Monday, December 28, 2009

My right femur broke for no apparent reason, have been in hospital, now in PT, still no etiology

Its been a wild time for me of late. A week ago last Thursday I spent half the day in MRIs and a bone density scan. Before I even got my coat off, the doctor's office was calling because they'd scheduled an emergency appointment for me the next day. On arriving, I found out the bone scan had revealed I'd broken my femur right below the joint, and emergency surgery was scheduled for the next morning.

Went in for that, they used a relatively new procedure to put a 1/4" rod in my femur so it could bear load again. The bone scan revealed significant ostepoenia, especially in the top of my femur, along with several other "hot spots." These hot spots, and the absence of any other apparent cause for the pain I'd been in and the broken bone (I suffered no accident, when not making rugs had been very physically active and fit) the concern for cancer was raised.

So I was in a sub-ICU unit, beautiful place, top notch. Were I to get into personal details here, I'd be singing the hospital and nurses' praises, and I am writing lavish thank-yous to them.

The next day I had a consult with an oncologist, who ordered a CT scan.

A week ago today a different oncologist told me of some anomalies on the CT scan which, combined with the afore mentioned "hot spots," had them concerned that I was in stage 4 renal cancer.

What a fun day that was! Additional scans were ordered, these ultra-sound. They revealed the anomalies were benign cysts. We didn't find that out until the next morning though. It was a rough night for me, my wife, my family and friends.

I was discharged that day, but will be in physical therapy and off my feet for quite some time, as I have been since about my wife's birthday.

We've ruled out many horrible things as the cause, but we have no idea why this has happened.

I don't generally post about my personal life here- I have other places for that- but since this has resulted in a much more prolonged absence than I had planned, and will continue to keep me away, I wanted to offer a word of explanation.

I'm not checking email often, but if you want to know more of the gory details and medical stuff, drop me an email, and when I'm up to it, I'll either tell you about it in private, or direct you to my personal blog. I've not been updating it either, but a dear friend of mine has been keeping people there apprised for me.

My friends and family, doctors and nurses, have been wonderful blessings to me through this. I have no complaints. Merde happens- why shouldn't it happen to me?

And yes, I was working on a rug while in the hospital. So imagine me there, IV in one hand, cuffs on my legs to keep circulation going, being taken out for scans several times a day, working on a rug!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Sari rug - and now for something completely different!

Here's the photos of the most unusual rug I've ever made

This rug is NOTHING like I've ever done before, or ever will again... I cut the strips very narrow, stitched very loosely except the final row.

I like to do different things with each rug... and having done this... I don't expect I'll do it this way again.

Colors worked well, but not ones I liked.

Mostly made from saris I "rescued" from an ignominious interment in a landfill when we lived in Chicago.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Toothbrush Rugs: Don't launder, used a foaming carpet cleaner & My most elaborate "pattern rug" explained

Summer is usually the down time for toothbrush rug making... you're outside, in the garden, hiking, etc.

For years, one of the "selling points" I've used for these rugs is that you can put them in the washer.

This is true- you CAN.
Years of accumulated experience however has led me to the conclusion that this is not the best way to clean them for the following reasons:
  • It reduces their life span
  • They are hard to dry
  • Non-colorfast fabrics can bleed out and affect the other fabrics or items in the washer.
Plastic bag rugs, ones made from umbrellas and hosiery are not damaged and you don't generally have the color bleeding problem, but plastic bag rugs are the hardest to dry of all!

From now on, the only ones I'm even going to consider laundering are ones made from hosiery or similar.

Instead, I suggest the following three step process:
  1. Take the rug outside and give it a good shake. If you want to get in touch with your inner pioneer / Amish person, even hang it on a line and beat it out.
  2. Spray the rug with a foaming carpet cleaner- both sides
  3. Vacuum it up with a shop vac or a normal floor vac set to rug / carpet, again both sides.

This will clean the rug at least as well as washing it, it will last longer, and you don't have the "how do I get this thing to dry" problem.

With fall blowing in (we're under a high wind advisory today, the phrase is literally true here) I'm sure my mind will be back in this groove more often in the future.

The picture above is of my mother holding my most elaborate and successful pattern rug. I call it my "Berger rug" because I made it for Berger Park in Edgewater, the neighborhood in which we lived in Chicago.

Its an abstract / symbolic rug of Lake Michigan and its shores.

  • The blue center is the lake.
  • The tan area is the shore and the dunes in Indiana.
  • The light green on the right is the fertile farmland of the lower peninsula of Michigan.
  • The dark green on the top and left is the the wilderness of the UP of Michigan & Wisconsin.
  • I bet you can guess the final rings of blue and white- the sky.

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kicking a man already falling down by Rev Peter (Mr. Dr. Tess) List is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stitching a rug while balancing on a bongo board: Don't try this at home, or anywhere else

Well, no one has suggested a new video idea for me yet, and I had friends by to help me shoot a few days ago, so I decided to finally live up to my boast that I can stitch a rung while doing anything, including while balancing on a bongo board. Hence this video.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Planning the colors for a rug: A conversation with my mother about a most atypical rug

Some time ago, I set my new camera up on a tripod and shot some videos of me and my mother doing "ruggy things." This was one of the better videos of that lot, though I do notice that the camera couldn't make up its mind what the color temperature of the lighting was.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What would you like to see a new, good, well lit video of? / "I'm not dead yet, I'm getting better... I think I'll go for a walk..."

Sorry for the long time no post... I'm still alive, still making the rugs.

I have a new video camera, and I might even have someone who can use it to shoot a video while I do a rug. I know my previous videos often left much (almost everything) to be desired... its really impossible to shoot a good video in a room dark enough for a migraineur, on a tripod, while you're hoping what you're doing is in any way visible.

Better camera, have well lit places to shoot, and friends to help me now, so... post a comment or send me an email about what you'd like to see, and it'll be my pleasure to work on it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One leather skirt = a 9 inch rug center

Skirt specs: Size 12, knee length.

This is the center of my "retina recovery rug." Next I'll do blue jeans, doing one pair at a time. I have a whole series of photos showing how I chose which jeans to go with this skirt, etc., to do as a tutorial for how the creative process works, but that will have to wait. Our female dog gave birth while sleeping on me last night, so... .

Monday, March 2, 2009

Toothbrush rugs: Improved videos- basic stitch, finishing off a rug AND photos of the "gentle pastel rug"

  • I finished the gentle pastel rug
  • I shot some well lit videos in a quiet place.
  • I came up with a name for this rug- the "Brisk Rent Riot Rug" (its obtuse, its supposed to be, don't try to understand it. )
I've been wanting to get some better videos shot and this rug done for 2 months now! This rug could best be categorized as a "thank you rug" or a "gratefulness rug." There are some people from our previous lives who have stuck with us, prayed for us, loved us, helped us out, when few others have done any of those things. They don't (to my knowledge) read my blog or facebook page, don't know its coming, never asked for it. They've been masks of God and means of Grace to us, and turn about is fair play and well overdue!

First- the video showing the basic stitching technique:

Watch Toothbrush rugs- doing the basic stitch | View More Free Videos Online at

Next, a video showing how to finish a rug off or tie it off.

There is no "right" way to do this, but this is what works for me!

Watch Toothbrush Rugs- finishing one off | View More Free Videos Online at
I hope these videos are clearer and more helpful than the ones I shot in Chicago, but if there's any way I can make future such videos more helpful, I'm always game. I'm a great rug maker, but I have no pride when it comes to these videos... especially since I usually shoot them without help of anyone else behind the camera. In this case, my wife was asleep with a brutal migraine (what other kind does she have? ;< ) elsewhere, so I had the time and space to set up a tripod in a bright quiet place.

Now some stills of the rug

This is the finished rug

This is one of the most beautiful rugs I've ever done, I'm glad to be giving it to such beautiful people... and I hope its at least a decade before I work with Pink again!

I have a "retina recovery rug" in progress which is made of a leather skirt center, and will have jeans around the outside, but I've not gotten around to finishing my rather detailed [me... verbose and precise... never! ] description of how I chose the colors and shades of jean to use, so... that will be for another time. It certainly is turning out well, and you should see the expressions of people when they see me stitching with LEATHER!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

An already excellent site updated- Laura-Jane Whimfield's tutorial

The site "Whimfield: modern pre-industrial living" is an utter delight! Laura-Jane is so talented and is an excellent teacher. I wish I knew a tenth about any one craft as she knows about a vast array of them.

This talented lady has updated her already excellent tutorials on the one little craft in which I happen to have some facility. Do check it out!

Kudos, Laura-Jane!

Why yes, the cat DOES have my tongue- and here she is! And here is a little of what I'd be saying were she to let go

Yes, the cat does have my tongue!

I don't generally post these days unless I can say it well, and lately, that muse just hasn't been with me.  Instead, I've been chopping wood, taking care of Tess, blitzed out with either allergies or a cold, fencing in the dogs, and so forth.

I have several projects in the works rug wise about which I wish I were posting.
  • A photo expose of my "retina recovery rug" which will have a leather center and jean body.
  • A video about repairing a rug which has suffered the ravages of an overly agitated (agitating?) washing machine or dog... or both
  • Rug stories... there's always rug stories
So when my sinuses let up or the cat lets go, that's what I'll blog about.  Until then, enjoy the cute kitty!  Most of the pictures in the slide show are of her hiding among the boxes of rug mat'l in the garage, as is the photo below.  I also took a particularly difficult piece of fabric and made a cozy cove for her, but as soon as I approach she jumps out to rub against me, so no photos of her in it yet.

Phoebe was our cat, we gave her and another to my parents when we moved in 1997. The other cat died, but Phoebe is still fine. She was the fiercest of the kittens from her litter, but now she is very affectionate. She loves tormenting the Papillon dogs when they are outside, she always knows how far their leads will let them go, or how small a space they occupy.

This is my favorite picture of Phoebe

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Toothbrush rugs: And now for something completely different

Yes, I'm still making my rugs... but like most things in my life right now, I've been too busy doing life to talk about it.

I'm almost done with this beautiful pastel rug which while artistically luscious couldn't be more contrary to our aesthetic. So I'm going to give it to some dear friends from our former life who have been supporting us in many ways. I don't think they read my blogs, so it'll come as a surprise to them. The pattern had been three rows of the pink pattern to one of the teal, but as of the current row, I'm not sure that I have enough teal to finish a row, so I'm doing three strips pink pattern to one strip teal. That way, the mathematical pattern is maintained.
If I run out of teal to intersperse, I'll use up the pink. A "problem" or challenge all rug makers face is "what do you do with the scraps." Sometimes I make hot pads out of them, sometimes I start a new "sister" rug, but I've another rug in the work which involves pinks and pastels which is destined to be a gift, and once its done, I think I'll be off pastels and definitely pinks for a decade, or until someone pays me enough to overcome how much I dislike the color.
Yes, I know... people keep encouraging me to sell my rugs. And when people have seen them and offered me something reasonable, I'm game, but I HATE bargaining, and I'm as bad at it as they come (think Bryan in the market in Python's The Life Of...) so...

Next I'll be doing something REALLY radical, I'll be fixing this rug. Its one my mother made of my wife's uniforms when she was a professional of a certain sort. However, my mother does not stitch as tightly as I do, and some of the mat'l was rather flimsy, so a huge section of it has disintegrated. So... just because I love taking this craft to places its not been before, I'm going to cut off the bad part and stitch two or three rows on as an anchoring boarder. I'll be shooting video of several steps of the process.

Here's a slideshow of my rugs, for those who are new around here, where ever 'here' is

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Brrrr... OW! But otherwise OK, just not online much

I've been having such a grand time chopping wood again, I overdid it and have some very sore muscles to thank for it... that and a lot of wood which is keeping us warm this week, so its not all bad.

But because of that, its painful to spend more than 5 minutes at a time online.

We're generally well.

Thanks for visiting, the notes, etc., I'll get back to you/blogging when it doesn't hurt my back to do so.

Questions, comments?

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