Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Perfection, LOL

Monday was the last day of the 10-day public holiday in Japan; there are many public holidays crammed in the short period between April 29 and May 5 every year, but with the abdication/crowning I hear the government recommended it be semi-mandatory this year.

I'm terribly annoyed seeing the pageantry in Western-style clothing. Even we Japanese don't get to see the traditional garb often; they are, or are similar to, the court fashion during the time of Tale of Gengi, and probably long before and after. Male hairs and their brides got married in them in the 1990's but who knows what will happen to succession, marriages, or what they'll wear in future.

* * * * *
We asked Richard to knit Ben a sweater, and it's come up a real winner. I'm supposed to wash/finish/size it, but a) I don't know how to do it properly and must consult Youtube, and b) Ben's been wearing it whenever he's home and not sleeping, so I'll leave it as is for a while. One of the things we wanted from the start was for Richard to pick the buttons, after seeing fo his knit cushion covers and his talent for picking out striking buttons.

Once again, we were bedazzled by his choice. These are locally handmade recycled teak, roughly 23mm in diameter and 6mm thick, and they stand out without fighting the rest of the sweater, let alone steal all the attention. As Rosie pointed out, "they makes the sweater a statement piece." (I think that's what she said; I heard "statement" and my imagination ran away.)

We knew If I chose, I would have gone for the least visible, thinnest, possibly smaller, and something in darker in value, so as to make the knit part stand out. Ben would have done better, but I might have talked him out of it, or we might have compromised with, say, something made of bones or horns, striking but ordinary. I know these choices emanate from one's taste/preference in the first instance, but there's more to achieving a nuanced/sophisticated look, not the simplistic harmony/disappearance I tend to go for. How do I develop this kind of eye?

* * * * *

Richard's partner is Rosie, the bookbinder, and I talk a lot about making, (although she has been far more prolific than I in recent years, in spite of her many commitments and a far bigger garden.) One of the things she brought up was the precise, (she used another word, four letters, starts with "a" and ends with 'l",) nature of her craft, desirability of perfection, and the attractiveness of imperfection. I was reminded of when I was younger and more ambitious, when I aimed to weave technically perfectly, and we laughed. Pleasingly, or perfectly, imperfect isn't easily achieved, we didn't think, so do how we investigate that? Then we laughed, again. And sighed.

* * * * *

I've been looking at collages online because I want to up my game. Early Surrealists did some nicely understated stuff, and there is always Nick Bantock for visual joyride. I've always imagined good drawing skills would help to make beautiful collages, but I'm not making efforts to improve my drawing, so I'm looking at composition, proportion and reduced color palette. The problem is, I'm too in awe of work I like to be able to study them, and too many different styles at that, among them many, many simpler, not-layered look. I can't decide if that's what I want.
Told'ya I'm not making an effort. These weree great fun, though; I'm making myself a tiny bunting of Bardies next.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

On Memoirs, Synchronicity Overload, Meaning of Labels, and Re-collecting

I wrote this Wednesday morning, so the radio thing happened on Tuesday. I sat on it because I felt there was too much depression talk when I wasn't depressed, and glad I did. That's almost all out.

* * * * *

I check who is interviewed on Fresh Air every morning and yesterday it was another memoir writer. Too much synchronicity get cloying, and I had never heard of David or Erin Carr, but it appeared promising so I listened to Erin first, then David's 2008 interview about his memoir, (and lo, there is the Minneapolis connection,) and another 2011 David interview. That's a bit of synchronicity overload, but it was a good intermission between Ali Smith Rounds 1 and 2.

Erin Carr mentioned a family expression that went something like, "Addiction explains everything but solves nothing," which resonated with my view of depression. There's a fine line between using an ailment as an excuse, (what I call "/insert-ailment/ defining a person",) and explaining/examining it. I don't mind labeling myself as a sometimes-depressed person, because it has/does open up opportunity for discourse, and because it's like eyeglasses with which I have to keep checking myself from time to time, but it doesn't exonerate me from trying the best.

David Carr, on the other hand, was the first person I heard say out loud the creepiness of holy communion, although he remained Catholic. This used to freak me before First Communion. Then there is that ickier thing where every nun is married to Jesus and they wear wedding rings. Cannibalism and Polygamy in one go. Yeah...

* * * * *

I've been wondering what to get Mom for Mother's Day and I came up with a good idea. Since I've been enjoying young adult novels so much, why not a few of these? She's joined an English Book Club at least twice because she knew all the members for decades, but didn't last long because she had to look up the dictionary too often and lost the plot, or the books had sex in them. :-D Young Adult books I read don't have sex, but they are usually "historical", (i.e. with reference to real people/events Mom may not be familiar with,) and often has magic, which isn't her thing.

She'd love Beverly Clearly books: real, current, and everyday characters and occurrences. But those, I could probably find online and have them sent to her, as well as books by one of my all time favorite authors, Erich Kästner, in Japanese. Who knows, she may even be able to talk to my niece, who is apparently turning into an avid reader. That was my thinking in the morning.

I went hunting for perhaps Ramona-like lead character in the afternoon, with not too many words she'd have to look up, something perhaps she could sit down after dinner and finish in a week, and I found two. When I went to pay for them, what do I find in front of the till but a Kästner! And they all have lovely dull yellow covers!!
(You caught me; I got one more, NZ author Maurice Gee's book he wrote for her then-young-teen daughter when they lived in town, but that doesn't have a yellow cover, so I "censored". :-D)

I'm planning to read all these without, I hope, damaging the spine, and scribble meanings of difficult words and/or make a card with a list of characters so she doesn't get mixed up.  Mom's not a reader, (she's a jock!) but I think she'll get a kick out of finishing books in English without needing a dictionary. Or she'll tell me to stop sending them.

All this talk about Kästner and Clearly reminded me something I'd not thought of for nearly 40 years. There was a time I planned to become a young adult writer, long before the concept/label became popular. I had in mind a target audience who were sentient beings with all the answers to the world but not all the questions, and sensible not to turn into an adult yet. I had to give up this goal when I realized I was too old to remember what it was like to be that way. I was heading towards 25 or 26, starting to see both sides of issues, and suddenly didn't have all the answers, but oh, so many questions. 

I can't believe I'd forgotten about this. I wonder what else I don't remember.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

On Memoirs, Coincidences, Voices, and Scribbling on Cards

Lest you imagine me stomping around in my crumpled bathrobe, mumbling loudly with steam coming out of my ears, (which in a way I've done most of my life, but in another, not as much as last night's post suggests. I don't wear bathrobes, and I'm more a feotal-position-with-permanent-frown kind,) I've been rethreading while listening to new-to-me author Ali Smith.  

On Monday, I had intended to show up at the memoir class emotionally/mentally au naturale, but you know me, I like to prepare. (If only that was the case when I was a student!) I started listening to the audiobook of Mary Kerr's "The Art of Memoir", which I got when the book came out but never finished. I was reminded why: I can't relate to her life; I haven't read most books she mentions; I don't like her language in what is supposed to be an instructional text, not fiction where a bit of swearing add texture. So I thought I'd reread Stephen King's "On Writing" (of any genre), Philip Roth's "Patrimony" and the father portion of Richard Ford's "Between Them". Interesting they are all old white dudes, (which is why I picked up Kerr in the first place but wasn't crazy about two of her memoirs, either,) and I'll never touch King's fiction, don't like Ford's and only some of Roth's, but the two memoirs are lovely homage to their late fathers. Not that I want to write about my Dad, mind, but Roth's, in particular, was written as his father was dying and three years after mine passed, and perhaps I could have used it earlier but still so good. Buy these in books printed on paper, if you are interested, or borrow, nothing electronic. 

Came Tuesday around Insomnia O'clock I saw a Volume FB post praising Ali Smith's "Spring". I had heard of Smith, of course, but I usually shy away from authors modified by "new", "young" and "next", so I'd never read her. But at 4AM in a cold house, what is one to do? I clicked on one link, then another, then another, and ended up with an audiobook of her "Artful", "narrated by a character who is haunted - literally - by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature." In the sample audio, the protagonist drag her ex's just-arrived chair on wooden floor with carpet bunched up under it. Plus this one is read by her, (but not the newer novels,) and because I like Scottish accents, (she doesn't have a very strong one,) this was it.

I learned from the articles that morning, reading Smith requires ill-read readers like myself stopping and googling like a local/slow-train ride; there are plenty of books/authors she alludes to that I haven't read or read when I was in school, and then there are the the artworks. For now I'm content having her read to me while I rethread, and I will listen to her as many times it takes to get through the whole warp.

Listening to her, my mind wandered to Tóibín, whose voice and work is my hypnoses. I love his Irish stories read by him the best, but anything by him read in an Irish accent, or him talking about anything, makes me stop/scribble/wind back and think about writing. There are some lovely vids and podcasts online. (Ford gives wonderful presentations, also; a laugh a minute stuff with substance.)

Anyhoo, I started writing random notes on cards. Notebook pages are linear and scream out order, while mind maps are too messy, so cards I can rearrange. And I write in pencils because I make many mistakes, (my types are not unique to keyboards,) and I like the thought of my words being smudged and eventually disappearing. (Or I can recycle for another project later.) I'm even pleased my handwriting can be illegible. Except when I have to read it.

Yesterday morning I wrote on seven; five are recurring items, and what a relief to have two new thoughts. Because I so need new thoughts/feelings/discoveries.
Dishes, then rethreading.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Angry Old Hag's Stream/Scream of Consciousness

I got so sick of being unenthusiastic/unmotivated, wondering if I need my "head read" again, so as a potentially instant remedy, I joined a Letter Journal swap. The theme is "travel journal" and mine is by a gender-and-age-unknown traveler who may have been reincarnated a few times, who has an uncanny ability to know notable figures or witness historical events in the most mundane ways.
This is the first page I did, and the last page of the book. This swap is 4-person-once-each so ideally the original owner finishes two spreads, or two pages and one spread, at the start. I'm so used to 2-person- and 4-person-multiple rounds, so this looks plain/thin but dit's a start. I overdid LJ in 2017 for a reason, and did only a few last year, but I want to get back into it in a low-keyed way. I've since joined a book-themes swap, but these, and another that started a while ago, will be it until I finish at least one swap.

* * * * * 

I've been taking a break from Vincent bios and reading a lot of Young Adult novels Stella suggests, ("The Traitor and the Thief", by Gareth Ford; "Enchantée", by Gita Trelease; and the latest, "A Skinful of Shadows", by Frances Hardinge;) and in between, a couple of Bard bios. 
I've also been trying to draw him; anything to get my brain working better. I've found a few portraits I'd never seen, and am sticking to left-hand blind drawings. I don't enjoy the drawing but they grown on me. 

* * * * *

After much cogitation, I signed up for a memoir writing course; four Thursday morning during June, held at Volume, I don't know the teacher but I trust Stella and Thomas. I'm not interested in writing a memoir, but I figured my love of the genre will sustain me for four weeks. It will be good therapy.

I'm hoping it will be a swift kick on my cognitive behind because I'm a bit worried about my head. I told you I never had good memory, plus my forgetting pronouns has gotten so bad some days conversations with other humans turns into guessing games; how good are my hints, and how well can they read my mind. That on top of impatience; not suffering fools, even though nowadays I am the fool; inability to keep up with changes and technology; brashness, which I see as as clarity; paranoia/distrust I'm not understood correctly; control freakery; oh, and repeating myself. 

I also worry about the weird symbioses with my mom I develooped over the last decade. It started with my unconsciously developing her health complaints de jour, but lately it's whatever I observe and worry about the most: inability to complete tasks before starting another; selfishness borne out of physical/cognitive limitations...

I'm still working through my bureaucratic stuff, which only appear to multiply every time I turn around; this is driving me mad. I can see other humans are finding me difficult to deal with, so I stay away from other humans except Ben and a few friends. Self-loathing is insidious, tiresome, and unproductive. And not pretty. Yuck. 

* * * * *

I fell in the rain 2006, because of which I couldn't stand up one Sunday in 2014. Even before that I'd been on a look out for comfortable chairs and we replaced the couch in 2012, the kitchen chairs in 2015, and a couple of years ago I even bought this low/ugly/cheap beach chair for inside, but nothing allows me to sit comfortably. Being short with short legs don't help in a tall people's country, but I'm very short even in Japan.

Last New Year's Eve, we bit the bullet and purchased two rocking recliners which arrived last week, but in different configuration to what we ordered. We shopped at what we think is the most prestigious shop in Nelson because the chairs were good value/quality for the price. But negotiating a fix has been excessively difficult, and is on-going. I had a bad feeling when they insisted we pay in full before delivery, which was contrary to what we were told at the time of purchase, but hey, it's the fancy shop, what could go wrong, right?  

Whoever is at fault, (and in this case I insist it is they, 100%,) when so many people find me difficult, I've got to have a hard look at myself. Eh. 

* * * * *

I've known six counselors/psychologists over as many years while coming to terms with depression; the first, we liked each other so much I felt she was too sympathetic; three I met once and knew they were wrong for me; one I met through a government scheme but the scheme and the office are gone; and one I could have worked with but she moved to Christchurch to live with her elderly mother. I have no go-to person, but these sessions are too expensive for what I (don't) get back from the sessions, and anything I learned about depression is through reading, and a website fronted by Kiwi rugby legend John Kirwan. This time it's not exactly depression but maybe another visit to Doc Karl first.

In addition to forgetting, etc., etc., I'm angry so often or feel utterly put-upon. I'm reminded of Dad in his last days; his anger was boiling just under his skin but I didn't know if he knew what angered him so. He fought hard to hide it; it must have been exhausting. Thank goodness I have Ben and his ever-so-even temper. He's hopping mad about the chairs, too, but he doesn't get as worked up. We just had our 29th on Sunday.

And just in case, I added St. John's Wart and B Complex to my daily Ginkgo.

* * * * *

We're spending beyond our combined means of late, and then on Wednesday before Easter, I cracked a tooth. Eventually I'm going to need a crown, which costs me roughly one return trip to Japan. I haven't been able to sell pieces, but I think I better make new stuff regardless, so today I finally started rethreading the orange cotton piece in a modified version of the hellebore design.

* * * * *

The emperor abdicated today; tomorrow we get a new one and a new era starts. No, really, in Japan we have a name for each emperor's reign; up to day, 2019 was Year 31 of Emperor Heisei; starting tomorrow it's Year 1 of Emperor Reiwa. That we have an "emperor" in the 21st century alone is ridiculous, and expensive, but I don't think I'll take on that problem this evening.

The new era is going to trip me up as I continue the pension-related work.

Friday, April 19, 2019

What has been Up, you Ask?

a) A few days after the last post I wove a second sample on the cotton warp. I had a biggish list of problems/observations as a result, the peskiest being when I throw the wrong shuttle, (i.e. mistake the thick/thin order,) I cannot see it from the side facing up, and I can't change face as some sheds will then have nearly all shafts up and the shuttle will fall through the gaps. So regrettably it was time to switch to a more viable solution, (as opposed to researching and experimenting the entire 10m, which was an option at the start but of which I grew weary,) and I modified the old hellebore design, reducing the warp ends, and intend to rethread, and resley at 42EPI rather than the current 39, making the width-on-loom more manageable.
b) As an alternative creative outlet, I started another needlepoint project a couple of days after the last post. It was one of the gazillion projects I was itching to get started, and it's been a savior of what remains of my sanity during this strange summer. 

c) Not only has the Tasman fire settled, but our water restriction eased in March, and that's six weeks ago so now sure where we're at but nowhere as dry as back then.

d) I fell into the rabbit hole of Japanese bureaucracy for new passports. Japan doesn't allow dual citizenship, so we remain Japanese with permanent residency in New Zealand, and we must renew our Japanese passports every 10 years. That's not a big deal, but we must appear at the Embassy in Wellington to pick them up, so I thought to get some Japanese Pension paperwork out of the way as well, because some of that require personal pick-up also.

(I have no idea how much I'll get; I'll be exempt from the Japanese income tax but subject to the New Zealand one; and if it's complicated I'll have to pay an accountant to file returns, so I can't even speculate if it's worth it, but it's that warped sense of civic duty in my DNA.)

The difficulty comes partially from the complexity of any bureaucracy, but mainly from my short fuse and near-inability to calmly read complex Japanese texts. I didn't need to while working in Japan; if you work for one employer and don't have debts nor otherwise complicated financial existence, the workplace takes care of it. 

e) Christchurch happened. Brexit and Trump have been driving me mad, "demanding" so much of my time. 

f) We did go to Wellington on my birthday and had a lovely three-day holiday, walking up and down the small area of Te Ara, around Cuba Street, eating really good food, (good to have many foodie friends,) visiting young Tom's jewelry studio and ordering our 30th anniversary, (end of next April, not this one as Ben reminded me,) un-matching rings, and waltzing in and out of beautiful used book shops. Ben bought me a pair of low boots, we got our passports, and we did go see the terracotta warriors at Te Papa.
Funny story, I went to Xian in 1986 and saw the many soldiers from a platform in an airport hanger-like structure and I heard Te Papa borrowed a dozen so it felt like a joke. The night before we left Nelson we watched a doco on what horrible men the First Emperor and his successor, his youngest son, were. So I was pretty set on not going. But after we picked up our passports, rain was forecast. Wellington wind was picking up, and we were, after all, so near the place and admission only $20. So we went. And it was good.

There were only eight soldiers plus two horses in the main display, in glass, but one could walk right up and view astonishing details such as braids in their hair. There were many other artefacts, not only from the First Emperor's tomb but from different era for comparison. (His was the most elaborate, of course.) The highlight for me, though, was witnessing folks I assumed to be Chinese Kiwis, in awe, face to face with their history. I'd like to imagine some may have lived in regions far from Xian or big cities and would never have had the chance like this had they not come to New Zealand. Bless them.

g) There was no telly in our accommodation, which we knew, so we dipped into printed books. It was/has been bliss. 

h) I came home to finish the pension bit, but 1) I couldn't get as much help from a someone in Japan I was counting on for a reason; 2) post/mail takes much longer these days due to cost cutting on the New Zealand side, and 3) I forgot about Japan's Golden Week; April 29, May 3, 4 and 5 are national holidays plus weekends on both sides make upwards of 10 days with fewer work/school days than holidays, but this year, the Emperor is abdicating so the country is closed April 27-May 6. One of the forms must be submitted within 30 days of issue, so rather than risking preparing a package only for it to be delivered during the holiday and later rejected, we decided we'll make another trip to Wellington in the next few months, and I found I could do a couple of things directly by correspondence without relying on family. Re. Q&A corresponding is harder; phone calls have been more productive. Lesson learned.

i) Brexit and Trump continue to chip away at my sanity while Jacinda keeps shining.

j) I had a 24-36 hour flu and I missed a small operatic performance by Alison, accompanied by eight celli. Yes, eight cello players playing behind one singer, live, in Nelson. (And to illustrate what small town living is like, Alison is Esther's singing teacher, and the daughter of our long-time health professional, Kathleen. I used to feel Nelson was closing in on us, but not so much of late.) 

k) I've not been exactly chipper; it's that same-old cold-that's-not-quite-a cold thing. I'm unmotivated; paperwork is constantly on my mind; I know I had a whole bunch of projects all summer, started or under consideration, but don't have the energy to revisit any, so much so it took a few days just to list up what I remember. The only reprieve have been the needlepoint, young adult novels, and some days, but not everyday, cooking, some to hilarious effect. Many days diary entries read: "looking for a project" when I think I mean, "motivation".

We ran into Mark, my art teacher from a short course I did at the Suter a year ago, at the supermarket, and we asked after the latest in each other's lives. For my part I covered the still-weaving but not-selling and was surprised to hear me explain because I wasn't selling, I could "afford" the time to work through concepts, blah blah, which sounded like... ummm... real bullshit. I realized I do not know how I fell about art.vs craft; my definition of "art" is borrowed/taught and not my own; I don't know, or have, what I genuinely want/like to do re. weaving; and that not selling and not having a mentor/shop manager like Andrea is really affecting me negatively now.

l) I've been pining to go to another writing workshop for two or three years. I find them rewarding in a way I imagine some folks do after communing with nature or attending a yoga/religious retreat. Except I haven't found a suitable subject/angle/reason/motivation to excite me.  In other words, I want to go beyond the usual first draft of a part of a cutesy short story I'll mull on a while afterwards then put on the back burner.

When I was a kid I understood adults around me had in mind a mediocre academic track in my future because I didn't excel in anything notable, and my family background was in the university business. Accordingly I put in a sporadic effort with my usually well-intended but short-breathed enthusiasm. One of the things I picked up was I needed to train myself to use words articulately, and, honest, to have an opinion on everything, ideally based on research/facts, but in practice voicing a quick answer whenever drilled by adults. In short, I grew into an explainer/translator/smart-bottom without the depth that would have made me... ummm... a thinker. I also gave my opinion "freely" because that was the right modus operandi, or so I thought, in my family, (enthusiasm, (pro)active participation, robust conversation, etc,) and from there a short walk to a compulsive sharer. :-D

I organized my thoughts in words, lists, structured and in order, editing out ideas and matters that didn't fit. At the beginning of this century while struggling to "be" a better a weaver, (as opposed to weaving better,) I did the whole Artist's Way thing, read a bunch of self-help books attended design courses, and spoke to a lot of art educators, art administrators and artists. It took years before I started to see another way of "thinking": not everything that popped up in my mind/head could be described in words, and some qualities/aspects/elements of the idea were lost in translation. Then, I gradually shied away from translating because the non-verbal soup suited better in holding as much in tact compared to a neat list. Also, words/texts meant creative commitment at times and I began to want to hold on to options longer. Most recently I felt this new lack of compulsion to share meant I was finally maturing.

Except some days it feels a little different; the kind of maturity I had in mind was built on solid cognitive ability/activity and relatively constant/consistent productivity, just more in the background than in your face. What's happening inside me recently is more a lack of activity, a real nothing box, a stepping back from my own life, not observing anything, not doing anything. Similar to depressive episodes but more... "natural". I've had a handful of scary instances where I spent a few moments trying to recall how I did some of the most mundane of activities, and collectively they felt more more like a general direction than my average "senior" moments. I'm also repeating myself a lot more than I used to. So there's that.

m) I never read anything on the Vegan vs. Wool debate because I assumed Vegans were opposed to sheering, from the headlines and comments. And which I enthusiastically labelled, "stupid". I'm lucky to know young Jake who can explain to me these modern debates and yesterday he told me about another angle, that he objects to the ethics of bringing sheep, et al, out of their natural habit for the purposes of human consumption, be it for food, clothing, or anything else. This was new to me and we parted promising to look up water consumption for cotton, (I supposed I should add hemp and linen?) vs. sheep, cow, etc. And because we live in extraordinary times, I can't stop picturing returning the world's sheep to Mesopotamia, cows to Lavant, Jake to Scotland and beyond, and me to Japan and who knows where else. (We aren't sure where we Japanese came from.)  

n) Notre Dame burned, yet I've been strangely hopeful about her resurrection, whatever shape it takes, because she has done so in the past. Re. Palestine, Heiti, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, BLM, etc., not so much. I continue to allow Brexit, Trump and Mueller to plunder my sanity. I am not sleeping. On Wednesday I cracked a tooth and now need a crown that is going to cost me one Japan trip. I might withdraw all pieces from the gallery/shop and have a "Tiara Sale" here, because that sounds better than a "Crown Sale". Although... this may be universe's way to make me weave more.

Peace. Out. 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Contrasting Simultaneously 2

I put the first sample in a laundry net through a regular cold cycle in the washing machine; my thoughts are:
  • The various orange stripes show up; yay;
  • Both sides look like B-sides, anticipating a more visually stunning A-side. (See pics in the last post). If I weave this in silk, the B-/orange side would have shown the spectacular silk sheen but this is not the case in cotton, at least it's a whole lot less;  
  • 39EPI yields a meaty, nice heavy feel; I could go 36EPI or 42EPI but 36EPI may reduce the heft while 42EPI will elongate/"skinnify" the pattern which is less attractive. I do like the hand of this fabric;  
  • The finished cloth has a surprise 3D look, as if the thick 20/2 wefts want to run away and the thin 60/2 wefts are holding them back;
  • I feel comfortable about proportion; color and combination/contrasts is another matter; I have to experiment and see before I can decide if something is good or bad, but in the end, I can't sample every single combination so there will always be elements of experimentation/surprise while weaving the "proper" pieces; 
  • I really don't like the "flecks". I'm definitely going for more harmonious paring, but not too similar the thins weft disappear;
  • When weaving, the accents look like rectangular blobs, but on the B-side they come out clearly as an O or an X, and I prefer O in this project;
  • Unlike my twills, there isn't enough interaction with the two sides; the A-/B-sides are opposites by nature, I get that, but the warp and weft color distribution feels too radical; I'm not sure if I can be bothered investigating/remedying this aspect in this project/warp, however; 
  • I sampled five different tie down patterns and the polka dot, and the more bold look seem appropriate rather than the overly fussy ones;
  • I'm not sure if I can weave more than 30-40cm on a good day. Because of the colors and the size of the threads, even the thicker threads, I have to be careful and watch out for all kinds of potential errors, including "bubbling" at the selvedges. The width tired me physically, also; 
  • I must beat hard to position the thick wefts close to each other; beat at the selvedges or somewhere between them and the yellow stripe;
  • Depending on the color, threads from the same source and same fiber content full differently, (always a dilemma,) but also the gaps appear better/worse depending on color context. Is there something I can do besides beating the living daylights...?;
  • A lot of issues I think of in the first instance are micro elements of the cloth, while the more macro elements, e.g. O vs X or the overall color scheme, are what most folks notice first. I will never forego working out the details of the micro elements to my liking, because they are what I like, but these are things only the maker and long-time user notice. Just reminding myself; 
  • Initially I planed to weave three standard pieces, but washed/pressed the sample is 69cm wide, which is amenable to a longer length than my standard 210cm without fringes. It's probably wiser to sample to my heart's content, weave two proper pieces, then use up the rest of the warp for a fun fabric as this cloth is also suitable for cutting/sewing experimentation;
  • Reed marks remain, but I only put this through a short cold cycle. Warm wash, a longer/additional wash cycle, or use take them out from experience, so I shan't worry; 
  • Right selvedge was horrible while left was near-perfect while weaving; both are serviceable after washing. Poo-poo; 
  • Once steam pressed well, it doesn't wrinkle as easily as my 20/2 twill pieces. 
Sorry, the colors are rather dull but I had to use Ben's camera to get really close up. On the whole the colors are at least a little more, if not a lot more, saturated.
Flecks, which are far more annoying in real life.
O rather than X?
B-side blobs; can you see the top two are backs of Os while the bottom is X? I couldn't while I wove!
 Bolder tie-down.
So fussy you can't even see the diamond shapes.
Weft float gappiness is worst around "whiter" pattern wefts, not so bad with darker, or wefts more in harmony with the surrounds.

On to Sample 2, then.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Contrasting Simultaneously 1

I finished threading the orange warp on Monday, and wove my first sample Monday-Wednesday. Here are some thoughts/observations I made while weaving. Some contradict each other but I'll list as many as I can remember because I think I need to reflect on them later:
  • It's been forever since I've woven with cottons; I'd forgotten how much I like how the colors interact;
  • Feels weird to be weaving a tied weave on the computer dobby; there is no control/spontaneity; 
  • I can weave this sitting down; maximum width, and I have to weave slowly, but it's doable and probably better than a potential problem with the height of the air compressor pedal and a new footstool; 
  • The thin 60/2 wefts are so fine I can't see them as I weave, a problem with "bubbling" at the selvedges; 
  • The thin weft colors are so visible they're not just adding nuances but acting independently;
  • It's slow weaving, but still faster than I imagined; instead of advancing the cloth often, I should push the reed position back for speed;
  • Two shuttles aren't as much a bother as I remembered, but when I throw the wrong one, I can't tell by looking at the draft (on the computer screen controlling the lifting,) because the lifting is repetitive/regular, (as opposed to fancy twills);
  • When I throw the wrong shuttle, sometimes I can't tell from looking at the fell because the thin wefts hide under the thicker 20/2s;
  • When "many", (in fact, every other) shafts are up, weave with the thin weft; when the lifted sheds have more gaps, weave with the thick weft;
  • Use the heavier end-feed for the thick weft and smaller boat for the thin weft;
  • Pay attention to using the correct shuttle and to the selvedges, and use both hands and hold the beater closer to the selvedge, even if this all means no rhythm; 
  • In the lighter, right half of the warp, the difference in the oranges is almost invisible; choose thick wefts that bring forward the contrast in these warp colors;
  • I don't like the small color flecks (??) thin wefts make when they are not in harmony with the "paired" thick wefts, in hue more than in value;
  • I prefer intense, saturated colors for thick wefts, and want to avoid whiter values especially. Though selecting thin wefts in hues/values too similar to the thick "partners" is boring, I don't want "contradicting" pairs; 
  • I like the greens and blues in the weft; like the pinks and reds, too;
  • I had intended to get three pieces but these are wide and should be long-ish; if I sample more and can get only two proper pieces, so be it;
  • Fabric on the loom feels coarse; always a problem with this 60/2 thread;
  • There are shot effect in some parts; I forgot how pronounced they are in these cottons;
  • And so on. And on. And on.
 End of Tuesday, looking at the wefts I used already and contemplating which others to sample.
 This is the side I saw as I wove and, yes, it is that bright.
Forever a warp girl, I like this under/B-side better. However, I can't get rid of the feeling both sides has the appearance of the "wrong" side, anticipating a fancier (?) "right" side. More observations on this sample in the next post.

Oh, a freebie! You can weave a regular "polka dot" (although they are in fact small squares) I wove at the top of my sample on eight shafts.

Here's a base draft you can adapt.
If you want to play with the tie down part, modify the first five shafts.
If you have more than eight shafts, of course you could place the dots more randomly, and/or make the dots actually round. I might try this some day in the future.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

All Tied Up 2

I started threading this week. Yesterday I think, hope, I finished my Day 2 of 5.

A week ago Tuesday, I combined past posts labeled "Summer and Winter" and "tied weaves" into one label, "Summer & Winter and Tied Weaves", (and Blogger now allows "&" in labels,) and read the 17, plus closely related posts e.g, P2P 2010. What a cringing, shriveling, embarassing experience, full of typos, missing/doubled up words, muddle thoughts, and poorly attempted humor! I knew I don't write cleanly but I didn't know how bad it was. Some years ago I started editing posts and ended up deleting a whole bunch but I only got up to early 2009. However do you put up with me? On the other hand, if you met me in person, this is how I talk. Not that that helps. 

I said I design, in the first instance, with the warp, maybe due to my first looms being jack looms. I never consider not all drafts are made with rising sheds in mind, and never remember this when looking up books. But for weaves where pattern wefts are the strongest element, I need to think sinking sheds, or keep in mind I could be designing/weaving with the B-side up.

There are many things I assume since I've been more or less mechanically designing and weaving  
twills for many years, and the assumptions don't necessary transfer to tied weaves. So I'm revisiting some basics, actually putting them into words and reading them out loud:
  1. Vertical elements, warp threads and threading, are trickier to change once the loom is dressed, though not impossible, especially adding supplementaries; 
  2. Weft threads are the easiest to change after the loom is dressed or after weaving starts;  
  3. Sett is easily changed even after the loom is dressed, but I prefer to resley to a denser sett, so start with looser option; 
  4. Lifting, (or tie-up/treadling,) can be changed after the loom is dressed or after weaving starts. On the big dobby, multiple variations should be prepared to generate different designs from the same warp/threading anyway; 
  5. Surely more to come? 
Because I'm almost more interested in the tie-down pattern than what shapes pattern wefts make, I'm trying to understand how that works:
  1. Tie-down patterns/shafts must be decided to determine the threading; it's the same for the pattern wefts but you see how I think. However, anything that can be woven from the same threading can be woven; this is such a "Ya think?" when you put it into words, but it took a while for this to sink in re. tie-down; 
  2. Tie-down pattern is most visible in the warp-dominant areas, i.e. when the warp is raised, which may explain my interest; for me, this is weaving as usual;
  3. But tie-down changes the shape of how the smallest unit of pattern wefts are shaped, the pixels; look up any old book to see pics of O vs X, for e.g;
  4. Never forget about treadling, especially simple elongation/shortening and repeating. Because tie-down is not the main/only focus of the cloth, slight changes in the numbers can create a big enough change to the tie-down pattern for the whole cloth without it being boringly obvious as with all-over twills; 
  5. What else? I know there is more.
Having arrived at this murky stage where I understand a few things when I'm told but haven't learned/experienced enough to proactively use them, I made up a few drafts and decided on something like this for the orange warp. (That is not to say I'm going to stop reading, no way, tied weaves are so interesting! But you know, the weaver wants to weave a little.)
Full width. The colors are very approximate; the "white" horizontal lines are blank lines between treadling units.
The pattern appears as an oval, but if you look at the "negative" space the shapes can appear as ovals or x's. All three pics are segments of the same draft but the colors get darker as I go closer. They are clean, clear colors in real life.
I used shafts 1 to 5 to make the diamonds; 6 to 16 for the pattern. 

Most of my tied weave samples are woven with 20/2 cottons in the warp, 20/2 and 60/2 in the weft, at 36EPI. The convention is to use threads the same size as the thinner weft as the warp, and I'd imagine a sett closer than 36EPI with this combo, to produce the characteristic pixilated look. 36EPI produces a lovely hand suitable for scarves, and shows off more of the color interactions than the pixels, both desirable for my purpose, so I thought to stay at 36. But, simple calculation said this would mean on-the-loom width just short of 78cm, with two shuttles, much too wide for me, and I'd need new footstool so I can weave standing on the big loom. I'm sleying at 39EPI to start with, and if I think it won't be horrible, may even move on to 42EPI. But I'll probably need another footstool anyway.

My workshop sample is still missing, although I have all others I've done. That big sample would have been handy because I used a slightly thicker cotton and I recall being more ambitious in the tie-down, but perhaps not. I've looked for it so many times in recent years I think it's safe to say I lost it. Boo hoo.

I also looked at my stash of 60/2 cottons, hoping I have a variation of purples to play against the oranges in the warp; I have one very dark one, and that's it; that's all the source has, too. In which case there may be a variety of purple pattern wefts in one of the pieces. Oh, I wished there were a few lavenders and red-violets in 60/2.  

Nevertheless I persist.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

All Tied Up

I haven't forgotten about Japan trip posts. So you know.

The commission blanket is on hold. I found perfect colors to match the client's cushion cover, and needed to order just one more color, but my source is out of that color, (and no other,) and don't know when it'll become available. I can of course build the project on colors I have, or think of something entirely different. I'm opting to put it on hold.

Syrie is never far from my mind, but there is a possibility it's become about Gaza, Syria and now Pigeon Valley fire. With that last addition, and seeing wildfire flames from our own windows, my ideas may change. Or not.

I wrote previously I was thinking of putting this orange warp while I think about the commission and Syrie. To mix things up, I split that warp and inserted another small warp in the middle on the spur of the moment. And because of the colors, my first thought was satin, except just all over satin would be boring, (it's not silk, either...) so not having any idea for weeks, (and again, I blame the heat!) I started reading about tied weaves, one of those ideas I put on the back burner some time ago.

You know how bad I am at understanding weaving when it's written in words. Day One I read the same sentences over and over and over and fell asleep several times. Three hours on I had read about three paragraphs and was completely fed up. Day Two, I tried reading parts out loud; comprehension wasn't any better but I felt slightly less frustrated, and had a pleasant nap. Then came Day Three and suddenly all the words fell into place. I must have finished and understood half a dozen articles in Best of Weaver's, and skimmed through a few others on the subject. Phew.

My biggest problem was, I've always designed with the warp in the first instance, then when I start to sample I see warp+weft, so mine are never warp-faced per se. While in tied weaves designs are made up of pattern wefts in the first instance. So even with the assistance of drafts, illustrations and photographs, understanding the text required a paradigm shift. When I picked up on this fact, I started to understand what the authors meant, although whether it will work as I start on drafts is uncertain.  

There are so many ways to approach tied weaves, and I've looked at Summer & Winter, Bergman and Quigley. I had to draw a mind-map-like notes to see how many paths I have, and how they relate to each other.
The warp is cotton, 20/2, 1134 ends, probably 42EPI; the weft will be the same for pattern wefts and 60/2 for the tie down, which is counter to convention but what the heck. The original orange warp has four colors in AA-AB-BB-BC... progression; the middle part is only one yellow.  

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Cost and Reward of Depression / Changing Outlook

Hello. Seven weeks since the last post? I hope you survived the festive season if you celebrate and  crazy weather if you had it. We've had a heatwave; the season started out cool and occasionally wet, turning into endless days of, (OK, maybe nine?) 29C-at-1AM, no rain and high winds. We had 32C a few days and it might have been the hottest equal we experienced in this house. It's cooled down a while, but going back up this week. Some days I laid down on the floor reading because sitting up, let alone getting up on the chair, was perceptibly hotter. I stopped eating ice cream and moved on to popsicles, then quit that and have been sucking on ice cubes. Low cal and virtually free! 

Let me bunch up the non-weaving items, as much as I can remember, and get them out of the way.

By far the biggest thing is the Pigeon Valley Fire, not totally unexpected with the weather but still shocking. At the moment it's the fourth largest wildfire in New Zealand and we're on Day Seven. Burning 20km southwest of us, we can see the entire ridgeway and saw huge flames and plumes smoke, (when the wind wasn't blowing the latter our way,) but it's been better since Day Five. We're told, to completely eradicate the hot spots will take a month, but it's hoped that, weather (i.e. wind, because we're not forecast to have any precipitation for at least another fortnight,) permitting, yesterday afternoon was a turning point and things are going to calm down. 2,300ha is the biggest number I've seen for the area, but there has been no injuries, one hospitalized for smoke inhalation, and one house lost. (The largest fire ever in New Zealand, and the current one in Tasmania was/is roughly 30,000ha, while Australia have seen 100,000ha events!) But then we've had two unrelated fires due to crazies, one right in town, (someone lost a deck,) so we remain vigilant. 

Everybody is doing what s/he can; we brought towels and bedding, because they were what we had among yesterday's request list. Social media has done a superb job; I've heard this but it's the first time I've had to "use" it. I also spent some of my weaving money to buy let's just say a large amount of feminine products. It wasn't until I heard after the Christchurch earthquake that women hesitate to ask sometimes, but when you need them, you need them; and we know evacuees and volunteers are all going to synch, right? Anyway, the fire is on-going.
Sunset, Day Two; horizontally, the fire is roughly three times as wide now
but mostly on the other side of the ridgeway so we can't see much. These days,
our day start just before 7AM when some of the helicopters leave the airport,
and go into relaxation mode just before 9PM when they come back.

Much less significant but still a biggie for us was we cleaned the kitchen. We used to do this every year during Ben's summer break, and it used to take one day plus some hours to clean the oven, but this year we spent six and a half days including the oven, nine days if you include the three in between we couldn't be bothered. (It was the start of the heatwave.) The duration is a result of accumulated yuck; my guilt-induced inability to throw out plastics, saving everything until we have a better option than recycling, which hasn't happened; and of course, old-ing.

Depression was the turning point. Years before, we actually looked forward to the annual kitchen clean, if not to the tasks then to the refreshing new resolve afterwards. Then for some years I was so completely overwhelmed even the thought of having to think about it brought me close to tears. Then I started random abbreviated stints from time to time, but it's not the same as an all-at-once comprehensive job. Anyway, we washed everything that could be washed, including the floor, ceiling and walls; threw away a few things, and reorganized where we put things, not according to styles or function but based on frequency of use, and it feels so good.

In fact, I can't stop cooking, even in the heat. Ben's kept up with weekend smoked salmon and made exotic curries; I've slow-roasted neighbor Duane's plums gazillion times and a large paint bucket full of Sally's as well, baked a cake and some biscotti, and even tried vegetarian and vegan recipes. This summer's fad Chez Nakagawa, though, has been coleslaw: some days when it's too hot to cook or eat, we dig into the fridge for our constant supply of creative coleslaw and nibble.
Duane's plums
Sally's plums. I've been experimenting with oven temperature and duration to learn
how to make liquid-y vs in-tact results; I discovered the latter to be
so intense and pleasurable, almost decadent! I'm doing the same with tomatoes.

I sewed five pairs of boxer short of various length for both of us, not just because we needed more in this heat, but because I wanted to improve my skills. Like I did with weaving years ago, I found myself slowing down to do each task deliberately, and though the output may not have been any better, I enjoyed the process. Then I moved on to try to make a simple pattern off an old pair of pants, but found the process harder than I anticipated, (I've done this once with a vest years ago which was super easy and useful;) this last effort is resting under the couch.

The dirty kitchen and the amount of time/energy it took to clean is the cost of depression. There's much more left to do in this house, not to mention the vast wilderness outside. I have to tackle them in due course, but I can only do it on my own terms. I even gardened for one day; I got dizzy on about Hour Five in spite of hydration. The sun has been so strong going outside to weed a few pots in the morning makes my arms turn pink, inflamed and terribly itchy. This weekend Ben and I did one hour - we weren't sure if we were breathing in particles so we quit while ahead - and until it's cooler, this may be the saner approach.

But depression has not been all bad; it taught me how to find one thing at the moment which doesn't overwhelm me, and to concentrate on it. It's helped me work outside my perceived square, or look at things from a different angle, or work incrementally, or work without knowing where I'm going. At times I miss this part of depression, but at other times, when the circumstances are right, I can put myself into this mode. This is the reward.

In fact, I've felt so normal, which is refreshing. I have a slightly bigger picture of life, of time and priorities, if I don't/can't do something, I don't feel guilty but just remember to do it another time. I feel as if I can look at my life from a slightly higher position. I can manage housework incrementally without lists and cover most areas evenly; this is so new, or it's been too long. It may also mean I'm slowing down to live more deliberately, paying attention to the moment, and it has a lot to do with my thinking and saying out loud I'm now retired. Lucky me, I can still do the same thing, but I feel less... "responsible" about weaving.

Laura Fry wrote this about blogging a while back. I sometimes think about it, but less often now. I blog to keep a record of my life and weaving, and as therapy. While I miss the robust friendships that emerged some years back, I'm OK if I'm shouting in an empty stone cathedral once again. Neither do I feel the same impulse to share every thought, (I used to feel more than a little embarrassed about it,) but prefer to think things through and no longer worry about thoughts that disappear. More generally, I feel perhaps for the first time I'm in the middle of my life, and what I think/know should be the starting point; what (I suspect) others say exist outside of me so I can choose which are important to me and when. Who would have imagined, at 60 to boot! 

At the start of the summer, I resolved to further explore printing and needlepoint. That weakened in the heatwave, and I'll get on to it in due course, but I'm into cooking and cooking comes more naturally to me. I've also resumed reading books, real ones made of paper, and what a pleasure that is. I draw occasionally, see friends, sometimes in very different circumstances: a whole afternoon picnicking near a river and playing badminton with young men among others! Yes, I do feel so normal, and except for the heat and the fire, this summer has been exceptionally delightful.