Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Glad to be Home Again.....

I'm home!   I'll be perfectly honest and say that was a week that I never care to repeat again.  Nasty.
The surgery went fine and no complications..... but the post op pain medicines that are opiate based did me in again.  So a  two to three day hospital stay turned into five days.

We knew what opiates I had intolerances to and so built a plan around what had worked okay last December. Until they failed me as well.   I was running out of options for pain control fast.    Finally they listened to me about what was given to me for pain control way back in 2001 when I had my first hip replaced and they found it and gave me some.

 Lo and behold.... it worked!

I felt much better after that and things progressed normally.   All this  kafuffle has put me behind on the physiotherapy plan though. I'm doing what they gave me to do in the hospital but its hard to make a leg bend that looks like a dead swollen pig.    Just keeping it moving seems part of the battle.  The swelling is normal and I hope that as when some of that slowly reduces I can get more 'bend'.  I see a physio next Tuesday.

So this will be my view for the coming Canadian Thanksgiving weekend:

... and I finally feel like I have my mental faculties back to attempt some hand sewing of hems.

Bye for now.... 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Down to the Wire

Its been a very busy time since I last wrote!

In my last post I showed you a sixteen shaft draft for the Megado and a wonky shaft.... which is now fixed!   So this was done:

So the Megado is all set and working nicely.... and I have a basket of wound pirns. I plan to change the colour every 32-34 inches for a new towel colour. 

I also wet finished the previous project of book marks and have them all washed and pressed and in the Etsy shop for sale (which is now temporarily shut for my operation).  Twelve shaft twill in black 20/2 cotton and a fine linen; sett is 50 epi.

I have done a lot of tidy up in the studio. Put yarns aways, finish up sample records, and got a new clear plastic storage bin for the recent tapestry yarn purchase.  

What else can I do while recovering?  Well, when the time comes ... I can sit and wind a warp or three and so have one planned, complete with cones and notes all ready to go.

I got the warp on the Spring *finally* woven off.   It was a slow weave due mainly to my wonky knee but also because of the very fine weft used and all the hemstitching involved. Four rows at the start and a row of double hemstitching for the end hem.   It was a ten and a half yard warp and I got twelve guest towels and some samples.   They have been serged apart and pressed and pinned for hand sewing the hems while I recover.  I like to have some hand work to keep busy with.  I'll do a full project blog post once its all done, washed and pressed up and photographed for you. I'm going to wash and steam press them later.  Here are some of the towels waiting for the sewing needle:

Front edge of the butter cream towel

.... and the back edge.

Here are a few.... and there's twelve in all, featuring two different huck patterns 

I don't think the loom was even cold yet and the next warp was beamed on!   It was threaded and sleyed PDQ as well. Then she was hoisted up onto her crates and the tie up done.   I'm not likely to be able to weave on this loom for a time but its nice to know its ready for when I am.  The warp is for two scarves and one will be woven "as drawn in" and the second will be woven "network twill style". In fact the warp that is waiting to be wound on the warping mill is for another set of two scarves, woven the same two ways as well.  Different colours of course, but I won't have to change the tie up for a time. I sit on a low stool to do that and I'm not sure my new knee would like trying to get up from that until its well healed.... so I'm being kind to my future self!

Anyhow, here's the start of "as drawn in"  as a tease.... and there will be a more full disclosure much later on.

So that means everything is done and ready in the studio for my eventual return.   In the house I have been busy too!   

We have completed the last of the medical visits and tests.   We picked up all the equipment necessary at the Red Cross loans cupboard and our guest room is full of walkers, bath bench, raised toilet seat, crutches, a bed assist bar, another frame device to lift and keep the blankets off my knee, and my new cryo-cuff machine!

You place water and ice into the 'cooler' and a quiet little motor circulates the water via the hose to the pad which is wrapped around the (cloth covered) knee. This helps reduce swelling and inflammation.  We tried it out today as a trail run and it worked fine and no leaks.  You can barely hear the motor!  I wish I had known about this gizmo for my hip surgeries!   I used leaky  doubled bags of ice in 2001 for my left hip..... and frozen gel packs for the right hip this past December.    There are different pad types for different body parts available. What is shown above is called a universal and mine is specific for a knee joint.

We have arranged for a ride for me to come home using Medivan transport as our Santa Fe SUV isn't user friendly to get a newly operated left knee into.  Even with the seat back all the way, its still high off the ground and there's not enough swing room to get the knee in without doing a bend and a maybe twist.  Medivan staff will get me home and into the house, up the stairs and settled into my own bed.  That will be my big accomplishment for the day I'm sure! I'm thrilled to not have to worry about the stairs on my first day home!

The seasons are changing and work goes on around the house and yard to get ready. Bruce got the snow tires mounted on rims and onto the car yesterday. The higher elevation road between here and my hospital has the requirement of snow tires as of October 1st to March 30th.  So he'll be safe on his commute to see me at least!

Recent rains showed us that some repairs are required for our gutters and they will be done this Monday.   Lawn mowing has begun again now the grass has started to grow once more and the usual end of summer clean up has begun in the gardens and patio.  I'm just an observer in all these details....

We had an arborist come and assess some dead standing trees on the property that must be cut down before the winter wind storms start as they are too close to the house.  They died from the dry spell in the summer of 2014 and failed to revive this past spring.   We won't know what has died from the long drought this summer until spring 2016.   We also found that our neighbourhood deer have started eating things normally labeled in garden shops as "deer proof", so we need some new plants to add to their buffet.... but most likely next spring.

Now all I have left to do is some laundry, and pack my bag to go.  I have to report in 7:45 am on Monday. Yes, I'm nervous and wishing I didn't have the week to come ahead of me but I do want to get to the benefits of a new knee which is walking pain free, and weaving again.      Wish me luck!   

Bruce bought me some dahlias from a local roadside stand and I must say that they are simply lovely. A real other world inside the petals....  here are some shots so you can enjoy them too.

I'll see you here again soon. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Time is Ticking Away

 I was looking out a window down our driveway and saw  the back of a large gray cat sitting on the driveway.   It was a very big cat and I could clearly see the ears...... when all of a sudden its entire head turned around "exorcist style" and I found myself looking into a pair of very stern yellow eyes!

It was a very large owl.... a very large Great Horned Owl sitting in my driveway!

Later on, Bruce found him (or her?) sitting in a tree along the driveway and his presence didn't faze the bird at all. He managed to snap a few pictures.  They are also known as the cat owl as they are a sufficiently large enough bird to bring one home for dinner!  The neighbour's cats are on their own but I'm more concerned about our little resident rabbit!

The markings on its feather blend with the tree bark very well!

We have a week of rain ahead of us and that's okay by me. I have a lot to do to get ready in the studio ahead of my "adventure" at Victoria Royal Jubilee Hospital.....

.......but I just couldn't leave the tapestry loom in a pile of nice lumber on the floor!   

I cleaned each piece and buffed out some marks with a magic eraser  and only found one wood bruise. For a loom that's 48 years old, that's pretty darn good!   Then using a couple of clear, detailed pictures I found on line, Bruce and I worked hard all afternoon to basically get all the main parts assembled while it lay flat on the floor.  

 By days end we turned around and found two big parts we had missed!    We decided to call it a day and try again the next day...

So,  a fresh start again the next day.  We were able to loosen off some bolts and squeak in the parts and then tighten it all up again.  It would seem that 95% of the parts need to be set between the two main sides and then all tightened up together.  Its a two person job provided they have six pairs of hands to hold everything in place and tighten things up at the same time!

Bruce got the treadles and brake release into place....

It had been a tough two days fighting with parts!

Two full afternoons of  intense togetherness and no fighting or barking at each other.... cool huh?

There she is!   All done and a light polish applied and cords secured.  Bruce says that if we ever move, it can be well wrapped and go out the door as one large object!    Now the loom can sit and wait a while for me.... and for the  yarn to arrive.

Which  two days later,  a large and heavy box arrived on my doorstep!  I had placed an order with Brassards in Quebec for some wools, cotton seine cord and some 2/8 cottons.

It was a satisfying box load!

Two different gauges of cotton seine cord for warps on the Tissart.

These are the Blue Mountain wools.... 2100 yards per pound, in twenty eight colours. I need to get a storage bin for them right away. Its a finer wool that I will use doubled.  Replacements will be bought as two pound cones as I see what colours I tend to favour. 

These are the 2/8 cottons. I have a hodge podge of other colours so hopefully this will help expand the selection for project planning. I hope to do some more plaids and tartans eventually.

So I'll be  reading up on tapestry techniques and planning on a beginners sampler.   Ah, all that and reading up on how to beam a warp on the Tissart too. Fortunately there is a good post on line to  refer to.  I'll even check You Tube just in case.... they seem to have everything there!

Bruce helped me with beaming eleven and a half yards on 2/8 natural cotton onto the Megado.  (He's a real keeper huh?) I got 554 ends all threaded and sleyed.   Then, I fired up the computer and Fiberworks today and hope to make a start on my sixteen shaft draft and this happened:

 So today I will have to make some adjustments to the cords and, with luck, I'll be happily weaving soon.  The draft is from Handweaving.net

I'm working on the set up of this loom first as its the one that will be easiest for me to use at some point in my recovery. There is just the one treadle and its very light to move. I also bought some springs to attach to the loom to reduce the inertia required to treadle. They are for weavers with joint issues. A smart idea!  

See the black springs between the cup hooks? That the extra lift and you can set the tension by moving to another hook.

The computer program does all the decision making so I can focus on just throwing the shuttle and watching the pattern grow.    Also, at this point the new fly shuttle might just have to wait for its working debut. I'm running out of time and I still have another loom to get sorted out!

Weaving on the Spring loom has been slow as my knee dictates what I can do and for how long. I've been using my (soon to be replaced) left knee and leg as much as possible to treadle the huck lace by way of 'exercise' but by the end of a session, its tired and very sore.  I finished weaving my planned  towel number twelve yesterday and yet I can still see warp enough for another.  So I will get busy with my bonus towel with its five rows of hemstitching!  I would like to get this warp done and off and then prep the towels ready for hemming. I thought I could hand sew the hems while recovering.

I have a tencel scarf warp to beam on next (see the last post)  and it shouldn't take long to thread.  I won't be able to  maneuver too well so I'd like to get the loom up on her crates and get the tie up done ahead of time.

I have two weeks to go but there are several days where I'll be visiting Doctors and pre-admission clinics and doing personal errands to get ready.   In between I'll be in the studio!

Tick-tock, tick-tock!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The continuing story of yet more Changes

Its been a strange summer. Long, very hot, and very dry.   We had no rain for 120 days and then this past week or so we have steady downpours, and its been downright cold.   Fall seems to have arrived overnight.

We're happy to have the forest fire risk diminish and more water in the creeks again!

I have been puttering around and not really pushing myself too hard. My knee is very sore and so some days it simply hurts to stand, let alone weave.  That has given me time to look around my studio and decide what direction I'm going to lean.  If you read my previous post, then you know that I have been through lots of changes before.

I have wound two scarf warps in tencel for the Louet Spring loom.   I plan to warp up this one (below) ahead of my coming surgery so its there on the loom to catch my eye and encourage me along with my physiotherapy.

I recently learned to do colour gradations using the Mac version of Fiberworks and I must say they sure do transition nicely. (PC users will get this feature in the next program upgrade)  I've used black, eggplant and red purple here.   It may be some time before I'm able to treadle this loom so the colours are my carrot!

The loom that will be easier to use first, when the time is right, will be the Megado and I have wound a twelve yard warp of simple natural 8/2 cotton and it will be ready to weave towel yardage. It has just the one treadle and I can use my good leg. The computer will do the bulk of the work.  I've got some attractive sixteen shaft drafts cued up and it will be fun to watch the patterns grow.  I'll use coloured cottons and cottolin's as weft.  I'll be beaming that warp later on today.

The fly shuttle arrived from Louet in Holland and as usual it was extremely well boxed and presented.  You basically take it out and bolt it on. Very little to do other than set the length of the pull cord.   I had to take the beater bump blocks off and replace them with new larger ones so the right hand shuttle box doesn't clash with the  computer interface.   That was four screws. 

Here they are installed on the loom. There's no reed in place or front breast beam as I'm preparing to beam a warp.  We turned the loom slightly so the boxes don't face any windows! I don't want any damage done to a twenty five hundred dollar patio door! I also placed red and green ribbons on the ends to catch the eye as you move in the room as my "port and starboard markers".

There's a problem though. The right hand flyshuttle box slides beautifully.... the left side, not so much.  Its stiff and hard to move. I've been emailing to and fro with Louet on this issue.  If a solution isn't forth coming soon, then I will take them off and use it by hand.  I'm sure it will be resolved eventually.  Edit: things seem to have been resolved nicely.....   Susan August 4th 2015.

The Louet  end delivery fly shuttle is huge!  Its fifteen inches long and heavy, with rollers underneath. It came with wooden pirns.  I was additionally motivated to move the loom when I felt that bruiser and realized all the tips I had received about not pointing the fly boxes at glass were good ones! I guess keeping your feet out of the way too would be a another. 

I have some (lighter)  AVL shuttles that I'll also try out in time as well.  I think there will be a learning curve and a routine to practise but hopefully it will speed things up.  It will be as fast as my one good leg can go!    So fun and games to come there....

Another change is that I decided to sell the Louet Jane table loom and stand as it was not being used.  Its been to one workshop and had one other warp on it. That's it since 2008.  I find table looms too slow and so tend to use the floor looms instead.   It sold right away and it was delivered to its new home today.

So with the proceeds of this sale I have placed a yarn order with Brassards to fill out my 8/2 cotton selections, some more 9/2 linen and cotton seine cord and wools.    Why seine cord and wools?  Because with some of the table loom proceeds, I bought this:

A gently used (only two owners) Leclerc 45" Tissart loom (circa 1967). It was picked up today (in pieces of course). Here's one all set up:

I'm taking down my warping board centre which isn't being used any longer since I bought the warping mill. It would be a very long time before I could stand to use one again anyhow. Its been put away and there is a nice sized space next to wall where the loom will go.  The new more open look to the studio will still be there and I can work seated at learning samplers on the loom.  I'll try to get a warp on her soon, but I have to see what state she's in and if she needs new bits and pieces first. Leclerc doesn't make them any longer but they still have parts.   Her name will be Gudrun, after my friend.
She had one too and so has inspired me to get busy following my heart as I always wanted to give tapestry a try.  If its not for me, then she can be sold and moved on.  I won't lose anything, including money, for the effort!  I will start with the basics and follow an online workshop and also review my notes I have from a tapestry class that I took with Gudrun.  I'll be a newbie again!

Gudrun's Tissart

So a lot of changes, some small, some big and some new directions.   The driving force behind much of this is coming to terms with the reality of my joint issues. I *will* be able to  floor loom weave again  but I'm looking for easier options for my health.  They can replace the joints but the Arthritis Lupus will never go away.  So, time to adapt, make changes... and move on. 

I hope to get another post done  before my surgery on September 28th.  Any posts after that won't be weaving related but I'm sure you'll understand.    I will admit to being very nervous and I hear its more painful than a hip .... and that was bad enough!  So getting things in order in the studio will be my distraction during the coming days.  Night time though,  insomnia has my Mind in full play!  I reason with myself that it will result in a better, more mobile me in time, but the Mind is having none of that argument! 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Little Stroll down Memory Lane

It was just over a week ago that we laid my Dad's remains to rest and we all gathered as a family.  We shared a meal and reminisced.  Since coming home I have found my thoughts drifting back in time and so I went digging through old photos and I recently scanned some into my computer to share.

Yes, that's a much younger (and thinner)  me above with a lady who's name is lost from my memory. It was fall 1995 and I was buying her forty five inch Leclerc Colonial loom with 4 shafts, 6 treadles and it could be set up as either jack  or counterbalance.  It came with bench, electric bobbin winder, shuttles, bobbins, many books including New Key to Weaving, Marguerite Davison's Four shaft pattern book with the green cover, Burnham's Keep Me Warm One Night, and Peter Collingwood's Rug Weaving book.   All for $500.00 and I was so new to weaving, that I had no idea of the super deal we had found! It did involve a trip from the Okanagan to the Vancouver area to view and collect.   I found out later it was missing the apron rods but had some made at a machine shop.  Not a big deal really...

Summer  1996

Coldstream house 1995-1997
The house we first lived in after our move to the Okanagan was in Coldstream, adjacent to Vernon BC. The Leclerc Colonial filled a small bedroom and I don't have any pictures of her set up. What I do have a picture of is the small loom I agreed to 'store' for the local weavers guild and eventually bought from the owner.  We lived on Tassie Drive and the loom was owned by Libby Tassie. Her husband's family had been early settlers in the area. It was a little slice of local history.   It was called the Tassie loom by everyone for obvious reasons, but what it actually was, was a thirty six inch Leclerc Artisat four shaft loom.  You can see that the  "loom creep" was well under way with a loom in a bedroom and this little one was artfully angled in the large living room.  The stash at this point fit well into a closet. 

I upgraded the heddles to the inserted eye variety and in this picture I'm threading a baby blanket for a nephew (who is now nearly twenty!)    We were renting this house and our landlord decided a leaking roof did not merit repairs and so, with the support of the property management company, we broke our lease and moved after ten months....

 Winfield / Lake Country house  July 1998-2004

We rented another home in a community called Winfield (later changed to Lake Country) and were perched on a hill above Gray Monk Winery's vineyards. There was a stunning 180 degree view of Okanagan Lake.    In July 1998 I received the brand new Woolhouse CM loom and so I sold off all the others to help pay for it.  It was an eight shaft model at the time and the wood is so blonde for being newly made.  My brother Kent came for a visit and took pictures of me weaving on her.

No bedroom for this baby!   We placed her in the formal dining area and angled her so I could also see the lake and all its moods. Here I am weaving snowflake twill for the very first time in silk.

Estamont Beach house 2004- 2006

Another move but this time we were buying a home and we moved to a small community called Estamont Beach on the north west side of Okanagan Lake. Here there was an above ground, walkout basement with a rec room and I set up shop there.  The stash and associated equipment had grown (of course) and I used a small office downstairs to store things there.

We were enjoying a  new lake view once again, and the Woolhouse got the window, while a smaller eight shaft Leclerc Compact loom sat across from it. I bought the Compact loom from a dear friend who had woven many, many yards on her since she was new..... so much that she was actually wearing out!  I was warned she was 'tired'!  The loom needed some repairs and replacements and basically a reinvention of the tie up system as the slots for the cords had widened.   I struggled with it for a time and eventually sold it to a weaver in the Shuswap who's handy husband fixed the treadles and some other issues and she happily wove away on it. 

I found the loom was a bit too low for my height as well. New owner Jenny was of a more diminutive height than me.  It just goes to prove that there is a perfect loom and weaver match for every loom and weaver!

I had also bought a gently used 12 shaft Woolhouse Tools Carolyn table loom. It had only ever had one warp on it!  I got the support table frame and it made it much more accessible for use.  It ended up being too big and heavy for workshops, though it was really nice to stand weave when all set up over standing at a table all day. Eventually it was sold to Theresa of blog "Camp Runamuck" fame in Oregon and I believe she sold it in time to someone in Massachusetts.  That loom certainly was going places!     I love table looms for workshops and smaller projects, but if you are looking for speed, then it a floor loom all the way!

Having said that, here's a picture of me and a friend in 2003 working on a Leclerc Dorothy table loom. Julianne had found it in a local garage sale for $25.00 and thought she'd give it a try.   Well, we worked it and finally got  warp on her, but the heavy clunk action of the shafts and the slowness of the process meant Julianne had her own garage sale in due course.

Blind Bay house  2004-2006

We moved to the Shuswap in 2004 to a larger home and the idea was to find a community that was more temperate.  I was finding the long hot summers in the Okanagan really draining. You seemed to live in an AC house and run to your AC car.   It was August when we moved in and it was 39 degrees Celsius. So much for that idea!    The Woolhouse loom went to a small bedroom in the basement and stash and stuff went to the second bedroom down there.  I can't find a picture of the room just now, but they were both bright and cheery..... but very small and I did not feel very inspired in those spaces.

We literally had someone make us an offer on our home that we could not refuse!  Retiring accountants from the Oil Patch in Alberta who wanted our house on the 13th tee of the golf course. So we packed up and moved again.

2006-2007: A brief one year in Powell River 

The Woolhouse loom and Carolyn table loom stayed in a very large bedroom with excellent light. It was a nice space to weave in on the upper floor of our home.   Our situation there in Powell River changed and we made a decision to move, with our home selling in 3 hours, and went to Vancouver Island in 2007 to our present home.

I had become very proficient at dismantling and reassembling (single handed too) the Woolhouse loom.... which continued to expand and grow over the years and that included to an addition of more shafts, a second warp beam and a  20+ tie up assist.  

There's one more move ahead for us and hopefully in 2016 we can sell this house when my recovery is well under way.  Its time to downsize the size of property to look after.  Our home has the main floor 'up' and so a flight of stairs are required to get to bedroom and essential rooms.  Not ideal for someone with joint issues. I will still have another surgery to come even after the knee so the stairs will be an ongoing issue regardless.

You know, it will feel really strange not to have the Woolhouse to breakdown and pack up..... 

I also found some old photographs of past projects to share with you from 2003 - 2004 before I started keeping samples and better records.  It took me a few years to see the sense in it!

Baby blanket: white 8/2 cotton warp with a linen / synthetic blend; crocheted edging.  Sett would have been 24 epi. I used the draft you'll find in this post

Baby Blanket:  white 8/2 cotton with white #10 Aunt Lydia crochet cotton; hem stitched and hemmed.

Baby Blanket: white 8/2 cotton with beige #10 Aunt Lydia crochet cotton; crocheted edging.
 I was a fairly new weaver still and looking for sources of yarns to use.... Aunt Lydia jumbo 1000 yard cones were then $5.99 at Wal-Mart. It gave the blankets a crisp pattern and lovely shine.  I bought a few cones and still have them in my stash. Its nice to use actually. 

A dear friend Gloria, who is now long since passed on, gave guild members this draft for an 8 shaft false damask. I made some kitchen towels featuring Gloria's favourite colour purple. I still have one towel and its in constant use in our kitchen and still looking good after eleven or twelve years.

So what have I learned from this little wander down memory lane?  (besides the fact we have moved a lot, but all for good reasons).  That I tried and traded up different looms as I grew as a weaver. Some worked and fit right and some were interesting to play with for a time and move them along to another weaver.    The loom swapping slowed down in time as I found the right fit for me.

My later acquisitions of my Louet Spring are documented in this post, and my Louet Megado in this post. 

I also learned that our Province of BC is beautiful, one house move at a time!  I think we're happy being Vancouver Islanders now having lived here for 8 years now. It always feels like home when the ferry is heading for her shores. We might just be finally setting down roots!