Thursday, June 13, 2013

Does this work?

Awhile ago I read that you could gain weaving space before you had to crank on (on looms with horizontally adjustable hanging beaters) by starting the beater in the furthest forward position, then gradually moving it backwards.  I'm still making friends with the Glimakra Standard I bought last fall and I hadn't tried this.  Well, I did and I kind of wish I hadn't! I got a visible line in the cloth and immediately snapped 3 warp threads~ I think I will try it again on the next warp, after I'm absolutely sure everything is absolutely level, straight, and true, at least as far as a fairly wonky floor will allow. It would be nice if it does work and all learning experiences are a good thing.... I think.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Time for a New Header

Got a little tired of 'God Jul'!  Since it was also time I reorganize bookshelves (to fit more in, of course), I thought a quick snap of one end of my favorite shelf might be nice.  These books never get dusty and can frequently be found lurking in places like a bedside table, on or under a loom, in the kitchen, but so far never in the bathroom! That's kind of amazing because my dad's favorite bookmarks were single sheets of toilet paper, neatly folded in half. I could claim a genetic disposition towards reading in the loo!

Happy Spring!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

Want to know what weaving I did the rest of 2012?  None~ 

The surgery on the 3rd of January went wonderfully well.  I needed zero pain medication because the post-op pain was virtually non-existent compared to what the compressed nerves were giving me before. Loverly!  I did the mandatory month of rest and then on Groundhog Day (February 2nd), we took off to Switzerland and the UK.

The trip was mostly great.  Zurich is lovely at any time, but in February it's fairy tale land.  It was the coldest week on record, but the freezing fogs made everything look like it was made out of crystal. We stayed right in the middle of the Altstadt and if you offered to move us there permanently (and with all our chattels and the income to afford the Swiss prices) we would be packing immediately.

The UK was not so great. It was cold, wet, gray, dank, dirty and miserable.  OK, that was London. It had been planned that mid-week I would take off by train to the West Riding of Yorkshire for a visit with friends-that-are-family and Himself would meet me there for a few days in the Motherland before flying back home.

Of course the day I was to 'entrain', every single rail line had multiple failures and I was stuck for the better part of the day in one of London's busiest stations. When I finally did get a train north, I had to settle for the 'nearest' stop rather than making it to where we'd planned.  And, of course, my supposedly international-capable cell phone didn't work so nobody knew where I was during all this.  When I eventually got to Leeds, I finally found a pay phone to call our friends (the one in the London station was invisible) and got collected, much to everyone's relief. Things picked up then, but I won't say the weather got much better.  Had a nice visit, hated to say 'see you next time', and headed home.  There were only two items of note about that journey.  I had to pay excess baggage charges (lots of wool! and lots of books!!) and we had a brief visit with #1 son and his family when we changed planes in New Jersey.

We got home on February 20 and on the 27th #2 Goddaughter was scheduled to make me a Granny for the 3rd time. However, on the afternoon of the 26th, I fetched up in the local hospital's urgent/emergent care unit feeling moderately poorly. It turned out I had a raging and dangerously high fever and severe streptococcal pneumonia. Sitting on the gurney was the last I remember until I woke up in another hospital's ICU. The pneumonia turned septic, I'd had severe allergic reactions to many of the medications I'd been treated with (why do they ask you about meds allergies if they aren't going to pay attention?!), the doctors had a difficult time intubating me for a respirator (3 attempts before the first success and then I removed it twice myself apparently), and two weeks in a medical coma.  Don't ever let anyone tell you that you aren't aware of anything in a medical coma. I had horrific nightmares and would have been screaming in terror if I could have. I still have nightmares and some PTSD issues.

Once the respirator and its gubbins were finally removed, and I was woken, things did not seem to be improving. I had tubes everywhere.  I couldn't speak intelligibly, I had no swallow reflex, I couldn't even roll over by myself. The first PT session I nearly landed on the floor. I couldn't write, couldn't read. After a week or so, and being told I would probably never regain either speech or swallow, I was fitted with a tube directly through my abdomen to my stomach for 'feeds' and 2 days later insisted on being discharged to home.  The doctors would have much preferred I go into a rehab facility, but that would have quite literally killed me.

I could manage brief forays with a walker by that time, enough to get to a bathroom, and my husband, kids, and friends had managed to get looms moved out of the way (all 3 of them) and a hospital bed installed. Over the next 3 days a stairlift arrived, both the toilets were fitted with 'lifters' that meant I could get on and off with only a bit of help. Grab rails were fitted everywhere and walkers on both floors of the house. The first two weeks Himself worked from the house, the third week he did half days, and the 4th week I made him go back full time. (The office is only about 5 miles away, so it wasn't that fool-hardy on my part.)

It's been a long slow journey back, although the doctors were astounded at how well I have done. Apparently making it back from 2 weeks on life-support is pretty rare, but they weren't taking into account my native stubbornness and determination not to be rendered an invalid. After months of failing barium swallow tests, I insisted on being referred to a speech pathologist who was using the Vital-Stim technique.  Electric current is applied to the appropriate muscles to help strengthen  them. It had been proven that plain water, if the mouth is 'clean', if aspirated on an attempt to swallow, will not cause pneumonia. I cannot tell you how good that water tasted. I had about 3 months of treatment, 3 times a week, gradually being able to move from water to 'honey thick' liquids and finally passed a barium swallow test on all consistencies.  That was on a Monday and on the Friday, I had the PEG tube yanked (yep, they just grab it and give a good hard pull).

My family and friends have worked so hard to keep my spirits up and were wise enough to let me do things my way.  My Goddaughter spent a lot of her maternity leave bringing her beautiful little baby daughter over for me to hold. The speech pathologist, as well as the PT who came out to the house, have become friends.  The folks my husband works with were a never failing support, making it possible for him to continue working (which he really needed to do for his own sanity) and even took up a collection to help fund a new wardrobe for me. (I had lost 55lbs.)

So what 'disabilities' am I left with? A bit of a slur in my speech when I am tired, and a weakness in my swallow primarily when I am tired or try to eat too much at one time (too many swallows). I have all the lung function back that I had lost to the pneumonia (obviously not the fibrosis from the systemic sclerosis that I have). What I do have is what might be complex regional pain syndrome in both arms, probably stemming from damage to the nerves from all the medical interventions, at least my doctor seems to think so.  I'll be seeing a neurologist later this month about that. I still have impaired concentration and a bit of aphasia, but am improving in that area very, very slowly.

Because all the fiber dust in the air from weaving would have been too much for my lungs to handle, I have had to swear off weaving this year.  I don't think I could have mentally handled anything more complex than plain weave anyhow!  However, round about mid-November, that mental switch clicked to the on position and I wound a red and white warp for the Macomber. It's at the tying on stage at the moment because I got distracted.  By what, you ask.  Well, another loom.  I found a great deal on a Glimakra Standard, 47 inch/120 cm. Lottie (the Loom) had had one careful owner, looked like new, and came with all the bells and whistles. I've just put my first warp on her, a linen 10-shaft huck pattern, and am already plotting to add a drawloom attachment.

It has finally occurred to me that I really don't need 4 floor looms, especially since I have 2 of them currently disassembled and stored. The Hammett is going to a friend of mine to keep him busy when he retires. I'd like to sell the Harrisville and, do you know, I think I'd also like to sell the Macomber, much as I love it.  Ergonomically the Glimakra is just so much easier on me.   I can't think of anything I would want to weave that would make the Mac's 10 harness / 16 treadle necessary, especially since I have a 10h/10t horizontal countermarch (with room for expansion) on the Glimakra.

So that's 2012 wrapped up and 2013 just underway. May it be a much better year for everyone.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

On the loom

Looks OK, doesn't it?  It's not quite right though.  The photo accompanying the draft doesn't have the funny little dividers between the squares.  Here's a close-up below.

Friday, January 13, 2012

How to Fit a Loom in a Suitcase

You can't~  Well, not a floor loom anyhow.  We're off again soon. I've pretty much settled on taking my finest gauge (is gauge right?) rigid heddle threaded up for some narrow bands done back strap style and a knitting project of some sort.

August turned into the month of major frustrations.  We got our leaky old hot water heater replaced by an on-demand tankless one and since it was in the middle of the house in a utility cupboard, surrounded by looms, that pretty much stopped the weaving.  Then came the long, painful saga of getting our seriously hail-damaged roof replaced. And then came getting ready and taking a month long trip to Australia! Ten days after getting home I took off on a week long trip to Montana. And then the holidays...

You're thinking I finally got down to weaving after the last cork popped on the New Year's fizz, aren't you?  Well, no. What I did was finally get down to having surgery on my cervical spine, which had lost most of its cartilage and looked like rick-rack on X-rays.  The procedure sounded and looked worse than it felt (great anesthesiologist and surgeon, fabulous nursing staff, good drugs!) and 10 days down the line I feel like a new woman.  Nothing that hurt before hurts much now and in another week or so shouldn't hurt at all.  

Am I weaving? No.  I'm packing for another long trip!  When we get back, though, I will be!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Been off traveling for months and months!  Because I was afraid I'd get down in the dumps when it was all over, I signed up for a rug weaving class starting the week we got home for good (or at least for now).  Whew~ Besides getting a good overview of many weft-faced rug techniques, I learned that you can't force a loom to do something it really wasn't designed to do. Even sandbags holding it down, metal strips weighting the beater, and my full weight leaning back to press that weft home just didn't make a light-weight loom into a rug loom!

Yesterday I started winding warp to get things going again.  I finished a 5.5 yard warp to do a 2 block, 3 colour set of towels on the Mac. Today I'll wind cotolin in 4 colours for some placemats to give the Harrisville a treat for trying so hard to be a rug loom, and this week I hope to re-thread a black and white warp on the Hammett (who is a rug loom!).  It's time the baskets of dismembered jeans became rugs.  Winter is here and I am really looking forward to some good weaving time.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The car did not come home empty~

I've just had a month away, visiting family and friends.  I had a new grandchild to get to know and my mother's 90th birthday to celebrate.  I drove and my DH flew out for the long Memorial Day weekend to join us for the surprise birthday party (poor working stiff doesn't have the luxury of long trips just yet).  My, was Mom ever surprised! It was so great to be able to celebrate this milestone with her.  She's a retired nurse (that includes a stint during WWII as an Army nurse in the Pacific) who has spent her life healing and caring for others.  She's loving, smart, funny, and has always been a staunch defender of women's rights.  She still takes me by surprise sometimes on that score - she can be very fierce when roused.

I managed to tick a couple of things off my bucket list this trip.  

I drove back roads from New Jersey to western Pennsylvania, admiring historic farms and beautiful woodlands.  I planned the route to take me to The Mannings, a wonderful shop with the largest selection of books on fiber arts one could imagine. (I got two:  Rural Pennsylvania German Weaving 1833 - 1857 and the Christian Frey and Henry Small, Jr Pattern Books by Tandy and Charles Hirsch, and The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers by Madelyn van der Hoogt.)  The setting was incredible~ Getting there was an adventure since I had programmed NEW Berlin into the GPS, instead of EAST Berlin!  The elderly gentleman who got me straightened out thought that was hilarious.

Whilst the DH and I were bimbling around the countryside Saturday evening of the holiday, hiding out from my mother until Sunday's party, we went past an antique/collectibles/junk shop.  Luckily Himself was driving because we'd had been off the road when I spotted a Great Wheel on the back stoep of the place!  Did I want to go back and have a look at it? Did I, even with the whiplash I had just given myself! It needs some attention to the wood (pretty dry), but was otherwise intact.  While wending our way to the back of the shop to pay for it, DH spotted a clock winder/reel.  It needs the indicator hand replacing and that's it.  It had some cloth hanging off it and I had walked right by. The price was astoundingly low on both items and DH managed to fit them into the rental Corolla!

And last, but far from least, on the drive back west, I did a side trip to Decorah, IA, to visit Vesterheim, the Norwegian-American museum.  The collections in the museum building are very good, especially if you are interested in Krokbragd, Scandinavian boundweave.  The museum's collection of historic buildings is superb and I was fortunate to be the only tourist there that day - I had a one-on-one guided tour!  The gentleman who gave me the tour was very knowledgeable and very accommodating.  Thanks again to him for a wonderful afternoon.  Now, of course Vesterheim has a museum shop and I left with another book Om fellen kunne fortelle... by Randi Breiset.  Beautiful woven coverlets, beautifully photographed.

So, today is the last day of 'vacation recovery' and tomorrow it's back to routine.  The looms await.