Wednesday, 27 June 2007

a coupla nice bits of fabric

Got round to doing some dyeing this week, including these nice bits of fabric:

This one's may favourite type of fabric - silk velvet - in fact silk with a rayon pile: the rayon takes the dye beautifully. Real luxury.

This one's silk habotai - not my favourite fabric for working with as it's too fine, though lightweight iron-on vilene helps to give it enough body and fray-resistance to work with. Same technique as the first one - colurs are blue 2R, yellow 4G and a tiny amount of red 5B for the purple.

The others I did were less successful, but may still have their uses:

This one's calico (muslin for transatlantic friends) dyed with left-overs from the velvet: soda had already been added to dye the velvet and by the time I got round to this one I think the dyes had already begun to fix on the water, hence the faded look.

This is cotton poplin, but again left-over dyes produced the same faded look, and I fiddled too much so the colours merged rather than producing stripes. But still very usable.

They were all done as part of Marjie McWilliams' Shibori class at Quilt University, which I highly recommend. I haven't gone into detail about the techniques because they are Marjie's not mine - you'll have to take the class to find out. Yes I know I've dyed fabric professionally but I can still learn from other dyers, and I haven't got much experience of Shibori techniques! And anyway the class is FUN! as well as being highly informative.

And this is Django being his usual helpful self, supervising the photography!


He seems to have acquire a number of fans over the last few weeks so here's an update on progress. Blood tests absolutely clear - YAY! - seems to have been a one-off episode. Not so good - he discovered once again where I was feeding the other cats, managed to get there, and when I found him he was muching his way along three breakfasts (in addition to his own): not surprisingly, he has gained weight. Needless to say, all moggy mealtimes in this house are now strictly supervised.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

studio - before the makeover

Have been uninspired and stagnating for the last few weeks - not sure why. Anyway I decided that if I could lose a large white cat in my studio it must need sorting and signed up for Myrna Giesbrecht's Quilt University class, Studio Makeover.
The first thing we've been asked to do is send in photos of studio before sorting it out. Oh the shame of it! My studio was possibly the worst it's ever been. Partly because of the large white cat hunt which involved pulling out stuff everywhere. (BTW Bixy is now pretty well back to normal but has to have more blood tests on Friday to make sure there's no pancreatitis lurking - luckily the previous blood tests showed no sign of liver or other problems. My only worry is that he might be eating too much of his diet food, though he's much livelier and lighter than when he started the diet. The scales at the vet's will tell all on Friday). Anyway, this is what it looked like after the Bixy hunt:

Bixy himself was holed up under the bottom shelves. My sewing table was just as bad, though, and I can't blame Bixy for that:

Seeing this I can understand why I haven't been doing much sewing lately - no space left!

Had decided to cheat and tidy up before sending photographs, but by the end it looked so suspiciously tidy (for me) that I sent in both lots. Now the sewing table looks positively inviting:

And the storage area looks distinctly improved (though I'm not sure I know what's where, having simply stuffed it all in boxes - one of the things I do need to do is to work out a more user-friendly system:

I have found a home for films, Angelina fibres and so on - at least for the time being until I improve on this:

The remainder of the room is the narrow portion of an L and houses more storage plus cat-beds:

There's a cutting/design table (you can see the paint and dye) plus a stand that holds fabrics for dyeing:

The pile of white fabric in the corner is a bolt-end of fabric I bought from a Lancashire cotton-mill for a price too good to miss: trouble if it has to be taken off the roll and stuffed into a black plastic bag to fit in the coach home, there's at least a hundred metres (the person who sold it me thought it had got in the wrong bin by mistake and must have been a full bolt but let me have it for £5 anyway - no-one in my quilting-group coule believe I got it for that and just thought I'd been really spendthrift). Since getting it home I've never been able to find the beginning or end of it and have just kept chopping lengths out of the middle, though it doesn't seem to have gone down much at all. I keep promising myself I'll at least cut it into 10-metre lengths one day.

Target areas now are sorting the stash and weeding out what I'm never going to use: there are people in my quilting group who might want it, and there's some suitable for children's quilts for Project Linus, making quilts for children in hospital, hospices, refuges and so on which is a project we're involved in as a group. A friend has already offered to take my Laura Ashleys off my hands (though I feel a bit guilty about this as her house is even more cluttered than mine! - sorry Elaine but you know it's true). I also want to display my stash most of which is left over from when I had my fabric-dyeing business, and have some inspirational stuff like photographs around as well as finding space to shelve the books (I have to sort through those too).

I expect great things from Myrna's class and judging by the others of hers I've taken I don't think I'll be disappointed. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Bixy update

Have been asked what's happening with Bixy, so here goes:

He came home on Sunday very traumatised and hid for much of the day (I eventually found out where and as a result of the search have a more orderly studio); eating Ok from the syringe but sick Sunday evening (bringing up food and water); worried about him dehydrating (especially as he seemed to be bringing up more water than I'd given him) and brought forward Monday's vet appointment, so instead of Neil, the vet he's been seeing, he saw the equally good and extremely gentle Kate - he even let her shave his neck and take a blood sample for testing with scarcely a murmur; luckily no problems with dehydration; arrived home very affectionate with everybody and a changed cat, but after a day of eating tiny amounts of babyfood from a syringe he was violently sick at night; eventually left him looking very relaxed back in his hidey-hole. I realised the water-level in his dish had gone down so he had been drinking so I refilled it and eventually got to bed well after midnight (am somewhat sleep-deprived)

Next morning he wakes me at 5.30 using the litter-tray on the attic landing, then heads downstairs and guzzles quite a lot of water. I try him with some more babyfood (he's obviously feeling better and has had no problems keeping the water down ) then feed the other cats - no work today so I hope to fit in a couple of hours sleep before my vet appointment. Bixy is obviously feeling better - he makes a beeline for the Whiskas and grabs a few mouthfuls before I take it off him (he's supposed to be eating only low-fat foods) and give him a bit more babyfood to take care of the hunger-pangs. Resigned, he slips off back to his cave in the studio, where he settles down and looks happy.

When I wake again he has been sick, mainly water but (don't read any further if you're eating) also some gritty bits) so I don't feed him again but clean him up so he's presentable for the vet and off we go. Neil's pleased his temperature has stayed down, says he can have Whiskas but only small amounts of fishy/chicken flavours.

Feed him again when the anti-nausea shot has had time to get going. he goes to his cave to recover but comes down again later for more water and has a bit of Whiskas (though he's made it clear he will only eat from a full plate). After a day of doing various bits of chores and feeding Bixy I go up to the studio to discover he has been sick again but (WARNING - DO NOT EAT WHILE READING THIS) also that it is more plentiul than the food he ate and somewhat gritty: conduct brief forensic examination involving soaking kibbles in water and then crushing and realise he had managed to get at the other cats' supplies of kibbles - NOT what he should be eating at all and he's obviously had a lot of them. Must be getting better - I thought they were well out of his reach.

Since then he's taken his anti-nausea tablet very nicely, had some more whiskas and has also (YAY!) decided he likes the low-fat kibbles he sould be eating so has had several small meals of these without further disaster.
He is now curled up in a nice comfy bed under my sewing table having a nice long sleep (which is what I plan to do now!)

Hopefully in the next couple of days I shall get some sewing done and be able to blog about that!

Sunday, 3 June 2007

an eventful weekend with Bixy the feline delinquent

When I first got Bixy (who'd been brought in as a stray and repaired by the vet after a road traffic accident) he said to me "You'll like him - he's quite a character, this one". And so it has proved this weekend. He's been in and out of trouble in various ways.

Friday night he started vomiting up small amounts of water and managed to keep me awake most of the night in the process. By morning he seemed fine again and his temperature remained down. He had started drinking again for himself and took his food from the syringe quite nicely (for him) and settled down for the day. By the time I got home again it was a different story - there was a pool of diarrhea in the litter-tray, he'd brought up most of his food and the water he had drunk. On the other hand he was wandering round all friendly, rubbing up against things and trying to persuade me to let him go out in the garden with the other cats. No. Let's be honest, demanding to be let out and geting very cross (lots of tail-swishing and a bit of stomping) when I told him it was no go.

Thought I'd better ring the emergency vet, a very nice man with a reassuring Scots accent (why is a Scots accent so reassuring in a vet I wonder?) who thought it sounded like an emergency and told me to bring him in (to another branch of my usual vet practice). So into cage and car with Bixy who has a fine tenor voice with a range of at least three and a half octaves which he made the most of all the way there - nothing unusual there except he did sound extraordinarily healthy for a cat needing emergency treatment. The vet said his temperature was normal and he seemed pretty alert (a vet understatement for downright bolshie) but he seemed slightly dehydrated so for safety he should be kept in on a drip, probably for the rest of the weekend.
He rang later to say he settled down comfortably.

After a peaceful night in the Wyman household (myself and the other three felines were completely exhausted so it could hardly have been otherwise) I got up and settled down to wait for news. Unfortunately I also decided to get more information by googling in "pancreatitis+cat" and "hepatic lipidosis+cat" and I expect you can guess the rest. Remember those old medical books you had at home when you were a kid - the ones you opened feeling healthy but curious and ten minutes later you realised you had a whole battalion of incurable diseases? Well it was like that - I started imagining all the things that could have happened or might (he doesn't actually have lipidosis, though there is a risk).

By the time the vet rang I'd got myself into a right old state. And when he began with "We've had a few problems..." I composed myself for bad news: "He's obviously quite distraught at being in a cage and he keeps pulling the drip out... most cats are much quieter, probably because by the time they need a drip they feel really ill and he by contrast is very alert" Then on a more positive note: "He is well hydrated now and will drink water on his own. We gave him something to stop him being sick and I'll give him a dose of antibiotics shortly. We force-fed him last night and he kept his food down without any problems, and though he's had some diarrhea this morning this could be because of the antibiotics. We think, given that we aren't able to get him to keep the drip in, he'll be better off at home".

I didn't ask how soon they wanted me to come and pick him up. I didn't need to. I know Bixy well. He's the most stubborn cat I've ever had. And big and strong with it. When he doesn't want something that's that. He'd probably been yowling, loudly and continuously (even the most patient vet has been known to tell him to shut up and it is embarrassing to be in a waiting room with him) He had probably made innumerable attempts to get out of the cage, flinging himself against the door, trying to chew through the wire, upending his litter tray, dish and anything else in sight.

When I got there I could hear him before they even opened the door. He was singing like a drunken tenor on a Saturday night. They had him in his carrying-cage ready, plus all the things he'd be going home with - syringes and a plentiful supply of special catfood, with full instructions. Even the bill was ready (my credit card is much heavier than it was before). They were very apologetic and had obviously tried really hard with him: the drip had been reinserted several times but each time he had managed to chew it out, and they apologised about the bruising on both legs where they had inserted drips. The nurse had tried to clean up his rear end and had mostly managed it "but he didn't like it so in the end I had to do the best I could ... it's not too bad actually". I asked if he was still using the litter tray: apparently he scratched it all up, tray, litter bedding and everything into the corner of his cage. They told me to ring up if I was worried about anything no matter how trivial, and reassured me he would all right till I saw my own vet the next day.

So now he's lying on the bed, looking fairly comfortable. His best friend Pepper was glad to see him back and Bixy has given him a very comforting head-licking. He's had some more food and has kept it down. The diahrrea seems to have settled down for the moment. So now once again it's a case of fingers crossed...

Friday, 1 June 2007

Bixy - the good news, the bad news

Apologies for the long gap between posts. Life has got in the way soemwhat over the last couple of weeks.

Updating on Bixy - he has lost 600 grams in the last few weeks. The bad new is that this is mainly becuase he is ill, first of all going off his food then running a high temperature. My vet has diagnosed pancreatitis, which is potentially very dangerous. He is currently getting a series of shots every couple of days, which seems to be helping in that his fever is coming down, though he will still not take food or water. I have been feeding him babyfood with a syringe and giving him water in the same way: as you can imagine he doesn't enjoy this one bit, poor boy, though usually he seems to feel better afterwards. The same with the visits to the vet.

At least now I am able to think about when he gets better and not if he gets better - hopefully things will improve over the weekend.