Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dancing in the kitchen

It's been a busy month for us, full of new beginnings for me which is really exciting. 

First off I, fairly successfully I think, taught a two hour class at Collegium introducing people to the process of making medievalish turn shoes. This is going to progress into a series of practical workshops getting people actually making some, probably at the new location for joint Southron Gaard practices on Sundays. I've done this before of course but before I was sick and I know a lot more about actual medieval shoemaking practice now thanks to Al. 

Next I have actually started winding and warping the new loom. It was a bit stumped at first because I had an unknown amount of carpet wool for the warp and the normal method of warping a sectional beam loom is to first wind the warp onto bobbins of X number per section, on this case 16. But I had no way of winding those to a specific measurement and was concerned that I'd end up with not enough. Anyway I've been doing it just by measuring onto the warping mill as normal and warping each section from that and it seems to be going ok.

We applied for and have secured a house sitter who will take care of Kiwi and the horses so that we can go to Fimbulwinter in Dunedin next month which is very exciting. We're taking a couple of days and driving down ourselves which will be just lovely. If all goes well that will make CF a lot easier on Kiwi and us.

I'm on the stewarding team for Canterbury Faire next year, and I've recently had an idea about an event that I'd like to run in early summer or maybe spring but as that's still very much in the works I'll not go into details yet. 

And I've been sorting out my armour to get back into SCA combat. Mostly it's fine but there's a bit of wear and tear, the bluing on the steel needs re doing and some of the leather, straps etc need upgrading. Nick's made me a practice sword and has been coaching me in doing blow drills in the dining rom while he cooks. I am feeling it a little in my wrist and shoulder but that will go away as everything gets stronger. So hopefully by the time we head down to Dunedin I will be able to start training.

Finally, we've had the landscaping guys here the last couple of days levelling the ground outside the bedroom windows for the new garden and lawn which is REALLY exciting as I've been planning that space for years. Now it's all go and soon I'll be buying plants which is amazing.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Well, well, well

So, maybe, you've been wondering what's happened to me. No, probably not. The important thing to report is that I'm well. No more ME/CFS. All gone, done and dusted.

It's been a long haul and while I only had a pretty moderate case it's still been six years plus of pain, confusion, occasional practical paralysis, distress and generally a complete wash out. I feel like I have come out the other end a different person, more aware of my own failings, and strengths I suppose, and I hope more compassionate, aware that what you see ain't necessarily what you get.

I've not written about this before because weirdly within the ME/CFS community writing about getting better, in fact actually getting better, is seen by some as some kind of betrayal. Some people simply deny that it's possible and will claim that anyone who says that they got better never had it to begin with. Even before I found a path to regaining my health I rejected this way of thinking. I find it hard to comprehend how people who do frequently complain about others rejecting their diagnosis as made up can turn around and do the same thing to total strangers whose life they know nothing about apart from one or two things.

Also it's a dead end street - if you define ME/CFS as an illness that no one ever recovers from it becomes self-fulfilling. There have been many illnesses which over history started out as unrecoverable which with improvements in our understanding of our bodies and the development of new treatments have become increasingly successful in treating. Moreover I have met a few people, entirely by chance, that had it and improved to the point where they consider themselves better. Believing that it's unrecoverable from makes it so and doesn't allow for change.

So how do I know that I'm better?

- I lost entire days just staring out the window because I had neither the mental or physical energy to do anything else.
- I was having to walk with a stick more and more often.
- I woke up feeling like I'd only slept a few minutes, even when I'd slept 10 hours or more.
- Driving more than about fifteen minutes drained me, even on a pretty good day, and as a result it was difficult for me to go out without Nick to drive me.
- Every thought took effort, every activity of the day had to be calculated for cost/benefit.

- Driving to work and back 45 minutes each way is effortless.
- I've been jogging with Kiwi (although her foots sore now so we've stopped for a while), have been riding (a little), and am seriously considering resuming SCA fighting.
- I can just go through my day start to finish without having to consider what to use my limited energy on and what to skip.
- I can go out on my own, even in the evenings, and even on a week night, without wondering if I'll be able to get home.
- I have completely weaned myself off the medication I was taking.
- I get a normal night's sleep and only need a normal amount of it.

So that's good enough for me. No, I was never bed bound, so I certainly wasn't as sick as some people are and I'm very grateful and aware of that. From my reading there are many people with ME/CFS who aren't - about 75% - that doesn't mean they are not sick, or that they have something else. It just means that they're not severe cases, lucky them. There's some work starting to be done to try and sort sufferers into sub groups and if that helps with diagnosis and treatment and getting more sick people well again that's a good thing. I hope that it doesn't result in people being allocated to the "too hard basket" OR the "can't be bothered because they're not the most severe cases" basket. Even those who are only somewhat sick deserve to be well again.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

First blossom of the season

Autumn's well and truly here, we've been picking chestnut-lets of the chestnut, been having magnificent raspberries and now Nick has just picked the first saffron crocus of the year.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Everyone gets a scarf for Christmas

OK, so I've been using a wee app on my iPod to keep a list of things to do this year and "weave something" had been on the list for a while before it slowly climbed to the top. Nick had bought a couple of old Ashford table top looms a few years ago and I'd use one to support some card weaving but still hadn't done any standard weaving.

The Ashford Book of Weaving
Coincidentally on checking out the new Smiths Bookshop at the Woolston Tannery mall I bought a copy of the Ashford Book of Weaving, not contemporary with my looms but also not for the very modern looms. It assumes that you are just beginning and starts with a sampler and small project so that was just perfect. Doing the sampler / project as written would have meant buying materials so i adapted it a bit so that the finished item would be a woolen scarf, not place mats - also because we don't use placemats.

Warp on the loom
Warp on the loom
I did the whole thing over four weekends - did the warping on the first weekend. Had a three day weekend following that and made loads of process, getting right through the bits of the sampler that I chose to do (didn't do the fancy weaves, just the plain and twills) and then into the actual scarf. Then I finished the weaving the following weekend and did the finishing the one after that.


I really got into that focused zone where time disappeared which I love in projects. I only made a couple of mistakes and all but one I fixed (in the sampler). My ganglion cyst on my right hand all but vanished (its since come back but is still smaller). The finished scarf looks really good, I was beating a bit hard, a hang over from my tapestry weaving I think, but that's pretty minor - its pretty even width and not too loopy at the selvedges.

 I gave the scarf to my sister Lu for her birthday. There's a tradition about giving away your first finished item that someone told me long ago. I don't always do so, but sometimes it seems right.

Vital Statistics

The full length of weaving before cutting it off the loom.
The full length of weaving
before cutting it off the loom.
Warp: 110 ends 330mm long of charcoal grey 2/20 wool sett at 10 per 2.5cm
Weft of scarf: grey marl 2/20 wool. Goal width was 25cm.
All the images are over on my flickr.

Sampler section

  1. plain weave using scarf weft.
  2. 2/2 twill using scarft weft.
  3. 1/3 twill using a pink single 'carpet' wool.
  4. 3/1 twill.
  5. "Swiss" twill.
  6. Zig-zag twill in brick red single 'carpet' wool.
  7. 2/2 twill in grey 2 ply 'carpet' wool with binder weft in same as warp.
Finished scarf
Finished Scarf


Finished length 152.5 cm not including fringe, width between 25.5 - 26 cm.
After washing - 147cm long, width 23-24 cm wide, 114gm.

So now of course I am busy planning my next project which isn't actually going to be another scarf so you're safe. I'm thinking that I will make two cushion covers, using twills probably and carpet wool as I have quite a lot of that. They should be robust enough to be used outside and at events etc.

Although actually next on my todo list is new shoes so they will have to come first. Its my way of making sure that I do the things that I need as well as the projects that I want to do, by alternating between something I need, something I want, and fixing things I already have.

Interesting sites: