A new life…and for us, grandparenthood.
Bree Vera Madigan Wong was born on 25 April at RNS, St Leonards, Sydney. Both mother and daughter (and son in law) are doing very well. She is a stepsister for lovely Ella.
She has started off being very kind and considerate because 25 April is Anzac day and a public holiday in Australia and we were able to do the miles to get to her with virtually no traffic. I only saw about two cars at Chatswood which is usually in lockdown. I don’t need to tell you that weaving is on the back burner for a few weeks but I’m really hoping she will be interested in EVERYTHING including yarn.
I’ve just returned from an amazing adventure at Jenolan Caves or previously known to the Gundungurra people as Binomil. If you are a visitor to Sydney it’s a day trip to Jenolan and well worth the visit. The caves are entered by a grand arch of spectacular beauty surrounded by the Blue Lake which really is very blue.
I stayed a couple of nights in the Caves house which was lovely. It made night cave tours possible and allowed me to really ‘feel’ the quiet beauty of the caves. The caves were formed about 420 million years ago after being under the sea. Sea fossils can be seen in the rock of the caves. These shells contain calcuim carbonate which creates the limestone crystalline formations and the cave’s limestone creations continue to be formed. A small stick of limestone crystal takes 100 years to grow 1cm!
I have visited the caves intermittently over my lifetime and when I saw them about 30 years ago I believed they were degrading, with tours of over 100 people through some caves. But this time I thought they were better than ever and I felt hopeful about their continuing beauty and maintenance for future generations to enjoy. It is humbling to be in such a landscape of enormous natural history and totally inspiring.
When I’m in such awe inspiring places I’m always looking for the composers, musicians and artists who must be bowled over like me. The music composed for the river cave silences and trickles, artist’s in residence guiding with special tours, the textiles and paintings designed to celebrate our human responses to such natural forces. But there never seems to be any. Not obviously at least. Although there are some concerts in the caves the exuberance of everyday human artistic passion isn’t there. The shop was filled with souvenir magnets and the like which don’t do the caves any favours. I’m always disappointed in the lack of human interpretation present at these places…where is it? Am I missing something?
Obviously geology and textiles are a natural fit. So I’ve produced some tencel, linen/stainless steel, wool, and mohair pieces which capture some of my images of the Blue Lake. This handpainted warp was woven on the Saori loom sett at 24epi (10epc).
Well, something went a little different to what I expected in my weft kasuri! It is very free form and improvisational looking when I wanted it to be ordered with design. I think I’ve found the error in my calculations for the weft allowance. I didn’t factor in a washed dyed weft length so I’ll work on that now. However, the design is still beautiful and I’m happy with it. It is very exciting weaving with bobbins full of design, so I think the time spent is worth every second.
Kasuri effects range from nice subtle organisation to quite random marbled effects . It takes me lots of time to do my dyeing and tying but it doesn’t have to be that way!.
Kasuri or ikat techniques can mean unweaving and weaving to get the effects you want, so patience and planning can be vital in it’s process. These technniques are unique and distinctive to woven cloth and other mediums copy the feathered patterns.
Happy April Spools Day! I’m joining Meg’s challenge to show your spools. These are a collection of Saori plastic bobbins which are all wound with colours and dreams from a collection of weavers. I leave these so anyone can pick and choose what they want in addition to their own ideas. Sometimes I weave them all up into a new cloth. They are lovely and they follow me everywhere – When I do workshops or demos away from home I take a gazillion (is that a number!) of them to kick start the day.
The other photo is how I saw them in Saori-no-Mori in Osaka Japan. They are really left overs but reusable in every way. Some people wind lots of bobbins before they set off to weave and others wind as they go. Some have full bobbins left over, others plan down to the empties.
You’ll notice that some have stranding on them, i.e. multiple stands of yarn wound as one, and others are just straight wind ons of a yarn. Some are ‘fat’ with big plans and others have been used in cloth but cut off before it has emptied suggesting some sort of judgement about just enough of that colour used in the cloth.
They all have their own personality and style and are great to photograph. Get winding for 2013 and beyond.
Finally, I’ve completed my hand-dyed tencel cloth which has been a slow adventure through Lord Howe Island, seaweed thinking and lots of blended bobbins. As the colour of the warp changed as I wove, it also tended to change my idea of what looked good in it too. So every blend reflects something new which I really like.
I’ve had many texts and emails from customers sharing their weave ideas and progress and they are so very positive and happy about how they are weaving and designing on the fly. I guess they wouldn’t text me with a bad or even benign story though!
This cloth looks amazing draped on a wall as an installation piece and as it so mirrors my experience in Lord Howe I’ll probably do that or maybe not. Still undecided and just enjoying looking at it.
I love ikat (Indonesia) or kasuri (Japan) or the process of winding and dyeing areas of the warp and or weft to create patterns. One of the best and most approachable books on the topic I’ve encountered is Japanese Ikat Weaving: The Techniques of Kasuri I’m not sure how easy it is to obtain now but it’s worth getting a copy if you are interested in an overview with instructions on how it is done. As I’m hoping to study Kasuri in Japan later this year I thought I’d review it all again.
Kasuri can get very complicated and it is nothing short of remarkable how some patterns are produced (see Double Ikats from Tenganan in Bali). A large amount of exactness and accuracy is required for good patterning and often very simple looms which depend entirely on the skill of the weaver/dyer are used. But it can be used in a looser way to add another dye/colour feature to any cloth. It is very rewarding to do. Read more
This weekend’s workshop is sadly over. It was fantastic and I’m inspired and ready to weave weave again. Thank you so much, Aru, Jennie, Gerdi and Glenda!
A couple of the participants had never woven before and the others were quite new to it but they managed to create between 3.5 – 4metres of fabric each and Gerdi warped the loom with her own warp. Glenda wove a curtain fabric and Jennie and Aru two scarves/cowls each. Click on the photo to see the day in more detail.
The days were bright, sunny and hopeful with weaving and yummy lunches and a Thai banquet on Saturday night. To keep energy high I added refreshments – Nigella’s Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing and Challah Bread. Food just goes with weaving, but then I guess it goes with most things.
When I tidied and sorted all the cones of colour for the workshop I wondered if the choices were wide enough or then again too wide to focus on. But I’m totally amazed at how each person gathered textures, colours and styles of yarns that were very focused and all different from each other. Makes me think that I should always have my yarns in a touchable sorted display so they can suggest new projects. My wall of yarn certainly helps that.
I will be planning more of these small workshops in the later part of the year. They will be advertised in Ravelry, on this site and via my newletter.