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:

Monday, August 05, 2013

Orchard update

Nick and I have had a couple of busy weekends planting things in the new orchard. A few months ago we decided that there wasn't enough space in the 'house block' the area that we had fenced off around the house, for all the fruit trees that we wanted. Also the row nearest the house was right in the way of where I want my covered walk at the north of my medieval pleasure garden (more on that later). However the next 'block' over was just perfect. Directly north of the house its also a little up-slope, with the highest 'ridge' of the property just on the other side of the fence. Its a good size, about 50m down the north boundary and about 40 on the other edge.

It will work out well as my research into what constituted a 'medieval' garden indicated that an orchard should be part of the plan. The new orchard will connect with the medieval pleasure garden with the covered walk separating the two, and perhaps providing a backdrop for some espaliered trees. I've insisted that the orchard be hedged to offer the trees some protection and to make it clearly separate from the paddocks. The northern boundary will be hedged in hawthorns which we put in, bare-rooted, the weekend before last. The east boundary will probably have hazelnuts and we haven't discussed the west yet.

This weekend past we, well mostly Nick of course, planted a dozen new fruit trees including apples, pears, plums, apricots. Nick's got a couple of busy weekends ahead but when he is free we plan to move the surviving three trees from down by the pump shed - a cherry, pear and peachacot, none of which have provided any fruit yet. The other trees planted by the house we will leave for another year so that we will get fruit from them this season.

We're also planning a gazebo in the centre of the orchard - it will be on a flat area directly inline with the theatre room windows so that when you are sitting in there you will see it in the distance. But that is probably a few years away yet. I had initially though just a couple of 'stone' curved benches as somewhere to sit but if Nick wants to do something a bit more elaborate I won't stand in his way.

Hmm, these links are unrelated but I wanted somewhere to put them.

Plaid cotes hardie

Amazing embroiderers

Thursday, June 06, 2013

On me bum again

So after several months, maybe more than a year really, of feeling like I was just generally a bit worse, last weekend my energy took a nosedive and laid me out again. Today is the first day since Saturday that I've really started to feel a bit closer to normal. I've been dressed all day, did five hours work at the computer and managed a walk down to the corner and back (roughly 375 meters). That's a lot better than yesterday when I didn't get dressed until lunchtime, did 2 1/2 hours work at the computer and walked down the drive and back (with a stick).

Everyone seems to experience ME differently. I say that I have a fairly mild case, which surprised one of my friends when I said it as she thought mine was quite severe. It's almost impossible to describe but I will try, if only to have a record.

When I am sitting it feels like I can feel all my cells vibrating. Sometimes I call this feeling fuzzy but that suggests its a head thing when really it feels quite physical. When I try to move anything it feels very weak, like the brain is sending signals but they're getting corrupted halfway along the process and the body is uncertain what to do with it. It's like the muscles are trying to move but there's simply no fuel for them. When I walk I feel as if my knees may buckle at any moment and I feel unsteady, uncertain about the haptic (?) feedback provided, like is the ground really there, has my foot managed to find something solid or will it give way? And this isn't just a 'feeling' I am actually much clumsier when I'm worse, I drop things and stumble, I bump into people.

At the same time the mind is clouded, foggy. Processing information is difficult, I find telephone conversation almost impossible because it lacks the visual cues of face to face, and I don't have the time necessary to work out what is going on. I can't read for longer than about ten minutes as I can't concentrate that long. I am not sure that anything that I do read actually stays in my brain anyway so I look out the window or watch something on TV.

It's more than just not being able to concentrate though - I feel disconnected to reality. It's almost as if I'm floating in a virtual world where I am unseen. Things happen around me but don't affect me, a bit like people watching from a cafe window, or being in a room of people speaking in a language you don't understand: you see, you hear, but it's alien.

But I am very lucky. Firstly because these periods of being worse always get better (knock on wood) and I know very well that I could be chair bound or bed bound, locked in a darkened room 24/7, unable to deal with any kind of noise or light as sufferers of severe ME are. And of course because Nick takes such great care of me, walking Kiwi when I can't and making dinner, picking up my prescriptions etc. Also I have great employers and the luck of being in a job that is done sitting, at a computer, which I can do even from home.

But its still hard to go from a participant to a spectator, and knowing that its probably a permanent change there's only so much joy one can get from watching out the window.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Moving music

Some of the most memorable period of my childhood were various trips. And what I remember most about those trips was not the places we visited, or the episodes themselves, but the music that we listened to in the car. Maybe this is not surprising - I don't have a very visual memory and find it difficult to 'visualise'. Actually I wasn't aware of this until discussions with my friend Lila about her inability to visualise where I discovered that when people talked about visualising something they actually could 'see' the thing in their head. I don't, I kind of experience a feeling of the fundamental nature of the thing if that makes any sense.

Anyway, travelling music, on tape. So my first memory of the travelling music was from when Mum and I were travelling in Australia after my father Jonny's death in Melbourne - I was just five I think. Neil Diamond - Tap Root Manuscript. This would later be followed up by Jonathon Livingston Seagull which I remember careering around the living room at Webb St dancing to. I picked up the re-mastered 40th Anniversary edition of Hot August Night at the mall last Friday and the emotional response was so strong I'd bought JLS off iTunes by Sunday morning.

Dad (David) had a couple of great tapes that we'd have in the car. One was half Bette Midler and half Dori Previn. Lu got me the Dori Previn CD for Christmas a couple of years ago and I picked up a five-pack of Bette including the eponymous (I've always wanted a reason to write that word) CD at the Warehouse a few weeks ago. I always thought Suribaya Jonny was about my father - no idea why, and her Skylark was one I'd been searching for for a while.

Not last on my list was A Beautiful Thing by Cleo Laine - that was another of Mum's. Some gorgeous songs on it but I've never seen it on CD anywhere locally but its on Amazon so maybe I'll order that.

I don't really have a point here, except maybe that we sometimes forget how powerful the non-visual senses are in triggering memory and emotion. I'm really enjoying making contact again with these old recordings and that's just fine. If you've got any old favourites keep an eye out for the five-packs, I think that they're called "Original Recording" or something like that. Way better than any "best of".

Friday, February 22, 2013

Whirlwind month

So I am reaching the end of what I'm calls the whirlwind month. It starts with Canterbury Faire at the end of January then a week after that ends I'm off to Wellington for Webstock and then this year the Thursday after Webstock I was on a plane again to go to a concert in Auckland - I'm writing this the day after in Hamilton at Sarah's place. I am slightly amazed that I'm still standing to be honest, especially after my reaction to the trip to Australia last year.

I'm trying to stay very much in the present and get through the potentially stressful things one at a time and I think that that is paying off. Instead of not doing something because I'm afraid that it will trigger a reaction I try to have a plan B for everything so that I feel that I have options for every step. I also am trying to do all the planning so that I have that level of control, that way, also, if someone stiffs up I only have myself to blame.

Anyway the concert was fantastic. Everything went right, the shuttle arrived on time, the flight was fine, Sarah picked me up from the airport, we found a carpark very close by, had dinner at the arena bistro, enjoyed the concert, even the warm up band (although we both had difficulty discerning words, it was fine for me because I knew the lyrics already, mostly). Even though I had to sit through the whole thing, and the people in front of us stood, I had a good view most of the time. It was a great show, a good mix from all the albums with excellent visuals. We got home to Hamilton a bit after 1:00 and it was 2:00 by the time I was drifting off but I don't feel too bad at all today, although a little hoarse.

SCA 50th Anniversary is in June 2016 and I'm very focused on getting to that and then heading to the east coast to NY and other cities. Right now that is looking achievable. So Yay.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

happy new year

To start the year off on an optimistic note here is a short piece from Radio NZ about ME/CFS research happening in New Zealand (who knew!).

Science communication student Brandon Gantt talks with Warren Tate about ME. From Our Changing World on Thursday 27 December 2012. Duration: 13′13″