Saturday, September 26, 2020

Blurry

 



Voila, slightly blurry photo from under the loom.  I was trying to get a close up and must have ever so slightly moved the ipad as I took the photo.

It is very much in the 'raw' as it is still on the loom and the reed marks plainly visible.  Once into the water to be wet finished, those thin black lines will resolve.

The colours are the ones I kind of mulled over using for a rather long time, then threw caution to the wind and went with them anyway.  I think they are going to be fine.  Fine enough that I'm not changing the weft colour and will use up the last of the black 2/16 cotton, which I estimate to be about 14 to 15 towels on this 18 towel warp.  

But 'slightly blurry' is a pretty accurate description of my day yesterday.  Best laid plans and all.

I had a 'bad' night and slept 'in'.  Then when I went to fire up the laptop I was confronted with a vanished validation code for Fiberworks.  Then when I got the code (thanks to Bob and his speedy customer service), my liftplan had also vaporized.  Fortunately I had worked out the details on the desktop so was able to recover the file and finally begin weaving.

And then I was fighting with sheds that were nasty.  What the heck now?

Turns out I'd run the warp up and over the tension rail and that 3" difference in path made a huge difference in how the shed opened.  Fortunately the rail is only held on with a couple of bolts, but it still took time and added frustration to a day that had already had enough obstacles already.

In the end, once everything was finally working, I did get one towel woven.  But I had aimed for two, so I did feel somewhat annoyed about how the day had played out.

However, a day is rarely 100% awful (yes, I know, some of them are) and the silver linings I can look to are finishing my library book, and a nice visit with a friend.

We talked about covid and the precautions we each are taking.  She is limiting her interactions by working from home and keeping her bubble very small. 

Doug and I are keeping our bubble small, visiting with physical distance, wearing masks when we do have to go out.

My friend and I don't often get a chance to visit, and with winter approaching we talked about how we can make that happen.

I suggested that we can go down to the studio where we can maintain distance but if either of us shows any kind of symptoms we will visit virtually.

While a Zoom or Skype call isn't the same as in person, it is preferable right now.  Our health officers are beginning to get Very Concerned about people going to bars, pubs, collecting in large groups.  It won't kill us to stay at home and visit safely.  Unfortunately meeting at large gatherings could very easily turn into covid hot spots.

When I learned about the 1918 influenza pandemic, I shook my head at the people who refused to wear a mask or insisted on attending large public gatherings.  

Seems like humans as a species still aren't learning much from history.

The numbers for covid continue to climb.  Almost as though it was growing virally.  (Yes, that's a pun, I know covid IS IN FACT a virus!)

Stay home if you can.  Wear a mask and maintain safe distance if you need to go out.  Keep your social bubble small and pay attention to symptoms and stay home if you have any.  Now is not the time to spread colds or flu, which are also both viruses.


Friday, September 25, 2020

Tradition

 



As was rightly pointed out, what has been traditionally accepted can be changed.

We are exposed to something - like a 'traditional' craft and tend to follow along with what is the 'norm'.  So for me, bobbin lace has always been fine work (in the respect of using fine threads).  This quality of cloth was appealing to me, in no small part because I tend to weave with what are traditionally (in weaving) considered fine threads.  Bobbin lace took 'fine' to a whole new level!

When I started making bobbin lace in 1995, lace makers were still primarily using white, mostly linen, sometimes cotton, more rarely silk threads.  As the 1990s rolled into the new century, more and more lace makers began incorporating coloured threads into their lace, which I thought was an excellent move.  Because I had a lot of 2/20 mercerized cotton in my weaving stash, I jumped into working with colour immediately.

I watched lace makers come to grips with how colour moved through the lace, noted when more and more of them began to use colour in untraditional ways.  Which ones 'worked' and which ones didn't.

But we all have our 'normal' and the comment yesterday broke me out of my mindset of working with very fine threads.

Not that I will stop using them - I have a rather large stash of threads!  My own purchases, gifts from my lace making friend, my mom's quilting threads.  But now I'm thinking about lace making with thicker threads and considering what I can do with the craft in a different way.

I doubt I will come to any conclusions any time soon.  Instead I will probably make a bunch of the little birds that I made a number of years ago.  They are small, don't take up a lot of thread, can be inserted into Xmas cards (not that I send many these days).  I made about 3 dozen and experimented with colours, adding metallic threads and just generally enjoying making a small project.  For some reason that appeals to me right now.

On the other hand, I still have a bunch of other things that are occupying me, such as stash reduction in my weaving yarns, setting up the Sunday Seminars (two now officially booked, two more to let me know date they can do it, several more on my list to contact).

I am working on one more puzzle, then the puzzle board will go away and I'll bring out the spinning.  I have decided on a new item I would like to make with handspun - cowls.  Knitted, not woven.

Yesterday I sleyed the warp and last night just before bed I tied on and wound bobbins.  It looks like there is enough black to weave maybe 15 towels.  The rest of the warp will be woven with the same green as what went into the warp.  I have a bunch of very close to empty tubes of that and would love to get them emptied and the tubes into the recycle bin.

Then there is the blue/purple(ish) yarn, and then perhaps another white warp, then another beige warp.  By the end of those, I don't know that there will be enough selection to do any more tea towels.  Yay?

But all of that said - that takes me into 2021 - nearly.  So with the new year, I will move on to something else other than tea towels.

Speaking of which, the three orders of tea towels I mailed to the US appear to be heading to their recipients safely.  One has already been delivered, one seems to be circling the block, and hopefully the other will soon arrive at its destination, too.

So for anyone in the US willing to chance the USPS being able to deliver a parcel, I will mail to the US, but only with a tracking number - which costs more, but I won't send without it.  Email me with colour preferences and I can send photos of what I have on hand.

And if you've made it this far, thank you for reading.  

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bobbin Lace

 


bobbin lace supplies


Someone moving contacted me about their bobbin lace supplies and asked if the guild would be interested.  Doug went and picked it up and it now resides behind the Leclerc loom until I have the time and energy to go through it.

There is a stack of books that might get sold as a fund raiser, but I suggested to one guild member that between the pillows that were donated and my own, I could potentially do a small (4 students max) class and teach torchon lace.  If we all wore masks, kept good distance, we could make it work.  In the new year.  After our guild sale is over.

I've been saying for years that I want to get back to making lace and this might just be the spur to finally do it.

I've been having a hard time trying to justify making bobbin lace.  It isn't much in vogue these days and is very time consuming.  To make good lace, you really need to use fine threads.

But what constitutes 'good' lace?  What may have been true before, may not be true now.  So while I let the packages of books and supplies sit, I am simmering thoughts of what lace is and what it might be now, in these pandemic times.  

Trim for masks?  Possible.  I suspect we are going to be advised to wear a mask for quite a while and why not make them pretty?

Things change and morph, depending on what is happening at the time.  And adding beauty is never a bad thing.

Plus the advantage to teaching beginners is that I can use nice big fat yarn (as in 2/8 cotton size - that's fat for lace).  

It seems the universe has a way of showing me the direction I should be going - like when weaving kept showing up in my life.  Spinning wheels.  Now bobbin lace.  I sense a trend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Autumn

 


next warp beamed, ready to be threaded

Yesterday was a prep day.  I had cut the last warp off the loom Monday, cut/serged the nine towels and run them through the washing machine.  While the wet finishing was happening I set up the loom for the next warp to be beamed, which meant before I could press the towels I had to finish beaming the warp.

So my order of priority Tuesday was to get that warp onto the beam.

Having very little energy it took a while before I got to the loom, but managed to beam just over half of the warp before stopping for lunch, then finished the beaming afterwards.

Once that was done, the spool rack got rolled out of the way and the press was put back on the work table and the drying rack was set up.

I finished pressing around 4 by which time I was struggling to stay awake, having had a 'bad' night and lacking in sleep.

After an 'early' dinner, I went to the guild where I met with guild members to discuss the Zoom seminar series I'm organizing for 2021, and once I got home from guild spent some time tweaking my contacts.

One of the benefits of having been involved in the weaving community for as long as I have is that I know a lot of people.  If I don't know someone personally, I usually know someone who knows that someone.  

Plus I'm not afraid to ask and willing to take no for an answer.  Because people have reasons for their no that may have nothing whatsoever to do with me.  Life happens and sometimes people might want to but simply cannot.

On the other hand, I am getting 'yes' so far.

There are a number of benefits for doing Zoom.  No, Zoom isn't ideal, but it can be made to work.  I took my attitude from the multitudes of people who are working from home via the internet and decided that it could be made to work for us as textile folk.  When the focus is on learning, we can figure things out.

I'm setting up one hour (ish) presentations with people who have broad ranging experience, particularly with crafts and culture and how they intersect.  (I will look at other approaches, but that is the theme I am working with.)

By scheduling for 10 am on Sunday mornings, I can reach into other time zones, sometimes rather far away, and still make it work for us and for them.

Since no one is travelling, we don't have that expense, plus we can invite people that we could never afford to bring here in person to share their love of textiles with us.

So far I have booked a date in January, and am working with some others to set their dates.  I'm not going to contact a whole pile of folk, then try to juggle scheduling them.  Instead I am contacting just one or two people at at time, getting them set up, then adding one or two more.

This also limits my time on the computer - I kind of had enough of juggling large numbers of people all at once, for the conference.  This is a more 'intimate' process, and so far I am enjoying it very much.

So what do I have so far?  Someone in the other hemisphere, 3 time zones away.  Someone in this hemisphere, also 3 time zones away.  Possibly two people in Sweden, 9 time zones away.  The names of a number of other people, local and distant, whom I will contact as I hear yay or nay from those I have already reached out to.

Once I have the schedule, it will be posted on the guild Facebook page (and probably here).  Guild members will be charged a fee (because we ARE offering to pay these folk), and non guild members can also register for a higher fee (or they could become associate members of our guild and get the guild member rate - just saying).

With Covid being very tricksy, we may be dealing with limitations on travel and meeting in groups for the next couple of years so we have to find a way to continue learning and interacting with others in a positive way.  

During the current political climate, I think it is also timely to focus on how we are more alike than not, and let our love of textiles bind us together.

Stay home if you can, keep 6 feet (2 meters) distant if you go out, wear a mask, wash your hands.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Challenging

 



I started to title this post 'Difficult Decisions' but if we agree that the language we use shapes how we think about things, then 'Challenging' is a more appropriate word, I think.

I am not an intuitive colour chooser.  I have had to work hard to get to the point where I can usually choose a suite of colours that will weave together nicely.  But my yarn stash is going down, and getting enough yarn in appropriate colours is getting (again, changing from 'harder' to) challenging.

These colours are not 'pure' but shifted slightly.  The picture doesn't portray them accurately.  The green and blue are slightly greyed, the peach is more of a pale adobe.  The 'bright' green is probably the most accurate, being only slightly blued, but not greyed.  If you can catch my meaning.

In the end, because I needed four more spools, I added in the brighter green because it is only just two ends on either side of the pale adobe and will act as an accent amidst the more greyed colours.  I will again not keep the colours in strict order but allow them to blend/blur the edges of the stripes because I am quite liking the effect in the other warps I have done this with.

These subtle colour differences will get obscured as the cataracts develop so I am happy to use up this yarn now, while I'm still seeing this kind of difference.

Getting cataracts done is an exercise in patience.  They have to be 'ripe' before they get removed, so they have to get to a certain point of development before you can get on the list to have the surgery done.  And with covid, such surgeries have been delayed even further.

So I am going to go to the optometrist again next year, just so mine can be checked again, not wait for the standard two year check up.

We live in such interesting times and for most of us, as we age the things that start to go 'wrong' can be addressed.

In addition to eye glasses to correct eyesight, I now add hearing aids, and soon cataract surgery.  Not to mention all the other stuff I've had fixed or take medication for.

Science has given us longer lives, not just because we have such devices, but because we have medication, vaccines, understand how diseases are transferred amongst communities and know how to protect ourselves.

I am grateful to modern medicine for making it possible for me to continue to live and weave.

We are now pretty much well into the development of the 'second wave' of covid that was predicted.  In spite of people hitting The Wall, now is not the time to give up but to renew our efforts to prevent covid from entering into our lives, our bubble.

As such I have begun booking speakers for the guild to do Sunday Zoom programs.  Tonight I will present some more suggestions and see how much interest there is.  Our first speaker has been booked for Jan. 17 and I'm hoping for one a month for the first half of 2021.  OTOH, as more and more people get comfortable with Zoom (I had a tutorial on what can be done via Zoom yesterday - amazing!) we might continue to avail ourselves of the chance to bring instructors to us on the internet rather than physically.  At least for the balance of 2021 - and maybe several times a year ongoing.

Covid may continue to make our lives 'challenging' for several years.  One of the Black Plagues lasted 7 years, after all, and killed thousands and thousands around the world.  Covid is shaping up to be at least as contagious at the pneumonic form of the plague, so we are going to have to get comfortable with finding new ways to continue with our lives, our learning.

In the meantime?  You know the drill - stay at home if you can, wear a mask if you need to go out, maintain at least 6 feet of distance, wash your hands.


Monday, September 21, 2020

Another One Bites the Dust

 


I had intended to finish this warp yesterday, but I had a crap night and slept in, then felt lethargic all day.  

In the afternoon several people from our casual stitch group came for distant socializing, and I managed to hem 3.5 towels while sitting in the carport, as the weather went from mostly cloudy to raining and back again.  It wasn't particularly cold out, but after sitting outside in the smoke free out doors (yay, rain!) I was cramped and chilled and the last thing I felt like doing was going to the loom to weave the last towel of this warp.

So I didn't.

If 'retirement' means anything, it means NOT pushing myself when I'm not feeling well enough physically.  It has been a hard lesson to learn, but I think I've got it now.

Ultimately I have more towels than I can shake a stick at and no idea if I can sell any of them.  I'm hoping the guild sale does well, but who knows.  People have been out of work and feeling financially fragile.  The last thing on their minds might be hand made textiles.

Or maybe they want something 'special', seeing as how they are staying home as much as possible.

Impossible to tell.

Last week Doug mailed several parcels to the US with tea towels.  I made the decision to get tracking numbers, which meant that instead of the small packet price it is costing the expedited price.  Since I said my price included shipping, that means I'm paying twice as much as budgeted for postage, but oh well.  I just wanted the extra security of a tracking number in case any of them disappeared into USPS.

But the recipients have not so far been very affected by the USPS issues and were confident the parcel would arrive, so...

My local guild is trying to get back on track in a covid safe way, so I have slowly been contacting people about presenting Zoom guild programs.  No firm bookings yet, but we will begin in the new year so I'm not pushing too hard - yet.

Seems I know quite a few people and if not personally, I know someone who knows the someone I want to reach.  :D  Nothing like being in this community for 40+ years and having the internet at my fingertips.

But Zoom presentations are new to most people and there are wrinkles to be ironed out and it is taking time and energy many people just don't have.  While I have time, I don't have much energy.  The wildfire smoke last week was kind of the 'final' straw for me and my goal for the day went from three things to just two - there just wasn't more energy (or spoons) for more.

However, heavy rain has helped wash the smoke out of the air and hopefully this week will be better - for everyone.

But today the current warp is going to be finished.  Last night I set out the yarns for the next warp.  I'm not entirely sure it is going to look good but I have to stretch to get enough yarn to beam a warp which means I have to be bold in putting the colours together.  There are two warps in the queue, the next one will use up the last of the black for weft, and whatever warp is left I can use up more of the nearly empty tubes, freeing up more shelf space.  

After that I have a mostly blue warp planned, then it will be back to a white warp, then a mixed beige warp.  But I have no idea what design those will be.  They are at least a month, perhaps more away.  So they can simmer on the back burner for a while longer.

In the meantime, we have a lovely partially cloudy sky, sky which is actually blue, not a milky smoke filled one.  

Time to get to the loom and finish the current warp.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Intention

 



One of the great pleasures I have enjoyed over the years is meeting people who have traveled and generally lived in interesting places, and in some cases, collected interesting textiles.

The above is a photo from the textile collection of someone I met and subsequently stayed with, in no small part so that I could see her collections of ikat and batik from Indonesia and area.

Last night I couldn't sleep, and as is my wont when such happens, I got up and was scrolling through the internet.  I follow a number of textile folk on Twitter and frequently come across nuggets of information that I didn't know about.  

So I came across the term 'intentional bleed' in reference to ikat.

The height of ikat proficiency is to create in the dyebath designs through the resist technique.  The textiles above are examples of the kind of proficiency that dyers/weavers can achieve.  (See the work of Laverne Waddington for her ikat textiles for the height of exactitude.)  There is also a technique where the blurring becomes more of a design element - an intentional bleeding of the coloured areas, one into the other.

I thought about my latest series of warps, where I intentionally blurred the colours of one stripe into the other to make the stripes less rigid, more fluid.

And that's the thing with textiles - and life, to be honest.  How rigid are those lines supposed to be?

When do we stick to the rigid and when do we allow the blurring to happen?


I thought about the hundreds of scarves that I have woven that purposely used the bleeding of one colour into another to create soft subtle shading.

I thought about how I have used weave structure to create subtle shading moving the threads so that some areas showed more warp, some more weft.



I thought about how sometimes a yarn will 'run' colour and stain parts of the cloth that we didn't intend, having intended to have nice crisp stripes.  And how we then judge that effect to be a flaw.

Sometimes we have to embrace what happens, magically, at times without our intending it to happen.

We have to learn when something will be a mistake and when we can embrace it, accept that it isn't perfect, but still functional.

Like each and every one of us, to be honest.

Just some middle of the night musings.

Hello darkness my old friend...

(I dare you to not sing that!  And if you can't, you must be a lot younger than I am.)