Monday, April 26, 2021

Moving On

The small cowl took half a day, and it's a perfect size, with a lovely texture, in the same color as the big piece. But what was I thinking aiming for a "subtle" cabling?? I know; I wanted to contrast it against the big piece, but still... I haven't decided if I'm going to keep it or undo/redo, or repurpose the yarn, but not a big deal because it needed only one ball. If I decide to keep it, I am thinking of unravelling the earlier yellow cashmere version, with a fabulous hand but a circumference too large and texture too floppy it does nothing as a neck warmer.  
I thought about what to do next all day, but came evening and I was so keen to keep knitting I started an orange scarf on a whim. I have six balls left, so without unravelling the new cowl, I should be able to get a good length. The sample came in handy-ish in that I found the wavy bits attractive but I couldn't figure out exactly what I did; the progression in the sample wasn't consistent; I wanted the diagonal lines to go the other way, (I find it easier to "rest" (??) the stitches in front rather than the back;) and the orange yarn is slightly fatter and recommends using #5 while the teal, slightly thinner and #4. Anyway, I still like the teal patter much better, but as a scarf, the orange will be soft and warm. Probably. Hopefully. 
I am now thinking seriously about a sample with notes, but not with either of these yarns as they are too nice.
Sunflower: I got tired of the bad tension so I cut off after about 65m and unwound/rewound. Theoretically there is still enough warp for one scarf. You can see I'm limiting the hues; true colors are somewhere between these two pics.
The darker blue parts show where I put in two pattern wefts in slightly different sheds to every tabby pick.
I'm sticking to similar hues but the warp tension is only slightly better so Sunflower is destined to be a scarf for me or fabric scrap. 
I have two important things to consider regarding weaving on this loom. The first is, as much as I love being able to walk into the stash room and weave any time, the room has terrible light, natural and artificial. While the latter can be improved, yarn colors are accurate only from when the sun hits the window, (mid-morning this time of year and much later, later,) for a couple of hours at best. I often notice while weaving later in the afternoon that I am not looking at the colors on the loom, but weaving from what I remember, and not exactly how I like to work. Although it has produced some unexpected combos in the sample. The second issue is tension while putting on the warp. I can't remember what I did a decade ago, but recently putting the loom on the floor and dragging the warp on the carpet under books has been the default; it doesn't seem to work the way I'd like, in part possibly because the loom can move easily while I wind. A third issue, lower on priority but possibly a worthwhile investment, is to swap heavy metal heddles with large eyes to texolv so as to possibly reduce cotton fiber rubbing against metal. I haven't been able to gauge exactly how much damage occurs at the moment, but there is a lot of fuzzy bits under the loom, caused both from the heddles and the reed, I presume. 
Sunflower was supposed to be such a fabulous project but it's turning to be a pain. (Although if it turns out to be a teaching warp, that's good, too.) I decided I'm not putting on a new warp anywhere until I finish the purple warp on the big loom after this, and revised the warp colors.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Free Range or Joy Knitting

Remembering I had intended, in the not too distant past, to experiment with knitting, (initially I envisioned small 3D objects,) I started this experimental scarf for Ben on July 23. I've been posting pictures and thoughts on Facebook, but I'd like to leave a revised (polished??) record here for future reference.
 V1, sample, Odd Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered A-side)
V1, sample, Even Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered B-side)

Much editing with a crochet hook took place while I designed on the fly. Designing on the odd numbered rows only as a general rule would make things easier and the knitting faster. This is 60 stitches wide - perhaps the real deal will be 48, which would makes it easier because there is less scope of horizontal movement. I'll keep practicing tonight, but may start the proper piece with a little more regular look.
V2, Odd Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered A-side)
V2, Even Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered B-side)
I kept the width about the same, 57-stiches wide, because 48 was much too narrow. It's moving along quicker than the sample. I've not planned or calculated anything, but picked up a few techniques to create certain patterns. Pity I haven't counted so I can't replicate. I can't tell if this is better, or something I'll like, or irredeemably unattractive.  I'm weighing the expected softness of the finished fabric against the visual interest when placing the ... cable switcheroos. (What's the right term anyway?) Even numbered B-side I like better. But with knitting, I'm not aiming to make both sides pretty.
V3, Odd Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered A-side) First version
V3, Odd Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered A-side) After reworking.
V3, Even Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered B-side) After reworking
V2 was such a disappointment I needed a few day's break.
a. I think of the knit-side as A-side, so I made one side mostly knit, intending it to be the 'good' side.
b. This is a scarf and I wanted to make it "pretty" ish, (it's Ben's, so not overloading on pretty, though,) with a comfortable touch. V3 is better than the previous two in both respects.
c. It's a scarf, meaning it's narrow and long. While switching designs often has been interesting, I run out of ideas quickly, so I'm elongating/diluting the trajectory/idea, so I last the distance; but,
d. fewer changes in each row make the knitting quicker, though with repeated do-overs the speed is obviously not a big issue.

Though I like this, I might start on V4. I undid about 20 rows and added 6 between the two versions; but mixing cabling and movement means I can't use regular numbers/progression, (I don't know how else to express this,) and I'm not crazy the left side of the curves when the chain moves. I'm happy with 56 stitches wide, however. 
 V4, Odd Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered A-side)
V4, Even Numbered Rows (Probably/usually considered B-side)
I knew I was on to something I like with V3, but I couldn't just copy it, so I tried this. But I still prefer V3, so now the question is, do I return to V3 or start V5? 

No V5 picture. I knitted a couple of dozen rows last night, a cheap imitation of V3, hated it, and undid it immediately. I have started V6, which I hope will be an improved V3; my attention is on the curve as the cables start to move, rather than counting and repeating mathematically. Fingers and toes crossed.
V3, A-side.
V3, B-side. I thought I had posted process pics, but apparently not. The lower needle, (not the bottom,) shows approximately where I resumed work on V3 ten days ago; the higher, (not the top,) where I picked up last night.

The middle one-third so far took a heck of a long time, often knitting at night and unravelling quite a lot in the morning, then reworking that night, over several sittings. Then, as the main cable neared the right edge, I wasn't sure what to do next and for about a week I looked at it every night without knowing how to proceed. Last night I looked at it as an evening ritual and it appeared the next few cm was a no-brainer, so the last one-third was done in a couple of hours.

Am I right in assuming, because there's more cabling (??) happening on the right side and looser stitches on the left, the right edge is shorter, making the whole piece "lean" or approach fan-shaped? If that's the issue, I'm hoping to balance it later, to see if the piece will be more rectangular.

I've also unravelled all but sample V2, which still has visually interesting/useful bits. Sometimes the most simple, unassuming contrast can be the most stunning; I saw another possibility as I was taking these pics. I'm enjoying this project again after a week of no discernible progress and waning interest. :-D
V3, A-side. This pic shows approximately the portion I worked on last night, which we'll call... Sitting Seven. The process is interesting, but I wonder if this is going to be usable aesthetically, i.e. acceptably eccentric but not overly strange/ugly/yucky. The process of knitting/unravelling/reworking is engaging; I am enjoying it. The whole process/project is an allegory of how I deal with lockdown; obsessed with details without understanding or the desire to examine, the virtue of what I'm doing.
V3, A-side. Sitting Eight. And I was right, as I do more cabling, the length of the fabric is taken away, so now it leans towards the left. As the line was moving from right to left, for a while it was quite "true".
And I'm resigned, but not in a bad way, to the realization this may be my Plague Project. If it's too ugly at the end, I can so easily unravel and reuse the yarn, much easier than weaving.
V3, A-side. Sittings Nine and Ten. This is a Plague project now, and I'm not worried about the look or the feel. (The braids on the left is really stiff.) I'm just doing this because I can and at the end if it ens up horrible, I'll think of what to do then. It's just fun to design by ear, on my feet, out of thin air.

I'm now approaching halfway point.
V3, A-side. Sittings Eleven and Twelve. Between the two sittings, I found a mistake and undid 20 or so rows, only to find out it wasn't a mistake.
V3, A-side. Sittings Thirteen and Fourteen. Thirteen was a short sitting quite a while ago. Fourteen, however, was "exciting"; it went really quickly, then I could figure out if I had made a mistake, so I undid almost all I did and restarted. I still couldn't tell if I had made a mistake, but the left edge improved, so worth it. Interesting how knit areas look like negative space, while when used in combination with purling, both knit and purled stitches can be positive/negative depending on the context.

I find myself now calling this a "sampler". Some patterns are easy and effective, while others are surprisingly not even if I have to count and be vigilant. "Sampler" is in quotes because I am not keeping records so... I may or may not be able to recreate, but onward!
V3, A-side. Sittings Fifteen. Quite a lot of knitting and unravelling in one day, from here to the start of Seventeen.
V3, A-side. After unravelling Sitting Fifteen and most of Fourteen.
V3, A-side. During Sitting Sixteen, I noticed a big bump very near where I had unravelled earlier today. (Just above the bottom needle.) At first I thought it was my uneven hand and a loose loop, but it's actually a twist in the cable switcharoo. I tried to convince myself it's "cute", but... nah...
V3, A-side. Sitting Seventeen after another unravelling; I'm about the same place as the end of Sixteen, but behind Fifteen. And the bump about 10cm below, that's not a mistake but a loose stitch. Trust me when I say, I've looked at, scrutinized, and pulled in all directions gazillion times. B-side looks normal. 
V3, A-side. Sittings Eighteen, Nineteen and Twenty, believe it or not, and proof these simple tasks are good for a troubled mind. 
V3, A-side. Sittings 21-24 with one ball to go. 
V3, A-side. Sitting 25 proceeded at break neck speed and I got through 1/3 of the last ball, and then decided I didn't like the look so I'm back where I was between 23 and 24. Ben was home after work, but I feel like Penelope.
V3, A-side, Sittings 26 and 27 after a ten-week gap, during which I debated the merit of continuing for the remaining 1.5 balls. Opinion "for" was the loveliness of this evening pursuit, helping me survive bad telly nights. Opinions "against" were too numerous to recall. "For" won because it is enjoyable, once I remembered what I was doing ten weeks ago, and how I was working overall. It will be a good sampler, and then one day I shall recycle the yarn to knit something else. But, ooops, identical pattern repeated nearby. 
I knew for months I was going to abandon this project, but maybe I didn't want to because it'd be another project I abandoned. Or it was so low on my list I couldn't be bothered to "officially" abandon it, which is not a bad thing because I've been thinking weaving, weaving, weaving. Whatever, life's too short to stick with unpromising projects. It's getting cooler and I'd like knitting after dinner, so I'm moving on to a saner project. It will be undone either when I think of a project to knit with this yarn, or when I need even more Number 5 bamboo needles. 
It was an interesting attempt, though, and had I kept a record of stitches and numbers, it would have been worth saving a while longer. I might even attempt something like this with records. It was interesting to discover some visually attractive parts are stiff as a badly-washed sweater, while some lovely textures didn't look as appealing. I learned a little about proportion, in that one column of purling between cable ropes don't really show up, and often puckering shows/hides contrast of knitting vs purling in ways I didn't foresee, more so than in weaving. And I love making fat cables but columns of polite skinny ones are also handsome. (Also, I don't weave with regular skinny striped warps often enough.) Knitting can be used as a slow, deliberate design tool; I enjoyed the portability, spontaneity and changeability compared to weaving. Also, I prefer knitting with two and three strands of fine weaving yarns.

It's been... well it  has been, and I'm moving on to making a smaller cowl. The big orange one was meant to go over my shoulder, and it does, but it leaves the neck area a little breezy, so the next will have a smaller circumference, and I've already commenced the sampling stage experimenting with widths of cables, and undoing them. :-D

Friday, March 26, 2021

A Weavely Week

I had a weaverly week, in that weaving is all I did. 
"Sunflower" is progressing in spite of a few problematic warp ends on the right breaking. On a good day, I can weave 20cm. My south-facing stash room hasn't got the best light except for a short while in the morning, but I persevere. I'm just thrilled I can weave on two looms anytime in this wee space as long as I don't trip over the non-weaving stuff piled up in the middle of the floor, which I do.
Last week I wondered what would happen if I wove two shots of pattern wefts between each tabby, and then Deborah Silver mentioned that's what she thought years ago, which apparently started her path to studying split shed. My first thought: this increases the color possibilities exponentially. 
Ah, "Chocolates" warp:
1) Mom's handspun 2-ply "white" was too sticky I took it out from the left side of the warp; 
2) Although my notes said these two brown warps were 210cm on the warping board, which were supposed to allow 150cm pieces, they were in fact shorter after resting for a year or two. I wove only 144cm on "Milky Tea", 142cm on this;
3) Although all 100% cashmere from the same source, there were two or three different sizes in the warp, and different colors stretch at different rates;
4) Likewise I mixed all sorts in the weft, so it's a wild ride - who knows how it will wet-finish; 
5) The warp was wider than I pictured so I wove weft-wise rectangles; 
6) Although some look indistinguishable even in daylight, I inadvertently wove one section using two similar but different browns. Between the two warps I counted 12 different yarns; 
7) I don't enjoy browns, so I'm cranky; 
8) "Chocolates" in particular is not to my taste, but I see these colors in fabrics. Perhaps I'll make it into a cowl and give to charity;
9) I have to be more innovative in sash-busting Mom's yarns so I enjoy the weaving rather than just weaving quick projects. I know I have enough browns to for two more short pieces, but I'd better mix other hues.  
The Ashford table loom is ever so suited for cashmere warps, though. I feel I'm learning to control and vary the tension and the beat better than on any other loom. But now that the two short browns are finished, I must make up my mind about the teal warp downstairs. I'll keep weaving on it in the immediate future because Ben likes it. 
Interesting observation on the way my brain seems to work. Ashford's levers are linear, so it's easy to see the progression of simple lifting order. For e.g. the 3:3:1:1 twill I used in "Milky Tea", I only had to move the whole pattern one position to the right at a time. "Chocolates" was two blocks of 4-shafts, so likewise I could see the tiny patterns moving within the four shafts as if it's on paper.
The ex-Polytechnic loom is a little different. I mentioned before, my brain sees the lever layout as geometric, and other than the tie-down scheme, I draw shapes while lifting. For example, tie-down shaft plus 4-6, then 6-8, then 8-7, 7-5, 5-3, and finally 3-4. 
I'm right handed, although Mom could never remember I was a leftie to start with; (never mind I'm the eldest and her only kid for 6.5 years;) she and my brother were and were "corrected"; my sister wasn't. The most interesting part is, while weaving on this loom, my left hand moves automatically and knows faster where to go, so lifting odd-numbered shafts is automatic, while the right hand and even-numbered shafts, I have to think about it. Isn't it intriguing? I'm keeping an eye on this phenomena.
* * * * * 
A year ago today we went into Level 4 lockdown. One year on, it feels both such a long time ago, and the virus is still ever present, just far away from us. Meanwhile, parts of Japan is in the middle of the cherry blossom season, although I understand, sans cherry-viewing parties outdoors. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Trying Something New and Tying Old Loose Ends

This morning I did something new. My friend Ms Thimble arranged for me to join her New York guild meeting on Zoom to see a Deborah Silver presentation. Ben installed Zoom on my laptop yesterday, and I practiced joining meetings and entering a bunch of numerical details, and he got up with me at 5.30 just in case, but the link Ms Thimble sent me worked right away and by 5.42ish this morning, I was "in" New York. 
These days I get apprehensive about having to use new technology and I try to avoid them at all cost; in fact I wasn't going to join the meeting but Deb's was too much I changed my mind late in the game. 
If you remember, before I fell into the tied weave/Bateman hole, split shed technique Deb teaches was what I wanted to learn next. She was terrific, with interests in some of the same things as I: lost civilizations, artifacts, scripts, etc. I had never imagined the research and depth behind her work I've looked at for years online, but I paid attention the technique in the main. She went to art school, so I figured she naturally great at drawing/designing. She certainly seems talented, but it's obvious she's a hard worker, too. 
Because Deb's work is multilayered and complex, I mistakenly imagined the technique to be difficult as well, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Just very time-consuming. 

Like Line, the Japanese comm app I've been using to talk to Mom, Zoom was much smoother than Skype. And as for Ms Thimble, whom I've known only on Facebook for nearly 12 years, she was oh-so lovely. 

I was so apprehensive about Zoom and being amongst a bunch New Yorkers I don't know, I slept two hours in two bits last night. After breakfasts, (during which I was so pumped I talked several miles a minute,) I made two identical practice warps, one to study split shed on the jack, and the other, Bateman on Klik using new-to-me 5/2 cotton. It's getting harder to see 20/2 when I need to learn, to see, new structures.

Two new warps mean I'll have five dressed looms and I know which ones will get left behind, the 16-shaft with the tricky teal warp and Ashford with the "chocolate" warp. So the current plan is:
* Weave the Sunflower warp before putting the practice warp on Klick; 
* Weave the chocolate on Ashford, and enough of teal so I'm "almost" finished before warping Jack; 
* Read and learn in the meantime.
This afternoon I re-planned the chocolate warp. I've decided the threading, still trying out the lifting, in two 4-shaft blocks, with each shape being vertically long rectangles. 
So this old dog is super happy to have tried something new, but tonight's bedtime is going to be around... 8.30. :-D

EDIT: Second from the top middle rectangle shows weft threads going all the way across. I forgot to put any lifting for shafts 4-8 there. :-D :-D

Friday, March 19, 2021

Bumpy Sailing

On Monday and Tuesday, I tried my hardest to relearn manipulating backgrounds in tied weaves to no avail. My mind glazed over and I felt sleepy. (I'm also having a bad insomnia month.) On Wednesday I decided to rethreaded/resleyed Sunflower in simple 1-2-1-2 and just weave it 1-2-2-1. On Thursday I started weaving. 
I sleyed at 36EPI and am using 60/2 to tie down, so it will have the texture and look similar to the previous piece, good for scarves but none of the "wallpaper" look. I even have the same tension problem at the edge like last time - this time on the right side. I don't know if it's a problem specific to this loom or me, as this 20/2 cotton has very few problems on the Klik or the big loom downstairs, and I usually weave somewhere between 36 and 42EPI so this is not denser. I'm getting a lot of feathering on warp threads and many broken ends. And I've readjusted the tension until the cows came home but I admit I was impatient to start weaving and may have not addressed the issue well enough. Or there was a mix up at the cross when I made the warp. Yikes. I also have enough to get two short pieces from this warp, and might change up something after the first. 

While reading about tied weaves, I found so little on Quigley and Bergman, I couldn't figure out where I got these names in the first place. Whenever I read about tied weaves, in the past I always imagined the next weave I'd investigate is double weave where some of the warps change layers. Stitching, is it? This time, Stickler's 8-shaft mentioned Batetman's Boulevard. Back in the 90s I bought a few weaving books I imagined I would need some day, and among them are the Bateman/Harvey monographs. Who isn't attracted by weavers discussing "Boulevard" and "Park" weaves, right?  Over the years I'd pick one up to learn something, but the language was an obstacle, again. In the monographs there are no modern-style drafts, either. And Bateman cloth appeared dense and tight, so in my mind they suited clothing and upholstery fabric more than scarves, so back they went on the bookshelf.
Yesterday, though, I gave another go, and I understood the start of Park Weave relatively easily. I'll try Boulevard tonight to make sure I've got it. Then I think I'll dig right in and see what Dr. Bateman wanted me to know. I'm hoping, with 20/2 and 60/2 cottons, some of his weaves might make showy large scarves with OK drape. If you are interested in Bateman Weaves, there are three modern books that, I understand, explain better with modern drafts.

And then suddenly, I knew what I used to know about tied weave background, too. Like that! I could see in my mind's eye some options I have on eight shafts. And finally, I searched this blog for Quigley, (I don't always trust myself and prefer to get information from elsewhere, but I knew I wrote about it,) and found an old post.

I'm a happy weaver now; I'd be happier if I can figure out the feathering warp problem, though.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

What Else is Wrong??

I sampled the Sunflower warp on Saturday; this is 36EPI, with 20/2 and 60/2 as tie down wefts; three shafts to tie down in pointed threading intended to create diamonds. The hand is good, but I don't like the distribution of the purples. (On Sunday I redistributed them, and added another half an inch to the left.) I love this warp so much I want to get started right away, but the colors are about the only thing that's worked so far. 
At 36EPI, the web is too sparse to crate that lovely "old wallpaper" look. At least with 60/2 as tie down, (top 1/3, right sample,) the fulling/puckering of the 20/2 pattern weft is more noticeable and/or pattern wefts are closer to each other, creating more of a pattern-color area, whereas using 20/2 both ways at 36EPI, (bottom 2/3, right sample,) makes the overall look pixelated. Now I must decide whether this is going to be fabric (40~42EPI) or scarf (36), or if it's worth sampling 39EPI, though I suspect it's either "the look" or the hand. 

3-shaft diamonds don't show. Compare with 5-shaft diamonds at 40EPI in the last post. Also, at least on the screen, diamonds became easier to see when tying down with four or more shafts. Or, I can stick to two shafts and lift 1-2-2-1, which is O rather than diamonds, but more visually impactful possibly. 

So I got the books out again. But you know me, I terrible at weaving text comprehension, I have to go over the same paragraphs over and over again; try things out in the software; see if I have samples like what I'm trying to learn; but all my samples are so darned fine. I might weave a quick set with thicker cotton for the old eyes.

Also, because tied weaves are so "close", the wet-finished cloths appear so different from how they look on the screen. This gap is so much greater than twill, although I've woven twill so much perhaps I can predict better. 

Also, because my first non-RH was a four-shaft jack, I can only think in terms of rising shed and my head completely is warp-centric. In Summer & Winter pattern wefts are the star. So the pictures in my head seldom match the pictures/cloths in real life. In fact, sometimes I don't see pattern wefts shapes right in front of me. Sinking shed is a paradigm shift and I haven't found a way to reconcile this difference.   

I don't mind rethreading, resleying, or re-resleying to go back to where I started. I just wished I could have some idea of which way things are going to move.
Still, all is not lost. How about same thread for warp and pattern wefts just to show off different textures, with a hint of different colors in the tie down, for a future project? This is me from 2010 to the rescue.

For added mirth, I've been living in Wooster and Jeeves' world by way of audiobooks. From time to time I shout a hearty "Wot!" or "Ra-Ther!!" with that exaggerated Hugh Laurie expressions, so far only in my head, but then there's nobody who can verify it hasn't spilled into real life.  
Autumn this year has been beautiful, cooler earlier than usual, perfect for "getting stuck in the garden" as they say, but I'm too keen on what's happening (or not happening) on the looms I have been remiss. Again. 

Be well, and be not necessarily always good. :-D

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Summerin', Winterin' and Tyin'

At Insomnia O'clock a week ago, I thought to revisit background patterns for Sunflower. So I sampled on the last of the semi-permanent sampling blue cotton warp on Klik.
I was particularly enamored by the "faded wallpaper" look in parts of the B-side, but this sample on the right was woven at 40EPI and is too stiff for a scarf. (Though definitely cuttable and sewable.) I wove the sample on the left above at 35EPI, and the B-side did not full as much, but the hand is suitable as scarves. This time I also prefer the look 20/2 both as tie-down and pattern wefts. The samples look so much more interesting than on the screen/software. 
I often confuse tie-down and background patterns, so I dug up my samples and study them one by one. I'd forgotten quite a bit but this was an interesting exercise.
Having decided I'd include a three-end diamond rather than five- as in the blue samples, Sunflower went on the loom at 36EPI. Since it's long-ish, I shall sample some more to see if I can balance the look vs hand and resley if necessary. 
By the time I finished threading tonight, it was quite dark, so I must check the threading tomorrow.
While enjoying thinking about Sunflower, I wove the paler of the two brown pieces. I had named this something like Mocha when I made the warp, but this one looks "Milky Tea". It's a make-it-up-as-I-thread 8-end undulated twill. 
I merrily started threading the second warp in a similar twill, when I thought this looks not like "Caffe Latte" as originally named, but more like dark, milk, and white chocolates. Now I think a blockier, square/rectangular look would suit, so I suspended threading until I make up my mind.  

Today was the tenth anniversary of Japan's big quake/tsunami. February 22 was Christchurch's. My sister reminded me leading up to these two quakes, the Pacific Rim was rumbling. And again, Japan, New Zealand and the Pacific have been shaking of late, although so far without major damages. It's probably time to review our emergency packs, again. 
... Yikes.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Plague - One Year On

One year ago today, New Zealand identified the first Covid 19 positive case. I've kept a timeline of dates pertinent to me, because it's become hard to remember, and from time to time we forget the Plague still exists beyond our borders. Then from time to time we have been pulled back into reality when community cases emerge in Auckland and the rest of us must also return to a mild alert level.   
Very roughly: 
After two days of Alert Level 2 and three of 3, during which time virtually nobody had had time to learn of these levels and rules were still being revised, we entered Alert Level 4 restrictions on March 26, which lasted 33 days. This was followed by Level 3, (which in the greater scheme of things, is 4-lite, the main difference being domestic travels,) for 16  days. 

On May 14, we moved to Level 2, the hardest to pinpoint and from observations easiest to ignore, for 26 days. On June 9, we moved to Level 1, which is life back to normal within the borders, except the common-sensical precautions such as washing hands, recording your whereabouts, and staying home when sick. My days/numbers may be a little off, but all and all we spent 75 days in an out-of-the-ordinary way. 

In August a community transmission case was discovered in Auckland, putting them in Level 3, then 2.5 then 2, while the rest of us in Level 2 for 39 days. This month there was another community transmission cluster in Auckland, placing them in Level 3 and then 2, while the rest of us were in Level 2 for 3 days. The latest Auckland cluster is still alive, with one of the new strains, but there is better understanding and tracking, faster and greater/flexible testing, management is more incremental/local, so we have not been unnecessarily placed in dire levels.
Ben went back to work on January 11. (Then he took a Monday off at the end of the month; two Mondays that followed were public holidays; then came the February Level 3 a week later.) Somewhere between January 11 and the last couple of weeks, we've really come to realize our Year of a Plague was truly over. We still pay attention to the government announcements and daily numbers, (we have a few at the border every week,) but feel so far removed from it all. 
My life has adopted a new rhythm, too; utterly unrushed, much fewer items on the to do list if I have one for the day/week, but somehow getting a couple of things done most days, and projects being finished eventually. It's not exciting, weeks go by without a denouemont, but if this is the new pattern, I can live with it. 
One thing I noticed is more so than last year, I'm getting the years confused, regarding things we did and places we went in 2018 and 2019, the only surety being we didn't do/go them in 2020.

Shots arrived this week, from memory, and border workers including those who service the hotels used as quarantine facilities were among the first to receive them, with other essential workers next in line. My nemesis the Top Doc, Jacinda, and others in suits await their tern, but Jacinda may do it on camera to appeal the safety of the shots. I have no idea when we'll get ours, but everybody who is in New Zealand regardless of their immigration status will get it, free, so sooner or later our turn will come. But at the same time, the necessity for these shots don't feel so dire. 

There is one other thing I wanted to record: in speaking to many of my friends, I've discovered I was not the only person who enjoyed the lockdown. Older women, (I hope it's OK to categorize them all as such,) still working or retired, in general enjoyed very much just staying home, cooking, reading, tidying or getting stuck into projects, and "not having to be somewhere," is a phrase I heard repeatedly. Some learned to Skype/zoom, others discovered other new things on the Internet. I don't know if their lives reverted to how it was, and I can't tell you about me because I've lived a Level 2.5 life for the last several years.

This is where it's at for me on this first anniversary. We still scan, I have to wash my hands the Plague way once a week so as not to forget. Ben carries a mask often. But this week we even used up the last of the dried garbanzo beans we stocked a year ago, leaving us with no more lockdown purchases. 
Take care of yourselves and yours.
EDIT: after I wrote this post, last night Jacinda announced Auckland would go back to Level 3 starting 6AM this morning, the rest of us Level 2, for seven days, due to new cases from the February cluster. At least some folks tested negative multiple times before testing positive; the origin and the strain is still unknown but suspected to be one of the new ones; a high school and now a polytechnic are involved, the high school principal showing exemplary cooperation; there may be rules non-compliance increasing spread and complicating tracing; some folks work near or in connection to the airport; and folks are angry with what one media personality gleefully calls "yoyoing". We are still in this game.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

January and February

Goodness, this year is nearly 1/6 finished! What have I been doing? 
I successfully weaned myself off of news after the US election and resumed reading printed books, but that only lasted until the Georgia Runoff. I'm OK, though. I was so disgusted after the second non-Impeachment I'm back to reading books. I'm sure I'll follow the trials with glee, or not, but I'm good. Not only am I enjoying a whole bunch of Young Adult novels, and a chaotic selection of audiobooks, but have a mental list of what else to read for the next several months: the list in my head, the books all over the house.
The big loom downstairs look exactly the same as the previous post because I haven't touched it. When I have a threaded loom upstairs, why bother going downstiars, is what I tell myself, but the truth is, I still can't decide what to do with it. Eventually one day, rather suddenly, I'll go downstairs and resume weaving, and either I'll persist, or decide it won't do and cut it off. But I know what I'm weaving next; it'll be one of the two cotton projects. 
I finished the warp on Ashford with lukewarm results and the pieces have sat sitting on the couch. I'll tell you more about them after I've completed them. 
Last night I finished threading a short warp on the Ashford, 100% cashmere in, ahem, "nude" pantyhose colors. Mom and I are not brown or green people, so I don't know why she had so many browns, but a while ago I made two short warps and I put the milder one on. It'll be pretty when it's done, but so far the tasks has been excruciatingly boring. It's threaded in the usual on-a-whim undulating twill, and I can't decide whether to use another light brown or a pale gray in the weft. My notes says it's a 210cm warp, but I'll be lucky if I can get a 150cm piece. 
This is the other warp and it includes Mom's handspun cashmere. The tension is going to be all over and it will be another spontaneous undulating twill, but I wonder if I can do something interesting with the weft. 
I enjoyed weaving the S&W piece, but I had no way of knowing how much I would come to love the result, which sat on the stairway to be viewed from different angles since I finished it. I put on another warp, this one mainly yellow, (a little less saturated than the pic in real life,) after our January trip to Wellington. First I was going for 10 inches wide on the loom, but I got tired and had done enough for 6, and it was time to get dinner started, so I stopped there. On the loom, though, it looks sad-narrow, so next time I shall make it at least 8. This, too, will be threaded and woven as I please: the warp is 4m and a bit so two 150cm+ pieces?? I think at the moment this style of S&W is my favorite way of weaving. 
I had to tidy the stash room this week. I'm still concentrating on finishing gazillion projects and reducing stash, rather than reorganizing comprehensively at this stage, but it was becoming too crazy/unsafe, so I moved things around and vacuumed dead bugs. I also pulled out these I did in 2014 because I've wanted to put them up. I'm quite fond of these, I find them joyous, plus I used cheap, student watercolor paint, so they are going to fade badly, so they might as well fade after being enjoyed by me, yes?
Arthritis comes and goes. It's less predictable than I imagined, and one thing I learned is this is not going to come back once in a great while, but rather often when I least expect it. I should go see a doctor and learn more about it at some point, but turmeric is doing its job for now; even I don't smell or taste it it my stiff drinks any more.
I have weeded a couple of times, but not often, mainly because it's been often hot/sunny or windy and completely dry.  I pull out something and dirt crumble down our slopes like sand, as is usual this time of the year. As the light turns gentler and days start to cool down, though, I've been keen to get out again. We finally had some rain this week and can expect more next week, so here's hoping.
Ah, our January trip to Wellington. It just happened. Esther said some time ago, out of the blue, we should go to Christchurch to see the van Gogh projection show. I was thrilled because I thought we missed the chance while it was in Wellington during one of the milder levels of lockdown, and I didn't expect it to return/resume. We had early Feb in Christchurch in mind, until suddenly Esther said we should go to Wellington because the city is more interesting, and suddenly in late January we were there! We have our usual accommodation, which happened to be on the same street as hers, but when we looked for an AirBnB with two rooms and found a spectacular one. Van Gogh was good, not scholarly or meaningful, more amusement park entertainment, but still we did see huge brushstrokes and even few paintings I don't think I'd seen before. Used bookshops were fun, and Te Papa, our national art gallery, had revamped how they show their permanent collection and we reveled in it for the first time in many years. 
But the best part was food; Esther and we are serious about good food; she is a superb cook. We chose good places, had no bad meals the entire trip; she took us to her usual tea leaf place, where Ben got superb woolong tea leaves; and we took her to our regular stop, a wholesale/retail supermarket. It was a splendid trip.