use the structure for the pale gray merino warp and instead decided to use twill blocks.

Sunday - I got up late, coked a until about 2PM, may have napped. Then I tried to visualize how the twill blocks would work with the gray warp. Here are units or permutations I can make with four-shaft blocks.
I started playing around with the distribution aiming to get something like the doodle and go nowhere. Then it dawned on me that the warp is skinny and will be woven somewhere between 36-42 EPI, meaning if I want the dark squares to be roughly 2cm square, each unit, (bigger square containing one or no dark square on on the top right quadrant,) would have to be between 57.6 and 67.2 ends square, and I couldn't be bothered at that point. If I want five blocks as in the doodle, I can make give each block 3 shafts. However, my note says this warp has 335 ends; who makes odd-numbered warp anyway?

Monday - I couldn't get motivated to work in the stash room, so I took as much stuff that belong to the stash room out of the living room; this took a few hours. I still didn't want to touch the stash room so I sorted some cushion covers. We have so many cushions and only a few small chairs so the cushion situation is ridiculous, but I dismantled two old ones, (the two we had instead of chairs in our first apartment until we saved enough money to buy a couch,) opened up a third, and took all the innards out and squished them into two pillow cases. And there they sat.
I also had two brand new fillings and chose some warp end fabrics for covers. However, I have enough of neither nor similar looking fabrics, and you know me, it pains me to think two identical cushion fillings have to go into such different looking cases. (Even though both fabric feel heavenly, and one goes with all the other purple stuff on the gray couch and the brown goes with the floor... I'm desperate.) So now I'm wondering if I should make up the purple case and knit another in a similar purple, or just knit two, or use one of the unsold scarves to make a mate for the brown. The dark purple cone is cotton chenille; I don't like weaving with chenille but the color is so delicious I can't let it go, and I like the give in knitted cushion covers. Have you ever knitted with cotton chenille?

Tuesday - I didn't have the energy for the stash room but made a warp;
It's mill-end indigo merino, 72/2, the same yarn I used in the Gray Lot.  I wove those scarves 48EPI but some scarves had thicker wefts so this will be perhaps as close as 52-56EPI. I want to use the same yarn in gray, taupe or navy from a different dye lot to weave a simple twill half-length (on the warping board) fabric much like Maria's linen; I have 1200 ends.
I also wanted to make an interesting stripy warp with some unknown wool, (possibly merino,) I got in Japan. The store staff did't know the origins of this lot and I can't remember if the skeins had labels but it's not like me to throw them all away. Humm... I had some ideas, like grays and yellow, pale browns with brick orange, or navy, purple and yellow. Then, because they are so skinny, I'm now thinking of double weave with two sides having completely different moods, with some stitching.

Wednesday - I couldn't be bothered with the stash room but finished the aforementioned two reconstituted pillows, by bringing out the sewing machine and sewing box I tidily stowed away on Monday.
They are stuffed and very nice to sit on. This wool fabric was the first I cut years ago to discover the integrity of well-fulled wool fabric. And in such beautiful grays.
Then I started knitting a folded-in-half cushion cover with my handspun merino. Delicious. But easier to knit if my spinning was slightly more even. As I mentioned, we have too many unnecessary small square cushions, but these folded-in-half jobs, like the cheery one, are so handy I'm looking forward to finishing this one. Thursday - I was sick; I didn't even hear Mom calling or her leaving me a message.

Friday - I had a slow start to the day but spoke with Mom, and hey, I wrote this long blog post, and I knitted some in the evening. And I made a pretty yummy dinner out of leftovers.

I haven't woven; I thought of putting a small warp on the RH but haven't; I haven't drawn and of course I haven't seen the garden in a while. But I have kept up with the ironing. :-D

Lovely weekend to you.

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.

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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.