Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Time. Free time. Unscheduled free time! And projects! Which can be shown on this platform!

I've had two days so which I did this:

Silk warps

Sure, not much yet. Warp chains. But silk warps! Handspun silk, soon to be fabric, yay! For nothing! Yay! Just for fun! Yay! These once were skeins, spun for photos, but the photos have been taken, and the skeins released back into the wild, er, the studio. Now? They will be...something. Something fun and not something where all the details need to be recorded, saved, hidden from general view until publication.

What will they be? A scarf/shawl/something pretty and of many reds :). All future steps in the process will be reported. Here. Radio silence ends now.

Cute grandchildren remain fair game in the photo department:

At the museum
At the Denver museum, Marin does some embroidery...

Jackson rolls
And baby Jackson learns to roll (if given a rounded-enough surface from which to fall roll)!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Long View

In the last month I have woven 5 fabrics, all of them of handspun silk in its various iterations. One of them is an odd little sample, the rest are scarves, so not huge fabrics, but still, consumers of time and energy.

They were/are moderate successes. One is quite nice, and this last one may just be spectacular (don't know yet, just off the loom and not washed).

The first one, odd though it is, it is a successful sample. It's not particularly pretty, it is in fact a little homely, but it shows what it shows and will be fine for the photo for which it was made. (I'd show you a photo, imagine one here, except it was mailed off several days ago. Instead, imagine plain white plain weave silk. It could be lovely or rustic, lustrous or plain...).

Sample #2, an actual scarf length, was perfect in the spinning, weaving and finishing...until: it touched another scarf, while wet, and got a stain on it. Permanent, as far as I can tell, having washed, spot-cleaned, re-washed and fretted over the thing.... so it went from perfect! to "it's OK, we can get a good shot of it where the stain is not, and then overdye the whole thing later...."

Then, and this is the big disappointment: there was the also-perfect-scarf-length whose colors ran in the washing (thus the stains above) and which, while still of very nice colors, is different than what I planned. Again: it's fine, we can get a good photo of the aspect that it was intended to illustrate, but color? wrong? now? Is disappointing.

#4 yay! nothing untoward occurred. #5: Finished weaving yesterday, I fly out today. I will be twisting fringe and washing, pressing and hanging it to dry in some unknown quantity of a washer/iron/apartment. This could go well, or alas, it could also go poorly. I choose to walk forward as if it will go well. Why court disaster? I'll do what needs to be done, not whine about it, and we'll all just see how this turns out.

silk 004

The point is, I suppose, or rather what I have been thinking about as I weave these things in quick succession: hope springs eternal. If I let myself be discouraged by the first, or, god forbid, the second and third, I'd be paralyzed and not get anything done. I plow on. The next thing will be better/right/beautiful/perfect. That is always the thought at the beginning: This! is going to be great!

And sometimes it is. Without the meh, and the disasters, there would be no spectaculars! And while it would be nice to think that everything I make is wonderful, it's not. Much of it is plain, everyday, simple, straightforward, no-one-even-knows-I-made it kind of cloth. Many things/fabrics take re-working and overdyeing, and fussing in some way to even make then presentable. It would be depressing and stifling if I judged my work only by the piece in front of me, or the one just finished, etc. Instead, I am always looking forward to the next one, and of the opinion that that Next Thing will be perfect! beautiful! and useful.

And when all of the work is piled up together (or in this case boxed up to be shipped) it is spectacular. It is a great pile, in many senses of the word great. Just the whole, the entire, the pile itself is a wonder: I made all that. I started with fiber. I usually added colors, but sometime I bought dyed fibers. I spun, knit, wove and finished all those things, some of which would stand alone as being Very Good.

silk 012

I learned a lot...and have some very nice things to wear and use, and maybe, just maybe, I can tell you just what I did so you can do it too, without so much of the meh. And certainly without the disasters. Let's hope. Cautionary tales, and all that, with a little shared wisdom thrown in for luck.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Getting It Back

Every now and then I lose the joy.

It's hard to maintain, that joy part, in the slog of work to be done. The joy comes in the vision, upon starting, and in the reality, upon completing a pile of work.

But the joy can be transitory in the middle section.
pickup silk band7  blog Sept 2007

Teaching the class Spin to Weave has a rhythm now. At first it was sort of random, a shotgun approach: put stuff out there and see what happens.

Now, thanks to several classes of spinner-weavers, I have a plan: we spin the first day and I talk.

The second day we analyse the yarns we have spun and talk some more, mostly about what they are to be, how we would use them. This is the exciting day, the day when light bulbs flash and ideas flow. The group of weavers dictates the direction, of course: what they want to weave and how we would make their cloth.

But they also have to wrap their heads around my approach to cloth and cloth making for clothing. It's not the usual path. Right away they have to think differently about their cloth.


This time, someone asked a compelling question on the first day, which set in motion the answers that would normally come on the second day, and it was a light-bulb moment, exciting for all of us as we discussed in depth what cloth for clothing means.

And I saw the joy, the joy radiated, and I came home deeply satisfied and ready to dive into work again: work that was just work a few weeks ago, but became once again, the joy of weaving.

Teaching is not a one way passing-on of information and tasks. It is an exchange, a circular and circuitous flow, and one from which we all benefit.

Thank you to every person who has taken a class with me. You cannot know how much I have learned from you, and the wonderful it is to get my own joy and enthusiasm back, when I see it in you.

marin fourth of july

(also? Happy Fourth!)