Walking Spinning

The turtle singles and plyed balls that I posted about on the 24th, now skeined and pictured below, came to approximately 393 yards.

Here they are before the warm soapy bath to set the twist.

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Fresh from the bath, wrung out and laid next to previously skeined spindle-spun-while-walking yarn that have been accumulating over the course of several years, spun using two of Ed’s early standard Turkish spindles. (What we call Swans.) I don’t spin when it’s raining during our walks – a common occurrence in NW Oregon, and I’ve been quite sporadic about taking my spindle and wool with me.
All together now there are approximately 860 yards. There is still have another turtle waiting for a last spindle full to ply it with which might take the yardage close to 1000. Instead of the sweater I’d originally set out to make this yarn might be used for a vest.

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The three skeins hanging to dry.

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Thankful for the satisfaction of being able to spin yarn that will eventually be a piece of clothing.

Felting Boots part 2

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post please look at some of the early pictures of the felting process.

With the limited, albeit generous, workshop schedule I concentrated on doing this wet and sudsy process as quickly as possible. Shortly into the project it was evident that I might have taken on more than I could finish before the end of the two-day class. The amount of wet-felting needed for boots seemed mammoth to this beginner.

There are a total of four layers of wool applied to each side of the boots, with study plastic form in the middle. The first thing we did was to divide the 8 – 10 ounces of the Corriedale  wool we were using (depending on the height of the boots, foot size, etc. into 4 ounces for each side, then those four ounces subdivided into 4 – 1 ounce groups so that each layer had the same amount of wool applied. Two layers of wool tufts are placed, first ounce horizontally, the next ounce vertically. (The first picture on the previous post shows a long layer of red wool: the inside of the leg flap, which was then covered with the plastic so that it wouldn’t be felted to the newer layers.)

Once the entire side was covered with wool Kiss My Face soap  was grated over the surface then generously sprinkled with water. With netting on top of everything each layer was thoroughly rubbed with the flat of the hands until the fibers were matted together. (The olive oil based soap was recommended for the benefit of our hands)  Once the first two layers were somewhat felted the boot form was flipped over to apply wool to the other side.

The wooly boot ready to be soaped and spritzed then rubbed, and rubbed, and rubbed until my hands and arms were aching.

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Meanwhile Pam’s boots had been cut apart and she was rubbing, felting and shrinking them to fit. Isn’t it cute? (Even in its still mammoth stage.) There’s no distinguishing the sole of the foot as she’s just in the process of shaping it.

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Then next morning by 8:30 we were back at our tables armed with more water, soap, lots of hand power and determination. To get the wool to mat together into a felted mass takes a great deal of rolling, rubbing, massaging, pounding and manipulation. It’s important to work both sides and feet as evenly as possible, best achieved by rolling the entire thing as a unit then rolling it back and forth in the soapy water, re-rolling from one end to the other, from toes to heels, then from heels to toes. Always changing direction so that it shrinks uniformly. There comes that moment when it goes from being rather squishy into a firmer sheet of fiber.

Once that feeling happens it’s time to cut the boots apart and the plastic material form removed so that the foot and leg shaping can take place before it shrinks into a flatten form.  Here Carin is cutting the boots apart for me. I wasn’t brave enough.

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I should have taken a picture showing the inside boot flap as it was being reveled, along with the plastic insert, when the boots were cut apart.
Once the boots are separated the two duct tape foot forms I’d made at home were placed inside. These help to shape the boot foot and ideally to keep them from shrinking too much. (oh the horrors of that happening after all this work!)

At times I used the wash board to roll and rub the boots against. I also used a ceramic stone with ridges made for this purpose. The rice paddle also saw lots of action pounding the fiber around the toes, soles and heels. Whack, whack, whack. There were times when we were almost beating in unison in the room.We talked about the dynamics of how when a number of people start randomly beating an object in a group the rhythm eventually melds into one and everyone beats at the same time, completely unconscious of it. The the beat drifts apart into random strokes again before merging into one beat. Fascinating to experience it first hand even as we were all concentrating on our own boots and not really paying attention to the rhythm of the others.


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Eventually the boots reached the stage where the forms were pulled out before the felt shrank enough to trap them. That sad situation has happened to some of Carin’s students. Carin was terrific about working one on one with each of us, keeping an eye out to see that we were progressing as needed, even helping to rub and shape everyone’s boots which was hugely encouraging.

I wasn’t able to finish them in the workshop but they were at the point that the forms had been removed and I’d tried them on for size. Ugh, feet thrust into cold wet wool boots. Oh, did my hands, arms and shoulders ache that night from the 6 hours of almost nonstop pummeling, rolling, massaging and beating. If a person did a great deal of this type of felting there’d be no need for arm exercises! 

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The following weekend the boots were re-soaked, soaped and pummeled some more with the rice paddle. When the feet started getting to the right shape and size I began carefully rubbing in the direction that the shrinkage needed to happen. A good tip to know: Shrinking will always go in the direction that the fiber is rubbed. I didn’t want to lose anymore length in the foot but needed to tighten up around the arch and the back of the heel so I rubbed from underneath upward. The leg part was floppier than I liked but already shorter than I’d intended.  I did not want it them to get any shorter. In shrinkage the circumference I rolled the leg portions into a cylinder then rolled them back and forth over the rubber shelf lining that we used underneath the boots throughout the felting process.

Felting is one of those things that seems to take forever to accomplish when suddenly everything quickly shrinks. Attention and care must be given in order not to get past the intended shape and size. I almost over shrank the legs, even with being careful.

Since this final picture I’ve done more shaping to neaten the top edging as well as some final tweaking with the foot shaping. Overall I’m very pleased with them. Now I need to finish spinning the 3-ply and make a lucet cord for the button cord, fix on the buttons and cord then put on soles so they can be worn outside.

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Today I am thankful to be able to learn new skills!

Felting Boots

Nov 6th I promised that I’d write about the boot felting workshop I took at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival the last weekend of October.

The twelve hour workshop with Carin Engen was excellent and well worth the time and money. The two pair of felted boots she’d felted and brought to show us were truly inspiring.

With the exception of felting small plying balls and a few Christmas tree ornaments, and a wee needle felted rabbit I hadn’t done any felting. Only one other person had no felting experience while two of the women in the group had taken felting classes from Carin before and were enthusiastic about what they’d already learned. With 12 hours of class time the skill sets didn’t make much difference for Carin was great about spending lots of one on one time with each of us once she’d gone over the basic directions for making felted boots.

Carin had come straight to CGFF from a week long teaching session at the John C Campbell Folk School in N Carolina and was still feeling the effects of a very busy week and airplane travel but that didn’t dull her enthusiasm. Soon we were measuring our feet and cutting out the plastic form we’d be using, selecting the wools that we wanted to use and setting up our areas with all the supplies we needed.

The first layers on the outside leg area.

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Second layers applied. Looks like a collar for Sasquatch.
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The workshop was held at the local Community College and on Friday we could buy lunch in the student cafeteria. Eating there seemed surreal, an odd blast to the past. This beautiful sprawling maple tree beckoned me to come climb its limbs. I resisted, not wanting to cause a scene scrambling onto an outstretched branch with young college students ambling to the cafeteria.
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After eating and meeting up with Becca who’d flown down from Juno, Alaska for her very first fiber festival (bummed that I didn’t think to get a picture with her.) I dashed down to the Marketplace to touch base with Cheryl of Newhuehandspun who was sharing her room with me for two nights during the festival.

Back in the classroom Carin was helping Pam with her wild and wonderful boots. Pam has an amazing color sense that celebrates the explosion of colors.
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By the end of Friday’s workshop the last layer had been laid, the soap and water sprinkled on for the final rolling before getting down to the work of felting and shaping that would take place on Saturday.
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Tomorrow’s post will continue the process of felting the boots.

Today I’m thankful that the rain actually stopped this afternoon, and that the temperatures have stayed in the 40s – 50s. Lots of snow in the Cascade Mountains, just rain here. Since October 1st we’ve had 17.5″ of rain.

I’m thankful for a good time sharing dinner/lunch with Ed’s dad today. Instead of turkey we decided to have steaks. Pumpkin pie reigned as the dessert.
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I’m thankful for my walking neighbor/friend who roasted more sugar pumpkins than she needed and shared the extra bounty with me. Fresh pumpkin is the way to go! I still have 3 cups of pumpkin left which will go into the freezer for a future pie.

Thanksgiving ’16

I’m thankful:

to have enjoyed a rather ordinary day instead of the normal Thanksgiving hustle and bustle of cleaning the house, preparing rolls and pies  a turkey and all the trimmings. We’d decided that the Thanksgiving potluck after church Sunday followed by another delicious Thanksgiving dinner at the community dinner last night where 461 were served an abundance of food –  for which Ed helped to peel 150 pounds of potatoes,  was sufficient and we didn’t need to stuff ourselves with another big meal.

for a husband who is constant, steadfast, intelligent, hardworking, kind, supportive, giving, a man of integrity, and a kindred spirit in many ways.
I am so deeply grateful for Ed!

for tonight’s simple soup and bread supper with a ramekin of pumpkin pie filling for dessert.

that we didn’t need to travel anywhere on this very blustery, pouring-down-hard, rainy day.

for peace and quiet. Ed’s not into sports so we don’t subscribe to any channels. When it rains hard our tv doesn’t pick up reception. We started to watch a movie but after a bit we both realized that we’d rather read.

for time to spin on the great wheel today as well as finishing up the last portion of another braid of alpaca/silk roving, getting it skeined, bathed and now it’s hanging to dry. This 4 ounce skein has approximately 562 yards. Finally closing in to having enough alpaca spun to weave material.

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for more leisure time to ply some more of the turtles of walking yarn destined to be knit into a sweater, once enough yardage has been spun.

These turtles were all spun during morning walks (spell corrector changed morning to boring, ha!)

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Two turtles were wound into a plying ball to facilitate the plying with my wheel.
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A second bobbin is needed to finish plying the giant ball.

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for so many good books to read! Currently reading Madeleine L’Engle’s “Bright Evening Star”, Timothy Keller’s “Hidden Christmas” and David Brainerd’s journal from 1740’s. Normally there’s also a fiction book in the reading stack one was finished a few days ago. I’ve been wanting to reread some of Elizabeth Goudge’s books which means a trip to the public library.

for relatively good health, especially when I consider how many people struggle with their body every single day.

for a year of growth, challenges, and new experiences which are leading me into a deeper relationship with God.

most of all for the love of Jesus Christ, the solid rock of the foundation of my being.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And if you don’t live in the States, that you had a wonderful day anyway!

Dysautonomia

Sixteen years ago I would walk up Grandview every morning either up to the 2 mile point before doubling back or on around the 4.5 mile  loop. My walking pace averaged 13 minute miles even with the hills. I was in excellent shape.

Except, there’d be times that my heart would flutter and knock around a bit. Sometimes pain would ache down my left arm. I’d return home feeling limp as a noodle, light-headed, looking in the mirror there’d be a green hue to my face.

After an EKG showed nothing unusual my doctor requested a treadmill stress test. I wanted so badly for that familiar pain to push down my arm, instead, as 10 minutes passed and my blood pressure was dropping to alarmingly low numbers the doctor stopped the test and had me sit down on a chair in the lab room with my head between my knees to keep from passing out. The doctor decided it was time to send me to a cardiologist for more tests.

I was dismayed when the cardiologist said at our first meeting, “”I don’t know why you’re here. You’re only 43. Your cholesterol is good, you don’t smoke, you’re not overweight, but your doctor is concerned so we’ll run some tests.” The tests didn’t revel any problems and hearing that my heart was more like that of a 30 year old was terrific. Unfortunately neither of the tests included a stress factor even though exercise is what caused the symptoms.  At that point I decided to stop throwing more money to the wind.

Fast forward a few more years to a visit with a fiber artist friend who’s also a retired nurse. She told about living with Dysautonomia, the dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. It goes by a number of names, and categories. As she describe her symptoms I was amazed to hear the similarities to what I’d been dealing with but had no idea what caused them. We had a great talk that helped to clarify so much of what I’d experienced, and she advised me to drink watered down Gatorade every morning when I first wake up to help balance my electrolytes. I found a recipe for making a powder to mix in water to always have on hand. It’s remarkable how drinking a glass of it when feeling weak does help, usually quite quickly.

Here’s a link on Dysautonomia which she recommended. Over the years I’ve managed pretty well until a year ago when I had a bad episode at Black Sheep Gathering. Rapid heart rate, nauseated, foggy brained, a overwhelming feeling of inadequacy, tingling hands & arms, faint and very shaky I had to leave Ed part way through Friday. Fortunately our booth mate, Allison, is  very capable and competent.  Drinking tons of water with electrolytes, eating molasses cookies (a remedy that I happened to stumbled on) and sleeping for almost 12 hours waking up only to drink more water helped me to recover quickly enough that I was able to work in the booth Saturday and Sunday despite rather low energy.

That episode was scary and sobering. I figured it was brought on by fatigue, stress and not staying well hydrated. The weekend before BSG was the annual Sister’s Rodeo when four of us spend several days/nights in Sisters. Staying up late chatting, putting puzzles together, knitting, singing, and playing board games was a great deal of fun. I love that time hanging out with these dear friends and going to the rodeo but by the time we returned home I was feeling exhausted and stressed at the thought of the final prep for BSG. I determined that going forward I wouldn’t schedule anything the week before a show and to take care to stay well rested.

The episode in Moscow was far worse than the one at BSG in ’15. I have no idea how high my heart rate was. My hands, arms and mouth were very tingly. Along with the nauseated feeling I also experienced chills, shakes, fever and overwhelming dread. I’ve since had two more bouts, none quite so bad though the last one, which happened in early October knocked me off my feet for four full days. By the fourth day I knew I had to see a doctor.

Meanwhile my old doctor had closed his private practice to take a position as a hospitalist. I was able to get copies of all my records the last day the office was functioning. The records were filed away in case they might be needed someday. For about seven years we didn’t have a doctor, nor did we need to see one. We try to maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid doctors except as needed.

I hadn’t talked to my new doctor about it since I’d never been officially diagnosed and the symptoms can sound so flakey. So there I was trying to tell her umpteen years of history, how I could usually handle it with electrolytes but now it was getting much worse. Dr Jessica prescribed meds for my low blood pressure. I wore an event monitor for the past four weeks and will see a local cardiologist in a couple of weeks for the results.

While scanning copies of my medical records I read through them. Reaching the last page with the final notes from the good doctor I was stunned to read, “It is felt the patient has dysautonomia.” All those years ago I was given a diagnosis. It’s somewhat baffling that he didn’t mention it to me, or perhaps he did in a way that it didn’t register as anything to look up when I returned to work that day. During that time I worked in reference at the public library and often helped people look up information on diagnosis they’d been given.

It seems so odd that for the past seven years or so I thought I was self-diagnosed when all this time the word had been in my file.

The sobering thing is it seems that doctors aren’t very aware of treating dysautonomia. There was one cardiologist who’d specialized in dysautonomia who was at OHSU in Portland. Just several years ago she was making plans to set up a dysautonomia health center for research and patients, then suddenly she moved to a small town over 5 hours away, and she’s no longer on the dysautonomia specialist registry. Right now there are none in Oregon, that I’ve been able to track down.

One last story is of friend in her mid-thirties, another RN. Shortly after giving birth to her second child she started having fainting spells and passing out. Twice she was hospitalized but the doctors were mystified. They knew she had low blood pressure but why was she getting so sick? One day while listening to her tell about her health struggles all the red flags went up in my brain. I asked if anyone had mentioned the possibility of dysautonomia. I emailed her the link I shared above. She immediately started digging and was flabbergasted to read of so many of her symptoms. She’s the person who tracked down the specialist practicing in Portland at that time (about five years ago) and had a full work-up down with the resting diagnosis of POTS. She has been affected much more severely than I. Her episodes can knock her down for up to ten days, and she’s a tough woman who’s not a whimp about anything.

Here are two more articles for those who may be interested in learning more.
1)A peer review article through NIH
2) Article written specifically for a working group at Johns Hopkins Hospital

I hope this very long post in informative and even perhaps helps someone who may be dealing with vague symptoms that have been messing with their energy levels, or lightheadedness.

On the whole, I’m extremely thankful for the sound body that I do have!
Tomorrow is almost here. Thanksgiving. As late as this posting is I’m thankful that I don’t have a huge dinner to prepare, only a pumpkin pie and perhaps some rolls. Happy Thanksgiving to all who’ve read this far! May it be a day filled with blessings and gratitude.

Down when it counts

Reconnecting with Rachel is a highlight of visiting Moscow, ID. I met her when we moved to Flagstaff, AZ. She was a math major at NAU, I was a senior at Coconino High (such a fun word to say and spell). Transferring from Monument Valley High, a school on the Navajo Rez with a total student body of less than 300 to Coconino where there were 300 in the Senior class was a huge adjustment. Rachel and I became friends through our parents. I enjoyed many hours at their house playing table games, laughing, singing and sharing food.

After setting up our space Friday morning in the historic building where the Palouse Fiber Festival was held Ed brought me a slice of pizza and big hazelnut latte to energize me before the marketplace opened at 1pm. I’d been slowly moving on low energy all morning. Low blood pressure had kicked in. Around 11pm I woke up, heart pounding, hands and arms tingly, numb.  Dysautonomia had kicked in worse than I’d ever experienced.  Through out the night I sipped the electrolyte water that I try to always have handy to get the electrolytes back in balance. It didn’t work. If we had been home I would have woken Ed up to take me to the ER. There was no way I wanted to disturb his sound sleep and drag him to find a hospital who knows where, not when we had a show to do, a workshop to teach and the keynote to give Saturday. I prayed desperately to just fall back to sleep and wake up feeling great.

Dragging myself out of bed the next morning Ed took one look at me and firmly said I wasn’t going anywhere that day. He could manage just fine, no worries, no problem. He’d give my apology to Shelley for getting so sick. All of Saturday through the first half of Sunday I was laid low, drifting between the couch and the bed. Definitely one of those times when I couldn’t do anything but sleep. Waking up long enough to drink some more water, lots of water and periodically a bit of chicken broth that Rachel would bring to me. Her daughter and mother-in-law stopped by to take Rachel to lunch. Polly’s m-i-l has been an herbalist for over twenty years working with her naturopath husband. She brought me a bottle of tablets to take for heart well-being. I’m so grateful for her knowledge and kindness! That large bottle of tablets has been very helpful during these past five months when I’ve felt the symptoms getting out of control.

Ed picked me up shortly after 2:30 pm Sunday afternoon. We loaded the rest of our gear in the car and headed west to get as far as Ed could drive before fatigue took over. We made it to Hermiston, OR before Ed’s sciatica kicked in big time and we had to stop for the night. Just across from the motel was a Sheri’s restaurant. Perfect. Ed couldn’t have driven any further and I finally felt like eating something with substance, the first time since the bowl of Rachel’s delicious chicken soup on Friday evening. Her making an abundant amount of that soup with lots of rich broth proved to be a tremendous blessing.

By morning I was feeling much better though still not enough energy to drive. Instead I got to take more pictures.
That white blob middle right is the top of Mt St Helens, the volcano that blew her top in 1980.

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Mt Hood. seeming to tower above the top of the John Day Dam.

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Sam Hill’s Stonehedge, an exact replica of the one in England, built as the first memorial to the WWI soldiers who’d lost their lives.
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The Columbia Sternwheeler. Someday I’d love to take this cruise.

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Near the western end of the Columbia Gorge the final high point, Crown Mountain with the Observation House on the old scenic highway. The best place to visit and take in the views of the Columbia Gorge..

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Between good hours of sleep the next two days, pacing myself, drinking lots of water, and prayer by Thursday morning when we headed to the Black Sheep Gathering I was feeling pretty much back to normal.

The worst thing about getting knocked down like that was letting down Shelley and all the people who’d signed up for the plant fiber spindling class; missing out on interacting with customers, some who drove long distances – one woman on Friday had driven up from Nevada; and missing Ed’s keynote speech. I’ve heard glowing reports: he had people laughing, and wiping away a few tears. I wish I could have been there.

Tomorrow I’ll write about Dysautonomia and include some helpful links in case anyone out there would be interested. It’s something that more people should be aware of for I have the feeling there are a number of undiagnosed people who deal with low blood pressure, not feeling good, low energy, foggy-brained, along with other possible manifestations.

I’m so thankful for Rachel’s loving care when I was so sick at her house!