Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Name Change

Well, I have decided to change the name of my blog.  The old name (reluctant traveller) seemed too negative.  And I have the wild, unfounded hope that the name change will fix the glitch that has people finding a blank white page when they use the old name.  We'll see what happens.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


It has been 9 months since I have written a new entry here.  The main excuse was that we had such slow internet access that it was too frustrating to post photographs.  And, for me, a post without photos is not worth doing.  Well, we have good, high speed internet now, so no excuses!

My most recent weaving adventure was taking a Tapestry class in San Jose (an hour's drive when the traffic is reasonable; up to 2.5 hours during rush hour).  I would have been driving during rush hours both morning and evening, so decided to stay at a hotel near the site.

The class was being given in conjunction with an exhibit of tapestries by Mark Adams.  You can see a few of his works at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles website: http://www.sjquiltmuseum.org/exhibitions.html.  That is also where the class was held.  Mr. Adams' quilts (Actually, he did the designs, called cartoons, and others did the actual weaving.  This is a long-standing tradition in tapestry.)

This was my favorite by far.  It was about 4 feet by 2 feet.  The center of those petals just glows!

This one was unusual because of its simplicity.  I did not take other photos because I was not sure we were allowed to, and my cell battery was low.

Now, about the workshop itself.  The teacher was Tricia Goldberg, who lives and teaches in Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco.  Berkeley is about 100 miles from Salinas.

This is Tricia with one of her tapestries.  She is a lovely woman and a very patient and kind teacher.

Each of us had one of these looms made of copper tubing.  They are easy to warp.  You can see the horizontal bar that holds the heddles.  The other shed was made by inserting a ruler above the heddle bar.

And here is my little tapestry completed on the third day.  Of course I am not satisfied with it.  I see all the things I would/will do differently next time.  But it allowed me to learn some of the techniques and have something to take home.  It may need a bit of explanation: It is from a photo of the bird bath outside my kitchen window in Cobble Hill, BC.

I enjoyed the class very much.  I would like to do more tapestry weaving.  One of the students spins and dyes her yarn for weaving.  That may be a sensible way to go as the warp is cotton, and rather thick (sett at 8 - 10 epi).  But the weft is wool, quite a fine 2 ply.  You use 4 strands of the wool at one time (wrapped on one bobbin, or in a butterfly).  This allows you to use more than one color in the weft at one time.

Think of the stash you might need in order to have the right color at any time.  One company sells 252 colors!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Qigong Instructors Course - Shropshire, England

I am sorry that it has been so long since I posted something new.  Here, finally, are some pictures from my wonderful experience with the Tse Qigong Centre at the instructors course.  One must have been studying Qigong for at least 3 years and be recommended by her/his instructor to be invited to the instructors course.

While I was living on Vancouver Island, I was lucky enough to discover Lee Masters, a superb teacher of Qigong and Chun Yuen.  Here is a link to her website:  http://wildgooseqigongcentre.com/.

This is me and my wonderful Sifu (teacher) Lee.  Sifu is on the left.

The instructors course was held at an agricultural college in Shropshire.  Below are a few photos of the group practicing.

This is Darryl teaching, with my Sifu carrying the red bag.

A group practicing Chun Yuen, a martial art.

I was successful in passing the first few forms, as shown on my certificate.

Now I remember why I have not posted more frequently.  We have very slow internet access here at the new house.  So uploading the photos for this blog is painfully slow...  I am going to have breakfast.  Maybe I will post more later.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, England

Well, I have just checked into my room here at the agricultural college in rural Shropshire.  Beautiful green countryside.  My taxi driver who drove me from Stafford (about 16 miles) was very pleasant.  We discussed the problems of national health insurance, the worldwide economy, and racism.  Lovely man.

So far I have met many friendly members of the world-wide Tse Qigong Centre.  Apparently one of the "games" Michael Tse (our leader) likes to play is to have students try to name everyone there.  I am notorious for my inability to learn names.  So I have concentrated on the first few people I met.  Maybe those will stick.  If I try to remember them all, I will forget them all.

For some reason, the temperature seems warmer here.  16 degrees C today, but it seems quite warm to me.  Perhaps it is the humidity as it is cloudy and threatening rain.  If it was threatening rain at this temperature in Salinas, I would be cold, but not here.

We will meet soon for dinner at a Chinese restaurant called Tin-Tin's.  I am told that we will go there several times over the next week.

Friday, August 5, 2011

From Stafford England

Today is my first whole day in England.  I am here for 10 days.  Most of them will be full of learning and testing at an instructors course for Qigong.  But I came early for a couple of days of gentle exploration and recovery from jet lag.

It was a long trip from California.  Getting up at 4am to catch a 6am shuttle to the San Jose Airport, followed by a short hop to Portland, OR.  From Portland we travelled a northern route, passing over northern Canada from west to east, then over Greenland and on to Amsterdam.  The trip took about 9 hours, but it is hard to determine how long it is because the time change from California to Holland is + 9 hours.  So when we arrived in Amsterdam, it was the next morning!

I paid for an upgrade to what they called an Economy Comfort seat, which did have some advantages.  There was more legroom, there were only two seats together.  The seats were advertized as reclining more than the regular seats.  Perhaps they did, but the difference was small.

Pluses included a very pleasant seat mate, a gentleman who was a teacher of music, especially piano.  He was about my age (actually a bit older) and what with a shared experience as college teachers in the arts, we had lots to talk about.

Minuses included parents and two small children in the seats in front of us.  I was irritable because of lack of sleep and the discomfort of sitting for so long, but the children were much more upset, understandably.  Their upset did not allow for much sleep.

However I am feeling much better today and will go out exploring the little town of Stafford.  I will take my camera so that I can share a bit of it with you when I get back to home and can download the photos.  Meanwhile, my entries will be words only - sorry!

I will go to the back garden and do my Qigong practice now, followed by a nice walk.

Monday, July 25, 2011


The baby blanket is complete.  I am really pleased with it.

Here it is right off the loom.  It measured 43.5" long (plus hem allowance) and 32" wide before washing.  Notice the dog chew at the bottom left?  As soon as I put it on the floor to measure and photograph, Becca ran on it with her chew.  I kicked her off twice and finally had to shut her out of the room in order to get this picture.

Click on this one to see the "hole" made by the dog claw in the center left (yellow section).  I didn't worry too much because it was going to be washed, and it was no problem.  This is also before washing.  You can already see the huck lace/ basketweave pattern with the natural weft.  It is pretty subtle on the gold warp, but very clear on the turquoise and brick red.

This picture was taken later in the afternoon, when the light was warmer.  It shows the colours differently.  The blanket has been hemmed and washed and ironed with a steam iron.

Here it is draped over my warping mill.  I can't share its softness with you, but that 2/8 cotton is pretty soft after only two washes.  The second time I took it right from the front-load washer (which got it pretty dry) to the ironing board.  It now measures 40" long (loss of 3.5") and 30 inches wide (loss of 2").

The light in the living room at night is not great, but I needed to include something of Becca.  Since I was not happy with the idea of doggie claws in the threads, this is as close as I let her get.

I hope the mom and the baby both like the colours.  They are not traditional baby colours, at all, but I thought they looked good together.  I tried using a navy weft for a few rows at the end; it looked much more sophisticated, and the warp colours really popped.  I would like to use this colour combination again.

Next, I will make some 12 shaft tea towels with 2/10 mercerized cotton.  Any suggestions for pattern?  There will be black in them, as a friend here just got new black countertops in her kitchen.  Of course it never entered my mind to order black when I did either of my two last orders of the above cotton.  Oh, well; guess I will just have to buy some more!  Too bad.

I would like to get the warp wound before I leave.  I am going to England for the Tse Qigong Centre's instructor training seminar.  Getting pretty excited as it is only a bit more than a week away.  Surely I will have a couple of blogs worth of tales and photos from my 10 days there.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Finally weaving!

Well, the first warp that I wound to try and make this baby blanket was so bad (had so many mistakes in it) that I threw it out.  Never done that before!

Now the second warp is on the loom and I have started to actually WEAVE on my new Louet Spring.  I decided on wide stripes with navy in between.  Fifteen threads makes one repeat of the basketweave/lace pattern, so the navy stripes are fifteen threads wide.  I did not make the selvedge wider, even though I know it will draw in more.

Here is the warp ready to wind on.
It is as wide as the loom will allow, 35 inches.  I know I should have woven something narrower for my first project, but this was the item I wanted to make.

And here is Jones, enjoying the sunshine as he hopes for some stray threads to come his way.

Here the warp is lashed on to the loom.  I found that I had wound one too few threads in a couple of the colours, so I now have several things dangling off the back beam.  I already had two for the floating selvedges, and then the warp seemed looser at the selvedge edges, so I weighted all 15 threads at each end. Jones loves those dangly things.

And here it is with the hem woven with cotton sewing thread and three repeats of the pattern.  I am using cream weft to soften the effect a bit.  It is a baby blanket, after all.

Jones and Becca are telling me that it is dinner time, so I had better go.  Wish me luck with the weaving!