Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Unforeseen Circumstances

So now my worktable is acting as a surgical gurney.

The 10 minute fix has turned into several hours of loom downtime.  It's been a few years since one of the fly shuttle foot switches required repair and it took a lot longer to remove the switch from the protective housing under the loom than anticipated.  And then Doug got called away to work for a couple of hours. 

I'd gnash my teeth at the delay except that he promises that it should be functional again by around 2 pm which ought to still give me sufficient time to finish weaving both shawls today.  And if not, tomorrow for sure.

So I'll drag my suitcase out and start packing for Quebec, something that was on my job list for tomorrow.

I'm practising flexibility......

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Good, The Bad....

and the ugly?

This is a shot under the breast beam of the loom.  The box houses the two foot switches that activate the fly shuttle pickers.

The good thing about having a loom with lots of mechanical assistance is - well - the assistance.  The bad thing about having a loom with lots of mechanical assistance is that it breaks down.  Periodically.

So it is with the left foot switch.  I noticed yesterday that every once in a while the throw was wimpy.  The fly shuttle wasn't always making it all the way across the shuttle race from the left hand box to the right hand box.  It wasn't often and I just figured the shuttle hadn't seated properly for a good throw.

Well, today it became more and more frequent and I finally realized that it wasn't going to last much longer.  I barely made it to the end of the second shawl of the day due to the frustration of having to stop and shove the shuttle all the way into the right hand box.  But I persevered and I'm really hoping that Doug will have time tomorrow morning before work to fix the switch.

The repair doesn't take long - it's normally a simple 50 cent O ring that fails.  We keep them on hand so that when a repair is needed on the weekend or late at night it can be done without waiting for the hardware store to open.

Since I haven't been using the fly shuttle a lot the last few years, it's been quite a while since one of the switches needed to be repaired - so I really can't complain too much.  Except that there are just two hours of weaving left to finish this warp and I'm really really anxious to get it done!

As for the ugly?  That's in reference to the dust buffalo from the lint shedding from these shawl warps.  I have purposefully not cleaned up knowing that it's just going to continue until the yarn is all used up.  Another reason I really want to finish these warps tomorrow - so I can run the vacuum cleaner around and pick up as many of the herds of dust buffalo as I can.  And look forward to coming home to a - for me - relatively clean studio!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Simple Life

threading the last shawl warp in this series - the end is in sight!

Generally we live our lives as though we will live forever.  Intellectually we know that no one gets out of here alive, but emotionally we think that our time is for much longer than we have any right to expect.

We also think that we'll have good health for so long as we do live.

Sooner or later, most of us find out that this is a nice fantasy with no bearing in reality.

When I chose weaving as a career, one of the reasons I did was that I knew in my heart that I had to have work with some component of creativity in it.  It could have been any number of crafts or other endeavour, but weaving found me and sucked me in.

I live a pretty simple life.  Oh, yes, there can be complications - no life is without those!  But pretty much every day I work several hours in the studio or on studio related tasks, read some, spend (too much) time on the internet - and do as little housework as I can possibly get away with doing.   I'll never win the Good Housekeeping Award as anyone who has visited me can attest.  I call it creative chaos and no longer feel terribly guilty about it.

I'm an introvert so I happily spend my hours alone.  In my life I've rarely had more than a handful of friends that I hang with.  Since I travel and spend so much time on the internet, many of the people who are dear to me are not near to me.  Unless I travel to visit with them I rarely have the opportunity to hang with them.  Much to my regret. 

Since I have been handed a ticking clock I have spent some time thinking about how I want to spend the rest of my years.  I'd like to teach more but since my diagnosis is "chronic" (meaning it will recur, on a regular basis, as often as every 2 years) do I dare apply to conferences which generally book 12-18 months in advance and risk having to keep cancelling because I'm doing the chemo cha-cha?

Do I agressively seek bookings with guilds which also book 6-12 months in advance?  Will I even be able to get travel medical insurance?  And if so, at what cost?  It already jumped by 4 times last year - turning 60 no doubt had something to do with that little (ahem!) increase.

I'd love to pass on some of what I know but books don't seem to be the technology of choice these days.  With the rather abysmal failure of CD Weaver, that doesn't seem the way to go either.  And I don't have the resources to do DVD's. 

Ultimately, do present day weavers even want to know what I know?  Or should I go the pattern route and sell instructions for projects?  And would enough people buy those instructions to make it worth my while to spend the time designing, weaving the project and attempting to market them? 

Magazines, whether hard copy or on-line seem to be struggling and while I try to regularly submit articles to Handwoven, that market is limited - 5 issues a year and narrow constraints on what they are interested in for content.

A few years ago I had individual students who came for 3-5 days each.  That seemed to go well, but I live in a geographically isolated area - it's not exactly a tourist destination - unless you like hunting, fishing, hiking. 

In mulling things over I do have a couple of topics that could be turned into publications.  I started on one but work on that came to a halt with everything that's been happening.  Time to start work on that again?  There is a possibility of doing an on-line publication that people can buy and download, which would be the most economical format in terms of publishing.  But have weavers accepted this format yet or are they still wanting to buy a 'real' book?

Without a strong marketing arm, could I even sell enough of these on-line 'books' to make it worth my time writing/producing?

Given my over production of inventory the past few years there is little need for me to continue to produce in the quantity that I am capable of and have been doing.  (58 shawls in the last 45 or so days)  I could instead turn my weaving time into prototyping textiles for others - either stand alone projects or for publications.

I could also weave for others - be a ghost weaver - but there isn't much call for that, either.....

Lots of questions - no answers - yet.

Just finished reading Dead Man's Tale by James D. Doss and started The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

Friday, May 27, 2011

Work Space

Even though I have what might be considered a relatively large space for my studio, there is never enough room for everything that needs to be done.  At one point, to facilitate production, we decided that it would be most effective if one of us wound warps outside the loom while I was weaving the warp off in the loom.  Doug therefore built a free standing rack that would allow the beaming to be done off loom on a 2nd warp beam.  Since space in the studio was at a premium, the stand had to do multiple duty and also became the inspection/repair space.

Eventually when we were no longer required to be that efficient, the table morphed into a general workspace.  And clutter collector.

Here is the table from behind.  The wood thingee in the foreground right is the back of the loom - the AVL tension box rail.  The upright of the stand has a groove into which one end of the 2nd beam sits and you can just make out the caster at the back corner.  The table needs to move in order to make room for beaming the warp in the loom and various other things that need to be done.

Click to biggify the photos.

Showing the table top and shawl warp #10 in the process of being wound onto the spools, with boxes of weft yarns waiting to be used on the shawls.

The stand from the front.  The table top is a cheap door.  Doug made sure to get one that was level.  It fits onto the uprights and is held in place with brackets and hooks.  I covered the door with thick plastic but  found that scissors didn't slide very well on it so then covered that with heavy cotton fabric.

The front cross brace has a groove for the AVL tension box.  The stand is made from large lumber, put together with bolts and nuts and very sturdy.  A power bar mounted to the front allows me to run my Chickadee electric rotary cutter, the ball winder, extra light, vacuum cleaner or whatever is necessary at the moment.

The back of the stand showing the two uprights where the beam sits.  Down below you can just see the cloth storage roller waiting to be inspected/repaired.  The cloth comes up over the back cross brace and onto the table top.  Doug made a few extra rollers so that I can cut the apron out and move the woven web to the plain rollers which then get put into the stand at the back like this one.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

BC Generations Project

Recently I was contacted by the BC Cancer Agency to see if I would be willing to participate in a research project called BC Generations Project.

The goal is to recruit 40,000 British Columbians, study their genetics and health issues and try to figure out if there is a genetic component to disease - mainly cancer but also other genetic health issues.  Since I now have two of these diseases (coronary artery disease and cancer) I decided to participate. 

I registered online http://www.bcgenerationsproject.ca/ and will shortly be receiving my questionnaire.  Then I'll provide samples for the study. 

Even though I don't have children so I'm not passing on my particular set of genetics, I thought that this was a worthwhile study.  With all the 'challenges' I've had with my health for the last 3 years, someone, somewhere, ought to derive some benefit from whatever they can find out about my particular genetic soup.

If you are in BC, I urge you to consider participating.  They have just over 10,000 people registered so far.  The study is also taking place in other provinces in Canada - check it out and see if you feel able to participate, too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Too Much Information

In which I share what's been happening with me in terms of the chemo - not necessarily for those with sensitive tums...

shawl warp #9 on spool rack, shawl warp #10 being put on spools....

When I was 19 I travelled from Montreal to Oslo by freighter.  My father had travelled from Canada to England during WWII and had his own sailing and sea-sickness story, the moral of which was that you'll fare much better if you keep food in your stomach.  So between his advice to eat something and head for the deck where I could focus on the horizon when I started feeling queasy, plus the cabin steward's insistence that I never miss a meal, I pretty much ate my way across the Atlantic.  And never once did I get truly sick, although my cabin mates did suffer somewhat.  We were lucky as it wasn't a particularly rough crossing, even though we did, for 3 days, have to have the table and chairs anchored down and the 'fence' installed on the table to prevent our plates and cutlery from sliding into our neighbour's lap.

Years of dealing with food allergies that hit me in the GI tract have taught me that when I'm battling nausea I need to eat.  Getting food into my stomach does one of two things.  A - it settles my stomach so that the nausea is bearable.  B - It gives me something to heave if that is necessary.

When the doctor in the ER told me that the reason chemo patients are having nausea is because the chemical cocktail attacks the lining of the stomach, that just meant to me that I was going to have to eat my way through this, too.

I'm truly lucky to be going through this, now.  Advances in treatment of cancer mean that the chemical cocktails have gotten very specific.  I'm also fortunate in that I'm not getting the most aggressive form of the cocktail.  There were two patients in the clinic last time that need to wear cold 'mitts' during their treatment so that they don't lose their fingernails.  :(

I'm also very lucky in that anti-nausea meds are well known and freely given.  The clinic staff have been empathetic and supportive, concerned with making this process as painless as possible - given that we are essentially poisoning the host to kill off the rogue cells.

As for my hair, every day I lose a few more but so far there has been no critical loss.  One of the sites I referred to about the chemical cocktail I'm taking said that I may only experience 'thinning'.  I'll bring the wig with me to Quebec, just in case the loss goes critical while I'm away.  :)

I'm over the worst of the 2nd treatment now.  It takes about a week for the process to work it's way through.  Partly it's the sterioids, too - I'm finding it almost impossible to sleep during the 5 days of treatment with those and that lack of sleep leaves me reeling from exhaustion.  But once that clears up I start feeling better.

One of my concerns is that this whole process is going to get prolonged because my white cell count doesn't recover quickly enough.  So I talked to a friend who has done a lot of investigating into nutrition and helped family through the chemo process about what I can do to help and she gave me some feedback on what I can do.  More eating.  Heck, I can do that!

Currently reading Tales of the Otherword by Kelley Armstrong

Monday, May 23, 2011

Makin' Tracks

As anticipated the shawls woven with the singles exotics have tracked beautifully.  The medium brown is a 100% alpaca, the white weft is a mohair, wool, angora blend.

The alpaca is much stiffer and hairier but after a good hard press feels quite nice.  The mohair/wool/angora has a lovely soft feel.

I'm really pleased with the results over all and hope the customers will be, too.

Now to finish fringe twisting allllllll the rest!  :^)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Buckets O' Shawls

These buckets contain about 36 shawls.  There are more upstairs in the process of fringing, or in the laundry area where I wet finished three this morning, plus the 3 last warps to be woven.  The 3rd last is half done and the last two will go into the loom as soon as I can get them there.

At this point the piles of boxes/buckets have just shifted position, but as I get them finished - dry and wet - the shawls will go onto the storage shelves and I'll have cleared about 4 square feet of floor space in the studio.  4 x 4 x 6 to be exact.....

With the concentration of stash reduction that I've been on for the last few years there is even clear space in the storage area and we can actually walk in there without tripping over or barking our shins on stacked boxes.

I'd hoped to use up more of the 2/40 worsted wool, but you know what?  Yarn that fine goes on forever!  While I have made a dent in the box there is still a lot left and knowing how far it goes and not sure what to use it on next, I don't know when I'll be using the rest of it up.  However there is also room now on the shelves so the cones can probably go onto the shelves and one more 2 by 2 feet (or so) box can go away.

I have some ideas for using up the fine worsted but that will be a few months down the road as I try to catch up on the finishing and see how the chemo treatments go after the trip to Quebec.  I've still got the rest of the silk gimp shawl warps to weave up, too.  Those will go on the Leclerc Fanny.  If I'm going to start feeling worse, as everyone keeps telling me I will, weaving on the Fanny will be less physically taxing than weaving on the AVL.

Oh - and the shawls I wet finished this morning?  They had the singles exotics for weft and they tracked beautifully, just as I expected.  Nice when that happens!

Currently reading Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong

Friday, May 20, 2011

Beauty Ball Winder

A friend brought this ball winder over to see if Doug could fix it.  Turned out the fix was fairly simple and he had it repaired in just a few minutes.  I decided to test it to make sure it was working before returning it.

Well, talk about a little hotshot!  This thing turns so fast I could not wind a skein of a two ply wool off the squirrel cage swift because it went zero to 60 in a second!  Metaphoricly speaking.  Anyway, the wool was too weak to withstand the blast off start on the swift so I wound it onto a spool and then into a ball from the spool, which did work.

I think the winder would actually work best winding balls from tubes or cones rather than skeins because of the high speed.

It also looks like it would do fairly large balls.  The skein was about 100 grams or 3.5 ounces or so and it looks like the winder could possibly do 8 ounce balls.

It looks quite old - only has a two prong and very light weight cord.  The label says Studio Yarn Farms, Seattle Wa and is very faded.  Anyone heard about these ball winders?  It's the first time I've seen one like this.....

Currently reading Spider Web by Earlene Fowler

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Better Living Through Chemistry

Another example of how light values dilute (above) and darker values (below) intensify their neighbouring colours.....the light yarn is a pale heathered blue, the darker colour a very deep navy - almost black

Well, what they say is true - it is much easier to prevent nausea than get rid of it once it develops.  After medicating myself thoroughly last night I can say that while I'm not feeling completely myself, I don't feel nasty.

They also recommend light exercise - the usual recommendation is walking.  Well, my walking is being done on the treadles of my loom, so to speak.  :)  So far I've woven two shawls today and feel well enough that I could probably do one more but instead of weaving I think I'll work on spooling the next warp yarns and try to tackle some of that mountain range of fringe twisting.

The weaving is the easy part for me.  It's getting the finishing done, especially dealing with the fringes, that bogs me down.  Which is why I used to look for fringe twisting elves, but right now I really can't afford to hire someone else to do something that I can do, just that I prefer not to do. 

I've taped a bunch of tv shows and will use them to entice me to settle down and get going on the twisting.  It's not the sort of job that I like to do in company with others as I count how many twists I put in each bout, which sort of interferes with conversation.

Currently reading Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In Praise of Plain Weave

The next warp is beamed, ready to thread.  I'm too tired to do that tonight, however, so I'll leave it until tomorrow afternoon.

It's interesting that what drew me to weaving was complex patterning on as many shafts as I could afford.  And yet for the last two years I've been weaving a whole lot of plain weave.  :)

Plain weave is quite a wonderful weave structure.  It has the maximum number of interlacements which means that if you set the cloth densely you can make a very sturdy cloth.  OTOH, because it has the maximum number of interlacements, you can also set it more openly and create a lighter weight cloth that still has stability.  Much as I am doing with this run of shawls.

The warp, as I mentioned in a previous post, is quite thick - about a 5/2 cotton grist, or 2100 yards per pound.  When I used the same yarn at 16 epi/ppi for weft the result was quite thick cloth.  Nice enough in it's own way, but thicker than I really wanted for dressy shawls.

Leaving the set at 16 which is what I'd used for the same weft as warp in a twill structure, I changed to plain weave and used a much finer yarn for weft.

The results so far are pleasing even though the webs have not yet been wet finished.  I know that the webs that are fairly stiff - the alpaca wefts for instance - will soften considerably and should make a cloth with a light hand and a nice drape.  The singles alpaca will also likely track, giving the cloth  a great deal of textural interest.

Of course until the fabric hits the water that is only an educated guess, so I've started fringe twisting in hopes that this weekend I can run a batch through the washer/dryer and get them hard pressed.

Whether or not I get to that will depend on how I feel after cycle #2 which begins at 8:30 am tomorrow.

Currently reading The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cloth Storage System

One of the reasons I bought the AVL was the cloth storage system in conjunction with the auto cloth advance.

Here is the first shawl on the warp.  I tie on to the apron which is long enough to go from the back of the loom through to the front beam.  The cloth is long enough that I can cut it from the apron....

...and remove the apron beam, inserting a new beam/roller with no apron....

...and tape the cloth to the storage roller.  Notice I have folded the cloth back on itself so that the tape does not come into contact with the fringes.  Ask me how I know to do this.  :}

And here is the shawl now taped to the cloth storage roller.  Once I'm done weaving the 18 yards I will remove this cloth on the roller, put it into the work table where I can inspect/repair and cut the shawls apart, ready for fringe twisting.  Which I usually do on my dining room table so I can have the tv for distraction while I do that job.

Sorry the photos aren't exactly in focus - it's hard to get pics 'under' the loom as it were.  :(

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sectonal Warping

I expect I've blogged about this before, but the question came up on one of the lists recently so I thought I share how I transfer the bouts from the back beam to behind the heddles ready for threading.

Here is the beam all ready to go - 30 sections.

Each bout is taped to a long stick.  Once all the sections are taped to the stick it is then 'threaded' through the beams.  This is why I have plastic covering the lower beam.  If it isn't covered the warp threads can catch on the sectional dividers on the lower beam and get pulled off the stick.

And here is the warp pulled through to just behind the heddles.  Now, Doug has modified the loom and it has an area on which the stick can sit.  Not all looms have this so one way to deal with the stick is to suspend it from the top of the loom.  When I'm using both beams, I tape the bottom beam's stick to the loom and suspend the top beam's stick from strings that hang from the castle of the loom.

This method won't necessarily work for everyone.  I don't make a cross, just peel the tape back and pull the threads from the tape for threading.  If you make a cross, you will probably insert the lease sticks into the cross and suspend the sticks from the castle.


Here is a good example of 'value' in terms of colours. 

The white weft has diluted the warp colours.  The dark navy blue weft has enhanced them.

This is what the mantra:
White dilutes
Grey muddies
Black intensifies

This photo also shows why nearly every answer to a weaving question begins with "It depends..."

By changing one element in the cloth being woven, the draw in has changed enormously.  The thicker weft takes up more room in the cloth, preventing the warp threads from scrunching up together.

The much finer navy weft doesn't take up nearly as much room in the cloth causing the warp threads to scrunch up more closely, increasing the draw in by about one inch on either side of the cloth.

Currently reading Cold in the Earth by Aline Templeton

Friday, May 13, 2011


With chemo delayed a week I've been using the reprieve to work my way through the shawl warps.  Here is my work table with boxes of filled pirns, spools awaiting warp yarn, more cones of weft yarn to be wound onto pirns, and in the foreground a bucket of skeins waiting to be wound onto the spools. 

I use a squirrel cage swift to unwind the skeins.  I much prefer this tool rather than an umbrella swift.  It is free standing so I don't need to clamp it to anything and can move it where ever it is needed.  In this case, because I'm winding spools, it is in front of my worktable.  When I wind cones on my Silver Needles cone winder, the swift moves further into the foreground because the cone winder sits on the table itself.  At times I've even moved it into the laundry area when the space actually in my studio got too congested.  :}

This afternoon I finished weaving shawl #5 on the pink/lavender warp and was thinking I would finish the warp off tonight but then changed my mind about which colour I would weave next.   Instead I'll finish winding the dark coral/orange/yellow yarn so I can dress the loom tomorrow with that colour instead of the magenta/blue. 

I finished off the alpaca yarn and with one more shawl to weave decided to use some of the navy 2/40 worsted yarn - which meant changing the pick wheel.  The c/o/y yarn will also have the 2/40 for weft so that got moved up the queue so that I didn't have to change out the pick wheel again right away.  What can I say?  I'm lazy.  :}

There are five more warps to be woven.  I'm thinking I may just be able to get them all woven before I leave for Quebec.....

Currently reading Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Next Shawl Warp

first shawl on pink/lavender warp

box o' pirns

Started weaving the pink/lavender warp this morning.  The weft is a greyish white alpaca which goes nicely on the 'greyed' colours of the warp.  Since the yarn is a greyish colour I'm going to try and use it all up on this warp and be done with it.

I usually stack the pirns neatly into the box but since I've run out of these small boxes and because the alpaca is easy to break off at the butt, decided to just leave them higgildy-piggildy in the box.

When I went to my appointment with the oncologist yesterday I expected to have to wheedle a bit to get permission to delay treatment #2.  Turns out it wasn't an issue because my immune system was too compromised to receive it.  My white cell count was only 1000 and the cut off is 1200.  When I asked if I could delay #3 until after Quebec, he pursed his lips and agreed.  But when I asked about the teaching dates in July/August he shook his head saying that I'd be well into my treatment by then and he did not recommend it.

And so I agreed that I would cancel those dates. 

I feel badly about doing so but OTOH, if I travel to New England and catch an infection while I'm there I still would not be able to fulfill my contract - plus I'd be sick in a foreign country.  :(

In all fairness to the organizers, it is much better that I notify them now so that they can re-schedule those people who had signed up for my seminars, locate another juror and take care of business before the conference begins rather than find themselves up the creek without a paddle because I wind up in hospital not able to teach anyway.

Much better to cancel now in hopes that there will be a next time.........

Currently reading Living With the Dead by Kelley Armstrong

Monday, May 9, 2011

41st Anniversary

beam ready to thread....

Today is our wedding anniversary.  I have now been married for more than 2/3rd's of my life.  :)

It is also the 3rd anniversary of my angioplasty.

I am really hoping that in 6 months time I will be feeling healthy at last.....

Currently reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Turquoise Shawls

The merino/bamboo/silk yarn is fairly thick for weaving - 2100 yards per pound.  When I used it for both warp and weft in a twill I set it at 16 epi/ppi which produced a fairly thick fabric.  While I was happy enough with it for cosy shawls and baby blankets, I felt that it was a bit too heavy for fashionable shawls to be worn with a suit or for summer wear.

Turning to my fine threads stash, I found lots of options - a singles yarn in various 'exotic' combinations, plus a variety of fine wools that I'd collected over the years.

Setting the merino/bamboo/silk at 16 and using plain weave instead of twill, these finer yarns are working up a nice light weight fabric which should be great for shawls for cool summer evenings or for office wear.

The current weft is a 2/40's worsted wool in a dark bottle green - perfect for this particular warp.  The problem with weaving with such fine thread is that it is nearly invisible, which presents challenges, too.

Thankfully the Whitin winder is the perfect winding tool for pirns of such fine threads and even though each pirn weaves, and weaves, and weaves, I am making a dent in the bottle green.  I also have this yarn in black, navy and red which should come in useful for the 6 more warps in the queue.  Although I still have quite a bit of the singles exotics, too, so we'll see how much is left over when these shawl warps are finally history.

Friday, May 6, 2011

'Weak' Selvedges

Click diagram to biggify so you can read it more easily....

I've mentioned a couple of times that the yarn I'm working with is really a knitting yarn - it's very softly twisted and therefore wasn't standing up very well as warp, tending to shred in the reed at the selvedges.

The way I deal with this sort of issue is to thread the selvedges to compensate for this inherent weakness.  Since I'm weaving plain weave, I double the ends in the outside two heddles, but keep the density the same in the reed.  When I'm weaving a twill, I thread the outside four ends doubled in the heddles and again, keep the density the same in the reed.

If you double the density in the reed as well as the heddle, the fabric is twice as dense there and will tend to not beat in at the same rate as the rest of the cloth creating a 'smiley' fell line.  It will also look different than the rest of the cloth.

I also do this for very fine threads that are a bit on the weaker side.  It really doesn't show and makes life soooo much easier when you don't have to deal with shredded selvedge threads!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

On The Stash

Ta-DAH!  The coral warp is woven and I started beaming the turqouise warp tonight.

Yesterday I had a short conversation with a quilter who mentioned that she was on a serious mission to reduce her stash.  She felt that the sheer volume of her stash was weighing her down.  I agreed and offered that the reward of getting rid of our old stash meant that we could buy new stash.  :)

I have been on a serious de-stashing program for about 5 years.  It can come as no surprise that even after all the weaving I've done during that time that I still have serious stash!  But at least I've used up enough of it that I am beginning to feel lighter in terms of having it weigh me down.  Not to mention that I discovered that there really is a floor in my storage area.  :^)

It has been enormously satisfying to empty boxes full of yarn.  It has been even more satisfying to finally use up some of the very fine yarns that I have collected over the years, usually without a real plan for it, just because it has always been so hard to find fine yarns - so that when I came across them, I grabbed them.

These shawls are also enormously satisfying to get woven up.  I'm weaving with a yarn that isn't the best yarn for weaving (as mentioned in a previous post), combining it with some of my very fine yarns for weft and making cloth that is rather nice.   At least I'm hoping that people will find it so.  One just does the best one can and then it's in the hands of others as to whether they like it well enough to buy it.

Each of the shawl warps uses up 16 four ounce skeins for warp.  On the coral warp I used up 2 small cones of brown alpaca, and one large cone of merino/angora for weft.

I still have another 7 of these shawl warps including the turqouise one I'm currently beaming, which means that I ought to put a serious dent into my fine threads for weft.

And then I get to buy more yarn!  Hmm - maybe a trip to Convergence next year will be required after all, in order to hunt down new yarns for my stash????

Currently reading Total Eclipse by Rachel Caine (finished The Murder Stone by Louise Perry in a reading binge this afternoon)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Friendship Coverlet

My work table hard at work again....

One third of the weft yarns for the coverlets...

Some of the weavers in my local guild decided to participate in a friendship coverlet and I was asked to take care of ordering in the yarns.  They arrived yesterday and since I have a yardage counter and electric ball winder, I decided to break the spools/cones down into the individual balls for each weaver participating.

The top picture shows my rather messy/cluttered studio with the gear set up.  The round metal circle in the middle of the photo is the wheel that turns and the numbers count up in a small box the wheel is attached to.  Doug built the stand for me and used the 'spare' tensioning device from the Whitin winder to help tension the yarn so that I don't have to stand there and provide tension (and get friction burns) as the yarn winds onto the ball winder.

The table has all the wool weft yarn on it as well as boxes of wound pirns for the shawl warps I've been weaving.  I'm still hoping to finish the coral warp tonight after dinner although I'm getting tired, so we'll see.  I can always finish that tomorrow.

I'm about one-third through winding the balls and will email everyone shortly and let them know that I plan on being at the guild room Sunday for a while and Tuesday at drop in.  I don't know if I'll attend the guild meeting next Wednesday as the 11th is my second scheduled chemo treatment - if they don't delay it - and I'm not sure how I'll be feeling that evening.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fortunate One

When I got home from errands, this mysterious tube awaited me!

There is nothing like receiving hand woven textiles when you weave your own self - you know exactly (well, maybe not exactly) what is involved!  Who better to appreciate a textile than a fellow weaver?

What I want to know is how Sandra knew exactly the right colours - and subject matter - to gift me with.  :D

The past few weeks I have at times been feeling quite sorry for myself, and even had a certain amount of feedback from the various and sundry medical people I've come in contact with to support that feeling.  That my life right now really is challenging, that I'm not over reacting to everything that has been going on.

On the other hand all of this stuff has shown up in my life, so obviously I am meant to deal with it.  If it wasn't mine, it wouldn't have come.

Some friends have emailed me asking how I am doing, really?  Wondering if I am perhaps putting on a brave face on for the world.

Well, I can tell you that I'm not a very brave person.  And yes, I'm actually doing well at the moment.  I've been warned that things will get worse before they get better, but ultimately living with lymphoma is a lot like weaving - it all depends.  Statistics say that I will probably lose my hair.  OTOH, I've read articles which say that it may only thin.  Statistics say that fatigue will become greater as the cycles progress.  But those are just statistics. 

Since I have very rarely been in the bulge of the bell curve all of my life, I'm hoping that I will be able to manage to get through the next five months without too much fatigue.  And if the good wishes being sent my way are any indication - well, the next five months will be over in no time and I'll achieve remission, healthier than I've been for 3+ years.

But whatever happens, I know one thing for sure - I am a fortunate one.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Coral Warp

The coral warp is actually quite bright but today is a dull day and perhaps my camera just couldn't cope with the bright coral - who knows.  It looks rather subdued in the photo in comparison to real life.

Anyway, the warp was bright enough that I wanted to tone it down a bit.  I'm not really a 'brown' person but I had quite a bit of a natural brown singles alpaca that was about the same value or slightly deeper than the coral that I thought would do a good job.  I've also got a wool/angora in natural white that I'll use on this warp as well.  The white will also serve to 'dilute' the bright coral.

The challenge on this cloth is that the weft wants to pack in at 17 ppi while the pick wheel choice is either 16 or 18.  I've gone with the 18 which means that every few inches I have to 'catch up' to keep the fell line in a good position for weaving.  I could have used the 16 ppi option but I was thinking that would make the cloth a tiny bit sleazy.  Even though there is a good percentage of wool in the yarn, there are enough other fibres included that fulling will be compromised somewhat.

My AVL has been pretty heavily modified which means that it doesn't have quite the same tolerance for the fell line moving out of the optimal position as an unmodified AVL would have.  However, the incentive to use up this particular yarn is very high - both the warp and the weft - so I'm willing to fiddle a bit to weave up fabric that will not only use the yarn up, but make a nice quality of fabric while so doing.

On the reading front I've started and rejected two books.  It used to be that if I started a book, even if I wasn't enjoying it, I'd grit my teeth and finish it.  No longer.  If I'm going to spend that much time with a book it has to engage my interest and not insult me with silly errors of time line or characters that just are plain nasty or boring.

Currently reading Cut to the Chase by Joan Boswell