TODDLERS…and other weapons of mass destruction

An update is long overdue – and to avoid this being very dull and just a whole pile of words, I’d better put some pictures in here too.
(SWEAR-WORD), it’s been a bit of a hectic to say the least. (Is my life any other way?…Would I want it any other way…?!) Yea, well – it would be good to not be running around like a lunatic all the time, but I’m not sure what that feels like!
Where to start?
I’ve finished “Tokyo Autumn Chocolate”. Mohair, mohair-boucle, lambs wool, ribbon, velvet ribbon – all in honeycomb weave. A very sumptuous, fluffy, warm experience! The client was also very happy – so that’s what counts.
I’ve put on a lovely linen warp, that feels like a “purge” – a truely cleansing experience after the sensory over indulgence of mohair. A joy to thread up…now I need to get weaving

   

The pile of woven “thingies” in the spare room (you need to say this like Mr Tumnus “Spare – ooom”) seems to grow ever bigger, with 2 baby blankets in white chenille; 2 scarflets; a shawl and a set of place matts.
Christmas Presents:
Yep, the season of total insanity is soon to be upon us, and I’m determined not to panic – which means that everyone is getting some kind of charitable offering (“you’ve given a present of a goat to a family in XXX”). And something small to go with it. For the “something small”, I’m voting for handmade wash mitts (hence the linen warp). This will have to suffice as I suspect we’ll be carting H’s presents halfway around Europe and I’m not in the mood for “being of good cheer” and carrying a whole pile more crap besides.
To add to my irritation for the festive season, Etsy seem to be sending out lots of peppy-preppy-perky-plastic emails about gearing up for the Holiday Rush – While it’s true that crafters are on Etsy to promote their wares and sell things, I couldn’t help feeling that all the hyper-genki mails were more about Etsy counting in the cash than really motivating designers for the designers’ sake – or even the sake of good design. After all a % of nothing is still nothing, so “sell sell sell!” (even if it is crap? Isn’t there a chance of flooding the market with any old rubbish?)
I’m probably just getting cranky over nothing, but I’ve been deleting these mails within minutes of opening them. I’ll get my mum or Matt to give me a pep talk if I think my motivation is lacking – and if Hannah, cleaning the apartment (HA! I laugh derisively here), cooking, “the-day-job”, family, sleeping or watching-TV should get in the way of weaving then maybe it’s one of those days when that’s what’s meant to be…I read a brilliant blog title a few days ago “so much to do, so little motivation”.
Or maybe it’s a toddler in the house that is teaching me the ways of obstinate belligerence.
Bloody hell – It’s not even December and Christmas has my blood pressure up already.
Now I need to mention my other non-weaving projects that are non-the-less crafty:
A cover for the sofa (as Hannah has plastered the 2 year old IKEA one in mushed biscuit, milk, juice and other things we won’t mention).

Making and covering a head-board for our bed and one for the spare room. I bought enough fabric to match the curtains in both rooms, and a lot of foam…Now the roll or foam just gets moved from the hallway, to our room, to the spare room depending on how much in the way of other things it is. Action is needed. Luckily its covered in plastic so my tardiness is not effecting the foam!
Framing the collection of prints, drawings and Chinese stencils we’ve collected from our wandering that now sit in the spare room (I’m talking a lot about our spare room here – I never realised how much credit it deserved!). We did frame the collection of pen-&-inks and watercolours we’ve amassed from the cities we’ve been to, and they look lovely in the hall (all positioned just out of reach of very small fingers), but I discovered an old art portfolio bursting with Chinese stencils, shadow puppets from Malaysia and Singapore, prints from art galleries, 3 scrolls from a Sunday junk market in Ueno and gawd knows what else from the days when we just thought “ash, let’s go to Berlin for the weekend” – yea – I know – those days are definitely OVER!
At some point I need to finish painting the window frames – but as these are over 100years old (really!) and we can’t actually decide if we should have them replaced or taken to an acid bath to strip off all the old paint, I’m not really rushing into this one. And I doubt it would get started before 2011…It’s in the big picture but not now, only when I happen to see the window/door in the kitchen – about 10 times a day – and I think…”mmm, that’s a bit of a state”!
Somehow I need to persuade Hannah that 12 hours of playing/park at the weekend is not really possible. 2 year olds aren’t really so easy to convince though, they have their own plan on how the universe works, and DaVinci, Galileo and Stephen Hawking can all go and boil their heads – as far as toddlers are concerned the universe revolves around THEM! (And usually this is pretty funny to watch).
A lot of pictures are needed with the blog entry as it’s a lot of old waffle and pretty damn boring to read otherwise.

And the result – Was not good (No surprise there though)

The Expendibles is utter PANTS – (and when I say “Pants” I really mean, “from-the-bottom-of-your-laundry-basket-where-they’ve-been-for-a-week-festering” PANTS)
Truely one of the stupidest action films I’ve seen in ages. It had most of the 80s and 90s big action stars (OMG, Stalone looked about a 100), all of the 90s big explosions and body count – and none of the sarcastic, dry wit action scripts by the likes of Shane Black…
And not enough of Jason Statham or Jet Li…Or Brucie for that matter.

I think we’re going to see SALT next week, it really can’t be any worse. That’s not possible.

Which leads me to another point I’ve been meaning to make for ages now – for any weavers out there who watch action films (and I’ve discovered there is at least one!) have you seen WANTED ? Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman as assasin weavers…yes, I’m not kidding – Weavers.
I would only recommend it if you go in for silly action though, there’s not a lot of weaving going on there!

Ah yes, and Weaving – I started threading up Autumn Chocolate and am hoping for some “Friday Weaving” time today after work.
(This crappy movie review glut will pass soon, I promise.  It only lasts as long as we have family staying)

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).

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.

A Wild Sheep Chase

How cool is this!  I didn’t actually intend to put in a slide show, but it does the trick!

I eventually went to see “Mr Fleko” the owner of the little yarn shop that is on Compte d’ Borell with Diputacion. He is closing down, which is a huge disaster for me as this shop is very close to our apartment, the old gentleman is very interesting, and the yarns are all end of run from mills in Spain, France and Italy and include wools, silks, linens, artificial fibres, ribbons, curtain bindings…you name it: What is even more facinating is the total mess the shop is in – it wouldn’t be out of place in Diagon Allly in Harry Potter…everything is a huge jumble and you can find ribbons or yarns from eras long gone by.

In the midst of all this I found a lovely yarn – 70% lambs wool, 30% acrylic – already felted with regular slubs, it springs and bounces in the hand and feels amazing. The colour is a charcoal grey, but up close you can see the black and white fibres that make it up. I’m hoping to see something completely different when I felt this.

The boucle is from Ireland – a lambs wool / angora / viscose blend that manages to be soft and not too prickly. Again I’m hoping there is enough slack for the lambs wool warp to felt…We’ll see!

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Puffin Chunks and Cream of Pork Pie Soup…

It’s been another whirlwind few weeks, and I’ve been all over the place – both physically and emotionally. Hannah and I went back to Ireland for my Goddaugher’s Confirmation, we had a lovely few days that included a spontaneous family gathering of 9 adults and 3 children…a very heartwarming affair – Hannah decided that she wasn’t too happy about me disappearing for most of the day during the confirmation and “acted up” (to put it mildly); no weaving got done, despite my best intentions and a dressed loom (in Ireland), and now that we are back in Barcelona I find myself facing the long weekend and stuck in a bit of a rut…I have a glimmering feeling of  what I want to do with my wool sample warp now, but I don’t seem to have more than 30 minutes in a row to sit down to it, and I need longer to get my brain to kick into gear…

And so, for my precious daily hour or so of peace and tranquility after dinner,  I’ve been lying on the sofa watching Gavin & Stacey or 15 Storeys and feeling…in a rut…I have been looking for inspiration but coming up blank, and as a result I seem to have spent more time cooking and re-organizing the apartment (and trips to Ikea)…I am the Master Procrastinator when inspiration deserts me – I’ll do anything (except ironing) to not face my loom, especially when I know that the only time I really can face it is after 10pm at night or in 15 minute chunks.

I think maybe a walk around the fashion district of BCN or a few gallery visits are necessary this weekend; something to crank up my inspiration…I’m also feeling the need to talk to Neki (my BCN Weave Buddy) – perhaps she can give me the kick up the bum I need.