Monday, December 21, 2015

Year's End

Christmas preparations are well under way.   I see lights every where, homes with trees showcased in the living room windows and traffic is heavy on the roads as everyone dashes to and fro.

We'll be staying close to home for the holidays, just hubby and me!   Our time with the grand kids will happen after New Years when things quieten down a smidge.   Its all just fine with us as we don't get too cranked about Christmas anyhow.   Its an awful lot of pressure on a young family for one day and so we actually prefer to do it at a quieter time.

Our daughter in law sent us a picture from a recent photography session and they are making selections from the professional's cd to purchase.   So the copy I have (for now) has their watermark but its still a great one of the grand kids.   So here are my little darlings!   Ethan (3 1/2 years old) and Madison (nearly 10 months old). I want to know how they got Ethan to sit still that long!

As of now I have completed sorting all photographs from the Family Collection. Boxed up anything not being done during the scanning phase, such as negatives and slides.  Its become more compact but still is a sizeable lump in the studio.  But its a far cry from ten box loads it was three weeks ago!

To be fair, the two Home Depot boxes are full of negatives, slides (to be viewed and done later) and a lot of scenery and travel shots that won't be done for a *long* time. The main portion is the envelopes top right and the stack of albums from the blue lid and up.  The plastic box with the blue lid and down are full of documents which will be used for genealogy and the ongoing family tree at Ancestry.  Most of them will be scanned as well to be part of the permanent record.

 I'm researching scanners and various on line articles on how to do this project right the first time. Its looking like the Canon scanner we have is likely suitable for the job.  Now wouldn't that be nice?

So the anniversary date of when I first started this blog is coming up on January 8th. Its hard to believe that I've been at this for eight years!  Some of you have even been following my antics for all those years too.  (big warm thank you!)  Some of you are newer to the blog and enjoying reading older posts.  I've heard from many of you via email, become fast friends with many and had some even come to visit me.

This is when I like to do a 'give-away' to readers as a thank you.  This time the gift is a recently completed huck lace guest towel ,  of 10/2 mercerized cotton and with a fine bamboo weft.  It features extensive hemstitching as well.   Now I must admit that its not entirely perfect and is what we call a second with a treadling error. Its still lovely and only weavers would know.... your house guest will never notice as they dry their hands.

So how do you enter the draw?  Well, I would like you to write a comment (see blow the post and click on the 'comment' word)  and tell me what you like about my blog? .... what keeps you  coming back?  

**Please be very clear with your name and an email to reach you.**  

I will make the draw by old fashioned, well stirred  "name in a hat" style and announce the winner on January the 8th.

 In the mean time, the good news is,  I am back to the looms once again!  I have made a good restart and it feel great to be back on the bench again.  This break away from weaving has been beneficial in a few ways in that my knee has had better time to heal but I was still productive every day, and now I can get back to the looms feeling energized and ready to start the new year!

I have been weaving for a time most afternoons and I'm happy to tell you that I have completed one scarf and started another. Plus I have two towels done on the Megado.   So I'll keep on and hope to have some show and tell for you some time soon!   Here are some pictures:

An eight shaft elaborate point twill, woven "network style". What you can see there is one repeat measuring 7 1/2 inches.

I've shown this one before but it does show the scarf being "treadled as threaded".  I had wound the warp forward to start the second scarf and suddenly realized I had forgotten to take a picture!  I was feeling pretty good about finishing one scarf and eager to start again!

Purple and teal towels done and I'm moving onto a pretty shade of blue cottolin next!  I'm having fun again...

I'd like to wish you a Happy Winter Solstice, Merry Yule!
and Io Saternalia!

For the more traditional of you out there, Merry Christmas !  We hope you enjoy time with family and friends and no doubt there will be good food and lots of it. I hope Santa brings you some yarn as well as other goodies!

I hope 2016 is a healthy and happy year for us all. I know that I'm sure looking forward to seeing happier times and definitely more weaving in the weeks and months ahead!

Remember to leave a comment for an entry into the draw for the guest towel give-away January 8th!    I will be back with a New Year's Day post about what is on the loom AND  my annual studio year in review....

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Smiling Through The Tears

I recently received ten large boxes of family documents and photographs. I had volunteered to organize and eventually scan them into a digital format, and then share them with family.  I knew it was going to take some time but I had no idea of how many photographs there were! Turns out that there are all my parents pictures, my paternal grandparents, maternal grandparents and two aunts and their marriages. Also my Dad's entire Royal Navy career and tours of duty.  We are the 'end of the line' for so many family members.  Its all rather sobering....

I had some large brown envelopes on hand and simply started sorting pictures into family groups, countries, time periods.  In time I had a large box filled with paper and recyclables and another with plastics and garbage.... and have been down the proverbial "Rabbit Hole" for roughly two weeks working my way through the boxes and many albums. Its quite addictive! Besides getting the organization started, I wanted to reduce the sheer amount and bulk of the collection down to something more manageable size wise for storage.   You see, all those boxes are in my studio and I can't move in there!

Its coming along just fine. I have separated out all scenery and non-people shots and they will be stored and done at a later time. All negatives are securely stored; all documents together by family.  Its been reduced down to something I can at least move around now! You see, it all must stay accessible for some time and in my studio space until its all done and concluded. 

Sometime after Christmas I hope to get a new scanner and work out a real plan.  Right now I think scanning one family group at a time and then release them via the Cloud to family here and overseas as they are done so they have something to  view while I work on the next batch.   It will be a long slow process and I reckon two years? Maybe three years?  The documents will be invaluable when it comes to updating and building parts of the family trees on Ancestry!  Some scanners can take six minutes to do a full resolution scan.   The pictures below were scanned by my father...

Great Grandfather Edwin Barton

Great Aunt (no first name known) Miss Bowers

Great Grandfather Edwin Barton and his bride Elizabeth Bowers, 1906

One of their daughters, my grandmother Louisa Barton and my grandfather Reginald Waterfield.

Great great grandfather Alfred Barton, his son Edwin Barton, my grandmother Louisa and my father as a new born infant on her lap. 1930.

My paternal great grandfather Alfred Waterfield and his first wife Ellen Shaw. They had three young sons and one daughter. Ellen died in 1912.

Alfred remarried. My step great-grandmother Elizabeth Fryer.

Here is Elizabeth (Fryer) Waterfield holding me in 1956

My parents after their wedding ceremony in 1954.

Their first house in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1960. They arrived just as winter was starting. What a welcome to Canada!

The same house today taken from the internet.  My bedroom was the small window below the picture window in the basement. Yes, the house was tiny!

Dad and me in 1957 in the UK.  
Its all so bittersweet and I feel the real need to do this right now, so my looms are waiting for me.  So I have been spending time with my big family every afternoon lately. 

Knee Report:  I have been released from physiotherapy having reached the goals they set for me! I still must do my exercises daily otherwise the knee / leg stiffens up and my bend is reduced. I get swelling daily by mid afternoon.  Its normal and comes from being upright and using it.  Elevation and icing it is how I spend most evenings.   There is far less pain, no nerve pain jolts as nerves heal and fire up again. I take some pain meds still  and will for while yet according to my surgeon. I saw him last week for my 8 week check up and he told me that two months is considered *very* early in the recovery process.  Real improvement will come at six months to one full year.  My next visit with him is next September at one year post op.  

Speaking of one full year.... my new right hip is one year old this coming Friday December 4th!  It hasn't been an issue for me for at least half a year, but they say healing continues for a full year post surgery.  And what a year it has been!

Some fibre news to share:  I have been bombarded with emails from various yarn companies encouraging me to "buy, buy, buy" lately as I'm sure you have too. Today I finally broke down and went and took a look at one, Webs, to see what was truly on sale.  I was browsing and not really finding anything calling to me.  I have lots on hand and was about to close out the page when I spotted something new on their 8/2 tencel page..... new colours!!!



whipple blue


They are on the way to me.... of course......   my Christmas present to myself!   

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!