Monday, May 8, 2017

World Ovarian Cancer Day

I couldn't finish the day without mentioning World Ovarian Cancer Day.  I have written about it before and will continue bringing attention to this cancer that is often missed until it is too late.

This is just one link describing what to look for and it encourages women to become their own advocate.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

If you don't care to go to links, here is a brief rundown of the symptoms.
1. Abdominal or pelvic pain
2. Indigestion
3. Loss of appetite
4. Bloating
5. Urinary frequency
6. Feeling full quickly
7. Constipation, diarrhea or alternating between both
8. Lower back pain
9. Sudden unexplained weight loss
10. Vaginal bleeding
If you experience any of these symptoms over a 2-4 week period of time, make a visit to your doctor and express your concern. There are no screening tests for this cancer, but there are tests that can be run if you have symptoms. Be persistent.

An Update on My Disease
I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in July, 2013.  I underwent extensive surgery and six cycles of intense chemotherapy.  After completing the initial chemo, I was put into a clinical trial with chemo treatments every four weeks for a year. I followed up with my doctor every three months, per the trial protocol.

At the end of two years, about the time I was supposed to start six month check-ups, I started experiencing the symptoms again. My CA125 test had been rising, so my doctor kept my next scheduled exam at three months.

About a week or two before my doctor appointment, I started bleeding rectally. I was told to go to my regular doctor to be checked. I called my local surgeon and he got me into his office a half hour later. A colonoscopy was scheduled for the following Monday. A tumor was found and the biopsy found it tested for ovarian cancer. I met with my gynecologic oncologist and he scheduled surgery for the following Monday.
I had a bowel resection and exploratory on April 3rd, five weeks ago. Here I am, ready to head to surgery. Boy was I puffed up from two colon preps in a week!
On a positive note, I had a great roommate for the week I was in the hospital.
Our daughter Carolyn came over from Green Bay to visit and brought her sister Becky (no photo) from Petoskey.
My aunt and uncle and family sent a beautiful plant.

Three and a half weeks later, I started chemo treatments again. I will be having a treatment every three weeks with two chemo drugs. My next infusion, another non-chemo drug will be added that is supposed to shrink blood vessels, and hopefully starve any new tumors that may develop. Other than days four and five after chemo, which I pretty much slept through, I have been doing well, as long as I don't overdo.

Weaving Again
I finally picked a small weaving project to start on yesterday. I finished the design this morning, and got the warp wound this afternoon and had it wound on the back beam by this evening.
This only shows half of it spread in the raddle. Hopefully I can start threading it tomorrow after I get back from the infusion center in the morning. I just need lab work drawn. Hopefully it will be in the okay range.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Taming Towel Hems

A few sewing techniques that aren't common knowledge can make a difference in how hems on towels turn out.  After taking so much time designing a beautiful towel, the goal is to have a hem that is equally attractive.

The techniques I use avoid some common complaints such as flared hems, rippling hems, and weft threads unraveling or poking out from the ends of the hems.

The first thing I do is serge apart my group of towels before wet finishing, leaving a thread tail of about 1 1/2" - 2" at each end. Serger chains tend to unravel, so an overhand knot on the chain somewhere will allow the chain to stay intact during wet finishing.  Many of the machine stitches on a sewing machine will work also if a serger isn't available, but the ends should be very secure so the weft doesn't unravel.

Wet finish using standard instructions for your yarn type. Dry and steam press.
 I turn the hem while doing my heavy steam pressing.  Don't let the hem area flare out.  The best time to control flaring is with pressing during wet finishing.  That is the press that will set the threads into memory.  If they are allowed to flare at this point, it is almost impossible to correct it later.

Pull the tail onto the first hem crease, pulling a tiny corner of the towel into the hem.
Fold up the next fold, enclosing the tail and corner. There shouldn't be anything sticking out. Pin if necessary to keep control. The top and bottom layer should be aligned.

Pick a thread color that is the least conspicuous when placed across the cloth and thread the sewing machine.
Starting at the top corner, one warp thread in from the hem edge, put the needle down through the layers and check the alignment again at the edge.

Do not sew over pins, unless you like to fix snagged warp or weft threads, purchase new needles or to pay for your machine to be timed again.

Stitch to the corner and reverse back to the start point, leaving the needle in the down position. Raise the foot and pivot to start sewing across the hem.
If you look carefully at the photo, you can see a little ripple of fabric in front of my finger. (Clicking on the photo should enlarge it.)  This is an easing technique used in the sewing industry. The little ripple is pushed toward the foot as the hem is sewn. It actually eases a tiny amount more fabric under the foot than the feed dogs are pulling and keeps the hem from flaring. Don't ever pull on the hem while sewing.

If you don't have a lot of control of your machine speed, you may want to use something other than your finger to do the pushing. Pierced fingertips will leave blood on your pretty towel!

Remove pins before you get to them, keeping stripes or pattern aligned until the other end of the hem is reached.

As you get close to the end, the beginning process will be repeated.  If you didn't turn in the other chain and tiny corner when turning up the hem, do so now.

When you reach the end, put the needle down one thread from the edge, pivot, align the edge and sew to the bottom corner, and reverse to the top of the hem.

Monday, March 6, 2017

MacQueen Tartan on the Weaver's Delight and Other Towels

My association with the MacQueen tartan is through my Grandpa Howard Sluyter's mother, Mary Jane MacQueen, her father, John MacQueen and his father, Hugh MacQueen.

For my 2016 towels given to my girls and my dad in December, I decided to put this tartan on my Weaver's Delight rug loom. At the time, I was teaching different ways to warp looms and also how to warp stripes. The Weaver's Delight has a sectional beam, so I decided the easiest way to do the stripes was to wind each section on the warping board, since no section was going to be repeated.

As the sections were filled, I taped the thread ends to maintain the order for threading.
 I counted out my heddles for a section and then taped that bundle of threads to my beater and carefully removed the tape maintaining the order.
Threading goes pretty quickly, since there were only about 50 warp ends per section.
Partially threaded as seen from the back of the loom.
A rod was inserted in the lashing cords and then the warp was tied to the rod. I spread the warp at the beginning with a few picks of black. I weave two or three picks before beating and then beat until they all come together. If there are still "v's" showing, I will do it again.  Six picks is usually sufficient to spread the warp and eliminate any separation between warp threads.
I wanted to take my first towel off before finishing the rest of the warp.  I wove a small section after my towel, put some Tacky Glue on that 1" section and let it dry.  After drying, I was able to insert two sticks into the next two sheds and then cut off the first towel at the glued section. I then tied onto the first stick in several places and was able to continue weaving.
The first towel looks very pretty on my dining room table.
I wove enough towels so my dad, three daughters, and I could all have one.
I believe I already showed this six-shaft towel that I gave to my daughter-in-law Rebecca. It was woven on a counterbalance loom and is a six-shaft pattern that I found on
 Wet finished and hemmed.
Except for this towel, which I kept for myself, I didn't get photos of the Cajun Inspired Towels I did in this colorway.
This pattern was a Tom Knisley design and was in Handwoven, Jan/Feb 2015, page 67. Refer to the magazine for the full instructions.

I gave the plaid one I wove (no photo) to my daughter-in-law Jenn this past December.
The plaid is pictured in a screenshot from my Fiberworks program and shows the slightly confusing threading from the pattern in the magazine.  Note the four threads periodically threaded on the same shaft but in different heddles.

The weaving also has four weft passes in one shed, so it is necessary to wrap around the outer warp threads. I didn't use a floating selvedge. The four passes in the shed leave ridges, giving the towel some texture.

I substituted orange for the red and dark brown for the white.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

More From Julie, My Ten Shaft Counterbalance Loom

After finishing my test warp out in the garage, I moved Julie, my new to me ten shaft counterbalance loom into my studio early in the fall.  It is in the front corner, by east and north windows.

I like putting a warp on this loom because it isn't necessary to get the trapeze set up.  With this tall loom, the warp just goes up over the top and I can hang weights on the warp at the front of the loom.
This second warp is to test six shafts with the counterbalance and horses.  It was a bit tedious for me because I had to keep the instruction book handy and keep referring to it with each step.
 The Big Book of Weaving by Laila Lundell was the book I used.
For six shafts, I had to use four horses on each side.
They are hooked up with a mirror image on each side.  Note the pulleys used for this configuration.  They didn't come with my loom, but I happened across a pair on eBay for a good price.
I picked a six shaft pattern to try from, # 49712.
Here is the link: Pattern #49712
I used 8/2 cotton in white and black for the warp and a dark gray and red for the weft. This is now a runner for my table.
 With the remainder of the warp, I wove a dishtowel in four different blues.
I had enough left after the towel to weave myself a sample square in blue, yellow and peach.

It wasn't until I started looking at my files to choose photos that I discovered my mistake.  How embarrassing! And I'm the big advocate of taking photos at the beginning of weaving because they seem to show up better in a picture that just looking at the weaving.  Oh well, no one has noticed it yet.

I don't want anyone telling me it is a design element because it isn't one.  Mistakes are exactly that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Gallery of Works

I'm just playing a little catch-up on my blog today, adding some photos of things I have done over the past two to three years.

Rya rug made for granddaughter Hailee.

One of a set of pinwheel towels. For this one, I changed out some of the green stripes and substituted dark brown.
 Daughters, daughters-in-law, and friends with Christmas towels, 2015.
 Towel choices.  I let them choose.
 Waffle weave in blue and yellow.
Waffle weave.

Close-up of Hanukkah table runner.

Below is the table set for dinner.

Full length.
Spring table runner, 2016, with close-up of Italian hemstitching.
Spring table runner.
Summer runner, 2016.
Close-up of zig-zag hemstitching and pattern.

Johanna D's No. 32 from Marguerite P. Davison's pattern book, pg. 97.
My inspiration for the pillows, on the reverse side.  They were needlepoint stitched by my grandmother, Gladys Truscott Hobbs, back in the 1970's.  The backing was deteriorated, so I wove new fabric to replace the old.

A very fine wool scarf.
Scarf on the loom.
Close-up after wet finishing and pressing.