Archive for March 28th, 2009

Commitment problems

Sometimes when I’m surrounded by wonderful possibilities I freeze. Making an initial choice is difficult but it’s the first few steps after that which are critical. A point comes where I have an emotional attachment, a commitment, to a project – but getting to that point I can dither and dally and thoroughly irritate myself.

So this post is really about the current top contender – let’s see if working on it “out loud” helps make it real.

The Reluctant Dragon in her lair has given me a Kreativ Blogger award, which is very nice and much appreciated. I’m going to save it up and pass it on a little later. It came with a question about my recent experiments – “Is the grid of colors the finished piece, or a step in preparation for something else?”.

Partly  the colour extracts are intended as an exercise to build my skill with colours. I have a stack of books about colour theory and it fascinates me, but at some point I want to go further. I want to develop a fluency with colour, to be able to create a sense of mood or of place with colour in textiles. Some of my earlier attempts have been very literal (you can see a few in my member gallery with ATASDA). Also I live a busy, urban life and sometimes seem to be racing along on the surface of life. I want to learn to stop and not just look, but see.

Weaving brings exciting additional elements with the interlacing of colours, the textures of yarns and weave structures, the tactile draping cloth…

I have taken some baby steps. The first was my autumn scarf. The image in my mind was a still-warm autumn day, the sun shining in a cloudless blue sky, the drying leaves fluttering down and the skeleton of the trees being to show. Next was the ocean scarf. My mental image was of standing on a cliff on the Sydney coastline, watching the waves run across the rock-shelf below, looking out at the container ships on the horizon, the amazing range of colours in the water, the smell of salt in the air. For both I studied life, photos and memories, trying to look beyond the obvious in colour, and then dyed yarns and chose weave structures to try to express the idea.

collapse_v2_2collapse_v2_1Back to the present. In weaving class we’ve been exploring collapse weaves. My first attempt was a stumble. Here’s a couple of sections of my second attempt. The photos don’t show the world of difference. Almost all the weft yarn choices collapsed well across all stripe widths (stripes were 3/1 and 1/3 twill, with sets of 8, 12 and 16 ends). The first photo shows left to right a silk sewing thread, Ixchel laceweight Cashmerino (70% merino, 30% cashmere, felts beautifully) and 10/1 silk noil (from Walters Imports). The second photo, top to bottom: superfine merino (non-felting, left over from this scarf), 20/2 silk and a buttonhole weight cotton sewing thread.

The non-felted sections in particular are inspiring. There’s a bounce and movement that photos can’t capture. The bright red of the superfine wool flashes then is hidden, especially in the narrower stripes, and reminds me of glowing embers in the logs of a campfire. This is very different to the towering walls of flame which brought such grief to so many down south (close to Ixchel bunny – see her photo here).

colour_extract_3_fireMy much more benign photo is this. Not a great photo, but what I had. It’s cropped from a larger photo, taken a few years ago on a weekend in the mountains (Megalong Valley) with friends.
colour_extract_3gHere is a grid, based on my photo – plus some others on the web and my memory. Possibly here is my problem. The grid is different colours taken from the fire photos, but the proportions are all wrong and it doesn’t look reminiscent of a camp fire at all. Not inspiring.

The current plan is – dye a warp in the colours of the glowing logs – browns and greys, hints of some others. Dye weft yarn in colours of flame and smoke and the general glow. Use stripes of 3/1 and 1/3 twill. A camp fire scarf??

The other question is yarn. The collapse sample is bendigo mills 2 ply wool – not what I want for my scarf. I’d like to attempt a pure silk scarf and was considering 2/20 warp and hand-(over)spun silk hankies for weft, but without conviction. Looking at ocean and autumn has reminded me of the 50/50 wool/silk yarn. Maybe that for warp with 2/20 silk for weft would work…?

This post is certainly long enough (and thank you those who made it this far!). Is the idea strong enough? Am I committed enough?


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March 2009

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