Monday, May 15, 2017

Losing Loved Ones


It's never easy to lose a loved one, be it human or furkids.  Last week, we unexpectedly lost our furry boy, Leo.  He hadn't been feeling well, and I took him back to the new-to-us vet around the corner, and she recommended doing a sinus flush, shaving his hair and giving his skin and coat a break from the excessive shedding, and doing a nasal x-ray.  I thought, finally, we will get some answers and the poor kid will feel better.  Next thing I know, I'm getting a phone call saying that he's crashing and he's not going to make it.



What a complete shock!

I've been very sad, and feeling very, very guilty.  I should have questioned whether it was safe to put him under anesthesia.  I worked at a vet clinic and I KNOW that there should have been precautions taken - such as a chest x-ray, before being sedated.  Sigh.

Leo came to us as a feral cat.  When I worked at the vet clinic, there was a lady that rescued feral cats, and Leo was one of the kittens that was brought in and up for adoption.  He was never a cuddly cat, though if I was sick, or recovering from a surgery, he was always the one that was right there with me.

This look - THIS was Leo.  He was a very LOUD cat.  He talked all the time.  He would answer me if I said "Leo!" with a "Brrrrrrp?"   When he wanted more water in his water bowl, he'd YELL at hubby, and hubby, being well trained by Leo, would fill that water bowl.

Leo was always around to help.  He owned us all and everything in the house.  He'd inspect anything new that came in, and would give it his approval.  Except when we brought in other animals.  Then, he was never thrilled.

This cat.  Such a HUGE presence.  The house is very, very quiet.  The dogs aren't getting chased anymore.  There are no more giant clumps of hair to pick up.  I don't have to have a gate to the basement up anymore because there is no cat litter box for the dogs to get into.

In many ways, this is a sad time, but in other ways, I know Leo isn't suffering anymore.  He had spent the last 5 years blowing his coat so badly that he had to be on Predisilone for 6 months out of the year.  He was sneezing, coughing, and doing this weird thing where it sounded like he was coughing or wheezing.  No one, even when I showed them videos, did anything except say, maybe it's asthma.  Well, I should have pushed for the meds to at least try them and see if they would have helped.  I didn't.  I feel as though I failed him terribly.

RIP sweet boy.  You're very missed.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Turning Winter

Autumn was beautiful here.
It was very dry, the weather was beautiful, and for the most part, very warm and mild.
A lot of the leaves that usually just turn brown and fall off, were hanging on and more beautiful than I ever think I've seen them here in VA.
These photos were taken at the lake in our community.

I really enjoyed fall in our new community and new home.
I'm also enjoying playing my flutes.  I have a new flute on the way, and will post about it when it gets here.
I also have a new amplifier that is made especially for the Native American Flutes, because it is light weight and has a very small but powerful microphone, and has the echo features that make the flutes sound like they are being played in a canyon, and it enhances the flute sounds beautifully.  It's called a Litek amp, and even though it was a lot more expensive than I'd hoped to spend, it is really worth it.
We are starting up a new flute circle in Fredericksburg (VA) in January. I'm very excited, but I'm also starting to get very nervous about it.  Putting myself out there in front of people and exposing myself, and talking in front of a group, and being the one to facilitate (because there aren't leaders in flute circles....just people to help it along), I'm just not used to being the one in the spotlight. If it were to fail, I'd take it personally, even though I shouldn't (because I can't MAKE people show up, right?).

I hope I succeed at the new flute circle.  Sharing this new passion of mine, bringing others into the fold of the excitement and sharing the beautiful music of the flutes and putting it out to the Universe, is really special.

Today it has rained very hard, which is needed here.  It's been very, very dry, and the ponds and rivers are really low compared to normal.  Sometimes I wish it were snow, but I know what a hassle it is for others around here.  Most people dislike the snow immensely.  I love it.  I think it's beautiful.  I haven't seen a white Christmas in so many years, I don't even remember what it's like anymore.  How about you?   Do you love a white Christmas, or would you rather not see the white stuff?

There is so much uncertainty in the U.S. right now.  I don't know if this nation can handle what might happen.  It's been a very strained few months lately - the election, the doubt, the fires here on the east coast, the Standing Rock situation with the Native Americans, and the violence.  I read stories about mothers or fathers or boyfriends harming their children and it just breaks my heart.  I see things about animals being mistreated, think about all the horses that go to auction every month, and think about the people who mistreat and starve their animals and wonder, how does anyone DO that?  I try very hard to stay centered, not let the ugliness get to me.

I play my flutes, I keep people and animals in my thoughts while I play.  I pray I am bringing some peace and justice to them while I'm playing and sending good vibrations out to the world.

I hope that you have a peaceful and joyous season of giving and receiving, that your life is good, and that you are fulfilled.
Take care and thanks for letting me share.
Martha

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What's New !?!

Someone recently asked this question on Facebook:

"does anyone read blogs anymore?"

I do.  I know I like to see what others are up to.

"what type of blogs do you read?"

The ones that are about things I'm interested in.

Over the years, my interests have changed.  I have done various crafts and arts.  Quilting.  Sewing.  Weaving.  Spinning yarn.  Making cards.  Photography.  I've also cross stitched, made holiday crafts, and lots of things along my life. I am, after all, 60 years old.

I have crafted ever since I can remember.  When I was young, I would go through the fabrics in my mother's stash, and I would make purses.  My parents didn't have much interest in me. They didn't buy me a lot of clothes.  They didn't buy me purses.  I was lucky I had dinner most nights.  That's neither here nor there, in this context.

My father worked for Kodak, when it was still in existence in Rochester, NY.  He'd bring home the end rolls of paper.  I spent HOURS using that paper in various ways.  I'd color.  I made patterns for purses.  Painting.

I also somehow talked my way into buying supplies to make candles.  I loved making candles.  The outcome was always so rewarding.

I embroidered my bell bottom jeans.  I patched holes in the clothes I had with other fabrics.  I used iron on patches.

I loved art class more than any other class in school.  I learned to weave, basket weave, and lots of other crafts.

I always wanted to earn money by doing something with my hands.  I guess I didn't know at the time, that there are colleges for people like me.  I'd have loved to go to a college that I could have tried my hands at all sorts of arts and crafts and maybe I would have found the one thing I would do the rest of my life.  However, that's not what happened.

So through the years, I've done many, many things.

I think the most rewarding so far, is weaving. I'm very proud of the clothes I've woven.  I'm also very proud that I CAN weave and make clothes, without patterns, that I can wear.  Some haven't been so successful.  Some have.

However, making money out of them, hasn't happened.  People are NOT capable of understanding why something might cost $225.  The work that goes into a jacket is not simple.  But, you can buy a jacket at a store for a lot less.  Yes, but it's not one of a kind.

I've recently been mulling over whether to give up my business license.  Because it's a dream I've had for SO very long, it's very hard for me to do that.  I'm struggling.  However, we have to pay taxes on everything I've bought wholesale, but haven't sold (mostly fiber).

The thing is, I don't know anymore, if I want to be tied down to the loom, sewing machine, and spinning wheel like I used to think I could be.  I have way too much to do in my life, and life is getting shorter day by day.

My most recent love is playing the Native American Flute, or, Native American Style Flute.  What's the difference, you ask?  Well, the difference is, a Native American Flute is a flute made by someone that is Native American.  The flute therefore, is Native American.  If the flute is made by someone that is not Native American, is not a member of a tribe, or okay'ed by a tribe, then they cannot claim a flute to be Native American.

I own 3 flutes, and I've been playing about 7 weeks.  Yep.  You read that right.  Seven WEEKS.  I have been very blessed to be able to pick up a flute and play fairly well.  I have a LONG way to go before I'm really good.  I play from the heart.  I do not play written music. I play what feels good, what comes to me to be played.
This is my first flute. It's a flute in F# made by a Native American, Raymond Wells, also known as Rainbow Walker.
This is a small flute, great for beginners, with a breathy sound, and right on key.  GREAT for beginners, and inexpensive.  $59 plus shipping.  This flute is made from cedar but he has other wood he can make flutes from.
This was my second flute. It's from a flute maker named David O'Neal, who is from NC.  He makes beautiful flutes out of all sorts of wood.
This flute is Curly Maple, with turquoise inlays, and black ebony wood for the hummingbird and surrounding each inlay.  It's not only gorgeous, it plays beautifully.  It's in the key of G, mid-range.  It has a clear, clean, crisp sound.  This is my "happy" flute.  David is not Native American so this flute is a Native American Style flute.  This flute wasn't cheap.  It was $340 and the flute stand was $80.  All totally 100% worth it.  I bought this flute in person, so it picked me and I picked it.  David came to Virginia to the Crozet Art & Craft festival in the fall, and although they have the same festival in the spring, he doesn't attend the spring festival.  Probably a good thing for me.  I can see me buying another flute from David!

This is my third flute.  This flute is in the key of low D. It was offered to me by Raymond Wells.  He had made it for a woman's hands.  It's very hard to find a low key flute small enough for women to play.  Raymond knows how to make them.  This flute is very mellow, breathy, and is good for somber playing.  I really like this flute.
This was me at the lake on a windy day.  Note the hair standing up!  As you can see, my hands are not very far apart and the flute isn't very long.  If you go on YouTube, you can search Native American Flutes and tons and tons of videos show up.  You can see how huge some of the flutes are!  A dream of mine is to one day be able to play one of those beautiful, deep, huge flutes - but you can see in the photo above, how short my arms are, and short stubby fingers I have.  I have a pretty good stretch for a short chubby old lady, but there are certain things I just cannot do!

I hope I can continue to play these beautiful instruments.  I was asked if I am Native American. I am not, nor do I claim to be.  However, you do not have to be Native American in order to play the flutes!

We have a flute circle once a month in Orange, VA, at the Orange Art Center.  It's on the second Friday of the month, at 6:30 p.m.   It's just getting off the ground, and we have some work to do in order to get it going as a true circle.   However, I have high hopes for it to grow and continue.

So, this is my newest passion. I'm still weaving and spinning yarn, knitting, and sewing.  I am having fun, feeling retired, and enjoying a beautiful Fall season here in Central Western VA.  The leaves are more colorful than they've been in years, in fact, more colorful than I ever remember here in VA.

Not the best picture, but so much more beautiful in person.
That's it for now.  I will try to post more often.....if there's even anyone out there checking in.

If you read this, thank you!

Always,
Martha

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pink Scarves....continued

Someone asked me about the dark pink at the hole in the long scarf.  On Ravelry, it seems, the favorite is the long one with the hole, that has the cotton warp, and the variable weft with ribbon, cording and yarn.


Here is a photo of that hole close up - with dark pink yarn on one side, and light pink on the other. 


This is a fun and easy technique.  You weave on one side with one yarn, and on the other side with another yarn, leaving the space in the middle (or there about). 

The fun part about this weaving is that there are NO rules.  I don't try too hard, because when I do, I don't usually like the outcome.

Today, I plan on winding another warp, but this one will be with finer threads, and I think I'll weave with finer threads as well.  I haven't decided yet if it will have the variable inclusions, like the ribbon yarn (seen in the close up photo above - it's that dark yarn below the hole, with other bits of color in it), or if I'll make it all fine yarn.  I'm leaning toward a fine yarn scarf - something cool and light for summer wear.  I have a feeling our real estate agent, who started me on this path of pink scarves because she asked for a pink scarf (she's a breast cancer survivor), will lean more toward the lighter, airier scarf.  It's her style. 

Thanks for checking back with me.  As always, take care.
Martha


Pink Scarves....continued

Someone asked me about the dark pink at the hole in the long scarf.  On Ravelry, it seems, the favorite is the long one with the hole, that has the cotton warp, and the variable weft with ribbon, cording and yarn.


Here is a photo of that hole close up - with dark pink yarn on one side, and light pink on the other. 


This is a fun and easy technique.  You weave on one side with one yarn, and on the other side with another yarn, leaving the space in the middle (or there about). 

The fun part about this weaving is that there are NO rules.  I don't try too hard, because when I do, I don't usually like the outcome.

Today, I plan on winding another warp, but this one will be with finer threads, and I think I'll weave with finer threads as well.  I haven't decided yet if it will have the variable inclusions, like the ribbon yarn (seen in the close up photo above - it's that dark yarn below the hole, with other bits of color in it), or if I'll make it all fine yarn.  I'm leaning toward a fine yarn scarf - something cool and light for summer wear.  I have a feeling our real estate agent, who started me on this path of pink scarves because she asked for a pink scarf (she's a breast cancer survivor), will lean more toward the lighter, airier scarf.  It's her style. 

Thanks for checking back with me.  As always, take care.
Martha


Pink Scarves....continued

Someone asked me about the dark pink at the hole in the long scarf.  On Ravelry, it seems, the favorite is the long one with the hole, that has the cotton warp, and the variable weft with ribbon, cording and yarn.


Here is a photo of that hole close up - with dark pink yarn on one side, and light pink on the other. 


This is a fun and easy technique.  You weave on one side with one yarn, and on the other side with another yarn, leaving the space in the middle (or there about). 

The fun part about this weaving is that there are NO rules.  I don't try too hard, because when I do, I don't usually like the outcome.

Today, I plan on winding another warp, but this one will be with finer threads, and I think I'll weave with finer threads as well.  I haven't decided yet if it will have the variable inclusions, like the ribbon yarn (seen in the close up photo above - it's that dark yarn below the hole, with other bits of color in it), or if I'll make it all fine yarn.  I'm leaning toward a fine yarn scarf - something cool and light for summer wear.  I have a feeling our real estate agent, who started me on this path of pink scarves because she asked for a pink scarf (she's a breast cancer survivor), will lean more toward the lighter, airier scarf.  It's her style. 

Thanks for checking back with me.  As always, take care.
Martha


Friday, July 29, 2016

Moved In

We've been moved in for about 6 weeks now....however, it hasn't been easy.  Lots of things went wrong with this house once we moved in.

I will not go into detail because it is just too much and too boring.  Instead, I'm getting back on track with my weaving and other crafts, in the basement I now have all to myself.  It's sort of like having a house to myself!  It works for me!

I finally got started on weaving again, once I had my basement studio settled.  It was a great relief for me to get back to it!  I really missed it, since my weaving stuff was some of the first stuff I packed up back in May.  Or was it April?  Gosh, all I know is, it was a long time ago!

Here are three new pink scarves that I have woven.  I wove them on my rigid heddle loom because it's easy to warp and easy to do small projects on, although I do wish I had another small floor loom to weave on.  My arms get tired on the RH loom!

I took lots of pictures so I could share my method of warping and one of my favorite new tools which is a hack of a pot lid holder I got from IKEA (I actually bought two of them!).

The loom with the pot lid holder at the other end of 2 tables - an old dining room table and a small IKEA table at the end, turned sideways.  It makes the perfect length scarf (I haven't measured....if someone wants to know, I'd be glad to measure).


Below is the pot lid holder that I spread out - you can adjust it as tight, or loose, as you want to.  It's all metal and the pegs are smooth and you can clamp it onto the (IKEA) table very easily.  This is one large plastic clamp.  This way, the warp spreads out and is more evenly spaced.  When you use one single peg, as you move across the heddle, the yarns will be different lengths when you're done.  This way, your warp is more likely to be the same length. 


When I'm done warping, I detach the RH loom from the stand, and I set it on the table. I start winding the warp onto the back beam, while it's still attached to the pegs on the other end.  I use my hand to make some tension.   

I use small, vinyl blind slats that I cut to lengths.  There are some that are the same length as the width of the loom.  Then I have some that are just wide enough for the scarves I like to do.  These are the shorter ones.
As I'm winding, the loom moves along the table, and below you can see where it's almost up to the pegs (pot lid holder hack). 


When the loom catches up to the pegs, I then lift the yarn off the pegs.  To be safe, you should do a loop in your yarn to keep it from falling through the reed, but because I had so little yarn, I didn't do that (therefore, no photo).  I just hold it and walk back to the stand and set the loom on the stand, and tighten it.


Below, you can see where I use rubber bands to hold the dowel that is the rear rod, in place.  This way, my tension when I tie on, is the same all the way across.  If the rod is drooping while I'm trying to tie on, it gets complicated.  I don't like complicated. 


Below you can see where the yarn and ribbons are either two in a slot or two in a hole (most of them).  Because you need one in each slot and hole, you have to move the ones that are two to a hole or slot, to the hole or slot next to it. 



Below you can see where there is one yarn in a slot, and one in a hole, the width of the heddle. 

Once this is done, you can tie onto the front rod.  Again, I secure with the rubber bands so that I can ensure the ties are even across.




Below is where I tied onto the front rod.  I tie on and then I check to see if the tension is the same all across.  When all are tied, and the tension is the same, it's time to get weaving!


Weaving!
As you may be able to see above, I only used 2 ribbons in this warp.  The other yarn is either acrylic with sparkle (the dark pink on either end), eyelash yarn (I only had enough to use one length in the warp in the center), and light pink cotton yarn.  Each scarf is completely different.

The scarf above is warped with Peaches and Cream cotton.  I used ribbon, ribbon yarn, cotton yarn, tencel, and cording in the weft.  It gives it lots of texture.  It was interesting to weave with these items as weft as I've never experimented with these before.

The scarf above is warped with mostly ribbon and cording, and ribbon yarn, and cotton yarn in a couple of places. Mostly ribbon and ribbon yarn though, and that was fun!  I really like it. I had a slight problem when I warped the loom though - I hadn't warped it in awhile, and it seems when that is the case, I tend to warp it backwards.  So I lost some weaving length in this scarf.

Above is the third scarf I made.  I used ribbon and yarn in this, with a bit of eyelash yarn.  This is the scarf I wove from the warp I show in the photos at the top of the post.  This one I wound on the correct way and I used cotton in the weft.  I love the fringe in the scarves with the ribbon warps.

All three scarves are fun to wear.

Why pink?  Because the real estate agent asked me for a pink scarf.  I am going to weave a few more, because I have a ton of pink all of a sudden. I went a little nuts buying pink once I was asked to weave a pink scarf.

The real estate agent is a breast cancer survivor.  She was diagnosed with the BRCA gene.  She made the brave decision to have her breasts removed and have reconstructive surgery.  Many of her family have died from breast cancer, before the gene was discovered and the options were available.

I have a lot of pink choices and plan on making many more of these scarves and am hoping they sell well.  Support the boobies!

That's about it for this blog post.  I need to get another scarf warped, and keep weaving!

Thanks for checking in and reading. I always appreciate it.  I love good comments too, so please, feel free to comment.  :-)

Always,
Martha