Thursday, February 15, 2024

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties. Please Stand By.*

*Warning: This post is just partly about fiber.

Remember those test patterns on your old black and white TV? They were typically accompanied by an ear-piercing alarm to tell us that a TV station (we had three back then) was malfunctioning for some reason or other. Kids like my sisters and me -- who loved watching the Three Stooges and Bugs Bunny and Spanky and Our Gang -- were out of luck.

Truth be told, I'm experiencing technical difficulties right now, accompanied by malfunctions in my weaving, ever since our house was damaged by water -- more like flooded with water -- last September 18.

After the flood

Another water-logged view

How did this happen? I had just gotten back from teaching in Rockville, MD, and had come down with Covid. (First time, so I'm a novice.) My husband and I were quarantining in separate bedrooms and I got up early, around 6:30 a.m., and... stepped in what felt like a deep puddle.

You know how crazy our reactions can be when something weird like this happens? My first thought was, "Larry is going to kill me because I left the window open and it rained last night."

But it wasn't just a puddle. This was a lake. I continued splashing to the bathroom and heard this gushing sound pouring from the sink. An indoor waterfall kind of sound.

The Culprit

That's all it was! A burst tube that connected the water source to the faucet. It was probably gushing for hours.

The next weird thought: We tried to soak it up all by ourselves. Larry went and got the shop vac and I got a bunch of towels. Maybe we weren't awake yet. Or maybe "de-Nile" isn't just a river in Egypt. (Get it? De-NIAL -- as the joke goes?)

We quickly came to our senses and called a company named Jet-Dry. (Shout out here to Walt Latiuk and his team.) They showed up like the cavalry and spent the rest of the day clearing out the house and soaking up the water. I've learned a lot of words since then, among them, "mitigation," which means bringing in all kinds of really loud equipment to dry things up. (About half of the house was affected -- but not my looms and not Larry's pianos, amazingly.)

It took almost a month to dry the house out, using all manner of machines and tubes and mats and fans. We lived in a hotel during that process. (Bonus: We amassed lots of points.)

And then we started the renovations. Here I give a shoutout to Brad Colletti and his crew, who came highly recommended by Walt -- and completely lived up to his recommendation. 

Starting to replace the ceiling in the living room

We live in a house built of concrete and steel. I think that was super-quality construction back in 1929, when it was built. So in this photo above, you're looking at concrete supported by girders and steel struts in the ceiling, newly reinforced by sturdy two-by-fours. This house is built like a battleship. It's hard even to hang a picture on the walls. 

I won't print some of the oaths we heard from contractors who came to take a look when we were asking them to bid. "Wow" was the mildest we heard....

But Brad and his team took on the project and fixed things really fast. 

Ceiling fixed, not yet painted, husband observing (left)

We're pretty pleased with the results so far, although we haven't yet moved back home.

Better every day!

So, back to the title of this post, referring to "technical difficulties." I'm not talking about the disruption and stress of having our home break -- because, unlike so many folks around the world, we have insurance (shout out to Jeff Yorkey at State Farm) and a home to return to and a contractor who was terrific. 

No, I'm not fretting about the house. I want to talk weaving, of course! 

16-shaft Jin design with painted warp, currently on my Toika

All during this craziness, I just couldn't find my weaving chi, you might say (actually it's more accurately spelled qi). It's a Mandarin word that, as I understand it, means vital life force, spirit, energy. Chi can be depleted by illness or stress.

And guess what? When you're under stress, you're not going to do your best work. I learned that the hard way.

I threaded my loom once, in fine linen dyed with natural dyes (in colors based on a water theme, oddly enough), and wove it with less than stellar results.


I actually cut off this warp, something I've never done before, and put on another warp, this one in 16/1 linen in much bolder colors.


So I cut off that warp too (I figure I'm a veteran now) and slowly backed away from the loom. This phase -- staying away from the loom -- lasted a month or two, maybe more. It bothered me, because nothing I did seemed to work. I felt like I couldn't even count (which I often can't, to be honest, even on good days).

But nevertheless, I persisted. (Remember that famous comment Mitch McConnell made about Elizabeth Warren, when she continued to speak after the U.S. Senate voted that she stop speaking in opposition to the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General? It's become a feminist rallying cry.) 

Nevertheless, I persisted. I had a warp on another loom and decided to tackle it.

Long, long story short: After way too many miscounts and re-theading and re-sleying (and re-sleying again), I have a viable fabric (shown in the third photo above and shown in a detail below).

The weaving goddesses decided to give me some slack.

BUT there are errors. (If you look closely, you can see a treadling error in the middle of the photo above.) Quite a few. So you know what I've decided? This piece is for me alone, not for show, not for sale. I may sew it into a tunic and tell people not to look too closely at the fabric.

I might even wear it out of pride, optimistic that I'm starting to find my chi again.


Thanks for reading!


Roberta K Feldman said...

Thanks for your reporting! the pictures speak volumes. can't wait to see the finished product!

Denise Bolger Kovnat said...

Bobbi, it’s getting better, for sure.

Anonymous said...

So sorry about your house troubles, Denise! What a nightmare. Very glad all are healing (home and the people and creativity within).

Anonymous said...

Oh—the above comment is from me—Liz Gale Knudsen. ❤️

Denise Kovnat said...

Thanks Liz! Good to hear from you. I appreciate your kind words. And guess what? We are about to move back home, sometime late next week. It will feel like a new house.

Peg Cherre said...

O.M.G!!!! I had NO IDEA!! What a horrible thing to happen. And so fortunate that you had (a) insurance and (b) good contractors. Glad you have some things to be grateful for. And I LOVE that last fabric!

Denise Kovnat said...

Thanks Peg. We have been living in a hotel (thank goodness) and spending our waking hours on a construction site ;o) but we plan on moving home by March 1 or so.

Debbie F said...

I can't see the error.😊

Anonymous said...

Debbie, believe me, it's there!

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