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.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Moving On

Yesterday I un/rewound about 3m of the purple variegated mohair/merino warp, and restarted weaving. The selvedge was horrible, so I started a second time like so: 
I picked three weft colors that looked nice together, but I don't know if I'll keep going or restart with one color. The weft color combination looks too modern/casual, like a Marimekko dress I had in the 80s, but the design is... not?
 
I am amazed how many colors go well with dark purple and green because I used to think dark purples were choosier. I am spoiled for choice, which is why I picked three for this piece. The old sample were brought out again, but not only are they not helping in choosing colors, but...  
I also like the warp yarns showing more clearly in the looser sett. Oh, dear.
I am not in a rush. I can tell the unwinding helped a great deal, but it'll still be a delicate operation with the brittle warp and big shed. I'm still prepared to abandon it if it gets too onerous. Best case scenario, there is enough warp to make two longish scarves plus a souvenir, or three shortish. 
I recounted the number of warp ends of the orange/yellow cashmere warp on the Ashford 8-shaft by color, so I can start working on drafts. Then I found I had not only counted/recorded, but already made drafts. This was one of them and I think it'll work. I remembered oranges and especially yellows were hard to see on the screen so I used blues to show color changes, but boy, I do like these blues!
I was looking at for I wove in the past few years in this blog because I couldn't recall many, and I happened on this and honestly, I have no recollection. I think I'd like to weave this modified version in skinny merino or silk or some such in the near future. Interesting how I threaded first the last time and then input it to consider how to weave it.

New Year's Resolution? No, not doing that any more. I remember a few years ago when I couldn't think of anything for the first time in my life, and felt astonished and a little guilty. But like the Good Intentions list, (on which I shall keep working because it was meant for this all summer,) I am adopting two principles as my priorities: to finish things, and to aim for the best quality rather than speed, efficiency, etc, in everything. 

And to that end, I decided to make note of books and particularly good audiobooks I finish in my diary; just title, author, year and one or two lines of comments, but I hope this will encourage me to  finish books and a couple of lines may just help me remember. Small stuff.