Dry spell

The whole of June was dry. In terms of rains in Mumbai as well as words from me on this blog. The rains have finally arrived here with a vengeance and I decided to come back and talk.

My stash is in a garage, corrugated cardboard wrapped and clingfilmed. I spent one month working on the little I’d packed for that chimeric granny square bedspread, then I was one month haunting the Weavers’ Centre in Hyderabad and learning about floor looms. After returning to Mumbai and limbo-land, my fingers got itchy. So off I went to the LYS (there is actually one, more a Local Craft Store, and very near by this city’s standards) and picked up some thread to knit a doily. I forgot my half-formed resolution to use thicker fibre for lace, and got the usual #20 equivalent.

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Got a few rounds into it and then decided my daughter and I needed head gear for the sunny walk to and wait at the bus stop. So off I went and got some acrylic yarn and matching thread. That turned into this:

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But I realised my gauge is much looser than the LYS owner thinks, and I ought really to have bought a hook a couple of sizes smaller. So I quickly went off the second hat, but miraculously, perhaps because I was making sun hats, the monsoon settled in. Now I don’t need a hat anyway.

Then I forget how, but I got itchy to crochet a doily. This time I made sure to get a thinner hook, and double the thread. I’m happy now and have got about 33 rounds done of a Japanese pattern, despite having to undo several rounds and redo them. I’m thinking this might turn into another parasol, which would be about as much use as a doily in my house. Not that I have a house at this point.

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10 m in 30 days

…is how much I wove during my training at the Weavers’ Service Centre.

And this is how it looks.

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I haven’t decided yet what I will do with it.

My greatest learning was the tie-up and actual weaving on a floor loom. In the middle, I thought for sure I’d been cured of any desire to get a floor loom of my own. Now, however, I’m not sure. The one I want will not have a fly shuttle mechanism, but then that would be noisy, not good in a flat. Also, it is a jack loom, so fewer connections to make for tying up. Which is also good.

I am also taking away some connections for future yarn and accessory supplies. In addition, I got a warping frame made, and ordered a bobbin winder and some fly shuttles to be modified into plain end feed shuttles.

Most of which might be gobbledygook to my regular readers… But you will not need any words for the following photo.

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Can’t talk. Busy.

Weaving training during the day. Work in the evenings and late night. Meeting and setting up meetings with old friends. Watching Mighty Raju: Rio Calling directed by one of those old friends. Concert by Malladi Brothers.

Calluses on feet from treadling floor loom. Catching up on reading.

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Real time and reality checks

I finally got to weave at the centre, but I spent the best part of several days just sitting and watching while the oldest employee fiddled with the cords on the treadles and lamms that were being set into the frame of what had been a jacquard loom. I am very bad at sitting doing absolutely nothing watching a very slow and repetitive task being carried out by someone else.

I am almost convinced now that if I acquire a floor loom, it must be something that caters to the gadget queen in me… As a hobby weaver, I’m not sure I want to spend days in just setting up to weave. So that means that expensive to buy and expensive to ship foreign loom. Then also, sometimes it is like a brief glimmer of light in dense fog, and I wonder if I need another loom at all. After all, I don’t live in a land of hobby weavers who’d gladly take a white elephant off my hands if I find out it’s not for me. There isn’t a market for highly polished highly priced looms…

But then I come back home and read the forums and the fog closes in again.

Unfortunately the warp I’ve been given to work samples on is painted for ikat. Not good for showing textural patterns.

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The other thing I noticed is that the figures in a government office are like toys that only move when you’re watching. You leave at the end of the day and come back the next morning, and things are exactly where you left them, and the people are picking up where you last saw them. I think there’s a term for such reality, but it doesn’t feel like real time.

And friends

This evening I met some of my oldest friends, at very short notice. The weather during the day here is hot, but in the evenings it turns cool and cloudy. We even had pre-monsoon showers a couple of days ago.

I met my girl classmates at the weekend over a lunch so protracted it almost turned into tea. Only about half of those in our Whatsapp group actually turned up. Something similar tonight, when I met boys from kindergarten. I studied in the same school from nursery to 12th, and unbelievably, still have good friends from then. But I always feel we make friends much more easily the younger we are.

I still haven’t woven, but I’m getting up a list of things I want to try, and things I want to have made for me. Weaving accessories. No half measures when you’re having a midlife spree of madness, right?

And I’m making those connections, for future use. For yarn or for yarning.

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Connections

Whenever I come home to Hyderabad I try and meet as many of my friends as are here. Having several ways of contacting people nowadays can make this easier, or harder. Not everyone is on all social networks, and it can get confusing to remember what information you’ve passed on where.

However, we did manage to meet today, 7 of us from school, with some of our children over a very protracted lunch. Much laughter and many memories.

And a cake to celebrate 25 years of… Something :)

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Hands on

Actually I haven’t done any weaving yet at the centre. Today I studied a book in Telugu that teaches theory. It’s a very different feeling to be doing a craft that actually has terminology in my mother tongue. I copied down a glossary. Proof that weaving goes back a longer time than knitting or crochet in this part of the country, at least.

I got to see pictures of the latest loom that the carpenter built for someone. He was also able to give me an estimate for the size of loom I want. He will build it with teak.

I did throw a shuttle, but an empty one, just to see how far my arms would reach. I don’t think I can cope with a throw shuttle for any wider than about 35″, but the loom that will be built will have a fly shuttle mechanism. The only problem then is that that will add a few more feet to the footprint of the loom.

This will anyway be longer than the David, because that’s how these looms are, and it will be countermarche. The plan is for me to learn all about tie-ups, since those are the weighty part of the theory. Back to school on Monday.

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