Friday, September 28, 2012

Weave wise... new project taking flight...

Two, of three, warp chains are ready to be sleyed and threaded for my next project. I can't say much about it right yet, but I think it's going to be good.

This is Wellington Fibres' Mystery Rovings I spun up 2-ply especially for this project.

The spinning continues. In fact I need more blue and a tad more orange to finish the third warp chain.

The fiber supply is shrinking!


I was called in to my landlady's office last week. "Hm" I thought, "I wonder what that's about?" Several thoughts went racing through my mind, practically all at once. Were there new complaints about the music? Was someone complaining about the bird chatter--which I will admit can get a bit loud. I've been half expecting the people across the back yard to say something. Were nine students suddenly too much to have coming in and out, albeit I teach only 2 days a week? Worries. Worries. Worries. Maybe it would be none of those things. Maybe it was just some mundane matter. "Don't worry about what you don't know." I said to myself. It semi worked, but I did try to come up with responses to all those possible scenarios. I thought if I went in prepared I'd be calmer and better able to navigate the situation.

It turns out not to have been any of the above, but it was also not a mundane matter. I, along with the other 3 tenants in my building, are being asked to leave. Yup. It was an eviction notice! Well that's not mundane at all! I wasn't prepared for that one.

In my preparation for the office visit, it had bounced back and forth in my mind--in case there arose some unsolvable issue: the question of whether I would let her know my plans for moving to NH. I wasn't sure I was quite ready to be that committal about it.

On the spur of the moment I let her in on my plans. Truth be told, lately, the idea of waiting until retirement age to leave NYC had morphed into an idea to get back to the country in 3 or 4 years, and that in turn had been rapidly morphing into the idea of sooner than later.

I mentioned wanting to wait until spring as it was starting to cool down and I didn't want to move the birds when it was cold. As has been the case in my 20 years in this apartment, she was very nice, and told me I could have until spring.

So there it is. Come next summer--barring any unforeseen circumstances--I will be back in the country! I'm going to let you in on a secret: I'm happy! I almost wish I wasn't going to have to wait until spring. But honestly, spring will be here in no time so that's fine. There's so much to do in preparation. Like find a house for one thing! Like obtain a driver's license for another thing!

Big changes ahead. Good ones, I hope. I've been in NYC for 35 years and I'm ready. It had really started to get me down lately. I expect some ups and downs in the process of getting from here to there, but I have an inkling it's not going to be too bad. One reason for that is that I will continue to work for the same company and will be making a once-a-month trip to the city for an overnight stay. I will be able to plan this monthly visit to coincide with cultural events of interest.

I think it's going to be good. :) <- notice my smile! And I'm so happy my birds will have an outdoor flight in the foreseeable future, I hope. :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weave wise... guest towel... bag

I finished weaving the towel on Friday. Took it off the loom Saturday, wet finished it, ironed it, and hemmed it using my sewing machine. I am very shaky around the sewing machine, it intimidates me. Should take some lessons.

At any rate, the cloth came out the right width! Hurray! I'm going to hand sew the trim onto the towel. Haven't done that yet, but it is pinned in place. Will get to the sewing sometime this week. Here's what it looks like pinned up. I like it (though I think I will adjust the placement of the trim a little bit):

Since I had the sewing machine all set up, I sewed together a piece of fabric I wove earlier this year using handspun alpaca from a woman in NH. It didn't produce a very large cloth, but this little bag will be quite handy hung by the loom. I'm going to use some left over band that I card wove ealier this year to make a handle for it. The colored stripes in the bag are yarns that I handspun using some Churro that I processed from raw wool. A gift from a high school friend of mine, also in NH.

The birds... Peach

It's been a while since I wrote about the birds. My little life savers--well, sanity savers anyway. Love them to bits. They remind me of what's real when this big old world starts to get insane--as it does every four years when we have an election. And often, in between times too.

Peach. Poor little darling. His/her convalescence was three months long! I wrote about the injured wing in the middle of June and it was only 2 weeks ago that s/he was able enough to manage out of the hospital cage for good.

I had brought the cage into the bird room and hung it high on a plant hanging hook. Eye level with where the other birds like to congregate. Every morning I would climb the step ladder, take the cage down and change the food and water. After a few weeks I left the cage on the counter with the door open to see if s/he would attempt to fly. The attempt was made but poor little thing only made it across the narrow width of the room and landed on the floor. This went on for several weeks. I would cheer him on and every 3 or 4 days try the open door.

Luckily, I was able to notice slight--very slight--improvement in her strength every few tries so I didn't give up, but must admit getting a little discouraged one morning. I shrugged it off and put my faith in nature. Peach seemed to be quite comfortable with his cage, I think he "owned" it and being in it meant not having to fend off the other birds.

At long last, a few weeks ago his flight was a little better and he landed on the window sill, having flown the length of the room. This was very encouraging and it made me happy. About a week later we tried again and his flight was about the same. This time I picked him up with a towel and placed him on the feeding platform which is about eye-level for me--it's where the "tree" grows. He spent a few hours there, climbing around the tree, eating and looking outside before being bullied off by another bird and so I picked him off the floor and placed him back in the cage. I knew his days in the cage were numbered.

A few days later, very much the same thing but instead of rescuing him I hung a braided cord from the platform so it reached the floor. This was his lifeline back to the platform in case he ended up on the floor again. Which he did. It took him a little while to learn that he could climb the cord to get back up where he wanted to be, but he got it. Cage was put away. Hurray!

It's been a few weeks and he has increased in strength considerably. I think the several attempts to fly -- albeit several times to the floor -- strengthened his muscles or whatever. He is now flying about quite well. Can't go great distances but can navigate the bird room without ending up under foot.

And his mate has rejoined him. A sweet love story. I'm so happy for them.

It appears I will never know what happened, just glad that it's turned out OK.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writing wise... SMs

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

I just logged in, thinking about writing a new post and re-read a bit of the last.

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

Did I write "several days have past..." ?

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

I must have because there it is.

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

There was a time I was less fortunate and had no excuse.

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

But now I can employ SMs ('Senior Moments') to good use.

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

And say 'past' is 'passed'.

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Weave wise... back on track...

I was too busy to get to the loom this week so several days have past and the "idea" of having to re-thread the heddles is history. As I sat down to work on it today, it felt new: A fresh challenge to finish dressing the loom with this doubled warp.

I'm happy that all went smoothly with the redistribution of the heddles, re-threading, tying up, checking sheds and tensions, and finally, weaving! TaDa! I'm trying to put myself in the mindset that all the prep work of dressing the loom is weaving too, therefore I'm approaching it with as open a mind as I can, and paying attention as much as possible.

This picture of the completed threading shows how the warp now flows straight through the loom, back to front. Much better:
And here is the first inch or so of weaving, doubled warp threads, doubled weft threads:
Although I didn't really know, I was worried that working with a doubled thread would be turmoil. I'm happy to report that it isn't! :)

I was able to sit down at the spinning wheel this week, and finished a skein of deep blue yarn from a fiber which name I cannot remember! I'll have to snap a pic of that one. Last evening after work I finished this spool of singles (Wellington Fibres), and it awaits plying which should happen shortly this evening. This is spinning for part of a larger project which I cannot mention right now, but it's exciting. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Weave wise... a decision is made...

I unthreaded the heddles today, will remove the frames and redistribute the heddles before proceeding. It won't be bad, it only took about 1.5 hours to thread the heddles and I enjoy the process. :)

There isn't much else to report so I'm going to take the opportunity to introduce another great (IMO) singer/songwriter that I'm just discovering. I think I'll be getting much of his music. He's new to me, but he's been around for a while. His name is Christopher Dallman.

Beautiful music.

I've also recently discovered another fantastic singer/songwriter named Aiden James. Also been around a bit, but I've just stumbled onto his music and it's fabulous! I've bought all 3 of his albums and I love every track on every one! He's very, very talented.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Weave wise... oh, oh...

Oh, oh, indeed. I messed up. The trials and tribulations of a weaver in training.

Not only did I err while threading a new warp for a guest towel, but I am also contending with a situation that is backward so to say. Let me explain that first, I'll get to the mistake shortly...

A few years ago I crocheted some edgings for some towels that I was going to either weave "sometime in the future", or buy linen to make them with. At the time I did not have a loom and knew nothing about weaving. The edgings:

I now have a loom and know a little about weaving. I know enough, for instance, to understand how difficult it will be to weave a towel that will come out exactly the right width to match one of my edgings. Take-up during the weaving process, and shrinkage in the finishing process are unknowns that can only be guesstimated. So I've allowed the usual 10% for shrinkage and hope that my towel will come out within range to suit my edging.

In the future I will make my towels first and then crochet edgings to fit!

That's the backwards part. Now on to the mistake...

I'm going to weave the towel (I'm only doing one for now) in 20/2 cotton, doubled. I'm going to sley 2 threads to a dent in a 10 dent heddle. In english that means I'm going to use a reed that has 10 slots (dents) per inch and I'm going to thread (sley is the word for threading a reed) 2 (doubled) threads per slot (dent). Love the lingo. 20/2 cotton is pretty thin but I'm finding it reasonably manageable.

Okay, sleying the reed (threading the reed) took 4 hours over the course of the past few days and it went well. It was a little slow going because I'm doubling the warp so I spent time tying 2 threads together for every warp thread. This is the result of sleying the reed:

So far so good. No mistakes (that I'm yet aware of--there's room for surprises!)

I can explain the mistake with this picture which shows the beginnings of threading the heddles (when a thread is passed between reeds, it's called 'sleying'; when a thread is passed through a heddle, it's called 'threading'!)...

Follow along carefully... over on the left you can see some heddles which are threaded. They are 'way over' on the left. See the two hooks in the bottom of the picture which come over the metal rails? Well the heddles to the left of those hooks cannot move past them to the right. This means they are stuck over on the left. I went ahead and threaded the whole warp and have the same situation on the right: there are some heddles stuck too far over and they cannot simply be slid towards the center.

Oh, oh. I was aware of this before I started threading the heddles but I concluded it wasn't going to matter. But it will because the warp will fan out from the reed to the heddles and it will be a struggle (if not impossible) to weave a straight edge. Had I come to the correct conclusion before hand I would have removed the heddle frames (kind of a biggish deal) and redistributed the heddles. This problem was new to me because this is the first time I'm sleying the reed with 2 warp threads per dent and that makes this warp different than those I've done previously: it's twice as wide in the heddles as it is in the reed (or to be more accurate: only 1 thread per heddle, but 2 per dent). Ah!

Ugh. Decision time. Well, I don't think I'm going to unthread all the heddles. But I'm not sure. I'm going to let it be for the night to see how I feel when rested and fresh. I might find the enthusiasm for it then. Another possibility will be to take some spare heddles and cut them at the top and bottom so I can slide them into place. If my heddles were new I wouldn't do this, but they are quite old and a little rusty here and there, and I'm meaning to buy a brand new set anyway. I will only need about 20 heddles to fix the problem.

But I'll sleep on it.

Experience, she's such a good teacher. :)