Saturday, November 3, 2012


(Judith Mackenzie and Velma Root - with kuchulus - at GGFI 2010)

During a week off school, I have been prioritizing fiber work and revitalizing the weaving part of my life. This poor neglected warp seemed almost dead, in spite of its bright colors. It had been lying around  collecting dust until I finally removed it from the dining table (ie, loom) not long ago, in order to clean and be free from the guilt of ignoring it. But this break, I tied it up and passed the shuttle and it breathed back to life - the sensation was quite palpable. Now it's off the loom because the weaving's DONE, and it's ready to be sewn into a conservation tool bag.
The reactivation of my weaving identity coincides with a whole lot of thoughts and supportive vibes pouring toward Judith, shown above. Her teaching studio burned down this week, and if I go into the details of the loss again it may make more than one of us cry, so I will carry on with this account of What Judith Means to Me.  I met Judith at Golden Gate Fiber Institute Summer Intensive, 2010, and she let me know I'm a weaver. I'm not a weaver because of Judith, but she recognized it and commanded me to get on with it.
 Judith took this photo of me weaving in her class, with part of my hair tied up in an indigo dye bun.
 My first 250-end warp, with Pony yarn, which included shibori and was dyed indigo like so:
In that class I also dyed this
 which became this
because, due to Judith's urging, I returned to Qatar and figured out how to set myself up with a backstrap in order to weave it.
And that was how it began, the weaving.  Because of Judith. And that phrase could be added to each of these things I wove, since she has remained a constant mentor in my mind, even though I have not communicated with her at all since that week at Point Bonita. Thanks to her encouragement, I keep weaving
 and weaving
 and weaving
So I feel distraught and a bit helpless when I think of her studio burning down, and all the precious material she has suddenly lost. When I first heard about it, my response was to weave. 
The community is responding quickly, a website has been set up, and there will be ways to help.  If an auction gets going, you can expect to see some of my handwoven items on the block.

I feel gratitude to Judith continuously, but now is the time to say it out loud and hope she hears it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A different world

This Conservation Studies degree is full of surprises. Every day I'm amazed by what we do and the variety of what we're learning.  Last week I was cleaning a ceramic tile under the microscope, and the view was enthralling.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Seeing it all differently

I went to a museum for the first time since becoming a conservation student today, and I’m afraid I’m doomed.
I used to see museum objects the way curators and conservators wanted me to see them: as consolidated things, basically whole, unless deliberately presented as fragments.  Now I see the cracks. The fills. The supports, carefully color-matched and integrated almost seamlessly. Almost.
This probably has something to do with having spent all day Thursday doing this:
(I'm studying for an MSc in Conservation at UCL Qatar, btw, that's what I'm going on about.)
(See? I'm in a lab!)
So I went to the Museum of Islamic Art, all innocent-like, and it was fascinating, both to suddenly see all these details of choices made by conservators, and also to see how my own eyes and mind have changed after a few short weeks of training. I realized I will never see museum objects as a plain old museum visitor again. There’s no going back. 
The ceramics are especially noticeable, because that's what we're focusing on right now. Up above, I'm trying to figure out the best color to fill in the hole in the tile. Finding a pleasing neutral is surprisingly difficult.

The exciting part is that every object in the museum is part of my education now.
So far, this degree program = total overstimulation.  Woot!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Yarn Gallery

With the addition of the above work of handspun art, Karen Barnaby's I Am Not the Shy Little Alien You Thought You Married, my collection of the handspun work of others has become worthy of its own gallery space.  Insufficient as my photography resources and skills are, I'm attempting to give these pieces such a space here.  To fully appreciate Karen's yarn, you'd have to witness its original context and Karen's own photos (Ravelry link.) This one was not giving it up for me during the photo session, so I only have the one shot. I must say, however, that this yarn makes a fabulous necklace, which I wore to the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DeYoung Museum. 
The next piece is a grouped set of three skeins spun by Janet Scanlon. I can't seem to think of them separately at this point. A portion of this is called Medley for A-Muse, and includes handwoven and crocheted additions. It was spun on spindles.
Next is Naomi Ryono's Wonky Daffodils, which I purchased from her Etsy shop, Knotty Handspuns. Naomi's yarns have many different personalities. This one is particularly festive and cheery.
Laura Mayotte's wonderful skein from the "Spin your scraps" challenge remains an art object in itself, although I was sure I wanted to knit it right away when I acquired it in trade. It looks so good hanging on my wall, with its ever-changing palette of twists and wraps.  Maybe it should be woven....
The prized possession below is the work of Michelle Snowdon, aka Wooldancer. It is a double chain-ply of the softest, most luxurious fibers: polworth and alpaca and so on, with sparks of fabric and firestar and beautiful beads.  This one is also quite wearable as it is, making a lush, cosy necklace.
Velma!! This yarn is the first acquisition of the exhibited collection, the lovely and talented Melon Baller skein, which makes me smile every time I see it. The vintage fabrics and intricately scribbled thread add delicacy to this wonderfully fat yarn. Found this gem at Colorbomb Creations.
I received a stunning yarn in the Fairy Tale Spin Swap, from Katja Riley (Made by Pixies.) The story it tells is entrancing, full of gold and glimmer.
And the latest acquisitions, in addition to the alien yarn up top, are two of the most sculptural yarns I've ever seen. Janet spun this on a supported phang-shaped spindle, and it lives alongside my plants, as another grown thing. 
And finally, Karen Barnaby's world-renowned Stone Pile (Ravelry link.) Again, her photo is the ultimate presentation, but here you see how it has taken on a greenish cast in the intervening time. It's a mystery, why it's green, but the yarn is no less marvelous.
This is not an exhaustive list, mind you, just a curated selection.
I am getting very close to being able to decorate my whole house with yarn.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Traveling, spending many weeks back in the home country, visiting family and friends, is always an odd experience. We're displaced, but we're home. I get to reunite with people I've missed so much, but am uprooted from my normal routines and environment.  Everything I was doing in Doha is suspended, and I'm immersed in the spaces and lives of others.
This time, the rewards were great, as my travels interlaced two of my favorite fiber people. Below are images from their places, Karen in B.C. and Janet in Oregon.
Can't beat this fiber storage system!
Janet's spindle in Karen's house, providing a very welcome spinning interval.
(You can tell that's not Janet's place because only one spindle is visible, unlike this scene):
And the spaces in between, getting from one place to another, were equally inspiring.
How fortunate am I, that beautiful friends and beautiful landscape are in such close proximity?