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Some new things

Here’s what I’ve accomplished since my last post:

I got a cold. Or maybe it’s a touch of the flu, lessened by the fact that I got a flu shot. In any case, I spent only one day feeling totally crappy, and since then several days feeling pretty good but staying away from people because I’m quite stuffy and my cough sounds really awful. I fear the cough will hang on for a time, despite the fact that I’m taking all of the following: raw garlic, elderberry, echinacea, herbal teas designed specifically for this, goldenseal, Airborne, vitamin C. I’m also using my neti pot twice a day and Vicks-ing up at night. I must say it’s been rather a joy to simply stay home. I’d forgotten how much more free my schedule is when I don’t go to the gym for an exercise class in the morning. I didn’t think cardio would be a good idea, likely causing coughing, and I don’t want to spread this nasty. I am going to try my soul line dance class this evening and see how it goes.

sick old woman

I read a book I really liked. 350 pages in 24 hours. One of the benefits of having a cold.

book - Call Your Daughter Home

I did all my year-end paperwork. This means counting shelves and bins of raw materials as well as inventorying finished pieces. I also entered months of expenses into Quickbooks and prepared everything for my accountant.

shelf of yarn to be inventoried

I submitted an online application for a small, local show for my jewelry only. No idea if I’ll be accepted.

And I FINALLY took photos of the scarves I wove with the green tea/modal yarn from Finger Lakes Yarn. I showed you the dyed warp and 2 possible wefts here more than a month ago. I really like the 2 thin gold stripes down the middle of this warp, and the black edges.

First I used a 8/2 black tencel weft. It shows the weave structure well and really made those purples pop. But somehow it looks sort of like a bruise to me.

handpainted scarf with green tea & modal warp and tencel weft

I wanted the weave structure to show up but didn’t want the second scarf to be that dark. I tried the dark teal I’d dyed for weft, but didn’t like the way it worked with the warp colors. So I went for the sort of periwinkle yarn I’d dyed in the green tea/modal yarn. The colors are all ‘prettier’ here, but you can barely see the weave structure.

handpainted scarf, all green tea & modal yarn

So for the third scarf I chose a red-violet bamboo weft. This yarn is 5/2, so the scarf is a bit thicker than the others, and the pattern a bit elongated. The overall look is SO purple; I’m a purple lover, but maybe not as much as this. Too….magenta.

handpainted scarf with green tea & modal warp & bamboo weft

I had my rigid heddle loom warped up for demonstration at the Weavers’ Guild Holiday Sale and the Shop Hop at the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center. So I finished that off. I like the colors, but the yarn is a bit scratchy. And the fiber content is unknown, since I just pulled cones off the Center’s donated-yarn shelves. Not sure what I’ll do with the scarf itself. Likely donate it.

handwoven scarf, stripes

I also got some private instruction in some sewing techniques since I want to make more garments, and even improve at least one of my already ‘finished’ pieces. Looking forward to trying some of those things.

What was I thinking?

A few days before Christmas I got a hankering to do a jigsaw puzzle. Mind you, I haven’t done a jigsaw puzzle in probably 20 years. Why now? Who knows?

My daughter offered me one of hers, but the visuals didn’t really appeal to me. I went to Dan’s, the local craft store, and was amazed at their selection. I bet they have 200+ jigsaw puzzles, from those designed for little kids to complex and 3-D ones. I spent a long time looking at them.

I intended to get a 1,000-piece puzzle. But none of the images moved me. I pulled out a 1,500-piece puzzle and loved it. But I didn’t want a puzzle that big – 31.5″x23.5″. So I kept looking at the 1,000-piece designs. Nope, I had to get that big one. It’s a Ravensburger puzzle, One Dot at a Time.

I had no idea just how challenging this puzzle would prove to be! I was also surprised at the brain power it took – analyzing color, shape, and size. I hadn’t realized/remembered that jigsaw puzzles do more than just help pass the time.

This one took up about 3/4 of my kitchen table, and even if that weren’t the case, my OCD self just kept at it hour after hour. For five days straight. I finally finished it about 9PM on New Year’s Eve. Sorry for the quality of the image,

jigsaw puzzle complete

If you look closely you’ll see that there are 3 pieces missing. My sleeves often pushed pieces off the table, and I’m assuming the furry little creature I live with ate them without my noticing. (Oh, Jack – not good for the digestive tract!)

I took a photo of it, printed it out, ID’d the missing pieces, and offered the puzzle on my local BuyNothing group. It was snatched up quickly.

So five full days doing virtually nothing else. A good way to spend a Christmas vacation, I suppose. I doubt I’ll do another puzzle for several more years.

On doing and not-doing

frozen water droplets on tree branches
It’s December. Mid-December. And I’ve been thinking. Thinking about my weaving/creating, about working, about life, about joy. About what I can do, what I’m willing to do, and what I want to do; what makes me happy.

Specifically, what I will weave and how much of it. If I were ‘on target’ with my weaving, I’d have made 30-36 finished pieces, not counting towels, since summer. I have 15. Half, at best. And it’s time for me to have either new finished or nearly-finished pieces for new professional photos to be taken for show applications, which will be due before I know it.

Is it possible for me to ‘make up’ all the ‘missing’ pieces? Theoretically, yes. Do I want to do that? Not really.

red-orange-yellow sunrise over house roofs

I’ve gone round and round on this, arguing, like always, both sides of this coin. I’ve long thought it was my Gemini nature to do that. In any case, I’ve decided – at least I’m pretty sure I’ve decided – that I’m only going to apply to one of my two favorite summer shows this year.

Yes, that will likely cut my weaving income in half. It will also cut my production need in half. I want to continue to weave, and to sell my weaving. But I don’t want to weave just because I have to for shows. I want to sew more with my handwovens. In fact I recently purchased an hour of individual instruction from a local woman whose work I admire. I want to continue to dye my yarns. I want to continue to use up my stash. But I don’t want the pressure. Plus, my body sometimes complains, and I’m listening to it more.

For example, I’ve had tendonitis in my thumb since at least August. It gets better and worse for reasons I can’t identify. I haven’t been to my primary care doc for this. Maybe it’s time, now that it’s been going on for five months? But I didn’t think he could give me any guidance I don’t already have. Like rest it. Stabilize it. Be kind to it.

sun rays bursting through clouds

So I’ll be considering where and how I can sell what I do make. I don’t have any answers at the moment, but for now, at least, I’m okay with that.

I’ll never tell

I’m making Christmas presents (several things, all rather last minute, at least for me), so can’t show or tell any of them, but I’ll let you play a guessing game. Name of the game is: What on Earth is She Doing?

These are all the steps I can give you until after Christmas, but here goes.

Step one – a cone of ugly pink-ish taupe yarn.
pink-ish taupe yarn on cone

Step two – wind into skeins and dye with deep colors.
hand painted skeins, wet

Step three – hope those skeins turn out as intended when dry.

hand painted skeins, dry

Step four – wind the skeins into cakes. I can’t believe how ugly these cakes of yarn are. I wouldn’t have bought them, or even taken them for free if someone was giving them away.

hand painted yarn wound into cakes

What on earth could she possibly be doing? Feel free to answer in your own head. If you post a comment with your guess, I won’t be able to tell you if you’re close or not, so as to keep my secret safe.

And I can’t even show you process photos of the other things I’m making.

My first snowblowing, plus dye results

A few weeks ago we had a wet, heavy snow here in Rochester (NY). Lots of it. 15″ reported at the airport. I shoveled for more than 3 hours, and it wasn’t easy. Or fun. I talked to a few people about changing my mind and considering buying a snowblower. A friend suggested I consider a cordless electric machine – no gas engine to maintain and easy on the environment.

snowblower covered in snow

I did some online research, and ended up at my local Ace hardware. I bought an Ego that uses 2 batteries, and then waited for the snow. Today we had a wonderful (read awful) mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow. It was time to break out the snowblower for its maiden voyage.

I live on a corner, so have lots of sidewalk. Plus my garage is detached so I have paths in my yard to get from the house to the garage. Plus the driveway and a brick walkway by the front steps.

Although I have a learning curve – what do I clear first, and where do I blow the snow efficiently – my first experience was very positive. 45 minutes and all the wet, heavy snow was removed. This included shoveling my steps and those few areas the snowblower couldn’t get into. I have no doubt that I this was no more than 1/3 of the time I would have spent shoveling, maybe only 1/4 of the time. SOOOO worth the investment to save my back! The video is only some of what I cleared.

I also dyed the green tea/modal yarn from Finger Lakes Yarn. I went for the Bijou Bounty in purples, and had some success achieving my desired colors. Warp for 3 scarves, and potential wefts for 2 of them.

hand painted green tea modal yarn - Bijou Bounty

Only time will tell if I use either or both of those solid weft yarns. I’ll audition them on the loom and see what I think.

Below I was trying to see which of these golds would work better for thin warp stripes. I went with the rayon (on right) even though it’s a bit heavier, thinking the silk (on left) was just a bit too yellow.

bijou bounty yarn with golds

The warp is beamed and threaded, so it’s time to wind those dyed skeins into balls so I can try them out.