1504800418289-1759583634I have been weaving a shrug (a shawl with armholes to insert your hands and wrists) on my adjustable triangle loom at the 6 foot setting. This is an item for my friend Sonia who took care of my house and kitties while I had to be in Kentucky dealing with some issues of my father who has dementia.

I hope to finish it soon. I was so occupied with helping her to find a colorway she liked in something that would work and weave up well on my loom that I did not realize until I started weaving that it would look like a bath mat. Imagine my surprise!

Right now, I am at the shuttle stage where instead of continuous weave, I switch over to weaving on the horizontal warp threads using weft on two shuttles.

With this thicker chenille-like stuff, it’s a battle. What a mess! Every time I put a shuttle through that teeny shed, it rolls and twists and sticks like glue. Ugh yuck!

I need a thinner skinnier shuttle. Then it wouldn’t be so crazy difficult to squeeze the shuttle loaded with the bulk of weft wrapped around it through a tiny small shed. My head hurts with fighting this uphill battle.

So while I figure out how to deal with my weaving, I have been washing and rinsing all these fleeces that I have been storing. All summer, every chance when it’s not been raining, I scour up another big kettle full of Romney wool. Yes, it’s true; I admit it. I am so addicted to spinning and weaving. What a high fiber diet!

If I ever want to accomplish anything, I’d better get moving, right?! It’s not bad strength training. It can definitely improve those core muscles, hefting around a big hot kettle full of wool and dirty scour water.

Thank God I can take a lot of breaks while I wait for wool to either heat up on the stove or cool down in my bathtub in big buckets so I don’t scald myself. But that’s what a washing machine is for; I get laundry washed up and hung out to dry on my front porch along with the clean drying wool. This is my version of multi-tasking.

Jim would want me to do things I enjoy so here I am preparing lots of wool for the big yearly fundraiser sponsored by the National Needle Arts Association to teach children textile crafts. World wide Spinzilla 2017 is almost upon us! It runs for a week, Oct 2-8. This year, I hope I can spin much more than a few skeins. I am shooting for that mile of just over 1700 yards.

I am washing and scouring wool to prepare it for drum carding many batts (or sheets) of ready to spin fiber. My goal is 25 to 35 batts total.  Most of it will be Romney wool this year since I want to weave it. I am now on fleece #8 of brownish gray (grayish brown?) to begin scouring today. It’s only 4 pounds of raw smelly fleece.

I have got to get my day started. Time to feed the kitties, get some eye drops in my eyeballs, eat breakfast, and start scouring. Jim would be proud of me. I miss him so much.



The Spinning is Good, but the Rest of my Life has a lot of Challenges

Jim has developed some more serious prostate issues. His benign enlarged prostate is now squeezing his urethra shut. He can occasionally pee a little, but its not enough so he has a lot of frequency. Since the stroke robbed him of his finer dexterity, I have to straight catheterize him myself 4 or more times as needed each day. He has recently developed a UTI so after an ER run to KU Med Center a few weeks ago for some bleeding issues, I must now catheterize him at least every 2 to 2.5 hours as much as possible. He needs a lot of care and we are washing him morning and evening since his lack of dexterity seems to keep him from doing a more thorough job himself.

Spinning  So I am staying sane by spinning. I have some spinning assignments that I started from Facebook that are 50/50 arrangements. I am to keep half of the fiber that is sent to me.I have 3 assignments. I have been spinning up two bobbins on my modified Ashford Traditional wheel and then plying on my larger bobbin on my Louet S17 wheel.

  1. I have already finished the white Huacaya from Idge, owned by Sharon Weiss at Hummin’ Haven Alpacas up in Wisconsin. She wanted about a pound of very clean alpaca to be spun up as 100 yard skeins. I was able to produce 8 skeins with a few small leftovers that was on one bobbin. That was my quick kill to encourage myself to do the more difficult fiber assignments.

2. While spinning on Idge, I was washing and rewashing the other two batches of alpaca fiber from Sandi Smith in Ohio. The bay black Huacaya alpaca that she got from her friend was pretty dirty and had a lot of mildew from, I suspect, improper storage. Every time I washed it, the water would just be horridly dark, even on the rinses. This would not  be a spinning job for a beginner as the fiber lengths are so drastically different. I think I got a lot of the neck wool from the animal mixed with longer blanket fiber which makes it much harder to spin. It also had a lot more trashy bits and second cuts than Sandi may have understood. I spun and plyed up two bobbin each for the first two skeins just under 200 yards each. Then to give Sandi something a little softer, I spun and plyed up a skein using some blue alpaca roving that I had along with the bay black. The resulting skein is much softer. It worked so well, I’ll just do it again. I think Sandi will be pleased.

3. Sandi Smith also sent me some white Suri alpaca that I have been washing. The locks were 5 to 8 inches long. It had smelled very strong, even after its first wash and after I struggled to spin a small test skein. When trying to prepare the fibers on my Indigo hound combs, the fibers were so thick with static cling that they wrapped around my hand, the teeth of the combs and the comb handles. So I ordered some Unicorn Fiber Wash from thier website. Its now my new best friend after using it on some older yellowed Romney fleece. i washed the Suri locks in it and will work on combing that up soon.

These spinning projects are a great doorway to bigger and better things. Yay! I wish I had known that Jim would require so much care, but I will finish these as I promised I would. I will pick and choose more carefully next time on FB.

Back Online and Blogging!

Hello again everyone! I wasn’t sure where to start to say hello to people cuz its kinda overwhelming to try and catch up after being away for so long. I have missed KnittyMadMum and so many other fine people on Ravelry and my other online hangouts.

My husband Jim had showed no signs of cancer tumors elsewhere until last Aug 2014. In a CT scan, he showed signs of 3 cancerous tumors of moderate size, with 1 as golf ball size, all in his liver. The other two do not show up as well except as shadows.

Jim underwent 3 months of chemotherapy. By the end of October 2014, it had really beat him down and at the infusion at the end of the month, his GI tract reacted. The poor guy had it coming out of both ends quite suddenly in spite of the anti-nausea drugs they always administer before infusions.

As quickly as the chemo had beaten Jim down, his oncologist felt that we’d be chasing our tails in trying to get him stronger even with a few months of time in between chemo times of three months each. There was not much change in size to merit the risk of Jim vomiting up his meds. If he can’t keep the meds down, esp his heart medication, then he could have another stroke or heart attack which could kill him.

So the VA oncologist sent Jim to the Kansas University Medical Center, a top hospital in over 10 fields, including Oncology and Cardiology, to inquire about having a liver resection. When we found they would have to remove 75% of his liver, the hepatologist decided that Jim could not handle a surgery of that magnitude given his overall condition and number of diagnoses, but was able to give us another alternative not offered through the VA; nuclear medicine.

He told us about a newer way to fight cancer called SIR Spheres or more succinctly, Y90. Y90 or Yttrium 90 is a short half life radioactive isotope that is finely powdered and applied to tiny spheres or beads which are then injected through a catheter into the correct blood vessels that feed the cancer tumors. They are attracted to cancer cells first and in most cases, depending on the size of the tumors, are able to shrink cancer tumors within a few months or as fast as a few weeks.

The SER Spheres fight cancer using a two prong approach. The appropriate size of the spheres can be used to help to block the specific blood vessels that feed the cancer tumors, while the Yttrium isotope can help to deliver beta radiation over the substantially small distance to the cancer cells which kills them.

The side effects from this type of treatment are relatively short duration and very mild by comparison with chemo drugs. After dealing with the terrible effects of chemotherapy drugs for three months, Jim was eager to get started that very minute.

They did a dry run of sorts to map Jim’s arteries that lead to his liver and more specifically to his cancer tumors. Here in the US they flood the liver doing only one side at a time. So the whole process is in three steps. For those undergoing Y90 SER Spheres in Europe, they flood the entire liver at one fell swoop. I think Jim will tolerate the more cautious approach better since Parkinson’s Disease symptoms pop up every time his liver is stressed. And this will surely stress his liver. Extra big doses of milk thistle have helped keep the Parkinson’s under control along with the Eniva Vibe and ResVante.

He undergoes the second infusion of Y90 SER Spheres in two weeks. He is hoping that it will make these tumors go away completely. I am not sure that will happen, but if it does, I will be very grateful to God.

The one part of this in which I am very disappointed is that Jim will not glow in the dark. I had been looking forward to lowering our electric bill in the evenings, and maybe even renting Jim out as a street light. We could have used the money since gasoline to go to and from Kansas  City so much is sucking a giant hole in our monthly budget.

In the meantime, I am attempting to keep on spinning, knitting and weaving every chance I get. It helps me to deal with the anxiety and depression I keep fighting. This has all been very stressful, esp since I am the one who so much hinges on to take care of everything. Spinning, weaving and knitting has been my big outlet and its always cool to occasionally hang with friends who share my interests like our Craft & Chat Monday night group, Jenny Hodgens and others at her shop Red Barn Yarn Farm, and Peri Zahn over at Word of Life Church.

So now, on to happier stuff.

On the Loom
I have a weaving project, a scarf, nearly warped up on the small two harness table top loom of handspun yarns. The warp and weft are both superwash merino and tencel for added bling in the bright hot pink and blue-purple Pretty In Pastels colorway from The Fiber Goddess. The weft was a batt and is more blue-purple. The Fiber Goddess’s idea of pastels is very different from mine and I find her colors jewel toned and darkly luscious. The warp has more hot pink in it and was spun from dyed roving. I am in the process of finishing up tying on the warp and beaming from the back to the front and inserting dowel rod sticks as I wind it on to control the tension. I had to purchase more square dowels since I had run out. So far it has been at a standstill due to so many medical issues with caring for Jim. Now that things have started to settle down for a while, I need to finish setting up the warp to finish weaving this scarf.

Finished Object
I just finished knitting up a narrow ladder lace fashion scarf in the Sea Jewels 3 ply leftovers from when I had gifted the bulk of it to Cynthia Degerness for her new grandson Liam Seever. Her mom Heather is a member of our Craft & Chat group and had given birth to Liam back in Aug 2014.

On the Needles
So now on my needles is a pair of 2-at-a-Time Toe Up socks in the Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic color #6072. Yeah, I hate it when these yarn companies want to call their yarns by a number instead of a wonderfully descriptive name. This is a single yarn, no plies, and I am knitting on size 2 circular needles; its taking freaking forever! The colorway though is yet another jewel toned variegated yarn but the colors meld wonderfully into each other with stockinette stitch in bright leaf green, lavender purple, midnight blue and magenta. I immediately fell in love with the colorway and even though it was $22 of a sock/lace weight yarn with 400 meters or a wee bit over 437 yards. At the time, I had no chance to have anything spun up or to search for some appropriate handspun in time for the class cuz we had just gotten home from Kansas City, I had to unpack the car, and fix up some supper for Jim before racing to Red barn Yarn Farm store. So I spent $22 for yarn I hadn’t planned and an additional $16 on the size 2 circulars with a 40 inch cable. I had thought my needle case had size 2 circulars that were long enough, but such was not the case.

The pattern we are using on these socks is based on the book Toe Up Two at a Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. Cher Klotz is the instructor for the class over at Red Barn Yarn Farm. I now seem to finally understand magic looping with knitting in the round; yay me! With lots of help, I am steadily making progress toward getting them done. I am now at the triangular gusset which expands for the heel and will soon be on the heel flap.

If I ever knit socks in this way again, I am using bigger yarn and bigger needles. Socks are supposed to be a small quick project. These have been neither small nor quick. I started them in Jan. It is now March. Argh!

On the Bobbins
I am trying very to hard finish up spinning the extra fine Katie2 roving in the blue/white/purple roving for Nancy Sines at Cedar Hollow Alpaca Farm. I suspect she will want to weave it up. I am cramming all of the roving spun up very fine onto two 3.5 oz Ashford bobbins. I had thought I had the entire roving all spun up but then I found a ziplock bag of it that had been overlooked somehow in all the hustle of packing and unpacking the car. I plan to ply both bobbins together as a 2 ply yarn on my Louet S17 which has big 8oz bobbins. I started spinning this up last Nov 2014, but life stuff kept happening. So I should get it done soon since I keep squeezing it into my life.

Currently Alex and I are expanding our understanding and further refining the foundational kata of RyuKyu Kempo Karate Kobudo, the Nahanchi Shodan Kata. Sensei Lameson is helping us to understand how to apply each movement to possible real life situations. He also is teaching us Nahanchi Nidan Kata, and the Tomari Seisan Kata.

We are still working on Sakugawa no Kun Bo Kata. Mr. Lameson has still not taught me much of what is next; I only have about the first 10 or so moves for the beginning of the kata. I keep practicing them all as much as I can anyway along with the Bo exercise.

Mr. Lameson says I have come a long way from when I first started. But my stances are so crappy and I have trouble remembering all the moves since its been so damm hard for me to practice on my own. I have to do a lot of taking care of Jim and driving him to all his many appointments. I can spin, weave or knit here at home since its in the same room as Jim. Practicing Sakugawa Bo is impossible at home; our house is too small and I don’t want to wack the ceiling fan. Jim often cannot be left alone for long since he has been a bit too tottery on his feet at times due to chemo, deep fatigue, or Parkinson’s symptoms.

Mr. Lameson and Alex are so good at learning and doing this stuff. One movement or some little change takes me forever to learn to do. I have to do hundreds of repeats to get it down to incorporate it into the exercise or kata. Alex can do it easily in 10 minutes. I am not kidding. Alex is that good. I really am that bad. Its so frustrating for me and I wonder at times if I should just give up. But then I look around at the break ins down the street toward downtown and I know I don’t dare stop.

I have probably learned just enough to fend off some creep that might be stupid or high enough to break into our house when we are home. With all these weaving, spinning and wool processing tools around, God had better help the idiot to survive if he has scared me badly enough. I would have to go off on his butt to protect my husband. But I can’t allow anyone to hurt my man.