Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back to the snow shovel

Lots more snow fell in the night.  I waited until close to noon to clear the walks, driveway, etc. today. That may have been a mistake because feet had trodden the snow into ice but all hail to ice melter!  I shovelled and chipped and sprinkled.  And just as I was stamping the stuff off my boots I noticed that it had begun to snow again!

It's good cardio, right?

This will be another cleaning up day.  I will wash out the refrigerator, then clean the floor and then lay the clean, dry handwoven rug that is now in the washing machine.  That will feel good--when it is finished, at least.

Not very camera worthy, though....

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Between Events

Here we are, between Christmas and New Year's Day, sort of a no man's land of the calendar.  There was a time when I set aside this week to work on things that I wanted to do, not things I needed to do.  This year I seem to be doing it again. 

I worked on Christmas Eve Day on tidying up and cleaning.  It wasn't enough to undo all the damage done by inattention to anything other than commissioned work, but it made a difference and cheered me a lot.

I have returned to weaving now because I made the silk scarf warp long enough for two--it hardly pays to make a warp only long enough for a single scarf.  It is well under way now, again all silk and using the same weft but it is being woven in a different interlacement which repeats in 864 picks.
Yes, it looks similar to the one I wove before Christmas which considering that the threading and the yarns are all the same isn't surprising, but it is different, a fact that will be more apparent when it is taken from the loom.

Meanwhile, today a cold rain began to fall a little before noon following strong winds first thing this morning.  That pattern continued until about 4:30 this afternoon when the wind grew wild and started blowing the falling snow horizontally as it grew colder and colder.  Tonight it is still again with a smooth layer of snow over everything.  Up in the mountains, though, the snow fell thick and fast.  Before this storm there were 105 inches of snow at Alta, one of the older ski resorts in the Wasatch mountains that frame my city.  In fact the ski resorts closed early sending skiers down the hill--unless they were staying the night--because the roads were becoming impassable and avalanche danger was growing.
This was the view from my porch a few minutes ago.  The snow isn't very deep, except where the wind piled it up, only 5 or 6" but now the deep cold is setting in. 

Salt Lake City throws a big party to celebrate the end of one year and the start of the next.  These days it runs for three nights and is called 3VE (pronounced eev).  Tonight was the first night and by the last night (12/31) the temperature at midnight is predicted to be +3 Farenheit. (For those who use Celsius, that's about -16.)  I have been to colder places (Fairbanks in January 1989 where it got to -80 F), but +3 will do nicely. 

I am grateful to have a roof that doesn't leak and an efficient furnace that works!  I hope you are also warm and dry. 

Happy new year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


The last thing I had promised to make for someone else (a commission) before Christmas is now finished.  Ta da!
This silk scarf is woven so that the darker silk is sometimes eclipsed by the silvery weft and sometimes is emphasized, depending on the weave structure in a particular place.  Now that the cabled fringes are all dry I can gift wrap it and deliver it.  I am relieved.

Speaking of eclipses, I didn't get to see the one on the Solstice because it was snowing here.  The huge storm that barreled across the Pacific from Hawaii and did such damage in S. California and S. Utah manifested itself here as snow turning to rain, eventually.  We had about 6--7 inches of snow on the ground on Tuesday at my house and now that all the rain has fallen--again, not nearly as much as in the afore-mentioned places--all the snow is gone.  Of course, snow is and has been falling in the mountains.  That is where we need it because our water supply for the entire summer and autumn comes from the snow that accumulates there.  In this desert we are always grateful for water.

I have enough warp left on the loom for one more scarf.  I will change the way I weave this one and perhaps use a different silk weft in weaving it.  I need to clean my house, though, so the second scarf will wait until that job is done.  I have been weaving under tremendous pressure for two solid months and not paying very much attention to anything else with predictable results.

So, what do I want for Christmas?  A quiet day listening to music and reading would be lovely.  May your wishes come true and 2011 be a better year for all of us--even if 2010 was super for you!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Do you know what this means?

That's right:  you are looking at the empty sectional beam!!  All you can see are the extender cords I use so I can weave up to the end of the warp.  Tomorrow I will cut off the grill coth, inspect it, measure it, roll it up and put in a box to ship.

I finished weaving at about 3:30 and then walked to my warping board to start winding the warp for the scarf I must make, finish and deliver by Friday.  I will make it but it won't be easy.  I will post photos when there is something to see.

But in the meantime, a huge weight is lifted from me.  I need to wrap and ship gifts which will be sent via Priority Mail which will help the boxes get to their destinations in time.  No Christmas cards this year, alas, but something has to give because I am giving my all!

Tonight I went to a Christmas concert in which a friend was singing.  The Salt Lake Choral Artists performed wonderfully.  The major piece of the evening was Britten's Saint Nicholas Cantata which I had never heard before.  I loved it.   After the intermission there was a variety of pieces, some sung by the SLCA Young Choral Artists--children under age 12 (my best guess), Utah Premier Brass, the SLCA Women's Choir and the Salt Lake Choral Artists (=SLCA).  Everything was well done but for me the highlight of the evening was the Britten cantata.

One of the wonderful things about living in Salt Lake City is the wealth of music here.  I go to as much as I can afford.  Tonight's concert was a gift from Polly.  (Thanks, Polly!)

Now I need to get to bed because a large portion of tomorrow will be spent finishing up the grill cloth and working on the silk warp.

But for tonight I can rest easy.  Hooray!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting there!

I feel as though I am coming to the home stretch with this everlasting warp.  The roll of cloth is bigger than it was:
Don't you agree that the roll is bigger?  (Please say yes...)

Technically, I have woven almost enough to fulfill the order but there is warp left.  I wrote the company to ask whether they want the exact amount or as much as I can weave on this warp.  (It goes against my weaverly heart to cut off the warp and just abandon it.)  They want all I can weave so what I can weave from this point on is, as my father would have said, all gravy.

Then I need to weave a silk scarf, finish it, wrap it up and deliver it.  That usually isn't part of a commission but this was commissioned by a friend who lives elsewhere and I am sure there wouldn't be time to ship it to her so she could ship it back to Salt Lake City again.  I will photograph it for her--and for you--and send little lengths of the silk I use to her, although not to you.  Sorry. 

I am not out of the woods yet, therefore.  No Christmas cards this year.  I bought a fresh tree but can't really think about putting it up and decorating it until all this weaving is finished.  It proabably isn't such a bad thing because Bob is a young guy and full of beans.  A year old cat and a decorated Christmas tree?  That sounds like the start of a funny story of holiday disasters, doesn't it?

Back to the loom.....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Now it can be told....

Now I can tell you about something in the works that I think is very interesting.   Some months back a representative from the Black Sheep Weavers in the Palo Alto area called me to see if I would present a workshop on sewing with handwoven fabric.  (I am the co-author of Handwoven, Tailormade, now out of print)  I suggested that they get in touch with Daryl Lancaster ( who routinely teaches sewing with handwoven fabrics.  Together the woman in California (I haven't asked her permission to give her name here) and I came up with the idea of having me present a workshop on designing fabrics with Daryl's workshop on sewing a jacket in mind.  I got in touch with Daryl, cleared it with her and got her specs for the cloth she likes.

Today the contract for my workshop arrived.  I will teach this workshop in March and Daryl present hers in the fall giving the participants time to weave the cloth they will need after learning about the design of such cloth from me and perfecting their samples in class. 

Doesn't that sound like a good idea?  The only downside for me is not getting to see the jackets they make but perhaps I can persuade someone to photograph the group next fall and send an image to me.

In the meantime I have been weaving and weaving and weaving.  The warp on the sectional beam is not as deep on the pegs as it once was and I have about 56 or 57 feet woven after I started this second piece.  Somehow thinking of it in feet (which is how I will be paid, eventually) makes it seem that I am making more progress.

The black 20/2 in the warp on one side seems to break every six inches or so (if I am lucky) which requires that I stop, repair and needle weave to make sure it doesn't show and then go on.  Tedious?
Oh, my, yes.

Tonight I took off to go to hear a choir in which friends of mine sing and it was wonderful.  No, it isn't the MoTabs; tickets to hear the Morman Tabernacle Choir's Christmas concert are long gone and I didn't getone.  I have not decorated nor have I written or sent any Christmas cards:  all I do is weave grill cloth but this concert reminded me of the season.

There was a major hitch yesterday afternoon.  The loom which is connected to a computer suddenly stopped communicating with the computer.  It was late enough in the day that when the frist things I tried did not remedy the situation I went to bed.  This morning I checked all kinds of connections, tried the cable on the other loom, tried a new cable, re-booted the luck with any of that.  I could feel the tendrils of panic starting to move.  I HAVE to finish this!  Finally it turned out that the connection at the back of the computer was loose.  The back of the computer is very nearly completely inaccessible so it is a mystery how it became loose and required agility I didn't know I had to get to it. 

I was more relieved than I can tell you.  I have something else promised before Christmas that can only be woven on this loom and I can hardly wait to get to it.  It will be beautiful and interesting and NOT made of brittle 20/2 black cotton!

So it goes....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Still hard at it!

I continue to weave on the endless warp.  You can see my progress:

You may have to look closely because each layer of cloth is pretty thin.  This is 20/2 cotton we're dealing with here....

There is one hitch, though.  This is all the weft yarn I have left:
How could this have happened?  I called the manufacturer from whom I had bought it and they are all out and won't have it back from the dyehouse for 2 or 3 weeks. (!)  So I started calling their retail sellers from whom it would be more expensive, of course.  I finally found some in Michigan (Great Northern) after striking out in Maine and Arizona.

Things seem to happen to me for a greater reason that I seldom recognize as they are occurring.  After a time it becomes clear why there have been obstacles of one kind or another.  I am hoping that I will learn what I need to from this long, trouble-filled warp.  And soon!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bet you know what I have been doing.....

I bet you know what I have been doing.  If you guessed weaving radio grill cloth, you're right!  As of just before I left for a night out--more of that later--I had woven more than I had had to cut off.  There are 42 feet woven on the loom right now.  The initial cloth that I cut off to correct the sleying flaw was just 37 feet.  I am being paid in feet although I have been paid nothing at all yet.

Yes, it IS tedious and I still have a lot left to do.  But I am over halfway there.  At 48 picks per inch it goes slowly.

But tonight I went to a concert by the Utah Symphony and that was lovely.  I went early to hear the guest conductor, Hugo Wolff talk a little about the program.  The concert began with Beethoven's Leonore Overture #3.  (When it was produced the opera became Fidelio, but this overture is not part of the opera so it retains the original name.)   I think it is hard to go wrong with Beethoven and certainly the players under Wolff's baton did a great job of it. I am always impressed by how skillfully Beethoven changes keys.  The overture starts with a nice, big chord and then descends changing to a minor key clueing us in that our hero has been imprisoned.  In the end he is saved by his faithful wife who dresses in drag to get him out.

The second piece was Saint-Saens' Concerto #1 for cello.  Our soloist was Pieter Wispelwey.  I had never heard this concerto and to my ear it sounded devilishly difficult.  Mr. Wispelwey made it seem easy.

If I hadn't known that this was Saint-Saens, I wouldn't have guessed he had written it.  It doesn't have what I think of as the S-S "sound".  That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it, I was just surprised.  What surprised me more was what I took to be the end of the first movement was actually the end of the piece.  I'd like to hear it again.

The final piece on the program was Symphony No. 2 by Charles Ives.  He wrote this as quite a young man and set it aside.  It wasn't performed for the first time until about fifty years after it was written.  It is a very American piece with snippets of American hymns, folk and patriotic songs incorporated into it.  It's fun to listen to and I found myself listening to see if I could identify the sources for much of what is in it.  I heard references to Brahms and Beethoven as well as Camptown Races, My Country is of Thee, Bringing in the Sheaves and of course Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.  There is a musical surprise at the very end that he added later:  the symphony ends with a loud, discordant chord that brought a ripple of laughter from the audience followed by vigorous applause.  It was the equivalent of a rude child's raspberry. 

It was a grand evening away from the loom.  I am going to a potluck tomorrow but other than that--and cooking what I am taking--I will be at the loom again.

Now it is past time for bed.  Tonight it is raining lightly although the temperature must be right at the freezing point.  It has been gloomy for several days.  We have had fog (from all the snow on the ground) and an inversion has trapped all the pollution produced in this bowl-shaped valley which has made it rather dreary and gray.  I am inside at the loom so at least I am not adding much to the air pollution we are experiencing (my gas furnace is 95%  efficient so it adds little).   I am hoping that the rain will make a good difference.