Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stubborn as an Ox [Scarf #35]

Last week I said I was lazy and that this was the root of all the trouble I had with Scarf #34, the ScarfFAIL. This is true, really, since it was sheer laziness that kept me from cutting and tying in the first place. Really, though, my main fault is stubbornness: once I'd decided to be lazy I was definitely going to stay the course and see it through come hell or high water ... or bad tension or wooshing pop bottles. ;) Comes from being a bull-headed Taurus born in the Year of the Ox, as I've said before.

Today I exhibited that same determined stubbornness by finishing Scarf #34. Yes, that's right: refreshed from a weekend during which I didn't even glance at the loom, I sat down and wove that hummer as long as I could. I think it wound up about 63" long and, apart from a skipped thread near the end that I can fix easily, it doesn't look all that bad. I certainly don't expect it to be sellable but hey, I'd wear it. Or maybe Mom will. Moms are so good for that, aren't they?1

Just so you can see what I was up against, this pic shows the difference in tension between those crammed 2/8s and the rest of the 4/8 warp:

See those 2/8s floating way above the rest?

Today I did the sensible thing (well, once #34 was done, that is!) and cut the finished scarves off and retied. I considered a few different wefts for the last scarf on the warp: the same green as the ScarfFAIL but in a 4/8 rather than 2/8, the dark blue that appears in the warp in only one tiny stripe, even a beige boucle... but in the end I let Barbara's approval of Scarf #33 guide me and went with a light blue. I was uncertain after the first couple inches but by the time I had 8" or so woven I really liked it.

Isn't it funny how that goes? I used to weave an inch or two to see if I liked a colour and then would unweave results I didn't like. Eventually, though, I realized that an inch or two is not nearly enough to judge a colour by so I usually go for at least 8" or 10" before being really dissatisfied, by which time it's too late for stubborn ol' me to give up. I don't worry too much about it since the colour combos I find most dodgy are usually some of the first things that sell each year.

I had to go slowly while weaving this scarf since those pesky 2/8s started getting tight almost right from the get go. I'd woven 1" worth of scarf, hemstitched and advanced one (1) time only and could already feel that they were tight. I managed to get about 30" woven before I had to resort to first one dowel and then a second to take up the slack on the other threads. Even so, I let them be far looser than I normally like my warps, so today was a good exercise in keeping my selvages even. I usually rely on the fairly high tension of the warp threads to keep the selvages even but I've found in recent years that high tension on the warp = harder to treadle = discomfort in my knee and hips. Ergo, I've been making a concerted effort lately to learn good habits that yield good selvages even on looser tension and these past couple scarves have certainly benefited from that.

I totally blanked on taking a Scarfadone! shot this time, so here's a pic of all three scarves from this warp once they're off the loom: Scarf #33 at the back, Scarf #34 in the middle, and today's scarf, #35, at the front.

Incidentally, I listened to Episode #9 of WeaveCast today while I was weaving and thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Bonnie Tarses. I've run across her blog in the past and found her horoscope weavings beautiful - like me, she's all about plain weave and colour. While I enjoyed listening to her views on design (all of her weaving carries a message of some kind) what I appreciated most were two things she said.

"It's impossible to weave something ugly. The reason why you think that what you've woven is ugly is because you had an idea, a plan in your head and what you wove fell far from the plan."

I have told my students this so many times I've lost count. They'll be disappointed with something they've woven and I tell them: "No one else can see the picture you had in your head of what this was going to look like. You know what you expected and are disappointed that this isn't it but to everyone else on the planet this is beautiful and impressive. Be proud of yourself!"

Bonnie then went on to say something else that was even better yet:
"Now, the way around that is to not have a plan in your head. The only plan is 'how wide you want it to be? how long do you want it to be?' and then what happens in the middle is what happens."

I can't tell you how gratifying it was to hear a Proper Weaver(tm) give credence to this way of doing things! I have long followed exactly this lack-of-plan but have always felt a bit sheepish about it. I felt I ought to be more rigourous about planning my projects, that I ought to take more care, that I was being lazy or stubborn... it is So. Great. to hear a highly respected artist like Bonnie Tarses (who no one could possibly accuse of being lazy!) espouse this method of unplanning. I really would just rather wander into the yarn room each day and discover which yarns are going to speak to me at that moment than try to plan something in advance and impose my will upon them, as Bonnie put it.

Of course, having said all that, my next project will be doing exactly that: I shall impose my will upon the lovely tencel yarn that arrived on my doorstep last week and turn it into what I hope will be a gorgeous stole for a good family friend who is being ordained as a priest in a few weeks' time. The posts for the rest of this week and probably next week too will be all about my adventures in this regard.

Tomorrow: the very planned draft and possibly the wound warp!

1. Mine's got a shaft-switched rug I wove years ago that's as ugly as a very ugly thing that she not only uses, she even claims to like it! At least I can reassure myself that I've woven some far more lovely things for her over the years, too.


Sue said...

It is NOT ugly! It's perfect for a rug. You made it to reflect the design of my Turkish tiles (which are now in the bathroom, not the kitchen like in my last house) and I still like it. The colors in my current kitchen are the same. It washes up well. And YOU MADE IT! I love it.

So -- does that support your point or refute it? No matter. OXOXO Mom

Life Looms Large said...

Thanks for bravely showing the different tensions on the loom - and for reinforcing the idea that when tension gets all screwy, cutting and retying smooths everything back out!!

Interesting thoughts about "shoulds" and "oughts".....I'll be mulling that over today I expect. I think striving for that picture in your head, or experimenting with "what might happen if" can lead people to breakthroughs in their creations. But of course, we want to feel happy with what we weave too. Balance....so hard!

Have fun!

Bonnie said...

My ears have been burning all week! I didn't know why until I ran into your mom at Seattle Weavers Guild meeting yesterday, and she told me you gave me a nice nod on your blog. Thanks so much! I have now subscribed to your blog and will be sure to toss in my 2 cents worth from time to time.

Janet said...

Mom: Q.E.D.Bonnie: Yay! Welcome!

Sue: Now you've got me thinking about this again... Too much to say in a comment - might have to start a dialogue about it over on HFD!