Sunday, December 21, 2014


Christmas is almost here! Are your plans all made, menus set ? .... gifts bought and wrapped?  Its become a crazy time of year and there are a lot of stresses on everyone. I have found that as you get older your feelings for Christmas undergo a change. Gifts are nice but not really necessary as we tend to buy what we need through out the year.   You may even start to scale back on the decorations.  Its a darker time of year and I find the sparkly lights are the best part for me.  With the Solstice today, the emphasis is on the return of the light!

Now that I have a grandson, and a grand daughter on the way, I can see where Christmas is truly all about the children.  For little Ethan this is a magical time of year as he learns the customs and experiences it all. For him, its real!  He also wants it all, and now..... (patience Grasshopper!)

So it comes down to what is really important.  Spending time with family and friends and if not in person, then make a call and hear their voice.  Face Time or Skype is another good option too.  (try not to have them looking up your nose and get the camera angle right!)

I had to get my cards done a fair bit early this year due to the operation. There were several letters needed for older family friends and relatives far away.  I sat and hand wrote them out as my attempt to keep something authentic about communication! No dispersions are being cast on the computer  generated family newsletter; its just not my style.

Our only festive plan this year is to go with a friend and see the third and sadly last instalment  of the Hobbit movie. That will be a big night out for me!  I already know their theatre seating is very low and soft so I will take my four wheel walker and my booster cushion and sit at the end of a row.   The movie is out now and I reckon another week and I can do it given my recovery and how I feel.

So how goes it here?  Well, Bruce has been doing a stellar job of keeping me fed and in clean clothes and taking me to medical appointments.  He's even starting to spend time in his hobby room again and work on his models.  I am moving better and feeling stronger with the two wheel walker and even taking a few steps (with a hand hold) on my own and I can see where using a cane alone is in my near future.  My dressing is off and things have healed well.  Its just all the internal healing and strengthening that must carry on in the coming months.  Its a slow process but there is measurable progress daily.   Its the slow part that had me bugged today.  You feel good enough to do more, but you can't ! (yet)

So I indulged in some retail therapy instead. I purchased a large ball winder with a tensioner (picture to come later) and I went bonkers shopping at Etsy! I shopped for the coming grand baby and grandson as you have to have something for him at the baby showers to come as well.  Ethan is now train crazy and so we are going to be feeding that fire very well!   My daughter in law wants a dragonfly theme for the new baby girl's room and Nana found some nice essentials with just that.

I also found yarn! I have a nice  cone of a luxury fibre coming.... to be revealed later!  Yes, my thoughts are returning to weaving even if the flesh is weak still!  And my willpower is too....

So from our family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a healthy Happy New Year! May your shuttles fly true and well.

January 8th, 2015 is this blog's  7th anniversary date and I will be having a  random draw of a kitchen towel based on comments left to this post. Draw will be made on January 7th  and the winner will be announced January 8th. I simply can't believe that I have been writing this blog for seven years. To those of you who have been here from the start, you have my grateful thanks!

pink and white only... spoon not included  :)

I appreciate that some find the comment system here cranky but simply click on the word 'comment' below and follow the steps. If the Captcha word is too hard to view, click the refresh circle with the arrow to get one that's easier for you. Then, failing that, email me and I'll add you in okay.  Email address is in my profile.

Friday, December 12, 2014

On the Other Side

This is my view today...

And there's much to be grateful for... . quiet home,  own comfy bed,  having hubby and the dog near by and time to heal.

Roll the clock back a week....there was tension, sweaty palms and a lot of worry!

This was my first view of Victoria's Royal Jubilee Hospital at 6:30 am..... cold, dark and rainy.... and apparently, we might be early? The only other car next to us had a card that said 'ER Doctor".

So, once I was signed in, multi ID bracelets secured around my wrist and a feeling I just signed over my life, they wheeled me to the surgical floor. It was quite the hike and so I was glad of the chair ride.  The surgical wait room was very quiet as yet. There were two other equally nervous looking people looking like they were working getting their game face on!

After a barrage of questions on everything you could possibly think of,  I said my good bye's to Bruce and they get you gowned up and move you to a surgical bed.  I had a visit from the Orthopaedic surgeon,  Dr Duncan  Jacks who came through the door rubbing his hands together excitedly " I've got a great team in the OR today.... this is going to go great!" We confirmed the part to be replaced and he initialed my upper right thigh.  I met my anesthesiologist ( sadly, I forget his name but he was very nice) and discussed my previous allergic reactions post surgery.

Then this nurse came to see me. Her name is Carrie and I have a daughter Carrie. I asked what her second name is and she replied "Lynn".... and my daughter's second name is Lynn too!  Carrie was a lot of fun to talk with and she said she was the warm-up crew. She wasn't kidding! She lay a flat plastic sheet over all of me and then hooked it to a blower that looked like a shop vac and it inflated like a pool raft with pockets of air.  Apparently things are kept very cool (to downright cold) in the OR and they pre-warm you. I asked why so cold and she told me of the multiple layers of scrubs, gowns and plastic like aprons (yuck), face guards, masks and gloves. They simply get too hot to work comfortably.  Well, I want them in good shape and I won't care if I'm cold!

There's no more hospital pictures from here on for the squeamish of you out there (including me)  But if you are made of sterner stuff, googling "hip replacement surgery" will yield all sorts of video clips. I've read up on the techniques but fell short of watching the actual videos.

The OR was very large, very cold and very full....  with gowned people, tools of the trade and equipment. I don't think I ever registered just how many people it takes in the operating room to fix you up.  There was a formal identification of who I was and what was being done and then one by one they all acknowledged hearing.  This is good thing at any time but in particular with me as I had switched from a knee to a hip.  I breathed into a mask and took three breaths...... { I guess it didn't matter really as I needed both done! }

I awoke in a bed with a nurse saying it was all over and that the surgery had gone very well.  I woke up yet again with the bed being pushed through a hallway as they took me to the semi private room.  There was no scooting over... or pulled over as in the past. The bed I was on was the one for my room. I later found it was valued at $25,000.00 and it did everything! There was a switch to control the lights, the television if you signed up for one and the blinds on the window!

Six hours after the surgery started at 10 am, I was helped up and used a commode chair beside the bed at 4 pm.  My surgeon was impressed!  I told him the lack of a catheter more or less made it necessary....     That evening I made some phone calls and felt just fine.  I even slept okay that night.

The next two to three days.... not so much! Little sleep, dizziness, nausea and vomiting and  a bad, bad head ache. It was happening all over again just like my last hip replacement thirteen years earlier!
After two days of this, I took a deep breath and then refused the Dilaudid.   Six hours later, head ache is easing off and tummy is feeling better.  Opiate intolerance again!  Some phone calls to and fro and I was given another class of pain meds and after crossing fingers and toes, tolerated a low dose of another.  [There are three classes of narcotic pain medicines for them to choose from]   I fell behind on  progress and physio but I managed to start doing more as I felt more my own self again.

I came home this past Tuesday and that was the major event for the day. Getting dressed,  getting into a car, driving the hour home and getting into the house was more than enough for me.  I came in and settled onto a hospital style bed and took a nap straight away!  Two or three hours later, I very, very slowly went up the fourteen stairs to the main floor.   Each of the last three days feels just like the other but I tell that I'm moving better, not getting so tired and best of all.... thinking more clearly!  All the stress and strain, pain and such had me feeling muddled and off my game and I'm happy to be more myself again.

Some lovely flowers from my brother and father.

Physio starts Monday and apart from that we are home for the holidays!
I hope you are all busy weaving away and nearly ready for Christmas....   we're all snuggled in and as done as we will be for now!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gathering Together

Its been unseasonably cold here on Vancouver Island..... and even colder elsewhere. Lots of snow and chilly temperatures all over. Well, at least here in the northern hemisphere!  I found the picture above on line, but it easily could have been taken here with fog among the trees.  These two pictures below are from our upper deck yesterday morning, and it was minus 5 degrees Celsius:

Okay, not really cold compared to some places right now but cold enough to get your attention! Seems like Old Man Winter is off to a good start this year.

Calli *loves* the snow!
I somehow felt that acquiring (gathering) snow tires would be a good thing and to do it early this year and so Bruce has brand new Toyo winter treads on the Santa Fe and we have AWD if need be. Its a darn good thing I had that urge to be ready ahead of the snow as I'm traveling by a moderately high mountain highway to Victoria this coming Thursday for my surgery!   I have to BE THERE for 7:30 am......that's plain nasty! It doesn't mean I'm first up either and may still have a further wait ahead of me....

I'm now in the process of making up a list of what I would like to bring along, and what I need to bring along! ( and have it all fit in a small overnight bag). Its hardly a vacation, but I'd rather have the items there to hand than having to wait for Bruce to bring them in the next day.

All the medical people I talk to have been telling me that so much has changed since I had my first hip replaced thirteen years ago in 2001.   The first thing I noticed is how short the stay is, especially when you consider what they are doing to me!  2001: they quoted 4-6 days and I stayed 6. Now they tell you: 2-3 days. We'll see how that goes!

For my homecoming  I have also been gathering together books, DVD's and some small hand work projects to do while initially recovering.  I have books and recent Vav and Handwovens and also the Complex Weavers Journals to read. Then I have a lace scarf I'm knitting away on and also some small amulet knit beaded bags are under way too.  I was going to warp up the table loom but they told me that sitting for any length of time like that would be better served if my legs were elevated. (you swell up pretty good!)  If I am able to sit, then I might as well try treadling instead and move the legs and I have the recent scarf project  still on the Louet Spring.

It crossed my mind that I may not be able to change tie up's on that loom for some time (3-4 months?) as you can't bend forward and straining the operated site for fear of a dislocation or rupture internal stitches.  So there may be variations of the box pattern showing up for some time to come!   I'll play with the draft on the computer and see what else I can dream up with the same tie up.

So lots of plans for my time, but the reality will be something else I'm sure!    Lots of cat naps as sleeping at night is tricky. Its hurts to move in bed and laying in one position isn't good either.  Since you need help to shift  and rearrange all the support pillows( and just about anything else for a while) Bruce will be helping me move about and later napping himself when I am (if he's smart!)

Bruce is a good cook in the kitchen so no worries there!  We are however working on how to manage a washing machine with all its water levels, temperatures and additives such as soap and softener.   The complexities of darks versus lights.... hand wash versus gentle cycle.   The "hang to dry" over the "tumble to a crisp" on high heat!     I'm sure he will do just fine (... failing that,  I can buy new duds.... with his credit card.  :)

Christmas, such as it will is and will be, is all done.  The cards are gathered and ready for mailing come Monday or Tuesday.  There's no tree this year and no lights. We'll put up the Christmas cards we receive and I have one Christmas ball that is netted with bobbin lace out on its hanger already.

I'm also systematically giving all house plants a good soaking as no one will even think about them for a time!

So you may have figured out by now that all this is a "self created distraction" that is designed to keep me from thinking too much about what's to come!

I'm having a full general..... so start to count backwards.....

I know that there are some rough days ahead but also good ones too as I heal. I already know that the end result is worth it.  Its a process much like weaving where you have to lay the ground work for a good final finish !

I''ll be back soon.....  see you on the other side of this!

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...

 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.