Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Buddy

Before leaving hospital, a volunteer from the Pacific Open Heart Assoc. Came by to drop off my new buddy...this very red heart shaped pillow.  

The pillow is used when necessary, like when coughing or sneezing, to help protect the sternum.  

So if you ever see anyone clutching one of these, they might need assistance with opening doors, reaching for stuff, maybe just a kind word.  

The good news is that this shit used to just up and steal people away, sometimes right from under our noses like my brother in 2008 and now it doesn't have to.

Don Wm Holzworth.  RIP.  Dec. 2, 1956-Feb 28, 2008

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Room With A View

Checking out tomorrow. Tuesday that is. Hopefully home Wed.


Currently out of hospital, still no flight home.  Hoping Doug can deal with that soon.  He went back to the hospital to return the wheelchair and still hasn't come back!

The good news is that they encouraged me to have a shower.   That felt great! Ah, returning wanderer has returned, now to bring back some lunch.  Other good news is that I do actually have an appetite.  Again.  Feel almost guilt looking forward to food after getting the usual 'watch your weight, watch your diet' lecture but right now I can't actually bring myself to care very much.

The bad news is that weaving is pretty much going to be non existent for about three months.   That may change, but physio said to give myself at least three months for the bone to heal.

Still looking for the number of the truck that hit me....

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The journey continues...

I met Savannah Grace at Circle Craft craft fair when her first book came out.  In November last year she was back with part two of what looks like might become quite a long series.  I can only say 'yay'!

Part one begins with their family journey around the world starting in Hong Kong.  Part two continues their travels in remote and far flung parts of the world as they continue to take local transportation, explore different cultures and generally learn a lot about human nature as they backpack hither and thither.

I do like a good turn of phrase nd Savannah Grace knows her way around the English language.

Knowing this surgery was coming up, I 'saved' part two for the trip.  Seemed appropriate to read about exotic travel while travelling myself, even if it was a much more mundane trip. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Another Kind of Loom, Another Kind of Weaving

Well, I'm not sure I'll have the mental wherewithal to actually work on this any time soon but here it is.

I'm using a design from one of the books by Eeva-Liisa Kortelahti, a Finnish bobbin lace artist.  While I have done very very simple designs of my own, I can't come close to the artistry of Kortelahti.  I simply haven't done lace frequently enough to even think about trying to design something.  Not to mention my eyes aren't great and I'm having more and more difficulty seeing 'fine' threads.  So I enlarged this design and instead of using 50's thread (sewing thread) I'm using 2/20 mercerized cotton.  And still finding it hard to see.

However, I think I've got the kinks worked out - at least enough to be going on with.  Doug helped me set up a small table with a light and an old office chair, which appears to be just about the exact right height.

I've started piling clothes and personal items on the bed, including all of my pills (how did I ever come to need so many?) and a stack of books.  A friend dropped off a little gift bag with things like eye glass 'wipes', a book light, and various other small items that I'm sure will be much appreciated for the hospital stay.

Once the mail comes, hopefully bringing the rest of the bills for the month I will head to town for errands.  Then I suppose all that's left is to finalize the packing and wait for one more sleep.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Carrot #2

So now both looms have shawl warps on them.  This one is just two shawls long (about 9 meters), partly because the yarn is a highly textured silk that is very grabby, partly because I'm using up stash (yay!) and I have limited colours to work with.

The yarn is 10 epi and I'm trying to kiss it into place at 10 ppi.  Just a gentle squeeze is required and I'm hoping that weaving on this warp will be a gentle introduction back into weaving, build strength in the muscles, and encourage flexibility.  Not to mention, mental health!

I am also thinking that, seeing as how the roads hereabouts are going to be snow laden in Jan/Feb, my walking will be done in the studio, round and round and up and down the stairs as I gain strength.  Seeing the pretty warps on the looms will surely lift my spirits during the blah days of the dead of winter and give me incentive to keep going.

Katie asked about reading...yes I have a tall stack (several of them, in fact!) of books and I will list them here as I go through them.  I'm hoping to make a significant dent in my to-be-read pile and clear some of the clutter off the hearth and the guest room.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Once again the colour isn't 'true'.  The weft is actually somewhat deeper, a sort of grey blue with purplish hints.  It looks almost silver here.

Since mobility is going to be a bit compromised for the first while, I figured I'd better get this warp actually weaving with the auto cloth advance set and ready to go.  Starting with the 2/10 Tencel at 28 ppi.  Which is very likely a mistake because when I went through my stash of 2/10 Tencel, I really don't have much left.  This blue, some red, some black and a variety of variegated yarns that are more in the earth tones.  I ought to have begun with the Bambu 12, of which I have a plentiful supply.

However, that said, I started with this one.

I thought I'd made a sleying error.  My math tells me I ought to have had an even number of dents with four per dent and I had one dent on the left with just two ends.  So using a contrasting colour I wove the header, but could not find any dent with only 2 or 2 too many.  What's a girl to do?  Keep calm and carry on!

Now that the AVL is all set up ready to go, I am going to get the shawl warp on the Leclerc.  Today I wound that warp and tomorrow I ought to be able to beam it although I do have some errands to run in the afternoon.  Since the warp is only about 240 ends, though, it should not take too long to thread, sley and tie on.

With both looms dressed waiting for me, I'll have lots of incentive to get back to the looms as soon as I can.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Math Impaired

All set up ready to thread - I sit on a small stool, using the tall weaving stool as a desk for my threading draft and pencil to keep track of where I am in the sequence.

Unfortunately I'm a tad math impaired at the best of times, and right now?  Well, not exactly the best of times.  I've been very distracted and focus has been difficult.  Which is a long way of saying I made an essential math error when calculating this threading.

The good news is that I only have to take out 2 inches and re-thread the last 60 ends that I did just before lunch.  Well, that's what my math tells me right now.  We'll see if I'm any more accurate today than I was yesterday!

However, I can now say that I'm scheduled for surgery next Thursday, Jan. 22.  Travel arrangements have been made, hotel room booked.  I can still be 'bumped' by an emergency, but they will do me as quickly as they can if that happens.

I have been pretty open about my health issues, partly because I consider the wider weaving community to be a part of my 'family'.  When I need encouragement, you give it to me.  When I need comforting, I find it amongst you.  When I need to hear success stories, you provide them.

So I apologize if I share too much at times.  But please know that I value your being there more than I can possibly say.

We leave on Tuesday so my goal from now until then is to finish setting up the AVL with this shawl warp and wind another shawl warp to go onto the small loom.  That way both looms will be dressed for when I feel able to get some weaving done.

Mom made a really excellent recovery after her open heart surgery a couple of years ago so I'm hoping for the same for me.  With two pretty warps on the looms, there will be lots on incentive for me to get back to weaving.  :)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Working the Stash

This photo isn't quite 'true' - it looks more green than it actually is.  This warp was a bit of a challenge as I was - I am - trying really hard to use up what I already own, not buy more yarn.  So I had to get a little bit creative.

This is 2/16 bamboo from Brassard (or Halcyon - there may be other US suppliers).  I had 16 spools of black - not enough for a shawl warp.  I also had some dark blue in the same yarn, but not quite enough.  So I thought, what the heck, and added four green.  This still wasn't enough so instead of beaming 32 ends, I wound 30  but several 'extra' sections.  When I go to sley, I'll do it as 32 epi.

I have quite a bit of 2/10 Tencel, 2/8 Tencel, the fine bamboo from Silk City and lots of 2/16 cotton in a limited number of colours.  I wound a 40 yard warp and hope to get maybe 14, 15 shawls?  Still not sure how long I'm going to weave them.  More than 72" because that isn't quite long enough - probably 84".  I need to do some more math.

I did a quick and dirty threading - a large fairly simple central motif, a simple border for each side and the space between those two will be simple point progression.  Weaving will be twill variations, to be determined.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Counting Down the Days

With an estimate of 'sometime in January' for my surgery to happen, I'm starting to count down the days.  As it is the 14th today, that means that I should hear from the surgeon's office any time now and I'm beginning to look at what else I'd like to accomplish before I'm on weaving hiatus.

Overcoming a serious dose of procrastination I managed to get the last (of the in-hand) interviews transcribed yesterday, got some parcels that ought to have been mailed on Monday packaged up today, and taken a long hard look at the calendar and how many more days I might have to finalize preparations - like packing.

I'm hoping to finish this rose place mat warp yet today before dinner, take the table toppers to guild tonight to hem them so Doug can give them their final press - either before or after we get back -, beam the shawl warp onto the AVL and thread it, if not sley and tie on.  I'd also like to weave a light blue mat warp but we'll see how that goes.

I have the yarns pulled for a 'gentle' shawl warp for the Leclerc Fanny and want that ready to go before I leave, too.

Packing should not take long as I'll mostly be in my jammies but will need some clothing for the one or two days in Vancouver before surgery (we're hoping to find a movie theatre with The Imitation Game showing) and perhaps a day when I get out and the flight home.  And then it will be back to jammies when I get home.  :)

In one way, I suppose it might be easier to wind up on the table as an emergency - not having had months of waiting around.  On the other, I've had plenty of time to get myself mentally prepared for the 2-3 month recovery.  And I remain hopeful that it will only be that long - I know some people who have taken longer than that.  :(  I know that I might not be able to weave much on the AVL right away so I'm hoping that a friend will be able to help me dress the Fanny with more of the 'gentle' shawl warps to help me with physio - weaving is very much going to be a big part of my recovery, just like when I broke my ankle.

Today the sun shone - it really helped lift my spirits.  Now to see how much patience I have to use up until the phone rings...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Next Step

Next step in the process.  (background is a commercially woven throw with spinning motifs woven in double weave)

After the weaving comes the wet finishing.  Doug spent much of Sunday and Monday pressing.  The table toppers are done as are a stack of place mats and table runners.  Still more mats to be run through but Doug has other things he needs to deal with for the next few days.

Unfortunately the dark green and the dark blue just underneath are both very hard to see at night so I struggled a bit with the hemming.  I decided to leave them to daylight but the days are so overcast and dreary right now I don't know that daylight is any improvement!

However, I want to at least finish hemming the table toppers because they are quite wide (41" in the reed) and since range of arm movement is going to be somewhat limited, figured I'd better get them done now.  Once they are hemmed they will get a final pressing and then they will at last be ready.

And yes, I'm still waiting for the phone call firming up the date.  However I'm thinking I should probably drag my suitcase out any time now and start filling it, just in case there isn't much notice between the phone call and when we will need to leave.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Back to my quiet studio, getting this red warp ready to weave.

I don't usually go to the drop in Saturday mornings, but I was hoping one of the new wannabe weavers would come in, plus I wanted to spin up the rest of the merino/cashmere rolags Margaret had made for me on her blending board.

It's a good thing I did go up because otherwise Margaret would have been run off her feet!  Not only did the weaver come in, two new people came by, one interested in spinning, one in furthering her knitting skills.  While Margaret concentrated on helping another new spinner with her wheel, I talked with the two brand new people, demo'd how to spin with fingers, then a stick, then showed the knitter how to increase and make a simple cable.  By that time, the wannabe weaver had arrived so between Margaret and me, we got her weaving another sample on the small Norwood loom which was set up with a rosepath variation.

Other guild members came in to use the drum carder, a new-ish weaver to set up a silk scarf warp on one of the guild looms and others to drop in to pick up their orders from Ashford which had arrived yesterday.

I don't think I finished more than 2.5 rolags because otherwise I was jumping from one to the next as they each reached stages where they were ready for the 'next' step.

Getting home at 1 pm I was almost too tired to go to my own loom, but did finally manage to sley, tie up and wind bobbins.  Now the washing machine and dryer are also going as Doug will go pressing tomorrow - after we help another new weaver to set up her loom in the morning.


Just finished reading No Man's Nightingale by Ruth Rendell, about to begin The Private Patient by P. D. James.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Piling Up

Cut the table toppers off the loom this afternoon.  There are five for my customer to choose from.  From the far left, two 100% cotton woven in twill blocks, the rest are in plain weave - from the centre a cotton/linen blend weft, linen weft and 2/16 cotton weft.  Not entirely happy with them - yet - although wet finishing should improve them considerably.

I wound up using a temple, which while slower than not using it gave me better results.  So....

Still no word from the hospital with a firmer date so I'm recklessly continuing on steaming through as many warps as I possibly can.  So far it doesn't seem to be making my back or hip worse, which is good news all by itself.  The bad news is that I'm ignoring computer work, which will have to stop soon so that I don't leave too many things unattended to before we leave, whenever that will be.

Partly I feel as though I need to store up as much weaving zen as I can because it is likely to be up to  three months before I will be able to weave.  Six weeks of no loom time last summer was bad enough!

At this point I just want to get it over and done with.  Thankfully it should not be too much longer.

Trying to decide what to leave on the looms - I've got enough 2/16 bamboo for a warp - sort of - I think I can make it work for a shawl warp.  Since I pretty desperately need more shawls for inventory it would be good to get some more in the queue.

As for the small loom, I've time to weave a few more place mat warps, I think, so I've wound a nice deep red one from the left over red in the table topper warp and have a beige/sage combo pulled for next, maybe.  I've done the math for a shawl warp for the small loom, too, and since that yarn needs just the barest brush of the beater am thinking that might well be my first foray into weaving when I get the all clear.  With any luck I can begin sooner, rather than later.  But it will depend on how the healing goes.

I very much appreciate all the good wishes and the sharing some of you have done privately.  It really helps to hear from people who have already trod the road before me and to hear how much better life will be afterwards.  We will have the iPad with us and I expect Doug will post updates to Facebook for those of you on that.  Who knows, I might even buy some air time in the hospital (they don't have free wifi).  :)

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Sh*t, as they say, happens.  The benefit of experience is that you - generally - recognize it more quickly when it does and know how to best fix it.

I haven't used a 12 dent reed for a while and it's surprising how much finer it is than, say, 8.  I caught myself a few times loading a dent with either too many or two few ends, but obviously missed this one.  Until I started to tie on.

At first I thought I'd skipped a dent entirely, determined that it was closer to the right selvedge than the left, sighed and carried on tieing up.  Because it's easier to move everything over one dent if the part that doesn't need fixing is already secured.

Closer inspection revealed what had actually happened.  Two ends got caught and dragged into an adjacent space, so nothing actually needs to be fixed except the dent that has four instead of 2 and the space that is empty and needs two.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

'Dream' Loom

This is the wish list I sent to Bruce Bannerman

Bear in mind that this is for a portable/folding floor loom - one that can - with some effort - be transported to workshops or relatively easily be folded up and put away if space is a consideration.  This is not meant to be a production type loom - for that I'm very happy with my Leclerc Fanny and would not willingly give her up.  But if I was in the market for a small portable/folding loom, this is what I would be looking for...

So cherry picking features from some of the various
looms I've used and  adding some thoughts of my own,
here is what I would like to see in a  small 'portable'
floor loom. 
Light enough two people can move it (whatever that means
- I'm thinking  50 pounds based on my ability to sling a
50 pound suitcase around by myself) 
Wheels to more easily move it without having to actually
carry it 
          Not X frame.  Unless it can be made in such a way that
it doesn't start  to fold up on me when I'm weaving on
it - an experience I've had and it isn't 'fun'.
Flat breast and back beams (not slanted beams)
           Warp/cloth beams larger than closet doweling.  
8 shafts 10 treadles would be wonderful although may not
be possible but if not...
4 shafts 6 treadles
Shafts that can be taken out of the loom easily to
re-arrange heddles  when necessary.
Heddle bar holders.  Should  be able to move heddles from side to side
of centre.  
A brake system that can be released from the front of
the loom without  the warp beam flinging feet of warp
off of it.   
Shed size that would accommodate an 'ordinary' boat
shuttle, say 2 to  2.5 inches?
Does not need to have a shuttle race even though so many
looms have them. 
Able to take different brands of reeds - iow, a beater
top that adjusts  to different heights.   
Also a beater that can take different *lengths* of reeds,  not closed in so that only one size fits the beater.
In a small footprint loom, it might well be 'better'
shed geometry to  have the back beam be higher than the
front.  Not sure that's practical  in terms of
designing/building a small loom that many
smaller  folding jack looms have a warp that levitates
well above the shuttle  race (not much point having one
if the warp doesn't lay flat on it!) and  I find that
adding height to the back beam frequently helps. 
Breast/back beams that can be removed, even if it means
taking out a  couple of screws.

According to Mr. Bannerman, even though their folding floor loom doesn't have some of these features, he would be willing to do modifications such as opening the beater up to take longer reeds, adding wheels and so on.  What he can't do - and still retain the ability to fold up - is make the beams bigger, although the beams on his loom are 2" not closet rod doweling.  :)  Nor can he make it be 8 shafts and still make it light enough to carry or fold up.

However, most of the other options he is willing to do if the loom doesn't already have those features.

Although I'm not fond of fiddly brake release systems, Mr. Bannerman also makes a 'collar' that can be fitted to the back beam to allow a more effective live weight tension system.  Which is what I would add in order to make a lot of the smaller folding looms work 'better' imho.

The good/bad news is that they have a waiting list for their looms - the wait list is currently one year.

I'd like to thank whomever forwarded my blog to Mr. Bannerman.  It was an interesting conversation.  :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

41" x 24 epi = 984

Working on the AVL now that the loom parts have been installed.  I'd intended to have this warp ready to weave on before the parts arrived but USPS and Canada Post conspired to deliver the box days before I expected it!

This warp is the special order and today I made significant progress on threading - just 8" left to do.  It's actually kind of nice to be working with 'thick' yarns - 2/8 instead of 2/16 cotton.  You wouldn't think 24 epi would be all that much faster than 32, but somehow it is.

I have had a little bit of feedback about the Purrington Looms folding floor loom but not what I would call a 'review'.  So far the majority of the feedback has been positive.

So - if anyone is interested in the modifications I would make to the loom to make it closer to my 'ideal' of a portable floor loom, let me know and I will post them here.  Mr. Bannerman says he's willing to make most of the modifications I would like to see - I have no idea what it would cost to get him to customize one of his loom designs - that you would have to discuss with him.

And on a final note - the date for surgery could be as soon as two weeks so I'm really feeling the pressure to get this warp woven and a few other must-be-done things accomplished toot sweet.

Keeping fingers crossed that there aren't very many 'emergencies' that would serve to bump me further down line - and not just for me, but for those who might suddenly find themselves needing emergency cardiac interventions...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Internet Speed

Well it wasn't but a few hours after I published the previous post when I had a phone call from Bruce Bannerman of Purrington Looms

A few emails back and forth and apparently their folding floor looms meet most of my criteria for a small floor loom.  And most of what doesn't, he would be willing to modify.  Not sure if he was only willing to do 'my' modifications upon request or if he is considering making those modifications across the board...a little presumptuous to expect a loom manufacturer to change their design on my say so.  :)

However, I have never woven on a Purrington floor loom, so if anyone has and would be interested in reviewing it, I would be happy to post that review here.  Along with my suggestions for modifications.  Remember, I'm perfectly willing to modify any piece of equipment if it will - in my opinion - improve the performance!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Eye of the Beholder

My Leclerc loom is a 'rescue' loom.  It came with bumps, dents and dings along with some design issues that I needed modified.

But I love my little loom, it is a true work horse and does almost everything I need it to do.  To me it is beautiful because it works well and allows me to work efficiently.

I have woven on a great deal of looms - not all of them, but most of the major manufacturer's offerings.  There are a few more I would like to try out, just so that I have a point of reference when someone asks me whether or not they should buy this or that loom.

To me a loom is not a piece of furniture, it is a tool.  As such I am much more concerned about how well it functions than how 'pretty' it is.

I am also more than willing to make modifications to any piece of equipment - or have Doug make them, truth be told - in order to make it work more to my liking.  I do not hesitate to drill holes, add clamps, or whatever, if that will improve the performance.

Quite frankly I do not want to pay a premium for decoration that does nothing to enhance the function of my tools and may, indeed, hinder it.  I won't give examples because I don't want to annoy anyone, but not all looms or spinning wheels are created equal.  Some really do function 'better' than others.

I would love to have a long discussion with a loom manufacturer about what I think makes a good, well functioning loom.  I'd love to have input into the creation of a new 'portable'/workshop floor loom.  Anyone want to have my free advice?  (You know what free advice is worth...)

Saturday, January 3, 2015


next place mat warp being threaded

With the new year come the pundits with their forecasts for what's going to be hot - or not.

On Facebook was an article about up and coming crafts.  It was interesting to see the textile crafts being touted as 'hot' - the coil baskets, macrame, the....home looming.


Well, whatever you call it, I'm very happy to see that the 'experts' are predicting a resurgence of, erm, looming.  Us old folk are getting, well, old.  I for one am hoping to pass on some of my knowledge before I'm too, erm, old, to, um, loom.

This past week I got not one but two phone calls from wannabe weavers.  I already posted a photo of the results of the first, and today another one came to the guild room to give it a go.

I think she's hooked.  

Friday, January 2, 2015


Last spring a young friend asked me how on earth I managed to finish the thesis/monograph for the Master Weaver certificate.  She was struggling to finish her thesis for a degree.

Since she was an athlete I figured I would use a metaphor that she could relate to and told her that it was just like running a marathon - when you hit the wall you just keep on going.

There are many times in my life I have wanted to throw in the towel (another sport metaphor!) and give up on something but rarely have I done so.  I'm not talking about little things - a warp that has gone badly awry, for instance - in that case I'm only too happy to use the scissor solution!
I'm talking about the big things, the things that matter, deeply.  The things that are, by their very nature, difficult, daunting and at times, may seem nearly impossible.

But I'm stubborn.  I find it mildly amusing that a character fault (according to my mother who frequently wondered where I got my stubbornness from) seems to have morphed into a positive attribute!

Generally just about when I'm ready to toss in the towel, a friend will remind me of what achieving the goal means.  They will help me see that yes, I can get up and get going again.  But it is my choice.  It is always about choice.

Having a research project to look forward to for post-recovery has given me fresh energy and incentive to get things done.  To look forward with enthusiasm rather than dread.  To focus on the after, not the during.  Because once again, this is temporary, I will get through it.  And while the road is going to be a bit bumpy for a while, it is just a small part of the journey.

So a big thank you to my family and friends who remind me of who I really am.  And of what I would like to accomplish as a person and as a weaver/teacher.

Currently reading Common Ground by Justin Trudeau.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Day

Leclerc loom with 11 meter long warp, about 9 of them woven

AVL, still waiting to be threaded

Meg  from NZ suggested a Day in the Life of our looms, so here's mine as of 11 am January 1, 2015

The small loom is now empty, waiting for the next warp.  The mats are about half way through being cut apart and serged.

The parts for the AVL are en route so I need to get that warp threaded soon so that as soon as they get installed I can fly at weaving off this warp.

I am seriously hoping that the phone will ring next week to set the surgical date and once that happens it will be full speed ahead making arrangements.  

Until they call, I will be jumping every time the phone rings, so send lots of good vibes that they do call soon...