I am finally back on Etsy. It has been a long time. Not that I am not looking for other venues, but I am happy to be back. I am selling handwoven fabrics for reenactors and living history folks. It is wonderful to see something I am so very, very passionate about come to fruition. It almost makes the daily migraines worth the pain.
You may notice a few things around here. I am back to paying attention to my digital life. I left my job at RED Capital Group and am now revising my site in hopes of freelancing my graphic design skills. Right now I am arguing with a plugin to display my portfolio. I realized that I have been using Illustrator for over 30 years. Wow.
When it comes to the textile area of my life, I have made changes there, too. Thanks to a basement flood and cats, my poles for arashi shibori were ruined. It turns out that is not a bad thing as it allowed me to take time and realize that I am happiest working on researching and recreating textiles. Spinning and weaving to match a small piece of history. So I am putting some shibori to the back – I know I will return to it. But I am happiest weaving yardage for reenacts and museums.
This is a project that has been doomed from the start. It should be simple – spin and weave SH9 from the Sutton Hoo ship burial. 45 epi in the warp and 30 ppi in the weft. Then weave a broken lozenge twill fabric.
The first indication this would not go well is the first fleece. After much research, I found shetland fleece which I washed and sent to be pick and carded at the mill. It cam back sticky. The mill used some spray to prevent flyaways and static. Personally, it is hard to get static from a sticky brick of wool. I had to rewash the roving twice to get rid of the adhesive, I mean, spray. The water turned black from all the gunk and it felt nasty after washing. But I was determined to move forward.
I tried to dye it red with madder. I have a very good, reliable, raspberry red recipe from madder that I use regularly. Silly me, I tried that recipe and got a felted, greenish pumpkin color. There were tears. I called my dyeing buddy and after a long discussion and experiments, it appeared that 1) the dye reacted with the remaining anti-static spray and felted the fiber and 2) the madder that came to the US that year was adulterated with brick dust or something, Subsequent dye attempts with fresh madder produced my regular red.
So, I search and find new fleece. 12 pounds and half had to be tossed due to fiber length and pooh. After washing and combing, the yield is about 3.5 pounds. Not nearly enough.
After more failures I am getting down to the wire. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving when I can spin for several days straight. And them the revolving door accident. My hand is caught between the frame the the rotating door. No spinning or weaving for four months.
Due to the time I have and a deadline approaching, I discover I have a great warp yarn in my stash. I put it on my loom, 864 threads, 12 yard warp. I thread the heddles and the reed and tie it on.
The warp sticks to itself. Throwing the shuttle is an agonizing slow process as I have to manually clear each shed. And there is no tension.
Now the tension on this loom has been a struggle since I moved the loom up into the larger studio. Looking at directions online, I discover I have the beam on BACKWARDS. I remove the beam, put it on correctly and put on a new brake system. And of course, the warp has to come off because it is going the wrong direction. Then I look again at the diagrams. And I have it on BACKWARDS since it was on correctly the first time.
I moved the beam back into position, replace the brake again it seems to work. I order new yarn and wind it on the warping wheel. I start winding it onto the loom. And of the 60 threads in the bout, 18 break. The next attempt, 10 break. I wind one thread at a time on the darn thing and finally get minimal breakage.
Now I am threading the heddles. I am up to 500 out of 840 threads. I watch over my shoulder for the next disaster.
You haven’t seen me post a lot this year. And I have had to cancel most of my events due to health issues. You see, I haven’t been able to spin, weave or dye in months due to pain.
Not being able to do any of my fiber art is like taking away one of my senses. If you are on this page, you know that creating is like breathing to me. My hands must be busy at all times. I kept a spinning wheel in my car and a spindle in my purse. I was ramping up my historical textiles – spinning, dyeing and weaving. And then the pain came.
I have pain in my hands. Tendinitis, Raynauds, and other pain. My feet developed plantar fasciatis and arthritis of the toes. I had to stop spinning during a Judith MacKenzie workshop and and that was a devastating blow. It was obvious I was pushing my extremities too far. Though wearing three splints to bed at a time was pretty amusing.
To fill my time I have been drawing Zentangle inspired art. I take pens with me to the places I used to take a spindle. You can see a new page, Fine art and Prints in the navigation and I will be putting prints into my Etsy store.
In addition, I have been looking into adaptive technology for the fiber artist. I have a new electric spinning wheel made by HansenCrafts which is allowing me to spin with minimal pain. I have a pair of Doc Martens with inserts so I can walk with minimal limping. I wear fingerless gloves at the keyboard to keep my hands warm. I am looking into what I can do for weaving on the floor looms. Maybe crafters gloves or splints.
If I can make an exercise spinning wheel, I can figure this out. This is a challenge and it is not going to stop me.