Before I left for Newtonmore, I had just had time to make a warp from my newly dyed yarn.
So when I got back, I put it on the loom.
I wanted to try out a basic pattern of blocks using four-colour double weave. So I did. I should have read my notes from Marian’s workshop first!
I was pretty pleased with how it was going, until I noticed that I had some doubled ends at the edges of a few blocks. I cut off a sample and finished it, to see whether it bothered me.
On the plus side, I do like the way the BFL shines in the midst of all the merino. The fact that glints happen to be golden is even better! But the doubled ends do bother me, so I needed to rethink my arrangement of blocks (and read my notes). So here we have…
…threading take two. Weaving has recommenced and currently looks like this.
Progress will be slow, however. The season of marking is upon us and I have a *lot* of it this time.
My guilty secret is that I actually enjoy marking; at least, I enjoy this kind of marking. These assessments are formative, so there’s a chance the students may even be interested in the detailed feedback I give them. (Exam marking, on the other hand, is completely soul-destroying, because the only thing anyone cares about is the score.) The difficulty I have with marking is not that I have to do it, but that it is very intense and tiring. You have to immerse yourself in someone else’s mental map of the subject for an hour or more…reflect on it…respond to it…then drag yourself out of it and dive into a different one, over and over again. Time passes in a most peculiar stop-start way. And many, many chocolate biscuits are eaten.
But the warp isn’t going anywhere. It will wait for me.
So the snow melted and I made a warp out of some of my recently dyed yarn.
But I didn’t have time to get it on the loom before heading into the Highlands, where I was taking part in a workshop in the village of Newtonmore.
It’s a lovely journey on the train, and even more so when one is feeling extra-thankful not to be driving.
There was plenty of snow on the hills, and still a bit on the ground in the village…
…and a whole lot more fell while we were there…
…which made the workshop all the more interesting, as our task was to record and interpret the sounds of the Scottish landscape for the Aural Textiles project. There was much crunching of feet on snow and quiet listening to the dripping of the thaw. We – ten of us in total, including seven textile artists and designers of different disciplines – spread out to gather and record our sounds, and then reconvened in the village hall where we learned to filter out noise and visualise our recordings as spectrograms.
I’ll be working on this project through the spring and summer, so there will be more updates to come – here and on the Aural Textiles website. You can also follow @auraltextiles on instagram (check out the picture of our name badges…)
And now I really need to get that loom warped!
We are very lucky in the Booker household that very little of what we do is actually necessary for the world to keep turning. So when the snow piles up, we can stay indoors and nobody will miss us.
My one essential commitment in the last few days was to deliver an online class for the OU on Wednesday night and, being online, it was unaffected by the first stirrings of the #beastfromtheeast. Since then I have mainly spent my time dyeing yarn, dealing with admin and eating carbohydrates.
I have now used up pretty much all the dyestuffs in the house – down to rinsing out ten-year-old plastic bags – but I have a pleasing rainbow of yarn to show for it.
The only results I am not entirely happy with are a couple of BFL/silk skeins (not included above) which I dyed in henna with tannins and citric acid. This worked well last time I did it, but on this occasion the yarn turned out blotchy – almost certainly due to impatience on my part – so I shall overdye it later.
Something I find slightly unnerving about these BFL blends is that the wool component is superwash. I am used to being ever so careful with the merino/silk and still having to tease it apart a little when dry, so overdyeing it is not my favourite thing. But the BFL looks as fresh as ever, so I shall barge ahead.
Outside it is a little warmer but still snowing. The snow is tending to drift from east to west and we have almost lost the compost bin at the west end of the garden.
That red you can see through the hedge is the safety barrier around our hole-in-the-road. Scottish Water dug it up (again) about ten days ago, so now there is a hole full of snow. Fortunately, we still seem to have mains water.
My current task is winding all those skeins into balls, which is why I am blogging instead!
I am not good at multi-tasking. When working on a project my default setting is immersed-to-the-point-of-obliviousness, so I am quite challenged by the number of jobs I do. Even in my least busy moments I am juggling three of them: weaving, the teaching of weaving and OU teaching.
But of course each of those categories covers multiple strands of activity, and – while I do try to manage the total number of strands I am working with at any one time – at any moment the Unexpected may land in their midst. For example, the downtime between OU courses seemed like the perfect time to make my submission for fellowship of the Higher Education Academy… and then the opportunity arose to move studio, and it was suddenly all about ladders while I tried to martial my reflections on the process of tutorial delivery online. Switching my attention from one strand to another feels like dragging myself up off the ocean floor. But the studio was moved, the HEA fellowshipped and the illusion of flexibility is maintained for another wee spell.
At the moment I am trying to organise the process of creating work for summer exhibitions around the immovables in the calendar, such as periods of assignment-marking, so I am picking off the preparation in small doses while continuing to work on Arctic Sea Ice-inspired pieces.
There has been mordanting, there has been dyeing.
A couple of days ago, there was logwood.
Today there is weld. All the yarn for the Jazz collection will be naturally dyed. Or naturally undyed, in some cases.
The bright yellow dyepot makes a lovely contrast with the snow outside! But while there are freezing temperatures across Europe, the Arctic is exceptionally warm this winter. I’m glad I have started work on this series.
The latest piece currently looks like this.
There is not much warp left, so this may in fact be the last piece for now.
And all the while new and developing weavers have been sampling, designing, warping and more. In April I am going down to Cumbria to share my workshop on exploring Goethe’s colour triangle, so yesterday I made up the warps I will send down in advance. The saturated colours of Venne’s organic cotton are almost too much for my phone’s camera.
And now I am going to put on my furry boots and go out for a snowy walk before lunch. Got to make the most of a snow day, whatever else needs doing!