fiber art

How it is with me

Better. Much better.

I am able to make myself do the things that have to be done. And do the things that my soul craves as well.

During the last weekend in January, Sandy and I got out and cleaned up the back yard and took the remaining tatters of the cloth roof off the gazebo, AKA the outdoor studio. The idea is to move it more toward the middle of the yard and away from the trees, and from there it will be mostly up to Sandy what he wants to do with it. I am not moving it or the many pavers that I put down when I set it up long ago. It nearly handicapped me then. But it was a great place to paint and make paper and read and journal until the trees behind starting dropping branches on it and the vines began ripping through the screened walls. A big limb came down on our back house a few weeks ago and so Sandy is cutting away at it and burning it. He is such a firebug.

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Saturday somebody told him that he looks like Captain Kangaroo.

Between that weekend and this weekend we moved the greenhouse closer to the house where I think that it might get a little more morning sun. This will be a warm week and I will start some seeds.

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Last weekend Sandy took me to a country restaurant called Hillbilly Hide-a-way that we have been curious about for a long time. They bring you out some of everything that is on the menu that night and then you can order more of whatever you want, all you can eat. I guess if you are a huge eater it is a great deal. People wrote all over the walls for years so we added our names. It is a very popular place. I doubt we will go back though.

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On Thursday, we went to see Gaelic Storm at the Blind Tiger here in Greensboro. I saw them in 2016 and they put on a great show. I’m kind of surprised I didn’t write a post about it then because I took photos then. They have a new fiddler this year but here is a photo from last year when they ended the show up on the bar.

Gaelic Storm at the Blind Tiger in Greensboro, NC

Then on Saturday, I took a Tunisian crochet class at Gate City Yarns, and afterward we ate at Pier Oyster Bar and Grille, both in downtown Greensboro. This was our second time at Pier, and man, is it good. I had ahi poke tacos and the shells were crispy fried wontons. This is the first time I have found poke with the same flavorings that I found in Oregon in 2017. YUM.

I really like Tunisian crochet. We have two more classes, and here is the start of the sampler…will post the final product later. I like the look of it and it is much easier on my right hand.

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As for Amanda and Gate City Yarns, I think that I have already proclaimed my love for Amanda here. I took the spinning wheel that belonged to Ida Eisemann to her. I had bought it in an antique store in Saratoga, Florida around 2002, I think. She was so beautiful that I could not leave it in the store. However, I felt strongly that she needs to go to a spinner so Amanda is going to look into getting her restored (she needs a flywheel) and either buy or sell her for me. She was lonely at my house. I believe this is an object with a soul.

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Yes, I am still weaving! I am making a mess of the hemstitching on the first curtain panel now.

fiber art, weaving

The Macomber twill gamp

The Macomber loom is up and weaving. The warp that I measured for it beginning 5-6 years ago was a nightmare, though. At that time I decided, as I do and often regret, that I would measure a warp as long as possible to avoid having to warp it again for a long time. I don’t know why I don’t learn from experience, but this was before the Shannock warping fiasco. I had begun the project just before we adopted Diego and Pablocito, and I began having neck and shoulder problems, so those two factors influenced me to put it away for a long time.

When I brought the warp bundles back out, they were insanely long and I had twice as many as I needed because apparently my plan had been to do doubleweave rugs. I dropped that plan and got out my pattern weaving books and threaded a twill gamp. (A gamp is a sampler of weaving patterns.) The bundles were tangled at the end and I ran out of warp sticks for the back beam, so I cut off about seven feet of warp. It is a good thing I didn’t go ahead with the double weave, because I made a few mistakes in threading the reed and the slots where I threaded two warps stuck badly. I went through three cycles of weaving, unweaving, untying, rethreading, and tying. My skills are rusty, but all in all I was very pleased in how it turned out. When I got frustrated, I walked away for a few days. I am not in a hurry.

As you might guess, I have a large amount of this cotton yarn that I bought as mill ends on large cones a long time ago. So it shows up a lot. I’d like to use it up. I am crocheting the warps that I cut off into dishcloths.

I am aiming for this fabric to become curtain panels, since we need curtains. The colors don’t match our sofa or wall color, but whatever. If I can’t bear to weave these for that long because of tension problems, they might become bath towels or kitchen towels. I plan to cut off each one as I finish it and re-tension and re-tie the warp, because I can see the problems on the back beam already.

Most of the time I am weaving standing up, and that’s a good thing since I generally sit all day.

So far my favorite patterns have emerged on the green stripe. I’m glad I chose a contrasting color for the weft.

fiber art, Quilting, Slow cloth, tapestry, Upcycling, weaving

Ta Da! T-Shirt Quilt

Pretty much done. If you look closely you can see that the first panel I quilted had more quilting, then the second one less as my tension problems mounted on my sewing machine, and then the third panel I gave up other than sewing around the edges. I figure as I feel like it I will hand sew a few stitches in there now and then to tack that side down.

Now I get to go back to weaving.

I was a terrible person yesterday and forgot to call my aunt and my brother. Oh well.

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“I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel”

Party last night was great – we meant to stop in for one drink and ended up spending three hours and I made a new friend. I was shocked when I walked in the room and my arch-nemesis was sitting at the table. One of only two people I know that I despise. (I am not counting politicians and right wing nutjobs.) I nearly turned around and left. This is the only professor I ever had who was downright verbally abusive to me. However, she has no memory of me and was on good behavior so it worked out. She left after an hour and I could relax and eat the goodies and then it was a real “small world” evening with connections between people popping up all over the place.

Today I am meeting with the girls for the first time in a very long time. I need to get together a portable project. Maybe I should continue the Lake Waccamaw theme and work on this one. Yes.

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, fiber art, Permaculture, Slow cloth

Sunday midday coffee pot post

Sandy noticed this first – look what the Virginia creeper vine snagged from my rock collection at the front steps. Normally I would tear this vine down after it loses its pretty red leaves but I’m going to see how long it holds on to its booty. Love those little feet. I’ve made random weave baskets from Virginia creeper vine before.

This week has been fraught with emotions, since one of our students became so sick with anxiety that she had to drop out. Not only was it very sad, but I empathized so much. How many times did I think that this might be the time I would not be able to push through and get back to functional life? But I have, and I am grateful for it. When I was this student’s age, I self-medicated with lots of alcohol. That was not a good solution and not one that I choose these days. I know that I could not have gotten through graduate school at that age, despite having the smarts for it. However, I am in a good mood this weekend, so I hope that it is a permanent lift.

The t-shirt quilt hit a snag, quite literally. I think that I will get my Brother machine back out and see if it winds a Singer bobbin. My goal is to get all these panels put together somehow by the end of the day, even if it means with pins and hand basting. I want my floor loom and worktable free for other projects.

There are too many distractions here and I need to focus. I need a cook and a maid! We are getting caught up on house cleaning little by little. Sandy subscribed to one of those meal prep services that come by mail. If it will teach him to cook and he takes over some of that it might be worth it. We’ll see. I’m picky about the sources of my food but this is his expense and something he decided to do on his own, and I grew weary of cooking a long time ago.

Yesterday was a beautiful day after so much rain and I got into the garden and worked for a couple of hours, taking lots of breaks so that I don’t overdo it and undo my physical healing after many days of inactivity. I’ve gained several more pounds from my retreat to bed every night and eating too many sweets and peanut butter.

I pulled up all the tomato, squash, weeds, and annuals from the “permaculture” bed as I think of it. The guy who designed it intended for it to be heart-shaped. I think it looks vaguely like a heart, but more like a womb, which seems fitting. I didn’t plant it with permaculture principles in mind, though, and this year will be different. I’m going to keep those groundhogs in mind, and plant the womb with perennials and biennials and self seeding plants. I already have asparagus, elephant garlic, foxgloves and one artichoke there, along with a few plants that may or may not make it through the winter such as stevia. I have plants in the hugelkultur bed in the front such as hollyhock, evening primrose, coreopsis, and mints that I will move to the womb. And I will leave the the dandelions alone from here on out. They are important plants in the garden, pulling up nutrients from deep under the surface, breaking up the soil, edible, and food for the pollinators when not a lot of other flowers are available. (Although we have an enormous quantity of violets available as well.)

As I move these perennials out, a few will remain in my reconstructed hugelkultur bed. I am building it up and outwards where the potted plants were this year into a tiered bed for my culinary herbs, mostly. I’ll leave one hollyhock and a few taller flowers at the back. I have a pile of bricks that came from the chimney that fell down at the pre-Civil War homeplace at the family farm, and I decided to use them to make the terraces. I love objects with a story.

Everything will require more fertilizer this year. The few vegetable plants that survived the groundhogs suffered from blossom end rot. I’m going to get that greenhouse set up again soon. I’ve sent an email to ask to rent a plot at UNCG community garden again for my beans and okra. Hopefully they don’t have a groundhog problem there yet.

Thanksgiving is coming up and as usual we will celebrate Buy Nothing Day on Black Friday. We will drive to Lake Waccamaw and get together with my sister at her rental house if all goes well. It will be sad to drive along Canal Cove Road but we will check out the scene there. Lisa is still mulling over whether to replace the walls in her house and sell it or sell it as is. I heard that the house where we stay and love is irreparably damaged and will be torn down. My brother and his wife will probably join us for a meal on Saturday. I’m going to make my usual asparagus-mushroom-almond casserole.

Man, my Internet connection at home has been SO SLOW lately. I don’t know why, so I’ll just blame it on the oligarchy. Maybe when my electrical work gets done it will improve. They are going to replace everything from the pole to the house and some of the wiring in the attic in mid-December in preparation for our twelve solar panels. Right now it is driving me crazy as I try to upload photos. I received notice that Flickr is going to start charging me fifty bucks a year for photo storage, and I feel rather helpless to do anything but pay it since I have over 10k photos and videos on it. It would take an enormous amount of work to quit Flickr without most of my photos on the blog disappearing. Oh well. At some point I may have to stop paying the fee to not have ads on the blog to make up for it.

Time to sew.

coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, fiber art, political activism, Quilting, Reading, Slow cloth, Upcycling

Sunday morning coffee pot post

Election Day has come and gone with results slightly better than I expected, so my PTSD from 2016 is somewhat abated. I didn’t have high expectations for North Carolina because we are so atrociously gerrymandered it is ridiculous. They even admit it. And they get away with it even though it keeps getting struck down. They just submit another that is slightly less egregious and then howl that it is too close to primary or election day to fix it.

I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with eleven Republicans and two Democrats.” ~ North Carolina GOP state representative David Lewis, News and Observer, June 25, 2018

I try not to get too political here on the blog because I use my personal Facebook page for that. But as a left wing independent I am tired of having no representation in the U.S. Congress. I live in a very blue county that has been divided into pieces and combined with very red counties, so that my “representative” is an extreme right wing gun store owner. And I’m tired of the two parties playing tit-for-tat.

Sandy and I went to the rally to “protect Mueller” in downtown Greensboro on Thursday evening, but by the time we could get there it was winding down. I snagged a “Country Over Party” sign and put it in the front window of the house.

Okay, moving on. How about this sewing machine? It belonged to my mother and she sewed many of our clothes on it. She was an accomplished seamstress and also made some quilted patchwork, although her main artistic pursuit was watercolor.

It also bears the last lingering mark of my first large artistic installation. At the age of three, I rose before everyone else, gleefully grabbed a black felt tip marker from the table where my mother was working on a project, and drew a line around the entire inside of our house. The line went over walls, furniture, and curtains. I started early, folks.

Anyway, I finally got frustrated enough with the Brother’s tension problems that I moved around some stuff and released Old Faithful into the world again. It doesn’t like the quilted panels, and the stitch lever won’t go lower than 9, but the tension is so much better and it is all mechanical so I could actually get it fixed more easily and manually stitch with it if necessary. I have the manual and all the parts and brushes and oil so I need to get that out and study it. I was pleased that I could figure out how to thread it and wind a bobbin after all these years. It does just fine with sewing two normal pieces of fabric together, and that’s all I need.

With the quilted panels, at this point I’m just trying to get the layers basted together on the machine. This means that the quilting looks like a terrible mess, but honestly, this is a t-shirt quilt. I’m planning to cuddle up in it, not hang it in a show. There is a lot of freedom in that. And I can just about guarantee that I won’t be making another one.

Sewing is good therapy for me, and I wish I could do more hand sewing, but I’ve pretty much accepted that isn’t an option for very long. My hand goes numb after about five minutes. I’ll stitch on this quilt once it is together and take my time with it.

I’m still seeing an actual therapist, and it seems to be helping. She is very high on anti-inflammation, and so I have started taking fish oil again. Can’t hurt, I certainly have plenty of inflammation. Also working on getting my mind on a more positive outlook. I still just want to play games and sleep and read at the end of the day, and I sleep a lot on the weekend. She calls it hypersomnia. It is a hell of a lot better than insomnia, but I’d like to find a balance. I run out of spoons early in the day.

Positive developments: working on the t-shirt quilt and I got my flu shot. I went to the dentist and my teeth are fine. Now I need to go to the doctor to get my blood panel and see if there is something else responsible for my constant fatigue. I drove to Raleigh two weeks ago and got together with members of Triangle Book Arts. I haven’t managed to get to Gate City Yarns for their stitch and bitch night because Friday nights, oof. That’s a tough one for me even though it is close by. I had brunch with some friends at Lucky 32 last Sunday and that was good. I often feel quite lonely for friends, especially now that the Fabulous Zha K has fled North Carolina, and good for her, I have to say. I plan to do so at age 62, not even five years away. We might even end up in the same state again. However, much of my loneliness is chosen. I feel a strong urge to be alone most of the time. People exhaust me, even people I love.

I have a stack of books that was turning out to be quite depressing. So Little Bee went back into the stack and I’m reading The Risk Pool by Richard Russo. I just finished The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman, Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I miss my Poldark saga!

The electrician did a site visit and we have rolled the electrical work needed into the solar panel financing. Hopefully by this time next year we will get most of, if not all of, our electricity from the sun and just pay Duke Energy the meter fee. It’s kind of crazy since I am now fixated on leaving North Carolina, but it is a good investment for the house and my soul.

Now planning a trip to northern New Mexico in May with the Sandman, where we could possibly be joined by my cousin and her husband. We’ll scope it out to see if that might be a good place for retirement for us. I love planning trips!