Thursday, June 30, 2011

Working on the Stash

stash reduction proceeds

On Tuesday afternoon I dyed the last 7 silk gimp warps and the last few skeins.  Today one of those warps was dry enough to dress the loom and using one of the skeins dyed at the same time as the warp, I wove off the shawl.  I think there are 13 warps left to do now, so at the rate of one per day, I should finish weaving these in a couple of weeks.  Next Tuesday I have clinic appointments and then, hopefully, treatment #4 on Wednesday so won't likely do too much on those days.

latest skeins

The last few days I've also managed to get some spinning done.  The white/beige had been spun a while ago but I got it plied and wet finished.  Then I started on the hand dyed blue.  I found a pale blue wool/nylon in my stash that seemed to work well for the plying.  The two skeins were not spun the same but there is quite a bit of yardage in each skein so there should be enough to use as an accent yarn with something else.  I think one reason the two skeins are so different is because they were each spun on a different wheel.  I'm not a good enough spinner to control each wheel to get the same results, so I just spun as the wheel and fibre dictated and didn't fret too much about the inconsistency.

Rather than dress the loom again today I've been knitting and watching tv.  After I have my dessert I think I'll spin a bit more.  I've got loads and loads of spinning fibres to reduce out of my stash, too.

Currently reading The Delicate Storm by Giles Blunt

Sunday, June 26, 2011

...and now we return to our regularly scheduled programming....

Today I went to the annex with 8 shawls that needed a hard press as part of their wet finishing.  There were six from a blue/green warp and two left from the coral/peach I'd done a few weeks ago.

Four of the blue/green had a very fine worsted wool used for weft in either black or dark bottle green.  Two of them had a somewhat thicker woolen tweedy yarn of a pale blue/white.  Both turned out beautifully.  Nice weight, nice drape, nice feel.

The peach/coral shawls were more of the wool/mohair/angora singles with the high twist energy and as with the others done previously, tracked beautifully.

Today is a grey, muggy day and after spending time at the press I'm not feeling terribly energetic.  I think I'll see if I can fill the bobbin on the traditional wheel and then ply that off on the Joy.  I've loads of recorded tv programs to run while I spin.

Currently reading Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb (read Dragon Keeper on my trip to Quebec)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Don't Stop Now!

Assuming that Life had thrown all the crap at me it was going to - at least until I was through chemo - I was totally unprepared for the news last night that my mother needs "immediate" heart surgery to fix damaged valves.  So damaged that they cannot do the surgery via the femoral artery - which I am assuming means open heart surgery - unless there has been some technological advance I haven't heard about.

On an 86 year old.  With diabetes.  In a hospital 450 miles away.

In an emotional tail spin I thrashed most of the night wondering what on earth was going to happen until around 3 am when I finally remembered that as a cancer patient I have access to the clinic social workers.  If ever I needed to talk to one, now would be it.

After gathering myself to the point of reasonable functionality this morning I phoned and left a message for one of them to call me back.  Which she did not long thereafter.

She affirmed that, with a compromised immune system, sitting in a distant hospital was pretty much the last thing I ought to be doing and even though the information wasn't for me personally, gave a list of resources for someone in mom's condition.  I knew about most of them, but had no idea how to make contact, so she will print out the contact list and give it to me once we have a surgical date and find out things like whether or not mom will even be able to fly or if she will have to endure the 10 hour road trip via the health bus.  How long she will be in Vancouver for recovery after surgery.  Whether they will kick her to the curb and let her make her own way home or if they will discharge her to the local hospital, which I'm hoping would mean a flight home via air ambulance and follow up care at the cardiac unit here.

Right now we are in a state of stunned disbelief, but at least I have some resources to offer mom.  Now to find someone to accompany her for the trip down and the immediate aftermath.

A couple of hours before I got the above news a friend gave me a piece of wisdom penned by St. Theresa of Lisieux.   Little did I know how much I would need it, and how quickly.

"May today there be peace within.  May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.  May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.  May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.   May you be content with yourself just the way you are.  Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.  It is there for each and every one of us."

Thanks Karen.  That was so much needed and so much appreciated.  Your timing was impeccable.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Slow But Steady

A few years ago I bought a traditional style spinning wheel because I had fond memories of my first traditional.  Unfortunately the wheel had a funky tensioning mechanism that relied on friction between the flyer assembly and a large metal 'staple'.  Which was fine - until the wood dried out and shrank and there was no more friction!  The flyer assembly just flopped over and died and there was no more spinning to be done on the wheel.  Which was a great pity because while it worked I'd quite liked spinning on it.

Earlier this year when I decided to downsize and get rid of my wheels I asked Doug if he could figure out some way to make it work.  Well, the wheel finally rose to the top of the 'honey do' list and today he completed the repair.

Which meant I had to first empty the bobbin, which I did by plying it on the Joy, then find some roving I didn't mind if I messed up in order to test the wheel and see if it was going to work.

I found a few small bags of a hand dyed roving I bought from Joybilee Farms that had been dyed by Sarah as part of several years worth of science projects investigating dye material from woad grown at their farm in southern BC.  Since there was not a lot of each colour I figured I would use it and what ever happened I would figure out something to do with it.  Between the three colours there should be enough to do something nice and if I messed up a little of it, it wouildn't be a huge problem.

The good news is that he did get it fixed and I can spin on this wheel again.  Now to decide if it keep it or try to sell it.  The jury is still out on that.  ;)

One other thing to share - I got a really pretty orifice hook from Jude Pilote.  You might just be able to see it stuck into the ball of light blue roving.  (Click the photo to biggify.)  When I got the Joy, it came equipped with it's own hook and I thought I would give Jude's hook to a friend.  However I still need a hook for this wheel and since I haven't decided if I will keep it or sell it, I'm keeping the hook too until I decide.

In other news I'm finally done the anti-biotics, my ankle is greatly improved - enough that I wasn't too worried about sitting spinning, finally - and hopefully my energy will return so that I can be a little more active.  Still not pushing myself too hard, but if I don't do something productive during the day I start feeling too much like an invalid.  :^)

Currently reading Timbuktu by Marq De Villiers and Sheila Hirtle

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Softly, Softly

tied on ready to start spreading the warp out

throw three picks before bringing the beater forward

weave 6 picks in total.  The wedges between the warp bouts will have evenly filled in and you're ready to weave!

These shawl warps have turned out to be the ideal 'recuperation' projects.  The cloth is very loosely woven which means that although the warp is 20" in the reed, there are actually only 200 ends.  Threading is a straight draw, so no thinking required - just put my brain in neutral and keep threading, 4, 3, 2, 1 over and over until done.

The actual weaving is also very easy.  Since the cloth is so loosely woven, beating is not so much a beat as it is a gentle squeeze to get the weft pick to lie nicely in the cloth.  It's a slow, rhythmical dance, perfectly suited to my reduced energy levels this week.

I think I've shown how I begin before but thought it would be nice to show it again.  So many people weave inches of paper towel (or toilet paper!) or use up 6 or more inches of warp weaving sticks into the web in order to get the warp threads spread out.  In reality, all you need is 6 picks to spread the threads out to their proper width.

Throw three picks *before* bringing the beater forward, then weave 3 more picks and voila!  You are ready to weave.

It is possible to use the length tied to the apron rod as part of the fringe, or leave it as loom waste and measure the length of the desired fringe and weave four more picks before beginning the textile.  Either way works.  In the case of these warps, they are more than long enough for a shawl so I'm not trying to save any warp length and just let the tie on length be part of the 'waste' yarn.

The whole point, after all, is to get these warps woven up and reduce stash!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Round 3 and Finding Emilie

Round 3 has knocked the stuffing out of me, probably due to the good - and bad - stress of the trip - the infection, anti-biotics etc. - on top of all the rest of the stuff that goes with chemo.

Although I started to feel a bit better yesterday morning, by night I was punky and this morning phoned the doctor.  Thank goodness for a wonderful receptionist who fit me in and after a trip to the pharmacy, a lie down, a long afternoon of reading letting the meds kick in, I finally felt human again.  :}  Human enough to tackle the next warp by 5 pm.

I'd dressed the loom with another of the varigated silk gimp warps and did something I don't usually do - used a varigated weft on it.  The way the skein was dyed the varigation was 'random' - and between the length of the skein and the width of the warp, I figured that the colours would not pool unattractively.

I'm not entirely sure I like the results, but hopefully someone will.  To keep the colours in order I carefully preserved the bobbins in the order they were wound and wove them off that way, too.

I finally got a copy of Finding Emilie by Laurel Corona and spent much of the day reading about 18th century France society and mores.  While I'd learned about Emilie Chastelet in high school history, it was more a bit of titallation than information - her affair with Voltaire, her scientific brilliance.  Corona's story is not about Emilie but a fictional account about her last daughter born when Emilie was in her 40's, and how her daughter (who actually died as a toddler) discovers her mother's brilliance.  Through Lili's search to find Emilie, we discover her, too.

Laurel Corona includes details of life at the court of France - the intrigue, the negotiations for beneficial marriages, the role of women in that society.  I'm finding it quite fascinating.

And the good news?  I finished the streroids yesterday and ought to start feeling much better now.  My goal is to once again 'forget' I'm sick - until round 4.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Quiet Day

Spent a very quiet day yesterday, mostly in bed.  Today I'm feeling much improved, well enough to weave a bit, so I got this blue shawl woven.  The fell line looks a bit wierd because the knots are just about exactly lined up with the fell line - something I didn't notice until I went to load the picture here.  :}

The weft has a very slight varigation which I'm finding pleasing and should look good when the shawl is being worn, I think.

A friend has loaned me a book on nutrition for people going through this current adventure of mine.  There is at least one recipe that looks attractive - a blueberry smoothie.  If I'm feeling up to a Costco run tomorrow I'll buy some frozen blueberries and maple syrup and borrow a blender from my mom and see if I can make a nice treat for myself.

Feedback from those who have trodden this road before me indicates that good nutrition will be crucial and while I do eat as healthy a diet as possible given my myriad food allergies, I can't take my super duper nutritional supplements right now because they will interfere in the treatment.  So I am going to have to eat my way through the process.  :}

Good thing I like fruit and veggies that I can tolerate!  :D

Friday, June 17, 2011

Keynote Address

My webmaster has now loaded the keynote address given at the Quebec conference to my website.

It is a large pdf file with lots of photos that may take a while to load.  The one above is the last photo of the presentation.  The warp was an extremely fine silk in several shades of orange and the weft is a very fine soy protein fibre.  I called it Koi.

Click on Education, then on Articles.  The speech should load as the main article on the page.  There is a drop box to the upper left that will allow access to the other articles on the website.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Of Flies and Ointment

So Canada Post is currently in a strike/lock out position.  They had been doing rotating 'strikes' so mail was continuing to move but now the entire system is shut down.  Sigh.

The government, however, is introducing back to work legislation so it may resolve itself in a matter of days.

In the meantime I'm still accepting orders for abridged Magic and will mail as soon as they start working again.....

For those people who ordered recently, your books are in the mail and will be delivered as soon as the situation is resolved.

Thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Magic in the Water - abridged


project 5 finished garment

project 5 sample

project 11 completed garment

project 11 sample

Made it up to the annex today and checked how many abridged copies are left. 

There are 27.  They contain 12 of the original 20 samples.

The projects are:

#2 - Bedford Cord placemats 2/8 unmerc. cotton
#3 - Kitchen ensemble - 2/20 mercized cotton
#5 - Cotton suit - 2/16 cotton warp, cotton wefts
#6 - Cotton and cottolin tea towels (my favourite combination for kitchen/tea towels)
#9 - Tencel shawl
#10 - 2/10 Tencel warp with fine rayon chenille weft
#11 - 2/30 silk suit
#14 - woolen jacket and vest
#18 - Deflected warp/supplemental warp scarf
#19 - Collapse effects - 2/20 merc. cotton and wool
#20 - Deflected Double weave - 2/20 silk and worsted wool

Since the full sized Magic was so expensive (I know it was!) I've decided to sell these last few abridged copies for $70 plus $20 shipping.  That's less than half the price of Big Magic even though it has more than 50% of the project samples.

I have a few (a very few) of the supplemental samples that were added later, plus the sample packs that went with the wet finishing chapter on CD Weaver III.  Contact me for availability and price.  Email is best: laura at laurafry dot com

I'm giving the followers of my blog a 24 hour head's up on this offer.  Then they will go up onto my Art Fire store and website as soon as I can make those arrangements.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Emperor

of All Maladies

A friend recommended this book to me and I found it at the local library.

As I've probably mentioned before, I like 'weird' science. 

I'm finding it quite fascinating.  Cancer has for many years been shrouded in secrecy.  There were no effective treatments until mid-20th century.  This book looks at the historical record and attempts to bring light to a difficult disease.

Although there is medical language, the book is really focused on the lay person and I'm finding it quite readable.

During the mid 1950's a search was begun for a methodology for treating cancer and medications were being developed but remissions were brief.  Eventually individuals gained insight into how cancer worked and what might kill the cells that were multiplying out of control.

Since cancer medications are in effect poisons, there was reluctance to administer multiple medications.  This sentence (amongst many!) caught my eye:

"It is the dose that makes a poison," runs the old adage in medicine:  all medicines were poisons in one form or another merely diluted to an appropriate dose.  But chemotherapy was poison even in the correct dose.

I am grateful for the pioneers in cancer treatment research. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Wee Gift

While in Quebec, I (of course!) took a trip through the vendors.  There was one booth that had textiles imported from India.  A lot of collapse weaves using lycra, but also this scarf.

I hope you can see how diaphanous it is.  The warp is black with discontinuous thicker white threads.

I need a new scarf like a need another hole in my head but the price was incredibly cheap and it was the only scarf of this style.  When the vendor put it on like this, the white threads visibly crossed each other making the whole textile look way more complex than it was.  The weave structure is plain weave, the black foundation threads are so fine you can hardly see them.

"Sold" I said.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Plans Change

I'm home early because life happened and plans had to change.

First of all, I had an absolutely great time in Quebec.  It was wonderful to meet the Quebec weavers.  They were warm and sympathetic - not to mention I saw some great textiles.  :) 

But it appears that the healing after my ankle surgery was not going as well as I thought it was and Monday afternoon it had swollen enormously, was tender and hot to the touch.  Anne Marie took me to the clinic where the doctor pronounced that I did, indeed, have an infection.  Not something I wanted to hear given my suppressed immune system!  He prescribed anti-biotics.  It was after 9 pm before we left the clinic and we still had a 3 hour drive to get to Quebec city.

We arrived and I was enscounced in the hotel - a small suite.  Which happily allowed me to make the saline solution I needed for the compress the doctor strongly suggested I use.

Instead of walking through the Old City, Anne Marie drove me around so I did manage to see some of the sights - and the sites.  Including the Plains of Abraham.  That was much closer to the city walls than I had imagined.

Since I don't speak French, the ATQ provided translaters.  They were all excellent and I hope I remembered to thank each one, but I rather suspect I didn't.  :(

Danyelle translated the key note, which seemed to go over well.  And I'm now officially over my 'fear' of doing a Power Point presentation!

The workshops went well - they were filled to maximum.  Danyelle again translated in Laval, and Anne Marie translated in Quebec.

Unfortunately my ankle didn't want to settle down, although the anti-biotics were starting to help.  But after the Quebec workshop Anne Marie again brought me to a clinic where the doctor was very reassuring and set my mind at ease.  But I didn't feel comfortable about sitting to travel, cramped in small spaces.  :(  Anne Marie generously volunteered to drive me back to Montreal so I could catch my flight.  We stopped at Trois Riviere for coffee at Tim Horton's and were also blessed with fairly light traffic and decent weather.

But I was still feeling uncomfortable about travel - specifically the 9 hour drive in the van home from Calgary, so I made arrangements to fly home early.  And so I'm home and Doug is left to manage the booth, pack up and drive home by himself.  I did manage to help him get the booth set up and even saw a few friends before I left the building at 3 pm.  Elizabeth kindly offered to drive me to the airport so I didn't have to take a cab.

I'm feeling guilty about leaving Doug to manage on his own, but not entirely.  If the infection doesn't get better I'd much rather be home in case of a hospital visit than out of province.  So far I've not developed a fever, so I'm hoping the anti-biotic is working and that it will soon be healed properly.  But I'm rather concerned that my next chemo, scheduled for Wednesday, will have to be delayed until the infection clears up.

Nor can I weave right now - that's just too much stress for it, I think. 

Currently reading Betrayer by C. J. Cherryh

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quebec city

One of the older churches in the city.

No more full sized copies of magic left.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Monday, June 6, 2011


Made it to Quebec very late after some adventures.

Tuesday is a day off to rest and see some sights (and possibly some sites too. Lots of history here!)

Currwently reading Caught in Meshes by HRF Keating

Ten copies of Magic left
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Saturday, June 4, 2011

ATQ exhibit

This is one of the exhibits at the Quebec conference.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network


Arrived on time in lovely sunny Montreal!

Just heading off for breakfast and looking forward to meeting Quebec weavers. :)

Just 14 copies of Magic left.

Currently reading Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Friday, June 3, 2011

Something to Look Forward To....

By the time you read this (I've scheduled it to be posted Friday evening) I ought to have arrived in Montreal - barring travel challenges.  This is, however, an 'easy' trip - from here to Vancouver (at 6 am - there otta be a law!) and then from Vancouver to Montreal, arriving there around 5 pm local time - there is a 3 hour time difference between here and there.

In between packing I wove off one shawl and then dressed the loom with this teal blue/green.  I got it threaded before dinner and just now finished sleying and tieing it on.  I was going to wind bobbins, too, but I still have a few more things to do before bedtime and 4 am is going to arrive mighty early!

We get home late (very late!) Sunday evening June 12.  Monday and Tuesday are crammed with appointments and then Wednesday June 15 is the next chemo.  With 4 weeks between treatments I don't anticipate any further delay and that it will go ahead as scheduled.

I've got half a dozen paperbacks in my suitcase plus two library books in my Alberta bag.  Yes, I'm hoping to get a lot of reading done on this trip!  Long plane and road trips are good for reading. It's about 10 hours from here to Calgary.  I'm also hoping to steam roller through the silk gimp warps that are already dyed once I get home, although that will depend on how I'm feeling.

But mild exercise is recommended to help speed the chemical cocktail through my system, so weaving these warps will provide that mild exercise.  And since they are more plain weave and gentle beating, I ought to be able to weave a little bit every day.  One day, one shawl/warp is my goal.  Once I'm feeling better I'll dye the rest of the warps so I will have them to finish off this summer.  One way or another, stash is being reduced!

As mentioned previously I'll do another run of tea towels in an effort to use up yet more stash.  The singles 6 cotton torques in the wet finishing due to twist energy left in it.  I'll be coning off from the mill cones into smaller packages and will offer it for sale later in the summer as well.  If I can't use it up myself, maybe I can sell it?  :^)  Yarn with stored twist energy is desired for fabric collapse effects so I expect other weavers may be interested in weaving with it, too.

Also in the pipeline is a silk scarf warp.  Plus I have a whole bunch of dyed 2/20 silk to either use or sell.  I expect one of the things I will be doing over the summer is stocking my Art Fire store with yarns like the singles 6 cotton and the dyed 2/20 silk.

All in all, I've got a lot to look forward to when I get home.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Count Down


bathrobe project

Linen placemat/table runner project

There are now officially just 17 full sized copies of Magic in the Water; wet finishing handwovens left at the time of this writing (June 1, 2011).  I usually sell a couple of copies when I travel to teach so by the time I get home on June 12 there may be even fewer left.

Once these copies are gone, the book will not be republished with actual samples.  I am looking at converting the book to an ebook format.  The real wealth - and expense - of the book is in the samples, but hopefully a good macro-photo or scan will at least show the obvious differences in the textiles before/after wet finishing. 

But there is nothing like having the actual samples to handle.

Someone commented that once the book is out of print second hand copies will likely appear on eBay at huge prices.  On the other hand people who have the book seem to feel that it is one of the books that they will keep as a reference.  Which is exactly what I hoped when I decided to write and self-publish. 

I do, howeever, want to keep the information available which is why I'm investigating other options for publishing.  If it had not been for my brother allowing me to store the pages, samples, binders and completed books I would have had to pay for warehousing them on top of all the other expenses involved in the production of the book.  :)  Gotta luv little brothers!  A digital or ebook format would mean no storage issues.

Just as an example, 1000 2" ring binders fill a small bedroom.  Forty plastic tubs full of samples, 40 boxes of sample pages and 1000 copies of Magic text also fill a small bedroom.  The work space required to assemble the sample pages was two pool tables in length.  Magic lived in my brother's basement for more years than I'd planned or hoped.....

There are a few abridged copies of Magic left.  They are in storage so I'm not sure how many.  I'll be checking on that after I get home from the Quebec/Alberta trip.  I believe the abridged copies have 12 of the original 20 samples.

Doug and I will stay in touch re: any sales that happen over the next 10 days and as soon as I get down to 5 copies I will be pulling the Magic page off my website.  So in effect, there are actually only 12 copies left for sale.

I will also be working on the digital or e-publishing aspect as soon as I get over the chemo ick (next treatment is June 15).  There is a lot of work to be done to convert the files from hard copy to digital so it will take some time to get that done and source a supplier on-line, check costs, etc.  So I can't say how much an e version of Magic would cost.  Much less than the hard copy, obviously, as there will be no actual samples, just virtual ones.

And Canada Post is threatening to strike as of midnight tonight.  Any orders received will be held until the strike is over - if they should actually go out - and filled in the order in which they are received.  I've put my Art Fire store on vacation mode, but orders can be placed through my website.  Click on Store, then on Magic.  I have a Paypal shopping cart available for payment.

A huge thank you to those people who believed in this project and helped - there are too many to mention here but are listed on the acknowledgement page - and those people who ordered pre-publication copies.  I know how hard it is to purchase something that doesn't actually exist yet, especially when it's pricey.  Your leap of faith kept me going and helped 'birth' the book!

And a huge thank you to those people who have given me support and encouragement the past few months.  Again, you have kept me going and I am deeply grateful to you all.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One Step Forward

Now that the wool/bamboo/silk yarn is all used up, I've turned back to the silk gimp warps.

I dyed about 2/3's of them a few weeks ago so I've got lots of warps to weave - although there are still 10 left to be dyed (I think).  That will have to wait until later in June.

After mulling over the stash situation, the next warp on the AVL will be another red 2/20 mercerized cotton, this time with some of the singles 6 cotton for weft.  I'll likely put 30 yards on and play around with some twills based on an extended Wall of Troy over 16 shafts.  With this theading I can do fancy twills, lace, twill blocks, waffle weave and more likely.  But for tea towels twills, twill blocks and waffle weave will likely wind up my choices.

Doug has spent hours trying to track down why the fly shuttle picker is working poorly.  It has not failed catastrophically - it would likely be simpler if it had!  He's changed the O ring in the foot switich - the usual suspect.  Then he changed the piston.  He checked all the air lines to make sure none of them are crimped impeding air flow.  Next he'll try changing the solenoid, but he didn't have the correct one on hand and has to order it in.

I continue to load stuff into my suitcase - I'm choosing my 'wardrobe' (I use the term loosely - very loosely) and getting my personal stuff organized.  The teaching materials go in first and my clothing has to fit into what space is left. 

At least I don't have to bring everything for the Alberta leg of the trip.  Doug suggested I pack another bag and he'll load that into the van and bring it with him.  Which really helps a lot!

A friend came today and visited while I threaded and sleyed the shawl warp on the Leclerc Fanny.  After she left I wove it off and may dress the loom again after dinner.  I've still got one more day, after all.  :^)

Currently reading The Crime Machine by Giles Blunt