Colors of 2023

Sometimes, around this time of the year, or today to be specific, I often write a summary of the passing year, sometimes across multiple posts. In one way I did that last September, and in another way, this year, the latter half in particular, was terribly sucky for me, but because of that, I had spurts of productive periods, too. I'm having a hard time summarizing the different aspects, so I'm going to tell you about one thing I did: my mental health paper work.

There was no one reason why the year was so sucky, but small and mid-sized issues came at me one after another, sometimes in multiples. I suspected mild depression, but I didn't have my usual telltale sign of raising my eyebrows to open my eyes. I think anxiety may have been the main issue; I haven't read much about anxiety, so that's the next homework.

On top of that, I had the longest hay fever season I can remember, (five months and counting.) I experienced problems with my eyes I've never had, and although the weather has improved and the winds not as fierce in the last... couple of weeks, heavy duty symptoms return regardless, like today. I spoke with my nurse friend, who said the next step is steroids. Yikes. I didn't do myself any favor by not giving up caffeine and dairy, either; this really helps reduce symptoms, but I couldn't give up little pleasures while feeling depressed. At one point, I decided to stop worrying about weeding, compartmentalize my life, and concentrate on indoor things.
Last weekend, I cleaned and refilled my watercolor palettes and half pans. I never imagined it would take two afternoons, but it did, and I found it meditative, like Japanese "gokuyoh", thanking tools for the year's work. I used up four colors, but I still have a whole lot of colors in "Western" watercolor, (called transparent watercolor in Japan,) Japanese watercolor, (between transparent and gouache,) and gouache, all thrown in one ice cream container. (A dear friend sent me over 40 tubes when her son moved out and they had a big clean out a few years ago. He, too, used only certain colors in school; many had never been opened.)  I have more greens in the pans for next year, because I've grown less antagonistic towards them, and all the browns went into a smaller palette of their own; I still have so many browns. Very soon, perhaps before the middle of next year, I must buy some yellows. For now I'm sticking with student-grade paints.
In January I signed up for Mary Ann Moss's Sketchbookery. I started out enthusiastically, (top left spread,) but I found it difficult. I knew what I wanted to draw, but I resisted and tried to stick to what I considered assignments. Silly me, when do I ever follow recipes? 
I started doodling the Bard's face to relax; it's something I've done from time to time in the past, (I found some paint samples on which I drew a couple of years ago,) and soon, that became my main thing. And then I quit. I thought about sketching from time to time, but didn't want to try. And yet, when anxiety became too much, when depression or hay fever made it impossible to think, I returned to the Bard; when I recovered, I quit. In a few weeks, I was back again.

The kind I like the best are (near) blind contours, the wonkier the better. But because I worked on tiny notebooks most often, my lines fell off the page all the time, so I didn't do as many blind contours as I intended. I never aimed for realism, so everything I drew are wonky. I also drew, blind or otherwise, about 75% of them with my non-dominant left hand. I also tried coloring in in flat colors, and from time to time, staying inside the lines.
As I got more used to watercolor, et al, I started mixing colors as well as putting one color on top of another. I got some fabulous colors, but "doing it" being the focus, I didn't keep records so I can't recreate them, same as my cooking.
I had some attractive combinations, and was every so pleased with myself when I made a warp based on one on a whim. There are many more on the pages. In all, as much as I was able to count, I drew 518 Bard faces this year. They are so fun to look at, and I have no intention of stopping, just not top priority, unless that's required again.
And here we are. Farewell, good riddance to icky, sucky 2022. Fair befall us all in 2023.


The Ukraine-Color-ish Kitchen/Tea Towels

The last time I talked about this project was a month ago. Well, the project went well, and quickly for my old-sloth pace; nine pieces were woven, hemmed, washed, etc., by Tuesday afternoon. One, white, piece left home on Monday morning as an emergency Thank You gift, and another, blue, is about to. If you follow MegWeaves on FB, you may be sick of hearing about these; I, on my part, had so much fun posting frequently, which doesn't happen with scarves and such. 
Of particular interest was how the medium pale gray appeared like silver when combined with orange wefts on the loom. It was so beautiful I hyperventilated while weaving these pieces, but of course this being unmercerized cotton and linen, it looks 100% medium pale (dull) gray now. It was interesting to observe nevertheless. I'm used to how yellow mercerized cotton appears metallic when combined with blues and some greens, but not the sudden sheen in gray, in cottolin to boot. 
The construction was rough, even compared to some of my past towels. Or maybe they start to look not so bad after several dozen washes? I was careful, but also dying to get these done and move on. 
To, well, the last of my towel warps, in... all browns! It's a slightly narrower warp than this one, and the color distribution is symmetrical, but number of ends, not. What was I thinking in 2014?! I figured I got the hang of towels now, I might as well use up as much Swedish cottolin as I can and be done with it for the time being. I'm not sure where to buy them in New Zealand any more, and they are super expensive, so if I want to make more towels, I might look for something else. 
And this is all the cottolin I have left, plus two 100% cotton, and leftovers from a few other projects. 
It was a fun stash-busting project, and these are ever so useful. And this was the last piece from the warp, a bit shorter than others, but real stash busting.
I am posting from a new laptop. And with it I've had to learn a simple but new-to-me photo editor. The pics may look a blurry or crooked or weird, and as I learn more, I may swap old pics with a better-edited one. Meanwhile, please mind the gap.


Retirement Gift

At the start of my life as a weaver, well, actually a bit before that when I wasn't weaving much but trying to imagine what life would look like as a maker as opposed to an office worker, I had a couple of lists which I kept for a couple of years. One was a list of words/phrases I hoped would describe my weaving: elegant, exquisite, expensive-looking, fine threads... I don't remember much else, but it had up to a dozen words; I occasionally changed it, and I occasionally ran a mental check of a planned project to see if some of the words applied. I didn't cancel the plan even if it didn't, because "fit for purpose" was a higher priority, but it gave me a vague sense of direction or "shape" in this brave new world where every single decision was mine. 
Another list was scenes/occasions I imagined where my pieces would appear. Birthday/holiday present, collage graduation present, first-paycheck/Thanks-Mom present, wedding present, anniversary present 10th vs 20th, (because back then I thought being married for 20 years was such a big occasion towards, ahem, the end of one's life!) And then it got more involved: 
* Is this a date or isn't it? - First walk on the beach; she is wrapped in a not-new piece; emotional shield??
* Work night date - urban scene; she is running in heels and work suit; dusk, possibly raining; a special night for a professional couple. 
* Couch/TV - First staying-in date. Rom-com? Foreign language? Conspiracy? SciFi? Who's choice?
* Couch/foot rub - another big family celebration successfully hosted; everybody's gone home; dishes done; vacuuming tomorrow. Watching and not watching late-late-night B-movie, quietly together, but basking in the moments of the day separately.
* Dignity/Nostalgia - nicely dressed older woman at the head of a long table on a family occasion, possibly autumn, wearing a piece given to her many years ago. Does it look somewhat dated, or ageless? Widow??? 
You get the picture. I had loads of these vivid pictures, and they not only helped me plan, but made all the steps in weaving fun, because I could see and feel the cloth. Now that I've written about it, I have got to return to this method, rather than getting bogged down with values and drafts and such which feels all so... impersonal. 

Anyhoo, I was in my early 40s and the majority of protagonists were... 30s/40s, and their bodies were lighter and spirits brighter. 

In the decade I sold my work through galleries, gallerists were very kind in letting me know whatever they knew about the purchasers, and in some cases, their purposes. I discovered many were as souvenirs from New Zealand, either for themselves or someone else, so I started specifying "NZ wool" and "NZ merino". Besides, my prices are more affordable when converted to many foreign currencies.

Of the pieces purchased by Kiwis though, via galleries or from me directly, an overwhelming majority have been as leaving/retirement presents, and those responsible for purchases representing a group, the inquiries/correspondences are slightly more involved. And I love it! I get to share a little bit about how I designed it, the characteristics of the cloth, (you know me, "sleeping baby", "big dog leaning on your leg", "wet". That stuff.) It's so hard not to be too gushy. And now I've reached retirement age had I stayed in office jobs, I have been feeling an especially warm connection to purchasers looking for retirement presents. 

A recent purchase was for a nurse who started working right after she finished nursing school. I picture a woman about my age. I picture her working at a selfless, honorable job while I was fluffing around at college, fluffing around at office jobs, and fluffing around at home experimenting with "being a weaver". But most of all, I think of the last three horrendous years at the end of her career. And not just her, but her colleagues, the entire profession, including the person who got in touch with me after an image search. It's been a very humbling few days.
Retirement; not retirement; retirement.



I've always liked purples, on the blue side, pale and dark, though I don't recall friends/family telling me they liked it, too, until I got older. In the last year or so, I've had three inquiries about purple pieces. So is it more popular now? Have you looked for, or had inquiries? 

The piece sold from the shop page this week was an interesting one. And I'm going to confuse you a little because a) the photos don't demonstrate well what I mean, but I didn't want to manipulate them to make a point, and b) I'm not separating the idea of a piece of cloth looking "more" purple; from another idea of the cloth "popping with colors", i.e. not looking flat very well. Sorry. But I'm in a rush to put down these thoughts before I forget. 
I couldn't remember what I used in the warp, I had a very close look when I gave it the last steam press. It turned out I used the same 30/2 merino in the warp and the weft, and for the warp I paired navy blue with medium blue, lighter blue and a medium-light green. (So every other warp end is navy.) I made stripes with these three "colors", though I couldn't remember the order, nor whether the stripes were uniform in width. (To be honest, it's a really rare thing that I can't remember making any warp.) 
I can't remember if I made the draft for this warp, but it's more likely I recycled one, or modified an old one to fit the width of the stripes, because, how do I describe this, the center of the pattern stripes seem to sit in the center of color stripes. The weft in this piece is hot pink. 

What I discovered, though, I'm not sure if I can convince you from lat my photos, as I said, but it was a surprise and a lesson to me.
From memory, this is a view of the piece hanging on my front doorway on a sunny day. 
This is taken inside the house, away from the outside sun, and the color maybe closer to real life. Though the same yarns, the mid- and lighter-blue and the green shimmer in real life, which is why I had to make sure the warp was merino, and not possum/merino/silk. The current header photo at the top is of the same piece, too.
The issue was, the customer was looking for a purple piece, and I had none, but she was interested in this, and if it proves unsuitable, could she exchange? I informed her this is more hot pink, but with the blues in the warp, had an overall purple appearance. I had nothing else close to purple, and nothing similar in style/price, so I would be happy to refund, but could not exchange. 
I might have stressed the fact it's hot pink, because I didn't want to surprise when the parcel was opened. (I guess it also reflected my prejudice against hot pink; I expected others to be shocked. Although I'm the one who chose to weave with it, and it's not a bad combination... Just... pink.)  

I thought that's when the conversation ended and it was up to her to decide. Then Ben came home, and he pointed out: 1) it's not a bright hot pink, but a darkish one; 2) because of all the blues in the warp, the overall look is purple, possibly a more "animated" (my word,) purple; and 3) depending on the person, it might be a good "cheer me up" piece.  So I sent her one last email, clarifying I didn't want to pressure her, but here was another point of view from another pair of eyes.

When the piece is in movement, (I often do this gentle swaying of my scarves to see the cloth in movement,) it is a livelier purple, less flat, in a way more purple when in motion than a piece with a purple weft. 
This was the piece with a purple weft, though here it looks redder than in real life. I recall this piece looked darker/deeper over all, as if the purple and navy were playing off each other, and showed off the sheen in the blues and green of the warp but cloth looked flatter, and "dark" more than "purple". 

Because I no longer have either of the pieces with me, I can't explain this further except from vague memory, sorry. But my thought returned to the choice of making a color using just one color/yarn vs combining variations of hues, values and sheen to make up one color. Interesting, don't you think?
Apropos not exactly of purple thoughts swirling in my head, this was a piece with black merino in the warp and purple cashmere in the weft. The overall appearance was very dark and I had a hard time photographing the design without turning the purple too pale for the purpose. 

Every color/hue merits deep dives, but purple is mysterious to me. The piece arrived at the customer yesterday, but I haven't heard the verdict. Fingers crossed, friends.


Who Made Up "Buy NZ-Made Day" Anyway??

I am an avowed non-believer in national/international XXX days, but first thing this morning I discovered on FB that today is "Buy NZ-Made Day". Who decides these things anyway, and why are there never warnings, maybe a couple of weeks ahead? Still, having yet again missed out on the gift-giving season sales preparing the online shop, even though I've had a couple of inquiries well in advance, I decided to whip up a quick and dirty shop page, shooting only the new pieces and recycling pics and words for the old. 
I picked the more colorful five pieces, three new and two old. Without boring you with the gory details, let me just say: 
1) We had between gray-and-humid to the-sky-is-falling weather, until the second I posted, and now the sun is screaming: "SU-MMMMMMERRRRR!" The photos of the new pieces, the two impossible-to-capture in particular, don't look like the pieces sitting on my kitchen table. So I had to blather on and on about the colors.
2) At some point I lost, yes lost, pictures of at least two rather memorable pieces. Unless my sometimes-too-sensitive screen made me move the folder elsewhere and I can't find it OR I delete THAT folder. 
3) At some point, I deleted past spiels of the older pieces. Or so I thought. Until two seconds after I posted, I found the file. 
4) It took me about six hours to "open shop", from photo shoot, checking the measurements and fiber contents and pricing, always yucky. Although I do like writing spiels. 
5) A squid tube I intended to cook first thing this morning has been thawing in the sink. I didn't even notice it for the most part, but now that the page is up, what... heck... I am speechless.
I have a giant folder of over 400 pics for my store, because a couple of times I took a gazillion samey pictures of a few pieces. I had to wade through all of them them in search of one pic, (wasn't there,) but I was taken aback discover a pieces I purportedly wove but have no recollection of. On the other hand, I saw a few pieces I really liked that left me long time ago, and a few more I liked when I made them but had since forgotten about. I wonder where the kids are how they are doing. 
I wonder if I've become so sloppy with file management, and admin in general, or if it's only when I'm in a rush that I can't find stuff. (It's the former.) Still I got five pieces in my shop, which gives me a huge sense of satisfaction, and before the end of the Buy day, too. And just maybe I'll sell a piece. So, all in all, a great Monday, friends. (Although... all that rain and now all this sun? You know where I'm going... :-D )

For good luck, I'll post a pic of a piece that disappeared from my online shop in record speed.


(Japanese) Colors - Thoughts on the First Viewing of Keith Recker's New Vid on Colors

I wrote my ranty "thoughts" on MegWeaves FB page when this vid with Keith Recker came out a little while ago, then FB lost it. Just as well, it probably suited here better. You may remember Keith from that glorious Hand/Eye magazine, and before that, Pantone.
Keith spoke on "Color At Work: Storytelling in Branding, Packaging and Commercial Imagery," and addressed each hue on the rainbow, and pink, and achromatics, at the International Museum of Folk Art in New Mexico, USA. He focused on feelings/symbols portrayed/represented by hues/colors, with examples old and new tied to persons, era, movements, brands, etc. (And if nothing else, his voice will melt your heart.) 

I'm going to write about what I thought after watching it once, because I will take away different things in subsequent future viewings. Also remember, I grew up outside of Japan almost as much as inside, my family wasn't particularly "traditional" and we lived in the suburbs, and I haven't lived there for 27 years. What I say are impressions based on "facts as I remember them". 
Early on, Keith mentioned corporate images, and the first thought that sprang to mind was when I worked for IBM in Japan in the 80s. Back then, the company logo was the stripy (in eight parts,) pale blue on white background, although they might have employed others from time to time, or earlier. Anyway, the company decided to use a pale gray version as well. I liked it immediately, because... gray... but there were numerous in-company near-hysterical announcements/articles/justifications/excuses explaining the decision. I didn't think it was a big deal as it was just a pale gray version of the existing one, not a replacement, (albeit nicer,) and giggled at how these grown men took themselves ridiculously seriously. I don't remember much of what I read, and after a couple, I stopped reading. But then this was the 80s, men wore conservative suits, (navy blue pin-stripe were called "IBM suits"; oldies reminisced about when hats were required; and the younger generation took pride in Yuppiedom, dressing for success. And IBM was never known for a sense of humor. Maybe a couple of oldies in high places objected.
Keith discussed universals, across space and time, e.g. purple for royalty. Much of the association with wealth/power is related to the scarcity of dye material, we know. However, I find myself far more interested in geography/culture/ethnicity/language-specific interpretation, especially how language dictates how we think and see the world.

Take for example the Japanese word, "ao". It means blue, but not necessarily indigo. It's also a name for a group of colors from somewhere on the blue side of yellow-green, through greens and blues as we know them, to just around where red starts to creep in. Purple is a world unto itself. It's not as though we don't see green; we have gazillion names for different greens in addition to the generic "midori," but when I was a kid I had to be careful when oldies said "ao" because I never knew. Traffic signals were often described as, "aka, ao, kiiro," i.e. "red, blue, and yellow."

On to red; in Japan, "aka" usually points to a light vermilion, red-orange-red. When red starts to show signs of blue in it, it's "beni-iro", lipstick color. When I was a kid, having returned from three years in the US, teachers were astounded I drew the sun with my yellow crayon, not with orange or red; I in turn was alarmed to be told sun was red. Apocalyptic, no? And though not exclusive, it's still there. And what I perceive to be one of the traditional Chinese color combination of orange-red and gold, considered not very nice in my family, looked spectacular in the desert sun in Beijing. Everything in its context. 

When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, there was definitely an awkward coexistence of Japanese and Western colors; for the most part we used them in different contexts. So if you learned Nihon-ga, Japanese painting, the paint colors were all in Japanese colors, same as the colors in Kimonos, good-quality, chiyogami papers, etc. School paint sets were an awkward mixture of both traditions, as were some weird kids' picture books.  Western clothes were mostly in brighter Western colors; one reason Mom could not get enough of European shoes and handbags on Dad's meager salary.

Although I'm not sure when exactly it started, I noticed a big change/merge in the 80s when I went home after finishing collage in the US. Then, Western tourists started buying up old Kimono, furniture, art, etc by the container-loads, as well as demanding to see Kabuki/Noh, Ukiyoe, and that salacious curiosity, Geisha culture. (It's actually Geiko or Makiko they were looking at in most cases, as most Geishas were well over 60/70 by then, but does it matter when gawking is the goal?) 
And if it's good enough for Westerners, it must be good enough for us. Some Japanese became interested in aspects of Japanese artforms,(in decline after the war,) even in modest patriotism, (gone after the War and Allied Occupation, and strictly self-monitored by ourselves.) As an aside, one of the best things to happen was a sudden flourishing of visits and exchanges among Japanese and Asian youth. I believe one or two of my cousins went.
And where there was yen to be made, T-shirts, garments and accessories with Japanese motifs, (but often in Western colors,) filled the tourist market. Gradually, though, better-quality items started to pop up in our own clothing stores, and we started wearing our own colors/motifs in the shape of dresses, skirts, jackets, etc. Goodness, they were expensive, even though most were synthetic, and not even machine-washable. And though terribly frowned upon at first, women started recycling their family silk into Western garments they can wear more often. And because this is Japan, numerous affordable how-to books came out. 

The other side of the coin was, in order to seduce young Japanese women to wear Kimono, department stores started displaying Kimono "outfits,"  (my word, meaning the whole set from top to bottom,) coordinated in Western colors, rather than kimono, obi, obijime, zohri, everything separately. This was a visual shocker even to me, not just brightness/saturation, not just foreign colors, but the concept of an "outfit" as unified/coordinated unit disregarded seasonal/cultural sensibilities. (In fairness, if you remember the 80s trend, Western fashion and interior was also coated in one color, I remember.) Anyway, these outfits were, frankly, ugly, too bright, but young women weren't stupid, they may not have bought the whole lot, but over the years experimented with mixing and matching.
(I also wonder if machine-washable synthetic kimonos became readily available around this time; they existed at least in the 70s, I understand mostly for people who had to wear them every day to work, e.g. waitresses. Mom got me two in '74 before I left for the Minnesota, after someone told at the last minute.)

In the last few decades, I understand there has been a huge resurgence of Mehsen-style Kimono, (peak mid-1800s to mid-1900s,) with bold patterns and colors, which looks to me to be the perfect solution for the modern sensibilities. As well, young, (and not so young,) men wear kimono, outside New Years celebrations, in public. Also the desire to know our own color traditions is still there. You can buy paints and origami sets and embroidery threads in Japanese colors, and as ever, there are gazillion good books at all price range, with names, season, dye origins, etc.

That's about it for nostalgia for now. I'm glad Japanese my age, (my sister, convent school friends and former colleagues, just for starters,) are far more knowledgeable in these areas than moi, and only hope they are handing down that knowledge, and again that word, sensibility. Because culture, you see it best when something "just feels wrong." 
Last but not the least, wouldn't we love to be in Keith's daughter's high school media literacy sessions Keith taught? I would. 

So, what does it say about me who chooses gray, first and foremost, as the best color to symbolize me?


The Kitchen/Tea Towels

Eager to get started on the colorful tied weave, i.e. eager to vacate the loom of the cottolin towel warp, at first I was ambitious about making use of the irregular color/strip width in a fancy twill of sorts, but after a few halfhearted tries, I switch to a quick-to-thread track. I had in mind a draft with four twill blocks I made for the 2012 National Guild exhibition in Blenheim, but I couldn't find it. 
I blogged about the piece while making it, but my head back then was all about the upcoming October group exhibition, and I can't find a descent pic posted. Anyway, it's not the first time I lost/misplaced a draft I worked hard to make, (it's the second one,) but you know, out of the ashes may come new, better drafts fit for purpose. This was the piece, and I probably had three or four files because my program allows only 999 picks per file. 
The towels are in Swedish cottolin both ways, (20/2???) at 21EPI on my 6-dent reed, (because I only have one long 10DPI reed, currently stuck on the four-shaft Jack.) Weaving width on paper is 18.66in/46.66cm. The warp is 10m long, so I should get a few decent ones. For today I started weaving without sampling, but it may come mid-warp. In fact, I'd like to audition some colors between the second and third piece. The second is all yellow, the same as the right end in the warp. 
Speaking of the simple threading, this is approximately it. (I adjusted the selvedges.) Since it's a kitchen/tea towel, I want it to be super absorbent, so I'm allowing up to 6 skips either way. This way, the towels may have a shorter life, but it's going to suit our kitchen. Also, it'll be easy to develop half a dozen different drafts with this threading.

All the while, you know what I've been thinking about? Doing the colorful tied weave in merino! I have mill-end super fine merinos in three colors at the moment. They are not interchangeable, so each piece will have to have one color thin tie-down thread, but I have a few colors that would do nicely in the warp and pattern weft. Hee hee.


The Two Warps

Phishing email was, I hope, just phishing and not a real ransomware thing; at least the blog is still here. 
Though there was much indecision on the way, I finished making two warps for the upcoming Wagamama Summer & Winter (or more accurately, a tied weave, since I decided to use five shafts to tie down,) project on Thursday. 
This is the one I like slightly better. (The width of each stripe is not accurate as I push warp ends as they build up around the pegs. Is that even the correct English here??) There are more orange strips on the left, and more purples on the right, although another option is to flip the left half, so on the left selvedge I have pink, then move on to oranges, then four purples in the middle, ending with the lucky pale blue and orange on the right selvedge. Or something else.
This is the one I like slightly less, but I'm not worried because the way I weave these, it become hard to see the warp colors on their own, so I can disguise elements I like less. And by that logic, the one I like slightly better may not appear all that special after all. The colors look duller in this pic, but I used all the same yarns, so these are as shiny and saturated as the top colors. This one, I'm pretty certain I'll go with this arrangement, but who knows; on the day, I might flip the right half and bring the lucky pale blue to the center, ending with the purple selvedge on the right.
The biggest difference with these two and the successful 2010 warp is I did not sprinkle random colors of one and two ends all over. I looked at the above photo on the laptop and on the phone so many times I began seeing things I did not when I started making these two warps. The kind of special treat I incorporated in the 2010 made a big difference in the finished piece, I'm sure, so I am considering maybe adding or substituting random warps with interesting colors to bring back the feel of 2010 piece. That kind of frivolity is so fun when the mood is right.

They are both made of 20/2 mercerized cotton, 42EPI, 22 inches wide on the loom. I hope to get three pieces each, although you know me and sampling. :-D 
This is Wagamama, (in this context, "random"), and at this stage I plan to use five shafts to tie, so the threading will be something like1-P-2-P-3-P-4-P-5-P-4-P-3-P-2-P-1-P, where P will be random between Shafts 6 and 16. 

The lifting/treadling won't be as random, as these pieces will be woven on the computer dobby, meaning I have to prepare files beforehand. Instead, I'm making multiple files with not too many picks in each, say between 20 and 50, and will be choosing them randomly as I weave. The base structure may look something like this:
Much is undecided, because usually everything to do with Wagamama happens right in front of me, on the moment, with no real planning and no drafts. I find it so strange to write about it before I've "done" it, or to make a draft, even just a skeleton.
I may have mentioned, I have a 10m cottolin towel warp already on the loom, but no draft yet, and I have to get that woven before I can move on to these colorful scarves.




I received a phishing/ransomware email this morning demanding $3000 in bit coins in three days or my blog will have something done to it. I've backed up the contents so I can copy it onto a new blog if this happens, but the consensus is, it's just a scam email. We shall see, eh. (I did notify the police and another reliable Internet agency here.)

Meanwhile, I'll hold off posting about the two new warps I finally finished making yesterday for a few days.


That Warp I'm Trying to Make - I'll Just Call it S&W 2022 Project

I can't see how the next warp should look, so I've done what I could think of on the day, each day, working, hopefully, towards... either learning what I'd like it to be, maybe seeing it. But it's been slow. And in case a bad warp pushes me to faint on a metaphorical chaise longue, (I don't have one,) I've told myself I'm making two warps, so I'll have at least one I hate less.
A week ago Friday, I brought out all the cones from purple to just before yellow in 2/20 mercerized cotton; I thought to make these my default colors/range.
On the weekend, I brought out accent candidates, yellow-greens, (colors I wanted to add,) and blues, (I have a very small selection, but that one blue worked well in the 2010 piece.) 
While looking at the top picture in the last post, I wondered if the success of that warp had to do with values, mainly most of them being similar, so I took out the hues. It turned out I manage well to keep it more or less the same, with a few well-placed and well-proportioned highlights.
On Monday, I decided to take photos of cones, in the bathroom, sitting inside the tub, and turned them black and white. I grouped cones I thought were of similar values for group pics. 
Not only were my guesses disappointing, but I couldn't trusts the camera with anything with red in it, i.e. from purple to orange. Even after Ben set a custom white balance, (he's the one that told me to sit inside the tub because of a window,) the colors on the viewfinder screen were quite different from the colors in real life.
Although the photos on screen came out marginally better, I didn't trust these digital shortcuts, so the next step was to compare the cones with values sheets. This was Tuesday. This was hard on the eyes; I took off my eyeglasses and squinted as hard as I can, but more cones than I expected were hard to determine. I also had some colors that looked rather light on one sheet, and much darker on the other. I thought I'd this over if I thought this information would prove useful, but I couldn't think of how to proceed on Tuesday. 
Gee, can you tell the lights keep changing this week? The photo colors are all over the place.

I had to prioritize life for a couple of days, (ginger wine making took almost all day Wednesday,) then I lost my mojo, so I didn't get back to it for the rest of the week. But I see one way forward; I'm going to do the shade cards again when the weather is stable, and group together cones with similar values. I figured I don't need to know absolute values, but only relative, for this purpose. Then I'll observe these groups and hopefully see my next step.

But not today, it's weeding day here. 


I Feel Another Summer & Winter Warp Coming

While thinking about colors, and having more trouble than I expected in telling you about the navy warp, I took a break and looked at Pinterest, and lo and behold, I saw one of my old, forgotten cotton pieces lower down the selection. This piece wasn't Summer & Winter, but still with a mishmash of colors. It got me thinking, I would really like to weave a Wagamama Summer & Winter piece on the  big loom.
I often thought it would be fun to weave a wide warp, 50cm, 55-ish if I'm brave, with random selection of colors for both warp and weft, random pattern threading, and a dozen or three files with different pattern treadling/lifting, anywhere from, say, 40 to 100 picks, and choose files as I weave.
Looking back at the colors I mixed in Wagamama warps, I had: 
The blue/purple/orange warp for my Pics to Picks challenge of 2010 where the colors were to reflect what I saw in a photograph. I wish I still had this piece, but it went to Santa Fe as soon as I finished it. 

This second warp I made as soon as I finished the first one in 2010, but didn't weave until ten years later. I wanted a predominantly purple warp, but knew that if I used only purples, blues and pinks, it would lack interest. Yellows and oranges stood out, and dark teal was as green was I went. I liked the purple-ness but late Win Currie didn't; she thought it looked stripey. I think it's how the light-valued yarns were distributed, on a comparatively regular interval in this, whereas in the first, I had areas of light values, (blue and yellow,) but only one skinny yellow ribbon on the right.  
Next was Sunflower last year, where of course I was aiming for the colors of sunflowers, those I knew and those painted by van Gogh, but woven in Wagamama style. After much experimenting, I finished one piece, but there is warp for another.
Then there was the unnamed project sample warp, again, last year, which never became a proper piece. It was about misinformation/disinformation and intensity of confusion and anger around politics, including Covid, so I used a lot of reds and oranges; a little facile in retrospect, I know, but I was more interested in the texture and shapes with this project, again, woven in Wagamama fashion. 
Unlike warps for the tiny sample loom, 50-55cm width will allow more play. I weave these at 42EPI, so 20 inches will allow me 840 ends,  924 if I can tolerate weaving 22 inch width. Which is not impossible if we devise a foot stool so I can weave standing up... 
I'm very excited, on the one hand, but am wracking my brain trying to recall what I was thinking or how I made that first warp. I love the proportion, combination of colors, their placements, just about everything, but I don't know if I can recreate something this sophisticated in looks and unintended, (as much as I can remember,) in... intent. For the next warp, I imagined something like purple to orange on the color wheel, and would have added yellows or yellow-greens, but never thought of pale blue if I didn't study these photos. I actually groaned last night, because I impressed myself, but honestly don't know if I can do it again.
"Wagamama" is "self-centered" or "willful" in Japanese. I do enjoy the freedom of this approach. 


Shaft Lifting Combinations

For a while, I've been trying to remember how to figure out possible number of shaft-listing combinations given the number of shafts, especially for eight shafts. The Internet says, "A combination is the choice of r things from a set of n things without replacement and where order does not matter," and the formula is:


I studied this in school, I think we used the last notation, but I can't remember how to calculate. But we know, at the lower end: 
2 shafts:
1, 2; 
1&2 at once is invalid in weaving; 
2 options.
3 shafts: 
1, 2, 3; 
1&2, 2&3; 
1&2&3 at once is invalid in weaving; 
5 options.
4 shafts: 
1, 2, 3, 4; 
1&2, 1&3, 1&4, 2&3, 2&4, 3&4; 
1&2&3, 2&3&4, 1&3&4, 1&2&4; 
1&2&3&4 at once is invalid in weaving; 
14 options.
Can someone please remind me how to do this? Thank you. 
EDIT: Thanks to a mysterious Fiona, we have an answer. 
Not sure which part you are stuck in so will try and answer all parts.

I will write (n, r) to mean choose r from n.

So n! =1*2*3*...*n ie multiply all integers from 1 up to n together so
4! = 1*2*3*4=24 Then (4,3) =4!/(3!*1! )=4
Then for 4 shafts the answer is (4,1)+(4,2)+(4,3) = 4+6+4=14

For 8 shafts you want to calculate
Will leave you to do the math because I am on phone and out of time!

Hope that helps.
I have to sit with a pencil and paper to see if I really got it. I'm not sure where (n, r) came from, but the separate calculations is looking a lot like what we did in school. I'll get back to you, or you get back to me, once we figure this out, OK? 
EDIT: So here goes, in language I'll understand when I revisit this post in future. You might want a nice drink, pencil, and paper, maybe a calculator about now.
First, I was reminded combination could also be expressed as "C(n,r)", which is why I knew what Fiona meant, but now I'm not sure which way we learned in school as I am also familiar with "!". Never mind, let's do weavers' counting. Let's figure out how many ways we can lift shafts on an eight-shaft loom. Staying with the last, fourth, notation on the top: 
Numerator, the number on top: 
n is the number of shafts, 8. 
!  is what's called "factorial" in English, and it wants you to multiply all integers from 1 to n. 
n! is 8!=1*2*3*4*5*6*7*8=40,320. Whoa! 

Now on to the Denominator, on the bottom: 
r is the number of shafts I wish to lift at one time. In weaving, we don't do "all" or "none", but on a eight shaft loom, we can lift one, two, three, four, five, six, or seven shafts at once. And here's where it gets tricky; this math for Combination can only give us the number for each of these options. So let's go with lifting one shaft. r=1.
r! is 1!=1 
(n-r)! is (8-1)!=7!=1*2*3*4*5*6*7=5,040.
r!(n-r)! is 1!(8-1)!=1*(1*2*3*4*5*6*7)=5,040.

40,320/5,040=8. This means there are eight way to lift just one shaft on an eight-shaft loom. And you might rightly shout, "Well, I could have told you that yesterday when you first posted this damn post!" True. But stay with me. 
Conveniently, the number of options to lift only one shaft on an eight-shaft loom, 8, is the same as the number of options to lift seven shafts at once, 8. So we got two of seven combinations out of the way. I'll just go calculate the rest without bothering you, and let you know the answers.

Option for number of shafts to be lifted at once on an eight-shaft loom: 
1 shaft at once, (same number of options as 7 shafts at once) = 8 options
2 shafts, (same number of options as 6 shafts) = 28 options
3 shafts, (same number of options as 5 shafts) = 56 options
4 shafts = 70 options
5 shafts, see 3 shafts above = 56 options 
6 shafts, see 2 shafts above = 28 options
7 shafts, see 1 shaft above = 8 options
Add it all up, 8+28+56+70+56+28+8=254
On an eight-shaft loom, there are 254 ways to lift shafts. 

"Why the heck did we need to know this?" I hear you ask. Well, I find this sort of thing fascinating, and I just have to find out. Sorry if I wasted your time. 254, though. I am impressed.


The Variegated Navy (Not Purple) Warp Series / Covid Rant

I bought this possum/merino/silk cone ages ago. The sample had a lot of purple and some blues, overall medium  in value, but what I received was dark, dark, dark, with nary a purple in sight. In fact, my impression was "mostly dirty indigo". So the cone sat and sat and sat o the shelf, and then I made a warp with it because it was taking up precious space. At least I knew the quality is good. Then the warp chain hung and hung and hung waiting to be chosen until this winter. I thought I could add purples and teal and green or lighter blue to lift the dark, sad warp.
(I thought to post about this warp several times, but for some reason the colors in the photos come out very inaccurate, so you'll just have to put up with my explanations in words. Sorry...) 
In real life, the whole sample is more sombre, uniform in value, and it's hard to see warp colors other than mid-blue or dark green. I started sampling from the right side of this pic. A is possum/merino/silk in teal, and I confess I was always going to weave a piece in this weft for optimal texture. 
I'm not sure if I should even post this pic because the piece doesn't look anything like this; it's a nice blue-y teal, fluffy, and you can hardly see the warp colors, but there you have it, the mystery of (digital?) photography.
Ben really liked B, two different skinny yellow-green merino plied together, (because there is a small amount of darker yellow green in the warp,) and he wanted the piece, so he got one. Sorry for the wrinkles, he's been wearing it in the house in the mornings. (The temperature is usually in the low teens when he "goes to work", although by lunch time the scarf comes off.)
The wefts are more saturated, the middle part of the piece is not paler, and it looks like a yellow and indigo piece. The silk in the warp shimmers, and give the piece a silky look. 
At the end of the first sample above, I thought wefts not too close on the color wheel to the warp may make the different warp colors pop up, so I plied red and hot pink of the same skinny yarn as Ben's piece and tried it. I wanted to investigate it a little more, so I wove a second sample, with, from right to left, hot pink and orange, hot pink and red, and red and orange. You might be able to tell the middle stripe, hot pink and red, are closest to each other. The two stripes on the side have a bigger gap in the value, (hot pink and red being darker than orange,) they look more speckled, which in turn allows different warp colors to react to the neighboring weft color and show up more clearly. Do I make sense? To paraphrase, the value differences in the weft colors allow different warp colors to.... show more frequently.  
This is the most disappointing pic because the overall piece is a richer, deeper, nicer "red", not dark like seen here. I wanted most of the piece to be hot-pink and orange or red and orange to take advantage of the speckles, and I started out with fussier stripes, but the pattern distracted from showing off the warp colors, so most this piece has wider stripes without the red and hot pink stripes. This one also has a nice shimmer. 
It was a more exciting project and I enjoyed the sampling very much. But all the fancy buttons and options on the phone/camera, and shooting in different weather/light, wouldn't allow me to show you what they really look like. Sad-face.
* * * * * 
A bit of Covid rant. Late on Monday, Jacinda announced all Covid rules/systems will be scrapped at midnight. I didn't watch it, but Ben said masks are required only at medical and aged-care facilities; if one tests positive, seven day isolation is required, but not for those who live with them. We rushed to the supermarkets on what would be the last day masking was required in supermarkets, where between one-third and half were masked. Staff had masks, but some wore them under their noses, at least one as a chin protector. On Tuesday, there were just under 2000 folks around the country reporting they tested positive; today, Wednesday, I couldn't find numbers. 
My personal preference would have been to keep the Levels system; we lived happily under the loose Level 1 between late 2022-much of 2021. In the end there was a fairly good understanding of the systems, and if numbers rise again, we can go back to the "familiar" rules. The traffic light system brought in sometime in the middle of Delta/Omicron, I'm convinced, to change the language and appease the anti- folks, but I think it confused folks. Medical professionals said so. 

Ben now has no official backing/reason to work from home, and he expects to be called back to work at work, and I am extremely anxious. Just the other week during the flooding, there were two colleagues out with Covid in their small department, never mind the whole school with our without rules.
I also worry about what kind of repercussion might be waiting for those of us choosing to wear masks, as hate thrown at us Asians wearing masks before the mandates was ugly. (New Zealand was very slow to start masking; rules were unfailingly wishy washy - many situation it was only "strongly recommended" instead; and there was always an unsmall section ignoring them anyway.) Even though I dislike masks, and it's getting warmer here so it'll be increasingly uncomfortable, we intend to keep wearing them for the foreseeable future. But also, for now, they are great for hay fever.

So, anyway... I'm trying not to loose my mind with worries. There have been an obscene amount of chocolate and potato chips involved since Monday.


Autumn/Winter 2022 Recap - Random Thoughts

Physical movement at different stages of weaving often prompts me to think about weaving and other things. Maybe it's like walking, for me. You might have read some of these on MegWeaves Facebook page, because I've come to use it as a repository of thoughts.
Art vs Craft: 
Throughout May/June/July, I felt ever so guilty/uncomfortable not spending time designing each piece and taking things easy on the 4-shaft. So much so I started questioning what kind of a weaver I want to be, if something had changed, (as in, if I entered the "retired weaver" phase,) but most earnestly, if I was cheating prospective wearers of my pieces. It was a weaver identity crisis, so I started incorporating elements to my liking, (color, pattern,) instead of just weaving technically OK pieces with good quality yearns. 
One day as I was washing breakfast dishes, I had a moment of clarity on where I place design on the art vs craft spectrum. It's not a universal explanation, but me understanding how I understand what/how I do, (and possibly extrapolate when I view others' work.)
Weaving requires a lot of technical/procedural planning, and my goal for many intended-as-art pieces is to actually realize/make them, rather than just kicking ideas in my head as an end. So, although I start with "conceptual" ideas of what I want to express/signify, I brainstorm with myself "the process" from rather early stages; the more projects of this kind I work on, the earlier I seem to start. 
Years ago, after spending time thinking about concepts, I often "saw" how the pieces should look, (usually as I woke up,) leaving me to break down how to go about making them. I don't "see" pieces often these days, and proportionately more time is spent considering/sampling alternative techniques/materials, which leads me to think I spend more time "designing", at the craft end.
That's OK, because my ultimate goal of weaving is to weave pieces that satisfy me in some way; be they colors, drafts/patterns, texture/hand, and on the odd occasion, nice selvedges. But if I were to submit a woven piece as "art" into an exhibition, (less often, but I still think about it,) I need to rethink my process. And I have no idea how or where to begin. And that's OK, too, for now. 
I've been thinking about the color blue, about how much I don't think about blues. Blue was my first and unconditional love, and is still among my favorites. Yellows, whites, and grays I've added subsequently, although I define them more narrowly. 
After ten years in Nelson and in this house with superb sunsets, I could not help but like orange, which for most of my life was my most loathed color. (My high school colors were orange and blue, and oh, how hated that.) Now I can't get enough, from pale blue-y kind all the way to dirty brown-ish.
I know it's about the light and environment. Nuanced/murky Japanese colors and combinations are beautiful there, but muddy and uncommitted here. With climate change, some Japanese colors, ever so closely tied to the seasons, the weather, and particularly with flora, have lost their appeal even while in Japan for me. I also remember being astounded to witness gold and orange-red being a most beautiful combination in the desert-like Beijing, or loving the masses of pale gray-blue-green of eucalyptus in Australia.
On the whole, I am not a fan of greens and browns, so over the years I've studied them more carefully. I experiment, not in the least because they are what's left at the end of my paint/felt tip/coloring pencil sets. And be they just for fleeting moments, I can be surprised by the beauty of combinations with each other or in unexpected pairs/groupings. In contrast, with blues, I think I know them, so I haven't studied them, and get caught out using/combining them artlessly. 
Mom sometimes use the phrase, "falling back on blue," (more exact translation being, "escaping to",) as if it's a bad thing. I don't know if she made it up, (happens all the time,) if she was pointing to how I work, or if it indicates a Japanese penchant to fall back on indigo when all else fails. 
In Japanese culture, indigo and blue are distinct colors, although sometimes indigo is included in the greater blue family, a family spanning from where blue/purple ends, all the way to just before green turns yellow-green. Ish. There's an old Chinese saying, "Blue comes out of Indigo, but is Bluer than Indigo." I don't know Chinese, but in Japanese blue is "ao" [ao] and indigo is "ai" [ai] so it's a little like a tongue-twister. It means a child/student/thing's ability/quality exceeds that of their parent/teacher/predecessor.
Anyhoo, I always felt mighty insulted when she said it, as if I'm taking the easy way out, bordering on bad taste. On the other hand, one of Mom's weaving students insisted instinctive use of colors works the best, (she meant, "it's the only way to go,") to which I rebutted, "if you know why those colors/combinations work or please you, all the better." I think it's time to take my own advice.
Digital photography... These five are of the same yarn, same dye lot. The truest color is the second from the left, although in real life slightly darker. I tried this setup, a bobbin holding three of these plied together, and a pirn with said plied yarn, but in all cases purple insisted on making an appearance in the middle of the screen.

How I look at Weaving Books:  
While looking at Davison recently, I noticed I pay far more attention to the right-side, odd-numbered pages. And I mean, considerably longer and far more carefully. In future, I shall turn weaving draft books upside down and see if I find something new; at least I can double draft options instantly.
My Changing Point of View:
While speaking with a couple of super well-read friends, I realized in the last decade or so, I've become less of an art aficionado and more focused on society, its time and place, which I sometimes think as "history". 
I've always been a fan of biographies, especially artists/composers/writers, even if not (at all) of their artwork, because I'm interested in people. Case in point, it took me a decade after I started reading van Gogh biographies to start looking at his paintings without being repulsed. 
To me, good biographies include not just the person/family/relationships, dates, places and numbers, and their artwork; but also their environment: their friends, colleagues and influences, circumstances of their association, relationships; what they read if they read; art and other fashion of the times; new (scientific) discoveries; what was happening in their community, its history; and politics. I think there are more of these aspects in newer biographies. While I don't discount individual ideas and efforts, my focus seems to have shifted to context, what else might have contributed to or resulted in an artist's work, with their art as artefact. I feel I have a better grasp of the person, or an artwork, when I see them in their own "home". 
What do you think, about any of this?
* * * * * 
This concludes Autumn/Winter 2022 Recap, as I hope to resume more or less regular transmission more or less as soon as I have things to show/tell you. Be well!