Wednesday, November 29, 2023

What Do I Mean by Tied (Unit) Weave? - a Very Short Version

As I mentioned in the last post, my problem with writing this post has been to explain in words, using correct tied unit weaves jargon, something I've done instinctively since I first wove in this manner in 2010. Then to gauge what you might know, and/or if you want to even know what I do. (Let me know, all three of you reading this blog? :-D) 
So, I decided to give you this very short version. I hope I covered every anomaly. If you know tied unit weaves, no problem. If not, I've listed three trustworthy sources I turn to at the bottom of this post. Or you can ask me anything, and I shall endevour to reply as best I can. If additional post/s emerge/s from there, all the better.
* * * * * 
My Wagamama* Tied Unit Weave
* For warp and weft, I choose colors and numbers randomly, not corresponding to the structure. 
* I use 20/2 cotton for the warp and pattern wefts, and 60/2 for the tie-down.

* I have sampled two, three, four or five shafts for tie-down, usually in straight draw or point; (in case of two shafts, 1-p-2-p-2-p-1-p instead of point.) Once I wove a five-shaft-undulating twill tie-down in a workshop, which I liked very much, but darn it, that's the one sample I seem to have lost. (t is for tie-down threads/shafts; p for pattern.)

* I thread in pairs, i.e. tie-down and pattern alternately, t-p-t-p. I sampled t-p-p-t-p-p but from memory I wasn't pleased with the result in that instance.
* I use whatever number of shafts left for pattern and thread them randomly.
* For tie-down shafts in pattern shots, I follow the standard order for the chosen tie-down scheme. For example, successive pattern shots may be: 
* (T is now for tabby/ground shots, and P for pattern shots, [whichever tie-down shaft/s required plus all/some/none of the pattern.]) I often select pattern shafts by looking at the ways the levers were positioned on each loom. One such example would be two shafts clockwise, using 1 and 2 for tie-down:    

* Sometimes I insert two pattern wefts, e.g.

* * * * * 
If you are interested tied unit weaves, here are three good resources:
* Strickler's "A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns" lists gazillion drafts on eight shafts, divided into an array of weave structures, each chapter starting with a brief description of the structure. Chapter 15 covers Summer & Winter; 18, Other "Tie" Weaves. Oh, the book describes sinking shed, which I did not noticed until a few years I had the book.

* At the comprehensive end, now-defunct Weaver's Magazine put out a compilation of articles in book form, one of which is "The Best of Weaver's - Summer & Winter Plus". Most are project instructions, but about a quarter of the way in is, "An Introduction to Tied Unit Weaves and Their Relatives", by one Jacquie Kelly, accompanied by photos of woven samples and descriptive drafts, (thick yarns are drawn plump.) If you need visuals to understand weaving, this is for you.

The chapter in question is an article taken out of one of their magazines; I wished I could tell which issue, but I haven't been able to find it the book. If you belong to a guild with back numbers of this awesome magazine, you might get lucky, in which case I would love to hear from you so we can share the info.  

* Donna Sullivan's "Summer & Winter" takes a deep dive into the best known of tied weaves, Summer & Winter, including use of colors, treadling variation, etc. It also has photos of the prettiest woven pieces. At the end of the book are 21 pages on "Other Tied Unit Weaves", which is mind-boggling in its scope, with drafts. There is still so much we could do! 

* * * * *

"Wagamama" is selfish, willful, self-centered, etc., in Japanese. It has nothing to do with noodles. :-D

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Oh, What a Different Post This has Become

Hello! It's really been a while. I hope you are well. And weaving. My life has been... eventful and same-old at once, but included no weaving for four months.
First thing first; I did something unthinkably stupid. After I wove the first tied (unit) weave sample in early July and had loom problems, (the shafts weren't lifting/dropping propery,) I only tied some, not all, of the ends in front of the reed, thinking I'll get to the next sample as soon as the loom was fixed. But it took a couple of weeks to get the problem sorted. And then one morning, on my way out to weed, I tested to make sure the lifting was indeed fixed, without tying or advancing the warp so they wouldn't slip out of place. (Insert head-exploding emoji.) The shed on the big loom is generous, so in doing this, many untied ends slipped behind the reed, (which would have been no big deal,) but some slipped out of the heddle as well, and at 42EPI, it's tricky to remedy. 
The truth is, I wasn't thrilled with the threading anyway; I thought 11 was too many pattern shafts for the kind of look I think I had I mind, so I was already thinking of rethreading. But to have the warps slip through because of laziness thus having to rethread was disappointing-with-swear-words. The warp is still sitting in a hot mess, but I'll get to it. And threading will be better than before. :-D
I've also been working off and on on that post where I try to explain "my" kind of tied (unit) weave. I've been weaving tied weave in a particular way since my first warp, it's been a discovery/revelation to relearn how it's different from the usual, to try to explain what I do instinctively on the loom in writing, in the correct tied weave language. The weaving itself is not a big deal; if you came over to my basement I could show you in a couple of minutes, and if you know tied weaves you'll get the gist. Or do you even want to know? And if I insist on telling you, how much about the normal tied weaves should I to include; or skip the normal bits and give you just numbers so you can work it out if you ever want to? Do you even want to know what I do? 
I'll probably write about it (badly) in the not too distant future, because it's the sort of thing I enjoy clarifying for myself. At the root of this indecisiveness is my faltering fluency, not with the structures themselves but the language of tied weaves. Still, onwards. 

* * * * * 

August was a bad month that included a short hospital stay, (Ben, not me, but a first for either of us beyond visiting or routine checks;) Japanese pension screw up; bank pension fund screw up; and insurance non-response, none by my doing. Phew! In the end they all came out right, but I was exhausted, and felt really dumb and old.
I have a circle of friends who aren't what you call "keen Kiwi gardeners" but who had success in their veg patches last summer, and very early on they started talking about this year's crop. So I joined them, ridiculously early for me, preparing a veg patch, in between regular weeding. My veg patch prep involves lots of clay breaking, and because of my bad right hip, I tend not to use the large forks/shovels but hand tools, which sprung a whole new right shoulder problem! Still, I got some area cleared and seedlings screaming to go into the ground planted. Some apparently much too early e.g. tomatoes, but they've survived; in fact, practically all survived so now I have two rows of over-crowded acid-free and mini toms, but I'm loathed to take any out. Peppers, on the other hand, I sowed twice to no avail, so I shall try a third time. 
In September garden work was a soothing antidote to August, and I was genuinely thankful. The title of this post refers to the change in my mood from my end-of-August draft to mid-September draft, when I was singing praise to Mother Nature. But came October and my body was hurting all over and all the time. I longed to return to the Great Indoors, the big loom in particular. Almost on a whim, we went away to Golden Bay not two hours away for five days in late October, (the first time we left the Nelson City limits since January 2021, no restrictions or anything, just the way we live now,) which was soul-cleansing.
Yesterday was the first summer day with too-bright lights and sharp, itchy sun; it'll be pretty much thus until around April, and we're told it's going to be a hot summer, but I'm still about halfway done with the veg garden alone, so more Sisyphean work for me.

I am more of a flower gardener, so this veg garden thing feels so high maintenance. But food prices remain high, in addition to shortage/absence of certain veggies due to weather events, and more immediately, so much veg now comes in plastic packaging, I do feel virtuous growing my own. I like the idea of being able to pick as many/few as we need for each meal. Just quietly between us, I wished Ben would take more interest in the garden, but he's been so completely disengaged in the last few years; although with some coaxing/begging, he will help me with the big/heavy stuff.
* * * * *

This "more gardening" has been part of my effort to become a more self-contained, contented old person, gardening being one of the things old folks are supposed to love. I want to be a happier old person, not obsessed about constantly being informed, not having to form/express opinions, being a more pleasant, satisfied soul. You know. 
To that end, from time to time I visualize being such an old person, but in those visualization, there is never joint pains; the work is more rewarding; weeds are much slower to return; and somehow bird/cat damages are kept to a minimum. In real life, I have never caught up with the garden work in most of the 27 years in this house; for the next four months no matter how much hours I put in, the place will always look unkept; and the work gets harder on the old body. Grumble, grumble.

At times I also worry about hypothetical circumstances where we must suddenly move out of this house because of health reasons. This house with many steps on a steep hill is not for the frail. When we bought it in our mid-30s, we joked we hated finding/buying a house so much one of us would move out in a wooden box; but now it's becoming clear if we're lucky enough to live a long and relatively healthy life, we will probably move into a house on a flat section, if not an age-care facility, at some point. And when the time comes, never mind the nightmare of all the stuff we own, how much will it cost to hire someone to make sense of all this outside mess? Oh, this has kept me awake many, many nights. Then I dream of spontaneous combustion and try to go back to sleep.

* * * * *

Lest you think I'm all grumpy and depressed, that's just part of the time. Some days I have enjoyed showing off small sections my winter/spring garden. Before the weeds came back with vengeance. :-D Here are some. 
Oh, I also killed our favorite lime tree by overenthusiastically getting rid of mold on the deck about a meter away. Since late October, this has been a 30cm stick out of the ground. On the other hand, mold returns when it rains. 


Sunday, July 23, 2023

It's Just One Thing After Another

You might think I live carelessly, and I don't blame you if you do. I wonder about it myself. 
I damaged my eyeglasses; I went outside and got two night's worth of firewood as I usually do, came inside and opened the wood burner to feed a couple, and the sudden temperature change did something to the layers of the lenses. The world has been blurred for the couple of weeks; it's a little like how movies and music films portray psychedelia, especially from the 60s, if you know what those look like. First time in 50 years of glasses and 26 years in this house and wood burner. I tried some of the old pairs in the meantime, but the blurred new ones (one year old) fits best, and the trusted optometrist said I could keep wearing them, so here I am, popping paracetamols like candy. (Not really, just two a day.) 
I think my eyes and brain are on overdrive trying to cope with this new... psychedelic world. I can do things in the kitchen, but slower, and I have to take breaks to close my eyes often. I try an older pair now and then, but that's probably making things worse. I've tried to read up on tied (unit) weaves, but quickly ran out of patience the first couple of times. I haven't tried sample weaving, but I can't cope with the idea of handling 60/2 cottons. I haven't ventured out to weed yet, but if all I need to settle myself down in one place, look down and pull, I can manage, couldn't I? Pruning trees are out of question, as are tasks I have to look both far and near in quick succession. At the very least, I should get off the computer, but I haven't always managed that.

Life seems just one thing after another. The lenses come from China, and before Covid they took a couple of weeks to arrive, but this last pair didn't arrive and optometrist re-ordered either the lenses or frames from the US, and I had to wait two months. If your eyes are so bad you're legally blind without glasses in some jurisdictions, (yup, that's me,) that's a long time, and I feel entitled to be a little melodramatic. 

At the start of last week, for three days I had pretty bad hay fever symptoms, but it's been cold for a few days and it stopped, for now. I'm feeling terribly difficult to be happy or enthusiastic or not-that-old, folks. Do send me some good thoughts!

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Another Loom Update

I posted almost exactly this on my FB page on Saturday:

"With the warp on the big loom currently not under tension, we threw an old bed sheet over it and continued our investigation. Ben first checked every connection beyond the foot pedal, and found nothing clogging the tubes and joints. He them bypassed the shaft-dropping piston, and the shafts lifted as usual but dropped with a big thump. I could have easily finished weaving the warp that way, but not satisfied, he took off the offending piston, and pumped it manually half a dozen times, loosened and tightened every screw on it, and voila, the air stopped leaking. 
"We don't know how it became clogged in the first place, and we don't know if this is a long-term fix, but it's back to normal for now, confirming our hunch the problem was something akin to my joints - move it a few times and it'll go back to "normal" operation.

"I admit, we'll be holding our breaths. There were a few things that happened in the 21 years we've had this loom, most/all of which I'd forgotten since Ben usually fixed them in a minute or an hour. He had fun learning about how each part operates in more detail, the food pedal in particular. But if it happens again, it's manual pumping first, then to have the piston serviced or replaced. Stay tuned! (He got a bottle of Highland Park 12 year old out of the operation.)"
So you'd think I'm jumping up and down with joy, sampling my heart out, but not just yet. Thinking about and creating sample drafts, (many of which I hope will be good enough to use in proper pieces later,) is taking a very long time, even though they were never a big deal on the table loom. I'm relearning the logic of what I did more instinctively/visually before. The one good thing I discovered is, I can use an "active pen" on Fiberworks with this laptop, (one of those pens you touch the screen with,) which speeds up the filling of the squares so much. (Undoing/deleting a square still has to be done the old way, though. :-D) Here's an example: 
None of the colors are accurate, as is the threading, (because both were done randomly,) and the thickness of green pattern weft is wrong. But I am entering every pattern shed by said spiffy pen, line by line. No wonder, eh.
I'm still working on the post about what I mean by tied weave, a little different from the normal tied weaves as far as I understand, but the tied weave jargon is making it confusing, and I keep changing the way I explain things. But I promise you, it is coming, if you are interested. So... more to come.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Loom Update

No, still not about tied weaves, but about the loom. But it's not all bad. 
In all we went to the air compressor (and other industrial machines) shop four time over two and a half weeks. I spoke with the specialist engineer, who told me there was clogging somewhere beyond the foot pedal, i.e. with the mechanism controlling the lift/drop of the shafts, and air traveled back to the pedal looking for an outlet. Ben spent some hours cleaning, plodding, blowing into, etc. He replaced the pressure gauge, "serviced" the compressor, (this was also done by the pro 13 months ago,) got rid of condensation in the tank big time, and confirmed there was no problem from the compressor to the foot pedal. There is still a dodgy valve where tank connects to the hose(?), but the latter is permanently, not requiring valve action, so we left it as is. 
Ben then determined the problem is somewhere around the "down/drop" piston, but he couldn't access it easily with the warp already on, so we shall investigate after I weave this warp.   

The air appears to leaks at a similar rate to when the leak was first discovered, but we've increased the pressure, so the shafts lift marginally faster, (super slowly for a functioning loom at the best of times), but drops slowly enough I could almost put the kettle on between picks. I'm not 100% if all the required shafts lift all the time, either. If I step on the pedal before all the shafts have completely dropped, sometimes the same/previous shafts go up, sometimes the next, so I'm keeping an eye on the shafts as much as on the web as I weave, which isn't too bad with the somewhat predictable tied weave, in comparison to say a fussy twill. As well, this project requires carefully thinking of weft colors at every step, so compared to a swish-swish one-shuttle weave, the speed is annoying.
Earlier in the week I reached the high/low point of hair-pulling agitation. Opportunely Ben found a bunch of card stock about to be discarded at work, so I started making more paper bobbins. I prefer gray, but these are white, and slightly stiffer than my usual, so they're harder on the fingers, but good distraction. Then I found more recyclable material at home, tabbed dividers in old ring binders; at this rate I'll never run out of paper bobbins, but I do go through them quickly, including winding off unused wefts after a project, so... bring it!
I also wound some pattern wefts, in the blue-green/green/yel-green/yellow/orange/red range. I'm not ignoring the purples/blues, but this is enough to start sampling and maybe one piece. Because this is the first time I'm weaving irregular tied weave on the big loom, I want to experiment with a broad range of issues/possibilities, so I'm sampling to my heart's content, and if the loom proves too dodgy, I'm OK if I don't get a proper piece off of this warp. 
I was winding the bobbins upstairs because that's where my cotton cones are, fuming about the state of the loom. Then I noticed there is a tied-weave warp ready to be woven at any time not too far from me. I am ever so one-track-minded.
With the loom ready, I needed some tabby wefts. (I rewound all the unused ones on the new white bobbins, so I see right away if something is a 2/60 tabby weft, not 2/20 pattern. The thread sizes are not hard to distinguish, but this way it's instant.) Lacking in some darker/saturated wefts, I wound a few more. 
And this is the start of sample, this one with white pattern weft to map where/how the pattern wefts. I threaded in undulating twill on shafts 6-16 for the most part, but there is a small section of network twill towards the right. Because the pattern wefts are threaded at random, this is how I learn/see for the first time where they sit. The slight color change reflects the change in the tabby weft, except the very last bit where I ran out of white and used a yellow pattern weft. The next portion will be woven with a black pattern weft, in a similar fashion, for more mapping. 
I am weaving standing up on a footstool Ben built me long ago for my office chair. The height happened to be perfect, but for weaving, I prefer wider so I can move around. The pedal needs lowering, but I can't tell how much. I like weaving standing up because I have a broader view of the web, and feel as though I can weave wider pieces more comfortably. I can also see exactly which shafts are up. With the current setup, however, I'm not "walking" the treadling/pedaling, and hope to remedy it when Ben works out the footstool and pedal height.

Alright, extra credit to observant readers who spotted the dent I sleyed 14 rather than the usual 7 ends.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Not Happening

On the whole, we've been having a settled, lovely autumn/winter conducive to cool-weather gardening, with occasional rain, (far fewer than forecast,) for weaving, interspersed with "I just can't be bothered" days. I finished threading the tied weave warp on June 2, finished sleying and sorting out the tension, etc., for sampling on June 7, but haven't started, because...
After 21 years of service, the air compressor setup is causing problems. At first it looked like air leak from where the compressor air enters the foot pedal, *blue cord,) so we remedied that; and because the old ones were plastic, replaced plugs for the unused holes with spiffy new metal ones. But it still leaked, so we left the pedal at the specialist, who rang to say there's nothing wrong with the pedal itself but something-something is leaking? causing pressure to build up inside the pedal, causing it to leak. Wha??
The logic didn't make sense to Ben, either, so the ideal scenario is for him to talk to this Malcolm guy, but Ben's been super busy at work and we've been able to work on my problem about once a week, and Malcolm works part time. Incidentally, Ben found the pressure meter and a valve on the compressor plug have died as well, so those have been/will be replaced. It'd be hilarious?? if this valve business solves the whole leak problem,  but I'm not counting on it... It's starting to get depressing, two weeks of putting sampling on hold while we rush to the specialist to get unsatisfactory results; we're heading there for the third time soon. 
We were/are scheduled to have rain off and on all week, so I anticipated a happy, colorful week. I haven't had peace of mind to even think of weft colors or drafts, but that's on me.
I was going to write about what kind of a modified tied weave I'm going to use on this project, but this post is now long enough, so I'll stop here. I'll start a new one about the weave structure.


Saturday, May 20, 2023

Why Don't I Draw? / On Color-Experiment-Art-Therapy

I've been gazing at the works of Spanish artist Jesus Cisneros several times a day, because I am yearning to draw little whimsical sketches, a little every day, and color them in, but I have that usual mental block when it comes to drawing. Last year's Bard drawing worked because I was only "copying" the same painting. A few years ago, before I embarked on Will, I had a Matisse and a Modigliani portraits phase, which I enjoyed very much; I've thought of revisiting Matisse, but haven't actually done any. 
I wish I could draw freely subjects I like: domestic scenes, interiors, kitchen scenes, or kitchen/weaving/sawing/art tools and supplies, or cakes and pastries and tea cups on tables. It's not that I've never tried - I had a capsicum-drawing phase late last century, but I was never happy with them so it didn't last. The funny thing is, and now I know this painfully well, that some of the "baddest" drawings are what I like best later, while "OK" ones often turn out boring. So I'll be happier if I did a bunch of bad drawing now, to perhaps color them in later and self-congratulate, or cut them in shapes to paste, or scan/copy and manipulate. Still, long evenings are lovely; at least I have been indulging in befriending watercolor and brushes.

The original plan was to make collage fodder for my journal (and other) swaps. It so happens I've been out in the garden most days, and by the time I finish dinner I'm exhausted; these "no thinking" stuff on paper also turned out to be an antidote, stopping the incessant replay of "tomorrow's garden jobs" at all hours. 
Because I'm working under artificial light, colors look duller while I work, and I'm surprised/shocked how bright and saturated some look the next morning. Gradually "intention" started to creep in. Most sheets, I work over two nights, wash, and/or majority of elements going in the first night, and editing the second. I posted a couple to the FB journal swap group page, and friends' comments steer me in different directions. Here are some examples from the last ten days. 
I needed saturated but nuanced yellow sheets. This was #3, where I incorporated more yellow greens and oranges; originally they were to be covered by yellows, leaving just nuances rather than the original colors, but I liked the orange bloom so much I stopped working.
Then I concentrated on the bloom, and made this very pale sheet. I knew this would come handy in collage, but I felt ambivalent about its done-ness.
After several yellow-all-over sheets, I decided to "diversify" one night. Truth be told, I was running out of some yellows, oranges and greens, so I used some colors I have plenty of, ergo the pink.
The top sheet I made up one evening, and worked on some more the second. The bottom sheet is the same as the bottom sheet in the previous picture, with additional colors. The first layer on this sheet was so very saturated I had to add new colors rather dry and lightly, or they became mixed with the bottom layers almost instantly. Another good swap friend Tess commented it looked "shiney", which in turn made me think about saturation.
So the next two evenings I thought about saturation. The first sheet, you can see I tried layers, so even in the too-muchness, there are nice nuances. The bottom one, I don't know what I was thinking, really. I associate this degree of saturation with circuses and carnivals, totally not to what I intended to make, but they will work cut up and pasted in journals, I think. But all was not lost.
Here are some nice layers from the top sheet, worked over two or perhaps three nights.
The bottom sheet starting to look so loud, I made an attempt at some bloom. But the most surprising was the top right kite-shape; although with a mix of good colors, it looked totally blurred and unfocused, and I revisited over and over to see how I could improve it, or if it was better left with "less". In the end, I had a  dark green in my brush hovering over the entire sheet looking for nice home, and inside the kite was the only "vacancy" I found. And I'm so glad I did, because it finally brought a visual focus, a tightness to the whole shape. Phew! 
Sorry this one is blurred, but it best represents how watery the latest attempt is. Exhausted by the two  loud piece, I've returned to layers and layers of wash plus some colors, on top of the bloom sheet, second from the top picture. This is after one or two nights, and probably unfinished, but some show breathtaking delicacy I hesitate to ruin. I may revisit, I may "touch up" some, I may leave them as they are, in which case I'll show you up close later. But a good contemplation on less vs more, and the opposite of what happened to the kite shape above. I'll start a new sheet, and just stare and stare at this while I work on that.  
In journal swaps, we are encouraged to, and most folks enthusiastically, decorate the envelopes, too. I've been a slackest member in that regard, so I brought out my lino and woodblock and printed out a bunch of envelopes. My main goal was to improve my inking and print skills. The beauty of these swaps, though, is if I print badly, (or even well,) I can add elements so the (bad) print job recedes into the background. (Also at the bottom are some of the yellow collage material.)
I particularly liked the red print on red paper, a new swap with one of my steadiest swap mate Fran, on the subject of Covid/Lockdown. Of the two designs, I like the top one better, although even for me they are so similar I have to look for the fish or the fin in the middle to see which is which. 
I still want to draw simple scenes/things, but for now I'm happy with these experiments; I even sense there may be a couple of new woodcuts/linos coming up. And with prints, it's the carving I enjoy, so I'm not worried if they turn out to be more of the same.

I also think I'm OK to thread the big loom, although still not sure about the tiny camping/fishing seat; I'm thinking of kneeling on inflatable rubber cushions, (think Swiss balls, but in the size/shape of cushions.) I can't stop visualizing my weaving that warp!  I just have to rethink the time I spend cooking, weeding and weaving.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Of Weeds and Hips

There has been no weaving or weaving-related activities taking place, due to my self-inflicted hip problem earlier, and the arrival of the brisk season plus a new toy called the Green Bin. This is another random, meandering post. (In great details, nevertheless; goodness, I'm long-winded!)
The days are finally cooling down, and I am in my element weeding for a few hours in the afternoons, and doing light-hearted things in the hours after dinner watching and not watching whatever is streaming on the computer. Oh, I love the cooler season! The next couple of months are my favorite time of the year. 
Autumn arrived very late this year, and this might be just a cold spell and we may return to the lukewarm temperatures again. The big maple still has 20-25% of the leaves and cherry hasn't started falling yet. The hills in the distance had its first snowfall just this week. 
This is what is known as the Green Bin; we opted for the 240L rather than 120L; and we can throw in most garden waste up to 70kg, (no soil, no flax leaves,) haul it up the steep driveway to the main road, and the rubbish will be taken away every other Monday for only $5.35/fortnight. I may have been aware of this service, I can't remember, but Esther recommended and we slow-jumped on the idea. Weeding constantly, steadily, incrementally, and have it taken away regularly suits the chances in my old body/head/stamina, rather than ordering a huge skip once a year and having to load it up within the week. (For that, we save a year's worth of garden rubbish in about a dozen wool bags, and some compost. One year we had too much and picked out bad roots, bulbs, and vines, bag by bag, but most years we just chuck them all out.) 
When it arrived, at 7.07AM a week ago Friday, the 240L bin looked bottomless, but this week, after a fortnight of rain, I weeded for eight hours over two afternoons, and filled 2/3 of the bin with very wet weeds, which is about the maximum weight Ben can manage up the driveway. I'm a little disappointed because I was hoping for... maybe twice as much at least. While discussing the size of the bin to order, size-wise, Ben imagined we could load it up on the back of the Pajero, but it's too wide to fit and too heavy to lift. We haven't experimented with dragging it up the driveway, yet. :-D At roughly $5.35/fortnight, it's still a great incentive for me to get outside on a regular basis. And maybe it's a good thing it doesn't require 80 hours to fill the whole thing. And the rest will go into the wool bags to supplement the bin in weeks we don't have enough, or to let compost and to deal with maybe this summer.

It's crushing to contemplate the magnitude of our mess, though sadly this is nothing new, us being the great indoors people. But once I'm outside, I am able to concentrate on the weed in front of me most of the time, and the brisk air and birds lift my spirits. When someone else's power tools come out, I just raise the volume of my audiobook. There is one tui that has been around for months now, and doesn't seem to be too afraid of us. Sadly the kowhai doesn't have a lot of flowers this year, again, so I hope he gets to have the tree to himself. 

Oh, the self-inflicted hip problem. One Monday I woke up and I had sharp pains on my right hip and I couldn't put any weight on it. I didn't recall sleeping in a weird position, I didn't fall off the bed, I wasn't sure how I got it. By Tuesday afternoon, I realized I am fine standing up, and it suddenly dawned on my I had the same problem some years ago, caused by my not sitting straight. Because I'm so short there's been only one chair in my life I could sit on comfortably. (Well, actually, a few, they being my parents' dining set, with one remaining in Mom's apartment until the last days in 2019. If it could have been taken apart, I would have brought it home; I even contemplated sawing a few places; and it wasn't ugly!) You can imagine in New Zealand my problem is worse. I find myself sitting with my weight on one side or another, and it's worse when I sit on the floor, which I do often because chairs are so uncomfortable, but I prop up the same side, (it must be the left?) with a cushion for some reason.

Last time it took months to remedy, ending up in the purchase of a nice-looking but not exactly comfortable rocker/recliner, but this time I stayed standing up most of the day for a few days, (and boy, I got a lot of cooking done, all the ironing, and even some print work!) and the pain went away by the end of the week. I'm dying to go downstairs to keep threading the tied-weave, but that's very problematic as I sit on a tiny folding camping/fishing thing, and even at normal times I have to quit after a couple of hours because my lower limbs go all funny. I am now considering different ways of sitting on the floor, or a stack of books, for that.

Meanwhile, this hay-fever-related problem isn't going away, and we look set for a very warm winter, so... life is never boring.

Monday, May 1, 2023

The April that Was

I gave myself a week to take care of my Letter Journal bottleneck, to various results. This is an unfinished spread, (i.e. someone else has to work on it to "complete" and sign it off,) but my favorite; I worked on this the week leading up to the Bard's 459th and the First Folio's 400th, in a swap with my usual friends. This steady group produce very layered, always surprising, and even if difficult at the time, always, always rewarding collaborative results. 
I got a little adventurous and joined another swap with not my usual friends also; this is always a gamble. I struggled with different view on simple/layered, collaborative/not, and communicative/not, but I survived, finishing my bits early the following week and now await mine to return. I had a bunch of little life stuff that needed attention, also had a mild cold, so the rest of the week was a write off. Except life's little stuff included a good crop of feijoas, (still ongoing,) and making sorbet every few days.
I had a doctor's appointment, not for anything specific, but for an annual overview to get my annual blood test organized. Since we had time, (since my latest "ailment", the shoulder problem, having magically disappeared,) Dr sue and I discussed the weird effect of hay fever on my face/eyes, to which she said some people some years need HF meds year round in NZ, and face cream for skin sensitivity and hot compress for the eyes were what she would have prescribed, short of a cortisone cream. I also brought up my cognitive problems, for which she set up a short assessment. 
Today I had said short assessment, which I aced 30/30, but Nurse Jo and I discussed age-appropriate decline, but what specifically are they in my case?? I said my having been healthy most of my life makes me notice every little defect, and I sometimes don't know which ones to ignore and which ones to worry about, or for how long. At any rate we're going to meet in six months if there are noticeable changes. One of the questions, though, was today's day of the week and date/month/year, and I have a hard time saying it the NZ way, (d/m/y), still prefer either the US (m/d/y) or Japanese (y/m/d), and I always have to think a bit. But lucky I had to do a lot of pension-related paperwork earlier in the year, I know it's 2023 for sure, because I got a little confused about the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 before that, and I still think in terms of  "which lock down".

There is one aspect that bothers me more than most, and that's my not being able to find things. Like this morning when I cut some rosemary to drop off at friends' and I put down the secateurs, somewhere I would have to walk passed later, just long enough to tie all the branches into one big bunch, and loaded in the car, and... I spent 15 minutes looking for it. And to make it easy to find, years ago I painted it very bright orange! It's worse when I know I'll need something later and put it in a "special place" - that is a guarantee I won't be able to find it. I am seriously considering carrying a small notebook and a pen or a pencil around my neck in my house, because I can get quite angry at myself wasting so much time and then waste time being angry or disgusted. Dear me!
There is no question I need to exercise more, though; lifetime of obesity, high cholesterol since middle age, (what exactly is the definition of middle age anyway?) and recent cognitive issues can all be helped/delayed greatly, and since I don't like gyms and swimming but don't mind walking, I just need to get my unsmall butt in gear pronto, with or without Ben. And it's nice we're heading into the cold season, because it's nice walking in the brisk air.
We had our 33rd anniversary on Friday. Ben had the day off, but we had errands, groceries shopping, and my doctor's appointment, so that evening we indulged in my favorite food group, cold cuts of meat, in sandwiches, and leftover soup. On Sunday, however, I attempted Ben's favorite cake, angel food cake, only for the second time in my life. It was Mom's favorite to bake when we lived in Minneapolis, (and later Tucson,) in the early 60s and I had until a few years ago her giant angel food cake tin with three little fingers to stand it upside down, but in one of our "seriously low carb" phases, I gave it away. Looking for some depth, I couldn't find any metal tins, but the portion was perfect for splitting into two in these two vessels. That CorningWare is also Mom's from the 60s, although in the last few years I broke the lid. I knew it would still be useful. The recipe itself isn't difficult, I just needed a way to stand it on its head. In future, I know to halve the recipe to make one small cake, (and quarter the sugar;) I use the recipe from my copy of 1969 Betty Crocker, so there is a good chance Mom's recipe was the same, or very similar. Although I don't recall her having her own Betty Crocker, we did have a tour of General Mills; I vaguely remember it.  

Weaving-wise, I'm suspending the clasped weft project; I'm probably not going to use the warp I showed you in the last post for that purpose, but returning to threading my tied weave warp.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Moving On

On Monday, I thought I'd be productive and augment/widen this warp, wind it, and even thread it for another clasped weft. Except I'd forgotten I had the dark colors in the center of the warp, not on one side, and that felt like a game-changer for the purpose.

Because I missed the big birthday anyway, (not only the giving-of-the-pressie, but we both had reaction to our third Covid Booster,) there is no reason I need to rush this one. I started thinking: "What is it I want to make?" OK, before that, what do I think when planning/weaving a clasped weft piece? 

1) First and foremost, I notice hues and their interplay in most textiles, but with clasped weft, weft colors, (why monochromatic felt so new to me;) hues, values, their relationships, balance/proportion.  
2) Second, obviously the shapes of/lines dividing the two/different weft areas, (which monochromatic wefts bring to the fore;) included are balance/proportion, balance/contrast, repetition, even moods like pointy, rounded, elongated, etc., should I/viewer look for any. 

3) Then there is the underlying weave structure, which appear at times vividly, and other times not so well behind the "busyness" of the above two elements. But I'm always terribly into interesting structures/patterns, avoiding plain weave where I can, even if this hampers the precision of shapes/lines possible with clasped weft on plain weave. 
One thing I noticed on the Navy/Orange piece, is where threading moves quickly, e.g. 1-2-3-4, there are vertical stripes in the finished piece which weren't evident while weaving; where there were some floats, e.g. 1-1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4, the warps are covered better and no stripes appeared. This also relates to 4). This piece was woven 20EPI for cushynesss; I may revert to 18EPI but I'm not sure that will solve the problem. All three pieces have left home now and in the samples, these strips are not obvious to invisible. 
These were woven on four shafts, so the complexity of background pattern is limited.

4) And lastly, (that I can think of at this moment,) there is the warp hues/values. They are not as obvious or as consequential as I think I would like them to be, but if they are too manifest, they will distract from the main event, the 1) and 2) above. Hues/values obviously influence the finished look, i.e making the dark end darker and the light end lighter in the first two pieces of the previous monochromatic warp; actually, the navy in the third piece looked very nice against black, too. But it can make the overall picture murkier, even messy. Have a look at pieces I wove on a warp I made at the same time as the one I'm about to. See the dark bits in the middle? I'm not crazy about that. And the more I think about it, the closer the warp hues/values should be linked to background pattern. 
For now my gut feeling is, because I think this warp is pretty, but perhaps not as clasped weft background, perhaps I shouldn't make a clasped-weft-specific warp, and use this to have a pattern-focus towards the center as well. OR, is this a more challenging challenge?

Duty to my swap mates notwithstanding, this week I thought a bit of color play might yield fresh insight, so I'm doing small mixed media. Of course there is the fact I like mulling over weavy-thinky things. But then I can't get away from my Senior Brain worries my skills and abilities are only going further downhill, and the only way I can think of to combat that is more weaving. (Note to self: this did not happen to Mom until she was well into her 80s!) I'm not pessimistic. I'll go downstairs and continue to thread tied-weave; I can't wait to start sampling that one. I'll keep thinking about this warp as well as clasped weft, and try to transfer my head-picture onto something on the looms. 
I must also start the cool season weeding. I had a 2-week reprieve from that weird hey-fever/face/eye thing in February; it came back in March with the autumn wind; but we've had rain in April, and the wind isn't as fierce, so it's not as bad. Autumn came suddenly this year. Liquid maple turned from green to dark purple overnight, skipping all the lovely colors in between, I might have already told you, but still holding tight to the branches. It's actually been a pretty autumn, pleasant, and not cold like some years after the initial chill. There is oh-so-much to clean at our place, inside and out; annual doc appt at the end of the month; so many interesting books to read; I've no time for sulking!

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Monochromatic Cashmere Warp Pieces Three and Four

In short, this piece was a (giant) flop, because of the erratic beating. What's worse, I was unaware of it while weaving, and only saw how bad it was when the remainder of the warp came off the loom. And it took me over a week to come to terms with it. But more on that later.
I had another intended giftee for the third piece. This person, with a big birthday coming up, often surprises with bold colors and patterns in their leisure wear. I wanted to weave in that spirit. First I re-rethreaded to bring in more movement, (middle sample,) but I wasn't successful, so I re-rethreaded, (right sample,) which I liked better. 
I struggled with the colors, too, but finding a recent photo of the giftee's new-to-me pants, I tried navy and oranges, seen at the top of the far right sample. The very top combination would have been nearest to the photograph, but they are 26/2, which would have taken longer to weave but also change the lines I've gotten used to weaving with 20/2. I could have gone either way, with the orange, (second from top), or a somewhat toned-down but closer-to-the-photo burnt orange, (third), but Ben and I thought bolder would be better. The 20/2 navy is my absolute favorite, a color I thought I might use for myself one day, but much better to weave a special pressie for a special person!
Introducing hues to this warp at first disappointed me when the delicate interplay of the achromatic yarns was taken over by the colors demanding my attention. But gradually their boldness allowed me to get a little adventurous with shapes.This portion felt particularly fresh in spite of the treadling mistake. (This photo shows the colors pretty accurately.) 
However, I must beat harder when I'm excited about what I see on the loom; this very section caused the biggest disappointment in the beat department. Witness how relaxed I felt after the "combs" and went back to the gappy beating I aimed for to produce an airier final texture. 
Clasped-weft, particularly in twill, presents a unique problem in how much give to allow where the two wefts clasp. The loops full enough in the washing to not present a problem, but in succession, sometimes the shapes can look stitched together. (Again, accurate colors.)
In rethreading, I brought back longer floats; this allows "islands" of colors depending on the clasp position. This bothered me while weaving, but in a finished piece, it's not all bad. Longer floats, though, change how precisely lines/shapes can be controlled, which is why tapestry is (usually?) woven in plain weave. I'm not sure if this is important for my purposes, or if I prefer the weave pattern to be interesting as well. (Well, of course, the latter!!)
The fourth, warp-end swatch, was woven with Mom's oddball leftover; super fat and glossy. I can't even guess the size of the yarn but something I consider a knitting yarn, with plenty of silk, not as airy as 100% cashmere after finished. Throughout, I was struggling with the white warps' tension - here I was just in a rush to finish the warp.
The next warp on the four-shaft will be the left one, although as with this monochrome warp, I will have to add a couple of inches, probably on the dark end, to weave wider pieces than I planned when I made the warp. Most colors in it are not bold, but I'll leave that to the wefts, with warp colors adding interest rather than clashing. 
Now to the real issue with the third piece. I am sick of each and every project being a gamble on how alert I can stay to all aspects of weaving as I work. It's hardly as if I'm slacking off and dismissing problems while I work, but I've always had a one-track mind; I have problems paying attention to multiple things simultaneously; treadling, beating, selvedge, draw-in...

I've observed some older weavers' skills or tenacity deteriorate, although many just stay the course and keep weaving beautifully and skillfully. (How dare they!) I've said many times I've always been technically weak, but I'm having to face the "is my best days over" too often. It's bad for my self-esteem, even with my usual compartmentalizing and seeing objectively matters relating to weaving. 
At the not-so-back of my mind is when, a few years ago, a bad cashmere warp made me suddenly stop weaving altogether, not even consciously, for maybe a year and a half. I didn't know if I would ever get back to it, I didn't care, I just walked away for a time, and I didn't feel guilty about it. Long-time readers would know how absolutely unusual that is.

I want to avoid that; the not weaving. I can only hope the best remedy is to keep weaving. At least if I keep weaving, there is a higher probability I'll make something nice, in comparison to not weaving. Had I had the presence of mind, I might have put on another warp and worked right through in time to finish another scarf. This warp came off the loom nine days ago, so it's not as if it was completely impossible.
In retrospect, I knew this was a no-goer the moment I laid the remainder of the warp on the floor that evening. Because I didn't have a genuine debate as to the worth of this piece; it was more a brain-freeze, a weaver-in-the-headlights week. I couldn't, or didn't, gauge how bad this was, nor think of a remedy. Instead, I ignored it, then finally wet-finished it, dried it, then moved it around the living room without really looking at it or touching it.

If there was anything good about this piece and the last week, I'm thankful it was only a nine-day brain-freeze, that since last night I see my next steps clearly. And in view of my Senior Brain, at least the steps of setting up the loom is among the tasks that can keep me focused and I enjoy. 
So, dear friends, onwards! (And Happy Birthday to Mr Fancypants!)