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,

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


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


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!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Let me go on the record....

Let me go on the record;  bookkeeping is not, repeat not, my favorite activity.  And I have done it a lot recently.  To my complete dismay when I went to close out the numbers for 2010 for tax purposes I found that everything was gone!  All into cyber-never-neverland.  The same thing happened a few years ago and the only cure is the same one I used this time:  I assembled all the receipts, statements, check registers, etc. and re-entered a whole year's worth of data.

No, I don't know how it happened or why; I just knew it did. 

But now everything is all done and in the hands of my CPA.  (So sorry, Margaret to be so late getting all of it to you!)  I am very relieved.

The bill for my auto insurance arrived and to my surprise is higher than last year.  There have been no incidents and my car is a year older so I was puzzled and called to understand what was going on.  Well, their expenses have gone up so mine do, too.  The man on the phone at The Hartford checked to see if I had all the possible discounts.  If I take a driver safety course (in person or on line at there is a $69 discount this year and for two years after that.  The class takes about eight hours in all and is very good.  It emphasizes that as we grow older things change and there are more possibility for "crashes".  It's a sobering course and I am pretty sure that I am better for having taken it.

Meanwhile we have had snow, rain, snow, rain, rain, snow and it will continue through tomorrow.  More rain, although not so cold, is predicted for early next week as well.  It is getting a little harder to remain sanguine about such drippy, cold weather but I am managing.

With two laborious things out of the way (the bookkeeping and the auto safety course) I have returned to the loom.  Hallelujah!

Here is the beginning of the second piece on the warp:

It's a little less obvious and because of that more interesting to me.

Oh, by the way, Lola, wants me to post the following picture.  She likes to bat at things that hang down, too, and thinks you ought to know that.  She is, in fact, very proud of her ability to catch dangling things and particularly the "birds on a string" toy (consisting of a cluster of feathers that hang from a cord attached to a plastic stick).

Neither Bob nor Lola is very big.  The place where they are curled together is really only big enough for what I consider a "regular" sized cat.  But they fit very nicely.  What you can't see is the baseboard heater directly below and behind this cozy nest.

If there is ever any question about where the warmest place in the house is, just look for the cat!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A finishing day

Today I spent most of the day involved with finishing.  I finished the first piece on the current warp:

I actually finished the weaving part just before I wanted to go to bed and then wove in a bar, put glue to hold it once I cut off the first piece and then went to bed.

This morning I took out the variegated thread you can see right of center in the photo on the left and replaced it with a solid color and cleaned up the back of the loom once that change had been accomplished.  Once again,hemostats have proven their worth to me.  If you follow the link (click on the highlighted word, hemostat) you can find the best place I know to buy them.  Note:  when you buy them at flea markets, they may have been fished out of hospital trash; those should be sterilized because they almost certainly have been used in contact with blood.

I use hemostats to clamp the warp ends I want to add (to replace a broken end or to replace a whole section of the warp as now) to the rest of the warp, tensioning the new end(s) to match the tension of those warp ends on either side of the new one(s).  I place the hemostat as far back in the warp as I can so that I can weave for quite a distance before having to get up and move it back farther. Nothing dangles which is a good idea, considering:
Bob is quick as a minute and misses nothing.  Dangling objects are, in his experience, better than catnip.  He likes catnip but LOVES to bat at things that dangle!

I have been trimming turned back ends of wefts, inspecting for any skips and mending those (with the air of an illuminted magnifier) and hemming the pieces cut from the loom today and from the warp before this one.  It's fiddly work but necessary before I wash to finish the pieces properly.

It's Saturday night and I am spending it at home.  It's starting to rain outaide and will snow tomorrow;  it's good to be inside, dry and warm.