Sunday, 4 January 2015

off the loom and finished...

See previous post.

On the loom, width 9".

Immediately after removal from the loom, width 8", length 120cm, still an open cloth as shown below.

Very little, if any loom waste, just about right to give a fringe.

Hem sewn using a fine spindle spun yarn of the same merino fleece as the warp.

 After finishing (vigorous washing in hot & cold waters) width 6", length 94cm.

Finishing left the fringe somewhat felted and tangled, see below, 

However, this is a temporary problem - I have been able to separate out the ends. All that is left to do is trim off excess weft ends left where I changed shuttles and trim the fringes to equal length. I'm make the next one using a longer warp - and I'll wind it on the warping board.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A Day in the Life of Looms 2015

Meg of Unravelling blog is co-ordinating A Day in the Life of Looms once again, the New Year's day look at looms around the world through the blogs of handweavers.

This took me hours and hours. Firstly choosing the yarns, I had other choices at first but there was a weft yarn I couldn't match a warp to and a lovely potential warp that turned out to be nowhere near long enough. Then I could only work slowly because my hands are not strong, they are slow and need rest breaks.

Both yarns are handspun from fleece I have washed, hand carded, and spun long draw from rolags. The dark warp yarn is from a coloured Merino fleece bought from Yvonne Hoskins (business name Woolaston Wooly Wonders, a member of the British Coloured Sheep Breeders Association, contact details in this list of wool producers). The weft is a grey Shetland shearling found through the Murmuring Wheel group run by Diane Fisher; it was shorn by her brother Phillip, the Singing Shearer. The Shetland was spun on my Haldane Shetland spinning wheel - it seemed appropriate - and the Merino on my Schacht Matchless. This loom is my 10" Cricket rigid heddle loom.

I wanted to use the direct warping method, I thought it would be easier for my hands than using the warping board. There's an Ashford video demonstrating the method if you haven't seen it before. Warp length is limited by how far you can put your warp post from the back of the loom. I have a 3 foot square table, but that isn't long enough to make a scarf, so looked around and found the ever useful G-clamps (every weaver should have some, in various sizes, so many uses!) and clamped an extra board to the table to achieve the length I wanted.

Happy New Year! I hope you will enjoy your weaving and other crafts in 2015.

Monday, 15 September 2014


This is a long post, so in summary, I injured my hands badly in March, the injury is due to having hypermobile joints (being "double-jointed"), I am making a slow recovery and prioritising YarnMaker over everything else. Hence no blog posts for so long, nothing much doing, and I didn't want to say anything because I didn't know what was wrong with my hands.

In November 2013 I was having difficulty knitting, after a few rows my hands ached. I thought I was out of practice and had lost the dexterity.

In December 2013 after I had woven the tablet band on my Cricket loom my hands were very painful for around 10 days. I thought it was because I hadn't been doing much weaving and had overworked my hands.

I forget how long it was I was struggling to pick up and carry a mug of tea, I think that had started early autumn.

In March 2014 I re-potted a fern that is a houseplant and the rootball was very tight, there were two plants in the pot and I struggled to divide it. Next day I had sprain injuries to my wrists, fingers, and in odd places in the back of my hand. I thought I'd better rest them a bit. They didn't get better. I thought it was related to the computer, so when I went to Wonderwool Wales at the end of April I thought four days away from the computer would help them heal.

The trip to Wales made my hands worse, driving caused pain, carrying bags caused pain, the week after I got back was awful. Eventually I went to the doctors and got referred to a physiotherapist. Six week wait. All this time my hands and wrists hurt so much I could barely use a computer and when I stopped work I couldn't do anything else either. I couldn't even prepare a meal. It was agony pegging out washing. I couldn't lift, carry, do anything much without pain. I managed to rest enough to be able to push them and get another magazine to press.

At around 10 weeks after the injury I got to see a physiotherapist, they morning I was due to drive to Cumbria for Woolfest. She looked at my hands in horror, said she'd never seen such an injury pattern before and sent me for blood tests and xrays to check for Rheumatoid arthritis and other inflamatory conditions. I was scared. I talked to friends who have the condition and tried to be brave as they are. Clearly something was wrong, putting a name to it would not change that only help to get treatment. When I got back from Woolfest, at start of July, I had bloodtests on the Monday, x-rays on the Tuesday and waited a week for results. I had to see a GP to get my results, all were negative. Was that good news? I had an undiganosed problem. The GP asssured me that if the physiotherapist couldn't help there are consultants at hospitals who specialise in hands.

I went back to the physiotherapist: she'd worked it out : "Some of your jonts are hypermobile and you have been over-extending them". She has been superb, taking time to look at how I use my hands and talk things through, questioning my assumptions and habits, making me think and observe my own hands.

I looked up hypermobility on the internet and got a book from the library. It explains so much, "joins the dots" between so many joint problems all through my life, having "grumbly joints", more aches and sprains than other people, being prone to joints that part-dislocate.

The re-education and strength building began. I had been typing with finger joints past the point where they should stop and wrists twisted back. It is not just computer use. I have to look at my hands all the time and change the way I do all kinds of daily tasks. I keep finding more things. I know that I still do things that cause pain because I feel it. Somehow last Friday I sprained my right wrist again and have had to use anti-inflamatories and a wrist brace again.

Last week I got through four different computer mice in the search for one I can use without overextending my fingers and wrist (I'm currently using an HP slimline, waiting for  Penclic D3 to be available).

I know my hands and wrists will get better, but there is a long way to go because I barely used them for 3 months and lost considerable amount of muscle. I didn't know how much muscle there had been in my hands until they were looking withered and feeble. They are starting to look better, "better shape and colour" says the physiotherapist, overextended joints restrict circulation.

I have been through similar troubles with my knees over the past four years, have had lots of physiotherapy, but no-one diagnosed why they were sub-laxating. Eventually I discovered they are fine if I strap the arms of my desk chair to the base, so I can't push back and turn at the same time. Now I know not to expect this to change. I also have difficulty using a sngle-treadle spinning wheel - so far the best method of keeping my knees stable is to have two feet on the treadle. Years ago I learnt I had to sit on level car seats when driving to stop my hip giving way as I walked (sub-laxating) and not sit twisted at a spinning wheel after my right shoulder slipped out of place (that led to months of physiotherapy for posture but no diagnosis of the underlying problem). Now I know why I was always twisting my ancles and falling when I was younger, why I was a "fidgety" child, why many school sports left me with back pain. Probably also why my elbow dislocated when I had a motorbike accident.

I'm looking forward, hoping to "get back to normal". I'm working on the next magazine, it is running late but coming together now, and I'm working out how to get back on track so the next one follows on at a shorter interval.

One day I'll be weaving again, but probably not before 2015.

I don't know how many people will read to the end of this post, it is boring stuff. No fun. Typing it out is for me one of necessary steps towards getting my life back. I am looking forward to the day I can re-read this and the pain is a distant memory.