I have chess photos and family photos and friends-who-are-basically-family photos, but getting back from Nashville wiped me out. Plus (if my labs are OK, the key number is four…white count of four and potassium of four) I have my big infusion day tomorrow. so rest and nutrition have to come first.
However, it seems like we have so many friends in crisis right now, and I ALWAYS say the wrong thing. Then, no matter how bad i feel about it, those words are stuck, can’t take them away. I was thrilled to read about a new-to-me concept for communication today, and it is really, really smart.
And now I will work on the photos. Sam’s team won a trophy taller than George. SOOOOO proud of those boys. Meanwile, pray for four. (and, as always, the easy and efficient function of my port….)
Gaylord Opryland hotel and convention center is quite a place. This year, having been here for such a huge tournament 4 and 8 years ago, i got smart and registered early and used my “accessibility” card (this doesn’t really exist as such, i just explained to the registration guy that two of us have limited mobility, so could he find us rooms close to where the chess was going to be. To understand how important this is, there are rooms that are three elevators, more than 1/2 mile walk, two escalators and a flight of stairs away. um, we couldn’t do that. But I didn’t know till we got there exactly how it would work out.
it worked out great. Out of 2711 rooms, there are only 18 that are closer. So it’s an easy walk for Danny and papa to his matches.
But before we get into chess, can we talk about tiny Martin Liberto?
The folks from Boston said that Martin was not a candidate for their prenatal surgery. You can read the details here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/martinliberto/journal
Keep in mind that “no prenatal surgery” does NOT mean that there is no hope at all that anybody is going to do anything to help Martin. There are so many decisions to be made over the next little bit. It is time for intensive prayer. The Saint Ann’s folks are coming together for a rosary for their intentions between the morning Masses on Sunday (right during Sunday school time, of course…)
But anyway, back to chess.
My parents are here to help, and so instead of hanging out with the coaches and everybody in the team room like we usually do at tournaments, we have enjoyed lots of time just being together at the hotel, playing games and letting George entertain us.
As far as chess goes, there were two rounds yesterday. The report as of before the first round today: Sam’s team, 6 guys from his school, is not doing very well. We’re not sure exactly how badly, the rankings have not been posted yet, but NONE of the guys won both games yesterday, which was quite the shock.
We are assuming that this is because in this top section they are doing something called “accelerated pairings” … where they have the highest rated kids play each other sooner rather than later… so maybe if the toughest part is now over, things will go better today. I haven’t talked to the coaches yet to see what they think… Morale is the issue, though, after a day like yesterday. Let’s just say some of these guys aren’t used to losing
Danny resigned his first round game because of a clock issue, which we’ve worked through, and he won his second game. And Brian has two points after two games, so his life is about to get harder as he moves up the boards…
So we’re off to round three. The pencil sharpener is plugged in on the bathroom counter, and it’s gotten a good workout this morning. We’re ready to go. Update tonight, I promise.
Hitting close to home as you drive 400 miles away…. There’s nothing like preparing for a trip to remind me that Danny needs extra – extra time, extra attention to details (like serious OCD attention to details) and extra equipment. LOTS of extra stuff.
We were on our way to Nashville, TN for the National Scholastic Chess Championships when we got the news that our dear friends from church, the Liberto family, had learned that their newest baby boy, 25 weeks gestation, had a heart defect generally considered incompatible with life. His name is Martin. There is a possibility that he may qualify for in utero surgery, more about that later.
We’ve been there. Poor prenatal diagnosis, long NICU stay, losing a little boy in the delivery room, only getting to hold him for just a few minutes. And we are still there. Danny’s heat issues are metabolic, not anatomic, but all I could think about as I set up his oxygen in the hotel room was, “Please, God, let Martin live, his parents would LOVE to haul an ICU around in the back of their van if it means that they get to keep their baby.” And no, I was not joking.
Here’s the deal. They will find out tomorrow if they qualify for this surgery. If they do, it must happen within one week. If that happens, within one week they need to be in boston for the world’s scariest surgery, recovery, until delivery, and then NICU. There are Martin’s still-very-small siblings to take care of, and David has a job… worying more, no doubt Boston is out of netwok for their insurance
But it will be all worth it, if they decide it’s the best option for their son.
You can get all the details on their caringbridge site
Without permission, since I am hoping they are all asleep, here’s a photo of Martin:
So. Please pray. Please beg your own bloggie friends to storm the heavens on his behalf. Viral prayer, that would be good. Post and copy liberally. I have been on the receiving end of miracles that no doubt happened because of the power of so many mamas praying together… and nobody said that “two or more gathered in my name” had to be on the same sofa…
AND… if they end up in Boston, no doubt they will need help. Let’s start thinking about that.
Finally, I wonder what we can do for fundraising for them…. carefully, respectfully? Any suggestions, I”m all ears.
Tomorrow, updates on baby Martin, and chess news. Sam is here with his amazing team from the NC school of math and science, they sent 6 brilliant young men who have been playing chess together since they were four and five. This is their last nationals together… and Brian, rated near the top of his section, my most likely to bring home a trophy taller than George. Then Danny, only 2 are here from his school, but he’s ready to have his best tournament ever. Even with all the equipment. Even after the NICU stay and the heart failure and the oxygen… It’s not easy, but it’s good. I will pray that Martin’s story turns out like Danny’s….although their beginning certainly is more exciting…
So send me your ideas. Thanks. And pray, and leave a message on their caringbidge site. post on facebook. We really, really need a miracle here.
So many spinners and want-to-spinners up in the middle of the night needing info! Wow!
Here is my very, very favorites list. No photos, just website addresses. All these shops are owned and run by friends, who take the most excellent care of their customers.
Beautiful Cormo fleeces, white and naturally colored, but this is her last year:
www.cormo.us I think she will list the last of this year’s fleeces in May, so if you’re interested, email her and get on the list
Fine Cormo, Merino Targhee fleeces. Often with really good deals on ebay.
http://mmfwool.com/index.htm They are very honest about the color, quality, length of their fleeces. They sell some very short staple lamb fleeces, which I would avoid for beginners… but they are clearly identified. If you’re not a beginner, you’ve neve felt anything as soft as one of their little lamb fleeces… challenging to spin but worth it.
If you want to buy top, roving, cashmere, silk, pre-dyed wool (i.e. you just want to open the box and start spinning… also has dyes) www.coppermoose.com . If you’re looking for yak, baby alpaca, 150′s merino, camel down…. Coopermoose is your store. When he makes hand spindles, they are the very best.
I bought my most loved wheel from Toni at The Fold. She really truly can help you figure out which wheel is best for your needs, skills, budget… and she is the best to fix spinning emergencies. www.thefoldatmc.net She also has fiber, fleece, supplies, etc… I will detour a LONG way on a family trip to stop at her shop.
The Woolery is a great source for all spinning and weaving supplies. New band for your wheel? Extra bobbins? Spindles? They have ALL the cotton spinning supplies. Best source for books, videos on anything fiber-related, also natural dye info and supplies… And their catalog is fun, to look at all the looms and wheels… www.thewoolery.com
There are lots more shops and vendors out there, but these are my very favorites. They will work with you to make sure you get exactly what you need, and they are fair, honest and good.
The real title of this post is: What’s the story behind Kelle’s baby sweater? But since most of the new visitors to my blog seem to arrive looking for SPINNING information, I thought it might be nice to oblige and make it easy to find. The photo above is of a baby cormo lamb, from the finest flock of white and colored cormos in the US. My spinning time is limited, so I decided long ago that I was only going to spend that limited time on the very nicest, vey finest fleece available. Also, as much as I like dyeing, I love natural wool colors, and Sue’s flock has the best.
My fleece processing methods aren’t for everybody. Some people want to be able to dump a 6 pound bag of dirty sheep’s wool into a washing machine and have something spinnable at the end. Because the ultra fine wools I love are so prone to felting, and because I want to spin and ply smooth, nep-free yarn, I take my time, add a few extra steps to make it failure-proof, and end up with truly heavenly results. Besides, I really like the process, so it’s not like rushing through it would ADD to the joys… I’m not in a hurry, if I rushed it would get all used up too fast! But anyway, the photo above is dirty raw fleece, some cormo and some shetland.
So first, look at these two locks. Both from the same sheep, unscoured, looking pretty clean and nice. But watch what happens when you wash one… leaving the other one untouched for comparison:
Isn’t that amazing! Poof! And it’s so unbelievably soft! So how do you get from a nice clean intact lock to a perfect ready to spin puff of perfection?
I sit out on my front steps, with a basket of locks chosen from a good fleece, and flick card the ends. This opens up any tangles and lets lots of dirt just fall out before we even get to the washing part. When the ends are opened up, it’s easier for the detergent and water to get to every ultra-fine fiber, and get it perfectly clean without any squishing or squashing that might cause felting.
It’s amazing to me how much dirt falls out when the fleece looked so clean at first! Plus, these sheep wear coats to protect their wool, so compared to many fleeces, they are immaculate. But still, it’s an outside job, not to be done while eating, and you need to wash your hands well afterwards. It’s the perfect task for while children small enough to need supervision are playing in the yard….
Another reason to flick card every single lock – even the best shearer can get a few “second cuts” which are these little short bits that happen when the shearer needs to go over the same area twice. When you are spinning superfine wool, those odd pieces just mean trouble. They get all balled up into neps and are so annoying. Flicking each and every lock gets rid of all of the second cuts before they have a chance to mess up your perfect yarn.
This is where I really go the extra mile for perfection. Once you get started, it really doesn’t add much time, but it eliminates all the risk of messing up your precious locks. I put each flicked lock into a separate section of a mesh bag to protect it while scouring. You’ll be able to see it better in the next photo.
I make my bags out of big rolls of 6 to 8 inch wide bridal tulle bought with my 40 % off coupon on my phone at the craft store. I sew one long end together, maybe 6 feet long, and then sew seams perpendicular every few inches. These make pockets for the flicked locks. If I am careful cutting the scoured fleece out after washing, I can use the strips of bags many, many times.
Then when all the pockets are filled, I sew the open edge closed, right at the edge, not to waste a millimeter of tulle, so I can re-use it.
Then the strips go into a washtub with VERY hot water (hot tap water with a kettle of boiling water poured in) with a huge bunch of Dawn dish liquid mixed in. I just dump the tulle-encased wool locks into the washtub and let the hot water melt the lanolin and the detergent emulsify everything and the dirt falls out. But look at that water! This was from fundamentally clean fleece, hand selected perfect locks, that I thoroughly flick carded. Ick! Lanolin melts at about 100 degrees, but you want your water to start out far hotter than that, because it still needs to be well over 100 degrees after it’s been sitting and soaking, or the lanolin will get all stuck back on, this time with dirt AND soap and you will have a mess. So make the water as hot as you can. And how much soap/detergent? LOTS. Just pour a bunch in.
When the water from the first tub is pretty gross, fill another tub with hot water, and use tongs to pick up your strips of pockets of fleece, let most of the icky water drain off of them (try to avoid squeezing or wringing unless you want felt rather than fluff) and set them into the clean water. Look how much nicer they look already! I repeat this rinse process a few times, until it seems like there’s not even a hint of bubbles. I keep the water hot out of habit, but there’s not a lot of lanolin left to redeposit, and changing to merely warm water probably wouldn’t shock and felt the fleece, but I just keep it hot out of habit….
After I’ve hung the strips of pockets out on my front steps to dry, I cut open just the edge of the bags, saving as much length as possible to reuse them. And now, for this wool, we turned to the drum carder. Wool processed in locks so carefully is perfect for combing, but the baby sweater in my plans needed to be woolen, not worsted, carded, not combed…..
After feeding a few pulled-apart locks very slowly into the carder, I was getting so excited to see how this fleece was going to spin up… Here’s a time NOT to rush, though. If you feed big chunks into the carder, or try to go too fast, you are going to pull and tear and tangle and nep your fleece. The bits going in should be as translucent as dandelion fuzz, no thicker. And you should turn so slowly that you don’t feel any pulling at all. Because the end result is worth it, and besides, it’s a process thing. If you wanted a product thing, you could have bought commercially prepared fiber and be spinning already.
Here comes the fluff! Oh how I wish you could feel this, perfect, clean, the ultimate softness, and so light… truly like a cloud. It feels like nothing.
And here are all the natural colors for Kelle’s baby sweater….. I sent her a box with unspun fleece in it early in her pregnancy, just to show her the amazing softness…. with a note reminding her that her son was going to be even softer
The rest of the story you know. Spin (Lendrum DT) with longer color runs for collar and body, shorter color runs for sleeves….
Then run into troubles with the knitting, dropping stitches at the edge of the work… and get rescued by Kelly Mustian on facebook, who found a knitting you tube video exactly explaining how to fix it
Then wait and wait and wait for three of our sock sisters to arrive, so they can each do a row or two…
And now it’s finally a sweater. Officially 6 months size, but I think it will fit fine right now. When Dash is 6 months old in Florida, he will NOT need a long sleeved shawl collared wool cardigan. So now you know the story of this particular sweater AND how I scour fine wools.
Meanwhile, to update from Danny and violin, Mr. Adrian Anantawan called us on the phone just the day after I posted. He was wonderfully kind and knowledgable, and we have a good plan with several of his friends to help Danny. I am so grateful.
A long time ago, Danny wanted to play the violin, just like Emily, Sam and Brian. They began Suzuki violin at 3.5 or 4 years old, progessed through their twinkles into their minuets, listened to their CD’s and went to lessons and group and institute. So when Danny turned four, his expectation was that he would do the same. The first problem was that Suzuki stidents play standing up. Well, when Danny was four, standing up was a problem, and standing up and holding a violin and a bow all at the same time was just not possible. But we worked around this obstacle and that problem and all, and Danny learned to play.
With tremendous support from teachers and therapists (and Danny’s own amazing determination) he made progess. Last year, right before he turned nine, he even started standing while he played (sometimes)… I have always been so proud of him, he just worked so hard. Getting his hand right for his bow hold, keeping his violin up in the right position, independently moving each of the fingers on his left hand takes HUGE amounts of effort and concentration for him. Meaanwhile, he’s working on the music.
Finally we realized something a few weeks ago. We were missing the point. A correct bow hold is essential to play well, but no musician says “What a wonderful concert! My bow hold was great the whole time!” What we wanted for Danny was to be able to say, ” I played the Bach Double with my brothers, and it was amazing”
We had gotten stuck conceptually, and meanwhile Danny was stuck musically. You can’t shift or have a good vibrato if you’re supporting the weight of your violin with your left hand. For five years, we had figured if he just kept trying harder, he’d be able to hold his violin up like everybody else. Guess what? Holding up your violin isn’t the point. Making music is the point.
It was amazing how freeing this change in concept was. Just like we use oxygen, and a G-tube, and braces for his legs, why not support his music with WHATEVER we needed to do mechanically, so that Danny could focus on art, not his CP? So we talked to his physical therapist, his occupational therapist, the guy who makes his braces, and came up with a plan. Actually, several plans, in order, to make prototypes and try.
So right now we have a two piece polymer thing on his bow that allows him to use his more functional larger muscles to grip the bow, while maintaining the right position. And we have a work-in-progress contraption under his shoulder rest, made out of Christmas ribbon, duct tape and binder clips to take some of the weight of his violin off his left hand to allow him to shift.
At his lessons, and praticing, it’s obviously a huge improvement. But we know it’s a work in progess. So when Elizabeth Foss offered to stay a day longer than Ginny and Ann to help me with whatever projects I needed a little help with, I instantly realized that she’d be the perfect fresh pair of eyes to look at this situation. So today Danny had the chance to participate in a Suzuki Solo Celebration – a group class with a master teacher and a solo evaluation before an experienced adjudicator.
We noticed lots of things. See the photo above? Every other child, when not playing, puts their violin in “rest position” but Danny’s is stuck. Not optimal.
Meanwhile, his violin kept popping off his shoulder rest, which was stuck to his chest. See the blue painters tape? A quick trip to the hardware store fixed the popping off problem, but compounded the stuck problem.
It’s all quite stressful for Danny, I think… all these “try this” and “adjust that” … when he wants to focus on his music. He wasn’t happy with how he played for the judge. Thank goodness for chess friends who are also violin friends to take his mind off all this tape for a while….
So why am I boring you with all this after not posting for 5 months? Because I really, really want you to click on a link and read the article AND watch the video. (at the end of this paragraph) Right in the middle of all of this, after we had decided that mechanical help would be a blessing, not cheating, Esther sent this to me, and Danny and his teacher and I were amazed. We have talked to so many people over the years, Suzuki professionals who teach all over, music professors, therapists… and they have all helped Danny. But after watching this video, I think there really might be the perfect SOMETHING out there for him. Elizabeth Foss and I brainstormed some ideas to try meanwhile, but after you watch the video, if you know Danny, tell me what you think. Can’t you just see this guy, in this video, knowing just the right solution for our son? And isn’t it a miracle that Esther found this video to inspire and encourage Danny right in the middle of this transition? I am seriously thinking of finding his email and sending him a picture of Danny and our Christmas ribbon/binder clips/painters tape device, and asking him to guide us.
!!!! here is the link, finally!!!!
Please click, and watch this amazing video. Maybe we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I just might track down his email and see what he would suggest for our Danny.
ADDED 6:45 PM – A friend sent me a link to Mr. Anantawan’s website, and submitted an email with a link to this post. I promise to let you know if he responds. http://www.adriananantawan.com/
There is a group of mamas, all bloggers (except I probably don’t count in that category any more not having posted since November), some with the T 21 connection, mostly homeschoolers, all just amazing friends from all over North America. We refer to ourselves as the sock sisters. Here is the secret… when you see a photo in one of their blogs of their feet, encased in a hand knit, often very bright pair of socks, that is a clue to the rest of us that whichever mama posted it is calling upon her sisterhood to support her in some way… rejoicing about a new pregnancy, covering her with prayer on a mission trip, whatever.
It’s not that often that more than two of us can get together at a time. But this weekend, FOUR sock sisters were in the same place at the same time, for a couple of days of knitting, talking, crying, more knitting, giving lots of advice, not sleeping enough, and knitting some more.
We had a wonderful time knitting for another sock sister who couldn’t be with us in person… We were all able to knit rows of baby Dash Hampton’s sweater, so that four sock mamas could be wrapping him in pure woolly goodness, not just one.
They convinced me to start blogging again. They said I have too much to say and need to share it. I’m worried it would take away from my knitting time, but since the sock sisters sortie socks are done and distributed, and Kelle’s baby sweater is finished, I can make it work. Besides, I need to tell you the STORY of Kelle’s baby sweater, complete with photos of the sheep that the wool came from. And I need to tell you about Brian’s birthday last week, and all his arduino adventures, and since Sam’s not on facebook, I need to keep you up to date on his adventures. Emily does amazing things on her blog, she has the best photos, but I need to give you the inside scoop on the stories. Then George, of course.So this picture has nothing to do with the sock sisters weekend, other than no matter what a wonderful blessing it is to have so much time to just play with your friends, I still missed my baby.
But here you go. The ” currently in Charlotte” subsegment of the sock sisters, together all too briefly, Ginny and Ann have already left for South Carolina, and Elizabeth Foss is going to help me with a Suzuki violin day tomorrow, then she flies back to VA…. SOB. But we’re never truly apart when we wear our socks.