Saturday, January 29, 2011

Great concert tonight!

Tonight I went to hear the Utah Symphony.  It was an outstanding concert.  There have been articles in the Salt Lake Tribune since last weekend about the harp concerto that was a part of the concert and I read all of them avidly so when it was time to leave to go to hear  it I was more than ready.  I went to the pre-concert lecture at which Mark Adamo, the composer of Four Angels spoke.  The guest conductor, Keith Lockhart (our former conductor) and the soloist, Louise Vickerman (our principal harpist) also spoke at the lecture.  Vickerman demonstrated some of the unusual sounds that would be in the piece.

The concert opened with selections from the first and second Carmen Suites, music everyone knows and loves.  The selections were lively, well-played and an excellent sort of appetizer, if you will.  The harp concerto was next followed by the complete Pulcinella (Stravinsky).  There are parts for a tenor, a mezzo and bass in the complete ballet music.  It's as different from The Firebird  or Rite of Spring as can be imagined.  Never having heard the whole thing before--it is rarely performed in the full length version--I confess to being surprised that it takes the form of music from the early 1700s but with a flash here and there of what I think of as the modern Stravinsky sound.  The orchestra was pared down to chamber size for this piece.  The soloists, whose parts are not long, were very good. (Lawrence Jones, Deborah Domanski and Jeffrey Tucker, respectively).

The harp concerto is what I really want to tell you about, though.  It is in four parts, each part "telling" about an angel from a different tradition.  I have noticed in the Bible that when angels appear to humans the first thing they say, before they tell the people what they have been sent to relay, is "Fear not!"  That has lead me to think that our nursery notions of angels as sweet, little winged creatures is probably not accurate.  I would guess that they are probably scary as all get out! 

In the concerto the first angel is Metatron, from the Kabbalah, described as having 32 wings and "countless fiery eyes".  That guy would scare me, for sure.  The second, Sraosha, is from Zoroastrian tradition who judging from the music isn't a Hallmark angel, either:  he is the angel of "divine intuition".  The third is Mary, the mother of Jesus, and this section of the concerto was the most lyrical and the most approachable of the four.  That, indeed, is her role as the intercessor for humans with God, so it was totally appropriate.  The fourth angel is Michael, who is described as "the beautiful warrior prince" and appears in the entire Abrahamic tradition (Judaism, Catholicism and Islam).  His music was strong and rather heroic.

The harp sound throughout this concerto wasn't twinkly and ethereal but very strong.  Vickerman made some sounds with her harp I had never heard before and I'll bet you haven't either.  This wasn't dainty sort of music at all but sometimes shocking, often melodious, always strong and assertive and totally wonderful.  I would love to have a recording of this piece!  There aren't any commercially available recordings yet that I know about but I hope one is made.

Oh, yes, weaving.....  The scarf is all woven but I am playing around with the extra warp I put on.  I thought that after weaving the whole scarf I would think of other things I could do using this threading.   I promise to photograph both the scarf and the souvenir and post the pictures here.  I wove the ends of the scarf as a tube, silvery gray on one side and the light olive green on the other so that I can tuck the raw ends inside and hem it neatly at both ends.  The squares of solid color that are scattered on both sides are so tidy-looking that a fringe just seemed like the wrong finish for the ends.  You'll see.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weaving at last

I spent a good portion of the day working on the draft for the warp on the loom, figuring out the liftplan (the treadling).  And now the scarf is underway at last.
It is pretty subtle.  The ground is a combination of silver gray and pale olive green with squares of green and gray woven occasionally into the cloth.  The wool is very, very fine wool and ought to finish beautifully creating smooth, fine worsted cloth.

My favorite coat is olive green which will bring out the olive green squares.  On the reverse side of the olive squares are silver ones and vice versa.  It's pretty cool!

It is turning out just the way I pictured it in my mind and that is lovely. 

I stil have paperwork to do for the conference in Taos but every time I spent hours on it I found out that what I had done needed to be different so that I had to start over.  I think I needed to weave just to remind myself of why I do this.

Now I remember!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Somewhat frustrating

I have a warp all threaded, sleyed and tied onto the loom.  It is ready to go but do you think I have even thrown one of the ready shuttles?  No.

So, what HAVE I been doing?  A lot but no weaving.  Drat.

I have been working for more than two full days on proposals for a conference in September in Taos.  If you have ever been to Taos in September you know it is the perfect time to be there.  The huge, old cottonwoods that line the approach (from the Santa Fe direction) are dressed in golden leaves and the air smells of the spicy scent they have that time of year when you are not smelling pinon pine smoke.  One of the loveliest views in New Mexico to me is the one you get as you top the rise that gives you the first view of the Taos Valley.  I haven't been there in some years now so perhaps things have changed but I hope not!

I have also spent time in a clinic getting a problem with my big toe on my right foot seen to.  It isn't entirely clear what is going on but that is the foot that does the lifting with the AVL that sits all dressed up but not yet partying.  I generally try to avoid antibiotics but am taking one now.  Gratefully.

So what could I photograph?  Papers?  No.   A bandaged toe?   NO!

Keep your fingers crossed.  I am getting antsy about getting to that warp.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Home again!

It doesn't matter how wonderful a trip is, there is nothing like getting home again!  (If that weren't the case, I would need to figure out another place to live, I suppose.)  But, as it is, every time the flight attendant welcomes the passengers to Salt Lake City, I applaud.  It's part of my coming home ritual and heart-felt.  This time someone else joined in, which surprised me, but felt good because someone else on the flight was glad to get here, too.

And the trip to Appleton, Wisconsin was a very nice one.  I met some wonderful people (hi to all of you!), poured out my heart to them and it was received warmly.  What more could anyone wish for?  It was cold there but no colder than it had been here Monday through Wednesday before I left.  I came home to spring-like weather.  The high this afternoon was in the high 40's which was a far cry from last Monday.  In fact, once it was light today I went outside to see if the snowdrops had started to come up.
As you can see, they have:
The white buds are just barely visible.  I had to clear away the dead leaves that were blanketing them but there they are!  The ever-optimistic earth....

Re-entry means unpacking, washing clothes, ironing, sorting mail, paying bills after the trip to put my pay into the bank, going through e-mails and dealing with them, and returning phone calls.  Today I went to return a book to the library, to Home Depot, PetSmart and Costco, too, so it is hardly a wonder that I didn't get back to the loom today.  Tomorrow.

As you can see, the warp is measured, beamed, threaded and partly sleyed.  Then I will tie it onto the front apron and away we go!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Almost ready to go

Today I sorted through all the fabric samples I would like to take with me to the workshop and then winnowed that stack down to what fits my carry on case and then put them in so that the first one I need is on top and so on down to the bottom of the case.  I still have two days so if I think of something that I would like to add, there is still time.

I worked on getting some references to things I have written on tracking in washed cloth to Ann Richards in England who will be publishing a book on fabrics that collapse when washed.  She wanted photos of a large project that was part of an article on tracking I wrote for Handwoven magazine in 1985 (Sept./Oct.).  The photo in the magazine didn't show detail which is what she needs for her book.  The cataracts make digital photography tricky:  I can't really tell from the ~1.5" x2.5" screen on the camera how clear the image is, so I have to transfer the image to the computer, fiddle withh it and enlarge it.  If it isn't right, I need to go back and try again.  And again.

I think I have what Ann needs so it is packaged up and ready for the postman tomorrow.

I am hoping that I will be able to devote some time to threading tomorrow after I decide what I will wear in Wisconsin, and going and coming. I've been warned it will be cold.  Tonight it will get down to 5 degrees (-18 Celsius) so I have what I will need.

 I will exercise for two hours late in the afternoon  tomorrow as usual but will miss the session on Thursday which is all the more reason to go.

Now it is past time for bed, but all in all, I am feeling on top of things!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A marvelous musical day

If you read this blog for the weaving, there won't be anything for you today because today was devoted to music....and what music!

This morning I went to the theater where the Live From the Met HD TV programs are shown.  The opera today was La Fanciulla Del West (aka The Girl of the Golden West).  It certainly isn't my favorite Puccini opera and although I had seen it before (in a live production here) I hadn't been particularly impressed.  But today I got a whole new "take" on it.  Deborah Voight who sang the role of Minnie really brought her to life and made her a complete person.  Later this year she will be playing the role of Annie Oakley and she will be outstanding.  She made Minnie a no-nonsense ranch girl, independent and self-sufficient yet longing in her heart for someone to love.  Besides her command of the character I her voice was lovely, as were the voices of all the other cast members and the chorus.  The sets and costumes were wonderful, too. 

And, surprise! at the end of the opera everyone was alive, an uncommon thing in opera!

This evening I went to the Utah Symphony concert. Thiery Fischer was conducting.   Wowzer!  There was a lot of variety and everything was so good.  The concert began with a Mozart Symphony written when he was just eight years old.  (I have been thinking about what I was doing when I was eight, not the same thing, certainly.)  The symphony was crisply played and very transparent and very satisfying.

It was followed by the Barber Violin Concerto played this evening by Robert McDuffie.  The first two movements are so lyrical and lovely and was played very, very well.  The last movement is brilliant and and exciting.  I loved it.

The last piece of the evening, after the intermission, was John Adams' Harmonielehre.  I had never heard this peice before and was really looking forward to hearing it.  Years ago I listened to a lot of Philip Glass' music so the idea of minimalist music isn't new to me and I found this piece much more accessible than Glass.  In fact I really, really liked it.  The first movement begins very loud and energetic slowly becomes softer and ends louder again.  The second movement was far less structured and rather moody and sad.  The third and final movement is dreamy and ethereal but ends on a wild and joyous note.  It brought the house down.

So this has been a wonderful day, filled with all kinds of music that I have enjoyed very, very much.  When I left the hall the wind was blowing and it was snowing.  The temperature was 25 (not THAT cold) but the combination of that, the snow and wind made it very chilling.  I was glad to get home and out of the weather.  It has been foggy for some time and this storm will help with that but right now I am certainly grateful to have a house where I can keep warm.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Back again

Happy new year.  It's a bit late but I have been working.  The new silk scarf is off the loom and finished.  I am happy with how it turned out.
I've been organizing and spending time cleaning, too, but today beamed a warp with these yarns:
Both are 2/36 worsted wool, very nice, and rather subtle colors.  On the left is a silvery gray and on the right a color the label calls celadon, to my eye it is a slightly grayed light yellow green.  (I think of celadon as having more blue in it but that's just splitting hairs:  it is what it is.)  I have measured out three yards eight inches of warp, 10.5 inches wide.  I am planning to make a scarf that is a single layer in most places with the colors mixed, but with squares of double weave scattered along its length.  Sometimes the the square on the surface will be gray (green on the back) and sometimes the reverse.  Each square will also be the reverse color the next time it shows up.

Because the yarns are so fine, the hand of the scarf, how it feels in the hand and drapes, ought to be quite lovely.  The yarns aren't at all fuzzy (good worsted!) and will be finished to have a smooth, crisp surface on both sides.

All I have to do now is thread 500+ threads and draw them through the reed so that I can get started weaving.  Tomorrow I need to go somewhere and have errands besides so I don't expect to get a lot done then.

I am going to teach in Appleton, Wisconsin on Thursday (1/13).  I will present the workshop "Designing:  From Your Idea to the Fabric in Your Hands" for two days Friday and Saturday.  This workshop doesn't require any preparation by the participants--although a lot of preparation for me.  There is room in the workshop for more people so if you know anyone in that area who would like to come, please get in touch and I can refer you to the workshop chair!  I bring as many pieces of cloth as will fit inside the maximum sized carry-on and need to get them sorted out and in order before Wednesday.

We have been having fog which traps all the little particles and makes the air thick.  They say that all of it will go tomorrow when a snow storm sweeps in.  There is still snow on the ground (which helps, along with the lake, to create fog) so what falls will stick.  The snow that fell in the Wasatch mountains in December exceeds the normal which is all to the good. 

I am going to begin threading so I can get to weaving this scarf sooner.