Archive of ‘fiber art’ category

Oh Hai.

Hi guys. I know, long time no talk. I feel a little awkward writing this, like when you run for the first time after taking a long break. It takes a little while to warm up, to remember the way words sound coming out of your mind with a click of keys. I keep hitting the backspace button…which is something I abhor. As you can probably tell. I’m a ‘stream of consciousness’ kind of girl. I don’t really know how to fill you in on all the things that have been happening in my life, or to explain why I stopped writing for awhile.

You know how when you’re reading a book, and you get an inkling as to where the story is heading. Foreshadowing. Or maybe you’re a hopeless romantic and you hope the girl ends up with the guy in the end, and the run off into the sunset, even though this is a post-apocalyptic zombie novel, and it’s looking like 90% likely that the said boy is possibly undergoing zombification, and you know in your heart it might not end that way. But you keep reading anyway. Hoping the ending would be satisfying, even if it turned out differently?

Writing about things that happen to you is kind of like that. But there are less zombies in my life, which I’m not sure is helping ;). I started this blog in 2008, when I needed something to keep me moving forward. That thing was words, that thing was things I didn’t remember doing, that thing was sharing all the myriad of wonders and pains and progress and fashioning all of that into hope. I wanted to be able to keep writing, and one day, I’d have a happy ending. I know how that ending will look. I see it so clearly. It ends with me quite literally walking off into the sunset, with health, with hope, and a future full of possibilities. So far I’m looking at 2/4, so not too shabby. But to be honest, this past year, which shall henceforth be known as the “year of the loud silence”, I was so ready for this chapter of my life to be over. I wanted to write a new story, a story about a girl going to university, and seeing the world, and taking up fucking jogging or whatever the kool kids are doing these days (okay, I know it’s not jogging…but I digress).

I wanted to be better the day I got sick. And the day after that. And every day for the past *8* years (oh, fuck. I haven’t written that out before. that’s scary).

When life throws you a curve ball, sometimes you have to shout “PLOT TWIST” and keep moving on. In an entirely new direction

So that’s why I’m writing again. Because I’m getting better, my body is taking it’s sweet time. It’s time for a change in perspective.

To stand on my shoulders, and look backwards, and stare through walls, and shake jars filled with wishes.

And now I have exactly 0 clues as to how I’m going to explain what has been happening. Sometimes a long intro of rambling helps but, nope. Okay, deep breath.

My dad has cancer.


I hate typing that. I hate the way those words go in the same sentence. They don’t belong. The way the present tense links my father to another terrible disease. On top of Lyme disease and other fun things like that. And because my father doesn’t do things by halves, he has two kinds of cancer that don’t really go together, like orange stripes and teal polka dots on the same bow tie [although, come to think of it, my quirky father just might think those patterns go swimmingly. you can see where I get my aesthetic from ;)]. I hate watching him suffer. The man has never taken a sick day from work in his life before this. I didn’t understand how terrible it is for my parents to watch me be so sick. I know now.

As usual, it took forever for him to be diagnosed. This seems to be a theme that’s developing. He was in hospital for 2 months, where amazing oncology nurses cared for him, and almost magically brought down the swelling in his leg, removed water from on his lungs, and removed part (all?) of the tumour on his calf. He’s home now, doing a better, and going in for round 4 of chemo later this week. There is wonderful supports in place for people who have cancer, so thankfully he’s being taken care of pretty well. Like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, I’m trying to fatten him up by cooking all sorts of yummy things – although we’re still working on the candy house. We’ve tried many gingerbread recipes, and none have yet been a satisfactory replacement for drywall ;).

I have 13% battery life here, and I know you all are going to think this is a total cop-out, but I think I’m going to need to explain about what I’ve done and where I’ve been in another post. I set out with the best of intentions to squeeze much amazingness into one post. I didn’t quite manage. Wasn’t from lack of trying. Zombies and gingerbread men and plot twists kept getting in the way…you see what I have to deal with!? C’est dans la lune!

The highlights? Singing in an amazing Young Adult choir. Going to the Hansa clinic (in Kansas!) for treatment. Doing my part to help Elizabeth May’s Lyme disease bill pass. Joining in the 25,000 Tuques project for refugees coming to Canada. Progressing to floor yoga! Cracking the perfect gluten-free vegan bread. Starting a shop for my hand-carded batts on Etsy. Knitting socks. Many socks. Visiting Finnerty Gardens in every season. Reading so many books, and trying to check out all the material at the library (I’m doing pretty well so far.). Preparing for my grade 9 piano exam, in which I will slay some Mozart, Bach and Debussy music. Connecting with amazing humans. [Whoa. This list is making me feel so grateful right now <3.]

I’ve been very exhausted lately. I know, shocking, right, but this is different. The kind of tired where breathing sometimes feels like quite enough to be doing for one day. Where your migraine-addled mind slows, and thoughts come in puffs of clouds, that vanish when you try to hard. And sometimes you say “Fuck it” and do everything even though your arms feel like they are going to fall off and you need to rest during the remains day. I cut back on some more strong pain meds, and surprise, wouldn’t you know, I’m in more pain now which is also exhausting, but the pain is lessening, for which I am so grateful.

But I’ve learned this year that I am stronger.  Stronger than the things that try to weaken me. Stronger than I knew. I learned I can take a punch; a victory; a set back; courage, and get back up and do it all again.

Get knocked down 7 times, get up 8.

Full Day

For not sleeping very well and having low energy, I think I put a serious amount of energy into this wonderful day!

The library has just got in a whole whack of really awesome knitting and spinning books, which I have eagerly been reading this week. I am particularly enthralled with the “Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook”, which describes in depth over 200 different animals which produce fiber! Pretty pictures. My only regret is that this isn’t a touch and feel book, like “Pat the Bunny”! Alas.

Michelle and I did an exhausting yoga practice today, although it was well worth the fatigue to be able to relax so fully afterwards. My whole body feels like it was untied from a bunch of stressed knots. Lovely. Michelle works me hard, but that is because she has such faith in me…knowing that I will try my best, while listening to my body. I cannot thank my amazing teachers enough for their belief in me, in my healing. Such positivity is infectious, and is multiplied exponentially in the heart. <3

I have been feeling so low lately. Weak inside, starving, but eating just fine now. It is frustrating, because in I feel as though my body is crying out for nutrients, although my blood work looks the best it has in years.

Wednesday is choir practice with the Linden singers, 2 hours which leaves me breathless, literally, and also because I am so enthralled with the whole experience. I recently learned that 2 other members  The repertoire is challenging and interesting, and our upcoming holiday concert, with the theme “Christmas American Style” should be great fun for everyone, regardless of religious belief or age. “From the spontaneity and infectiousness of the tunes of Irving Berlin to the grandeur of a contemporary American Magnificat.” There is definitely something for everyone, even if you are an atheist, like me. In case you are in town, and interested in hearing some sweet holiday music, the concert takes place on Saturday 3 December 2011 at 7:30 PM at First Metropolitan United Church at Quadra & Balmoral. Tickets are available through me or another Linden singer, of course, or at Ivy’s Bookstore, Munro’s Bookstore or Long and McQuade Music, and at the door. Just something to bear in mind :).

I was feeling really down today, and I’m not really sure why. Maybe it was the weather, but I was feeling very listless and couldn’t settle to anything all day. Distracted, but not thinking about anything else. Could be from lack of sleep…some days are just like that, I guess. I spun for a wee while before my shower and that really perked me up. I hadn’t spun in a little while, because my legs have been rather exhausted, and I’d prefer to practice yoga than spin when I have to choose. Hopefully tomorrow, with a good restful nights sleep, I’ll feel more like myself.

Start the Ball Rolling

this ball won’t run away from me!

After what felt like weeks of spinning (really about 2.5 weeks in all in all), I finished the incredible batt of mohair/wool fiber that dear Arleigh sent me, dyed by a friend of hers, Leola! What is more, I set it warm water (to make sure it wouldn’t twist back on itself!), stretched it for awhile (as it was super dee duper curly!) and today finally put yarn loops on the back of a chair and then proceeded to put the yarn into a ball. Wow that was a lot of work! Sheer the animal, wash the fiber, pick and card the individual fibers, dye the fibers, spin the fiber, set the fibers, and ball. I only had to do 3 of those things. Imagine if you followed the process start to finish. How rewarding! I am very pleased with how it turned off…for singles (meaning only one strand, versus many strands making up a thicker yarn) it is very evenly spun (meaning that it is almost all the same thickness!). I have no idea what it’s going to look like knit up, so I just can’t to figure out what I can make with it and cast off!

top view

Unlike a lot of mohair yarns, this one is very soft and dreamy, which has mostly to do with the animal and perhaps from where on the body it was harvested. It is mixed with sheep wool too, which would help add softness. The yarn has a wonderful sheen to it, and it almost sparkles in the light. Spinning handspun yarn is supposed to be one of the most enjoyable experience out there for a knitter. I can’t wait to report back all the wonderful bonuses of knitting with your own yarn. All that treadling and sweating paid off enormously, and I feel very proud of myself. I feel that in the coming weeks/months I might have to ease back on the amount of spinning I’m doing per week, because the IV meds exhaust me.

I am already noticing icky affects from the medication. The most annoying being that I am very tired and lethargic, and that my mouth tastes of rubber bands and deceased mice all the time. Because IV meds enter through the bloodstream, and because my dosage is so high, I can taste the medicine through the tiny spider webbed blood vessels in my tongue and nasal passage. It would be much more fascinating if it wasn’t my own mouth. These vessels are very close to the surface in this area…maybe that’s why it can be tasted? I wonder if anyone else has noticed this while taking Clindamycin? I did a bit of research about it and a lot of people mentioned a bitter taste. This seems a bit non-specific to me, because for me it so very clearly tastes like rubber bands…as though I have been chewing on them in place of gum. My naturopath said that people who can taste the saline and heparin flushes (done before and after IV) have trouble detoxing. I found this an interesting principle and wonder if it also applies to the medicine, or maybe it’s just caused from a side effect.

Yesterday when I had yoga class with Barbara, I had to take lots of breaks because I was so exhausted. Bringing my arms and legs up made me feel so weak and faint, something I haven’t been complaining about in previous weeks. I was so exhausted after the practice, rather than feeling energized. This is disappointing and frustrating, but hopefully as my body becomes more adjusted to the rhythms of the medication this will improve? It will be interesting to see what happens when I am off the IV meds for 3 days (we ‘pulse’ 2 weeks on, 3 days off).

Up to Batt!

My family doctor (who deals with my non-Lyme illnesses, if I ever get such a thing) suggested that because I have never had a psychological evaluation, and have been sick for so long with many neurological symptoms, that I should see a psychologist. He was very clear that he didn’t think I was crazy, just because I had Lyme disease, but anyone, especially a young person, who suffers a chronic illness probably suffers because there life has been changed so much. So bright and early this morning we went to see a psychologist downtown. The verdict: I’m officially not crazy. Yay! I suppose that just means I have a whole whack of serious neurological problems, which is not so much fun.

We went window shopping around the lower Johnson St. area, where a large portion of eco-friendly and locally owned businesses. It’s kind of uncomfortable doing yoga in lingerie with under-wire and lace (it’s fun to be girly!), so I was looking for an alternative to that. And just browsing.

After resting for awhile in the early afternoon, we headed on down to Knotty By Nature, the incredible fiber arts store in Victoria. I was looking to create a little hand-spun accessory for my lovely yoga teachers (can’t say what in case they read this!). The amazing and talented artists who own and work at KBN helped me pick about 5.5 oz of fibers that would blend well together: local wool, alpaca, and mohair, hemp, and bamboo fibers. KBN has drum carders people can use to blend the different fibers together into a batt, something easy to spin with. There are also wheel for customer use, and looms to rent or use there. It’s a pretty incredible place. This was my first art batt, and I’m really excited to start working with it. Dreamy softness, warmth, incredible caramel-y brown colors. Mum helped me turn the handle of the drum carder machine in order to blend the different textures together in order to have a more uniform yarn. I am exhausted from all this work and moving and thinking, so I am looking forward to just resting tonight.

Hand-spun Local Mohair/Wool Skein

Indian spinner head adaption w/ niddy noddy in foreground

I feel like I have finally gotten the hang of spinning! I spun up the delicious 150 grams of local mohair and wool that the lovely Arleigh sent me, from up island. To recap, I met Arleigh through a serious of wonderfully serendipitous events. Months ago I posted an ad on Kijiji, asking if anyone had a spinning wheel that I could borrow, rent or have. I thought, who knows, maybe someone has a wheel that’s sitting around in an attic or garage? Incredibly, I connected with Arleigh, a retired spinner/weaver/artist, who very generously gave me me her indian spinner head treadle machine, with the original sewing machine head (it’s an ancient Raymond), and a beautiful niddy noddy (something to wrap the finished yarn on).

The 50/50 mohair/wool single (meaning just one ply) yarn I have created it incredibly beautiful. A friend of her dyed the fiber in variagated teal, bottle green, clay brown, and natural white, each color blending seamlessly into the next. This creates a striped of pooling affect when knitted up. I have to soak the freshly spun yarn in some water to stop it from curling back on itself, but then I will be able to knit with it! I have no idea what I will make, or what the finished yarn will knit up like…fingerless gloves, hat, wristlets? OH the choices are endless. Anyways, I am over the moon about my smooth spinning, and pretty even thickness. There aren’t too many lumps and bumps, like my first few skeins. A thousand thank you’s, dear Arleigh. You lit the spinning spark in me, and I feel that Spinning and I are going to be great friend for the rest of my days. <3

Paused in the process of spinning. The yarn on the spool reminds me of a sandy shore and sea.
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