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.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Still Here, Still the Same

It seems a lot, and not much, happened in the 24 days since I last posted. Let's see how much I can remember.

I had much doubts about the merits of "Syrie" but somehow I managed to keep an eye on the calendar so I started concentrating on the practicalities, which to me meant working backwards. Gotta love the Mitsuhashi pragmatism.

First I made the warp. Because I am so bad at predicting how far a ball/cone goes, I wound one color until I ran out, then counted the number of "ends", wrote it down, and moved on to the next combination. "Combination", because one "end" usually consisted of thicker cotton or shiny silk plus my standard 20/2 cotton merc. And if they are tiny, I'm not going to worry about knots. I designed the colors so I could put them in order from one end of the raddle to the other. Around this time I settled on roughly 24 inches in the reed; the wider the better for the look of the work, the narrower the better for weaving, so a compromise.

Then I started to worry I didn't have enough yarns for the warp, (I didn't) and dug further into silk and non-default-cotton boxes, which skewed the initial color distribution. I could rework the colors in the reed; a no brainer in my head, (but no in my hands.) I also decided on twill, (familiarity!) and 20EPI would result in a slightly stiffer than my usual cloth, and acceptable for the purpose. (The last one was more hoping than knowing.) Making the warp took four days, each day working between, oh, two and four hours.

Then I sleyed as I combined the colors, knowing pulling the 21 meters on the warping mill though the reed to the back beam is going to be the toughest job in this project. Already different yarns were hugging each other, twisting, or going way astray. Also, I started diluting the original idea, as in submitting maybe one rectangle much like a pillar, but in red. It took me three days to sley.

As the deadline approached, I pondered dilution vs postponement. This was a hard one as, at least in the old days, I managed to always make the deadline, delivering products as promised, undiluted. And I have to say, they all turned up OK to the best of my ability. But this idea, "Syrie", has lived inside my head for so many years, I didn't want to dilute it. (I also contemplated submitting one rectangle to RAW and then complete the initial project and submitting that to another exhibition.) Submission due came and early in the morning I emailed Lloyd to say I wasn't putting this project in this RAW, to which he replied, maybe next RAW. (And I change the tag to "Not RAW/Syrie/the leek". =>)

Since then I've been carrying around the best books on tied weaves from living room to bedroom to basement and back up again without studying them. I don't want to rush this, I want to savor the making like I did "Pillars". But this is the next to go on the big loom.

Stuff - (edit) In this long post, this is the least consequential part.
Since then I've been tying up loose ends, so to speak. I've culled collage material; evacuated all art supplies but what I need for the daily abstracts from the living room, then reorganized art supplies, (I still have lots, but I've also used up lots.) I finally finished touching up my Santas and all that's left is the clear coat spray.
And while I had the paint out, I painted some cones green, another Christmasy idea I've had for ages.
One particularly ambitious day, I mended/patched six pairs of pants, including four pairs of our gardening pants, after having put in 20-person-hours between the two of us over Easter. (Ben's outside again just now.) My sewing machine is so unpredictable and it did this instead of triple zigzag and I wished I knew how that happened; it looks a little twilly, a little like Christmas trees.
Winter arrived rather suddenly on Tuesday and it was a good thing I booked to have my chimney cleaned on Wednesday. I washed the tiles all around the wood burner but the young chap left soot and ash, didn't clean the glass and didn't vacuum. I used to have it done in spring/summer, but once a neighbor told another neighbor he saw fire from my chimney, so I've been delaying calling until end of summer, which usually gives me two months waiting. But they do a much through job early on I'll resume booking early summer.

I made a mess making the chain out of Esther's warp, so I put it back on the warping board to even out the pulled bits.

That's all I can remember but I've been ironing a lot of Ben's shirts considering: he had three days off the week before Easter, replacing the dashboard of the candy car himself, and we spent the Easter holiday, (and he gets Tuesday off, something to do with NZ educational institutions,) either in PJs or gardening clothes. And already I have several in the ironing basket.

Cleaning out our closets and sorting/stashing my books are on my list. I almost started on my books last week, but I think I have weaving on my mind for next week. Though at the pace of a blind snail in the middle of the dark and stormy night, (remember I was going to bust my and mom's stash before 60?) I have been reducing my yarn and art supplies and there have been reorganization, being combined into a large box or split into smaller boxes, but that work and retrieval has been almost impossible with books that spilled out of bookshelves. Again. Not to mention there are few under the bed. Again. There is going to be a wine and book party here this winter.

The Suter
Yesterday was the last of the ten sessions of art class. The last two were spent trying to replicate, (and I mean copy, recreate,) an uninteresting-to-me landscape painting in acrylics. I felt physically sick and almost walked out several times each session. For yesterday I even prepared a van Gogh self-portrait, (with the ear bandage,) to work on but Mark put so much emphasis on replicating the colors I felt physically uncomfortable.

Still, I learned some stuff; it's one thing to be told with acrylics you start with the dark colors first and pile on lighter colors; completely another to try it; the old masters had superb dexterity to create precise paintings with tiny brushes; I tend to pile on acrylics thick, and Mark showed me how to blend with a dry brush.

Still, 90 minutes feels rushed, especially considering my transportation difficulties, making it either an all-day-in-town day or I have to take the bus home, which isn't a big deal but I'm lazy I'm making it so. I feel ambivalent about the course's match with me, though I'll miss nice women there I've come to know a tiny bit. And Mark is a New Zealand-nice chap. (You heard it here first; I coined it, like Minnesota-nice, but blokier,) but he loves New Zealand landscape paintings, really not my cup of milky Earl Gray. I'm not going back to at least the next session.
I took a shot of the Suter Shop's "textile" shelf two (?) weeks ago. The right half plus some used to be filled with textiles. I'm not sure if this is the change in their priorities I've been "seeing" or if other textile artists are withdrawing. They had four of my pieces on display, which shocked me because it couldn't be that they sold the rest, could it. But they had; they sold three in March, and I withdrew one, but I didn't know this until I got the paperwork later.

I had asked to withdraw everything anyway, however, because going to class every week and walking past the shelf, I was getting so tired of looking at the same old same old every Friday. In the end I left behind one small cashmere basket weave piece and brought home the rest.

I asked Ben what he thought about my volatile feelings about the Suter Shop, and he had a great idea: put in-your-face, art-gallery-ish stuff only at the Suter, and put "normal" "garment" pieces elsewhere or online. This made so much sense; it suits the venue these are things we look for in gallery shops; and it suits to differentiate my stuff there vs elsewhere. So I'm going to work really hard to make more of the clasped weft pieces in saturated colors.

I did one day, and managed 28cm. The thing is, I weave standing up on the four-shaft, (the breast beam is too high and I have to press extra hard on the treadles to lift the shafts while seated,) so I have to bend down and find the sweet spot on my glasses to clasp wefts. It's hard on the back and I manage 40cm only on a super good day. Yet I don't plan to charge that much more, if any, than other cashmeres of similar sizes, for now.

Because Ailsa the shop manager doesn't work on Fridays, Glenys, another long-time friendly person, (which in my mind, rightly or wrongly, makes her textile-friendly,) took care of the withdrawal. And by the way, she asked, did I know anyone who would be interested in a tapestry loom?


Opportunely I was scheduled to have lunch with Pat so I asked her what to look for in using a tapestry loom to weave cashmere scarves. Besides the fact it's two shafts , i.e. all plain weave, we couldn't find too many minuses.


And virtually no loom waste. At the very least I'll have to have a look, won't I?
Ben got himself a big zoom lens for his birthday. He took this while I was finishing the black merino/mohair warp, standing a meter or two away; it's so clear and shows everything, I was honestly surprised.

On the morning of my birthday, Ali emailed me saying I'll still be the same. I was. I am. This is still me.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Yesterday, while remedying "tied weave" labeling, someone cut the cable between Sydney and, I assume, Auckland, bringing our speed to an-old-drunk-turtle-with-two-legs-in-the-dark fast. Since we had super slow access Tuesday night, (and all other times as par for the course in the provinces,) I thought Blogger was locking me out for trying to edit 100 post. Ben thought it was only Facebook and Flickr, because all else appeared normal-slow. Things seem back to normal in this department, but then we have sporadic rain, by which I mean the kind so big I can't hear myself read and the gutter, cleaned a fortnight ago, sometimes overflows in all direction. There might have been called something else before, like "storm" or "torrential" or such, but now this is "rain". Today it's sporadic, but folks all over flooded in Feb might be worried sick, or plain sick of it all.

Anyway, my muscle ache on my back progressed from "it's there" to "OK, I hear you," so today instead of weaving up the black merino/mohair warp, I've been staring at samples and glancing a at books. I am being difficult looking to create interest not with the pattern warp creating shapes, but with the other part, the normally-tabby part, the background. I wished I could find the sample I wove in the 2011 workshop or the drafts I used, either in the workshop or after to post here, but nada. Once I post here, I see this as a one-stop shop and, well, the rest gets purged. Except the samples; that is a conundrum. Lucky, though, the author of the posts, (me,) focuses on areas I'm interested in, so they have been more helpful than the books. :-D

I'm trying to remember:

a) How to create the interesting "background" (i.e. normally tabby) background - what is the treadling; and
b) How does the appearance of the cloth change when I turn the draft so I can have think-thin in the warp but weave with just the one shuttle.

And then a light bulb went on. I want the A-side and B-side to look as similar as possible so I can sew them in a cylinder but you can still see the windows from all sides? Does it make sense I'm reading up on Summer and Winter?????

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Little Tied Up

I apologize if suddenly 101 posts of mine popped up in your feed. This is the only new post, while everything from the last 14-ish months were due to my operation error. I was trying to read all published posts labeled "tied weave", and while searching, I mistakenly added that label to the latest 100 posts. I don't use my own labels often, and Blogger might have changed their editor setup since I used it last. Or I just didn't remember correctly. I am now welcoming any humble pies you'd like me to eat.

* * * * *

In relearning tied weaves, mostly Summer and Winter in relation to "Syrie", I looked at a small collection of samples I did for other projects yesterday.

1) Patterns are expressed by wefts.
2) I don't have to use patterns, i.e. I can have have big areas of backgrounds, where Syria-inspired design will appear; weft can be seen, of course, but depending on the weft and warp yarn/s, size balance, and the pattern, they can be inconspicuous.
3) I can use most of the shafts for the background and reserve just one for the pattern/windows if the windows are to appear in unison horizontally. The height of the windows can vary with  the treadling. If I want three sets of windows, where the third is a composite of two sets, I only need two pattern shafts.
Apologies the writing is tiny. The top pattern can be made with one or more pattern shafts, whereas the bottom two are examples of using two shafts.

Then I noticed I had a label called "tied weaves" (=>), so I skimmed through them. (Always terribly cringe-worthy to reread one's post, with mistakes, typos, mumbling, etc.,) but I thought it'd be quicker than checking books. Now that the label fiasco has been cleaned up, I think, I shall go back to these posts and correct typos at the very least.

I'll stop here today as most of the afternoon was spent remedying my mistake. More in a couple of days.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


I finished the light teal fabric on the merino/mohair warp; I got 130cm. I certainly had plenty of warp to weave another proper, long piece. Instead of using up another green possum/merino/silk for a small piece of fabric and cutting off the warp, I decided to use an unknown, unsampled wool from Mom's stash.
That's what she wrote; doesn't mean much to me. It's skinny and very airy, but under tension, almost non-existent so the finger feels the stringiness of the mohair in the warp. The merino portion of the warp will full, but this could be the thinnest wool fabric I've ever woven.
And the motif is squashed a little. One ball wove 40cm and there are three more of approximately the same size. I may manage to use it all up. And that's the yellow-green I had wound already.

This was supposed to be a warp producing three longer-than-usual pieces with different sheen;  imagine it turning into a user-upper of odds and sods.

* * * * *

Yesterday was all about how I'd like "Syrie" to look. Within reason. I wasn't going to wish for, oh, 3-wide, 5m-long strips, five to seven making up one leek, and many leeks as a set, for example. That could better depict the destruction of a community. But realistically, I don't know how I could wet-finish and more crucially dry wide or very long piece. I'm also entertaining the option to have most of the strips about the same length, for a more cohesive/tidy piece, as an alternative to... crumbling carnage and destruction.

I finally started looking into weave structures, as I near the end of the black warp. I started taking notes focusing on how to create those windows.

But I haven't watched much coverage of Syria; it's getting so hopeless, as Palestine has been forever. I feel ambivalent about pursuing this project while not keeping updated, not paying attention.

* * * * *

In rereading RAW's blurbs, I confirmed their aim for this exhibition was as simple and straightforward as I had remembered.
The only other stipulation is the artists reside in New Zealand. Although... how one measures/avoids "cultural and artistic influence" from probably the very start of life is beyond me; no sarcasm, I understand they used a narrower definition of culture in the context, and yet that's a chalk line on a sandy beach about to welcome high tide, no? (Did you know, unless deaf or with other difficulties, a baby knows the sounds of his/her native language by the time he/she is born, and certainly recognizes the mother's voice?)    

I grew up in a house devoid of art, save the nice calendars Japanese companies used to distribute. My parents love/d natural landscapes, (and Mom loves calendars everywhere,) so those took up prime positions, but I remember distinctly the first time I saw a woman in a red or orange dress standing behind a table with possibly a bowl of fruits on it. I assumed it was by Cezanne, or possibly Renoir, or even a Monet, but I can't find it. You know, the well-known one with a young, slender woman, possibly blonde, or with a hat? That was the first and for a long time the only painting I had stared at over and over, but I must not have been that enamoured as I didn't ask for it after that month was over. I don't even remember it well. But that was it for "art". 

Mom is a jock and a super keen practitioner of anything textiles. Dad read Chemistry stuff for work, edited professional journals for extra income, and studied newspapers every morning then revised in the evenings, so in his spare time he preferred to travel. Thus, we had very few books other than what my parents bought me, and it wasn't until I was 10 or 12 when I started bringing them home by the school-bags-full that a tiny library emerged. I don't remember my siblings dipping into my books, they being seven and 13 years my junior, but at least they grew up with books aplenty.

In junior high, between 13 and 15, I sensed if I wanted to be a well-rounded person, (you may burst out laughing,) I had to educate myself about visual/fine art and started visiting art exhibitions. In a way it wasn't a stretch as my parents took me, the budding archeologist, to plenty of museums, but whereas it's easy to understand what a gate or a plate does, despite long time ago and far, far away, art was... different. Art didn't have utility, and for a family of super practical folks, art was perplexing, something, "we don't do." 

My very first was a horrible Bruegel print exhibition in the now-defunct prefectural art gallery in Kamakua. I loved the building, which now has heritage protection but must await an expensive/extensive quake-strengthening. But the works, yikes; a bunch of chubby, horrible, drunk people falling anywhere and everywhere. I could hear and even smell the commotion depicted in the prints inside that serenes space. I'm surprised it didn't turn me off exhibitions for life.

For that I have Japanese department stores to thank; many are right next to major train stations. Exhibitions were sometimes crowded, but inexpensive, and back in the 70's and 80's, they usually showed poplar and approachable art. I remember distinctly a dreamy Mucha exhibition that mesmerized me, and a Wyeth exhibition more crowded than the morning trains, nobody moving or breathing.

But I grew up in Japan; craft was everywhere. Some were so high-end there were rooms in many homes we weren't allowed to enter without adult supervision. At Grandfather's one never knew which casually-placed item in the hallway was worth several months' salary of any grownup telling us to walk quietly. Mom let us handle anything in our house, from Grandfather's hand-me-downs to Trade Aide style naive but oh, so, inviting, pieces. She may not "do art" but she has encyclopedic knowledge of Japanese regional crafts, (which I came to know only in 2012,) and she has visited gazillion textile places in Asia, Europe, and Guatemala. I had exposure to craft, and curiosity and passion came naturally.

Then came reading about art. This was a long and frustrating struggle until I finally picked up some vocabulary, and learned how to think and talk about art by picking the brains of people who knew this stuff, and attending floor talks and lectures. And talking to people who make stuff and get the story from the source. And learning there are folks who write/critique without knowing the artists or their processes, that there is such an industry. And not finishing articles I don't like it; not feeling obliged to like the artist even if I like the work, or vice versa. And finally, enjoying looking at art with some knowledge but unburdened by them.

Rosie once replied to my request for an alternative to "ugly", in a more measured manner I don't mind being overheard; she taught me, "challenging". Kate once advised me, when someone compliments, "just smile and say, 'Thank you'." Weavers are good at sharing; folks like Rose Pelvin and Pat Spitz, and many strangers online, can't help themselves but be kind to us middlings stranded in the middle of a loom.

Otherwise, I've had my head down and bum up to learn to weave; shedding anything else in my life that got in the way; making warp after warp of lukewarm stuff, or worse; occasionally finding small victories but otherwise trying to keep my head above the water. I'm still learning, I'm still making questionable decisions and cloth, and somehow I'm still loving it all.

That about sums up my art training. 

* * * * *

I didn't finish the MOMA course writing. I got what I wanted out of the course, and I hadn't signed up for certification, so no regrets. My only worry is if they will let me sign up for another without having finished the first if I find something else interesting. But then there are so many others online, so...  

Monday, March 19, 2018

Testing, Testing

Today I started trying out sizes, (length) and shapes. The strips are 1/10 of 50cm-wide/3.5m-5.5m-long pieces. I'm 150cm tall in this model, (in real life, probably more like 145cm,) while the wiry guy is 180cm.  The strips are cut-to-size cheap drawing paper, painted with acrylic, and I'm using florists' wire to shape them; they behave differently from cloth hung with nylon cords, but it's a start.
This is me looking up at a low-hanging 4m strip.
Here's me looking up at the 4.5m strip while the low-hanging 4m strip touches the wiry guy's head. (Ignore the Aged Balsamico bottle; it keeps the leek upright.)
Here's me standing under a 5m strip while wiry guy is under a low-hanging 5.5m strip.
We swapped places. A piece of the other leek crept into the picture.

My bad record keeping and laziness to look up old notes for gallery and "Pillars" measurements is preventing accurate planning, but here are some notes:
1) "Pillars" were suspended from sticks resting on top of joists and a ledge on the wall, the top of the joist being higher than the ledge. "Pillars" pieces were between 3.2m-ish (??) to just under 4m-ish from memory, and none touched the floor. If the leek pieces are to sit directly on the floor and the tops to be, say, level with the top of the joist, I surmise the strips need to be around 4.2-4.5m long, even longer.
If any are to hang low/slanted at an angle, even if they don't need to reach the joist, (and they don't have to,) I'd still like an absolute minimum of 4m but as much as 5-5.5m.

2) At first I wanted lots of skinny strips, something like a leek/tree. But my theme this time is buildings, so wider is better and if that means fewer, I can live with it. While weaving the fabric on the current warp, roughly 55cm-wide, I thought I could weave as wide as 62-63cm, but much more slowly; with shrinkage/draw-in, this could still yield 60cm in width. Even wider would have given the desired effect, (as do many more strips or even two leeks,) but I'm not going there. If I manage to weave four pieces, the bottom need not be circular/cylindrical, and a square becomes an option. I must experiment with wider paper strips.

3) While one or two strips may stand straight-sh, others will splay outward. When sewing the cylinder/square, I must imagine how the piece as a whole will be shaped and decide if some pieces will have A-side on the outside, while others B-, so the windows can be seen to best effect. If the location within the gallery is such that viewers can walk around the piece, all pieces may have the same side on the outside/inside. In case I must sew different sides next to each other, it is best to weave strips so parts other than the windows look as similar as possible on both sides. Instinct tells me a balanced twill would work, but jury is still out until I study other weave structures.

* * * * *

This weekend, we started the old but familiar exhibition-prep where Ben has had to cook more and make sure we eat. I've done a bit of batch cooking, pickles, roast veg, etc., but there may be some takeaways. Or chocolate.

I began looking forward to weeding a while back, too, and we have had friendlier weather, but you know? Ha. Ha. Ha.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Making More Loose Ends

I made two new warps this week. I have used more than I remembered, but there are always around 30 premades. My goal this year is to reduce this number to about 10 at any time. (For one thing their usual spot gets afternoon sun, and even with an old bed sheet over them, it's not ideal as long-term storage. But I'm not adamant, because making warp is one of the most therapeutic activities in my life. Actually, the most, because physicality, tactility, colors, and the subconscious planning running like a film in my head take me to a happy boisterous place. As opposed to the happy quiet place while I thread.

* * * * *

On Friday, I asked art teacher Mark what I thought was a dumb question: in order to create abstract "art", does one have to start with something figurative and abstract/distort it to "reach" an abstracted stage, or can one start with shapes and colors and proceed directly, and his answer, to the first part before I got to the second, was, "Hell, no."

Happy dance.

* * * * *

Re Raw/Syrie, I'd been planning on weaving strips 40-50cm wide, because they are easier/quicker to weave than the almost-60cm I'm weaving right now. I visualize four or five of them making up the one leek, and intuition says they are, on average, to be between 4 to 5m long. That's a whopping 20-25m of weaving, when the maximum length on my horizontal mill is somewhere between 21-24m, loom waste and all.

Let's say 40cm-wide times four pieces yield 160cm circumference at the bottom of the leek, (realistically, this minus shrinkage and seams,) about 50cm in diameter. If I weave 60cm-wide, three pieces yield 180cm/57cm; slower weaving per vertical cm, but a lot less in total length, right?

I've also come up with an easy twill solution if I can't get my head around tied or freeform weave structures, if I run out of time, for the windows. I haven't given up on tied weave because I want the cloth to be stiff rather than drape-y, but now I have a fallback plan. Which, hee hee, makes me feel so professional/experienced. (Laugh in union, good people!)

In response to my doubts about "Syrie", (I have to come up with a better working title because it sounds too close to "Siri",) Ruby commented on Facebook: "2 thoughts for you: 1)Working in series is being an artist. 2)Fear of success is real (and very different than fear of failure). Just do it and try to enjoy the fact that you love weaving and engaging with yarn and color."

I never saw "Pillars" as a start of the series. The fact "Syrie" is similar, I saw as only a restriction of and reflection on the technique of conventional loom weaving, and my unwillingness to cut or otherwise distort/enhance the rectangles coming off the looms. As well, I have always been enamoured by architecture and archeology, and in big parts by the simple beauty and regularity of tall pillars in ancient civilizations, European and American Colonial architectures, including, ummmm, plantation/slave-owners' homes, but also public institutions. Also anything square and symmetrical of all sizes. So, in a way, it stands to reason whenever I want to make something that's conceptual on my looms, my defaults are regular-looking pillars and buildings and such. (I've also long had this idea of weaving a city gate, too.)  And this is fine by me, this being my thing, but if this is, oh, I hope I make more than just the two.

"Fear of success" I don't understand at all. I find the process of conception to plan to making to hanging, (i.e. the bringing to life the mental picture using the stuff I made), and all on a tight schedule, all-consuming I don't have any brain juice left. Ergo, when I'm working, I'm unencumbered by the fear of failure. Success, especially in relation to exhibitions, have meant having gotten stuff done in respectable time. You remember I have submitted stuff late with the organizer's permission, or proposals with damp pages; I even went back after a show opened to give my stuff one last good steam press, all recorded here.

My fear of failure is the fear of embarrassment of not having executed something well, to my satisfaction and if related to an exhibition, to my own perception of standards which may make my stuff submittable beyond Nelson's art/NZ's textile worlds, which are, let's face it, tiny; and misc guilts/regrets always present in my life. And/or ego/pride.

Suffice it to say my fear of failure thus far focused on technique. Syrie presented my first doubt whether my "process" is "deep enough", and I'm mildly amused. It could be a sign of creative maturity, not as in "I've grown up," but more "I've done this a few times, so is the same-old good enough?" Or it's just a bunch of gobbledygook.

Happily I'm stuck in the old energized frenzie for now, and any reflection has to wait until after the deadlines.

* * * * *

Better view of the first piece off.
View of the second piece, which ended up being, the notebook says, 2m, but I think it's less. Either way, it's a respectable size, with possibly very-long-for-me fringes. The vertical portion shows the colors pretty accurately on my screen.
I like the B-side better, but I don't know where that unsightly arc came from.
Warp end fabric. This weft is more light teal, whereas the silk above is a slightly-green pale blue.

Here's a lesson from a reckless weaver. This warp is my standard "10m", though I  know that's not the exact length on the board. I wove two biggish samples, one long piece, and another average piece with long fringes, so experience told me I haven't got enough warp left for a third proper piece. I chose this light teal possum/merino/silk to weave a warp-end fabric, possibly for a friend who loves teal and knows how to sew. Well, it turns out I had more weft yarns than I imagined, but not enough for a proper piece and I may have had enough warp for a proper piece. So I'll get 92cm, 1m at best, of this, and a smaller one probably in another green. Silly/stupid/reckless, but a great exercise in using up odds and ends; works well enough if you have to work through a stash as big as mine.

And I'm not sick of this draft yet.

Good times.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Swapping/Trading with Ruby

Look what I got in the mail from Ruby on Wednesday! 
It's a beautiful scarf with multi-color tansel warp and blue cashmere weft, with a terrific sheen and a lovely weight. With a lovely card and I even love her handwriting!
Look at the fringes; I can't stop playing with them.
Physically, the fulled cashmere sits above (?) the warp, and seen sideways it looks like a dark blue scarf with a dull sheen, but from other angles, the sheen of tansel make the warps pop forward and the weft appears more like a filler or background. Amazing.

Because Mom likes light-weight pieces, I've always worked hard to make my cashmere pieces light, starting with 12 EPI but settling at 15 or 16. Then in 2012 I tried closer sett, 18EPI, which produced heftier, luxurious weight. This piece has that kind of weight; it reminds you you are wearing something utterly lovely.

It'll be a while before I can work on my end of the swap, but for now I'm thinking fine NZ merino in the warp and cashmere in the weft. Although it might end up something totally different.

Thank you, again and again, Ruby!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Insomnia to the Rescue

Last week, I did a lot on Monday and Tuesday and by Wednesday I was exhausted and it lingered until Thursday. So this week on Monday I did a little housework and a little weaving; on Tuesday I did a little weeding, (I carried a kitchen timer so I wouldn't overdo it,) and wove quite a lot. I'm halfway done with the slubby silk piece; it's going to be 180-190cm in length, a little shorter than I wanted it to be, but an acceptable size.

On Wednesday, I didn't feel sick but I had been reading a fun book for kids, "The Traitor and The Thief", by an Englishman based on the North Island here; it's my favorite kind of book that takes me to a different time and place and let's me live the experience. And I finished the book instead of weaving. Later that night I went to bed and read an excruciatingly boring ketogenic cookbook. Maybe this is why I couldn't asleep, so I tried to plan practical steps/tasks for "Syrie"; it went on too long for comfort, but I did see what I needed to do next, got up surprisingly energized.
I placed "Syrie" warp candidates, cotton and silk, where I usually put warp candidates. To the left of the pale blue silk towards the wall/door are wool I'll use as wefts. (The pic shows a lot of oranges, but some are serious reds.)
I painted strips of 5cm-wide drawing paper so I can make 1/10 size mockup. I remembered I did the same thing with the "Pillars" was I was making 15cm and 18cm people, but I couldn't find a pic posted here. That one looked like a failed diorama homework by a disinterested second grader worked in fifteen minutes, but it did give me a good picture. It had the corner of the large gallery at Refinery to scale, and I hung some gray paper 1/10 of the size I had intended to make, with 150cm and 180cm-tall "people" looking up. With "Syrie" I don't need the gallery, but I'd like to try a few variations on the final form/shape.

Ths time, a good mock up will probably be what I submit as my proposal because 1) there is no way I can weave the whole thing by my birthday, but more importantly, 2) submitting a big red floppy leek can't tell the committee much but the mock up will provide a better idea.

I must read about free-style and tied weaves right away so I can superimpose windows on "building/s" woven in some kind of Syria/Muslim-inspired motif-based pattern, something I can manage with 16-shafts. Boy, I wished I had more or a Jacquard to make Arabesque/flowers and vine design for this. Anyhoo, the Klick is ready for some sampling.
I also made Esther's Birthday warp while waiting for the red paint to dry; it's in four grays and black. When she came over to have a look at my cashmere samples, she liked conservative/traditional twills, especially achromatic. I can do that.

* * * * *

I've convinced myself "Syrie" is going to turn out crappy even before I made the warp. I've been wondering why this is. I've given up projects when I can't be bothered, but I've never had this foreboding causing reluctance/hesitance. It's probably because I'm usually too busy working out the mechanics and due dates are the biggest worry. I work while I imagine the piece looking just the way I see it in my head, and then come face to face with my technical weaknesses and, whoa, reality and sometimes dispare hit me, and I complain, and blog, and then move on.

I never worried "Pillars" would turn out badly. There were no rude surprises with that project, and although I didn't know exactly how it would look until we hung it in the gallery,  I was confident I would like it and it would look good in the exhibition.

I don't know why it's so different this time. Is it because "Syrie" is similar to "Pillars" I myself see it as Version II, (even though it's not, really,) and that I'm cheating? Do I find my approach or vision facile or immature/underdeveloped? Have I learned too much about textile work in exhibitions and my ideas don't meet my expectations? Is it my technical skills that worry me?

Or is it the magnitude of what's happening in Syria vs my audacity to borrow their fate as "inspiration" to make a few pieces of red cloth in my cushy First World basement and put my name on it instead of, as if it represents any kind of... what... reality? I don't know, I don't know if I'll ever know. But making this feels better than not making this, so I'll stay on track for now.

So it was insomnia to the rescue once again.

Monday, March 12, 2018


I'm eight days behind my vague schedule, but I finished the first piece today. I like it and sincerely hope wet-finishing won't change it much. I like the proportion and the sheen, and woven in smaller scale and bright colors, I can see how the draft can be so cute as pansies/hellebores pieces. I was going for 240-270cm, but quit at 239cm because I would have had to prep another prin, and I wanted to get to the second piece fast. I hope it's long enough; if I put it in the Suter, I'll have front of desk staff Kirstin try it on; she's super tall and she can give me a picture of whether it's a good size for my idea of how to wear this. Sorry the pic is so dark, but it's a really dark piece and I finished around 7PM so this is all the light I had.
I started the second piece using E as the weft. It's slubby, not boucle, and after wet-fishing, the warp almost gets sucked into the sea of pale-blue-green, (lighter in value than in the pic.) As a weft it's too thick in places so: 1) there will be some unseemly long warp floats, and 2) the draft will be elongated warp-wise. But I also have good reasons: 1) I want to try some textures in my weaving, and 2) I think the piece will have that luxurious, hefty silk weight. When I stayed at Kaz's in 2014, she let me try one of her big silk pieces, (sorry, I couldn't find a good view of it on her blog,) and not only was it bright and beautiful with lots of purple, but it had that familiar weight of silk one feels when putting on a good old kimono. This won't be anything like that, but I wanted to give it a go, something different from what I normally make. Above pic shows two "rows"/units out of 16 in one weft repeat.

I am eight days behind my vague schedule because I had that "whatever I make will be meh," thing and I couldn't be bothered with "Syrie"; I wasn't feeling well Wed/Thurs; I didn't want to go to art class on Friday, but I wanted to see a doco about a Swiss/New Zealand jewelry maker Kobi Bosshard with Esther, so I went. And it was good: art class was about colors, and although I fudged what we were supposed to be doing, (making one grid of warm-to-cool colors, another of analogous,) I made some nice colors with paint labeled as student arcylic, but behved more like gouache.
These are test sheets before I filled my grids; dark blues were much on my mind. My warm-cool grid turned muddy and I didn't even attempt to finish the analogous.

The film was superb, and I'd like to go see it with Ben again if we have the chance; before that, lunch with Esther was good because we talked about art vs. craft, concepts/ideas in making, and the fear of failure; after the film I saw Changing Threads, (varied entries, some superbly crafted, some with good ideas, but the show as a whole felt sparse;) I went to Volume to pop wow with Stella and Thomas; and the day ended with Ben and me at the Vietnamese restaurant. And somewhere between playing with colors and talking with Esther and learning about Kobi, I got a bit of my mojo back, so "Syrie" is back on again. Except I only have 21 days left to at least come up with a sample.


I feel better, but not completely, which makes me grumpier than the usual grumpy. I'm wasting so much time. If not working, I'd like to be weeding and tidying. Cicadas have long left and the sun and air have turned autumnal a couple of weeks ago. JB and Ali left Nelson for Germany last week so summer is truly over, and we get a very late delivery of firewood on Thursday.

And I have stuff to weave.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Is any Age not Difficult?

I had trouble with antibiotics; I forgot to take it on Friday, which explains why I had more energy and wove for two hours without a break. Came yesterday morning I took one and I was well and truly out of commission. I started well today but had one last dose left, so early/middle of the day was lost, but I've been OK from late afternoon; I even wove a little. But I'm having tension problems on the sides, especially the left selvedge, so I'm weaving extra slowly.

This antibiotics' side effects aren't as acute as other kinds but I felt so out of it, similar to but less drowsy than strong hay fever or cold meds. Which is why on the day I was prescribed this, I took it before I went to bed. The instructions only said once a day, so I thought it'd work. But force of habit is a strange thing; we take supplements in the morning so I went that way for the rest of the time. Silly, really.

* * * * *

Mom keeps sabotaging our art-on-Skype; she insists she wants to talk about weaving, but whenever we do, what needs saying fit inside five minutes. She says she wants advice on colors, for e.g., but I called her bluff; in the eight years we talked colors on Skype, I've watched her eyes glaze over, while I think of all sorts of way to make, usually a warp, interesting and unexpected for her. The number of times she's gone ahead with my suggestions is exactly zero.

As well, if we do stuff on Skype we do stuff, and we even make interesting observations sometimes; otherwise we revisit the same old topics every week: the weather, health, crimes; how she misses nature by living in an apartment; how her three friends never have ideas about where to go on their next monthly trip, (not true,) or how she needs to do all the organizing, (possibly true.) For two to three hours. I can't see how this can be remotely healthy.

I don't want to push her too much, because she's never uncomfortable trying new things with me; I also want to lead her away from being stuck in the same unproductive thoughts and have the chance to talk about new things. And it's not as if we don't talk about the "normal" things at the start before we get into "art".

87 is a difficult age. As is 59. I'm thinking of getting John Leland's "Happiness is a Choice you Make" after revisiting his Fresh Air interview many, many times. One thing he said have stayed with me, and of course I'm paraphrasing; he said something like, "appreciate when oldies show up, because we have no idea how much work it took for them to show up." Good lesson, isn't it?

* * * * *

My view as I weave; I have no idea about the second weft.

Friday, March 2, 2018


Hue, value and size of weft are good. Size and proportion of motifs are good. One weft repeat is just under 780 picks, and weaving slowly and paying attention to the selvedges, doable in a couple of hours, comes to about 80cm, but a little hard on the body so I need to take more breaks. I'm going for longer pieces on this warp, 240-270cm, so at least two more sittings to come for this piece.

The selvedge is, ummmm, 6/10, but that's me. Neither yarn fluffs up in the finishing, so the cloth will be "bumpy" or "dry" like cloth made of thickish cotton or silk, not "cushy" or "meaty" like my usual, but this is new-ish to me and appealing in a different way.

The colors are darker and more blue/navy, not predominantly purple. Today I needed three sets of lights in the middle of a cloudy, sometimes rainy day, to see where I was going.

But I like this.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


I got tired the sound of my voice, inside my head, whining, "I don't like any of the wefts..." so I sampled another lot. Usually this is a no-brainer, but the basement still looks like this; actually it looks messier because I've been moving stuff around as I work, but I dug in and got some more wool.
Oh, the top blue, I have about that much more left and that's it, but I had to try. The dark green possum/merino/silk I forgot I had because it's so not my color but it works in this context. Possible. All three naturals look unnaturally white in contrast to the very black black warp, so for now I'm not planning on using them.
I'm not a fan of using variegated yarns in the weft because they look stripey. The top navy/purple/green is a wool of some type my source sent me by mistake. It's woolen but tightly spun, but not high twist, and skinny and somewhat shiney, and not soft; it's not corse, but "hard". The resultant cloth, (still damp,) almost feels like I used, oh, a silk of some kind, not fluffy, not meaty, but drapes nicely, and the uniform value hides the stripiness; in fact the colors look great. So, unless the cloth turns out wire-y when completely dry, this is a definite yes.

The brown/range/yellow/pink (yes!)/green is 100% merino; years ago I bought 2kgs of it as a challenge to myself during my "absolutely no orange" period. It looked a little more sedate on the website, but unruly in real life, and over the years I asked many weavers what they would do. Knowing I hate taming colors by combining them with black, many have said this may be one time I might have to do that, all 2kg of it. It is a nice merino, and with the motif so big and in-your-face, I wondered if it might work in this context, and I'm kind of sitting on the fence, swinging my legs, and acting coy.

Black on black turned out funereal, although with 100% merino the warp does stand out just the way I expected. I'll do the dark blue variegated first, then either dark green P/M/S or the screamy orange, and then I'll decide. Names like "Shadows", "Ancestors", "Crowd" and "Picture Album" come to mind, so apparently I'm still on the many-faces track.

Between our colds, intermittent rain and threats of more horrendous weather, we've managed to wash and dry the wool carpet but not the underlay. Plus, if we are going to get more rain, we want to make sure the basement remains dry before we put that tiny area back to normal. Which is why I'm working in this obstacle course for now; at some stage soon we need to put things away because Syrie warp needs to be made on the horizontal mill, (it's the one in front of the back storage wearing a bedsheet,) and I don't really want to make a delicate warp in the garage.

I'm faring better, but I've been clearing my throat noisily every few minutes and I don't want to be a nuisance in class or at the cinema, so tomorrow is going to be a home day.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

We are Officially Un-Whooped

So it's not whooping cough, according to the nurse, neither Ben nor me. Unsatisfying, because the doc was behind schedule yesterday and my appointment was rushed. But if I'm still coughing a lot after three days of antibiotics, I should avoid crowds, she said. Well, yeah.

Today is the last day of Feb already, and I've always thought this is a sneaky conspiracy; in many cultures I know, there is a bit of partee-ing in Dec/Jan, so they made Feb short just so we're aware time is precious, that if we haven't started on projects we intended to, we better start now. You know what I mean?

I don't get along with antibiotics; some give me headache, some makes me drowsy, this one makes my head spin, although the cold itself could be the culprit. None of these is dire or alarming, just they're there and I'm reminded throughout the day.

So with a lovely warp ready and waiting to be woven downstairs, but with still no solution about the wefts, I might take it easy, finish up the MOMA course I was supposed to last Sunday; read up on weave structures, or more realistically, gaze at drafts and pics; doodle; or read.

* * * * *

That was this morning. I tried to finish the MOMA course. I did the reading and the quiz, but I have to write two pieces, 500 words each, and present it for peer review! Even though I am excruciatingly long-winded, I tried over the years to present my arguments/explanations as concisely as I can manage, and the first assignment, I said everything I need to say in less than 180 words. So I have to do a bit of thinking and add more details or examples. Eek.

But I was exposed to a lot of new-to-me artists and had some of their processes explained. Among them, I'll continue to read up on Doris Salcedo and David Hammons.

OK, time to go to bed. I'll decide in the next couple of days if I will add more fluff into the assignments, or dare submit shorter ones. I figure, for me, if I have 350ish, that's more than enough. :-D

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Doc Karl didn't tell me if I have whooping cough, and I forgot to ask if I'm contagious, but he told Ben he had it, and I was given the same antibiotic as Ben's, plus a few supplements, same as Ben's. So there we have it. I might ring the RN tomorrow before I decide about Friday morning art class or film afternoon with Esther. 

Now for the sample. Not pressed.

Originally I designed this draft to be woven in skinny cottons at 42EPI and about the same PPI, (roughly half each way or a quarter in area,) so as I started weaving, BOOM!, I was reeling back on the loom bench at the motifs' bigness! Although the size, in this context, is slowly growing on me.

1) The red and the natural at the start are not weft candidates but sampling, using leftover yarns, to help me look for threading/sleying mistakes. I like the proportion of warp/weft sizes, even though I tend to beat really hard in samples, so they are not accurate representation. It's cloudy today, so the natural weft looks appealing.

2) It's been a while since I wove with yarns in the same color but different sheen, (a style I love,) so I tried black possum/merino/silk(B) and cashmere(I). Because of the sheen from the mohair in the warp, the warp is a very black black, but neither show marked contrast, (I) marginally better. Ditto with the two grays, in P/M/S(A) and cashmere(G), although all feel great, the P/M/S cushier and thicker.
 Warp and P/M/S sheen contrast 
Warp and cashmeres and the last navy wool sheen contrast

3) When I first entertained the idea of silk, I thought of the yellow(D); it has a hint of black, an "old gold" look. I'm undecided on the color combo but like the size. The pale blue(F) is my favorite, and I almost didn't sample because I don't have enough, but the size is perfect and I love the look especially in daylight, so at least the idea was good. The slightly greenish boucle(E) was the nearest color silk I have, but the jury's out; the draft/pattern is surprisingly visible even in spite of the boucle. The darker, grown-up green(C), (and it's not gray nor gray-brown,) I saved for years for a suitable project, and while the color is lovely, it's too thick. (C), (D), and (F) silk wefts are shinier, while the warp stays a somewhat subdued very black black and really recedes.

4) I'm never sure about black+purple(H) but I like black+navy(J), but I don't have a suitable navy not in boucle. I don't like (H), and the sheen of the warp is too close to that of (J), so I don't think I'll go with either.

While I was wet-finishing, I remembered I have black merino in the same size as the red and white wool, from the same source as the warp mohair/merino. I might sample that at the start/end of the first piece. But... None here stands out and the loom is ready to go first thing tomorrow morning.

I don't like black warps, but goodness, in combination with dark wefts? Yikes.

As for Syrie, now that I put my thoughts in words and posted, and Ben's seen what I was up to, I'm drowning in foreboding whatever I make is destined to be mediocre, "a nice effort", and "provincial" in the worse sense. I'm going to walk away from it for a few days, or concentrate on the technical aspect: weave structure, making tiny mock ups, etc

Monday, February 26, 2018


The title line is a picture of me being pulled in two directions. 

I thought was getting all better by Friday so I went to the art class; ran into Annabelle for the second time since our exhibition, (her life is so good now, I'm glad;) then went to Rosie's and had a great time, except I was coughing, and still we talked non-stop. I didn't feel bad one bit, just coughing, but too often, too loudly, and I'd say, rudely. Oh, dear. So, I made a doctor's appointment at 4.30 tomorrow, in time to run into a pharmacy before closing.  

In a way, I knew I must see Doc Karl when Ben came home with whooping cough med; even though I wasn't sick, and my "cold" manifested in different ways, I had read that whooping cough is highly contagious. I stayed home until I felt I was almost over it, but that must have been wishful thinking. The foremost excuse is, now is not the time for me to get sick when Ben's blood sugar level and our going back to a no-carb diet are our priorities, and I'm having a hard enough time keeping that under control, so, tough it out, kid! But also, I'm honestly fired up about my new project. I even made a label, "RAW/Syrie" just now to tag the posts. See =>>>>>

So what am I thinking? If you've been around Unravelling, you know I need a picture of the finished project, albeit incomplete, constantly morphing, or ends up only a step in the process; that picture is constantly morphing now, and even when it settles it's something I can't "show" you until it's hung at the Refinery, if selected. But I hate dropping coy hints without any meat, so here are the starting points:  

* It's going to be something like the pillars, but the bottom part sewn together to make a real tube, to sit directly on the floor, then different panels opening up. Individual piece may be narrower but need to be longer and I'm aiming for five panels if possible.  

* The panels are going to be predominantly red, with squares/rectangles of different sizes in red, orange, yellow, grays and black; possibly more. These represent windows. 

* Background, my short history: You know I worked at the Syrian Embassy in Tokyo for a year. Back in the 80's Syria, and Iraq for that matter, were cosmopolitan, "Westernized" countries where at least in the city life looked what we'd call, "normal"; there were no headscarves, women were educated and worked, etc.* The major security concerns were Gaza/West Bank, recently Lebanon, and Egypt where "fundamentalist" were gaining strength. So I was honestly shocked at what happened in Syria since the Arab Spring; I knew Assad the Dad ruled with iron fists, but I hadn't realized Assad the Son followed in the footsteps. So I've been thinking very vaguely of a series of red pillars named "Syrie" for a couple of years. (* I worked at the embassy, which is a branch of the Foreign Ministry, so the information I received were the official versions, but we also met some Japanese who travelled there, and heard stories that didn't contradict the official line too much.) 

* Background, the name: I grew up in the US in the 70's when America's worst foes were "Syria and Libya", so the English "Syria" evokes in me more of infantile name-calling, rather than the country herself. I'm interested in the country. "Syrie" is the French name; they colonized Syria 1923-'46 under League of Nations mandate. "Syrie" is a working title because I don't know/think they were especially happy under colonial rule, but to me, for now, it points to the country so I prefer it. 

* In trying to work out how I could make something to express/represent the lament, the devastation, the losses/changes in the lives of everyday Syrians, I searched for recent still photos. (I can't look at too many at one time, and I don't have the stomach for vids.) but I was overwhelmed with the large proportion of almost black-and-white/sepia pics showing the "aftermath", buildings with windows blown out, conveying, to me, a perverted kind of silence, stillness, and, dare I say, beauty, as if it's a done deal. "Oh, look at the city reduced to rubble." Rubbles are about buildings, material things! Although I don't like looking at them, I was expecting more people running, even bleeding, limping, or carrying others; at least buildings as they burn, explosions as bombs are dropped. So that is my starting point. 

* Current Issues: The picture in my head is still about the buildings because you know I love architecture and buildings/structures are easier to express in the grid that is weaving. On the technical side, I don't want to use pick up if I'm going to have to make five, say, of 4m, say, panels; I can change weft colors, but I also prefer to weave with one shuttle at a time. Much reading required. 
This is the doodle that made me think I might be able to do this. So, I'll be making a giant red leek. 

On another note, I finished threading the black merino/mohair yesterday so I can start sampling. I also resumed counting the days to my birthday, (36), not for the old stash-busting goal, (ha ha ha,) not for my Yikes-60-countdown, but that's the day proposals for RAW are due. Another important date is May 7, when all accepted "out of town" pieces are due at the Refinery; typical of me, if I don't get the thing done by April 3, (most likely,) I will submit a proposal with whatever I will have completed, and take the time to weave for another month. And in a way it's nice to be working on the big loom while I think further about the project. 

I have an alternative plan, although it doesn't appeal to me at this stage; if I can't manage the weaving, I could paint/modify the pillars for this project. Those pieces are stiffish in luxurious wool, (actually more like buildings made of stones,) but not quite long enough, while I'm thinking of thinner, more flimsy cloth for this project. I am keeping all options open. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hi from the Other Side

Gita on Tuesday for and Nelson City in general was nowhere as traumatic as I envisioned; it arrived later and took a path further south, so we got rain and wind, but the rain wasn't as hard nor long, and the wind was much milder than our usual Sprint/Autumn wind. The one noticeable difference was wind usually blows from the west here, while Gita brought it from the east.

However, the West Coast and Golden Bay, northwest of Nelson, were hammered with heavy rain and landslides. You may have seen pics of Takaka Hill Road having fallen off in big chunks. These, together with State Highway 1 from Picton to Christchurch via. Kaikoura, the route damaged in the Nov 2016 earthquake, are some of the popular tourist routes, (two are also our main arteries,) so if you know anyone hoping to holiday in New Zealand and drive around the South Island, urge them to get updates. Takaka Hill in particular is going to take some time to repair. (The hill is, incidentally, where the marbles for our Parliament House came from, and was used in LOTR films as backdrop for folks running in stunning scenery.)

* * * * *

I'm really fired up about the RAW project, and I'll tell you more when I have a clearer picture, but I need to read up on tied weaves. You know me; reading words about weaving make my eyes water and I read a paragraph several times before I realize I've been reading it many times. (Ditto with my own posts!)

Because it's a big project, I don't want to use pick-up, and I hope to weave with one shuttle at a time. The look of the draft isn't going to be fussy or complicated, but I want to insert/superimpose shapes in distinct colors. I wanted to relearn, in particular, tie-down threads in twill, not how to draft them, but how they behave/look.

I checked every place conceivable for the workshop sample today to no avail. I also realized I did not save the Pebbles draft, another S&W, which makes me so mad because I always intended to weave a bigger piece based on it. I wove that sample on a table loom, so I made the draft in and worked off a lift plan, and I wished I had posted that at least. Instead, I posted the treadle plan, and the only reason I can think of is I usually save drafts in treadle plan so I did that without thinking. Useless!

While looking for the missing sample, I came across a woodgrain sample I found particularly attractive, and thought I could modify that for the black Merino Mohair warp. But when I was ready to work on it, I changed my mind and chose to modify the hellebore draft, but for a strange reason; the flowers looked like faces, and the cloth, a bunch of folks who have passed on looking back in a quiet, but not sad, way. And I found it visually terribly appealing. I don't know if I'm going to weave all three or four pieces on this warp in this treadling, but most definitely one, maybe two.
See? I'll have to come up with a more cheerful name/concept, though.

Threading is easy and in one sitting I finished half. The downside is, it's half mohair, and the fiber fly around and make my skin itch and nose stuffy. I remember now why I don't weave with this yarn often, and when I do, usually as the weft. It has a glorious sheen so dull wefts suit best, but I'm also thinking silk.

Tomorrow morning is my fourth session of the Adult Art class; in the afternoon I'm going to show Rosie how I make sauerkraut. So, threading and sampling on Saturday; I hope the loom works.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Fired Up/Nelson will be Closed Tomorrow

Yesterday while doing something completely different, (I can't remember what,) I had an idea for a RAW submission; it happens to be something I've wanted to make for a couple of years and I toyed with the idea of submitting it to Changing Threads, but I could never "see" what the final piece would look like, and I kept putting it off. Yesterday I began to feel a very strong urge to finally make this piece, and today when I sat down, ideas kept flowing. (This had something to do with the sudden energy; Kaz showed me pictures before she posted. :-D)
Thinking Summer & Winter or another tied weave would be one option, I looked for few samples I have done, and after remembering they were in a special place because I always intended to revisit tied weaves. (Special places are never a good idea for me; I can never find anything leaving me with an empty feeling, "it was supposed to be special.") Then I remembered I have another sample somewhere, but special or otherwise, I couldn't find it for the life of me.
My samples are filed according to fiber contents, roughly, but after checking every shelf thrice, I still can't find it.  I'll try again tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, Ex-Tropical Cyclone Gita is heading to Nelson. It's the one that brought huge damage to Tonga among other places. We've been warned to get ready since last Friday, and Ben's work is closed, he was told today.

This is the latest map I can find. See the top of the South Island where the water eats into the land in a V-shape? Nelson is slightly above the bottom of the V on the right side. The greatest danger is expected near the water, areas worst struck the day after the Super Blue Blood Moon and last Sunday, rain, tide, storm surge. We're up a hill so we're not expecting that, but a) we left the basement as is with the carpet waiting in the garage, and b) prepared, sort of, in case of water stoppage and/or power outage. Ben says there were a lot of empty shelves in the supermarket tonight.

Oh, if I were to go ahead with this RAW project, I need the big loom so I must get cracking with the black warp. One of the unrelated samples gave me a nice idea; I think the black warp is going to be another twill series.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Yeah, I Live Like This

On the drive back home that fateful Wednesday evening, (you may all laugh,) Barbara asked me what I do; she might have meant if I work outside of weaving, or weave somewhere else, but I didn't have the presence of mind to say, "read, fume, and waste oxegen," so I said I live in my basement, (true, as it had been very hot until then,) and when she asked if I work with textiles all day, I said yes. She lives next door so she can see what I don't do. But I'm a half-lier.

I might have whooping cough; might not. My symptoms are different from Ben's so we thought it's a a regular cold, although my regular seldom includes coughing. The thing about those of us who had a terribly healthy childhood/young-adulthood is, (say, someone who saw a doctor once between ages 9 and 43-ish?) we are so nonchalant about seeing doctors because it's really usually nothing. My parents were like that until well after 70. Ugh. This morning Ben and I were laughing in exasperation we've become "those people" who are never 100% well any more!

Anyhoo, recovering (?) from a couple of real ugh days, today I did some abstracts in my sketchbook, and then these on watercolor paper.
That I'm terribly near-sided works well with these; I take off my glasses and work with the paper about 10cm away from my face; when I sit up straight, the shapes are blurred but not how colors are distributed/positioned. I've been interested in movements, how the different colors travel across the A5 paper, and my eyes do exactly what I need them to do.

Not sure about where I'm going with these, though.

I may have mentioned an interesting do-if-you-like assignment in the MOMA course. From memory, the instructions were to take pictures of a familiar/interesting object from different angles; cut them up; past them together to create an image showing the object. Something like that. Of course I immediately thought of my one-time failed attempt at cubism, and was fired up.

I shot my camera and printed them out wallet size in B/W. The weather earlier today was so changeable and all my shots were very dark, so the hardest part was cutting them up, but I tried a couple of images.
The first one I just picked up cut pieces and pasted one after another.
For the second, I pick up pieces and pasted, and for subsequent pieces, thought of placement in relation to what's already there.

So far they look like quirky-but-not-successful Surrealism collages, but I'm interested in the Cubist look, so I'll keep going. I've doodled some Picasso portraits last year and saw how difficult abstraction à la Cubism was, but also saw some clues. Today I just cut the camera shapes in full, (i.e. the whole of what was included in each photo,) but next time 1) I might try a more controlled approach, i.e. not paste until I have the bigger picture, 2) maybe not cut out the shapes unless necessary and/or cut further, i.e. not keep the whole of what's in the photo.

It's great fun; I recommend it. But I don't know where this is going.

While reading last week's MOMA course material, (which have been between super interesting to surprisingly revealing to why-oh-why,) I wondered once again if the artist himself/herself thought all that before executing the artwork. I'm sure some did/have, but some art writing/descriptions go so far into the artists' mind and I can't help but think some are way-off, the-writer-needs-a-shrink type speculations.

That lead me to think about how I work, where my happy place may be, balancing a) enough thinking and design time to feel I'm making each piece special, b) a measure of productivity, ergo, c) overall "job" satisfaction or perception of self-worth living this life, and other stuff like d) speed of stash reduction, d) pricing/money, etc. Because I spend too much time thinking; I know this.

I'd love to be weaving just now but I sort of can't. Well, now that I went downstairs to take the pic, I could, just not put a new warp comfortably on either loom. I don't blame you if you can't tell the difference between the usual state of the room vs today.
Our basement, (not the weaving part but the bottom of the stairway and a tiny storage beside,) got flooded in the latest, second rain on Sunday, although it might have started a week ago Thursday in the first and we didn't notice. This part was a gun room (!) from the original owners and has a lot of concrete, (good for stairway, don't you think?) including the floor. The door to the weaving space is wooden but used to have three locks plus and a deadbolt. The carpet/underlay was never secured to the floor but just cut to size and fitted in the space. It's not a big deal; we've taken out them outside to dry earlier in the week, but they waited in the garage today as we were expecting showers. We hope to disinfect the underlay and wash the wool carpet with vinegar on the weekend, and put them back just on the stairwell but probably not in the storage.

Tree cutters came this afternoon with the biggest truck AND tree-crunching mechanism attached at the back: my first thought was, Nelson, hills, don't you have more easily maneuverable vehicles? I thought they came for me as I'm supposed to have two trees trimmed because they are too close to the power lines, but it was for my neighbour. I was terribly embarrassed about the state of my place, as usual, not that there was anything I could do then. Two other neighbours came out to have a look see, and we said hello, but one couldn't help but look up at our property. I cringe to think how others see us, me, I wasn't raised like this, and today I really cringed to see our place from someone else's perspective. Our place seldom look OK, but this summer it's most definitely mental-health territory, so old-injury/diabetes/whooping cough notwithstanding, I have to solicit Ben's help this season to make some visible-even-to-those-who-don't-live-here stuff happen.
A kingfisher came for a visit, possible looking for the tree that was growing right into the power pole, now gone.