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


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!