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!)

Monday, April 3, 2023

It's Official

Exactly a week ago, I got a letter summoning me to jury duty in the morning of May 15. It would have been my third time; in 1998 I got summoned twice in quick succession, and I went on the appointed mornings, but I was never picked. Ben also got summoned some years later, also twice within a few months, and he even served in a domestic violence case, but it was easy because the culprit admitted to the deeds. 

Japan didn't have jury system between 1943-2009, i.e. when I was growing up. (Since 2009 they've had a quasi-jury system where "lay judges" hear cases alongside professional ones, but I don't know anything beyond that.) Watching the telly and reading the newspaper, I grew up thinking jury system is another example of a shiny Western thing, democratic and aspirational, but I personally never wanted to participate. 
I've always seen the world in black and white, and whosoever claimed to see both sides, or the middle, were noncommittal, either from lack of conviction or the will to study an issue. I was so adamant it took time to reconcile with the fact I was starting to see gray areas in my "old age" (mid-40s??), and was noncommittal on sometimes. Totally not suitable to take part in deciding someone else's predicament. 
More recently, as the world seem to move faster, so much information being readily available, I became less engaged from the general goings on, and more easily swayed, relying on persons who I believe know better. I also see how little I know of most anything, and I've become less confident.
Then there are other, "real" considerations: my body aches more/often; my hearing is considerable worse; my comprehension slower and incomplete, if not misdirected; one hip is semi-permanently dodgy and I can't sit in the same position for long; I can't lift my right shoulder in a certain angle; my muscles don't stretch as easily and can't reach the "high" shelves which didn't use to be "high"; the newly acquired face/eye problem I thought was just temporary this summer may now be a recurring thing. 
Once in a while, nine times since the 2020 Lockdown, I've had instances of thorough confusion about mundane things I usually know/do without thinking, the sort of things I read about associated with dementia. Worse, while being confused, I'm fully aware it's the sort of thing I don't have usually have to think about. My attention and endurance are measured in nano-seconds. As for the forgetting, I've arrived at a place where some of it doesn't appear so bad, because I'm not so angry or embarrassed about forgetting so much so soon. 
And while not all of this relates to jury duty, I'm not sure how outdated my values are in comparison to the social norm/common sense. I genuinely don't feel comfortable being responsible for someone else's predicament, when I have enough problem deciding things for myself.
Esther thinks older generations' opinions are just as important in a jury, and I agree in general, but I'm going to leave it to healthier, more confident 65s and over for this particular task; I'm declining all participation. (There is also provision for Covid-related issues, as I imagine most every other jurisdictions.) 

You might have guessed; I'm 65 today. Mom has said in the last decade of two, "insert_my_age is nothing, wait until you're insert_her_age!" But it's is not a competition, and today I am the oldest I've been in my life. Oh, boy, do I try not to say this to folks younger than I! Worse, I've mentioned this a lot here, I'm a heck of a lot less fitter than she was at this age, and looking around I've been aging faster than folks of the vintage. Which is a little disappointing because until my early 50s, I looked much younger than my chronological years.
I imagine my life getting even smaller each year. I'll get further left behind by technology if/when Ben looses interest; I've noticed since smart phones he's not interested in all technology, just some. I imagine weaving less and slower and less accurately, but I'm also less worried about speed and have time for the fussier. Sometimes. The number of things I wished I could/would do will increase; I'll finish reading fewer books; I'll be longer-winded, repeat myself more, and ask others to repeat and speak up even more; annoy more, add value to less. And, yeah, I'll probably be more acerbic, rather than mellowing, and less self-aware. And fat.

I am not self-pitying, not grumpy, but realistic. Later today I'll keep weaving a significant-birthday present for someone else. And I'll give my 29385604th try making a pie crust, which has been a bane of my kitchen existence since 16, cranking out Baked Alaskas on ready-made crusts. In the evening, I'll LINE with Mom, opening with my standard joke of the last few decades: "Thanks for your contribution on that auspicious day, Mom!"

Like Ali told me the day before my 60th, I got up, and it's been another day.