Saturday, November 14, 2015

If at First You Don't Succeed.....

We had a nasty rain and wind storm recently and the next morning as the sun broke through, this fine fellow came and sat on a branch near our house to fluff up and dry off.  Its a sharp shinned hawk and the first one that we have seen here. He stayed for over an hour warming up and having a major preening session.  I guess if we put up a bird feeder they would visit more often..... as it eats other small birds that eat seed off the ground.  Ah, we won't be doing that....

If we could roll the clock back a few weeks..... okay, a couple of months at least!  I had wound a fine linen warp of 40/2 of approx 10 yards in length. I was looking forward to weaving up some guest towels and enjoying that crisp look that comes with linen and hemstitching! This was the very start and a test bit to check the threading:

The sett was 36 epi and I had used this before with great success but this time it wasn't working so well for me. The warp threads were literally binding on each other.     Okay, so I resleyed to 32 epi, thinking the reduction of four warp ends would give them more elbow room.      Apparently not....

So a third sley and the sett is now 28 epi and now only some were grabbing each other where they were in the same dent and the tension was all screwy on the left hand side.  I also really didn't like the way the warp threads were bunching up  and producing very heavy reed marks.

So I sat and considered my investment of time and yarn:  its been threaded twice,  I fixed two threading errors, resleyed three times and its still not resolved.   I wanted to have this project on, woven up and off the loom before I  went for my surgery the end of September.  The goal was to be able to hand sew the hems while I recovered. I also wanted to get a new warp on the loom so it was all set and ready to weave when I was ready to get back in the game.

So out came the scissors....     Yup, all of it, in the garbage.    No regrets.

So I adjusted the project to work with 10/2 cotton and got busy winding a warp of natural colour mercerized cotton.  Bruce helped me wind on the eleven yards. This time everything went just right! There were no threading errors, no sleying errors, nice even warp tension and the 24 epi sett worked beautifully.

*Big sigh of relief!*

I wove my hem allowance, then hemstitched every four warp threads. Then I placed a thick cord and then started on the border.  I pulled out the slippery cord out and then hemstitched the top edge.    Complete the lace detail in the border and then hemstitch the top edge.   Place the cord again and weave the initial plain weave shots for the main portion of the towel. Pull the cord again and hemstitch the final edge using what ever colour of weft is being used for the towel.     {If you give this a try yourself, be sure to leave  five times the width of the project for the hemstitch yarn. }

Virginia West's classic book  "Finishing Touches for the Handweaver"     This book is a real treasure if you wish to have your work beautifully finished. It was a game changer for me when I got my copy nearly twenty years ago!

I had purchased some cones of yarn in a series of soft neutral colours in a fine bamboo (6300 yds/lb) and decided to use them as my weft. The Bambu 12 is soft, has a great sheen and and would give the towels a lovely hand. They would be naturally anti microbial and anti fungal which is a nice property to have in a small towels that might sit wet after hand washing.

I'm weaving an eight shaft huck lace that makes a repeating diamond pattern. Its something I had played around with in my Fiberworks program.  I planned to make half the towels with the diamond motif and the other half would have a design I'm calling lattice and flower. I played around with the treadling options to find a pleasing pattern.

I had a project plan guide beside me:  three inches for the hem, a total of eighteen inches for the main part of the towel (including the fancy border), then three inches for the back hem. The hems and border were done with white against the natural, with a colour for the main part of the lace.   I used white for the back hem as well and did full hemstitching where they changed.  {be sure to use seven times the width for this style}. See below and remember to click on the pictures to enlarge:

So that was five rows of hemstitching per towel and over a dozen towels that totals 60 rows altogether.   What the heck was I thinking??   Do a fast project and get it off the loom and reloaded before my surgery date???   I also had to warp up and load the Megado and then we decided to re-assemble the tapestry loom over leaving it as a pile of lumber on the floor.   Timing was going to be tight!

The tapestry loom was re-built, and the Megado loaded. That would be the first choice of loom to weave on thanks to the one treadle and light action so it made sense to get it done first.  After that, I worked away on the towels and got my speed in hemstitching up to new world record speeds!    It was tight for time but the warp came off and a new one went on the same day which also included being hoisted up on crates to change the tie up!

I measured and pressed the hems and pinned them .   It was a nice stack of hand work waiting for my return!   Then, I indulged in a studio cleanup too which I must admit felt real good. My creative work space was all set for when I would be ready.

Anaesthesia does funny things to your head. It makes you fuzzy minded and clumsy for a time. Its surprising how long it lasts in your system. Then there's the pain meds after surgery which add their own complexity to the mix.   I guess it was nearly 3 weeks after my surgery that I was interested enough to try sewing hems.  The cloth was quite fine so good light was necessary but I slowly inched my way across one hem after another.  

Last week I placed them into a gentle wash cycle  and once spun out, I trimmed off any tails and let them line dry over night.  Next morning I lowered the ironing board and pulled up a chair.  I steamed pressed them and I'm very happy with them!  I found only one that had a treadling error, which we politely call a second.

Its a tough time of year to photograph anything.... its so darn dark!  But with every light on in the house and using the 'brighten' function in my editing program I got some nice pictures.  There are six towels with the diamond pattern....

There are five towels with the lattice and flower pattern:

They measure thirteen inches wide by nineteen and a half inches in length. The colours are a soft butter yellow, green tea green, snowy white, a light beige called water chestnut,  and a blue green. The sheen from the bamboo is lovely and the fine cloth has a nice weight to it.   If we do get a bright sunny day, I might try re-photographing them, but this will have to do until then.

So this project was all woven before my surgery (on a wonky knee no less) and I'm happy to report that I have made a start on trying to weave again this past week at six weeks post operative!

I did do some work on the Megado, where I used mainly my right leg for 30-40 treadlings then I would do 10-15 with my left leg and so on. I took the next day off to see how it felt and it was fine.

So yesterday I sat down on my bench and tried two treadling repeats at my Spring loom:

In the case of this treadling plan there is an even division between left and right leg so they both got an equal workout. It didn't feel too bad at all!  I did only two repeats.  My physiotherapist has given me the go ahead to weave and called it a "great quad strengthening exercise" and asked if I had a spinning wheel too?   I said yes and she she told me it was okay to use it as well! 

I'm not 100 % as yet and still a lot of inner healing and more exercises to go, but I feel like I'm finally on the way back!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

In a Heartbeat.....

Thirty years ago today we got married; for each of us it was our second time round.   Blending two lives, my kids, his kids and two households into one. Ever since then time and years have been slowly ticking away.  Its been quite the adventure too.  The picture below was taken a few weeks after we got married at my new mother in law's home.  On the wedding day, we forgot to bring a camera and our best man didn't bring his either.  To go home to get it would put us seriously late so we carried on with out it.

I occasionally went to work with Bruce and rode trains. In this case, the Canadian passenger train during Christmas through the Fraser Canyon.  1985

After we moved from the Vancouver area to the Okanagan Valley, we made new friends  both train and weaving related. Here we are waiting on the 1995 CN Christmas party to start after a couple of rounds! 

After another move to the Winfield area....a visitor caught this picture of us in 1998.

I climbed back up on a train again for Bruce's last run January 7th, 2000 and so that ended his 38 year career on the rails.

Another move back to the west coast and we are now on Vancouver Island. We took a trip to Saltspring Island with friends ( and bought four looms between us!) in late summer / early fall 2008. Here we are having a gelato break.

My brother came to visit and took this picture of us on the board walk in Cowichan Bay approximately  in 2010.

The two of us enjoying the warm summer breeze on the car deck of the ferry on our way to see our new born grandson in summer of 2012.

Finally.... us again taken on August 7th 2015.    I would say yes all over again and Bruce says he would ask again (or so he assures me!)

Here's the evolution of a Railway career (as a bonus).  Bruce here is age 13-14 or so...

... and here he is running the real trains....

.... and now he's back to playing pretend trains again!

Bruce tells me the best is yet to come!  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Time Challenges

Time is doing a funny thing in my house.  Its been two weeks since my surgery which feels like it just whipped by. I can see and feel positive changes in that short time, especially considering how awful I felt in the hospital at the time.  

Its also slowed to a crawl as well.  There is no hurrying the healing process and it takes as long as it takes. This means taking things easy, resting, using ice, eating well and the daily exercises.   The days tend to run into one another and all feel the same.

I'm guilty of watching too much TV, napping when I feel like it ( and sometimes even when I don't).  I'm reading lots and doing a bunch of hand work as well when light conditions allow.

I'm getting bored and in a hurry to get this done and over with.

Then we go out to either physiotherapy or to the doctors office and I come home as weak as a kitten and head back to my couch and elevate my swollen knee.

That's when the time thing hits me again. It will take as much as it needs..... no matter what I think or want !  Its the Boss of me.

So here's my new upgrade:

31 staples! My eye can see where they could have placed one more and made it even. 

The top row of images is my old knee before the operation.  These were taken two days post op. 

All staples are out and now its just steri-strips.  They will just fall off when ready (or with a little help :)   Now I must keep working on the exercises and keep bending the knee!   I had an 87 degree bend this past Tuesday at therapy. Yesterday I got a true 90 degree bend at the surgeon's office which made him happy.    They credit my strong quad muscles to all the treadling I did before surgery!   So weaving really does count as exercise....

So that's all for here..... back to my couch. I have a new Handwoven to read.

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.