Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Tomorrow

 


The sun will come up tomorrow...

Tomorrow is another day...

Hope springs eternal...

We surround ourselves with platitudes to keep our spirits up.  To keep hope alive.  To keep doing what we need to do.

This morning the sun came up a little later, a little further to the south.  It pried a hole in the clouds (not really, I'm waxing eloquently here) and created a haze of golden glow on the sky.

This morning I talked with the nurse practitioner at the cancer clinic.  We talked about the roller coaster ride of living in De Nile for 5 and a half months, then two weeks of anxiety because - in the absence of obvious symptoms - I never really know how the cancer is simmering.   Will it be this time that I am told it's back?  Will I get the newest, latest drug?  How will my body react to it?  Chemo wasn't great but I managed to slowly claw my way back to some kind of normality afterwards.  The 2nd drug?  Well, I'm that much older now and I'm no where near where I would like to be in terms of energy.

But I'm still in remission, so there's that.  I am one of the few who has actually achieved remission on this drug.  (Special snowflake status confirmed.) 

It's been nearly two years since I stopped taking the drug and still no real sign that the cancer is doing anything but just burbling along, still there, still living with it, but not doing much other than just lurking.

So I'm cut loose for another six months.  I'm going to stick my head back in the sand, try to ignore it, work at doing what I want to do, as much as I can given the level of 'tired' I deal with on a daily basis.

The good news in all this is that in the time since I started the Ibrutinib, not one but two more drugs have come down the pipeline.  The first one is similar to the Ibrutinib, with similar adverse effects.  The newest one has a different set of adverse effects.  So when I need treatment again, she will hop over the similar one and try the newest one.

On the other hand, if my remission sticks for another year or so, there might be another newer drug to try.

So for today?  I will get to the loom and weave two more towels.  Yesterday I finished off as much of the purple as I could which means that today I will start working on that greened/blue.  There should be enough warp for six towels, and pretty close to enough weft yarn for six towels.  If the weft runs out?  I might declare this warp done, rather than scrap up some other colour for one towel.

Time will tell.

The sun will come up tomorrow...and I will continue to do what I can, when I can, for as long as I can...

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Overwhelming

 


some of the silk in my stash


Now that I'm nearly 'done' (for certain values of done) with the 2/16 cotton, I have been contemplating the rest of my yarn stash.

I love fine threads.  I love the quality of cloth you can make with fine yarns.  I especially love intense gem colours.  

But you get an awful lot of play value with fine threads.  In other words, it takes time.  Every thread needs to be beamed, threaded, sleyed, tied on.  Then every pick needs to be placed in the cloth.

So instead of 20 or 32 or 48 epi/ppi, fine threads might require 60 or 72 or 100 epi/ppi.

Unfortunately I simply can't see that well anymore.  (Old age sucks.)  So I stop frequently to appreciate this finefinefine silk and come to the same conclusion.  I need to ply it to make it thick enough to see, let alone weave with.

It has taken a year to (mostly) use up the 2/16 cotton yarn in my stash.  I can't even begin to think how long it will take to use up 2/60 and finer silk.  

I do, however, also have 2/16 rayon yarns.  So once the tea towels are 'done', more scarves will be made using up some of the 2/16 and unknown sized but fairly fine rayon.  I do have scarves, but they are a bit thicker - about 2/8 grist, crossed with 2/16-ish bamboo rayon for the most part.  And in the meantime I can be plying this very fine silk yarn.

A lot of newer weavers think that if you have a certain size as warp you must cross it with the same thickness of yarn.  I'm here to say that isn't so.  You might need to adjust the epi, but it can make a thicker yarn in the warp behave quite nicely when it is crossed with a thinner weft.

There are so many variables involved in the creation of cloth.  As a new weaver I found it quite confusing and overwhelming.  So many decisions needed to be made.  On the other hand, tweaking all of those decisions became quite fascinating.  Mostly the changes are very subtle and of course personal preference then makes one person like one combination better than another.

But that's the thing.  If you like it, if it meets your needs, it isn't wrong.  

And?  It's a journey.  A journey of exploration.  A deep dive into the kind of variables that can bring tiny changes to how a cloth feels.  Drapes.  Wears.

Because every decision is built on a sliding scale.

And learning is never a waste of time.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Winter Dawn

 



Winter solstice this year is Dec. 21.  On that day the sun will end its steady march to the south and begin the long sweep back north.  Our days will grow longer, our nights shorter.  

And the cycle will continue to repeat.

As I learned more about pre-Christian history (as in what life was like prior to Christianity), the more in tune I felt with the pagan rituals that Christianity absorbed and claimed.  So Christmas supplanted the festival around the winter solstice.  Some of the pagan rituals still exist today, mostly in the northern climes, where daylight gradually disappears and needs to be encouraged to come back again.

Where the sun rises moves, quite noticeably throughout the year.  Right now the sun rise is over the house in the centre of the photo.  During the summer I can't see the sunrise - if I should ever be up at that hour! - as it rises a few houses to the left and out of view of where I have my new recliner.

I don't know if it is just 2020, or my advancing age (and thank goodness for that!) or if it is the pandemic, the current political climate, or all of the above, but I find myself less inclined to do much of anything.  It takes very little to knock me off my rails and remain sat in the new chair.

One way I deal with such a lack of desire to do much is to...accept obligations.  Far enough in the future they don't feel too pressing.  Yet.  But close enough that I tend to be wary of the march of the days passing.

Last week I managed to get through my first(?) Zoom presentation.  Now I have to figure out how to actually teach via Zoom as I've agreed to a 3 hour mini-workshop.

Some of the time spent sitting in the new chair has been to consider how to teach remotely, a topic that I would normally only ever do in person.

So I have pretty much decided to just focus on the principles.  Give people the information they need to look at their own weaving practice and encourage them to self assess.  And then maybe when things are 'better' (re: covid) and they can meet in person, set up a local study group where they can help each other.  Who knows, maybe by February they will already be able to do that.

This week I have another appointment, this time to see the nurse practitioner at the cancer clinic.  I don't think that the numbers will be 'bad', but until I get the lab results I don't know for sure.  So I am feeling unsettled and my focus is shot.

However, I have a box of Olds homework to mark, and have been working on that.  A quick glance at the woven samples is encouraging.  Plus I hear there is one more box to arrive soon, and another who has asked for a further extension, so hopefully that will arrive soon, as well.

One of the delights of teaching the Olds program is to see how many truly dedicated and gifted weavers there are.  The fact that a lot of them want to take a deep dive into the craft is heartening.  

For today my three studio things (can't seem to manage much more than that) are to finish marking the homework and to weave two towels.  Anything beyond that will be a bonus.  But that's my goal.  It helps to drag me out of the chair to have a list of three things to accomplish.  If I didn't I might not get anything done at all.

Hibernation looks more and more attractive with every passing winter!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

One by One

 


After spending so much time on the puzzle, I thought I would share it once it was done.

A lot of people find doing such things - like making a jigsaw puzzle - is a waste of time.  I agree it is a way to spend time.  But a waste?  I guess that depends on your definition of what is productive and what isn't.

Jigsaw puzzles are like a lot of other things that take time.  If the person doing them finds some satisfaction in the making, then it's not really a waste.

Just like pretty much any craft...

I love tv and now the internet because they have introduced me to things made - in some cases - hundreds if not thousands of years ago.  When the technology we now have did not exist.  When things were made by hand.  Making glass, metal, pottery, fibre things did take time.  In some cases a lot of time.  But the people making them still took additional time to make them beautiful.

Metal and pottery items were decorated, either by carving into them or adding things - glaze, mosaics.

Buildings have been unearthed with incredibly fine mosaic floors, tiled walls, frescos.

I gave a talk once on National Women's Day and since I was speaking to a primarily union member audience, I talked about making things, by hand, slowly and with care.  And that while we needed our bread, we needed our roses, too.

And so I make things like jigsaw puzzles.  At the end of all the piece fiddling, trying them here, there, sometimes every damn where, the pretty picture exists to brighten my day.  

I nearly gave up on this puzzle.  It was difficult because the colours were blobby, there were no straight lines to build, the change in colours was extremely subtle and sometimes changed at the cut line.  So while I might be looking for a blue piece, it was a green one that actually fit.

But every time I sat down to work on it, I would find a handful of matches.  And so, having made progress, I would leave the puzzle board on the table, and try again the following evening.  And find a few more pieces that fit.

In many ways making a puzzle isn't much different than weaving.  I start with a vision of what I want to end up with (the photo on the box lid), then I make choices.  Then I keep at it, adding more things - choosing the warp colours, deciding on the weave structure, then, one by one, every weft pick gets laid into the warp.  And just like the puzzle, the weaving grows.

I have been telling myself that once the puzzle was done I would dig out my spinning.  Now the puzzle has been put away, the table has been (more or less) cleared, it is time to go digging in my spinning stash.  But I also have hemming to do.  

Yesterday I reached the halfway point in the current warp so I cut off the 9 towels, cut/serged them, tossed them into the washer/dryer, and they are now ready to be pressed.  And hemmed.  And pressed again.

Piece by piece, step by step, they are coming into physical being.

For people interested in possibly buying some tea towels, the local shopping has been shut down due to Covid, but I can still mail things.  If you are interested in seeing what I have, I can go up to the guild room and take photos (or check my ko-fi account ).   The photos posted there the past few weeks show towels that are currently here at home.  We are not taking down the guild sale because the closures are for two weeks, initially, and we may be able to continue in December...  But I can still go to the room and take photos if someone is looking for something in particular.  I might just have something to suit.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

A Day Off

 


Yesterday I pressed 'pause'.  I rarely go a day without doing some sort of task in the studio but what with one thing and another, I found I could not contemplate doing much of anything.

The studio was a 'mess' because I had done a Zoom presentation the night before.  In order to do that, I had to take the laptop that runs the loom, set it up on a riser on my work table, find textiles to show as examples, set up the drying rack to hang the garments, a side table for the smaller samples, rummage through my library for some books.  At the end of the presentation, the samples were heaped up where ever I had set them down, the garments were on the floor, the laptop needed to be put back.  And I couldn't face doing any of that.

So before I could even begin to think about weaving...the studio had to be put back in working order.

We had also bought me a new chair - a recliner - and needed to get rid of the easy chair, so I had gone with Doug to deliver it.  Then sat in the van for nearly an hour while he mailed some parcels.  And got thoroughly chilled.

So when we got home, I made a cup of tea, grabbed my library book, sat and read until it was done.  By that time it was 3 pm.  In other words, by the time I had sorted out the studio there were no spoons left to weave.

Instead I came back upstairs and worked on the puzzle for a while.

After dinner I had a choice - I could either do something productive (hem, knit) or I could continue working on the puzzle.  I was close enough that I thought I could finish making it too.  

And so yesterday became a day of 'finishing'.   I put the last piece of the puzzle in at around 9:30.  

Today I have a few errands to run, which I will do wearing a mask, and then weave one more towel.  That will get me to the halfway point on this warp which means I can cut off the 9 towels, cut/serge them, and get them into the washer and dryer.  Tomorrow they will get pressed and be ready for hemming.

And so the cycle goes.  Round and round.

But every once in a while?  It's good to take a day 'off''.  Press 'pause'.  Start again the next day feeling somewhat refreshed, ready to get back into the routine.

Currently reading The Long Range by C. J. Box

Friday, November 20, 2020

Dire Straits (TW - political/covid)

 


Mount Robson (BC)

No, not the band.  The situation we find ourselves in now.  "May you live in interesting times" the curse goes.  Well, here we are.  The straits we are in are most definitely dire...

I can't help thinking about the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic.  Thousands of people became ill and a significant number died.  This event happened close enough to present day that we still have excellent documentation about it - how many hospitals were overrun with patients, how many health care people were infected as they battled to provide care to the sick.  How many people marched, protesting the recommendation to wear masks, isolate, gathering in groups, denying the danger to themselves and others.

It is said that those who refuse to learn from history are bound to repeat it.  And here we are.

Canada is no stranger to the danger.  The west coast was hit hard, early, and did a decent job of flattening the curve.  But now the predicted 'second wave' has hit.  The two largest provinces have struggled to deal with it and have recorded high numbers of cases - and deaths.

In the meantime, people are struggling financially because businesses are not doing the kind of business they need to stay in business.  Even with the financial stimulus provided in the spring/summer, things are actually worse now, and people are tired.  Bored.  Fed up with the restrictions.

All very human.  But.  But.

The virus is not bored.  The virus is not tired.  The virus is just looking for a host.  Any host.  It doesn't care.  Any warm body will do.

And so more of the provinces are putting more stringent measures in place.  Mask mandates.  Group size limits.  If people had not fought wearing masks in the first place, things might not be where they are now.  But the political climate says that people have to protest such measures as being some kind of attack on their personal 'freedom'.  And that clarion call was heard here in Canada as well, where we are bombarded by American media.  And the internet of course.  

 And no, governments enacting measures to protect the good/health for all is not an infringement of an individual's freedoms.  Rather than just repeating some meme read on the internet, maybe stop and think a wee bit.

I suppose I'm old enough that the 1918-19 influenza pandemic is not ancient history to me.  I suppose I am old enough, know enough, to understand how a virus works.  How it can grow exponentially.  And that the best way to deal with it is to remove myself from the line of transmission.  

I suppose that because I'm an introvert, one who has had to, on several occasions, temporarily isolate myself while dealing with a health issue that this time was less onerous for me.

I am also without close family, so I don't have the tug of wanting to visit with g/kids.  But here's the thing.  I want to stay alive for a while longer.  My underlying health issues make it likely that if I should catch Covid, it will kill me.  Or at the very least make me extremely ill.  So the best approach is to not catch it in the first place.

Over the summer, reports of friends of friends catching - and in some cases dying - of Covid have now grown, both in number and in fewer degrees of separation.  Instead of a friend of a friend, it's now the friend's brother/sister, aunt/uncle, mother/father.

Politicians who are ignoring this threat to their constituents are the worst, imho.  They should have been listening to the medical professionals, the historians, setting an example through their leadership by wearing a mask, isolating when they had been exposed to the virus - and knew it - encouraging financial stimulus packages - rent moratoriums, unemployment support.

When this is over - and it will be at some point - it is our duty as citizens to remember the politicians who did not help.  The ones who actually harmed their citizens by down playing the pandemic and not providing adequate support.

With climate change percolating, still, I suspect we are going to see more of these events happening and that a 100 year pandemic will be rolling through more frequently.  Like the hurricanes - so many this year they had to go to Greek names.

Worried about the economy?  If governments moved stimulus to renewable sources, that could provide a big push to a financial recovery.  And might help the climate as well.

But first?  First, we have to survive.  Then we have to fix what is broken in our society.  Our world.  There is no Planet B.



Thursday, November 19, 2020

Each One, Teach One

 


As a new weaver, I was fortunate to have a group of older, more experienced weavers who encouraged me and kind of took me under their wing.  Their mantra was 'each one, teach one'.

My goal was a little more expansive than that.  I fell into the rabbit hole of weaving and fell a long way down.

And I loved it.  It fed me in so many ways, but also challenged me, pushed me to grow as a person, not just a weaver.

Since I was already a bit of a writer, it was a fairly easy transition to begin writing about weaving for publication.  At the time it was short form - articles for publication.  I didn't really think about an actual book, not for many years.

Long time readers of this blog will remember that my first book (and I still amaze myself when I write that phrase) grew out of the monograph for the Guild of Canadian Weavers.  Again older more experienced weavers took me under their wing, encouraging me to get the information on wet finishing recorded, send it out into the world so that others would also know about the phenomenon.

When asked when my next book would be coming out my immediate and heart felt response was 'not in this lifetime!'.

And yet.

Over the years I began teaching more and more, especially after Magic in the Water came out.  When I was asked to submit my application to teach at Olds, I realized that the master program would be a good fit for me and I was delighted when I was hired as an adjunct teacher.

As the years went by, I realized I need to - write another book.

Not everyone wants to teach.  Not everyone wants to write - books or otherwise.  In the case of the second book it wasn't mentors who urged me to write, but my students.  It became a labour of love - love of weaving, love of my students.  It wasn't easy and it wasn't fun, but it was necessary.

And so I did it.

And that is pretty much the story of my life.  That I, and most people, will do things - not because they are easy, but because they are necessary.

If things like writing a book were easy, everyone would be doing it.  

But that doesn't mean that each person can't pass on their knowledge - whatever they are knowledgeable about.  Each one, teach one.  If not now, when?  If not you, who?

And so I wrote the second book - available via blurb.ca (or blurb.com for those outside of Canada).  I organized conferences.  And for 2021, the seminar series http://pgfibrearts.ca/seminars

We are going through interesting times.  But they will eventually become less 'interesting'.  First we have to get through this time.  

{{{hugs}}} to all who need one.