The glass is ALWAYS half full…and my other little passion

So, today – on the 19th of August, I feel kinda exhausted. It seems to be a continual state of being these days, with one thing or another. Hannah is not sleeping brilliantly; we have some noisy neighbours who seem to think it’s ok to watch action movies with all the windows open at 2am (don’t get me wrong, “Die Hard” is one of the best films ever made…but not at 2.30am with the volume up,  In August, In a city, With the windows open)…but more on that to follow.
May those neighbours suffer something horrible really soon and stop being so f-ing noisy” is my latest middle-of-the-night prayer…

Still, all my gripes and complaints considered, I have to put myself in check and shut-up. It seems like China and Pakistan have taken the place of Haiti (remember that “Act of God”?) for undescribable suffering.  I have health, family, a roof over my head and food on the table.  And my loom (of course). And so to weaving, which has been non-stop for the past 4 months and still no end in sight to projects.

My glass is most definitely half full and I should remember that before I go off on one, (as I do frequently)

So, there are at least 3 projects not on here yet:

  • Bronagh (not really finished, but off the loom)
  • Replacement placemats and napkins (not really finished either but off the loom and I need to get my finger out and stitch them as they need to be sent to the customer!)
  • Autumn Chocolate – just warped and wound on the loom, but not yet threaded.

All of this has involved a lot of dyeing and both Bronagh and Autumn Chocolate are very woolly. Definitely autumnal overtones are in the air – despite the heat of August.
No pics of the place mats here yet.  I’m hoping to get Autumn up and running very soon – but not tonight, as we’re off to the movies – again! I love cinema (not quite as much as weaving, but I have to pack in my trips to the flicks when I can, so when family babysitters are in residence, we go out – a lot!)- tonight we’re off to The Expendibles, as I can’t stand chic-flicks but can sit through any amount of stupid action – (NOTE, so long as I am WATCHING  it, not LISTENING to it while trying to sleep). I think Matt (Mr JustWeaving), is very happy to have a wife who pre-buys tickets and books babysitters  for Bourne or Bond movies, but refuses to watch anything weepy.
I suspect this “other little passion” is not a common trait amongst fellow weavers – (I also lack a cat and a kaftan).

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WHAT date is it?!

I’ve no idea when I last posted – I’m sure I posted a few things…”in my imagination”…
Never mind. I’ve not stopped running, worrying and weaving since I last posted. I’d wish there was less of the worrying, but then I’d probably be dead, so maybe not – so I’ll not complain too much about that.
To cap it all  it’s bloody boiling in Spain now, it has been boiling since the first week in July and we’ve yet to see what August brings. ARSE. Things can only get hotter, (not better) where the heat in concerned, and there was me having high hopes of a cooler summer after such a lovely raining spring.
Never mind.
Anyway, the hell-like weather aside, I’ve been weaving and weaving and weaving – and I’ve got enough on the boil to keep me going until September. This is excellent and tiring and inspiring and exciting and a wee bit worrying too! (That’s “weaving worrying” something totally aside from “every-day Ruth Worrying”).
I’ve just finished an excellent commission for a fine silk and mercerized cotton scarf. Finished with real semi-precious stones (turquoise, lapis lazuli and amethysts), it has a mind all of its own and bounces and moves with the body when wearing it. A real delight to weave and trim – and now to flip things over, I’ve wound on a 270 inch warp (almost 7 metres!) of hand-dyed cotton and just begun weaving 2 extra place mats and 8 napkins to match a set of 6 place mats I wove for a client 3 years ago. I have to say this project has been in progress for a while now. I had no pictures of the original placemats and had little memory of the colours. So one had to be sent to me as a reminder – then I had to dye up yarns…then the client decided on 2 extra place mats and napkins (and maybe a pot-holder or 2) rather than a 2.5 metre table runner… A new dining table was the culprit in all this, which allowed for 2 more places but didn’t allow (width wise) for a full width table runner. It’s been a long process, but good fun too, as the client really wanted something to match what she had for her new table, but wasn’t sure about the runner.
In the end we worked it out – So – 2 new place mats and 8 napkins, and some pot-holders…and a huge warp, (I was sitting in my nighty at midnight winding it on – I started at 10.30pm and it still wasn’t fully wound at midnight!)
When that is done, there is another scarf commission – this is still in the design process, and we need to work out colours, weight and texture –  It’s fantastic to have such a lovely variety of things in the pipeline and I don’t remember when I’ve had so much fun with continuous and varying projects. And after that linen wash-mitts. You see?! Variety! I have a feeling it will be mid-end September when the linen get’s put on though.
And today heralds the beginning of visitors and travels, basically we are travelling or with visitors every week between now and mid October. Our washing machine and air-con are going to die. Still, it does mean I have an almost endless supply of baby-sitters, so I’m really not complaining at all.

In between all that (yea, I know – life beyond weaving…what’s that!?), we went to Bergerac to visit friends for a long weekend; Hannah has decided that she no longer wants to breast feed – her choice entirely (HURRAH!) at 1 week short of 22 months she shook her head when offered just before bed. That was the end of it. Unfortunately 2 weeks after this lovely evolution she decided that she was not going to bed peacefully any more, and (to up the ante), she was waking up at least once, if not twice / thrice in the night. Leaving all the lights in her room ON when she goes to bed seems to settle her a wee bit more. But it’s been an exhausting 2 weeks. I’m also trying Flower Remedies…basically I’ll try anything! I’ve found that my body and brain don’t function so well on 2 hours sleep.  We’ve no idea what brought about this sudden change, but we’re all having to work through it. I’m praying to any diety who’ll listen that she returns to her cheeky “bugger-off and let me sleep” personality ASAP!

The 87 bus – and Strictly-Come (baby/toddler)-Dancing

I’m probably not supposed to say this,
But it’s been an exhausting few weeks for a variety of reasons, and now I kinda feel knackered mentally and physically. I’m not sure you’re supposed to put that on a blog though!
The good news is that I’m definitely out of my rut – good news for me, bad news for housework – we’ve got dust-bunnies surfing up and down the corridor.
Commissions seem to be like 87 buses – you wait and wait, and when they do arrive you get 3 at once. Well, I don’t have 3 but 2 on at the same time is quite enough to keep me busy and a little stressed. A beautiful silk scarf, and table runner, 2 extra place mats and napkins for a set of 6 placemats I wove several years ago (that’s a bit of a mega project that has me reeling even to just think about it). All this mixed with the following (in no particular order):

  • Hannah’s “end of year School Performance” (when they told me I laughed my head off…Ten 18-24 month olds in a dance routine…that sounds more like herding cats than a dance routine, but full credit to those who will try to achieve this!)
  • Hannah falling of the swing in the park and badly grazing her elbow and bumping her head (mmm, didn’t I feel like a great mother…especially when the detol made her howl even harder…it took 3 chocolate buttons to get her to calm down, and lots more for me to calm down!)
  • Imminent visit from friends from Sweden (did I mention that I’ve neglected housework for a wee while now?! – OHHH CRAP…and this will coincide with Hannah’s dance routine extravaganza)
  • Tax declaration which needs to be done before the end of the month and I’ve still not made an appointment yet.
  • Trying to collect the invoices from the builders for suing the previous owners of the apartment for the cost of replacing all the beams in the ceiling (when reading this one, it should be accompanied by hysterical laughter)

There ya go – how about that for a couple of weeks of hypertension? For good or bad, aside from all that, I’ve coaxed Hannah into only feeding twice a day, just before bed, and once in the morning. So far, it’s going very well for all involved. Gentle efforts to cut it down to one feed were met with very dirty looks, lots of crying and bottle throwing. I don’t think either of us are quite ready to totally quit (especially when the dirty looks and bottle throwing start up), but I’d hoped to totally stop breast feeding by the end of the summer at the latest. I’m no Leche League-er and I’ve been feeling the need to reclaim other parts of my life again – the gym, cava, red wine – In lieu of too much cava (boohoo) I went running for the first time since early pregnancy (ehh…about 28 months ago!). It bloody killed me. 30 minutes running and my thighs feel like they’ve been beaten with iron bars.
I’m going again tonight.
God help me.
And while all this is going on, I’m about to start threading up a 2/60s (or 60/2s if you count that way), silk and mercerized cotton warp for the delicate scarf.
Just under 1000 ends.
May God help me with this too –
Pictures to follow. The warp is sheer, delicate lusciousness. Turquoise and teal 2/60s mercerized cotton, navy and vine purple 2/60s and 2/40s fine spun silk. Velvet ribbon. It’s oozing sensuality – the trick is to keep that feeling.

The View From My Loom

The view from my Loom

I started a draft last week and forgot about it, when I reopened my blog I realised that I’ve been mulling over my need for some green for longer than I thought. My rut returned, unfortunately at a time when I could have been winding, warping or weaving: Instead I was baking, cleaning and brooding, thinking about the Fairy Glen and the Flagstaff and wondering if I booked a flight home was an Icelandic volcano going to cloud my  journey.
Not much I can do about it now, but I seem to have realised the problem…to little green for too long. I have been working on a black and white wool warp off/on since before Christmas, and although there are a few nice things, I’ve not come up with the “killer app” that I’ve been looking for (Sorry, that was a bit of work-speak creeping in).  A depressing result that didn’t help my mood.

I should have learned by now to let my mind wander when these things happen, and when I eventually did let go, I was feeling homesick for the Flagstaff, and starting to remember the Fairy Glen, a wooded walk along the edge of the Mournes (My nursery school was at the end of the Fairy Glen in Rostrevor, quite an idyllic place for a nursery school, and gave me the unfortunate belief for longer than was normal, that Fairies could exist, and that all schools were large old houses at the end of wooded walks!); I’d started to feel the need for all-consuming greeness, for the smell of  mulchy pine needles and sycamore leaves – all mixed with wood pigeons, thrushes and salty sea winds (that could give you a facial peeling in 5 seconds!).  As you can see for the picture, my life is not without “Greeness” – While we live 15 minutes walk from Plaça de Catalunya in Barcelona, we also have a lovely avenue of trees on our street – plants on the balcony, a park directly opposite for wee ones. Still, it’s not quite damp granite and mist on your face…
Anyway, I’m rambling – what brought me back to earth was 4 days of torrential rain  – “So what!?” I hear you cry…well, this kind of non-stop rain is not native to Barcelona, and by Monday night the city was empty, just rain and a few very perplexed looking tourists. By Wednesday, I was feeling like a proverbial duck in water, while every Barcelona citizen smoked their ciggies cowering in doorways, tutting and scowling (as you can’t smoke in the workplace or public buildings)…I was on a roll with warp making, windows open to the lowered temperatures and the perpetual rain on the balcony – HURRAY FOR RAIN…(you can take the person out of Ireland, but you can’t take the Ireland out of the person…or something like that)

OK; so, back to weaving – I’m getting there, really! – After going through my poor pictures of the Glen and Flagstaff (when you live somewhere, you rarely take pictures…) and flickring /googling, I put together a mood board and then a collection of yarns for a warp. Green is prominent (surprise surprise!), but the Fairy Glen yeilds  astonishing shades of blue from various flowers and bluebells, intermixed with purples and yellows from gorse and heather that filter in from the Mournes…
My heart ruled my head on this, and what else should I warp a scarf like this with, other than mohair boucle (and a wee bit of silk, raw silk, hand-dyed viscose and hand-dyed wool). It already has a name too – Bronagh. Bronagh was an early Irish saint from the Rostrevor area. We’ll see how it goes – threading in progress.

Life in Colour – there is no other way

As I work away with wool and black and white, I can feel a revolt coming on – it’s like working with linen and thinking that mohair is a good idea  – (actually, no – it’s  not like that, for that is insanity).

I love weaving, and I love colour, the two are irrevocably tied together for me and this sums up what I mean by COLOUR – What I FEEL by the word COLOUR!!! It’s like Chocolate and coffee and nice red wine and majul dates all at once – every taste bud tingling from what your eyes can see. (mmm, from all that one can deduce that I really like my food)

Neki and I eventually caught up – and while she bemoaned her lack of linen (and I’ve got cupboards about to explode with the stuff), we went to see the Mariano Fortuny exhibition at the Padrera on Passeig de Gracia. It was the aforementioned Mr Fortuny who was inadvertently guilty of steering me towards the course I took…leading to textiles and Japan. A very tatty old book about him existed in our school library, and finding it was full of colour and luxury and velvets and pleats I became a bit obsessed! This then led to an interest in Miyake and all his pleats, and the next thing you know I was wondering what happened in Japan with regard to textiles.

On a completely non-textiles note, it was a strange coincidence that this week I got in touch again with an old friend from Japan – another gaijin who is now married and still living there with two children taboot…He’s moved to Tokyo though…no Inaka for him any  more!
Now, I just need to find some one who can tell me if Kanebo still make those pine bath salts and I think I’ll feel that all is right with the world this week…(until next week raises its own set of questions and I’m flumaxed all over again.)

More Wool, a bit of Linen, Dobby heads and Curry

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Superquick update:
I’ve been weaving with wool; Neki needs some linen (and I’ve got shed loads of the stuff); Neki says she just “found” a random dobby head in her studio; (1. how big does your studio have to be to just have a dobby head lying around and 2. Rub it in why don’t you!); I ate too much curry on Friday night…was delicious but not a good idea. Nuf said.

More of the same…

Yet another weird week –
Things are never simple, are they? There are benefits to being a grown-up (I remind myself of this frequently)  – I can eat 3 kit-kats in a row if that is what I want, but then there is all the stress and worry that seems to be part and parcel of “maturity” that kinda outweighs the benefits of 3 kit-kats.
My father was in hospital again – he went for some tests and was kept in for a week. He was sent home on Wednesday and has been in bed sick since then. And Hannah has some kind of rash on her face (but is eating and sleeping well – the 2 most important things in a Mother’s List)….Needless to say no weaving got done this week!
However, as this blog is about weaving, I have to say that I did THINK about weaving, but didn’t manage to settle down to doing anything, so my 3 samples already done were completed before all the dramas unfolded. The plan is to experiment with a pure lambs wool warp, the sett and the weft. So far I’ve played with weaving the same design in white chenille, black chenille and pure wool weft – Now I am itching to cut these off and wash them, but in my grown-up mood this week, I am determined to get a few more samples out of this sett before I cut off and re-reed.
The “problem” with sampling is that I always seem to have a lot of other ideas, (while sampling) that don’t relate to the warp I have on – and therefore I get restless with the current warp, wanting to put on another one to try this other, oh-so-great idea I’m having. Mmmm, “Grass is always greener” springs to mind…I’m writing down all these brilliant ideas, (that probably won’t seem so brilliant in a few days), and if I’m still motivated they can be the next BIG THING.