Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Who Wove This?

An important aspect of my textile design education at RISD (which I am only now starting to appreciate) is the weaving had to have a purpose beyond being fun & satisfying. Before the industrial revolution, Handweaving was vital to civilization. Weavers & dyers were revered for their mastery. Now people are more likely to say “Do folks still do that?”

I know I come back to this question time and again. At RISD, we wove to design for the textile industry---not as an end in itself, wove to develop a design sense as a means to earn a living as a part of the huge textile industry. Now fabric production is removed from our sight and pretty much invisible and mysterious to the average person—like milk coming from cartons.

I’ll never forget the day back in the mid 60’s when my cousin Judy came by while I was weaving. She looked at the weaving, looked up at me, then back to the weaving and back at me—and in an incredulous voice, stammered, “This is…CLOTH!” I don’t think she ever realized until that very moment how cloth was created. And I don’t think she was unusual in this.

Even though I strayed from the beaten path---away from New York and industry---to become a studio weaver, my training at RISD haunted me for years. The weaving had to stand for something—had to mean something---exist beyond the finished product---had to support me---bring me fame and fortune (and I don’t know where this came from)---had to be useful, to boot. This is a mighty tall order for a scarf.

Over the years, I have come to realize weaving also has the power to heal a broken spirit and a broken heart. And in healing my spirit, I know the power of weaving to heal-- on many levels.

What you get out of weaving equals what you put into it.
So---What thoughts are you weaving into your cloth?
Do you weave with intention?
Why is it some days nothing seems to go right?
And other days it’s like someone else’s hands are throwing the shuttle.
When you cut a weaving off the loom, do you sometimes look at your weaving in amazement and think, “Who wove this?”

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Day Made---Before I Even Get Dressed

I am pleased as punch to receive this award from Laritza at YorkSett Arts & Crafts! Now I pass it on to ten bloggers who bring me happiness and inspiration.

BUT if you are a hyper busy individual and this award feels like an annoying chain letter, I promise happiness will not be snatched away if you tuck away your award and do nothing more than take a look at my blog and the others who are on the list.

The easiest thing would be to send the award to the very same blogs I sent the "nice award" to some months back because they do make my day. In attempting to expand my circle, know that every blog I subscribe to brings me ever increasing happiness and inspiration. I don't have time right now to give a detailed review of the selected blogs, but I know you will find a little spark in each one . In no particular order, check out the following:

1. Virginia A. Spiegel
2. Textillian
3. NZ flax weaving
4. Pleasant and Delightful
5. Karma-Free Cooking
6. Talking About Weaving
7. Leigh's Fiber Journal
8. Rosemary-go-Round
9. Fiberewetopia
10. Unravelling

Thank you all for making my day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Best Laid Plans

Yes, today is my First Blogiversary and I planned (only in my mind) to roll out my new improved blog. I do have several new ideas to implement, but they will come in dribs and drabs instead of a big splash. Weaving in general is about structure, and my goal is to add a little structure to Weaving Spirit.

Tomorrow I leave to teach a 3-day workshop on Whidbey Island on Turned Weft Ikat. As I was putting together my show and tell, I unearthed the hanging pictured above. My mother had it hanging in her home for about 20 years and then relegated it to the closet. I came upon it last year when I was helping her clean out said closet. I wove it in 1962 while I was a student at RISD. The assignment was, of course, ikat. My fascination with circles was evident. I easily spent 100 hours tying and untying half inch segments of warp. It was most painful, and I was never pleased with the results. I sure learned a lot though. One of the things I learned is that I didn't ever want to do this process again.

Of course, one should never say never. The memory of those 100 hours was burned into my consciousness, however, and when I returned to ikat in the mid 70's, I had figured out an easier way.

Thank You
I will take a moment here to thank all the people who have visited my blog this past year and the many people brave enough to make a comment. Blogging has brought me more satisfaction than I could have ever imagined. My special thanks to Sara Lamb for mentioning me in her blog in the winter of '06. It was this mention that sent me to her blog (my first blog experience) and the rest is history. I look forward to another year of blogging: the ever widening spiral of creativity .

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Picture Fixing

While it is easier in the long run to take pictures with a solid background, most often I find I am snapping a picture like this--on my not too attractive ironing board cover.

This picture is my latest bamboo/cashmere scarf. I delivered it last night to the fellow who last gave me 10 cashmere sweaters.

I have discovered, however, with not too much trouble, I can doctor my pictures. Actually, I quite enjoy the process. It is much like playing a computer game except in the end I have something to show for the hours spent. The picture above is still a work in progress. I believe I can make the edges of the cloth a little smoother.

I am using the program Photoshop Elements 2 (quite an old version). You can now purchase Photoshop Elements 6. Corel puts out a program called Paintshop Pro which is quite similar and actually comes with the newer computers. Here is a site that sells both. The older versions are surprisingly cheap, and even the latest versions aren't very expensive.

I have yet to master "layers" which would make it much easier to alter the backgrounds. I think part of me likes enlarging my picture until each pixel is a 1" colored square and having the power to alter a picture pixel by pixel.

One important tip: Always save the original picture, and do all of your changes onto a copy.
I'd be interested to hear other people's experiences.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Second Time's a Charm

I delivered the shawl this evening, and it was very well received. I must admit it was hard to let it go (on one hand) and a great relief to be able to cross it off my list (on the other hand)

I really liked this picture although I had to remove some annoying kitchen appliances from the background on the left. Do you think it is too strange to have half light background and half black background? I can change it, but I can't decide if I should.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday Night Weaver

My silence has not been due to the fact that I haven't been working. I don't know if you remember this beautiful bamboo warp? Please click here to read A Cautionary Tale. I can't stand retelling the story although it was necessary for me to re-weave the shawl. I put it off as long as I could....

I knew I had to weave this piece before I could move forward into a new year. I did change the colors a bit and the spontaneous ikat stripes are a bit different.

The problem I faced with my first try is I couldn't make myself pack the weft tight enough because I didn't want to cover the warp with the chenille, and ended up weaving too loosely. I didn't make the same mistake this time.

Miraculously when I washed the shawl, the warp colors came through-- muted but certainly there. The tennis balls in the dryer worked really great! I will be delivering the shawl on Monday. I will attempt to get a picture of the owner wearing her shawl.

This was certainly a character building exercise, and I heartily resolve to never make the same mistake again!

Now I am moving forward again with just 11 days until my first Blogiversary. I am planning something special, so stay tuned....

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Walk in the Winter Garden

When I first moved to the Northwest in January of 1980, I was thrilled to discover it was already spring. I believe many fail to appreciate the subtle beauty of a long slow spring (lasting up to 6 months and sometimes bypassing summer altogether). Walking through the Winter Garden uplifts the spirit and is an activity I look forward to each January.

From witch hazel
to hellebore

to plants too mysterious and fantastic to identify, what more could a "virtual gardener" ask for?

I'm sure some actual gardener out there knows the above plant. Mystery solved!
Thank you Karen.

Now back to the studio for some actual weaving.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Looking Forward

Sometimes I feel wrong sitting in my comfy warm studio weaving away with beautiful yarns on my wonderful looms while much of the world is in chaos (or worse). How can I justify weaving ?

To explore my feelings, I wrote a list of my wishes for the world and my wishes for myself. Each item on my list I imagined as a color. Then I decided to turn these color lists into collages. (4" x 5") The collage above represents my wishes for myself, and the one below is my wishes for the world.

Then I made color copies of the collages. I cut the wishes for the world copy into vertical strips and the wishes for myself copy into horizontal strips and wove the wishes for self into the wishes for the world.

I taped the tops of the vertical strips to a piece of graph paper, so I could maneuver the strips easily.

This symbolic gesture has helped me to feel that in some small way by working towards my personal goals I am also working towards those things I wish for the world.

Happy New Year!