Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lots of Miles In...

Since I last posted on November 2nd, or two weeks ago, I have put on many miles on but few of them on my loom unfortunately.    This getting ready for an operation is crazy busy!  Since I last wrote I have seen:

  • my surgeon (who gave me x-rays to do.)
  • an internist (who gave me blood tests to do.)
  • had a four hour education class on joint replacements (who gave me more blood tests to do...)
  • had special 'templating' x-ray and (surprise!)  various blood tests.
  • visited the Red Cross loans to work out what I will need at home post surgery.
  • and had a consult with an Anaesthetist, (who scared the crap out of me.)

I also fit into the schedule:
  • a movie with a friend and hubby ("Fury" with Brad Pitt.... which made "Saving Private Ryan" look like a pleasant walk in the countryside. )
  • a pedicure (no nasty feet!)
  • had a dinner out with friends for their anniversary early.
  • got all my Christmas cards done, several letters and all the Christmas shopping done, which was simplified this year by using gift cards.

I found out that I will have yet more tests to do later this week and I also have a date with the hairdresser (got to look good... and who knows when I can go again!)

So weaving seems to have take a back seat lately. Its unlikely that the new scarves I put on will get done as its rather fine weaving and it takes a lot to make an inch.   I have started making a list of things to do post recovery:
  • read all the Handwoven's from the last six months
  • read all the Complex Weavers Journals
  • read my Vav magazines
  •  arranged for some easy knitting to do for winter lace scarves and also miniature beaded bags.
  • have my inkle looms loaded and ready to weave
  • Fiberworks is warming up on the laptop for some design work
  • and I have Netflix  on stand by and two full seasons of HBO's Rome to watch again. 

But the reality will be:
  • many physio appointments and exercising.
  • more Doctor visits.
  • another x-ray or three (blood samples too I suspect.)
  • waiting for the staples to come out for a nice full shower!
  • some reading, a movie or three .....and some napping.

I did weave a bit (sleep is overrated by the way...)  and I changed the weft yarn to a black fine 30/2 silk and I like it better. There is more pattern definition.  So now its just a matter of sitting down for short periods and getting some inches done and chip away at it.   Meanwhile I'm trying to think of what weft and colour to use on the second scarf. I think I will dig deep into the stash and see what I can find.   When I have some free time!

As you can see there is better definition of the 'boxes'  and I think the subtle colour changes in the warp help. Its not a difficult twill run but it does challenge my cranky hip on one side and a bum knee on the other, so I take it slow.   But I'm weaving!

The coming week has:  an eye specialist visit, a visit to the family doctor to discuss anaesthesia , a hair appointment,  some shopping for more comfy clothes, and a visit to the Red Cross loans. Oh, yeah... more blood tests and another x-ray.   After that, time will be running short!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trials and Tribulations

Well, I did warn you some time ago that there will come a day when the medical stuff going on in my life will start to really squeeze out the weaving part.... and its beginning...

In the last month I have had three dental appointments, and seen my family doctor twice, my rheumatologist once and recently my surgeon again. Its been a very busy time and will be ongoing for  awhile.

I had a three hour root canal this past Tuesday and I'm still in the recovery phase and not chewing on that side of my face.   I'm a "white knuckle flyer" in the chair and on the day, so  I took some ativan and brought my iPod along.   I plugged in my ear phones and listened to some favourite music... loudly.... and just lay still. I reckoned the orthodontist could do a faster job if I kept quiet.... and I did a good job of it.  I even started to fall asleep once!  They got it all done and even a permanent filling in place, so no return visit or two.  (We won't talk about the two crowns I need now....)

Then two days later I saw my surgeon for an important appointment.  Bruce came in with me and we had a discussion about my two cranky joints and which goes first.  They are both equally painful now and both need medical intervention and it was decided to go with replacing my right hip as its a major weight bearing joint and the left knee will be next year, approximately June to August possibly.

I've been down this road before as I had my left hip replaced in 2001 and so know full well what is ahead and we have been busy getting ready. There are a lot of helpful aides that you need to set up: raised toilet seat, walkers, a reacher, crutches, a cushion to raise your spot on the coach or chair, and a bath bench.   You need comfy clothes for coming home in,  and going to rehab. We have been ticking off things on the list. Why the hurry?   Well, they have moved my surgery up to December 4th and that's not all that far away.  

So add in getting Christmas done early (such as it will be) and there is an air of urgency !

Coming up this week is yet another Doctor visit and a three hour education class at the Joint Replacement Clinic.  It doesn't leave much time for weaving and quite frankly, sometimes I just sit and read a book to take my mind off everything.  Between the knee and hip and dealing with pain.... and some time down the road, there will even be a foot surgery, it can all get a bit much to deal with.   Weaving keeps me sane and is my "carrot" to dangle at the end of all this!

If you made it to here, then you deserve some fibre content!    I've been playing around with my Fireworks program and came up with this: (click to enlarge)

I saw in my mind's eye,  scarves in three types of fine silks: silk yak blend is the grey, silk and camel is the gold, and 30/2  bombyx silk is the cream, with a sett of 36 epi.  Soft natural colours.

Its tough for me to stand in one spot for too long so winding the warp took time, especially  with all the colour changes!  I did bits and pieces as I could and Bruce helped me wind the warp on. 

Today,  I worked the new tie up with the loom up on her crates and made a start!

The two stick start means you get busy right away.

This is a close up of the sample for my records.

I laced on to reduce loom waste... it is silk after all! I plan to weave one scarf like the sample with all yak silk weft, and then maybe try my silk plaid arrangement for the second?  Or find another weft yarn?  I'm just happy that the loom is back in action and I can sit and weave when time allows!

Bruce took the pictures of the Japanese maple today while the sun shone. This magic colour is such a brief period in time and I wait all year for it!

Here's one that I took a few years ago and the leaves seem to  float by themselves in the air!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Quietly Waiting

So this is part two of the baby blanket project! In my last post  Weaving was under way and it was a fairly slow weave. You might want to back up and read that first. We'll wait for you...

{I would like to thank Margaret who wrote me and gave me information on how to get back to normal links with Mac's new Yosemite OS X once again! }

 If there wasn't a bobbin change, colour change or yarn change, then it was time to move the temple. That happened every inch or so! It was rather busy for a simple design. After a while you do develop a routine and it quickly adds up.

I decided to cut off the first blanket as one of the 8/4 doubled cotton dividers was pretty darn tight on the loom.  I retied on and got things under way again and there was no further difficulties with cranky cotton.

The cloth beam filled up nicely... a bonus with chunky yarns!   I wove the second planned blanket and took a serious look at what was left for warp. I decided to forge on and see if I could get a small little blanket for a car seat or ?   It meant no samples for my records but that's okay at a time like this.

The bonus third blanket was woven in plain weave only and no extra colour other than the beige cotton weft. It was only 7 inches shorter than the other two full crib sized blankets!  I must have been very generous with my calculations on warp length!

I used every inch I could squeak out.... see below!

That's the back of my warp and the ruler is right up against the heddles on the sixth shaft with only an inch and a half to spare!

Once off the loom I carefully serged the edges with the threads set closer together to protect the cut edge better. The little tufts still came through! Then I sewed a straight stitch through the serged stitch!  I also ran a straight stitch a quarter of an inch in from the selvedges to ensure that the weft changes stayed put through the numerous washings to come.

Once those steps were done, I soaked them in warm sudsy water and then a gentle cycle. Then tossed them into the dryer!  I wanted all shrinkage done and over with before the final finishing treatment:
Satin binding...

I found these little clips a couple of years ago in the quilters section at the local fabric store and they sure are handy. I was able to position and use them to hold the slippery satin in place.   I was able to replace them with long straight pins for the final trip to the sewing machine.

This is my Huskystar 207 sewing machine. It doesn't have a great deal of fancy stitches and is rather basic. It has all metal gears and can handle thicker fabric and it certainly worked well with this thick cotton.  I'm not much of a sewer and just keep to really basic things. One thing I discovered with this project is even a straight-line is beyond my capabilities!  Its really embarrassing ...

Not sure what happened with the lighting in this shot but you can see that sewing is under way and I'm using a stitched zig zag and took it slowly.

Here's the binding after sewing.... and below is after a pressing!  I decided to go with a beige binding as the purples and green bindings would be too much 'in your face' with the bold colours.  It might be nice to use bolder colours for babies but I went with what felt right for me.

I had tried machine sewing one end closed and butting it up against the fabric but it would always shift and  never sit just right no matter how many clips and pins I used. So I opted for leaving the ends open and then doing a fold and press near the end and folding the ends like an envelope and pressing and  pinning.  Later after zig zagging, I would hand sew the ends closed with very tiny stitches that actually nearly disappeared into the satin weave.

There were two blankets woven with the windows and lace. The final dimensions are 29 inches by 60 inches and 29 inches by 53 inches on the second.  The larger one is for the new baby.  The dimensions on the loom was 34 inches in the reed and woven to 64 inches and  58 inches on the second.  That's a lot of take up and shrinkage!  I had pre-washed the warp yarn to try and prevent some of the inevitable.   It was funny trying to dunk the skeins under water as they floated like marshmallows and later, even being spun out in the washing machine, they still took 4 days to dry!

I tried different lighting effects to show the lace.

This grouping shows the bonus blanket that I wove in plain weave. It turned out rather nice too! It measured 29 inches by 53 inches too.  A friend has bought this one for her cuddly lap throw for TV viewing the chilly winter nights to come. 

The bear is Spike and he's mine. He's handmade by a friend from German mohair. Eileen made hundreds, all by hand and one by one when she was in business. 

 All the blankets had tags added, but for one of them I wish it said "made with love by Nana"

Medically speaking.....
While I'm scheduled for a new knee, I'm also in need of a new hip too. Next week I'll know if which joint is best to do first and we'll go with that. The hip is complaining louder but we'll have to see what the x-rays show and the surgeon recommends.   I have medical appointments lined up all through out November  for just about everything you can possibly think of from a root canal this Tuesday to a mammogram and everything in between! 

I'd much rather be weaving....

I do have another project in mind but its in mid-wind on the warping board.  All natural silks and 36 epi.   Meanwhile, my loom is Naked!

Thanks for your patience as its going long between posts now. Weaving and spending time in my studio is what is keeping me sane right now and so I'll be weaving when ever I can. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Salad Bar

Isn't he handsome with his new antlers?  Bruce was sitting at his desk when he heard banging on the house. Something told him to take a camera with him and the picture above was the first he snapped. The buck was hitting the house with his antlers.

But not the last shot as this fellow decided that Bruce was not a threat and went back to eating fallen peaches off our tree that's against the house.

Then he added some last remaining flowers to the plate.   So this is why we don't have fancy gardens here. This buck and his doe.... and fawn all nibble on everything here. Even stuff that the garden shops swore up and down are deer proof.   Ya right....

Then he made his way to where the wife and kid are. Note the cedars, artfully shaped by the deer of course.   This buck has been living on our property for three or four years now after his mother was hit by a car.  

We seem to have a bumper crop of pears this year!  Bruce picked these and we are enjoying their aroma in the kitchen while we wait for them to soften up a bit.

The old gala apple tree has just a few apples this year and they are developing a nice red blush with the cooler nights.   Fortunately the apples and pears are all above the height for the deer!  (bears are another story...)

Bruce also spotted a muskrat swimming up the creek today and he watched it for a time doing some 'personal grooming' at the creekside.  I'm sorry I missed seeing that one!

It seems that the local wildlife know this is a safe place to visit... and I like that.


I have been given a date of December 18th  for my knee replacement surgery!   A week before Christmas....   
I'm so glad I started on the baby blankets now and not later....

Back soon with a progress report on that project soon.   (I did mention I'm weaving really slow now right?)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Starting Early for a Late Finish

Shortly after I started weaving back in 1996 I found a big stash of soft Monte Cristo cotton at my local yarn store. I bought some skeins and again in my future visits, I would add another skein or two.  I wasn't sure what I would weave with it but had some thoughts of trying my hand at the  boutonne  technique. Roll the clock ahead to 2014  and I still have a bin with eleven skeins of this soft plushy cotton.  (I'm still going to try weaving boutonne style!)

Its been a yarn stash waiting for a project and that day has finally arrived. I'll be the first to say that in the intervening years my yarn selections tended to the finer end of the scale, so this is like 'rope' to me now. Its lovely soft cuddly 'rope' and perfect for a baby blanket. (Henry's Attic sells it to retailers)

Yes, I'm going to be a Nana again in the spring! 

I have lots of time and I also don't. I'm looking at a total knee replacement and recovery period sometime this winter and then throw Christmas into the mix and .... well, time is short!   I'd rather not be trying to make something that *special* with a recovering knee as I don't know the healing time frame.   So I'm starting on it now.

I looked at all my drafts, then my samples .... then I googled Monte Cristo and determined setts. Its thick and fluffy and I was beginning to think that plain weave was all there was to choose from. Then I found a baby blanket project by weaver Sally Orgren that was perfect. Sally is an amazing weaver and its worth checking out her projects at the link.  The blanket is a combination of plain weave,  five thread huck and window panes.  So I changed the colours of the window pane outline and modified the huck lace to add a second style of lace blocks.  Its a six shaft, eight treadle draft. Sally also had it set for direct tie up and I changed that too.  Then it occurred to me that I would be weaving it on my Louet Spring 90...and it would be the full width!

So first order of business was to wind all the skeins into balls..... and that took some time as you can imagine... I would stand and wind the warp for a bit, then sit and wind a cake on my rest break.

I used a Woolhouse ball winder for making the larger cakes. Doesn't get used much around here so I even had to dust it. I normally use the smaller Royal brand for the finer yarns.

Wound the warp using four full skeins of cotton (plus five ends of a new cake) and got it set up on the loom for beaming. I had pre washed four skeins in advance to help reduce shrinkage. It was like trying to duck marshmallows under water! They also took four full days to dry! The colour brightened up to a soft cream.

Bruce helped me wind on the warp and it took a while for a few reasons. Its thick, its full width, its thick, and its stretchy!  Below you can see the bow in the lease sticks.  The stretchiness of the cotton made it akward. Do I pull the stretch out now or endlessly deal with it later?  I felt like a newbie all over again. I opted for being consistent and we took our time.

Finally we got it all done. It was a slow process with the cotton binding in the raddle. The 8/4 cotton (doubled) was also behaving weirdly too. It was acting slippery. I'd never thought I'd say that about 8/4 cotton!

Before I could thread, I had to tie back all the extra heddles out of the way. I think you'll understand my subtle message when I say I used PINK cotton ties.   I don't know anything concrete but its a suggestion!

As you can see from the pictures above and below, I used just about every dent except for these seven! I used a ten dent reed and sleyed one per dent. Lots of wriggle room there.

Normally I like to lace on but somehow that felt like I would be playing with the warp like a bungee jump and I opted to tie on. The 8/4 was tied separately as I didn't want them 'quarrelling'.

I must say that I loved the look of the warp from the back. All straight and orderly. It also shows just how full the loom is! My widest warp on it to date.

I ended my day by winding several pirns and loading up the bench with my tools for the next day's start!

So yesterday I tightened and closed the knots and then laid in 4 shots of scrap 8/2 cotton to bring the groupings closer together. Then I placed two thin warping sticks and then  threw four more shots of cotton.  As you can see from the close-up below, it really works to get things neatly braced up and ready to go. This cotton is soft and spongy and if you ever needed a "two stick start", its on a project like this!

I wove approximately five inches and then started with the coloured divider.   Then weave ten shots of plain weave and then weave block A lace, ten shots of plain weave. Repeat and do block B lace in the centre of the next window.  Its hard to see the lace as its cream on cream. Actually, I don't really expect it to behave like my recent lace projects at all and form tight groupings. The Monte Cristo is too fat and fluffy to allow crisp definition. It will be more of a central grouping of texture to break up the plain weave, with a touch of colour. The ends will have beige satin binding to secure the edges.

In the picture above and below there is lace in the centres but the flash brightens the warp too much.... I turned the flash off and you can just make out the lace below.  As I said, this will be more texture than anything!   I started to wonder if I should just treadle plain weave for the entire length but Bruce says it looks better than these pictures show.  

So that's where I finished.  It will be a slow weave as I'm using a temple against the inevitable draw in, moving it frequently and I'm using a larger 15"  Schacht EDS shuttle and having to give it a real good throw to cross the warp. I may switch to a heavier AVL and see if that helps!  

There is warp enough for two blankets so this will take awhile!  Good thing I started early then huh?