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Sunday, April 7, 2024

Silk Road Red

So as I explained in my last post, spinning is all I can do for now while my back heals and I have been enjoying the time.  I have become much more familiar with my Hansen e-spinner and how to get the best out of it and my spinning / plying has improved.  It's a different approach to a regular spinning wheel and takes some time to get used to. (Or it did for me at least).  Anyhow, it has saved my arthritic feet and I enjoy the portability of it.    

Some how I found this web site: FellviewFibres on line and bought some of their rolags to spin.  There is always a little bonus rolag as a tease and it sure works!   Her rolags, puni's and batts are literal works of art and a joy to spin!   Each one is prepared by hand and takes time to build an order, and she's very popular..... so orders can take some time to arrive.  (Subsequent orders get a 10% discount which is nice.)

I spotted this selection called Sogdian Rolags and the inspiration really spoke to me. I'm a huge fan of ancient textiles and so have researched the Silk Road, the various cultures along the route.   The Sogdians were a very sizeable empire along the silk road and controlled a great deal of the traffic along the Road.   They faded into obscurity and their descendants live in the general area still..... and a tantalizing glimpse of their history is in grave goods and mummies and some ancient city sites.



click to enlarge and read the inspiration


I have 'borrowed' these images from Fellview's web site as I failed to get decent pictures of the rolags before spinning. You can see how rich the colorway is.  It's a fine micron merino and tussah silk and a touch of ruby bamboo. 



I had approx 400 grams of rolags (or just under a pound.... 454 grams is 16 ounces or one pound)


I got four skeins of varying weights and they are simply yummy. Its difficult to photograph skein and red ones  properly so it will take me some time to find the right method to show them to their best advantage.


 

I recommend this book if this sort of ancient textile 'mystery' appeals to you. 

I discovered that my little Royal ball winder is not up to the task of winding the skeins into cakes so I have this ball winder on order and due to arrive this coming week.  Fiber Artist Supply Company made my fringe twister (with 10 clips) and they also now produce and sell Woolhouse Tools table looms.    

So that will take care of the winding....


Plus I have one of these yardage counters from Stanwood so I can tally the yardage properly as I wind them up.


Then next task is to design a paper sleeve to wrap around the cakes to have all their data listed ahead of (gasp!) selling them.  

 I'm not a knitter, an occasional crocheter and while I do plan to weave with some, not all will be kept.   I spin as I enjoy the process and find it calming, relaxing.   After the winter we had, I needed all the stress reduction I could get!

On a personal note:  Hubby is doing much better and we will soon find out if he is infection free, and a CT scan in late May will show how effective the kidney stone laser treatment was.    He back to puttering in the yard, and doing odd jobs, albeit with a daily nap.

Me? well the sciatica has reduced so it doesn't involve my entire leg and seems more localized to the hip area, but I'm still relying on pain meds to get through my day. So it's improving, but ever so slowly.....

It seems to be time to take a long hard look at how things will be going forward once I can weave for a time. I doubt whether I can be working two looms as quickly and often as I did before and must take a more sedate approach. I'm leaning more and more  to reducing to one loom only.   The Louet Spring would be the choice to sell as even with lifting the loom up and sitting on a stool, you still need to bend forward to do the tie up's.    I don't think my back will be so forgiving anymore, and I certainly don't want to go through all this again!    

So more downsizing to come......

Monday, March 25, 2024

Winter Wallop

 Yes, I'm still here....

I'm not even sure where to begin really.....

It started with my mother in law dying November 30th at age 100.    

Then I hurt my back in mid December. How?  I bent over to pick up something off the floor and felt it go. My lower SI joint / disc on the left side and it came with a big helping of sciatica.  Dreadful pain..... and I'm still dealing with it.

Then the sky light above our hallway started to leak and there were no roofer to be had over the holidays so there was a classy plastic bucket set up in the hallway.  Our house painter friend Glen did what he could and it worked for a time.  It was finally 'fixed' in mid January when a roofer (the only one) called and asked if we still needed help?  Seems the roofers in 2013 when they replaced the roof took lots of little shortcuts and one was to not silicone under the flashing near all four of our skylights. They also didn't leave a run off trough for rain at the leading edges   This was before we owned the house, but a homeowner can hardly be expected to climb to the roof and inspect everything they do!    All fixed now.  (except for some interior painting etc)🤞

My husband was not all that well over Christmas and New Years as he had (has?) an infection they just couldn't seem to find the root cause of.     A diagnostic test called a pyelogram eventually showed he had a pocket of pus behind a very large kidney stone and it was right at the opening and about to try to exit.

On January 25th.... I had oral dental surgery and had: a filling, a root canal and filling and my last wisdom tooth removed. I guess my dentist is saving a crown for another time...   🦷💉

Before doctors could do anything about my husband's big stone, he went into renal colic and had two ambulance rides in 24 hours to the local hospital .... where there is no urologist. It didn't help it was the weekend as you know, you shouldn't get sick on a weekend in BC!  They fixed him up with pain pills and sent him home.   The third ride  came January 30th when he went to get up and simply collapsed.      I had paramedics and even fire fighters in the house to get him up off the floor and onto a gurney and off again.    This time they sent him to Nanaimo about two hours drive away and he had a stent inserted at 3 am.  There he stayed for a week. He had a large stone stuck midway and was delirious. He couldn't control his muscles from the waist down.   

He was seen by a specialist in infections and received special IV antibiotics that are held in reserve for resistant cases.   Once released and home again, he had to go daily to the local hospital for the IV meds for 16 straight days.

I still have my ongoing back pain issue  and we finally had to ask for some help from friends, who generously stepped up and helped us where needed.    I simply can't thank them enough.  There's no family here and just the two of us and this time, that sadly wasn't enough....

February was a time of healing and getting our stress factors down, regular blood tests and working out a plan on what to do with my husband's kidneys.    On March 11th he had a two hour procedure called lithotripsy to go up into his kidneys and laser / blast stones and removed as much debris as possible. His right kidney was simply FULL of stones and took an hour and a half all by its self. The left had only one stone but it was a lunker.     Tomorrow has has the two stents removed and then we'll see where we go from there...

There has been absolutely NO weaving since the day I hurt my back and I even considered that my days of weaving might be behind  me.    My back pain has reduced but I can't manage without some pain meds on a daily basis. I also don't want to set this off again and want it to completely resolve.  There has been no time or opportunity to do more than talk to my doctor and get a back x-rays ordered.  Simply too much going on with Hub.   The infection specialist doctor told both of us in a phone consultation that Bruce was within an hour of dying at one point.  I think I knew deep down how serious this was this time. 😢

So what helped me de-stress and calm myself was my Hansen e-spinner.... and I have put hundreds of miles on it.

I will share posts on my finished spinning for the next while as that's what I'm doing now for the foreseeable future.

I'm also mulling over the possibility of downsizing from two looms to one and I would keep the Megado and upgrade the dobby with the proceeds of my other loom sale.    Time to pause and take stock and plan a new road forward.

I talked with a lovely woman via phone the other day and she told me that she's 84 and still can't see a day where she doesn't weave anymore.   It gives her joy and so she'll keep on weaving for as long as possible.

Me too..... me too.

My husband's birthday flowers. He earned them!  🌹

Monday, January 1, 2024

2023: A Weaving Year in Review

 Happy New Year to you all..... where ever you may be!  🎉


It's become a custom here at my blog to do a weaving year in review. To see what I was able to accomplish in my studio. I will admit right now that my looms are very quiet.  The smaller Spring loom is waiting for me to resume threading on two huck lace shawls and two lovely painted warp scarves are just under way on the Megado.    

About mid December my left lower SI joint started to ache and I ignored it to my peril and now I have terrible back pain and hobbling through my day. Gel ice packs and pain meds are my main stay right now until this subsides.

In good news, this means I have much more time to use my Hansen e-spinner and have been enjoying the heck out of that. 

We were hit with an atmospheric river of rain, combined with high winds on Christmas Day night. The rain was literally coming in sideways. Late that night as we were heading to bed, we discovered one of our skylights was leaking.   So we put buckets under the drips and went to bed.   

I must have called every roofing company on our part of the island over the next two days and not one has called us back..... even to today as I write this.   We end up calling our house painter Glen who cheerfully came, went up and recaulked the skylight and said that come the better weather he'd reseal the other three skylights for us.   What a guy!    Both of us are under the weather right now so not able to do much of anything so his help was fabulous!

All the details and even drafts for some of these projects are in the archived months of 2023......

January

So this month was a bit of a bust as I was healing a muscle spasm in my right shoulder.   Apparently I'm not aging all that well.  I hope this doesn't get to be an annual thing! 😳

February


My dear friend Margaret passed away. She was instrumental in setting my feet firmly on the weaving path and then gifted me her loom. She's with me every day.

I placed a large 8/2 cotton order for the first time in 5 years.  How do I know it was 5 years? Because Brassards had given up on me reordering and gave my customer number to someone else.   So much of that was used in towel warps later in the year.    I also ordered some new 3D printed warping assist bits from Ginger Locks Handwovens to try out on the Megado.  I like to see if I can streamline the process and make it easier for me.   Out of this bunch of 3D printed parts, the beater lifter is great and the rest I will have to try again at some point and see.


March

Apparently this happened again.....sore back...  and no weaving.   Seems there is a pattern huh?

April

Finally some weaving! Three table runners in a fancy 16 shaft twill. 10/2 cotton, sett 28 epi.




I signed up for a towel exchange with two weavers and also started an intense search for some dusky peach silk. I had a very request by a client to reproduce a scarf and didn't have any of the weft yarn any longer. I eventually found it at Treenway Silks with owner Susan's help.  It's "spiced cognac" and almost a perfect match!

May

More gadgets:  3D printed Helping Hands warping assists from Lofty Fibers for my Spring loom. I have to say they work great and I have kept it up as part of my warping routine!   So I ordered a set for my Megado too.


I also completed two shawls that feature a soft pink Rose fiber warp and one shawl has tencel weft in taupe and the second has dandelion fiber weft yarn. The sett was 24 epi and featured an 8 shaft draft from Handweaving.net


My friend Hilary was selling off yarn from a very large stash she acquired and so I bought some silk / yak in an ivory colour.  I kept some for myself and sold about half of it and that paid for the entire purchase! Some of it will be used with the huck lace shawls currently now waiting for my cranky back to settle down again. 

June

I got (too) adventurous and tried incorporating a painted warp with solid shades and a 16 shaft diagonal pattern.   The black weft  one turned out okay but the second shows even I can get things wrong!  *sigh*  😳   I think parts of  the second purple scarf is destined to become greeting cards..... or ??



The commissioned scarf order was finally completed and delivered, so that's two more Abalone Shimmer scarves. These feature the 20/2 spiced cognac silk weft. I wove one for me too.  I have nothing to wear with it but I now have one too.

July

Finally, a chance to set up and warp using the new Helping Hands Megado version and I wrote three posts on the process. It's become easier each time I use them and it was a worthwhile purchase.  Of the other  parts I purchased first? I use the beater lifters all the time when threading.


Then there were two scarves woven after an initial cranky start.   I had a draft in mind and once I started to weave it up, I hated it.   So I cut out the weft, rolled the warp back and rethreaded, and resleyed..... but kept the same tie up  and got this unique  pattern. Thank heavens for Handweaving.net's special search features!  One scarf has a multi fleck, part alpaca, part silk weft.   The second is all tencel.  (*I always leave the lease sticks in place, pulled to the back of the loom and tied in place until I'm sure of no mistakes, and now additionally, that I like the draft.  I do remove them when everything is fine*)



At the very end of July, my younger sister passed away. She died on my parent's wedding anniversary and my father's birthday.    She was 58, so much too soon.   That's her with the bow in her hair, many years ago in New Zealand.    That's me as the eldest at the back.  I think I'm about 15 or 16 here. 

There was also another sad loss for me that day too and it's one I'm still coming to terms with. I'm not sure if that story will have a happy ending or not.  That's all I can say for now. 

August

The towels and small gift exchanges rolled in in August and helped to cheer me up.


 
My husband says our kitchen towel drawer is full to overflowing and we may need to cull some oldies to be able to close the drawer!   I think I'll sit the next annual Padre Wayne towel exchange out.....

Having said that, I have 5 towels warps planned, but there will be for Christmas thank you gifts and to sell in the Etsy shop.  The first batch of eight are based on 16 shaft point twill, 8/2 cotton warp and a variety of drafts from Handweaving.net

September

Second batch are the "Everything Everywhere"  towels and feature 10/2 cotton, sett 28 epi and turned twill.   I got six towels.


October

Next up was # 728 towels from Carol Strickler's "A Weavers Book of 8 Shaft Patterns". This was a modified version and featured blues, magenta and peacock 8/2 cottons from the Brassards yarn order earlier in the year. 



Then we discovered our roof was leaking above the garage attic. Eventually, some wider flashing and caulking fixed it but I learned all about insurance claims, adjusters and roofers.  Our roof is only 13 years old but it seems someone back when it was being replaced took a short cut and used a piece of flashing too small for the job, rather than go down and bring up a new one......   

November

The next towel batch was my "Kitchen elegance" towels.... and there were six towels and one table runner.  They are 10/2 cotton, 28 epi and a sixteen shaft twill.    I have a lot of 10/ cottons and decided this year to use it more.   It means more work winding, threading and weaving, but the cloth is so nice in the hand!


December

Last batch of towels was a repeat of the happy "Herringbone twill". They were such a hit last time I wove them and so this time I used natural cotton and another arrangement of doubled coloured ends.   This means you have many choices for wefts!  As you can see with the seven towels all stacked up here.



At the very end of November, my mother in law Lorraine passed away quietly in her sleep.  She was 100 1/2 years old so it wasn't unexpected, but sad none the less for her son and daughter. Bruce had many more years of conversations with her than most adult children get with their elderly parents.   She was an elegant lady, fierce Canucks hockey fan and loyal Blue Jays baseball fan.  She had jerseys for both teams. She celebrated all the events on the calendar, but her favourite holiday was Christmas and sadly she missed this one.


This is Lorraine as a two year old holding her doll while climbing up on the pilot of a steam locomotive 98 years ago.

So despite some back pains and heart aches I did manage to get some weaving done and the totals are"

towels 33

scarves 6

shawls 2 

runners 5

deaths 3

dental surgeries 2

roof leaks 2

towel exchanges 2

bad back spells  3


Sunrise at Willow Point, south of Campbell River, BC
Then a few hours later in full daylight.


I hope your coming year is healthy, happy and with smooth warps and swift shuttles!