Sunday, August 9, 2015

Anti-inflamatory eating seems to work

A fresh, immediate pasta dish.
Losing weight has been a long fight for me, and I think I have finally found a diet that works with my lifestyle and tastes.  I was tooling around on the internet when I came across Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet. I haven't yet signed up for it, but I found this food pyramid which I printed out and posted on my refrigerator to use as a guide for eating. Having vegetables as the basis of my eating meant I needed to do some serious thinking about how I was eating. For breakfast, for instance, I've changed to 1/2 cup of oatmeal with about 1.5 cups of berries and some walnuts. This is yummy and filling. I have a bit of my favorite completely plain no sugar/no nothing soymilk.

In a hot skillet, add 1 tbs olive oil first and then 1 tbs garlic, 1 tsp hot pepper flakes and  a tbs of sundried tomatoes in oil. Stir. (all measurements are guessed).
Tofu and legumes are one of the foods on the pyramid and that made me think of Oriental cooking. So out came the wok. I have two now, one a traditional carbon steel pan that I've seasoned with grape seed oil and another a ceramic one made in Korea that I found the other day at this big Korean grocery store. I purchased it on a whim because the outside is purple and it is light. It cooks wonderfully and I plan to use for some of my dishes, mostly because I wasn't sure how the acidity of all the tomatoes would work in my carefully seasoned wok.
Add a half a pound of shrimp and toss around "stir fry."
My first food adventure was to the oriental market near where I work. Honestly, I haven't been to an oriental market in years. I went there searching for Soba noodles as I thought that would be a great addition to my organic whole wheat pasta. What I found was amazing. Noodles made of every thing imaginable!  Since I'm supposed to eat three or four grains a day and pasta only a couple of times a week, I think having a variety of grain sources is a good idea. They had millet, corn, buckwheat, black rice, oat and more. Along with that are these amazing sweet potato noodles and mung bean noodles. I was amazed at the noodle selection but it makes sense since noodles are a Chinese invention and most of the world's noodles are consumed in the Far East!
Now add a 3 cups of broccoli florets cut smallish and stir these around.
My next step has been the internet. What do I do with all the cool ingredients I find in the Asian markets? So I've been watching Asian cooking lessons and getting ideas for how I can produce a meal loaded with vegetables and have something that tastes really good.
Add 4 fresh tomatoes sliced and a half cup of fresh basil. Stir and fry some more! I also add a scoop of the pasta's cooking water at this time. The last step is the al dente pasta (4 oz) and 2 tbs of pesto. Toss around and plate. There is enough for two.
And so I tried my hand at stir fry and was able to make a passable Thai and some decent Chinese. And lots of Italian dishes with a base of olive oil, garlic and hot pepper. I stirred this up with some greens and sweet potato noodles and it made a lovely shiny yummy dish.

I'm still pretty new at this, but my larder has already changed significantly. For one I've jammed my noodle shelf with interesting alternatives to my favorite pasta. What I love most about oriental noodles is many of them come wrapped in little single serving packets and they are a bit shorter to fit in a small pot. I love to cook because like fiber arts there is always something to learn!
A shelf of oriental noodles and below lots of nuts.
Since I started trying to eat anti-inflammatory two weeks ago, I've lost a pound each week I also feel a lot better. I'm not young anymore and the aches of age have begun to make themselves known. Being fat doesn't help in that department either. Losing a pound in a week is epic for me. I usually fight to get a half-pound off me. So I am very happy and I feel well fed.  I am enjoying the adventure in my kitchen! So many new and fun foods to try. And stir fry is wonderfully fast.
All I spun during the Tour de Fleece, the green is Border Leicester and the Gray in Romney rug yarn
So that's pretty much why I've not blogged in a couple of weeks. Between the Tour de Fleece and trying to diet, well I've been busy between visiting new grocery stores and trying new ingredients, I've been having a great time. Oh and there's spinning and weaving going on too, but more about that next time!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Mad dash

410 yards of bright green Border Leicester was my first spin of the Tour

Tour de Fleece is the mad dash of the spinning world--a three week frenzy of spinning wool into yarn preceded by a long build up period where people join virtual teams and set goals. Goal setting is basically showing pictures of all the fiber you plan to spin. Set to the Tour de France, spinners from around the world started turning their wheels last Saturday, July 3.

Now, I'm working on super bulky rug yarn.

And I am among them and this time fiber prep is part of the deal. I have POUNDS of grey Romney to turn into rug yarn and carding is a part of that process. Being a super bulky yarn, it doesn't take very long to spin a carded batt. This week, I spun and plyed 410 yards of bright green Border Leicester and now I am on to spinning as much Romney, super bulky rug yarn as I can. I have 20 oz spun so far and more to go.

Hand picked fiber ready for the carder.
This is where "cardocise" comes in handy.  Spinning is a sedentary task, so adding a little cardio to the mix has been a help.  This week, I was able to get an extra two hours of heart rate in the "zone" for cardiac fitness by "picking" the fleece while on a small trampoline called a jogger or rebounder.  Picking is essentially fluffing the locks of fleece out as seen in the picture of the fiber next to the carder. Each lock of wool needs to be teased into a cloud of fluff. This job can easily be done sitting down, but adding the motion helps a lot.

200 yards of super bulky rug yarn used 20 oz of wool!
So far this week, I've lost two pounds of stash fiber, and 1.2 pounds of me. Not bad! I just have to keep "cardocising." And I have my work cut out for me with spinning this super bulky yarn. I'm having trouble making enough carded wool to keep up! 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Weight no-loss blues

 Six months into my diet when I should be making my friends jealous with how much weight I've lost and all the new clothes I have, I am right back where I started. I reversed direction about the time this photo was taken of me dyeing silk in my garage.  Below is a picture of me--I am practically square! I had planned to crop this photo to hide my extended butt, but instead I am going for truth. Anyone who knows me knows I'm shaped like a rounded square.

I go for safety gear when I dye, splash proof goggles just might save my eyes.
Sitting back in "square one" is frustrating. Do I need to tell you that? Haven't all of us struggling with weight issues faced this sudden death of resolve and re-finding of all those pounds? Isn't this the statistic we all see of people regaining all they've lost. How many times have I lost and found this same 10 pounds? I'm guessing 15 times. And we've all heard the advice--blah, blah, blah--but fat good it does us when the cookies call.

The only good thing about being obese and out-of-shape is how easy it is to get my heart rate up into the "Zone." And with this I invented:


Just today, actually, I invented a new exercise that allows me to destash AND delard. We recently rearranged the house and now I am able to put my rebounder (a bouncy exercise thing)  in the back room where the drum carder is.  Now rebounding is fairly boring all on it's own, so I got the idea I could hand pick fleece while jogging in place. I like the rebounder because it doesn't stress my joints and helps with some tendonitis in my heels. And it fits in my house the way no treadmill would.

DH stopped by and wondered if I was actually getting exercise, which annoyed me enough to make me dig out my heart rate monitor. 
Silk hankies I dyed in the above picture
I was amazed at how quickly I was able to get up into the zone. No wonder I walk so slow! Sheesh just crawling is hard work for me. I could get my heart rate up nice just moving fairly slowly.  I think if you are obese and exercising, getting a heart rate monitor is a good idea because then you know how intense you are really going. You can't compare yourself with those skinny fit people in the DVDs or at your exercise class. You can be pumping at your max while they are cruising down at nothing. I bought a Polar one and it seems to be doing a good job. Plus it calculates the burn and gives me something I can track.

So I pick raw washed wool while slowly jogging and run an occasional batt through the carder. It's definitely a win-win for me, two for the price of one, yah de yah. Now if I can just keep it up. I have plenty of fleece to pick and lots of weight to lose.  Let's see how this high fiber diet works.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A slight obsession with socks

Socks for DH. I couldn't get them off to take a decent picture.
Ever since I had my carpal tunnel problem fixed, I've become obsessed with sock knitting.  That's because I can knit without my hand growing numb.  So lately I've been buying all kinds of pretty yarns and knitting with them. I even bought some sock blanks to try my hand at dyeing my own.  My LYS has been seeing a lot of me, especially during their 30% off sale. I think you've seen some of the damage in earlier blogs.

Pretty and sparkly colors!

What I love about the yarn available for socks is how pretty it is!  Here is some Plymouth yarn that is just full of interesting and fun to knit colors. Plus it is sparkly! I love that I can knit a plain sock and have all the enjoyment of going from one nice color to the next.  I tried more complicated socks--some with cables--but I found it not relaxing at all, even causing tension. So I abandoned that pair and will just see what I can do with twisted rib stitches to add variety. I have a few ideas. Also, I've decided that plain knit feet are more comfortable in my shoes.

Kettle Dyed Yarn
I purchased some sock blanks from Knit Picks so I can try my hand at dyeing. These two are kettle dyed with the same dye. The one on the right is shades of the full blast color and the one on the right, is the yellow that was left over in the dye bath till exhausted. Kettle dyeing is the easiest method of dyeing since you just plunk the yarn in the pot.  My next plan is to try painting. Now that the weather is warming up, I will be able to use my garage as a dye studio.

Yes, I have toyed with the idea of putting a few things up on Etsie, but right now I'm too obsessed with the knitting of socks to really want to share.  Plus I want to knit up my experiments and see how they work out before foisting them on the public. And I have lot of silk that needs dyeing too, and fleece that needs carding (some of it with the dyed silk) so we shall see. And Fiber Festival season opens in April.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Year of the sheep!

Border Leicester being spun to fingering weight

Among February's pleasant surprises, discovering that this Lunar New Year ushered in the Year of the Sheep certainly rates among them. This is the beginning of a truly auspicious year for wool lovers everywhere! News reports suggest that some don't think much of it being the year of the sheep since sheep are such docile animals--at least in the popular imagination. But sheep can also produce twins and triplet lambs, wonderful wool, food and milk and all this by just eating grass. So to me, year of the sheep seems to mean a year of peace and prosperity. But most importantly, a year of wool.

Sparkly yarn turning into socks

To a spinners everywhere, Year of the Sheep is a tribute to our favorite fiber animal.  I've been busy carding up a storm so I can make room for new stash come the Spring Fiber Festival Season. Yes, I plan to celebrate the year of the sheep in style. I may have already started. Did I mention there was a sale at my favorite yarn store?  Yes, I bought a bunch of yarn.

Most of this is wool yarn.
So yes, I started the year of the sheep off in style This is all sock yarn as I love sock knitting.  I plan to enjoy the Year of the Sheep!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Was evolution kind to knitters?

This is what happened after my husband said he'd like some socks.
Today is Darwin Day, a celebration of the birthday of Charles Darwin who revolutionized our understanding of where we came from with Origin of the Species. So in honor of this day so near and dear to bio-geeks and other science nerds everywhere, I want to bring up my favorite topic opposable toes.

Loosely looking along the tree of life, you can follow our branch up and see a few forks. Along such forks are critters with feet that can actually grasp stuff.  Now opposable thumbs are all the rage for being humans and makes knitting and other crafts possible. But could you imagine if, rather than walking out of the forest onto the plains, our forebears stayed in the shade and managed to keep the opposable toes? Could you imagine all the knitting we could get done with two sets of hands?

Of course, opposable toes would but a crimp in sock knitting.  I mean, socks would have to be more like gloves or mittens. Heck, we'd need two sets of hands just to keep up. And shoes? They'd be pretty weird looking, though we wouldn't know it because weird would be normal.

So maybe it's good opposable toes were selected out.

But a prehensile tail, well that would be nice.  It would come in handy to be able to hang upside down to knit on occasion without needing to be a gymnast. Plus a long prehensile tail would come in handy passing pretty skeins around at the stitch n' bitch. We wouldn't have to stop knitting! We could just use our tails to pass it from knitter to knitter! And we'd probably have to knit tail socks too in great fun colors!

So nature, some of the things we lost in our million or so year climb up the tree from our small vole-like ancestors might have come in handy for knitters. And it would have been nice if that whole carpal tunnel situation had been selected out. But I'm glad we turned out smart enough to develop orthopedic surgeons. And knitting. Especially sock knitting.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Silk on a stormy day

Scarf-fine merino wool woven on a silk weft.
 Nothing quite beats a lazy Sunday. It's snowing and windy outside so that's a great excuse not to venture outdoors. And so I get to weave on my first and quite lovely silk warp. I'm using some merino I picked up from my Stitch N' Bitche's destash table and the weave is Rambling Rose from Marguerite Porter Davison. To a weaver that's a "W" and a half to form a lovely little pattern. The weaving is going great and silk is lovely to use. I just need to "snug" the warp into place--no beating necessary. I've also learned how to "read" the pattern as I go, so I'm not making treadling errors.  This is a new step in my evolution as a weaver. I'm really happy with this latest winter scarf!

Silk sliver by the kilo.
I found a place where I can buy silk by the kilo--Georgia Yarn Company. I'm showing the kilo of silk sliver I just purchase for dyeing and blending with wool.  I previously purchased a kilo of natural mulberry silk 22/2 skeins.  These are lovely, but I need to dye them.  I still need to work on my dyeing technique because silk can be a little tricky. I've learned that I should soak the silk in the dye adjutants before adding the dye and heat.  I need to heat it to below 185 degrees F and let it simmer for 60 minutes. This will take a bit of scientific method to use up some of my acid fast dyes, but I'm up for the challenge. I'm just waiting for the warmer weather as my dye studio is in the garage!

Giving the sturdy Ashford Scholar a whirl.
I've been spinning a merino/bamboo blend on the Scholar, a sturdy little wheel I purchased years ago with the idea of taking it with me camping. I haven't done that yet but it is a trooper for traveling to guild meetings and more.  I was able to fit it with the high speed whirl for the Kiwi, and being a "vigorous" treadler, I have no trouble getting a nice thin yarn. I'm expecting this to be about 14 wraps per inch, depending of course how much the yarn "poofs" once it goes through finishing.

It's been a nice day to get things done. I'm also making food ahead--a big pot of spaghetti sauce, meatballs and some low-fat spinach lasagna. So of course, I have a glass of red wine at my side, with Rigoletto playing in the background. I don't attempt cooking Italian without the correct mood being set. I need to dig deep into my roots to get the right flavorings.

All in all, it's a wonderful, snug day at the Craftstead.  Stuff is getting done and relaxation is happening.