Monday, February 1, 2016

More yarn

1100 yards at 12-13 wpi

Despite having one of the busiest weekends in awhile, I managed to finish plying the very last skein of the Crocodile Tears Yarn. Sadly, this last skein seems more uniform than the other two without the splashes of deep blues and greens. This means it might not be the best choice for a sweater. I may end out weaving with it. I will have to see how it is once I rinse the yarn.  So I add a few more skeins to my stash while I plan something. I already have three 18 gallon buckets jam packed, not including the one I'm filling with future rug yarn. I'd better get busy knitting, weaving etc.

The spinach continues to survive the ordeal of growing in a cold frame in winter by me. It is small, though--the leaves are the size of a penny. There is a long time to grow.

My diet is going about as well as the spinach. I suppose it would help if I actually dieted--hehehe. But this month I have a new plan for increased activity so we shall see how it goes.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Weaving joy

Block twill is going slick
Despite setbacks, mistakes and unbelievable tangles, I am glad I set out on this journey to learn to weave seven years ago. It has proven to be all I hoped with the long learning curve. I know I will never be bored with it.  Above I am nearly done my second towel.  As you know from my previous blog, I had a heck of a time getting the warp just right. As I started, I had to make a few more adjustments to get the sheds just so.

But the fussing and redoing does not daunt me. Being undaunted and forging ahead has probably been the most useful skill as I've learned to weave.  I tell people weaving  is not for the faint of heart.

All the perseverance has paid off, because weaving this warp has been a joy. I really love block twill because I can easily spot treadling mistakes. So I like how nice this is coming out. I love how the two colors interact.

Block Twill is also giving me ideas for future projects. I plan to open up my weaving program and experiment with point block twills. That should be interesting.  And I need to try extra colors in the warp to see how that goes. There are so many possibilities with this structure!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Brain farts and other weaving setbacks

Each of the 480 threads needs to be pulled through one of these metal "heddles"
Just when I thought I had turned a corner and reached a point where I was no longer stumbling over tangles in my attempts to produce woven cloth,  I had a brain fart. I had just meticulously wound the warp, successfully beamed the 11 yards of cottolin thread. I was proud. I had arrived.

That's when I had the brain fart. It was time to thread the loom So I sat down and transcribed by threading plan onto graph paper.

Now, I should explain the difference between a brain fart and a brain cramp. A brain cramp is when you are doing something like simple addition, double check it and keep getting different answers. When you have a brain cramp, you know something is wrong.

Many hours later, all re-threaded

A brain fart is when you do something completely wrong and you are so oblivious of it, you think you did a great job! You pat yourself on your back and tell all your friends. You might even blog about it.  That's what I had. A brain fart. I was so proud at how neatly I'd transcribed the threading plan onto my graph paper, I sat down gleefully and confidently threaded three quarters of the loom.

It took that long before I started wondering what was going wrong. For one thing, there were two many threads left for what I thought my plan was. This is called a red flag. So, I ignored it. I kept threading away--and I'm talking about 480 threads here--until my thick realized I had seriously messed the whole thing up.

Two bouts of black warp await threading on loom.

That's when I realized I had a brain fart.  They are tricky that way. They sneak up on you and can leave you with a mess to clean up.  I ended out staying up until 2 a.m trying to figure out where I went wrong--a major brain fart is not something you want to sleep on. Now that I've figured it out, I am diligently rethreading the whole stinking 480 thread project.

I did say there was a dark tangled side to weaving a few years back. I have mastered the tangles, but not all the possible things that go wrong, aka brain farts. Fortunately, I've managed to rethread the loom and will soon be weaving. I hope.

I'm having better luck learning to knit lace.
In other areas, the spinach continues to grow in the cold frame. The leaves are about an inch long now. My diet is doing okay. I joined the slim down challenge on the 6 or 16 in 2016 group on Ravelry.  I am formulating a new strategy and I will let you know if it works. No need to tout some new gimmick. I'm going gimick free, but part of my plan involves replacing the broken airdyne bike with a new used one. I can only stand bouncing on the rebounder for so long, plus it's tough to watch Netflix that way.

In the same group 6 or 16 in 2016, I signed up for dozens of other challenges. This should keep me busy and provide fodder for this blog.  And, as you can see from the photo, I'm finally teaching myself to knit lace. Finally. That's all for this week. See you soon with picture of towels being woven!

Error: In my last blog, I called referred to the Fiesta Placemats as towels. I've corrected that error.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Craftcation

Happy New Year!
I am enjoying the holidays, and most importantly, a wonderful respite from the grind of going to work and enjoying time at home playing with my fiber toys--a respite I call Craftcation. This one is two weeks long. European style vacation plans is one of the advantages of working in Academia.
Overshot Throw is off the loom
One of my accomplishments was finishing the overshot throw that I put on my loom back in 2014. I'd kind of neglected it, but this week I wove the last 2/3rds. I cut it off yesterday and am now working on finishing it, which is basically creating the fringe, clipping thread ends, washing, pressing etc. There's still lots of work.

Weaving a 48" width on the big loom is a bit of a workout. I really enjoyed it and I'm planning a couple more throws to weave in 2016. But more about that later.
Spinach is still growing
As you know, I started some spinach seeds in a cold frame back in November. Here is a picture I took today. There are tiny little green leaves forming. The whole process is very slow. But  they are all still alive, so I'm not complaining. I'm wondering if the lengthening days will spur faster growth.

Fiesta Placemats
My bright Fiesta Placemats are also off the loom and finished--thanks to Craftcation. The warp problems are kind of obvious in this one--I seemed to have forgotten everything I learned about checking the warp before jumping into weaving. Thankfully, rewatching Janet Dawson's Craftsy course has refreshed my memory and provided tons of great tips. Anyone wanting to learn to weave should buy that course from Craftsy.com. It is worth every dime. I think it is worth it for anyone contemplating weaving, because it shows you all that is involved. A good idea before plunking down money on a loom. Weaving is not for the faint of heart.
Two Fiesta placemats using mostly white weft
Dieting: This is the time of year we all look to accumulated lard and think of losing some. I am relieved to say that last year my net weight loss was 4 pounds, the year before that 8. This year, I'd like to lose 30 pounds and bring my BMI down six points. Considering my history, this is a very ambitious goal. But ultimately it is doable because it averages a bit over a kilo per month. I think if I keep busy and engaged, I can avoid many food related pitfalls.

So now to get back to crafting. Happy New Year everyone and may you have a wonderful crafting time!



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

No turkeys were harmed....

The salmon is thawing in the fridge and the house is clean--well sort of until I tracked in mud after my trip to the compost bin--and holiday decorations are ready to be unboxed. Yes, it is time for a nice cup of tea before jumping into the decorating fray.

Just finished 8 ounces of pretty sweater yarn.
DH and I are opting for wild caught salmon this year, partly in a nod to my anti-inflammatory diet which is very light on meat, and also because buying a huge bird is a bit much for two people. We'd have to get the whole thing if we wanted local/humanely raised. After seeing photos from a commercial turkey pen, I'm really glad we didn't buy a turkey breast. One of the big advantages of anti-inflammatory diet is how little meat we eat. Legumes and vegetable are given the star spot in our meals. Spices make them yummy.

Progress on the spinach
Weight is coming off at about the speed spinach is growing in the cold frame out in back of my house.  They've doubled in side but there is still a long way to go. I enjoy nurturing these little guys as they slowly grow into yummy vegetables. The cold frame needs to be propped open during the day and shut at night, and of course I water them. I'm interested in seeing how my experiment progresses.
pair of socks #16. time to knit something else!
The anti-inflammatory diet does wonders when I'm not slipping up and eating sugar. Those times when I am on it for several weeks and doing it perfectly, I feel amazing--pain and stiffness is gone.  So really I need to focus and be stronger through these sugar infested holidays.
Finished placemats with handspun bamboo warp.
And be thankful I've found a "cure" and stick to the prescription that improves my health. One of the things I've learned over the years is there is a lot of suffering we can avoid for ourselves and others just by changing a few things within ourselves and our surroundings. May we all look for those changes when we count our blessings so we can add a few new blessings to the coming year.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Craftstead update




Growing winter spinach
Part of my "craftstead" philosophy includes trying to grow at least some of my own food on my small suburban plot. Here I am experimenting with growing spinach in a cold frame in my backyard. The frame is right behind my house and will have the advantage of whatever heat the house gives off.

I was encouraged to read about the Northwest Brightmoor Renaissance   a group trying to rehabilitate a blighted former working class community in Detroit--by cleaning up the trash that's been dumped there, fixing up the modest homes and yes, growing some of their own food.  And it is definitely not another gentrification project, but a real grassroots effort to carve out an affordable American Dream in an urban wilderness.
Sprounting mung beans on the kitchen counter: fresh homegrown produce.
I love how Brightmoor residents are using the Internet to catch and shame those who have used their neighborhood as a dumping ground. Visiting their website, you can see some really cute little houses on nice sized lots. What a great place to have a nice big garden! I read in the Washington Post that one couple chose the neighborhood to begin their organic farming enterprise, rather than a rural area. They are also using vacant lots for community gardens.  Yes, dedicated people can change the world.

I will have warm feet this year!
My craftstead is in a posh suburb where cute smaller houses are being torn down to create mansions. So my 1500 square foot 70's split is "small" compared to a McMansion of five thousand plus square feet. Funny to hear myself calling my house "small." It isn't by global standards. My house is giant and luxurious. It has plenty of room to raise a family, throw a dinner party, host guests, and house a few looms and spinning wheels.

But I understand what drives people to wanting giant homes and buying new stuff. It's a disease that plagues our society--consumerism--an endless Pack-Man like need to run the maze and eat the cherries of new acquisitions. It's like we have lost our souls and try to fill the void with stuff. Yes, I've struggled with the endless wanting and have fought to keep it at bay. One thing that has helped me is having a "small" house. I can only fit so much into it.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Just two little days....

Finished planting the allium 

Ever notice that when you are ordering bulbs, it seems like you can't get enough? And then you go to planting and think, "150 bulbs is a LOT." Fortunately, I took a couple of days off from work last week and spent some of it gardening. I planted about 75 allium. I planted them in close little groupings of them to pop up along the walk.

Filled cloth beam

 I also wove off the placemat warp I've been working on for a few months.  I now have eight mats to hem, but that should go fairly quickly.

Socks #13
And I finished sock pair #13--I'm in the 15 in 2015 challenge, and my goal is to knit 15 pairs of socks. I not only finished this pair but started the next one.

Basket ripened
Just had to show you these tomatoes too.  They were green a week ago. Sitting in the basket has done them lots of good. And I've been cooking with them too.  Nothing to do with the two days off, of course.
Besides finishing three projects, I also made headway on a throw I'm weaving and my gray rug yarn project. So three cheers for crafting holidays!

I've written the letter to P&G about those plastic beads mentioned in my last blog. It's crazy what they put in our personal care products.