Sunday, September 19, 2021

Weave Every Damn Day (Until you can't)


It's been months now since I've written a post. Not because I didn't want to but because I wasn't up to it. Just like I haven't been able to weave every damn day. Sometimes things happen that are unexpected. They come out of the blue and change plans in an instant. One of those things happened to me on August 12, 2021.

But let me back up a few days before the 12th. In early August I was able to spend a few days at the Lillian Smith Center and also deliver a tapestry to the Folk Art Center in Asheville for the Southern Highland Craft Guild members' exhibit, Black and White 4. I worked on a small weaving while I was at the center but didn't complete it while I was there. I returned home on August 11. The next day--the 12th, I was scheduled to make an online presentation.

The presentation was sponsored by the American Tapestry Alliance and the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, in conjunction with the ATB13 exhibit that was hanging there at the time. The presentation had been announced weeks in advance and many folks had signed up for it. The moderator and I, along with the folks from the museum, had a preliminary zoom meeting to work out details a few days before.

But when I woke up the morning of the 12th I didn't feel right. Was I just nervous about the upcoming presentation in a few hours? I knew that shouldn't be the case because I had my PowerPoint ready to go and I knew what I'd be talking about. I started out with my normal morning routine: coffee while writing morning pages, followed by a mile or so walk through town. But I couldn't get the pain I was having in my gut to ease. In fact, it was getting worse and by 11:30 that morning I knew something was definitely wrong--did I have appendicitis? That's when I asked my husband to take me to the emergency department here in town.

After an examination and CT scan it was determined I had an obstructed bowel and I'd need to be transferred by ambulance to a larger hospital for possible surgery. From the emergency dept. cubicle I asked my husband to call the moderator for the ATA talk and let her know what was going on and she was able to pass the word on the museum organizers. They were able to announced via social media that the presentation was being cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. And I was taken by ambulance to the larger hospital in Gainesville, Georgia.

This hospital is one of the many that are currently almost overwhelmed with COVID cases. Even though I needed surgery it was an over 12 hour wait in two different emergency room areas at North East Georgia Medial Center before a bed was available for me. I don't remember much about those hours because of the pain from my gut and also the discomfort and nausea from the nasogastric tube that had been inserted before I left Dahlonega.

After several attempted interventions to clear the obstruction it was determined I needed surgery and that was done on August 15. The three days before surgery were absolutely miserable--I was vomiting frequently and in lots of pain. Finally, the surgeon first attempted to correct the problem using a laparoscopic procedure but that didn't prove to be possible. So open surgery was done with the incision being made along the same line as the incision from surgery in 2018. In fact, the earlier abdominal surgery was probably the cause of this bowel obstruction since areas of small intestine were involved with scar tissue and causing the blockage.

After surgery, I spent several more days at the hospital but was able to come home on August 19. Obviously, my "weave every damn day" directive for myself (and others) had to be ignored for awhile. Even though I was home and my tapestry diary loom was sitting in my studio I couldn't work on it at first... just didn't feel like it. But a few days later I began to slowly weave on it a little each day; I decided to mark the event in some way and wove gray and white squares across the width of the tapestry and following the shape of the previously woven areas. The leaf for the month of August was not woven... just day parts.

I've gotten back into the rhythm of the tapestry diary now and have selected and woven the leaf for September--a leaf from a cherry tree at my studio, one that showed some of the coming fall color. It was a small leaf and that was a good thing since my energy is still pretty low for weaving.


I have done a couple of small tapestries during the past month. One was completion of a small piece I'd started at the LES Center. The other one is for a writing project I have underway. At least now I'm once more weaving every damn day!


Earlier in the summer I was interviewed by Sarah Resnick with Gist Yarns for the Weave podcast. That went live a week or so ago. It was a pleasure to talk with Sarah and I'm glad the interview came out now--it made me feel much better to hear it and know that I once sounded somewhat coherent!

I was able to fulfill my obligation of a talk for the Damascus Fiber Arts School just last week. 


And I have another zoom presentation coming up next week with a weaving guild in Cape Town, South Africa, another change of date because of the hospital event. 

The missed talk for ATA has been rescheduled for November 4. I'm so glad to be able to once again feel a bit like my "old" self! I still have some healing to do and more energy and resilience to build. But I'm getting there, I'm getting there. Thank God.

Now... back to weaving every damn day.


  1. I'm glad you are starting to feel better. Keep on building your strength up. Please don't wear yourself out. Seeing your leaf makes me feel good that you can continue working on Tapestry. I'm sending a comfort hug! Take care Tommye,

  2. Bless your heart. I knew it had been rough, but didn't realize quite how rough. So glad you're back to weaving.

  3. Greetings from Australia. I’m feeling your pain as I had a similar experience at the beginning of August. The same not quite right feeling in my gut, the same concerns about appendicitis or a bowel blockage followed by a visit to my family doctor and the emergency department. Fortunately mine was appendicitis and solved laparoscopically. As I was being discharged, I was told to take it very easily for 2 weeks, then some not too vigorous exercise such as riding an exercise bike. The sounded like the same effort required for my small 4 shaft loom, asked the question and was told not to weave for the 2 weeks. The warp on that loom had been there for 18 months, a real ‘dog on the loom’. I can’t tell you how interesting it became once I was told not to weave. Pleased to say it’s now finished and has been replaced by something much more interesting and I’m not just weaving ‘every damn day’, I can hardly keep my hands off it. Take good care of yourself and stay well

  4. I’m so glad you are back at the loom, Tommye! I’ve not been able to weave for the past month either, for different reasons, and I miss it very much. I can hear the tapestry on the loom calling to me as I pass by the studio door, but it will be a few more weeks before I can return to it. It’s so hard to not be able to weave when you are truly a Weaver!

  5. So sorry to "hear" about your scary health episode. Glad you are weaving again. I listened to the GIST podcast and very much enjoyed hearing your talk. Good luck and hope you stay well.