Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ooops!

One of the things I wanted to tell you about was last night's concert.  Last week we had Beethoven's 7th Symphony on the program, one of my favorites.  What I hadn't taken into account beforehand was that William Walton's Violin Concerto (James Ehnes, soloist) was on the program, too.  It isn't performed very often because it is devilishly difficult, but Ehnes made it sound easy.  The tone he got from the Stradivarius (the Marsik of 1715, according to the program) was unfailingly sweet and lovely.  This piece was last played here 25 years ago when it was the first time I had heard it.  The memory of it hadn't stayed with me, but I think this time it will!  Wonderful concert!

Last night Beethoven's 6th was on the program.  We are working through a count down this season, having begun with the 9th.  The interesting thing is that while what I think of as Beethoven's trademark graceful changes of key in his music, all of the symphonies are very different from each other and all are good.  Last night I heard the best performance of the sixth (the Pastoral) that I have ever heard.  If you have been reading here for a while, you may recall that last year I said I thought we were in for wonderful music with the leadership of Thierry Fischer our then-brand new conductor.  I am happy to say that my prediction was more than correct!

The second half of the concert was a sandwich (with a theme) of short pieces by Wagner (Prelude to Act 1 of Lohengrin and ending with Ride of the Valkyries) with a new piece in between  The composer is someone I didn't know, Christopher Rouse. which featured a solo percussionist, Colin Currie.  The title is Der Gerettete Alberich (Albrerich Saved) a piece about the dwarf Alberich from Wagner's Ring Cycle.  The piece was dazzling.

What an evening!

Moving on

The linen warp is off the loom and now the process of finishing begins.  First, I need to inspect the entire length (on both sides) and mend any flaws.  These can be places where there are skips in the cloth, knots that I need to undo and needle weave in or anything else that I find.  As you can see, I need extra magnification to be sure that I catch it all and can mend it properly: 
What you can't see is that I have my CD player on the same table so that I can listen to a recorded book while I work. 

I did too much on Friday, gathering all the leaves, mowing the lawn, removing the window a/c units (2) and taking them to the shed where they will spend the winter.  Snow was due on Saturday and I didn't want the leaves to be caught under it and the window units were doing me no good.  I still need to put up storm windows in a couple of places but will wait until it is drier here and until my new knee stops telling me off.  (Who knew it used such unpleasant language?)

If anything, the crimson queen maples are redder than ever.  This is their moment of glory and they are certainly all dressed up!

The next project is a series of rugs woven with the loops cut from athletic socks during their manufacture.  I need to dye them to get the colors my client wants.  But, first, I need to finish the linen towels.  I look forward to washing and ironing them once they are mended, cut apart and hemmed.  I think they are going to be very handsome!




Saturday, November 5, 2011

Life goes on....

I am faithfully doing the physical therapy assigned and starting last Monday, Halloween, I was able to sleep through the night without being awakened by pain during the night.  That delightful trend has continued, I'm glad to report.  That, alone, has made a big difference!

I will see the surgeon for the first time next week.  I am hoping there will be an X-ray showing that my own bone is growing around and into the prosthetic knee.

Meanwhile there has been a decided change in the weather.  We got our first snow several days ago but because it had been warm, nothing stuck.  Then yesterday we got cold rain which rapidly turned to snow which continued all night and through this morning.  It's pretty cold outside.  When I went outside to look for mail I noticed that the Japanese maples in pots by the front door have changed practically overnight to their autumnal finery.  They are living up to their name:  Crimson Queen.

 I had tentatively planned to do more yard clean-up this weekend, but with all the snow and the cold, I decided to weave instead.










I am still weaving the linen towels.  I had bought a single cone of a gray natural 20/1 linen (the warp is the same size and also natural but a pale honey color) and decided to weave at least one of the new towels using the contrasting weft.  It shows the pattern more clearly:



This towel is being woven in exactly the same way as the previous ones, just using a different colored weft. 

I know what I will be doing next so am motivated to push on and finish this warp.  It is bothering my knee a bit to weave for more than an hour at a time, but I will be stopping soon for the day because I have a ticket to the Utah Symphony for tonight and I need to prepare my dinner and change from working clothes.
Tonight Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 is on the program, one of my all-time favorites!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

At last!

I last wrote here the day after I got home from the re-hab facility.  Getting to sleep in my own sweet, little bed again was almost more than I could bear!  I worked hard at all the exercises I had been given doing each to the utmost of my ability and then pushing even harder.

Big mistake!

I crashed a week later in pain and learned that pushing that hard was actually counter productive.  I ought to have been able to figure it out myself, but always the achiever, I hadn't.  Now I am still doing the work but not pushing so hard and things are going better.

In fact, I began weaving this afternoon.  I had measured out a warp of natural 20/1 linen and beamed it before I left for knee replacement.  I finished threading it, sleyed the warp and got it all ready to weave where it has rested for several days.  Today was the day and here is what the first complete repeat (and the hem) looks like:
It feels good to be weaving again.  (What an understatement!)  I could tell that my knee/leg was getting tired and having learned my lesson about going the extra two or three miles, I decided to stop and ice it.

The structure is a two block twill (1/3 vs 3/1) which is the same structure that I used last fall.  The profile draft for this version is different from what I wove then.

My knee still hurts and I suppose I ought not to be surprised by that.  I look forward to the time when it hurts no longer and am certain that the time will come.

It's good to be back!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Home again!

The deed is done.  I have a brand new, prosthetic knee joint in my right leg.  I am not going to post a photo of the incision (You're welcome!) even though the nurses at the re-hab facility and the visiting nurse who came to my home today say it's beautiful.  That's nurse talk for no draining, no redness, no swelling (other than the expected) and no signs of infection.

My knee still hurts, albeit in a different way from before the surgery.  And, after all, how could it not considering what has been done?  (Google it.)

All the preparation I did has really paid off.  I made space for a walker--which I am no longer using--got grab bars, a shower stool, etc. and I exercised to be strong going in so that I would be strong coming out.  I learned a lot through this process including how compassionate the nurses aides I encountered both in the hospital and in re-hab are.  I was deeply touched by their kindness.  (Here's to Alicia and Rosa and Jenire.) 

It turned cold and wet just before I got home and had I not spent four hours with home health people today (the RN and the Occupational Therapist who says I don't need her and won't be back) I was planning to take a walk on the sidewalk along my street.  But by the time everyone had come and gone I was pretty tired.

I expect a full recovery and much sooner than anyone--other than me!--expected. 

In short, all is well.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tonight's concert

This year the programming for the Utah Symphony concerts is focused on Beethoven.  The first concert of the year featured the Ninth Symphony and tonight we got the 8th.  They are being performed in reverse order and will end with the 1st.

Thierry Fischer, our conductor, was in very good form tonight.  I am happy to say that I was right when I predicted that good things were in store for us as a community! 

Tonight's concert began with two short pieces by Stravinsky Suites No. 1 and No. 2.  I don't recall ever having heard the first suite before but I know I have heard the second one.  The second made me think of a sort of off-center circus, for the Marche, Valse, and Polka movements and the Galop made me think of a big, busy city.  There were comic moments in the Valse and Polka movements that at their conclusion brought a ripple of laughter throughout the audience.

These pieces were followed by a wonderful performance of Symphony No. 8.  It was crisply played, never dragging, and quite lovely.  The Utah Symphony has uniformly strong sections and the woodwinds shone, as did the horns and of course the strings.  I enjoyed it very much.

Probably the highlight of the evening, though, was Garrick Ohlsson's performance of the Piano Concerto No. 5 (Beethoven's last one).  Ohlsson's playing was masterful: delicate and with great restraint at times and powerful at others.  The romantic character of this concerto was very much in evidence but there was no sloppy sentimentalism.  He struck exactly the right balance for me.

I wondered how anything could follow that but Ohlsson returned to the stage and gave us an encore.  (Everyone was standing and applauding heartily!)  It was Chopin's Waltz in E Flat (Opus 18), a piece it seems everyone knows. 

I enjoyed myself very, very much.  My knee is shouting at me these days and anything that can distract me so completely from the pain has to be pretty amazing.  It certainly was!

The bagpiper is back.  I was trying to keep the melodies I heard in Abravanel Hall going in my head as I waited for the train to take me to my car and it's not easy.

Tomorrow I have a couple of social things and then Sunday I need to hunker down, pack my bag for the re-hab facility and do the last minute things before my departure Monday morning for the Orthopaedic Center. 

I probably will be out of touch here until I get home again.  That will be about ten days, possibly longer, although I am hoping not.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I actually CAN count....

In the last post I counted off the days until I get my new knee and put down the wrong number.  I can count.  Really.  After today there are only three days.

I mis-named the second hand store, too.  It's name is Our Store, and now they have a lot more good things than they did.  Someone from the shop came to transport the drafting table that I wasn't using and wanted to give to them.  I'm was grateful for the help.  And now, grateful for the room.

Onward.....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting closer....

Only four more days until I get the new knee.....  I am feeling the lack of anti-inflammatory medication, in my case ibuprofen, so it is clear that it was doing some good.

I am re-organizing my house to accommodate crutches and or a walker when I get back from re-hab.  While doing so I realized that some of the things I have haven't been used in a while and really are just in the way.  So I have been taking things to Our Place, a second-hand shop run for the benefit of the People With Aids Coalition.  It's hard to think of any group of people who need and deserve help more than they do.  There are some nice things going there.  Another big load goes there tomorrow.  A woman who works there is coming by in her boy friend's pick up to take the drafting table which doesn't fit into a Prius!

I am still going to my exercise group although everything is more painful, still I want to be as strong as possible going into the knee replacement.

I am looking forward to a Utah Symphony Concert on Friday evening.  I am going to a potluck on Saturday so I traded for the earlier performance.  I am planning to transfer some music to my iPod so I can listen during the surgery.  Unless I am given a convincing reason not to, I am opting for a spinal block so that I don't have to wait a couple of days for my brain to return.  That should be interesting...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Photo and news

As I expected, I finished the new towels yesterday, but before I could photograph them (there were 15 plus one square napkin) I got a call from a friend who works at the gallery that represents me and frames my work there.  She was leaving for a family reunion and wondered if I had any towels because she would like to buy a couple to give as gifts.

Did I have towels?  Oh, my, yes!  So I gathered all of them up and took them to show.  Other folks there got into the act and by the time I left, there were fewer than before.  That was such good news and such a well-timed call.

The towels that I have from this series are shown in this photo:



They are very cheery, I think.

I went on from there to cross eight errands off my to-do list.  I love it when I can run several errands in one, choreographed trip!  Eight is a new personal record.

When I got home, I had barely come in the door when I got a call from the scheduler for my knee surgeon who told me that my doctor will be otherwise occupied on October 10th.  I had a choice, he told me, of a later date in October or the single opening in September, the 26th.  I chose the 26th.  The pain in my knee grows every day; it could be that there were residual effects from the last series of injections into the knee capsule that are now wearing off.  On Monday I must stop taking anti-inflammatory medications so it will be a trying week.

I am very relieved that I can get this new knee sooner but it does mean that the generous two weeks I thought I had have turned into one.  I have several pre-op tests to go through and a couple of them are scheduled for tomorrow morning, first thing.  Then I will pick up a prescription at Costco and the handicapped sign that I will use for closer parking after the surgery at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles.  And so another day drains away and it hasn't begun yet.

By the way I am reading a book that is written in an interesting way as a first person narrative called The Reluctant Fundamentalist.  It was recommended by my friend, Teri Jo.  From here on out, I will solicit recommendations from Teri because this one is a winner.  I suspect it will be getting painful in a few pages though....

Monday, September 12, 2011

The season has begun and other things

Saturday evening was the first Utah Symphony concert of the season--actually the first was the night before, but I go on Saturdays--and it was exciting.  I'm always glad when these concerts begin again.

Because it was the night before the tenth anniversary of the attacks on this country, the concert began with a piece written by John Adams "On the Transmigration of Souls".  You may recall that I loved "Nixon in China" which was part of the live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera so I was prepared to love this piece.  And I did.  There is a chorus (adults), the Utah Symphony Chorus, a children's chorus, the Madeleine Choir School, the orchestra, of course, and spoken and sound effect recordings.  The piece begins with street sounds of a big city and later in the piece footsteps hurrying down a staircase, and spoken text as well.

The piece is contemplative, mostly quiet, sometimes dissonant, sometimes eerie and for me profoundly moving.  We were asked not to applaud during the first half of the concert, neither when Fischer appeared nor at the conclusion of the piece.  That quiet added to the mood.

The second half was Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.  I have heard this piece so many times, both on recordings and live, that I wasn't expecting to be knocked out by it as I was.  I heard things I had not heard before although I am sure they have been there.  For me, that is one of the signs of a good performance:  the discovery of more than I knew was there.  The soloists were uniformly excellent and the chorus was excellent, too.

It was a great evening.  When I got home I got to work making a cake I planned to take to a pot luck the next day.  I knew that it would not cool enough to frost if I made it in the morning.

The neighborhood potluck was very pleasant, attended by interesting people.  I never know who will come to these monthly gatherings and that is part of the fun of it.

In the meantime I have finished weaving the towels you saw underway in the last post.  I have finished, hemmed and washed all of them and ironed about half of them.  When I have ironed them all I will photograph the lot so you can see them, too.  I like them.

I am also working on clearing out some things I don't use to create more space to maneuver.  I will need it because I am going bionic!  On October 10th I am getting a new right knee.  As things are now, the injections that were miraculous for a while have stopped working so that knee hurts all of the time: sitting, standing, lying down, walking, etc.  I am looking forward to being free of that pain.

Monday, September 5, 2011

New towels underway!

Now you can see the color details I referred to in the last post.  The towels are now underway.  When these are finished, they will be for sale like all the others.  I like this one very much.





I am including two photos so you can see the entire towel.  Do you see why I like it?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Laboring on Labor Day weekend

The naturally pigmented cotton cloth is finished, washed and ironed:

I have a favorite, loose-fitting summer top that I will use as a pattern to make a top from this cloth.  I have a sun hat the same color so I should look pretty spiffy.








I have chosen the colors and measured out the warp for the next set of towels.  I have beamed the warp (enough for 13 of them) and threaded more than half the warp.  It's a bit over 20 inches wide ( ~50 cm).  I always look forward to threading my loom because I can sit inside it on a stool that is just the right size (another Jim Hokett creation), listen to a recording of a book (Laura Lippman at the moment) and thread away.  To be honest, I am always a little bit sorry when I get to the end, although then I get to draw the threads through the reed, tie them on and get started making cloth....so there are compensations!

Here is where things are:

What you can't see in this photo are the orange borders of the rose/coral stripes and the blue violet bordered with gray/white marl in the turquoise borders.  You'll see those details later.

I like them already.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to work

My duaghter just left.  She lives in Massachusetts and will be flying there in a few days.  She was here for nearly a week during which time I did almost no weaving--as you might imagine.  I don't see her often so we must make the most of time we have, when we have it.

I did take her photo but she was adamant that I not post it and I bow to her wishes.

The cotton cloth is in the end stage at the moment.  I have a special shuttle, made by Jim Hokett, (Hokett Would Working), that is long but made with a very shallow profile especially for weaving the last few inches of the warp.  I think I can squeeze another inch out of this warp which will leave only about 8" unwoven (the depth of the castle, essentially).  I know I will find this shuttle endlessly useful.  You can see it here:

It came with a bobbin, which was fortunate because I use a Shacht double-ended bobbin winder and don't think I could make a quill using it.

Once I have woven this off, I will make some more cotton towels.  I have the colors all picked out.  They will contrast with this almost no-color warp.  (But, remember that once I have washed this cloth there will be a lot of green.)

I'm feeling a bit let down having my daughter go again.  She lives so far away that we don't get to see each other often.

By the way, as it turned out the appointment I made in June for a colonoscopy fell during Susan's visit.  While the prep was miserable (you need to be squeaky clean inside!) the whole procedure was the best experience I have had with any colonoscopy I have ever had (6th).  I grow polyps and need to get them cleared out at intervals and I am good to go for now!  Have you had yours?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nearly two yards in....

I have woven nearly two yards of the new cotton fabric.  The warp consists of half 12/2 naturally pigmented cotton, here shown in a better picture, washed and unwashed:

The yarn as it comes from the tube is shown on the left.  On the right, you see it after it was simmered in water with washing soda and a little Dawn dishwashing liquid and dried.  The change in color is dramatic.


Magical, isn't it?







The cloth underway on the loom consists of one end of the yarn above and one of a pretty fine but highly refined cotton, a 36/2.  They alternate across the warp and the weft is solely the very fine cotton.   The cloth on the loom looks like this:


I plunked down the little reelings I photographed above so you can see them and get a little sense of the scale of the cloth.  It is fairly open plain weave which when washed will come together to be a little less transparent. 

Sad to say, the 36/2 breaks very easily.  If a couple of threads cling to each other and are struck by the shuttle, that's that and I need to do some mending.  I have done a lot of mending but once the fabric is off the loom and washed thoroughly, none of the mends should show.  I watch ALL the time so that I can catch broken ends and do the mending promptly.

Meanwhile, I am having trouble with my camera.  I can only get one image at a time and then have to fiddle and fiddle.  I think something is wrong with its innards and since it is under warranty, it will be shipped back for factory repairs.  I have a less capable camera I will use in the mean time.  I am grateful that it still works!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Silk washed and ironed and the next thing....

I finished weaving the samples last night and washed and ironed (yes, ironed because I wanted to show off the luster of this lovely silk) the samples today.  Here is how the experiment turned out:

The colors are vibrant and I think you can see the luster of this beautiful silk.   This piece is going off to Redfish Dyeworks as soon as I can get it packed up and addressed. I promised Elf and Sandra a sample and I keep my promises
 When I taught at MAFA in 2009 (Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association conference) I stopped in the A Touch of Twist booth.  While I was looking around I found some naturally pigmented cotton for sale.  They had a 10/2 green and a 12/2 olive (a darker green once washed).  I know that the cotton fiber in the boll is covered with a sort of waxy covering.  Unless you are spinning cotton yourself, that coating is usually removed before the cotton comes to handweavers as yarns.  In the case of the naturally pigmented cottons, no bleaching or dyeing is performed so the yarns come to us with that waxy covering intact.  The color of the yarn once that coating has been removed is very different for these naturally colored cottons.  I particularly like the olive green and decided that I would like a simple cotton top for summer wear.

The cotton, 12/2, woven across itself, even plain weave (which produces the lightest fabric for a given yarn) would be heavier than what I wanted.  I bought a very fine, very refined, cotton (~36/2) some years back.  It is what I would call oyster-colored, a very light, neutral gray and I decided it would be good with the olive color.  The plan is to alternate them in the warp and perhaps use just the fine cotton in the weft or perhaps use two shuttles, on pick of each, alternating.
The little winding on the right is the color on the cone.  The darker color on the left is what the yarn looks like when it has been scoured.  What I did was put some hot water in a little pan along with washing soda and just a little dishwashing liquid.  I simmered the yarn briefly and presto! the color was revealed.  Yes, you can wash the resulting fabric several times to develop the color, but using washing soda isn't harmful to cotton and is the quick way.

On to measure out the warp!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

An experiment

It has taken me some time to get my feet under me after IWC.  It isn't clear why it has taken so long but things are under control here and the lawn is freshly cut so I can get back to weaving.  I am rarely away from a loom for more than a day or two on either side of a teaching trip, but not this time.


I got some 20/2 silk from Redfish Dyeworks at IWC and have converted the skeins to cones--tedious job--and finally have the loom dressed and have begun weaving.  I am experimenting with the colors I brought home with me and am not sure yet whether I am sold on what I have begun to weave.  I don't make decisions about the cloth until it is off the loom, washed and pressed.

Here is what I am seeing:

I am weaving it in a two block twill and have almost made it through one complete color repeat. 

We'll see what I think when I have woven all of it and then finished the cloth.  The yarn is very easy to use: it's strong, smooth and lovely to touch.  A couple of the skeins are a little striated, not completely level dyeing.  I don't mind that at all; it simply points out that it was hand-dyed.  And of course, it was.  Elf is good at that!

What do you think?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

It occurs to me....

It occurs to me that not everyone who reads this blog would have seen Anasazi beans.  These are beans that were grown by the people who lived in cliff dwellings in the Four Corners area.  The corners of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet at a spot indicated by a brass marker.  (Yes, I have been there and you can play a sort of hopscotch with feet in Utah and New Mexico and then Arizona and Colorado.  And, yes, I have done it.)

I cooked some for dinner last night and had enough for lunch today and dinner again tomorrow.  They are very simple to cook:  I picked them over to remove tiny stones and pieces of dirt, rinsed them and then soaked them over night.  The next morning I dumped them, water and all, into a sieve and rinsed them.  Then I covered them with fresh water, put a lid on the pot and simmered them until they were tender.  It is important not to salt them or put in anything acidic (like tomatoes) if you want them to become tender; those things can be added later.

Yum!

This is what they look like:

They are creamy white with dark purple markings.  No two beans seem to have exactly the same markings and the color changes when they are soaked, but aren't they pretty?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Re-entry

I am home from the Intermountain Weavers' Conference.  And what a wonderful conference it was!  I have some idea of what goes into a conference that runs smoothly, so smoothly that it seems to be effortless.  But to do that requires a LOT of effort, mainly beforehand but also during the conference itself.

First, the site, Durango, Colorado, is beautiful.  It was warmer than usual while we were there but the humidity was very low which always makes it more comfortable.  Sweating works when it is dry!

I had a full class, fifteen participants.  They had widely different levels of experience, which is common for me, but all of them worked hard and did well.  It was interesting to watch them create stripe designs using black construction paper on Bristol board (about the same as poster board).  Right away it was easy to spot who liked simple designs and those who created more elaborate ones.  Neither is better--just different.  If I could hire a sky-writer I would commission the phrase "Different is good!"

I threw in a lot of information that wasn't advertised, as usual, and they stayed with me the entire way, even those who had been weaving for only about a year.  What brave souls!  I honor courage and know that to take a new class requires courage, so I feel very tender toward my students.  They were so good!

I drove to this conference as I mentioned.  I was 1 for 2.  There were no horned larks at the Crescent Junction rest stop.  It was very hot at about 1 or 2 when I got there, so that might have had something to do with it.  I'd have checked on the way back but it was starting to get dark and the cataracts that are developing make driving after dark unpleasant and unsettling for me. 

I delayed my departure from Monticello the next morning so that I wouldn't get to Dove Creek too early to buy beans.  The place where I stop is on the far side (coming from the west) of Dove Creek.  I missed seeing the "Pinto Bean Capitol of the World" sign and asked about it at the store.  I was told that the governor told them it had to be taken down because apparently one of the Dakotas now grows more pinto beans than Dove Creek.  In case you go, it's the  Adobe Milling Company (on the left as you drive towards Durango) and doesn't seem to have changed in the decades I have been stopping there.  Great beans.

Here is a picture I took along the road to Crescent Junction.  I hadn't gotten to the part of Utah with red rocks but this mesa off the road with the gorgeous cumulus clouds growing behind it caught my eye.

Sad to say, the rest of the pictures were taken in B/W mode which made them unmemorable.  With sunglasses on I didn't see what I had done!


I have been working on re-entry tasks: laundry, reassuring Bob and Lola, grocery shopping, banking, bill paying, correspondence, mowing the lawn, watering the garden, etc.  There is always a lot to do before leaving and at least as much once I return.

I am still replaying the memories of IWC, the people there, old friends and new ones.....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Still catching up

I haven't woven since I left to teach at MAFA.  Instead I planted some things my neighbor gave me (coleus plants of various colors and something new to me, dwarf taro bulbs).  I think the coleus plants will make it.  I am not sure that the taro which would prefer more water than I am willing to spend on it will.  They are out in the area between the sidewalk and the street, the parkway.  Mine is 18 feet deep and planted with drought-tolerant plants.  The question, then, is:  can dwarf taro take a joke?  We'll see.

I have been doing laundry, cleaning, and picking raspberries!  There were a few raspberry canes here when I bought this house late in 1989 and now they are growing in mad abundance.  I eat some on my breakfast food each morning.  It is too hot to consider making jam but these will bear again in the fall when I need to make more.  I eat little of it but like to give it to friends.

Bob and Lola are now settled again after my absence.  I need to break the news to them that next week I will be going to teach at the Intermountain Weavers Conference (IWC).  It will be held in Durango, Colorado, an eight and a half hour drive from here.  I am driving, something I rarely can do because most teaching jobs are too far away.  I plan to take two days so that I can do it in a leisurely manner.  For example, I know that at the Crescent Junction rest stop (where you turn right to go to Moab) there are almost always horned larks.  I never see them anywhere else.  The second day I will pass through a tiny town in western Colorado called Dove Creek.  It bills itself as "the pinto bean capitol of the world" and it may be.  There is a store there where I will stop to buy pinto beans but also black beans and the beautiful anasazi beans.  Anasazi beans were found in an anasazi ruin and grown so that now they are a crop.  They are about the size and shape of pinto beans but they are creamy white and deep reddish purple!  Gorgeous--and delicious, too.

Can you tell that I am looking forward to this trip?  And I get to teach, too.  I am presenting the workshop on designing and weaving stripes.  We start with design principles and practice making several different kinds of stripes with strips of paper (black on white), introduce a color and then a second color.  Finally the participants turn to their looms where they can weave the designs they have made.  They will weave several different structures to see how different structures affect the stripe sequence.  It's fun.

Tonight I widened the brick driveway a bit near the sidewalk so that the folks who deliver my newspaper each morning won't be driving on the grass and making a mud hole there.  It's a miserable enough job to have to be up and out before the sun is up delivering papers.  This should protect the sprinkling system and keep that area mud-free and looking nice.  Sweaty work though!  Time to hit the shower.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Home again!

I got home late last night from Gettysburg, PA and teaching at the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association Conference.  This year, like two years ago, MAFA was held at Gettysburg College.  Last time there were just under 150 attendees and this year it was much closer to 200.  MAFA is growing!

For a Utahn, used to dry heat, the heavy humidity was shocking even if expected.  Sometimes it felt that I was trying to breathe bath water but the dorm was air-conditioned and the classroom, too, although less effectively.

I was teaching Color and Weave Effects, a class about how a color rotation of light and dark threads in the warp direction and also in the weft direction changes the appearance of even the simplest weaves.  In fact, my favorite patterns in color and weave effect are woven plain weave.  Each participant had prepared a loom on which to weave both plain weave and 2/2 twills--and if more than four shafts were involved, more structures. 

I taught the participants to draft the designs so that they could see what a certain color rotation would produce.  After they had done some weaving they learned how to work from a design that they want to produce to the draft that will produce it--if it is possible.  Then I showed them how to transfer some of the wonderful small patterns of plain weave into large versions of themselves using profile drafting.  It was the most complete version of this workshop I have ever been able to present.  We had two and a half full days and we made the most of them.

I can't praise the participants enough!  They worked hard, stayed with me all the way and seemed to be having a good time as they did it.  It was fun for me, even though I was battling a cold, and I think they had fun, too.

Here is a picture of a color and weave effect fabric.  This one is made up entirely of plain weave, the simplest of all weave structures.  The patterns in it are very cool, I think.


This picture shows more variety.  The black and white one is woven in 2/2 twill.  All of these made the trip to Gettysburg.


I have done the laundry, gotten the sprinkler system repaired at last, and gone through the mail that arrived in my absence.  Today I slept in although I awoke at 5:30 EDT as I had been doing, but because I was in Utah, not Pennsylvania, I went back to sleep, gratefully.

As is always the case, no matter how wonderful the trip is. I was and am very glad to be home!

Monday, July 4, 2011

All finished!

The newest batch of cotton towels is completely finished.  They are all hemmed, washed and ironed dry.  This is what they look like in small piles:

Just one has been opened out to display the border.  They are quite cheerful looking, I think, and are now ready to go to new homes.

Interested?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Eleventh of twelve....

After a long, wet, cool spring we have leaped into summer with temperatures in the high 90s.  Considering that it is now July (already!) it is appropriate, I suppose, but it makes me want to stay inside and weave, so that is what I have been doing.

The warp of new towels is progressing nicely.  Here is a photo of towel number eleven (of twelve):

I am using three of the five colors from inside the blue-violet borders  as weft in this towel.  As usual, I start the warp by weaving the towels more or less as they were threaded and after I have finished all of those then I start weaving variations.  This is one of those variations.

Do you see how cheery it is?  I am enjoying them but once they are finished I have to spend full time getting ready to leave town.  I am presenting a workshop at the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association Conference (MAFA) next weekend.  I have, of course, been doing preparations for some time but I need to pack everything so that I will be ready to leave very, very early Thursday morning.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Yes, a second post in one day!

I am happy with what the new towels look like now that I am weaving, so happy I decided to take a photo for you to see:

I am using the lightest of the yellow to orange wefts for the first towel.  I look forward to seeing how the more intense colors look in the cloth.

Onward!

The new towels

Here is a photo of the new towels:
There are eleven of them available.  No two of them are exactly alike although the resemblance between them is strong.










I have measured out and beamed the next towel warp.  The colors are cheerful and I know I will enjoy weaving these towels.  (I may even keep one!)

Everything is ready to thread and threading is one of my favorite parts of the process--there isn't ANY part that I really don't like--so I will go to do that now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finishing up a few things

Few feelings are as good as finishing up a project or, better still, two of them.

The towels you saw underway here are now cut from the loom, serged apart, hemmed and soaking overnight in hot water (plus Synthrapol) to prevent tracking.  I know, I know, some folks just love tracking but for these towels, I don't.  I want to see the color blends that happen when the colors are woven across each other and tracking is distracting.

Tomorrow when the water is cool--and it was in the mid-90s here today--I will machine wash them in hot water and a vigorous cycle and then iron them dry.  I will have a dozen plus a souvenir that will join my collection of woven samples.

But the bigger news is that I will have my new, vastly improved web site up and running very soon, probably tomorrow.  You can't imagine how wonderful that will be for me.  It has been embarrassing  even to mention my web site because it was so out of date.  I even took a class last fall to gain the skills to do it myself but all that came out of that was this blog.  I had hoped to learn to use Dreamweaver but that didn't really happen.

So what has changed?  When I taught at CNCH (Conference of Northern California Handweavers) in Sutter Creek, California one of the participants in my workshop was a woman who designs web sites.
Gayle Hulburt has been working with me since I finished all the work for my show and the web site is nearly ready to launch.  I am both relieved and delighted.

I hope you will visit it and let me know what you think!  (www.sharonalderman.com)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New cotton towels

The new towel warp is well under way.  I have begun the ninth one on this warp.  It is eleven yards twelve inches long so I ought to get a dozen from this warp.  I chose several reds because one of them is for a friend--belated birthday present--who loves red:
Two of the colorways are shown in this photo.
To the left the number of picks of red is the same as the number of ends of red.  To the right there are half as many picks as ends.  The large number of shuttle changes--no shuttle is used for as much as one inch--is large and slows progress but makes and interesting towel.

The towel to the left was cut off partway into the weaving.  I made a new-to-me error in routing the woven cloth through the loom to the cloth storage beam at the back near the floor.  There is a series of metal rollers that the cloth goes around and I had skipped one of them.  The loom works better when it is dressed properly--duh!--so I re-routed the apron and now everything is going smoothly.


I'd have thought I had over the years made all the mistakes possible but it seems I am endlessly inventive!

Onward.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The show opened tonight

Tonight was the opening of the show towards which I have worked for months.  It ran from six to nine and was well attended.  I sent out invitations to people I particularly hoped to see whom I thought were probably not on the gallery list and was very happy to see some of them there. 

Three hours is a long time to stand talking to people--although when I do that for a class the time just flies.  I wonder why there is such a difference....  I met a couple who have over the years purchased six pieces; tonight they added another one to their collection.  I had never met them before so it was a particular pleasure to do so tonight.  Two other pieces were sold yesterday so by the end of the evening there were three red dots.  It's a start.

Once I delivered the last piece for framing I dived into things that had suffered in my headlong push toward this show.  The next day I did four loads of laundry, for example.  All that for just one person.

I've had two injections in my right knee with the third one due next Wednesday morning.  They are still effective for me for which I am very grateful.  I lead a physically active life and have every intention of continuing to do so!  Major gardening is overdue and I am chipping away at that mammoth job.  I like gardening and because I deferred work in favor of weaving for this show, there was/is plenty to do. 

Today I cut big bouquets of huge, white peonies, another of Peace Roses and a third of Sheer Bliss roses.  The last variety is a  very pale pink with perfect form and heavenly fragrance.  Living with fresh flowers is a great pleasure to me!

Pictures of the newest warp will follow, but not tonight.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Almost ready

I am almost ready for the show at the Phillips Gallery toward which I have been working for months!  I finished weaving the last piece yesterday late, wove in a rod and put a fabric glue around it to hold it in place and left it to dry over night.  This morning I cut off the piece I had woven and lashed the rod to the apron rod so I can continue to weave on this warp.

I took the newly woven piece to finish the raw edges, washed it vigorously and ironed it flat.  Now I have hemmed it and sewn on a label--the way I "sign" the pieces.  It is ready to take to the framer in the morning.  In the meantime I had six pieces to sew to their matts and have done that, too.  One of them, somewhere along the way looked as if it had become soiled so I re-washed it and ironed it before stitching it to the matt. 

Here are some of the pieces:
I call this one November Gold after the colors in the poplar family trees (aspens, cottonwoods, Lombardy poplars) at that time of year.  I have included the twig colors, too.













I call this one Sunlit Stones after the stones at the edge of the Colorado River down in the bottom of the Marble Canyon (just before the canyon opens into the Grand Canyon).  The false light flare is just visible in this photo above the center and a little to the right.








This is Thinking of Spring.

















In the Pink, from the warp about the stones using just the pink colors in the weft.




Below: Just Peachy.  Same warp but none of the pinks used in the weft.






















The darker colored one is Isn't it Rich? so named because of the rich colors and the application of 24 K gold leaf on the surface.


Considering how many hours go into each one, you have a lot of my life right here!

Yesterday I was walking and caught my toe under the slab of the sidewalk that I hadn't noticed was elevated about an inch and a half (by a tree root?) and fell hard, full length on the sidewalk.  Today both hands, wrists, my left shoulder and my knees--particularly the one that has been so painful for so long--are telling me all about it.  That should teach me not to look at the flowers when I am out walking....  But I am betting that I will continue to look!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Photos, at last

Here are the colors I am using in the newest warp.  This will be the final one for the show simply because I am running out of time.  These colors are what the group I assembled a long time ago and posted on March 16th (title "Whew!").  At that time I was thinking about the colors in a vineyard with just ripening red, red/purple grapes.  It never really came together for me as it was but I kept the box of spools and kept looking at them.  Finally I realized that it was the darkest colors that were putting me off so I starting sorting, re-sorting, arranging and re-arranging, editing, editing, and editing some more.
Finally, the colors you see above emerged.  It doesn't look so much like a vineyard now but is more the colors I see around me during spring here.  (And believe it or not, spring has finally arrived.  There was snow at the first of the week along with more rain, but today it is to be 80 degrees.) 

The lilies of the valley have finished but the phlox that was here when I bought my house over twenty years ago are in fragrant bloom.  The peonies that are usually blooming generously on Memorial Day are still in bud, ditto the Peace roses.  It's too early for any of the roses in my garden although I have seen a few in bloom around town.

I have begun to weave this new warp as you can see:
The colors look a little washed out here, but I think I like where this is going to go.  I need to get back to work on it now.










A little later I will photograph the pieces from the last series.  They are here with their matt boards so that I can sew their upper edges to it.  I use only acid-free, all rag matts for these pieces and conservation glass in their frames.  I have, in all, six pieces to stitch before Tuesday.  I learned long ago that the color of the matt board is critical and the choices I made seem to me to be just right.

Back to work!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wonderful concert tonight!

I have been weaving non-stop until today when I cut the lawns, front and back, did some digging out in the front perennial garden where I replaced a large upright rosemary that died this winter with a smoke tree.  The leaves are a red-purple and it will get to be pretty big but I am hoping that it won't resent my trimming it back to keep it shorter than the 15 feet its tag predicted.  Where the other upright rosemary was (a lot of things that keep their leaves through the winter died all over town this winter) I planted another.  The first one started out as little more than a twig and was over knee high and well-filled out when it perished so I hope this one will thrive, too.

I did errands (Home Depot to buy hardware to repair my wheelbarrow), Costco for food, etc.  In the end I didn't get any weaving done at all today and am bone weary tonight but exhilarated, too.

The exhilaration comes from the Utah Symphony concert I just attended.  I usually go on Saturday evenings but a conflict required that I switch my ticket for tonight.  I wouldn't have willingly missed this one.

It began with Ives' Three Places in New England.  It was evocative of what I know of New England and rather delightful but not the star of the evening.  The concert was billed as Rite of Spring, the last piece on the program, but I was looking forward to hearing R. Strauss' Four Last Songs.  Our soprano was Janice Chandler Eteme.  Wow.  I know Four Last Songs pretty well, have several recordings of it and love it.  She sang wonderfully.  I turned to a friend and said "Imagine opening your mouth and having something like that come out!"  Her voice is lustrous and made me think of heavy silk charmeuse, smooth and shining and lovely.  It was a sort of deep amber and wonderful.  She is elegant looking and regal which only added to the experience for me.

FLS was Stauss' last composition and we can only hope that we create something wonderful at the end or our lives.  The poems (three by Herman Hesse and one by Joseph von Eichendorff) are "Spring", "September", "Going to Sleep" and "Sunset" respectively.  They describe, in a way, the arc of a life.  The words of the last, "Im Abendorf" in original German, are quietly accepting, even welcoming of death.  Some say they show resignation, but I think that isn't quite right because there seems to be no resistance or sense giving up.  If there is ever a memorial service for me; I think the fourth song would be perfect.

The last piece on the program was Rite of Spring.  What a contrast to the quiet, introspective FLS!  A long time ago I saw the ballet in Paris.  It was wild and exciting and also horrifying.  The music, in the end, depicts the sacrifice of a young girl, a horrible thing to contemplate.  The music, though, is amazing and tonight it was played so well.  The orchestra was a full strength with two bass clarinets, two contrabasoons  and a base flute, instruments we don't often see or hear.

I went to the pre-concert lecture which was packed.  The more I see and hear from our new conductor, Thierry Fischer, the happier I am that he has come here.  And I started out pretty happy....

Sad to say, the bagpiper was out front after the concert again.  That instrument was designed to be heard over great distances and when the distance is only 15 feet it is overpowering. 

I will return to weaving tomorrow and there will be pictures.......

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Progress on the new warp

This is what you would see on my loom if you were here this evening:
What appears to be a light flare toward the center is actually the colors of the threads that weave that part of the piece.  I am very pleased with how it is going.

I will need to stop working on it because my right knee (I am using a Macomber which is heavy lifting) hurts a lot tonight.  I saw the doctor this morning planning to get the injection that will relieve the pain and provide the lubrication within the joint.  Today is one week short of the six months required by my insurance so I have to wait.  At least I know that relief is coming, if not mine tonight.  So I am going to take a non-steroidal pain reliever and go to bed.  Knee replacement is in my future but I am not in a hurry to do that.

After I saw my doctor I took several pieces in to begin the framing process.  They always look better framed than unframed--or else why do it?--and I look forward to seeing how they turn out.  I will need to sew the pieces to their mats and sign the mats before they are finished.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Progress!

I spent part of Monday and Tuesday measuring out the warp of the colors I posted last and have been threading today.  Here you can see the colors and progress, both:
I have  threaded about a third of the 1100+ end warp.  Sometimes the colors are so close in hue and value that it is tricky getting them threaded correctly but a strong light helps.

Perhaps you can see the colors more clearly to the left and below:
What you can't see yet are the narrow stripes that represent the colors I saw in the sky while down in the canyon.  (These colors were seen in  Marble Canyon where the walls of stone are pretty close together and the water very fast and cold.)  When the canyon opens out it takes on the name, the Grand Canyon.  And grand it is.

Speaking of grand, tonight the Utah Opera Company performed Falstaff and I was there.  The sets were very good (Designed by Wolfram Skalicki, and made by the Canadian Opera Company Scenery) and added to the whole experience because the Garter Inn was just seedy enough, The Fords' home elegant and understated, and Windsor Forest spooky and perfect for the second scene in the third act.

All the singers were good.  I was particularly struck with the voices of Sharin Apostolou, our Nanetta, a pure and lovely soprano and Aaron Black, our Fenton, a tenor out of the mold of Jussi Bjoerling whose voice always sounded as though it emanated from the center of his forehead--no chest-y sounds at all.  They made a delightful young couple.  Steven Condy was our Falstaff and absolutely convincing with just the right voice for his part.  He was pompous and self-absorbed and oblivious, utterly convinced that he was irresistible and a delight.  The costumes were perfect, as always.  This is the last opera where the costumes were designed by Susan Memmott-Allred who has been designing wonderful,  beautiful and completely appropriate costumes since 1979.  I based one of the Swatch Collections I used to do for Handwoven magazine on a costume she designed for the first act of Samson and Delilah many years ago. 

I love looking at the colors in the sets and costumes and thinking about how they are designed to draw the eye to where I need to be looking and how the colors often suggest the nature or temperament of the characters in the opera.

All that and beautiful music, too! Who could ask for more?


Monday, May 16, 2011

What a wonderful weekend!

I am freshly home from teaching at CNCH.  The Conference of Northern California Handweavers was held in Sutter (or Sutter Creek), California at the Day's Inn there.  It was an intimate conference, small enough so we could all meet everyone there.  My class was full to capacity and what a lovely bunch of weavers they were!

One of the real pleasures of teaching at a conferencee is getting to spend time with friends of long standing who are there as presenters.  It was such a pleasure to have time with Sara Lamb, Linda Ligon, Deb Robson!  It was wonderful to see participants I know from other times and places and likewise wonderful to meet some whom I hope to see again and again.  If you are a weaver and have never been to a weaving conference you have missed an experience like no other.  To be in a place with many people who speak your language and are also enthusiastic about the things that matter to you is very exciting--even after all these years!

I have gone through re-entry today doing laundry, grocery shopping, visiting the library to pick up something being held for me and going to the bank.  Whew!  I am working on the warp for the new pieces now.  I thought I had the colors all picked out before I left on Friday morning but did some modifications today and now they look like this:

These are the colors I saw at the first camp site during the trip down the Grand Canyon in 2005.  The sand at the river edge and the stones down there looked like this.  I will add the blue colors in fine stripes to bring the sky to mind.  It was such a wonderful experience that I think about it often!
(Thanks, Joanne!)

I have also taken photos of the three pieces from the last warp that I washed, ironed, hemmed and in general finished just before I left home.

The first one is woven with both the warm and cooler colors:

Both warm and cool colors are used in the weft direction.  The result is very rich looking.  Odd that this warp, unthreaded, looked like dark abalone, isn't it?  The blocks of color always push and shove against each other making the maximum contrast.

The other two pieces from this warp are about the same size, one woven with the warm wefts and the other only with the cool ones.  They should probably be shown as a diptych:

I like the contrast between them and each has areas I can almost lose myself in.

The more I weave these pieces  the better I like the newer ones.  Am I improving as I go or just getting more in tune with them?  It doesn't really matter.  I only wish I had more time to make more before the show has to be framed and hung. 

Any weaver can tell you that weaving at 90 epi and 90 ppi goes slowly.  And now, back to it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Working hard

I have been working hard since I last posted here.  To thread ~1800 threads (color order accurately threaded) took some time. although it didn't pose any problems.  A strong light source helps a lot.  Sleying seems to be my downfall with these warps recently--the cataracts get worse--and I started weaving before discovering two places where the sett wasn't 4 per dent but 8 per dent.  Re-sleying created new errors.  Fortunately I don't get either angry or highly frustrated when that happens,  just keep working.  Finally, I had everything right.

This is actually the second piece on this warp.  I have been keeping my head down and just working and working.  The first one has the colors more mixed up in the weft direction.  The weft order in this piece moves from the bluest through the reddest to the rusty colors of the warp.  It isn't finished yet so I may change directions in the final third.

I like the mix of colors and particularly the richness.


I have selected, provisionally, the colors for the next pieces which will be smaller (narrower) than this series.  Unless I change my mind, the next set will be based on colors in the Marble Canyon portion along the Colorado River.  I was fortunate to take a rafting trip down the river starting at Lee's Ferry and going through the Marble Canyon and the Grand Canyon in 2005.  I think of it often.

Back to the loom!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Long time, no post

No, nothing's wrong.  I have been moving pretty fast but not sitting down long enough to post here.  I have completed several pieces, been to a remarkable opera and concert and watched it rain and snow and rain and snow.  More than two weeks condensed into one, sentence....wow.

I went to see Capriccio, the most recent HD Live from the Met broadcast.  I love the music of Richard Strauss and Renee Fleming can probably do wrong but I seriously doubt it.  It was ravishing, particularly the last twenty minutes when her character, Madeleine, is to decide between two suitors, a poet and a composer, and finally decides that she cannot choose.  Put that simply, it seems overly simple, but in reality the scene is very, very moving and had me close to tears.  Of course the music had a lot to do with that, perhaps everything to do with it.  I loved it.  I won't see another this season and that is all right because it was just the right way to end.

That evening the Utah Symphony and the Utah Symphony chorus performed A Child of Our Time.  Keith Lockart, our conductor emeritus whose term ended with that concert, was the conductor.  He does very well with large, choral pieces and this was one I had never heard before.  It was written by Michael Tippet, a passionate British pacifist.  It was inspired by a young Polish Jew who went into the German embassy in Paris (Nov. 7, 1938) and shot a German official in the name of the persecuted Jews.  Kristallnacht followed that event by two days and was blamed on the young man.  The text of the music is somber and is a heart-felt cry about the tragedy that was the second world war.  Incorporated into the music are African American spirituals which it seemed to me were there to emphasize that even if we were born after the events leading up to the second world war and had no part in the holocaust, we are in fact culpable because similar persecution has been aimed at African Americans in our own country and time.  It was very affecting.  The soloists were excellent.

....and there was no bagpipe to intrude into the mood created by this important piece of music.

I have finished work to show you plus a glimpse of what is coming up next.
I have added gold leaf to the surface of this piece which you saw while it was still on the loom.











The piece from the brightly colored warp is finished and looks like this:

The colors are not as brilliant as the first piece from this warp but are more interesting to my eye.  The brilliant colors show up now and then and I like that, too.






The last piece from this warp took longer than the first two together because I wove the bottom so that it is very irregular.  The warp hasn't been cut and frayed, but is all woven so that there are selvedges everywhere.  I couldn't fit all of it in one shot so I am posting two, side by side:
The fringes seem intent on curling up.  When it is framed, they will be brushed very gently to straighten them out.  It can be done but left to their own devices, they like to curl up.

The warp for the next couple of pieces has been measured out with all its color changes, beamed and is now being threaded.  As I was sitting down this evening to thread I looked at the colors of the warp in the light of the lamp clamped to my loom and was struck by how beautiful it is:
These are simply 100% cotton sewing thread and not all that shiny but all of the little threads together take on an nacreous quality.  As I looked at them, they seemed to have come from the interior of an abalone shell.  I could just dive in and stay there.

I am an anglophile and because of that I set my alarm for 3:15 AM this morning so that I could get up and watch the wedding of Prince William to his Kate.  It was flawless, elegant and beautiful and very British.  One of my favorite choral composers, John Rutter, composed a piece for the occasion that was sung by the choir of men and boys.  The stately hymn, Jerusalem, was also part of the service and never fails to bring tears to my eyes partly because of its stately beauty and partly because it was sung at the funeral of a Welshman whom I loved.  What a day this has been!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Long but great day yesterday

The day began early on Saturday with my getting ready to drive around the marathon route to get to the site of the third day of the workshop.  I left earlier than usual but got there a little later than usual.  I hadn't known that there were construction areas that complicated the alternate route, slowing down traffic as everyone who was trying to go around had to get into one narrow lane.

The workshop ended well with my feeling sorry that it was over.  I drove home without incident--the runners were all nursing sore muscles and feet, I suppose--and got here in time to make dinner and get ready for the concert by the Utah Symphony.  I was pretty tired and wasn't sure I would be able to stay awake--sitting quietly has its hazards!

I ought not to have been concerned.  What a good program it was.  Gerard Schwartz stood in for Roberto Minezuk who was obliged to cancel at almost the last moment.  The cancellation altered the program a little with the substitution of the Overture to the Flying Dutchman in place of Korngold's Much Ado about Nothing suite.  The Wagner overture was rousing and well-played.  It was followed by Mozart's Concerto No. 3 in G Major for Violin played by Karen Gomyo.  She is a tiny young woman whose slightness does not hint at what she can do.  Her playing was elegant, graceful and delicate-sounding.  The very sweet tone of the Stradivarus she plays was just right for this concerto.  Meanwhile the orchestra playing was transparent and light.  It was just perfect.

After the intermission the stage filled completely with musicians for Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra.  I love Strauss for exactly the opposite reasons I love Mozart.  That seems contradictory I suppose, but I love the richness of the Strauss sound.  If it were cloth, it would be richly colored and heavily textured, something I would want to wrap myself in.  Being there last night surrounded by the sound of the orchestra in this detailed and passionate piece was almost a physical experience.  I ate it up.

Surprisingly--to me, at least--the concert ended with Johan Strauss, Jr. (no relation that I know) On the Beautiful Blue Danube.  I give Schwartz full credit for not making it into the mawkish, over-sentimental music it can be in the wrong hands. 

So it was an evening of musical contrasts, all very tuneful and all appealing in different ways and I loved it.  We are lucky to have the chance to attend live performances of such a good orchestra.  I scrimp on other things to be able to buy season tickets.

Alas, the bag piper was back.  If his instrument were not so penetrating and impossible to ignore it wouldn't intrude as much on the mood.

Today I repaired some of the things I had taken to the workshop as examples and made a couple of new ones to replace those for which a repair wasn't possible.  Besides laundry, correspondence, bill paying and making up to Bob and Lola for being gone, I haven't done much today.  Power was out for part of the early evening so I grilled most of my dinner while I waited for it to be restored. (Now, obviously, it's back.)

Tomorrow I can weave again!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Briefly

The workshop is going well.  It is filled to capacity and everyone is working hard.  The study of color theory and putting it into practice is brand new to some participants and not so new to others.  I taught this topic for the same guild in 1988 (as someone who took that class, too, told me today). 

Of course, I bring more to this workshop than I did for the one years ago because I have learned more, woven more examples and had some insights into how to present the material in a way that will connect faster and better.

Last night--today was day 2 of 3--I was tired enough that I headed for the shower at about 8:30 PM.  I hadn't slept well the night before.  Today I had to drive a fair distance after class to pick up my completed tax returns before the business closed for the day.  I am teaching in a town south and west of Salt Lake City and needed to go two towns north of the city where my CPA is.  That is done and I am glad.

There is just one more day of class and then tomorrow evening I have a ticket to the Utah Symphony which will be a wonderful way to cap things off!  I have been working with a number of weavers whom I know pretty well and quite a few who were unknown to me before the workshop whom I would like to continue to know.  I am enjoying these folks very much.

This was just a note--no photos, sorry--to let you know that thing are going well and I am hanging in there.  We had lots of snow yesterday and today was clear and dry and cold (high20s last night) but tomorrow it is projected to be warmer.  Tomorrow is the Salt Lake City Marathon so I will drive north to get south because I need to skirt the race course.  I am lucky because some years it comes right in front of my house which would make my "getting to work" difficult. 

On Sunday I will return to the warp I left waiting for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Whew!

I have been scrambling.  I turned in the tax information last week and got a call last night from someone at the CPA's office asking for clarification about four things.  So, out came the files with all the receipts and statements for the year.  After a little less than three hours all was clear and ready to phone in this morning.

I used time I had hoped to devote to refining my samples and examples for the workshop that begins in the morning.  I have taken care of all of that today and put everything in the order I will show it so everything is ready.  This workshop is in a suburb of Salt Lake City so I can sleep in my own sweet, little bed tonight and the other nights.  A definite plus.  And, because I am driving there I can carry more than I can when I teach in another location.

I discovered to my complete dismay this afternoon that via Bill Pay on-line I had somehow over-paid my home owner's insurance to the tune of $600.  That is a significant sum for me and means I can't pay some other things until it is straightened out.  Argh!!  I think I have put things in motion but need to call very early tomorrow morning before I leave for class to let the insurance company know that I have put a stop payment on the check issued by my bank.  Of course, I am paying for the privilege.

But, having dealt with all of that, I was able to devote an hour to weaving on the current piece on the loom:
The colors are actually far more intense than what I see here with flashes of very bright colors now and then. 

I like what is happening and can't wait to continue work on this piece, but I must wait until the workshop ends.  Perhaps I can return to it some time on Sunday.

In the meantime, I will be teaching a full workshop on color for the next three days.  It will be a workout for the participants and for me--and a lot of fun, too.
Wish us luck!