Sunday, March 29, 2020

Marbled Paper

One of the things that attracted me to embroidered caskets was that they were full of other artisan produced items and I love knowing how everything and anything is made.

It has been so fun to learn about marbled paper and look at the designs that were made in the 17th century as well as search out papers and artisans.  I spent time in a studio in Florence and one in Venice in the last few years.  My new marbler is out of Nice and I was planning on visiting this year but now that won't happen.  He let me know yesterday that the studio is part of his home so he is still producing and healthy (Phew!!).

Here is a wonderful video about how different patterns are made for marbled papers, you can get lost in watching the zen like patterns.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Woodworkers, Makers, and those who Sew - Give up Your Gloves and Masks Locally

I have been having a private conversation with people who are in my classes on an online forum of late.  I will not bore you with all the details, but in my former profession, I worked on haz-mat gear for soldiers for bio-terrorism among other things.  So people I knew in my former life have been contacting me from areas of high need for personal protective gear to ask me opinions about substitutions, making PPE at home, jury-rigging stuff, etc.   
The landscape is bleak.  I have dug out many resources but there are several short term things that we can do this minute that would drastically change the course of what is going on at hospitals with little effort on our parts.  Right now we are facing imminent exhaustion of PPE resources and a lag until more commercial operations increases in production can reach hospitals.  In fact, there are some horrific issues in the supply chain that will cause lapses coming soon.  Read this Boston Globe article about how 75% of the worlds gloves are made in one country and they are going to 50% production because of cornavirus loose in their population.  
There is no doubt that many of us have those flimsy surgical masks in our horde.  Anyone afraid during the H1N1 or SARS scare may have bought a box.  I did.  In fact one church in Manhattan suddenly realized they had 5,000 N95 masks they ordered during the SARS scare years ago and found them.  Or maybe you were aware and got some earlier this year when you realized it was getting out of control in China.  Understandable.  But now we are at the front lines.
Don't give the cotton masks you are making to the hospital workers who are 100% going to be in the presence of huge viral loads.  It is these over-exposure levels that is getting them sick and not somewhat sick - they are becoming critically ill fast because instead of fighting off 2 viruses they got 2000 into their nose.  Give them the best stuff you have and save the cotton masks you make for yourself.  Give the cotton masks to the UPS driver, the postal worker, the UberEats person, the grocery worker, etc.  Hand them out willy nilly.  Give them $10 for delivering your food and a stack of home made masks.
You will need something in front of your face in the very unlikely case you walk into a recent cough cloud.  Through my reading the most protective use of a mask in the general public is actually to keep you from rubbing your mouth or nose with your fingers that have been contaminated from a surface.  It is just a light barrier need.  So in that case, the cotton home-sewn mask does its job keeping the virus from transferring to the mucus membranes of your face.  The same if you have a member of the family get sick.  The purpose is to have the cough aerosol prevented from being sprayed into the room.  Having a stack of a dozen of the ones you made is great - one at all times on the sick person and you wear one when going into their room.   Wash them frequently.  Even if all it does is reduce the number of viruses you catch to get you sick - you will likely have a lower grade infection that is survivable.  But the nurse who has to stand there with the sickest patient needs the disposable high filtration mask to not only stay well to care for people but also to survive. 
If we all give up even half of the box of surgical masks bought out of care for our families - think of the supply for hospitals that would materialize overnight.
I read a well done article yesterday from an infectious disease specialist.  They said that South Korea and Singapore have done a good job of flattening the curve because of a few things that their societies do because of hard lessons learned in the last several epidemics.  
1) In these times EVERYONE wears a mask - it is the socially responsible things to do.   And as their cultures are predicated on communal behavior instead of individualism - it works.  It is a cliche here that people of asian decent wear masks and we all look at them for being weird.   They are being smart and thinking about everyone around them - they aren't sick - they are willing to be ostracized in America for the greater good because culturally caring for the greater good is the highest form of humanity.  They know that there are walking spreaders and that people unknowingly are the spreader or come in contact with them.   If everyone wears a cotton mask - then so will the sick people.  Transmission goes way down.   Honestly - this practice is the only way we will be getting back to work and out of our houses until we have a vaccine that has been used on most of the population.
2) The sick don't stay in their homes, they are moved to 'dorm' clinic settings to be isolated and monitored by nurses.  If someone in the home gets it - the whole family gets it.  That is the majority of cases in all countries right now.  In Boston they are already identifying which dormitories from colleges have the right ventilation systems, plumbing, etc to do this. 
A N95 mask - usually from 3M used for dust
Most needleworkers know other people who make things - the most likely candidate is your home woodworker.  Go into their stash and start looking.  I know all this stuff and we were looking for some wood pen blanks Sunday that we knew we bought some 10 years ago (bought a lathe to keep kid busy during this).  I found 12 - a DOZEN - 3M N95 masks that are gold at the moment.  I didn't even know I had them as they are forgettable.  Dust masks for woodworking are what they are using - that is the most protective mask there is.
The reason there are some more N95 masks on the way to NYC right now is because of FDA rule changes.  Previously if you were making these masks, they would only be accepted into  a hospital if they were made on a FDA certified manufacturing line.  If you wanted your product that was the same to be cheeper, you didn't have the line FDA certified with extra controls to make sure they were 100% sterile.  Same product.  So now, hospitals are allowed to use the ones that are coming off the line for contractors, woodworkers, etc.  So FIND the 2-5 you have in your house and give them up!!  Talk to anyone you know who might have some and get them to drop them off.  You are saving lives.
And I found an unopened box of 100 nitrile gloves he had for wood finishing.  Then I started thinking about where else I might have dust masks squirreled away and came up with a few more.  My robot mom on the front lines at Children's hospital almost cried when I called her.  I rushed them over to her house and dropped them in the garage.  Hairdresses, construction workers, dentists, bio labs, woodworkers - all these professionals and more HAVE THESE THINGS laying on the shelves.  Stop making cotton masks that are 28% effective (yes, better than nothing) and shake this stuff that is 100% what they need out of the trees first and then go back to making masks.   In Boston we have started doing that and they are showing up in boxloads.  I told that to the ER nurse who is a robot mom and trying to figure out how to make masks on Friday night.  She posted to the town mom's discussion group how desperate they are.  On Sunday she called me crying as her lawn was full of personal protective gear that came from nowhere.  Yesterday a truckload of gathered PPE was delivered to Mass General from the bio-labs in the area.   Honestly there shouldn't be a dentist office anywhere with anything in stock except a few items kept back for emergency procedures - it should all be trucked to the local hospital.  Same with orthodontists, etc.  My UPS guy told me two weeks ago (the last time I would open the door) that he was mad that people were hoarding.  He delivered 19,000 rubber gloves to just one dentist that week.   That dentist had better drive them all over to the hospital.  
If you find boxes that are open and are concerned that they are a bit dusty.  Think if  you were a doctor or your son or daughter was a nurse?   Would you care?  If you think they would - give the box to your local supermarket, those cashers need them.  If people working jobs in food distribution don't feel safe enough, they won't show up and our distribution system will grind to a halt.  Give them a sewn mask while you are at it as well so they don't scratch their nose with the gloved hand.
The 3D printed headband for face shields -
a temporary solution in the 1-2 weeks between
exhaustion of supply and commercial
supply ramping up.  The ties, foam piece
and clear shield needs to be added
We all want to do something helpful - be smart about it.  Everyone with a 3D printer and a sewing machine is trying something - but usually without the basic knowledge of the science behind masks.  (That link was the National Academy of Sciences report on the shortage of PPE in the SARS epidemic).  Many of the good will efforts are going in the wrong direction.  Of the PPE gear for a hospital, it is the disposable face shield that has the most potential to be made using 3D printing.  We have been working with a local emergency room nurse who is also another robot coach and got the rest fo the materials donated to fabricate them.  We are printing non stop here and are up to 30 shields now since Sunday and local hospitals are accepting them.   We know they will only be needed until companies like Bauer get their ramp up done and are delivering.

So please focus on calling that woodworker, contractor, dentist, hairdresser, etc you know and get them to pull out dust masks and gloves.  And start wearing your mask, make it a fashion statement.  I might embroider the edges of mine.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Casket for Sale

There is an embroidered casket for sale this weekend on auction.   It has certainly seen much better days but it amazingly has its bottles, inkwells and even a good print in the inside.

It is lot 945 at Hutchion Scott Limited in Skipton, UK. The auction is on March 27th.  I can't quite tell which story is on this casket and the back is in somewhat better condition than the front.  There are more pictures of the casket online if you look.

Again - if you get it - you owe me some great pictures!!


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Sol 14 - Tricia - Needlework Pirate

This morning, my youngest son greeted me with:

"Sol 14"

I hope you understand that reference (MarkWatney from The Martian - a family favorite - watch it).

As a mother I had to laugh as well as totally appreciate the sentiment and humor he was finding in the situation.  We have been self isolating as a family now since March 12th.  We had foreseen that it was  coming and had been taking precautions and had a family plan that we pushed into action.  The trigger was when the public schools closed in our town. We had developed a 4-week food plan, shopped for the 'dry goods' and both my husband and I had the list and would rush out to fulfill the moment the trigger occurred.  I was taking a short break as I had just moved a UHaul of boxes to the house (casket boxes) and my son looked up and said - 'they closed our school'.  I jumped up and grabbed my purse and bee-lined it to the local store.

Several years ago, the FIRST robotics topic of the year was natural disasters and so the kids had studied all kinds of preparedness and worked for a year on innovative projects regarding getting populations to do the right types of things in the face of some sort of disaster.  In this one, I am glad the kids had advance mental preparation when younger.

We had spent a few weeks casually talking to our college son to get him mentally prepared to respond if we asked him to come home.  That helped, it was so hard for my 20-yr old son fresh off spring break to get a call from Mom and be asked to throw stuff in a bag and that I would be there in a few hours to pick him up.  His university had just announced online courses but that they would be residential during the rest of the term. Of course as soon as Harvard and MIT across the river closed that day - I knew it was days until his university would have to close.  So he was horribly embarrassed to leave, but it was Thursday night and if we could avoid a whole weekend of coronavirus parties - we wanted that buffer.  We allowed him the next day to pack up his room and say good bye to a handful of friends as they were coming to terms that their own parents were starting to call, expecting the university would close (they did it the worst way-announce on Sunday night and be out by Tuesday).  I was so relieved that he respected his father's and my request to come home in a way that limited our exposure.  Of course he has now been notified he can't come back for summer semester so he is stuck here with us until September.

My kids have been awesome.  We all talked for weeks about what we would do if we had to become shut-ins.  So we had identified skills we wanted to develop, tools, materials and fun stuff we would need and they were all ordered that night.  Loads of projects.  At Christmas we had given my husband a rain check on a lathe to be ordered for this summer after we could reconfigure the shop.  It arrived a week ago.  So at this point it has been non-stop project time and the family has been so busy.  My oldest has so many projects envisioned we will need to be in quarantine for months.  In fact - its been a bit like The Martian around here - complete with moving robots.  The boys want to know when we get to try growing potatoes in our own poop.  I said the garden room would be appropriate.  (ha ha).  There was a baking soda experiment on Sol 2.  Getting the 480 pound lathe into the basement by ourselves on Sol 7 was hilarious as delivery men wouldn't come in house.

They have kept the humor up - which honestly is pretty amazing.  The day we 'went inside' or "Sol 1" was particularly hard on my youngest.  We were in the UHaul and his worst fear came true - the World Championship for Robotics was canceled.  I haven't had the chance to tell the rest of the story from last year or this year's story.  Sometimes I do that as other teams scour the web for pictures of our robot.  Spoiler alert - they had just won the state championship four days before and were #2 in the world (OMG, he is just a freshman) - he was legitimately competing in late April for the World championship as captain of his own team.  He was upset that wouldn't happen now.  I feel so bad for the kids.

So his daily humor is good.  In fact, even though it is now likely his robot will never get fielded again, he has taken on not only rebuilding it to be the best ever but doing prework for next year.  He is taking advantage of his brother being around to tutor him in advanced CAD and other techniques.  His team has been keeping busy in their own homes building a new team website, learning more coding skills, etc.  It shows remarkable resiliency for these kids.   Every day there is another big thing the kids tackle.  They cleaned the whole robot room this morning just to play a rousing game of ping pong on the work table.  My husband and I took a walk on Sol 10 to talk serious stuff and the boys figured out how to hook their music to the home speakers and had the place rocking when we returned along with a huge dinner cooked.  The board games have lasted hours and we are only on movie #5 of watching the entire Marvel Universe in chronological order.  Actually, the TV has barely been on.

Sol 14.  I actually couldn't believe it - after shutting down the shop I was starting to think about what I would do now that I was shut in and I didn't really realize that we had been locked down already for  half a month as a family.

So they have been advising me on how to do modern informal videos or vlogs.  So expect some stuff in the future.  I promised them I would take a "Vacation" first.  It lasted 30 minutes last night.  But I will try again sometime today and make it longer.

Tricia - Needlework Pirate

Friday, March 20, 2020

Thistle Threads Shop Site Closing Temporarily - Sunday March 22nd

I will need to close down the Thistle Threads Shop site so that I can respect the needs in my community to shelter in place.  As much as us needleworkers feel that getting our threads is 'essential' - I need to place the health of my family and my community above our needs to stitch.  I must stop the constant trips to the post office. I anticipate this being about 3-4 weeks, I hope.   

Unfortunately production in France of silks and other threads as well as linens in Italy has been shut down.  We hope and pray for our friends that this is short but it will inevitably result in long delays of materials just when we have lots of time to stitch.  

Shop site will become inactive at midnight EST Sunday, March 22nd

I will not be going out of business but will need to remove products/inventory from the site to prevent ordering.  I have modified the inventory to reflect only things in stock today. When I am able to reopen and ship safely, I will put the site back up.  

I will be continuing to write my lessons, post to the blog, and maybe even will have time to do some development and uploading of videos/needlework nibbles that have been in the works but I just haven't had the time to finish.  

For those in new classes starting April 1st, you should have just gotten early access to the classes as I am sensitive to your interest in starting early with theme on your hands.  

Please everyone stay safe, respect the community rules on interactions with others and lets see each other happy and healthy later in 2020!!