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.