New and Shiny: Overshot

Okay, so only a day or so after cut the Springtime Stripey cloth off the loom, I started measuring another warp. This time, I chose a weave structure I’ve been wanting to try for probably a year (overshot), and a yarn I’ve had for just that purpose.

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It’s so hard to get the lighting right – in person, it’s a golden sunshine color, and I do love it so!

I know, I know, I really need to hem the Rainbow towels and the Springtime towels. Right now, I’m busy convincing myself that I don’t have the right color thread, but I know that’s nonsense. Really, what’s going on is another case of crafturgency.

Because just LOOK:

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It’s summer sunshine and dandelions in cloth form!

I ended up running out of the yellow. I ran out of yellow. I can’t adequately express how upset I am at having run out of yellow. But I was trying to use it up because there was only a tiny bit left, and it’s the brand of yarn I’m no longer so keen on, and this is an experiment, and I still need to see what the shrinkage rates between the two brands of yarn in the same project are. And and and… I had chosen the orange warp because I wanted to use the yellow with it as the pattern weft, and while I thought they would be beautiful together, I had not thought the result would be quite this beautiful. This could be the most beautiful thing I’ve woven yet.

I did make a couple of mistakes in the pattern, but as I said, this is an experiment. The warp is super short (3 yards) and was meant to serve as an answer to some questions: do I like weaving this kind of pattern? Is it really as complicated as it looks? How will washing the cloth change it? Is this a feasible structure to weave to sell? Is this something I could use for other things? Is this fun?

It does, alas, take longer than weaving a twill, but the resulting cloth so far is completely worth it. It’s beautiful to the eye, and to the touch. I’m a sucker for color, but also for texture: my maple shuttle is so, so smooth it’s almost buttery, and I love to work with it; the cloth is nubbly in a pleasingly patterned way that reminds me of soft upholstery from my childhood. If this were woven with two different fibers, then the texture would be different still, and pleasing in different ways. (And that is also on the list for future iterations of overshot.)

Speaking of texture, practicing the cello has changed my sense of texture, which is oddly distressing and fills me with a certain sense of pride, too. I can no longer feel fine textural details with the fingertips on my left hand – things are all sort of muffled and in the background. I can’t pick up single threads with them anymore just by feel. On the other hand, the calluses I have acquired are signs of the now hundreds of hours I’ve spent working at learning to fulfill a childhood dream – I have many, many thousands of hours to go before I even get the possibility of making beautiful music, and I wonder what else will change. Part of excitement of learning is noticing the changes.

The color of this yellow/orange cloth fills me with joy every time I look at it. I had originally thought I’d cut it up and make little pincushions, or put squares on blank cards, but I might just keep it so I can look at it and be filled with joy. Perhaps a pillow. Of course, we’ll have to see what happens after wet finishing. Maybe I’ll just go buy another cone of yellow?

After the yellow weft yarn ran out, I reached for a couple of other experimental alternatives:

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I’m still not sure about the blue. Orange, yes, pink, maybe. Blue…eeeeehhh?

I do still have some orange weft yarn left, but only about as much as I had in the yellow. While it wowed me initially, it didn’t wow me enough to keep going, and I was keen to do some plain weave and then start another color. I reached for the blue because I bought it specifically to go with the orange warp yarn. I wanted colors that would make my eyes buzz – I’m not sure if it’s this particular lighting or if I misjudged this combination, but it’s not doing as much for me as the yellow yarn did, and my eyes are definitely not buzzing. But, in the spirit of learning the pattern, and how to weave this structure, I am persevering:

 

Okay, colors aside, ISN’T THAT THE COOLEST THING EVER? (I just know that one day I’ll look back on this and think, “What kind of idiot were you? That’s not cool at all – you were weaving the equivalent of first grade penmanship.” And the urge to delete this post will overcome me. But for now, this is absolutely magic.)

Now that I’ve woven it, I understand how the weave works, and that has opened up a whole new array of patterns. This one is woven with four shafts, and I have the option of adding eight more shafts on my loom (as soon as I figure out the slightly warped pieces). I have seen this weave structure in patterns for eight shafts, and they were even more magical. So, the question is, are there patterns for twelve shafts and OMG what on earth do they look like?? Will there be unicorns and rainbows?! Will all my dreams come true??!

Before I get into that, because I can see becoming suddenly consumed with a really extreme sense of crafturgency and losing sleep, a sense of time, and possibly missing getting to my day job if I go down that road right now, I need to experiment with more color and fiber. Traditionally, this structure was used in coverlets in early American weaving (I need to do more research on this so I don’t inadvertently lie to you, dear readers, so take the history explanation with an exceptionally large grain of salt). The warp/ground was cotton, usually natural, and the pattern weft was wool, which, when washed, fulled slightly so the pattern looked less pixely and more solid than the photos of the cotton versions above. I do have some nice fine wool, and perhaps I’ll throw some of that in here just to see what happens, but first, I’m determined to do a couple more rows of the pattern in the blue so I end up with something roughly towel-like. Maybe it’ll be useful as a towel? Anyone have any ideas if it’s not?

And now back to throwing the shuttle!

 

Moar Stripey Goodness

I swear, I have been making things. Okay, it’s been slow (tendonitis still recovering), and I’m busy now with The Great Cello Experiment. And this time of year drains away all my spoons so by the middle of March I’m wishing I could just stay in bed all day…

I digress.

Right after I finished that baby blanket, I moved on to another round of dishtowels. The same ones, it turns out, I did exactly one year ago. Except, in light of my Yarn Shrinkage Research, I decided I wanted them to be a bit wider once the cotton was done shrinking so they were a bit more useful. (I will write about the shrinkage thing in another post, but essentially, it takes 8-10 washings/dryings to get to the maximum shrinkage.) So, I added two inches, which meant adding 60 more yarns across. The resulting warp consists of 660 yarns across 22″.

I can hear all you non-weavers out there falling out of your chair and thudding to the ground. Yes, that’s 30 ends to the inch. If you’re wearing jeans right now, I can promise you that that cloth is 55-64 ends per inch. Which can absolutely be woven by hand using the tools I use right now, it just takes a little longer than weaving dishtowels because the yarns are thinner and there are more of them. Weaving is always a test in patience. Nothing about it is quick.

So, of course my plan was, two weekends ago, to get the warp measured, pre-sleyed, and beamed by the end of the weekend so I’d have mornings and evening to throw the shuttle. Did this work? It did not. Sigh. I decided during the course of winding the warp onto the back beam that the paper I was feeding in between the layers, though wrinkling at an increasingly alarming rate as it rolled on, would be fiiiine. That Monday morning at 3am, I awoke with the realization that this would change the yarn tension going on and then coming off the beam, and that I should unroll it and do it again. Ugh. But you know, you only have to do it right once.

So, I unwound 4 or so yards and spent the week’s mornings and evenings rewinding. In between, I read This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin, and I practiced scales and études.

The beginning:

The middle:

I left out pictures of the ReWinding, because that was slightly traumatic. There were some tangles due to uneven tension, both in myself and in the warp.

Someone asked me the other day why I put paper in between the layers on the beam. This is to prevent the top layers from cutting into the layers of yarn below them during and after the winding. Without the paper, the even tension when winding on would become very uneven very quickly. Some weavers use sticks to separate the warp layers, some use lengths of bamboo window shades. I have tried the sticks, but I prefer paper because it is easier to deal with and quieter coming off the beam.

And now, a random interlude.

At my day job, I’ve been trying to go for a walk during my lunch break because try as I might, I cannot burn calories throwing a 3 oz shuttle or leaning on a 3 oz bow. I visited a well-known spot in town:

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Emily’s headstone is well-revered.

It’s always entertaining to see what her fans deem worthy gifts. I’ll go burn some more calories today and check again. Stay tuned for an update in a later post.

And now, back to the post.

Right. So, with the warp now successfully on, I managed to thread all 660 heddles, sley the reed, lash the warp on, and start throwing the shuttle. Whew!

The first leg of The End:

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Purpley goodness!

Once again, you can see the color change due to weft color choice. Above is how I left things this morning – I finished up the second purple weft towel, and began the first green weft towel. The plan is to weave eight towels (nine, if I have enough warp, which I should have), two with each of the four colors: purple, green, yellow, turquoise, and then an additional yellow one. Probably.

People always ask me how long it takes to weave. Like, all the time. The answer is: it depends. On the project, on the yarn, on the pattern. Probably it takes longer than you think? For this particular project, to measure the warp, get it wound onto the back beam, get all the heddles threaded, get the reed sleyed, lash on the warp at the front, and then start throwing the shuttle – provided there are no mistakes – for me with this loom, it takes about 12-15 hours. I’ve timed myself throwing the shuttle for one towel, and including advancing the warp, backing up to fix mistakes, winding new quills, etc, it takes me 1.5-2 hours per towel. So, for this warp, I anticipate it taking an additional 14 hours this week until I can cut the cloth off the loom. (EDIT: with practice, once I get up to speed, it looks like I can weave a towel in 1.25 hours.)

(If you are a weaver, I would really like to know how long it would take you to complete a similar project!)

What I marvel at so often is that the clothes we wear today evolved from women’s work creating cloth, both by means of weaving and by means of knitting. The technology hasn’t really changed – the fundamental structure of cloth demands the same process to build it – it’s just faster now.

Once this project is done, I have some really lovely fine wool yarn I want to dye and weave. Still. Unless I decide to measure out a warp for upholstery.

 

 

 

 

Tarot of the North Atlantic

I had to share this with you all!

Lee Thomson – artist and dear, dear friend – has started a very small kickstarter to sell a really amazing tarot deck that she’s created. Each card was handmade and then photographed, and will be printed into a beautiful deck of cards that you can buy. I have seen the originals and the first set of proofs, and I can tell you that the cards are really gorgeous.

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The Magician – one of my favourites!

Click here to go to the Kickstarter page!

 

 

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

 

The Return

I’m finally, FINALLY back to weaving. I can hold a pencil and write with it. I have not yet tried knitting. Or spinning.

But so much has happened in the interim. Where to start.

Due to that hand/wrist tendonitis thing, I was forcibly introduced to the World of Left-handedness. Guys, the world is set up exclusively for right-handed people. It’s awful. Things with handles all have the marks and words on the side you see when you hold a thing in your right hand. If you can’t hold it in that hand, you either have to develop a left elbow that bends the other way, or spend time putting a thing down, turning it, turning it back, and picking it back up again. Lefties, I will never make fun of you again. I get it now!

I practiced cello with the bow in teeny, tiny chunks of time. I watched many DVDs in lieu of weaving/knitting/spinning/embroidering/insertActivityHere. I looked at my loom with the brilliant rainbow yarn not yet actually threaded through the heddles.

Then I drove away out of town for 10 days where I did not practice or make anything. And you know what happened? It got better. Not all the way, but definitely over the hump.

When I got back, I very carefully threaded a few heddles one day. Then, a couple of days later, threaded a few more. Wash, rinse, repeat, and voilà! Like the tortoise I’ve been, slow and steady got the job done. Pretty soon, I’d tied the warp on the front cloth beam, and was ready to throw the shuttle. Then I wove, and that took what felt like no time at all.

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Alas, I forgot to take in progress shots. This is right at The End.

I cut the new cloth off, and spread it out along the floor. I like doing that because 1. I live in a place currently where the floors will allow it (read: I can), and 2. because it gives me a sense of intense accomplishment: I made clooooth!!

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The difference in color from one towel to the next is entirely dependent on the weft’s color. I find this fascinating to no end.

 

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Look! A pile of cloth that I made! (Also, I believe I knit those socks when I was living in Germany 2+ decades ago.)

 

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Soooo pretty. I was sure these would not be beautiful when I was weaving them, but they really are.

I even found some color combinations that are obvious now that I see them in that last picture, but that I hadn’t really considered before. I love these. However, this Weaving Thing is also a business, so most of these will be up for sale as soon as I’m finished hemming.

And then, I had to put another project on the loom as soon as possible. I’d been invited to a baby shower for a woman who I still think of as a tiny, adorable child of four years sitting in my lap or playing in the leaves with me. She’s 28 now, nearly 29, and will be having a baby boy sometime around the first week in April. Of course I needed to weave her a baby blanket. (Probably I’ll make a bunch of other stuff too, but this I could do right away.)

Weaving draft was acquired! Yarn was purchased! Measuring was initiated! Progress was made! I had to get it all done in about 10 days. Totally doable. It’ll be fiiiiiiiine, I said. Just get the warp on in the weekend before the shower, then I’d have all week to throw the shuttle. Wash it the morning of the shower, hem, and done. Just in time.

So, you know when knitters say you should knit a swatch? And you don’t? And you spend a hundred hours knitting a gorgeous fisherman-knit sweater, you put the first sleeve on, and you try it on because OMG NEW AWESOME SWEATER, only to discover that it’s just not going to fit. Nope. Not even slightly. If only you had knit that swatch first so you’d get the right gauge, right?

Weavers have the same advice. It’s advice worth its weight in gold. And sometimes you don’t have to heed it, but you’d better for projects that are going to count. I did not weave a sample. I did not check my numbers. I relied on thinking I knew what I was doing, even when the warp yardage didn’t seem to be quite enough. 468 ends? That seems…not quite enough. Oh well, fatter yarn than what I’m used to, it’ll be fiiiiiine. This mistake was not wholly apparent until I had started throwing the shuttle that Sunday night.

This was measuring, beaming the warp, and threading the heddles. The first time.

 

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You’re supposed to be able to see through the yarns, but not this much.

I went to bed and thought about it for aaaages. The plan I came up with seemed complicated, but the simplest way: I was going to have to unweave what I had woven, untie everything from the front apron rod, remove the warp from the reed, remove the beater, pull the entire warp forward until it was no longer wound on the back beam, shove all the heddles over to make room, measure 117 additional ends, add that to the back apron rod, wind the warp back on, thread the additional heddles, put the beater back on, re-sley the whole reed at the right ends per inch, tie it all back on and then I could throw the shuttle. Which is exactly what I did. And it took me all week. That Friday night (you know, the night before the shower), I started throwing the shuttle. I got up at 4am the next morning, thinking (ha!) that I might have a chance of getting the cloth woven enough to cut if off so I’d at least have something to take to the shower – “see? I really am weaving you a Thing! It’s pretty! I’m almost done!”

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Now you can actually see the pattern, which you couldn’t really before.

Part of what I love about weaving and what I find perhaps the most astonishing is that each bit of yarn passes through my fingers. Every inch. Twice. Both warp and weft. I have to physically touch all of it while I’m weaving, and after it comes off the loom, I look it over for mistakes, fix them (there were two in this blanket that ran the length of it that I had to fix with a very tiny crochet hook – you can see one in the picture on the left above), wash and dry the cloth, trim errant weft ends sticking out, iron it, cut the cloth, fold and sew hems. And then it’s finished and can be packed up and sent to the recipient.

I’m very happy with this pattern – it came out exactly as I wanted it to, in just the right size and weight. It’s been lovingly handmade for being peed, pooped, and puked on, and then washed to within an inch of its life. I hope the baby likes it as I expect it will last for many years. It was finished yesterday morning. Washed and dried five times, hemmed, and is now wrapped up to be mailed tomorrow.

I have a couple of other project on the list to start, but have been dealing with some headache/middle ear/sinus/possible allergy or cold stuff, so sleeping is currently at the top of my list. But now that my hand/wrist is better, it occurs to me that it’s high time to not only get on with weaving (for I need to fund further weaving adventures and my cello lessons), but also with combing and spinning wool.

OH. And my winter scarf is pretty much dead, so I got some lovely very thin gauge wool yarn, which is currently white, so will need to be dyed. Which I anticipate being heaps of fun. Maybe I should weave some wool instead? I don’t know. Is anyone interested in buying handwoven wool scarves? I have enough for several. And oh, Webs was having a sale on their silk/alpaca yarn and I thought shawl and oh swoon….

Right. Must get busy.

Time, connections, love

January. Oh, January.

On January 22, 2018, my dear friend Michael Anderson passed away from colon cancer. He was 48.

We met each other in Tübingen, Germany, living in the same dorm in college. He’d been there for a couple of years before I arrived, and he showed me all the ins and outs and made me feel not quite so lost. As the two Americans on the floor in a sea of mostly Germans, we talked about home quite a bit – about our lives, about our hopes and dreams. I introduced him to the campiness that was Xena, Warrior Princess, which we’d race down to the TV room to watch once a week, snacks having been acquired just for the occasion, laughing uncontrollably through the whole show. In between, we’d find ourselves in the huge kitchen with his huge copy of the American Heritage dictionary, usually starting out in a serious pursuit of knowledge, and ending up laughing so hard tears would gush down our cheeks – there is some funny shit in the dictionary, yo!

After two years (two of the best years of my life), I went back home to the US. He stayed to finish his Magisterarbeit (Master’s degree). Then he got married to another American he got to know there. They both came back to the US for a bit, during which they celebrated their wedding with friends on this side of the Pond, and I went down to Brooklyn to celebrate, too. We went to the Guggenheim, which was delightful. We ate good food, and laughed a lot. It rained so hard one night, the subways were closed. We walked all over the place, enjoying each other’s company.

I went to Wales to do my Master’s degree, and while I was there, they were in York, so I took the train to visit. It was during the Jorvik Viking Festival. We watched the boat race, wandered through the faux Viking medieval village, took in the sights. Michael had stopped smoking, and his wife had gotten him to start exercising, which I knew he hated but knew was good for him. It was so good to see him then. A familiar face in another foreign country.

We lost touch for a long time after that. He was doing his thing, and I was doing mine. There were good times and bad in both our lives. A couple of years ago, I got a call from him: he had been diagnosed with cancer, he had to find a home for his dog. He’d gotten a divorce some time before. I didn’t know much more than that. He was clearly scared. The diagnosis was not good at all. There was a farm in New Hampshire where his dog would be happy, and he might come out to visit me, and he’d let me know when. But I didn’t hear back.

I emailed a few times, but never got a response. I did check up on him, though. He’d been teaching at Purdue, and there was a listing for him. I figured as long as the listing was there, he was still alive.

A year and some later, I got the word from his partner that he was in remission. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Then he contacted me again last year to tell me the cancer had come back, and it was terminal. I visited them in July. We talked sometimes on the phone, but mostly texted. He taught right up until this past December. I texted pictures, I told him little things about my day, I wanted as much as possible to stay in touch and distract him from his suffering. The semester ended, he went into hospice care. I missed seeing him one last time.

I am so glad I went out in July. I am so glad I took the time to send stupid little texts. I miss him so much, and I wish so much that I had tried harder to stay in touch. 48 is too young.

So, as I said in July, value the time you have with your friends and family. Love them, tell them you love them more often than you do. Try to remember than nothing is static and one day someone close to you and to whom you are close will no longer be there. Spend time with them. Listen to them. Share with them. Stuff is just stuff, dictators rise and fall, aging is unavoidable, but none of this really matters. It’s stuff and circumstances, and the in between is what matters. Life is so, so short. SO SHORT. For some people it’s shorter than it really ought to be.

 

 

 

Photos taken by Zsuzsanna Beard, his partner of seven beautiful years.

 

 

Experiments: success and failure

The month of November has been tumultuous. Some projects were ongoing, some were started and came to a screeching halt. As with all projects, and in my case, experiments, there were successes and failures.

I started and made a bit of headway on a weaving project.

Warp measured and wound. Currently, I have about 1/3 of the heddles threaded, but had to stop due to a very unexpected injury. And actually, I’m not at all sure if I’m happy with the pattern I’ve threading. It’s currently a bird’s eye twill, but something tells me I might be happier with a simple herringbone. I could do this with the current threading by just altering the treadling, but, oh, I’m waffling. Waffle, waffle. In any case, I can’t actually continue threading, so I’m just letting threading ideas waft around in my head for a bit. I have time.

The sucky part of not being able to act on this project right now is that I have nothing to sell, and no gifts made for winter gift-giving holidays. Argh.

I did attempt to do some spinning, but that didn’t work out so well either. There was a bit of a tangle.

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Argh. Argh, argh, argh.

I did eventually get this sorted, and spun the rest of the little wool nest, but had to stop.

Quite a few of my friends have birthdays in October, so around the end of the month, I attempted tempering chocolate for to make presents!

The chocolates on the left are solid. The chocolates on the right are squares of dipped squares of ganache. They look so good, don’t they?

Unfortunately, this was not well-tempered chocolate – a week later, I discovered it had bloomed. Which was super embarrassing because I’d already given some away. When chocolate blooms, it’s completely edible, but the texture is a bit different as some fats come the the surface and it looks ugly. Back to the drawing board. But not for a bit yet.

I did sell two dish towels! The last two green ones that I was thinking about keeping got snapped up.

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On the way to the post office!

About 20ish years ago, I planted some seeds from a lemon I bought at the grocery store. They took ages, and I nearly gave up, but eventually, after some weeks, they germinated. I only have one left, and that one grew and grew into a fine tree. It comes inside in the winter, and goes outside in the summer. About two years ago, I found a couple of blossoms on it, which was very unexpected. I’d read up on growing lemons from seed, and they often result in a tree that never blooms. This one did, but since the blossoms ended up growing at the end of the year, they’d fall off when the tree was brought in – there is no sunny place in the house, so it spends the winter under (mostly inadequate) lights and in a dry environment.

This year, it bloomed while outside when no one was looking, and the bees did their thing! I also have a couple of Key lime trees I grew from seed, and they bloom every year prolifically, so I imagine the lemon got help from the limes and the bees. Suddenly, there fruit on the lemon tree. Just one. And it stayed there. And it grew!

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A lemon-sized lemon! Organically grown in Western Massachusetts!

It fell off the tree a few days ago, so now it’s in the fridge while I decide what to do with it. Candy the peel? Dry the peel? Freeze the juice? Make lemonade? I suspect it’s not quite ripe, but close enough.

(For anyone wondering, the variety is likely a Lisbon. It’s one of the most widely grown commercial lemons and has truly mighty thorns.)

Of course, I want a greenhouse someday to grow my orchids, lemon tree and lime trees.

So. On to the injury. And my Sekrit Experiment.

On September 1, 2017, I started cello lessons. This has been a dream since I was about 9, but I’d never before been in a position where I could 1. afford it, 2. where I had space, and 3. where I wasn’t going to bother the neighbours. Sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake, but it occurred to me around August this year that I had all these conditions where I live now, and I might not by the spring when I have to move again. So, I thought I’d try it for three months to see if I really liked it.

I have never tried to play a stringed instrument before, and haven’t played any musical instruments regularly since I was about 18. I thought that part of my life was done. But I found a place to rent a cello and found a teacher. Three months. That was it. Then at least I could say I tried it.

What happened next was completely unexpected.

I set a goal of practicing one hour every day. Instead, I got lost in practicing and often went over one hour. On the weekends, it wasn’t unusual to practice for a couple of hours. Once I accidentally practiced for three hours – not all at once – but still. Oh, I’d set timers, and I’d blow right through them. The joy at working at this was (is) tremendous.

Was there progress? I think so. I can tell when I hit the right notes more often now. I hit that magical 100 hours of learning a new thing. I started learning a couple of very, very easy Baroque/Classical pieces.

I also acquired a shiny, new case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome/one hell of a repetitive stress injury in my bow hand due to a too tight hold on the bow and not taking enough breaks.

This means that for the last three weeks, I’ve been sleeping with a brace, I have appointments with an occupational therapist, I am typing and mousing mostly with my left hand at work, and I am completely unable to do any of my other hobbies. I carry heating pads with me. There are ice packs at home at at work. Bowing has come to nearly a screeching halt. There has been crying and sadness. There was a period last week where I was sure I’d have to just give it up because this kind of injury seems to not completely disappear in most other people. I steeled myself. Moar sad.

Which is ridiculous! It’s just a cello! I don’t need it more than food and shelter!

Sigh.

So, experiment successful. And a catastrophe. Right now, I’m hoping I will be able to wield a shovel when the snow comes. And then maybe weave again. And practice cello. I am plucking now instead of bowing, and setting a goal of bowing in two to three 5 minute chunks with 20-30 minutes rest for the next week, and will go from there. Maybe I can weave again in a month or so. And shovel snow.

 

October is a Baroque month

Summer is finally over. (Whew!) I was sick for the entire month of September with a gross sinus thing that made my ears ring and my head ache. Two rounds of antibiotics later, my sinuses were finally mostly free of gunk. My Super Sekrit Project is slightly less secret, but is taking up a portion of every day (sorry, it’s still Sekrit here for now). So, making hasn’t really been happening.

The autumn brings yard work involving moving leaves around to designated areas. This past weekend also involved moving said leaves, hauling some brush, and stacking up some firewood. Of course, the moment I was done cleaning the driveway, the front yard, and the porch of leaves, a front came through and blew more down. Sigh. I’ll be doing more of that this coming weekend.

I did finish hemming the trousers for J with those chili pepper pockets, and I made a something else for my friend in Indiana:

The Baroque Wrench Roll! If it’s not Baroque, you don’t need to fix it! It’s quilted as well for ultimate wrench comfort.

If anything, it’s absolutely useful, and I really hope it makes my friend laugh. I’ve also given him instructions to open the box while listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.

So this happened on Saturday evening:

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Soda pop can camp stove. Almost.

One of my geeky friends (okay, that’s not much of a distinguishing word…all my friends are geeky…) decided to figure out how to build a camp stove out of a soda pop can, aluminum tape, and some denatured alcohol. This is the first try of this particular design variation, which nearly works. In fact, it’s impressive at the level it nearly works.

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This is how PhDs keep warm on those cold, cold nights.

And on the weekends, I’ve been going over to another friend’s house to help repair his pop-up trailer. The whole thing seems to have been sewn together with cotton thread, which has just rotted to bits. (Honestly, who would use cotton thread for something that you use outdoors??) I sewed together most of one end of the trailer so he and his family could go camping last weekend, but as soon as he set up this end, the seams let loose like a zip top bag. Oops. I was using doubled 80/3 linen line thread waxed heavily with beeswax previous to this, but this time, my friend produced a 25% cotton/75% polyester button thread he got from his mom, which we doubled and waxed heavily. I don’t know which will last longer, the cotton/poly or linen thread, but it should be a good experiment. In any case, the whole seam below needs redoing, so I’ll be over again next weekend to finish up the remaining four feet:

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It’s entirely possible that my stitching will outlast the trailer. Heh.

I am still in the middle of measuring a new warp in lovely bright colors for another batch of dishtowels (still!). I’m hoping the colors play well, but even if they don’t, it’ll be a learning experience, and I’ll have Moar Dishtowels. The red and white dishtowel I kept for myself from the last batch is still shrinking, five or six washes later. It’s amazing, and slightly irritating. I’m so interested to see which brand of cotton shrinks the most!

In other news, I went to this yesterday:
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It was great to hear and see a viola da gamba in real life! I had hoped the musicians would come out and speak with the audience after the performance, but alas, they did not. Or, I didn’t wait long enough? Maybe next time!

The plan for this week is to get those dishtowels at least started, and get another pair of trousers at least started! Though, really, this is the start of drier weather here in New England, and I should be thinking about combing and spinning wool. Perhaps it is time to set up the combs and the wheel and unpack the fleeces…